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Eggnog!

Every year we have a holiday open house and I make homemade eggnog.  This nog will  sustain one through the dark, cold days and bring holiday cheer to any occasion.

Lots of luscious eggs.

First separate twelve egg yolks and whites then beat the yolks until thick and creamy.

Beat them well.

Next slowly add in a pound of powdered sugar and beat until well mixed.

Creamy

Now comes the heavy whipping cream; you will need two quarts of this dreamy stuff.  Add it slowly and beat until thick and well, creamy.

Time for the egg whites.

Let the mixture sit for two hours then beat egg whites until almost stiff and fold them in to the nog.

Top with a dusting of freshly grated nutmeg and have a bottle of brandy or rum on hand for people to add to their cup.  To serve I use a glass punch bowl that I got at Goodwill; this time of year they have quite a selection for great prices.

(As with any raw egg product do be a good host and let people know so they can decide whether to indulge or not.  Sad to say there are some nasty bacteria that can be spread by raw eggs so people with weakened immune systems should probably steer clear.)

 

 

Kimchee

What’s crunchy, spicy hot and really good for you?  Kimchee!  Here’s how to make your own.  It’s much easier than you would think.

The first step is to chop your veggies and spices:

Next mix the spices together:

Mix in the veggies:

Once all is well mixed put in a jar and let sit until it’s fermented:

Once your kimchee is ready invite friends over and eat!

Here’s a recipe with more detailed instructions.

Fun with Cable Knitting

Cable knitting is, if possible, even more addictive than Fair Isle patterns.  Best of all it’s pretty easy to do if you have the right tools and some good patterns.  I like using cables on things like mittens and fingerless gloves as it makes them much easier to fit on a variety of hand sizes.

I like these needles for holding the stitches to be cabled. I like these needles for holding the stitches to be cabled.
Cable knitting mittens help them fit better. Cable knitting mittens help them fit better.
Cables are great for fingerless gloves. Cables are great for fingerless gloves.
More intricate cables can be used for small bags. More intricate cables can be used for small bags.

Here’s a fun site on the basics of cable knitting.

Do you have patterns you love?  Comment here or on Facebook and I will post them!

Dyeing with Black Walnuts

If you’ve ever handled black walnuts you know how well they can dye your hands, countertop and many other things you may not want a deep brown color.  Dark brown yarn is lovely.

Black walnuts ready to be harvested! Black walnuts ready to be harvested!

The first step is to carefully harvest your walnuts.  I always use gloves to do this as the fruit is a bit caustic and even a little juice will stain your hands. Once you have the fruit put it in a bowl and pour boiling water over it.  Mash it a bit with a fork and let it sit for about an hour.  No mordant is needed.

Ready for the yarn. Ready for the yarn.

Put the yarn in your dye bath and leave until a shade darker than desired is reached.  Pull the yarn out and wash in clear water.  Be careful to rinse out the dye that hasn’t fixed to the wool or it may stain your body or bleed on to other clothes.

This dye can be used for basket materials, cotton or wool.

UFH 077 Some of the brown yarns are black walnut dyed.

Have fun!

 

 

Hats!

What do all urban farmers in this brisk chilly climate need?  Warm knit hats!  It’s easy to make these using circular needles.  I like to use number 8 needles and usually cast on about 95 stitches to start for an adult hat.  Once the stitches are on I do a rib stitch with two knit to one purl stitch for about 8 to 10 rows; this will give the band some stretch.

A hat in process. A hat in process.

 Now it’s time to use your creativity and go crazy with patterns and color using a knit stitch.  Once you have 34 rows  start decreasing to form the top of the hat.  To decrease knit together two stitches every 10 stitches for one row then knit normally for the next.  

All finished All finished

As you get to the top of the hat knit stitches together every row then when there are a few stitches left use a darning needle to go through the remaining stitches and draw this tight.  Now tuck in your yarn ends and you are all set!

