Sunday, September 30, 2012

Roselle Jam

Harvest a large basket of roselle, Id guess a gallon and a half worth

~ Soak the fruit in a sink full of cold water for 10 minutes and then drain.
~ Separate the red calyx from the seedpod.
~ I suggest you use an apple corer to do this but I have just peeled the calyx away by hand.
~ Reserve the red calyx
~ Add the red calyx, juice of one lemon and an apple (cored and chopped) to a large pan
~ Simmer gently until very soft
~ Scoop apple and 2/3s of roselle into a blender
~ Blend until smooth and add back into the pan
~ Stir then add a pack of pectin
~ Dissolve Pectin and mix throughout
~ Add 4 1/2 cups of sugar all at once
~ Stir over a gentle heat until the sugar is dissolved
~ Bring to the roiling boil.

Note: The jam may froth high in the saucepan so it needs to be no more than half full before you start boiling!

~ Test for setting by putting a saucer in the freezer to chill, then put a teaspoon of jam on the saucer.
Wait for it to cool and then push the top with your finger – if it wrinkles it’s perfect
~ Ladle into prepared 1/2 pint jars
~ Process for 15 minutes


Ah roselle, a plant I had never once even thought about but after being mistakenly sent a pack in place of the chilies I had ordered they sat in my seed binder doing nothing, eventually I decided to create a seed mix and scatter them in my test site. They sprouted and grew above the pack, soon crowding out the others and forcing me to chop and drop my nitrogen fixers sooner then I would have. The continued to grow and grow all summer long, reaching over 6 feet in height, steadily growing long after most other plants had succumbed to the Florida summer heat and sun.

A month or so ago they started blooming. Erupting in beautiful pink blooms that caused this summer starved gardener to leap in joy!

After the blooms drop off a little calyx starts to form, eventually forming a large calyx around a round seedpod.

Once the calyxes open their tips they are ready for harvest. At this point your branches will be loaded. Mine all tipped over and drooped from the weight of the calyxes. I went through and harvested some of the ripe ones (maybe 1/5 of the total ripe calyxes)it filled to the brim a large basket full.

I rinsed the calyxes for about 10 minutes in cold water. After that I broke apart the calyx from the seedpod and placed into a large bowl. This was a job in itself and there are easier ways but i did not have the proper tool. I took 1/3 of the broken calyxes and boiled in 3 quarts of water creating a bright red lovely drink. I strained out the calyxes and set to the side, I mixed in 1/2 a cup of sugar for a 2 quart jug and it was perfect even my 4 year old drank it no questions asked. The remaining quart stayed in the pot for jam.

With those boiled calyxes from the drink I added the other broken calyxes into a large pot that held the boiled roselle drink (from above)there should have been a quart of red liquid left in the pan, I simmered the calyxes until soft and scooped 3/4s of them into a blender and created a red thick liquid I poured that back into the pot and used it to create a roselle jam. Oh my goodness is it tasty!!!!
A wonderful fruity flavor that is hard to describe! I created 5 half pint jars from my harvest!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Welcome Fall!!

My favorite season above all is Fall, the summer humidity and heat starts to break and give way to cooler nights, and drier days. The garden comes alive with a new sowing of both warm season and cool season plants, winter plants like onions, garlics, and strawberries get put in for spring/summer harvest.

Plus the food. As a gardener I am also a foodie, I love food. Spices, and flavorings are totally different then spring/summer flavors. Cinnamon, cloves, and spices become primary players in the dishes I create. Soup and chili are no longer a last resort item to consume and they actually top my list. Pumpkin beer and harvest brews hit the shelves bringing a deeper richer taste and a stomach warmer compared to the summer beers which are designed to be light and cool you off after a long day working in the yard. Today I celebrated the welcoming of the fall season to our house by making a Fall Feast.

We had cinnamon rubbed pork chops grilled to perfection then topped with cinnamon apples, on the side we had 3 cheese breadsticks and red potatoes with a light butter sauce and chives!

After dinner and the feast settled we chowed on a piece of home baked pumpkin pie, If you haven't ever had the pleasure of feasting on pumpkin pie from a real pumpkin you are missing out!! Follow my link here to the best pumpkin pie you have ever had: REAL PUMPKIN PIE

The garden bed has been planted with corn, beans, squash, collards, basil, tomatoes, arugula, carrots, peas, peppers, and bunching onions. The other bed has been weeded out and has a long row of onions planted and within the next week lettuce, cabbage, and spinach will be planted. I will be clearing out another bed for radishes, rutabagas, turnips, more carrots, and kohlrabi. I LOVE FALL!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Aflack our Duck

Our girl duck Aflack is dead. Something got to her on Sunday and I found her in the bushes ripped apart, probably a raccoon attack. We are devastated, but understand its all part of the job. Its harder when they are your pets. We had just held her the night before... :(

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Freakin Hot~ Chocolate Habanero Hot Sauce


