Monday, October 18, 2021

Fermentation Time

Throughout the last month or so, we've gotten a lot of cabbage and fennel from the farm share. Today I shredded five pounds of both combined and got it into my fermentation crock. I generally don't know what else to do with all that cabbage. I have put some in dumplings, and in shabu shabu, but there was still a lot left and some of us do like sauerkraut. 

Tomorrow I'll add the white wine, 1/2 cup per five pounds of vegetables. 

Last weekend I went to the Sheep and Wool Festival in Rhinebeck, NY, with friends, and bought some wool to make myself a sweater as well as some small kits to make as gifts. We went 2 years ago but, obviously, not last year. I finished one of the projects I'd purchased at that last trip, just in time to wear for this one. It was Weekend Wanderer, and I made it with two colors of a merino wool/angora rabbit mix which is just SO SOFT. I even had the experience of other fair attendees cooing over my shawl and it made me very happy. 

Currently, and slowly, I'm working on Impervious. It requires a lot of concentration.

Saturday, October 2, 2021

Now You're Thinking

For the elderchild's birthday, something made me think about the video game they all used to play called Portal. There were these blue and orange portals that one creates to solve puzzles, with a promise of cake at the end. It's been a long time since anyone played Portal in this house, but when I mentioned making a Portal-themed cake to the elderchild the response was, "Ooh, I'd love to see that!"

It took me a couple of tries to make the portals. I knew I was going to make them out of sugar, and after a few experiments I used Jolly Ranchers melted in the oven in my cake rings on greased parchment. 

After that, it was a relatively simple matter to make a chocolate cake and cream cheese frosting. After we got back from the Fair today, I frosted the cake, pressed Cocoa Krispies on the sides, and topped with cherries. Then for the hard part - cutting the cake to make it look like it was passing through a portal.
And that is how we served it, with the appropriate number of candles spread out on both parts. The elderchild was quite pleased.

Did I mention the Fair was today? It actually started yesterday and will go through the 11th, but we always go on the first Saturday since I can never wait longer than that to find out how my entries did. I only entered 4 classes this year, but got first place in 2 (elderberry jelly and salsa verde) and second in the other 2 (dill pickles and bread and butter pickles). I do wish we got more specific feedback about our entries so we can improve, but still, I'm happy with the results, of course! We checked out the rabbit, bird, vegetable and flower competitions, watched a stunt show, ate a bunch of Fair food, and oohed and aahed over all the beautiful crafts on display. The bee house was PACKED so we didn't really go through it, but that was alright. We had plenty to do. 

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Lucky Twice

This morning my husband and I went to pick raspberries. Last year, we had to schedule an hour block and we could pick pints or quarts. This year, things are not as plentiful. We could only schedule a half-hour block and were given the option of half-pints or pints. We opted to pick 4 pints. Which we did as quickly as possible. Thunder started rumbling in the distance. We picked faster. 

Just as we were leaving the raspberry row, the sky erupted with lightning and, a few minutes later, it poured.

By the time we got home, the sky was so dark, it felt like 8 pm. I made a batch of raspberry jam without pectin, and ended up with about 6-7 cups of jam from 2 quarts of berries.

This afternoon, we went back out to pick up the farm share. We kept an eye on the weather report and went when it had stopped raining. We did curtail the pick-your-own part of the share. In particular, we opted to skip the flowers and tomatillos and I didn't glean any of the tomatoes that were left (not on the share, but up for grabs for people who had the time). Thankfully, we got back to the car a few minutes before it once again started raining buckets. The farm share was full of late season greens: lettuce, arugula, kale, escarole, and chard, plus raspberries, onions, eggplant, peppers, kohlrabi, and herbs. 

Three more weeks of the share to go! Hopefully there will be better weather. 

Saturday, September 25, 2021

Keeping Up

Last week at the farm I grabbed more plum tomatoes, which seemed like a lot at the time but cooked down to only two pints of tomato sauce - lots of Striped Roman heirloom plums, a few Romas, and the better part of a quart of sungolds. The share included two quarts of sungolds, but I only picked one. We just can't eat them fast enough! There is only a month left at the farm, and I expect that we'll be moving more into the winter squashes soon. For now there are lots of carrots, peppers, eggplant, onions, and greens, plus a few handfuls of raspberries. 

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Yellow Heirloom Tomatoes

Last week at the farm, instead of picking plum tomatoes (they were pretty picked over by the time I got there) I picked a bunch of yellow tomatoes. These are some form of heirloom tomato, but I don't know which one. It might be a Yellow Oxheart. It might be a Lillian's Yellow. Or something completely different. Regardless, they're large, they're uniformly yellow, and they're very sweet. Last year I made a salsa amarillo out of them. This year, I'm on a pizza sauce kick, so I made a batch of yellow tomato pizza sauce.

Well, really, it turns out orange when it's cooked down. We'll call it Golden Pizza Sauce. 

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Bee Hood Failure Mode

It's been a while so I went to check on the bees. They're generally doing well but it is later in the season so, despite my smoker, they were definitely trying to defend themselves against me. I guess they thought I was going to rob the hive. Not to mention it took me a while to get the Flow hive off the rest of the boxes and once I got into the upper brood box I inspected a few combs and then decided to leave them alone as they were getting agitated. 

Normally, my hood works great, but there must have been a little gap today between the hood and my coveralls because a bee got inside my hood and proceeded to sting me on the side of my nose, up near my eye. All I could do was catch it in the hood netting and get it out, and then I grabbed my spray bottle of rubbing alcohol and sprayed my face. Yes, it did burn in my eyes, but I needed to neutralize the alarm pheromones and keep the rest of the bees away. That did work, but I was certainly done for the day. I closed everything back up and got out of there, quick!

Good news, though - I did see lots of honey and definitely larvae and capped brood. I have not yet seen Cybeele but I'll trust that she's in there somewhere. 

My nose doesn't hurt too badly, either. Could've been a lot worse. 

Tuesday, September 14, 2021


The tomatoes from last week are finally ripe and I made another batch of pizza sauce. Despite having more purée from the same number of tomatoes, I ended up with fewer jars of sauce. Which is odd, considering it's the same thickness as the previous batch. I guess these tomatoes were just juicier to begin with? Anyway, I ended up with 4 cups of sauce. This way, even if the rest of the tomatoes at the farm aren't great, I still have a lot of pizza sauce until next season rolls around.