Monday, June 27, 2011

Harvest Monday June 26th 2011

More wet weather more slightly damp harvests this week. Despite the rain I went out to the garden a few times to survey some things and do a little harvesting.

Here's what I got:

Garlic Scapes .75 oz

Lettuce: 1.75 oz

Onion .45 oz

Scallions .85 oz

Kale 3.75 oz

Mesclun Greens: 3.90 oz

Total for the week: 11.45 oz

Total for the season: 2.625 lbs (42 oz)

Hopefully the rain is going to subside for a while and we will get some warmer temperatures soon!

If you want to see what others are harvesting or share in your own bounty stop by Daphne's Dandelions the home of Harvest Monday.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Harvest Monday June 20th 2011

It's been a busy week full of rain, and my Bruins winning the Stanley Cup so gardening was limited to Sunday, when Gail and I managed to to some massively overdue weeding and even planted a little.
I harvested a small amount of Garlic Scape's that I am going to count under 'green garlic' for the final tally. We also got the last of the spring radish's as well as most of the remaining kale, all but 2 smaller plants. The garlic scape's were made into a great pesto with basil from last year, while half the kale was used on another batch of kale chips!

What we harvested:
Garlic Scape's: .65 oz
Radish's: 2.20 oz
Kale 8.75 oz
Total for this week: 11.60 oz
Total for the season: 1.909 lbs (30.55 oz)

With the hockey playoffs wrapped up I should have more midweek time to spent at the garden, although I will be busy the next few weekends so any major projects will have to wait until next month.

If you want to see what other's are harvesting or share in your own bounty, stop by Daphne's Dandelions the home of Harvest Monday.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Harvest Monday June 13th 2011

We hit our first milestone this week. Thanks to this weeks harvest we've passed the 1lb mark for the season! The name of the game this week was variety! Here is the single biggest harvest of the past week which included a little more kale, chives, parsley, green garlic, and even a few flowers!
What we harvested:
Chives 1.20 oz
Green Garlic 2.10 oz
Kale 2.55 oz
Parsley .80 oz
Radish 2.25 oz
Total for the week: 8.90 oz
Total for the season: 1.184lbs (18.95 oz)

This time last year we had harvested half of what we've had this year, but far more salad greens. What a difference a year makes!

We've had a few days of rain so I haven't had a chance to do much in the garden, but I'm sure I will have lots of weeding and harvesting in the coming weeks!

If you want to see what other's are harvesting or share in your own bounty, stop by Daphne's Dandelions the home of Harvest Monday.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Kale Chips

My passing mention of kale chips in my most recent Harvest Monday post sparked some real appreciation for kale chips in the comments, so I've decided to share the easiest most basic kale chip recipe I know of.
Simple Kale Chips
1 bunch of Kale
olive oil
kosher salt
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Remove kale leaves from stem and break into bite sized pieces. Wash and thoroughly dry the kale. Drizzle kale with olive oil, sprinkle on salt and toss briefly in a bowl. Bake on parchment lined cookie sheet for 10-12 minutes, until edges are brown but not burnt.

The kale chips in the photo were in the oven for just under 12 minutes and were perfect. different recipes call for varying amounts of olive oil and salt, but I prefer to eye it out.

Do you use any other seasoning on your kale chips??

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Signs of things to come

The garden has quickly transitioned from waking up to promising future delights. While weeding on Sunday I snapped a few pictures.
Our first 2 tomatoes made their presence known! Almost 2 weeks before I spotted one last year these 2 tomatoes can be found on one of the Cherokee Purple's that Gail picked out!
Not to be out done 3 bell peppers have already set fruit as well! Hopefully the cubanelle and jalapeƱos won't be terribly far behind!
Some of the summer (hopefully) lettuce is finally out competing the weeds as well. Here's a nice shot of some Red Cross butterhead that is reaching for the sky.
Finally, a nice pink rose, after all it's not ALL about food, just mostly.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Harvest Monday June 6th 2011 a little of this & a little of that

Another week, another small, but appreciated harvest. The chive blossoms I mentioned yesterday came attached to some great chives! I also trimmed some Kale leaves off a few of the plants. Not a ton yet, but enough for a bowl of kale chips! We also ended up with a few small radishes that were crowding out their brethren and had already popped themselves out of the ground!