~ 15 cloves garlic, unpeeled
~ 4 roughly chopped large carrots
~ 1 1/2 cup roughly chopped white onion
~ 40 chocolate habanero chiles, stemmed and deseeded
~ 2 1/2 cup white vinegar
~ 6 teaspoons salt
~ 2 teaspoons sugar


~ Toast garlic in a skillet over medium heat until blackened in spots. Turn occasionally until soft and easy to peel
~ In a LARGE saucepan, combine the carrots, onion, and habanero chilies with vinegar and 2 1/2 cups of water. Cover partially and bring to a simmer for about 10 minutes or until the carrots are completely soft.
*Note: Open up windows and turn on some fans because that steam burns your eyes*
~ Pour into the blender with the roasted garlic, salt and sugar and blend until smooth.
~ Store in jars refrigerated for 6-12 months

Haven't come up with a name for it but it should be somewhere around Holy Hell Burn My Mouth Off Hot Sauce

Note: We froze the habaneros as we harvested them in a gallon freezer bag. We made this tonight as we had almost a full bag!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Florida Garlic Test

I just placed a order for Ajo Rojo garlic, which is a creole type garlic. This type is supposed to grow in Florida and even the Caribbean, but smaller heads which I dont really mind. We shall see how this works! Just another experiment!!

If anyone else wishes to experiment: I ordered here

I will stick in the fridge right away when I receive the cloves, I will plant in well composted heavily mulched garden bed in partial shade. Here's hoping because I LOVE garlic! :)

From Gourmet Garlic Gardens website:
- Special Considerations for Central and South Florida -

The further South you go in Florida, the fewer kinds of garlic will have a chance to do well for you in any given year and even in North Florida, your choices are limited. North Floridians should be able to grow most of the things we can, most years, since we are at similar latitudes although ya'll will have a lower soil pH and more rain than we get - garlic loves rain but doesn't like standing water.

In South Florida, your best chances are Artichoke and Creole garlics and Marbled Purple Stripes like Metechi and Siberian. In theory, Asiatics and Turbans will do well there as well if you can find good planting stock. If you have sandy soil, you will need to add organic material to it so it will hold water a little longer, and maybe mulch to maintain soil moisture around 50%.

Artichokes were developed in southern Italy and other warm winter areas and are well acclimated to the conditions. Creoles, on the other hand, came in with the Spanish conquerers and even grow in the Caribbean, hence their Creole name; some of their names, Pescadero Red and Cuban Purple or Spanish Morado tell you that they have been grown in the Caribbean area.

Garlics need to be growing in anything that resembles a cool season because the heat of oncoming summer will force them to mature regardless of whatever size they have attained up to that point.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Duck Egg Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 duck egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 and 1/2 cups chocolate chips
1 cup chopped walnuts/ or heath pieces


~ Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

~ Cream together the butter, white sugar, and brown sugar until smooth.

~ Beat in the egg, then stir in the vanilla.

~ Add baking soda to batter along with salt.

~ Stir in flour, chocolate chips, and nuts (or heath pieces)

~ Drop by large spoonfuls onto ungreased pans

~ Bake for 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until edges are nicely browned

Heres a little tip from my kitchen

I have problems in the kitchen some times, it normally comes with trying to clean up at the end of dinner and there's a big bowl full of food left, I try and try to get the saran wrap to stick and cover but it comes apart, sags down, clings to everything BUT what I want it to... so I came up with a better idea.. Using shower caps to make a easy reusable bowl cover (we also use it to cover watermelons we cut in half)
A pack of 3 will run you 1-2 dollars!
Rinse off and hang to dry, then reuse!

Fall Pumpkin Pie (from a real pumpkin)

Directions for Making Pumpkin Pie from Scratch

Yield: It really depends on the size of the pumpkin and the size of your pie plate.

* A sharp, large serrated knife
* A fork and large spoon
* a large microwaveable bowl or large pot
* 1 large (10 inch) deep-dish pie plate and pie crust


* 1 cup sugar
* 1.5 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 1 teaspoon ground cloves
* 1 teaspoon ground allspice
* 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
* 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
* 4 large eggs
* a pie pumpkin turned into 3 cups sieved, cooked pumpkin
* 1.5 cans (12oz each) of evaporated milk
If you can't get evaporated milk, just use milk.

Step 1 - Get your pie pumpkin

"Pie pumpkins" are smaller, sweeter, less grainy textured pumpkins than the usual jack-o-lantern types.

