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Originally published at Velvet Kerfuffle. Please leave any comments there.

As I mentioned in Part 1, applesauce was high up on my to-do list for canning this year. As baby food, snack, or ingredient — there’s really no bad in having lots of applesauce around. Although I had previously made it before, I never had such a glut of apples that I was able to try more than one recipe. This year, I did at least five and half our apples are still in deep freeze for later processing The first time around, I just washed and halved the apples before tossing them into the steamer. This was the only time I …

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Originally published at Velvet Kerfuffle. Please leave any comments there.

I mentioned last year that we had a few apple trees on our property. Two large ones that produce very decent cooking/eating apples and two smaller crabapples. All of them were very prolific this year, owing to a gentle spring followed by generously long growing season. For the past two years, I’ve been using a blend of these apples to make a very nice juice. Which is great, since apple juice is something we like to have in the fridge all the time and that can get spendy with Finnish grocery prices. Our two larger trees in flower earlier this …

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Originally published at Velvet Kerfuffle. Please leave any comments there.

Okay, so I might have been lying in my last post when I said I hadn’t harvested anything else this year. Looking through my camera downloads, it seems that I also managed to grab 300g of feral asparagus for the freezer on the first of June. Considering that most of June and July are a sleep-deprived blur, it’s no wonder that I totally do not recall doing this. I’m lucky I didn’t harvest something horrible poisonous instead, I was such a walking zombie. At least I’m consistent about photographing everything to make up for my appalling lack of memory. We have …

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Originally published at Velvet Kerfuffle. Please leave any comments there.

So yeah, the garden thing? Didn’t so much happen this spring/summer, due to our new foofy-haired addition to the family. We have a lot of fruit bushes and trees, however, and the long, warm summer means lots to harvest now. I’d been fretting over the logistics of doing this with baby in tow and didn’t feel up to it until this morning. Not that I had any special breakthrough — it just seems that sometimes the best time to try something new is when you’re just too fed up to care about the details. Now, we have been having a few …

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Originally published at Velvet Kerfuffle. Please leave any comments there.

A few years ago, I visited a friend who took me to see her friend, who had just recently had a baby. I remember being totally impressed with how together this woman was, despite her chaotic schedule, recovering health and our last-minute visit — to the point where she sat us down and busted out fresh baked goods in what seemed like mere minutes. It was like magic! Just make a pot of tea and that’s that. I promised myself that I would learn from her and stock up on frozen pre-prepped items to make entertaining guests stress-free. Never did get …

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Originally published at Velvet Kerfuffle. Please leave any comments there.

A gallery of our 2013 harvest, which ended up being mostly fruit since I didn’t get around to tending the vegetable garden enough to get anything out of it. The fruit trees and bushes did quite well on their own, though, which is one of the best reasons to always have them around. And some number crunching: 2012 season 06/09 – 15L rhubarb (chopped & frozen) 06/17 – 350g spinach (frozen) 06/18 – 145g lettuce & greens (frozen) 06/27 – 340g spinach (frozen) 220g lettuce & greens (frozen) 06/28 – 8 wild strawberries (eaten) 07/01 – 150g oregano leaves (frozen) …

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Originally published at Velvet Kerfuffle. Please leave any comments there.

Wild things (and some not-so-wild things) roam our yard, especially at night. This is especially evident in deep winter, when we wake up every morning to find random sets of trails criss-crossing the snow just about everywhere. The majority are left by the neighborhood’s wandering cat population, but there are always a few mystery prints. The ones above, for example, probably belong to a large rabbit. It might be the one that I once glimpsed our first year here, or perhaps a relative. We’ve seen this guy’s tracks on multiple occasions – he tends to make a circuit through the …

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Originally published at Velvet Kerfuffle. Please leave any comments there.

This would be my annual spring photodump of pictures from last year’s vegetable garden. It is mostly to help me remember what I tried and whether or not it worked out. Last year’s garden was mostly planted in plastic soil bags and a few planters. It didn’t get too far for the same reason as the flowers — the weather just wasn’t that cooperative. In fact, I really don’t remember harvesting much more than some cilantro and spinach. We’ll see how this year goes.

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Originally published at Velvet Kerfuffle. Please leave any comments there.

This would be my annual spring photodump of pictures from last year’s garden. It is mostly to help me remember what I tried and whether or not it worked out. Looks like I was rather lazy last spring, probably since I was mostly too sick to do anything more active than sprinkle a few seed packets around. Then again, last year was dry and gloomy even through most of summer, so it’s not like I missed out on THAT much. We’ll see how this year goes.