Radish .75 oz
Chives 2.55 oz
Kale 3.25 oz
Total for the Week 6.55 oz
Total for the Season 10.05 oz

The garden is teeming with life and the signs of harvests to come!

If you want to see what others are harvesting or share in your own bounty, stop by Daphne's Dandelions the home of Harvest Monday.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Chive Blossoms

We harvested more chives this week, specifically those with open blossoms. I wanted to make a small batch of chive blossom vinegar. Unfortunately my choice of jar was small, and the chive blossoms were a little cramped:
It would have been better if this plan wasn't spur of the moment, all we had on hand was distilled white vinegar and cider. I went with the cider option producing an interesting mix of colors:
The remaining chive blossoms that come from the garden will find their way into various salads.
Do you eat your chive blossoms or use them for anything??

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

What to do with 5 gallons of Raw Milk?/Our Cheese Making Begins!

With all the raw milk we picked up from Farmer X, Gail and I formulated a cheese making plan. We would attempt to make Queso Blanco, 30-Minute Mozzarella, Fromage Blanc, Whole Milk Ricotta, and maybe even some butter!
Below I am going to share the recipe for the Queso Blanco. For the rest of the cheeses I'm providing some pictures and commentary, but no recipes. I encourage anybody who is interested in beginning cheese making to visit Ricki Carroll's website where there are some great recipes, tips, books, DVDs , and all the rennet, cultures and supplies you will need to get started. A tip for beginners: The website sells a few different kits for basic cheese making and are a great starting point for beginners!
We decided to start with one of the most basic cheeses: Queso Blanco
The recipe is pretty simple:
1/2 gallon of milk
1/4 cup of vinegar
Butter Muslin
Heat milk to 185 F (stirring constantly to avoid scorching). When the temperature reaches 185 F slowly stir in the vinegar and raise the temperature to 200 F. As you raise it you will see the milk begin coagulating. At 200 F the milk should be completely curdled and you will be able to easily see the curds & whey separating. Pour the curds into a colander lined with butter muslin. and the butter muslin filled with curds for a few hours until it stops dripping. When it's done dripping cut the curds into cubes or slices.
The cheese looks just like tofu, but tastes so rich and sticks to your teeth when you chew it. Like tofu, this Queso Blanco takes on the taste of the spices it is cooked with, making it ideal for something like stir fry.
You can see the process in the below 5 photographs including the final product - Queso Blanco cubes tossed in garlic infused olive oil with rosemary!
(waiting for the temperature to rise and stirring the curds)

(draining & hanging the curds)
(the final product!)
Next up we made a 30-minute Mozzarella.
Here are some pictures of the 30-minute Mozzarella process as well as the final product (which actually took closer to 45 minutes, but we are still beginners).
(draining the curds and testing to see if the Mozzarella is ready. it wasn't quite firm enough in this picture)
(final product: an 18-ounce ball of Mozzarella)

Next up was a whole milk ricotta. Another simple cheese: Citric Acid is the key to this one.
(Left: the curds being separated from the whey. Right: curds hanging and draining.)

Next up is fromagina, a wonderful combination of Fromage Blanc & Marscapone. This cheese was time consuming, but the time consuming part is in the wait. Once the milk is heated to proper temperature the culture is added and the milk is left to set at room temperature for 12-24 hours. After they set the curd is ladled into a colander lined with butter muslin and hung to dry for an additional 4-6 hours. Once dried to the correct consistency I added fresh chives from the garden to give this a nice spring feel:
Finally, Gail decided she would try her hand at making butter. She skimmed the cream off about a gallon or so of milk. If you look at the below photo you can see the cream has risen to the top of the milk, just at the bottom of the vertical lines on this plastic bottle:
(cream rises to the top in a bottle of raw milk)
She shook up the cream for a while by hand and separated some of the buttermilk off, after that she did most of the mixing with an electric mixer until she had a nice creamy consistency. At this point she separated out the remaining buttermilk and returned the whipped butter to a jar and briefly shook it until it solidified. She ended up producing about 5-6 0z of butter and nearly 12oz of buttermilk.
The first photo is of the clump of butter fresh from the jar perfectly formed. The second shows the startling difference in color between the butter and buttermilk!

All in all I would say our first attempt and cheese making has been a wild success!