We have been very busy in the garden & kitchen during 2011, I just haven't had a chance to share with everyone. In quick summary:
- Despite the extremely slow start to the season and depressingly cool summer, we had a surprisingly bountiful harvest from our garden, especially potatoes, dried beans, squash, and tomatoes. Once again, we figured we would have no tomatillos and ended up with a bumper crop (although they didn't ripen very well, and as a result didn't store very well at all). Even our peppers did really well this year, and we smoked our Guajillo chillies in our new Bradley Smoker! They are fabulous in soups, stews and sauces, with just a little bite and a lovely smoky flavour to enhance anything they're tossed into. We also tried dehydrated tomatoes and had enough of our Red Ruffle bell peppers to dry again this year, which I've been adding to just about all of my savoury recipes.
- We have our first livestock! In July, we picked up 9 young Muskovy ducks: 3 drakes and 6 ducks. They've been enjoying our orchard & field, and keeping the weeds cropped beautifully. Plus, they really got into slug duty this summer, so we're enthusiastically looking forward to their slugging abilities this coming spring. They started to lay in late November, and Dave's been collecting about 3-5 eggs every day since then. We'll be letting them raise their babies in the spring, in the hopes that we can have duck meat to make into confit, casssoulet, ham, sausage, and just duck!
- We participated in a Community Supported Fishery through the Michelle Rose in Cowichan Bay. As a result, we had about 11 pounds of king shrimp and spot prawns, and a little less than 10 pounds of sockeye and pink filets. We christened the Bradley by cold-smoking some sockeye, and I made my first batch of gravlax. The seafood (including the smoked salmon) has made it into a few chowders with our root veggies (rutabaga, potato, parsnip, leeks & onions), smoked guajillo & dehydrated ruffle peppers, home-made chicken stock, our grilled corn nibblets and coconut milk finish - totally yum.
- We had our first "feast of the fields" equivalent - we hosted a mid-winter feast with our friends, and dined on the gravlax with home-made butter (sigh, not yet with our own cream) on home-grown home-made rye bread, spicy pumpkin soup, espresso-braised venison, rutabaga potato gratin, and pumpkin pie, accompanied with home-made apple plum wine. It was fabulous, and we're looking forward to repeating this new tradition annually (maybe even semi-annually with a summer feast, too!).
- In dealing with eliminating eggs, wheat & dairy (and now corn & rice for the foreseeable future) due to Kate's eczema, I've been exploring baking with allergy-friendly alternatives. I purchased allergyfreemom.com's recipe book and have made quite a few of her recipes very successfully. I recommend trying the cinnamon rolls (they're weird to make but really, really tasty) and the gingerbread cookies (even if it's no longer Christmas). I used sorghum flour in both to great success. There are also some great recipes on Bob's Red Mill site. I'm also now trying to eat a lot more veggies, especially greens (check out the TedX presentation by Terry Wahls), and have discovered that I actually love kale chips (go figure)! I've also invested in some super food stuff via recipes from Meghan Telpner's Making Love in the Kitchen blog. After enjoying the Tumeric Tea (actually more like spicy chai tea with tumeric added) and Raw Chocolate Bark yesterday, I am definitely looking forward to some more experimentation in this department.
Since I can't seem to keep up with what I'm doing in the kitchen, you can always have a look at my SpringPad site to see what recipes I'm collecting and trying out.
I'm sure there's been more activity - of course there has, Kate's now 18 months and there's been a year's worth full of development and exploration in that department. The addition is now mostly complete, certainly Mom has been living there since about May, and really enjoying it. We're now turning our thoughts towards getting Dave a shop built, so that he can get back into making his beautiful furniture.