Crafts, Everyday 4 Comments »

When our garden harvest started to get heavy, we knew it was time to fire up the stove and get to work on making a delicious storage of goodies for winter. We buckled down this summer, and were able to make a boatload of goodies. Nothing’s better than heading to the basement for food, and avoiding the store as much as possible!

Cucumbers were aplenty in our garden, but we didn’t get quite enough to satisfy our pickle craving. Luckily the farmers market could help us out.  


Lookin’ good. So are we done then? Only 60 more jars to go!


How long is this going to take?! Rowan is trying to convey that canning is a season for us…it goes on for several weeks! I think you’ve crystallized it for us Ro-dog!


People who are caught standing around at our house are put to work immediately. Consider yourself warned!


Drew was kind enough to take a break from basement finishing  to wash a batch of jars for us. Way to be safety-conscious Scoobie!


Peeled tomatoes might look weird up close…


…But they sure taste great when infused with all kinds of herbs:


And they go really well with chips when chopped into salsa! Our salsa garden payed off big time…we got 16 jars of this garden goodness!


More pickles?  We needed chips and spears. Duh!


Ginger, limes, & homegrown tomatoes are the 3 basic ingredients for tasty tomato jam. I didn’t know what tomato jam was until this summer, but it’s changed my life. Okay, not really. But it has changed turkey burgers and gourmet sandwiches!


Keep an eye on those pots Ellie! Hey, can you even see in the pots?


This was the beginnings of our new all-time favorite: Peach vanilla bean jam.


Buttered biscuits never tasted so good! It tastes pretty good on a spoon too. Just sayin’…


I suppose that if we got bored with the peach jam, we might be able to get by with the pear vanilla bean jam…I guess…


Rowan decided she could help out by adding the “best by” date.


Come late January, a couple of these pills ought to bring all kinds of sunshine to our souls.


Looks like 2011 is going to be remembered as the year of the scribble. It’s ok, those peaches will be devoured before this time next year anyway…


When you start a trend, others want to join in on the fun. Drew is making tomato jam and Brinley is working on pear vanilla bean jam. Dig the aprons!


Speaking of dig, I don’t think any of us are going to be interested in preserving what you’re digging Rowan!


We got some darn fresh corn from our awesome neighbors and froze most of it so we could enjoy fresh corn in February.


The kids (especially Brinley) enjoyed showing off their brute strength by breaking up the cobs before hucking them into the composter.


When supplies ran low, we had to go on a quest to find some specific items to continue our canning/preserving odyssey. Rowan insisted that she ride in the chariot wearing the latest in high fashion:


Just when we thought our work was winding down (AS IF!), a nice lady in Arvada decided to share her bounty of apples. What are we getting ourselves into now?!


Hey Rowan, what does a free backyard apple taste like? C’mon, get your game face on! Grrrrr!


Ellie’s not too sure about this. Are these Jonagold or Granny Smith? Maybe Liberty? Macintosh?


Your analysis is being processed, please wait…6


This stuff is gooooooooood!


Cheers, mate!


Looks like they’re going for another round…and around…


Those apples must’ve been dipped in a love potion! The girls are getting frisky!


The apples were doomed, really. First they got really hot and then had the snot literally squeezed out of them:




How many apples does it take to make a jar of applesnot? We don’t actually know. We made like 27 and still had this many left over…apple pie it is!


Don’t worry slaves…err..I mean kids! There’s plenty more things we can make out of raw applesnot! Heave!!!


Ho!!! Wipe that smile off your face!


If you think this kinda looks like ketchup…


…Then you’re on the right track. Oh yes we did! Homemade ketchup is TO DIE FOR. It tastes nothing like the store-bought stuff at all. What does it taste like? Tangier, spicier and get this – it tastes like real tomatoes! I know!!  We made sure to make a year’s supply; I’m never eating Heinz again!


When you have tomatoes coming out your ears you have to get kind of creative on what to do with them. This is how homemade barbeque sauce starts out:


Even the discard looks tasty! Tasty enough for the compost bin!


We had to purchase some of the fruit we preserved, but I didn’t feel too bad about it because it all came from local farms. We canned applesauce, pears, pear sauce, peach salsa, pineapple jalapeño jam, peach & pear vanilla bean jam, and finally ginger peach jam. Yeah, we like jam a lot, and it makes an awesome (cheap) gift.


Look, it’s a tomato family reunion! BBQ sauce, ketchup, tomato jam, taco sauce, garden salsa and herb-infused tomatoes that are ready to be turned into pizza sauce, or spaghetti sauce. Sky’s the limit!


