Sunday, March 12, 2017

Single Digit first sap boil

Saturday marked our first sap boil of the season and the temperature did not get above 9 degrees F. It was frigid to say the least!

Balaclavas were mandatory! The cold temperatures presented us with a bigger challenge. All the storage, which is more than we ever have had, was predominantly frozen, so we again had to use the Yankee ingenuity we have come to know and love. The sap had been freezing in the buckets, so some of the storage was garbage bags full of frozen sap, in the shape of a bucket!

We will remedy the situation over by the boiler after we set a few things up.

 In the mean time, we had a little fun. Now you see him....

Now you don't!  We need to work on improving the sound track - enough NPR already!

Who needs an XBox when you can play real life Mine Craft!?

Getting the bellows going. Thank heavens for large garbage day and re-purposing.

Time to warm up with some sap tea. Haven't heard of sap tea? Take a mug, put in a tea bag, and fill it with boiling hot sap straight off the evaporator!

The sap that wasn't frozen started freezing in the buckets!

Ingenious way to melt the frozen sap chunks.

We processed ~ 120 gallons of sap and yielded ~ 2.5 gallons of syrup.

Preparing for the first boil

With everything still frozen into the snow banks, preparing for a sap boil took a lot of SP's spare time. I have to say that he also put to use his mass stores of Yankee ingenuity!

And of course, no sooner did he get the toboggan's underneath the boiler, then a chicken decided to take a ride in his truck.

Just a few feet closer and we are ready to level it.

Need to cover it up in case of any critters or precipitation.

And make sure the wood is ready. Too bad we didn't cover that.

And we are ready to go.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Jellies and Shrubs for the March Food in Jars Challenge

Here is the post for Marisa's March Food in Jars Challenge which will focus on Jellies and Shrubs. In the lead up to this I was brainstorming all the shrubs I could think of to make jellies out of. I questioned the validity of this, asking what discerns a shrub from an invasive from a weed or a plant? Clearly I was WAY OFF BASE. I'm still so curious what I will make, but I have two good mixologists in my life to inspire me and some wonderful tried and true recipes to fall back on. Thank you again for the Challenge Marissa! To quote Marissa from the March Challenge post, "a shrub is a combination of fruit, sugar and vinegar. When left to sit for a few days (or even longer), they develop a deep, sweet-tart flavor that is a wonderful addition to a glass of sparkling water, a batch of salad dressing, a fancy homemade cocktail, a marinade for meat or vegetables, or to a pan sauce
There is better writer on the topic of shrubs than Michael Dietsch. He started in on the topic back in 2011 with this post on Serious Eats and has subsequently written a whole book about them. Emily Han‘s book, Wild Drinks and Cocktails, is also contains a lot of tasty shrubs.
If you remember the essential ratio of one part sugar, one part vinegar, and a generous handful of fruit of some kind, you’ll be good."

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Salt Preserving, the February Food in Jars Challenge!

This month's food in jars challenge was a simple and exciting delight! I must admit that this terrified me at first. I slowly warmed up to it and got really excited. When I finally got going - I got three challenges - four recipes - done in under two hours!

The first recipe I made was Salt Preserved Egg Yolks. Having a flock of our own free range chickens this seemed a wonderful opportunity to take our homemade pasta nights to a new level. I used the recipe from Hunter Angler Gardener Cook found here: I chose to use 6 eggs because it fits nicely in a muffin pan. I will update the blog with a new post when they come out of hiding on 2/31.
The process is easy. You separate the eggs. You line what ever container you are using with a half inch of salt (I used sea salt but you can use Kosher as well) and create a divot that you will place your yolk in. Once they are all in, bury them in salt, put them in the refrigerator, and wait one week.

The second recipe I made was Salt Preserved Lemons. I more or less followed the recipe on Food in Jars found here: but being a very visual person, I perused the web for recipes that had more pictures as well. This was another very straight forward process.
Step one, thouroughly wash and scrub your lemons. I wanted to scrub harder since mine seemed rather waxy but didn't want to upset the zest.

Step 2, you cut the nubs off either end of the lemons and then quarter them ALMOST all the way but keep them intact. I did make the mistake of cutting a few all the way apart, but just continued.

