Thursday, May 27, 2010

This is Goodbye

Didn't I just say I was going to come back to this space? Hm. Well. My heart just isn't into it, in part because all of my focus right now is going into getting things up and running for our homeschool in the fall. Thanks to those of you who read and commented during the duration of this blog.

If you'd like, you can come visit our homeschooling efforts at With the Wisdom of Owls.

Peace be.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Use What You Have: Maple Seeds

(Sorry, no pics with this post, just to see how it feels.)

Now, I have mostly a lot of love for Mother Maple, she who graces our backyard and fair skin with copious amounts of dark, cool shade and provides us with feather soft autumn leaves in which to plunge our lazy bodies. But. BUT. In the springtime, I find it a bit difficult to appreciate the... blatant fecundity of Old Mama Maple. There isn't one spot on our property (I exaggerate not) that isn't blessed with the bearing of one of Mother Maple's progeny. In other words, I end up weeding a whole heckuva lot of maple seedlings from my garden.

Only now... Now I know. Now I know how to beat Mama Maple at her own game. Tonight found me hanging lazily from branches and scaling that rough, shaggy trunk of hers to gather those green little whirlybirds. And then? And then I ATE THEM. Yes I did.

I'll admit, this is one of those situations where, in caloric terms, I'm not sure the end justifies the means. It took a loooong time to split the husks off of each of those little seeds. This is very slow food we're talkin'! You get a big pile of green husks and a little itty bitty pile of food. Still, there're going to be fewer maple saplings to remove from the garden this year...

In regards to preparation:
-Break off the green outer husk (they're still edible if the hulls are brown, but I've read that they get bitter at that point)
-Snack on a couple to see if they're sweet enough or if you have to boil off the tannins
-If bitter, boil and dump the water. Repeat until bitter taste is gone.
-Otherwise, boil until tender (mine took ~15 minutes).
-Season with salt, pepper, and/or butter to your fancy.

I have no experience with this, but you can also roast them or even dry the seeds and ground them into flour.

In regards to taste: I actually preferred them raw. The larger seeds seemed to be more bitter than the smaller ones. It's best to get 'em young, I guess. I boiled some, and they were good but quite bland. I salted them and smothered them in butter. All in all, for free food, it was good!

Friday, April 9, 2010

I'm Baaaaack!

And you all thought this blog was going to be forgotten forever... SURPRISE! (The real surprise will be if anyone is still out there... LOL!)

The truth is that the "homesteading" bit got to be a bit too much for The Husband, so for the sake of marital harmony I kind of scaled back my efforts for the past year or so. It definitely helped my state of mind that I had a new baby last spring. That made it much easier to allow the garden to go, run to the grocery store for pre-packaged tripe rather than spend the summer canning the produce that was never grown, and generally let things run amock. I won't say it hasn't taken its toll on me, but I dealt with it. Now I feel that things are back to a somewhat more stable state of equilibrium. I have come to a better understanding of The Husband's needs, and he has come to a better understanding of mine. Oh, the difference a year makes...

Now is the time to get back into the swing of things. Most things will be shifting ever so slowly, with baby steps here and there, but there are some very big changes coming as well.

For one thing, we've finally come to an agreement on the matter of homeschooling. This is HUGE, people. Just huge, because The Husband was adamantly opposed to homeschooling for, well, always. I'll be writing more about this later for certain.

Also, I'm right at the beginning stages of some major house renovation. Can you believe that we've lived in our home for nearly five years now and have yet to hang a picture or paint a room? Yes, it's true! There have been changes to the house, but most of these were a matter of "we need something to function right now" rather than making this house our home. Again, upcoming posts will talk a bit more about these changes.

Anyway, I do indeed have some things to share, so stay tuned!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Use What You Have: Strawberry Leaves

The strawberries here are done and gone. We did actually get a few this year, but the birds and rabbits got the majority. I think I want to pot them up next year, but that's a discussion for another time. What we're talking about today is not the yummy, juicy, ruby red berries of yesterday (can you tell I miss them just a little?). What we're talking about now is the LEAVES.

Once the plants have fruited, I move right on to harvesting the leaves. Most people say that the leaves are most flavorful when the plant is in bloom, but you can (and I do) harvest them all spring and summer. They get bunched and dried and, for the most part, made into tea. It does, surprisingly enough, taste quite a bit like the berries, which means it's y-u-m-m-y. It does, of course, have added health benefits (iron, vitamin C, calcium, and other minerals). I'm finding that it really helps to boost my milk production, very important in these early months of nursing.

As with any summer tea (lemon balm and mint are among other summer favorites), I like to drink it iced. I've also been using it to make popsicles for the kids.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Homesteading Legos

We went to my in-laws' house this past weekend since we didn't get out there for their Memorial Day celebration. It rained, so we were stuck inside. The boys decided to dive into my brother-in-law's old Legos. Not to be outdone by their spaceships and boats filled to the brim with guns and lasers, I spotted a horse and inspiration struck!

There's a rain barrel, windmill, compost bin (actually a treasure chest) and garden (they had only one plant, so use your imaginations here, folks!). The work horse is there for manure, of course. ;)

I'm SO pitching this to the Legos people... :P

What's Blooming in My Garden-- June 1, 2009

The buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum) cover crop is coming into its own and beginning to pull in the beneficials.

Two species of Stellaria here. On the left is Stellaria graminea, otherwise known as Lesser Stitchwort. On the right is the much more common and far tastier chickweed (Stellaria media).

A second unidentified peony (Paeonia spp.).

Here you can see the lesser stitchwort growing under our front maple. That's Annie's hand in the background to give you some idea of just how teeny tiny the flowers of this particular herb are.

Still blooming from last week: raspberries, onions, chives, sage, unidentified yellow flower.

Friday, May 29, 2009


My poor, poor catnip.

Apparently, cats aren't the only critters who love catnip. I walked out to the garden a few days ago and noticed that my catnip, which has flourished unscathed for the past three years, was nearly gone! My immediate thought was to heap the blame on the neighborhood felines who frequently climb our privacy fence to hunt in our yard, but later that day I was standing at the backdoor and noticed a little ball of fur by the devastated catnip patch. Long ears, twitching nose, cute little cottontail... It was a rabbit! I've rarely seen them in our garden, but we always find bunny prints in the backyard snow during our winter nature walks. They've never bothered the catnip before though. It must have been a particularly lovely crop this year.

Buns love catnip. Who knew.