Take this photo and multiply it by…a lot, and that’s our food storage. I have to say that it feels good to know where most of our food came from and how it was prepared! Makes it worth all the blood, sweat and tears (those darn onions!).



growing, growing, GONE

Everyday, The Outdoor Woods 3 Comments »

The frost has come, the snow has dumped, and the growing season is over. Good thing we took some pictures! The happiest and saddest time in the garden is the big harvest at the end of the season. Here’s the happy part:


Day after day, week after week, the garden churned out buckets of fruits and veggies. No damaging hail storms this year, thank goodness!


Even sliced up like this, eggplant may not appeal to many, but…


…when you grill it like this, it’s a delicacy!


As much as we want to grow everything in our backyard, time and money simply can’t afford to turn our .15 acres into rolling hills of goodness. Good thing we have the berry patch to back us up. Look at that rookie go!


Self discipline is essential, Eleanor. Pick only the reddest of the red, and don’t eat them yet!


Don’t eat any of them? The very thought is giving her a berry big headache!


Time to recharge before we pick a couple more rows. Chug chug chug chug!


It must be nice for Rowan and Eleanor to be so close to the ground when it comes to picking. Daddy says his back is aching from all the bending over. Take it like a woman Ryan!


Time for another snack. Are we ever going home? Don’t go planting any peanuts in the berry field Ellie!


All of her training has prepared her for this moment. I’m not supervising, I’m just taking pictures! 


This, is what a real strawberry looks like. Do you know what a real strawberry tastes like?


Time for dinner. I sent the braves into the wilderness and this is what they brought home:


I think even they are proud that besides the corn and the egg, everything else on their plate is home grown. I have yet to convince Ryan to build a chicken coop… 


Is anybody tired of having salad with every meal? Too bad!


So tell me Rowan, how excited are you about those carrots? Be honest!


That’s a big beet. I hate to brag, but dang that looks good!


To help you understand how pure (and delicious!) this food really is, Brinley stripped down to her pure self to make her point:


There was no way the boy was going to be outdone by his sister.


Homemade margherita pizza. Num!


For the first time ever we got lucky and successfully grew dill in our garden. It’s very good on egg salad!


These carrots might not look the same, but they taste the same.


Here’s the saddest part. Even though this is quite the haul, this is all of it…until next summer. Waaaaa!!!


Here’s a preview of our next post, where we make all that stuff in to goodness (like roasted tomatillo salsa) that will last…all the way to next summer!


on the shores of denver

Family, The Outdoor Woods 2 Comments »

The week before school started we had our final hurrah of the summer. Dan & Kassidy were in town on their way to Missouri, and like us, they were going to be hundreds of miles from any ocean. Na-worries, mahn! We headed on down to the finest beach in Colorado at the Aurora Reservoir and got right to work…


The harbor for our kingdom of sand was constructed first. Eleanor expressed some concern about the tide causing too much erosion. I think we need to worry more about what tide you might bring in Ellie! 


The kingdom took shape quickly. Hey Brinley! Workin’ hard or hardly workin’?!


See?! I told you we’d have to worry about Ele-tide!


Where’d all your sand-slaves go Princess Binnie? Nice sopping wet hat by the way!


Kingdoom of Sand complete! “Kingdoom”? Well look at it! It’s starting to crumble already. And I think these villagers are about to re-purpose the sand for other fun projects. Way to go green!


I’m not so sure that Ellie was entirely thrilled with this re-purposing idea:


She’s got her own shovel! Everybody scoop faster! Don’t let her escape!


Eleanor may not have loved being a pile of sand with a head, but all the rest of the kids enjoyed it…and I mean all the rest. Look at the envy on those girls in the background!



The Princess appears to be having some difficulty giving her commands…the sooner we get that hand covered the sooner we can revolt!


The sun was high in the sky when this little sand crab noticed that she was finally bigger than something else: Her own shadow!


Enough with the sweat and chafing, it’s time to take a dip! Our water aerobics teacher seems pretty excited!


Or maybe it’s just that chilly ocean…mountain water!


Looks like the water aerobics teacher also does sand scrub pedicures on the side. She’ll take your cash under the table…


Boy. Shovel. Beach. Nuf. Said.


I thought Rowan did pedicures, not manicures!? How much did that cost Ellie? 2 buckets of lake water and a Dora shovel…deal!


Astronomists are dumfounded: Full moon visible in broad daylight in Denver!


This one’s only a crescent moon, but those kids are still laughing!


It’s not quite the beaches of Mexico for these two honeymooners, butt…we did provide them with quite a show. Hopefully they are brave enough to come back for another visit!


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