Garden Bounty

I am grateful to report that our gardens produced well this year.  The green beans and tomatoes have been especially plentiful resulting in a level full deep freeze.  We were also able to enjoy lots of fresh lettuce and greens and some carrots.  There were enough peas to put some in the freezer and a decent crop of potatoes and onions.  Herbs included mint, parsley, oregano, cilantro, and dill.  A variety of squash and a few cucumbers were harvested.  Peppers are still waiting to be picked.  I am hoping they will turn from green to yellow before the first frost.  Lima beans are still flowering and filling out in the pods.

At one point in September, when I had run out of room in the freezer and felt we had enough for our purposes, I decided to join our farmer’s market for the day.  Farmer’s markets are something I enjoy visiting, but I really love setting up a table.  There is a joy in providing a product that other people desire and in sharing knowledge of produce and cooking ideas.  People seem to want to share their stories:  both customers and vendors talked of life’s sorrows, tough times, and joys.  Our daughter came with me, and we had a great day.  We had small amounts of beans, herbs, squash, tomatoes, and flowers.  We sold some of everything, but the real surprise was the hydrangeas I had cut on a whim.  They sold out quickly.  Next year, I hope to participate more often in the market.

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A few days ago, I noticed the beauty and variety on our cupboard counter.  The vegetables came from our gardens, most of the canned goods were a gift, and the nuts, we picked up on the trail.  Gracious provision from our Creator!

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Vacation and Return

After full weeks of hosting summer volunteer groups, I was feeling spent; so having a time of relaxation and renewal was a blessing.  As a family, we experienced spiritual refreshment at Roxbury Holiness Camp, relaxed as we experienced Chincoteague and Assateague, and reconnected with family in a variety of settings.

At the ocean, the children frolicked in the waves both with and without boogie boards and created sandcastles on the beach.

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My husband and I enjoyed the water and sitting under an umbrella.  There is something quite soothing about the sound of the waves on the seashore.

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One morning, we climbed the winding stairs to the top of a lighthouse.  The view was amazing.  I felt dizzy as we peered over the railing.

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After a time away, it feels good to be home.  I was so glad to see that the gardens are still producing.  We picked green beans, corn, tomatoes, carrots, beets, squash, a cucumber, parsley, and various greens.  Fourteen quarts of beans were added to the freezer.

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Tonight we enjoyed a crock pot meal made of many ingredients from our garden including potatoes, onions, squash, tomatoes, parsley, and oregano.

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Praise the Lord for His gracious provision!

Gifts from the Garden

The garden is yielding its bounty.  After several harvests, there are twenty-eight quarts of beans in the freezer.

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The red beets should have been harvested sooner.  Even though they are pretty large, I plan to make some fermented pickled beets with them.

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I was going to wait to harvest the carrots, but I decided to pull the ones that were poking up through the wood chips.  In the four places we have gardened, I have never grown carrots this long.  I am thinking the wood chips really helped to amend the soil.

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Thank the Lord for His good gifts!

Glimpses of Summer in the Mountains

Beautiful blossoms are attracting the butterflies and bees.

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The other day, I noticed this tree blooming.  The blossom is like a bristly feather fan.

We have got quite a stand of mullein growing out of an old pile of coal at camp.

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The string beans are bearing: both Roma and wax.  The second picture, which I think has interesting perspective, was taken by our youngest.

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A friend dropped off a solar dehydrator for us, so I am experimenting with herbs and greens.

Interesting mushrooms are growing under the oak tree beside our garden.  I think they might be edible, but I am too cautious to try them!

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An afternoon at Martin’s Fork Lake was a welcome break from the heat we have been experiencing.  I had forgotten how beautiful the view is there.

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Cherries

Cherries are a beautiful fruit and a rare treat.  It was a blessing when our neighbor on the trail offered that we could pick cherries from her trees.  My husband and I picked the first time.  The fruit was so ripe that many of them left their pit behind when plucked from the tree.  While we were picking, the birds scolded us, reminding us they were waiting for their turn.  After removing the seeds,  I put away four quart in the freezer; plus we ate about a pint mixed with plain yogurt.  Later in the week, the children and I picked again.  This time I managed to slide all the way down the hill on my bottom while holding the bucket and not spilling any cherries in the process!  We gained another quart and a half to make two pies for our summer staff supper.

