Sunday, August 10, 2008

Independence Days Week 15

Plant:

Lettuces, chard, carrots, kale, turnips. Transplanted the pea seedlings, which shot up like crazy, and covered with shade cloth to help keep them from burning up in the sun. They seem to be holding their own, and the recent spate of cool weather has been a boon.

While I direct sow many of my seeds, some I still start in seed trays either because they're too fussy or there's not enough room. With my succession planting, the idea is that the first round will be ready to come out of the ground in time to stick something else in its place, hopefully with the second planting getting ready to hit full production so I don't miss a beat in terms of harvest. This generally works out better on paper than in reality, though, as pests like squash bugs and borers often have something to say about when a planting is done.


Harvest:

Carrots, beets, beans, tomatoes, peppers, summer squash, eggplant, cucumbers, basil, thyme, rosemary, chives, fingerling potatoes, sweet corn, eggs, milk.


Preserve:


Butter, 23 lbs of grape tomatoes in dehydrator. I grow the sweet olive grape tomatoes almost exclusively for winter enjoyment, as I find they make the most succulent dehydrated tomatoes. I'll admit, too, to not dehydrating them completely or cutting them in half. Although this means that they need to go in the freezer rather than on the shelf, it leaves that little burst of tomato flavor that's released when biting into it—kinda like that gum that came out in the 80's or 90's. But better.


Store:

~60 lbs fingerling potatoes.


Prep:

Nothing this week.


Manage:


Weeded gardens, sprayed insecticidal soap for aphids/ crickets in high tunnel that are crushing my greens. Grrrrrr. The high tunnel has been a blessing in many ways, but it's also been a pest haven. I guess the critters like it as much as the plants. The upside is that the praying mantis population is exploding; the down side is that I'm considering resorting to spraying neem to help get a handle on the pest population.



Cook:

Made fresh mozzarella for the first time from our raw milk, and it turned out sooo tasty. The texture was fleeting, however, and it wasn't nearly as good the next day. It did do nicely in omelets though. I used the microwave method, and it really only took about 30 minutes at most. The ingredients were whole raw milk, citric acid and rennet, and voila! Delicious fresh raw mozzarella.

NOTE: Danielle from Savor Culture had this helpful hint in the comments section:

Regarding mozzarella, I also use Ricki Carroll's recipe, but not the 30-minute mozz recipe. I use raw milk in my mozz, which requires some adjustments as suggested by cheese consultant, Jim Wallace. With raw milk, lower the ripening temperature by a few degrees, and decrease the amount of rennet by 10-20%. This gave my mozzarella a more tender texture. Also, when you store the finished mozz in brine, use a solution of one part whey to four parts water. Add salt until a little remains undissolved to ensure proper salinity. The calcium in the brine prevents the calcium in the cheese from releasing the protein bonds, which would cause the exterior to become "goopy."

Check out her blog—it's loads of fun.

Add:

CSA delivery to 11 families, the following in some combination: beets, carrots, beans, summer squash, eggplants, tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, hot peppers, onions, basil, rosemary, tarragon, chives.


Reduce:

Having trouble fitting all your laundry on your line? Go vertical. Depending on what kind of loads I'm doing, I can fit up to 3 laundry loads on our line at once by hanging clothes on other clothes. Of course my tendency toward OCD often gets the better of me, and I group things together like similar napkins, handtowels, etc. That way they hang off each other quite nicely. Of course, you'll find you need lots more clothespins for this method.


Learn:

Learned how to make mozzarella. Can the same thing count for two different categories?

11 comments:

el said...

Somewhere in my files I have a photo of my husband's OCD-meets-clothesline. He hung three rows of cloth diapers vertically on our short backyard line on our city lot. Very pretty though!

What damage had your crickets done? I've had few pest problems in my greenhouse; weeds either. Maybe because it's fully enclosed? Who knows, I am not complaining though. My only awful pest this year is cabbage moths. Need to put more stuff under Reemay is the answer but somehow I never do...

Alex Polikowsky said...

I swear I am going to come spend a few days with you sometime so I can learn stuff....and visit!

Carolyn said...

I want to try making cheese. That is on my to do list.

I want to stay a few days with you too. You should put on a seminar or something!

Tall Kate said...

I LOVE the idea of vertical laundry-hanging! I can't believe that has never occurred to me, but you can bet I will be implementing it . . .

Adrienne said...

Do use Ricki Carroll's recipe for mozzarella? I've not been able to get the texture right as fresh moz. Still tasty though!

Judy Sombar said...

i believe that the gum you are speaking of actually originated in the seventies, because i distinctly remember my mother buying me a pack at Union Station in Chicago while waiting for our connecting train, in 1977. I believe it was called "freshen up" but don't quote me on that.

:)

Ren said...

You've been nominated for a brilliant blog:
Brilliante Weblog Premio 2008 Award

Cuz you're awesome!:)

Ren said...

Let me try that again...I'm new to this whole award thing:
http://radicalunschooling.blogspot.com/2008/08/im-brilliant.html

Danielle said...

El, the crickets are sucking I think, along with aphids and thrips. I have shade cloth over my tunnel now, so it's open to rain, etc.

Now, I've got leaf miners in my seedlings on the cart. *sigh*

Neem is looking more and more like a necessity if I want some fall crops.

Adrienne, yes, that's the recipe I used, but this was my first time. Lord knows I could have completely different results the next time, and as I said, it was really only a good texture within the first few hours. After that it started to break down. I stored it in water, and I wonder if that may have made it worse.

Judy, you're right! That's it! I couldn't remember the name of it for the life of me.

Thanks to all for your comments, and Alex, trust me, I'm still on a major learning curve myself!

Danielle @ Savor Culture said...

Hi Danielle,

I followed a link to your blog from Crunchy Chicken (accessed via One Green Generation), and love your content! Thanks for sharing your homesteading adventures.

Regarding mozzarella, I also use Ricki Carroll's recipe, but not the 30-minute mozz recipe. I use raw milk in my mozz, which requires some adjustments as suggested by cheese consultant, Jim Wallace. With raw milk, lower the ripening temperature by a few degrees, and decrease the amount of rennet by 10-20%. This gave my mozzarella a more tender texture. Also, when you store the finished mozz in brine, use a solution of one part whey to four parts water. Add salt until a little remains undissolved to ensure proper salinity. The calcium in the brine prevents the calcium in the cheese from releasing the protein bonds, which would cause the exterior to become "goopy."

Hope this helps! I love cheese, and am working my way through the fresh cheeses in Home Cheese Making, and writing about it on my blog.

Looking forward to reading more of Touch the Earth!

Danielle said...

Oh my, that's incredibly helpful Danielle (how weird, I'm so used to owning my name *g*). I'll definitely try those things next time I make it—probably this weekend.

Did you email Jim to find all that out, or does he have these helpful tips written up in one place? I've corresponded with him before, and he's very helpful. I, too, use raw milk for my cheeses.

Thanks for the comment! I'm going to pull it out into the post so others don't miss the info.