Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Saturday, November 26, 2011
Thursday, November 24, 2011
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
The chickens are still, STILL, molting ( I have no patience for this. I hate buying store bought eggs) so I decided to supplement their feed with some seed.
Bird seed to be exact.
And I didn't do this on purpose.
You can supplement with nuts and seeds when chickens are going through molt - most notably for introduction of essential and beneficial amino acids, along with good oils and some low level protein. I usually just throw some flax seed in the feeding trough and call it a day. I have chopped up nuts and thrown them in the yard. I have also put olive oil in with their kitchen trimmings. They love it.
But the chickens keep pulling over my bird feeder and scarfing up all the bird seed, so I thought I would just let them enjoy their impromptu smorgasbord and not interfere.
It was a bird seed holocaust out there. Feathers were flying, a cacophony of quacks, clucks and all manner of assorted noises rose from the back corner of the chicken run. At one point, I saw the little chickens ganging up with the big chickens against the ducks.
All fair in love and birdseed. And I guess when it comes to winning, we stick with our own genus.
Eventually, their bellies sluggish with bird seed, they wandered away to nap and dust bathe. Every single one of those foul fowl were grinning their fool heads off.
So now it's going to be like an extreme sport for me. I will mount said bird feeder full of seed in different parts of the yard in an experiment to see how long it takes them to rip it down and empty it. So self-satisfying. If I was a responsible researcher I would keep a graph. But, woe, I am not. So we will have to rely on self report.
BTW - Thanksgiving is two - TWO - days away. I love Thanksgiving. I want you to picture Thanksgiving in a thought bubble over my head surrounded by floaty hearts and big smooches. I absolutely LOVE Thanksgiving.
1) Gorge fest. Oh, yes ma'am. It's on.
2) A chance to try new recipes. I love experimenting in the kitchen.
3) Pie. With ice cream or whipped cream.
4) More pie.
Silent 6) is the lack of present giving. Which I can't stand. It wrecks things and makes people feel so damn obligated. There is nothing worse than forced gift giving. And all to symbolize the gifts that the Maji presented to a dear, tiny, infant, 8 lb baby jesus. But they brought Gold, Frankincense and Myrh - not a new lexus and feelings of inferiority. I heart Christmas how my family celebrates it, but not how America celebrates it. Nauseating. BUT - best way to get out from under that smothering, consumer driven blanket of bad news? Turn off the TV and do things your own way.
Works every time!
Rant is over. Try giving seeds or nuts or oil to the chickens and watch what happens. It's Hilarious.
Saturday, November 19, 2011
It's getting cold around here and we even had snow last night, so I thought I would take some of my Red Wrigglers (RW's) and bring them inside. They don't like it when it's cold and sometimes it can kill them, and since I don't like to spend money when I don't have to (such as buying new worms next spring) I thought I would bring them inside.
I left some in the outside worm bins for two reasons: 1) I couldn't get them all and 2) it was cold and my feet were starting to numb up. If left alone too long in a worm bin without proper food or bedding, the RW's tend to die off or become small and non -productive. And I'm glad I grabbed a bunch (probably close to a half a pound) because I only found a handful of reproductive ready wormies, the rest were all juveniles and small. Which means the cold has really got to them this year and they haven't reproduced as fast.
The top photo is of a worm that is big enough to reproduce - and the band represents that. The photo on the bottom is of a youngster. Just cutting his liquid teeth on some yummy kitchen offal.
However, there were lot's of worm castings and much of the food I put in there is now being broken down. Hence the silent third reason why I left some worms in there - I don't want to have some food just rotting away in a box in my backyard. I'd like to have it eaten!
The chickens lined up like starving people on a bread line to get some of the insect action and I swear to god if they had been able to speak what would have come chirping out of their beaks would have been something close to: "C'mon Mom, just one bite, pleasepleaseplease? I'll lay extra eggs. I'll stop molting. Just two seconds in the box. Seriously."
