Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Homestead Eating: Moose and Veggies

Saturday night for dinner, we had Rosemary and red wine moose with rice and veggies.  Early in the day, the Darlin'Man cut off a piece of moose meat from the hindquarter we have in the freezer.  I let it thaw on the counter in a marinade of olive oil, red wine, garlic, rosemary, and salt and pepper.  I sauteed it in cast iron, till the larger peice was rare in the center and smaller was medium rare.  If you ever get a chance to cook your own moose, try it rare even if you usually like your meat more well done.  It really serves the moose well!
I braised a mix of onions, carrots and turnips from Calypso's CSA in some chicken stock and served it over brown rice.  

Bear Creek Winery Black Currant Wine
We had it with a very nice bottle of Alaskan wine.  A few months ago, I bought this bottle to save for a nice meal (disclaimer* I did not receive any incentive from Bear Creek!).  I had planned on breaking it out the next time I got pork chops from Homegrown, and I do think this light red sweet wine would complement pork better than it did the heavier flavors of the moose.  But it was lovely!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Homestead Eating: Lox!

I made Lox last week!  After we got back from Chitina (post up-coming on that whole experience, I promise!) last week, I made the lox and then let it sit in the fridge and cure while we went down to Girdwood for one of my best friend's wedding.  When we got back, it was cured and ready to eat, so Tuesday night we had lox for dinner along with boiled new potatoes and cabbage cooked with butter (both from Calypso's CSA).  I served it with some sour cream and with chopped green onions from the front porch.  So the only part of this meal that wasn't local was the salt and pepper, the sugar used in curing, and the sour cream! 


To make the lox I followed the directions and recipes from Juniper Moon Farm, found here.  I'll let you look at their photos of the process, as their food photography is much more beautiful than mine generally yet manages to be.  I used both dill and fennel from the CSA. 

Darlin'Man cuts Lox

Next time I make lox, for there will be next time for sure!  I'm going to try curing it for only the three days that is recomended.  It wound up being a little on the salty side, and I have heard that the saltiness increases the longer you let it cure...


Serve, and then enjoy with dear ones, eaten mindfully in the presence of fire.

Dinner is served!
I got some cream cheese, so tomorrow I'll be bringing lox and bagels for lunch!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

My Garden this Year....

A good friend of mine who lives on the east coast recently wrote me a letter in which he asked how my garden was this year, he imagined that it was large and flourishing with ginormous cabbage and flooding zucchini.  Because of course, this is the garden that lives in my mind and so the garden that he would expect me to have.  
In reality, I'm only growing a few pots of things on my porches this year.  I had grand plans of getting the large garden space dug in this summer and planted with a crop of clover or rye or something to till in before the frost, but that time and labor involved has yet to manifest!
Nasturtium; calendula; green onions
On the steps up to the door, I have a pot of calendula, one of nasturtiums, and one of green onions.  The calendula are ones that I grew from seed, and I have been super-pleased with the amount of blooms I am getting off of them.  I pick crop after crop of 15+ flowers on the four plants there.  In the past number of years, I've bought calendula seedlings from Calypso's plant sale, and have not gotten as many blooms...  So, note to self, not only is it more economical it is also more productive when I grow my own plants from seeds :-)  Lesson learned. 
 There's also a pot of nasturtiums, bought as seedlings from Holm Town Nursery -which is conveniently located near my work.  I've been making nasturtium infused vinegars, eating the flowers on salads and pastas, and just yesterday made a batch of pickled nasturtium seeds to stand in for capers.

The giant green onions are transplanted from the ones that were in a jar of water in my window sill for months, that were re-grown from the root end clippings from grocery-store green onions.  The idea for this came from Pinterest! 

parsley and sad tomatoes
 Two potted tomato plants and three pots of (grown-from-seed) parsley.  The parsley has also been wonderfully productive, and there are many bunches of it hanging to dry in the kitchen.  There's a number of green cherry tomatoes on the two plants, and a couple are getting orange!  I ate a very orange one this morning and it was delicious.
Rained-on wildflower garden
This is my little wildflower patch.  I should have taken a photo of it a couple of weeks ago in its height of beauty and before it fell over in the rain.  But I didn't.  This is the little patch of earth that I dug up the grass-sod off of before I left for Kripalu and I scattered the lots of seeds into.  The lupines sprouted but were outpaced by the faster growing annuals.  They are in the understory of the flower patch.  The seed packet said that the perrenials would likely not flower the first year, putting all their energy into their roots.  So hopefully they will come back.  The black eyed Susan's didn't flower either which is disappointing.  But the icelandic poppies, the bachelor buttons, calendula, and the wildflower mix are flourishing.  They are supposed to be all re-seeding annuals, so hopefully and we'll see what comes back next year!  I'm being very very good and resisting the temptation to harvest all the calendula (for medicine) and bachelor buttons (for a pretty addition to a flower facial steam mix) in hopes that they will go to seed and come back next year...  Eventually, this whole section of lawn in front of the generator shed will be a flower garden...

