dalthauser: (Dorie Roo)
I haven't been able to organize myself to write a coherent journal entry, but I don't want to drop off Livejournal again for lack of thoughtful things to journal about.  I decided when this happens I should at least write a diary style post.  It might even get the juices flowing again.  So here goes.....

Dear Diary,

Here are the highlights of the month of March 2017

* I've gotten involved with a few political action groups.  The two I've worked with in real life are Indivisible and Democratic Women of Comal County.  I want to be involved instead of just sitting on my ass complaining or being an armchair pundit.  Indivisible seems to be a real action group.  They plan and do.  I like that.  The DWCC is a whole other story.  They seem to do a lot of thinking about things, then talking about them, then assigning committees, then there are the emails tieing up loose ends.  It reminds me a lot of the government.  I'm not sure I like that group, but I'm sticking with it for the time being.  I've volunteered to do their fliers for the time being.  We'll see how it goes.  As for Indivisible - I attend their rally's and meetings, and I bring cookies.

* Speaking of political action - I've found that making protest signs has been good therapy for me.  I am pretty good at it.  I'm making some today and tomorrow for the upcoming March for Science on Earth Day.  One says "TRUMP  ANTI SCIENCE  POLLUTER IN CHIEF" and the other says "EVERY DAY NOW IS LIKE WTF!?".  I do them on good quality foam poster board and fashion them two together with a plank sandwiched in between so it's like a single double sided sign.  Having the plank makes holding the sign easier and it lifts the sign higher so it doesn't get lost in the crowd (I'm pretty short). I would post a picture, but it's on my phone, and I'm lazy.

*  The Bauernhof is coming along in the new season.  We have the garden planted almost fully, and we planted Sweet Basil all along the chicken enclosure (about 30 or so plants in all).  I installed a solar powered hotwire fence to protect the patch because Hilda likes to run through it to harass the chickens.  She  got a pretty rude awakening the first time she touched it - I haven't seen her go back near it again.  We are growing pole beans Maypole style in the Hugel bed.  On the bed itself there are also Crenshaw Melons.  We'll see how it goes.  We had to encircle the whole thing with a fence too because of .....Hilda.  We have baby chicks arriving around April 25.  I wanted to hatch them out myself, but Marcel was very negative about this idea.  I guess I understand - it is a real hassle.

*  We've had quite a few dog visits since we started working with Rover.com.  No negative experiences yet. It's great for Hilda to have the other dogs around.  We get about $18 a day per dog after Rover.com takes their share.  We don't really care about the money, though it's nice because we can use it to fund babysitting for Hilda on our next vacation.  I can't decide if I want to pursue this more or not.

*  I'm still almost the exact same weight as I was a year ago.  I really need to find some motivation.  I am getting too old to carry this much weight.  I know it's lazy of me, but I wish I just didn't have to deal with this issue.

*  I really really love my husband.  Next month we will have been married 8 years.  It seems like forever (and I mean that in a good way).  We bicker, squabble, and downright drive each other batty occasionally - but it's never been an issue when it comes to our bond.

Okay, that's about it - I mean, I'm sure there's more - but if I don't post this there isn't going to be anything. 
dalthauser: (Dorie Roo)
I have been a fan of podcasts for a little over 10 years now.  I listen to several religiously, and there are several I select episodes from depending on the subject.  I create a podcast episode playlist about twice a week so I can just hit "play" and listen to episodes of a variety of podcasts while I garden, do housework, or drive in the car.  Even after all this time, I am giddy about the technology - - all this learning for FREE!!

This month a few of the podcasts I listen to regularly have been asking listeners to help get the word out about available podcasts (and podcasts in general) by recommending to people the podcasts they listen to and explaining podcasts to the less than tech savvy people we know.  Ever the joiner - here I go...

What is a Podcast?

Google has a good definition:  A podcast is a digital audio file made available on the Internet for downloading to a computer or mobile device, typically available as a series, new installments of which can be received by subscribers automatically.  (my note:  you can also stream episodes directly from the podcast's web page without downloading anything to your computer - this works well if you don't have a mobile device)

I will add that podcasts are almost always the spoken word.  There are music only podcasts out there, but they are few and far between.  There are, however, several music related spoken word podcasts.  There are also video podcasts available often referred to as Vodcasts or Video Casts.

What Kinds of Podcasts are out there?

The subject matter podcasts cover is virtually unlimited. Here are some:  Comedy, Religious, News, Gardening, Cooking, Health & Wellness, Literature, History, Foreign Language, Travel, Politics, Hollywood, Music, etc. etc.

Even within a genre, there are sub-genre.  For example News Podcasts...... You have your news reporting style podcasts which basically just tell you what is going on, editorial-style podcasts which reflect the podcasters opinion, panel-style podcasts where groups of people discuss topics, etc.

How you get in on the action......

I'm terrible at explaining technical stuff, so here is the perfect "How To" from Forbes Magazine: Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Listening to Podcasts

Podcasts I Recommend.......

CURRENT EVENT PODCASTS

Diane Rehm: On My Mind - Diane Rehm is a national treasure.  She had, until recently, a daily NPR radio show with a huge following that was offered in podcast format (like many radio shows are), but she wanted to semi-retire so she gave that time slot up and started this new weekly show.  Of course it's awesome, but I do miss her "Friday News Roundup"

On Point with Tom Ashbrook -  This is another current events type show much like 1A and Here and Now.  I listen to about half of what he puts out, but I always listen to his Friday "Week in the News" episode.


