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Posts Tagged ‘garden’

I like adventure in my life.  Living on the edge.  Trying new and exciting things.  Things that make people say, “What is WRONG with you?”
I hear that phrase quite often from people who knew me way back when.  I have to admit that, had someone told me twenty years ago that I’d be living on a farm and raising chicken and cucumbers, I’d have punched them in the nose for even suggesting such a thing.  Now, though, I just look at them and smile.

The truth is, I can’t imagine living any other life than the one I have. I step out my door, or stare out my window, and all I see is a world blanketed in the beautiful green of the trees  and the brilliant flowery bits of purple, yellow, white, orange, blue and pink that cover the ground.  I see birds in colors that I never knew existed.  I watch bees and squirrels and butterflies as they scamper and flit through the yard.

in the woods

And, then there are my gardens.  I don’t believe there is any possible way to describe the feeling I get when I step into view of one of them.  The peace that fills me.  The easing of ill feelings and anger and negativity.  The joy and hope.  The reminder of all things beautiful and enduring that life has to offer.  It’s a little corny, I know, but there it is…

Pink flowers

In case you couldn’t tell, I’m kinda proud of my gardens.  All of them.  Even my sorry, neglected vegetable gardens.  Well, not really neglected…more like I-let-them-get-out-of-control-and-there-aren’t-enough-hours-in-the-week-to-catch-up-on-them…  Not that it was completely my fault.  It was mostly Mother Nature’s fault.  She’s the one who sent two solid weeks of rain in the middle of the summer, making it impossible to even get to my gardens. By the time I finally built a raft and rowed out to check on them, I was pretty certain they were done for.  My poor tomatoes, so lovely and full, had started to burst from all the water.  My lovely zucchini were water-logged and beginning to rot on the plant.  Even my watermelons seemed to have gotten just a bit too much water.

wet garden

Alas, as the rain cleared, the sun began to shine and the waters began to recede.  Lo and behold, I discovered all was not lost, in fact.  I pulled the cracked tomatoes, rotting zucchini and water-logged watermelons and watched in profound joy as those hardy plants sprouted new blooms and pushed out another round of fruits and veggies that showed even greater promise! Oh, how I love those Heirloom plants!

Should you ever find yourself in this same position, here’s what you can do to save your garden veggies; as soon as you can get to them, pull all the dead, dying, waterlogged or otherwise affected fruit from the plant and throw it in the compost pile (or feed it to your chickens, goats, dogs and cats like I do).  Pull off any leaves that are spotted or ugly.  Sit back and wait.  New blooms should appear within a couple of days and you can be enjoying a fresh round of fruits and veggies in a couple of weeks.  It is that simple.

My flower gardens are another story completely.  They LOVED all the rain!  They burst to life, covering my walls and ground with glorious color.  My vines vined, my flowers flowered…I have loofa, morning glory, datura, bamboo, castor beans….all of them happier than I’ve ever seen them!

So, riding high on a tide of garden-induced euphoria, I made the decision to add a goat or two to our happy farm family…

That wasn’t completely my fault, either.  See, my grandson needs some goat’s milk to eat, and my cousin (who swears she really does like me!) convinced me I needed some, and I could use some goat’s milk for my products….Anyway…the Universe conspired to make it happen.  Who am I to fight fate?

Meet Latte and Buttercup.

Latte and Buttercup

Latte and Buttercup

You have to admit they are pretty darn cute.  They’re good sports, too.  They didn’t kick me once while I was milking them…not even when they probably should have.  Instead, they just kinda looked at me askance a time or two, and I’m pretty sure that Buttercup sighed in exasperation a few times… Still, I have a gallon of fresh goat’s milk that I got all by myself! Am I unbelievably cool, or what?

At this point, you may be wondering what all the fuss is about.  Well, I’m gonna tell you.  It’s all about the goat milk and how super-duper-awesomely-cool it is.

First, though, let’s get the legal portion out of the way….The FDA says that any kind of raw milk is dangerous.  Deadly, in fact.  It harbors evil bacteria that are lying in wait to cause illness and death.  You should never, ever drink raw milk, or eat any products made with raw milk, or smell raw milk, or bathe in raw milk.  Instead, you should only buy milk that has been pasteurized by an FDA-approved agency until there is nothing nutritional or naturally-healthy about it.  (Do you feel the scorn and laughter I’m not bothering to hide…?)

But, if you are like me and enjoy living life on the razor edge of danger, here are some benefits of goat’s milk…

  • It contains over 50 nutrients, including Vitamins A, C, E, B1, B6, B12, minerals, enzymes, citric acid, amino acids, fatty acids, electrolytes, unsaturated fatty acids, selenium, calcium, potassium, niacin and several more.
  • It digests in 20 minutes
  • It most closely resembles the structure of human milk
  • It is non-mucus forming and non-allergenic
  • It is believed to be of great benefit for many medical conditions, including: arthritis, ulcers, malnutrition, brain disorders, nerve disorders, liver disease, heart disease, fluid retention and cancer prevention.

