Tag Archives: Blackberrys

First Ripe Apples!

The very first apples of 2012 from The Toy Box. WooT

So much happens in July! Too late for Independence Day, too early for Christopher’s birthday, the branch of Yellow Transparent Apples had to be used TODAY. There were only seven of them, and one of those was golf ball size. Never mind, I had a puff pastry that needed to be used as a crust, it was the perfect size. The apples were peeled, sliced and fried in a bit of butter and Apple Jack, simmered in Cointreau and raisins to flavor and finish. Spread out on the puff pastry and baked at 400 degrees F. While the pastry was cooling I brushed it a couple of times with a syrup that was made with the peels and lavender sprigs. So Good!

New rail for the corn bed.

This morning Ray made a rail to go around the corn. We do not have a big wind problem but we have waited 20 years for a home-grown ear of corn. We would hate to lose it to a big gust of wind.

Marion Berries

In the Toy Box I have been picking a few blueberries every day and putting them in the freezer. A slow process but the bag of frozen blue berries is getting full. Today I picked my first basket of Marion Berries. While walking the dogs tonight I came across a very small patch of the tiny PNW blackberries with the first ripe fruit glowing in the sunset. I need to get over the hill and check my personal stash.

Tiny, wild PNW blackberries.

 Good Shabbat to you! The Thunder Moon (Av) is about to enter its 2nd qtr. Though there was no rain, it was overcast and muggy. 68/55 Sunrise at 5:39, 15 hours and 11 minutes later the sun set at 8:50


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Cold, cold July (until today)

The Toy Box

Suburban Farm Episode #25 (Season 3)

I have no idea why or how you-tube chooses a cover picture. This looks liked my pumpkin vine growing outside of the fence. By the way, I did finally get my lawn mown. Sorry about the mess.

Is that a dragon fly sitting on my corn?

Today was warmer outside than it was inside, we have not had many days like that. Blue sky, 75/57 sunrise at 5:37, 15 hours and 15 minutes later the sun set at 8:52. I am missing my late walks with the dogs.

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Filed under Square Foot Garden, Urban Farm, Video

Winter Dreams

Frosty, foggy sunrise at the Toy Box. December 9, 2011

I have my plans. I am full of ideas for next year and beyond at the Toy Box. Not getting in a fall-winter garden for two years in a row is pushing me. The mill Ray works for is shutting down. I am more determined (or is that desperate) to feed us from what we can grow in the yard YHVH has graciously put us in. We talk of rabbits and fish tanks. Of Cherry trees and potatoes, wood stoves and outdoor kitchens. Expanded rain collection systems and hoop houses. At the back of our mind is the knowledge that we might be forced to walk away from all of this, but until that day we will live where we are, knowing the act of our Lord, the display his power that put us here.

Garden Sage

Garden Sage 12/9/11

Days before the holidays, garden catalogs are coming. Cook’s sent me last years catalog, apparently to keep me interested until their 2012 wish book (and truly Cook’s is a wish book) comes out. I am coveting a collection of their raspberries. Three each of black, an early red, a late red and a yellow. Jason and I are the only raspberry lovers in my house so why do I need these? I want to put one of each type into a huge pot the way we did with the collection of three from Flower World. But I also want to put a short double row in the ground where my determinant tomatoes are currently set. Vine berries are one of the few plants that do very well in the sorry excuse for soil we have in the Toy Box.

Marion Berry Leaves

Marion Berries planted spring 2011 on 12-9-11

Last year Ray and I put in Marion Berries and Logan berries after we noticed that the brambles and small wild black berries do exceptionally well just beyond the fence. The small sample of marion and logan from their first summer were wonderful. I have two more vines of each that I want to find a space for in an already crowded garden. We are desperately missing the jam that I did not make this year because of the new glass top stove. While reading about how to use the automatic oven cleaning feature I came across a blurb in our owners manual that promises me that I can use the glass top for canning under careful conditions. Ray still worries, but I am determined to give it a try. Having nothing but applesauce from 2010 in the pantry and only frosty herbs plus a few leaves of kale and chard in the garden is distressing.

Apple Leaves

Only a few yellow leaves still cling to the apple tree 12-9-1

The multi-apple tree is doing all right, the sweet cherry gave us a taste of her candy. We are still waiting to taste a single pear. The tree that does exceptionally well is the sour cherry. If we are able (trees are so expensive) we want to add two more sour or pie cherry trees. A dwarf orchard is planned for the front garden. The front garden is only partially fenced. Every dog walker in our community lets their dogs (and we think they are huge dogs) come visit our front lawn. That needs to be prevented with good neighbor fencing. We do not like most of the industrial landscape plants in the front garden. We chat about pulling most of that out and replacing them with my lavenders and some herbal flowers such as ecchenicca (purple cone flower), calendula and stinky but useful valerian. Sunflowers too since this garden tends to be soggy.

Custom Made Clouch

The last of the Cilantro under the Clouch (chard and parsley)

I can grow some protein in the Toy Box. We have discovered Fava (Broad) Beans and a small cranberry type of bean, treasured on Whidbey Island for years, known as Rockwell that provide some tasty protine. The nuggets give us eggs. Even so, we are talking about rabbits for meat (and poo that is gold in the compost) and a Talipa aquaponics. Ray actually seems jazzed about fish farming. All of it takes money to start.

