from the Window. August.

The grass is so lush and green right now. As August enters in, the garden continues to share her goodness. Nurturing our bellies and souls. Blossoms add in their own say with pops of color and entertaining the butterflies and our bees.  Soon the big yellow bus will be turning the bend to pick up the kids of the lane.  Our summer begins preparing for the fall. 

try this. Summer Sweet Corn Salsa

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This mix up is a perfect dish to share at any gathering. It adds a twist to traditional salsa and can also be used as a salad topper. Grilled shrimp and chicken are also a sweet add!  

Try roasting the sweet kernels in a cast iron skillet with a tablespoon of olive oil and a dash of salt before adding to the mix!  This adds a smokey flavor to the salsa. Fresh and simple! The way we like it. 

Enjoy!

The mix.

  • 3 tomatoes, diced 
  • 4-5 ears of sweet corn (We used our local friends, Hole's sweet corn we picked up at the farmers market.  Take the corn kernels off the cob with a knife. 
  • 1 15 oz. can of black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 avocados, diced
  • 1 red onion, finely diced
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped 
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • jalapeno, dice fresh is always best
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1-2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper

Mix it up!

Chop and dice all your ingredients. Once they are prepped, add them to a large bowl, toss gently.

Chill in the fridge for an hour.

Serve with chips for a simple summertime treat!   

Want to make it a meal? Just serve with grilled chicken or shrimp! 

from the window. Fresh.

The green of summer has taken over our yard. The blossoming fruit trees have moved from pinks to lush green, filled trees. The garden is showing thanks for the rich compost we have been feeding it and the linens wave gently in the warm breeze, on the old clothes line. We watch all of this unfold from the window, as we chop, knead and listen to NPR.  Noticing the changes summer brings.  The week is off to a busy start, full of upcoming events where we get to share in the story. We like that!

Jammin'. How we do.

Organic berries from Trinity Acres in Darlington.   

We do this thing over here. We have go to's. Local farms that we collect our amazing, fresh produce to fill our recipes. See how this works, fresh local foods, filling recipes, filling bowls, bellies and spirits. To have this option of driving down the road and round the bend, pulling into a drive lined with berries or other locally grown fruits and veggies, it is a gift. 

Berries are now in season. Our own Strawberry Festival is happening this weekend at the Historic Lane Place. Community coming together all because of that little red berry. It really is pretty amazing when you think about how all of this works. We have been jammin over here. Fresh strawberry jam filling up our kitchen. Jam count is at 102 jars!

This week take a drive out to Trinity Farms in Darlington, In. Pick what you can use, slice them up and serve over a bowl of ice cream and sit out on the porch. We recommend.

how to grow. Lush.

Even in the middle of all the rains hitting Indiana, our farm soaks it all up and throws down amazing greens. The ferns around the house create a lush barrier, geraniums make friends with an old stump, little visitors slither and our village continues to work the ground, prepping for the goodness to come.  Maybe we find ourselves tiring of the chill and dampness, but we can still stop and recognize that it is all part of mama nature's little plan. 

clean it up. Garlic Mustard.

Our little sprites, Annie Mae and Lucy Bea are back at it this spring! Protecting our land by plucking that nasty garlic mustard! Their seasoned hands and eyes are saving our little forest from this evasive plant. 

Garlic mustard threatens the forest by controlling the sun, soil and water, zapping the nutrients that other vegetation needs to grow and thrive. Because it monopolizes these nutrients, the supply is threatened and our forest needs those nutrients to sustain and be healthy. 

Why is this important??

Our native plant and animal species are adapted to an environment rich in diverse resources. Invasive, non-native species like garlic mustard have the potential to destroy these habitats.

Here you can read more about how to identify garlic mustard and why its presence has become one of the number one threats to our forests.

 

 

grow this. Asparagus.

