Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Black bear and brown tomatoes

Today  after I dropped the letters from work off at the post office, I ran into Earth Fare for some apples and large baggies.  As I passed the tempting produce, my eyes taking in  the splendid colors and smells of  the fresh, organic fruits and veggies, I got the needed apples and some brown tomatoes. The first time I had seen this delicacy was at Whole Foods Market with my sister.  She had raved about how good they were, so I had become curious.

 I work on Tuesdays (and Thursdays) for a lawyer friend of mine, so dinner is usually a simple affair for Hart and me, since the girls are already at their Bible Study when I get home.

  Kumato tomatoes, I learned,  are originally from the Spanish Mediterranean 

 They are about the size of a golf ball, a brownish green and dark red color.  

Dinner tonight was pan fried flounder, oven roasted sweet potato slices and fresh brown tomato salad.  Very delicious. 

The lettuce is from my garden.  I cut herbs of parsley, rosemary and a bit of mint, chopped them finely.  Then I added a minced garlic clove and olive oil, which I drizzled on the tomatoes.  Feta cheese topped it all off. 

.And I saw a very unusual sight on my way home tonight--a black bear.  He was in a tree in someone's yard, probably very scared and thirsty.  People were on the sidewalk pointing to him and the police had already been there I heard.  Poor guy.  I guess he wished he were back at home in the forest, alway from noisy traffic, people staring and dogs chasing him.  Hope they rescue him soon.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Strawberry season

 It's always a delight to see the strawberry sign at the farmer's stand on Hwy 135.  The stand's season opens with the arrival of the juiciest, ripest and reddest berries just waiting to be popped into my mouth.  So far I've bought about three flats of berries and hope to get more next week.  The weather has been rainy and stormy so the girls and I haven't ventured to pick our own yet.  But we've enjoyed eating them just as they are. 

 I did make gluten free strawberry muffins and they turned out to be light and airy--just right for springtime.  Here's the recipe that I got from livingwithout.com 

Strawberry muffins:

½ cup coconut flour
1 tablespoon arrowroot powder
¼ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
4 large eggs
½ cup agave nectar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
½ cup finely chopped fresh strawberries
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 8 muffin cups with paper liners.
2. In a large bowl, combine the coconut flour, arrowroot powder, salt and baking soda.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, agave nectar and vanilla extract.
4. Blend the wet ingredients into the coconut flour mixture with a handheld mixer until thoroughly combined. Then fold in the strawberries.
5. Scoop ¼ cup of batter into each prepared muffin cup.
6. Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached. Let the cupcakes cool in the pan for 1 hour.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Growing Shiitake mushrooms

A few years ago I became interested in growing our own mushrooms, especially shiitake.  I put it on hold and then I saw a class that was being offered at our local agricultural center.  Since I couldn't attend, I talked Hart into going.  He came home with a log inoculated with the mushroom spores.  It will take about a year before we can harvest any.

So I decided we would need more than one log of mushrooms and ordered a bag of shiitake mushroom spores online.  Hart cut down some small trees and Sunday we spent most of the afternoon inoculating the logs.

Logs waiting for the process to begin.
The first step was to brush the logs free of debris or mold and to drill holes in it.

Shiitake mushroom spores.
Hart drilled about 20 holes in each log, in a diamond pattern.

Hart filling each hole.

Hole is filled with the spores.

Pushing the spores into the hole.

Metal rod is used to push spores firmly into holes.

Melted cheese wax used to cover each hole and any sawed off area.

Brushing the holes with wax.

Wax covering the holes on log.

I'm brushing the logs with the hot wax, including the ends of the logs

Now we have about 10 logs sitting in the shady area of our garden just waiting for the mushrooms to grow.  Our job is to keep them in the shade and to be sure the logs receive enough moisture, especially during the dry summer months.  We should be able to harvest about 10lbs. per log for the next four years.  The hard part will be waiting for that first year.