Author Archives: Paonia Farm & Home

Enstrom’s Style Homemade Toffee

Finished Toffee

Finished Toffee

For about $10.00 for the ingredients including butter, sugar, chocolate and almonds, you can make this delicious toffee and have about 3 pounds of finished product. That is enough toffee for several generous, very welcomed gifts right from your kitchen!

Enstrom’s Style Toffee Recipe

Norpro Digital Thermometer/timer combo

Norpro Digital Thermometer/timer combo

2  3/4 Cup sugar
1 pound salted butter
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup slivered almonds

1 – 12 oz pkg milk chocolate chip

3/4 cup whole almonds, chopped very, very finely in a blender- almost a powder
NOTE:  Follow directions carefully and use a candy thermometer.  Be sure to subtract two degrees Fahrenheit from a stated temperature for every 1000 feet you are above sea level. Test your thermometer with boiling water before starting and make any additional adjustments accordingly.

Melt butter in a medium sized sauce pan – about 3 quart size over medium to medium high heat. Add the salt. When the butter is almost melted, add the sugar in quickly. Stir slowly, using a figure 8 motion with a wooden spoon. The sugar will not immediately dissolve or mix in, this is normal.

When the sugar absorbs into the butter the mixture will look more homogeneous and smooth. This takes 5-10 minutes. Then add the slivered almonds. This is what it will look like when you add the almonds. A would call this the blonde stage.

Blonde stage

Blonde stage

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Continue to slowly stir the mixture in the saucepan for about another 10-15 minutes until the mixture reaches the hard crack stage.  Do not hurry this process by increasing the heat or you risk failure. This is 290 ° F on a thermometer at sea level. (I use the instant read thermometer with a probe from Norpro.) You will notice that the sugar mixture is turning a darker more caramel color and it is almost starting to smell like burnt sugar. You can also drop a small amount of the mixture into iced water to test for the hard crack stage. Do not under cook. This picture shows how much darker the mixture becomes.

Hard Crack Stage

Hard Crack Stage

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After the toffee hardens, about 30 minutes, melt half the chocolate chips in a double boiler and spread over the toffee in a thin layer. Sprinkle lightly with finely diced. like powder almost, almonds. When this is cooled, flip the toffee over and repeat. Spread the other half of the chocolate chips, melted over the toffee and sprinkle with finely chopped almonds. When it is totally cooled, put portions into cellophane bags tied with a ribbon to use for gifts.

Wrap toffee in cellophane bags or similar packaging for gifts

Wrap toffee in cellophane bags or similar packaging for gifts

 

Winterize your Yard Now

townpark
Five Steps to Winterizing:  

1.  Rake Leaves

Finish getting the leaves raked up, if they ever finish dropping, before the first snow hits which eliminates lawn damage caused by molding leaves.  Rake up the leaves, bag them for garden compost next spring.

Rake leaves before winter sets in

 

2. Apply  Winterizing Fertilizer

Fertilome's Winterizer

Fertilome’s Winterizer

Fall feeding is the most critical feeding time for your lawn and trees.  Fertilome’s Winterizer is one of many great products to build up resistance to winter’s harshness by increasing stem strength and disease resistance.

following the application.

*A drip line is the outer edge to which a plant’s branches spread.  This is where rain water tends to naturally drip from the plant and where the root system is concentrated.

Organic Winterizing Products include Earthworm castings which promote root growth and plant nutrition and  Soil Activator contains humates.  All products are in stock at the store.

 

 

 

3. Clear Gutters and Drains

gutters-280x210

Removing debris from gutters and outdoor drains unclogs the gutter and prevents water damage to your house and roof.  Neglected gutters risks water backing up and seeping into your roof, or spilling down the side of the house causing possible foundation damage. 

This step must not be done so early that the gutters re-clog, or the gutters can become frozen with debris inside.  Aim, to complete this step when the leaves are down and before the first snow.  With our Colorado Indian Summers this step probably needs to be completed in November sometime before Thanksgiving.

