Celebrating diversity and making lemonade...

Celebrating diversity and making lemonade...

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Dehydrating vegetables, fruit, herbs, and flowers!

In the Kitchen

I use a variety of food preservation techniques.  One of my favorite things to do is dehydrate things!  I own 3 dehydrators!  There are so many advantages to dehydrating food:
1. It is shelf stable...no need to worry about the power going out and things thawing or needing to have a can opener
2. Dried foods shrivel up so they take less space
3. Flavors are concentrated since all the water has been taken out
4. Dehydrated food retains more of its nutrients since the food is not exposed to high temperatures
5. Low risk of contamination and no preservatives needed

I have been playing around to see what dehydrated foods we like most the past couple years.  Technically, you could dry almost anything but, when re-hydrated, the texture may be a little different (and may be off putting to you).  For example, we use a lot of pumpkin.  You can dehydrate pumpkin into a powder and then re-hydrate when you need to use.  It just seems easier to me to puree the pumpkin and then freeze it instead of dehydrating it and then having to re-hydrate it again.  I tried dehydrating green beans, but I didn't like the texture when they were re-hydrated (now the chicks and ducks are enjoying them!)  

One thing that I like is dehydrating cut up celery and then using it in soups all winter long.  I also dehydrate mushrooms.  A new thing I tried this year is beets.  I cut beets to the size of french fries and dried them.  Then, you re-hydrate them and fry them up like french fries (I know, not the healthiest recipe).  The beet fries were a hit and it's not like we are eating these everyday.  
Dried beet "fries"
Another thing I experimented with is zucchini.  I shredded some and I cut some in long lengths and then I could use them as lasagna noodles.

If you have a cherry tomato plant, you know how prolific they can be.  I made "sun-dried" tomatoes with the cherry tomatoes.  I made so many of these that we are now feeding a good amount to the chicks and ducks too!

I also like to dry flower petals.  Since they are so dainty, I don't even bother with putting them in the dehydrator.  I just let them sit out on a screen.  I use the flower petals to make tinctures and healing balms.  Also, we feed them to the chicks and ducks (boy, the chicks and ducks are really spoiled...)

This past fall, Mary came to the farm to work.  One of her main duties was to dry herbs.  Here she is drying some yarrow leaves.  We are now feeding these leaves to the chicks and ducks.  She also dried kale, comfrey, anise hyssop, catnip, echinacea, sage and bee balm.

I ended up with a nice variety of dried herbs/flowers that we are now feeding to the chicks and ducks each day!
There are many benefits to feeding herbs to your chickens.  There is a great article about this at Timber Creek Farm.  Here is one of their images showing some of the advantages of herbs for chickens:
You can also dry fruit.  I dried some cherries last summer and yesterday, I put some frozen currents in the dehydrator.  I think most people have eaten banana chips or dehydrated apple rings.  These are convenient, go-anywhere snacks to take when you are on the run.  The possibilities are limitless on what to dry and consume!  Consider dehydrating for a great food preservation technique!

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Christmas visit to see Joshua

Visiting Joshua

We got up early on Christmas Day and headed for the airport.  One short flight later, we were in Salt Lake City.  Mark was excited to go to see Joshua.  In early December, he kept saying, "Airport, airport" and when I asked who he wanted to see, he said "Josh"
Mark waiting at airport to get on our plane.
Henry's mom flew out from Philadelphia to meet us and visit with Joshua.  We were so happy to see her because it had been almost 2 years since we were able to visit her.  We went to see a movie and then headed to the Macaroni Grill for dinner.  Although we had made reservations, it was still about an hour until we got seated and then another hour before the food came but that just gave us a lot of time to talk and catch up.
Linda, Joshua, Mark and Henry waiting for our Christmas dinner.
The next day, we went for a train ride in Heber Valley which is about 40 miles southeast of Salt Lake City.
Joshua, Denise, Linda and Mark waiting to board train.

Denise, Joshua and Linda on train.
The best part of the train ride was that we saw some swans on the lake!  Joshua seems to be really fascinated by swans lately and kept asking for pics of swans to put in his room.  Did you know a baby swan is called a cygnet?
Denise and Mark on train.
On Friday morning, we had a family therapy session and then headed out to the Great Salt Lake.  This time, we went to Antelope Island.  You can drive out to it on a causeway!  The entire island is now a State Park but it used to be ranched in the late 1800's up until 1981.  The Fielding Garr Ranch homestead is open for people to walk through.  It is the oldest Anglo built house on it's original foundation in Utah.

Henry and Mark walking around the Fielding Garr homestead
Denise and Mark walking out to see bison.
There is a lot of wildlife on the island including mule deer, big horn sheep, antelope, and one of the largest herds of bison.
Bison grazing at the base of "mountain"
We spent our Saturday doing some shopping, bowling, going to another movie, eating ice cream and pizza!  We left on Sunday and headed back to Idaho.  

A big THANK YOU to Joe for feeding the ducks, chicks, dogs and cat while we were gone!