SmithFarmsWest.com

OUR JOURNEY FROM CITY TO COUNTRY

Elderberry Pancake MuffinsElderberry Pancake MuffinBlackberry CobblerElderberry Jam (syrup) making- skimming off the unwanted "stuff"Boiling elderberries, mashing with potato masher to juice.Straining JuiceInversion Canning MethodElderberry syrup on yogurt with walnuts.Lucky chickens devoured the juiced elderberries and leftover oatmeal. I am lucky to be able to pick elderberries and blackberries along the edge of a neighbor's orchard. My friend came along and we had a blast walking and picking berries on a cool-ish summer morning. We set out with the essentials for berry picking: gloves, scissors/clippers (to snip off clusters of elderberries), bags and buckets, paper towels, and hats. http://www.talesfromthekitchenshed.com/2016/09/harvesting-elderberries-picking-preserving-recipes/ When I was researching elderberries, I found this link helpful! After picking, I couldn't wait to get home and decide what to do with all of these berries. After washing and laying them all out to dry, my kids were begging me for breakfast. Deliciously ripe and sweet blackberries are amazing and they became really tasty when put into homemade buttermilk pancakes! I was having a major crush on these berries, it's no surprise when the pancake batter made itself into a heart and shared the love. My kids were in awe and my son kept saying, "Mom, it tastes just like cake!" https://lilluna.com/buttermilk-pancake-recipe/ Here is the buttermilk pancake recipe I used. After eating way too many blackberry pancakes, I had batter leftover. I whipped up a batch of elderberry pancake muffins! Yum! Elderberries having amazing nutritional and medicinal uses, but they are also tasty and juicy! Just last year a neighbor introduced them to me, I didn't even realize they grew in my area! They must be picked when they are dark, not green and are easily snipped from the tree in clusters. I wash them while gently pulling them from the stem into a colander. I end up doing a few washes to be sure they are clean and all bugs and other unwanted items are out of the mix! Now completely stuffed with blackberry pancakes, I set out to find the ideal elderberry jelly recipe. I found one and began the work of sanitizing jars and boiling/juicing the berries. I have yet to invest in a canning set so I used the inversion method of canning. Basically, all items need to be hot and when jars are filled and closed up, flipped upside down and left for 20 minutes or so, you end up with sealed jars. The unfortunate part was that I made a big OOPS and didn't use enough pectin, so I now have some really delicious elderberry syrup. I give away most of what I make, but also plan to eat it with my yogurt and oatmeal on a regular basis! A friend also suggested adding it to sparkling water (I might add some vodka as well). Here is the recipe I used for the elderberry jam (syrup in my case): https://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/elderberry_jelly/ At the end of the jelly/syrup making, I had one more berry task: blackberry cobbler! Still completely stuffed from pancakes, it was difficult to…

Last May my husband had this great idea, "Let's plant a pumpkin patch!" he said. So, like most of his ideas, I tell him he's crazy and then execute the plan and end up really happy I went along with it. The kids and I spent a few hours spreading out a mountain of dirt and planting seedlings we just grabbed at our local garden center. We planted five seedlings, hoping we'd get enough pumpkins for ourselves and a few friends. The process for growing them was simple. We hooked up soaker hoses to our nearest hose bib and every couple days I'd run the drip in the evening for a couple hours. Some days I'd forget, some days I ran it for more time. I didn't keep track, even though I figured I probably should. It was beginner's luck for sure, they took off! We had been told by everyone in the area that the soil on our property would be amazing to grow in. We also have the benefit of a local beekeepers bees pollinating to their heart's content. We were thrilled when we discovered towards the end of September that we had perfectly sized, beautiful pumpkins ready to harvest! Once again, the kids and I held a work day and with a lot of teamwork, we harvested just over 200 pumpkins! We were in awe! What would we do with all of these pumpkins? I started posting in our local community's Facebook group that we had pumpkins to sell. I posted on my personal Facebook profile and took loads to work to sell; before we knew it we were sold out! We didn't sell them for much, about $2 a pumpkin, but the money was a huge addition to the kids' 4-H fund. The money helped them pay for their registration for 4-H this year and will also help out with animal expenses. May will be here again before we know it! We are planning now for a bigger, more diverse pumpkin patch! Who knows, perhaps someday our open acreage will end up being a pumpkin patch?

Funny story: we hadn’t even lived in the house a week and Lauren got stuck in one of our fig trees. I mean REALLY stuck. Not even a neighbor’s help could fix it, which was somewhat reassuring honestly because I figured it was just a newbie mistake and there had to be some easy way to get her leg from being stuck between two fig tree limbs. Nope. I ended up having to call 9-1-1 and the jaws of life had to pry the limbs apart in order to remove her leg. Yep, first week, already calling the fire department. At that point I knew we were in for some fun on the farm! But, I also knew after this that our neighbors were going to be very helpful, thank goodness! We have valued their advice, moral support and encouragement more than they realize. As the fire truck pulled away that day my neighbor said to me, “I think you should take my number, you’re going to need help.” Yep, he was right.

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