Monday, October 31, 2011

Applesuace making- apple foraging

We foraged a ton of apples from someone in the subdivision. They had a tree fully loaded with apples, and a plethora littering the ground, so I quickly surmised they weren't eating them. I picked one up on the walk home with the kids, and we tried it. It was sooooo sweet and soooooo crunchy. I can't figure out what kind of apple it is, but it's yellow and red, and it seemed to hang on past frost! I want to guess Gala.
The kids and I stopped by three times to ring the doorbell  before someone was home. The guy of European heritage said, "Take them all, please.  You can climb the tree, whatever- take them all!" HALLELUJAH! I made applesauce out it, and it was delicious. In the past, I've had to add sugar to homemade apple sauces, and I was nonplussed, but this stuff was the shit! (pardon my ...American).

It was soooo freakin good. I Didn't have to add sugar or anything.

         Momsi washing the foraged apples (she did say ewww to some, but I am glad they can see apples as they truly are in nature - imperfections, and all.)

I also googled applesauce recipes on the Internet, and found one where you put the apples in the blender, and then pour them into a pot. Therefore you only had to warm up the applesauce, or cook it for a little while. GENIUSES!
Kel  Cutting apples with me

I made sure to come back to get more apples, and to give the tree owner a jar of applesauce and some concord grapes as well.  With the future foraging visits, I will make cinnamon apples, so I hope to make a pie for him as well. I am glad to make a connection with my neighbors, and to give them back some of what they give to me.

Pumpkin Carving

Carved pumpkins with the kids, and roasted the pumpkin seeds...

My angry bird pumpkin

Dave's bear pumpkin

the kids' and our friends' pumpkins

Here's a quick and easy recipe for pumpkin seeds:

Rinse seeds, and separate from the orange flesh.

Salt to taste.  Bake on a flat cookie sheet (one layer... spread them out)  at 275 degrees.
Come back in about half an hour, and use tongs or a spoon... to stir them around.

Flatten back to single layer, and put back in the oven.
Keep them in there until desired done-ness.  Some people like them a little moister so the shells can be opened and the seed meat taken out on its own.

Some people like it Crisp so you can eat it whole....  up to you.   I just keep tasting them 'till they are at the crispness I want.
This year we had about 17 pumpkins.  Not all were carved, but man.. it was alot.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Silly Gourds and Pumpkins

The last two years, the girls have been in the 4-H cloverbuds of Grayslake.
I remember as a child I wanted to be in 4-H soooo badly, but I grew up in the city of Chicago.
There weren't many farm animals in the big city. Maybe alley rats?

Well, the girls helped out at the 4-H Pumpkin sale at Saddlebrook farms...

The prices were really reasonable. $1 for carvable ones,$2, $3, and $5 for the largest ones.
So we ended up with quite a haul of pumpkins to take home. I also bought half a bag of the teeniest tiniest gourds they had.

(we have like... 5 more since this picture was taken)

The girls also carved pumpkins at 4-H this month, so needless to say our neighbors have started calling us "the pumpkin house".    Around the time I got all the pumpkins, there were kids smashing pumpkins in the neighborhood, so every night I was afraid we'd wake up to find them gone, or a massacre in the street in front of us.  They were definitely on our block, but ours remained untouched.  :Phew:
I want to say it's because they knew how punk I am, and thought we were too cool to do bad things to...

but who knows!

I'll have another post up with the carved pumpkins, because as it stands right now, half are carved and half are not.  Here are some gourds with faces I drew on.  I was thinking of the little dust sprites from "spirited away".  I couldn't help myself...that one gourd looked just like my favorite yellow angry bird. The kids thought it was hilarious.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Chestnut Picking

---------------the following pictures are a compilation of different visits------------------

So... for those of you who don't know, I'm Korean.
I was born here, and probably 100% american... but there are innate animal insticts that come out on occasion.   One of these insticts are finding and eating chestnuts.

As a child, I remember my parents would boil chestnuts.  Every fall, we'd have some chestnuts in the house, and for some reason, as I got older, I'd notice more and more bad ones in the pot. There were ones you cracked open to find they're fuzzy and blue.  BLEAUGH!
Or you find worms in them DOUBLE BLEAUGH! A few years ago I said, "there's GOTTA BE a better way!"  and I googled chestnut farms.   The result was a newfound knowledge in the case I ever wanted to raise my own chestnuts, and the Adkin farm in South Haven, MI.  Linda and Roy Adkin have been growing their own chestnuts, and chestnuts for the University of Michigan for many many years. 
(Pepino at Adkin Farm.)

