The Calgary Home and Garden Show is coming up next month and I’m giving away some tickets! The Show is set to run from February 27- March 2 at the BMO Center and Corral at Stampede Park. If you’re looking to renovate your home or do some landscaping this is a great place to go for ideas and advice.
The Garden Stage Schedule looks pretty great. There will be some talks by Janet Melrose (of the Calgary Horticultural Society) on square foot gardening as well as edible container gardening so if you’re looking at growing some more veg those could be pretty interesting.
We have a slightly ridiculous amounts of beets this year. Last year was the first year we grew them and the entire family loved them so we grew three times as much this year. Beets should keep well in cold storage so I’m looking forward to eating them most of the winter.
However, lots of beets means learning new ways of preparing them so last week I took a stab at making beet pasta. It turned out great. The dough was a really pretty color and the kids thought that was pretty awesome. The only thing I was a little disappointed in was the color of the pasta after it had been cooked. Most of the red came out in the water so we had very pale pink noodles. Aside from that they were easy to make and not a whole lot more time consuming that making regular pasta.
Want to make your own beet pasta? Here’s how I did it.
Recipe makes approximately 8 servings. This is a long process although not a ton of work. Start early!
Peel and chop 1-2 beets. Roast them in the oven at 350 degrees until soft. Let cool.
If you store your eggs in the fridge, take 3 out to bring them to room temperature.
Blend until smooth in a blender. Try not to cringe at the color whirling around in your blender…
Once your beets are blended, measure out half a cup of puree. Save any leftovers for another meal, throw it in the freezer, or feed it to your baby if you have one!
Put 3 cups of all purpose flour in a stand mixer and crack your three room temperature eggs in.
Use the dough hook to mix all the ingredients together. Don’t have a stand mixer? No problem, use your hands and your dough will most likely turn out even better than mine.
Continue to knead your dough. Add flour until your dough is smooth and not sticky. Depending on the size of your eggs you may need to add quite a bit more, or just a small amount. If your dough is ever too dry you can add a bit of water.
Once your dough is looking smooth and elastic, remove it from the bowl and knead by hand for about five minutes. Longer if you’re tough, shorter if you’re a weakling when it comes to kneading. Like me.
Check out the color of that dough!
Cover your dough in plastic wrap and let it sit for at least half an hour. Longer if you have time!
After the rest period split your dough in to four sections. Keep one section out and cover the other three back up.
The rest of my instructions include using a pasta machine. If you don’t have one you can hand roll and cut them. I tried to find a good online tutorial for this but I didn’t have much luck. It might be worth looking into however, I’ve done it before and it’s not very difficult.
Cut your small section in half and roll one piece through the thickest setting on your pasta machine. Fold it in half and run it through again. Continue to fold and run through until you get a nice uniform piece. When you get a nice piece start rolling it through thinner settings until you get to the second smallest setting, or smallest, depending on your preference.
Cut your long piece in half. This is totally optional, I do it because my pasta machine is terrible at cutting the noodles so the longer they are the more of a pain it is for me to separate them.
Dust with more flour and run it through your choice of noodle. I always use my linguine cutter again because I have to separate all my noodles after they have been cut and that takes twice as long on the spaghetti cutter.
Repeat steps with all the dough.
This is also where I get help. Lots of help. Three kids fighting over who gets to help in fact!
The next step is optional. I like to hang my noodles partly because I freeze half of them and partly because I find if they dry for a half hour or so they just come out a nicer texture. You can however cut and boil your noodles right away. If you don’t hang them, flour them liberally as you continue to cut the rest or you’ll get a big pile of noodles all stuck together.
I use my laundry rack to dry my noodles. And yes I wash it before and after!It looks like a lot of noodles but this is barely enough for two meals for my family.
Once your noodles have hung for a bit get a big pot of salted water boiling. Add your noodles and cook for about 5-7 minutes. I’ve never actually timed it I just keep sneaking noodles and trying them until they are ready.
Drain and serve any way you like!
3 eggs, room temperature
3-4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup beet puree
Combine eggs, 3 cups of flour, and beet puree into a stand mixer. Mix with the dough hook until well combined. Continue to add flour until you get a smooth, elastic, and not sticky dough. Let rest for at least half an hour. Roll out and cut. Boil in salted water for 5-7 minutes.