I tossed them a couple of roley-poley bugs because I'm not made of stone.
I decided to use an old container that I bought along with a pound of worms for a ridiculous price (like, 10$) from some lady a while ago to move the RW's into the house. I would LOVE a worm tower, but that is not in the cards at this time. So I'm gonna slum it with some oversized tupperware. Whatever. I'm like the Marines. I just make do with what I have.
I like to use shredded newspaper and leaves as bedding. People also use shredded cardboard or paper, grass clippings, peat moss, leaf mould, straw, etc. The trick is to use something that is non toxic to worms and can be broken down fairly easily. I like newspaper b/c the H reads the paper everyday and we have oodles of it. (I've tried to tell him that he can read the paper online from his phone everyday for FREE but he is old fashioned and doesn't want to do that. So, whatever.) Also, it is easy to get wet and hangs onto moisture well. Worms breathe through their skin and having a moist (think wrung out sponge) environment for them is critical. Too little or too much moisture can kill them.
So - rip up paper, deposit worms, moisten and add food. Then, put them in the house and casually mention to the H that the worms are inside now and pretend not to hear the groans and muted whines of protest. The longer you are married, the more finely tuned that deaf ear gets.
And now I won't have to traipse outside as often to feed the wormies. They will be inside and warm and will hopefully have copious amounts of worm sex and eat 10 times faster (optimal temp for them to mate and eat is between 55 and 77 degrees.)
Off to hit the showers and make full use of (beautiful, lovely, heavenly) nap time!
Thursday, November 17, 2011
Did you know that you can't water bath can chicken stock?
Well, I didn't. Until tonight.
I'm gonna have to figure something out here - I have a special affinity for roast chicken and hate to waste anything and love the way my house smells when I make stock so, hence, I have a lot of stock. Which is muy bonita except I'm running out of freezer space and I need to seriously can some freaking stock.
Enter my archaic water bath canner that was a pressure canner until I lost the vital dial thing that sits on top of it.
Chicken stock has low acidity. Chicken stock don't like water bath canners and like a gelded horse, my pressure canner is missing something important.
That freaking dial. Hurrumph. It's in my house somewhere, but true to form, I won't find it until it's completely irrelevant - such as after purchasing a new canner, or in the middle of the night, or whatever.
I make a lot of things with stock - including rice for my pug as I make all her food now (SO much cheaper and healthier than store bought chunks. You should see her coat. It's shiny. It's like a Eukanuba commercial.) so it's possible that I will use all the stock in short order, but cramming more frozen stuff in the freezer sounds so UN-fun, I just don't wanna.
It's freezer tetris. With chicken stock.
Monday, November 14, 2011
I repurpose just about everything I can think of. I try to live my life by the motto: Use it up, wear it out, when in doubt, go without. (I tweaked an old fashioned saying from the Great Depression to make it more topical to me.)
So what to do with an old shower curtain liner that has been cleaned with bleach more times than I can count but definitely needs to be replaced?
Use it to cover a bale of hay in my un-barn backyard, of course.
Can I get a hell yeah?
Sunday, November 13, 2011
I'll just give you the recipe and hope you make it.
I'm a sucker for chocolate chip cookies but am always disappointed. I am looking for chewy, flat, crispy on the edges yumminess and haven't been able to get it.
May I present:
Kick Ass Chocolate Chip Cookie:
From Savory Sweet Life cookbook and some random blogger online.
1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 3/4 cups (12 oz) all-purpose flour *If at all possible, please weigh the flour
3/4 tsp. smallish-medium coarse sea salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
2 1/4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 360 degrees. Cream butter, sugar, and brown sugar until it is nice and fluffy (approx. 3 minutes on medium-high speed on a K-5). Add both eggs and vanilla and beat for an additional 2 minutes. Add baking soda, baking powder, salt, and flour until cookie batter is fully incorporated. Finally add chocolate chips until well distributed. The cookie batter should be somewhat thick. Drop about 2 tablespoons of dough or use a medium cookie scoop and plop the batter onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 12-14 minutes until the edges are nice and golden brown. Remove from heat and allow the cookies to stay on the cookie sheet for an additional 2 minutes. Pick up the parchment paper with the cookies still on top and transfer to a cool non-porous surface. Allow the cookies to cool on the paper for at least 3 minutes before serving. Enjoy!
