Butternut Squash Soup

Butternut squashA great soup for Fall. You can substitute Zucchino Rampicante Squash for the Butternut if that is what you have on hand. Don’t forget some homemade bread to go with it. Reblogged from Nourish. Check them out for more tasty, nourishing recipes.

Nourish

Happy fall! With the weather getting colder and winter squash becoming available locally in New England, it’s the perfect time to make this hearty and healthy vegetarian classic. Panera can’t top this!

STEP ONE – Preparations

  1. Get out a large soup pot.
  2. Set up a blender or food processor

STEP TWO – Make the Soup

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
1 large carrot
1 large onion
1 large stalk of celery
1 large butternut squash
1 tablespoon of minced garlic
4-5 cups of vegetable broth
Fresh thyme
Salt and pepper

Instructions:

  1. Warm up the soup pot on medium heat and add the oil.
  2. Peel the carrots, onions, and squash and cut them and the celery into small chunks.
  3. Add the vegetables to the hot oil.
  4. Cook for about 5 minutes until the vegetables are soft.
  5. Add in the butternut squash, garlic, and thyme and stir to combine.
  6. Add…

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Zucchino Rampicante Squash – Versatile and Oh So Good!

Zucchino Rampicante Squash

zucchino rampicante squash supported on a fence.If you can only plant one squash plant, this may be the one for you.

Let me tell you why I like Zucchino Rampicante squash (a.k.a. Tromboncino squash). It is both a summer squash AND a winter squash. If you pick it while it is green, it tastes like a mild zucchini. Great steamed, sautéed, grilled, fried, in baked goods or casseroles. If you leave it on the vine until fall, it becomes like a Butternut squash. One plant; two types of harvest. If you only have room for one type of squash, but really like both the summer and winter varieties, you can have the proverbial cake and eat it too! However, there is a caveat: this plant is a sprawler and it will morph into something akin to the Blob.

zucchino rampicante growing along a trellisThis is my second year growing this Cucurbiteae variety and typically I only grow one plant. I plant two but will remove one once I am sure the strongest of the two will survive. I use the direct sow method and plant in mid-June. By planting later in the season, the dreaded squash bugs are not as much as a problem. Which by the way, had wiped out all of my crooked yellow squash and black beauty zucchini plants by the beginning of July. The squash bugs have been a problem for the last few years, decimating everything before anything can be harvested. It was the frustration of dealing with the bugs that led me to seek another variety of squash for my garden. zucchino rampicante squash blossoms

My hardiness zone is closer to 7a, but can sometimes be 6b and this plant has done well for me. It is a quick growing vine, that will take over and sprawl about if allowed. My panels are 10 x 6 foot chain link fence and they do a good job supporting the heavy fruit. Livestock panels would support this vine, but I am not sure about welded wire mesh unless supported by heavy T-posts no more than eight feet apart. harvested zucchino rampicante squash

The fruit gets very large. If supported on a large trellis or fence, the squash will grow straight. If left on the ground, they will grow in round, curlicue shapes. As you can see, I trellised mine. Most of them are over 6 feet long and weigh several pounds (close to 10 lbs.). In fact, the larger ones are actually quite heavy.

Harvested squash can be stored in a cool, dry place such as a basement that doesn’t get below 50 degrees. Or maybe a spare bedroom that has the heat vents closed off so that it remains cool.

I have stored this squash in my basement for up to 6 months. We were eating last year’s squash in early April of this year. Just remember to check on them to make sure they are not deteriorating. If so, use them first. If you are not in the mood for squash at that time, prepare as you would for any other winter squash in freeze to use later.

What can you do with this behemoth squash?

