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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A Day in My Life ....August 22nd to be exact....

Sunday was such a huge day for my summer projects that I thought I would share it wih you, the reader, in photos. I woke up much later than intended and my wonderful husband made me an amazing breakfast before he wandered out for his errands.

I decided to start with some aromatherapy and harvest my lavender. Alot of sites tell you to harvest at a certain time of the day or a certain way to harvest.

When the bud's flora has left the seed pod it is ripe. A good sign your plant is ready to harvest is if you see trails of seeds on the ground around it. I have noticed no difference in flavor or aroma harvesting on certain days or at certain times of the day and cannot imagine why that would affect lavender since the flowers are not what you are harvesting.

I cut down fairly far to trim up my plant at the same time and usually I can get at least two harvests out so be mindful of the new flowers emerging and leave them to flower for later harvest.

You can dry your lavender just naturally. Most people make a neat bundle and hang it. If you are doing that then make sure it will hang somewhere free of drafts, moiture and direct sunlight. I dry mine in a paper bag heads down for a few weeks since I have no moisture problems in my home and it is still warm weather. Once dry I simply grab a bowl and gently nudge the lavender loose from the stems which all will then be stored in a zip lock bag. For Yule I make 50 gift bags I give out to friends and family for gifts. Last year one of the gifts I made was lavender sugar which everyone enjoyed but this year I may decide to do something different - or I may give out dried natural lavender with ideas for uses such as sachets, lavender sugar, lavender syrup etc.

Patrick got home and I ran over to Ludeman's Garden Store before they closed. I have two black australorp chickens named Catalina and Bernadette. Catalina has been broody for weeks and I have been wanting two more chickens since Beaverton just passed its new ordinance that we can have up to four hens. So off I went to get two baby chicks and some starter feed for them.

I decided on a Rhode Island Red chicken and am very sad to report she passed away of unknown causes.

And here is the Dark Brahma who is still doing great - Catalina and her are bonding very well and she is a happy healthy girl! I am going to exchange the other chick later today so stay tuned to the garden and chicken progress. This little girl does not have a name yet though the husband is working on it and has gotten as far as the letter D.

I went out on Saturday with my friend Julie and we first went to Sauvie Island Farms and picked peaches off the trees before going out to my super secret blackberry picking location. For me alone we picked 30 cups of blackberries.

Alot of sugar and lemon juice later and I made 58 half pints of blackberry jam for the gift bags and also for us to store for our own use.

I made seven batches of jam though. I tried last year to double jam recipes and I stopped after trying it once. It really makes things challenging to handle that much of any ingredient and I decided it is way easier to do a batch at a time. There really is a reason that you do one batch at a time.

It is also much easier for processing and keeping your jars warm to be processed as well if you are just doing a batch at a time.

Next up was dinner and our friends Richard and Jen came over to join us for that. While at Kruger Farms on Saturday I found an amazing pile of basil for $2 that I could not resist after smelling it across the farm store. So we turned it into pesto and even had enough for two batches - one for the freezer and one for us.

We also harvested our first round of cherry tomatoes from our garden so our dinner: linguini with pesto and garlic butter sauteed shrimp; buttered toasted rustic bread and a salad with lettuce and radishes from Kruger farms, our garden tomatoes and cucumber topped with fat free roasted bell pepper vinegrette.

And how could I forget the peaches I mentioned earlier??

They sliced up into 12 cups of fruit.

We froze eight cups divided in two for future endeavors.

While the other four cups remaining we turned into a cobbler.

Melt 1/2 cup of unsalted butter in a 13 x 9 inch baking dish. Combine 1 cup of flour, 1 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon of baking powder, and a pinch of salt together. Add 1 cup of milk and stir just until dry ingredients are moistened. Pour batter over butter (do not stir). In a pot bring 1 cup sugar, 4 cups fresh peach slices, and 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly; pour over batter (do not stir). Sprinkle with cinnamon and/or nutmeg, if desired. Bake at 375° for 40 to 45 minutes or until golden brown.

Serve cobbler warm or cool though I personally recommend it served warm with a nice scoop of quality French vanilla ice cream.

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