I wrote a few weeks ago about wanting to grow, process and eat sorghum. The first step in that process is, of course, planting some sorghum seed. Really, before that, we had to prepare some ground to plant. Larry, Granny Sue’s husband turned over a bit of earth at our place. I don’t know if you have ever tried to cultivate a new piece of land for garden space, but it is bone jarring, punishing work if you don’t have big equipment. One could certainly take to it with a rototiller and it will work but you’ll feel a new kind of pain. Anyhow, Larry ran his plow and tractor over a nice chunk of our land to do the initial “turn-over” which I followed up with a smaller tiller to break up the ground further.
I got about half way done with the tilling when another neighbor, Tim, stopped by with his tractor which he used to
save my life finish tilling the land. Everything was bone dry and dusty which made this whole process a messy endeavor. Still, Emily and the kids pitched rocks into the woods while I set up the rows and drove row stakes. We carefully planted a dozen or so rows of Sugar Drip sorghum seed. Sugar Drip is an old-time variety good for our part of the country. It matures in around 102 days and makes nice sweet 8-10 foot tall stalks. I ordered seeds from 2 well known heirloom seed suppliers and one says it is a rare breed while the other says it is common across the South. Who knows?
So, we marked our rows and planted the beautiful little seeds (which we will collect from our plants this year and save for next year) and covered them carefully with the freshly tilled
dust dirt. Luckily, it rained some this week so things should start growing well. Sorghum is an African native so prefers warm temperatures but does well in heat and dry once it is established.
I have learned that sorghum is one of the top grain crops grown around the world. Varieties can be used for syrup but most sorghum is planted as fodder for animals or as grain for daily consumption by humans. Many people are considering using it to make biofuel as it thrives in most warm locations. For folks with gluten allergies, it also is a common grain source for gluten free beer (hmmm…another project?).
So, our sorghum is in the ground though possibly a little early. I will keep a close eye on its progress but am hopeful for some awesome looking cane in a few months. Now, I really have to get back on track with restoring those cane mills I have sitting out in my yard!This entry was posted in Food, Land and tagged Food, Garden, Nature, Pa Ingles I ain't!, Sorghum by warren
We planted a garden at our property this year (we used to garden at Emily’s grandparents’ place) and it was a terrible failure…mostly. The only semi-success was a patch of sunflowers we planted. I really love sunflowers (and really, pretty much all yellow flowers) so I was delighted that if only one thing could succeed, it was the sunflowers.
Sunflowers are absolutely beautiful when in their prime, but I don’t know if you ever noticed just how cool they are when they are done flowering and ready to harvest. I love looking at patterns that sort of draw your attention and refuse to let you look away…know what I mean? Ripe sunflower seeds create just such a pattern.
I don’t know if they are like snowflakes, but if you look at several sunflower heads, each is a little different. A month or more ago, my Dad and I harvested the seeds. It was sort of sad to mess up the patterns but I really love to eat sunflower seeds too! Although the sunflowers are way past yellow, they are still about the best flowers I know. I mean seriously…flowers you can eat?! Awesome!This entry was posted in Food, Garden and tagged Food, Garden by warren
I was headed home from harvesting honey on Sunday when I passed a friend on the road as I was coming off the ridge. I skidded to a stop on the gravel road (which is always a thrill!) and we talked about bees and stuff. Last week, my friend had offered for me to come pick grapes from his vines. I ran out of time last week, but my friend offered again and I took him up on it!
We picked a basket full of grapes without even working at it and I have to tell you, the smell of freshly picked, perfectly ripe grapes is incredible. I sort of hated to get out of the car, the smell was so incredible. If they made fresh grape cologne, I would consider wearing cologne. I would not consider it long as I do not like cologne at all, but I would consider it…it was that incredible.
Imagine my surprise Tuesday night when I walked into the house and smelled the grapes that Emily and Abigail were cooking into grape juice (and soon to be jelly!). The house was heavenly! Have you noticed how bad store-bought grape jelly is? It used to taste grapey and pretty good but now it just tastes purpley. It is awful.
