February 22, 2014
Canning, Decadent, Optimism, Philosophical, Relationships
lemon curd, Meyer lemon, texas, wife
I know, that’s not how the standard saying goes, but life is too short to be just ordinarily optimistic. I suggest that you amp up your response and make people wonder about your sly smile. Do something out of the ordinary when life gives you lemons….maybe, step out and do something decadent!
Life did give me lemons, some wonderful Meyer Lemons from my dwarf tree in the backyard. My wife left for Orlando yesterday with my daughter and on her way out the door she pointed to the bag of lemons and said, “Do something with those lemons!”
She wasn’t smiling and I wasn’t sure if the tone in her voice had any latitude or hint of humor!
I figured I just better give the standard Texas husband’s response and said, “ Yes dear,”
I had intended to deal with them on my own time and schedule but I never found one of those handy “ round to it’s” lying around …..Until her comment. That was a genuine “round to it” handed to me!
I had some errands to run and decided that if I am getting a “round to it”, I may as well be decadent and enjoy the thrill. I knew that if I was to be really, really decadent with the lemons I needed lots of eggs and lots of butter. Decadent Lemon Curd was going to my afternoon plan! The recipe to make one single pint of this luscious, sensual and decadent curd requires one stick of butter, six egg yolks, one cup of sugar and of course fresh squeezed lemon juice with zest.
I took a risk and made double batches, two to be precise. The yield was about 4.75 pints. I am licking my lips right now…..there was a trace of this Lemon curd from the toast I just consumed before starting the post! Oh my, yes a bit of a cliché, but, Oh My…..it is so good!
• 6 egg yolks
• 1 cup sugar
• 3 meyer lemons, juiced (you should get a generous 1/2 cup. Make sure to strain it, to ensure you get all the seeds out)
• 1 stick of butter, cut into chunks
• zest from the juiced lemons
1. In a small, heavy bottom pot over medium heat, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar. Add the lemon juice and switch to stirring with a wooden spoon, so as not to aerate the curd. Stir continually for 10-15 minutes, adjusting the heat as you go to ensure that it does not boil. Your curd is done when it has thickened and coats the back of the spoon. (my research finds that about 170 deg F is good).Drop in the butter and stir until melted.
2. Position a fine mesh sieve over a glass or stainless steel bowl and pour the curd through it, to remove any bits of cooked egg. Whisk in the zest.
3. Pour the curd (a single batch will make one pint of curd) into your prepared jars, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace. If you want to process them for shelf stability, process them in a boiling water canner for 20 minutes (start the time when the water returns to a boil). According to So Easy to Preserve, it is best to process only in half-pint jars or smaller, as they allow better heat infiltration.
4. Eat on toast, stirred into plain yogurt or straight from the jar with a spoon.
Adapted from “The Martha Stewart Cookbook”
Step 4 is well stated – several years ago when I made my first batch of this decadent concoction, I made a comment about the uses for such a treat. One of my readers and author of the wonderful blog, “Promenade Plantings” suggested that the best way to use it is by the spoonful, straight out of the jar! She is spot on!
Give her blog a look….great stuff, stories and recipes. http://promenadeplantings.com/
I put three of the pints into pint jars….A bit much but once a jar is opened it doesn’t last long!
February 16, 2014
Gardening, Healthy Lifestyle
backyard bee keeping, bee keeping, environmentally friendly, honey, Round Rock Honey
I made use of the Christmas gift my daughter Lisa purchased for me. She gave me a three hour bee keeping class for two! Yesterday we took the short drive out of Kingwood to East Knox Drive about 10 minutes from my house. We were with a group of 12 or so other souls looking to learn a little bit about bees and bee keeping. The young man teaching the class under the umbrella of Round Rock Honey was top notch. He is a petroleum engineer cum bee keeper for a little over 2 years….being an engineer he has learned a lot by reading but it is backed up by his practical experience.
The best part….He lives in the Kingwood development where I live on probably a little smaller residential lot than I have…..along with more than a dozen hives in his backyard. We may be kindred spirits – he got permission from his wife for one hive….but as luck would have it his hive spun off some new queens and at the end of season “one” he had 4 more hives….My buddy John L will certainly see the connection!
The class was pretty interesting but there was a gentleman in attendance that must have been a “Geek” type engineer…. he had some close to on topic questions as well as TOO many off topic questions. We got into sugar molecule discussions, solar and electromagnetic disruptions to bee navigation and several other inane deeply trivial blather! He became fascinated with the frame base material, a thin plastic sheet imprinted with hexagonal patterns. The bees will build upon these sheets in the frames with beeswax and put to use as they see fit, pollen storage, honey storage, brood chambers of the various types. He spent a good chunk of time holding a sheet of the material up in front of sunlight and wondering out loud how he could add some LED lights for some cool light patterns! Hmmmmmm reminds me a little of my college days and altered states of consciousness…. I don’t think he emerged from those days fully intact. Our instructor is an engineer by education but seems to have his feet on the ground as a good ole Missouri boy graduating out of the University of Missouri Science and Technology in Rolla, MO! Very practical young man.
