Frustrating Garden Year


Last week I weed whacked most of the garden which was mostly weeds.  

There is a frost predicted later this week so yesterday I picked the remaining zucchini squash.  Then I started looking at the other squashes.  And I found this:

This is what the spaghetti squash look like,

and this is the same squash turned over.  

Rodents have eaten most of my spaghetti squash.  Last year I ate these squashes through the whole winter.  This year almost all of them have been eaten. The ones that haven’t are either not ripe or the few that are on the fence that they haven’t got to yet..

I then looked at the acorn squash.  Fortunately they are OK.  It may be because their skin are thicker.  

Here are more of my sad spaghetti squashes.  They went to the animals.

I then looked at the pumpkins.  One was eaten, but the rest are OK.  But there are very few of them.

Here are the spaghetti squash I can keep, the one butternut squash (likely because the others were all eaten), the last of the zucchini and one last cucumber.

And here is the sum total of all of my winter squash.  So incredibly sad.  I usually have an abundance of squash and can feed the excess to the animals.  Not this year.  

In other better news, the trees are turning colors.  

When the vet was out, he implied that our cows are fat.  What do you think?

They have only been eating grass until now except for a few apples recently.  

Our grass must be pretty good.  

We haven’t started feeding any hay to them yet which is highly unusual.  I expect to be feeding full rations of hay by October 15 and start half rations well before then.

I do expect to start feeding them hay tomorrow though.  They are complaining today about inadequate grass.  

I am trying to get ready for Halloween.  So far I do not have any pumpkins to carve.  There are two medium sized green pumpkins that I had hoped to carve, but it seems unlikely at this point.  I still plan on dressing as a peacock.  Usually we watch scary movies, but I haven’t found one I have an interest in watching.  But I did find the PBS series Monstrum on their passport streaming service.  I watched a couple last night, and it is fascinating.  

So i think I will watch that. Not sure what Tom wants to watch. I have purchased Halloween candy to nibble on.

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Birds News

The birds have been active here on Schoonover Farm.  We have a pair of eagles doing acrobatics in the air above us.  To my knowledge they have not eaten one of our chickens in a while now.  This is one of them.  The other one has immature coloring.

The chickadees have been hanging out in the willows by our back ditch recently for some reason.  There were many in one plant, but the photo didn’t do them justice.  So here is a close up of one of them.

A GBH has been hanging in the sheep pasture.  Not sure why.  This is not their typical behavior, but he is flying around normally so it must be her/his choice.

A closer view of him/her.

Here is the bird on the shelter’s roof in the same field later.

So today was chicken butcher day.  I got up before dawn and caught the roosters, putting them into crates and cages.  Here they are in the back of the truck.

I did spare one rooster, one of the Bielefelders.  He is a pretty bird and well behaved.  He is big enough to hopefully be intimidating to the eagles, but he treats the hens well.  They are described as having a docile disposition so hopefully he will be able to remain as a rooster on our farm.  Plus if he produces chicks that become hens, they should produce beautiful eggs.

And here are the chickens back from the butcher.  They range between 3 and slightly above 4#.  Not very big, but they should be tasty.

Chicken butcher day is always bittersweet.  It is sad to catch the roosters and have them killed, but it is a lot more peaceful in the barnyard now.  They are beautiful birds and they wouldn’t have lived if it weren’t for their ultimate purpose.  I hope they had a good life while they were here.  I know their end wasn’t without some fear, but I tried hard to make it as pleasant as I could.  Plus it always seems to dump rain on chicken butcher day.

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Hunting Widow’s Cooking

Tom and his son have been hunting elk since Saturday. He has been leaving before dark and returning well after dark. So I have been the farmer this week. But I have had time for cooking in the afternoons.

I started Saturday with making a Lingonberry cheesecake. It was a way I could use some lingonberries I had in a dish that I thought Tom would eat. And I was right.

I also made Cat Head Biscuits from my Hometown Favorites cookbook because we have some buttermilk leftover from a salad dressing I had made plus I thought they would go well with the leftover red beans and sausage I had made for dinner the night before.


So the beans and biscuits were our late dinner and the cheesecake was dessert, all very yummy.

For Sunday I decided to make German Style Sausage and Peppers in a tribute to Oktoberfest. This paired well with football and a German Pilsner.

On Monday I started making Piccalilly from my Downton Abbey cookbook. I had to wait until now to have the right ingredients from our garden. Here they are, ready to go.

