Sunday, August 2, 2020

Some Assembly Required

I've been planning to add a FlowHive super to my hive for a while, and purchased it at the same time as the Langstroth. However, it came in 3 boxes, completely in parts. I wasn't ready to assemble it and then have to find a place to put it all before I set it out. So I left it in its component parts until two days ago when the youngerchild and I put the box together. 

This is essentially a medium super with four Flow frames and four regular frames. There were no instructions. There was a link to their website that had a video of the assembly of a similar but not-quite-the-same box. We assembled the box as best we could. We made sure the Flow frames worked and were set at the proper setting for the bees to get started. Then I looked at the box with the pieces for the last four regular frames and discovered that I needed foundation to make them. At least, I thought I did. Again, no instructions. I ordered foundation sheets from Amazon.

The foundation arrived yesterday just as I was headed to work so today I found a video posted by "Beekeeping for Dummies" and assembled the frames with their foundation. There were small pieces of wood left, I'm not sure what those are for. Regardless, I got the frames together and into the box, like so:

Then I got into my bee suit and brought it out. First I quickly peeked in the upper box on the hive and saw lots of capped honey. This is a great sign. Then I set down the queen excluder which is what prevents the queen from laying eggs in the Flow frames and ensures they will only have honey in them. I placed the Flow super onto the rest, put the cover on, and now we just have to see what the bees manage to do before the weather turns cold. 
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Thursday, July 23, 2020

Thunder Clouds

As I drove to get the farm share today, I saw big white fluffy clouds on the horizon. I wondered if I might get rained on. The answer was Yes, and then some...

I'm not sure why this is, but I'm always picking green beans whenever I get caught in a thunderstorm at the farm. Today was no exception. The share was for unlimited beans, and I wanted to can some dilly beans, so I continued to pick, soaked through in the heavy rain, with thunder all around me (thankfully I did not see any lightning) as I gathered as many of the smaller, more tender beans I could find and some dill flower heads. Ultimately I had enough for 3 pints of dilly beans.

Which are now 2 pints. One of the jars cracked in the canner and the bottom fell off. Whoops. 

Plant Based Protein

During this pandemic we've been having a protein rut of sorts. The youngerchild does not eat red or gamey meats or fish, and the elderchild won't eat beef. This leaves us basically cooking a lot of chicken and pork. I've been trying to expand the protein options by adding tofu, and one night we tried vegan sausages. The remaining 2 vegan sausages remain, unopened and unloved, in the fridge. Tofu has been slightly more successful, with a couple of stir fries. The youngerchild asked if it could be cut up smaller after the first attempt, so there would be a higher ratio of surface area (aka the part that actually has flavor) to volume. The second attempt had much smaller pieces of tofu but even then, they weren't consumed completely but more was eaten, at least. The elderchild is completely fine with the tofu in any form. 

There will be more fish in the future, and the plan is to make sure the youngerchild has something else to eat, but I'm tired of not having fish because I love it and would like to eat more of it. However, in the interest of increasing the plant based protein in our diets, last night I made tofu alfredo sauce. It wasn't bad, but there was a lot of tweaking of the recipe to get it to the point that it tasted more like alfredo and less like tofu. 

What I did was blend 16 oz. of silken tofu with 1/2 cup whole milk in a blender, then add 2 T. of butter that had been used to sautĂ© garlic. (The garlic was discarded, it was just for the flavor.) Then I blended that with salt, pepper, nutmeg, and about 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, and heated it up in a saucepan. I added a little bit of fresh parsley, adjusted the seasonings, and voilá. Served over ravioli: cheese for the youngerchild, a combination of butternut squash and sausage for the rest of us, with fresh basil on top. 

And, guess what? 

The youngerchild had seconds.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Oat Bars, Second Attempt

Today's oat pulp went into another batch of granola bars. Following the same recipe, sort of, but with more oats to make it a little drier and different mix-ins:

1 ½ cup old-fashioned rolled oats
½ cup cane sugar
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 eggs
½ cup oat milk
1 cup oat pulp
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup chopped pecans
¼ cup dried cranberries

¼ cup pepitas

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line an 8-inch square pan with parchment paper hanging over the edge.
In a medium bowl, combine the dry ingredients including the rolled oats, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon together in a bowl.
In another large bowl, combine the wet ingredients including the eggs, milk, oat pulp and vanilla extract. Transfer the dry ingredients over the wet ingredients and set aside until flavors blend, about 20 minutes.
Fold in the pecans, pepitas and cranberries, and spread combined mixture into prepared square pan.
Bake in the preheated oven until edges are golden brown, about 30-35 minutes. Allow to cool on wire rack for 5 minutes before slicing. Cut into 8 bars, place on baking sheet and return to the oven at 225˚F for another 30 minutes. Turn off the oven and let the bars cool in the oven.


This definitely made them less sticky and more like the vision I have in my head for what they should be. The best part is once I get the proportions tweaked, I can change the mix-ins anytime based on what I have in the house.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Another Use

Last night, while baking bread, I threw in the oat pulp from another batch of oat milk and adjusted the water in the recipe based upon the texture of the dough. Today the bread baked and it's just wonderful, the oats make almost no difference in the crumb of the bread but augment the flavor just enough to be noticed. This is another handy way to use all that oat pulp we're generating, so glad it isn't going to waste.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Fruity Oaty Bars

When making oat milk one ends up with a lot of ground up oat residue and it seems wasteful to throw it out. The first thing I made with it is a face scrub with some honey which is less of a scrub and more like a paste and we're not sure how we feel about it. The next thing I tried were granola bars which were far more successful.

Using this recipe, I replaced 1 cup of oats and the applesauce with the oat pulp from 1-1/3 cups of oats. To make a quart of oat milk, I blend 1 quart of water with 1-1/3 cups oats and then strain it through a jelly bag. Instead of walnuts and cranberries I used almonds and currants, and I used oat milk instead of almond milk. After baking them I felt they were very soft so I cut them in to bars, arranged them on a baking sheet, and put them back in the oven on the "keep warm" setting for several hours to dry them out a little more. They're similar to chewy granola bars you can get in the store.

Feedback thus far: very chewy, needs more cinnamon. I might consider a pinch more salt or other flavoring, taking out the oat milk entirely as there is already a lot of liquid, and changing up the nut and fruit content. That being said, I think this is a very successful way to use up the oat pulp. 

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Bees and Bunnies

Today is a very warm day and I was overdue to check on the bees since I added the second set of frames about a month ago. So I got myself into my bee suit and checked on them. I only checked the upper box, because to move the box would have been hard and would have really riled up the bees. They seem to be doing quite well, there was a lot of capped honey, a lot of new brood, and most of those were worker bees so I know Alcibee is doing well even though I didn't see her. To be fair, I didn't look too hard. I only checked 8 of the 10 upper frames and none of the lower ones. Mainly, I just wanted to make sure they weren't planning on swarming soon.

Found him again, hiding under some yard waste, so put him back under the bushes
After checking on them, I set about watering all my potted plants and, when I went around to the front of the house, found a baby bunny in my path. It was so small! It's ears were only about an inch long. After a while, it got tired of me looking at it and hopped away, on gangly little legs. We have lots of bunnies in the yard, probably because we don't have a dog or cat that would scare it away, but also possibly because we dump the litter from our rabbit's litter box into the compost heap and I think it attracts the wild rabbits. We love having them in the yard enough that I don't even mind that they have methodically destroyed all my hostas.