Put a good layer of salt on the bottom of your jar and then, holding the lemon over the jar, spread roughly a teaspoon of salt into all the cracks and then pack it into the jar.

Add salt after each layer of lemon. Feel free to use pressure to get them in there because the point is to draw out the juices from the fruit. I used 10 lemons and packed them into Quart Mason jars, about 5 lemons in each.

The jars sit out on the counter for 3 days before moving into the fridge. The goal is to have them covered in juices by the end. Here is my jars after two days. 

I am a little concerned about the salt leaking out of it and the lids not being airtight as a result, but I do not want to go to metal lids and bands because of the corrosion the salt will cause. We will have to see in a day or so. I am HOPING that i can fit them all in one jar before they go in the back of the fridge for three weeks. We will see and I will update with a new post.

The last recipe I made was two herb salts. I thought this was a wonderful way to make rubs for meat and to help stretch those herbs out even longer - whether it is store bought or garden grown - herbs so quickly wilt and rot. I used the following links for encouragement, A Raisin and a Porpoise and The Prairie Homestead. This was very straight forward : combine 1/2 cup salt and your bunch of de-stemmed herbs in a food processor.
This is my cilantro and then rosemary salts laid out after being processed. 

 Lay it out on parchment paper or on a dehydrator shelf, and dehydrate until all the moisture is removed. I used the oven since I don't own a good dehydrator yet (I killed my old one trying to dry out left over tempura fry). I set my oven to 200 degrees and left it in for about 1/2 an hour then I turned the oven off and left it in. (truth be told I had to go out).

The next morning they were thoroughly dried and shelf stable so I  jarred and labeled it.

I look forward to using there on some pork tenderloin or even smoked Trout this spring. Yum! I can't wait to see what the March Challenge will bring - jellies and "shrubs"? Hmm it has me thinking.

Friday, February 10, 2017


These are not my words but they resonate to the deep rumblings inside me. It speaks to the intensity of the reawakened activist in me. It is the fuel that flames the resistance movement. It is the resistance. Thank you Libba



You have woken the witch that lives deep inside me.

You have removed the slumber chains from the giant of old.

You have handed me a box of matches and no chaperone

And a world made of lies and polyester.


You have barked up the wrong bitch.

Proclaim it:

I have shucked off the good, southern lady’s cloak,

Of the homecoming court, the cheerleader,

The preacher’s daughter, hands gentled in her lap.

They tied it at my neck with a bow, a Gordian girl-knot,

When I was young and bossy and sure-footed

“For protection,” they said.

Whose protection? I wondered.


I have sent that shit out to the dry cleaners

I will not pick it up

They can sell it for a profit from a rack on the street.

From now on,

I’m exposing the raw pink edges of my true skin to the sun.

Some things can’t be prettied up.

I used to be embarrassed by this side of me:

Messy. Expansive. Unraveled by rage.

The barroom brawler holding out a broken bottle

With a shaking hand

Blood jumping to a punk-rock soundtrack in my soul

Eyes so alive they had to be narrowed to keep the light of all that truth

From burning up the room.

These mornings when I wake,

I feel as if I have eaten a breakfast of gunpowder and a handful of stars

The combination roiling, anticipatory, explosive

My mouth ready to spew out a universe of fire and

An ancestral memory of the silenced women who came before,

Rotting in their shrouds, long dead under the ground

Still angry.

No one seems to understand:

That rage has to go somewhere.

Some girls cut. Some girls starve.

Some fuck strangers, tell themselves it’s freedom, not numbness.

Some guzzle gin when no one’s looking.

Some girls swallow their rage down and vomit it back up with the

penetration of a reprimanding finger, stifling the voice,

an Inside Job

The internalized, reflexive police force

Body violating body,

Forever and ever


I have done all of those things:

Starved. Cut. Boozed. Fucked and run.

I’ve punished myself the way

the world wants to see its women


Spoiler alert: It’s exhausting.


You exhaust us.


You. Are. Exhausting.

You. And your bullshit.

You, the Senators and Churches.

You, the old men holding the law hostage to your whims.

Blind Justice?

Nah. That bitch sees fine.

Puts the blindfold on herself now.

Stockholm Syndrome, you know.

Happens after a while.

Shrug. Step. Repeat.

