Saturday, January 11, 2014

I Might Need Help

It is January 11. The high today is 49 degrees. It is alternating between blustery wind and beautiful sunshine. Normal Portland winter. Which has, naturally, gotten me thinking about...The Garden!

While I was wandering about Fred Meyer the other day, I veered into the garden section. To my great delight, they have started stocking 2014 seeds. Now, I will be ordering some super-special items from Territorial, but I just couldn't help myself. They were 40% off!

If the growing season is good, this could be all the produce I need for 2014

So, along with the seed-purchasing extravaganza, comes some contemplation of last year's garden...

  • No zucchini plants this year. The darn things over-produce, and honestly, I don't like zucchini enough to have another 40 pounds to deal with. Plus, they are nearly free during their season. I can spend a couple bucks on zucchini at the farmer's market this year.

  • More tomatoes! I am now down to just a few jars of diced/crushed tomatoes, plus no sauce. More this year. 20 plants is the goal: 15 sauce and 5 slicing and cherry.

  • Limited brassicas. Broccoli and cauliflower are pretty cheap at the markets, plus the plants SPRAWL. I will, however, grow cabbages and Brussels sprouts. And pretty orange and purple cauliflower.

  • Dry/freeze more basil. I ended up using most of my basil in pesto this year. Much though I lurve pesto, I have SO MUCH currently. And almost no pasta (thank you pantry challenge). I suppose I could make pasta (as I have semolina, and am allowing myself to purchase flour), but it is a big undertaking. 

  • I am extending my garden beds. The less grass in my yard, the better. More food! So,I am adding one foot to the sides (no mowing next to the lavender, and two feet in the back, so the pergolas can serve as a vining station). 120 square feet this year, yeah, baby!

Next up? An update on The Great Pantry and Larder Challenge .

Bon apetit, and enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Wishing You a Gouda 2014!

Far be it from me to air my own personal dirty laundry, but I must admit I am quite pleased to see the end of 2013. Aside from a few really awesome occasions, (Clemmy, garden, Danielle, and Ashia, I am peering your way) 2013 was a pretty tough year on a few levels. Some big disappointments, and some sadness (especially toward the end of the year)  But! Bring on 2014!

During my brewing hiatus, while Clementine and I were finding our way toward one another, I took up cheesemaking. Far cheaper than extract brewing, plus almost instant gratification (no waiting at least 3 weeks to try the end result), this hobby was a perfect time-and-belly-filler for me. Sadly, I have failed miserably at the simplest recipes, like mozzarella (I just cannot getting the right kneading down) and feta (granted, my culture for this one is expired. The curds never set up quite right). However, I do make brilliant creme fraiche, ricotta, sour cream, and mascarpone. So, I decided (aided by the fact that I used a chunk of my HBX credit on a cheese press) to try my first hard aged cheese: Gouda (using the two gallon version of this recipe). Here are some Action Shots:

The ingredients

The first press

All curds in! The second press.

Post pressing

In the brine

A warning for the cave

The (almost) finished product

The whole thing is now in the cheese/mead/beer cave, aging away for up to 6 months. Next up? A Cotswold!

Bon apetit, and Happy New Year!