Posts Tagged ‘food’

Last year, I’d taken the pruned bits from my hardy kiwis and potted them up. All the surviving pots were buried in one of the beds for the winter.

This past week I pulled them out and moved all the living ones to new, single pots. They all had good sized root balls so I’m optimistic about the process. I have 12 plants with 11 being female and one male. That ratio isn’t ideal, but the males seem more fragile.

We took pretty heavy damage on the older ones from bunnies this winter. They had been fine the 2 years before but this winter saw 3 eaten back to smaller than they were when I first planted them. A couple more lost 20% to 40% of their branches. One had the bark cleared off the top of most of it’s base but it seems to doing alright so far. The smaller of my 2 males got the worst, but he’s still alive. I don’t know if was due to how cold this past winter was, but clearly, I’ve got to come up with some form of bunny guard, going forward.

The plan now is to keep the babies in their new pots for at least another year then I’ll look at putting them in the ground. It’s still a bit early for me to take a new round of pruning, so I don’t know what this years crop of newborns will be. At the rate things are going, it’ll be a few more years before I’ll have extras to share.




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Curiosity got the better of me and I set aside the nuts from the black walnuts I’d husked in the ink making process. While I know the nutmeats of the black walnut are edible, I’d never tried them. Considering how expensive all nuts are getting, it seemed worthwhile to see if they any good since they are easy to get for free. (or at least for the time you have to put into getting the actual nuts) I had already collected and stripped them, for the ink, so a chunk of the work was already finished.wanuts1

While the husks were soaking, the stripped nuts were laid out on cardboard to dry and cure. They sat for a bit over a month and then I spent some time each day over the next week or so cracking them and collecting the nutmeats.

It is not a fast process and the larger ones were much easier to get the meat out of than the smaller but I ended up with a total of about 4 cups. blkwalnutmeats1.jpg

While I read that you can do a light brine soak to soften their flavour, I decided to go ahead and use them in their natural state. Since the idea was to see if we liked the taste, it only made sense to experience it in it’s unaltered state.


I used a Southern recipe for a Black Walnut cake and went with cream cheese icing. It turned out well but it also turns out that we don’t like the taste of black walnuts! Even my father, who can always be depended on to eat even the worst of my baking failures, wasn’t much interested. My mother almost spit out the one bit she did try and said the taste reminded her of gasoline. I…have to agree with her somewhat. There is a happy ending however since the friend who gave me the walnuts to begin with did like it and was happy to take away free cake.


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The raspberries have continued to come in so I’ve rl3 been working through some baking options. Considering how happy we were with the apple fritter loaf recipe from Tess, I thought it was worthwhile to see if it could be adapted to use the raspberries. Since I didn’t want to kill their flavour with the cinnamon, we decided to go with chocolate. Once they are cooked raspberries can be a bit more bitter than apples so I also needed to increase the sugar just a little. What I went with was around a tablespoon of hot chocolate powder and a bit of the ground vanilla in addition to listed sugar. That seemed to give us the chocolate accent we wanted as well as balancing the sweetness a bit better. I also added a teaspoon of corn starch too. The berries were a bit more liquid than apples and the cornstarch thickens them just enough. (sugar, cornstarch and chocolate were mixed together, then added to the fruit) We cooked it around 10 minutes longer and that made sure it was fully done, all the way through. (the parchment paper liner is also pretty necessary) The raspberry flavour came through strong and clear, but they weren’t bitter or overpowering and were a good balance to the vanilla cake that makes up the bulk of the loaf. I did go a bit overboard with the amount of raspberries on the first attempt and had a catastrophic structural failure. (4 cups was too many) At least it tasted good, but staying around or under, 2 cups of the raspberry mixture is needed if you want a loaf instead of a baked pudding. We like lots of raspberry, but sticking to 1 to 11/2 cups of fruit would make the chocolate more noticeable and the loaf much more solid. I also stuck with the vanilla cream glaze, but you could drizzle the top with melted chocolate to increase the chocolate aspect.

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It’s been a good year for quite a number of fruits and a local friend fritloaf let us pick a bunch of apples from their feral tree. The tree is huge and probably in the 100 to 150 year range. The apples, while small and with the typical deformations of untreated fruit, are clearly Macintosh’s, or closely related. I chopped up a few for a trial run with them and made this apple fritter loaf. It was a quick and easy recipe and does satisfy the fall apple fritter cravings. I didn’t do much modifying for this, the first attempt, but did add some vanilla bean powder to both the loaf fritslice and the glaze and was happy with the depth it gave to the flavour. I also went with a parchment paper liner and I think it helped the crust as well as making sure the whole thing came cleanly out of the pan. I’d like try it again with a higher quality cinnamon, since I just used the generic stuff we have on hand.

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While the fall supply of raspberries is always a thrill, rasp we have been a bit frustrated the last couple of years with the pest problems associated with them. Last year there were huge numbers of ladybugs that we had to fight with over them. This year the picnic beetles were just being awful. We’ve always had a few of them around but this year, even with my going for a complete no tolerance policy on them, (any that are found are killed, not just brushed off) they were still causing a lot of damage but seem to have stopped almost completely as soon as the temperature dropped. Even better, they didn’t reappear during the warm stretch! Now we’re just losing a few to the earwigs and birds but we’ve still got quite a bit coming in. It does look like we should get our biggest haul yet. With the warm weather this past week it’s been close to 2-4 cups a day! There are enough that mother is even letting some get used in baked goods, but not many. I’m amused by how many fresh raspberries she can manage to consume!

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The elderberry bushes keep getting larger and this img_5853 is the first year that not only have they have set lots of berries, but the birds don’t seem as interested in cleaning them off. I think it might be a case of the delayed season meaning that the birds are mostly done with raising of chicks so have less need to pillage them all out from under us. I’m surprised to be thankful about the berries running almost a month behind schedule, but if it means we’ll have a bit more time to do the picking, rather than have to grab what we can before the birds get them all then it’s a good thing. Now it’s just a matter of figuring out the best ways to use them. We tend to prefer to mix them with other fruits, rather than use them alone since the flavour can be a bit overpowering if it isn’t softened a bit and considering how good the other fruit crops are looking, I’m guessing it will mostly be apple. It looks like some tasty pies and crumbles are in our future!

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We have tried a really wide assortment of tomato types over the years.

black tomatoes, August 2014

black tomatoes, August 2014

Quite a number have been labelled as “black” and we have pretty much had at least a couple of black cherry tomatoes every year. With that being said, this is the first year we have had truly black ones. They were labelled as an “early black”, but are not moving all that much faster than the rest of the plantings but at least a couple have ripened. Of course, it’s a bit hard to tell how close they are to ripe since the colour doesn’t show much. They do turn an orangish red, on their bottoms, but never get all that soft, so even going with the gentle squeeze test is a bit difficult. The flavour is also a bit closer to a tomatillo than a standard tomato, and didn’t impress the tomato connoisseur, that is my mother so I don’t think we’ll be doing them again next year. While I know that tomatoes are in the same family as eggplants, I never expected to grow ones that had the same colour!

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