Joel and I have been busy at Emancipation Acres and although I have been wanting to write an entry for some time there has been a million other things to do. The last few days have been scorchers and writing an entry seems like a good excuse to stay out of the heat.
We had grand plans for a huge garden but like many grand plans the reality is a bit smaller. We planted tomatoes, bell and hot peppers, broccoli and cabbage heirloom seedlings lovingly grown by Kristin of Blue Moon Community Farm. We have already gotten one bountiful crop of broccoli. Broccoli from the garden makes broccoli from the store seem like tasteless junk. This broccoli is so flavorful and tender. Even the stem is tender, and would probably taste good in a stir fry.
A few days ago I experimented with freezing some of my broccoli because there was no way Joel and I could eat it all ourselves before it wilted.
In order to preserve the nutrients and color of vegetables during freezing they are blanched first. How do you blanch? Boil a pot of water. Cut up your broccoli. Save stems for rabbits, chickens or the compost. Boil a pot of water.Put cold water with ice in a large bowl and set aside. Let the broccoli sit in the boiling water for one to two minutes. Do no fully cook! Remove broccoli from the boiling water and place immediately into the cold water. This stops the cooking process and keeps your broccoli from getting soft and nasty. Leave broccoli in the cold water bath for one minute or until it is cold to the touch. Remove the broccoli and put it on a dry towel. Soak up as much water as possible. I saved the water the broccoli boiled in and poured it over Sansa’s food the next couple of days to give her some added nutrients.
Place the dried broccoli in a freezer bag. Date it for future reference. Now in the middle of the winter you will have nearly fresh broccoli without any added salt or preservatives. Yum!
Freezing can be a great way to store produce from a CSA box. Blanching times vary for different veggies. Its best to check with a good book or internet resource although your best judgement works in a pinch.
Sansa has been hard at work learning a few new tricks. I’ve been experimenting with clicker training. Using a clicker is a great way to teach a dog. The clicker allows you to take a “snap shot” of the exact behavior you wish to encourage. Once the dog gets the hang of the clicker meaning a treat is on the way they do everything they can for that sound. Here is Sansa practicing balancing a chicken jerky on her nose. We started with waiting for one second, but by now I can tell her to wait, walk across the room and then give her the get it command. She is currently learning shake.
At the end of the month our new puppy, Drogo (named from A Series of Fire and Ice by George R. R. Martin, just like our sweet Sansa) will be old enough to come home. Joel and I are gearing up by reading puppy training books, puppy proofing the house and visiting the litter on weekends. He is a rottweiler but right now he is easily mistaken for a small bear.