Here are some different examples. Here are some different examples.

Here’s a post from the archives!

The taste of fresh chevre is good beyond belief and when paired with fresh fall beets and pecans I feel like I’ve reached a gardener’s Valhalla.  Surprisingly it’s not that hard to make.  If you don’t have goats then check out your local farmers market.

Here’s my daughter with Biggie and Smalls.

First your goat needs to give birth.  This starts her milk flowing.

Milking a goat is way easier than milking a cow!

Next you need to learn how to milk.  This is a fairly easy thing to do but I found that I was using new muscles and I was kind of sore for a while.

Make sure your bucket is clean and your goat doesn’t kick it over. They love to do this towards the end of milking when they want to get down from the stand.

A gallon of milk is what most recipes call for.

Here’s the fresh milk in a pot on the stove.

Heat the milk to 160 degrees Fahrenheit to pasteurize it then put it in an ice water bath to cool it to 86 degrees.

I ordered this culture on line and it works great.

Add culture, stir and let sit for twelve hours.

It’s pretty amazing to see the transformation.

The curds are soft and almost creamy.

I got these molds on line as well.

Spoon the curds into chevre molds to let the whey drain off.  This takes about 24 hours.  The longer you let it drain the drier your cheese will be.

This is after about 24 hours of draining.

Once the cheese has drained take it out of the mold and cut it into the desired size.

I like doing small rounds so I can use lots of different spice mixtures.

I like to roll the cheese in herb and spice mixtures.

Ready for crackers or a luscious salad!

The first row on the left has been rolled in zahtar, an oregano based spice mix from the Middle East.  The second row in a Thai spice and the third in a Japanese mix of toasted sesame seeds and salt.

Easy Plum Liqueur

So many plums, so little time.

Wash and pit two pounds of plums.

Mix three cups of vodka (750ml) with two cups sugar
Put in jar and let sit for 3 months. Enjoy!

Recipe:

– Two pounds pitted plums

– Two cups sugar

– Three cups vodka

Plum Wine!

Last year I did the following post on plum wine.  A couple of days ago I did the final bottling and it turned out very well; it tastes more like brandy than wine but it’s very drinkable.  To do the bottling you sterilize your siphon and bottles then carefully decant the finished wine from the carboy into the bottle.  The wine mellows as it ages so it’s advised to let the bottles lay on their sides in a cool place for another six months before drinking.

This year we have few plums but you could dry this recipe with other fruit like peaches or nectarines.

Finished plum wine. Finished plum wine.

Recently my neighbor invited me to pick his plums.  “Sure!” I said with avaricious glee.  Later that night as the fruit flies multiplied in the plum filled sink and the smell of fruit on the edge filled the air I wondered what in the world I had done; my freezer was packed, my shelved were filled with dried and preserved fruit and by tomorrow this treasure would be compost.

“Wine!” I thought “I will make wine!”  I had never done this before but desperate times call for desperate measures and as the unwashed dishes began to pile up and the flies reached a fever pitch of activity it was clearly time to do something.

Plums for plum wine Plums ready to become wine.

A survey of the internet showed a huge amount of differences in formulation. But after a while a few patterns did begin to emerge; most recipes needed campden tablets, pectic enzyme, yeast, acid and sugar.  I ordered the more exotic items on-line, as well as a hydrometer and began to pit the plums.

wine ingredients Extras to make great wine.

Once the plums were pitted I weighed them out, covered them with boiling water, crushed and added a couple of campden tablets and let them sit overnight.  The boiling water and tablets discourage the growth of unwanted organisms.

The next morning I added in the pectic enzyme and acid.  The enzyme helps break down the fruit and the acid improves flavor and storage.

That night I made a sugar syrup and added this in.

sugar syrup Sugar syrup being made.

The following morning I put in a packet of yeast and covered it up to ferment.

wine yeast All important yeast!