Around here we are seeing little sprouts popping up! Bits of green, edible treats that we can snip from the yard and bring into the kitchen. As we walk around our yard, we look what we can eat. Our asparagus is popping up and ready to throw into some dishes. It is how we take time to slow down and notice around here.  Harvesting from our land. We have a little patch of free growing asparagus.

Asparagus is a perennial and will come up each year after it is planted. You will want a nice sunny spot and well-drained soil. It will take a couple of years for your asparagus to be ready to harvest. But once you get passed those first couple of seasons, then it will be ready to harvest and enjoyed in your favorite dishes.

If you are looking for a new way to enjoy asparagus, try chopping the stalks into 1/2in pieces and toss them into a skillet with a little onion and your favorite mushrooms, then serve over farm fresh scrambled eggs! A simple, healthy meal for any time of the day!

simple. How we do.

So you might be wondering how things work over here. We are like a busy little village full of helpers. The food and table are always the end result. One of our favorite things to do is finding ways to bring the outdoors, in. Using natural elements to create inviting settings does just that! Over the winter it is nice to use warm and inviting colors; eucalyptus, dried pods and wheat. Soon our spring and summer blossoms will be ready for those tables. We like to walk the farm, finding grasses, ferns and herbs from the garden, that we can tuck into our mercury glass and ball jars. 

Take a little time to walk around your yard or neighborhood. Notice what is popping up. That mint that is sprouting can be snipped and put in a small glass on the kitchen window sill. Simple little moves to bring the season in! It's what we like to do. You might too.

how to grow. Compost.

This time of year we start getting a little more serious about the compost. Our garden is ready for a fresh mixture to help our seedlings along! Compost can be a bit tricky. It takes the right mix of "brown" and "green"matter, along with water to create the rich, dark result. Compost creates a more fertile soil. It helps Mother Nature nurture the process of growth. By creating a carbon/nitrogen ratio, you will get the pile cooking! It's just one big happy science experiment!

brown matter (carbon) -- straw, leaves, small twigs
green matter (nitrogen) -- rinds, vegetable and fruit scraps, egg shells (no meats or fats.)
water (H20) -- you want to dampen the pile. this gets those worms and microorganisms to do there thing!
temp -- the center needs to heat up, about 140 degrees and then turn the compost. this helps
it to breathe and cook. 

Once the materials begin to breakdown, that is where you see the "black gold." The green and brown have worked together creating the compost! Mother Nature's original fertilizer! 

try this. Green Beer.

In the spirit of our brother's and sister's of Ireland, we thought it is only appropriate to add our spin to the Green Beer. But who wants to use green dye filled with...who knows what is in that little bottle. So we put our organic thinking caps on and pondered what could be used in place of a dye. We need a natural dye -- Parsley!

Did you know that natural foods are full of color. They have been used as colorants when dying cloth, papers, eggs and now our beloved PBR. 

So if you are find yourself in a pinch this St. Patricks Day and you are looking for some green look in your fridge, it is probably right there in your crisper drawer. 

try this. 
- - - - - -
Organic Green Beer
(the parsley makes it organic.)

1 16oz can PBR
organic parsley
1 chilled pilsner glass or ball jar
juicer or blender
mesh strainer

-Run one hand full of parsley through your juicer.
if using a blender, add just a little water to the mix.
(pour juice thru strainer.)

- pour 1oz of green juice into a pilsner glass.

- tilt glass to the side and slow pour your PBR. 

So to each of you today, whether you are a true Irishman or one at heart. Slainte!

 

try this. Baked Eggs.

"In winter, I plot and plan. In spring, I move."  -Henry Rollins

Baked Eggs

Ingredients --
2 tsp. butter, plus more for greasing ramekins

some chopped tomatoes, or maybe chopped steamed spinach.  or canadian bacon
fresh chopped tarragon or basil or parsley.  or all three.  chives are really good too.
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. freshly ground pepper
4 eggs
4 tsp. heavy cream
4 tsp. grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Directions:

Preheat an oven to 350°F. Generously butter four 1/2-cup ramekins.