I happened upon some Colman’s Mustard powder in the store the other day so I pulled it out for this recipe.

The recipe calls for almost 3 tablespoons of mustard powder and one of turmeric.  Here is is mixed in a paste with some vinegar.  The photos doesn’t do it justice about how yellow it is.

Here is the Piccalilly in the jars.  I need to wait a month before trying it though.

For dinner I made minestrone soup from Alice Waters cookbook. The vegetables were from our garden except the tomatoes which are dwindling.  It was tricky finding cannelloni beans but I found some precooked ones. This soup was amazing, the best minestrone I have had.  This was a great way to use the remaining summer vegetables in our garden.  

Next I made Lemon Raspberry Muffins.  This was a way to use up some of our raspberries, plus an easy breakfast for Tom to grab as he went out hunting.

Tuesday I made Oxtail Soup from the City Tavern Cookbook.  The recipe was from season 4 A Taste of History.  I am trying to use up the meats in the freezer as we will have new meat soon.  I did receive a call from our butcher later though that he is 6-8 weeks behind due to lack of workers so we will not be butchering our cow and pigs until November.  But it was still nice to use up the tail from last year’s cow in this lentil soup recipe.  Here are the browned tail pieces being add to the vegetables.

oxtail soup just started

And this is the finished soup.  It was thick, yummy and filling.

oxtail soup done

Wednesday I picked crabapples and started a Crab Apple Shrub.

Here are the cut crabapples, apple cider vinegar, sugar, vanilla pods and star anise simmering.  

And here is the mixture in jars.  I will strain this in 1 week and then I can make non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks with it.  

The other thing I have been doing this week is participating in a virtual conference from the American Academy of Pediatrics.  In this conference there was a cooking demonstration by Wolfgang Puck.  That was fun so I decided on Thursday for dinner to make the recipes he demonstrated: Mushroom Risotto and Molten Lava Cakes.  The risotto recipe linked is similar but the one he showed us didn’t have tomatoes,

and it did have peas.  The cakes recipe is similar except the one he gave us had 4 eggs as well as 3 egg yolks.

I made the risotto as directed but added the peas and parsley to it but kept the mushrooms separate as I knew Tom wouldn’t like them.


Here are the recipes he shared with us and 


the notes that I took during the class.


Here is the risotto all cooked with the peas in it,


and here are my sautéed mushrooms.


And here is my dinner.  It was so good!!!!  Tom did add some canned chicken to his.


When I made the Molten Lava Cakes, I did not have the molds like Wolfgang had.  So I used some glass ones we have.  Here they are cooked.


But they did not come out when I flipped them like they did for Wolfgang.  So I tried a muffin tin next.


These ones came out, but they were not nearly as pretty as his.


I was thinking that I need to buy some molds but then today I remember we have some molds hanging on the kitchen wall I could have used. Next time.  We ate them out of the glass molds, and they were really good. 


Today I rendered suet into tallow. Again I am trying to clear out the freezer. I plan on using this tallow to make bird suet blocks, candles and soap. I did grind it first and then used two crock pots and three large pans to hold all of the ground suet.


Here it is after simmering for hours, straining and put into jars.  They are going in the refrigerator to chill.


And here they are after chilling, about to go in the freezer.  So the suet will still take some freezer space but not as much as before.  Plus as a side product I have a kidney and other bits to supplement Steve’s diet.  Wet dog food is not hard to find in our local stores.


For a cocktail tonight I made an End of Summer Cocktail from North Drinkware. It was emailed to me by this great company. It is simple syrup, rye whiskey, orange bitters and an orange peel that you ignite the juice coming out of it while squeezing. Here is is with the matches, etc.


For dinner I am making A Root Vegetable Korma from my cookbook Tender. It is a way that I can use up some of our parsnips and rutabagas. Here it is just starting to cook,


and here it is all cooked with yogurt and cream added.  I tasted it, and it is really yummy and nicely spiced.  


I am waiting for Tom to grill a hamburger to eat dinner. I thought he might eat this if we added from meat to it (like turkey) but I was wrong.

So that is my week of being a hunting widow and making the best of it, as well as getting some important tasks completed. The west side muzzle loader elk season is done. Next will be east side modern rifle deer, and I will be a widow yet again. I will have to figure out more tasks.

FYI no elk were harmed, but Tom did bring home firewood and chanterelles!!!

Posted in Historic recipes, NYT Cooking recipe, Recipes- farm, Swedish food | 2 Comments