Last Week On The Homestead: What's Growing & What's Cooking!


sweet Dorilla





a typical sight in our dining room - fruit & avocados.  bananas are always on hand in various stages of ripeness

May 29 - June 4, 2023


The weather has been sooo nice this spring with some cooler days sprinkled in.  One of my favorite things about spring (there's a LOT I love about spring...) are the warm days and cool nights.  And we've certainly been enjoying that.  The garden is in!  The coop girls are officially banned from the garden area until fall.

We've been harvesting greens (lettuces, arugula, spinach, & kale), herbs, radish, and asparagus so far.  Peas are coming soon!  I didn't realize that I was out of carrot seeds, so I haven't planted any and I forgot to plant some last fall.  Typically, I plant in fall so that they start to grow and then freeze through winter only to start growing again in spring.  This gives us early baby carrots that we'd be harvesting now.  But none this year.  Not garden related but I've been remembering to consistently grow sprouts as well, so I'm harvesting those every few days as well.  I'm currently enjoying broccoli sprouts, a salad mix of sprouts, and sunflower sprouts.

Our pear trees and asian pear trees look good this year so we're hoping to receive a bounty of fruit.  Last year was the first year that did not happen.  The asian pear trees didn't get cross pollinated as there was no fruit on the trees at all and the regular pear trees didn't produce much fruit, leaving me to believe there was also a pollination issue with them.  But this year we have a ton of fruit so far!

With all of the nice weather comes a plethora of yard work so I am trying to spend time everyday cleaning or tidying some part of the yard.  It's nice to get some of the bigger jobs completed before the inevitable arrival of heat and humidity.  

I'm still baking bread as the hot temps haven't become the norm yet.  As soon as that starts, the oven will not be turned on very often.  It just heats the house up too much.  Plus, bread isn't something we reach for as much when it's warmer.  Jay has been loving the Cinnamon Raisin Porridge Bread as well as a jalapeno artisan loaf a friend of ours makes (if you visit our market it's sold at Blackberry Hill Farm - a few booths down from us).  So good!  I've been enjoying the occasional loaf - sourdough sandwich bread and porridge bread.  I use spelt flour in both.  

The coop girls are still amazing us with the number of eggs they are laying.  We are amazed because most of them (all but 11) are over the age of five!  And of the 11, seven are one year old, two are three years old, and two are four years old.  We are receiving, on average, a dozen per day and some days as many as 16!  We did lose another coop girl last week, she passed away during the night.  She was one of the older girls, so, unfortunately, it wasn't a surprise.  I open the coop door slowly every morning knowing it's a real possibility.

I'm back and forth on food preservation for this year.  Honestly, for the most part we don't use a lot of canned food.  I will definitely put up a few jars of jams and jellies, all types of tomato products (including salsa) as well as applesauce and relish, but I'm not sure what else.  Possibly fresh peaches or pears.  Maybe just a few jars of pickles.  I try to use very little salt or sugar so it can be limiting.  I will freeze quite a bit of fruit and veg, because we use those that all winter, and dehydrate a small selection, but I just can't decide on the canning.  Are there specific canned items you put up every year?  I'd love to hear what they are.

While I'm asking for ideas, I would also love to hear any ways in which you use comfrey.  My plants are doing great, and I would like to take advantage of it as much as possible.  I use it in herbal salves for our skin and in compost tea for the plants.  Any other ideas?

On the menu plan this week:

Did you see the collection of avocados in the photo up above?  Well, we don't plan to eat them all this week, but we do plan to eat some.  The rest will be refrigerated once they are slightly soft until we're ready for them. 

My meals:
I'll make a batch of black bean soup with dried black beans, home canned tomatoes, and corn, roasted poblano peppers, and bell peppers all from the freezer (trying to use up the rest of the produce we put up last year).  I'll eat it as soup (with a bit of avocado) for a couple days, then reduce some of it down into a refried bean consistency and have a couple days of burritos (with cilantro and avocado), and then make some mexican rice, add the black bean soup, and make stuffed bell peppers for the remainder of the week.  If there's any soup leftover, I'll freeze it and use it in one of these ways later this summer.

