Thursday, September 29, 2011


My sister got a dog almost two years ago.  They spent forever picking out what kind of dog would suit her and her husband.  Then again they had to find the right breeder who would soon have puppies and ended up buying their dog across state lines.  For some people picking out a dog is like picking out another family member.  I sometimes get teary eyed when talking about our beloved cairn terrier, Mocha, who passed away five years ago.  I get it we are all crazy about our dogs, we treat them like our children because lets face it they are family.

My sister's dog, Reagan, has quickly become the apple of their eye.  Last year it was highly "suggested" that we send Reagan a birthday card.  And we all know it was just for Tiffany who loved getting all the cards.  I kept Reagan's birthday written in my calendar and this year no one said anything about sending a card in the weeks leading up to it.  And I wondered do I send one to make my sister smile because Reagan will have no clue or do we let it pass.  So I did what any good "Aunt" would do I sent a card.

Again this made me wonder does this make me crazy for sending the card or my sister crazy for ever wanting us to send one in the first place.  I'm not really sure who is the crazy one, maybe both of us, or maybe we are just regular Americans who just love their dogs.

 Me and my Niece

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


We ended up with and bottled 23 pounds of honey from our hive this year.  I would say that is not too shabby for a first year, brand spanking new hive.  I'd say that is plenty to last us for a year and some to gift at Christmas.  Our honey is darker than most, an amber color with a stronger or shall we say more distinguished taste.  Either way it is good, and we are excited!

This is what 23 pounds of honey looks like.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Annual Fall Outing

Since getting married every Fall we have made a trip to Shaw Farms and Rousters in Milford.  We pick out pumpkins and gourds at Shaw Farms in addition to checking out the farm animals and other local goodies.  At Rousters we pick up apples, cider and apple butter.  Unfortunately this is the last year that we get to go to Rousters since Saturday was their last day.

We even ran into my best friend, Lauren, and Mommy Morris at Shaw Farms


Our last ever purchase from Rousters.


Monday, September 26, 2011

One Can

All those tomatoes from the past week's harvest were starting to turn mushy after about two days because of all the cracks.  I had a few good tomatoes still from the week prior so I cut off all the spoiled parts, quartered them and threw them in a stock pot to simmer.  After some time I ran them through my mother in law's food mill which I borrowed to make puree and sauces this Fall.  I then returned the contents back to the pot and reduced it for awhile.  About two hours later, after spent time, energy, electricity for cooking and canning and a pile of tomatoes I ended up with this one can of tomato sauce/puree.  It was well worth saving the tomatoes from going bad but sometimes in canning I am surprised with how much or little I end up with.


This past week I had to start pulling tomatoes off the vine before they were anywhere near ready because they have been cracking like crazy.  The newer bush bean plants are producing which is exciting and we have plenty of Chard and Kale!

Sunday, September 25, 2011


It's that time of year again where I start to read voraciously.  While I have plenty going on in the Fall garden this time of year makes me start to think about planning again.  Some books that I have gotten are instructional or informational and some are just stories about other people's experiences.  I have already read some and sent them back and I have a bunch still on hold.  All are from the library of course.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Happy Fall!

Today is the first official day of Fall even though I like to think that Fall begins with the first day of September.  I am ready for anything and everything pumpkin flavored, crisp apples, pumpkins on the doorstep, mums, gourds, dried cornstalks, cool breezes and colorful leaves.  If you can't tell this is my most favorite time of the year!


Some people enjoy Picasso, some Mozart, me a good loaf of bread.  These are beautiful and again from Blue Oven Bakery.  It seems that my obsession with delicious carbohydrates continues.

Chocolate Cherry Bread is a dark wheat bread studded with chunks of dark chocolate and tart cherries.  The chocolate is decadent and the cherries moist and plump.  It is delicious and I love to have a slice with a cup of coffee for dessert.

The loaf with a B is called Miche.  It is a whole wheat, aged sourdough.  I have only ever had white sourdough and was intrigued.  And lets be honest the pretty B also drew me in since I can be such a sucker.  Andy saw this loaf at home and asked me if this was what they meant by "Mark it with a B," in the patty cake song.  It is a dense, chewy bread with the excellent sourdough tang but in a whole wheat vehicle, yummy.

Thursday, September 22, 2011


This is what happens when you neglect to continue pinching off suckers.  You end up pruning out what seems like entire tomato plants.  But I want the current tomatoes to ripen instead of the plants focusing on growing new branches and leaves.

The Fall Garden

It's been awhile since I showed the whole garden.  The Fall Garden has plenty of empty of spots but plenty of good things still going on.

 Many of my cold tolerant plants are in this corner.  Leeks, Swiss Chard, Parsnips, and Kale.

 In the front half are empty spots for lettuce to come in and where garlic will be planted.

 I continue to get lots of flowers and the asparagus will soon be cut back.

 Half of the beans should be pulled out as they have stopped producing.  The cabbage starts are growing and I need to determine what to put in the empty spots.

The tomatoes continue to chug along and our eggplant is still providing us with plenty.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


After getting the super of honey off the hive and away from the bees it was time to extract it off the comb.  Andy and I went over to Mark's house since he graciously offered to let us use his equipment since we have yet to invest in any of our own.  The process is the same as I posted last time so I won't repeat all the details but I'll show you what we were up to.