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Snapshots from the Week

The last few weeks have been full with finishing the school year and preparing for our summer season of volunteers; but it was fun to arrive at camp and find the peas, potatoes, and greens we had planted in April pushed up through the soil.  I was able to harvest a few radishes and salad greens, and we have pulled enough strawberries for the six of us to each have a few.

The iris, which is my favorite flower, were in full bloom.  I found a wild one blooming at the edge of the woods.

The children and I got the summer vegetables planted: beans, corn, several varieties of summer and winter squashes, cucumbers, tomatoes, and peppers.  Teamwork made the job go quickly.  Our oldest pulled back the wood chips with a hoe.  Our daughter and I planted the seeds, and our two youngest boys took turns covering them up.  At the end of one row, we uncovered a salamander which the kids found to be a fascinating diversion.

Later in the week, after all the vegetables were planted, we were grateful for a lovely, soaking rain.

One morning, the clouds were rolling in over the camp; and I had to stop and thank the Lord for the beauty of the sky.

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That same morning, I admired the colors of our breakfast fruit salad.

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Our oldest spent quite a bit of time in the shop working on wooden creations.  This was his first chiseled piece.  Later, he made another and was excited that someone bought it.

20170516_112322 A few snapshots from the week!

Maple Syrup Report

In January, we tapped three maple trees at the camp.  We knew this would be an experimental year for us but were optimistic that we would be able to produce some maple syrup for our use.  Thus far in 2017, there have been several days with weather that is conducive to a sap run which is below freezing temperatures at night with above 40 F during the day.

Of the three taps, only one has produced any sap.  After consulting with friends who are more experienced, we learned that some trees produce more than others.  Some trees do not produce at all, and even different locations on the same tree can produce different results.

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One day, we did collect a cup or so of sap; so I decided to boil off the water just to see what the results would be.  After cooking on low for several hours, about a tablespoon of syrup was left.  We all enjoyed tasting a bit of the sweet stuff.  I think I should have removed the pan from the heat sooner, as the syrup was pretty thick.  While we may not end up with much syrup this year, it is fun to realize the potential for producing a valued product.

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Cooking on the Woodstove

Here in the mountains of Kentucky, all in one week, the weather has swung from colder than average and snow to spring-like temperatures and rain.  During the below-freezing days, we were using the woodstove to heat the house; so I decided to try my hand at cooking on it.  I was amazed at how fast I was able to prepare our supper.

Using the “Autumn Vegetable Soup” recipe from Simply in Season, I sautéed onion and garlic in butter on the woodstove and then added the other ingredients which included cabbage, carrots, kale, turnips, tomatoes, black beans, barley, broth, and herbs.

Cornbread seemed like a nice complement to the soup, so I searched the Internet for instructions on how to prepare it on a woodstove.  Surprisingly I did not find much information, but one person had tried it; so I gleaned some tips from her.  First I melted the butter in a frying pan on the woodstove, then I added the cornbread batter and put the lid on the pan.  After cooking for a few minutes, I put a cooling rack under the frying pan to keep the bottom from getting too brown.

When I  returned to the house after about an hour, the aroma of soup greeted me; and the cornbread was finished.  The texture of the bread was smoother than usual, and the flavor was delicious.  Curiously, the taste reminded me of homemade communion bread.

The family savored simple, but hearty food on a cold evening; and I was gratified to know that,  were we without power, we could still prepare a meal.

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Thanksgiving Family Time

Thanksgiving Day was lovely: spending time together as a family, doing a bit of work and a bit of play.  My parents journeyed down and arrived by evening to spend a few days with us.  Our days were spent in a variety of ways.  The men accomplished some electrical and renovating projects.  Grandma and granddaughter sewed a felt ornament and began an embroidery sampler.  We celebrated two fall birthdays, went for walks, played some games, feasted, and attended the Mountain Masters craft fair.

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One activity that the children look forward to is decorating sugar cookies for Christmas.  This year, we baked with Grandma in the camp kitchen: some cookies for us and some to give away.  We had some creative artists!

One night, we admired a beautiful sunset.

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Holidays: a time to reflect, rejuvenate, and reconnect.