Tag Archives: cooking

Another Day, Another 16 pints – 7/14/18

Of canned goods.  Saturday mornings are Farmers’ Market morning and breakfast out.  For the past 3 weekends with the farm apprentice here, we have gone to our local diner that is open only for breakfast and lunch.  For the past two Saturday’s, that breakfast has not sat well with me.  I don’t know if they have changed cooking oil or brand of bacon or whether I have just become intolerant to anything with oil in the morning, I have been eating whole grain toast with homemade jam for several weeks.  Today however, after a couple of hours, grandson said his stomach hurt too, so something wasn’t right.

Since I had just been to market Wednesday evening and with him going home tomorrow, I only got pickling cucumbers and zucchini to make pickles, along with a bit of salad greens.

Son arrived around lunch time and daughter had asked him if he would put is stone masonry skills to work to reset a huge rock in her driveway retaining wall before her homeowner’s association got after her about it.  Once I had fixed him a sandwich, we loaded the Xterra with mortar mix, sand, lime, the metal wheelbarrow that doesn’t go in my garden, and the tools.  A stop at Lowe’s to get a bit more sand and an afternoon of his toil and labor while daughter and I sideline supervised and the wall is repaired.

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Before he arrived, I had cut the cucumbers, onions, and peppers and salted them to put in the fridge to wilt and drain.  The zucchini and remaining cucumbers were made into dill spears and zucchini pickles and canned.

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Tonight after dinner was prepared, enjoyed, and cleaned up, he installed the replacement burner for my glass top stove.  My preferred small burner, due to being a lefty, is the front left and it has burned out twice in the eleven years we have been here.  I had ordered a new one, but didn’t get brave enough to install it myself. After the stove was cleaned up, repaired, and put back in place, the cucumbers that had been sitting in salt all day were drained and rinsed and the bread and butter brine made.  Eight pints of spicy bread and butter pickles were made and canned tonight.  A total of 16 pints of pickles made today.

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Tomorrow, daughter and grands are going to come over to pick wild berries so that I can make and can a batch of wildberry jam for her household.

Grandson spent the afternoon and evening still dealing with a tummy ache.  Hopefully, he will be better tomorrow before they have to drive back to their home with a box of jams and pickles, as well as the poster and basketball he got at camp.  It has been wonderful having him here for the past 3 1/2 weeks.

When the Cat’s Away… 7/10/18

The mouse will work her rear off and eat the things that aren’t usually served here.

My morning began early as Jim and eldest grandson took off for a history tour of eastern Virginia.  Though grandson has spent all but a few weeks of his life in Virginia, it has been mostly here in the mountains or in the northern part of the state.  The eastern part of the state is ripe with history with Jamestown, Williamsburg, and Yorktown, as well as a Busch Gardens, so off they went.  Today was to be the history tour with granddad narrating and tomorrow a fun day at Busch Gardens.  I stayed home with the farm to deal with the critters, the garden, and work on the flower bed that has been evolving over the past couple of years down the east side of the garage and around the back on the south side.

After seeing them off, I donned long pants, long sleeves, boots, and sprayed myself generously with Deep Woods Off, and headed out with a metal sieve to pick berries, the blackberries are just beginning to ripen and the wineberries are ripe and the canes heavy.  Enough of a mixture of them were gathered to make a batch of wild berry jam tonight.

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The first pick of the day

Once they were rinsed, crushed, and sealed in a container until this evening, I took off to a friend’s farm with some daylily divisions to trade with one she was dividing.  I won, not only did I get daylilies, but I came home with kale and zucchini, plus some coreopsis divisions and Columbine seed.  Tomorrow, I am taking her a division of another daylily that I had and she did not.

A trip to Lowes and a trunk full of bagged mulch set me up to finish what I started yesterday and continue the flower bed another 15 feet across the back of the garage.  The new daylily starts were planted in two spots, the coreopsis divided with some in the ground and some in the last barrel that had not been planted this spring and the Columbine seed along with some poppy seed joined it in the barrel.

