spaininiowa
It’s Simple Lives Thursday.  Below you’ll find the linky to add your post to.  Remember you can add your link on any of the four hosting blogs.
Your Hosts
  1. A Little Bit of Spain in Iowa
  2. Sustainable Eats
  3. GNOWFGLINS
  4. Culinary Bliss

Wherever you choose to post, it will show up on all 4 sites!  As a reminder, this blog hop is a way to share with many people your posts on what you are doing to live a simple life. Whether that’s gardening, raising urban chickens, homeschooling, sewing, making your own deodorant, or cleaning supplies… we want to know about it!  If you’re into homeopathy, ways to save $ by conserving energy or other ways to live frugally… we want to know about it!   If you bike, cook real food, homestead or farm… we want to know about it!

As a reminder:  If you are going to be linking to this blog hop, please add a link to this post at the end of your blog post entry stating that it’s a part of this weeks Simple Lives Thursday.

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I have been waiting patiently this year to try my hands at stuffed squash blossoms.  Year after year I have been growing different varieties of zucchini and have always enjoyed their beautiful bell shaped blossoms that open up early in the morning waiting to be pollinated.

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Over the past couple of years I have been seeing them for sale at the Des Moines farmers market and filled and fried in a variety of ways all throughout the blogosphere.  Unbeknownst to me, stuffed squash blossoms have been used traditionally for years in Italian and Hispanic cultures.  Nutritionally, they are very high in vitamin a, c, calcium and iron.  I found this information interesting for a flower that goes unnoticed by so many gardeners every year.

I was waiting patiently to start picking my flowers from my zucchini plants, however, with all of the rain that we’ve had, two of my plants died and my only surviving plant is bearing small flowers and fruit.  I was really excited though that my baby sister Lisa, who is turning into quite the organic gardener herself, offered me all the picks I wanted from her plants.  (I’m so proud of my girl!  She’s taking off!  Future sister csa in the future… hmm?!)

lisa
So I went at it and picked enough blossoms to make a fried dish.  I tend to pick only the flowers that are attached to fruit that are already bearing.  That way I do not have to worry if the flower is a male or female and prevent it from being pollinated.  However, if you have enough squash growing, by all means, go at them!

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In order to keep with the seasons I decided to make a sweet and nourishing dessert.  I stuffed my squash blossoms with a homemade yogurt cream cheese and cantaloupe mixture spiced with cinnamon and sweetened with local raw honey.

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An easy, delicious and nourishing after dinner treat.
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Sweetened Cream Cheese and Cantaloupe Stuffed Squash Blossoms

Ingredients:

  • 6-8 squash blossoms
  • 1 cup whole wheat or unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1 farm fresh egg, mixed
  • 1 cup cream cheese, preferably homemade
  • 1/2 cup cantaloupe, diced
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup local raw honey
  • extra virgin olive oil

Method:

  1. In a small bowl mix the cream cheese, cantaloupe and 1/2 tsp of cinnamon until well incorporated.
  2. Stuff the squash blossoms with the cheese mixture.
  3. Prepare the squash blossoms for frying by coating them first with the egg and then the flour.
  4. In a pan, heat about 1/2″ of extra virgin olive oil.
  5. Fry the squash blossom on each side until browned.
  6. In a cast iron skillet add the honey and 1/2 tsp of cinnamon.  Mix through.
  7. Once the honey comes to a boil, take off the heat and drizzle over the squash blossoms.

 Buen Provecho!

zekie_blueberries

It’s definitely preserving season again as I’ve been holding onto this post for about a month.  However, it’s not to late to visit a local u-pick farm to pick the freshest and sweetest blueberries to preserve for the winter ahead.

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My family adores blueberries especially in our pancakes.  After picking over 13lbs of blueberries, I froze many of them to use throughout the winter and I also made nourishing blueberry jam naturally sweetened with local raw honey.

Blueberries are native to North America.  They range in size and color and have a protective wax coating.  They are a powerhouse when it comes to nutrition.  Loaded with vitamin c, manganese, fiber and vitamin e.  According to Worlds Healthiest Foods

Blueberries are packed with antioxidant phytonutrients called anthocyanidins, blueberries neutralize free radical damage to the collagen matrix of cells and tissues that can lead to cataracts, glaucoma, varicose veins, hemorrhoids, peptic ulcers, heart disease and cancer. 

