The Busiest time of the year

Here we are in harvest season! It’s wonderful to see the fruits of our labors earlier in the year! While it’s wonderful-it also makes us super busy keeping up with it all! Over the past week and a half we’ve put up Peaches, Tomatoes, salsa, chili sauce, Pears, and today we’re doing roasted tomato sauce to freeze, and Elderberry jelly. So much work-but such a blessing!

Silly me amidst all this-I decided to also add chickens to our homestead! They’ve actually been a really calming influence! I love to go out in the garage and visit them when I’m overwhelmed. 🙂

I’m so thankful I’ve been doing this canning with my mom and sister! Much more pleasant as a group project. 🙂


Chili Sauce

Chili Sauce has been on my list to make this year. We love it over cream cheese on crackers or tortilla chips, or mixed into meatloaf. So tasty!

So, this morning we harvested the garden:

Seeing the beautiful basil harvest, we added pesto to the list for the day, and picked enough peppers for the chili sauce.

The real star of the day was this beautiful machine:

Rather than peeling all the tomatoes, we blended them up leaving them slightly chunky. We also used it to chop onions and peppers, and it blasted through 4 batches of basil and Kale pesto. It’s quick becoming our most used appliance!

Anyway, we had enough tomatoes from the garden to fill the pressure canner pot with chili sauce! It was a triple batch, with a huge bowl of tomatoes left to eat fresh! Yum.

We let the chili sauce summer and reduce for 2.5 hours, then bottled it up! For the recipe, I made some acceptable edits to the Ball canning cookbook recipe to make it more like my Mom’s recipe. It turned out delicious! Her recipe doesn’t add any bell peppers, we just put in Jalapeños. It also has a hint of curry powder. Yum!

Cowboy Candy

We’ve tweaked this recipe and love the results! So I thought I’d share.

The original recipe comes from the USDA canning website here:

  • 7 lbs firm bell peppers
  • 3-1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 cups vinegar (5 percent)
  • 3 cups water
  • 9 cloves garlic
  • 4-1/2 tsp canning or pickling salt

We adjusted the sugar and spices (which is allowed) and have liked this recipe:

  •  7 lbs peppers (combination of jalapeño, banana, anaheim, and bell. Sliced thin.)
  • 7 c. Sugar
  • 3 c. Vinegar
  • 3 c. Water
  • 9 cloves garlic (or 1-2 T garlic powder)
  • 4 1/2 tsp canning salt 
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp celery seed

The only difference from the linked recipe is we combine all the spices in with the syrup and bring to a boil.

Process as listed in the original recipe. Enjoy! 🙂

Blessings of Beans

Maybe it’s silly-but I often pray for my garden. 
We’ve been out of canned green beans for several months. I knew we majorly needed beans as we were going into the gardening season, and purposefully planted about 100 feet worth of beans. When they started to sprout they also started getting eaten. They’ve been sad piddly little things from the start. There’s a couple sections that actually look okay, but the rest are just sad.

When I noticed they were being eaten by something, I tried everything I could think of to save them. Sprayed them with soapy water, set out traps, etc: to no avail. Finally whatever it was stopped-but they still never grew much after that. I prayed and prayed that I would have enough beans to can, but figured maybe it was just a prayer that didn’t need to be answered.

Well-sometimes our prayers are answered through other people. Today is the second time we’ve been blessed to Bottle Beans this year. And only a handful came from my garden! The rest came from family and friends who had an abundance. I’m so thankful for their willingness to share! ❤️

My sister and I spent 5 hours yesterday working on beans, salsa, and sweet pickled peppers (cowboy candy). Yum! I’ll post the cowboy candy recipe in a bit!

Currently in the Kitchen

Basil and Kale from the garden waiting to be made into a batch of pesto!

Loaf 1 of sourdough bread is cooling while loaf 2 bakes.

The pickled beets and “cowboy candy” (pickled peppers) that my sister and I bottled yesterday are waiting to be put away.

Hooray for the harvesting and preserving!


We’ve been out of canned green beans for several months now. It’s been so sad! I set aside a lot of garden space so I could grow tons this year. But my beans have not done well at all! 😦 Many got eaten, and the ones that survived that have been small and not very productive. I’m going to try a different variety next year-hopefully it will do better!

So-when my Mom texted me and said her beans were doing great and would produce more than they would need I happily agreed to come pick for her.

We picked on Thursday when we were visiting, then we headed to their house this morning and picked and picked and picked some more!

We got home and I settled down to snap. 4 hours later-we were ready to can! Haha! (The Handsome Gentleman kept the goombah’s happy and dug a hole for our new bat house-pictures of that later I hope!)

Goombah 1 and Goombah 2 helped me a bit with the snapping.

It might seem like a silly thing-but I’ve been thinking all day about how my prayers were answered today. I’d been praying and hoping that my beans would produce enough to can this year. They didn’t-but my Mom’s did. So I was still able to bottle beans like I was hoping! Hooray!

30 pints and 4 quarts of beans!

Oncoming Produce

The produce is on it’s way, and I am so excited! Today we got our first green beans and our first cucumber!  Especially exciting-is seeing how much more is still coming!

Baby Cucumbers!

Green Beans!

Baby Zucchini! Hoping the squash bugs that I was unable to squish don’t come back for more-or that I can kill them before they do damage. 😦


The peppers and tomatoes are loaded-just waiting for the tomatoes to get ripe! Hooray!!

