Friday, July 19, 2013


I needed some sultanas (golden raisins) for a recipe, and came across this on the 'Net.

Feds vs. Raisins

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Making real vinegar

Last year I started some basil vinegar, using ruby basil and Bragg's apple cider vinegar. Neglected over the fall, winter and spring months in my cupboard, it developed 2 lovely thick layers of "mother" which can now be used to make more real vinegar from wine. There's a BIG difference in real vinegar vs. the chemically-laden distilled vinegar at the store (although I do buy and use that as a disinfectant).

2 weeks ago, I strained off the lovely pink vinegar, and covered the mother with about half a bottle of left-over white wine I had on hand to keep it from drying out. That has already turned pink (shown above),  meaning it will probably carry some of the basil taste when the alcohol in the wine turns into acetic acid (vinegar). Who needs that much ruby basil vinegar? Well, there are always occasions for homemade gifts!

I have some raspberry wine I made in a 3 gallon carboy 2 years ago (and is still in the carboy) and I'm thinking to put some of that in mason jars, adding a piece of the "basil" flavored mother, hoping that the 2nd round of the mother in white wine will have diluted the basil flavor, or is at least over-ridden by the raspberry flavor.

I also grew some mother in a mason jar of apple cores and peels in water over the winter, using no ACV starter. Those nasty little fruit flies develop what's called acetobacter that make acetic acid (vinegar). That batch is cloudy but smells/tastes okay, and should be a good mother to make more real vinegar.

In the last 3 weeks I have taken shortcuts to making flavored vinegars, mainly for salads or to splash on cooked vegetables. I use organic champagne vinegar as the base, and steep various herbs or fruits in it. The Proven├žal vinegar (rosemary and thyme sprigs, fresh orange and lemon peel and a garlic clove), smells the best but it needs to steep another month before use.

The other recent flavored vinegars I just made with a champagne vinegar base are chive blossom vinegar, tarragon vinegar, and regular basil vinegar.

I just ordered more organic champagne vinegar from a winery in California, but it is quite expensive, more costly than a decent wine. Walmart sells a cheap bottled wine for $2.97, and only the alcohol portion is necessary to make real vinegar since the wine taste doesn't metter.  

So, I'm really hoping I can convert more of my various homemade fruit wines to vinegar using my "newly grown" mother. I don't drink anymore, but I do use EVOO and vinegars on my salads. I don't buy salad dressings at the store anymore... too many fake ingredients not good for my health.

Monday, July 8, 2013

New dog, Nerve-wracking

About 2-3 weeks ago my sister's dog, a mostly herding dog of some sort, came home with a puppy about 8 months old. Calls to the animal shelter for lost dogs, and checking the neighbors and the newspaper didn't turn up anyone missing her.

The pup, who looked like a part chocolate lab, promptly adopted me, and despite the cost of shots, good food, flea and tick treatment, and licensing, she was so loveable that I thought I'd keep her.

Three weeks and $3,000 in chewed items later (including my hand-woven and signed oriental rug, my watch, some clothing and countless other things she could get in her mouth) I'd had enough. She aggravated my sister's dog so much that he didn't want to go outside, and pooped in her part of the house which he hadn't done in more than a year since she got him.

A woman from Lab Rescue came and picked the pup up this morning.

I'll miss the dog because she was so sweet. I WILL NOT miss the mess.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Whew, almost back to Normal... and Peaches!

Computer is now fixed, and I downloaded software so I can read all my research notes and my recipes again. However, my CapTel (captioned telephone) still isn't working; not the fault of the telephone itself but rather the VOIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) box that runs it.

The VOIP box is an Ooma Telo, and their customer service is the pits. After getting no help from repeated emails and calls to them from a neighbor's phone for a week or more, I gave up. I bought the Ooma box through Amazon so I finally contacted Amazon. With no hesitation, Amazon is replacing the unit at no charge. I hope the new one works longer than the 3 weeks the first one worked.

With as much catching up I have to do, I also have a trip away next week, so I'll still be behind and scarce in posting for another week. A Virginia friend is picking me up after my doctor's appointment in Winston-Salem, NC next Monday afternoon, and we are going to upstate South Carolina around the Gaffney area for peaches. A gardening friend there is giving us a place to sleep.

If you have never tasted a freshly picked ripe South Carolina peach, you have missed a really big treat, nothing like you can taste in cold-storage peaches from the grocery stores. Georgia calls itself "The Peach State" but SC grows and sells more than twice as many peaches as Georgia. Several years ago when I still lived in Georgia, I took a bushel of huge SC peaches to a garden gathering in Tennessee, and they were gobbled up like hotcakes. I haven't had really good peaches since then.

My onerous chore for this weekend is to wash canning jars in preparation for the peaches. Peaches do not keep well, so I will have to process mine as soon as I get them home. I plan to make peach chutney (some mild, and some spicy) and perhaps make some peach curd and maybe even peach vinegar for summer fruit salads. Any remaining peaches that I don't eat fresh will be canned in very light syrup.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Celebrating July 4th

Fourth of July Celebrations

"You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness. You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism. "   

 ~Erma Bombeck

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Lots of Money for 2 meals and a tour

I certainly appreciate all Joel Salatin has done to bring awareness of real foods to our communities. However, this seems like an indecent charge for breakfast and lunch, plus a few hours of his time in a hay wagon. They used to limit the attendance to 100, but even if that's all they still allow, 100 people x $250 each (if they register early) is $25,000 for a day, less expenses for 2 meals, but still makes a very profitable day for a farmer.

I guess I've become jaded at those who are greedy about making money off the very necessary fight to get real foods back into our system.

Celebration! At Polyface - Premium, September 7, 2013  
Farmstead Breakfast, Lunch & Premium Tour with Joel Salatin
8:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. at Polyface Farm, Swoope, VA

Early Bird Tickets: $250 per adult ($100 per child under 10)

Experience the early morning magic of Polyface, with breakfast, lunch and an in depth 2 ½ hour hay wagon tour with America's most famous farmer.

Here's what's in store for you:
    •    Farmstead Breakfast with Polyface Fare
    •    2½-hour Premium Hay Wagon Tour with Joel Salatin
    •    Farmstead Lunch with the Salatin Family, Staff and Interns
    •    Winetasting - Virginia and Organic Wines
    •    $10 Polyface Farm Store Gift Certificate
    •    Children's Activities
    •    6 Hours of Polyface Bliss!
    •    Remarks from Special Guests - Sally Fallon Morell, Robb Wolf, Jenny McGruther and more!