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Paonia Farm and Home Supply, also known as Paonia’s do-it-yourself center, wants to show your project(s) with pictures to inspire our community to get started with their project.  Please come into the store and share your before, during, and after pictures of your projects, gardens, remodeling efforts, and farm animals.

Old Fashioned Apple Cake with Brown Sugar Frosting

Traditional Apple Cake with a twist!

Old Fashioned Apple

Old Fashioned Apple Cake, recipe from King Arthur Flour


  • 2 1/3 cups  All-Purpose Flour or whole wheat pastry flour (pack freshly milled flour)
  • 1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  •  1 teaspoon ground cinnamon + 1/4 teaspoon each ground ginger and ground nutmeg
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup  unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 cups peeled, cored, chopped apple, about 4 large whole apples – tart is best
  • 1 cup diced toasted walnuts or pecans
    Tart apples are delicious in baked goods.

    Tart apples are delicious in baked goods.


  • 7 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract


1) Preheat the oven to 325°F. Grease and flour a 9″ x 13″ pan.

2) To make the cake: Mix all of the ingredients except the apples and nuts in a large bowl.

3) Beat until well combined; the mixture will be very stiff, and may even be crumbly.

4) Add the apples and nuts, and mix until the apples release some of their juice and the stiff mixture becomes a thick batter, somewhere between cookie dough and brownie batter in consistency.

5) Spread the batter in the prepared pan, smoothing it with your wet fingers.

6) Bake the cake for 45 minutes, or until a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, or with just a few wet crumbs clinging to it.

7) Remove the cake from the oven and place it on a rack to cool completely; don’t remove the cake from the pan.

8) To make the frosting: Melt the butter in a small pan over medium heat. Stir in the brown sugar and salt and cook, stirring, until the sugar melts.

9) Add the milk, bring to a boil, and pour into a mixing bowl to cool for 10 minutes.

10) After 10 minutes, stir in the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla. Beat well; if the mixture appears too thin, add more confectioners’ sugar. Spread on the cake while frosting is still warm.

Helpful Tips:

  • To toast nuts, place them in a single layer in a cake pan. Bake in a preheated 350°F oven for 6 to 9 minutes, until they’re golden brown and smell “toasty.”
  • To guarantee lump-free frosting, sift confectioners’ sugar before adding to the butter mixture. Usually all the lumps disappear as you beat the frosting; but to guarantee no lumps at all, sift the sugar first.

 Recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour

Roasted Tomato Marinara Sauce

Roasted tomatoes with onion and garlic makes amazing Marinara sauce.

Roasted tomatoes with onion, basil, and garlic makes amazing Marinara sauce.

The beauty of roasting end-of -the-season tomatoes is that you use what you have left, including any kind of tomato, not just Roma’s, onion, garlic, fresh basil, and other herbs.   Oven roasted vegetables of any kind are extra flavorful and so is this sauce!  After roasting the tomatoes, onions, garlic, etc make the sauce by putting the roasted veggies through a blender or food processor.  Fantastic for spaghetti, lasagna, tomato soup, or anything you would use a marinara sauce for.

In the middle of winter, pulling your garden Marinara sauce out of the freezer will remind you of the bounty of summer and remind you that summer is coming!

Roasted Tomato Marinara Sauce:

1.  Using a deep roasting pan(s), drizzle the bottom of the pan with olive oil about 2 Tbsp.  Fill the pan with chopped tomatoes – any kind or combination of tomatoes is fine.

2.  Slice up 1-2 medium onions and arrange over the top of the tomatoes.  Add herbs such as basil, garlic, oregano, thyme, and rosemary to taste along with some hot red peppers if desired.

3. Sprinkle salt over the vegetables. Roast the onions/tomatoes for 2-3 hours or more at 325 degrees F.  Allow the veggies to cool.  Run the tomatoes through the blender and package in 2 – 4 cup portions and freeze what you aren’t using in the next few days.

Roast any kind of tomatoes you have.

Roast any kind of tomatoes you have.

4.  Adjust seasonings to taste.

I enjoy using this sauce in lasagna.  My friends have tried it over buttered spaghetti squash with Parmesan Cheese.  How do you like to use your sauce?

Autumn, the Hush before Winter

Orchard Valley Farms in the Fall

Orchard Valley Farms in the Fall

Autumn is the hush before winter” says an insightful French proverb. In Colorado, we can expect to experience warm, dry days keeping us outside enjoying the last days of summer.   However, oldtimers aren’t surprised by an unexpected early snowfall or freeze.  Breathe in all the delightful Fall weather whatever is dished up because winter is coming way too soon.

