Last Week On The Homestead: What We're Preserving, What's Cooking, And What I Read


dill going to seed

(not our cat) our feral cat friend Felix

a typical 2-day harvest of cukes and tomatoes

August 22nd -28th

Hello friends!
I hope this finds you doing well.  We are swimming in tomatoes!!  It's overwhelming but I am so grateful for it, as there's nothing like fresh tomatoes.  The garden is hanging on despite the severe lack of rain.  It has been so severe that I was being careful not to water much for fear that our well would be depleted.  I would rather purchase veggies than deal with an empty well.  We did receive a nice rainfall last week which watered the garden and gave us a little bit of water in the rain barrels.  We have hopes there is more in the near future.

It's getting dark earlier in the evenings and is still dark when I get up with Ollie now.  When I go to the coop to let the girls out, they are still sleepy due to the lack of sunlight.  Fall is coming.  It is rumored that we may receive a break in the humidity this week.  I can't wait!

zucchini crazy cake

Some of the things I've been making in the kitchen include this "Zucchini Crazy Cake" by JES at Strangers & Pilgrims On Earth.  (She also shares a GF version) I added a handful of chocolate chunks, reduced the sugar, and omitted the nutmeg.  Delicious!!  A few apples are getting old in the refrigerator, so I plan to try her apple version next.  Crazy cake is like the depression cakes you see recipes for all over the internet.  It doesn't use any butter, eggs, or milk so it is less expensive, and you are likely to have the ingredients on hand.  

I also made an eggplant/zucchini/carrot/rice recipe she mentioned in this post (below the eggplant photo).  She uses cheese, which I can't have, so I included some of my frozen pesto.  It was simple and delicious!

flatbread on the grill

I've made another Chocolate Zucchini Cake (of course!), more Blueberry Scones for the freezer to bake when we want them, and our newest "find" is using our Pizza Dough recipe to make flatbreads on the grill (brushed with an olive oil/garlic/salt blend).  It is sooooo good!

On the food preservation front, I've frozen a few more pucks of shredded zucchini for using in baking this winter.  I've also added more mixed greens, tomatoes (to process as sauce later), and green beans to the freezer.  I would LOVE to say we will be able to freeze only the green beans we grow (as we've done almost every year in the past) for our winter eating, however, my green bean plants, despite looking beautiful are just not producing the way they should.  I'm not sure what has happened.  One of the farm stands at our Sunday market (Bark Hill Farm) has a nice variety of green beans and I'll be buying quite a few from her to put up as well.  I decided this year to just freeze raw beans and not blanche them.  We tried that with a few portions last year and liked them better so hoping it wasn't a fluke....

I've also made and canned a (new to us) salsa recipe from America's Test Kitchen Foolproof Preserving.  Becky at the Seasonal Homestead wrote a nice post on some of her family's favorite canning recipes and included notes of any/all amendments she makes.  This salsa is a roasted tomato and lime version and she said that her family loves it.  We haven't tasted it yet but are excited to do so.

After my last weekly update, I found more elderberries that the birds didn't steal so I quickly clipped them off of the bushes and put them right in the freezer.  I was able to then easily take the berries off of the stems, place the berries into a jar, and leave them in the freezer until needed.  So, I now have some dehydrated and some frozen in addition to the elderberry syrup I've already made.

Still growing in the garden: sweet potatoes, zucchini, yellow squash, broccoli, cauliflower, greens & lettuce, herbs, winter squash, tomatoes, green beans (hoping for more), cucumbers (a few plants remain), beets, carrots, peppers, eggplant, pie pumpkins, and onions.

Veggies and fruit that are done for the year: every single Asian pear was taken by squirrels.....ugh.  SQUIRRELS!!  Our regular pears did not do well.  Blueberries, elderberries, and blackberries were finished a few weeks ago.  Despite the blackberry canes looking beautiful, they did not produce much this year.  Potatoes have all been dug.

I will continue planting lettuce/greens, radish, and spinach.

We combined the two flocks!  Chicken duty is soooo much easier now.  Putting them together was relatively uneventful, so that was good.  We always do it after dark.  We manually put the newer girls on the roosts at bedtime so that in the morning they all wake up together.  It took a couple of days to sort out their differences, which is normal, and they are getting along ok.  The 7 newer girls stick together like a tight tribe and I'm glad to see it.  At least they feel a sense of belonging to that.  A few are starting to get brave and venture into the older flock for a bit of time before the older girls realize it.  This will continue on until, eventually, the older girls realize they are now one flock.

Now, fingers crossed that all 7 are truly females....

Oliver loved his dinner so much that he's left some (on his nose) for later!

We had a craft show on Saturday in addition to our farmers market on Sunday.  The shows are a lot of work and exhausting, so it was quite a weekend.  Our favorite thing about the annual shows is we get to see other crafters and customers that we may not see the rest of the year.  We enjoy catching up!  It's a bummer that we have to drive separately to all events, especially with the high gas prices, but I never know if Oliver is going to take his meds from our petsitter or not.  He did take them this weekend, so all was well in the world.

Speaking of Ollie, he had some medical issues that began 2 weeks ago which meant another (temporary) med and 2 weeks of laser therapy treatment.  I think he's finally back to his version of normal again.