The entire bed from the front of the garage, down the east side, and continuing across the south side were mulched down with dark brown hardwood mulch.

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The beast overseeing my efforts.

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The upside down flower pots are chicken deterents, but a better solution must be found or all of the newly spread mulch will be in the grass and there will be dustbaths in the beds.

When I met Jim more than 4 decades ago, I was a vegetarian and he is a Texan, meat and potatoes preferred.  He likes some vegetables, tolerates other, and refuses some.  In deference to his tastes and so I am not preparing two different meals, I eat a little meat and limit the vegetables to the ones he likes and occasionally one he will tolerate. Kale and summer squash are in his tolerate occasionally list, so with him away tonight, the gifted kale and zucchini were cooked along with an ear of corn and I am feasting to my delight on vegetables.

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And I have left overs for tomorrow night as well.

It is wild berry jam making time.  The header shot are bees busy at work on the two volunteer sunflowers.  Not a single one that I planted came up.  I think this fall, I will just throw a handful of sunflower seed around the perimeter of the garden and let the volunteers happen in the spring.

Love our mountain farm.

Garden and Prep

Late yesterday afternoon I went out to pick the last of the peas and enough bush beans for dinner.  I ended up picking the peas and pulling spent vines for the chickens to peck through.  The bean patch was full of ripe beans and a whole basket was brought in, some enjoyed with dinner, the rest blanched and frozen for winter meals.  There was now a 4 by 8 foot bed empty from the peas and another planting of beans will be made there, the local natural foods store carries the Southern Exposure seed that I prefer and they still had the beans in stock today.

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My plan for today was to make fermented horseradish mustard for eldest son and one for me.  Going over to dig the horseradish root ended up with a major weeding in that corner of the garden that is my compost area every other year.  It was full of tall lambs quarters, some plant from the mint family that doesn’t smell particularly good, and other intruders.  That done, I could get to the horseradish and dug a good handful to soak, scrape, and grate.  Two pints of mustard are fermenting on the counter.

Each time we have enjoyed sweet corn this summer, bought at the local village store (I don’t grow sweet corn), I come home with three because they always have it priced at 3 for $1.59, but we usually only eat two, so the third one has been cooked and cut from the cob and frozen.  Today, it was turned into 4 half pints of corn and tomato relish, a slightly spicy one with a chopped jalapeño in it.  The peppers are beginning to provide in small quantities.

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While I was moving through the aisles to get to that corner of the garden, I realized that the onion tops had toppled, the clue to harvest them, so a wheelbarrow full of onions was brought into the root cellar and they were spread out on the shelves to cure.

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In the midst of all of this, a friend texted and asked if I wanted part of a daylily she was dividing and I never turn down perennials, but my bed was in need of some work, so grandson and I got it weeded, a new edge cut in, divided two of mine that needed it and planted them.  She will get a division of the peachy colored one in the header.

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And just because they are pretty while blooming, the barrels of herbs and flowers are included.

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It is a good time of year, with produce to put by, flowers to enjoy, and fresh herbs for cooking.

Still love my life on this mountain farm.

Jam session and soon in a pickle-7/8/18

Not music, canning.  As the raspberries ripened a cup or two a day, they were enjoyed fresh, but most frozen.  Once enough had been accumulated, the first canning session of the year was conducted.  Realizing that I should have crushed the berries prior to freezing so that the amount I had was accurate.  The first batch was made and canned in tiny quarter pint jars, there are many of them in the house and they don’t have much other use, though I think I may just freeze herbs and pesto in the rest of them this year.  The lesson to crush before freezing was heeded and the next week or so of berry collection was frozen crushed and batch number two made when enough were accumulated, this time canned in half pints.  At yesterday’s Farmers’ Market, we purchased several pounds of blueberries.  We had planned to go pick them, but each time we planned to go, it was either blazing hot or raining.  Also  peaches and plums that were brought in from far enough away but still within the 50 mile limit that they survived the mid April freezes and snows. Yesterday before we took off to go see a play at Blackfriars American Shakespeare Center in Staunton, I made a batch of Blueberry Double Ginger jam, this morning, a batch of Blueberry Maple Jam, and this afternoon, a batch of Peach-Plum-Ginger Jam.  That shelf is filling for gifts, family sharing, and our use.

