I love making apple pies. Every year for my birthday I spend a day finding orchards to visit and picking up apples for my yearly pie making day. I like to make up several, baking some and freezing others raw to bake later in the year. But sometimes it's nice to try something new with an old favorite.
As the days grow shorter and cooler, everything seems to turn up apple cider and pumpkin spice. Typically taking a back seat to the much more popular cinnamon, the strong and spicy clove has a few months to shine.
During the fall season most of our gardening thoughts revolve around bringing in the harvest (at least here in the upper midwest). While there is much of that to be done, there is one very important crop that enjoys the cold winter months to do its best work.
For the past three years we have been allowing native milkweed to take over our front yard. When I purchased this property, I bought milkweed seeds and scattered them in the areas I wanted to designate for wildflowers, however nature had other ideas.
One of my favorite culinary herbs is the woodsy, pungent rosemary. Being more adapted to live in a Mediterranean climate, rosemary doesn't fare well in our Wisconsin winters. I have yet to successfully over winter any plants indoors, as they are not ones to enjoy the potted lifestyle. However, planting in the spring has given me plenty to harvest in the fall before they are overcome by the cold.
I decided to try a new variety of squash this year and the Jarrahdale Pumpkin seemed like the perfect one to test out. I like unique produce so with its slate blue color and its squished heirloom shape I was sold.
Nothing tastes more like summer to me than the sweet, tart, and woodsy flavor of the black raspberry. Every summer as a kid I would scour the fence line for these berries, carefully avoiding the poison ivy and the swarms of mosquito that seem to guard the berries bushes.
One of the very first harvests from the garden is the tart tasting rhubarb. As a child I would pick the stalks and eat them raw, dipping each bite into a bowl of sugar. My mom made rhubarb sauce, rhubarb crisp, rhubarb cake, but my absolute favorite was the rhubarb custard pie.
Petitgrain comes from the bitter orange tree which is native to Southeast Asia. This one tree also provides the essential oil of bitter (fruit) and neroli (flowers). Petitgrain, which in French means 'little grain' was originally extracted from the small, unripe oranges.
So often when living this homesteading lifestyle, things just don't go as planned. From bread not rising, to garden pests destroying crops, to the heartbreaking loss of livestock, it's never easy to try your hardest and still have things completely fail.
One of my favorite flowers have always been the purple violets that pop up this time of year. As a child I would pic the delicate flowers from the lawn and pastures and carefully place in bud vases to enjoy for the very short time the petals would last.
Going green doesn't always smell the best. Don't get me wrong, it doesn't smell bad, but removing chemicals and artificial fragrances from your detergents and fabric softeners can make your clothing just smell blah.