Here and Now - I started listening to this podcast a few months ago on a recommendation from a friend.  It's a daily 2 hour current events radio show available out of Massachusetts that is split up into two one hour podcast episodes a day.  I enjoy this so much I take the time to add this to my playlist every day (though I usually am listening to the previous day's episodes)

1A  -  This is the WAMU radio show that replaced The Diane Rehm Show.  I like the host, Joshua Johnson, very much.  I listen to the Friday News Roundup episodes regularly, and I pick and choose the other episodes depending on interest (he has a lot of really interesting topics!)

60 minutes - This is basically the audio version of the television show.  I don't have cable, so I watch very little television in general.  I love this show though, and I listen to it every week.

INTERVIEW-STYLE PODCASTS

WTF with Marc Maron - Marc Maron always puts out great content.  I don't listen to all his episodes because I don't have the time.  If I see he's interviewed someone I'm interested in, I will download it.  I've even downloaded episodes where he's interviewed someone I've never heard of, and I wasn't disappointed.

Here's the Thing With Alec Baldwin - Alec Baldwin is a man of MANY talents! - He is a great interviewer!  Like Marc Maron's show - I don't listen to everything; I download episode topics that I think I'll be interested in.

PODCASTS THAT AIM TO TEACH US THINGS

Stuff You Should Know - I don't listen to every episode they put out, but they do enough interesting topics to keep me subscribed.  Since this really isn't a current events podcast I recommend sifting through their thousands of past episodes.

Quick & Dirty Tips Podcasts - Q&DT puts out several podcasts focusing on various topics (house & home, pets, technology, grammar/math, etc.) I like these because each episode is usually short - like 5 minutes.  I will add them to a playlist in between the longer episodes

I listen to more than I listed, but half the fun of podcasts is discovering them for yourself.  Using iTunes or another podcast App you can search for podcasts.  Sometimes you can find something awesome totally by accident.  :-)

#TryCast





dalthauser: (Dorie Roo)
I grew up eating banana bread.  Maybe it's because I'm from Hawaii.  I don't know if it is as popular of a sharing sweet in other states.  I've tasted just about every kind including Marijuana infused.  I've had them with and without nuts, in small individual loaves and large white bread sized loaves, and in cupcake form.  I love eating banana bread but making it, over the years, has always been a hit or miss experience.

This past year we picked up a case of almost over-ripe bananas for next to nothing from a produce wholesaler.  I pureed them and put them in the freezer to use for baking.  Over the months I occasionally pulled out a bag of puree and whipped up a batch to sell at the farm stand.  Each time I've used a different recipe.  Each time I got different results.  None of the results was what I thought was the perfect loaf.

This past weekend I pulled out my last bag of puree to defrost and looked online for a new recipe.  I found one and followed the directions (except cooking time because I make mini loaves) ending up with a delicious result.  I made two separate batches, and I got the same result each time.

I reduced the cooking time because I make mini loaves, used 1 cup of sliced almonds in each batch (this is only because that is what I happened to have on hand), and changed the spices (I used Allspice and Ginger).

This recipe, from inspiredtaste.net, produces banana bread that is moist but not soggy.  The crumb is tight.  It browns nicely!

http://www.inspiredtaste.net/25418/classic-banana-bread-recipe/#itr-recipe-25418
(Note - this site is full of obnoxious advertisements.  I almost didn't use the recipe because of that.)

Easy, Homemade Banana Bread Recipe


  • PREP


  • COOK


  • TOTAL






  • For the best, most flavorful bread, the bananas need to be ripe — overripe, brown and speckled is even better. Nuts are completely optional for this. We love the bread both ways but do enjoy the extra crunch from a handful of walnuts or pecans.

A note on pan size: We use a 8 1/2- by 4 1/2-inch loaf pan; if you only have a 9- by 5-inch pan, start checking for doneness 5 to 10 minutes earlier.

Makes 1 loaf, approximately 8 servings

YOU WILL NEED

1 1/2 cups (195 grams) all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3 medium bananas, heavily speckled or even black bananas are best

8 tablespoons (115 grams or 1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

3/4 cup (150 grams) packed light brown sugar

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup (50 grams) walnuts or pecans, toasted and chopped, optional

DIRECTIONS

Center a rack in the oven and heat to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour an 8 1/2-inch-by-4 1/2-inch loaf pan. Place the pan on an insulated baking sheet or on two regular baking sheets stacked on top of the other.

Whisk the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon together, set aside. In the bottom of a medium bowl, mash bananas into a chunky paste. Whisk the melted butter, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla into the bananas until blended.

Switch to a large rubber spatula. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl then add the dry ingredients in 3 parts, stirring gently until they disappear and the batter is smooth. Stir in nuts.


  • PREPARE BATTER

    Pour batter into the pan and smooth the top. Bake 55 to 75 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean. After 30 minutes in the oven, check the bread for color. If it looks like it is browning too quickly, loosely cover with aluminum foil.

    When the bread is done, transfer it, in the pan, to a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes. Unmold the bread and place right side up on the rack. Cool completely.


