How to Make Wild Grape Jelly

On a crisp cool day in autumn, one of our favorite things to do is to collect the wild grapes that grow alongside our road.  These grapes are difficult to pick-as they are found high up in branches of trees. With lots of climbing and pulling, we are able to gather a bushel of this fruit from their vines each year.

We use these grapes to make wild grape jelly! There is nothing like the taste of wild grape jelly. It’s flavor is twice as robust as regular grape jelly; leaving a lingering taste of flavor in the mouth long after it’s consumed. It is one of the Ranchette’s favorite breakfast spreads. Wild grapes also provide great health benefits. Research shows that grapes contain powerful antioxidants known aspolyphenols, which may slow or prevent many types of cancer, including esophageal, lung, mouth, pharynx, endometrial, pancreatic, prostate and colon. The seeds from these wild grapes also have great health benefits. Supposedly, the seeds from grapes are rich in antioxidents andoligomeric proanthocyanidin complexes (OPCs). OPCs help to destroy free radicals in the body, which in turn may help you avoid premature aging and certain chronic diseases. We usually bake the grape seeds and use them as supplemental ingredients for granola or for bread.

Following is the process of making wild grape jelly. We have used a variety of recipes but this year we adapted the recipe from Genius Kitchen.  Continue reading “How to Make Wild Grape Jelly”

The Unique Personality of Yoohoo, Our Australian Shepherd Dog

Following is a post written by the Ranchette’s niece, Annie, on the family blog Freedom Farm. Annie wrote a wonderful article describing the unique personality of their family Australian Shepherd dog, Yoohoo. Our entire family is very fond of Australian Shepherd dogs and we have many funny stories to tell. Following is a humorous description of Yoohoo.

Yoohoo, our six year old comical pooch, was born on November 6, 2011.  She is considered a blue merle Australian Shepherd dog because of her mottled patchwork of fur. We traveled to the breeder a few days before Christmas with the goal of getting a puppy for our five aunts.  As you can guess, we not only got our aunts’ dog, Bronte; but we also got her bouncy, laughable sister, Yoohoo.
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Five Interesting Things You May Not Know About the John Adams Family

On a summer trip to Boston, I was able to visit the John and Abigail Adams homestead and second home, known as the old house, Peacefield. I was struck with the simplicity and smallness of their homes and the practicality of the Adams upbringing. The Adams lifestyle was one of self-sufficiency, hard work, and melioration. I left with five main impressions.

1). The Adams never had slaves, but employed servants who worked alongside the Adams. During a time when slavery was common-place in early colonial America, the Adams never had slaves. They had paid servants; local white people who they employed and provided fair wages. Of all the presidents, the Adams actually lived what they preached when it came to the issue of freedom and equality. The Adams were hard working people and worked alongside their servants. Abigal Adams was known to keep a very clean house and participated in daily tasks of cooking, sewing, knitting alongside her servants.

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Gluten Free Eggplant Lasagna

This year, our garden has supplied us with basil, tomatoes, and eggplant. With these three items, we were inspired to be creative with our culinary skills, making our own gluten free lasagna. Instead of adding noodles, we used eggplant to substitute. The eggplant and sun dried tomatoes add a meaty texture to the lasagna. The fresh basil makes the lasagna spicy. There’s nothing better than gluten-free lasagna made from fresh herbs and vegetables gathered from summer’s garden. In the picture above, we feature the items that we used to make this delicious lasagna. Below is the recipe that your whole family will enjoy, regardless of their dietary restrictions!
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How To Rid Your Garden of the Japanese Beetle

If you are a gardener, you should be familiar with the Japanese Beetle. Following are ideas on how to rid your garden of these pesky beetles by using eco-friendly, chemical free strategies.

These beetles originate from the island of Japan, which bears their name. They found their way to the United States early in this century by latching themselves onto plant roots from Japan. Now that they are settled in the United States, Japanese Beetles create havoc in gardens as they remain unchecked from natural predators. They do not discriminate with the types of plants they will destroy. In our garden, Japanese Beetles favor our roses and okra blossoms. They devour the entire leaf or blossom, leaving little behind.

Insecticide or Neem Oil is known to work in ridding garden from these beetles. However, both solutions can cause harm to the environment. Chemical dusts and sprays are highly toxic to honey bees. Neem Oil is harmful to fish and should only be applied to plants after a rain.

Following are three environmentally-friendly ways to eliminate Japanese Beetles and keep them from devouring your garden.
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Sustainable, Ethical, and Environmentally-Friendly Gifts

Following are four ideas for sustainable, ethical, and environmentally friendly gift or tourist-finds from Wilmington, North Carolina.

We recently vacationed to Wilmington, North Carolina and visited the Cotton Exchange and shops along the Chandler’s Wharf, famous for it’s artisans and entrepreneurs. As many people do when they vacation, we visited gift shops filled with knick-knacks and touristy gift items. Also as many people do, we have collected cheap tourist items, filling our home with tacky-looking items.

Recently, we have become a tad bit more savvy when it comes to purchasing tourist relics. We make it a rule to only purchase practical, usable, and sustainable items. Practically speaking, it makes more sense to spend a few more dollars to purchase items that we can use, rather than throwing money into a plastic cheap items that collect dust and serve no purpose.
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How to Make Savory Cucumber and Tomato Soup

When it comes to living sustainably on a farm, the Ranchette’s refuse to allow produce to rot in the garden. What do you when you have bucket-loads of fresh cucumbers?  Naomi decided to make Craig Claiborne’s Cucumber, Tomato and Avocado soup, which she then placed in the freezer for future use. For fewer calories, Naomi tweaked the recipe. She added fresh basil and eliminated the required avocados and cream. The soup is delicious!!! It’s perfect for the hot summer months as it can be served either hot or chilled.
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Six Ideas on How to Live More Sustainably

A simple google search on the “world’s trash” reveals that the United States is leading in the amount of trash generated. We produce more trash than China, which has a population four times larger than the United States. The world’s trash problem is predicted to produce 4 billion tons by 2100. Check out this video and article on “The Guy Wearing 3o Days Worth of Garbage Around NYC.” He certainly makes us think about the amount of disposable trash the average American generates.

I believe that conservation comes down to individual actions and thought processes. Awareness is important, but being willing to try something new is key. I must begin by pointing the finger at myself. I love living in the Ranchette household because one of our goals is to live sustainably.

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Two Things You May Not Know about Jane Austen

1). Did you know Jane was a country girl?

Recently, I have been investigating books based on the letters and the life of Jane Austen.  I am reading a book by Deirdre Le Fay entitled “Jane Austen’s Country Life; Uncovering the rural backdrop to her life, her letters and her novels.” As many know, the majority of protagonists in Jane Austen’s novels are gentlemen’s daughters, such as in “Pride and Prejudice,” “Sense and Sensibility,” “Emma,” and “Persuasion.” However, in “Mansfield Park,” the protagonist Fanny Price happens to be the daughter of a common laborer. Interestingly, this novel was Jane Austen’s least successful piece of work. However, this novel also happens to be the Ranchette’s favorite!
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Lavendar and Yarrow; It’s Uses and Benefits

The Ranchettes have been busy harvesting both lavender and yarrow at our farm. We mostly use lavender and yarrow for decorative purposes. However, both lavender and yarrow have an enormous amount of medicinal and culinary benefits.

Lavender is Lavandula in Latin. It grows in temperate climates around the world. While it is used as an ornamental plant for gardens and it’s extracted oils are used commercially, it is also used in food and medicinally. Lavender has been known to alleviate anxiety and restlessness.
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