Monday, October 27, 2014

Growing and Drying Beans

It's so fun growing different types of vegetables in the garden, and a few years ago, I ventured into growing dry beans. First to try were Great Northerns which did well, and this year, we tried Lima beans. We use Lima beans in soups regularly, but as they are a more expensive bean, I thought it would be nice if we could grow them ourselves (and it was a success!)

One thing that I like about growing dry beans is that the process is relatively simple . . . we plant them in wide rows about two feet across, and usually, they only need one weeding before the plants have grown large enough to shade the soil and prevent most weeds from growing.

Then after that first weeding (or a second if necessary) . . . you wait!

 One of the pods - they averaged about three beans per pod

Through the spring and summer, the rest of the garden grows and the other produce is harvested and either dried, frozen or canned. Meanwhile, the beans keep growing unattended (as long as there are not any significant pest and disease problems which need attention, that is.) 

By the time fall comes, and the pods start to dry, then comes the fun part! Harvesting the beans and shelling them.

Dry and ready to harvest! While some of the pods ended up looking like this one (I think from a disease that affected some of the plants late in the season), the beans inside were just fine.

One thing that was different with the Lima beans from the Great Northerns is that while I could let the entire plants of the latter dry before harvesting, I couldn't do that with the Lima beans. Not only did our unusually damp late summer/fall make some of the beans start sprouting in the pods, but when the pods are able to dry all the way out, they will soon burst open to scatter their seeds. So these ones were harvested as soon as the pods were entirely brown, yet the rest of the plant was still green.

I don't have any photos of the shelling part of the process, so you'll have to imagine a big pile of Lima bean pods on the table, a paper sack for the empty pods on the chair next to me, and one by one shelling each pod. :)

As you can see, the Jackson Wonder Bush variety that we grew are colorful!

Once shelled, the beans need adequate time to dry. I spread them in a fairly thin layer on a cookie sheet, and then let them dry for several weeks. Once you cannot dent them with a fingernail, they are ready to store.

 Now the Lima beans we grew this year are all ready to use and are in jars on our pantry shelf with all the other beans.

If you haven't tried growing dry beans before, consider adding some of these low maintenance vegetables to your garden next year!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Two Quick and Easy Breakfast Recipes

 One of the (many!) homemaking goals that I have had over the past few years was to compile quick and easy breakfast recipes. Thanks to cookbooks, the internet, and those of you who shared recipes with me when I did a post asking for your favorites, that section of my recipe binder has grown considerably!

With how full mornings can sometimes be here, it's nice to have recipes which are quick to put together or can be made the night before. These two recipes are ones that fit the first category, and in not much time at all, something delicious can be baking in the oven . . . .

 Quick and Easy Cinnamon Biscuits

-2 1/2 cups flour
-1 tablespoon baking powder
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-1/2 cup butter
-1 cup milk
-softened butter
-brown sugar
-1/2 cup powdered sugar
-1 tablespoon milk

Blend first three ingredients. Cut in butter. Add milk and mix. On a floured surface, roll dough out into a rectangle. Spread with softened butter and then sprinkle with desired amount of cinnamon and brown sugar. Roll up and slice. Place biscuits in two, round greased baking pans. Bake at 450° for 15 minutes. Blend powdered sugar and milk for glaze and pour over warm biscuits.

Baked oatmeal fresh out of the oven and with morning sunlight streaming in

(This recipe came from a blog reader, Anna . . . thank you again for sharing! :)

Baked Oatmeal
(I always halve this recipe for our family of four and like to add cinnamon to it as well.)

-4 eggs
-3/4 cup oil
-3/4 cup honey
-6 cups uncooked oatmeal
-1 Tbsp. +1 tsp. baking powder
-1 tsp. salt
-2 cups milk

Beat eggs; add oil and honey. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Put into a 9 x 13 inch baking pan (or an 8 x 8 if you halve the recipe) and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until done.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Autumn Days

The leaves on some of the trees have begun to change their colors and many are beginning to fall to the ground . . . the air is crisp and chilly in the mornings (and sometimes during the days!) . . . in the garden, the winter squash and pumpkins are maturing. Fall has certainly arrived, and it is a beautiful time of year!

The Burning Bush

Rouge Vif d'Etampes winter squash

Greek Sweet Red winter squash slowly turning color . . . I wish there was some way to help it hurry up. :) It still has a ways to go before it's ready to harvest, and a first frost is likely not that far away!

One of the Sugar Pie pumpkins

After a few years of trying to grow Luffa Sponge, we finally had success! This was more of a curious experiment, as they are supposed to be a natural sponge that can be used for cleaning, so I wanted to know what they were like. And if they actually work. :)

The last flowers blooming in the garden

The celery has done well, and we are planning to overwinter it as we have in the past.

Aurora and Sierra coming up to see what I was doing :)

With the garden nearly finished and farmer's market over for the year, it has been nice to begin focusing more on other things. Such as cleaning out our entire rabbitry which has been a fairly big project! It involves taking down all the cages, scrubbing the bottoms, spraying them all off, cleaning the cage mats, feeders, nestboxes, etc., and then putting everything back! I don't have it quite done, but hope to soon.

With the garden pretty much finished, the hens are enjoying being able to free range again

Indoor projects have been increasing as well and my Mom and I have enjoyed doing the fall deep cleaning in our home, and I've been getting back to sewing dolls for my As Lilies etsy store and also quilting again.

This feels like the project that keeps going and going and going . . . let's just say that I am a very slow hand-quilter. :) I am down to only 18 more squares to quilt, though! As I have other things I am hoping to do this winter, my goal is to have this finished before the close of fall. 

Earlier this week, I did some work on my Niobrara Farms etsy store and have two new varieties of soap added as well as variety packs available now, too . . .

The soap varieties I have so far

It was fun working on that!

As these Autumn days are quickly slipping by, I am thankful for all that they have been filled with and am looking forward to what the rest of this season holds!