    • BAKE BANANA BREAD


ADAM AND JOANNE'S TIPS


  • It’s best to wrap the bread tightly in plastic wrap and store at room temperature overnight or in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. (Since it’s just the two of us, we store in the refrigerator then when we want a slice we’ll give it a couple minutes in our toaster oven to warm up).

  • We use kosher salt. If you don’t have it on hand, keep this in mind: 1 teaspoon fine sea or table salt = about 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt.

dalthauser: (Dorie Roo)
In spite of the fact that I've been about as ignorant as most regarding what it means to be transgender, I've never had a negative image of those who identify with a gender they are not born with.

Lately their challenges have come into the news enough for me to take notice.  I've been learning a lot, and I will be posting a journal entry soon on what I've discovered.  Right now though - I wanted to write about this bathroom issue.


When North Carolina's bathroom bill first came into the news I honestly had never given the issue of which bathroom a transgendered person should use much thought.  I was puzzled by the level of alarm some folks showed.  When I read the opinions of these people they mostly seemed to be concerned about their child being molested in some way.  Now with our own state of Texas legislature’s SB6 bill – it’s become something I think about regularly.

My opinion is that people who have a problem with transgender people using the restroom of the gender they identify with is based on distrust/fear of the transgendered population or a simple religious objection. I can think of no other reasons. 

The issue, in my mind, isn’t really with the trans person (they don’t have a choice in their gender identity) but with the person doing the judging (they do have a choice).

So what we have is one population of people judging the other based on their fears or religious bias. If only one of them can prevail, who should it be?

Obviously, when it comes to legislation - religious bias is out (but wait - - Senator Eddie Lucio invokes his Catholic beliefs as his reason to be the only Democrat to support the bill)

It might be easy to say the transgendered person should prevail, but what about the concerns of the other person?  Shouldn’t we take their feelings into consideration even if we don’t share them?

Are there other examples in real life (past/present) that can make this clearer to me?
Segregated drinking fountains/bathrooms for Blacks and Whites (Whites considered Blacks “dirty” and it was believed they might get a disease if facilities were shared)
Discrimination against gay teachers due to fears the teachers would teach the kids to be gay, molest the kids, and/or make being gay “normal” (imagine that…)

I initially thought the answer would be to have unisex bathrooms as the norms.  In high volume places you can have completely enclosed stalls where people could do their business, zip up, and come out – fully clothed – to a common area where one could wash hands and finish tidying up.  Then I thought – NO! – that would be making excuses for ignorance and intolerance.

The transgender community and their allies need to stand up and speak out loudly, clearly, and often.  Not just when legislation is being considered either.  The issue should be addressed every day and at every opportunity.  Looking back in history it seems like this is how ignorance is overcome.
dalthauser: (Dorie Roo)
It's been almost two years since I've posted in the online jounral.

I've thought about it quite a few times, but I knew I wouldn't keep up with it.  Things are a little different these days.

I have lots of thoughts that I need to work through via the keyboard.  That sounds ominous, but it's not.

I fell for the lure of Facebook, but Facebook is not a platform for journaling.  It's a place to post pictures and life events.  I also spend time on Twitter since the election (it's a stellar way to get current events if you use it right).  Twitter is also not a venue for communicating complex issues or feelings.

Hopefully this won't devolve into a bunch of political ranting because I do have some other important things to work through besides our current government and their intention to ruin our coountry.

Some catching up in case there are any people still in the LJ community who might read this......

Still married to Marcel and still living in Texas.

I'm still not working (unless you count the farmstand) - I may go back to work or start a real business, but right now we can afford for me not to as long as we live within our means.  I am not bored - my days are overflowing with things to do - how did I manage to work full time before?? lol

We have a dog now - her name is Hilda.  She's an Anatolian Shepherd and will be 1 year old in April.

Life is good, no great, and this is sometimes part of my angst.
dalthauser: (Dorie Roo)
Today I'm brewing a BIAB all-grain batch based on a recipe for Reissdorf Kolsch I found in the book Beer Captured.

Here is my Recipe and Pro
This is for a 3 Gallon Batch

4.35 Gallons Water to start with

4.5lb German 2 Row Pilsner
.75 lb  German Wheat
 .5 lb Munich Malt 10L

Mash Step 1: Brought water to 126F and added grain to bag in pot - let rest at  122F for 20 minutes
Mash Step 2: Brought water to 148F and let rest for 90 minutes
Mash Step 3: Brought water up to 168F and let rest for 10 minutes

Removed grain and squeezed as much as possitble out.

Took a pre-boil Hydrometer Reading: 1.04 and Refractometer Reading: 12.5 brix

Brought water up to the 3.96 gallon mark in the pot and brought to a boil

Boiled 60 minutes

Hop Schedule:
.75 oz Tettnanger 4.0 at 60 minutes  then .
.30 oz Cascade at 15 minutes
1 tsp Irish Moss at 15 minutes then
.30 oz Cascade at Flameout

Post boil Hydrometer Reading: 1.062 and Refractometer Reading: 14.5

Icebath cooled in order to conserve water (besides, it's summer - the hose water is about as warm as the wort)  I was going to to No Chill, but I am leaving on vacation tomorrow - so I wanted to get this into the fermenter today.