Friday, August 10, 2012

Harvest Update

This summer has felt a bit wonky for me.  The weather, the timing, the whole thing.  I know rationally that it is mostly because I was gone for 5 weeks of it.  Missing the month of June wasn't just the shock and weirdness of going from one climate to another 4000 miles away, and then back again, missing out on the gradual and dramatic shifts of light and plant growth.  It wasn't just missing the roses and the irises.  It was also, albeit a conscious one, a choice to skip out on my usual early- summer activites.  The hauling garden dirt and top soil, planting, weeding, watering, harvesting.  Add that to a realization that my job is not truly serving my highest purpose, is draining my energy, and causing me to occasionally shut down and be unavailable for my loved ones; and the subsequent so-far-unsuccessful job search and really its no surprise my summer feels a bit wonky.  That and there's already frost in low lying areas in Fairbanks.  And one of the birch on my drive home has started sporting a golden bough...  I'm not quite ready to welcome fall, just yet....

But even with all of that, there has been some summer harvest and preserving going on.

I've been wildcrafting like crazy: yarrow, horsetail, plaintain, clover, and coltsfoot are all drying in my kitchen.  I've been drying continuous batches of (feral) red raspberry leaves in my mother's dehydrator I borrowed last year and have yet to return. ahem.  The calendula I grew from seed is far more prolific, flower wise, than the starts I've gotten from Calypso in the past.   So I've got lots of calendula being dried.  Bachelor buttons too.  Did you know they taste like nutmeg?  I have plans for teas and medicines and facial steams all winter!

Note to self: Next year, do lots of starting from seed!

A massive amount of canned nectarines and peaches await pies this winter, along with the cherries from an earlier post (I got nine quarts, by the way.  So that comes out to more like a $3 quart, which means it is half as expensive - and so much better - than buying canned peaches at the store.  Did you know Fairbanks has food prices comprable to Manhattan?). 

I've eaten so many and many raspberries off the feral canes all over the yard.  There's a quart or two in the freezer.  Next year, the raspberries will be re-tamed and cultivated in their own patch.

I went berry picking near my house, and got a few quarts that are in the freezer awaiting pies.  Can you tell I"m a fan of pies?  Our picking spot is all picked out by now (unfortunately other people know of it!) but there's a few later-fruiting spots that hopefully we'll get to too.

As far as updates go:  That birch gruit ale we bottled?  Turns out I'm real good at making vinegar.  Fortunately I have a friend who likes to drink vinegar for health purposes.  More power to him!  I know what he's getting this year for Yule.
The saurkraut I tried again?  Turns out I'm real good at making mold be really happy. 
The only thing I've been sucessfull with fermenting this season is Kefir.  But it is awesome.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Woods Walking

After work yesterday, before picking up the CSA share - I forgot bags at home again and had to beg plastic ones off the local bookstore, I have got to get better about this! - Misling and I went woodswalking up at the University. In the winter the trails are (almost) all ski-only no dogs allowed trails, but in the summertime they become the haven of joggers and pups.

Flowering:  purple aster, monkshood, fireweed, yarrow, vetch,

Fruiting: lingon berry, blueberry, bunchberry, black currant, thimble berry, at least 5 different varieties of mushrooms (is it a fruit or a flower on a fungus?)

Hipping?: roses

Harvested: coltsfoot

Eaten: blueberries, thimbleberries, and a black currant.  I'm still not a fan of black currant, but I can see how it would be good as a sauce for pork...

It was remarkable how my perception changed from the first to the second half of my walk.  As I released my day on deep inhales and exhales, and really allowed myself to be present in the woods, taking a genuine interest in the plants around, more and more of them showed themselves to my gaze. 

It is something that I have noticed with myself and plants, when I move somewhere new, I bring my attention to the medicinal "weeds" that are present and I say hello and invited them to flourish.  In each of the last 3 places I've lived, the next year I see a remarkable increase in that/those plants' presence near my home. 

My yoga teacher says that "where attention goes, prana flows."  It works on so many levels.