Organic

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“In the beginning, our plant exchange was really small,” says Elkhart County Park Department Chief Naturalist, Jerry Good. “But, it’s been growing. This will be our fifth year.”

Yesterday, DH and I traded plants with more than 60 friends and neighbors. The sun was out. We met new people. We took home a Rose of Sharon, a tea plant and yellow irises. I petted a baby raccoon.

It was a perfect day.

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One man’s excess might be another man’s garden centerpiece.

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Queen patiently waits while her family trades plants and tours the gardens.

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Steve Ganglo, DeFries Garden Park Caretaker, with orphan, Coonie.

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Who could resist that face? Coonie is being raised on half ‘n half and baby formula.

THE CALENDAR GARDEN

Designed by Jon Curtell, DeFries Calendar Garden has a section for each season. It is further divided by months. Every month features  grasses, bushes, plants and flowers at their peak. Native Indiana plants are on the outside of the garden. Horicultural displays are toward the inside.

 
Pathways representing four lunar equinoxes, form a compass leading to a pond in the middle of the Calendar Garden.

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The pond with it’s water lilies is the garden focal point. There are goldfish and bluegill, too. The bluegill were added because the park department wanted native Indiana fish. Nobody considered size. As a result, the number of goldfish is dropping.

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A patch of green amidst pink lily pads.

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Every month has a lunar marker featuring a distinct moon phase.

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One of the seasonal sections.

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May is in full bloom.

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The back entrance to the house Beth DeFries built and donated to the Elkhart County Park Department. Steve Ganglo, park caretaker and his wife Linda live here now.

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Benefactor Beth DeFries, an amateur botanist interested in preserving Northern Indiana’s native plants, donated her land and house to Elkhart County’s Park Department.

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 According to my husband this was the best peach pie, ever.

I made changes in the recipe because the peaches were so juicy. I also wanted my top crust to stay crispy. So, I mixed 2 tablespoons of flour with 1/4 cup of sugar. I put the sugar/flour mixture over the filling before dotting with butter and adding the top crust. (Don’t worry the top mixture of sugar and flour will cook into the pie. And, it will keep your top crust from becoming soggy.)

PEACH PIE FILLING:

 5 to 6 cups of peaches

1/2 to 2/3 cup white or brown sugar (I used 2/3 cup of white)

1/8 tsp. salt

1 1/2 tsp. cornstarch

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

1/8 tsp. nutmeg

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Dot with 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter

DIRECTIONS: Bake the pie in a preheated 450 degree oven for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees and bake 35 to 40 minutes or until golden brown. The middle should be bubbling.

dsc00223.jpg How to peel peaches: dip the fruit in boiling water for 30 to 60 seconds. Remove from the water using a slotted spoon and put into a large bowl or pot of cold water and ice. The skins will easily slide off.

Healingmagichands of  http://healingmagichands.wordpress.com/, kindly added it is important to make sure the peaches are ripe before peeling. Otherwise the peels may not slip off.

Thanks for your help, Healingmagichands!

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Peaches ripening in a sunny window.

After a couple of days in a sunny window the peaches, saved from the beetles, were ripe and ready. I had enough to make a peach cobbler and a peach pie, plus some for the freezer. 

I love peach pies, crisps and cobblers, BUT with freshly ripened organic ones, this dessert is one of my favorites. Especially topped with vanilla ice cream.

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SOUTHERN PEACH COBBLER FOR TWO

(Can be doubled)

FILLING:

2 cups peaches

1/2 tsp. lemon juice

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 tsp. cornstarch

TOPPING:

1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons flour

2 tsp. sugar

1/4 tsp. baking powder

Pinch of salt

Pinch of cinnamon

Pinch of nutmeg

1 tablespoon butter cut into pieces

2 tablespoons whipping cream

dsc00227.jpg DIRECTIONS:

Grease small casserole dish with butter. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Peel & cut up peaches. Mix peaches and lemon juice. Mix cornstarch, brown sugar and cinnamon with peaches and put peaches into greased casserole dish.

 In another bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, salt. cinnamon and nutmeg. Cut in butter until mixture is crumbly. Add the cream and toss with flour mixture just until the dough is combined.

 Turn the dough out onto a flour surface and knead a few times to smooth it. Then roll it out into the shape of the casserole dish. Place the dough over the filling and sprinkle with 1/4 tsp. of sugar. Bake until the top is golden and the juices are bubbling. 25 to 30 minutes.

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 The cobbler is ready to eat.

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Our peach tree is heavy with fruit. DH planted it 7 years ago.

We had peaches!

Bad frosts and windstorms had taken our peaches before they reached marble size in previous years.  But, this year we had peaches turning golden, pink and red.  I dreamed of peach jams, cobblers, pies and crisps.  

I started checking the fruit daily, feeling peaches to see if they had softened. As the summer days lengthened, our tree, heavily laden with fruit, became as gorgeous and fragrant as any flower. 

I swear, I could smell the peaches ripening. Evidently so can Japanese Beetles.

 Yesterday disaster struck.

dsc00209.jpg Japanese Beetles devouring a “ripe” peach. 

Some peaches were ripe

BUT, every “ripe” peach was swarming with  and being devoured by Japanese beetles. Only the ripe peaches, mind you. The hard peaches, they left alone

DH and I grabbed ladders and sacks and began picking. We picked every peach we could. After soaking them to get rid of any insects I set them out on my counter as recommended here: http://tonytantillo.com/fruits/peaches.html

Some food experts recommend putting peaches into a paper bag to ripen. Others swear that the only way to have good ripe peaches is to only pick them at the moment of peak ripeness.

Mine were ready to eat after only a couple of days on the counter.

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Soaking the peaches to get rid of any remaining insects.

How to tell if peaches are ripe:

Attached to the tree: Peaches are best picked when the fruit separates easily from the twigs. If it is hard to pull off the tree, it isn’t ripe!

Color: Green is definitely unripe, but you can’t use red color as an indicator of how ripe a peach is. Different peach varieties have differing amounts of red blush in their natural coloring. Pick them when the ground color changes from green to yellow, orange, red (or a combination). The skin of yellow-fleshed varieties ripens to an orange tint, while the skin of white-fleshed varieties changes from greenish- to yellow-white.

Softness: Unless you like your peaches very firm, pick your peaches with just a little “give” when gently pressed. Peaches at this stage are great for eating, freezing, and baking. Peaches won’t ripen very much after picking!  

Odor: The peaches should smell sweet and ripe

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My raspberry pie is dotted with butter and ready for the top crust.

It was a bit tart.

The next time I make this I will add more sugar. But still, two people ate the whole pie in two days.

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Mrs. Weaver’s Produce Stand

I live in Amish country…entrepreneurial Amish country. My neighbors sell eggs, vegetables, fruit, quilts, vitamins, bread, home baked food, dried noodles, handmade furniture and flowers from their homes.

Saturday, Mrs. Weaver had one pint of red raspberries. I had already gathered two cups of black raspberries from the wild bushes in our woods. With the red raspberries from the vegetable stand I had enough berries for pie.

dsc00163.jpg Red & Black Raspberry Pie

4 cups fresh berries

1 cup or more sugar (you will need more)

¼ cup flour

2 teaspoons tapioca

1 tablespoon lemon juice

pinch of salt

2 tablespoons butter

Mix all of the ingredients except for the berries & butter.

Sprinkle sugar and flour mixture over berries and stir gently. Let stand for 15 minutes. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Turn the fruit into a pie shell. Dot with butter. Cover the pie with top crust. Prick holes and design in crust. Bake the pie at 450 for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350. Bake an additional 35 to 40 minutes or until the pie is golden brown.