Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Proctor Hill Berries

The place I used to go horseback riding is called Proctor Hill. I was given permission to forage there; there were nettles but, mostly, there were berries. All sorts of berries. Over the years, I foraged wee little amounts of black raspberries, red raspberries, wild blueberries, a handful of blackberries, and wild grapes. These were tucked into the freezer, waiting until I had enough of them. I had always intended to make a mixed berry jam or jelly as a gift for my riding instructor. 

Time has marched on and my instructor has left that farm for a place that better suited her current needs. I haven't ridden for over a year, after a spectacular fall made me question whether I wanted to continue. I was just getting ready to consider Western pleasure riding instead when the pandemic effectively made the decision for me. At least, for now. I do miss it; spending an hour or so a week without a cell phone in sight, only focused upon the immediate challenge of convincing a very large living and opinionated creature to do what I wanted. It got me out of my head in a way that nothing else seems to do. 

In the process of moving out and then back in to a freezer, I found all those berries. It was clear I was never going to add to the stash so it was time to make jelly out of what I had. The grapes are the dominant flavor but the raspberries do add something, I think. I cooked down the berries with water, extracted almost six cups of juice, let the solids settle, and then made jelly. Ultimately I ended up with about nine cups of jelly, enough for 12 small jars for my gift stash and a few extra just for us.

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Taiyaki, Attempts 1 and 2

For Christmas, the elderchild gifted the youngerchild with a Taiyaki pan. Taiyaki are fish shaped cakes generally served as street food in Japan and other Asian countries. They are often filled with red bean paste but can also have Nutella, custard or other fillings. I remember finding some in Kyoto that had sweet potato filling. Those were pretty awesome. They're made a bit like waffles, with an iron pan.

Round one. 

Once we got the stove back, the youngerchild brought the pan down and left it in the kitchen, moving it from one prominent place to the other, "hoping" I would notice and get around to making them. Fine. I thawed some red bean paste and, using the recipe on the pan's box, made a batch for breakfast a few weeks ago. 

It was clear I was going to need more practice. The first batch were basically raw in the middle but the batter was at least runny enough to fill the molds. I had plenty of bean paste left over and figured I was going to need more practice so today I tried again. This time I used a more pancake-like batter that rose a lot in the pan, so I had more batter leaking out and making a mess. The end result, however, was more done in the middle and more like a stuffed pancake. They were pretty good. 

Now that I have the batter part worked out a little bit, I am thinking about fillings. I might try Nutella, or maybe chestnut puree. We had a different sweet in Kyoto that had chestnut paste and red bean paste together in a ball of rice and that was pretty amazing. Might be fun to try to recreate those flavors. 

Round two.

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Spring Bee Update

Today I went out and fed the bees another quart of syrup. This is the fourth week in a row I've been doing that, and I think after this they'll be okay without it. It's warming up, they're bringing in lots of pollen and so many flowers are out right now. I have the flow hive in place and I am hoping they start to work on it. There were some bees in there today, but no evidence that they are laying down wax yet. 

From an overcast start it's turning into a lovely sunny day. I'm looking forward to a short hike later.