*please do not use table salt, the sea salt gives the cookies a nice flavor and hints of texture. If you only have table salt, use 1/2 tsp. *When using sea salt, you will get small crunchy flecks of salt when you bite into the cookie. If you do not like this taste, go with 1/2 teaspoon of table salt.
*I realized grocery stores sell bags of chocolate chips in 12 oz bags but this recipe really needs every last chip. Otherwise you’ll get cookies with only a few chips in each one and this recipe requires lots of chocolate to bulk the cookie up. You’ll need about 1 1/2 bags.
I put in less chocolate chips because I like less in my cookies. But certainly tweak it any way you want. I added a touch more vanilla as well.
I have been off sugar but every week I allow myself a treat. So this was my treat this week. And man, did my heart race with all the sugar and MAN, was it worth it.
Oh, and you're welcome.
Saturday, November 12, 2011
While I am waiting for butter to soften for chocolate chip cookies, I thought I would share a piece of ridicularity with you. And before you ask - yes. I did just make up a word. I'm taking a hint from Will Ferrel and his "actor's studio" bit. He makes up a word for how good something is. That word is Scrumptrulescent. Freakin' classic.
So I thought I would join the ranks of the great comedians of all time and share my word and one of the reasons I had to make it up in the first place.
In case you can't see what that is I'll tell you.
It's a dude washing cars. On a used car lot. In the middle of a Friday. In the RAIN.
And before I point out the obvious - like, why in the blue fuck is he wasting water on a car that is not dirty in the middle of a rain storm during what is typically the slowest sales time of the week - I just want to point out that I am not a hater for people who are trying to keep their jobs. Nor am I a hater for dealerships trying to keep their employees busy so they don't have to lay them off.
But, you know. In a rainstorm? *Dramatic Sigh*
As yet one more screaming reason why I had to coin "ridicularity". Just to sum up some of the moronic things I see people do.
And, incidentally, I am trying a new chocolate chip recipe today. I have been on a laid back quest for the perfect choc chip cookie for years. This one calls for Sea Salt and Mexican Vanilla. So we'll see.
Please don't wash your clean car in a rainstorm. Please? Water is a finite resource. We only have so much. And if anyone has a killer choc chip recipe, I knew a certain happy Northwest Veggie Gardner who would be THRILLED to have it.
Friday, November 11, 2011
This little monstrosity has been in my house since we moved in.
We have no fireplace. We have The Beast.
Any pictures you take of The Beast will be fuzzy and cloudy b/c The Beast is maniacal and jumps into your electronic device and changes it's technical makeup to suit it's own needs.
The Beast is crafty.
For years I didn't attempt to burn anything in The Beast. B/C nothing WOULD burn.
Nothing except my dreams, that is.
This fall it is different. I decided that I would not live under the tyranny of The Beast's yoke any longer - sitting there smug and squat in the corner of our sunken "utility" room - I would show this little shit who's boss.
I grabbed some kindling, newspaper and well seasoned logs and set out to prove a point - that things could burn for extended periods of time in this hideous wood stove. That I could heat part of my home with wood alone, as the previous owners said they did. I would look at my Puget Sound Energy bill in December and not almost piss myself.
I would win.
I have tried to start a fire in this goddamn thing 7 times now. 7 TIMES. Every time it goes out. The wood is dry, the paper is dry, I have made fires before, it doesn't seem like it should be this hard.
It is probably the fact that the problem is user error that makes me more angry. And determined. And somewhat maniacal myself. I will not be bested by a hunk of steal.
