Sunday, August 21, 2016

Revisiting a Recipe

When I first started culinary school we made lovely bread in class that had cheese baked inside it and also sprinkled on top. I tried making it at home and overproofed the rolls; they came out too big and the wrong texture. Since I got Legion, though, I've only been making the same basic bread recipe every week with just minor modifications. In an effort to experiment a little, I decided to try to make that cheese bread again, but using Legion instead of packaged yeast.

What I did was start with 8 ounces of starter and subtracted 4 ounces of flour and 4 ounces of liquid from the recipe. This dough was very soft and sticky and so different from the bread I've been making. I've forgotten what it was like! I probably added a little too much liquid as I did add another ounce of milk while mixing. (Hey, note to self, don't do that!) Regardless, the dough fermented and proofed appropriately and the rolls came out really well. I think that was a reasonable approach to adjusting the formula and, for an experiment, I'm pleased with the results.

Also today I made a half batch of salsa verde. The link to the recipe doesn't work anymore so I had to find it again. Here's the new link. This made two cups of salsa. I'm hoping the farm share has more tomatoes and tomatillos so I can make more salsa in the next few weeks!

Last night for dinner I made up a recipe for ramen: for the broth I combined 1 pint each of duck and chicken stock, 1 pint water, 2 T. red miso paste, one egg, some ginger and garlic scapes, plus 1 T. sesame oil. Separately I cooked some Vietnamese noodles which were similar to ramen noodles (and all I had in the house). When the noodles were done they were served in a bowl with the broth and topped with a hard boiled egg, thinly sliced garlic scape (no scallions handy), blanched carrot slices and zucchini chunks. It was wonderful.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Restocking

This weekend has thus far been spent making the things we've run out of. Yesterday morning I made a batch of yogurt, half a gallon this time rather than a full gallon, and it was ready when I got home from work. Last night I started a batch of bread. This morning I proofed it and baked it. This afternoon I made eggplant caponata and canned it (three pints plus one 4-oz jar). Later today I'll make granola.

For the bread, I thought I'd try to make a Pullman type loaf using my regular loaf pans and a baking sheet to serve as a cover. They worked okay, but could have been proofed longer so they would have been more square. I think if I'm going to do this on a regular basis I would need a Pullman pan with a lid and use a less dense bread dough.

Also, two days ago the youngerchild and I made a batch of cookies. For the first half, it was just regular chocolate chip cookies with both milk and white chocolate chips. For the second half of the batch, the youngerchild requested to add mini-marshmallows. They don't exactly work as desired; the marshmallow melts and leaves holes in the cookies. I suspected that might happen which is why I didn't add them to the whole batch. I did, however, solve the too-flat problem; my oven hasn't been hot enough so they would spread too much and get very flat.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Weeds You Can Eat

The weather continues to be bad. There will be no peaches at the farm which usually has the best peaches around. Apparently they have no crop because the winter was so crazy and the buds froze. I will check the one other peach orchard I usually frequent but I don't have a lot of hope about that. There are no blackberries either.

What is doing well? The weeds. Purslane in particular is going crazy this year. I'd come across a recipe for pickled purslane a few years ago but this year I actually had enough purslane in my yard (topped off with a little from the farm where I get my share) to make this recipe for pickled purslane. It's a refrigerator pickle, so no processing. Just clean the purslane, boil the vinegar, water and spices, and combine in a one-quart wide mouth jar. Voilá.

On my agenda this weekend: bread, cheese bread, yogurt, granola, maybe some chocolate zucchini bread. Maybe more pickles. I have a lot of zucchini, cucumbers and carrots from the farm share. I might make a batch of eggplant caponata if I have time. The fridge is quite full!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Carrots and Cukes

Today's farm share pick up included 2 pounds of carrots and 2 pounds of cucumbers. The pickling cukes are basically gone but there were small regular cukes instead. I also got some cherry tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant, onions, tomatillos, hot peppers, swiss chard, parsley, cilantro, and dill heads. The volume of the share is a whole lot less than previous years and the drought is surely to blame. By this time (halfway through the season) I usually would have at least two tote bags full but this week it was just one.

Anyway, I got home and made three pints of dilled carrots and 3 pints of Favorite Dill Pickles. For the carrots, I made one of the pints in two half-pint jars and have set them aside for the fair. The cucumbers were cut to the right length and then cut into spears. I will set aside the tomatillos and eggplant for when I have enough ingredients for salsa and caponata.

Bad News and Then More

So this drought is really making a mess of things around here. Yesterday we went to check on the blueberries at our usual spot. I'd wanted to go picking but we needed to check first to see if there were any to pick.

Nope. All the bushes and the berries we could see were shriveled and dead.  Maybe next year they'll come back. I had suspected this because we had such a good year last year, so we had gone picking twice and still have plenty of jam. I didn't count on the drought but overall, with everything doing so poorly this year anyway, it's not making too much of a difference. It might impact next year's crop so it'll be interesting to see how this plays out.

However, the drought is affecting the food sources for the bees. In response to my queries with the beekeeping community it seems that my hive is more aggressive because of food pressure. The bees were also quite rude and bothered our neighbors on Friday and I'm hoping (as are they) that is a one-time thing. I am working on getting the hive stronger so I went to feed them yesterday. When I did that I noticed there were bees that looked very different getting into the hive. They were much larger and while they looked like honeybees they weren't part of the colony. The concerning part is that the hive wasn't being very good about fighting them off. So I narrowed the entrance.

Maybe some good news now: when I went today to see how they were, they were nicer (I didn't try to get in yet, that's for later today when I change the feeder. I think they finished a quart of syrup already) and I didn't see any of those larger bees.

The plan is to get some help and in a few weeks recombine the nuc colony and the hive. That will give me an opportunity to reorganize the main hive, clear out some of the abnormal combs, and hopefully strengthen the overall population.

Update: (5:15 pm) I went to go change the feeder and noted they only finished half of it, so I can give them another day. However, I saw those big bees again. I did see one get deflected by one of my bees. Progress?

Monday, August 8, 2016

Fire!

Heh, heh. Last night we had friends over for dinner and I made creme brulée for dessert. Which gave me an opportunity to play with our new torch. It was awesome.

Given the size of the ramekins, I think I used too much sugar (1 T. sanding sugar for each). I also only have 4 ramekins and there were 6 servings so I used another little ceramic dish and a tiny individual bean pot. For the bean pot, it was so deep that the torch kept going out; my husband had to blow into it to provide enough oxygen for the torch to stay lit. He ate that one.

The recipe said to cook them for 20-25 minutes, I think I had to cook mine for almost 45 minutes and they still were a little too runny. I'll either have to cook them longer or make sure the water bath is hotter to begin with.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Still Aggressive

This afternoon I checked in the hives. And got more confused than before.

Clearly both of them have larvae, and workers, and it's been about three weeks since I checked last. So there are queens. Beatrix and Beeulah.

However, the nuc colony is organized and not very aggressive. The original hive has gotten very aggressive. It's harder and harder to get in there. And the cross combs made a mess. Also, the original hive doesn't look as robust. I don't see as many worker brood cells and, maybe that's not an issue given how hot it has been, but maybe I think I want to keep the nuc colony and not keep the original colony. Now I have to figure out how to to that, or to blend them back together somehow.  It'll be a lot of work, I think, to make this happen but it might be worth it. I have an email out to my beekeeper contact and might get on the forum again.

Sting count: 2
Total sting count: 6