Daughter Lisa geared up and ready to play with the bees.
Honey….being added to a frame.
The Queen….her life is not as wonderful as we may have thought!
Standing in the way of the landing pattern. The returning bees were blocked and landed early on some class mates
Drone Bee – the one with the big eyes!
Pygmy goats in the feed store yard along with peacocks, pot belly pigs, miniature horses and burros….fun place to visit.
Wish me well folks as I go to the CFO for expenditure approval and the subsequent site request!
January 23, 2014
My last post I shared the details of construction with all y’all and I made an error. I was hoping to get a little further into 2014 before I made my first mistake but I failed to make in through January. Next year …. I am aiming at not making a single mistake.
The strawberry towers are made with FOUR INCH DRAIN PIPE !
I stated 3 inch in the post and that was my first mistake….hopefully the last one for 2014!
January 18, 2014
PVC, strawberry, strawberry towers, Vertical gardening
Version 3.1 is under construction with a couple of key changes. Version 1.0 was made with 2″ PVC (too small in diameter but close to being tall enough). The slots for planting were drilled with a hole saw. I shredded my fingers while planting the crowns because I failed to sand the rough edges. The density was very good but it was a challenge to keep them properly watered. Check out the start of my strawberry tower experiments here.
I toyed with, played around with…………poor choice of words…..I am always wanting to improve on the prior efforts so I have modified V 1.0 and V 2.0 and then V 3.0 ……. 3.0 was not well thought out and the added pockets on the short towers were not well spaced out. They were crowded, impinged upon the others and looked ugly….but the berries grew pretty well.
With V 3.1 I started with 3″ PVC drain pipe and I chose the version that created pockets rather than drilled holes. I spaced them a little closer and arranged them in a logical and orderly fashion. I should be able to get 28 plants in a space that would have held 2-3 plants in a matted row system and much easier for an old guy to harvest without bending over.
The photos below show the construction process. Some time soon I will fill the pockets!
Started with a center line snapped with a chalk line on 3″ PVC drain pipe.
I left a space of 12″ at the top for a water reservoir above the first pocket. I space the remaining slots at 9″ vertically between pockets. I snapped another snapped line at about 90 degrees left and right. The pockets were staggered to better spread out the plants.
A snapped chalk line as a starting point. First pocket at 12″ in order for reservoir at the top.
Using a saw and a slotted box to cut a slot to be shaped later with the heat from a paint stripper.
I use a paint stripper to heat up the plastic above the cut slot in order to shape the pockets.
Paint stripper used to heat the PVC pipe to soften the plastic so I can shape it. Posed picture but it pretty much shows the process.
I keep a leather glove on the hand that I use to shape the softened plastic PVC.
Using my gloved hand to mold and shape the pocket. Use a leather glove as the plastic is hot.
There is a blank space at the bottom. I use a post hole digger and plant the tower about 12 inches deep for stability.
Me with a tower.
Closer view with my Christmas t-shirt “Decker’s Homegrown Produce.
Closer look at the layout.
A pocket on a V 2.0 model with a Chandler plant, This is what the new tower will resemble once filled
January 14, 2014
greenhouse, PVC, strawberries, tomatoes
The strawberries are blossoming and the high achievers are beginning to ripen! You have seen my past posts on my strawberry towers and if you haven’t you can search going backwards in time. I have reloaded the towers with Chandler strawberries after adding a few more pockets to the shorter towers.
My newest adventure with the leftover pvc from my youngest son’s Engineering project at Texas A&M University is shown below. I did have to buy a couple extra joints beyond the 12″ of 3″ pipe he needed but what the heck! I have started construction on a mini greenhouse with the hope of getting my tomatoes off to an early start! Is it possible for me to have ripe tomatoes before May 1st? That will be my challenge!
I enjoyed a misshapen strawberry today and the harvest is just around the corner…found a perfect berry today that is two maybe three days away from being perfectly ripe. I hope to share a photo and a tasting critique…..Unless of course my 4 year old garden helper from down the street comes into the yard and finds it before I can pick it! He is all boy and into anything and everything!
A look at the towers
One of the early blossoms
The mini greenhouse awaiting the cover and tomato transplants
Quick photos by my iPhone….I continue to be amazed at the quality of the images!
January 3, 2014
I have been patted on the back as a Versatile Blogger and therefore have received the versatile blogger award by the Belmont Rooster – http://thebelmontrooster.wordpress.com/
I have been very slow responding but I want to thank him and pass some recognition along,
His blog is amazing! I envy his organizational skills, his depth and breadth of knowledge and his support for my blogging efforts as well as those of others. He is definitely worth a visit!
