Sunday, December 13, 2015

Holiday Soup Gift Jars


1/3 cup beef bouillon granules
1/2 cup dry split peas
1/4 cup pearl barley
1/2 cup dry green lentils
1/4 cup dried onion flakes
2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
1/2 cup uncooked long-grain white rice 
1 or 2 bay leaves
1/2 cup uncooked pasta (shells, macaroni, alphabet)

I also add...

1/4 cup red lentils
dehydrated carrots
dehydrated corn
dehydrated zucchini slices


In a 1 litre jar, layer the bouillon, split peas, barley, lentils, onion flakes, Italian seasoning, rice, and bay leaves. Wrap the pasta in plastic wrap, and place in the jar. Seal tightly.

Attach a label or recipe card to the jar with the following: 

Holiday Soup  
ADDITIONAL INGREDIENTS: 1 pound ground beef, black pepper to taste, garlic powder to taste, 1 (14 ounce) can diced tomatoes - undrained, 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste or 1 (10 oz) can tomato sauce, and 3 quarts water. 
TO PREPARE SOUP: Remove pasta from top of jar, and set aside. In a large pot over medium heat, brown beef with pepper and garlic; drain excess fat. Add diced tomatoes, tomato paste/sauce, water, and soup mix. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Cover, and simmer for 45 minutes. Stir in the pasta, cover, and simmer 15 to 20 minutes, or until the pasta, peas, lentils and barley are tender.

Holiday Soup jars can be given as-is, or in a gift bag with a box of corn bread mix, a wooden spoon, can of tomato sauce, pretty napkins, etc.


Saturday, December 12, 2015

It Arrived!

I participated in the Annual Canadian Autumn Seed  Exchange again this year. I always look forward to this exchange, as it is very well organized and rare varieties of seeds are often submitted.  My return parcel arrived this week, much to my delight!  It included several items from my wish list and a number of seed varieties I hadn't heard of before.  I received...

Lovage -

Herbs - Ajwain (carom), purple basil, fenugreek, feverfew, lovage, and thyme.

Cosmos, Double Click Snowpuff -

FlowersAmbersoa (Desert Star), Chrysanthemum (Single Annual), Cosmos (Double Click Snowpuff), Digitalis (Foxglove), Datura Inoxia (Moonflower), Rose Campion (Alba), Strawflower (Choice Mix), Wildflower mix, and Benary’s Giant Lime zinnia.

Nicotiana Sylvestris (

Miscellaneous - Mimosa Tree, Money Plant, and Nicotiana Sylvestris (flowering tobacco plant).

Flagg pole beans (

Arakara – bush
Blue Jay – bush (snap/dry)
Doloff – pole (dry)
Flagg – pole (dry – RARE)
Jacob’s Cattle – bush (dry)
Kahnawake Mohawk – pole (dry)
Painted Pony – bush (snap/dry)
Soldier – bush (dry)
True Red Cranberry – bush with pole habit (dry)
Zuni Shalako – bush (snap/dry)

Painted Mountain Corn (

Carrots – Kaleidoscope (hybrid) and Scarlet Nantes

Corn – Painted Mountain

Eggplant – Almaz (hybrid), Early Long Purple (hybrid?), and Casper

Garlic – Kostyn’s Red Russian

Copenhagen cabbage (


Cabbage – Copenhagen, Jersey Wakefield, and Red Acre

Kale  - Sweet Blue and Green (hybrid)

Lettuce – Black Seeded Simpson and “Cold Hardy”

Purslane – French Golden Leaf

Galeaux d'Eyesines Squash (

Leeks – American Flag

Squash - Canada Crookneck, Galeaux d’Eyesines, and Small Sugar pumpkin


Amana Orange Tomato (

Tomatoes - 0-33 (determinate, red, frost tolerant), Amana Orange, Banana Legs, Bushy Chabarovsky, Chocolate Stripes, Deep Space (Snickers), Eva Purple Ball, Ildi (yellow cherry), Mac Pink (determinate), Moravsky Div, Ozark Sunrise, Red Siberian, San Marzano, Sungold F1 (cherry, hybrid), and Zapotec.

Turnips – Purple Top White Globe

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Vampire Deterrent

   Last night, a client gave me some extra garlic she had - hardneck garlic, though I am not sure what variety it is.  It is cloudy and chilly today (3 degrees at 2:00pm...actually pretty good for the end of October in this region) and garlic should have been put in the ground a month ago, but I thought I would plant it, anyway.  There's nothing to lose, and Hallowe'en seems like the perfect day to plant some vampire deterrent!