By eating 3 servings of fruit a day, including a 1/2 cup of blueberries, you can help prevent colon cancer, ovarian cancer, macular degeneration and increase your overall digestive health. It’s a win win situation when you snack on natures candy.

Below are a couple of ways to preserve blueberries.

Freezing Blueberries

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The easiest way to preserve your blueberries to use throughout the winter is to freeze them.  Once frozen you can use them on pancakes, topped on yogurt/granola or as an icy cool snack for the kids.  It’s so simple to do you’ll probably want to rush to your local u-pick farm!

Method:

  1. Rinse your blueberries to rid of any dirt or bugs.
  2. Place them on a towel and roll them back and forth until they are dry.
  3. Place in a large cake pan or other flat surface and put them in the freezer or deep freeze.  (This will ensure that they do not stick together in one massive clump)
  4. Once they are frozen you can pack them in ziplock bags and keep them in the freezer.

Nourishing Blueberry Jelly Sweetened with Local Raw Honey
From Stocking Up, The Third Edition of the Classic Preserving Guide

Makes about 10 – 1/2 pints of blueberry jelly

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This is one of my favorite jelly’s to make.  By using Pamona’s Universal Pectin I am able to make an outstanding jelly that highlights the blueberries natural flavor by sweetening it with local raw honey.  Please review my step by step pictorial on how to use Pamona’s Universal Pectin using strawberries to give you a better idea on how easy and quick this method is

Ingredients:

  • 3 quarts blueberries (6 1/2 cups mashed blueberries)
  • 3 1/4 tsp Pectin (included in Pamona’s Universal Pectin)
  • 3/4 cup local raw honey
  • 6 tsp lemon juice
  • 6 1/2 tsp calcium solution (included in Pamona’s Universal Pectin)
  • 10 1/2 pint canning jars with lids and bands
  • Canning Equipment

Method:

  1. Stir pectin into the honey until completely mixed.
  2. Combine the mashed blueberries and lemon juice in a large pot or pan and bring to a boil.
  3. Stir in the pectin-honey mixture and return to a boil.
  4. Stir in the calcium solution and remove from the heat.
  5. Check firmness with a jelly test.
  6. Ladle into jars and seal in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.

This post is a part of Two for Tuesdays :D  Due to time constraints I’m no longer able to host Two for Tuesdays at my own place.  That’s okay, I still LURVE the woman involved and support every step they take to spread the Real Food Love! Besitos Amigas ;)

This post is also a part of Simple Lives Thursday which I am still hosting and the new Nourishing Jams, Jellies, Preserves and More Blog Hop.

It’s been just over a month since my last garden update.  Unfortunately, this has been the wettest summer on record in Des Moines.  We have had more rain than the floods of 1993 and 2008.  It’s been devastating seeing so many cities literally going under water.  The city of my alma mater, Iowa State University, was flooded last week.  Local parks and our wonderful bike trails are gone and waiting for the weather to stay dry long enough to see the light of day.  Our land is waterlogged and with that, family farmers making a living are struggling.  With all of the rain that we’ve had, it’s been the most difficult year for organic gardening that I have ever been through.  We’ve had an influx of disease, pests, and mosquito’s.  We’ve been lacking the high drier temps that our summer crops have needed.  Production has been down all around Iowa and if you grew peppers successfully this year, you can call yourself lucky.  Unless you garden can you truly begin to understand what farmers go through each and every year.  My prayer is that they are enduring and that God will bring us a better season next year.

I was starting to get down on myself over my harvest.  After speaking to so many people I have come to realize that I’m not the only one that is going through this.  Praise the Lord my gardening is not my income.  With that in mind, I do thank God for what He has given me this year.  As I have been going through my pictures I have realized that I haven’t had that bad of a year under these wet circumstances.

Thank you Jesus for my wet gardens but most of all for family farmers that are still able to produce and meet my families needs.

The Lord has given us a couple of beautiful sunny dry days.  I was able to clean up my plots, harvest and plant my Fall crops.  Below are photos that I have taken today.

Plots at my mami and papi’s house

A few weeks ago I harvested all of my beets, carrots and some of my first ripe tomatoes.  Today I cleaned up my plots and sowed my first round of Fall lettuce.  I can’t wait for fresh crisp greens again.  Next week I’ll harvest my cabbage and make a few more jars of fermented kimchi.