I bought the boys and myself some new shirts a few weeks ago from a shop on Etsy called Linthound
The shirts are, in my opinion, awesome and my kiddos think so too thankfully. I love how a few hours after putting the shirt on, Kaed came in from the garden to show me that massive carrot above. Yeah, that’s a carrot, not a sweet potato. Not bad!
I was super impressed with Linthound. Not only did they put this design, from one of their adult tees onto a kid tee for me but they made and shipped the shirts within a couple of days of me purchasing them. They got here fast too which is always a bonus when ordering from the USA. I’ve now noticed they have a new shirt I might have to add to my Christmas wishlist as well. You know once Baby comes and I can fit into real clothes again!
I’m also a fan of their tote bag with the Grow Your Own Food on it but really how many places can I preach my backyard mentality?
Alright for those of you who wanted to see how our backyard garden(s) works here you go…
This is looking off our deck to the side. Once upon a time we had an old storage shed where the rain barrel and compost are and the rest was a dog run. It’s now all food producing. The box had a cold frame lid on it this spring. We’ve got spinach, peppers, kohlrabi, beans, zucchini, and carrots in there. It doesn’t look very big but it’s a decent sized garden. We’ve now “trained” (or left her no other option) the dog to do her business in one small area which also makes for much easier clean up.
Cold frame number two has carrots, overgrown completely gone to seed spinach (which surprisingly still tastes fantastic and not a bit strong) and more carrots again on the other side. We really like carrots. This cold frame was seeded last September, the spinach grew until about January then had a break for a couple of months where it didn’t grow but didn’t die either. Once it warmed up in March we got a bunch more growth. Carrots on the left were seeded late February and carrots on the right about mid-end March, they are basically the same size right now.
Main garden. This is the garden we’ve had since we first bought our house although it slowly gets a bit bigger. On the left is our totally classy and fancy temporary “green house” for the tomatoes and peppers. So far it’s working like a charm. There’s another cold frame in there as well housing more spinach, swiss chard, arugula, radishes, and of course more carrots. Behind that we’ve got onions, garlic, peas, and both green beans and dry beans.
We started the tomatoes and peppers in the house early this year and we’ve already got some decently sized tomatoes growing and tiny little peppers.
The kids garden. Just big enough for them each to plant 3-4 rows of whatever they wanted. We seeded that late this year but it’s doing good so far. (Main garden is just on the right side there)
Here we’ve got three haskap, or honey berry bushes, and two Saskatoon’s. Those were all just planted a month or so ago so it’ll be 2-3 years at least before we get any real production out of them.
And here’s the reason we have mini fences around all the gardens… her and the three kids of course. Anyway she’s standing in front of the raspberry bushes. This is their third year so I’m counting on a good production. Last year we got quite a few berries but more enough to just go out and eat a handful a day than to actually preserve for later on in the year.
These are our grape vines. There’s three of them with strawberries scattered around the bottom. This will be year two for the grapes.
As you can see we still have a lot of green space. We’re lucky enough to be on a culdasac which gives us a pie shaped lot so we have a decent sized yard. To the left Travis built a small workshop for all his bow building and other woodworking projects. He’s also got a decent sized garden shed and we still have room to park our tent trailer and van. On the back side of that back fence we’ve also planted a blackberry bush, along the alley. In our front yard we just planted a honey crisp apple tree as well. We’ve got some flowers in a front bed and lots of chives but thanks to a massive pine tree we can’t plant too much in the front yard.
So there you go. We’ve still got more than enough playing room, a huge picnic table, clothes line, fire pit, and lots of grass but we’re able to grow a significant amount of food too. I know the lawn will get smaller and smaller as the years go on but I’m okay with that.
Our big cold frame doesn’t really look anything like this anymore, it’s about 3 times fuller and bigger but I just have to say that the amount of greens we have already eaten out of garden (it’s only the end of May!) is astounding. We have salads every day, smoothies packed full of spinach nearly every day, and greens added to anything else we want. Surprisingly I haven’t gotten sick of it all yet, just having less success finding new ways to incorporate it in our meals.
