Friday, October 30, 2015

Icelandic Lamb Soup

Yesterday I had a full afternoon available to make soup. I had a fridge full of turnips, carrots and cabbage plus a bowl of potatoes on my table, all from the farm share. This Icelandic Lamb Soup uses it all.

Since I had A LOT of turnips I thought I'd make a triple batch of soup. I purchased 6 pounds of lamb and also dug out some frozen lamb bones from my freezer to toss in. This simmered for about an hour and then I added the vegetables. After we had some for dinner, the rest went into the fridge overnight.

Today I skimmed the chilled fat off the top and reheated the soup. I was able to fill the pressure canner with 14 pints of soup and I still have about 4 more servings in the fridge. Three batches is lots of soup.... Anyhow, the pints were canned at 10 pounds for 75 minutes and now I have no excuse not to take lunch to work!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Fondant for the Bees

As part of the winterization of my hive, which seems silly considering it's going to be in the 70's today (I know, it's a fluke), I made fondant boards for the bees.

Most of the information about making candy boards or fondant for the bees is for Warre or Langstroth hives. There isn't as much about top bar hives out there, at least not yet! Anyway, some searching online a while back made it clear that since I couldn't put the sugar or fondant on the top of the bars, I needed to have or make some kind of frame and put the fondant inside. That way, they could hang with the combs. First I went back to the company which made the hive. I purchased 2 combiner boards which look like false backs but with a big hole cut out of them. These are generally used to combine two colonies in one hive. I thought I could repurpose them for candy boards.

Next, I scored some wire mesh from Lisa who had some left over from a project. I had been thinking about getting the fondant into the holes on the boards and then putting the wire over on each side afterwards but she suggested using it more like rebar. An excellent idea! I stapled the mesh to one side of each board, like so:
This morning I made fondant based upon this recipe: How to Make Fondant From Table Sugar. I cut the recipe by 1/4 so I used 2.5 pounds of sugar, plus 1 cup of water and 3/4 tsp. of lemon juice.
Once the syrup had cooled to 200 degrees, I added a teaspoon of the bee essential oil mixture and put it in the stand mixer for a while, until it was white and smooth. Then I poured the fondant into the two molds. The amount I made was perfect for the 2 boards, which I had hoped would be the case but one never can tell.
When it's time for me to put the insulation panels on, in about a month, I'll pop these in as well.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Tasting Demo

My husband's coworkers, after hearing him rave about my canned goods, asked for a tasting. Today I brought 8 different things to sample, which we set up at a table during lunchtime. This way, people could just wander over. I brought:

Preserved garlic which was, by far, everyone's favorite.
Sweet Fiddlehead pickles. I'd brought 2 jars, we finished 1 and didn't open the second. Popular.
Bread and butter pickles, which also got some rave reviews.
Zydeco beans, nice and spicy.
Salsa verde, not as popular. I suspect that if I'd had the right chips to go with it the jar would be finished.
Crabapple jelly; people who like apple jellies liked this a lot.
Elderberry jam which was my husband's favorite, I think.
Strawberry Lemon Marmalade; this one surprised me at how much the lemon flavor stood out when compared to when I first made it. It was very popular.

It's nice to get some feedback from people who don't often get to eat the foods I prepare.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Turkey Chili

Since the younger child will eat all things poultry, even if they contain "flavor," I decided to make chili with ground turkey rather than beef.

3 pounds ground turkey
2 onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup green peppers, diced
1 pint tomato sauce
1 quart plum tomatoes, drained and chopped
4 cans kidney beans, drained
1/4 cup chili powder

Simmer for several hours. I decided not to add jalapeños or any extra spice and I am pleased to report that, except for the beans, the younger child did eat it. However, the bread boule was the larger portion of dinner.  We topped the chili with shredded cheese, sour cream, and some chives/field garlic from the yard.

There was enough left over to can 2 quarts of chili and leave some in the fridge for meals this week. The chili was canned in the pressure canner for 90 minutes at 10 pounds.

Bacon Jam

Roxanne and Donna and our bacon jam!
A while back, Roxanne asked me if I knew how to can bacon jam. I figured it required a pressure canner, which she did not have. So we came up with a plan to make the jam together and can it as a way for her to learn about pressure canning and for both of us to have bacon jam. I'd wanted to make this for quite a while. There are all sorts of recipes on line for this; here is the one we used:


  • 1 1/2 pounds sliced bacon, cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 cups finely chopped shallots (from 3 large or 8 small shallots)
  • 4 small cloves garlic, chopped (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
  • 1/2 cup bourbon
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup sherry vinegar
  • 1/3 cup packed light-brown sugar


