Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Backyard Foraging: Japanese Knotweed Jelly, and Dandelion Jelly

Some backyard foraging has been happening here...

I know you recognize this one... the ubiquitous weed that is loved by some, despised by many... the Dandelion of course!

You probably know that the leaves are edible, and the roots are used medicinally...but did you know that the flower petals can be used to make delicious tasting jelly? The flavor is reminiscent of honey- it's so good!

Basically, what you do, is collect the dandelion heads (this is the easy part, and a good time to enlist the help of your mini-laborers AKA kids), then you remove the petals (this is the extremely tedious part- but well worth it), then you boil said petals to make an infusion that, after being strained, will be the liquid for your jelly.

I won't post the recipe here, but I'll let you in on the recipe that I use, from Linn Acres Farm- you can find it HERE

I told you about the Dandelion jelly already...I'm also harvesting some freshly emerged Japanese Knotweed shoots for making jelly (unfortunately I didn't get enough this time, but not to worry- the stuff is highly invasive and i can get more in about a minute lol).

Also known as False Bamboo, Japanese Knotweed has been the bane of our backyard's existence since we moved to this house (remember how I mentioned it was invasive). There used to be a HUGE patch of it. It grows up to be about 6-7 feet tall, dies back annually, and grows back in the spring without fail (at the expense of all other vegetation).

We've hacked it down, moved it, and planted grass over it for years. Now it's at a manageable level to where I can just...make jelly out of it!

To get the liquid for the Jelly, you remove all leaves, wash, and chop up the shoots. You then cover with water, bring to a boil and let simmer for awhile...

After straining, you'll get a shockingly pink "juice" to work with!

HERE is the recipe I used last year, and am planning on using again this year after I collect some more shoots as they inevitably spring up in my backyard.

I love spring...so much...*sign* I've waited all Winter for this, and I'm going to try to take full advantage of these early spring gifts.

Well... as much as my toddler will allow. My foraging efforts are often thwarted by a certain two year old who will remain nameless *cough cough* Gavin *cough*.

Happy foraging, my peeps! Feel free to comment on what's growing in your backyard! I'm off to make myself a peanut butter and Dandelion jelly sandwich...

Sunday, May 24, 2015

The Story of Lonely Goldie

This Spring, I bought a few new pullets to replenish my flock...

The three baby chicks are growing fast... I think they're a couple months now...I lost track....

Goldie continues to keep watch over the chick run, and can usually be seen lingering right outside of it (enjoying their company, yet ready to peck them at a moment's notice lol).

A little back info. on "Goldie": She didn't start out as my chicken; she actually belonged to my neighbor, across the road, and free-ranged on many acres of land with a flock of hens just like her. Eventually Goldie and her flock began migrating to our humble speck of property, spending more and more time here, until they had completely adopted us. For awhile, the hens were only returning home to lay their eggs. Then they started laying their eggs here... it was awkward...

Why did they cross the road? I think they chose our tiny flake of earth over the hundred acres they had access to because of all the exciting biodiversity here lol... i.e., goats, chickens (who are sadly no longer with us due to crossing the road themselves), bunnies, etc. Anyway, they chose to sleep here and spend most of their time, whilst still crossing the road whenever they pleased, which is why only Lonely Goldie remains.

She's always been a free ranger, and she's likely at least a few years old... I'm not sure I'll be able to confine her to the bigger run we're setting up for the chicks and have her still be happy. I'll just have to wait and see I suppose.

There you have it. The story of Lonely Goldie wink emoticon