Pitched the yeast I saved from the previous batch Wyeast 1007 German Ale

Batch went into the fermentation chamber at 63F
dalthauser: (Dorie Roo)
Wow, the past week has been a real roller coaster ride.  Three events/issues in the news have citizens at each others throats.

1.)  A senseless murder of nine innocents in a church in the south incites a huge outrage about the Confederate Battle Flag.  First it starts out being about why this flag is being flown on government property - then it escalates into what seems like a call to erase all memory of Confederate leaders, flags, etc. from existence.  To be honest, this is kind of par for the course in our country - but I am really noticing it because I find myself on the "unpopular" side of the rage. I don't have any reason whatsoever to defend the Confederate Flag or the flying of it.  I don't actually condone flying the Confederate flag on government property - but I think it should be up to the citizens of Charleston or state of South Carolina to decide.  I've spent a lot of time really digging down and thinking about why I am not feeling the rage and indignation that so many others are.  I'm not from the south - I don't even have southern roots (except that I like country music). My niece Jerrica and I batted this around a little - and she helped me sort it out a little.  I think I tend to kind of romanticize or get too touchy feely regarding the Civil War based on books I've read and movies I've seen.  Here is an example - Cold Mountain.  I am seeing my bias, but my ignorance isn't allowing me to feel the outrage others are feeling.  I'm going to continue to think about this, and I'm going to try and follow the debate with an open mind.  Maybe my views will bend a little.  (as a side note - I can't help wondering if the NRA cooked up this major uproar to keep the debate off of gun control legislation.....)

2.)  The Supreme Court upheld the individual mandate on the Affordable Care Act.  Wow, this really has the anti-Obama people frothing at the mouth.  I started out being extremely pro ACA; however, my feelings have changed over the past couple of years due to how the law is being executed.  I hope things will improve as time goes by.  Right now, if you are working poor - you get screwed with this legislation.  I see the law as giving the insurance companies the ability to screw you over big time.  How I know this is that it happened to me.  I dropped my coverage I was paying $400 a month for because I could not find a single doctor in my location that would take my coverage.  I will try again next year.  I would much prefer Medicare for all if we are all going to be required to participate.

3.)  The Supreme Court ruled that same sex marriage will be legal in all states.  The religious conservatives are beside themselves, and the rest of us are doing cartwheels.  It's sad that the decision was 5-4.  I was glad that the women on the court voted for Love.  I'm so proud of our lady justices.  I was appalled that Justice Thomas voted against considering he is an African American and well understands the horror of discrimination.  I can't stand that dude anyway - he is always just sitting there like a bump on a log.
dalthauser: (Dorie Roo)
Today we drove up to Fredericksburg to pick up some fresh peaches.  The freestone varieties are now starting to ripen.  While there we stopped by the Wildseed farm and, as luck would have it, we were able to go to Fredericksburg Trade Days (this is held one weekend a month).

One of the booths at Trade Days had an interesting assortment of old cookbooks for sale.  I'm not easily impressed when it comes to cookbooks, but I found three that I snatched up.  All were hard cover editions, and all were $4 each.

The first was Sunset Magazine Recipe Annual for 1988 (the year my daughter was born).  I flipped through it before commiting to buy it.  I was sold on the sections on fermenting pickles dozens of recipes that appealed to me (Bird Seed Cake, Lemon-Tarragon Sorbet, and a type of dried fruit Rumtof called Beggars in Rum to name a few).

The second was The Creative Cooking Course.  I might not have bothered (I have several "encyclopedia" style cooking books), but the editor of this was Charlotte Turgeon who also edited Larousse Gastronomique. She has serious Kitchen Cred,. The retro-ness of this one amuses me, and I think I'm going to enjoy thumbing through it for inspiration.

The third was the best find of all.  It's a Vegetarian cookbook printed in 1924!  It's called Unity Inn Vegetarian Cookbook It was published by the Unity School of Christianity.  Apparently the Unity Inn was a restaurant operated by the school.  I was intrigued, and I hit Google for more information.  As usual down the Rabbit Hole I went....... when I came up I learned the history of the Restaurant and found a new Religeous Sect I did not know existed before (AND - they have a church in my town!!).  I never bore of how the Universe finds ways to reach out to me.

It's after 3:30am, so I won't elaborate on my Unity research.  I do plan to read more and report back in my journal.  Fascinating stuff!
dalthauser: (Dorie Roo)
This was a BIAB batch This was my first "No Chill" batch

My goal with this batch is to make an "easy drinking" non-threatening homebrew for my friends. My group of peers tend to be Bud Light and Miller Lite drinkers. They don't appreciate more sophisticated styles, and they really don't seem to want to. Instead of having hurt feelings that my brewing efforts aren't appreciated by people other than my husband, I decided to try and brew some things that my friends would like.

Kolsch is an ale exclusively brewed in Cologne Germany. It is lightly fruity/floral and tastes a lot like a lager. It is probably my favorite style of beer when it is made by someone who understands the style and can brew it properly (it's not an easy brew). I honestly haven't consumed one brewed in the U.S. that passed muster. Sunner Kolsch is my favorite German Kolsch (sadly there is an issue with importing it - so getting one that isn't out of date is kind of hard).