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Originally published at Velvet Kerfuffle. Please leave any comments there.

A year’s worth of near silence means picspam once I actually get around to posting. Pictures for my memory book, and also for parents who like looking at random photos.

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Originally published at Velvet Kerfuffle. Please leave any comments there.

Whilst digging through the downstairs freezer for smoothie ingredients the other day, I came upon a bag of wild bilberries (the juicier European cousin of blueberries) that I’d picked in the forest surrounding our house during our first year living here. Cue excited glee, since I’d thought they were all used up ages ago and they’re not the cheapest things to buy frozen at the supermarket. Last year was exceptionally bad for wild berries and mushrooms, since we didn’t get much summer rainfall in our area — I went out with my berry bucket and came back with 2 (count them) …

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Originally published at Velvet Kerfuffle. Please leave any comments there.

Last year, I started taking pictures of my vegetable garden out the kitchen window with the intent of creating a stop-motion movie of it growing over the warm season. That didn’t end up happening for a long stretch of time, thanks to reality intruding on my plans. However, I did save enough for the photo gallery below. Interesting to note that last year, the snow was on the ground well into April, whereas this year it already looks like May outside. I’m going to set a repeating alarm on my phone starting this weekend, to remind me to take a picture …

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Originally published at Velvet Kerfuffle Kitchen and Garden. Please leave any comments there.

And here's the other half of my summer garden pictures, dealing with various flowers encountered during our first summer in the new house. The previous owner was an avid gardener, so there were plenty of flower beds already established and filled with random little surprises. Also, a few wildflowers that I'm hoping my ever-knowledgeable Finnish readers will be able to help me identify.

I started putting out flower boxes on the front porch.
Little blue flowers next to the well.
Volunteer violets in the veggie patch.

Purple wildflower I have yet to identify.
Some late double narcissus under the lupines.
Creeping buttercup (Ranunculus repens).

The perennial bed outside the computer room. I’m slowly going to redo this.
Can’t remember what these are, either.
They look like some sort of Tagetes?

Primulas hiding in the borders around the gazebo.
Stand of irises near the pond.
Another Anemone species in the perennial bed.

Row of hostas down the walkway to the gazebo.
I forget what these were, but they were colorful!
The lupines are crazy hard to get rid of and pop up EVERYWHERE.

I mean, they’re very pretty when in flower, but then you need to deal with all those damn seedpods.
Rose bush. Only hard climber varieties seem to survive up here.
Bearded iris in flower.

Dutch iris, I think?
Daylilies! Lots of them! They’re edible, y’know.
Random daisies near the water barrel.

White climbing rose that blooms around midsummer.
Gorgeous wildflower that I would like to identify.
Another wildflower I’d like to identify.


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Originally published at Velvet Kerfuffle. Please leave any comments there.

Right around now, when your eyes are inundated with the glare of white snow as far as you can see, it’s nice to think about the equally blinding green that will take over a few months later. Seriously, I’m looking at these pictures and squinting from green overload. I don’t remember it being quite as overwhelming in person, but then again, I was probably wearing sunglasses for most of the time. So, as I did last year, here is our summer garden in review. Edible things edition first.  

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Originally published at Velvet Kerfuffle Kitchen and Garden. Please leave any comments there.

One of the things I love most about spring in the north is the bonanza of flowering bulbs that burst out nonstop the minute the snows recede. I spent several years back in Cali trying to coax reluctant daffodils and hyacinths into bloom through rigorous refrigerator chilling regimens before finally giving in to the fact that I would only ever have them as cut flowers. Tulips and snowdrops never had a fighting chance. In our Finnish house, though, it's a completely different story. I am already plotting elaborate flower beds and making wish lists from internet bulb suppliers, even though planting time isn't until this fall.

Last May, some friends took me to a family property that was pretty much covered in these flowers, all naturalized after decades of letting them grow where they wanted. Seriously, huge tulips that just kept coming back, year after year. My mind boggled. I brought back a huge bouquet with me and want to create a similar effect in our borders, though it will probably take a long time to look as established as that old cottage garden did. I regret not having taken photos of that garden now, but here are the flowers at least.





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Originally published at Velvet Kerfuffle. Please leave any comments there.