4. Insulate Plants 
Protecting plants with a “jacket” for the inevitable extremely cold freezing temperatures helps eliminate winter-kill and promote plant health.  Cover plants  and their roots with at least a one inch layer of mulch or a thicker pile of leaves.

5. Drain Pumps, Lawn Sprinklers and Hoses

 Hopefully this job is done already, but if not, it must be done right away before the deep freeze of winter sets in or you will most probably incur broken, pipes, sprinkler heads and and other damage that will need to be repaired next Spring.

 

Simple Steps to Home Canned Fruit

nectarines

Peaches, nectarines and other fruits are loaded on local fruit trees.  Nothing compares to preserving our delicious, tree-ripened, locally grown North Fork fruit that we preserve ourselves.

It’s time to start gathering the canning supplies as you wait for the peaches, nectarines, plums, and even pears to ripen!  (Yes, this year the supply will be a little more challenging to find but you will find fruit, even if you have to pick it yourself!)

If you get all your supplies gathered together that are listed below (all the supplies needed are available at Paonia Farm and Home), re-familiarize yourself to the 12 Simple Steps to Canning you will soon be making your shelves sparkle with colorful, delicious North Fork Fruit.

 How to Make Homemade Canned Peaches, Plums, Pears, Plums, Nectarines and Cherries Detailed Steps Tutorial

(Click here for downloadable pdf)

The 12 Simple Steps for Canning our delicious North Fork Fruit are summarized below.  Click on the above link for detailed pdf instructions.

Gather Supplies – All the supplies listed below are available at Paonia Farm and Home Supply

  • Jar grabber (to pick up the hot jars)canningsupplies
  • Lid lifter (has a magnet to pick the lids out of the boiling water
  • Jar funnel
  • Large spoons (stainless steel is nice) and ladles
  • lids and rings
  • Ball jars – pints, quarts, jelly size
  • Sugar (or fruit juice) and pectin
  • Water Bath Canner

12 Simple Steps

1.   Select sufficient Fruit – Peaches, Nectarines, or Plums from local orchards including Stahls, Orchard Valley Farms, First Fruits, JJ’s, and others).

2.  Prepare the Sugar Solution.  Using light or medium syrup helps avoid floating fruit issues.

Sugar Syrup Chart for Light, Medium, and Heavy Syrups

Sugar Syrup Chart for Light, Medium, and Heavy Syrups

3.  Wash the jars and Lids.

4.  Wash the Fruit

Home Canned Peaches Sparkle

Home Canned Peaches Sparkle

.

5.  Peeling the Peaches or Nectarines by a quick blanching method.

6.  Cut up the fruit to fit the jars in halves or slices.

7.  Take steps to prevent browning of the fruit.  Use fruit fresh or powdered vitamin C according to directions.

8.  Determine Hot pack versus Cold Pack alternative.

9. Fill the Jars with Fruit.  It takes about 5 regular peaches to fill one quart jar.

10. Process the Jars in a water bath for our altitude.

Peaches
11. Remove the Jars from the Canner to cool on top of tea towels to absorb water.

12. Cool jars for 24 hours, check lids for any sealing failures.  Store in a dark, cool place

How to Make Homemade Canned Peaches, Plums, Pears, Plums, Nectarines and Cherries Detailed Steps Tutorial

(Click here for downloadable pdf)

Your Done!

Heirloom or Hybrid Seeds – Which is best?

seedsHeirloom seeds versus hybrid seeds – which is better?

Heirloom or Hybrid, which is better?  A review of the pros and cons of each seed type should help you determine which seed type meets your goals for a mouth-watering, flavorful and successful vegetable, flower, and herb harvest this season.

Hybrid seeds grow plants that are predictable and uniform. They have been bred for specific characteristics, such as flavor, color, number of days to harvest, resistance to disease, etc. F1 hybrids

Big Beef Hybrid Tomato

Big Beef Hybrid Tomato

also possess “hybrid vigor.” Typically this means more plants survive the seedling stage and mature plants are large and healthy.

