Archive for October, 2010

“I would rather sit on a pumpkin, and have it all to myself,
than be crowded on a velvet cushion”

Henry David Thoreau in Walden

Pumpkins take center place when you think about fall here in the U.S., they cover everything from decoration to desert. Pumpkins store well and are such a wonderful addition to the garden, both for beauty and for the nutritional value. I love seeing them in fields ready to be harvested. Front porches and store fronts are given a feeling of warmth when graced with pumpkins of all colors, shapes and sizes. It seems like every roadside stand is selling them.

Pumpkins are wonderful in the kitchen, they make the most wonderful deserts as well as some delicious savory dishes. I love pumpkin ravioli or pumpkin soup and I think my most favorite desert is pumpkin pie.

Pumpkins are the center of all kinds of family traditions from the trip to the pumpkin patch to the carving of them for the front porch. When Mr Chiots and I were in Maine we even stumbled up on the Damariscotta Pumpkinfest featuring pumpkins baked into to food and made into boats (for more read my post about it on my blog).

What’s your favorite way to enjoy pumpkins? Do you have any traditions centering around pumpkins?

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Since Kim talked about using garlic to help deal with a cold or flu I thought I’d talk about one of the things we do around here to boost our immune systems not only so we don’t get colds but also to help protect us against cancer and other baddies. Along with a healthy diet and lots of exercise, eating mushrooms regularly can help you fight off the cold and flu and help you fight all sorts of things like cancer, obesity, high cholesterol, diabetes, etc. Here’s an interesting article about mushrooms and immunity. When it comes to mushrooms, usually the tastier the better for you, although even white button mushrooms help boost your immune system.

You’ll want to look for the more obscure mushrooms like: shiitake, hen of the woods, oyster, morel, etc. I’m lucky that we have a local mushrooms grower that specializes in these types of mushrooms. Each week at the farmers market I buy whatever mushrooms they have for sale. Last week I found Hen of the Woods mushrooms for the first time. I also really like baby portabella mushrooms, which I buy at my local health food store.

We also forage for mushrooms in the spring, so far we’ve only found and eaten a few varieties of morels. I really want to learn more about growing mushrooms myself so I can grow them in the garden. I’m thinking of talking to the people I buy them from at the market to see if I can buy spawn from them since I know the ones they grow do well in my climate.

I’m quite lucky because I LOVE mushrooms of all shapes, colors and sizes. Some of the more exotic ones take some getting used to, but after a few times you’ll find them quite delicious. Mr Chiots used to refuse to eat mushrooms when we first got married, he’s come around though and now happily asks for seconds when we’re eating sauteed mushrooms.

Are you a mushrooms lover? Have you ever considered adding more mushrooms to you diet for health reasons?

I can also be found at Chiot’s Run where I blog daily about gardening, cooking, local eating, beekeeping, and all kinds of stuff. You can also find me at Simple, Green, Frugal, Co-op, and you can follow me on Twitter.

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As the cold and flu season is upon us I have done some research into ‘cures’ for the common cold.

I have many herbal teas that we use when we’re sick…but I wanted something I could take at the very first symptoms of sickness to knock it out  before it became a full blown, week long, snot fest!

Twice in the last month my darling children have passed their colds onto me.

Twice I have at the first sign of sickness made and drank garlic tea.

Twice my cold failed to be anything more than a 24 hour slight dribble and headache.

Garlic has been used throughout history for its antiseptic and antimicrobial properties. Recent scientific studies have indicated that a diet high in garlic (more than 2 large cloves a day per person) can reduce the incidence of certain cancers especially those of the intestinal tract and breast cancer.

Here is a good page to look at from the National Cancer Institute on more specifics of garlic and cancer.

When using raw garlic it is important to crush or mince and then let your garlic sit for 15 minutes…this allows the chemical compounds in the cloves to be released.

My garlic tea is simply one clove of peeled, crushed garlic allowed to sit for 15 minutes after crushing.  Then I place it in the bottom of a coffee cup and pour boiling water over it.  I let it steep for another 15 minutes.  Then I remove the garlic and add honey and lemon.  I slowly drink the tea while chewing on the clove of garlic.

I will admit that I smell like garlic for at least an hour after this…so I would not do it when headed out to an important appointment!