I managed to read 2 books last week.  One I LOVED and one I didn't like.  At all.  Both are by the same author.

The book that I loved was (affiliate link) Book Lovers by Emily Henry.  I really enjoy her writing style and think her ability to write incredible conversation and banter is remarkable.  The main character, Nora, is a cutthroat literary agent from NYC.  She and her sister go on vacation to Sunshine Falls, N.C. where Nora keeps bumping into a book editor she knows from the city and is not very fond of.  Nora's sister, Libby, creates a checklist of things they must do while on their month-long vacation and the book chronicles their adventure.  I found all of the characters very enjoyable, the conversations hilarious, sarcastic, and witty, the storyline captivating.  I read it in 2 days, although I should have taken longer because I didn't want it to end.  

Because I enjoyed Emily's writing so much, I decided to read another book (affiliate link), People We Meet On Vacation.  I hated it.  This book has very high ratings so I'm sure I'm in the minority, but I just couldn't make myself like it.  I did not care for the main character, which means it's going to be a hard read.  Another thing I absolutely despise in books is when authors devote full chapters to looking back.  This book has, I believe, 6 chapters that are revisiting the past.  I understand the purpose is to give context to the story but here's the thing....  If I can skip those chapters (and I skipped every single one) and still feel as though I'm not missing anything major from the story, then are they really necessary?  Susan Wiggs did this in her Lakeshore Chronicles and I skipped every single look-back chapter in that series as well and didn't feel like I missed a thing.

Anyway, the story is about a pair of best friends, Poppy and Alex.  They met in college and after graduation, Alex moved back to Ohio while Poppy took a job in NYC.  In order to see each other they decided to travel together every summer.  Then something happened while on vacation, two years ago that ruined their friendship.  Poppy wants to try to reconnect and puts together a plan to travel with Alex and see if they can rekindle their relationship.  

That's what happened around the homestead.  How was your week?  Are you still harvesting and preserving?  Did you read anything you enjoyed?

Wishing you a wonderful week ahead!


  1. All of your goodies sound so good. It's wonderful being able to use what you grow in so many different ways.

    Glad Ollie is feeling more himself.

    I hope you girls do a better job of assimilating than ours did. There are still a few that get picked on. Even though we've had the new girls for months, they still stick together. Chooks can be such mean girls!

    I didn't like that book either, Staci. I will try the other one (that you liked), but right now it's on hold at the library. I appreciate all of your book recommendations. Always looking for another good book.

    Have a wonderful week!

  2. I know what you mean about combined flocks. It sure does make life easier. The bouquet in your Cobble Hill mug is beautiful. I'm going to check out those recipes. You can never have enough recipes for zucchini! And GF too! It's been a really odd year for green beans here too. They did nothing for many weeks, as in two a week or something, but they're finally beginning to produce better. I'd forgotten about a volunteer elderberry at the edge of our chicken yard, and was happy to be able to clip three heads there, as the birds got the rest of our small harvest. Wishing you a lovely week!

  3. You might give Emily Henry's Beach Read a try. I think that was her first one and having read all three, I liked that one and Book Lovers best. Your photos are beautiful! We also have an Oliver: he is a 1 year old pug. :)

  4. The flatbreads on the grill look great. I'm trying a new pizza dough recipe that is designed for the Thermomix Pizza Oven called "Ovana" which I found on the website and there were 3-4 videos on making it, shaping it etc. to get that pizza shop crust. I'll let you know how it goes. Have a good week.

  5. Thank you Daisy - yes, chickens can be quite mean to each other. Sometimes it's hard to watch. Happy to hear I wasn't the only one who didn't like that book. It's too bad because I like her writing style.

    Thank you Laurie! So happy to hear you were able to get some elderberries after all. Always nice to discover a find, no matter how small. That's strange that your green beans had similar issues. And you're so right - you can never have too many recipes using prolific garden produce!

    Lisa - thank you! I will definitely try the Beach Read book. I do like her writing. Isn't Oliver a great name? At the vet there's always another Oliver or two (or three or four) in the waiting room when we're there.

  6. Kathy - oooohhhhh, I hope the new pizza recipe is a success! Thank you for stopping by. Have a wonderful week!!

  7. I'm completely jealous of your harvest! For some reason, things in our garden are just not producing. I'm finally picking tomatoes, bell peppers, sweet peppers, okra, and jalapenos, but the zucchini and squash were "squashed" by the uncarve-able pumpkin plants. I picked all of those...a crazy pumpkin mix: some were cream, orange, white, some big and some little - it's hard to tell what kind of a hybrid mix the original pumpkin was!

    I'm glad Ollie is feeling better - such a sweet little face!

    Reading is mostly on Sunday when I try to unplug. I'm reading The Best of Stillmeadow by Glady Taber along with Susan Branch's collection of quotes - Distilled Genius.

    You're so prepared and will have great food storage! I'm feeling anxious about winter preparations - it seems impossible to find firewood and there's talk of a fuel shortage. Need to prep our food storage too...add it to my to-do list!

    So glad to read what you've been up to - enjoy the weekend!


Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment on this post!