 Capped Honey

Cutting off cappings

 Not quite sure exactly what I was doing but it looks like I am preparing to claw the comb out with my right hand

 Comb filled with honey

 Cappings draining

 Frames in the extractor

Empty frames with honey spun out

Honey draining from the extractor

As usual Andy had his video camera so there just might be a honey extraction video in our future.  You could see the determination on his face if only this was actually in focus.

We owe a big thanks to Mark who saved us from being blundering idiots.  He saved the day when I panicked and generously donated his time and resources.  When all was said and done he didn't let me help clean up the mess I made at his house and sent me home with jars for bottling.  There is no thank you that actually shows our appreciation but I tried with some of the herbed biscuits I made last week and a gallon of his favorite sweet tea. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Harvesting Honey

After finding that we had a box full of honey I went to our bee club meeting unsure if we should leave it on the hive for the winter or take it.  We didn't plan or prepare to be able to take any honey in our first year.  I wasn't sure that we would be equipped to do so even if we wanted to.  At the meeting after speaking with a few people and getting a generous offer by Mark, a friend and fellow beekeeper, to use his equipment I decided we should go ahead and harvest the honey off the hive.

On Monday after work I went home feeling ready and prepared to take the honey super off the hive and remove the bees.  I got the box off the hive, closed the hive up and then went over to the honey super to start the process of shaking and brushing the bees off frame by frame.  During honey harvesting you do not smoke the bees otherwise they will dive head first into the comb and you won't be able to get the bees off. 

As I was standing above the box the memory of unhappy bees the two days earlier when I didn't smoke the hive and the sting that followed flooded my memory.  I got scared and anxious.  I began trying to get one frame out but it was heavy with honey and the bees.  As I was working it out it slipped out of my hand back into the box and a plume of bees emerged.  I jumped away and panic took over. 

I went inside called Andy who had no better advice other than to just be safe.  I called two other beekeepers who didn't answer their phones.  I sat in the basement and told myself to put my big girl pants on it would be fine, I could do this.  There was no way I could just leave the box in the middle of my driveway.  I went back outside again stood over the box and full on panic flooded back in.  I worked up enough wits to put the box back on the hive, although not in the proper spot and walk away.  After an hour and a half of work I was back at square one.

I sent out an SOS email to the bee club asking for someone to come save me from myself.  I got back a bunch of emails with advice and a few offers to help over the next couple of days.  The same evening as my pathetic email Mark called offering to come by the next day to help and I gladly accepted.

Tuesday evening Mark came over with his equipment and a leaf blower.  I didn't realize you could just blow the bees out of the box.  In five minutes Mark had blown all the bees out of the box and had it wrapped up in the garage.  It seems that years of experience allow you to fearlessly remove bees quickly.

So I'm not quite the confident beekeeper I thought I was.  I'll get there but for now I'm still a bit of a sissy.  Normally when people come over to the house I tell them that if a bee is bothering them to walk away and not to swat at it.   However on this occasion Mark had to remind me of this as I was ready to run for the hills and flail my arms wildly when a frustrated bee wouldn't leave us alone afterward.  I am sure he was wondering how does this lady have a whole hive in her backyard. 

I don't have pictures for this installment because lets be honest during all of this I wasn't thinking oooh lets get the camera out.  The tale of my dramatics will have to be enough for today.  But I do have pictures for tomorrow's installment of extracting the honey off the comb.

Monday, September 19, 2011

They're Back

I love coffee.  I like a couple of cups in the morning and a couple in the evening.  On rainy days I like to be holding a warm cup all day long.  I could go cold turkey but I don't wanna.  I also could drink a entire pot and then go straight to bed.  My parents say one day I won't be able to do that anymore but for now I am going to enjoy it while I can.  I'm not too fussy about type, I've happily drank el cheapo and the premium dark roasted variety as long as there is cream and maybe a splenda packet. 

I tend not to be brand specific but this time of year Millstone comes out with their seasonal varieties.  They have two flavors that I adore because they actually taste as good as they smell.  Too often flavored varieties fall flat for me because they smell delectable and then taste like regular coffee.  I have been keeping my eyes peeled since the beginning of September because I knew they would be arriving soon.  And luckily yesterday I found them.

This pumpkin spice coffee I will drink from now until Thanksgiving.  I will share my post Thanksgiving coffee addiction when the time comes.  There might be other good varieties out there but in terms of straight brewed coffee without the added sugary syrups that give lattes their flavor this is my tried and true.


I went to upload my pictures for this week's harvest and realized I only had one.  It was a busy week of work and honey extraction.  Many of our tomatoes are showing hints of color and I need to pick some chard and kale.  Next week should be bigger!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Herbed Buttermilk Biscuits

I made these after watching Martha make them and they looked too delicious not to try.  I have since made them more than once.  Every once in awhile I get a yearning for good Southern cooking.  These are good for satisfying that craving especially when they are a vehicle for fried green tomatoes.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Fall Lettuces

This past Spring was not a good season for my lettuces.  I am hoping to have better luck this Fall but I struggle with planting times.  I don't want to get it in too early while its too hot but it also needs more time to grow as the days get shorter.

The arugula is coming in really well.  However the couple of days of 90 degree weather we had among the cooler days has made is super spicy.  Almost too spicy to eat.

 The other lettuces that were planted at the same time had spotty germination and are coming in much slower.

I just planted mache and spinach in the front bed.  It has yet to germinate but I am hoping to get lettuces into the winter and try overwintering spinach.