Karen the Farm Lady tantalizes you…

I have been Farm Lady the last few days, barefoot in the kitchen, and I really love it. I’ve decided that I would gladly do a swap with someone: They can come daily and clean my home, and I will do all their healthy grocery shopping and cooking and baking, accommodating all their dietary needs or restrictions. I’m sort of joking, because I think in order for it to REALLY work, that person would have to live very close to me. Still. One can dream, right?? If interested, apply below in the comments. 🙂

It tastes as good as it looks!

I’m finally 100% happy with my bread.  Yes, it’s gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, rice-free, potato-free, vegan, made with this homemade flour blend.  Now, I just need to post the recipe.  But that takes a while.  Saturday, maybe??  Monday??  Stay tuned.  My friend Kim (of Gluten Free Real Food) sampled the bread yesterday, and she said it was really good.  🙂

Yesterday, I turned all this basil (about ¼ of what I could have harvested from my garden) into little ice cubes, made by chopping washed leaves with a bit of olive oil in a food processor (a delightful, free hand-me-down from the afore-mentioned Kim), putting 1 Tbsp of the mixture into ice cube trays, and topping it with filtered water.  It made 40 “ice” cubes, which I will happily add to soups, stews, sauces, etc., in the dead of winter, and think happy thoughts about my garden.  I’m going to make some more this afternoon.

I look like an aging goober with really yellow teeth. Oh, well. At least I can grow some good basil.

I worked this morning in my garden, staking my tomatoes, weeding, and making a general assessment of overall garden health…  I was going to plant more carrots, but Fiala, my almost-three-year-old “planted” the seeds in the family room carpet yesterday.  I have determined that all — or at least most — of my garden problems were simply from the intense heat.  The days are still hot — usually hitting 105° daily — but the nights are relatively cooler — in the 70s or at least the low 80s.  Now,

  • my Mexican Grey Squash are growing very nicely.  I still haven’t harvested any mature fruit, but there are about six squash growing healthy and strong…  At least 2-3 of them should be ready to eat in another week or so.
  • My pole green beans have recovered from serious heat stress and are growing fresh green leaves and blossoms.
  • There are a total six green tomatoes on my eleven plants — don’t laugh!  Up until now, I have harvested ONE tomato, and it was really small.  So, I’m really delighted about my tomato plants — growing more robustly in the last few weeks than they have all summer.
  • I also have 7-8 volunteer tomato plants sprouting up… I’m not sure if I’m going to have room for all those tomatoes!  We’ll see.
  • My green chile plant is blooming nicely.
  • My Hopi Pumpkin plant is absolutely taking over the world — it’s about 10′ x 10′, and now it is finally producing some green pumpkins which are NOT dying, but actually growing bigger.  I hope I get to reap some before I grow terribly annoyed by the prolific/invasive grower and root it out.
  • I have carrots that are growing nicely.
  • Red chard growing nicely, too, though it seems like the bugs REALLY like it, so I’m going to have to spray it with some organic pesticide…  (I bought Raid Earth Options chrysanthemum-pyrethrin-based pesticide because I had a buy-on-get-one-free coupon.  For the record, it discourages bugs for about three days, and you can’t let any overspray hit bees, or it’ll kill them.  And, a garden needs its bees!!)

I’ve put up ten quarts of pickles in the last week or so, using cucumbers from the CSA/farm share to which I belong.  Four in the first batch, six in the second batch, which I canned this morning.  The first batch was WAY TOO SALTY, because of some vague wording in the recipe I was following coupled with me not being sharp enough to figure out the error.  The best part of the too-salty pickles is the cloves of fresh garlic I threw in.  YUM.  I’m going to have to pickle me some garlic!!  In the new batch, in each jar, I used ½ tsp dill weed, ¼ tsp each brown mustard seed, coriander seed, and black peppercorns.  No garlic this time — not enough to spare!  I look forward to eating my not-too-salty farm pickles.

This last bit isn’t really farm-y or even food-y.  BUT, I’m pleased with myself, because it is a cheap way to make my home more pleasant.  🙂  My sister, who teases me unmercifully on topics ranging from my horse teeth to my hairy toes to my crunchiness and everything in between (I love her dearly and she keeps me humble), bewailed my sadly scentless laundry.  I explained that we couldn’t do scented detergents or fabric softener because of Fiala’s skin issues.  When she mourned for me, it really got me thinking about ways I could make my laundry smell pleasant and fresh without hurting Fiala.  A few weeks ago, I was at Trader Joe’s and noticed their filter-paper enclosed lavender dryer sachets.  Voila!  Perfect.  The $3.99 price tag made me grumble, but four packets which each last 6-10 loads… I figured the package would last me a month.  Well, my local natural foods market (Sprouts, which is taking over the West — you may see one near you soon!  It’s a good thing.) is running a 25% off their bulk products this week.  They have a lovely wall of half-gallon jars full of spices and herbs, and I thought, “I wonder if they have dried lavender flowers?  I could make my own dryer sachets!”  Turns out, they DO carry lavender!  Even on sale, it was $13-something per pound, so I tentatively filled up my little plastic ziploc baggie with what I figured was more than enough to make four sachets to do a little price comparison.  The total cost???  FIFTY TWO CENTS.  That’s it.  And when buying lavender as an herb, it was taxed at the grocery rate (1.8%) instead of the general merchandise rate (≈9.8%, depending on the municipality).  And, I already have a little cotton drawstring bag that I’m planning on using.  So, I’ll have my gently lavender-scented laundry now, at 1/8 the cost.  Ha!  I feel pretty good about that one.  Because I get excited about weird stuff like that.

