Category Archives: Garden

A purple sweet potato pie

Our friends grew some purple sweet potatoes this year, and we were blessed to receive some of their harvest.☺️ [click here to read more about Ipomoea batatas]

After we brainstormed a bit for possible choices, Mike’s mom chose a “purple* sweet potato pie for her birthday “cake!”πŸŽ‚

*Some funny behind-the-scenes-trivia: we actually thought these were called “BLUE sweet potatoes,” so the whole time we were working with them, we kept remarking about how PURPLE they looked!πŸ˜‚ Glad to learn they are, in-fact, PURPLE!😏*

I have two sweet potato pie recipes in my collection. Decided to do the simpler one here, so we could get a better appreciation of the purple color. First I washed, and then boiled 1.2# pounds of taters for about 40 minutes.

After that, I ran cold water over them and started by peeling skin off with a knife but ended with just using my hands and rubbing the skin off. Came off SO easy!πŸ‘πŸΌ

Had about 50 grams more than the one pound of sweet potatoes the recipe called for, but decided to just use it all.

Added 4 oz. of our butter and was struck by the color contrast of deep yellow & vibrant purple!😍

Mixed above well, and then added the rest of the ingredients:

1c (145g) sucanat, 1/2c (4 oz.) milk, 2 eggs, 1/2t ground nutmeg, 1/2t ground cinnamon, & 1t vanilla extract. Mixed on medium speed until mixture was smooth, and poured it into the single pie crust I made before I started.

For it, I added 140g of unbleached flour to 4g of sea salt + 78g of butter and used my pastry blender to pulse it up. Added 2.5T cold water and blended it a bit more until it formed a ball. Rolled it out and formed my crust.

Baked it for about 1 hour and 5 minutes at 350Β°.

And here you can really see the purple vs. blue color next to this blue lid…πŸ˜‰

Tasted great and was fun to celebrate Mom’s birthday with this pie!❀️

Thank You, Lord, for the gifts of family, friends, harvests, sharing, and celebrations. You weave everything together in amazing ways…Amen❀️

Dilly Beans – a family affair

We all worked together yesterday to make a family favorite – dilly beans. They are basically green beans that taste like spicy/dill pickles. They are pretty labor intensive to make, so a cooperative effort is much appreciated. I actually thought I had already done a blog post about them, but a search proved me wrong. So here goes… πŸ‘

We set aside about 7 pounds of the straighter beans as we picked to can or freeze – they fit down in the jars better… (I like the bean tips to all be up so it’s easy to pull them out of the jar.)

Once filled with beans, we added a clove or two of our garlic that has been drying. (It’s pretty potent, so we didn’t put the full amount of cloves in as the recipe says.) Paul went out and picked some of Grandma’s dill heads to add – 2 to 4 heads/quart. Then we added 1/2t of Michael’s ground hot peppers. For the brine, we heated up 3Q+1/2c of apple cider vinegar with the same amount of water. (Wish we could have used our homemade ACV, but we didn’t have enough made.) Stirred in 1.25c of Celtic sea salt, and brought the brine to a boil. Poured the brine over the filled jars to 1/4″ headspace. Had extra brine, and needed 3 more quarts to fill the last canner, so we played with cuke slices and spears, too. Made sure the tops of the jars were wiped clean, placed the sterilized lids on top, tightened the rings around them, and water-bath canned them for 10 minutes. Only had two jars’ lids “crinkle”, so we’ll just use them first. (They DID seal, but I’ll probably just keep them in my fridge.) We normally let them sit in the pantry for at least 6 weeks before we dig into them. 😊

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Savin’ the sweet taters

{sigh} Our poor sweet potatoes… They have had to really work hard here this season. Not the actual “growing” part, just the “storing” part…

Mike’s mom was given some starts of a friend’s authentic, West Virginia, sweet potatoes a couple years ago. We all LOVED them! So each year since, she’s grown some starts from the previous year’s crop, and we’ve enjoyed learning how to incorporate them into our menus. πŸ™‚

Last year was another wonderful harvest – I think we measured some in at 6+ pounds! The thing about sweet potatoes, though, is that they need to “cure” before we wrap them individually in newspaper & place them in cold (pantry) storage. Normally, they last fantastically for us – like until May or so… HOWEVER, last year, a well-intentioned helper, decided to WASH the “dirty” potatoes that had been curing on a screen. So basically, that super-important-protective-layer got scrubbed off… Not much you can do to fix that once its happened, so we let them sit a few more days to dry, wrapped them in our newspapers, and hoped for the best. Sadly, we found mold on some in January. But for-the-most-part, most were doing ok. Until yesterday morning. {double sigh} Basement flooded as all our snow & ice has been melting… And if you are too lazy forget to place your precious cargo of wrapped sweet potatoes up in crates because YOU KNOW this has happened before… You get wet wrapped sweet potatoes. DUH. 😦

So yesterday turned into: sweet potato 9-1-1 AND shop-vac the basement day, lol. πŸ™‚

Here’s the crate I filled up of sopping wet taters…

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Took two canning pots & two 8-qt stockpots to fit all of them…

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Fortunately, there were only two small ones that were moldy…

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Next I boiled them for a l-o-n-g time. Like an hour and a half… Didn’t mean to, but I forgot about them as Mike & I were having so much “fun” cleaning up our basement, lol! Didn’t seem to matter, though. They weren’t too mushy to peel & they mashed up really easy… πŸ™‚

I dumped the hot water off and rinsed them in cold. Then I let them sit a bit so I could finish the basement…

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Many people ask us why our sweet potato dishes are “greenish” instead of orange colored. I’ve heard it’s because many confuse yams and sweet potatoes as the same thing… But they are definitely different, lol! πŸ™‚

My yield was five 4c containers and four 2c containers. (Every two cups weighed a little over one pound.) Wish I would have weighed all the potatoes before I started, but I forgot.