I don't call my brew a Kolsch since there are a few things about it that are very un-Kolsch like. First of all I am not using a dedicated Kolsch yeast. I'm using the Wyeast German Ale 1007 yeast. It wasn't my preference, but got my yeast at the local homebrew shop instead of mail order due to the time of the year (I didn't want my yeast dying in the heat in transport). The 1007 was the only yeast close to what I wanted. Also, I'm using 1 ounce of Fuggles hops in my recipe. There isn't a real reason for this except that I was one ounce short on hops - and this was the only one I had that would work.

Here is the recipe

10lb Pilsner Malt (German)
.50lb German Munich Malt
1 ounce Fuggles Hops (added at 60 minutes)
1 ounce Saphir Hops (added at 30 minutes)
9 gallons of water (my recipe asked for 9.16, and I wished I would have trusted it because I came up just short of 5 gallons in the fermenter)

This was the first time I did a 5 gallon BIAB batch. I usually do 3 gallons. It was a little tricky. My boil pot wasn't big enough, so I had to mash and boil 2 gallons on the stove. Kind of a pain, but it was doable.

I mashed at 147 for 90 minutes - brought the wort back up to 160 then strained all the grains.

I boiled 90 minutes adding hops per the recipe.

At the end of the boil I poured the wort into a No Chill "Jerry Can" and sealed it pushing out as much air as possible.

Left the wort in the container overnight to cool down.

The next day I racked the wort into the fermenting bucket, pitched the yeast, and aerated the wort.

It is currently fermenting at 62F in the fermentation chamber - I would go lower but I'm also fermenting my Loquat Mead in that chamber, and I don't want to crash it since it is fermenting with Champagne yeast.

Sadly I forgot to take Hydrometer readings. I'm really mad at myself for this. I guess with the new procedures (5 gallon batch, new type of yeast, no chill process) it slipped my mind. This is really going to screw up my calculations for ABV, but it is what it is :-/

June `19, 2015 -  Bottled today.  Netted equivalent of 46 twelve ounce bottles.  The bottles went directly into the refrigerator for "lagering".  I'm kind of wondering if carbonation will take place at these temps.  Maybe I should have lagered before bottling since it is an ale yeast.  The reason I didn't is because I still have Mead in the fermentation chamber, and it would hav crashed had I dropped to lagering temps.  Well, this is all a learning process so.....  Side notes:  I saved the yeast from the batch. I'm going to brew al Altbier when I get back from New England (which will give me enough time to get it fermented and bottled before leaving for Germany Sept 1st).  I tasted the finished beer - definitely NOT a Kolsch; however, it was mighty tasty even before any lagering etc.  Super excited to see what we get in a month.

June 27, 2015  -  Began tasting today.  I was just curious to see what's up not expecting even carbonation since the beer is now under refrigeration.  Well, the carbonation was there.  So was a kind of strange boiled egg like aroma.  I am not sure if this is the yeast or an infection.  The beer is drinkable, but the aroma is not really pleasant.  It is possible that this aroma will fade as the yeast cleans things up since the live yeast is still in the bottles to some extent.  Will be tracking it. 
dalthauser: (Dorie Roo)
Monday I went to the San Antonio Botanical Gardens with Marcel, my friend Bea, and my niece Jerrica.  Long day, and we got a little too much sun - but a good time was had by all.  Marcel and I went to the Gardens together before when we were dating, but Bea and Jerrrica had never been before.

Map of the Garden                                                  Marcel & I under the Wisteria Arbor
image


Bea and Jerrica having a little fun in the giant chairs
image

Behind Cut: Pictures of Plants I Want To Remember )
dalthauser: (Dorie Roo)

Tomorrow is the last day of May; it seemed to just fly by.  This month we had loads of rain.  This was good for us, but our neighbors in San Marcos and Wimberly good clobbered.  Houston and Dallas has had it's share of the wetness as well.  They say, as of today, it has rained enough to put the entire state under 8 inches of water.  I hope everyone's water table is where it should be for this year as a result.



DETAILS BEHIND CUT - CLICK HERE!! )

dalthauser: (Dorie Roo)
A few weeks ago I (with some help from Marcel and my niece Jerrica) harvested Loquats from a tree my friend has in her backyard and the tree of her neighbor down the street.  This is a first for me.  While I see these trees all the time in our area, I've never tasted the fruit.  The fruit also are not for sale at the supermarket for some reason.  It seems like, while lots of people have these trees, nobody is very keen on harvesting and eating the fruit.

Loquats have the texture of a firm grape and the taste is a combination of grape/lemon/apple.  They are the size of a jumbo grape with a firm skin (kind of th like the skin on a passionfruit.  They have large seeds inside - usually two...sometimes one or three.  They skin tannins will stain your fingers kind of like the husks of pecans will do if you aren't careful.

I processed the fruit by peeling and seeding it.  What a HUGE PAIN IN THE BUTT.

The first thing I made was a few pints of preserves.  Then I was going to make juice from the rest, but I finally decided I would make a batch of Mead with the juice (I think Mead made with honey and fruit is a Melomel - or something like that).

