It’s a repeat of 2017 - snow up to the roof. This picture actually taken yesterday; it snowed more overnight. It’s been snowing on and off for a week. It’s still snowing right now. Or at least I think it is - the wind is high, so maybe it’s just blowing the same snow around. It’s hard to tell.
Tuesday, February 12, 2019
Tuesday, February 5, 2019
Tuesday, January 22, 2019
Friday, January 11, 2019
Thursday, December 27, 2018
The Gleaner’s Pantry usually has an abundance of food after any major holiday - and this year was no exception. The day after Christmas there was a special glean, and along with a plethora of cookies, cakes, pannetone, and various and sundry candies, there was also a vast amount of fresh vegetables and fruits.
Monday, December 24, 2018
Another Christmas. Another year almost gone. As my children get older, each year seems more and more precious. As in years past, I made an advent calendar of events, a posterboard hung with 24 gift tags, each one of which had an activity or community event written on the back. Although they are both teenagers now, Hope and Paloma were still excited to turn over a tag each night before bed.
We crossed the border to visit Vancouver’s Van Dusen botanical garden light show. It was raining cats and dogs and we got soaked, but the lights were spectacular.
Decorating cookies. The girls invited friends and made a party out of it. We went overboard and there were hundreds of cookies. Hope had the bright idea of distributing cookies at Ferndale’s assisted living facility. She’s a sweet, thoughtful child.
Wednesday, December 5, 2018
Monday, November 19, 2018
2) the quart of dried morels I accepted as partial payment. I love wild mushroom gravy. The last turkey I decided to donate rather than stash it in the freezer for Christmas or something. Calling around, I found out that
3) the Lighthouse Mission in Bellingham will be serving a Thanksgiving meal on friday for those who missed out on the big day. I'm thankful they are doing this, and also that they can legally accept my turkey. Anybody looking for an easy way to help out the homeless and hungry this year could do worse than to donate to this hardworking organization.
4) I'm thankful that my mom is coming up from Seattle and we will have a crowd of family around the table. I'm sorry my sister won't be here, but I am thankful that
5) I don't have to make a gluten free, dairy free Thanksgiving meal.
6) I'm thankful that the buck is sold and the boarded does are gone home and that all my goats are probably pregnant and that goat breeding season is over for another year!
7) I'm grateful that the cold snap is over and I no longer have to water the animals with a five gallon bucket but can go back to using the hose like a normal person.
8) I'm grateful for my nieces, who are sweet, cheerful, hardworking, and funny. They are doing so well in school and making friends. I am grateful they are enjoying their time here and I'm so grateful for the trust that their parents put in me and Homero. It's a blessing.
9) I'm thankful for the beauty of my part of the world. I'm so grateful to be able to look out my window and see the mountains and the trees and the sky. I'm constantly amazed at the natural beauty with which I am surrounded.
10) I'm thankful for this house, drafty and creaky as it is, it's still shelter, and it's home.
Sunday, November 11, 2018
Posted by Aimee at 7:56 PM
Monday, October 29, 2018
Wednesday, October 3, 2018
Italian plum trees are known for having an alternating harvest: one very heavy year alternating with a very light year. As everyone who has an Italian plum tree knows, the heavy harvests are very heavy indeed. In 2016, the last heavy harvest year, there were so many plums on the tree that branches were breaking from the weight of all the green plums, and we had to strip off and throw away hundreds and hundreds of unripe plums.
Last year, true to form, the tree produced very few plums. I am actually glad that the Italian plum tree provides its owners with a rest every other year, because dealing with literally thousands of plums all ripening at once is a ton of work.
Of course, we cannot possibly make use of each and every plum. That's just a silly proposition. Even if we were to dedicate ourselves to preserving plums 24/7 in season, inevitably many, many plums would fall to the ground and become a feast for wasps before we could make use of them. And that's just fine. After all, wasps need to eat too.
My sense of duty, however, and overdeveloped guilt reflex, mandate that I make a valiant attempt every year to utilize as many plums as possible. There are lots of ways to use plums: eating fresh (we eat a lot); dehydrating - the dehydrator is going day and night in mid-september; cooking in pies and crumbles; giving away to friends and neighbors; and wine. For using up a whole lot of ripe plums at once, there is no preserving method superior to winemaking.
