Yesterday was a cold rainy day here. I had plans to get out and photograph what things look like around here but it was pretty wet. Instead I’m going to re-post one of my original posts from three years ago! I imagine most of you have not read it!
Our growing season in Vermont is a short one. The ground is really too cold to plant until the end of May and we’ve been known to have a frost as early as Labor Day weekend! My dream is to have a greenhouse to help extend the season. We have friends that have a beautiful greenhouse and they have the most wonderful peppers and tomatoes long before we ever see ripe vegetables in our garden. Until my dream comes true I find ways to extend the season in other ways. In the spring I use a cold frame to serve as a halfway house for my tomatoes, peppers and eggplants. When it’s time to move them out of the house but it’s still too cold to move them into the garden I use the cold frame. In the fall I usually use row covers.
I’ve planted lettuce in mid August and when the nights started getting colder I covered my lettuce crop with row covers.
This helps extend our growing season often by several weeks or more. It’s nice to be able to harvest fresh lettuce when the rest of the garden is no longer producing!
This winter I plan to read Eliott Coleman’s book: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables From Your Home Garden All Year Long. Maybe I too can become a four-season gardener here in Vermont.
Peaches do not seem to grow well in Vermont; at least I have not found any place nearby to pick your own peaches. However where I grew up in Connecticut there is a wonderful orchard, Bishops Orchards, where you can go and pick the most wonderful peaches. Their peaches are ripe from mid August until mid September. I usually plan a trip to my old hometown to visit my mother and pick peaches.
Canned peaches are so pretty to look at out on your pantry shelf and they taste wonderful in the middle of winter when it is cold and snowy outside.
Usually I just can the peaches in light syrup to be enjoyed at a later date. Often I will also can some peach pie filling.
Peaches are very easy to can and can be processed in your water bath canner. You will need:
2-3 pounds of peaches per quart
Have your jars, lids and canner prepared and ready to go.
First make your light syrup by combining 2 ¼ cups sugar with 5 ¼ cups of water. You can also use honey by combining 1 cup of sugar, 1 cup of honey and 4 cups of of water to yield 5 cups of syrup. I mix this ahead of time and have it warming on the stove while I prepare the peaches.
Prepare your peaches by washing them and dipping them in boiling water for 30-60 seconds.
Immediately dip the peaches in cold water. Slip off the peel. Cut in half; pit and scrape the cavity to remove any red fibers. (The fibers often turn brown during storage) You then want to treat the peaches to prevent darkening.
Drain the peaches and pack them into your hot jars, packing cavity side down, layers overlapping. Ladle hot syrup over the peaches. Leave ½ inch of headspace. Remove any air bubbles. Adjust your two-piece caps and process pints for 25 minutes and quarts for 30 minutes in a boiling water canner. Store in a cool dark place.
This is an excellent year for blueberries and we have an abundance from our bushes. We’ve been enjoying them on our granola each morning but this week I decided to make this wonderful blueberry crisp. Making the toping with mayonnaise is different but really delicious! Not sure where the recipe originated as it is all over the internet!
Blueberry Crisp 4 cups fresh blueberries 1 cup flour ¾ cup sugar ½ tsp cinnamon ½ cup mayonnaise Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Place the blueberries into an 8-inch square baking dish. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, and cinnamon.
Stir in the mayonnaise until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle the flour mixture over the blueberries.
Bake for 35-40 minutes in your preheated oven, until the top is lightly browned.
Delicious with a scoop of vanilla ice cream!
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This is one of those recipes that has been passed around between my mother and my mother-in-law and enjoyed by all. I think it is one of those perfect spring or summer salads. Easy to make and delicious! I’ve even made it without the grapes as we didn’t have any in the house and instead I added a bit of leftover corn! Not only was it colorful but it was still delicious!
I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!
Chicken Orzo Salad
3 Tbsp oil
4 tsp orange juice
2 tsp salt (I only used 1 tsp)
¾ cup mayonnaise
4 tsp red wine vinegar
12 oz orzo pasta
1 cup cashews
1 cup celery, chopped
3 small cans mandarin oranges
1 cup grapes, sliced in half
4 cups of cooked chicken, diced
Combine the oil, orange juice, salt, mayonnaise and vinegar. Mix well.
Cook the orzo according to the package directions. Drain and place in a large bowl.
Toss with the dressing. Add the remaining ingredients, refrigerate until chilled. Serve on lettuce.
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This week we’ve been taking part in our Spring Pantry Challenge. Other than the mushrooms I actually had everything on hand to make this dinner. This lasagna recipe is a little unusual but it is delicious and very easy to make.
Creamy Chicken Lasagna
5 Tbsp butter (divided)
1 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (14.5 oz) can of diced tomatoes, drained
8 oz sliced mushrooms
½ tsp tarragon
½ tsp oregano
½ tsp basil
½ tsp sugar
1 ¼ tsp salt (divided)
2 ½ cups cooked chicken
3 Tbsp flour
2 cups half and half
½ cup dry white wine or chicken broth
3 cups shredded Swiss and/or mozzarella cheese (I used a combination)
8 oz lasagna noodles, cooked
¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Heat oven to 350. Grease a 13 x 9 inch baking pan. Melt 2 Tbsp butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook and the stir the onion and garlic for 3-5 minutes or until the onion is transparent. Add the tomatoes, mushrooms, tarragon, oregano, basil, sugar and ¼ tsp of the salt; simmer 4-6 minutes or until the sauce thickens.
Stir in the chicken.
Melt the remaining 3 Tbsp of butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the flour and remaining 1 tsp salt; cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the half and half; cook and stir for 5-5 minutes or until slightly thickened. Stir in the wine; bring to a boil. Remove from the heat.
Spoon 1/3 of the tomato sauce into the bottom of the baking pan; cover with 1/3 of the white sauce. Top with 1 cup of the cheese; cover with ½ of the lasagna noodles. Repeat. Top with final 1/3 of the chicken sauce and the white sauce. Top with the remaining 1 cup of cheese and sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese.
Bake 40-45 minutes or until heated through and light golden brown. Let stand for 15 minutes and then enjoy. Serves about 8.
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One of the best deals for today only is that the Prudent Living Market is offering FREE shipping today, March 5, only. If you’ve had your eye on something in the market today is the day to purchase!
In many parts of the country it still feels like winter. Even though it still feels like winter, home improvement centers haul out air conditioners in March and put them on sale.
Other bargains to look for are winter sporting equipment and strangely enough, frozen foods. March is National Frozen Food month so plan to fill your freezer with great bargains from Birdseye and other frozen retailers.
You can also find post-St. Patrick Day sales with items that would tickle the fancy of Irish folks on your Christmas list. Look also for green items such as tablecloths that could also work for Christmas.
As the garage and rummage sale season gets underway, watch for “new” gifts like small appliances still in their boxes or nice items of clothing with their sales’ tags still intact. It’s amazing what you can find when you keep your eyes open.