For Jay:
One Pot Turkey Gnocchi Pot Pie (using frozen leftover cooked turkey and this recipe)
Pork Tenderloin with Honey-Chipotle Glaze, Rice, and veg
Homemade Calzone (made on the grill - SO GOOD! Using this recipe as a guideline, but my pizza dough recipe, Jay's preference for filling, and homemade marinara for dipping)
Grilled Steak, Homefries, and veg
Arroz Con Pollo with veg
Bang Bang Chicken (using this recipe), Skillet Potatoes and veg

Wishing you a wonderful week ahead!


  1. Wow, your garden is doing great! This spring has been just amazing.
    I'm curious about the containers you are growing your sprouts in. Details, please?
    You are getting so many eggs! Our girls have slowed down, and I haven't a clue why. They are not molting yet, and the weather has been fantastic, so I'm not sure what's going on. Sorry to hear of your girl passing. It's never easy.
    I don't can, so I can't help you on that. I am working on doing a better job of drying herbs, especially for teas. I want to get into the habit of drinking tea to improve my health.

    Have a fantastic week!

    1. Hi Daisy - spring has been amazing indeed!

      Regarding the sprouts, the stainless steel stackable trays are from amazon here: What I really like about them is that their holes are small so I can even sprout broccoli seeds. When the trays are ready, with a knife I cut all of the roots from the bottom side of the trays and then the sprouts are easily removed. I believe I purchased the large glass jar from Sprout Man. I use that for sunflower seeds because they get so tall. I could use the trays too and just not stack them.

      That is strange about your flock slowing egg production. Ours did when we had a week primarily of upper 80's/low 90's. Particularly the older ones are sensitive to extreme temp spikes.

      Drying herbs for use in teas is a great idea! They come in so handy (once you get into the habit of using them) and it's fun to find some favorite new combinations.

      Thanks so much for stopping by!

  2. Your garden looks wonderful! I'm a single senior, living in a suburban townhome and can only container garden on my deck. I've got 1 roma, 1 heirloom, and 1 grape tomato plant, 1 pickle cucumber plant, 2 green peppers, 1 banana pepper, and I just planted a 2nd red pepper (the first one didn't make it). I've also got a pot of chives and on the inside of my deck rail planters (with geraniums on the outside) I've got leeks, dill, snow peas, romaine (6), leaf lettuce, arugula, parsley (3 this year, my supply is low), thyme, oregano, and basil. The herbs will be harvested throughout the summer and dehydrated, as well as used fresh. The other plants will provide fresh lettuce for salads and vegetables for cooking. One way to cut my grocery bill in warmer months!

    When it comes to canning, I tend to return to my roots in SW Michigan and visit with my favorite farmers, since I can't grow everything I need or in the quantities required for canning. I can tomatoes (whole, most years both romas and regular), tomato sauce, and marinara/spaghetti sauce, as well as a variety of jams. Some jams are on an every-other-year rotation, others will be canned every year and batches split with my daugher or friends. I often make extra or special blend jams for donation to a garden party fundraiser for an organization I support. Last year, I donated strawberry, peach melba (peach with raspberries), and a savory peach habanero jam. They were offered for a suggested donation of $5 for a 4 oz and $10 for an 8 oz jar. There were only 3 or 4 left at the end of the night and my donation was close to $250 cash. I've tried making salsa, but have yet to find a recipe that meets my expectations for a medium heat and good texture. Any/all suggestions are welcome.

    I'll make applesauce and canned peaches every 2nd or 3rd year, and I'll typically make 6 pints of grape juice each year -- if I can find a supply of juice grapes. Welch's has a tight reign on Michigan grapes. I also keep a supply of pickles in my pantry -- dill (kosher and polish), hamburger dill chips, bread and butter chips, and sweet relish). Most are "leftovers" of what I share with my daugher and son-in-law -- he loves pickles! If cranberries go on sale for a good price around Thanksgiving, I'll can up cranberry sauce and cranberry juice. I keep telling myself to preserve green beans, corn, squash, and pumpkin, but using a pressure canner still makes me uneasy. I have very little freezer space (side-by-side refrig/freezer, no space for a deep freeze), so that space is primarily devoted to meats.