  1. Spread half of bacon in a single layer in a large skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until browned, 20 to 23 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Remove fat; clean pan. Repeat with remaining bacon, reserving browned bits and 1 tablespoon fat in pan.
  2. Add shallots and garlic to pan and cook over medium heat, stirring, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add chili powder, ginger, and mustard and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Increase heat to high; add bourbon and maple syrup. Bring to a boil, scraping up browned bits. Add vinegar and brown sugar and return to a boil. Add reserved bacon; reduce heat to low. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until liquid reduces to a thick glaze, about 10 minutes.
  3. Transfer mixture to a food processor and pulse until it has the consistency of a chunky jam. Refrigerate in an airtight container at least 1 hour and up to 4 weeks.          
However, instead of refrigerating the jam, we put it into jars (note to self, that whole recipe makes only 3 cups of jam!) and pressure canned it at 10 pounds of pressure for 75 minutes. I have one jar, Roxanne has one jar, and she is sending the third to someone on a cooking show to see if he likes it. I'm sure he will, it's really good.

[And, Kristy, if you're reading this, I know you've wanted some of this for a while, too. I can make more.]

Sunday, October 18, 2015


It's been really cold this weekend, below freezing at night, and I wondered how the bees were doing. Both days when I checked them they were staying put in the hive. It's the first time I've been out there and not seen them flying around. This morning it was cold enough that they had pulled themselves into the middle of the hive and I was finally able to get a good look at the comb from the window. If you look closely at the photo you can see honey all the way out to the edges and many capped honey cells. This is a Very Good Sign. All the combs I could see through the window looked like this. I will still make them some food to add in when I put up the insulation panels (more on that later, when I make the fondant) but I'm feeling better every time I check that they'll actually make it through the winter. 

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Where Could I Have Put It?

Last time I made yogurt from starter, I had several packs of bacteria in the freezer specifically for it. As I haven't made yogurt in a while I figured I'd start up a new batch. I got the milk, heated it up, and started to look in the freezer for the starter. It wasn't there. I tore apart both freezers in between stirring the milk. Nothing. I found all my other cheese-making bacteria, and got a pretty good inventory of what I do have in the freezers, but did not find the yogurt starter. I have no clue where it went!

While the milk was sitting on the stove at 170-180 degrees, I ran to the store to get a container of Skyr to start the batch. It's not my favorite but it's reliable and it'll do until I find the packages of starter. Which I'm sure I'll find, now that it's not urgent that I do. Running to the store is a little complicated these days, as they say they're going to do the final paving of our road today and I had to park the car far away. And put it back in its far away spot when I was done.

Now, where could I have possibly put that package?

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Penultimate Farm Share

Yesterday's farm share pick up was heavier on the squashes and fall greens, lighter on the tomatoes and beans. Here's what I brought home: 1 head each of lettuce and escarole, some braising greens, as much kale as I could carry (the greens and kale are going to Mocha), 1 qt cherry tomatoes, 1/2 pint raspberries (which is impressive, considering how late in the season it is), 2 butternut squashes, 2 acorn squashes, 1 delicata squash, 2 heads of garlic, 3/4 pound carrots, 1 bunch Hakurei turnips, 1 bunch broccoli, 1/2 peck apples, and I didn't bring home the purple top turnips, herbs, Daikon radish and green beans. The beans and all the herbs, tomatoes, tomatillos and hot peppers are, at this point, whatever you can glean in the fields and, while it was a nice day to be out picking, I just didn't feel like I was going to get enough to make it worthwhile. I'm still working through last week's farm share too. I have 2 big bowls of squashes on my dining room table, along with a bowl of popcorn that is finishing its drying out time before we can pop it (January).

I plan to make some escarole soup on Thursday. Last night for dinner I served the raspberries and also used up the green beans and potatoes from last week. My younger child doesn't like potatoes in any form other than potato chips, so I made one potato into very thinly sliced chips and served the rest mashed. The chips were almost too thin, I used the 0.5 mm thickness on the mandolin, so maybe 1 mm would be better?

After I left the farm yesterday I went up to the fairground to pick up my entries and my ribbons. I was also picking up everything Roxanne had entered. It's a good thing I brought a bunch of boxes. I had to make 2 trips to the car with another person helping me! She entered a LOT of things. It is always so strange to see the fairground when it is empty and things are being broken down or boarded up until next year.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

A Little More Manageable

It looks like the bees are judging the drone!
This morning I used a half-peck of apples to make 3 quarts of applesauce which are in the canner. I am still deciding what to do with the Daikon radishes - what I want is those yellow radish pickles I can get at the Japanese and Korean grocery stores. But I'm not really finding recipes for those although I think they are the rice bran pickles. Not sure. What I am finding are recipes for carrot and radish pickles and I have another recipe for pickled radishes or Hakurei turnips. Maybe I can mix the two together, but I have a LOT of both and that would be way too many pickles for something I can't even put in a canner. Fortunately, they'll keep while I figure that out. The fridge is definitely more manageable now, with space to actually see what's in there.

