Sunday, August 24, 2008

Pickles and Plums

Well, I got a few items done on my to-do list this week. The girls picked plums and a few peaches for me to make into fruit leather. Unfortunately, our plums are not freestone making them a pain to process. So I only made 9 trays of leather because that was enough stickiness for me.

Next, I made pickles. Look at this strange cucumber....

I managed to squeeze it into the jar without cutting it apart, so that will be an unusual pickle!

I like making refrigerator pickles because they are a little crunchier and the whole house doesn't get saturated with pickle brine smell. It's also really easy. The only downside is you can't store them on the shelf- they have to be in the refrigerator. That means you are limited to making only the amount you can fit in your fridge while still having room for important things like milk. My kids would love to have a fridge half full of pickles but I don't care too! Here is the recipe I use:

1 1/2 quarts boiled water, cooled
2 dill flowers
2 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
1 1/2 pounds (8to10) pickling cucumbers
6 long sprigs fresh dill
1 tablespoon coarse kosher salt
1/2 up white vinegar

Put dill flowers and garlic in bottom of Mason jar. Add the cucumbers. Put sprigs of dill in center of cucumbers. Add salt and vinegar, then fill jar with boiled water that is cooled. Put on seal and ring. Shake to dissolve salt. Set upside down on counter away from sunlight and heat. Let sit 4 to 5 days turning the jar either upright or upside down each day.

Let sit upright 2 more days, then refrigerate. Lasts about 6 months.

Next year I need remember to grow dill so I won't have to buy it at Winco. Besides, dill smells so good in the garden!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Enjoying the Garden

Heidi and I ventured out into our jungle one evening to see what was ready to be picked. Her favorite things to find and eat are the yellow cherry tomatoes. 'Galina' is the Russian variety I always grow because it is has more flavor than most yellow tomatoes. But this year we've found a new favorite- Sungold. It is delicious.

The other taste treat you have to try when you come to visit us is the pineapple tomatillos. They are smaller than regular tomatillos but very good to just eat out of hand. You remove the papery husk, then pop it in your mouth and savor the tropical flavor coming out of an Idaho garden.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Weekend trip to Carey

2 weekends ago we went to Carey to visit the Alberdi's. We became friends with the Alberdi's years ago when we lived in Hailey and we've stayed in touch ever since. They invited us to come and attend the Blaine County Fair with them (which is essentially the Carey Fair, because not many Sun Valley residents are into raising a 4-H pig or showing off their blue ribbon jellies!) It was great spending time with their family and Joel and the kids experienced a first that weekend- attending a rodeo!

Taylor, and Reagan decided they wanted to participate, brave little souls, so we signed them up. As soon as Reagan saw about 20 kids get knocked into fences, trampled on, and generally busted by their mutton, he decided the deal was off. He felt viewing the spectacle from his ring side seat with his friend Stockton was exciting enough. Taylor was still ready and willing but he quickly found out that riding a calf was trickier than driving a tractor. Calves buck you off then kick you in the face!

I wish I could figure out how to intersperse my pictures throughout my blog and have captions on them, but right now, that is beyond my limited computer abilities. ...sigh... So the other pictures you see are of: Hailey with the pigs that Austin and Seneca raised this year, the
beautiful barn Eric built, and Taylor's face stamped with a calf's signature.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Crossing Shoshone Falls

Last night our family decided to take a tour of Shoshone Falls from the spillbridge. The spillbridge is used to inspect the spillgates across the river. It was very beautiful and dramatic to see the contrasts: serene pools of water reflecting the sunset and then crashing, frothing gorges of converging river just 10 feet away that then disappeared into the huge falls below. We saw a blue heron wading on the precipice of one of the big falls. Wouldn't that be fun to see what a view he was taking in! But the walk we had last night was plenty of fun and we're grateful we get to live in this amazing place.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

More Niagara Springs Pictures

Do you like the seaweed maiden in the top picture? It emerged from the water after most of the homeschoolers went home. By the way, I forgot to mention in my previous post about this outing that DeeAnn brought art supplies for the kids to make a picture. If anyone ever wants to bring an activity to share, you are more than welcome!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Niagara Springs Homeschool Field Trip

This week we enjoyed a fun outing to Niagara Springs with our group of homeschooling friends. To say the water was "brisk" is certainly an understatement! But in my opinion it was worth the 20 minute drive to this little known local gem in order to wade, swim and have algae wars in water that was completely crystal clear! Clean water with good visibility seems to be a rare commodity in the Magic Valley so our family usually ends up swimming in the Snake river or, yes, on rare occasion, the irrigation canal at Grandpa's house. By the way, I read online that Niagara Springs is the reappearance of the Lost River after it's long underground trek. That is interesting to think about....

Ode to the Apricot

We just finished with the last of the apricots for the year. It was nice to have two large productive trees with fruit that was virtually bug free! I made lots of fruit leather, freezer jam and just plain dried apricots with our bounty. Our favorite, of course, is the fruit leather! Yum. Isn't it strange how the most mealy textured, mild tasting fruit ends up being very delicious when dried? Apricots are so easy to work with too, being able to split them with your thumb nail. Our local wildlife also finds the apricot a wonderful fruit. Late the other night, Joel and I heard noises outside and went to the garden with a flashlight. We looked up to find 2 porcupines and 1 raccoon caught in the act of gorging in our tree. I grudgingly decided we had enough to let them share, though I wasn't excited about it.

Bunny Corral

The other day I was looking at our little brown bunny (that I totally adore), and feeling sorry for it being cooped up in its small cage with no room to run around. That night, as I was trying to go to sleep, I kept thinking about what I could do about it that didn't involve me and power tools. (I didn't want to ask Joel, who needs to focus all his attention on finishing Grandma's house!) So, the next morning, the kids and I went for an explore up to the top area of the village. Up there you can find all sorts of neat things: bricks, an old chicken coop, extra fencing wire, remnants of iris and lilac stands, and a lovely view of the river too. I'd remembered seeing a really big round cage made of wire that looked like it had been used as a chick brooder. Sure enough, it was still there! We rolled it down the hill- a pretty wild trip, then set it up in the shade of the pines by our garden. When bunny was first placed in there she was a little hesitant. Then she started to frolic-kicking up her heels and jumping and twisting in midair! Poor thing, deprived of that sort of freedom the last couple months. Now she gets to exercise in her "bunny corral" everyday. Heidi wanted to have school in there so we played phonics games in the corral while the bunny nibbled our cards and hopped in circle around us. Then I read Beatrix Potter's Treasury of Bunny Stories aloud. What a memorable afternoon....

P.S. This post was written last week for my other blog. Unfortunately, Flopsy our bunny died this week when our neighbor's dog broke into her little cage- not the corral- the cage. We were all so sad! She was the sweetest bunny and we will miss her so much.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Yesterday, we had a great time hosting all our homeschool friends for a swimming social. For the younger set, we put out the slip and slide, kiddie pools and the sprinkler under the trampoline. The older kids and a couple parents braved the rather brackish river water to float in inner tubes, paddleboat, fish, and canoe. Isn't summer the greatest?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


I love aprons! I wear one almost every day and I've decided it is time to sew a new one. My ideal apron would be a tailored vintage look style in a fresh and cheery fabric. I better get working on it so I can be finished before school starts. Hailey has been telling me she would also like a new apron because hers now fits Heidi. This will make a great end of the summer mother/daughter project!