Ok, sorry…sidetracked. Anyhow, I used to freak out when I saw my mom and grandma canning grape juice. They always added a few grape into the jars and as they sat upon the shelves in the cellar, I swore it looked like jars of eyeballs. No, in our grape juice, there will be no eyeballs. Our jelly will be grapey and the sun will continue to rise in the east. This is just how things should be.This entry was posted in Awesome, Canning, Food and tagged Awesome, Canning, Food by warren
We are like the Olympics here Among the Hills (.com!). With much pomp and circumstance, we harvested the honey so laboriously produced by my bees. I use both my English and my French when I work the bees and I always win gold…liquid gold! Emily’s Dad helped me harvest about half of the frames of honey and then I got the other half on Sunday morning. Usually pulling the honey off of the hives is a hot, hard, stressful job. Beesuits are made of heavy cotton and we usually seem to time the harvest for the hottest day in August. The bees are rarely happy about having their stash removed and honey is heavy. This year was a little different…it wasn’t hot. Not very hot anyhow. Honestly, it really is hot and hard work but this year was probably the best and easiest honey-pull I have ever done!
Click above for videos of how we remove the cappings from the honey.
Sunday afternoon Emily’s grandparents helped Emily, Abigail and me extract 2/3 of the honey. Extracting honey involves a good bit of work and it is quite sticky but the benefits are awesome! This year’s honey tastes better than any honey I have ever harvested!
I am not sure what nectar sources the bees found out at the property (I can call it a farm now…we did agriculture out there!), but besides the awesome taste, most of the honey is as black as coffee. We actually got two different colors of honey but the dark sort of intrigues me. It’s unlike any honey we have ever gotten!
Anyhow, we took a bunch of pics and a few videos of the extraction process. It’s hard to get pics of that part of the process when we pull the honey from the hives. As you might guess, my mind is focused on other things. You will have to imagine that part. Anyhow, aside from being exhausted, it is fantastic to spend time with family, working together. For me, that is the real gold medal for me!This entry was posted in Bees, Family, Food and tagged Bees, Family, Food, Honeybees by warren
As many families do, we ate breakfast for supper the other night. We had a bunch of biscuits, eggs and sausage. It is not uncommon for us to eat that sort of thing, especially when we are going to be busy. It’s fast and sooooo good. Anyhow, we made a mess of biscuits. I mean, we made a bunch of good-sized biscuits because we like to eat the left-overs the next day for breakfast.
So, I will come back to that in a minute. But have you met my son, Isaac? Isaac is going on 13 and most certainly in the transition from boy to young man. It takes a tremendous amount of sleep and food to fuel such a transition apparently. We have noticed that Isaac tends to graze all day long and still sit down and eat a full meal by adult standards. In fact, he may eat a full meal by a giant’s standard. He almost always eats more than I do and I am not a bean pole. I suppose I was like that around his age too but I certainly do not remember it being so.
Anyhow, back to the biscuits…we started with 15 nice sized biscuits. Emily and I had each had 2 and Abigail had 1. As we cleared the table, we noticed the number remaining in the basket…now if your math is up to snuff, you will quickly calculate that Isaac ate 7 biscuits along with his two eggs and 4 pieces of sausage. Seven biscuits! I think the only reason he stopped at 7 was that Abigail fussed at him, complaining that she would have none to eat for breakfast the next day!
Well, I am glad that we are in a position to feed the boy what he need to fuel his growth into young-manhood. I only hope that the store and our garden can keep up with the demand!
EDIT: Emily just informed me that she only had 1 biscuit so Isaac actually had 8 biscuits!This entry was posted in Family, Food and tagged Family, Food by warren
Across the street from the building where I work, a new Middle Eastern market opened. My company recently moved to the new location as well so we definitely wanted to make friends with the folks who own the market…you know, being neighborly. The guys who own it are super friendly and a lot of fun. A co-worker and I were in there the other day and one of the owners took us around through the store and showed us a lot of the goods they sold. We talked about different foods and cooking and a little bit of everything. As we were talking, he opened a bottle of olive oil and a bag of bread and another of green za’atar (which I learned, is wheat, thyme, sumac and sesame). We dipped our bread and ate way too much standing around goofing off.
Our friend watched us eat every bite, trying to tell if we liked it or if we were about to run out the door. He suggested some spicy pickles and awesome hummus and all sorts of other things. We loaded our baskets with all sorts of things. I think we passed the test because he finally took us over to the jars of makdous (check this out…Arabic for makdous: المكدوس It’s sort of pretty. I love wikipedia). I am not sure if you folks have ever seen a jar of makdous but it looks as if it belongs in a biology lab. I could only describe it in fairly crude terms which I won’t directly mention…hmm…let’s just call it the dead things in oil.