Now I am not going to say that this is indeed the cure for the common cold but so for the evidence has been compelling.  As the colds have lasted from 5 days to a week for my husband kids it has lasted less than 24 hours for me and has had considerably milder symptoms.

Now if I could just convince the rest of my family that the stinking rose really does make a beneficial…if not stinky tea!

So do you have a ‘cure’ for the common cold that you would like to share?


Kim can also be found at the inadvertent farmer where she raises organic fruits, veggies, critters, kids, and…a camel!






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“Autumn is a second spring, where every leaf is a flower.”
Albert Camus

I love this time of year, it seems like everything is bathed in a beautiful warm hue. Everything seems sunny and warm!


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fall foods

This year we’re making an extra effort to put up as much local food as possible while it’s at its peak ripeness. In most parts of the country, apples are in big demand. Orchards are packed and picked and farm stands are offering their very best. While my intention for apples was primarily to freeze, I couldn’t pass by a great deal on “juice apples” that a nearby farm stand had – $12 for a bushel. Juice apples are basically slightly bruised or barely overripe fruit. It’s best to combine several varieties of fruit to balance out sweetness, brightness, and tartness.

Once I got the apples home, I had to put my brain to work debating the best way to make cider without a juicer. Simple was key for me. My first experiment was fun… and messy.

First I lined the interior of a large box (conveniently the lid from one of my bushels) with aluminum foil. Next I set my heavy-duty cutting board inside (a piece of plywood would also work) and covered it with aluminum also. Once everything was juice-proof, I made a curtain of sorts out of wax paper and cut a slit down the middle.

lined box for apple cider

lined box for apple juice

Now for the fun part. I used my meat tenderizer to smash the apples to bits! I found it beneficial to turn up the foil at the bottom edge so that any juice didn’t pour out over the floor. This would be a great project to get kids involved, or to take out any frustrations.


apple mash

I finished up by squeezing the apple pulp, by hand, with some good cheesecloth into a container and quickly gulped it down. It had to be the best cider I’ve ever had.

Of course having a second bushel of apples to deal with meant I didn’t have much time or energy to play “Whack-an-Apple”, so I figured out the cheaters version of making cider.


Quarter apples and send through the grater attachment on your food processor. When you get through all of your apples, allow them to sit in large bowls overnight in your refrigerator. The next day wring the grated apples through cheesecloth and strain the final product if needed. Letting the apples rest overnight allows more juices to naturally release from the fruit, making your job that much easier.

The best part is that you can freeze any cider that you can’t immediately consume for later use! How about some warm cider on Christmas Eve? If the cider wasn’t so good as it was, I would even consider making some apple jack! (hic)

What’s your favorite thing to make with apples?


Jennifer can also be found at Unearthing This Life where she blargs about her adventures with her Hubby, the Kid, and their life in rural Tennessee.

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I’m just about finished with the tomatoes in the gardens at Chiot’s Run, the ones that remain are a mere shadow of their sun-ripened summer selves. They’re not as flavorful and just don’t satisfy the way a tomato warm from the sun does. So I’m saying “Goodbye” to the fresj tomato until next summer, most likely until late July of 2010. I do have a bunch of roasted tomatoes in the freezer, canned crushed tomatoes in the pantry and dried tomatoes in the cupboard though, so I’ll still be able to enjoy a few tomato dishes this winter.

It’s time to start moving on in the kitchen to vegetables that are in season now like greens, leeks, sweet potatoes, winter squash, carrots, peas and potatoes. I love using this change in the season to make a few changes to our diets. I find that when the days start getting shorter and darker I crave: simmering soups with crusty bread and a salad, a venison roast with mushrooms, potatoes and carrots, or a roasted chicken with squash and sage. I think our bodies are happier and healthier when we eat in harmony with the weather outside and the seasons we experience.

I’m sure around the country and the world different people are transitioning to different “winter” foods. I always love hearing about what’s in season in your neck of the woods.

So, what are you transitioning to during this change in the seasons?

I can also be found at Chiot’s Run where I blog daily about gardening, cooking, local eating, beekeeping, and all kinds of stuff. You can also find me at Simple, Green, Frugal, Co-op, and you can follow me on Twitter.

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Traveling Cheaply

Mr Chiots and I just got back from week in New England and we had a great time. Mr Chiots and I are frugal people, so we try to save money when we travel. I grew up in a frugal traveling family, we spent our vacation traveling the country visiting National Parks and camping along the way. Naturally, Mr Chiots and I do this as well. We enjoy the simplicity of camping and have a great time doing it. We save a lot of money on hotels, although camping is much more expensive than it was when I was young. Some places we checked campsites were $50. Generally sticking to the state and national parks helps keep these costs down.