Meanwhile, here is a Fall check list for gardeners:


The nights are cooling down. The question is to protect your plants or let them go.  Cold temperatures certainly will affect  plant health.

As a rule, light frosts happen with temperatures around 32 degrees, down to about 28 degrees. Hard frosts occur below 28 degrees.

Fall Garden Growing Guidelines:end_of_season_tomato_trellis_plants_620

• Warm-season crops (tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, squash, beans, cucumbers, pumpkins, basil) need consistent 55-degree temperatures or higher to grow and ripen properly.  If a frost is expected it might be time to pull these plants and call it for the season until next year.

• Semi-hardy cool-season crops (beets, carrots, Swiss chard, lettuce, cauliflower, potatoes, parsley) grow in minimum daytime temperatures of 40 degrees and higher. They cannot withstand hard frost without some kind of covering or protection.

• Hardy cool-season crops (cabbage, broccoli, onions, radishes, spinach, turnips, peas) grow in BasicColdFrame40-degree daytime temperatures and can handle some frosty nights without protection.

• To extend the season, both hardy and semi-hardy cool-season vegetables will need cold frames  to keep them growing through the fall.

Covering Crops

• Have some lightweight sheets or floating row covers on hand to cover when lower temperatures are predicted. Plastic transfers cold to the plant, so use only on top of sheets (for extra warmth or rain/snow protection). Covers must extend over the entire plant and be secured to the ground to keep heat trapped inside. Be sure to remove covers the next day when it warms up. More info about extending the season is found at the CSU extension site.  http://www.ext.colostate.edu/mg/gardennotes/722.html

Harvesting Guidelines

  • If you are not covering tomato plants, harvest the  tomatoes prior to frost — look for mature green tomatoes (dull, light green in color) or ones that are beginning to develop color. Wrap each in newspapers until ripe or place on a rack in a room with 65-70 degree temperatures. Light is not necessary for ripening, although some light will help with the color intensity. Keep them off a sunny window seal to ripen; they’ll get too hot and turn mushy.
  • Summer and winter squash are both warm-season crops and will not survive fall frosts. Summer squash includes zucchini, patty-pan or scallop, yellow straight or crookneck and taste best when harvested when they are immature with undeveloped seeds inside. They need to be harvested often and only last about a week in the refrigerator.

    Glorious and colorful assortment of winter squash

    Glorious and colorful assortment of winter squash

  • Winter squash includes butternut, buttercup, hubbard, acorn, and many pumpkin varieties. The opposite of summer squash, they are harvested when fully mature, and the fruit has developed a hard skin. This helps them store for many weeks in a cool, dry, dark place. A great indicator is to harvest winter squash and pumpkins when a fingernail cannot easily puncture the rind. Leave a two-inch piece of stem attached to the fruit.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle with Tattler

Tattler Lids are Reuseable

Tattler Lids are Reuseable

  • TATTLER canning lids provide a cost effective alternative to metal lids, as well as a safe, and environmentally friendly product for your home food preservation. TATTLER lids are BPA free!
  • Tattler Reusable Canning lids are which are made in America.
  • TATTLER lids are especially desirable for acid foods, pickles, peppers, tomatoes, etc, since they will not corrode.
  • Tattler lids are perfect for the home canner who wish to Reduce, Reuse, and Recyle and save time and money.

Key Benefits:

Canned Peaches with Tattler Lids

Canned Peaches with Tattler Lids


  • Dishwasher Safe!
  • Indefinitely reusable
  • Uses standard canning processes
  • No food spoilage due to acid corrosion
  • FDA approved materials
  • Use with Pressure or water bath canning methods.
  • Made of a food grade product known as (POM) or Acetal Copolymer

Tips For Best Results:

Tattler and Traditional Lids

Tattler and Traditional Lids

1. Inspect top of jar for cracks and nicks.
2. Wash, rinse and sterilize jars. Scald lids and rubber rings. Leave in water until ready to use.
3. Fill jars as indicated per canning instructions for that food type.
4. Wipe top of jar after filling. Place lid and rubber ring combination on jar.
5. Screw band on jar loosely. Center lid on jar and hold in place with finger while you finish tightening the metal band. THEN TURN BACK 1/4 INCH. Product must be allowed to vent during processing.
6. Process as per instructions for various foods.
8. When jars have cooled, remove metal band and determine by feel if lids are securely sealed. Sealed jars may be stored without metal bands if desired.
9. When removing lid gently insert table knife between rubber and jar to release seal – DO NOT USE SHARP KNIFE.
10. Wash plastic lids and rubber rings, rinse, dry and store for future use. Do not save any rubber ring which is cut or deformed.

