Wheat Harvest Looming
August 21, 2019
Our wheat crop is rapidly ripening, and so harvest is looming. I may still have a week to 10 days before I switch gears from gardener to grain cart operator. The days of being able to plan my days around my own "to do" list will soon become days of cramming my gardening chores into a couple early morning hours. The rest of the day will be spent driving a tractor, hauling the grain cart. Once the combine is full, I'll be driving alongside with the cart properly lined up as we unload "on the go" (we don't stop for that. I'm always thankful someone invented auto-steer so I only have to worry about keeping my speed attuned to his). Once the cart is full with our hard red spring wheat, I get to unload it onto the semi parked at the end of the field.
I usually have some time between the "on the go" part and filling the truck, so I cart along some small crochet projects, as well as a book to read, and snacks from the garden (carrots, tomatoes, maybe a pepper or cucumber). I'm already planning to crochet some simple dish cloths to donate to our church kitchen. Depending on how long harvest lasts, I may have to figure out another small project or two. I'm open to suggestions.
The initial planting of corn has developed ears. The silks are starting to look brown and dried, so soon I should have some to eat. I always rush the first picking (or two). Last week I finally hauled the live trap out to the corn patch. It had been sitting in front of the garage, where we'd trapped the skunk that had been visiting our front deck during the nights (that skunk is no more). I haven't baited the trap yet, but it's set. If any critters get curious enough to enter it, they'll be caught. Added to my chore list is to give it a visual check each morning. I've caught skunks, foxes, and raccoons in the past, so I put the trap where I can see it from a safe distance in case anything is dumb enough to get trapped.
I also liberally sprinkled the entire corn patch with the hot cayenne pepper. It promptly rained that night, so re-peppering the crop is on the agenda, if I'm allowed the time this morning. My farmer did something to the tool bar while working the fallow fields Saturday. He requires my assistance for the repairs this morning. I'll get a phone call telling me when it's time to head to the field where he's broke down. I'll become a labor assistant as soon as he finishes his welding. I guess I don't need to be a witness to that part of the fixing. (And now he's on his way to town for a bolt he didn't have. I have more time to myself. Yay.)
This is the last week of the summer edition of the Whole Life Challenge. There are five sessions spread throughout the year. You follow the rules, checking in online with your self-scoring each night for six weeks. Then you're on your own for six weeks (we hope you're still trying to follow the compliant food list), and the cycle repeats. This is my third challenge this year, and even with my much more relaxed following of the food rules, I've still shed a few more unwanted pounds. I'm glad I really prefer drinking water and never developed a taste for beer or this would really have been a challenge. Giving up sugar, flour and cheese is doable (barely).
Last week I pickled red onions for the first time. They have a bite. I may skip the red pepper flakes the next time I make them, or at least my pinch of them will be much smaller. The red color bleached out, but the onions add a bit of zing to a burger and a salad. Or they could be eaten as a relish, or in my case, I could have a whole plate of pickled veggies: beets, dilly beans, and the onions. On second thought, maybe not.
Pickled Red Onions
1 C red wine vinegar
1 C apple cider vinegar
2 Tbl granular Erythritol
1 tsp sea salt
6 cloves garlic, halved
1 tsp dried oregano leaves
Pinch red pepper flakes
Combine the first four ingredients and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the salt and sugar substitute. Put the rest in a 32-ounce mason jar. Pour the hot liquid over. Let sit on the counter for an hour, then cap and put into the fridge. Will keep up to two months. You can eat after two hours, but longer is better.
I used a partial packet of stevia in place of the granular erythritol. I had to look up that ingredient. It's a Swerve sugar replacement. I had to look up Swerve, too. Mine also sat on the counter for about six hours - oops. I got distracted. (I had another recipe that did say let them sit out up to 12 hours, so I thought these would be okay. And they are.)
For breakfasts during this challenge, I've mostly relied on overnight oats (sometimes morning oats zapped in the microwave, because I'm such a good procrastinator). My oats were often flavored with cocoa powder and/or nut butter. There are also overnight chia seed puddings. Yes, these chia seeds are the ones made famous with chia pets. Instead of sprouting them, you can soak in milk to make a pudding-like substance. There are many variations, but I'm sharing my favorite one.
Lemon/Raspberry Chia Pudding
3 Tbl white chia seeds
1 Tbl maple syrup
Zest of 1 lemon
2/3 C almond milk
1/4 C fresh raspberries, more for garnish
Mix seeds, syrup, most of the zest, and milk. Let sit 10-15 minutes or overnight. Mash berries and stir in. Garnish with more berries and the rest of the zest.
I've modified it, using a mandarin orange instead of lemon, using both the zest and then squeezing the juice into the pudding, too. Sometimes I skip the maple syrup and sprinkle with cinnamon instead. When I do use the syrup I only add a teaspoon. I've used my frozen raspberries, and the pudding is just as good as when made with fresh berries, which is good to know since my fresh raspberry supply is done for this year. It's also good to know that you don't have to put this together the night before, just be patient (and hungry) for 10-15 minutes.
I haven't found white chia seeds locally (I have plenty of black chia seeds, so I'm not ordering the white ones), so my version isn't as pretty as it could be. The grey pudding isn't visually appealing, so look away while consuming this, or read a book as I do. It really does taste great.