Well, just about anything you might do with any summer or winter squash. As I mentioned above, the possibilities are endless. In addition, the male blossoms are edible and the seeds can be roasted. I love the fact that this vegetable is so versatile. You could substitute zucchino rampicante in most of your favorite recipes. For instance, I decided I wanted some “pumpkin” butter and decided to make it with what I had on hand, my mondo-squash.

steaming winter squashThe process was fairly easy. I took two of them and steamed them for a few minutes. I had gotten a new steamer pot and wanted to try it out. I steamed until the pieces were fork-tender. Meaning, I could prick them with a fork without a lot of resistance.

mashed winter squash

 

 

Then I peeled the pieces, mashed them with a potato masher, and placed in the crockpot. I added  2 cups packed brown sugar, and 2 and 1/2 tablespoons of pumpkin pie spice and set the crockpot on Low. This will cook down for several hours until thickened."pumpkin" butter made with zucchino rampicante squash

The house is beginning to smell “Ahhhmazing” on this dreary, rainy, October day.

Keeps on Giving!

One of the things I have not mentioned yet is all of the seeds are contained in the bulb portion of the squash. This makes cleaning it so much easier than some of the other winter squash varieties. You can roast the seeds although I have not done so. I have roasted butternut squash and of course, pumpkin! I will be feeding these to the wildlife on our farm. Cardinals love the seeds, as do the squirrels, deer, and raccoons. If I had chickens, I would feed them to the chickens.

squash seeds

And finally, a few of the peels will go in my worm bins, the rest will go out in the garden compost.

The more I grow this squash, the more I like it’s versatility, it’s durability, and it’s productivity. One plant produces more than enough squash for us to use fresh, in soups, desserts, casseroles, as a side dish, baked goods, etc.

If you are interested in trying this variety in your garden, I purchased my seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. I am not an affiliate, and I do not receive any compensation from this company. I hope you will give this interesting squash a try and let me know how it grows for you. Maybe share how you used in in some recipes.

Thank you for stopping by our farm.

I Grieved A Tree

I have tried several times to capture the true essence of this tree that is on our property. This tree has been on the side of the bank of a stream for over 600 years. It was a magnificent tree; even in death it’s skeleton stood tall.

I grieved for this tree as it’s ghostly splendor grew more faint with each passing year. Branches fell; themselves many hundreds of years old. I always stood in awe of this old tree.

Last November, on a cool gray day, I attempted to take some photos. The tree seemed full of emotion and yearning. It called to me that day.

None of my photos spoke the truth about this great monument to the past and sadly I consigned each one to my computer’s trash bin. Figuring I would get more one day. The tree will still be there I thought.

This magnificent giant came down with a silent crash during one of the Nor’easters this year. No one was around to hear it. No one heard it’s final whisper in the wind.

I will miss this old tree. I would go and listen to its stories. Now I will have to make up my own.

Yes, I grieved a tree.

 

SMART Goal

Previously I was writing about my goal to blog more this year. At this point, I have already written more blog posts in 2018 than I did in 2017. So, I guess that is a good way to start working on my goal.

So what exactly is the next step?

I know that I need to be specific so for starters, I want to build a better blog presence because I have struggled for years to do so. 2018 is my year to find a way to be successful. So how will I know if I have been successful? Well, that is easy…

For starters, I need to blog more posts than I did in 2017. Since I think that was a whopping two posts, I think I have already surpassed that number upon the publishing of this post. Yay!!! right?? Yeah, nope. That is not enough, we need to find a way to measure and DEFINE success. So my ultimate goal is to have a blog that I can monetize. So does everyone else, right? Well, I am not concerned with everyone else, just ME. The monetization goal is going to be a long term goal and I am going to leave that one alone for right now. I’ve got to start with the foundation before I try to raise the flag at the top of the castle.measurable goal, SMART goal, goals

So…let’s work on how to make it measurable.

How am I going to define success as it relates to my goal? Well, that is somewhat easy. I just pick a number, but what number? How many posts do I want to do for the entire year of 2018? Would one per month be reasonable? Or would that be too low? What about one per week, or one per day? Reasonably, I probably would not be able to commit to writing a post each and every day for 2018. For starters, we are already half way into January so I have missed many days. 😦 But all is not lost, as I can start from this day forward and figure out what would be reasonable for me to commit to doing. I think I can reasonably commit to doing one post per week. So given that I have already missed the first three weeks of the year, that would be a total minimum of 49 posts. Okay, I think I am up for the challenge. Speaking of challenge, every couple of months there is another Ultimate Blog Challenge. Maybe by the next one, I will have gotten into a rhythm and will be able to go with the flow long enough to actually complete the challenge of writing one post per day.

