Sunday, July 26, 2009

Garden Update 7.26.09

More rain and some sun this week. Our squash plants look very water logged and I’m not sure we are going to get very much of anything out of them this year. The tomatoes, carrots, peppers and cukes are looking great. The second planting of beans, peas, radishes and beets are looking just fine. What I can not get over is one of the grape vines we planted last fall is growing very fast the other three vines are doing ok but the Niagara Grape has officially reached the top of the pergola; 11 feet high. The other vines do not get as much sun as that one so maybe that is a factor. It is just amazing to watch.

Took some photos of the fruit trees as well. The cherry seems to be growing the most and the pear tree has some sort of squash growing with it. It must have been from a seed that was in our compost pile, we amended the soil with our compost when we planted the trees. So we will have to wait and see what type of squash we are growing.

One of the many mystery tomato plants is most likely a roma tomato by the looks of the shape, can’t tell the variety of the other mystery tomato plants we will just have to wait and see.

This week I have started to keep a log of how many pounds of produce we are growing in the garden; this weeks take a 7 pounds - we harvested Cucumbers (2 ¼ pounds), raspberries, purple pod beans, green beans, purple potatoes (1 lb 1 oz), red bliss potatoes, lettuce, radish, yellow and white carrots and banarama peppers. Next year I will keep track from the first harvest…don’t know why I did not think of this

Garden Update 7.26.09

Monday, July 20, 2009

Samuel Adams Brewery Tour

I expected to be blogging about our exciting trip to the Boston Samuel Adams Brewery – we were not impressed. The brewery is actually a Research and Development facility the actual brewing is done in Pennsylvania and Ohio. The tour lasted one hour – most of which was spent in the tasting room drinking three 7 ounce samples of Sam Adams beer; it made for an interesting breakfast since it was 11 o’clock and I had not had breakfast and Phil only had a bowl of cereal!!

Our first stop was a small room where we learned about the roasted malt our tour guide gave us samples to nibble on we tasted a pale barley and chocolate roasted barley. They were sweet and nutty the chocolate one had a faint coco taste. We learned about the Hops that Sam Adams uses it is grown in Germany and they use the whole hop as well as pellets. They passed the hops around and we were able to smell that wonderful hop aroma.

Our next stop was a room where we were lectured on the brewing process and saw the copper pots where they boil the malt mixture, the mixture now called wort is then sent to the wort chillers then to the finishing tanks. That was it. We then went to the tasting room!

We never got to smell the wonderful smells of boiling malt, simmering hops, fermented beer being racked to go to the next stage, no clanging of bottles being filled with the malty goodness of beer. How sad that we had expected to see a brewery – after all it is called the Boston Brewing Company – so why is it brewed in Pennsylvania and Ohio? Silly us!!

We did get to sample three beers, Boston Larger, Summer Wheat and one that will be on the market in the next few weeks Summer Lemon Wheat. Lesson learned next time we want to tour a brewery ask if they actually brew and bottle beer!!!

To see the photo album click on the photo below
Sam Adams 7.20.09

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Garden Update 7.19.09

What a difference some sun makes!! The tomatoes are looking so much better; things seem to be growing and are no longer at a standstill. I cannot get over how large and prolific the red raspberries are this year. I have been picking at least one bowl full per day and the birds and squirrels have not seemed to have discovered them YET!!

The tomatoes seemed to have set quite a bit of fruit this week. The lemon drop tomatoes are loaded with fruits and flowers; health kick has a nice cluster of tomatoes on it; the 4th of July tomato is getting bigger and the Brandy Boy is going wild! The tomatoes planted in the ground and the mystery tomatoes that are just popping up from seeds left in the ground from last year are doing better than the hanging tomatoes. I will hang the tomatoes again though since they do not take up space in the garden and allow us to grow more in such a small space.

On one of our visits to the local farmers market, we found a curry plant. I had never seen one before so of course we bought it!! When you rub the leaves, it smells just like curry. The woman who sold it to us told us to dry then grind the spice not to use it fresh. I just love the framers market you never know what you are going to find!

This week for garden maintance, I mulched with grass clippings, pulled the peas and weeded. The grass clippings seem to be working well with keeping the weeds down but I just cant mulch the whole garden especially where I just sowed the radishes, beets, peas and beans!!
We had a good harvest this week about ¼ pound of the blue and yellow peas the last of those till fall; ½ pound of purple pod beans; ¼ pound of green beans; 2 pints of red raspberries and one perfect zucchini!

To see the photo album click on the photo below
Garden Update 7.19.09

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Garden Update 7.12.09

More rain this week, however, we have had 3 days of sunshine, it just rained at night. This week I harvested most of the beets, radishes and waterlogged onions. I sowed lots of beets and some radish in that area.

The peas are starting to die back so I planted more for a fall crop. The beans are looking great and we have had a good harvest, however, planted some more beans as well. Looking forward to a bountiful fall harvest of peas and beans.

Earlier this week I harvested some compost from the worm bin and fed the tomatoes, cauliflower, and zucchini. Today I went to the grass clipping compost heap and remulched the beans, potatoes, cucumbers, peas, tomatoes, zucchini and peppers. The grass clippings are doing a great job of keeping the weeds down and do not seem to be adding too much nitrogen to the soil. In the grass clipping compost pile was also add ash from the wood oven so I think we have a good balance.

