Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Hickory Nut Shortbread

Continuing our trials with baking, we finally found a use for all those hickory nuts we collected from the woods in the fall.  Last night we adapted a walnut shortbread recipe, just substituting hickory nuts for walnuts and made the most delicious shortbread cookies!

The industrial strength nut cracker that the Gardeness gave me for Yule was put to good use and made the job much easier (and safer) than using a hammer.

Also, after moving two of our taps over the weekend our maple sap collection has taken off and I'm feeling really optimistic about how much syrup we might get. We've started the alpine strawberries (from seed again) with gooseberries next on the agenda. It was kind of a busy weekend, in a relaxing sort of way.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Snowed In

Last Saturday we got blasted with about 2 feet of snow, and yesterday we got at least another foot with the bonus of "blizzard" conditions. Everything basically shut down, and even our municipal snow plows were getting stuck.

It was the kind of day for staying inside and planning for spring. We made a bunch of paper pots for starting our seedlings, got all our planting dates down on the calendar, and tried our darndest not to feel like we'd entered The Shining!

These little Woodins peeking from their woolen log also helped keep things cheery. They were a gift from Pragmatiste for the little one on the way, and I have to say they're about the cutest thing I've ever seen!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Beautiful Bread!

It's been about 8 months since the last time I baked any bread. My past trials had certainly been edible, but I was struggling with it not rising enough, and not developing the right crust or crumb. Well, the stars must have aligned last night, because I finally baked my first truly good loaf!

The recipe and the yeast were the same, but I used actual bread flour and had the benefit of a new mixer and a newer, more accurate oven. Right from the beginning, it rose more in the bowl than it ever had before, and just kept rising in the oven. When I took it out I could tell the crust was just right, and it even "sang" as it cooled.

This morning I couldn't help myself but break into it. It was a delicious start to the day! I think I may need to see about finding a bulk supply of flour, because I'm gonna want to have fresh bread everyday now!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Halfway Through Winter, Halfway to Spring!

Despite the very frosty weather, we're starting to feel a thaw on the homestead! We had been looking for good old-fashioned steel maple syrup buckets, and found them at Tap My Trees.
Going by bark, opposite growth patterns, seed pods, and dried up old leaves, we picked out three trees which we believe to be maples of one sort or another. We drilled, tapped, and watched sap start to drip!

Seeds are starting to arrive, and it's time again to start making our paper pots.

We signed up for a fruit CSA with North Star Orchard, and we're looking forward to apples, peaches, plums, nectarines, and pears from August to November.

And, our hens gave us a whopping 166 eggs for the month of January! Don't worry, we didn't eat them all ourselves - sharing is part of the joy.