Friday, May 29, 2009

Time To Harvest The Kale

I find myself in an unusual situation: I have a tubfull of mature kale, and nothing to do with them. So I think I'll pick them on Saturday and dehydrate them.

I usually plant kale in the early spring along with my spinach and lettuce mix. And them I mix the young, tender leaves in with my lettuce and spinach salads. But this year my spinach and lettuce didn't come up. Even a second planting of them is yielding only 5 spinach plants. So now I have a whiskey-barrel tub full of kale and no salad to put them in.

I know you can steam kale and eat it like spinach, but I'm not that crazy about cooked spinach. However, I will sometimes snip the kale or spinach into little strips and put them into stew or scrambled eggs.

So I think after I pick all the mature leaves tomorrow, I'll snip them, blanch them, and dehydrate them. Then I can add them to soups, stews, eggs, or whatever.

More Irises opening

This morning when I took Firenzi outside, I noticed that another new iris has opened its first blossom: Mexican Holiday. The description on Schreiner's website says that it has "brassy gold standards and rich maroon falls." I thought the falls looked more plum than maroon. It's beautiful, though.

Here's a link to it's picture:

I planted several new irises last year, and it's a lot of fun seeing how closely the blossoms match the pictures in the catalog.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Cranberry Fruit Leather

I tried making Cranberry Leather last weekend. And this morning I finally gave trying to get it dry. It just doesn't want to dry all the way. It's still slightly tacky on top.

I had 3 bags of frozen cranberries left over from last winter, so I decided to try making Cranberry Leather. I thought I'd follow the same procedure I used for my Rhubarb Leather.

But it just didn't turn out as well. Maybe I put too much sugar in it. Maybe I added to much water. I tried rolling it up this morning, even though it's still tacky, and it made a nice roll. But I'm not crazy about the flavor.

Hmmm, maybe I don't like cranberries as much as rhubarb. Ah well.

Spring/Early Summer Flowers Blooming

This morning I noticed that my first California Poppy is blooming.

My first Iris of the year is open too: Passion and Purity. You can see a picture of it on Schreiner's website:

I really like the amoenas. They're the Irises with white standards and darker falls. I'm going to have to find out how to pronounce "amoena."

I just planted this particular Iris last year, so I'm happy to see it doing so well.

Monday, May 25, 2009

I Really Like Rhubarb

A couple weeks ago I decided to try the Rhubarb Leather recipe in Mary Bell’s Complete Dehydrator Cookbook. I was thrilled with the results—even though I didn’t exactly follow the recipe. I filled up the four leather trays in my dehydrator, and had enough sauce left over to stuff myself on. It was wonderful!

It has that tangy rhubarb flavor, but sweetened just enough with the brown sugar.

So, here's what I did...

I have a couple really productive rhubarb plants out back, so I picked a big armload of rhubarb. I brought them inside and cut off the leaves to put in the compost. You do know not to eat rhubarb leaves, don’t you? They’re poisonous. My dog, Firenzi, was disappointed that he didn’t get to eat the leaves, as I normally give him all the trimmings when I’m fixing something from the garden.

After washing the rhubarb and cutting off the bottom of each stalk, I cut the remainder of each stalk into roughly 1-in pieces. The pieces took up about ¾ of my 4.5-quart stock pot. I covered them with water, added a pinch of salt, and set them on the stove to come to a boil. They were just starting to boil when I poked them with a fork, and they were tender. So I decided that they were cooked enough.

I poured off the water (I shouldn’t have put so much water in), and pureed the cooked rhubarb in batches in the blender. When it was all pureed, I added brown sugar and cinnamon to taste, then spread the sauce on my four leather trays.

I don’t remember how long it took to dehydrate the leather, but it was just perfect--no longer tacky, but soft enough to roll up. So I rolled up the four sheets and cut them into bite sized pieces.

I tried not to eat them too fast, so I made them last a week. They were so good. Now I think I need to plant more rhubarb—I definitely want to make more of this leather!

Welcome and Introduction

Hello, and welcome to the DragonRanch Inn blog. Thanks for dropping in.

This blog will contain notes of my experiments, projects, successes, and failures for my various endeavors. I’m slowly building a food forest, using permaculture techniques. I’ve been learning and experimenting with dehydrating food. I garden, make soap, and make things out of concrete. I make beaded jewelry, too, but I probably won’t post much about that.

I hope that people doing similar things will find my posts helpful and interesting. And I hope that people will comment on them with more tips, questions, and such.