Here is how I did it (this is my own recipe adapted from a basic Mead recipe)

Batch Size 2.5 gallons

Ingredients

1 gallon and 16 ounces of juice from Loquats
5 pounds (80 ounces) Honey
80 ounces water
1 Campton Tablet
1/2 tsp Yeast Nutrient (I will be adding more nutrients as the fermentation continues)

To juice the Loquats I ran them through a food processer and then strained through a jelly bag.  I thought about just fermenting the pulb puree, but I didn't want to have to keep a super close eye on it while it ferments - the juice won't require constant monitoring.

I added the campton tablet to the juice as I was making it

I heated the honey just enough to make it very fluid then I added the juice.  I let it all cool down to room temp.

While waiting for it to come to room temp I dissolved the yeast in a little water to get it ready to add to the must.

After adding the must to the fermenter I rocked it to add oxygen.

I pitched the yeast and added 1/2 tsp yeast nutrient.

I am going to put it in the Fermentation Chamber at 68F for now.  I will be doing a Koelsch beer in the next few days and when I put that in the chamber I'll lower the temp to 66F.
dalthauser: (Dorie Roo)
I feel like I want to mark the passing of my cat Cyber with a journal post dedicated to her.

Cyber came into my family in the summer of 1997.  I'd recently moved to Japan to work for MWR, and I wanted to surprise my daughter Sierra with a kitten when she came to join me around Christmas that year.

Cyber was always Cyber - even as a kitten.  By that I mean not overly playfull; definitely independent.  She was like a roomate (who didn't want to be bothered too much).  We still adored her regardless of her lack of kitty cat personality.

While living in Japan Cyber's home was our 3LDK Mansion apartment.  She was predominately an indoor kitty, but she slipped by us and out the door occasionally.  This wasn't really a big deal to us until one day she didn't return.  I think she was gone almost 4 months when she returned not too worse for wear (she was missing a tooth). She never strayed again.

In 2004 we moved back to the United States, and Cyber came with us.  The base vet perscribed her some sedatives for the trip.  She traveled under my seat in her carrier, and she was a real trooper.  I already owned my house when we got to Texas; we just didn't have any furniture in it yet.  Cyber went from cat carrier to the top of the shower stall of the master bedroom after being turned loose.  She stayed there for a long time.

We got dogs shortly after we moved to Texas.  This didn't make Cyber very happy, and there were some tense moments.  She got through them though.  We kept the dogs outside and Cyber inside.  For the most part everyone learned to live together.

When Marcel came along in 2009 Cyber was skeptical.  She retreated to her safe place (above the hot water heater in the laundry room) for the first few weeks after he started visiting.  Eventually she would stay in the same room.  Then she would allow him to pet her.  Then she would jump into his lap. After we married I was still living in New Braunfels and Marcel was commuting from the coast up to me every week.  The plan was, eventually, for me to move down to be with him.  Since I couldn't be with him - I sent Cyber down to live with him.  They formed a nice bond when that happened.

We noticed in the past 5 years that she was "showing her age".  You could tell she was moving slower and it took her longer and longer to find a comfortable place to lay down.  In 2014 she developed quite a serious infection in her eyes.  We struggled with it back and forth until finally I asked the vet to remove them (she was already blind by that time).  Once the surgery was done she gained weight and was coping fairly well. Not long after this we sold the restaurant and moved to the house in New Braunfels.  She came with of course, and she was doing fairly well considering her age and blindness.  She slept most of the time only getting up from her bed to eat and poop.  Still - she was doing okay.

Then the infections returned.  The vet perscribed two antibiotics, and we kept her on them for two weeks.  No change.  Because her eyes were goine - the area just above her eye swelled up.  She was not a happy camper.  After getting the advice of the vet - we made the decision to let her go.  We didn't want her final weeks to be miserable.  We held her while the sedative was administered and she was relaxing, and we held were both there when they gave the final injection.

I felt sad, but I also felt like she was still with us in spirit.  We buried her under the fig tree in front of the garden shed.  I am going to make a market stone for the little plot.

We are feeling very empty at the moment - we have constant reminders since she used to live in our bedroom.  We are both okay though - we know she is where she is supposed to be.

This is just a journal post to honor her memory :-)

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dalthauser: (Dorie Roo)
UntitledAs always Swiss Chard grows like weeds here in New Braunfels.  Love to eat the greens in salads and sauteed; however, most of the ribs always seem to end up in the compost bin.  It's not that we don't like the ribs - there is just too much of them in comparison to the greens.  We hate to waste food.  This year I poked around to see what I could do with the ribs on their own.  My first instinct was to make pickled ribs.  While searching the internet for recipes I found a recipe for korean style fermented Swiss Chard.  The recipes I found fermented the ribs and greens together.  I followed the recipe fairly close - I did make small changes to the ingredients based on what I had on hand - and our personal preference.

I didn't think Marcel would like this because he doesn't like KimChi.  He did like this batch which I only fermented 24 hours. I'm hoping I can allow future batches to ferment longer on the counter and keep feeding it to him to encourage his taste buds to adjust.  I like well fermented "chi" - provided the pepper heat isn't through the roof.

