Thursday, July 27, 2017

Have you had your 'bucha today??

Kombucha. Do you know it??
I didn't a a little over a year ago.
It is fermented tea!
Then, I started reading about how it has probiotics, good for you enzymes and other natural nutrients that a healthy body needs.
At the time, I was babysitting our grandson and getting pretty darn sick, all the time.
Then I started buying kombucha...different brands and flavors.
Now, buying one a day can becomes an expensive habit, which is what I have. I drink a kombucha a day. Even my little 2 year old grandson knows...."Grammy, have you had your 'bucha today?"
I have to say, I do drink one a day and I haven't been sick since I started.
I have even started making my own! (At Hubby's insistence that somehow we get the cost down...."
So, I took a class...it isn't hard at all!
Every 'bucha is a bit different. The very bubbly ones often have CO2 added...and sometimes bubble occur on their own. I learned from Fermentation Farm....theirs isn't very bubbly and well neither is mine....when I have it.
You see, it takes at least 15 days for kombucha to ferment. And if you want flavor, another 5-7 days.
Patience is not my strongest suit.
So, sometimes, we still have to buy some because though I now have 4 fermenting jars, I haven't been able to get a perfect rotation going...
Here is a picture of two jars...and a jar of SCOBY waiting to make more....
What is SCOBY you ask??
It is Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast (not to worry though....it is all GOOD bacteria and yeasts....)
I know it's pretty ugly, but what it can do for fermenting tea is awesome!
Ingredients include filtered water, tea and sugar. SCOBY eats the sugar and loves and digests the caffeine.
The jars are covered with a black fabric at the top for air exchange....and once the SCOBY has been added...you wait. It really isn't hard to make. You make sweet tea (using only organic tea (not flavored) and filtered water and organic cane sugar)..let it cool to about 80 degrees....add SCOBY.
There are some kits available online that come complete with the sealed SCOBY...
I recommend it! It's a fun science project and healthy too!
Have a great day!
Nancy

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Making Tomato Jam

Tomato jam you say?? What is that?? Gracious, you haven't heard of it??
Well, take your ketchup (or catsup as some say) and throw it away!
Tomato jam is the usual condiment, kicked up a notch or two ....
You won't want regular ketchup again...seriously.
Of course, you must have abundant tomatoes.....
The recipe (from Food in Jars, by Marissa McCellan) starts with 5 pounds of tomatoes.....
And you need at least 2-2 1/2 hours....
And get that patience out......
Now, the recipe calls for red pepper flakes...which I followed exactly.....you can reduce to your taste...
The first time I did I only used a 1/4 tsp....which wasn't much...
However.....
After you have stirred and stirred some more....you have the most delicious replacement for the popular condiment.....
ONLY problem....5 pounds cooks down to 4 pints (in the recipe)...for me it turned into 2 1/2 pints!
Also, I used frozen lime juice...which had separated and was questionable as far as being shelf stable due to acid level...so though my jars were sealed in the water bath canner, not knowing my acid level of tomatoes....they are stored in the fridge.....
But, heck, I gave one to my son-in law last night to put in their fridge...it will be used up quickly....
The other jar goes to my daughter's house...they will use it even more quickly...as her boyfriend loves burgers and hot dogs....
good thing we have more tomatoes coming......
Truly...if you have "too many tomatoes" give this a try!! Its wonderful!!