So back in Cali, the main thing I knew about blackcurrants were that they were a strongly-scented European fruit that was used to make booze and Ribena. The main thing I knew about Ribena syrup was that it was really handy to use when mixing up blood substitute for film and TV productions. Never actually drank any of the stuff until a couple years ago, since it was usually relegated to some obscure specialty shelf. First winter we were here, then, T’s grandmother merrily handed me a bottle of homemade blackcurrant juice and I thanked her, despite looking somewhat puzzled. We …

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Originally published at Velvet Kerfuffle Kitchen and Garden. Please leave any comments there.

Hey, WordPress has an integrated push-to-Twitter feature now! One less plugin to worry about, pretty cool. For all I know, this could have happened last year, but it’s new to me :-)

So yeah. We have a few mature apple trees. We knew this meant we would be getting some fruit in the fall, but I don’t think we really comprehended exactly how much that would be. Turns out, the answer is “more than one person should try to pick with a plastic grocery bag while balancing on a chair and stepstool.” Below, a pictorial timeline of last year’s apple experience.

06062012moreappleblossoms
06062012 appleblossoms
06062012 bigappletree

06062012 mediumappletree
08012012hedgie
08012012hedgie02

08012012hedgie03
08312012 appleharvest
08312012 appleharvest01

09022012 appleharvest
09022012 lotsofapples
09102012 apple harvest


I’m still trying to pin down the exact names of the varieties, since I was mostly told that they were “the typical old-fashioned Finnish ones” and that there was one for cooking and one for eating. The tree that I managed to harvest (more or less) had tart light green apples that turned yellowish as they matured. I rather liked them raw. They were mostly juiced, with some made into compote.

applejuice01

Some juice-making activity going on up there. I had a juicer attachment on my stand mixer, so decided to juice first, then cook. This helped me to avoid having to strain a boiling-hot pulpy sodden mess afterwards. Since I was going to be storing (well, freezing) the juice for a while, I figured giving it a good boil would make it keep better.

applejuice02

I also tossed in a tiny bit of citric acid to help the juice keep its color and for any incidental preservative properties. All that foam at the top of the juice is from impurities coming to the surface during the cooking. That got scooped out before bottling.

t_appjuice03

Homemade apple juice! I’ve got about 15 of these 1.5L bottles in the freezer. It’s a little bit sour, so I do mix in a splash of simple syrup before serving. This stuff is especially good served hot and spiced during the winter.

Finally the actual totals for the 2012 apple harvest:

8/31/2012 – 2730g + 3660g + 2620g + 3840g + 4900g
9/01/2012 – 6.4kg
9/02/2012 – 6.4kg + 4.4kg + 6.1kg + 8.1kg + 5.7kg + 7.4kg + 5.4kg
9/03/2012 – 5.2kg + 6.1kg + 7.9kg + 3.5kg

For a total of 90.35 kg or 199.188 pounds of apples. That’s about 4.15 bushels. Furthermore, consider that I only picked about 2/3 of total apples on one tree, and threw out/discarded at least 1/3 of what was picked. Yeah, that’s a lot of apples.

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Originally published at Velvet Kerfuffle. Please leave any comments there.

This past autumn ended up being very messy and hurried, the result of having been away for a last-minute Taiwan trip followed by an early cold snap with snow. I only managed to harvest one apple tree (two others were left to the wildlife) and the small pear trees. The three grape vines were a total loss, even though one actually had several ripe bunches. Now that we’ve got a better idea of when everything ripens, however, I hope to have much better luck for the 2013 harvest. Fruit wasn’t the only thing I was hurrying to get into the …

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Originally published at Velvet Kerfuffle. Please leave any comments there.

We went away for a couple of weeks on holiday during the prime growing season, so it’s no surprise that the garden turned into a jungle in the meantime. Now I’m scrabbling to harvest and clean up as much as I can before the temperatures drop. It’s all a bit daunting, but I’m sure we’ll be enjoying our fully packed freezer come this winter! The actual numbers: 07/09 – 40g wild strawberries Fragaria vesca (frozen) 07/11 – 140g wild strawberries (frozen) 1900g strawberries (frozen) 07/12 – 520g mixed greens [2 lettuces (Lactuca sativa “Salad Bowl” and “American Brown”), chickweed (Stellaria …

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Originally published at Velvet Kerfuffle. Please leave any comments there.

I’ve been mentioning the food items coming out the garden recently, but haven’t really done any posts on the general state of things. So this is a post to remedy that. Finnish summers are all about a surplus of daylight and moisture, so things get ridiculously lush in short order. Our current look is somewhere between rampant jungle and cottage garden. I hope to have things leaning more towards the latter by next year  

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