Sunday, September 20, 2009

Peach Perfume

Recently, the still-warm evening breeze has carried a distinctive perfume, the heady aroma of ripening peaches. It was an amazing scent to be sure and the sign of things to come.

Yesterday afternoon the time arrived, peach harvesting time. The tree, a native Iowa white peach, is still relatively young, around 15 years old, so it wasn't a huge harvest, but around 120 pounds. So now, resting in large black crates, are somewhat small, white peaches aging to their final ripeness. Sometime this week I will skin, slice and freeze these peaches to be made throughout the upcoming season in to our Ginger Peach Jam or Peach Butter. They aren't great fresh eating peaches, but in preserves they are perfect.

Its a good thing that we added a second big freezer this year, because next to the peach crates are a tall stack of pear crates, awaiting a similar fate. Its going to be a busy week!

A branch of nearly-ripe Iowa white peaches

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A Little Color

With the cooling of the weather, people clearly are getting the urge to "nest". At the market, jam and hand-spun yarn sales have blossomed. Its certainly a boon to the bottom line, but it is a bit of a struggle to keep up with the making of these things at this busy time of year.

Recently, in an effort to get ahead of the sales, I spent an evening dyeing wool roving to be spun after sunsets later in the week. Here are some of the rovings from the dyepot experiments

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Today's Harvest

The harvest from our high tunnels today:
Eggplant (final harvest): Calliope & Orient Express
Sweet Peppers: Ace (red), Golden Marconi (long yellow), Islander (purple) & Sunray (yellow)
Heirloom Tomatoes: Big Zebra, Dr. Wychee, Mule Team, Paul Robeson, Redfield Beauty

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Ice Cream Resolution

You will have to read today's earlier post titled "Torture" for the following photo to make any sense...

...ahhhhhhh...French Silk Bliss!
(thanks, Maggie!!!)


Those of you who know me, know that I am rather a connoisseur (addict) of ice cream, especially homemade ice cream. I come by this trait honestly, between our household and my parents we own 5 ice cream freezers (for 4 people, but we share!) We hold an Ice Cream Social every year for our CSA members and most larger family gatherings include some kind of homemade ice cream.

Well, last Saturday at the farmers market, my dear friend Maggie arrived at our booth with a full quart of her own homemade french silk ice cream base! This stuff is like a swoon, a scream and a sigh all rolled into one. I wanted nothing more than to rush home, pull out my little Cuisinart ice cream freezer and whip that baby into service. Alas, it was only 9 am and we still had 3 hours of market left and then some errands to run before we even got back home.

When we finally arrived, and the market stuff was all unloaded I started looking for the Cuisinart...hmmm, where was it? I knew I had used it since moving from Houston, so we hadn't done anything foolish like leaving it behind. I looked everywhere....well, everywhere except the far east door of our storage closets in the back porch. It is buried behind a pile of coolers, spent honeycomb waiting to become filtered beeswax, holiday decorations and the 55 gallon honey extractor.

I kept asking Sean if he remembered seeing the ice cream freezer, hoping that he would volunteer to find it, as he is rather skilled at spelunking through the storage closets, but he replied that he hadn't seen it, and didn't take the bait to help me find it. (hm, no ice cream for him in the eventuality that I EVER find the stinking machine).

Finally I had a moment of extreme determination and I scaled the pile and managed to open the east storage door...
See the barely visible shiny object, half hidden by the cardboard box...yep, that's it and there was no way I could even touch it while standing on a step stool, let alone get it out of there.
This was really an inhumane form of torture for a Beebout, anyone who knows us well will attest to it.

There are few things that would have pushed me forward at this moment, but ice cream is one of them. I will spare you any more of the ugly details, but spurred on by the thought of Maggie's french silk ice cream, the Cuisinart is now on my kitchen counter and the freezer bowl has been in the deep freeze for 24 hours, so later today, I am going to sit down to one luscious bowl of happiness...and I'm not sharing either!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

A whole month??

Today I checked in and realized it had been a full month since I last posted a blog entry, yikes! So we haven't been the most scintillating read recently, but it wasn't for lack of material, or even desire...simply a lack of time. Things have been a bit crazy here in the past month. All my seasonal help has gone back to school, so its pretty much me and the veggies out there, staring each other down...and in all honesty, the produce is winning!

This has been one crazy growing season...first too wet, then too cool, then hot for a week and back to cool. I actually had to install a bunch irrigation lines this past week, because there isn't enough soil moisture to germinate the fall crops. Most of the earlier crops are finishing up for the season, all except the beans. We are still picking beans from our first sowing...there were never beautiful plants, stunted from the lack of warmth, but they have just produced like crazy...thank you beans!

The high tunnels have been worth their weight in gold this season. They were the only places that got enough heat and water at all the right times (thanks to irrigation) so the crops in there have really been outstanding. We have just started turning the first of those crops over to cold weather crops. One bed of eggplant was evaculated after they failed to thrive under the onslaught of a flea beetle invasion and last week the cucumber trellis finally failed under the hundreds of pounds of insanely productive vines. Winter carrots have already germinated in the former eggplant location and winter peas and cabbage are going into the cuke beds later this week.

The quick score sheet for the season would read:
Winning Teams:
high tunnel peppers, cukes, zucchini, heirloom tomatoes, chard & basil
bush and pole beans

Losing Teams:
field cabbages

I promise to post some high tunnel and harvest pics later this week, and will try to be better at my weekly postings. Its at least a little easier now that its too dark to work outside after 8pm!