Celebrating diversity and making lemonade...

Celebrating diversity and making lemonade...

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Fall 2019 Update and Food Storage

On The Farm

Some brief updates from happenings this past fall at ReMARKable Farms and the Wetzel household.

Let there be light!  After 2 years of being in the complete and total dark at night, we finally got around to calling the local utility company.  They came out and put in a totally new, photosensitive light in the yard where we park our cars!  Thanks Avista!  Now, we can see when we are getting in and out of our vehicles at night!

I started some apple wine.  Last year, I made hard cider and it is still aging (it is supposed to age for 2 years).  So, I decided to try something different and make some apple wine!

I know this is not going to be a popular decision but I have decided that I am NOT going to plant sunflowers to sell as cut flowers next year.  I will probably still plant some sunflowers to harvest for the chickens but these will be more for seed and not flowers.  Of course, I will still grow some red sunflowers so I can make the red sunflower jelly.  Why not grow sunflowers?  Time...the sunflowers take a LOT of time and I can never recoup that in profits from sales.  The sunflowers has truly been a labor of love the past few years.  Now, with Mark's egg business starting, I just don't feel like I will have the time to devote to the flowers.  Another reason is that I also want that time to devote to our own personal garden and food preservation which leads me to my next topic...

In the Garden

Here is a list of the items I was able to preserve this past year.  Yes, I am patting myself on the back...also, I use this list to help me determine if I need to make more/less for the next year.

5 - 1/4 pints cowboy candy
9 pints beets
12 pints pickled beets
8 pints salsa
8 pints rotel - ran our 1/26/20
9 quarts apple pie filling
10 pints applesauce
26 pints hot apples
32 quarts tomato sauce
6 quarts cherry pie filling
cherry jam
12 - 1/2 pints beet ketchup
4 - 3/4 quarts of dilled cauliflower
4 - 3/4 quarts of green enchilada sauce

30 pints green beans
5 pints dragon tongue beans
12 - 1 cup servings of diced onion
9 - 1/2 cup servings of green chilis
15 pints corn
*12 pints broccoli
*7 pints cauliflower
7 -10 oz servings of kale/beet greens
*note to self: freeze in quarts next year

green beans
*lots of herbs (oregano, thyme, basil, yarrow flowers and leaves, lemon mint, catnip, dill, echinacea, anise hyssop, sage, bee balm)
*flowers (calendula, chamomile, borage, marigold, nasturium, lavender)
cherry tomatoes
Sunflower seeds
Pumpkin seeds
*most of the herbs and flowers are for treats for the chickens and ducks this winter

4 gallons salsa
1 1/2 quarts sauerkraut
2 quarts of cauliflower

I also finally purchased some shelving to store my squash!  I am so happy about how this turned out.  It feels so much more organized.  A lot of these squash are for the chickens and ducks too.  I just went through the bins this morning and picked out the moldy ones to toss in the compost bin and picked out a couple to roast for the chickens and ducks.

In the Wetzel Household

Lastly, a bit of nerve racking news...I had a phone call in November about Joshua's Medicaid.  It seems that we make too much money now so he lost his Medicaid.  The Medicaid is paying for his residential treatment.  I have no idea how much this costs but I can assume it is a lot of money.  My heart just sank.  He is definitely not completed with his treatment and I was so nervous that he might be forced to come home.  I immediately started making phone calls.  It's crazy that his treatment is based on our income.  The two seem to be unrelated to me.  Anyway, the good news is that I just found out on Friday that Children's Behavioral Health in Idaho is going to take over on Joshua's payment for his treatment.  Another thing to be thankful for!  A Christmas miracle!

Ready to put 2019 in the books and start a new decade...Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Chicory coffee...a caffeine free coffee substitute...

In the Garden and Kitchen

I have been posting a lot about the ducks and chicks lately so I thought I would mix things up and share something that I did this past fall.  I made chicory coffee!  Once again, this is something I kind of discovered by accident.  Let me start from the beginning...

Before moving to the farm, I spent a lot of time researching about chickens and growing feed for them.  I remember something about how chickens would like to eat chicory but my research did not go much beyond that.  So, we moved to the farm and I planted some in my food forest and herb garden.  I planted seeds and it really took off and got HUGE!  It was taller than me!

Chicory also grows wild in pastures and ditches.  If you look around in the summer and see any plants with pretty little blueish flowers, that is probably chicory.  Many parts of the chicory plant can be used.  The greens can be used in salad (Radicchio and Belgian endive are types of chicory).  The flowers are great for pollinators.  It is a perennial (which I did not realize...again...should have done some more homework...) and grows some massive tap roots.  The roots can be eaten or dried out, roasted and used as a coffee substitute.

This past summer, my friend, Janet, brought her friend from Texas over to see the farm (sorry, Janet, I could not remember her name).  She noticed the chicory and had noted that you could make coffee from the roots.  I had also read that at one time but didn't really give it a second thought.  

It seems that throughout history, when coffee beans were limited, people started harvesting chicory, roasting the roots, and used that as a coffee substitute.  Chicory is still very popular in New Orleans and it is often brewed with coffee and then mixed with milk (au lait).  There is a nice review of the history of chicory here.

This fall, after a killing frost, I decided to try and clean up the food forest.  I started pulling the chicory tops to add to my compost bin.  
Dead chicory plant in food forest
As I pulled, out of the ground came these long roots.  I grabbed a bin and started collecting them.
I brought them in to the house, washed them up and then attempted to cut them into small pieces.  That was pretty challenging.  I found that a pair of pruning shears worked the best.  I laid them out on a dehydrator sheet and put them in the dehydrator overnight.

The next morning, I roasted them at 300 degrees in the oven.  The whole house smelled wonderful!  Sort of like a chocolate malt scent.  I roasted them for at least an hour.  Then, you put them in a coffee grinder and grind them up.

Here is a really nice article about harvesting chicory for coffee.  I add a little bit to my regular coffee grounds and brew it in my coffee pot (I guess I should say that Henry does this because he always makes my coffee for me - thanks Hen!).  It has a nice, earthy taste and you don't need much!  I should have enough for the whole year in this half gallon jar.