Our friend showed us one brand and said that we could bring them back if we didn’t like it. I am not one to shy away from much of anything so we bought a jar and headed back to the office. I read the label and makdous is in fact, eggplants stuffed with walnuts and spices and packed in oil. I ate the pickles and the hummus and za’atar. Finally, the makdous was calling to me. I tried one…and then I had to have another…and then another. Holy moley, makdous is awesome. Not everyone in the office who tried the foods that day liked them, but I think that was to be expected.
I went back the next day to buy another jar of makdous and my friend smiled. He said that he and his business partner debated after we left whether our tongues would be suited to their foods. Jar #2 sealed the deal that I was adventurous and interested. I went in again on my favorite holiday of all (Groundhog day), and my friend called me over to the cooler. His wife had made tabbouleh and he brought a container for me to try. I ate the entire container for supper tonight (along with hummus and all sorts of other things). I want to take him some uniquely American dish that he might not have had. I suspect that we will have lots of fun sharing food and conversation! It’s bad to have a food place right across the street though…both my tongue and my wallet may be pushed to their limits!
This entry was posted in Food and tagged Food by warren
It just doesn’t have a ring, does it? We watched Julie and Julia the other night and it just has a ring that makes it perfect. But forget the ring. I really really liked the movie. Now don’t tell my guy friends but I might even buy a copy of the video for my collection. I am not sure what made me like it so much but I have been walking around the house talking like Julia Child.
There were all sorts of neat things that Julie and Julia made in the movie but one thing in particular stood out to me. I guess I needed to shoot for my something in my ability range but I really liked the scene when Julie was trying to make poached eggs. Unlike Julie, I have eaten a lot of eggs in my life but never have I had a poached egg. Julie struggled cooking poached eggs so I thought the challenge would be fun for me. So, I consulted Betty Crocker and followed her recommendations.
Betty and I are like peas in a pod I guess. We even had the exact same custard dishes that she used in the pictures in the cookbook. Perhaps I channeled Betty but the steps seemed pretty simple. I boiled 2 inches of water, cracked my eggs into custard cups and poured the eggs (quickly..that’s the secret) into the water. They foamed a little bit but I let them boil for 4 minutes and scooped them out with a slotted spoon.
I didn’t have any trouble like Julie did and I am so glad. Poached eggs are a lot like hard boiled eggs without the shell except they aren’t quite hard boiled and they do seem to taste a little different to me. I am not sure why but it was a good taste and I will definitely make them again!
So, after eating my poached eggs, it occurred to me that there are probably other things that are kinda well known but that I have never cooked or eaten. I started making a list but I would really like it if you, my friends, could suggest some stuff that I should cook and eat that are sort of famous…I am going to make Eggs Benedict next.
Yosemite Sam always used to say, “Sufferin’ succotash” and it occurred to me that I have never had succotash. And then I got to thinking about fancy stuff that people are supposed to know about…like bananas foster and cherries jubilee. I have never made ratatouille either…it’s a cool movie for sure but I have no idea what it tastes like…not like the rats/mice in the movie I hope but I am willing to try.
Anyhow, I promise I won’t go down some cooking-blog-road (not that there is anything wrong with that) but can anyone help me with some more things I need to make? I am not trying to find myself or escape from my job like Julie was, but I could probably use a new excuse to sample a little wine and eat too much. Help!This entry was posted in Food, Thoughts and tagged Food, Thoughts by warren
There are many places I go to that really only have one draw. If not for one or two things, I would never go there. I am sure we all have those sorts of places. In recent experience, two places in particular come to mind.
Walmart used to be a fun place to go and look at the latest and greatest stuff I would break and throw out in the next few months. I enjoyed looking at people and buying donuts or a bargain movie. Lately when I go, however, I feel like I am in a Mad Max movie, only with long lines and even worse personal hygiene. Walking through the parking lot really is dangerous now too. In frustration, I guess, folks whip around illegally parked cars and older folks in electric scooters and put everyone at risk. Cutting across lanes and general craziness make me hesitant to get near the place.
Sometimes, though, I have to go to Walmart. We need this or that and the only place that has it is Walmart. I have found a new stress-less way to get through. I stroll past the lines that stretch for miles, find my item and then head for the ammo counter. I own guns and like to shoot so buying ammo to plink at targets is fun anyhow. I don’t like when folks check out at specialty counters if they are not buying items from that area so I always feel obligated. Doggone it, I hate to buy ammo for my plinking habit, but in the interest of preserving check-out etiquette, I always buy a box of some ammo.