But, what about the benefits of goat’s milk in skin care, you ask?

  • It slows the effects of aging by helping to rebuild collagen and sustain elasticity of the skin
  • It helps prevent and reverse age spots
  • It promotes moisture retention
  • It contains alpha-hydroxy acids that  are believed to help rejuvenate and heal damaged skin

Unfortunately, raw goat milk is kinda hard to find.  A few states have outlawed it completely.  Most states have severe restrictions on the sale of it.  The danger, you know….

But, if you can get your hands on some, snatch it and run!  Bathe in it.  Drink it.  Gargle with it. Sniff it.  Okay, not really, but you know what I mean, right?  You can cook with it, too.  You know I’m gonna be posting new recipes that include copious amounts of raw goat milk.  Next thing you know, you’ll be seeing my face on America’s Most Wanted. I told you – I like to live dangerously!

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There isn’t much I love about summertime in Missouri.  Intense, breath-taking heat, high humidity, biting and stinging insects…discomfort is virtually assured from June through September.  However, there are few a things that make all that discomfort worthwhile.  Long hours of daylight, spending time at the river and, most of all ~ fresh garden veggies.

No summertime garden would be complete without Zucchini.  Baked, fried, stuffed, pickled, raw ~ it doesn’t matter how you prepare it~ I love it!  The last couple of years have solidified my favorite method of eating those big, fresh beautiful zucchini, though.  It is definitely stuffed and baked. Which means that I have to share that wonderful recipe with you.

The beauty of stuffed zucchini is that it comes out tasting perfect weather you use fresh or frozen zucchini.  I always like to take a few zucchini and stick them in the freezer for this garden-fresh treat during the cold months of winter.  Zucchini is one of the few veggies that requires little or no processing before freezing.  Simply cut into slices, shred or grate it, stick it in a freezer bag and pop it in the deep freeze.  To freeze it for stuffing, cut off the ends, scoop out the seeds and voila!

Admittedly, zucchini can get a little mushy after it thaws, but if you aren’t eating it raw it doesn’t really matter.  Use the slices for fried zucchini, pizza topping or add  them to a quiche or pasta sauce. Throw chunks in some chicken or beef broth to make a delicious winter soup.  Use it grated in zucchini bread or, as I’m about to share, as stuffing.

If you are looking for an exceptionally healthy veggie, this one nears the top of the list, providing you leave the skin on.  Zucchini has a high water content, making it very low in calories, and contains no fat or cholesterol. It contains 7 g of carbohydrates, 56 percent of your daily recommended value of vitamin C, 11 percent of your daily value of vitamin K, 16 percent of riboflavin, 21 percent of vitamin B-6 and 14 percent of folate, plus vitamin A, vitamin E, thiamin, niacin, pantothenic acid, potassium, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, calcium, iron, sodium, zinc and selenium.

Anyway…my stuffed zucchini recipe…

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Ingredients needed:

3-4 large zucchini

8 oz cream cheese

1-2 cups shredded cheese -any kind will work, but we prefer shredded Italian blend, cheddar and/or pepper jack

2-3 cups diced or grated raw veggies ~ tomatoes, squash, carrots, cabbage, peppers, celery…   This is a great recipe for using up some of those veggies that have gone soft but aren’t bad yet.

1/2 lemon

1 lb cooked meat (if desired) ~ ground turkey is amazing, but so is sage sausage, hamburger, steak…

Herbs of your choice ~ I love fresh basil, thyme, dill and oregano in this dish.  Just a tsp of each, chopped super-fine, works perfectly

Like all my recipes, this one is adaptable.  If you are using frozen zucchini, you can skip this first part and jump ahead to the stuffing part. If you are using fresh zucchini here’s what you do.

Take the 3-4 large zucchini and fill a pot big enough to lay them in. Fill the pot with water and bring to a full boil, then place zucchini (with ends still intact) in pot.  Boil for 7-9 minutes.  Remove from pot and place in ice cold water for 2-3 minutes.

Remove from water and slice off the ends of the zucchini, then cut the zucchini lengthwise down the middle.  Gently scoop out the seeds, saving as much of the flesh as possible.  Place zucchini on a cookie sheet lightly coated with the cooking oil of your choice and sprinkle with sea salt.

Mix all of your other veggies and the meat in a large bowl.  Make sure you get the cream cheese mixed well enough that you don’t have large chunks in the blend. Add herbs and squeeze lemon juice over the mixture.  Mix well.

Fill zucchini with stuffing.  Pile it on thick and high!

Cook for 10-12 minutes.  Remove from oven and sprinkle extra cheese across the top.  Return to oven and cook until cheese is melted.  Remove from oven and cool for 3-5 minutes.

Serve it up!

I feel it is only fair to warn you that this dish is VERY addictive!  I grew extra zucchini this year so I could make sure I have enough to last me until next growing season.

If you make more than you can eat at one sitting, you can throw the extra in the freezer and they reheat beautifully.

Enjoy!

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