Hoping the sun keeps shining!

To see the photo album click on the photo below

Garden update 7.12.09

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Garden Update 7.5.09

This week we picked quite a bit of the yellow and blue peas, purple pod beans, lettuce and a few radishes and red raspberries. The weather seems to be trying to turn, still seems to rain every day but at least we are having a few hours of sunshine to make the garden grow.

The tomatoes are always the stars of the garden, I am starting to see some fruit, but still seem to have tons of flowers, the progress seems so slow. We have fruit on the 4th of July, brandy boy and health kick tomato varieties.

The summer squash grows but the minute, as does one grape vine “Niagara”. I swear if I sat outside all day, I could watch it grow!

Today I added worm compost to the hanging tomato baskets and the cabbage; hopefully we will see the benefits of adding the worm’s hard work in the next couple of weeks.

To see the album click on the photo below

Garden update 7.4.09

Sunday, July 5, 2009

4th of July Feast - PIG ROAST!!

We started the smoker up at 6am! I am sure the neighbors were wondering what the heck are they doing now! It’s 4th of July and we are having a feast. Phil made cuts into the top layer of fat then coated the beef brisket and fresh pork shoulder with a spice rub consisting of the following

Spice Rub
Brown Sugar
Garlic Powder
Onion Salt
Dry Mustard
Ground Allspice
Ground Coriander

The meat made it onto the smoker by 6:30 am; we added wood to the smoker about every half hour or so.

Our side dishes – baked beans and Asian style cole slaw. We soaked the great northern white beans overnight then boiled for one hour. Placed them in a crock-pot on low and added dark brown sugar, molasses, dry mustard bacon and onions fried in the bacon grease. The cole slaw is simple and delicious and no need to worry about mayo going bad in the heat. We shredded two heads of cabbage and four carrots, added rice wine vinegar, salad oil, sesame oil, salt, black and white sesame seeds.

Now for the star of the show the pig!! Phil arranged her on a bed of sweet potato, celery, onion and carrots. We filled her cavity with some red bliss potato, placed one in her mouth to hold it open during the cooking process and surrounded her with a few more potatoes. He then rubbed her down with a blend of cayenne pepper, onion and garlic salt and SMOKED paprika.

Phil makes a to die for BBQ sauce that was used for the pulled pork and beef. It keeps well so you can make one batch and use it several times. We store ours in old ketchup bottles.

BBQ Sauce
2 32ox bottles of ketchup
2 limes juiced with zest
½ cup cider vinegar
½ cup of Tequila or triple sec
4 tablespoons of cinnamon
1 tablespoon of each – Allspice, cumin and coriander
½ teaspoon of chili powder
1 pound of brown sugar

The Wood Fired Oven was fired up at noon, and the pig went in at 1:30. The oven temperature was about 500F. The Pig went in uncovered to sear and crisp the skin we covered her with heavy-duty tin foil about ½ hour later. We slowed the fire by removing some wood and allow the pig to cook slowly. She stayed in the oven for two hours we pulled her out and let her rest covered for about one hour, the internal temperature was 150F and will continue to rise as she rests. After pulling her out of the oven we brought the temperature of the oven back up so we could make some pizza it never got up to the high temperatures, we normally cook pizza at but due to time constraints, we went ahead with making 13 pizzas for appetizers. The pig went back in the oven after all the pizzas were cooked just to warm up Phil carved her and everyone devoured her!! She was cooked perfectly and was very tasty.

To view album click on photo below
2009 4th of July

Friday, July 3, 2009

Homemade Mozzarella Cheese

There is simply nothing better than homemade mozzarella cheese! One you have tried this you will never go back to store bought again. The most difficult part of the process is locating the supplies; we purchase our supplies from They ship quickly and the prices are great.

We start by dissolving ½ teaspoon of Lipase powder in ½ cup of cool water; it needs to sit for about 20 minutes before adding to the milk. Therefore, I do this as I am preparing my ingredients and tools. The Lipase is optional but it gives the cheese a better flavor.

I pour two gallons of milk in to a CLEAN stock pot and bring it up to 55F over a medium heat stirring constantly; this step goes quickly so be sure to have your thermometer in the milk most of the time. When the milk reaches 55F, add 3 teaspoons of Citric Acid and your Lipase.

Heat the mixture to 90F over medium to low heat you will see the milk start to curdle. Off to the side I have waiting in a glass ½ teaspoon plus 2 drops of rennet mixed with ½ cup of water. When the milk hits 90F I add the rennet mixture. Gently stir in an up and down motion, while heating the milk to 105F. Turn off the heat. The curds should be pulling away from the pot and they are ready to be scooped out.

Scoop out the curds with a slotted spoon or a Chinese spider (that is what we use) put into a microwave safe bowl. Press the curds with your hands, pouring off as much whey as possible.

We then microwave the curds on high for 1 minute. Drain off the whey again. Gently fold the cheese over and over as if you are kneading bread. Again, microwave for 30 seconds on high drain off whey and add 2 teaspoons of salt. We use cheese salt but kosher salt is ok.

When the cheese is smooth and shiny we roll, it into medium size balls and place them in a bowl of water and ice to cool. Once cool we pat dry and wrap in plastic. This makes about 2 pounds of cheese. We also make ricotta cheese for the remaining whey…but that is another post!!

To see the album click on the photo below

Mozzarella Cheese