Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Dirty Dozen and The Clean Fifteen

Each year the Environmental Working Group releases it's list of the 12 most pesticide laden and the 15 least pesticide laden fruits and vegetables.  

This year's list has changed slightly from last year.  I'm very, very surprised to see kale and carrots on the Dirty Dozen side.  They are vegetables that are so easy to grow without pesticides!

But am possibly being optimistic?  A small grower can watch their vegetables as they grow and make adjustments to what the vegetables need so that they can grow naturally.  The big processors (notice I don't say growers) have such huge fields to oversee that they don't have that option.  Yet another reason to "Buy Fresh, Buy Local"!

Here's the handy list to print and clip as a guideline for your future grocery shopping trips.

If you are interested in more information, you can go to this website:

Happy, healthy eating!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Fall Pickings

Picked fresh from the High Tunnel a few moments ago...

...Radishes and Italian Flat Leaf Parsley.

I planted the parsley in the spring and it's holding up beautifully to the colder weather.  I blogged about planting the radishes on September 15th!  I also have lots of carrots and lettuces.  I think I'll be able to do a Fall CSA next year.

I have tons and I'm giving it away.  Let me know if you'd like some!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Freezer Camp

The pigs went to "Freezer Camp" today.

Fitz and I worked last night and this morning to build a carrier on our trailer to transport them to the meat processor in Elkland, PA - about an hour away from us.  It's not pretty, but we made it with old rough-cut wood and the price was right.

Does anyone hear banjos?

After the carrier was built, we had to get the pigs into it.  We backed into the pig pen and threw some dried corn into the carrier.  Up zipped the first pig into the cage and he began happily munching away.

The second pig would not go up the ramp!  He put one foot on the ramp and then the next and would get halfway up and would turn around and trot away.  We tried to entice him by putting corn right in front of his nose and moving it away as he climbed.  No dice.  He just didn't trust that ramp.  We got him halfway up and Fitz got behind him and tried to push/lift him in.  Well forget that!  That pig screamed bloody murder and jumped away.  

Finally, we took off the ramp and put the corn just out of his reach...he climbed into the cage.  So we hurried to put the ramp (which also acts as the back door) on and as we put the pins on he shoved Fitz out of the way and sailed out over our heads.  So now we were in a quandary.  He eyed us distrustfully and no matter how much we shook buckets of corn and sweet talked him, he wouldn't even come near the cage.  

Finally, we had heard that if you put a trash can over a pig's head you can back it up where you want it to go... So we put the ramp back on, and I put corn in the bottom of a pail.  He shoved his head into the pail to eat the corn and lickety split I backed him right up the ramp and into the cage. 

We pick up the meat at the end of this week.  

Friday, October 22, 2010

The "S" Word

We had our first SNOW last night. As I look out the window there's a light dusting over everything and it's still coming down - sideways.

Looking out at this frosty wonderland, I find that while I'm happy for the chance to slow down, I'm reminded that there's so very much to finish before I put the garden to bed. It's supposed to warm a a touch today and tomorrow and Sunday actually call for weather in the low 60s!

I'm working on the outside garden now and must finish pulling the last of the carrots and beets to bring in, cut and bring in the zinnias and the dill to dry for their seeds. And finish cutting and pulling the corn stalks to feed to the pigs and the sunflowers to hang and dry for winter treats for the chickens. After that, it's time to spread the compost on the outside garden, 'till it in and plant a "green manure," I'll plant winter wheat which will start coming up very, very early next year and will be rototilled into the garden about four to six weeks before spring planting. Green manure is a very efficient way of conserving nitrogen in the soil.

Then the work begins on the garden inside the high tunnel. Can you believe we picked a watermelon out of the high tunnel in October? It was utterly sweet and delicious!

I have lots of Italian flat leaf parsley, fresh dill, dill seeds, and some lettuce to give away. The catch is that you have to come and get it. We'll be home tonight and most of tomorrow. Just come on by!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

World's Easiest Chocolate Brownie Recipe

It's a cold and rainy and there's nothing better than a pan of brownies fresh out of the oven on a day like this.  The house smells of chocolate and running the oven makes the house warm and cozy!

This recipe is as easy as a box mix and so much richer - almost like fudge.  It only dirties a couple of utensils, one bowl, and the baking pan.  Can it get any better?