Emily needed a Valentine’s day gift last year, she got a frying pan and a box of ammo. Kids need notebook paper, they get a bonus box of ammo. I need a box of ammo, I get a bonus one to go with it! See, it’s perfect!
Ok, so the other place like the ammo counter is the ball park. Ever since my time as a little leaguer, I have hated baseball. Really, I didn’t hate baseball until the one year when a preacher in town was the coach. By association, I learned to hate baseball. So, last night, my company went to the local minor league park and we all watched a baseball game. The WV Power played some other team. ”We” lost so I don’t’ even care who it was. Come to think of it, I don’t care even if “we” would have won. Anyhow, back to the story. Abigail and I went to the game and we both had the same mindset. We went to the game for the junk food…nothing else. She had a hotdog and Dippin’ Dots and I had nachos and vinegar fries…and a half-gallon of Mt Dew. When the food ran out, our patience did too. We hung around awhile but 5 innings was all we could take! The only reason I go to a baseball game is for fries with vinegar or a box of nachos. If they had an ammo counter there….
I guess everyone has places that the go to that are less than awesome. I just like to find things to make my time there bearable, if not pleasant. And with ammo or nachos as a reward, I have found much patience…This entry was posted in Family, Food, Fun and tagged Family, Food, Fun by warren
We have been busy as cats in a sandbox and it seems that we haven’t had time to do anything, much less anything interesting. Every now and then, though, we get a chance to take a few minutes to do something simple. Since it’s July (holy cow! It’s July?!), something simple means berry picking for us.
We have an excellent raspberry patch at the house so I can stumble out in my pjs and grab a handful of berries. Our patch makes many more than a handful though so we pick and freeze berries every day. Our raspberry patch is pretty interesting. Of course there are berries, but the new feral kittens hide out in there too (anyone want a kitten? Energetic. Free to a good home). I have seen all manner of bugs and spiders also. Honestly, our raspberry patch is a biology lesson (in a good way) waiting to happen! I love picking berries just to see what will pop out next!
By the way, did you know you can spread berries out in a single layer on a plate, freeze them, and then put them in freezer bags. The individual berries remain intact so you don’t end up with a berry blob.
Anyhow, raspberries are easy for us. It’s the blackberries that are painful. I think they have to be that way for folks to appreciate their awesomeness and I am willing to let Emily make the sacrifice. We all pick them actually. By “we”, I mean Emily and I pick them. The kids always seem to wander off into the woods at our secret blackberry location to “look for more berries”. Uh huh.
So, blackberries are especially good right now and I love blackberry pies more than any other pie (except maybe Emily’s strawberry pies). I have an excellent wife who not only helps pick the berries, but also makes me pies! Thanks you berry much! You are my favorite wife, Emily!This entry was posted in Food, Nature and tagged Food, Nature by warren
I was wandering through the grocery store the other day (which is really the only way I ever experience the grocery store) when I passed by the cheese area. A certain joy overtook me as I saw that delectable red wax wheel covering, what I remembered to be, the cheese of the gods. When I was a kid, my parents used to get a wheel of gouda cheese every now and then. My brother and I waited patiently as mom and dad unwrapped the cellophane and sliced through the wax to cut out our wedges. It was a bit of a delicacy when I was growing up so we got a fairly small piece each time so we could make it last several days. I remember enjoying that whole experience so much.
So, I bought a small wheel of gouda cheese the other day and did the routine, opening the wrapper, cutting the wax, doing all the stuff like when I was a kid. You know what? It was almost as good as I remember. My tastes are probably a little more exotic now than they were when I was a kid but I think my “taste memory” kicked in and made it taste far better than it really was.
Now I am no longer bound by rules of sharing or making it last or even letting anyone know I even bought the stuff. It’s weird maybe, but I wanted to sort of keep it to myself a little. Isn’t that weird? Anyhow, I plowed through that wheel all by myself. It was the first I had in a long time and was just sort of cool. I think I will buy another wheel of gouda cheese though, and this time, I may just share small slivers with the kids. We may try to make it last and talk about how special gouda cheese is. I think my kids need to develop a “taste memory”. I don’t know if they will ever have the love affair with gouda that I do, but I can try! After all, not too many other foods can describe themselves…it’sa gouda!
Anyone else have a “taste memory” for something from when you were a kid?This entry was posted in Family, Food, Thoughts and tagged Family, Food, Thoughts by warren