Gifts From The Garden

Last year, around this time, I made some lovely sugared borage flowers and rose petals

Sugared Borage and Rose

This year, due to an early season for everything, I’ve already started harvesting my Norland apples! Every year it is a struggle to figure out what to do with them all. They are smaller than your average store-bought apple (which makes peeling and coring a pain), and they are not especially outstanding taste-wise – a little bit tart and mealy. Honestly, I bought the tree because it was one of the few fruit trees hardy enough for our area, where seasonal temperatures vary from about -30C to +30C (-22F to 86F). Hmm. What to do, what to do…

Early Apple Harvest

I know… what about apple chips?! But with a cinnamon-sugar kick. =)

Making Apple Chips

So… I scrubbed off some apples. Got out the mandolin and set it between 1/8″ and 1/4″. Started slicing and laying the pieces out on the trays. Then I mixed about 5 teaspoons of organic cane sugar with 2 teaspoons of cinnamon and sprinkled it on the 5 trays worth (over the sink, to keep things tidy). Popped the trays onto our dehydrator, switching the trays around every 4-6 hours for more even drying… for about a day. Then I let them sit out overnight to crisp up even more.

Finished Apple Cinnamon Sugar Chips

The end result was AMAZING! “It’s like eating apple pie!” my husband proclaimed. Hurrah! I’ve already put in my second batch. =) Although, neither of my kids likes cinnamon… so I’m looking into making some vanilla sugar ones for them, when I get around to making some vanilla sugar, that is. 😉

Mandolin Tips

A couple of “tips” about using the mandolin – yes, pun intended, as I did in fact slice off a wee tip of my thumb while making these… BE CAREFUL!!! I shouldn’t have been so concerned about using the whole apple, given that they were so small and the “left overs” were going to be composted anyhow… I tried a few ways of slicing them and found that making 3-4 good slices on 3 sides was best – I would discard the first, mostly skin piece and lay out the next 2-3 slices. Any deeper than that and I would get bits of core in the slices, and some of my fingers. Ouch! So, yeah. Mind your digits!!!

I also decided to take advantage of the cooler weather last week to finally try out that “life-changing loaf” recipe that has been floating around social media for the last couple of years.

Life-Changing Loaf

Although technically, the loaf itself contained nothing from my garden, I couldn’t resist putting some of last year’s raspberry jam on top of the nut+seed+oatmeal “bread”. Delish!!! I also couldn’t resist tweaking the recipe a bit – adding pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, and sesame seeds, plus pumping up the binders and cooking time to compensate… I enjoyed it quite a bit and would definitely make it again, although I think I will chop up the hazel nuts finer next time to disperse their yummy taste more. And maybe I’ll also add some dried cranberries. The “bread” reminds me a lot of soft granola bars, and it just screams out to be sweetened up with some fruit/veg of some kind. Speaking of veg…

Protein Enriched Broccoli

When it comes to gifts from the garden, not all of them are necessarily good gifts. The other night, I decided to make a bunch of broccoli I had collected earlier in the week, for dinner and to freeze for smoothies. (I have to sneak healthy veggies into my sons somehow.) I washed the heads under the tap, chopped it into spears, and then popped it into the steamer. It was only after we had started plating the stuff that we noticed the “added protein” – mini caterpillars! After intense scrutiny (i.e. with glasses on), about 7 were found in total from 4 heads – can you say “Ewwww”? Ah, nature. Always with the humor. 😉

Anyways, hope your garden offers you some amazing gifts this summer as well. =)

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