Ladybug Love!

The ladies have arrived! These are true Ladybugs that were harvested by hand in the higher altitudes of the Sierra Nevada Mountain range. A sea of Ladybugs overwinter in these mountains. In the spring they migrate down to the lower altitudes in search of food and water. 4500 of them are now living happily in our greenhouse! These Ladybugs will lay clusters of their yellow eggs on the underside of plant leaves. The larvae that will hatch resembles more of a small alligator than a ladybug and will consume even more bad bugs than an adult. The larvae will pupate and an adult ladybug will emerge (see photo lower right). We are grateful for Mother Nature’s gifts that help us maintain our gardens in a safe and sustainable manner!

 

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Praying Mantis

Be sure to watch for Praying Mantis egg sacs when doing your spring garden cleanup! Praying Mantis are beneficial insects. They eat the bad guys and help to keep our gardens pesticide free. When the weather warms, 150 to 250 babies will hatch from this sac. Our native Praying Mantis are brown and grow to about 3 inches long. The Chinese Mantis are green and grow much larger. Some grow so large they have been known to eat a hummingbird. We discovered his sac when harvesting our Pussywillow. It is now in our greenhouse where it will soon be joined by several thousand ladybugs. Spring Open House May 4, 5 and 6!

 

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Bay Leaves

Our Bay Laurel tree has finally grown large enough to produce a harvest! We’ll have the Bay leaves available in the shop this spring! You won’t believe the difference when cooking with these! First harvest...so limited quantities!

 

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Container Grown Cucumbers

We’re not the only ones excited for spring! Our cucumber plants are, too! ‘Jackson Classic’ is a pickling-type cucumber that is perfect for containers! Each year we place three plants into large pots and train the vines onto a topiary. This method makes harvesting easy and we haven’t experienced the insect problems we were having when planting them in the garden. Annually, we harvest 60 to 80 cucumbers from these containers. ‘Jackson Classic’ is perfect for making fermented and refrigerator pickles. Remember you can peel, dice and freeze cucumbers for later use in recipes like our probiotic-filled Cucumber Dip! We’ll have plants available in our greenhouse this spring!

 http://www.tlcinthekitchen.com/cucumber-dip

 

 

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Change For The Future

There were many subjects addressed at Monday’s Regenerate Nebraska conference but as someone who researches and ferments food, this one really grabbed my attention. Notice the word ‘Microbiome’ on this presentation! We’ve all learned about our own microbiome and how caring for it by consuming nutritious food is essential for our overall health. The soil in which we grow that food is also alive and it’s microbiome needs to be supported in order for it to stay healthy. What a beautiful connection between us and our planet! Sadly, our current model of food production is killing our soil. A comment was made over and over again that scientists have determined if we continue down this path, we have less than 60 harvests left in our future. Think about the impact this will have for the environment we are leaving for future generations. There was a wonderful line-up of speakers for this event. We learned so much about regenerative beef, poultry, dairy and prairie restoration from people living right here in Nebraska! More on some of them later. For now I am just excited to know there can be positive changes for our future and am grateful to have met some of the people who are making those changes!

 

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RegeNErate Nebraska

Wow! I had the opportunity to attend the RegeNErate Nebraska conference in Fremont today! It was amazing! Subjects discussed today...the health of our soil, the future of food production and the problems which exist in our current industrialized food system. Thanks to all who coordinated and sponsored this event! Lots of information I look forward to sharing soon!

 

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Pfanny’s Farm

Thank you to Pfanny’s Farm and the Randolph Library for co-hosting yesterday’s pressure cooking class! We did lots of pressure cooking, talked about fermented foods and opened up some fantastic conversations about knowing your farmer and where your food comes from! Julie Pfanstiel and her family grow amazing produce for their CSA customers on their farm! They have some great events planned for this summer including some farm to table dinners and I’ll be traveling back to Randolph in June to teach a fermenting workshop. If you have friends or family in the area please have then check out Pfanny’s Farm on Facebook! An extra bonus to the day was spending some quality time with friend Mary Lou before our lives turn totally crazy with spring planting...if spring ever decides to get here!

 

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Instant Pot Bone Broth

Time to get all those bones and veggie scraps out of the freezer! We put the Instant Pots to work yesterday making 14 quarts of delicious and healthy bone broth then cooled it overnight. The Instant Pots are great for bone broth. They do all the work while we accomplish other projects. This morning we skimmed the fat and used our Presto pressure canner to can it into jars. Bone broth can also be frozen in freezer-safe bags. Freeze the bags flat in baking dishes to contain any possible leaks. This method will also help to save precious freezer space! Here’s a link to the recipe!