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The wild raspberries and blackberries are just beginning to ripen.  We will gather them and depending on the quantity, batches will be made into either individual jams or a mixed berry jam.

Soon the cucumbers will begin and the peppers will develop and pickle making will commence.  The only pickles made so far are a few jars of dilly beans.  There aren’t enough of our beans to make too many jars of them.  I will be freezing as many of the remaining ones as possible for our enjoyment when the season ends and we can no longer pick them from the garden or purchase them from the Farmers’ Market.

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The pickle shelf will begin to fill soon.  I generally store the canned goods other than jams in the root cellar, but I love the look of the pretty jams and pickles in my beautiful open cabinets, so this year, two shelves will be dedicated to them and the over flow along with the fruit sauces, tomato sauces and salsas will go to the root cellar with the garlic, onions, sweet potatoes, and pumpkins as they are harvested.

Olio – January 3, 2018

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things

The holidays are over, the decorations packed away, but the cold has really settled in.  Cold is relative.  There are parts of the world, even the USA that have the temperatures we are experiencing every winter and are prepared for it.  There are parts of the US that are used to very mild winters that are experiencing temperatures that we consider normal for this time of year, but they aren’t equipped for it.  It is cold here.  Our nights for the past couple of weeks have all been single digits.  The days in the teens, low 20’s if we are lucky.  But it has been dry.  There is some light snow expected tomorrow as another Arctic blast hits us, but no other real precipitation due as far as I can see in the forecast.  There is a light at the end of the tunnel though, if the forecast holds true, we will climb back up into the 30’s with mid 20’s at night in a few more days.

With the frigid weather, the dogs run out and back in.  The chickens have remained cooped some days and if it is sunny and calm, let out to free range on other days.  If it snows tomorrow, they won’t come out of their coop, no white stuff for them.  The shortened days and extreme cold have seriously curtailed egg laying.  Instead of 6 dozen or so a week, the 16 ten month old hens are providing less than half that a week.  The days are beginning to lengthen and the cold will abate, so hopefully they will begin to lay again soon.

We rarely go out for New Year’s Eve, but this fall, we saw a billboard for a New Year’s Eve event at Mountain Lake Lodge, the site of the filming of “Dirty Dancing.”  As soon as they were taking reservations, we booked one.  This lodge is 5 miles further up the road  our road descends from, an elevation change of about 2000 more feet and we were greeting with snow and frosted trees, a veritable winter wonderland, where though we are cold, we have no snow.

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The event included a stellar buffet dinner, a room for the night, a grand party with live band, favors, and champagne toast, and topped off with breakfast on New Year’s Day.  We met some wonderful folks, enjoyed their company, danced and partied, then walked upstairs to our lovely room for the night.  Such a great event we will probably repeat it next year.

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We got home on New Year’s Day to discover that the dripping faucet in the utility room had been turned off and the hot water line frozen.  We have kept the cold dripping, the heat turned up in there and a hot fire burning in the wood stove in the basement near where the pipe enters the utility room slab.  After three days of this treatment, the pipe finally thawed this afternoon and now both hot and cold are running at a slow trickle to prevent a recurrence.  The washing machine drain is still frozen though the sink drain is not.

I was knitting a Hitchhiker scarf and hoping to wear it last weekend as my last project for 2017, but ended up taking it with me with only 8 rows to complete.  Sitting in the tavern before dinner in front of a fire with a glass of wine, I saw an error a few rows back and had to rip those rows out to fix it.  It ended up being my first finished project of 2018.

