Monday, August 13, 2012

Garden Crimes

Something has been eating my tomatoes.  I can only speculate who or what could be eating them but I will let you be the judge.

The Crime Scene:
After several days of rain I was finally able to go out and harvest the tomatoes and to my shock and horror this is what I found.

The Evidence:
Exhibit A
As you can see the culprit has rather large teeth.  
Exhibit B
The creature is somewhat of a tomato connoisseur selecting only the ripest fruits.  This tomato obviously did not pass quality control. 
Exhibit C
This was a fine tomato, perfectly aged, a good year, however I will never know. 

The Suspect:
A possible suspect captured on tape in the act.  (This footage cannot be linked to the scene of the crime).  Pay close attention to the eating habits of this rodent and make note of the bite size.  
If you see this creature please approach carefully and teach them a lesson in manners.  I don't mind sharing but I cannot tolerate gluttonous behaviour.  The least it could do is finish the tomato before moving onto the next.....would that be too much to ask.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Making Fresh Pasta

I've had a pasta maker for quite some time now but have been putting off learning how to make pasta.  A friend of mine was visiting who had made it before with some Italian friends so we all joined forces and gave it a whirl.  I was in charge of making the pasta dough and the boys took care of rolling out the dough and cutting it.  Here's what we did.

I used the basic pasta dough recipe that came with the pasta maker.  I was able to throw it together really quickly.  (Sorry, no photos for this step)

500 g of soft wheat flour 
(I used ground semolina durum wheat flour)
5 eggs, at room temperature

I poured the flour into a mixing bowl and made a hole or well in the top where I added the 5 eggs.  I mixed the eggs into the flour with a fork until I was no longer able to stir.  Then I used my hands to knead the mixture until it became completely homogenous and consistent.  You can add water if the mixture is too dry or flour if it is too sticky.  A good mixture should never stick to your fingers.

Remove the mixture from the bowl and place it on a light floured surface.  Cut into small pieces to roll with the pasta maker.

Flatten out a piece of pasta dough on a lightly floured surface making sure each side has a light dusting of flour on it.
Set the machine roller position to number 1.  You want to start with number 1 and work your way up to gradually make the dough thinner.  I think we ended up going to 7 out of a possible 9 (9 is really thin and our dough would not have allowed it).  Remember it has to hold together well enough to run through the cutter.  Follow the directions in your manual for a more detailed description of this process.
Adjusting the roller position
Feeding the dough through the rollers
The boys worked together rolling the dough
It definitely helped to have 2 pairs of hands
Once you reach the desired thickness it is time to cut the dough.  Insert the handle in the hole for the cutting rollers and begin to roll the dough through the cutting rollers.

We spread the fresh pasta on a large baking sheet to dry for at least one.
Cook the pasta in boiling water and enjoy!

We tossed our homemade fresh pasta with some homemade pesto that was in the freezer from last season along with fresh quartered cherry tomatoes.  I will be sure to do a post on pesto making when we make a batch this season.

I am now completely over my fear of making pasta.  It's not as hard and labour intensive as I had imagined.  I am definitely going to make it again.

Life in the Garden

One of my favourite things to observe and photograph in the garden are the little critters that fly, crawl, and wriggle about and call the garden their home.  I have learned that it takes a quick eye and a lot of patience to capture them in action.  Here are some of the residents I have spotted so far.

Can you spot the 2 damselflies?
A closer look
A beautiful white moth visiting a clover patch
A lady beetle larvae 
A ladybug shedding it's outer layer
(I still can't believe I was able to watch this)
A spider enjoying an afternoon snack of hoppers
Note: green hopper in top left
A caterpillar munching away on the apple mint I am trying to harvest 

Let the Gardening Begin!

With gardening season in full swing I have been absent from posting in quite some time (my apologies).  I have been busy in the garden planting all of the beautiful vegetables and herbs that will provide me with fresh, wonderful treats later in the season.  
Here are a few select photos of how the garden is progressing.  The garden has really taken off since these pictures were taken so I will have to take new photos soon to document the progress.
The front garden plot: green and yellow zucchinis, cucumbers,
assorted hot peppers, a variety of tomatoes and eggplants
In the clay pots to the right: yellow and green beans, 2 varieties of kale,
and a chia plant
A perfect match!
Grow your own pie: rhubarb and strawberry garden

Love the lovage
French tarragon

Sweet sorrel

Aside from the edibles, many flowers have made an appearance as well.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Annual Richters Trip

This weekend was my annual trip to Richters.  I made the journey to Goodwood, Ontario to check out the vast selection of Herbs.  I always enjoy my visits to Richters.  It is such a wonderful sensory experience, the beautiful sights, smells and textures of the numerous rows of plants to visit.  This year I got straight to business and reviewed the catalogue before going so I knew exactly what I wanted.  It can be a dangerous place to visit and I often leave with way more plants and seeds than I anticipated.  I did well this year and did not give in too much to temptation.
Here is what came home with me:
Woolly and Minus Thyme that will be added to the lavender garden
Yummy Lemon Verbena for tea
Kaliteri Oregano - a great success last year

Golden Rain, Rex and Pink Majorca Rosemary
I also picked up Cinnamon and Lemon Basil seeds.  This year I was not able to get my absolute favourite basil variety Mrs.Burns Lemon Basil because it is discontinued.  I will have to sort through some old flower heads from last years batch to see if I can salvage some to continue with that strain.  It is definitely worth trying to keep. 

No trip is complete without a visit to the gift shop.  I managed to avoid the book section completely because I am a bit of a book junkie but I did find these really nice organic body perfumes that I just couldn't resist.  They came in these cute little handmade boxes.  I picked up a Patchouli as well as a Sandalwood and they smell amazing.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Farmer Fern & Friends Perform at the Well

I had my first performance with the Farmer Fern & Friends puppet troupe at the Well on Friday.  It was a lot of fun.  A wonderful group of children came out to see our puppet play.  We planted sugar snap pea seeds and made puppets.  The children were so creative.  Each one found inspiration in the materials provided and made their own original creations.  We constructed a theatre for the occasion.  Louisa built the frame and I helped decorate it.  We still have some more work to do but I am please with the results so far.  I want to make a banner for the top that says Farmer Fern & Friends. 

The Puppet Theatre
The Children Hard at Work
Busy Creating
Farmer Fern Visiting with the Children

What a Creative Bunch!