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Cabbage Crystals

This morning, we had a hard frost that did in the last of the flowers and left the cabbage looking sparkly.

The last of the tomatoes to process...

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Bringing In The 'Maters

   Last night was forecast to dip below zero, so I had to bring in the tomatoes, ripe or not.  Most are not, including the tomatoes that are supposed to be green!  We'll have to get some cardboard boxes to place them in and we'll see which ones ripen over the next few weeks.  No variety outshone any other this year, though Early Annie (prolific!), Moskvich, and Yellow Taxi will be on my list to plant next summer.  

Monday, September 14, 2015

What's Up, Doc?

   Carrots, carrots, carrots.   

   I had hoped to be able to harvest the root vegetables during a dry spell, but this is turning out to be another wet, cool September.  I finally bit the bullet on the weekend and processed my first batch of carrots.

   The forecast calls for more drizzle and freezing temperatures tonight, so this morning I pulled the rest of the carrots and decided to wash and chop them so they can be dehydrated.  While most of the carrots were grown in a raised bed with sandy soil, another bunch grew in the North garden, where the soil is much stickier (clay).  Faced with buckets of carrots to clean, I decided to wash them the way a former manager told me her mother did it - in the washing machine, on the "delicate" cycle!  

   It worked like a charm.  At risk of triggering an anxiety attack or horrified disapproval in my mother, I will post pictures of the first wash (yep, that's MUD in the washing machine), the rinse, and the final result.

   I just finished processing them (trimming the ends, peeling the ones that needed it, and slicing them).  It took me more than four hours.  The fridge is packed with storage containers full of carrot slices.  We'll have to blanch them over a period of days, as the dehydrator can only hold so much! 

   My hands are dry and orange and my back hurts, but I know I'll be glad I put the time in now when it is mid-winter and I want to put together a soup or casserole in 10 minutes.

   Here is the first batch of carrots I did on the weekend.  I loved the mixed colours.  :-)

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

September Begins

How can it be September 1st already?

I took my camera outside with me this morning when I went to check the mail.  It is sunny and mild today.  The air is still filled with those pesky little gnats.  They stick to everything - plants, clothes, hair, fur (in the case of the kitties), etc.  Two flew into my eyes this morning - one in each.  Had quite a time getting them out.  Now it looks like I've spent the morning crying!

Now for an almost-end-of-season update....

(Click photos to enlarge)

The North garden

Flower bed

Raised beds along the driveway

South garden

The pea patch.  I pulled out a few of the rows, but in other sections, there are still pea flowers blooming and pods starting.  I decided to leave those parts alone, and will hope for warm weather so we might get a few more fresh peas.


Nasturtium seeds

Marigolds and Tene's Beans

A scarlet hollyhock

A pink hollyhock

Scarlet Flax

Morning Glories up the cucumber trellis

Pink dahlia

I believe these are Lemon Queen Sunflowers I poked in along the side of the South garden as an afterthought.  One grew to full size, but there are three others that look like they will remain teeny tiny.

Yellow Taxi in the front, Early Annie and Moskvich in the back.  Green pepper to the left.

Moskvich tomatoes

Green Zebra tomatoes

Black Plum tomatoes.  There are tons of these on the plants, but they seem slow to ripen. (Along the lines of "watching a kettle boil", I suspect...)

Jaune Flamme tomatoes.  They look large in the picture, but they are about the size of a golf ball.

Tomatoes along the south side of the house

The poor, frost-zapped Gelber Englischer Custard Squash is holding on!

I planted two tomatoes in the North Garden using "tomato craters".  These are among the hardiest, healthiest, and largest of the tomatoes I planted this year.  I will likely plant more in-ground next year.

I forgot to label the tomatoes in the garden!  I think these are Paul Robeson tomatoes.

Yarrow in front, corn behind it.

The Tiger Eye beans are starting to dry.  Note the ever-present gnats stuck to them!

My dear little Ping Tung eggplants.  This was not the year for them.  Between a new kitty who enjoyed incubating them (sleeping in the container next to the plant) and the cool temps, it was an achievement for them just to produce the two little eggplants they did.

Yesterday's little harvest.  (That's parsley in the sieve and borage seeds in the little sauce dish.)

 Apples from our tree

Our friend, P., was recently on a work-related course in Victoria, BC.  While there, he visited The Butchart Gardens (on my wish list of things-to-do).  He brought back these seeds for me to experiment with next summer - a perennial mix, dahlias ("Unwin's Mix"), and an annual mix.  So thoughtful!