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Knit with Freia Fibers Shawl ball

To get out of chronological order here, the past couple of weeks have been busy.  Daughter’s family has been moving into their new house a trunk full or our 5 X 8′ open trailer full at a time.  They have cleared the storage units that have held most of their belonging for the past three years that they shared our home with us, have moved toys, books, games, and shelving that held some of that in our rec room, and this past weekend, their master bedroom returning our furniture that they have stored.  They are still staying here until some flooring is laid, then they will move the kids dressers and part of the bunk bed and a few more smaller items and their pets.  The house is going to seem so empty after having the kids here.  They are close enough for us to still help out when needed, but in a different school district and closer to work.

The month of December had us on the road a lot.  We went to the coast to visit son the younger and his family one weekend, home the next for the second Holiday Market, then north to son the elder and his family, returning home on Christmas eve.  Son in law is from an Italian family and their tradition is pasta and antipasto on the eve and we arrived home to a delicious meal.  Christmas Day after gift exchange with daughter’s family and watching the children with all of their new things, I prepared a turkey and ham meal with all the trimmings.

The week after Christmas, our local yarn store closed for a week to relocate much closer to where I live and our spinning group that usually meets there on that Thursday of each month chipped in with other volunteers to help them with packing and actually moving so that they didn’t have to rent a truck.  A friend volunteered her pickup, I volunteered our larger SUV and the trailer and with a couple of other vehicles and two days, all of the fabric, yarn, and fixtures were moved in sub freezing temperatures.  They reopen on Friday and I am excited to see how all of the stuff we helped move will be displayed and so that I can purchase another Freia Fiber Shawl ball in another color way for my cruise knitting.  Our cruise is only a bit more than a month off.

I hope my readers have a very happy and prosperous New Year.

Same Song Different Dance

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Yesterday was clear and sunny, but cold.  We are in the week’s yoyo on the climb back up the string.  Today is gray, but expected to be about 8 degrees warmer than yesterday.  Maybe the mid 40’s (8ºC), breezy, but no heavy wind. We will climb another 10 degrees tomorrow and Tuesday with increasing chances of rain, then plummet on Thursday back to a high of freezing and a low in the teens.  My system doesn’t like these flucuations.  With the changes bring wind.  Wind brings power outages.  We are low on wood for supplemental heat.  This spring, the woodlot will be checked for dead or dying trees to try to resupply.  A few years ago, a huge oak blew down in the woods of our farm.  It landed on thick branches so it was propped up at a dangerous angle and it sat that way for two years.  Eldest son tackled it with the chain saw and cut many thick branches from the tree, but our saw wasn’t long enough to go through the trunk.  Our farmer friend that hays our fields came in with heavier equipment than our chainsaw and little tractor and left with a couple of thick long logs for the mill, loads of firewood for another neighbor who had recently had bypass surgery, and left us enough firewood for two winters of supplemental heat and ambiance fires.  Two Thanksgivings ago, eldest son and I took down a dead tree and between then and a second visit at Christmas, we got it all cut up, I split most of it with his help on some and it was stacked.  That wood is almost gone.  Hopefully there will be no extended outages before it warms back up.

What does a “Mommom” (my name to these two grands) do on a Sunday morning?  Grandson’s breakfast of choice is pancakes or Honey Nut Cheerios.  About once a week, a week’s worth of pancakes are mixed and baked on the griddle to be frozen for him.  The last batch ended up too thin for his liking, Granddaughter loves them.   This morning, I felt they were too thick, but he insisted that was the way he liked them.  They are so thick that they didn’t bubble up on the edges to indicate the griddle side was baked and ready to flip.  His weekly batch of pancakes are cooling and will be frozen for this week’s breakfasts.  His Mom and Dad are grocery shopping now and he asked for sausages to go with them. The microwave will be busy this week.

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And I don’t even like pancakes, I would rather have oatmeal or a farm fresh egg, right from the nest of my girls.

Busy Days

The past few days have been busy.  Granddaughter started back to preschool, the dogs have had check ups and shots, we have been busy around the farm.

Between us, most of the fields have been mowed for fall.  I haven’t harvested the pears or apples yet, as I have been trying to catch up on tomatoes and peaches.  One day, I canned 30 pints of tomatoes and pasta sauce.  Of that, only a few didn’t seal, so we had a big spaghetti dinner last night and the leftover sauce was put in wide mouth jars and frozen.  We will use it first before we start opening the sealed jars.