    Keep the inspirational posts coming! Love to see what others are doing.

    1. Lori - thank you so much for all you've shared! Peach Melba jam....I'm going to have to try that! I don't pressure can as of yet either, but for me it's mostly because I'm trying to figure out what we would enjoy that has been preserved in that manner. So far, I've got a few items on my list so I'm thinking about starting it up!

      I love the garden party fundraiser story. It's so nice to have others appreciate how delicious homemade and home canned jams and jellies are. Salsa - it has been a problem for me as well. There is a good recipe of a roasted tomato salsa in the Canning For A New Generation cookbook, but I tried another one last year that we also enjoyed. Becky from The Seasonal Homestead wrote a post outlining her favorite canning recipes and included the amendments she uses. The blog post is here: We've enjoyed the pickle recipe and the salsa recipe she included. If you want to try the salsa recipe she talks about, America's Test Kitchen offers that recipe on their website for free here:

      It sounds like you use the space you've got very well. We've lived in 2 different townhomes during our married life and because the rules wouldn't allow me to actually plant a garden, I was able to incorporate veggie plants amidst my flowers and line my patios with containers like you. Like you said, it helps lower the grocery bill!

      Have a wonderful week!

  3. That sounds like a great rotation for the black bean soup! So glad spring has arrived there, with it's vibrant blue sky and purple irises. Canning vegetable broth is one of my favorite things. It's useful in so many of my recipes. Your fruit and avocados are a familiar sight. I learned about refrigerating just-ripe avocados a few years ago too, and it's so helpful in extending their life. I've read chickens will eat comfrey, but mine sure won't. Like you, I make tea with it, but I've read of some who put the leaves directly under fruit trees and such as mulch and fertilizer.

    1. Thanks Laurie! I used to put the comfrey leaves under my trees like a mulch/fertilizer and it seems to work so well that now I'm dividing my plants and planting them under the trees instead. Seems to be a good idea as my fruit trees look great! I had not thought of seeing if the chickens would like it. Mine are a bit picky but I'll see if they have any interest. Vegetable broth is on my list for reasons I should start pressure canning! You've given me great encouragement and ideas on your blog for this, so thank you so much!

  4. In addition to just tomatoes and salsa, I almost always do a few jars of caponata and chow chow. I had previously spent lots of time canning tons of pickles but we didn't really use them, so back down to just a few basics for us that are versatile and get used. I have a jam book or two if you're interested in borrowing!

    1. Thank you so much In Chieh. Caponata is a great idea! We don't use many pickles either, so I put up just a few jars at most each year. I think we are good on jam recipes, but I will let you know - thank you so much for the offer!

  5. So happy to see sweet Oliver! Glad he is doing well. We have NO apricots on either of our trees - so sad but we had quite wonky weather in early Spring so it affected blossoming/pollinating. Our apple trees are loaded, though, and if I could pick only one fruit that would be it, so I'm not complaining. Got the new raised beds filled and loaded with seedings. Hopeful for a garden bounty this season!

    1. That's what happened to our pear trees last year. We had blossoming at different times for some of the trees and apparently just a lack of pollination for the others. Happy to hear your apple trees are full of fruit this year! Hooray for the garden beds ready to go too. We had a sudden hailstorm last night that I thought for sure would destroy mine but, thankfully, it was spared and looks like it will be fine. Whew!

  6. Thanks for your lovely comment about me in the chocolate wonder I was so happy - I was in a chocolate shop [ha ha]. I can't imagine having so much snow at your place and now there's no snow, it's so foreign for me growing up as we are in a subtropical climate. Looks like you've got your gardening all sorted. As you know I have two tiny veggie patches and while I was away the snow peas went crazy so I picked a whole bunch yesterday and they are so fresh. Actually snow peas are super easy to grow here, just need something for them to climb on.

    1. I love snow peas. They are sooo delicious! Although I was born and raised on the west coast of the U.S. (very little snow) it was strange to me when we lived in Hawaii because there were no seasonal changes. So I get it - the opposite of what you're used to is very much foreign. 😊 Have a wonderful week Kathy!


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