Big Boy, Big Beef and Better Boy tomatoes are popular, well-known examples of hybridized tomatoes that are more “perfect” in size and shape while sacrificing some of the rich flavor of better known heirloom tomato varieties such as Cherokee Purple.

Although hybridized seeds may be strong in one or more particular characteristics, they will not produce reliable seeds for saving. Even if the variety is not sterile and does produce seed, the seed will be unstable—it won’t necessarily produce plants with the same traits as the parent in subsequent years.  So if you enjoy a particular variety, you will need to purchase new seeds every year if you want to keep growing that variety.

Of particular concern to home gardeners is the risk that hybrids are or will become trademarked or patented by the breeder.  Hence costs associated with producing patented or trademarked seeds are passed onto the consumer

Heirloom vegetable, flower and herb seed varieties are preferred by Organic gardeners for their superior flavor and for the capacity that enables you, the home gardener, to save your own seeds from year to year, saving the costs associated with repurchasing garden seeds each year.  In addition heirlooms are the varieties that have been passed down generation to generation over the years often originating in Europe.

cucumber-lemon1

Lemon Cucumbers are over 100 year old Heirloom Variety

Of particular interest to organic gardeners and all consumers is the assurance that heirloom seeds  are not genetically engineered. To be considered an heirloom, most authorities agree the seed variety is at least 50 years old, and it has been preserved and kept true .

Lemon Cucumbers are over 100 year old heirloom variety that effortlessly produces loads of fruit just the size and shape of pale colored lemons. They have a mild sweet flavor, crisp texture and thin skins, and dual purpose: perfect for eating fresh or pickling

Many heirloom seed varieties are actually common seed varieties  you may have already tried and come to love.  Examples of heirlooms you might already be familiarized with include:

Heirloom tomato assortments have wide variations in color, shape, and size.

Heirloom tomato assortments have wide variations in color, shape, and size.

  • Detroit Dark Red Beets
  • Nantes Carrots
  • Romaine lettuce  (and most lettuce varieties)
  • Chantenay Carrots (the fatter carrot)
  • Copenhagen Cabbage

At Paonia Farm and Home, we offer a wide selection of vegetable, flower and herb varieties in both Organic Heirloom seeds, and conventional seeds from well-known producers including Lake Valley, Botanical Interests, and Renee’s Garden.

Asparagus on Toast with Cream Sauce and Eggs

Asparagus on Toast with Cream Sauce. Bacon bits are optional

Asparagus on Toast with Cream Sauce. Bacon bits are optional.  Recipe is from Emma, Linda’s grandmother

A delicious recipe that is just in time for a seasonal breakfast or brunch.  With the recent rains, there is plenty of asparagus sprouting along roadsides, just be sure if you are picking wild asparagus to not trespass private property.

IngredientsAsparagus 2

  • 1 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed
  • 4 hard-cooked eggs, diced or sliced
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Dash pepper
  • 2 cups milk  (part cream is OK)
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese, optional
  • 1/3 cup bacon bits, optional
  • 4 slices bread, toasted and halved

Directions

  • Snap off the lower part of the asparagus stalks where they break easily.  In a large skillet, bring 3/4 cup of lightly salted water and asparagus to a boil. Cover and boil for 2-3 minutes or until crisp-tender.  Keep warm and drain when ready to serve the plate.
  • In a medium saucepan, melt 1/4 cup of butter; gradually whisk in the flour, salt and pepper until smooth. Gradually add milk and continue whisking the mixture. Bring the sauce to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Reduce heat; stir in optional cheese until melted, if desired.
  • Place 1 slice of toasted and halved bread on each slightly heated plate.  Top the toast with asparagus spears, followed by cream sauce, diced hard cooked egg (one per plate) and garnish with optional bacon bits.  Serve.
  • Yield: 4 servings.