The Old Windmill

Grandpa's old wind mill at sunrise

No one ever really knows what a day will bring. YHVH give us the privilege, the delightful hope, of dreaming about what we will do should he allow. We are sharply aware that the future belongs to our Elohim/God. We want to keep the eyes of our hearts on him. He is far more secure than healthy hens or  a pantry full of jelly.  Things can change in the blink of an eye. One day the mill sent the workers home with a letter informing them that the sale of the mill is all but done save for a few details, get your applications in to the new company. The very next day we found out that everything fell apart. 700 people who depend upon their wage from the mill will join the ranks of the unemployed. The temptation to succumb to depression dogged us most of the day.  As individuals and as a couple who have come through so many things before this, we had to stop and remember that our Lord has made one promise to us. He will never forsake us.

December 9, 2011 Windmill

December 9, 2011

We choose hope. It is hope, not presumption that keeps us dreaming about what we can do this coming year. It is the lovingkindness of our YHVH in his son Y’shua that causes us to stand firm (rather than proud) on his promise. We do not know where we will be next year, but we know it will be beyond what we are able to dream. We are blessed, that is all we know for sure. God shows us that he favors us again and again. The rest is just details…..details that do not fall apart in negations.

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Finnish Ribbon Cakes

Finnish Ribbon Cakes
Ray is a man of tradition. When I put out a platter of Christmas cookies he wants to find his Mother’s Russian Tea Balls or Cindy’s Thumbprint Kisses. I like to find something new. Trying new cookies, even at Christmas is how I discovered my favorite Christmas cookie, Orange-Chocolate Biscotti. The new cookie on the platter this year are Finnish Ribbon Cakes.


  • 1 cup softened butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp lemon zest
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2  1/2 cups flour

For the glaze whisk 1/2 cup powdered sugar with 1 Tbs water.


Cream butter and sugar Shape dough (about 1/4 of recipe).

 In large bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until creamy; beat in egg yolk, vanilla, lemon zest and salt. Gradually add flour to butter mixture, blending throughly until soft dough forms.
Shape dough into ropes about 3/4 inch in diameter and as long as your baking sheets; place them about 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets (I line mine with parchment). With the side of your little finger, press a long groove down the center of each rope (don’t press all the way down to the baking sheets). Bake cookies in a 375 F oven for 10 minutes.
Remove cookies from oven and spoon jam into the grooves. Return to oven for 5 to 10 minutes or until cookies are firm to touch and light golden brown. While cookies are hot, drizzle them with powdered sugar glaze. Then cut at a 45 degree angle into 1-inch lengths. Let cool briefly on baking sheets; transfer to racks and let cool completely. Store air tight. Makes about 4 dozen.

Shape dough (about 1/4 of recipe).

Press a long groove in each rope with your little finger. Do not go too deep.

Bake at 375 F for 10 minutes. Remove from oven. Fill the groove with jam and return cookies to the oven for another 5 to 10 minutes.

Glaze the cookies, cool slightly, giving the glaze time to set. Cut the logs at a 45 degree angle about 1 inch thick. Move cookies to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Go to Christmas Cookies 2010 for the complete list this years sweets.

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Lemony-Lavender Loganberry Bars

Pastry Crust Base

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Sift together flour and sugar in a medium bowl. Add the melted butter and combine the mixture into a loose dough. Pat the mixture into a 9 inch square pan. Bake the pastry until just browned around the edges, about 10 minutes.


  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed lavender buds
  • 1 teaspoon fresh grated lemon peel
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup Loganberries (or black, rasp, blue, marian, or lingian berries can be used)
  • powdered sugar for garnish

In mixing bowl (for mixer) add eggs, lemon peel, lemon juice, lavender and sugar. Beat at medium low-speed until mixture is thick and smooth (about 5 minutes) In a small bowl, combine the flour and baking powder. Add the flour to the running mixer, and continue running the mixer until well blended.

Fold the berries into the lemon/egg mixture. Pour the filling into the pre-baked pastry crust base. Bake the filling for about 20 minutes or until set.

Remove from oven, cool on a rack. . Sift powdered sugar over the cooled pastry. Cut into bars and serve either chilled whipped cream or ice-cream. Yield 12 to 16 bars.

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Blackberry Ice Cream with Lavender

Early summer wild black berries with just a hint of lavender.

  • 2 cups fresh blackberries
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon lavender buds, crushed

Mix blackberries, sugar and lavender in a small saucepan. Over medium heat bring the fruit and sugar to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer, string to break up fruit and dissolve the sugar. Simmer and stir for about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat. Run a hand blender over the fruit to make a puree (or cool the fruit somewhat, transfer to a blender and puree. Press the puree through a fine sieve to remove and discard seeds. Set at the ready.

  • egg yolk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup half and half

Whisk the yolk, sugar and half and half in a small sauce pan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly until it comes to a boil and thickens slightly (about 5 minutes of low boil).

  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla or lavender vanilla
  • optional, pinch of lavender buds

Whisk remaining half and half, the cream vanilla and optional lavender into cooked mixture. Whisk the blackberry puree into cream mixture.

Cool and chill custard for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Pour cold custard into electric ice cream machine and process according to machine directions. It took about 35 minutes in my Cuisinart on a hot evening.

Because this ice-cream has a custard base, it should be scoop-able from the freezer.

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