Save money when canning with reuseable lids and rings

Save money when canning with reuseable lids and rings

TATTLER reuseable lids and rings are available at Paonia Farm and Home Supply along with all your other canning needs.



Make Your Own Pickling Spice Blends

Make Your Own Blend Suggestions

Make Your Own Blend Suggestions- Read on for details and Recipes

Without herbs and spices, a pickle would be a bland shadow of the fresh cucumber it started out to be. The myriad nuances and complexities provided by the herbs and spices used in the pickling process are what give pickles their signature flavors.  Bulk spices for making pickle spice mixes are available at the Trading Post.  Pre-packaged pickle spice mixes are available at Paonia Farm and Home Supply. 

It’s easy and fun to create your own signature pickling blend according to your taste preferences. Begin with a basic, multi-functional seasoning blend for the brine, then experiment with additional spices to strike a balance that makes the perfect pickle.

Note: The information below refers to cucumber pickles, but just about any vegetable, from Italian giardiniera to onions and radishes, can be pickled using your own customized seasoned brine.

Step 1: Understand the basic elements of a pickling spice blend

Salt, sugar, turmeric, garlic, onion, peppers and dill seed are essential to any basic pickling spice blend for the role they each play in creating a balanced, effective brine.

  • Salt: Helps create the brine and draws out moisture from the raw cucumber so that it can be replaced by the flavors of the seasoned brine.
  • Sugar: Helps to counterbalance the salty tartness of the vinegar brine. Sugar is especially necessary for sweet pickles like bread-n-butters.
  • Turmeric: Adds an unmistakable earthy richness and produces the vivid yellow brine necessary in many finished pickle jars.
  • Garlic and onion: Add aromatic, flavor-enhancing depth to what would otherwise be bland, one-note cucumbers.
  • Chili peppers and black peppercorns: Add heat.
  • Dill seed: Gives dill pickles their signature taste.

Basic Pickling Spice Blend

Use Your Creativity to Customize Your Own Spice Blends

Use Your Creativity to Customize Your Own Spice Blends

  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1 teaspoon granulated onion
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric root powder

Step 2: Experiment with additional spices

Once you’ve covered the basics, adding more spices to your blend will give it a unique character based on your tastes and preferences. The following spices make good additions to the basic blend above.

  • Allspice: mild, clove and cinnamon depthspices
  • Cinnamon: spicy, hot sweetness
  • Celery: fresh, green vegetal flavors
  • Mustard seed: aromatic spiciness
  • Coriander seed: floral, fruity spiciness resembling lime or orange
  • Bay leaf: warm, soft, aromatic spice flavor
  • Ginger: lemony, warm
  • Fennel seed: fruity, vegetal, warm
  • Fenugreek seed: rich, slightly nutty

To start, add a pinch to 1/2 teaspoon of one or more spices from this list to your basic pickling spice blend.

Step 3: Create your signature recipe

Classic pickles such as dill, bread-n-butter and sweet gherkin have their own pickling spice blends that may vary slightly from recipe to recipe. Likewise, you can add specific flavor profiles to the basic blend to create your own signature recipes.

  • Chipotle pepper: Hot, smoky
  • Curry powder featuring red chilies, paprika and cumin: fiery, exotic
  • Star anise: sweet, mild
  • Onion flakes and garlic granules: flavor boosting
  • Cardamom pods/seeds: aromatic, penetrating

Step 4: Make pickles!

Following a trusted recipe and safe canning processes, put your customized pickling spice blend to the test! Leave spices whole in the jar or strain them out of the brine before the pickles are jarred.

For basic cucumber pickles, try your blend in the recipe below.

Homemade Cucumber Pickles


  • 3 cups water
  • 2 ¾ cups vinegar
  • ¼ cup non-iodized sea or Kosher salt
  • 1 to 3 tablespoons pickling spice
  • Approximately 4 pounds fresh pickling cucumbers, sliced and blossom ends removed


  • Pack cucumbers into sterile glass jars.
  • In a large saucepan, combine pickling spice blend and brine ingredients. Heat and stir until salt is dissolved.
  • Strain spices (optional).
  • Pour brine over jarred pickles. Following safe canning processes recommended by the Ball Blue Book, process in a water bath or store in the refrigerator.
Sweet or Dill Pickles Preserve the Summer Bounty

Sweet or Dill Pickles Preserve the Summer Bounty

The above information is adapted from Frontier Coop