Strawberry Fields Update!

In a bare 3 weeks our strawberries have gone from this to this!

LOOK! BABY BERRIES!

Both of our varieties are June/Summer bearing varieties, which means technically we’re supposed to pinch off all those baby berries to make the plants put more growth into the plant itself.

We started, but have a 2 year old and a life with jobs and stuff. We’re hoping to get back to it over the next few evenings. We have yet to actually mulch. We’ve been using the disruption method of weed control by tilling in between the rows. Finding good clean straw is more difficult then I had thought it would be.

Well anyway, lots of other stuff going on. We’re getting ready to transition the chicks to the outdoor area and still working on getting out garden in. Its daylight from 4 to almost 9 and there is still not enough time to get everything done.

Until next time, have a wicked good day!

Update 06222017 – We got the buds all picked off in our lunch break, the day after I published this. Here’s hoping they just go back into vegetative growth and we can put our time to other activities for now.

Until next time, have a wicked good one!

Strawberry Fields Aplenty- well for right now.

 

WE PLANTED STRAWBERRIES!

LOOK! THEY’RE ALREADY GROWING!

We dug out a long trench, lined it with some good garden soil from Maine’s very own Coast Of Maine line, lined them up and down the row and filled them in. We are trying to decide if we want to go the traditional route of straw or if we want to use black garden fabric, as we have a lot of it on hand already.

We planted them over the course of three nights- like literally planted at 8pm and on… at one point I asked for a head lamp for my birthday and not really as a joke.

The third night, Mr Gillis’s cousins, two other MrGilliseseses (??) helped us plant the last 50, and also helped us get some of our pumpkins into the ground.

I’m really excited about this (ok we’re both REALLY EXCITED about this)…. we planted 100 bare root Sparkle(a mid season variety known for its flavor) and 100 bare root Honeoye( a mid/late season type with a long harvest season).

MrGillis even wanted to order another 100 each, because the field was so small once we had them all in, but Johnny’s was already sold out for the season….

So next year, we’re going to go big…. really big. Like 1000 roots big.

For now, I guess we’ll have to be happy planting the Alexandria Strawberry Seeds we bought- this is an Alpine variety which grows double the standard wild berry size.. bonus points for edible flowers!

That’s about that for this one tho.  Until next time, have a wicked good day.

Exciting news on the homestead! 

Yesterday, we placed an order with Hoover’s Hatcheries for 15, day old chicks to be shipped to us the week of March 13th!  We are very excited, because CHICKENS and FREE SHIPPING! Our entire order of 15 female chicks, with Mareks vaccinations for all, was 65 bucks and change!

And free shipping! Like, we really cannot get over that… Other hatcheries that sell to Maine charge upwards of $60 for just shipping. And the prices for the chicks are only a bit more. Totally worth it (though, on a side note, the other hatcheries I looked at, Meyer’s  and Murray McMurray, have excellent prices on meat birds, and even with the shipping,so we’ll probably be going with one of those places… I mean check out this Fry Pan Bargain .)

This gives us two weeks to get a brooder set up, and supplies regathered.

So the lowdown on our new chicken breeds-

We are getting a speckled Sussex, a couple Polish, a couple new Amercuanas, an Asian blue, an Amberlink, a golden laced Wyandotte, a Welsummer, a Favorelle, and 4 hatchery choice rare breeds, which could be Silkies or Cochins or Buckeyes, anything considered a rare breed, really… depends on the hatch yield for that day. I couldn’t really make up my mind so I figured hopefully they’ll send me different breeds then what I ordered, and make sure they are cold hardy…. seeing as how they know they are shipping to Maine.

AND the other super exciting news for now, we ordered our seeds from Johnny’s Select Seeds, a Maine company that we really love and feel good supporting with our hard earned dollars. Included in that order, but not limited to- popcorn seed, beets, beans, pumpkins, tomatoes, squash, peas, carrots, peppers and STRAWBERRIES. We got one hundred bare root Honeoye plants, one hundred bare root Sparkle plants and 1000 Alexandria seeds. We’ll be receiving the seeds this month, but the Roots won’t be here until may 17th or so. But that just gives us time to amend the soil to their needs! This is going to be an amazing spring.

Otherwise, its off to the daily rigamarole of housework and making pizza for supper.

Until next time, have a wicked good night!

The art of smoothie making

I am a dedicated smoothie drinker.

Almost everyday I guzzle down a 16 oz concoction of awesomeness juice. And because you can make a smoothie out of pretty much anything, the flavor profile is extensive. I have a pretty strict list of base ingredients tho, for different reasons.

I build the base of my smoothie pretty much the same way every time. I aim for 32 oz total, and split it in between two servings. I start with my supplements, juices, yogurt and leafy greens. For this smoothie, I used the following:

  • Stoneyfield plain whole milk yogurt – I don’t believe in low fat hype. In researching for myself, I have found that the fats in whole milk products, are good for you in moderation. I don’t eat dairy at every meal, but I don’t actively keep it out of my diet. I believe in the power of real, whole fat yogurt, cheese and butter. Even better when raw.
  • Pineapple juice- has a nice sweetening quality. It has also been known to help aid in digestion, has anti inflammatory properties and lots of vitamin c
  • Bolthouse Farms 100% carrot juice- carrot juice is shown to help in breast milk production. I like this type because there is absolutely no additives. It’s really just carrots.
  • Brewers yeast- this is for the help in breast milk production as well. It gives the smoothie almost a malt like texture. It’s also a good source of vitamin b, protien and chromium.
  • Chia seeds- I get this bag at SAMs club for under ten bucks. They’re a true super food. Omega 3s, Antioxidants, proteins, Vitamins… And they help you feel fuller longer.
  • Baby spinach- I just really like spinach. You could use really any greenery. Kale or a mix of spring greens would be good also.