In a bowl stir the tomatoes, herbs, half the salt and pepper and divide them evenly between the four ramekins . Cut the 2 tsp. butter into small pieces and divide among the ramekins.   Break an egg into each ramekin. Season with the remaining salt and pepper.   Drizzle each egg with 1 tsp. of the cream.

Set the ramekins on a baking sheet and bake until the whites are opaque and the yolks are still soft in the center (15 minutes or so).  Remove from oven and sprinkle with cheese.

YUM!

 

 

Early Spring Beekeeping

With longer days, warming temperatures and thawing grounds, spring has most definitely sprung. And for beekeepers all over the Midwest, where winters have been long and cold, this is one of the most exciting times of year. A few days ago, a 70 degree day allowed us to venture out to the apiary, open up our beehives and see what winter had left us. 

This year was the first year The Juniper Spoon kept honeybees, and it has been an adventure and learning experience. In early Spring of last year, we had two beehives made by Amish beekeepers in Greencastle, and purchased two colonies from Hunter's Honey Farm in Martinsville. All summer we watched our bee populations grow, making sure to monitor queen activity, honey supply and pest presence. What a fascinating project it has been! We loved working alongside the bees in the garden. Them buzzing from blossom to blossom, rolling around in the dusty pollen which they dutifully transported to the next flower. Us managing weeds, planting seeds and reaping the fruits from trees and vines that would be bare without the work of pollinators like honeybees. 

We were happy to discover that one of our hives was roaringly active! A throng of bees covered the front of the hive, displaying hive orientation behavior as foraging workers came and went. Sitting right beside that vivacious, buzzing box was our other hive, quiet and grimly still save for the foreign foragers intent on securing what was left of the hive's winter stores. We were lucky that one of our hives made it through the frigid months, but to see the pile of dead bees at the bottom of the other was downright heartbreaking. It did, however, allow us a peek into a portion of the life of the northern honey bee not normally visible to the beekeeper. During the coldest months of the year, bees huddle in a cluster at the center of the hive, vibrating their wing muscles to keep warm.  They move throughout the hive in this cluster, eating down their honey stores. Since we can't open the hive in the winter, we rarely get to observe this activity, so as we took out the frames one by one, it was fascinating to see the bees huddled together in their circular pattern. 

 
 

After performing a hive autopsy (yes,  that's right... a hive autopsy), the cause of death is believed to be death of the queen and subsequent dwindling of the colony population. It is also possible that the bees simply starved, unable to move quickly enough to the one remaining frame of honey. Regardless, we're sad to see one hive go, but are looking forward to another year with the other. In fact, we are planning to potentially split our hive, moving half to the now empty box. More on that later in the season.

As the deceased hive left one frame of capped honey untouched, we were able to put off feeding our other hive sugar syrup by inserting the comb right into the live hive box. But not before taking just a little cut for ourselves! 

 
 

Since we use foundationless frames, that is, frames of wax that are constructed 100% by the bees themselves, without inserting a prefabricated wax foundation, our wax is quite fragile. As you can see in the picture, the wax broke after just enough pushing and pulling as a square of comb was cut from the frame. For  that reason, we use a crush and strain method of honey extraction rather than placing frames in a centrifugal honey extractor. It's a cheap and easy method requiring no heavy equipment; only a strainer, cheesecloth and container to catch the honey.

 
 

One thing is for sure, honey straight from your own hive tastes better than any you have ever tasted before! Honey is a complex sweetener, with flavor that varies as different trees and plants bloom throughout the season. This batch tastes malty and bright when compared with another local honey we have in stock in The Juniper Spoon kitchen right now. 

Have you ever considered keeping bees? What has kept you from making the move? Post your comments and thoughts, we would love to start a conversation with you! If you're already keeping bees, how have your bees fared this season?