It has two doors - one on the side and one on the front. The flue is open (i'm not a complete idiot), yet if I close the side door, the fire goes out. If I leave it open, smoke fills my house. If I close it part way, that seems to work - kinda. I'm so confused.
So now I have a hunk of coals. *sigh* Annoying. I'm going to keep tending to it like an pyromaniac with OCD until I can get that thing to bend to my will.
Sometimes inanimate object have souls. Like cars, or rototillers. Or Wood Stoves.
The Beast has a soul - and it is EVIL.
But at least there is less newspaper going in the recycle bin.
Thursday, November 10, 2011
And they fell on it with the hunger of a thousand fighting men....
Or, at least, a bunch of semi-hungry/bored chickens.
That, you see, is the disturbing pumpkin that the H carved (his FIRST carved pumpkin ever. Like, EVER. In his whole life. I was so happy that he didn't stab himself. Although he is a butcher, so....) meeting it's final demise in the back corner of the chicken run. Where, I suspect, it will be disassembled with great speed as the chickens, ducks, and little chickens have their way with it.
The Jack O' Lantern had one eye, a big smile and a horn coming out of it's head. We called it the world's first special needs pumpkin. And what better way to return to the earth that to be shredded apart by wily chickens? Would it have been better to slowly mold in the yard waste container? To gently collapse on my front stoop until I shoveled it into the compost with a grimace? Nay, I say. Nay. Better to meet your soil maker at the beaks and claws of a pack of ravenous hens.
Oops. Well. Now they're moving on. Jeez. Short attention span, anyone?
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
I think sometimes, in the zeal to become what you want to be, you forget to become what you already are.
Lindsey. What the fuck are you talking about?
Let me expound on that.
I just got done reading This Life Is In Your Hands by Melissa Coleman. She talks about her relationship with her parents, who bought land from Helen and Scott Nearing in the late 60's and attempted to homestead. And actually did a good job of generating food for themselves and being "self-sufficient". But in the process, her mother fell into the grips of a severe depression which led to her eventual abandonment of her children, her father was unfaithful and her little sister drowned in a pond.
The parents, to me, were trying so hard to be this IDEAL of what they thought, intellectually, they should be, that they were unable to see what they already were. A closeknit family of shared beliefs who needed to nurture and help each other.
Instead, their ideals led them in a path that made it almost impossible to function as a family.
Also, their ideals put blinders on the fact that mother was definitely mentally ill (mostly postpartum depression that later blossomed into clinical depression with suicidal ideation and detachment from reality) and father was medical ill (hyperactive thyroid that should have been removed and caused him to lose weight and function at an inhuman level of rushed activity at all times).
It just crystallized to me that there is an ever present need to always be better, do more things, get more done and that is good - to a degree. Because it keeps us moving and keeps life interesting and feeding our brains. But sometimes we need to finish the projects we already have going and recognize when something is pushing too far away from what we already are. And to far away from what is already working.
I will never be a homesteader. I realize that. As much as I function under a belief that it would be more emotionally rewarding for me, I have to realize that my H doesn't want that. He is happy in the state we are in - grow some veggies, tend the flock, tend the tot, go out and see friends, enjoy our small piece of Americana. Lather, rinse, repeat as desired. Roger that. And also, the more I think about it, the less I would actually enjoy being that cut off from the rest of the world. Once the novelty wears off, you're still in the same situation. I guess at that point, you could change it...
I always tell my client's to step back and appreciate the fullness of a situation before proceeding and that includes acknowledging things about yourself or your situation that are working and things that aren't working. I also tell them to do 4 things everyday that will lead to a generally good life: 1) Don't Kill Anyone 2) Don't Steal 3) Take Care Of Your Family 4) Go To Work Everyday (in or outside of the home) but that's outside the point. I think we need to be deliberate. And sometimes, being deliberate means becoming what you already are.
