Author Archives: Paonia Farm & Home

Putting the Garden to Bed

Putthegardentobed

Cooler temperatures tell us it’s time to put the garden to bed and store the fall harvest to be enjoyed throughout the winter.

Fall Harvest

At my home, potatoes have been dug up (one of my favorite garden chores) and stored away in a dry, cool place.  I have now harvested half the carrots and left the other half in the ground.  The carrot tops have been removed from the carrots  in the ground and covered with 16 inches of straw.  In mid-to-late winter, I’ll be able to harvest out of the ground the sweetest, tastiest carrots ever because they over-winter well when covered deeply with straw or bags of leaves.

Store up squash and pumpkins

Store up squash and pumpkins

Also, my garden cart is heaped up full, with butternut, delicata and sweet meat squash and pumpkins.  I bake and process the pumpkins for pies and soups.

I also like to roast the pumpkin seeds for munching while they last.  One secret to tasty, nutritious pumpkin seeds is to soak them in water for at least 30 minutes.

Lastly, we’re enjoying kale and swiss chard in soups and stir-fries.  More kale and chard have been frozen – hopefully enough to enjoy in soups and stews this winter and last until spring!

FermentedbeetsFermenting Vegetables

I have also just harvested the last of the beets and turnips and made fermented beets and turnips for the first time.  I learned the art of fermenting  from local fermentation guru, Maria Hodkins.  It’s not to late to ferment just about any leftover/surplus veggies like carrots, cabbage, broccoli, onions, etc without using vinegar, pressure canners or freezers.

Fermentation, makes it’s own vinegar, so-to-speak, which is actually  lactic acid produced by bacteria naturally present in our environment.  Not only are the naturally occurring bacteria beneficial for health and eliminate the canning process, but the fermented veggies can be stored for months in cold storage or refrigerators.

Homemade Applesauce- Frugal to the Core

Homemade Applesauce put up for the winter

Homemade Applesauce put up for the winter

With an abundance of apples to harvest this year consider making some homemade applesauce!  Super easy to make,  the taste is delicious, simply amazingly superior to the commercially available sauces.

Making applesauce at home requires no special equipment, just  apples, cinnamon, and sugar is optional.  Preparing the tangy sauce at home is a fun, frugal, practical and a realistic activity for the whole family and all levels of cooking ability.  Use #2, or slightly blemished apples to save money and simply cut-away the bad spots.

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For my family, applesauce making has been a fall tradition transcending more than thirty years, ideal for our cooler Fall days.  By utilizing our abundant North Fork apple crop, you can use up the less than perfect apples inexpensively.  If you use at least three different varieties of sweet apples such as Gala, Red Delicious, Golden delicious, Fuji, Honeycrips,  or Romes you will eliminate the need for sugar.  Picking apples yourself makes the process really inexpensive and gives you the added sense of satisfaction of using up what otherwise might go to waste.

For a detailed, illustrated step-by-step PDF for making homemade applesauce, Click Here.

Basic Steps to Homemade Applesauce:

1.  The first step is to collect the equipment you will need if you are making enough to freeze or can.  Small batches can be made and stored in the refrigerator up to two weeks.

  • Large Stockpot
  • Knifecanningsupplies
  • Pint or quart canning jars
  • Jar lids or Tattler reuseable jar lids
  • Jar Funnel, optional
  • Foley Food Mill, Norpro or other Saucemaster, Food Processor or potato masher, optional
  • Water Bath Canner (if freezing the sauce the Canner won’t be needed)

apples-in-wheelbarrow2.  To make 7 quarts applesauce to freeze or can you will need about twenty pounds or more of a variety of different apples for the best tasting sauce.  If you only have one tart variety, the applesauce will still be yummy.  If your apples are bland, you can enhance the flavor substantially by using lemon juice to taste.

3.  Wash the jars in hot soapy water and then rinse in hot water, or better yet, let the dishwasher do the job and keep the jars warm.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA4.  Then wash, peel if desired,  and chop the apples up.  If you have a Saucemaster or Foley food mill, you can leave the skins and seeds in the apples, and the food mill will remove the waste for you.  I also like to leave the skins on for the added pectin in the sauce and the pinkish color to the sauce imparted by red skins.

5.  Fill your stockpot to the top with apples, and add about an inch of water and once the pot is boiling adjust the heat to medium high to steam the apples for about 30 minutes or until the apples are soft throughout the pot.  Stir occasionally.images

6.  Run the apples through the food mill or mash them up by hand with a potato masher.  Add cinnamon to taste.  I use about 1 Tbsp of cinnamon per 3-4 quarts of sauce.  (I also mix the cinnamon with a little sugar so it mixes into the sauce smoothly.)

Fill the jars to 1/2” for pints to within 1” for quarts or 1 1/2 inch for jars of sauce to be frozen (to allow plenty of room for expansion).  Plastic containers are also a great inexpensive way to preserve the sauce if you don’t have a Water Bath Canner.

7.  Process the Jars according to the following chart based on your elevation.

sauceprocessing

8.  Remove the processed jars with a jar lifter and place them on a dish towel covered wooden cutting board or other heat-safe surface.  Check the jars for sound seals after 24 hours and store the jars in a cool, dark place.

applesauce-jars

For a detailed, illustrated step-by-step PDF for making homemade applesauce, Click Here.

Winterize your Yard Now

townparkThere are five main chores for getting the yard winterized:  raking leaves, applying fertilizer, clearing gutters, insulate your plants, and draining your pump, sprinklers, and hoses.  

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

Rake leaves before winter sets in

Rake leaves before winter sets in

the leaves for making your own compost, or bag the leaves up in the blue compostable bags provided by the Town of Paonia since they are no longer vacuuming up the leaves left at curbside.