From his “About” section – the intro – “I now have two blogs, The Mystical Mansion and Garden and The Belmont Rooster. I decided to go ahead and make this new blog because I moved from Leland, Mississippi where the mansion and my gardens were to my hometown in Windsor. It seemed a little weird adding new posts about my plants and gardening in Missouri to a Mississippi blog!”
As part of the award requirements – Seven Things About me;
1. Bishop is my middle name – A great, great grandfather’s name.
2. I have far too many interests…yes dear I agree with you on this….but it sure is an interesting affliction.
3. I can spend all day behind the lens of a camera, not uttering a word and be very content.
4. I love dirt on my hands and sweat on my brow.
5. Farming must be in my blood – from my dad’s side I can track Decker lineage back to the early 1600′s as farmers in the country and from my maternal side – a variety of broom corn is associated with the Rennels family in Charleston, IL.
6. I have 10 bicycles in the garage and probably all of them have air in the tires and can be ridden.
7. I tolerate cats….
I have nominated the following blogs that I follow for the same award. Please take time to check them out. My interests are broad. My first blog was Backyard Farming but one of my big loves is – Home brewing! – Thus my nominations cover both!
1. The Grill And Barrel –Http://thegrillandbarrel.wordpress.com
2. The Hudson Valley Garden … great read and photos Hudson Valley Gardens http://hudsonvalleygardens.us/
3. Mr. Hops Beer Talk – “Avid homebrewer and craft beer taster. I love all the hops I can get.” http://mrhopsbeertalk.wordpress.com/
4. Beer Goggles –If you are looking for beer adventures in the Inland Empire give her a look. http://andreaherreria.wordpress.com
5. Sparkling on the Vine She loves beer, wine and baseball.. http://sparklingonthevine.com
6. A fun blog to visit, entertaining and educational. Welcome to We Make Home Brew. http://wemakehomebrew.com/
7. ‘The Beer Gypsy’ An eclectic Ontario gal – http://thebeergypsy.com
8. Garden at 8505 http://gardenat8505.wordpress.com
9. Head Over Beers – Fun, fun, fun and beer.http://headoverbeers.wordpress.com/
10. Shh Fit Happens She is an amazing gal…. she is also responsive to your comments, take a look - http://shhfithappens.com/ture, w
11. Good Beers Better – Just too much fun – http://goodbeerbetterhats.com
12. Attempting zero waste lifestyle in a military household – energetic and fun read….I really do lover her wit and straightforward approach. http://militaryzerowaste.wordpress.com/
13. The Orange Bee – an Inspiration. I am now signed up for my first bee keeping class and will be a bee keeper this spring!http://theorangebee.wordpress.com
14. Jimmy Cracked Corn – An amazing backyard farmer. http://jimmycrackedcorn.wordpress.com/
15. Butterflies and Me – Beautiful and simple…. Enjoy! http://bluebutterfliesandme.wordpress.com/
The rules – To my nominees – the rules as follows-
If you are nominated, you’ve been awarded the Versatile Blogger award.
- Thank the person who gave you this award. That’s common courtesy.
- Include a link to their blog. That’s also common courtesy — if you can figure out how to do it.
- Next, select 15 blogs/bloggers that you’ve recently discovered or follow regularly. ( I would add, pick blogs or bloggers that are excellent!)
- Nominate those 15 bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award — you might include a link to this site.
- Finally, tell the person who nominated you 7 things about yourself.
December 25, 2013
berrries, Composting, Gardening, mulching, Potato Growing, Strawberry
asparagus, beets, carrots, chard, Christmas Post, compost, compost bin, gardening, strawberries, strawberry jam
My postings for the past couple of months have slowed a little but I have tended to some of the chores!
• Spreading compost from the bin on the right and turning the bin on the left.
• Son Ben did a fantastic job adding gravel around the edges. Looks great! An early and well appreciated Christmas gift.
• Turned ad prepped the bed for potato planting.
• Cut back the Asparagus ferns and added a layer of compost and leaf mulch. Gotta love Houston, two days ago I noticed several young shoots about 6 inches above the mulch…my reward for taking care of the bed. NOW GO TO SLEEP DANG NABBIT!
• Carrots and sugar snap peas have emerged from the late fall plantings.
• Planted 6 Blueberry plants and 8 replacement bare root blackberry plants – Ben was a little overzealous when he added a pvc irrigation line in the blackberry bed. We had a good laugh!
• Planted more Chard and Beet seeds yesterday as well as some red onion seeds in the front portion of the potato bed.
December 4th I ate my first ripe strawberry – way too early, it was kinda small and misshapen but it was sweet! Inspection yesterday showed numerous blossoms and a few dozen green berries trying to fill out. It may be another stellar strawberry year and maybe, just maybe a few more jars of jam to share.
One of several confused strawberries. This was the little one I ate! Yum
TTFN & Merry Christmas – share something wonderful with those you love!