In 2016 I made my first attempt at plum wine, and it was fairly successful. By which I mean I produced a quaffable product that would reliably get you drunk, not that I produced a product worthy of bottling and bragging about. Surprisingly, the wine was a light, orangey rosé, not the sort of deep, velvety purple you would expect from blue plums. It was pleasant, quite dry, with a bit of a sour tang. It was good enough that when faced with a similarly overwhelming number of plums this year, I decided to repeat the experiment.
One of my many failings is that I am constitutionally incapable of taking notes, keeping records, and thus reliably repeating successes in the kitchen. I can't remember - and didn't write down - what type of yeast I bought in 2016, nor whether or not I used yeast nutrient (which is something you usually have to add to wines that aren't made from grapes), nor how long I left the wine in the primary fermenting chamber (AKA food-grade plastic bucket) before putting it into a carboy and air locking it.
So, basically I was starting from scratch. I followed a recipe from one of my books, more or less - I decided I would forgo the reccommended yeast nutrient because I was making the wine on a weekend and didn't want to wait until the home-brew store opened on Monday. And I made a few other tweaks - I added honey instead of sugar, I didn't have any Camden tablets - okay, I basically ignored the recipe entirely and winged it 100%. Fruit + sugar + water + yeast + time = alcohol. Right?
I do - always - sterilize equipment with boiling water. That's a non-negotiable. And I used a real wine yeast (Chablis, if I remember right), not baker's yeast. But I think this year's batch may have suffered somewhat from my lackadaisical attitude. After putting the wine into a carboy and air locking it, it bubbled vigorously for a few days, but then stopped entirely, rather than just slowing down as it should do. I left it in a cool place to keep doing its thing for two more weeks, but then I sat down and stared at the airlock for three minutes. No bubble. That is pretty definitive that the fermentation has stalled.
Stalled fermentation isn't the end of the world - not even the end of the wine. There are things you can do to try to get it going again. I decided to rack the wine off into another carboy, thereby aerating it. Tasting the wine as I transferred it, it was pretty thin and sour tasting, so I decided to add a bit more sugar. I replaced the airlock, and now there's nothing to do but wait three or four months and then taste it. It will either be drinkable or not, and either way it's experience. The tremendous abundance of plums makes it cheap and low risk to experiment with winemaking, just as the tremendous abundance of milk in early summer makes it cheap and low risk to experiment with cheesemaking. If, next spring, I have a few gallons of nice plum wine, I'll be happy. If I have to pour a few gallons of weird plum vinegar out onto the compost, well, so be it.
There is another, much lower risk, delicious way to ferment a few dozen plums, though, and I did that too this year. A plum shrub. A shrub is basically a sort of fruit concentrate - you put chopped ripe fruit to macerate in sugar for a few days, and then pour over apple cider vinegar to cover. The shrub will keep in the fridge indefinitely, and can be mixed with water - still or sparkling - to make an elegant and yummy non-alcoholic drink. Of course, you can also add a jigger of rum or vodka or gin to your cocktail. I made a half gallon of plum shrub flavored with rosemary, and it was delicious, with or without spirits.
Looking forward to a year off. 2020 will be soon enough to get elbow deep in plums.
Wednesday, September 12, 2018
Saturday, September 1, 2018
I also brought home a half dozen loaves of ciabatta bread. I like to cube it up and toss the cubes with a mix of olive oil, herbs, garlic, salt and pepper, and bake until they are crunchy croutons. Store in a ziplock bag in the fridge.
Tuesday, August 28, 2018
Opening the Waltz with Papa
Posing with the mariachis. Hope has become quite a good guitar player, and after the mariachis performed they sat down to eat - as is traditional - and Hope played a few songs. As they were leaving, the bandleader stopped Hope and told her that she has an enchanting voice, plays well, and should never stop.
Last waltz with a doll.... this tradition symbolizes “putting away childish things” and becoming a grownup lady.