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Keeping Busy

It's been a week since we put Belle to sleep....my heart is sad...
So, I keep busy.
Our neighbor made this marker for our yard, which was so sweet. They had to put their dog down a month before Belle....
He even had a little loop in the top for whatever someone would want to hang, our daughter suggested her tags....I thought that was perfect!
Moving on...
I went to the farmers market again with Hubby...we bought fruit and some veggies...
I wanted to pickle some more cukes......
 These are being fermented in a brine, which according to the class I took is the healthiest way...gives you more probiotics...etc...
I have stumbled onto these lids....I can't say enough. So so easy. It is so uncomplicated and fits wide mouth jars (which I have already) and so far...I have pretty good dill pickles....
I also am increasing the number of Kombucha jars....so I can rotate them and not have so much down time where I have to buy it....
Here is a peek at my mango "bucha" which will be ready soon....
I have two gallons and am increasing it to three...I will be rotating them out roughly every 10 days or so. Hubby likes the homemade stuff, so when its here....it doesn't last long....
It is an easy thing to make once you get started. I don't get hung up on PH etc...I just do it simply....
 My friend's daughter is about 5 weeks behind our daughter and she is having a girl! So, I bought a pattern for a simple dress and made this yesterday. I haven't sewn with a pattern in years!! I think I'll make another...it was fun...frustrating at first because I was so out of practice...but fun. The embroidered piece I created as an appliqué...sewed it first on the same fabric and cut it out then stitched it onto the dress front. That way there is no scratchy stuff against baby.
Also, Hubby has been trying to stay busy too, he misses Belle too...so...

He bought a 6 lb beef brisket and smoked it! It took him 19 hours! He got to go to bed at 2 am....
It was perfect! All the things he was reading about .."the ins and outs" of smoking...it was a goal of his to do....and he did beautifully....
Today,  I am going out with a friend to look for treasure....who knows....
Have a great day....
Nancy

Sunday, July 9, 2017

In The Garden

Our garden is not huge, it is actually small....but we do get a fair amount of produce from it. Each year is different as we try to rotate out the "crops".....
I was looking through the stored pictures in my computer and felt a wonderful sense of satisfaction in realizing that our "pototager" is perfect for us. I can and freeze and dehydrate produce all summer as well as enjoy it as it comes in the door.
There a great satisfaction in having fresh organic veggies and fruit from your own garden, no matter how small the garden is....whether it is a huge farm to a patio with a pot or two.





And yes, my garden is organic. Organic means that there will be leaves eaten by bugs, and imperfections...there will be odd shaped carrots and blemishes. That is ok. They still taste fantastic!
These pictures have been collected over the years...No two years are the same...some better than others....
And, as a crop dies back something else must take its place ....
It means, eventually, we have to buy something as a crop failed...such as yesterday...I had to buy cucumbers, dill and peppers(our peppers haven't ripened yet)....and of course we also bought fantastic peaches.
Those things we bought yesterday are from an organic farmers market that we go to. Though not all of them are certified, they all follow organic means....hey, I'm not certified either, but I am still organic....
When it comes to organic....people say, what do you do about weeds??
Well, we used raised beds, so weeds are easy to pull..and other weeds?? Well, aside from bind weed, our eternal battle, we have a philosophy about weeds....many feed the good insects...some distract the bad guys from the good stuff and weeds can keep the soil covered and therefore cooler. Weeds prove we don't spray for them.... and though we don't pick and eat them, there are some that some people might eat....So what? A few weeds here and there aren't bad....
Only "bind weed" with its vines and all upset me...they are pretty when they bloom (they look like a white morning glory only smaller)...they have actually strangled some of my plants and killed them.
So, as I go out to collect herbs to dehydrate this morning, tell me....what do you grow??
Send some pictures of your gardens!!
Nancy

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Belle

This will be quick. I am still crying.
Our beloved Belle, a yellow lab, who was only 9 1/2, had to be put down as she developed spinal neuropathy that quickly made her lose the use of her back legs.
It is supposed to be a happy day to celebrate the 4th of July...but I am not so happy.

She was pretty special and I miss her greatly.
Nancy

Friday, June 30, 2017

After the trip...

For our 40th, Hubby decided we needed a trip...so, we went to Sonoma and Napa. We stayed at the Fairmont Mission Inn in Sonoma and had a glorious time!


We originally were in a smaller room, which was nice, but there were problems they couldn't resolve with the phone and the TV, so they upgraded us to a suite!
It was huge! A one bedroom apartment, without a kitchen....and there were two TVs for Hubby to play with.....
Our visit was  lovely, although there were three days of heat, and one day was 107!
Other than that we ate at lovely restaurants, and shopped and of course you can't go there and not wine taste....which we did and joined two more clubs! Sometimes, you just gotta.....
 These garden pictures are from Mustard's...a lovely restaurant in Napa that we went to for lunch...when it was about 98 degrees...These pictures do nothing to show you the size and amazing place that it is. They grow almost all their food they use...More importantly, they are always busy...and the food is simply amazing!