 

http://www.tlcinthekitchen.com/instant-pot-bone-broth 

 

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Bay Laurel

We just harvested these beautiful Bay leaves from our organically-grown Bay Laurel tree! Bay leaves add extra flavor to recipes and contain the ‘tannin’ properties necessary to ferment cucumbers into crisp pickles. We should have plenty to share in the shop this spring!

 

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Spring Tomatoes!

Another one of my experiments! I planted these Mini Belle tomato seeds on December 22. Their compact size make them perfect for planting in a container and they produce fruits about the size of a quarter. I was concerned if they would grow during our short winter days but they are thriving and have started to bloom! I can almost taste that first tomato!

 

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Welcome!

We’re always thankful for the food we serve on our table, the huge harvest from our vegetable garden and the relationships we have built with our local family farmers who choose to raise their products in a humane and sustainable manner. We’ve had quite a few new people visit our website in the past month. Welcome! We’re here to help you on your journey to grow your garden, source local foods and prepare healthy ‘farm to table’ meals. Last night’s feast...Chicken from our neighbor’s flock, hash brown potatoes and carrots from the garden. Kale salad from our greenhouse dressed with yogurt-based blue cheese dressing and home baked Ciabatta bread. Check out more of the recipes on our website!

 

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Pressure Cooking 101

Pressure Cooking 101

Date: March 10, 2018

Time: 10 to 11:30 AM

Location: Dodge County Extension Office

1206 West 23rd, Fremont

(402) 727-2775

’Pressure Cooking 101’ featuring the Instant Pot. Tricks, tips and taste testing. Learn how a pressure cooker can make healthy eating simple and quick! Limited seating. Register at the Dodge County Extension office. Class fee $15.00

 

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Growing Celery

Celery is easy to grow in our Nebraska gardens and it is a plant that continues to give back! We dig a plant or two after our fall harvest and plant them in a pot. After a short period of time the plants begin to regrow providing us with access to fresh, fragrant celery during the winter months. We keep our plants in the greenhouse but a sunny window in your house will work just as well. Celery can be diced and frozen for use in recipes. Larger pieces with leaves can be used in bone broth. Celery leaves can be dried for use as a seasoning or used to make homemade celery salt. Combine celery with water in your Instant Pot. Add veggie scraps, garlic and your choice of seasonings. Program the Instant Pot for 60 minutes on manual/pressure cook and allow pressure to naturally release. Strain through a colander, add some milk or cream and thicken with corn or potato starch for homemade cream of celery soup. So many uses! Celery plants will be available in our greenhouse this spring!

 

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Instant Pot Shrimp Recipes

 ‘Instant Pot Shrimp With Pasta And Vegetables’ is a favorite recipe in our house. Good quality seafood can be expensive so we don’t waste a bit of it. This recipe calls for ‘Instant Pot Shrimp Stock’ which is made with the normally discarded shells and tails of the shrimp. It adds so much flavor! Click on the links for the recipes!

 http://www.tlcinthekitchen.com/instant-pot-shrimp-stock

 

http://www.tlcinthekitchen.com/instant-pot-shrimp-with-pasta-and-vegetables 

 

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Our Community Of Gardeners

Our giant cottonwood trees are home to an entire community of raccoons. Occasionally a young one will wander up to the house under the cover of darkness to play on the front porch. They really aren’t a nuisance but they make it impossible to grow sweet corn in our garden. We’re so grateful to our friends Bob and Mary Lou Pycha for sharing their harvest with us! The corn from our freezer tastes just as fresh as the day it was picked! A pat of butter, some salt and pepper and the taste takes you back to summertime! In turn, we pay it forward by sharing the abundance of our cabbage and pepper harvest with others who do not have those crops growing in their gardens. We are blessed by this community of gardeners we call friends!

 

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Lacto-Fermenting 101

Have you been wanting to try fermenting foods in your own kitchen? The early spring asparagus harvest is showing up in the grocery stores. What a great opportunity to experiment with a jar or two! You’ll be a pro by the time your own garden harvest is ready and our local farmers markets are open! Fermenting is easy and affordable. There is no cooking or canning and every jar of fermented foods contains the probiotics necessary to maintain our gut health! Here’s a link to our ‘Lacto-Fermenting 101’ tutorial. We’ll walk you through the process. I’ll also post a link to our favorite fermented asparagus recipe. Happy Fermenting!

 http://www.tlcinthekitchen.com/lacto-fermenting-101

 http://www.tlcinthekitchen.com/lacto-fermented-asparagus-with-dill

 

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