Farm where you are....

Monday, June 21, 2010

Strawberry summer...

In Chicago, it's a fleeting strawberry season. In fact, so quick that it's only around for two weeks before the peaches move in and reign. This is the time of year when the berries have that full, sweet, "real" strawberry taste, and not that bland, disappointing, dense nothingness when they are out of season.

Even though I've made freezer jam;I wanted to make strawberry syrup. My kids love that crappy, junky goop in a squeeze bottle that is stirred into milk and I wanted something natural that they could put in instead. I must admit, 2 tablespoons in milk is pure heaven.
I love this syrup recipe. It can even be poured over ice cream, pancakes, almost anything, and I keep it in my deep freeze in little freezer-safe canning jars to have summer memories all through the dark winter months.

All you need is 2 cups crushed, hulled strawberries ( I used a hand blender.)
(After you puree it, you can run it through a sieve to get the pulp and seeds out.We don't mind it and I am lazy, so I left mine in.)
1- 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups sugar depending on how sweet the berries are.
1/4 teaspoon fresh squeezed lemon juice.

Put the puree and the other ingredients in a sauce pan and cook it over low heat, stir until the sugar melts.
Bring it up to a boil over medium-high heat. Once it comes to a boil, simmer over low. Skim the foam from the top. Save it though! You can still use it!
(Be careful on the stove not to splash, because it's basically a boiled syrup and burns can be bad.)

This recipe made enough to fill 8 of those mini-canning jars. Let cool, pour in, put the lids on and keep in the freezer for up to 1 year or the fridge for 3 weeks. So easy!
Take the left-over stuff you skimmed and give it a quick 30-40 second zap in the microwave, making sure it doesn't boil over and let it cool before handling. The foam will settle and there will be much less to skim off and less syrup wasted. You'll end up with almost one extra jar.

Eat that one first, and then enjoy the fresh, sweet summer taste all year 'round.

: ) Jen

Sunday, June 20, 2010

In the garden....Late June

 I have been battling the black ants for these beauties; super sweet, Fall Gold raspberries. Those ants suck just enough to start a bit of mold on each berry with all of the rain we have been having.

I finally decided to put a small bowl of sugar water out and am moving it away slowly, a bit farther each day. They, of course, don't even bother the tarter Red Heritage variety. Damn ants.

I'll let you know if it attracts them away, or just brings more ants to the party.
The good news is is last year we put a biological nematode control for grubs and this year , so far, knock on wood, I've seen hardly any Japanese Beetles. I'll have to let you know farther into July if it's a fluke or if it really worked.

I have no clue what this is. It's a weed that sprouted in my yard and I thought it was too pretty to pull. There are a few of them. It's about 3 feet tall with what almost looks like a pink grain with a leaf with a ruffled edge. Any ideas?

The corn is definitely knee high. And the soybeans and squash are slowly filling in too.

My potatoes are finally blooming and the new potatoes will... umm should, be ready to dig out soon. Though I will admit, I tried to find some today to cheat a bit and I couldn't find any. They are either still really tiny, or really deep. Damn potatoes.

I also cut some lavender today. I am going to make lavender sugar once it dries.

And I have this rambling mystery vine happily growing from my compost pile. I am pretty sure it is from last years pumpkins. I think so. I hope so. Otherwise, It might be a bit scary.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Jen's Organic Chocolate Chip Cookies...

I was tired of all of the extra junk in fun foods.
Why can't fun foods be good? So when I stuff my face with 3 a day I don't have to feel guilty?
I have to admit. I loooooooove my sweets. This recipe came about after tweaking and trying and realizing my store bought cookies, as sad as it is, were really bad for me.

I promise you'll love it and it's yummy enough and good enough to eat for breakfast sometimes (Did I say that out loud?). Your kids will never know it has whole wheat. Plus chocolate comes from a tree so technically, it's a fruit.
I prefer to use almost all-organic ingredients. The only non-organic part is the chocolate chips and the vanilla. You can also make this with conventional ingredients with no problem.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

3/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup extra virgin olive oil ( yep EVOO)
1 tsp vanilla
2 large eggs
3/4cup whole wheat flour
1 1/4 cup white flour
3/4 tsp salt
1 package (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips.

I'm lazy
I forgo the traditional creaming and throw it all in a bowl together as I assemble it.
It will be a bit wetter than regular cookie dough, but you need it for the whole wheat part.

Spoon it onto baking sheets in a with a teaspoon and bake for about 10-12 minutes. Since it has whole wheat you don't want it dark brown because they will be dried out.
A very light golden brown is perfect.

Let cool.

To keep them fresh in your cookie jar, throw a piece of bread in there. It really works to soften your cookies.

Then enjoy.. for breakfast. :)