SMARTgoalAfter I have decided on how to measure success, I need to review whether or not my goal is ultimately achievable, do I have the power to do it, is it realistic, and is it the right time to attempt the goal? The answer is yes, to all three.

So, here is my redefined SMART goal for better blogging for the year 2018.

I want to blog a minimum of one post per week; a total of 52 posts for the year 2018 so that I can build a better blog presence and eventually have enough followers to monetize my blog.

If you want to learn more about SMART goals and how they might be able to help you reach your goals, check out this article from Mindtools. Let me know how you do with reaching your own goals.

A goal without a plan is just a wish

Definitely Not to Bee.

The Death of Bees

This falls under the “well, crud” aspect of life.

On this somewhat warm January day, I did a quick check on the status of my hives.

3 of the 4 are dead. No explanation, just dead.

beekeeper going through a bee hive.
The hives in happier times.

Since it was a quick check, I only popped the top and do not know if they had stores or not. I will know tomorrow after I suit up and get in each of them. Boy, I am not a happy camper at this point. Not to mention that it puts a real crimp on my goal to increase honey sales this year. Now I am faced with the dilemma as to whether or not to purchase bees from a bee supplier. Unfortunately that is an expensive proposition, one with no guarantees either. I have done that before and they didn’t even make it through the first year. Any loss of bees is hard on a beekeeper, but it is especially hard for small “beeks” like myself.

3-lb packages of bees
3lb package of bees

I’ve been keeping bees for several years now, and sometimes there are years like this. There is not much I can do at this point except hope the remaining hive makes it through the winter and quickly decide whether or not to get bees from a bee supplier. Orders usually have to be in by the end of January if there will be any hope of getting them. Time to scout around to see who has them and who will ship to my location. 😦

If you keep bees, how are your colonies doing? Will you be ordering packages this year? If so, who is your favorite supplier?

 

Let’s be SMART about this.

Defining Goals

In my previous post I mentioned some of my goals for this year. Every goal was a thing to “do”; meaning it required action on my part – train dogs, blog, garden, harvest, preserve, etc. There weren’t any what I would call personal goals, i.e. be a better person, love thy neighbor, etc. I did indicate that I wanted to learn some new skills so maybe that could count as a personal goal. What do you think?

As I also mentioned in that post, I would be implementing (or attempting to) the SMART goal theory. The acronym was first conceptualized by Peter Drucker in his Management by Objectives approach as a means to motivate employees to get onboard with an organization’s objectives. Over the years, the method has been utilized by counselors, teachers, fundraisers, organizers, you get the picture. So what is the SMART goal concept? Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely. The letters stay the same, but some of the words change depending upon who is explaining the concept. Such as attainable might be achievable, timely might be time-bound or time-sensitive, etc. The words may change, but the initial concept stays the same!

So how can I apply this theory to the goals that I want to accomplish this year?

Excellent question!

One of my goals in that previously mentioned post, was to blog more. Within that overall goal, were some “subgoals”, or goals that will contribute to the overall goal. Such as, finding my voice, improving several pages, and being more consistent. The above gives us a little bit to work with wouldn’t you say? But how can I take Peter’s plan and incorporate it into my life and my goals? Let’s see…

Specifically Speaking…

How can I be more specific about my main goal? What specifically WAS my main goal? It was to “blog more” (rather vague but we will get to that later) – find a purpose and stop struggling with it. Think about “who, what, where, when, and how” when formulating your goals.

  • Who – I, me, Jen
  • What – blog more (write numerous weblog entries)
  • Where – that’s a given, here.
  • When – well, that’s where things get sticky. Every day, week, month, what???
  • How – this is also a sticking point. Obviously, a plan needs to be formulated. Sit tight because that is what we are going to work on.

