Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Replenishing the Salsa

Tomatillos have started to come in on the farm, earlier than the tomatoes, and after a couple of weeks we accumulated enough to make a half-batch of salsa verde. I always use serrano peppers for this as they come in around the same time, but unfortunately this year the cilantro was store-bought. Yeah, I know. Apparently I was down to 2 jars left in total of the prior batches so I needed to make some, and this afternoon I needed something to distract myself. This will do. 

Notes: 18 oz tomatillos, 4 serrano peppers, 3 small cloves of garlic. 

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Back to the Favorites

In previous years, when I was flush with tomatoes and eggplant, I made a lot of Roxanne's caponata. Sadly, for the past few years I haven't had the right ingredients at the right time, but this year there have been a lot of eggplant in the farm share. The tomatoes are just starting so it's possible I'll be able to make more but, for today, I was able to make 3.5 pints of caponata. I've missed it! In general, I substitute green bell pepper for the celery and this time I didn't have red wine vinegar so I used cider vinegar which worked just fine. 

Saturday, August 22, 2020

No Rain

We're in a bit of a drought at the moment, but that's not the topic of today's post. We were supposed to go for a socially distant walk/hike/picnic with friends today, so we got food together and were all set when, right before we were to leave, the sky got really dark. The forecast said it was likely that there would be thunderstorms so we rescheduled and stayed put, only to have it not rain at all. Hopefully the forecast for tomorrow is still better because we don't really have another option.

I ended up using that time to make another batch of Bread and Butter Pickles, with cucumbers from the farm share and my garden, along with an onion and a Hungarian hot wax pepper. From about 1.5 pounds of cucumbers I ended up with 2.5 pints of pickles. Yes, this is a very small batch; I'd been waiting for more cukes by now but both the farm and my garden have stopped producing in any sort of quantity. I'm hoping when it cools down again the plants I have at home will perk up. 

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Summer Fruit

Yesterday, in the midst of all the unpacking-cleaning-putting away that normally follows a camping trip I got a text from my friend, Abigail, did I want pears again? They had been talking about taking down the pear tree because it was so large and hard to manage so I was glad to hear they hadn't and after a few texts back and forth I had four pounds of small pears on my doorstep. 

Today, after taking a small poll of the family members who were awake at the time, I decided against making jam and for making pears in syrup. We can only eat so much jam, my husband pointed out. We do occasionally turn to our jars of fruit in syrup if we have run out of fresh fruit. That settled it, and I made 2.5 quarts of quartered pears in syrup. 

Thank you, Abigail, as always, for the pears!

Monday, August 10, 2020

Blueberry Season

We went camping in NH for the past 2 nights, which was fun despite the occasional rainstorm. It was a nice break from the daily routine here at home as we haven't been able to do any of the vacationing we'd hoped and planned to do. So, we found an even more socially distant diversion. We hiked, and swam in the pond at the campsite, and cooked a lot, and made s'mores, and picked blueberries.

At the campsite there was a patch of wild blueberry bushes and the elderchild and I found time to pick a bunch; we ended up with about 3 cups that we brought back and tomorrow I will make a pie. However, there was also a nearby blueberry farm and we stopped there on our way home. In about half an hour the four of us picked roughly 7-8 pints of berries. These are cultivated berries, so larger and not as sweet. 

Tonight, after a lot of laundry and getting dinner organized, I made blueberry jam with the berries we picked from the farm. I ended up using all of them with 6.5 cups of sugar and made a jam without added pectin. Ultimately that made 10 cups of jam which is sweet and spreadable. I'd been worried that we were going to miss blueberry season so am glad we found them!

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Figured It Out

When I made the dilled beans, one of my jars broke. I wasn't entirely sure why. Today, I was making bread and butter pickles and had a jar break again which is a bummer but that led to me finally understanding what is happening.

Since I've gotten my new stove the burners are much hotter. So if I put the jars on the counter next to the canning pot, the heat from the burner radiates out the side and gets the jar hotter than boiling water. So, when the jar is placed in the canner, the temperature differential causes the jar to break. This doesn't happen with jam, only pickles, because with pickles the jars have to sit while I get them all filled before I pour in the liquid, so they have more of an opportunity to get hot. 

Now that I know, I can change my workflow to avoid this. 

I did end up with four pints of bread and butter pickles, using cucumbers from the farm share and from my garden, plus a Hungarian hot wax pepper for a little heat. The kind of heat that doesn't crack jars, at least.

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.