The reason I chose those sizes to freeze in, is because our two favorite uses for mashed sweet potatoes are a double batch of “Sweet Potato Puff” {I do tweak it a bit and use evaporated cane juice (ECJ) instead of white sugar, make my own brown sugar using ECJ & molasses, and usually omit the pecans as they are a luxury ingredient around here…} and sweet potato pie. (I sub white sugar with ECJ and my pie crust recipe is in this post…) πŸ™‚

It wasn’t exactly how we planned to spend our day, but it appears as though the rescue effort was a success! And a good kick in the pants reminder to keep valuable items off our basement floor, lol! πŸ™‚

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{This is the first time I’ve tried to “link up” to a blog-hop… For some reason, I can’t get the pic below to link to The Prairie Homestead Blog, but I CAN GET these words to link to it. Sooo, click this paragraph, lol, and you can “barn hop”. Please don’t hesitate to tell me what I’ve done wrong – advice is always welcome!}

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Garlic gift

Came home one day earlier this week to a gift of garlic from one of our customers! I had spoken with her awhile ago of how we’d love to grow garlic again “someday”, but just haven’t gotten around to it. She mentioned she’d probably have extra & wondered if we’d like some… Isn’t it funny how an unexpected gift can be just-the-thing to get us to turn a thought into an action? πŸ™‚

So remember the raised beds that got blogged about last year? Click here or here or here to see a few… Well, other than Paul’s strawberries that were strong enough to push through the weeds this spring, we never got around to preparing or planting the other two this year. And then Paul kept getting stung by hornets each time he push mowed in that area, so that corner of the yard ended up growing up into a jungle, lol…

The promise of fresh garlic next year prompted Mike & I to dig-in & prepare one raised bed! πŸ™‚

(Oh – and we did find the hornets’ hole in the ground, too. Fortunately they didn’t bother us, but Mike will take care of them this weekend.)

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We’ll cover them with a bunch of leaves in the next week or two. And we’ll be excited to see how they do next year! THANK YOU, HEATHER, FOR YOUR GIFT – AND FOR BEING OUR MOTIVATOR!! πŸ™‚

End of season prayer…

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A prayer as I meditate onΒ Psalm 90:12-17

Father, as one season ends and another begins, I pause and offer You praise and thanksgiving for Your abundant blessings. You have provided above and beyond what we needed, so that others could take part of the harvest, as well. Your Words are fueling me with the energy I need to complete what’s before me… Thank You for teaching me how to number my days aright so that I can gain a heart of wisdom. I feel Your compassion as I put one foot in front of the other – even when I can’t see where that next step leads… Not only do You satisfy me in the morning with Your unfailing love, but the whole day I can’t help but sing for joy when I focus on Your gifts! I am glad for each day that You have afflicted me with – for every year that I have seen trouble. You are showing me Your deeds, and Your splendor to my children. May Your favor rest upon us as You establish the work of our hands – YES, ESTABLISH THE WORK OF OUR HANDS!! Amen.

Garden’s planted 2013

Yesterday, we wrapped up planting the garden. πŸ™‚

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Markin’ off the rows. LOVE Grandma’s wheelho! πŸ™‚

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Brittle, broken fenceposts make great row markers, lol! πŸ™‚

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Coverin’ up the corn…

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Boys helping Grandma plant, lime, and water the tomatoes… πŸ™‚

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Lord, we give You our garden: the seeds, the plants, and the labor. We trust that You will give us exactly what we need for moisture & sunlight. And when our harvest comes in, we know it will be the perfect amount to feed us and share with others. May it nourish the bodies of all who partake of it – fill us with what we need to help You with Your harvest! Amen.

Potatoes – 2013

This weekend, after Mike got the garden worked up, I worked on cutting up the 50 pound bag of Kennebec seed potatoes for planting.

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It just so happened, the boys had friends over that day… And much to our sons’ chagrins, we put them all to work at helping us plant the taters… (after we filled their tummies with a hearty dinner complete with homemade ice cream, though!) πŸ™‚

Their friends helped to make this not such a chore for our boys – so it was such a blessing to have them there. They even told us they enjoyed the “farm work”! I think Mike may have also convinced them of how “fun” it will be to dig them all up in the fall, lol – “good training for those muscles”, I believe I heard him say… And in all honesty, we’ll need as many muscles as we can get, since we planted twelve 50 foot rows of potatoes this year! (Just a bit more than last year’s 2.5 rows, lol…)

Amazing how much quicker it is to plant with extra hands. πŸ™‚ It only took us 45 minutes to measure, plant, and mound dirt over those 12 rows!

THANK YOU, BOYS! (Oh, and spread the word to others about digging this fall – we won’t send you home empty handed!) πŸ™‚

Here are some pics from the evening:

Potato planting 101…

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Just taking a moment to admire the audience…

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