When I got home the house had a faintly alcoholic smell and the pot was foamy and bubbling.  I took a hydrometer reading to see where the starting point was and recorded it on a page in my homesteading  journal.

hydrometer Hydrometer

To get a good reading you need a long tube so the device can float.

Getting a good reading. How to get a good hydrometer reading.

The fruit was also starting to break down.  Each day I gave it a good stir with a clean spoon in the morning and at night to break the cap on it.

fruit cap Cap on the wine.

After a week I siphoned it into a clean carboy, put the airlock on top and crossed my fingers.

air lock Air lock

Now it needs to sit for six months then I will bottle it and hopefully have some lovely plum wine.

carbuoy In the carbuoy and ready to transform into wine.

Here is the recipe that I wound up using:

  • 16 pounds of plums
  • 8 pounds of sugar, (half the weight of the plums)
  • Two teaspoons of pectic acid
  • Two campden tablets
  • One packet of yeast
  • Enough water to cover the fruit

 

Plum Torte

These are golden with a tinge of green; perfect for tortes but too tart to dry. These are golden with a tinge of green; perfect for tortes but too tart to dry.

I dream not in sugar plums but in Italian prune and this year my dreams are all coming true; the neighbor’s tree is bursting with succulent blue fruit.  I harvest the plums in succession for each recipe tastes best with a different level of tartness.

First up are the wonderful New York Times Plum Tortes. Over the years I have modified the recipe a bit and here is my version:

Plum Torte

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup regular or brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup unbleached white or wheat flour, (if wheat is used it will raise less, you can also do a blend of flours)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • If unsalted butter is used add in a pinch of salt
  • 2 eggs
  • Enough halved and pitted plums to cover top of torte
  • Sugar and cinnamon to sprinkle on top
I use my food processor to make the batter. I use my food processor to make the batter.

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Cream sugar and butter in a bowl. Add flour, baking powder, salt and eggs, and beat well.

3. Put the batter in a pan.  (I like to give these as gifts or make them ahead for potlucks so often used disposable aluminum pans.)  Place the plum halves skin side up on top of the batter. Sprinkle lightly with sugar and cinnamon to taste.

4. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes. Remove and cool; refrigerate or freeze.

These tortes freeze beautifully but need to be cooled then well wrapped in foil.

Ready for baking. Ready for baking.
All set! All set!

 

Here’s one from the archives!

I went out in the garden last night and found several tomatoes, a couple of handfuls of beans, a small zucchini, kale and Italian parsley.  The chickens are all back laying in full force so we had plenty of eggs too.  Time to make pasta primavera!

Wash and prepare your vegetables. Wash and prepare your vegetables.
Get your pasta making ingredients together: one egg, 2/3 cup flour, one teaspoon olive oil, one tablespoon water and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Get your pasta making ingredients together: one egg, 2/3 cup flour, one teaspoon olive oil, one tablespoon water and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
Mix dry ingredients then add wet. Mix dry ingredients then add wet.
Mix until you get a ball that is moist but not wet. Mix until you get a ball that is moist but not wet.
Put on a floured surface and flatten out with your hand. Put on a floured surface and flatten out with your hand. 
I use a pasta maker to do the final mixing and smoothing. Roll the pasta through until it is smooth and even then run it through the noodle cutting side. You can also roll out and cut the noodles with a knife. I use a pasta maker to do the final mixing and smoothing. Roll the pasta through until it is smooth and even then run it through the noodle cutting side. You can also roll out and cut the noodles with a knife.
Hang the noodles. You can let them dry completely and store in a ziplock bag, use immediately or freeze them. Hang the noodles. You can let them dry completely and store in a ziplock bag, use immediately or freeze them.
Lightly stir fry veggies Lightly stir fry veggies
Drain the noodles, add the vegetables and top with parsley and grated parmesan cheese. Drain the noodles, add the vegetables and top with parsley and grated parmesan cheese.