The quest for peas: Success!

I’m harvesting peas! From my very own garden! I’m so over the moon about this!

For the full story, feel free to check out part 1 and part 2:

The main things I changed:

Plant later than expected, the end of march or beginning of April for zone 4. Use good seeds from a local nursery. Feel free to put 2-3 rows right next to each other.

Things I would change:

Put the trellis right over the rows of peas so they climb directly up, not to the side.

This was my harvest today. I’m going to sautée them for lunch I think. Or maybe just dip in ranch. Yum!

The plants:

The year of bread plus Multigrain bread recipe

One of my New Years resolutions in 2016 was to go a year without buying any bread or rolls. I made it to October before I really started getting tired of it. But we made it the whole year! I went to the bread outlet store the first week of January 2017 and stocked up. Haha. Thankfully it only took a break of a month or two before I was ready to do some baking again.

I got the majority of the recipes I used from our family cookbook and Pinterest. I’ll share a few here and there on this blog. 🙂

First off: Multigrain Bread. This is our go-to recipe for sandwich bread, bread for toast, or just eating plain!

Funny aside: Goombah 1 (age 5) would probably eat only bread and butter if we let her. It’s her go-to snack. And, Goombah 2 became a bit of a bread snob when he was a young toddler (from age 1 to about 18 months. If we gave him store bought bread he would spit it out! 🙈

So, here’s the recipe!

Pro-tip: This bread freezes well, place in a plastic bag before freezing, and let thaw without opening the bag. Wait to slice until it has thawed.

Start by mixing the wet and most of the dry ingredients together.

Pro-tip: If I know we have a busy time coming up I’ll spend a day and make several batches of bread and freeze a bunch. I get several bowls out and measure dry ingredients for all the batches at once to save time. (One bowl for each batch)

Add some bread flour, and mix, slowly adding more flour until the dough reaches the right consistency.

The dough should be only slightly sticking to the sides of the bowl, and stick to your finger a bit.

Knead for 10 minutes.

Transfer to a large bowl that has been greased. (This bowl has a 42 cup capacity.) Cover with a clean tea towel.

Let rise.

Divide the dough in to 5 loaves. Each will be about 1.5 lbs. (Get them close, it doesn’t have to be exact. Within about .1 lbs of each other is good.)

Roll the dough into loaves. (Check instagram for my video of this!)

Let proof.

In the oven they go! 350 degrees F for 27-30 minutes.

Yum! For softer crust, let cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing the loaves. For crispy crust, remove immediately to wire rack:

Multigrain Bread

  • 1/2 c. Sugar
  • 2 T. Salt
  • 2/3 c. Powdered milk
  • 5 c. Warm (not hot) water
  • 2/3 c. Oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 T. yeast
  • 1/4 c. Gluten flour
  • 4 c. Whole wheat flour
  • 2 c. Rolled whole grains (looks like oatmeal)
  • 1/4 c. Flax meal (optional)
  • 1/4 c. Whole flax seed (optional)
  • 1/4 c. Chia seed (optional)
  • 6-10 c. Bread flour

Mix all ingredients well, adding bread flour 1-3 cups at a time until dough is just slightly sticky but workable. Knead 10 minutes. Put in a large greased bowl, cover, and let rise until about doubled in size (about 1 hour). Divide dough into 5 equal portions, shape into loaves, and place into greased loaf pans. Lightly grease tops of loaves, cover, and let rise until loaves are about 1 inch above the edge of their pans. (About 45 minutes) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, and bake bread for 27-35 minutes, or until golden brown. If your oven is small, or your pans are big, you may need to rotate the pans half way through baking to promote even browning.

Emergency Garden Expansion

I accidentally fried my Amish Paste tomatoes earlier this year when I forgot to vent the greenhouse one morning. I thought they were all goners, but didn’t throw them out. Well, a good number of them came back from the dead! The trick was, by the time they looked healthy enough to plant, people weren’t really buying plants anymore! So, I was having a hard time giving them away. 

Also, while at the nursery earlier this week I bought two squash plants; I wasn’t convinced my seeds would come up and wanted a backup plan.

So, our project today was giving all these plants a home. If they die-they die. But I couldn’t just let them die in their containers!

The first step was to mow down all the weeds

Then we laid down black plastic to warm the soil and hopefully keep the weeds down. The plastic will come out after the growing season has passed. We cut holes in it and added the squash plants. (There were 2 plants in one container, and 3 in the other)

The next job was to dig a terrace for the tomato plants. Part of this area is extremely sandy, so that will be interesting!

Cut holes, add plants, and we’re all set to go! We’re going to try supporting them using the Florida weave trellising method, since I don’t have any more cages. Hope they do well! 🙂

Assuming everything grows… Here’s our final count:

  • 24 Tomato plants
  • 19 pepper plants
  • About 40 feet of green beans
  • 4 cabbage
  • 32 feet of beets
  • 16 feet of carrots
  • 4 Kale
  • 2 eggplant
  • 2 yellow summer squash
  • 2 Zucchini 
  • 16 basil plants
  • 8 feet of peas
  • Onions
  • 20 winter squash
  • Swiss chard
  • 5 cucumber plants
  • Some random lettuce

**nervous laughter**

I’m quite sure we’ll be donating a lot of produce to others. 🙂