This is the first round

First things first- juice. I immediately put in a total of 8 oz of juice. Next I add one tablespoon each of Brewers yeast and chia seeds.

By putting the juice in first and then the supplements, it will help get it well mixed

Next, I add a cup of spinach and a half cup of yogurt.
The weight of the yogurt holds the powder, seeds and spinach down so they get really well incorporated.

This way the spinach will be weighed down by the yogurt and will get completely chopped up

So, at this point I give the blender a quick pulse, to start chopping the spinach. In my opinion, there is nothing worse than spinach bits.
Now it’s time to really play with the flavor. At this point, I use only frozen fruits and berries. This way I can skip the ice, still have a nice thick smoothie and it’s gonna be cold.

I also save a lot of money by only buying stuff like Avocados, ginger, mangos, etc on sale. I only buy bananas when they’re “overripe” and are on deep discount. We also pick our own berries every season- this way they are cheap, plentiful and we get to choose our own. This is extremely valuable to us as most berries you buy in market aren’t actually ripe. A perfectly ripe strawberry is red all the way thru and much sweeter, compared to a market strawberry.

We process and freeze all of these things. It really cuts down the cost of eating healthy.

In this smoothie I decided to go berry berry banana – taste has a big to do about this but so does nutrition.

  • Avocado – healthy fats, vitamins a, b, c and k
  • Strawberries – manganese, dietary fiber, more vitamins
  • Raspberries – Vitamin k and magnesium
  • Banana – more manganese, vitamins, fiber and obviously potassium
  • Ginger – vitamins and minerals. Also adds a nice spice to it.

Here is my round of frozen add ins.

I also put the smaller stuff on bottom and my banana on top. Just breaks up more easily in my experience.

Here it is preblend…. not very smooth.

When using a blender, always go for the vortex. When you have a vortex, you know your blender is doing its job.

Not quite the amount I was aiming for

Since I didn’t get the 32 oz I was aiming for, I grabbed my apple juice. I add this in to get the desired amount and help thin it out a bit more.

Taa Daa! I’ll get what I want now

Add in the juice, and blend until completely smooth.

The smoothie vortex- this means the blender is doing it’s job

And here it is, the finished product. Two thick, cold smoothies.

I drink one and store the other in the fridge over night to have as brunch the next day.

I got these cups from Kmart, and the straw and lid from Walmart. Both are Ball products. We use them a lot- like when we are having a fire out back. The lids keeps any ashes or bugs out of the beverage in question and look pretty snazzy. Best part of the lid and straw is that they fit any regular mouth jar.

So there you have it- my fool proof how to smoothify your fruits and stuff.

I’m off to the next thing. Not sure what it is, but I’ll figure that out soon enough.

Until next time, have a wicked good afternoon.

The beginning of the end

Summer is not my favorite season.

It’s barely tolerable, in my honest opinion. This shouldn’t surprise anyone really… I like living in Maine because, most of the time, it’s not hot.

But part of what makes summer okay is the crazy amounts of berries that grow around our area. So far this year we’ve harvested strawberries from a farm in Monticello, raspberries from an abandoned property here in our town,  and blueberries from DownEast. Now, the last of the berries are finally coming in.

Blackberries.

My husband picked these this morning

Sweet, tart, tangy, juicy blackberries. There’s an old place in town that burnt a few years back, and out behind the old chicken condominium is a fairly large patch of blackberries. There is also another good size patch behind my husband’s office.  Nothing tastes better then free food. But more on that in another post.

So, you’d think that we’d let them all come in before we start picking, but no sir. Because we have a jam recipe that only needs one cup of blackberries.

Our triple berry jam.

It’s pretty simple. It’s half blueberry, quarter strawberry and quarter blackberry. And its delicious.


So get your jamming and canning equipment out and follow along.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups crushed blueberries
  • 1 cup crushed strawberries
  • 1 cup crushed blackberries
  • 1 packet of Certo opened and standing upright in a cup
  • 6 cups of sugar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

This is one of those times I bring out my handy immersion blender. I like to really break down the berries so the taste is consistent.

Once you have your berries blended, throw them, your lemon juice and sugar into your jamming pot. On a high heat, while stirring constantly, get it boiling. Add in your single pack of Certo. Get it back to boiling and set a timer for 1 minute. Keep stirring until the timer goes off.

Process the jam into your jars. Get them into your awaiting canner, and let them go for 10 minutes.

A tasty way to get some extra omegas in your diet would be to add a 1/4 cup chia seeds in with the berries. It also makes for a slightly thicker jam because of the seeds gelling properties.

Well, there she is, in all its delicious glory. I use the same ratios of berries to make a pie. But that’s another time.

I already know what’s coming next. It’s going to be a long one because tomorrow is Machias’ annual Blueberry Festival!

Pretty exciting…. so until then, have a wicked good afternoon.