Jazz hands.

They told me not to raise my voice.

So I learned to swallow all my sharp words.

They told me not to be disagreeable.

So I learned lipstick and smiling, a catechism of femininity.

They told me I was shame.

So I learned to feel shame.

They told me not to curse.

Yeah. Good luck with that, motherfuckers.

Oh, beautiful for spacious goddamned skies

For “fuck off” and “bite my ass”

Thundering across the parched grasslands of my tongue

Like middle-finger mustangs who won’t be tamed.

Cursing was the first language of my anger.

The poison apple spit out, not choked in.

A weaponized mouth and a sharp wit

To establish a DMZ—“You shall not pass.”

That foul mouth has saved me from myself.

Try to take it from me, motherfucker.

I double-goddamn-dog-dare you.

Oh, my anger needs room to roam.

I will spread my legs on the subway seat

Let it take up space.

I will turn up my coat collar and skulk the streets,

Hands fisted in pockets, knuckles turned towards the world, ready.

Oh, it’s on.

I will call up to my sisters at their windows,

“Yo! Leave the dishes in the sink,

and the pantyhose to drip from the towel bar.

Leave your shame on the floor

So they’ll see it first when they come inside,

Expecting you

but finding you


nothing but a slipped skin, a


To remind them that they were right to fear you

All along.”

Then, soft as a lover:

“Come out into the streets, all you messy ones.

All you angry, hurting, had-enough ones.

It’s time.

Come on out. Come out.”

I have awakened to reclaim that girl.

The one refusing the cloak at her throat.

I am an angry woman with a voice

And a foul mouth

And a pen as cutting

as the jagged teeth of a bottle

that has been broken too hard against the bar

and is now a weapon

in a barroom brawl.

Your move.

Come at me, motherfuckers.

Monday, January 9, 2017

I made Marmalade! Food in Jars Mastery Challenge for 2017

Yesterday I completed my first challenge for the Food in Jars Mastery Challenge for 2017, a monthly skill based challenge for people interested in expanding our knowledge and skills in canning and preserving foods.

Here is the calendar for the 2017 Challenge:

Calendar of Preserving Skills
January – Marmalade
February – Salt Preserving
March – Jelly
April – Quick Pickles
May – Cold Pack Preserving
June – Jam
July – Hot Pack Preserving
August – Low Temperature Pasteurization
September – Fruit Butter
October – Drying and Dehydration OR Pressure Canning
November – Fermentation
December – Fruit Pastes

I had never made Marmalade before yesterday and while it was a lot of work I can say I am a new fan! Looking at the calendar I can say that February's challenge with salt preserving slightly terrifies me, cold and hot pack preserving I have never heard of,  I'm fascinated to learn what low temperature pasteurization is, and  I will definitely need some tools and supplies for fermentation. Needless to say, I am stoked about opportunities that this Challenge will create.

I should start by saying that I found so much serendipity in the facts that a) My husband brought home Cara Cara oranges from snow making without knowing that I had a Marmalade challenge and b) Of all my canning books with Marmalade recipes, only Marisa's book Food in Jars (of the #fijchallenge) had a Cara Cara recipe. 

Yesterday was a long day in the kitchen as Marmalade takes more work than other recipes for sure!

I thought about how much ginger I needed to peel and realized this could be a long day.

I sat at the counter and got to work, minus about a bazillion kid interruptions. Seriously, no sooner did I send them to the sled hill and set out my mis en place when they were back and asking for food!

Ginger Juice was a first for me!
This is my 'scant' one cup ginger juice!
After that I needed to zest my ten oranges. 
 That's a lot of zest and my hands were tired!
Then I needed to peel and Supreme my oranges. 

While I did that I needed to cook my confetti zest and reserve the water. 

And then it all stated to come together and cook. Look at those beautiful colors!

I couldn't find my candy thermometers anywhere so I had to use a meat thermometer. I asked SP after the fact and he told me that one broke in the drawer and then he broke on making maple syrup. Well if you can see the thermometer well enough, it is well over 220. I also used the saucer test on it and it passed, or so I thought, on the second test. However, my marmalade never really set. 

 I am more than pleased to have my first Christmas 2017 gift put up on January 8th - another first!

Thank you Marisa!