Saturday, July 30, 2011

Family Dinner Night From the Garden

Dinner went well with a combination of foods prepared from fresh ingredients and last year's canned items. I also used some "hypothetical items" we will hopefully have on hand from our small food allowance. Run down of the menu:

Fresh spaghetti squash with canned whole tomatoes, garlic, herbs (mmm! mmm! good!)

Fish broth with egg drops (made from frozen fish and eggs)
Breaded summer squash (fresh yellow squash, ground oats from Mark's garden, other herbs, crushed black walnuts)

Fresh radishes and radish greens

Blackberries and apple sauce (frozen last year)

Chocolate mint tea

Chicory root "coffee"

Pickle soup (canned pickles and its juice, canned tomatoes and its juice and juice from canned green beans, water, fresh veggies) - Actually very good but sour, can only eat it in small portions!
Pickled eggs - 2 fresh eggs soaked for 2 days in pickle juice (some were afraid to try this after the pickle soup but I thoroughly enjoyed them)

Canned green beans sauteed with fresh garlic and tomatoes

Hypothetical apricot bread (canned apricots and fresh eggs along with hypothetical baking ingredients - oil, flour, baking powder, salt, sugar) - Mark said this was suspect but broke down and ate it anyway!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

What's for Dinner?

Hi All!

I'm starting the post for our community dinner next week. What are you making?

I'm going to make zupa orgokowa which is a polish soup made from sour pickles! It can be a cream base or a tomato base. I am going to round up canned items from last year - pickles and tomatoes and will add in some fresh veggies that are ready by next week. I may also use some of the pickle juice and make a few pickled eggs. We'll see what other creations I can come up with by next week!

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Turtle is at the Starting Line

Well, as usual, I am a little late with my garden, as well as blogging. My swampy back yard finally dried out a couple weeks ago so that I could start my garden. I've planted herbs, strawberries, cucumbers, lots of tomatoes (including 11 roma plants that are Mark's birthday gift), melons, radishes, beans, eggplant, watermelon, zucchini, stevia, carrots and turnips. I hope to start lots of other plants later in the summer for a late fall harvest. I think all of you will be surprised to see how well everything is growing. Pictures to follow.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Bulk Store Pricing Comparison to 4/30 post

I researched one of the well known bulk store's pricing which I have a membership and here is how it compares to Mark's post on 4/30 (if I did the math correctly)

Sugar (more expensive)
10 lb bag $5.57
25 lb bag $15.53

Vinegar (cheaper)
2 - 1 gallon jugs $3.58

Salt (cheaper)
4 lb box iodized table salt $0.98

Flour (more expensive)
25 lb bag all purpose $7.70

60 oz baking powder $5.78
13.5 lb bag baking soda $5.98
2 - 16 oz bags instant yeast $4.68
1.25 gallon canola oil $8.88

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Stadul Sugarbucks

I'm ready to spend these Sugarbucks! Newly minted, each features a security cat to keep you in line! what do you have for trade?


Allow me to show you all what I have been busy about on this holiday weekend! First up, we have a nice big jug of mulberry wine. This wine has been fermenting on wild sour yeasts for about 3 weeks now. This 1 gallon jug of sour wine is perfect for cooking, or drinking with a large amount of sugar added. A deal at just 8 Sugarbucks!

Next we have some lovely garlic. Thank you Jessica for helping me clean it all up! In between dropping apricot trees off at Kathy's and stopping by Mike's to grab my yeast on Sunday I stopped at our favorite park on Tuxedo. The first patch of garlic plants I saw looked too young - not surprising since we're a few weeks behind last year weather-wise. I kept walking along the edge where the garlic grows and I found an area they had cut down with a brush hog. The plants were not going to grow after that so I took 3 armfulls up the hill. 'Why did you gather so much garlic,' Jessica asked while she was cleaning them. 'Trade goods!' I replied. A steal at just 1 Sugarbuck per pound, 6 pounds available.

Finally I offer to you ground chicory root! I got up early on the holiday and headed to a nearby site I scouted with an abundance of these plants. I spent a full hour pulling plants and ended up with 9lbs of roots. I scrubbed and trimmed them, sliced them and dried them in the oven at 225 degrees until they were brittle. It pretty much took the whole day, or at least what was not taken up chewing dried cornmeal! Bargain priced at 6 oz for 5 Sugarbucks.

If you want any of these things please order them now! Many of these things are seasonal and I can restock my supplies if you order them now. If you wait until fall the prices will rise!


For those of you in internetlandia with sensitive stomachs, avert your gaze from this post. Go read the next post, or the previous one. I'm sure they are both great, I wrote them after all.

The opportunity came for me to help a home brewer friend, Mike, with a beer brewing. He gave me the waste yeast when we bottled the beer over the weekend.

In keeping with the rules, yeast needs to be on its 3rd generation before it is considered to be 'challenge legal.' As I helped the brew that was the first generation. I needed to come up with a 2nd generation made of 'challenge legal' ingredients (also part of the yeast growing rules) in order to have a product ready for beer and bread making. Only problem is, none of the grains are ready yet. The oats, though not as abundant as I had hoped, are certainly hanging on their plants but they are far too green for cultivation right now. Mulberries are in abundance and I have straight sugar, but I'd like not to feed my yeast only simple sugars.

What I do have is a few tupperwares filled with corn left over from the end of the last challenge. As young plants begin to sprout they produce enzymes that convert their starches into sugars so that the seedling has nourishment. Barley has been bred over centuries to produce an excess of those enzymes so it is optimal to brew using sprouted barley. Corn does not have the genetics to produce these same enzymes. You know what does produce those enzymes? Your mouth.

I took better than a pound of dried corn and ground it into cornmeal. I then spent a fun afternoon chewing it up and expectorating it into a container. Brewers typically soak the grains they are brewing with in hot water to get the enzymes to activate. From our experience brewing a few weeks ago the grains were soaked for 90 minutes at 160 degrees.

I don't know how human enzymes convert starch in comparison to plant enzymes, but as I understand it you can generally leave them at a lower temperature for a longer time and the starches will still be converted. I took my chewed corn and put it into my crock-pot. I added enough water to cover the whole mass of corn. I let it steep there on the 'warm' setting for 2-1/2 hours. I then added an approximate equal measure of mulberries . I was originally going to add straight sugar. At the last moment decided to use up the abundance of fruit I have in my refrigerator. I mixed them up real good and added 8 pints of water. Into the boiling pot!

I had to boil it in 2 pots to start. My big pot was still filled with mulberry wine at the time so the largest pot I had was 6 quarts. Once both pots reached a boil I started a 45 minute timer. I was boiling the grain and berries in the water, I did not mash and sparge it like a brewer does. After half an hour or so passed I began scooping the berry/corn muck out of the water. the smaller pot was getting quite thick and I'd lost a good bit of volume so I combined them into a single pot. I feel I was lucky that all that goop did not burn to the bottom of the pot and ruin the flavor of my beverage. With 10 minutes left in the boil I added a handful of ground chicory root, my other giant project for the day.

I ended up with about 5 quarts of wort (boiled liquid) with a SG of 1.055. Once the temperature dropped enough I pitched it directly on top of the old yeast. I did not do anything else to process it. After pitching I realized that I should have aerated it to get some more oxygen into it for the yeast. I checked today and the brew is happily bubbling away. I guess the yeasties had enough of all that air breathing and was quite prepared to feast on more sugars. I plan to bottle it in about 3 weeks.

This brew will not be legal for the challenge, though I invite any and all brave challengers to imbibe it with me!