Days work

Each Tuesday, daughter and son-in-law pick up a one person food share of meat and one of fruit as a test to see if it is worth their money.  A lot of the fruit has been peaches, though the late frost killed off almost all of the peaches around here, so they must be bringing them from south of us.  Jim and I are the only ones in the house that will eat a fresh peach.  The first batch was made into peach/mango chutney, a very authentic tasting chutney.  The second batch were peeled, sliced, and frozen.  The third batch went to the spinning retreat with me and were enjoyed by the group.  The fourth batch was sitting there about to attract fruit flies, so I made 9 half pints of sweet chili sauce today.  I tasted a bit of it and it is sweet and spicy with hot chili sauce added.  It should make a great chicken or pork basting sauce or topping.  I think it would be good over cream cheese with crackers.  It is cooling on the counter and will be added to the increasing jars of goodies on the shelves.

Sweet chili sauce

Tonight late, our eldest son and eldest grandson will arrive for the weekend.  I have a dry rub pork shoulder that I will cook in the crockpot tomorrow and I think one of the jars of sweet chili sauce, a jar of the apple/pear chutney from last year, the last  jar of Pear Ginger Conserve will all be put out to eat with the pulled pork and slaw with a batch of roasted veggies for out dinner.

Tomorrow, we will get to return to the Farmers’ Market for the first time in a month.  We will precede that with breakfast out, and I will turn in my applications for the two winter Holiday Markets.

I am loving being able to return to a routine and see things getting done.

What to do when it rains

… and rain it has this summer.  Normally by this time of the summer, it is dry and the grass doesn’t grow, the weeds don’t flourish, the garden languishes for cooler, wetter times.  It has been a wet summer.  The grass grows inches over night and it is too wet to run the mower and brush hog over it.  The weeds have engulfed most of my flower beds and continue to tax the chicken runs and the lower end of the garden, that I have never gotten a handle on this year.  The productive part of the garden has shaded out most of the weeds now, and I can handle staying on top of the ones that do crop up.

But back to the rain.  It is no fun to be out in pouring rain, chilly pouring rain for the past two days, so I have stayed in mostly.  I have spun 278 yards of local Leicester Longwool, and last weekend at the Farmers’ Market, bought a pound more of it.  It is a lovely fiber to spin.  I think this skein will be dyed and I still can’t decide whether to dye the roving from last weekend and then spin it or spin and then dye.  I really like the way dyed roving spins the colors, so that is probably the way it will go.

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I finished the lime green Alpaca/Merino blend on my supported spindle, plyed it on my wheel.  It needs another run through the wheel and then a bath.  Also there are two knitting projects in the works.  A hat of my handspun superwash merino for eldest son. There is a lot of that yarn, so maybe a second one either for grandson or for the shop.

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And progress on the Inside Out baby blanket.

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The next couple of afternoon/evenings will be spent cooking Tacos and sides tonight and Lasagna and sides tomorrow night for the 9 people currently in the house.  Never a dull moment, even in the rain.

 

Day of rest

Today, I rest.

I was roused out of bed earlier than I desired with the kid’s dog wanting to be let outside.  He apparently did not get locked in his cage last night, and though the grands were up, they ignored his barks.  I let the dogs out, fed and watered them, the barn cat, and the chickens and came back in to make a double batch of pancakes for breakfast and to freeze for grandson’s breakfast this week.  He ate a few bites of them and decided they didn’t taste like usual and refused to eat the rest on his plate and told me he wouldn’t eat them this week, so the chickens got an treat of 20+ pancakes, along with one of the two loaves of artisan sourdough bread that sat on the counter and molded rather than eaten.  A frustrating start to the day.

Jim took off on the BBH to Roanoke.  He was going to brunch and then a safety class with the HOG group, but it was so windy and cold this morning that he decided to skip the brunch, wait for it to warm some and the wind to die down then he rode in to get some lunch and go to the class.  As that is more than an hour each way and time spent there, he won’t be home til much, much later.