 This was the first winery on the tour we went on. A family run business...and has been for 130 years! We joined their club!
 This was another winery we went to...and where our tour bus served us lunch. The weather was cooler this day and we ate outside amongst the flowers....

 Our wine tour bus....Nate was the driver that day with GrapeLine (office based in Temecula), but they are great because the will not have more than 8 people. On our tour there were 6...quite lovely!
 Here I am at Cafe La Haye where we had an amazing dinner!
 This is my stuffed quail....superb! All the bones were removed except the legs and wings.....
 This is in the town square....
 Quaint building....
 This is Jarvis...and winery extraordinaire that is completely in the mountain. It is family owned and operated and not one wine is bad...all extraordinary.....and expensive.....
At the end of our trip, I found a Scala hat that I adored(at the Beringer Estate)...too late for the heat though....but all the same Hubby bought it for me as it was quite, quite affordable....
This was dessert from Sante, inside the Fairmont Mission Inn and Spa...it has notable write ups in Conde Nast and other top publications for their food.
Other restaurants included in our trip....
Sonoma Grill
The Girl&the Fig
The Sunflower Cafe
and we also ate a picnic that we bought at the Oakville Grocer in Healdsburg.
All in all...and fantastic trip...
Note to those who have never done wine tasting....
Don't drink every drop of what they pour. Swirl, smell, swirl, taste....then pour out. Don't feel the need to drink it all! Especially if it is hot out. And if you are driving.
That one ruins your palate to all the lovely nuances of the wines you taste, but also makes for dangerous driving and could make you sick!
We knew this already and taught the others on our tour about it.
Wineries know this, it is not bad or looked at as rude if you pour wine in the buckets.
True wine tasting is just that.....tasting.
There are so very many wineries in Sonoma and Napa.....
Also, the great ones, need reservations!
Wineries such as Cakebread, Jarvis, and several others need to have reservations...so call ahead and make a plan.
Also, don't plan on more than 4-5 in a day...
I know it seems like so little, but just your palette alone cannot discern between the wines after so many.....
And, be sure to drink lots of water all day and eat three meals! Yes, food is important...even with just sipping, with no food it could be deadly.
Not all wineries in the area serve food. Some have cheese and crackers to offer for a small picnic, but do not count on wineries for food. Take a picnic with you!
Where to buy picnic stuff?? Dean & Deluca in Napa....Oakville Grocery in Healdsburg....heck even a regular grocery store....
Enjoy!!


Sunday, June 18, 2017

The Party

Whew!
What a Party!!
32 People....and heck of a great time!!
We had people come from all over and share our Anniversary.....
Before we had guests arrived I shot a few shots....as we set up..
These are the 3 dozen roses I bought and baby's breath...Such beautiful roses....

This was the "bar" we set up before....It was a 3'x6' table....it was filled with glassware and everything...
 This is a little cart I have, I lined it with the fabric and rolled up some pashminas for guests, as our evenings get chilly on the patio....They were used by our guests....
This is our cake...shortly after it was delivered. I was so beautiful...
The numbers on top started melting! It was quite warm and humid...the red starting dripping down the side....and yet, it was a delicious cake!
This is the Main table...it seated 10 quite comfortably and could've even gotten two more in...it is 120"
The toile fabric was quite the find at a rummage sale....6 yards for $5! I used almost all of it for the party!
Then caterer arrived and it got very busy....
Yes, we used caterers....the only way to have a large party....
They did bar set up
They heated the food that was delivered and set up the table....
They cleared the dishes and glass ware and washed everything
All we have to do today, Father's day, is clear the tables outside....
Pretty wonderful.
Hope you all have a great Father's Day!!
Nancy