And now, this post is so long, I guess I could have used the time it took creating it to have done the bread recipe.  :\


About Karen Joy

I'm a partially-homeschooling mother of six -- 3 boys ages 19, 17 and 15 years old, and three girls: 11, 8, and 3. I like birding, reading, writing, organic gardening, singing, playing guitar, hiking, the outdoors, and books. I very casually lead a very large group of homeschooling families in the Phoenix area. I have a dear hubby who designs homes for a local home builder and who is the worship pastor of our church. I live in the desert, which I used to hate, but now appreciate.

Posted on September 16, 2011, in Arizona, Budget, Celiac Disease, Clean Eating, Cooking/Baking/Food/Recipes, Dairy-free, Desert Gardening, GFCF, gluten-free, Groceries, Random Stuff, Vegan. Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. Yay! I am so happy about your garden finally picking up! Mine, on the other hand, is all but done. I tore out most of my plants today. We had a hard frost last night and I lost my pumpkin and my zucchini, which were still going strong… No pumpkins for me this summer. *sigh* The only things I have left out there is lettuce, chard, rutabagas, and parsnips. Overall, I was quite happy with my garden.

    And thanks for the AWESOME tip for what to do with my basil. My basil doesn’t look nearly as lush as yours, but I do still have one nice little plant. I might do the same with my parsley and my oregano. And I must not forget about my dill, though I won’t freeze it the same way.

    (And for the record, I think you look pretty good in your picture!)

    • Heidi, I looked online for various ways to freeze basil… I liked the idea of chopping it with olive oil, but a couple places I read said that when done like that, they don’t pop out of the tray well. So, I thought I’d add the water on top, to fill up each cube, and it worked great!

      And… Wow. Your growing season is very short!!!!! When I’m dying in the roasting heat, I tend to forget the benefits of living in a warmer climate. So, thank you for the reminder!!

      • Yup. I think we had just over 3 months without frost this summer… I do live quite north, though. If I could have been bothered to cover my pumpkin with something last night, it would have been fine. It was my fault. I was just too lazy. This week was a little colder than normal for this time of year, but it’s going to be warming up again, at least for a while, though the nights are likely to be chilly from now on. But yes, there are most definitely benefits to living in a warmer climate. I think that if you are very careful to cover everything at night, the growing season here is maybe 4-4.5 months tops.

        • One more thing. 🙂 We kind of make up for our short growing season by the amount of light we have, which actually does help stuff grow. On our best days, the sun rises before 6 and sets at 10… so we actually have light for close to 18 hours a day for a while. It’s hard when the days start getting noticeably shorter!

  2. So happy to hear you are getting use out of the mini food processor already.
    I make my own laundry detergent. So do you, right? For a nice clean clothes smell I buy essential oils. lavender doesn’t hold a smell for very long. I use patchouli. I sprinkle several drops onto the powdered detergent (not directly onto the clothes) and that does the trick. I love the way my laundry smells. I’ve even converted several co-workers to this method.
    Oh and your description of your tomato plants sounds exactly like what I had. Big beautiful bushes, tons of flowers and only a couple tomatoes which were promptly eaten by birds. I tried for 3 years. I do not have the determination you do. Now I have my chickens in what used to be the garden. 🙂

    • Kim, after nearly two years of making detergent, I don’t make my own any more, because I can’t find any NON-palm- or coconut-based oils/soaps. Fiala was having skin problems from my homemade detergent, and I finally nailed it down to the coconut-oil soap I used. I do supplement my detergent w/ baking soda and washing soda, still… I have tried essential oils (lavender and tangerine, recently) in the rinse water, but that doesn’t make any scent once they’re out of the dryer.

  3. Dude. Good on ya about the laundry. I’ve felt bad for your whole family about that. For real. Happy laundry smell is one of the best things ever.

  4. I’m inserting my application for consideration only it would be a fair bit of flying for us! 🙂 I’d trade housework for cooking any day, all day, every day! Thankfully my hubby doesn’t mind cooking and I don’t mind baking too much.

    Good job on the bread. I’ll have to try it once my mill is working again. Davie poured water down it and I couldn’t figure out for weeks why my pantry stunk. Yep, rotten flour water in the mill. Now I have to take it apart and hope I can get it clean.

    I laughed out loud about the planting of seeds in your living room. Had to tell my husband about that one. I’ve picked SO many things out of my rug.

    Love the basil idea. I have a small container garden this year but hope to have the big one again next year it needs a new deer fence.

    I did not see anything offensive in your picture, neither wrinkle nor blemish, I noticed that your earrings match your eyes and you look giddy about the armload of basil just like I would be.

    Oh and since we seem to have everything else in common, I have hairy toes too. 🙂

  5. I love that picture of you with the basil. You look so delighted with your herbs! I get all giddy when my garden does well, too!

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