Esoteric? Ridiculous? Probably both. Or maybe this is one of the thoughts that I have that I think is revolutionary and then realize it's a pretty basic thought that most people have!
All I know is that this book wrecked me. I spent the last 20 pages crying (which made me look hot) and all I wanted to do is run home and hug my family and tell them both that I appreciate every single stupid little thing about them. And the not so stupid big things, as well.
I'm so HAPPY new Stephen King is shipping to my house as we speak. I need some good King Distraction!
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
I totally did this while I couldn't blog and I have been wanting to talk about it ever since.
I think I started the original blog post with "Oh, my HEAVENS" and still think that today. I have been trying to tease out how to make this kind of thing happen closer to my home and it's just so big, it would need a team of people to do it and alas, I do not have that at my disposal.
I was invited to the Seattle Farm Co-op Barter and Potluck by a friend of mine who is a member and was helping to organize it. I don't think even she knew what a success it would be - it turned out awesome!
The premise is just as it sounds - a potluck and barter fair - people who are members, or who wanna be members, brought food and goods to barter. The evening started out with eating and looking at the stuff people had brought and having beer and wine - pay for the cup and fill up as much as you want! I do not drink, but if I did, that would have been rad. People meandered around and it quickly became clear that we were going to fill up the original room, so we spilled out across the hallway to barter and eat.
The fair was held in an old schoolhouse in the Phinney Neighborhood in Seattle - close to the zoo and home to the best burgers in Seattle (a tie between Dicks and Red Mill). The old schoolhouse is now a community center and it perches on a hill overlooking the Phinney neighborhood of quiet little craftsman houses and well kept yards. Creaky old wood floors and slanted stairways led the way up to a big gallery at the top that would house the hippies.
Oh, and the hippies were out. In full force. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Idealistically, I'm a hippie. But I wear deodorant. And that is where the differences begin. I'm way too self-conscious to be an unabashed hippie. I like brushing my hair and wearing clothes that are understated and match. I also wear makeup and can't play the drums (no rhythm, here). But hanging around with people who think like me in terms of being organic, keeping chickens and other livestock and canning our own harvest means I get to mix with all sorts or really interesting, intelligent and deliberate people and therein is where the magic of this evening started.
This guy was awesome - brought his own honey, jams and jellies and other assorted yummy things. People were selling all sorts of interesting things. Earrings, mushrooms freshly foraged that morning (chanterelles mostly), honey, knitted goods, jams and jellies, salsas, sauces of all kinds, etc. Essentially, anything that people had made and wanted to barter for other things they needed. Someone also brought a duck that needed a new home. I don't know what happened to that duck. I hope someone took it home and was happy with it.
Pretty soon, musicians started to play and that is when I really found my bliss. I love live music but HATE to go to concerts. I'm not a fan of crowds, driving, paying for parking, or being out late. I closely resemble an 85 year old woman when people want to go to a concert with me. I will do literary readings. That's about as close as I get. And even when I go to those I spend the first 20 minutes planning my escape route in case of an earthquake. I just saw Jeffrey Eugenides with the GM and I fretted for a good 10-15 minutes about the amount of people in the auditorium and the steepness of the stadium seating as it pertains to casualties in case of an earthquake. I also make comments on elevators about it getting stuck. I usually take the stairs.
But I digress.
The musicians started to play. In a very ad hoc sort of way. A bango and guitar player started turning out some really good "folk" music (like old-timey appalachian music - which I have a soft spot for anyways...), then a fiddle player joined in. It was so pretty and lively and people were kind of bobbing around while they listened and looked at the goods. The tot got down and wanted to dance and she joined another toddler in doing the spasmatic up and down dance that every toddler is fluent in while I tapped my foot and soaked it up.
Eventually I deposited the tot with my very good distinctly non-hippie friend, who was such a good sport to come out with me, and started shopping. I wanted honey. That was my goal and everything else was a bonus. I had brought along blackberry jelly and asian pear sauce to trade and thought "no one's gonna want this stuff!" and 30 minutes later I had my honey and more!