The boys planted their own garden with Dad last Saturday morning, from carrots, to swiss chard, to beans, to spinach. They’re pretty excited to start eating whatever pops up.
One of the things the most surprising to me is that all three kids often head outside just to grab a handful of spinach to snack on. I do the same thing I just never expected it of preschoolers! I’m certainly not complaining!
We also recently put in a couple of Haskap bushes, a Saskatoon bush, and some Blackberries. This brings our backyard fruit up from Grapes, Raspberries, and Strawberries. It probably sounds like we have no more yard left at all but we still have a good 75% of our backyard as just lawn.
Last month I mentioned that we’re really changing the way we do food. Switching over to local organic whenever we can and first and foremost growing and doing what we can ourselves. So far we’ve done pretty good but there’s always more to do.
Here’s what we’ve done lately.
These lovely Rose Hips are currently fermenting into some (hopefully) delicious wine. We did a little taste test a few nights ago and I was pleasantly surprised at how good it was. I’m sometimes a little bit sceptical of Travis’ experiments but ninety nine percent of the time His stuff turns out amazingly.
rose hip wine
no that’s not olive oil, just proof you don’t need a lot of fancy equipment to make wine, that’s more rose hip wine in there.
the wine rack Travis built, as of now there are more empties than full bottles but once all those carboys get bottled up we should be good for a while
Our freezer is now totally full. I had planned to buy a few chickens from a local free-range farm but I just don’t have space for them right now. We still have a decent amount of beans, zucchini, and carrots from our garden last year, they should last us until harvest time again. We’ve also got some venison in there and a few kg’s of flour from Highwood Crossing. Travis made some sausage a while bag so we’ve got that as well. In all honesty we could probably eat out of freezer alone quite comfortably for a while.
We’ve ordered a bunch of seeds in for this Springs garden. We’ve planted some carrots already in one of our cold frames so I’m curious to see when those will start coming up. I’m actually really excited for this years garden, we’re trying lots of new things so it will be fun to see what does well and what doesn’t.
A new year always means resolutions right? Well this year I only have one. It’s big but I’m only going for one main goal this year because it’s something I really want to make sure happens. Travis and I have decided to give it our all and get our food supply to the point where the huge majority is both local and home grown. We’re aiming for growing all our own veg and getting most of our fruit from our own yard (raspberries, strawberries, grapes etc.) and foraging/”rescuing” the rest. (apples, chokecherries, etc.) While we’ve always grown a decent amount of our own vegetables, our garden space is more than doubling this year and we’re planting some more fruit bearing trees as well.
one side of our biggest garden, last year
As far as meats go, we’ve always had a freezer full of wild meat, both from our own hunting endeavors as well as those of our parents (thanks guys!) This year we’re also switching over to locally raised and hormone free poultry and pork. We don’t have it all sourced yet but we’re working on it.
We also have big plans of switching over all our grains to local and organic. We’re in the middle of sourcing grain now and it hasn’t been easy. Ideally we’d like to buy it direct from the farmer but so far we haven’t had much luck with that. I already make all our own breads, granola, baking, etc. so we do go through a large amount of flour and oats so in order for it be affordable we really do want to be able to buy direct.
Travis is well into keeping his cheese cupboard full enough that we could easily go without buying cheese at all anymore so that’s a huge plus. He’s also been brewing all his own wine and beer for a while too. Trav has also been getting into Charcuterie which is just as well because I’m not gonna lie, if he doesn’t do it, I won’t!
Also on the list is canning. I’ve always done all our veg and fruit preserving via the freezer or drying but this year I’m gonna learn how to can. I have all the supplies bought already (at great prices after the canning season last year, and the rest sourced through freecycle) so it’s just a matter of doing it!
All these choices to switch over have come from lots and lots of research. I’ve done most of mine online and Trav’s done a ton of book reading so between the both of us I think we can easily make this happen over the next year.
I’m totally excited about this. It means a lot more work, especially in the garden and the kitchen, but it will be well worth it.
Here are some of the websites and books we’ve really found helpful. Big thanks to the bloggers who I’ve poured the questions on, you’ve all been super helpful.