Sowed 2 more rows of Mesclun Mix
My potato harvest, lol!  Next year I will try a different method than the coffee sack ;)
Community Garden Plots
Today I cleaned up all of my plots in the community garden.  I lost 2 zucchini plants with all of the rain and I gave up on most of my peppers.  I am excited though as in these plots I planted my Fall crops of brussels sprouts, red cabbage, radishes, beets, spinach, bak choi and romaine lettuce.  Lord willing, we’ll see a better Fall harvest.
Spanish variety zucchini that died :(  It was so nom nom to!!
Yellow Crookneck
Eggplants finally starting to produce
Tomatillos finally starting to produce
In this bed I kept 4 pepper plants and sowed Fall crops
I’m using a row cover on my brussels sprouts to keep any bugs away!
Home
My crops at home are doing wonderfully.  My corn in the front yard looks gorgeous!  Okay… it definitely did not grow like it should have.  I should have thinned them out, however, they look great in the front yard and I can’t believe all of the compliments that I have received.  The corn is starting to come in but small.  I’m not counting on the harvest but anything will be appreciated!  I’m definitely going to let the stalks dry as I think it will look wonderful in the Fall.  I’ll place a couple of pumpkins by the dried corn and voila… instant decoration :)
Although we are getting quite a crop of raspberries, the kids do not leave any behind!
I LOVE my Grow Boxes!!
I have harvested at least 40 cucumbers which have made me about 12 pints of pickles :D
White flesh Spanish variety melon growing in the Grow Box!
My tomato plants at my house are doing wonderfully!  I’m planning on freezing these tomato’s whole.
Not too bad, right?  So what’s next?  I’m planning on pulling out all of my cucumbers and replacing it with swiss chard.  I have a new Earth Box to review which I am planning on sowing with carrots.  If things turn out right, I would like to keep these two containers under my front porch during the winter.  I should then be able to cut or pull out what I need during the cold months.  Fingers crossed here!  I also have another idea using a gutter!  I’m excited to try my hand at winter gardening so if you have any tips, please share.
So how has your gardening season been?

This post is a part of Simple Lives Thursday.

spaininiowa
It’s Simple Lives Thursday.  Below you’ll find the linky to add your post to.  Remember you can add your link on any of the four hosting blogs.
Your Hosts
  1. A Little Bit of Spain in Iowa
  2. Sustainable Eats
  3. GNOWFGLINS
  4. Culinary Bliss

Wherever you choose to post, it will show up on all 4 sites!  As a reminder, this blog hop is a way to share with many people your posts on what you are doing to live a simple life. Whether that’s gardening, raising urban chickens, homeschooling, sewing, making your own deodorant, or cleaning supplies… we want to know about it!  If you’re into homeopathy, ways to save $ by conserving energy or other ways to live frugally… we want to know about it!   If you bike, cook real food, homestead or farm… we want to know about it!

As a reminder:  If you are going to be linking to this blog hop, please add a link to this post at the end of your blog post entry stating that it’s a part of this weeks Simple Lives Thursday.

(Please make sure you’re linking up on Simple Lives Thursday and not on the Two for Tuesday’s Blog Hop)

pectin_natural
I’m excited to announce that at the end of August two other bloggers and myself are going to be hosting a blog hop called, Nourishing Jams, Jellies, Preserves and More!  My wonderful friend Pamela from Seeds of Nutrition is heading this up along with myself and Wardeh from GNOWFGLINS so that we can all learn new and exciting techniques to preserve natures fruits using natural sweeteners.

Sweeteners like raw local honey, stevia, or sugars in the fruits themselves.  I personally use Pomona’s Universal Pectin which I just posted a tutorial on.  It allows me to sweeten my jams and jellies by using local raw honey.  It’s so much fun to experiment and come up with new recipes using sweeteners, spices and herbs. It’s these nourishing recipes, tips and techniques that we would like to share and learn from you!  We would love for you to participate in this blog hop!  Share any nourishing jams, jellies, preserves or chutneys using natural sweeteners.  Please… no artificial or refined.  You can link up your posts the same way that you do for Two for Tuesdays or Simple Lives Thursday.  This is going to be a one time blog hop which may become an annual event!  We’ll inform you soon to the date of the actual blog hop.

We are so excited to share and learn from what everyone has to offer!  What are your favorite canning books? Do you have an amazing recipe from your grandmother or something you came up with yourself?  Now’s the time to start foraging, hitting up local family farms, farmers markets or harvesting from your own supply! Oh… and start putting up those nourishing jams, jellies, preserves and more!

For more information please visit Pamela at Seeds of Nutrition.