January 15, 2021

My First Hopniss Harvest

I'm guessing you're wondering what hopniss (hopnisses?) is (are?)! They are Apios americana, also known as potato bean, Indian potato, or groundnuts. But they're nothing like nuts!


Peanuts are sometimes called groundnuts too, but these are a perennial vine that produces edible beans and edible tubers. I thought, for sure, I took photos of it growing over the summer, but I can't find them, which is too bad, because it's an attractive plant.


The tubers grow in strings, like beads. That made it fun to hunt for them and dig them up. Dan built a raised bed last spring and planted six small tubers. The other day I harvested a nice bowlful of goodly sized groundnuts. They can be harvested any time of year, but are said to be sweeter in the fall after the vines die back. Here's my first harvest.


Of course, we were curious about the taste! For our first sample, I roasted a bunch with carrots, onions, and the last of the garden broccoli.


I read it's best to peel them because the peels tend to be tough, especially on the older ones. I rarely peel veggies before cooking, but I peeled these because I wanted them to make a good impression! I tossed everything in a little olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Then, I baked them in my toaster oven at 425°F (220°C) for 30 minutes.


How do they taste? Very mild. Dan thought even a little peanutty. Similar to potato, but drier. In fact, I think next time I'll try boiling them like potatoes. The other thing I'd like to try is to dry them and then grind them to use as flour. I read that a number of Native American tribes used them like that. 

I left the smaller tubers in the bed and planted Jerusalem artichokes with them. These are a smooth variety called Gute Gelbe. 


Jerusalem artichokes (aka sunchokes) are said to provide something for the vines to climb on. We like roasted sunchokes, but the wild ones are very knobby and difficult to clean! I'm hoping this variety will be easier.

So that's my "new to me" new vegetable! How about you? Have you tried anything new lately?

January 12, 2021

Mending Gloves

I'm still darning and patching my way through a pile of socks, but I took some time out to mend my work gloves. They badly needed repair!


My winter chore gloves are actually two pairs. The outer gloves are lined cotton work gloves, and the inner gloves are a fleecy fabric glove. If I wear only one or the other, my hands are cold. But when I wear them together, they keep my hands warm. However . . .


I let them get too worn out! But I hated to throw them away, so I thought, well, why not see what I can do to fix them?


I decided to patch the hole in the lining and darn the outer shell holes with embroidery thread. For the patch, I used one of the too-far-gone socks that I cut into rags


I didn't worry about finishing the edges or making it pretty. 


I just did the job, making sure the unfinished edges were sewn down. To darn the other holes, I used two strands of embroidery thread and a paint stirrer as a darning board.


The paint stirrer worked quite well, giving me a firm surface for weaving the threads to make the darn.


It was a lot to do, and it's not perfect, but the variegated blues of the embroidery thread made it fun and the darns sort of match the inner gloves. Plus, I didn't have to throw them away and spend money on new ones. Best of all, my hands are warm again!

If I'd used dark brown embroidery thread, the darning would be almost invisible. But the latest trend is "visible mending," which creates beautiful decorative elements from holes, stains, and tears; very fun. More on that in upcoming posts. For now, I'll close with a link to a page on the Collingwood-Norris website, "Visible Mending: Gloves." Lots of creative ideas there. ❤                                      

January 9, 2021

Mending Socks

Does anyone keep a mending basket? A basket full of clothing items that need a ripped seam sewn, or a patch for a hole? Apparently, mending is the latest cool, sustainable thing to do. Keep old clothes out of the landfill! Of course, I agree. But because I remember a time when mending was looked down on as totally uncool, I feel a little smug that it's something I've always done. 

Winter is a fine time to keep a mending basket handy. Lately, mine has been filled with socks. Of course, hand knit socks must be mended. Too much much time, heart, and soul goes into making them!

The is one of my most frequently worn pairs.

To mend: sock yarn, darning egg, and tapestry needle.

This is just plain darning.

Actually, weaving a patch where the hole used to be.

Done. Inside view.

How it looks on the outside.

The socks I really seem to go through, however, are everyday cotton socks. And because I buy a large pack, they all seem to wear out at the same time. I've never been a fan of the buy&throw-away cycle, so since I was doing socks anyway, I decided to mend some of those cotton socks too. 

Plain darn with matching carpet thread.

Small holes are easier to darn. I used carpet thread in the above photo because I had it. Embroidery thread is a popular option because it comes in all colors (easy to match) and is inexpensive. Sometimes though, the holes in the heels are too large to darn, like the socks in the photo below.

Cutting cotton socks into rags.

These I usually cut into rags, so at least they are still useful. The other day, however, I wondered if it would be possible to patch the holes in the heels. Most of the socks with the heels gone still have good toes.

Sock toe to be used as a patch.

Why wouldn't these make good patches? So, I started cutting off the toes, cutting them in half, and then using them for heel patches.

Patched heel on sock.

I put the sock on my darning egg and pinned the patch in place. A running stitch holds it in place and a whip stitch further secures the edges. A blanket stitch in a colorful embroidery thread might be fun too. I also stitched around the holes to help secure the patch. 

How well will it work? Time will tell! But they're comfortable and I feel really good about getting more wear out of my old socks. 

Do you do much mending? 

January 5, 2021

Buck Barn Progress

I've got more pictures than words for this post (a good thing, right?!) Progress (always weather permitting) is continued from here

Dan's old pick-up still has some use.

So far, we've had to purchase very little for the new buck barn. Almost all of the materials have either been milled from our property, or re-purposed from other things (like the buck shelter). 

Ridge beam

Dan "treats" the bottoms of the posts with fence paint.

Posts are set on cap block instead of a footer.

Dan drills holes in both the cap block and the bottom of the post and inserts rebar to stabalize the posts on the blocks. 


Roof rafters over the buck side of the barn.

Where the bucks' door will go.

Knee braces and roof rafters in place

Most of the roof rafters came from the demolished
buck shelter. The rest Dan purchased.

So that's where we are at the moment.

Buck Barn Progress © Jan 2021 by Leigh