Chard-Chi
makes approx 1 quart (after 24 hours initial fermentation)
2 lb   Swiss Chard Ribs (very coarsley chopped)
2 tsp  Salt
2 tsp  Sesame Oil
2 tsp  Soy Sauce
2 tsp  Sugar
4 tbsp Garlic, minced
2 tbsp Ginger, dried
(because we had a bunch of it on hand - it was a little aged which is why we used so much. This is probably a good quantity for minced fresh ginger which we will use when our stash of powdered ginger is gone)
1 tbsp Red Pepper Flakes (again - we had a bunch of this on hand)
** You really should sanitize all bowls, jars, lids, and utensils when making this since there is no cooking involved.  This ensures there are little or no competing bacteria which would cause spoilage.  You can do this by boiling in water for a few minutes or using a sanitizer like Star-San etc.  (I don't recommend bleach solution only because I don't think it does a very good job; however, if that is all you have - use it).

You are basically just mixing all the ingredients together well in a large bowl then transferring to a large jar (or several small) to ferment over night.  Cover the jars with something that breathes like cheesecloth or muslin during this process.

After the 24 hours the volume of the Char-Chi will be quite a bit less.  You now have choices.....

You can eat it now.  It's going to have a fresh salad taste. It won't really taste fermented, but it's delicious

You can transfer it into smaller jars, seal with sterilized lids, and refrigerate.  It may continue to ferment slightly, but I doubt it will change much.

You can let it stay on the counter for another day (or multiple days) tasting it as it ferments along.  You then refrigerate it when it reaches the taste you like.  I'm not sure if this lessens the storage time in the refrigerator or not.  I'm going to test longevity in future batches (I doubt this one will last two weeks).

dalthauser: (Dorie Roo)
Today was a very eventful day (and it's not over yet).

Well, beginning at midnight - it is Marcel's and my 6th wedding anniversary.  It really snuck up on us.  We aren't big into celebrating every occasion, but it reminded us of the day we married (it was on a Wednesday just like today).  We seem like such an old married couple - it just doesn't seem like it's only been 6 years.

This morning, first thing, we took our 17 year old cat Cyber for a return visit to the vet.  We've been treating her with medication to try and calm down a scary swelling around her right eye socket.  I wasn't posting on LJ when cyber first began having trouble about a year ago.  She developed a horrible infection in both eyes.  it was complicated - I think park was Glaucoma and then the vet said she had an infection behind the eye sockets.  Well, we treated her several sessions to try and control it to no avail.  Finally I asked the vets to remove her eyes (she was blind at this point anyway).  She did, and Cyber recovered (or so we thought).  About 8 months later the inflamation returned in a different way - I would swear it was a tumor, but it's still unknown.  The vet had us giving her two types of antibiotics twice a day for two weeks.  No result.  She was already fairly frail and thin - and this was slowly taking more of a toll on her.  At the return appointment the vet layed out the options.  We considered them, but in the end we opted to have her put to sleep.  We buried her under the fig tree on the property.  She was a tough cookie - she was my companion for all my years in Japan as well as Texas - learned to love Marcel - and moved to the coast AND back with us.  It's going to be weird around here without her.

My niece Jerrica passed her online Adult Driver's course this afternoon.  This will give her a certificate to show the Texas DMV - so she can skip the written test and get her learner's permit immediately.  Once it comes in the mail we will get that going.

Today is WET -  soggy and wet.  We are still grateful we aren't on the coast where there is some scary flooding going on.  We are all inside today.  I'm tending to my journal and photo collection.  Jerrica finished her Driver's class and is watching "Pickers" on the television (at least there is someone to actually watch the TV now lol), and Marcel is making Blackberry Jam.  Later we hope to go out to dinner to celebrate the highs and lows of life I guess. 

Farm Truck

May. 7th, 2015 01:34 am
dalthauser: (Dorie Roo)
We now have a farm truck. We weren't intending to buy a truck until next year, but life happened. :-)

My niece, the daughter of my sister Zoe who recently passed away, came to live with us. She has not been out on her own yet, so we are going to try and help her become independent. She is 25, but she has not ever had a driver's license. Naturally, this is the first order of business. Well, Marcel said a big NO to letting her practice in his BMW - - and it seemed silly to buy a car just to have her practice in. We really did need a truck (lots of work going on at the Bauernhof) - so we went about searching.

We started with the used car classifieds, but this made both of us uneasy. We didn't want to go to a dealership and get "played", so we pulled up the CarMax app - and we were able to find exactly what we needed. A single cab truck with an 8 foot bed, and a trailer hitch :-) It's big and has a big engine, but we will really only be using it for farm work (and teaching Jerrica how to drive). Heck, once she learns on this baby - she'll be able to drive pretty much anything :-)

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dalthauser: (Dorie Roo)
Going to start recording garden notes again now that I'm back on Livejournal.  Past notes over the years proved to be so helpful when I needed data.

This year the data may be skewed because of the wet spring we had.  (I need to make a post with thoughts about this year compared to my first "magic" year in this garden - - it's a memory I want to keep)

******************************
Noticed in the garden today:

Cucumbers and Pole Beans are flowering (Marcel said he saw the beginnings of beans on some of the vines)

Lettuce is starting to falter.  Looks like the Batva is going strong, the Oak Leaf Salad Bowl still good - but can tell it's a matter of time, the Romaine has had it.

Tomatoes still flowering and fruiting.  Might have some ripe maters in a week.  I need to "treat" them with more epsom salt this week.  With all the rain we've had - they might be running low on magnesium to prevent blossom end rot.

