Monday, June 29, 2009

Independence Days challenge, week 9

Time again for Sharon's Independence Day's Challenge:

1. Plant something: nothing this week.
2. Harvest something: Mulberries. (This week, we met the man who owns the tree, and got official permission to pick the berries; he even said it would be ok for us to bring a ladder.) Eggs.
3. Preserve something: Dried mulberries. Dried turnip greens. Dried blueberries.
4. Reduce waste: nothing unusual.
5. Preparation and storage: Last summer, we picked and froze a ton of blueberries--maybe too many, as we still have a few bags left. So I tried an experiment: I dried some of the frozen berries. I'd wondered if freezing would break the cell structure a bit so the skins wouldn't dry all papery and loose around the berries. Sure enough, they dried beautifully! This will be my new, more-effective blueberry drying method. (And it made some room in my freezer for this year's bounty.)
Also, one positive effect of the economic times is two great new thrift stores opening in our area. I got many wonderful books for future homeschooling this week.
6. Build community food systems: We gave the man who owns the mulberry tree his first taste of a mulberry, and encouraged him to continue to fight to keep that tree there (he said the city wants to take it down). I also brought some of the children in my program picking with me.
7. Eat the food: You're probably wondering "dried turnip greens? What do you do with those?" Well, my Wednesday group of kids has come to expect popcorn for afternoon snack. I like to boost the vitamin content a bit, so we make our own version of "Veggie Booty" (one of their favorite store-bought snacks, from back when I bought them prepared snacks). I put dried greens in the blender and turn them to powder, then coat buttered popcorn with it. We've done spinach, kale, and parsley so far, all with great success. Also, tried a new recipe for mulberry muffins.

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