Just now I went out to take out the feeder from the hive. The bees are more active now and I think I saw a drone get evicted. I did have bees all over my clothes and in my hair again, but they didn't seem to really care about me all that much. There is definitely honey in there, but I will be making some sort of sugar cake or fondant before Thanksgiving so I can include some when I put up the insulation panels.

Also, I decided not to put black walnut bits in with the applesauce. Now I have to think about what to do with those....

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Projects in the Queue

There have been a few projects I've been saving up so I could work on them while I waited for the boiler maintenance service today. First of all I made a batch of hot pepper sauce, using about 25 banana peppers, a few jalapeños, habañeros, and Thai peppers. These were ground up with 1 pint of vinegar, then boiled with 1 pint yellow mustard, 3 cups of sugar and 1/2 T. salt. Once the mixture boiled, a small amount of flour and water was added as a thickener. I ended up with 7 jars, all different sizes, or about 8 cups of sauce.

The other project for today was pickled beets. I had some golden beets in addition to the usual red ones and made 3 quarts of pickled beets. In previous years, the random golden beet would look ghostly in the jar. This time, I put all the golden beets into one jar so they wouldn't look as weird.

Other projects for another day: applesauce and something with the Daikon radishes I have from the farm. Then I'll be caught up for a little while, at least!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Last of the Zucchini

As the farm share is winding down for the year, there are fewer of the "summer vegetables" and more winter squash, potatoes, kale and other late greens. It's a good bet I won't be getting any more monster zucchini so I took my last two and made another double batch of chocolate zucchini bread. I think we'll have one for breakfast and I'll take one to work, leaving another 2 for the freezer. Eventually I'll move on to pumpkin bread but, for now, I have to clear out the vegetable drawer.

Also today I shelled and toasted all the black walnuts. This yielded at least a cup, if not a little more, of nuts. Last year I put them in maple syrup, we have used the walnut-infused syrup but haven't eaten the walnuts. I might put these into applesauce again, or maybe I'll find some baked good in which to toss them.

Lastly, I had lunch with Roxanne today and brought home some of her home baked goodies that she'd made for the fair. The cookies were especially wonderful! It's clear to see why they won first place. Yum!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Mouseguard Installed

I know what my husband is really saying in this video:  "WHAT are you THINKING?"

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Great Day at the Fair!

Dill Pickles, Apple Jelly, and Sweet Pickle Relish
It's a really cold day for the Fair, but that didn't stop us from heading up there to see how I did with all my canning entries. I'm so pleased to report that I won a ribbon in every class I entered. There was even some consistency in that 2 of the items were also entered in the Fair last year and they won the same place each time. I am also pleased that my friend Roxanne won lots of things, too, including the gift basket category; her basket was just beautiful. And she won not just in canning but in baking as well - cookies and cake!
Mulberry Jelly
Strawberry Jam

Bread and Butter Pickles

Blueberry Jam

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Flora and Fauna

This morning started out bright and early with a birthday 6:30 am. The elderchild is now 14 and requested red velvet cupcakes. While it was still dark we breakfasted on a croquembouche of cupcakes:
After work I went to the farm to pick up the share. Hard to believe there are only 3 weeks left! Here's the flora part: 1/2 peck apples, 1 bunch flowers, 1 watermelon, 2 each acorn and carnival squashes, 1 head of lettuce, broccoli, arugula, beets, radishes, purple top turnips, Hakurei turnips, zucchini, garlic, hot peppers (I could only find 5, they're basically done for the season), lots of kale, tomatoes, parsley, 1/2 pint raspberries, green beans, and popcorn. I now have 3.5 gallons of tomatoes in the freezer and a bunch of projects for next week. For dinner we ate the green beans and had a salad along with our steak tips and pasta. And more cupcakes.

Now for the fauna:  while I was at the farm I saw several field mice and heard even more. I startled a little mouse in the green beans and it ran in 3 different directions, clearly flustered, until it finally picked a direction to get away from me! When I got home I went out to feed the bees. This is the last time I'll put in a jar of syrup; when they finish it I'll take the whole feeder out for the season. While I was out there I heard something rustle and looked over to see a fox about 50 feet away from me. A big one, too! Keep in mind, I live in a fairly urban environment. Others who have seen the fox lately theorized that all the construction has disrupted their habitat so they're more active and visible. Lastly, I saw a bunny in the middle of the road while I was driving (no worries, he got out of the way). Lots of critters!