~ Wash the exterior of the pumpkin in cool water, no soap.
~ Cut the pumpkin in half. A serrated knife works best!
~ Scoop out the seeds...And scrape the insides using a large spoon

Step 2~ Cooking the pumpkin

~ Bake in the oven
~ Cut the pumpkin into halves or quarters and place into large casserole dish skin side up.. Cover with foil and throw it in an 350 F oven.
~ Cook about 45 minutes to 90 minutes (test it periodically by sticking it with a fork to see if it is soft!)It is DONE when soft

Step 3~ Scoop out the cooked pumpkin
~ Wait until the pumpkin cools slightly, then lift away skin with a fork, it should come off very easy, if not wait until it cools more remove it from dish and scoop out flesh with large spoon

Step 4 - Puree the pumpkin
~ When you blend your pumpkin you give the pie a smooth, satiny texture; rather than the rough graininess that is typical of cooked squashes. You can either use a hand blender but many times I feel a whisk works just as well!!

~Note: If your puree has standing water drain a little but otherwise dont worry about it being watery.. this is the way REAL pumpkin puree is...

Step 5 - Done with the pumpkin!
~ The pumpkin is now cooked and ready for the pie recipe.

Note: You may freeze the puree or pie filling to use it later!

Step 6 - Make the pie crust.. It is also time to start preheating the oven.
Turn it on and set it to 425 F

Step 7 - Mix the pie contents
~ Here's where it gets really easy. If you start with a fresh 8" pie pumpkin, you will get about 3 cups of cooked, mashed pumpkin. Perfect now add the items below..

* 1 cup sugar
* 1.5 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 1 teaspoon ground cloves
* 1 teaspoon ground allspice
* one half teaspoon ground ginger
* 4 large eggs
* 3 cups pumpkin puree
* 1.5 cans (12oz each) of evaporated milk
* 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract

~ Mix well using a hand blender, mixer or whisk.

Step 8 - Pour into the pie crust
~ For a nice deep, full pie, fill it right up to about one quarter to one half inch from the very top.

~ NOTE: Yes the mixture is very runny! No you did NOTHING WRONG.. It may start as a soup, but it will firm up nicely in the oven!

~ NOTE: You may want to cover the exposed edges of the crust with strips of aluminum foil to prevent them from burning!

Step 9~ Bake the pie
~ Bake at 425 F(210 C ) for the first 15 minutes, then turn the temperature down to 350 F( 175 C ) and bake another 45 to 60 minutes, until a clean knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

Step 10~ Enjoy!!!
~ Top with some whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream and enjoy!!!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Fridge Bread Dough


~ 3 cups hot water (slightly above body temperature)
~ 1 1/2 TB dry yeast
~ 1 1/2 TB salt
~ 6 cups flour
Mix all together in the bowl before covering to raise. That’s it. If you want to double the batch, just remember 6-3-3-12: 6 cups water, 3TB yeast, 3TB salt, 12 cups flour.


Mix up the ingredients in a large bowl, cover with a greased piece of plastic and let it rise for about 4 hours (could be up to 8) or until it collapses in on itself without you touching or messing with it.

Cover it loosely and put it in the fridge until you use it to make bread or pizza crust.(Let it refrigerate at least three hours before using it the first time.)

When you need some dough, take out the bowl, cut off a piece of dough (about a pound) and refrigerate the rest. Shape it into a ball on the counter (you might use a little flour to keep it from sticking. Put the shaped loaf onto the cooking surface and slash the top lightly with a knife to make three diagonal lines.

Cover with a piece of waxed paper & let it rise for about 30-60 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. If you want a thick chewy crust on your bread, place a container of hot water in the back of the oven to add steam while it bakes.

When the dough is done rising, bake for 25-30 minutes.

Cool before cutting.

This is a dense bread and will have a taste and texture similar to sourdough, the longer spent in the fridge the more sourdough taste the bread will have.

What to Plant in Zone 9 (September):


Plants Seeds Of:
Southern peas
Beans: Bush, Pole, Lima
Sweet Corn
Bulb Onions
English Peas
* Plant strawberries late this month through October. Choose healthy and quality transplants.
* When planting fast maturing vegetables, make several plantings at 10-14 day intervals to have a steady harvest.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Honeymoon Pictures- Bahamas

Freezing Excess Eggs

If you are like me during the summer brings a huge excess of eggs, in fact I had 10 dozen in the fridge and another 15 eggs that were just collected from the nest box when we got back from our honeymoon.

So what do you do with all those eggs? Give them away? sure but what happens in the winter when the chickens laying SSSSSSLLLLOOOOOWWWWWSSSSS down? I recommend you freeze those goods now to prepare for later!!!

So here is how I do it:

Step 1: Decide how many eggs you want packed together, I use 2,3 and 6 eggs to a pack

Step 2: Float test your eggs if you have kept them for over 3 weeks, fresh eggs shouldn't need to be float tested

Step 3: Crack your eggs into a dish

Step 4: Mix slowly with a fork trying to not incorporate any air into the eggs but assuring that yolk in mixed into whites

Step 5: Label your bags with how many eggs, and date of freezing- Pour egg mix into bag

Step 6: Squeeze out as much air as you can

Step 7: Lay flat on a cookie sheet and freeze overnight, this allows easy packing!

When ready to use thaw out in fridge and use as normal!