After he left, I retired to the loft and worked on a fingerless mitt pattern that I am in the process of designing.

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I really like the double cable that will be up the back of the hand.  The design work isn’t my problem. Writing up the pattern from my notes is always the part that troubles me. I need to work on presentation before I publish my patterns.  Perhaps, I should also be charging for them.

Last night I blended a couple more ounces of the Raspberry Romney with the Colonial Maroon Merino and the Eggplant Merino before I ran out of the Eggplant.  I ended up with 4.1 ounces of fluff to spin.

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That should be enough to make fingerless mitts or a hat for my shop.  I just need to get spinning.  I did spin a few ounces of the Hawk’s Nest blend yesterday and thought I had spun it all then found another bag.  I should finish that before I start something else.

Tonight, K makes dinner.  She volunteers on Saturday and Sunday when she isn’t working.  With both of them working more than an hour away, grand duty getting them off to school or preschool, or staying with them when they don’t feel well, getting them to Martial Arts one of the days of the week, and fixing dinner for the crew has been my week day job.  They went out for a family night last night, so I cooked for just Jim and me.  He got a special treat of lamb chops.  I bought them at the Farmers’ Market yesterday and we could have gone out to dinner at one of our favorite local restaurants for what they cost.  I sure couldn’t afford to cook them for everyone. I don’t care for lamb, except their fleece to spin, but he enjoyed them.

The kids are off for lunch, I guess.  I fixed some leftovers and returned to my knitting chair to post and knit.  Perhaps a nap is in order while the house is quiet.

Olio – 3-28-16

It is really trying to be spring time.  We are having more warm days and mild nights as not, but the threat of frost is not passed, nor will it for a few more weeks.  The tiny tomato plants have secondary leaves and the two of the four types of peppers are thriving.  They spend as much of each sunny day outdoors as they can, often tucked in a sheltered area as the spring wind is strong in this hollow.  The remaining two flats of still ungerminated peppers have been left indoors under cover and soon flats of basil and fennel will be added to that tray.  We can start putting these plants in the ground in another month.

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There are 4 comfrey seedlings, so I should have plenty of comfrey leaves to dry for salves, to feed to the chickens, and to use as mulch on the beds.  I love their huge shading leaves and purple flowers.

I have continued spinning on the Merino batts I blended at Hawk’s Nest and have produced several hundred yards of a beautiful royal purple yarn with gray and blue highlights.  It has spun and plied to a very soft fingering weight yarn.

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Skein winding off the bobbin.
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The first skein plied, but not yet soaked and hung to set.

On my drop spindle, I have created and plied a skein of the Romney that I received as my March Tailfeather’s Club installment.  It is beautiful too, but is going much slower than what I am creating on the wheel.

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It is light fingering weight.

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Wild yeast sourdough starter

The wild yeast sourdough starter was a tough start.  After about 5 days, I saw no activity, so I discarded most of it and fed it again.  Still not too much activity was observed, but daily stirring disbursed the odor that it was beginning to ferment.  Saturday, I again discarded most of it and fed it again and it bubbled happily yesterday.  It has a delightful fruity odor and nice development.  Today I fed it again and tonight, I will make the ferment and soak the flour for tomorrow’s bread making.  I am excited that I have developed a nice wild starter from just flour and water, some patience and a good daily stirring. Tomorrow, we will have sourdough bread of just flour, water, and salt.

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Our house was built with three dormers on the front.

Two of those dormers are in the living room and high up in the heavy timber roof line. They face north and are magnets for wasps and stinkbugs to gather during the daylight hours.  After a few days, the wasps will move down to the south windows and doors on the ground level and can be swatted and removed from the house, but yesterday, I realized that there were not one or two, but a dozen or more in those windows.  I hauled the 8′ ladder in, climbed to the step below the top and swatted wasps in both sets of windows.  I had hardly put the ladder away until I spotted another.  I must figure out where they are getting in.