...Growing, Building, Cooking, Preserving, Crafting...

2006 began our urban homestead when I broke ground on a garden, which now includes perennial fruits, flowers, & many vegetable varieties. We dream of solar panels, keeping bees and hens. Until then we'll continue growing and preserving our own fruits and vegetables, building what we can for our home, cooking from scratch, and crafting most days.


In a Pickle...

It's the time of the season when I look at my preservation planning list and get a little panicked about all I still want to put up before winter.  Pickles have been on my mind lately so I paged through my copy of The Joy of Pickling this morning before heading to the farmers' market.  I recently found a recipe from another publication for Quick Persian Pickles so I put the needed ingredients on my shopping list (the pickling cukes from our garden this year fell to the powdery mildew again.)  From Joy I chose a recipe for Eggplant-Tomato Relish.  My beans are trimmed for another batch of homegrown dilly beans as well so it looks like it will be another pickling marathon this weekend, if time allows.

As of today I feel caught up on my garden.  I've picked all the vegetables that needed my immediate attention including tomatoes, pattypan squash, green and yellow beans, nasturtiums, and blackberries.  I also started harvesting our red lima beans.  So far I have about half a pint, but there are many more pods of the plants, waiting to mature and dry out.  Vera had fun opening these wit me the other day and finding the treasure of two or three beans in each pod.  She's my little bean counter.
Dried Red Lima Bean pods
So far a bowl of beans

While picking nasturtiums, I realized that the seed pods are starting to form so I will begin saving them to make "Midwest capers." With the bulk of blossoms I picked, I made a unique pesto.  The original recipe didn't call for the flowers, just the leaves, but I added them for color anyway.

Nasturtium Pesto
Makes about 12 oz.

Adapted from a recipe from the River Cottage Preserves Handbook by Pam Corbin.  Note: this book  has a lot of great ideas for preserving, but not all of them seem to be truly shelf stable as indicated--i.e. homemade herbal oils MUST be refrigerated--so proceed with caution.

Whizzing the pesto in the Cuisinart
1/4 c. nasturtium leaves, packed
1/4 c. nasturtium flowers, packed
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
6 or so nasturtium seed pods
6 T. hemp seeds (or pine nuts)
2 1/2 oz. Parmesan cheese, grated
1/4 c. lemon juice
1/3 c. flaxseed oil
1/3 c. olive oil
Salt to taste

Put nasturtium leaves and flowers, garlic, seed pods, and hemp seeds into a food processor and process until coarsely chopped.  Add the cheese and process until combined.  Gradually add the liquid ingredients until smooth.  Season with salt to taste.  Use immediately, refrigerate, or freeze in small portions.

A colorful difference in pesto
Another fun by-product of my overgrown garden besides the nasturtium seed pods is dill seeds.  I grow dill to use fresh in making pickles, but I'd honestly never thought about growing it for my own dried dill seeds.  Once the plant went to seed, I clipped the flower heads and brought them inside to air dry a bit.  Then I shook off or rubbed off the dry seeds.  My cilantro also went to see so I'm trying to same thing with it.  I'm sure this will make for some volunteer plants next season, but in the meantime I have grown my own "spices."

Homegrown spices!
Processing apricots and pickles this weekend.  Stay tuned for recipes and photos.

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