Eventually it became too hot and crowded to enjoy myself in the main room so I led the tot across the hallway and found another room in which people were sitting and eating and listening to a quartet of musicians jamming away. Ahhhh, yes. Here we go. I plunked the tot down and broke out her dinner and sat back to watch the musicians get all up in it. A upright bass, fiddle player, guitar and bango - just jamming away. I was absolutely in heaven. Every once in a while you find yourself in the right place at the right time in your life and doing exactly the right thing for that moment. That was this one evening.
I left with a sugar pie pumpkin, earrings, TWO jars of honey, peach preserves and apricot pancake syrup.
Just a stellar evening, all around. I don't need to join the co-op since I live super close to the actual country and go 10 minutes up the road to get hay and chicken feed, but in downtown Seattle, the co-op is indispensable for people to get their goods and i'm so glad they are around. I might join just to attend more events like this!
Sunday, November 6, 2011
So, uh, I tried to make sauerkraut. Homemade sauerkraut. Which every single lousy recipe said would be totally easy.
And I think, in essence, it was.
Cut up cabbage. Check
Sprinkle with Sea Salt. Check check.
Cover with a plate, weigh it down and cover with plastic wrap or a lid. Triple check and roger that.
Except for I looked in it today and noticed that the cabbage around the perimeter of the bowl was turning a sickly brown color. Quite stinky, actually, and a sickly brown color. Of which ever single lousy recipe told me was not good.
What the heck did I do wrong?
I tossed the whole mess to the chickens and washed out the bowl, disgusted with my apparent inability to ferment cabbage. Which any idiot can apparently do! I am still shaking my head. I followed every step, added the right amount of salt and the cabbage in the middle (the non-brown) actually smelled kinda good - sauerkrauty. So I'm still confused.
I think I will try again, but really want to get a crock or something that seals. And since I don't have something like that on hand, I will have to trust a trip to the Goodwill (usually several times to the Goodwill) in order to come up with something. At which point, the frugalness of making my own sauerkraut will almost be lost if I count up the gas and time used and amount of money to buy said crock-like sauerkraut vessel.
I am not one to give up, though. I will persevere.
But, you know. Screw up sauerkraut? For fuckssake.
Saturday, November 5, 2011
Can we just have a conversation about the awesome thing I did today?
I was cruising on the internet a while ago and through a site of a site of a site, I stumbled upon Farm Kitchen.
Farm Kitchen is this, uh, farm and kitchen out in Poulsbo, WA that specializes in all sorts of things. It's an organic garden, a cooking school, a wedding venue, a home, a place to make gingerbread houses come holiday time, and online bakery.
This place is a hop, skip and ferry ride from Seattle. I gathered up the GM and the tot and decided to attend Farm Kitchen's First Breakfast. This is a really neat idea, in that every first Saturday of the month, the Farm Kitchen hosts a breakfast in which they feature home baked goods, some sort of "signature dish" and all sorts of yummy sides.
We drove down Highway 305 to the Agate Pass bridge (which some yahoo has always, and as long as I can remember, reworked with magic marker to say "fagate's ass bridge". Har, har, har. I don't know if it's the same coked out teenager who has now grown up but not outgrown the phase, or if he has passed the torch to other coked out yahoo teenagers. Regardless, it is a landmark) and turned at the Casino. We made our way out to Suquamish, where, as a child, my family had a small cabin on the water, and ended up back in the trees. Twist and turn, twist and turn until....
We parked and it was packed. It's a really neato way that they run the joint, too. They meet you outside with the menu, which is small, a lady writes your order up, and you go inside. Where, immediately, you are smacked in the face with a cascading waterfall of pastry goodness. I have been off sugar for a week to lose some weight (which works, fyi) and today was kind of a free day. And it was CARB OVERLOAD. A SHITLOAD OF SUGAR, if you will. ALL CAPS. Cookies, muffins, cinnamon rolls, banana bread, etc, etc, etc. I died a little. Right there. Then came back to life in time to grab the big cinnamon roll we were going to share and move down the line.
