Cirque de' Solene

  (Fall City, Washington)
Life with Alpacas and other critters
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Shall I can for you? Pa rum pa pum pum

It feels wonderful to can your own produce and then enjoy the fruits (or vegetables) of your labors, months later.  Back in September my husband and  I canned vegetables until we couldn't stand another minute in the kitchen. We thought we'd tucked the harvest safely away for the season and then we'd walk to the garden patch and find the plants were still producing.  It got to be a joke with us.  Surely there are no more cuks out there?  Then in would walk the hubby with another box of the,  darlings. 

We made pickled beets, dill pickles and  bread and butter pickles.  I mean, what do people do for variety with these prolific vegetables?  We sliced and froze most of the carrots. I even experimented by pickling the carrots in left over beet juice.  While I will say the taste is a success, the presentation leaves something to be desired.  Looks sort of like pinkish-gray fingers in a jar.  However, this could be a good thing for Halloween or fear-factor parties.  I just won't be repeating the process :-)

Towards the end (the real end) of the season, I mixed all the left over vegetables into pickled assortment jars. These, I have to say, are a pleasant visual!  So much so, that I tied ribbon around the jars and gave them to friends and family for Christmas.  I was truly humbled to hear the appreciation from my recipients.  The colorful homemade pickles brought back their childhoods, validated their connection to organics, the land, the do-it-ur-self-er in us all  and just all-out pleased people with the country presentation of be-ribboned baskets.  The notion that we  were willing to share the bounty with them and all the work it represented was not lost on people.  It did my own soul a world of good too.

 For years I have been trying to connect with a few like minded individuals to have a sort of progressive canning bee. (I have cherries, you have apples - let's work together and share)  I  have just issued my invitation with these gifts.  I can't wait for the RSVPs!

There is a point to this blog today.  Knew I'd get to it eventually... I had lunch with a Finnish friend recently.  She made an authentic Finnish Christmas Eve lunch for us.  One of the dishes made contained pickled beets.  At last - a use for them other than eating them out of the jar while standing in front of an open refrigerator door.  Like so many good cooks, she couldn't tell me the recipe but I googled it and came up with an a version of the dish.  Officially, it's called Kesäkurpitsa-kurkkusalaatti.  That is enough of a mouthful to make Vanna White dizzy! Let's just call it pickled beet-cucumber salad.

Boil and cube potatoes.  Add diced apples, cucumbers, pickled beets and red peppers.  Mix in some salt, white pepper and a little beet juice. It was moist, not soupy.  My friend served it with cool whip tinted pink with more beet juice, but it was delicious by itself too.  Some of the googled recipies added dry mustard, honey and onions. Serve in a pretty glass bowl.

Experiment!  It's the spice of life.

The ring master



Black Saturday?

It's a rainy Saturday here at the farm.  The farm store has been open for a few hours now.  The yarn, sweaters, socks and hats nicely displayed and waiting for some chilled human to discover the warmth of alpaca.  Because they say - once you go paca you never go backa.  The dogs and I are ready for some company.  Funny thing about our Great Pyrenees, they will bark their heads off at you if you are in the street.  But, take a few steps into the drive way and you have two 150 lbs new best friends. 

These big white dogs have long flag like tails, tall bodies that you don't have to stoop to touch, and a proud bearing that says 'I am important to this farm'.  They will sit out in the worse weather faithfully guarding the alpacas, who have the sense to go to shelter.  We have two  Pyrs because they work in pairs to minimize the threat to their defenseless charges.  I've seen these dogs act instinctively at 5 months of age against a perceived threat.  The male - Chewbacca (Chewy for short) heads towards the threat.  The female Chauska (Peruvian Goddess of love and protector of little girls - we have 2 daughters) steers the herd away from the threat.  Amazing how our alpacas had come to trust these dogs after only a few months with them.  The whole herd lined up dutifully behind Chauska until Chewy gave the all-clear.  This is an anti-climatic snort accompanied by a shake of his big square head.  Then, he's trotting off to do more important things like sleep or dig after a mole.

 Right now all is calm.  Since they patrol the grounds at night, the Pyrs are almost nocturnal. Chewy is sound asleep next to the alpacas and Chauska is on the hill keeping watch when a car or bird or some sound too small for human ears wakes her up.  Just like the dad and mom of the herd.    

If you are huddled up somewhere warm with your small charges and can't get out to boost the economy today, check out our kids page.  There are some fun games and puzzles to play.

 Warmth to you!




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