I am going to work through all five steps of Drucker’s plan to see if I can come up with a SMART goal to increase my blogging consistency. (I really can’t tell you the number of times I have started a blog and stopped. Ugggg!) So click on the arrow to see how it all worked out.foot on pavement with a chalk arrow

 

Early goals, how long will they last?

So what ARE my goals for this year?

January is more than half over and I have had many days to think about what my goals are for this new year, 2018.

  • Blog more – find a purpose and stop struggling with it.
    • I need to craft a better “About Me” page.
    • Find a voice – Lawd knows I’ve got one somewhere, just ask my husband.
    • Be consistent – it doesn’t have to be every day, just DO IT!
  • Garden more – waste not, want not, grow good food and be a good steward.
    • Find creative ways to preserve and extend what the garden produces.
      • Make a point to can, dehydrate, freeze all that I can harvest. I “have the skills, I have the technology”, I can do this.
      • Plan meals to utilize fresh foods without having to eat zucchini every night.
  • Improve my beekeeping skills, increase honey profits and continue to keep the interests of bees first.
  • Find a way to make my blog profitable, our homestead profitable, and minimize outflow.
  • Define our homestead.
  • Learn new skills: bushcrafting, homesteading, foraging (I really want to learn about foraging for edible mushrooms).
  • Continue training foster dogs.
    • Build focus.
    • Strengthen bond.
    • Work through problem areas.
      • fear reactivity
      • resource guarding (all ways that this might manifest).
      • Exercise, exercise, exercise the dogs!

Do they sound like good goals to you? In my next post I will talk about some of my plans to achieve them by using a version of the SMART goals formula. Have you been able to define your goals for 2018? If so, what are they?

2018 – Woohoo!! Oh No!

Happy New Year!?!

Does the new year fill you with hope or dread?

For me it is a complex series of emotions. Always has, and I expect it always will. Does your new year start out with a bang only to go flat after a few weeks, or only a few days? After all of these years have you given up on making resolutions? Do you swear to yourself that THIS year is going to be different?

Maybe we all do to some extent. For me, the follow through has really dropped off in recent years. It’s actually getting depressing. It is not that I don’t want to but “eh, why bother?” is what usually comes to the forefront. I have goals, dreams, but things seem to take so much effort these days. Yes, I know that can be a sign of depression but I don’t think that is it. I’m happy. I usually have an upbeat mentality, but staying motivated seems to be my biggest struggle.

There’s a quote from Jim Rohn that I really love. “If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.” – Jim Rohn 1930 – 2009

“If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.”Jim Rohn 1930 – 2009. Excuses are really easy to come by these days. I’ve got to find a way to change that if I want to get anywhere with my goals.

Take for instance the January Ultimate Blog Challenge. I was supposed to start blogging on the first of the month and what is today’s date, the 16th. If one peruses through my posts, they will find sporadic entries and a lot of good intentions. Is this year going to be different? Maybe, I’d say it is too soon to tell but it’s not looking great so far.

Michelle Shaeffer has a blog post entitled “How to be Productive When You don’t Feel Like it.” In it she lists several ideas for getting back on track. A couple even appeal to me. 🙂 I really like the “piece of cake” idea. The idea of starting small is a tried but true method; chunking and breaking things down into small steps works for some. Setting a deadline and holding oneself accountable for that deadline, and finding one’s flow. All great ideas. But which one will really work for me?

I am on a Homesteading Facebook page. One of the mantras is “start small” and do what you can conceivably manage. Biting off more than one can chew can cause feelings of frustration and disappointment to set in. In the case of someone just setting up their homestead, it can even get someone killed. In a recent discussion on that page, someone commented with “plan your work, work your plan.” So that sounds as if my “Step 1” is to come up with a plan for 2018.

What is your plan for this new year, and how do you plan to go about achieving your goals and dreams?

 

 

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