Strawberry-Rhubarb Crisp

Its been officially spring for 2 months and 10 days. Spring means lots of things but one of the things I most look forward to is Gardening. This year in my garden I FINALLY have rhubarb to harvest and was able to pick some for the first time this week!

I love rhubarb but it seems like most recipes have some much sugar in them so last year I went in search of a low-sugar rhubarb crisp recipe and found this low-sugar Strawberry-Rhubarb Crisp at allrecipes.com. This recipe is great because it uses the natural sweetness of the strawberries to offset the tart of the rhubarb. I tweaked the recipe a little bit and came up with the following, talk about a simple recipe:

Low Sugar Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp:

  • 4 cups chopped fresh rhubarb
  • 1 pint strawberries, hulled and sliced (use an egg slicer to speed up the slicing)
  • 2 tablespoons honey (more for a sweeter crisp)
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch

Topping:

  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F

2. In a medium bowl, mix together rhubarb, strawberries, honey, and corn starch. Transfer to a 9×9 baking dish. (tip: I just mixed it right in the baking dish and tossed it with clean hands)

3. In a medium bowl, stir together rolled oats, brown sugar and melted butter. Mix together until completely combined.

4. Bake for 40-45 minutes in the preheated oven, until rhubarb is tender and the topping is toasted.

Low Sugar Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp

Low Sugar Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp

I think this is best served warm with vanilla ice cream. If you are going for the low-sugar theme serve with low-sugar ice cream, which is really good and my hubby doesn’t even know its low sugar.

I love rhubarb, so check back for some more delicious rhubarb recipes this summer! Do you have a favorite recipe you would like to share?

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Planting and Pigs

The farm has been busy for the last week. Why? Because its planting season! I wrote about planting my garden last week and about tillage work. My husband has been helping with tillage work at the farm and here is his view from the cab.

tillage

This piece of equipment we refer to as a ripper.

In addition to tillage work happening at the farm, we are busy planting!

Filling up with seed

Filling up with seed

Behind the pickup is a seed tender, its pretty much a trailer that they can put big plastic bins of seed on and an auger puts seed  into the boxes. The other option is to get your seed in 50lb bags and load each box bag-by-bag.

Just like different varieties of plants in a garden, there are different varieties of corn all with different traits and maturity dates (days until harvest).  The farm plants a handful of varieties and will use the corn raised to help feed the pigs.

Today it was 100°F at the farm and that means extra work. Kyle got up this morning at 5:00AM so he could get to the farm early for a few different reasons. One reason was so the sows would be done eating and digesting food long before it got too warm. The second reason was to make sure all of the cool cells were working, since this is the first hot day since last fall you never know if things are still going to work the way they should and its vital to keep the pigs cool.

A cool cell is like air conditioning for the barns, they utilize evaporative cooling to reduce the temperature in the barns by 8+ degrees. Unlike the expression “sweat like a pig”, pigs can’t actually sweat so they rely on their environment to help regulate their body temperature. Pigs, just like people, can have heat related problems like heat stress. Pork producers really don’t like really hot days, they worry about the pigs but certainly are glad they have the pigs in barns and not out in the sun (pigs get sunburns like people) where they have more problems with overheating.

Stay cool, I know the pigs are!

Garden: Planted

What a difference 9 days makes!

What a difference 9 days makes!

Finally, the weather has been nice for more then one day! I took advantage of a couple of warm days and planted my garden. I talked about getting antsy for spring in my Garden: Prep Work post and thought it might snow Thursday of that week. Well guess what, we missed the snow but a hour away the got 18″+!!

Garden Planted

Planted!

I planted the garden on May 7th this year. I have not planted everything yet, I’m still waiting to plant my tomatoes and peppers until the night lows aren’t in the 30°s.

In the corner with the straw are my potatoes! Yes, I’ll admit I saw the idea on Pinterest; I grew them this way last year and it didn’t work the best so I thought I would alter it a little bit and try it one more time. For my garden, where space is limited, its nice to be able to plant potatoes without taking up much space!

The same day I planted my garden, the farm started planting corn! I know all of my farmer friends are getting pretty anxious to get corn planted because they can all remember last year they were done planting by now!

Just like I prepped my garden, the farmers have been prepping their fields this week before planting. They have some bigger and far more advanced equipment then I do. I’m pretty old fashioned and didn’t use a garden tiller to work my garden, just a hand tiller. I spread some rabbit manure on my garden and likewise the farmers are recycling animal manure and using it as fertilizer for their fields. I know those farmers are sure happy for the advancements in technology, can you imagine farming multiple football field size areas of land by hand?!

Garden: Prep Work

The weather this weekend was BEAUTIFUL! Finally. We have been waiting a long time for it to warm up some and it looks like the warm weather was just a teaser with the possibility of snow on Thursday. Regardless of what the weatherman is forecasting  I wanted to get out and start some prep work on my garden.

When we bought our house there was already a garden in the back yard. It was overgrown and full of weeds; this will be the 3rd year we will have a garden at our house and it has taken of bit of work to get it going.

The first year our garden did not produce well, so farmer husband and I decided to do a soil test. We took our soil sample after harvest that fall and sent it off to the test lab. Results indicated our soil type was high in clay, which we figured, and low in nitrogen.

The next spring we were able to get soil off of peat ground. This soil has a lot of organic material and is a light soil type; we determined this would help the soil mixture in our garden and provide a better seed bed and growing condition for our crops. In addition to the peat ground, my husband also brought home some rabbit manure from the farm for fertilizer. If I would have said yes, my husband would have brought home liquid hog manure to fertilize the garden with but I was more then happy with the rabbit manure. Our harvest that year was much better then the prior year and we got the weeds under control using corn gluten meal.

Garden Pre Tillage

Garden Pre Tillage

This year we are repeating our fertilizer plan and applied a 5 gallon pail of manure to the garden and worked it in. I’ve bought all my seeds and purchased tomato and pepper plants. I tried starting my tomato plants from seed the first two years and it just didn’t work out well so I pay a bit extra to get plants that have been started so I know they will produce.

The garden is only 11.5′ x 14′ so its not tremendously large but it is adequate for Kyle and I.

Garden Post Tillage

Garden Post Tillage

This year we plan on planting:

  • 4 tomato plants
  • 2 green pepper plants
  • 2 jalapeno plants
  • carrots
  • green beans, bush
  • beets
  • spinach
  • Mesclun salad mix
  • 1 mound of zucchini
  • potatoes, above ground

Additionally, we have raspberries planted in the garden and a small patch of rhubarb in the corner of our yard.

Yes, this is a fair amount of stuff to plant in our small garden  but it works out quite well. The distance between rows is minimal but it cuts down on weeding, one of my least favorite jobs. Hopefully it will warm up soon so I can plant my garden!

The best part is eating the produce year round, we freeze a lot of carrots and beans and can salsa and tomatoes for year round feasting.  Another great part of having my garden is being able to share produce with others. The neighbor lady has a daycare and I am affectionately know as “Garden Lady” to some of the daycare kids, they enjoy coming over to see what I’m doing and even eat some of the veggies!

Do you have a garden, what are you planting this year and what is your favorite part of having a garden?