August 16, 2017

Fresh Fig Pie


With our abundant harvest of figs I wanted to try my hand, once again, at a fresh fig pie. Last year's experiments weren't all that impressive, but this one's a keeper.

Fresh Fig Pie

Have ready, pie dough for a 9-inch pie. Preheat oven to 375 °F (190° C)
  • 5 cups fresh figs, chopped
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup flour 
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice

Mix, fill, top with pats of butter, bake, cool, and eat!

Options:

Fresh Fig Pie © Aug 2017 by Leigh 

August 13, 2017

August Days

August days are harvest days for me, filled with picking, preserving, and this year, also writing. Sandwiched between morning and evening chores, my days are full and fulfilling.

Blueberries

On the first of the month I got my last picking of blueberries. It wasn't a gangbusters year for blueberries, but we've eaten our fill fresh, in pies, and in pancakes every Sunday morning. I froze two-gallons worth, and had my granddaughters over for a blueberry picking party and blueberry lunch. I sent a gallon home with my daughter-in-law, so I'm satisfied with the season!

Blueberry harvest lasts for about a month, whereas I only get a week for figs.

Figs

I think this has been my most abundant year for figs yet! Flavor-wise they are kind of bland, so we don't eat many fresh, but I did nail my recipe for fresh fig pie (which I'll share next time). Most of our figs are canned to eat with breakfast or lunch, dehydrated for baking, and frozen for winter jam making.

Elderberries

It's time to pick elderberries too. I know there are quite a few green ones in there, but I have stiff competition with the birds for these. They don't mind eating them green, so I have to get at least some before they're all gone! But I've got three gallons of berries so far, which is the most I've ever gotten. I freeze them for jelly  making in the winter.

Tomatoes and cucumbers

We're enjoying our tomatoes: green ones to fry and red ones for eating fresh and for making pizza sauce to can. If I can't get to them right away, I freeze them and work on the sauce later. We've been eating cucumbers once or twice a day too, plus I've restocked the pickle and cucumber relish shelf in the pantry.

Okra and yellow summer squash

I only have a couple of squash plants, so both harvest and eating are manageable for just the two of us. The small ones we eat fresh in salads, medium ones are sauteed as a side dish, and when I get a few big ones I'll make stuffed squash.

Of okra I planted three rows, and it has done really well this year (after two years of not). I'm not keen on stewed okra, but we like it oven fried or sauteed. I slice and freeze quite a bit to accompany winter meals, and also I've been able to can okra pickles!

Okra pickles with garlic

My green beans slowed down in July when it was so hot and dry. August has brought both cooler temperatures plus welcome rain (over 4 inches so far!), so bean production has picked up again.


We love them steamed with butter and salt, plus I can them. I know folks usually prefer their green beans frozen, but I don't have any room left in my freezer. Plus I love to grab a jar to make my Green Bean Caesar as a last minute side dish.

The only dry beans I planted this year was cow peas.


I planted them at the top of the corn field. They didn't get a lot of water last month so quite a few of the plants are dead now. But the harvest is enough for us and as a treat for the critters as well.

We don't usually harvest meat this time of year, because processing in warm weather attracts too many flies. But it was time to do something about all the ducks, especially since Mama Duck had gone off to brood another batch.


Of our 12 Muscovy ducklings we ended up with nine adult ducks: five females and four males. Big Duck (our drake) had rounded up all the lady ducks for himself and was constantly chasing the males. The chickens were constantly pecking and chasing them too. (Poultry can be pretty ruthless toward one another.) They were destined for the freezer anyway, so when the forecast was for an overnight low of about 60°F (15°C - a real treat for us this time of year) we decided to do the deed. Muscovy tastes more like beef than duck or chicken, by the way.

So those are my August days so far, how are yours? Are you picking and preserving like me, or in the planning stages? Do let me know!

August Days © Aug. 2017 by Leigh

August 10, 2017

What Dan Found on Top of the Barn

The other day Dan was working on floor joists for the new barn's hay loft. He has floor boards laying across one section of them, and when he climbed the ladder he found this lying on the boards.


A teeny tiny brand new baby squirrel! Alive! That section of the barn-in-progress has a huge magnolia tree overhanging it. Birds and squirrels shelter in it, so likely that's where it fell from. The magnolia leaves are so thick that he couldn't see where a squirrel nest might possibly be hidden, but between crows flying around and cats and ducks frequenting the top of the barn, he didn't feel it was safe to leave it there. So he brought it inside while he did some research to find out what to do.

A squirrel website told him there was a possibility that the mother may return for it. They advised making a nest of grasses and leaving it where it was found. Dan did that and kept a distant eye on it for the rest of the afternoon, but no mother squirrel returned to claim it.

When the afternoon temperature began to drop for the evening, he brought it in. I found an eyedropper and gently heated some goat milk. At this age they need to be fed about every two hours, so Dan had nursery duty all night.

Early the next morning Dan called our vet, who gave him the number of an exotic animal clinic. He gave them a call, and they told him to bring it on in. The clinic works with animal and wildlife rescue and would make sure it was properly taken care of. All projects for the day were abandoned as we took a spontaneous trip to deliver the baby squirrel. Then we did some shopping and pricing at Tractor Supply, and I got taken to lunch!

It was actually pretty amazing that Dan happened to go up on top of the barn at that time to find it. We didn't realize that August was still squirrel baby season, but obviously it is. So alls well that ends well, especially for that baby squirrel.

August 7, 2017

A Decorative Touch for the Barn

I have a little more progress on the barn to report. Remember this photo from my last barn post?

2 posts in the middle of the barn to support the hay loft.

Dan wanted to add kneebraces to those posts but was concerned about us bumping our heads on them. So he decided to make small curved knee braces.



They took some extra time but I like them!

He also finished the floor joists for the hay loft.


The loft will only cover 2/3 of the goat area, which we think will be plenty of room for hay. Pretty soon he'll be able to get started on the roof!

Next time I'll show you what Dan found on top of the barn the other day. It was definitely a surprise!

August 4, 2017

Peanut Butter Ice Cream

Even better, a peanut butter ice cream brownie Sundae!

I think the only downside of having goats is that they produce less cream than  cows. Not that I'd want all that milk to deal with, but I sure would love more cream. I'd love to have enough butter for both cooking and table use, not to mention make more whipped cream and ice cream. Some people think goats don't produce any cream, which isn't true. Click here to read my post on getting cream from goat milk and making butter.

What I do have a lot of is whey. Anytime I make cheese, I use the whey to make a simple ricotta cheese. (How-to for that here.) And because we adore ice cream (especially in summer), I borrowed an idea from the Italians to use my ricotta in place of cream for ice cream (called gelato - recipe here). This small amount is perfect for my Cuisinart.

Peanut Butter Ice Cream

  • 2 cups whole milk (could use skimmed)
  • 2 cups ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 egg yolks
  • pinch sea salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Heat the milk, peanut butter, and sugar in a sauce pan, stirring until the sugar melts. Beat the egg yolks in a blender (or by hand) and s-l-o-w-l-y add the warm milk mixture (slow enough to not cook the eggs). Add the salt and vanilla and allow the mixture to chill. (While you're waiting, use the egg whites to make the brownies. 😊 ) Churn and enjoy!
πŸ‘ πŸ‘ πŸ‘ πŸ‘ πŸ‘

I find that the ricotta adds the same richness that cream does to ice cream and with very little fat (ice milk just isn't satisfying). My ricotta is made from the whey of my skimmed milk mozzarella, and if skimmed milk was substituted for the whole milk in the recipe, you could have delicious low-fat ice cream. Substitute fruit for the peanut butter for even less!