The FREE blue bags, available at the Town Hall, are on a first come first serve basis.  Fill your bags with your leaves and place them at the curb and you will be surprised how quickly they are snatched up by those who are seeking low cost compost material.  Just be sure that only leaves (no twigs, or branches) are loaded into the bags.  All types of rakes are available in the store.  Come in now for the best selection.

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 a great product to build up resistance to winter’s harshness by increasing stem strength and disease resistance.

Lower nitrogen (10%) and higher potassium (14%) plus small amounts of trace minerals such as Boron, Copper, Iron, Manganese, and Zinc,  help build up vigorous root growth during the winter resulting in healthier, greener lawns in Spring.

  • The product should be applied at the rate of 20 pounds per 5000 square feet for lawns
  • Use 1 pound per inch of trunk diameter around the drip line* for trees.
  • Use 1 Cup per 3 foot of height for shrubs  Don’t apply the Winterizer too close to the tree trunk, and then WATER thoroughly 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

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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 

SIX_FOOT_medium_mediumProtecting plants with a “jacket” for the inevitable extremely cold freezing temperatures helps eliminate winter-kill and promote plant health.  Cover plants  roots with at least a one inch layer of mulch (Soil Pep is a good choice).

Also, plants can be safeguarded with The Planket, which is a plant blanket designed to prevents winter damage from both snow and deer and available at Paonia Farm and Home. Other materials you can use  to protect cold sensitive plants would be include burlap,, a sheet or a cardboard box..  When the sun and warm temperatures return, these “covers” need to be removed to avoid “baked plant”.

 5. Drain Pumps, Lawn Sprinklers and Hoses

 Hopefully this job is done already, because Lawn sprinkler systems and pumps represent a substantial capital investment and must be drained, and blown out 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.

As always, visit or call the store for more information for answers about products, services to all your gardening questions.  You can also contact the store for a list of people willing to perform the various tasks discussed in this article.mulching

Creamed New Potaotes and Peas

A Delicious, Traditional Springtime Recipe!

A Delicious, Traditional Springtime Recipe!

If you have some delicious fresh homegrown peas from your garden you will be especially excited to prepare this classic, old-fashioned dish.

Add a little diced ham to turn this recipe into a main dish.

Whether you have fresh new potatoes and fresh peas or not, make this delicious, traditional Springtime dish!

12 new potatoes (or 2-3 large potatoes cubed in 1 1/2” cubes)

2 Tbsp butter

2 Tbsp flour

1 cup cream

1 cup milk  (or 2 cups milk if you don’t have fresh cream)

3 cup fresh or frozen peas

1 tsp salt

dash pepper to taste

If you are using new potatoes you just boil them in water until tender. If you are using regular potatoes, peel them and cut them into large, 1 1/2 inch cubes. Boil the potatoes in salted water until tender about 15-20 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare a basic white sauce by melting the butter in a 2 qt saucepan. Whisk in the flour, salt, pepper and then the cream and milk. Cook over medium heat, whisking until thick and smooth. With a wooden spoon, stir in the fresh or frozen peas and cook until heated through. Don’t overcook the peas! You want the peas to remain crisp and not get soggy like canned peas

By this time your potatoes are pretty close to being done, Drain the potatoes and add them to the white sauce. Stir in pepper if desired. Do not over cook. (Yuck!!)

Cherry Cream Coffee Cake

cherry-cream-cake-text

Summertime in the North Fork is good, well like a bowl full of cherries.  Before the harvest of sweet and sour cherries comes to a close this season, you might want to bake some mouthwatering, scrumptious Cherry Cream Coffee Cake for the someone(s) special in your life using fresh cherries.

Fresh  cherries are  available at local Paonia farm markets. Sparky’s Farm Market on Roger’s and Stahl’s Market will have fresh, pitted, and frozen pie cherries later in the season, so call ahead for availability.

 Ingredients

3/4 cup butter, softened
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 eggs
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 tsp salt
2-1/4 tsp baking powder

FILLING

4 cups pitted red cherries (cherry pitters are available at the Paonia Farm and Home store)
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch

ICING

1 Tablespoon butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup powdered sugar
3-5 Tablespoons heavy whipping cream

  • Instructionscherryplate

    1. Preheat oven to 350°
    2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, brown sugar and cinnamon.
    3. Using a fork or pastry blender, cut softened butter into the flour mixture (will be crumbly). Reserve one cup of this mixture to save for topping.
    4. Mix eggs and cream. Slowly add to the flour mixture and blend until well incorporated. Add salt and baking powder and mix until smooth.
    5. Pour batter into greased spring form pan.
    6. Meanwhile, place cherries and lemon juice into a saucepan over medium heat. Cover and heat cherries until they release their juice and come to a simmer, 10 to 15 minutes. Stir often.
    7. In a small bowl, whisk granulated sugar with cornstarch; pour the mixture into the hot cherries and juice, and thoroughly combine. Return to low heat, bring to a simmer, and cook until the filling is thick and bubbly, about 2 minutes; remove from heat.
    8. Pour cherry pie filling over batter in the spring form pan.
    9. Top pie filling with the 1 cup of reserved flour mixture, spreading evenly to cover.
    10. Bake for 55 minutes or until brown and toothpick in the center comes out clean.
    11. Allow to cool for 5 minutes then remove cake from the spring form.
    12. *For the Icing:*Mix together melted butter and vanilla. Slowly stir in powdered sugar and cinnamon.
    13. Add 3 tablespoons of heavy whipping cream. Stir until creamy and smooth.
    14. Add more cream 1 tablespoon at a time until desired consistency.
    15. Drizzle over coffee cake and serve. Enjoy!

    The recipe and photos are courtesy of dineanddish.net, a food and lifestyle photography blog where you’ll find family friendly recipes and tips to simplify your life.