Saturday, November 30, 2019

A Week of Feasting

After last Sunday's mini-Thanksgiving, we've continued to eat our way through the week. Monday we had a fondue night, with tiny potatoes, broccoli florets and bread and two different types of cheese fondue. Tuesday we went out for Thai food and Wednesday we had some leftovers to clear the fridge for the meals to come. On actual Thanksgiving I was working and our site director sent an entire traditional Thanksgiving meal which was good because it got busy and it was nice to have food ready to eat when we had a few moments.

Last night we went out to dinner at a Chinese restaurant, Red 8, in the new casino in Boston. We did not go into the casino part because not everyone in our party was over 21 but the whole place was quite the spectacle. After a whole lot of very good Chinese food we went to another restaurant, Sinatra, for dessert, most of which consisted of little pastries on a "gold record" made out of dark chocolate! It was Frank Sinatra themed, after all.

Tonight we finally had our family Thanksgiving, with my parents, while also celebrating my father's birthday. I made the pumpkin pie a few days ago but last night started the candied cranberries for a garnish. This recipe for pumpkin pie really is terrific. Yesterday morning I made the apple pie, this time cooking the apples first before baking them in the pie. I am really pleased with how this turned out. Also, I used honeycrisp apples instead of Cortlands and I think I like that better. I also made a quick cranberry-pomegranate sauce by making cranberry sauce and tossing in the seeds from half a pomegranate at the last minute.

Mom made the sweet potatoes again and, again, I overbroiled the marshmallows but this time I got them out before they entirely burned. Whoops. My husband got the turkey brining on Thursday while I was at work which was so helpful, and I made the stuffing yesterday. So today, between raking leaves and running to the store for last minute things, we got everything cooked and on the table by 4 pm.

So, Happy Thanksgiving to everyone and, Happy Birthday, Dad!

Monday, November 25, 2019

Pre-Holiday Feast

This year, instead of one large Thanksgiving meal I'm hosting two smaller ones. The first was yesterday, with pork roasted with onions and potatoes, applesauce, butternut squash, an apple pie and pumpkin bread pudding.

The pumpkin bread came from my first attempt to make pumpkin muffins a few weeks ago. The bottoms had burnt because my oven is so unreliable, so I sliced off the burnt parts and froze the rest. Yesterday I tore up the muffins into a 9x13 baking dish and added a custard: 2 cups milk, 4 eggs, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon. This was baked at 350˚ for about 25 minutes which was just enough to set the custard. It was served with salted caramel sauce.

The apple pie was tricky because I was trying to not add as much water to the crust - which worked because it turned out very flaky and light - but which made it harder to roll out so when I went to put the top crust on it broke into several pieces. The elderchild and I patched it together and made a bunch of leaf cut-outs to cascade down the ugly side and made it quite lovely, I think. I'll have another opportunity to try it since I plan to make another pie for Saturday's meal.

Monday, November 11, 2019

A Melancholy Day

It's overcast, and cold, and it might snow tomorrow. After discovering yesterday that my bees were gone I needed to get into the hives and clean them out. I didn't need the smoker, but I got into my suit just in case.

Hebee's hive was just...empty. No bees, not even a lot of dead ones. It appears they just left. They left their honey behind, though. Which I'm currently straining (the combs have to warm up first, so the honey will flow better) and so far have gotten about a pint.

Beeyoncé's hive was almost empty. There were a handful of bees, moving slowly in the cold. There were a lot of dead bees on the floor of the hive, and there was still honey in that hive, too. I left it for them, in case they suddenly and unexpectedly rally.

I really can't explain this. I even saw honeybees on my Montauk daisies less than a month ago.

Every time I lose a colony I do a lot of soul-searching about it. Maybe I did something wrong (likely). Maybe being a beekeeper or a bee guardian or whatever it is that I do isn't working and isn't for me (possibly). Maybe next time will be better (or not). I think I will give it one more go, with the Langstroth in the springtime, and see what happens. 

Sunday, November 10, 2019

No Bees?

At least, I don't think so. Last I checked they were doing OK, but I haven't checked on them in a while. Today it was warmer and while I was doing yard work I went to see them, figuring it was almost time to insulate the hives (the usual recommendation is around Thanksgiving). I will have to suit up tomorrow to get a closer look but there were almost none to be found, in either colony. My best guess is that they died, but I don't have a good sense of when. This is so frustrating! I felt like they'd been having a good year. 

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Time for More Applesauce

When we went apple picking last month we split the half-bushel between Honeycrisps and Cortlands. I made a pie with some of the Cortlands but had a bunch left which were destined for applesauce. It's been a while but I finally got to that today. It's a good thing apples last a long time!

This time instead of using the food mill I cut the apples (there were 7) into tiny chunks and boiled them with water alone. If you add sugar before the boiling process then the chunks do not break down. Once they were soft, I crushed them with the spoon and then added a bunch of sugar, maybe a little less than a cup. This worked out to a little more than three pints of applesauce. Which is good, because we'd run out.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Last Step in the Process

Yesterday I cut the last two pounds of Jerusalem artichokes thinly, along with some turmeric root, and brined them. This morning I made the vinegar solution: cider vinegar, rice vinegar (I didn't have white wine vinegar), water, cloves, chili peppers, bay leaves, sugar and mustard powder. Apparently I ran out of mustard seeds and forgot to get more so I just added more powder instead.

All this made 6 8-ounce jars of pickles which I processed in boiling water for 10 minutes and let rest for 5 before removing from the canner. They're cooling now. One jar is a little emptier than the rest, I'll use that one to test the pickles in about a week or so.

Now the only thing left is the fermentation of the other pickles which should be for about 5 more days at the minimum. Hopefully they'll be a successful experiment!

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Jerusalem Artichoke Update

After getting the first batch of Jerusalem artichoke pickles fermenting, I set aside two pounds to make the brined pickle from Hank Shaw's blog. The rest were boiled in milk and water, mashed with butter, salt, pepper, and a little of the cooking liquid, and served with dinner. They were really tasty! But, definitely not food for company as all the legends about sunchokes are, unfortunately, true.

And yet, I have just sliced the remaining two pounds with turmeric root and they are currently brining until tomorrow, at which time I'll make the vinegar pickle.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Autumn Roots

Several years ago I asked my sister for Jerusalem artichoke (aka sunchoke) rhizomes so I could plant some in my yard. I'd discovered these years ago, when I lived in Pennsylvania, and thought they might be fun to grow.

"Fun" led to "take over the garden." It was time to dig some up.

Two days ago I cut them back for the season and, since it had been after a frost, dug up a lot of the rhizomes for the first time. And by some, I mean five pounds! But, they apparently don't keep for long in the fridge so I needed to get some of them taken care of.

Today's project was to make these fermented sunchoke pickles. I forgot I didn't have turmeric so I used some curry powder my family gave me for my birthday which worked just fine. Tomorrow if I have time and energy I'll make a vinegar pickle, maybe this one, as well. The rest I plan to roast.