We also take a lot of our own food because we like to eat Real Food and that’s not often available when you’re traveling (although it’s much easier to find in New England than in our neck of the woods). Not to mention taking your own food can save you a lot of money on vacation and make sure you feel great the entire time. We enjoyed home canned tomato soup with cheese sandwiches and a lot of veggie or BLT sandwiches a long the way.

On this vacation we ate out a little more than normal because we found a lot of wonderful farm to table restaurants. We also enjoyed buying local veggies from little farms and chatting with the farmers about their climate and the local food scene. And we wanted to make sure we enjoyed a lot of fresh seafood since we were in the area for it!

Are you a frugal vacationer? How do you save money while traveling?

I can also be found at Chiot’s Run where I blog daily about gardening, cooking, local eating, beekeeping, and all kinds of stuff. You can also find me at Simple, Green, Frugal, Co-op, and you can follow me on Twitter.

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Not long ago the term ‘staycation’ was coined.

It means to stay in your general location for short day trips or mini vacations.

Planes are never involved or are passports or large pieces of luggage.

It means staying close to home and spending less money and more time on the recreation activity and less time traveling afar.

For anyone on the West Coast it means a trip to the beach.  The Pacific Ocean is within 3 hours of almost everyone on the West side of Washington, Oregon, or California.  A perfect place for a ‘staycation’!

The  beach is great for surfing, walking, beach combing, rock climbing and a great starting point for day hikes up into the hills.

It takes us just over an hour to get to Long Beach Washington from where we live.  We spent the day on the Discovery Trail.  It is a ribbon of paving the runs along the shore of the Pacific from Illwaco to North Long Beach.  It has just recently been completed and makes for a wonderful day ride along a stunning patch of coast.

Rock climbing for older children is a must…it is also a must not watch for mothers.

Even husbands get in on the rock climbing business…but I drew the line when the 3 year old wanted to follow daddy!

We have decided as a family to take fewer long, elaborate, and expensive vacations and do more close to home.  We are going to make an effort to take advantage of the natural wonders that are in our own area…there are so many!

Somehow I think we’re all going to be OK with that!

So what about you?  Do you stick close to home when you go on vacation?  Or do you head out for a week or two…destination anywhere but here?


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Canning season is nearing an end here at Chiot’s Run and I’m quite happy about it. I’m not a huge fan of canning, but I do it to preserve summer’s bounty. I’m happy the season is almost over as I’ll be able to have a clean kitchen once again. My dining room table will have room to eat, no longer covered with tomatoes and all other varieties of vegetables. My stove top will be clear of canners and stock pots and my oven will no longer be filled with drying fruit. I will miss the view of jars filled with goodies on the counter, but I’m looking forward to the slower pace of winter for sure!


Are you sad or happy that canning season is nearing it’s end?

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Pear Harvests


A few weeks ago we were elbows deep in fresh pears. Over a period of a week I prepared pear sauce, pear preserves, and canned pears. The nicest ones were kept for eating fresh, but I saved a few to poach for a simple seasonal dessert.

peeled pear

  • 4 fresh pears, peeled with stem on.
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 Tbsp Mirin
  • 2 Tbsp Sake
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • fresh nutmeg and grains of paradise

honeyed poached pear

  1. Place peeled pears tightly in a small saucepan. Combine liquid ingredients and pour in bottom of pan. Bring to low boil to burn off alcohol, then cover with lid and lower heat to medium. Cook for twenty minutes or until pears are heated through.
  2. Remove pears from saucepan. Heat remaining liquid on medium high on low boil for several minutes until it thickens slightly. Return pears to saucepan for 2 more minutes continually pouring liquid over pears.
  3. Place pears on plate. Serve with the liquid as a glaze and sprinkle just a touch of fresh nutmeg and grains of paradise on top. We served ours with some local goat cheese (chevre) drizzled with honey.

poached pear with chevre and honey
honeyed chevre with poached pear

Enjoy the harvest!

Jennifer can also be found at Unearthing This Life where she discusses her antics of chasing seven crazy chickens, struggles with gardening in a drought, and plays at homeschooling for the first year.

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