Monthly Archives: August 2010

Freezing Frenzy

We have been doing our best to preserve some of the garden bounty for enjoyment during the cold winter months here in Minnesota.  The flavors of garden green beans and sweet corn in the depths of winter just cannot be beat.

I must admit, however, that in the last few summers I have went a little crazy with freezing.   In particular, I was obsessed with harvesting and trying to freeze as many green beans as possible so that none would go to waste.  The result was a lot of wasted effort.  We never managed to consume all the beans and each season’s leftovers ended up on the bottom of the freezer when I covered them with the newest harvest.  I finally decided to clean out all the leftovers this summer, thaw them out, and throw them on the compost pile.  Time for a fresh start and a more realistic amount of freezing this year.

Over a two-week period in July, we harvested our green beans and froze around 20 quart-size bags.  I do my best to estimate the serving size for our family, and pack the bags accordingly.  After blanching the beans in boiling water and cooling them off in ice water, we pack them into Ziploc freezer bags and squeeze out as much air as possible before placing them in the freezer.

Last year, for the first time, we also froze some sweet corn for winter consumption.  Not surprisingly, when given the choice, the kids preferred the corn over the green beans.

We planted our own sweet corn this year, increasing our patch to at least two times the size.

Even with the larger sized patch, we did not have enough of our own for freezing.  We were too busy picking it and eating it fresh as it ripened!

Instead, like last year, we went out and purchased some from a neighbor at a road-side stand.  We bought 8 dozen at $3.00 each.  The corn was perfectly ripe and freshly picked that morning out of the field.

The kids helped with the process:  peeling the ears, cutting off the kernels (after blanching the cobs in boiling water), and putting the corn in the freezer bags.

Freezing corn is a very sticky and messy process.  The worst part is the clean-up, which I usually end up doing on my own.  We ended up with a total of 20 bags of frozen corn, with about 4 cups in each bag (approximately $1.20/bag).  Although it might be cheaper and far less work to just buy frozen corn at the grocery store this winter, I know from our past experiences that we will all enjoy this corn much more.  Not only is the flavor far superior, but there is definitely satisfaction that comes with knowing exactly where your food came from and that you participated in its preservation.

Often times in the past, pulling bags of our veggies from the freezer for a meal starts conversations about the summer, the harvesting, or the preserving.  Veggies from the frozen food aisle certainly do not have the same effect!  My hope is that the kids will carry these experiences into their adult life and consider gardening, or that they will at least occasionally consider the source of their food.

So, once again we are headed into winter with our own frozen veggies in the freezer.  Hopefully, the 40 bags will be just the right amount!

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Filed under Food, Freezing and Canning, Kids

Never Too Old

Several inches of rain fell here in Minnesota last week, culminating in a complete washout on Friday.  Inches and inches of rain poured from the sky in waves throughout the day.  After watching the rain from indoors for much of the day, one of the kids suggested venturing outside to play in the rain.  The kids are 17, 15 and 12.  Too old to play in the rain?  Apparently not.

All three of them headed outside.  I was sitting at the computer and thought nothing of it when they first went out.  A few minutes passed and I became curious as to what they were doing.  I looked out the window and saw them having a great time.  All three kids, at home, agreeing on an activity, being totally silly together.  Why was I sitting inside the house in front of a computer screen?  So I grabbed my camera, headed out into the rain and followed them around.

They ran through the rain and the puddles…

They slopped in the puddles of standing water…

And they splashed each other.

At first, I stood inside the pole shed, protecting my camera and shooting pictures of them in the rain.  I eventually put a coat over my head and followed them out into the field, as they continued to splash in the standing water everywhere.  The air was fresh and earthy smelling.

In those moments outside in the rain, it occurred to me that I am an incredibly lucky woman.  I felt so grateful for our little slice of country life and that I was home on this particular afternoon to enjoy these teenagers playing in the rain.  Instead of sitting in an office, or being stuck in traffic, or being somewhere else in the big city, here I was with my kids, out in the country on our little farm.

As the rain let up and we went inside, I could not get the images of them playing in the rain out of my head.  With a senior in the house, the reality is that afternoons like this are numbered.  Isn’t it funny how something so simple, like playing in the rain, can feel so special?

So, are my kids too old to play in the rain?  Not so far.  And truthfully, I hope they never feel too old.  Because when they come back to visit me as adults, which they better plan on, I might just drag them out in the rain so I can take some more pictures.

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Filed under Daily life, Kids

Skyscraper Sunflowers!

Summer is flying by and we are swamped with vegetables to harvest, flowers to pick, weeds to pull and grass to mow.  We enjoy a variety of fresh vegetables at each meal and inevitably eat too much.  The rewards of all the hard work in the garden are paying off and it is a great time of year to be living on our little hobby farm.

The last few summers I have grown sunflowers in the garden.  Last month I posted about my Pastiche sunflowers, with a promise to provide pictures of my Skyscraper sunflowers once they reached their full glory.  As a thunderstorm was rolling in this evening, I made my boys come outside for a photo by the fully grown and blooming sunflowers because I was afraid the predicted high winds might damage them.

We have enjoyed watching their growth through the season and the kids would point out their dramatic change in size upon our return from the cabin each weekend.  My oldest is close to 6 feet tall, so I am guessing that makes these flowers around 14 or 15 feet high??  I think these are my tallest ones yet.  Skyscrapers, indeed.  Once again, they have not disappointed.  And as I flip through the seed catalog in the dead of winter, I will definitely be ordering these seeds again.

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Filed under Flower, Gardens