Monday, July 11, 2016

Urban Foraging: Sugared Pinks Flowers

Urban Foraging Candied Flowers
Freshly picked blue borage flowers from my garden and pinks flowers from the yard. 
Urban Foraging Candied Flowers

My borage plants are blooming blue and beautiful, so I decided preserve some of them via the sugaring method. Then it occurred to me that we have other plants around the yard with flowers that might be good candidates for sugaring.  In particular, we have these small plants with deep pink flowers near the side of the house. I used the myGardenAnswers app on my phone to identify them as pinks (carnations are in the same "dianthus" genus) and then read on to discover that the flowers are indeed edible and sugar-ible. Bingo.

Now to be fair, these plants were in all likelihood planted by the previous homeowner and thus not wild; however, since I did not plant them and they are pretty common/wild in urban city settings, I'm going to count this as urban foraging.
Urban Foraging Candied Flowers
I briefly soaked the flowers in a ice water bath to get rid of any debris/bugs, took the sepal leaves off the pinks which caused the petals to separate, then dried them off on a towel.

Urban Foraging Candied Flowers
Next step was to whip up an egg white until a bit frothy.
Urban Foraging Candied Flowers
My colleague and I then took small paint brushes, lightly painted the egg wash onto the top side of the petals/flowers, then sprinkled them with castor (sugar fine) sugar. We let them dry a bit on parchment paper, then did the bottom side. I've done this a couple of times now and have discovered it's easier to put down a thin lay of sugar on the parchment, then coat both sides of the petal/flower at the same time, lay the bottom of the flower on top of the sugar layer, and then sprinkle more sugar on top of the petal/flower.

Urban Foraging Candied Flowers
The full set of sugared petals/flowers ready to dry. 
Urban Foraging Candied Flowers
Finished sugared borage and pinks. 

We were having some humid weather, so instead of letting these sit on the counter to dry, I put them in the oven for 24 hours with the oven light on. With later batches, the humidity hasn't been as bad, so I just set them out on a shelf for a couple of days.

After they are completely dry, they should be stored in an airtight container and kept, according to most sources in a room temp location (should be good for about 3-6 months.) Now, I did find one source that recommended storing them in the fridge, so I am storing half the batch on a shelf in the kitchen and the other half in the fridge; I'll report back. 

Monday, July 4, 2016

America the Beautiful / Life Recently

Happy birthday America! In honor of our beloved country, I've gathered up a few recent-ish pics of us out and about in its natural loveliness.
Checking out the chickens with Vicar Alissa. #newengland #farmgirl #countrylife #chicken
Towards the end of May, Sinclair and I joined a group from our church on a tour of New Lands Farm where refugee and immigrant farmers are given the opportunity and support to practice the agriculture heritage of their birth countries.
Ridiculous child. #instasinclair #children
At the very end of May, we biked from our house over to Revere Beach, America's first public beach, and had lunch in celebration of Piercen's birthday.
Boston is literally built out of Legos. #Boston #legos #instaluther
In early June, while Pierce and Sinclair were down South visiting family, Luther and I popped down to Boston for the day and discovered that this bastion of American history is really being propped up by Legos. Clearly, we owe a lot to the Danes.
Day at the farm. #instasi nclair #instaluther #farm Later in June, the kids and I joined some friends for a visit to the Great Brook Farm State Park in Carlisle, MA. We had a picnic, looked at animals, and ate icecream. #publictransportation #mbta #urbanlife #instaluther #fatherhood #fatherandson Obvs the U.S. has neither the monopoly on public transportation nor the best systems, but regardless,  they are an vital part of American urban life. They may be my favorite part of living near a big cityIt's an unattractive area. #newhampshire #camping #river At the end of June, we went camping for a long weekend near the White Mountains National ForestThe spelunker. #instaluther #spelunking #exploring #childhood The Flume Gorge is so very tall! #latergram #americathebeautiful #newhampshire We hiked in the Flume Gorge. Another unattractive locale. #americathebeautiful #mtwashington And did the drive up the Mt. Washington auto mileYesterday at the top of the world. It's rather chilly there.
At the top of Mt. Washington, the highest point in the Northeast, we visited the museum and the visitors center and tried not to freeze our buns off. It was an awe-inspiring visit.

At times like these, when it seems like the political passions have split us into two different countries who don't even recognize each other, it's good to take some time to remember what an amazing country we live in and how blessed we are to be Americans.

Happy birthday America!

Friday, July 1, 2016

Home Garden Update: Late Spring (May)

Victory Garden: May 2016
Borage, cauliflower, cabbage, and pepper plants soon to go into the ground.

Our last average last frost date is around May 4th, so after once it passed, I transplanted the borage, cauliflower, cabbage, and nasturtium plants into the long bed and the first two short beds. I also direct seeded lettuces, carrots, marigold, cucumber, zinnia and dill seeds into the same beds. 
Victory Garden: May 2016
Arugula, peas, broccoli, and spinach--direct seeded in March and coming up now. 

By this point, the peas were coming up nicely. The spinach and arugula has also sprouted up but were not growing very quickly. We were still having some rather cold days into late May. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Luther Turns Four!

This is the face of a four-year-old. Happy birthday dear assist Luther! #happybirthday #instaluther #childhood #fouryearsold
The face of a four year old!
#fouryearsold #happybirthday #pancakes
Birthday pancakes. 

Two weeks ago, Luther turned four years old. This seemed like a big one to me. Four years old is a not a little kid age, it's like a real kid age. I'm trying not to think too much about it.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Home Garden Beginnings: Early Spring (March-April)

#eatdirt #instasinclair #children #childhood #springtime
Filling her dirt intake quota.

For years and years, I've wanted a large home garden. In my more wild imaginings (or so I have come to realize), I saw this eventual garden as producing enough food to feed our family for the entire year (ha! that was a good one!). My previous gardening experience has essentially all been in my head. I did some container gardening back in Bethlehem (nine basil plants and some lovely morning glories) but nothing to speak of since then. Now that we own a house and have a real yard, the dream is slowly becoming reality, with a fair bit of missteps and knowledge gaps along the way.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Urban Foraging: Dandelion Leaves

Urban Foraging: Dandelions
So a couple of weeks ago, I was talking with a friend about urban foraging. She had done a good bit of it while living in Atlanta and was thinking about continuing the practice in Massachusetts. Our discussion inspired me, so I promptly requested a book on urban foraging at the library but didn't make a trip there to pick it up before my book hold expired. Regardless, I knew that dandelions are edible and seeing as they are in abundance, well, everywhere, Luther and I stepped into the yard and picked a large handful of leaves and flowers for lunch.

Monday, May 9, 2016

A Perfect Day at the Boston Public Garden

Boston/Public Garden Boston/Public Garden Boston/Public Garden

A couple of weeks ago, the weather folks were forecasting a gorgeous Sunday. So after church, we headed downtown and parked. We lunched at a cafe near the North End, then walked to the Boston Common and on to the Boston Public Garden.

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