They ring you up, you grab some coffee or tea or whatever and then seat yourself. And then, as soon as you catch your breath, some darling little teenage girl is standing there with your meal. I was SO SHOCKED at the speediness of it all. Bring on the country potatoes, eggs, bacon, multigrain pancakes, syrup, and unruly sugar high.
I just drooled on my keyboard. Drat.
So we yummed our way through our killer meal and then decided to take a turn around the green to see what we could see. It would have been nice to sit, drink coffee and chat, but a toddler always has other plans.
The farm is mostly organic vegetables, and some fruit in terms of grapes and an orchard. They also have a couple of goats and a couple of horses. There may be other animals lurking in the fields, but true to Northwest form, the farm was pretty hilly, with lot's of tucked away spaces and I couldn't really tell if there were more. There were row covers and hoop houses galore. I didn't see any chickens, which I was abstractly surprised by, but they could have been anywhere. They may not, *gasp*, have chickens. (Does that go against some sort of organic farm code, or something??)
There are many little areas, some with edibles and some with ornamentals. There is an orchard tucked off to the side with apple trees. There is a big bed by the main house with onions and other edibles in it. And around everything is green, green grass. It has been super chilly at night but the days have been sunny and cool and the dew was sparkling all over the farm.
We got done strolling, and started sounding like a broken record (ie, "this place is so cool" and "jeez, what a nice day") and began to realize we would have to leave.
But I think we all wanted to stay. The tot ran through the grass. The GM and I kept trying to name the many plants (hint: I suck at remembering plant names and my mom is a walking almanac of everything flora. We make a very uneven and funny team. Lindsey: "Hey, this looks like, ahhh, what the heck is this called...." GM "Oh that's ____________. A member of the _____________family. Really neat color." "Yeah, right. Thanks Ma.")
We hoofed it back to the car and took off. A ferry ride, a killer breakfast, and atmosphere worth the ride. A truly great morning.
Friday, November 4, 2011
I decided to can some applesauce.
Because I like it and because it's easy and because we have a ridiculously good apple crop here in Washington (ahem, one of our chief exports. Your welcome, world.) I decided to can some applesauce.
The tot and I packed up and headed out to Rockridge Orchards in Enumclaw to gather us up some yummy apples. This was going to be my second batch of apple sauce, as I made (and the family ate) my first batch out of Gravenstein apples from the fruit stand in Puyallup; we needed to replenish. I also was half hoping to have Gravensteins again, but knew that they were probably all gone. A cool summer has left our Gravenstein harvest very low and poor, indeed.
And sure enough, there were no Gravensteins. Poo. I love them because they cook down to this ridiculously good, tart/sweet mash that has no need of a blender. So we needed to have a back up plan.
I poked around the bins. Seriously considered a mix of Jona Golds, Golden Delicious, and Honeycrips, but then happened upon the "seconds" bin.
Oh, man. I'm a sucker for a deal.
One huge (read: overflowing) crate of seconds. The bunged up, scraped and unhappy cousins of the glossy beauties in the nice wicker baskets, these "seconds" were shoved under a Halloween display and looking pretty forlorn. I swear I heard them mumbling to themselves like petulant 5 year olds in time out - "we are totally as good as those guys. Yeah, we might have some spots, a couple of mushy patches, but that stuff is totally not a big deal. Show offs."
I pulled out a couple of boxes (as I could fill one up for only $10) and set out to pick and choose my way towards happy applesauce.
The tot totally helped, too. Which was hilarious, because she kept picking out really good apples. It got to the point that others in the aisle just watched and laughed. She would very deliberately go in, pick around for a minute, and come out with a cute little apple - perfect size, with not much ick on it at all. I was (and am) totally impressed by this short person.
