Summer is hopping and bopping along. We have been so busy playing with chickens, jamming the canner, and farmers marketing, that I haven’t had time to sow more seeds. No big deal? Well kinda. It means that I will be out of radishes before I know it! I haven’t decided if it is because I am cheap, far from a grocery store, or because I am often disgusted by mass food production but I try to grow whatever I can. Thrifty me sees that I can buy a pack of seeds for a dollar now, or spend $5 on a plastic bag of questionably produced product later. Since I have plenty of soil around, I plant seeds.
I try to plant carrots, radishes, beets, peas, and greens all summer long. In fact I try to make it a habit to put at least a few seeds down once a week. This ensures we have a never ending supply of veggies from which we can eat our fill. Then later we put up, or preserve, the rest.
We have also localized our food supply by getting some chickies. Chickens make bad pets. These babies will be raised for both eggs and meat. Since I choose to eat meat I want to know where it has come from, how it was raised, and be sure that nothing goes to waste. I try to practice nourishing traditions by eating local, whole foods.
Sometimes I think it is lucky we grow food (or know people who do) simply because it seems we are too busy to remember to purchase any food item not related to jams & jellies.
Tall Dark & Handsome and I currently hand-pour almost 600 jars of jelly a week so that we can deliver to our newest fans. It is exciting to say that you can find my jellies at stores in four different states! Check the info page for an updated list of stores that carry Potlicker.
With business growing, there is no way that I can plant enough carrots to provide all we need for Carrot Cake Jam! The next step would be turning my little bit of yard into row crops and believe me, it’s been proposed. TDH would love to turn our ¼ acre schoolhouse plot into a tiny farm complete with junk piles in every corner but I am trying my hardest to maintain something a bit more tidy and less work than feeding, and milking, and barn cleaning, and where would this little barn be on our little land?!
I think I will stick with chickens and an over grown garden for now. It is plenty to keep me busy. In the moments between work and busy, I harvested the first of our broccoli and strawberries and then harvested enough greens for a big salad. Since I was out of bottled dressing (oh yeah, that getting to the store thing) I whipped up a dressing using jelly as the base. Yup, Beer Jelly Vinaigrette is not only possible, it is super yummy.
The thing that binds a salad together is the dressing. Dressing is what transforms a pile of mismatched ingredients into a cohesive dish. Beer jelly vinaigrette imparts a subtle beer flavor to the dressing that does not overpower the bright flavors of the fresh harvest.
This early season salad uses mixed greens, roasted baby beets, broccoli, strawberries, radishes, and chives all harvested from the yard. This is where TDH might suggest that if we had a goat, I could make fresh cheese to top this salad with too.
I stuck with the red and pink theme of the salad and chose Razz-Weizen beer jelly, but you could use any flavor of jelly or jam as a dressing base. This is a green and grain salad. I live on variations of this all summer long. The idea is simple I cook up 2c of grains such as rice/barley/bulgur on Sunday and add this to freshly harvested veggies all week long.
To make the Jelly Vinaigrette, combine:
- 2 heaping Tablespoons of jelly (or jam!)
- 2 T vinegar (I used last years’ lemon thyme vinegar but apple cider vinegar will work just fine.
- 2T olive oil (also try avocado, coconut, grape seed, etc)
- 2-3T warm water
- 1/2t salt
- Black pepper to taste
- 3T minced fresh (or dried) oregano
- 1 small clove garlic, crushed
Assemble the ingredients in a mason jar for easy mixing and storage. Shake the jar vigorously to break down the jelly and create an emulsion. This is air suspended in oil and makes the texture rich and creamy, the more you shake the thicker it will get, add water to thin. Shake well before serving.
You can boost the nutrition & health benefits of this dressing by adding things like chia seeds, flax oil, cayenne, turmeric, parsley, lemon juice, juice from fermented pickles, or whey.