I called him up out of the blue, and he seemed surprised.  I told him I googled him up on the internet...
He had been quoted in an article by the Univeristy of Michigan on Chestnut production.
I asked if I could go to his farm to pick chestnuts. He said OK.
So fast forward... this year is the fourth year or so that we have been going to his farm for Chestnuts.
I'd love to keep it a secret, but there's plenty of nuts.   In fact every year, I refer people there... and as a retired couple, who doesn't like to make some side money!?

The first thing I was surprised to find were, the burrs are like sea urchins. And they REALLY HURT!
Years of trial and error goes to show the correct technique is to stomp on the burrs and then pick up the nuts from the ground.   Or one could just look on the ground and pickup the nuts that are littered everywhere. It's like children picking up candy from a pinata.  Except the burrs.

The first year we got 8 pounds... 
This year we got 30+ pounds for ourselves,
and 75 pounds in CSA orders. Wooooo wee!!!

For the following weeks, we'll be eating nuts raw, baked, broiled, or microwaved.
The kids are addicted already. It's the korean Genes....

Roy was nice enough to give me a few seedlings which I've planted at my parents house (and the deer ate them)... and I have a few planted at my home... so we'll see what happens in the next few years :)

If you go after reading it on this blog, make sure to let him know that Holly sent you there
They'll get a kick out of it!!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Fall has come again, and update on the front yard potager

It's not that cold, yet, I guess.  Being cold is always very relative around here.
At 40 degrees right now, it's freezing...

However, 40 degrees in the spring? Wahoo break out the T-shirts!

The backyard garden is dying, and needs to be pulled up. Our little Espaliered apple tree had about 30 apples on it...which is amazing considering how small the tree was. A few of the small spurs/branches had broken off due to the weight of the apples on its limbs. 

On the other hand, our large apple tree lovingly referred to as "Biggie" by Momsi had one teeny tiny 2" apple on the end of one of it's branches.   LOL... silly nature.

We've had quite a harvest this year, looking back.   Ridiculous amounts of zucchini, robust Chinese broccoli that kept coming back for more every time we cut it, Chinese beans that grew over 10' tall on our trellises. There was more than enough food for my family, and I opened a small boutique CSA specializing in Asian vegetables.  It made enough to pay for the rain barrel and some materials.  I hope for the best with it next year.

here's an update on that front yard garden, and it's looking really well with the fall planting of baby bok choi.

A view from the front, of our middle box. Parsley, and rosemary... with chives around the edges.  Cilantro didn't really work out. Went to seed almost immediately. Neither did the Purple lettuce.
I may try purple Shiso perilla next year.

Pumpkins from the kids' 4-H pumpkin sale, and Libertyville Pumpkinfest.
The teeniest gourds I could find are sitting on the pumpkins.
We had some kids go through the neighborhood and smash up pumpkins, but not a single one of ours was touched!!  Don't know how they resisted? But thankful they did!!

A view of our back garden boxes.  Garlic is starting to come up.  Hopefully, they will live to see next year.   Marigolds, and uhmmm some red cockscombish flower in there.  I was disappointed that the carrots and beets in this box didn't do so well. Next year, I will plant some Amaranth.
A view of the corner boxes.  They filled out well with the Fall planting of Baby Bok choi. Marigold in the middle, and the edges are all green onions. To be used up throughout the winter.

A view from the sidewalk of everything

A fiew from the sidewalk dead on. 

It doesn't show that in between the boxes, and the sidewalk is a row of meadow sage/perennial salvia.  I started off with plantings of lavender, and they did not do well at ALL. It was such a disappointment :(   all the dreams I had of flowing fields of purple flowers!! The perfumes air! the dried sachels!! auuugh.  Worst is, I paid top dollar for them, and I couldn't get a refund.  Oh well :(
Currently it is full of Meadow Sage/perennial Salvia that has purple flowers, and I hope being a prarie plant it'll do extremely well with me not taking care of it.  I really lucked out, and across the street from the 4-H pumpkin sale was Mini Earth Greenhouses that was doing a $1 perennial sale.

WTF?!@ $1?!!?  ::head explodes:: I GOTTA check this out.
it was a table full of purple meadow sages, and 1 decorative grass... yeah they were all scraggly, but they are freakin' perennials.  Any self respecting gardener knows what I see is going to die back, and next year it'll be a supermodel.  Awesome... too freakin' awesome.

Another Idea for next year, There is a section of my backyard by the AC Unit that wasn't utilized. The kids don't even play there... So next year, I'm going to plant turban, acorn and Italian winter squashes there, so they can sprawl all over there, and I can have sweet winter squashes.  Hope the chipmunks never find out...