The recipe used to be on the back of the Baker's Unsweetened Chocolate box and then for some completely unexplained reason was replaced with a cookie recipe.  Hence the name:

Baker's Chocolate One Bowl Brownie Recipe

4 squares unsweetened chocolate
3/4 c. (1-1/2 sticks) butter
2 c. sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. flour
1 c. chopped nuts, optional

1. Heat oven to 350-degrees

2. Microwave chocolate and butter in a large microwavable bowl at high for 2 minutes or until butter is melted.  Stir until chocolate is completely melted (this will take a minute or two).

3. Stir sugar into chocolate.  Mix in eggs and vanilla until well blended.  Stir in flour and nuts (I never add nuts - they get in the way of the chocolate!).  Spread in a greased 13 x 9 inch pan.

4. Bake 30 - 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out with fudgy crumbs.  Cool in pan (cool? - ha ha!); cut into squares.  Makes 24 fudgy brownies (24? - ha ha again!).

Enjoy!  And remember... I always love to hear how you liked, or if you disliked, a recipe!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


You want to make nice fresh salsa, but all the jalapeno peppers have these yucky looking white lines all over them.  You wonder, "Why would the grocery store sell nasty old peppers like that?"  

If you like a spicy salsa, and you see these lines, then you'll want to snatch up these peppers!These white striations are actually stress marks or "corking." 

Their appearance usually indicates that the pepper is ripe and ready to pick! They aren't harmful in any way and don't affect the flavor of the pepper, but some people (lots of chefs included!) think that corking indicates a hotter pepper.

So when you're shopping remember that the jalapenos on the right will give you a nice fiery salsa, but the jalapenos on the left will blow your lips off!

Thank you Tadd, for teaching us about "corking" at this year's Farmer's Market!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

"Last Of" Season

We're in the season I like to call "Last Of... Season"  Everything I pull out is the last of everything.  The other day I pulled out the last of the peppers, a few eggplants, green tomatoes, and I even found one last, lonely, butternut squash hiding.

Winter squash are lovely because they'll last for months in a cool dry place. I'll pickle the hot peppers, freeze the sweet green and red peppers, and maybe some kind of eggplant dish and fried green tomatoes?

I'm sad to see it all go, but that sadness is offset by added leisure time!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Apple Cake Recipe, mmmmmm!

Fall is apple season!

When I was a kid we would bake Apple Cake using McIntosh apples from the orchard up the street and the house would smell so good!  The recipe is very simple and oh so worth it!

Here is the delicious recipe:

Apple Cake

2/3 c. vegetable oil
1 c. sugar
1 beaten egg
1 tsp. baking soda
1-1/2 c. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 c. chopped nuts (optional)

2-3 apples, peeled, cored, and coarsely chopped

Grease and flour an 8- or 10-inch square pan
Blend together everything except the apples with a spoon (my recipe says you must use a wooden spoon, but I don't know if that's completely necessary.)  Mix in chopped apples.

Pour into prepared pan.

(If I wanted to double the recipe, I would bake it in an 11x13 pan.)

Bake at 350-degrees for 50 minutes or until done. Test done-ness with a toothpick.


I never put icing or anything else on this cake as it is good enough on it's own.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Squeezo Strainer

People would Facebook or tell me they canned 25 quarts of tomato sauce one day. And I would think, "How can they possibly get that much done in one day?" After a full day of work I would end up with a few quarts. It took forever to do the blanching, chilling, peeling, and seeding required!

Then someone told me about the greatest canning appliance ever... the Squeezo Strainer. I researched it, read reviews, and looked at the history:

The Original All Metal Squeezo Strainer was designed in the early 1900’s by a young die maker from the Abruzzi region of Italy. When he came to America in 1907, he brought his design with him. After years of trying to find a manufacturer willing to take on the project, he finally built a plant in his backyard and, using an old belt-driven steam engine, began to manufacture and sell the first Squeezo Strainers with the help of his wife and three children.

That was 1919. Slowly, but surely, the Squeezo built a reputation until, by the thirties, it had become a favorite in Italian-American kitchens for making wonderful old-country tomato sauce and purees. Others heard about it, and started using it for home canning.