Then we commenced to peel and core all them apples. Which was not "we" because I did it while the tot played with toys and sat on the floor watching me. And which also did not take that long since I have an apple peeler/corer which has been the most used (next to the coffee maker) accessory in the kitchen.
I have, like, an exceptionally small freaking kitchen.
Then, after all was said and done, I had 8 quarts and 5 pints of apple sauce, all chunky and with just a touch of cinnamon in my pantry in the tiled room (our version of the American Utility Room). I have found that mixes of apples make the best sauce and that Red Delicious apples shouldn't be used for anything. By anyone. Ever. Because they don't taste good and they don't go through the peeler/corer very well. Because they are mushy disgusting excuses for apples. I add just a touch of cinnamon to my apples sauce and I take hint from the Nearings and never process the sauce, just cook and can. It makes chunky, yummy, full flavored sauce. But I do take the peels off. Because Mama didn't raise no fool.
I can't figure out yet how to rotate pictures, so we will all have to deal with the skewed picture up top. Sorry.
Kristin over at Going Country called hers the Apple Crazy. I like that. And used that term several times myself as I was knee deep in apple peels, but when my H got home and saw the mounds of peels he called it the Apple Apocalypse and it kinda stuck.
He has a way with words and this is why I keep him around.
I am not a huge canner. I don't preserve a bunch and I'm not really garden savvy enough to be able to put up huge amounts of produce from out back yard. But I was able to make enough apple sauce to choke a large donkey with, should we choose to do so.
And I loves me some apple sauce. So does the Tot. And I've already given some away to those in my immediate purple circle of loved ones who will trust home canned things to make the whole endeavor worthwhile.
Next - I want to start making candles and soap. I read and watched videos on how to make soy candles and I got that familiar "dig" (that's how I know when I will actually try something until I get it right. It's a feeling. The only way I can explain it is to call it a "dig" - like when an idea or activity digs in?? Geddit??) so that will be next as we wend our way through the first cold, dark days of late fall.
Oh, well. One thing at a time!
Thursday, November 3, 2011
I like making cheese. It's just routinely that I have not enough time or energy to devote to it and/or usually screw something up because I can't focus.
But the other day I had a hankering for Fromage Blanc (quite possibly the easiest cheese to make in the entire world. But I LOVE it. Always have. It's rich, tangy, velvety smooth and easily spreadable.
What's not to love?
Commence Cheese Making.
I skipped (or, uh, drove) up to the nearest dairy farm and procured a bottle of unpasteurized, whole cows milk. Then I bought some culture. Which was dumb because I already had some, and came home.
Step One (of which I have no picture): heat the milk to 86 degrees. I actually had a little less than I needed, so supplemented with half regular milk from the fridge. I was a little afraid it wouldn't culture, but thought I would give it a try. Turned out it was no big deal.
Step Two: Add culture. I didn't take a picture of this either because I suck and who wants to look at a picture of me dumping a little packet of culture into a big vat of milk?
Step Three: Let it sit for twelve hours. I did this at night and let it sit overnight until the next morning and actually left it alone.
Now comes the fun. Cue the FUN!
Step Four: Strain the curds and whey in muslin or a cheese sack. Which would make an excellent slam against someone you don't like. "Hey. Shut up, you cheese sack." Save the whey for the chickens. They loooove it.
And finally. Step Five: Pull out the settled curds 6 -12 hours later, and mix with some salt. Then make little fromage blanc cheese patties and dredge in herbs, or green onions, or peppers, or all three.
There is an optional Step Six in which you can, if you want, stand in your kitchen, dragging baby carrots through the finished cheese while openly and vociferously congratulating yourself for being awesome and making awesome, yummy cheese.
There may have been a minute in which I thanked myself in the third person. Something like, "thank you Lindsey, and I mean it, for making some yummy cheese. You are talented, beautiful and make a mean little cheese patty. Good job."