All my flowering perennials are flowering except the yarrow.  I have not seen a bee on any of them yet, but they are all still rather small.  I know the bees are here because they have polinated the vegetable garden and the blackberries.

Speaking of blackberries - blossoming is over, and now we have lots of starter berries on the canes.

Many Many blooms on the Pomegranate trees

Summer Squash are still flourishing.  Both yellow and green have blooms and small fruit.  I'm awaiting the dreaded vine borer death wilt any day now - - or will I be passed over this year?  If I am passed over, is it a fluke or did my aggressive mulching work?  These are things I lose sleep over.....

*****************************************************
Today I planted black eyed peas in the following locations:

Soaked for about an hour:  1st Row Right side main garden & Flower Bed closest to Play House

Unsoaked:  1st Row left side

In order to make room to plant the beans I had to harvest quite a bit of lettuce out of the rows.  I brought it over to my neighbor Jerry - he has lots of friends that he can share them with.  He, in return, gave me some deer stew meat, deer sausage, and pork sausage.  Awesome!

*****************************************************
Most evenings Marcel and I end the day sitting on the swing under the tree.  Right now it's hard to get up and go into the house because the fireflies (lightening bugs?) are EVERYWHERE.  It's like being in a Disney movie.  I love that Marcel appreciates these little things as much as I do (probably more).  I wonder if the heavy amounts of rain we've had has something to do with the population?
dalthauser: (Dorie Roo)
This is really just a batch I did in order to further use the ingredients sitting in the beer fridge.

I originally bought the wheat malt to make a Hefeweisen, but I never did.  I can't now because I don't have the proper yeast.

I don't think the Beer Gods were with me on this one because I made process mistake after mistake.  I will be grateful if this beer ends up infection free.  Especially since I cooled the wort in the bathtub - and was stupid enough to get some of the cooling water into the wort (I don't even want to explain how that happened).

Here are the ingredients and the process in case it actually comes out good :-)

Dried Light Malt Extract  2 lb (I added 3 additional ounces after the boil to bring the OG up to what the recipe predicts)

Canadian Wheat Malt  2 lb

Crystal Malt 70/80  12 ounces

Perle Hops .50 oz  60 min

Perle Hops .50 oz  15 min

Muntons Ale yeast (dry)

Using BIAB method I mashed the grains 60 minutes at approx 148F - then raised to 160F and set 7 minutes.  Removed grains (squeezed as much wort out as possible) - brought wort up to a boil.  At this time I added the DME and first hops.  Added the 2nd hops with 15 minutes left.  At the end of the boil I took a refractometer reading, and it showed I was a little shy of the estimated original gravity.  I added 3 more ounces of DME.

Due to poor planning I ended up cooling my wort in the bath tub (comedy of errors involing not remembering to check prior to brewing that I had enough cooling ice bottles, the chilling coils were leaking, and the kitchen sink too small to use the 5 gallon pot - not necessarily in that order).

While wort cooling I rehydrated the yeast     After cooling I rocked the carboy for aeration then added yeast, bung, airlock.

Original Gravity Brix 13 (1.053)

May 17th - bottling today from primary.  Shooting for carbonation volume of 3.5.  Used 4.25 ounces of corn sugar for priming.

Ending Hydrometer reading: 1.02  (abv calc: 4.3%)     Ending Refractometer reading: 7.5  (abv 4.95 estimate)

Batch probably has an Alcohol By Volume contest of 4.5% (I was shooting for 5.4%, but I'm not disappointed - taste is more important; we'll have to wait and see how the final batch tastes)

Beer pre-bottling tastes 
dalthauser: (Dorie Roo)
We were blessed with rain this spring.  We had yet more last night.  Halleluja!
Rain means so much to me since how the plant life on the homestead fares is much influenced.  There is a difference between rain water and well or city water.  Rain water is not processed or treated, and it is designed by nature to hydrate life (mammals drink it - plants absorb it).

The homestead garden is looking gorgeous.  We've harvested a huge amount of lettuce, radishes, and swiss chard.  The summer squash, peppers, and tomatoes got a massive early boost.  The blackberries, grapes, and fruit trees also have hit the ground running.  EVERYTHING is just flourishing!

This spring we discovered that we have five total Mulberry trees.  I knew I had the one over the chicken coop.  I didn't even know I had that one until about 3 years ago.  A couple weeks ago Marcel was walking the property perimeter and found the others along the fenceline.  I don't know how I/we missed them before because they aren't babies - they must be several years old.  My only thought is that they started producing fruit when we were down in Corpus Christi.  Well, however it happened - we are thrilled.  We collected enough to make a few pints of Mulberry Jam.  Next year I am going to make syrup to add to water for drinking.

My friend Bea has a Loquat tree.  We harvested a lot from it and processed them into juice.  We froze it for now.  Not sure whether we want to make syrup or wine from it.  Loquats grow well here, and many folks have them in their yard.  We are deciding whether we want to grow one or simply barter with people who have them already.

Marcel and I both share the same feeling inside right now - it's a blend of happiness, gratitude, enthusiasm, and a general feeling of well-being. Not just about the good weather.  About everything.  It's not that things are perfect.  There are still daily challenges and setbacks.  It just feels like we've arrived at where we are supposed to be in life.  We are both looking forward to the future.

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