The same family -- two entire generations -- made the Squeezo for nearly 60 years, constantly upgrading production and quality control as more and more Squeezos found their way into kitchens across the country. There are still plenty of old Squeezos out there hard at work! But in 1978 misfortune struck; the factory in McKeesport, Pennsylvania was destroyed by fire. For various reasons, the family was unable to rebuild the factory – they had to sell the business. Garden Way, then located in Troy, New York, was a natural choice as a buyer as they had already been selling Squeezos successfully for several years. When Garden Way went out of business, Lemra Products took over manufacturing the Squeezo with the same commitment as the original manufacturers.

In 2006, Best Products took over manufacturing the Squeezo because the owner has been selling and working with the Squeezo for 15 years. Best Products is committed to maintaining old-fashioned American quality standards -- which means it will continue to be manufactured in the United States. Best Products also recognizes that the design has been perfected over the past 90 years and there is no reason to change it.

Boy, every thing I found about this product sounded great. To buy it new cost almost $200, so I looked for it on eBay, bid on a couple and lost them, and finally won a bid. I couldn't wait for it to come in the mail!

After a quick wash, it went together lickity split:

I threw a pile of washed whole Roma tomatoes into it and started cranking. The unit comes with a wooden plunger that you use to push the tomatoes down into the screw part. I didn't have to core or peel the tomatoes, but did find that it was easier if I cut the tomatoes in half. That way they wouldn't explode when I mushed them!

The Squeezo Strainer is very heavy duty and in no time I had sauce coming out one side and the skin and seeds cranking out the other side.

And quicker yet I had big pots of tomato sauce boiling down on the stove!

I highly recommend this product. There are three screens that can be purchased for it - a berry screen, a tomato screen, and a pumpkin screen.

The one I bought came with a berry screen and pumpkin screen. I used the pumpkin screen to process my tomatoes and it worked beautifully. I found that I would pull out more sauce and pulp if I dumped the resulting skin/seed mix back into the hopper and ran it through one more time - something the directions advised - but said may not be necessary. Maybe if I were using a tomato screen the second run through would not have been needed.

Now I look forward to - rather than dread - future tomato processing. And the kids think it's great fun!

For more information or if you want to buy a new Squeezo Strainer:

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Last night we had our first really hard frost.

We've had other frosts, but this was a truly heavy one. We covered the outside lettuces, but I fear to see what is inside the high tunnel. Could this be the end of the 2010 growing season? Stay tuned....

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

"Babe" No More

The pigs have become quite large and have lost that cute little "Babe" piglet look.

Funny though, they act the same. I still chuckle when they hear me in the morning and come charging to the front of the pen for their breakfast. The squeeling/screaming has really lost it's charm though.

And, while it's cute when little piggies are pushing past to get to the feed trough, it's not so cute when it's 250 pounds of hog shoves you aside. I have to wonder what would happen if I fell down in the field? (I can guess)

Is anyone interested in buying half of a pig? They leave for the butcher on October 25th.

By the way, doesn't this lettuce look scrumptious?

The variety is black-seeded simpson that I planted outside this fall. I thought the frost got it, but it bounced back beautifully!

10 eggs
3 eggs
6 eggs
5 eggs

Monday, October 4, 2010

Coudersport Falling Leaves Festival 2010

This past Friday, Saturday, and Sunday was the Coudersport Falling Leaves Festival here in Coudersport, Pennsylvania.

We were blessed with absolutely beautiful weather - crisp, sunny, and smelling of the wonderful fall leaves (and during the festival the wonderful smell of italian sausages frying with onion and peppers and the aroma of popping kettle corn).

What a wonderful way to finish out the summer!

For the Festival I had two tents linked together - one with fresh vegetables and one with Carol Jackson's preserves...

The three day weekend was bittersweet. Although I won't miss the very hard work associated with a Farmer's Market, I will miss the regular customers and friends I met during the summer.

(That's my Mom helping out.)

Some of the other Farmer's Market vendors...

The Antique Car Show...

(Heather and John chose the car above for Fitz)

And our beautiful Maple Sweetheart, Rhea Ianson; crafts, a hay ride, chainsaw carving, and much, much more...

A small town parade is always special. When the people in the parade are your friends and neighbors it makes it so much better!

Especially when it's my own great kid!

Yup, that's John, the hard-playing boy with the very dirty knees!