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Sourdough with Spent Brewing Grains.

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I have been diligently making sourdough during our social distancing exercise and I am getting pretty good at it. Yes, I am patting myself on the back. I searched the web for a simple and straightforward sourdough recipe utilizing the spent grains………. I’m a simple guy and I got lucky – finding a simple recipe within my skill set! See below.

Sourdough & Spent Grain Bread – based on a recipe from this site….pretty much followed it but just a few tweaks. https://noteatingoutinny.com/2010/04/13/sourdough-spent-grain-rye-bread/

1 cup sourdough starter
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour – I used 3 and it was just enough.
1 cup spent grain, still a bit wet
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 – 2 cups water – varies depending on how wet the spent grains are.

Combine the starter, 3 cups of the flour and enough water to allow the dough to just come together, in shaggy strands(I didn’t know what that meant so I googled for images). Knead about 5-6 minutes( I used dough hook) and let rest in a bowl, covered with a towel. Keep in a warm place and let sit for 1 hour. Fold in the mash with your hands and dust on the remaining flour as you combine it to help keep dough from being too sticky( I used my stand mixer and a dough hook). Form dough into a long, oblong loaf (or put it in a prepared loaf pan, I had a 5X9 loaf pan, sprayed a little Pam on the sides and coated the top of the dough with flour. I did a couple rounds of stretch and fold like do with my regular sourdough prior to the final rise. Let sit in a warm place covered with a towel for an 1 hour or so. Score deeply before placing the oven.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. I used a big pizza stone that was also preheated. Bake for about 20 minutes, monitor, I used a thermometer to chick internal temperature. It took an additional 10 minutes to reach 200 F. Remove and let cool on a rack for 10 minutes before eating. My wife didn’t want to wait…… I held my ground and gave her the first warm slice with butter. She forgave me!

Drink Local and Drink Responsibly

Bishop

 

Honey Fermented Garlic Cloves

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I do enjoy fermenting, primarily beer, a bit of wine and mead. I had never heard about fermenting garlic cloves. In fact, it wasn’t even my idea! My wife suggested it and didn’t even ask for my expertise! FYI, I have no expertise in the category of fermenting anything that doesn’t include an ABV % attached to it.

So why? I asked my wife why she decided to embark on this adventure and her immediate response was to receive the benefits of the “Immune-Boosting Effects”. Upon digging a little deeper there are other benefits that should “Reduce Blood Pressure” & Improves Cholesterol Levels, both LDL and total cholesterol.

“Studies have shown that the fermentation process increases the amount of nutrients in garlic and makes them easier to absorb by the body. The highest protein content was available after 60 days of fermentation while the highest fat and carbohydrate content was found after 90 days of fermentation.” From “ WebMD, September 29, 2020”

How to go about it? First prepare the garlic cloves by peeling the skin off by lightly crushing them or buy a big jar of already peeled garlic cloves. She opted for the latter. Next, she took a 1/2 gallon jar of raw honey and filled 3 one pound bottles leaving about 3 pounds, or around 8 cups of honey behind. She then loaded up the jar with a whole lot of garlic…..not a very quantitative measure but accurate. As the garlic settled she added more until the jar was chock full, again, not quantitative but the photo below will illustrate the quantity.

Chock full!

The honey that was used is raw honey…….so what exactly does that mean? Raw honey is best described as honey as it exists in the hive. Raw honey has not been filtered nor heated, has all of the pollen, natural wild yeasts and beneficial enzymes intact. The wild yeasts are the star of the process. As the garlic cloves release water into the honey it becomes wet enough to allow fermentation. Ideally honey is harvested with less than 18% water in order to prevent the yeast activity. In this case we want the % water to rise and allow fermentation.

After the fourth or fifth day of adding cloves up to the chock full point and also flipping the jar over several times daily keeping the cloves covered…..the bubbles were appearing…..fermentation was under way. Now the flipping process includes burping the gasses off……smells very garlicky ….. go figure. Kathy has selected a date about 3 months out for the first taste test, March 12, 2021 when some old guy she knows turns 70……wow! The jar will be stored in a dark cool place once the fermentation slows down. The honey fermented garlic can be safely stored out beyond a year or more according to the researched recipes.

How to use? Just pop a clove to boost immunity response during cold or flu season, this is Kathy’s primary reason for the effort. Cooking, use as a marinade or as a glaze for meats and vegetables. I will attach a link to foraging and fermenting website. Check it out, suggestions include honey fermented cranberries as well as elderberries. I think I will do the cranberries next year prior to Thanksgiving! https://www.growforagecookferment.com/fermented-honey-garlic/

TTFN

Bishop

Armenian Cucumber

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“The Armenian cucumber has a bit of an identity crisis.

Botanically, it’s considered a melon, with seeds and a mushy center that resembles a cantaloupe and a raw aftertaste akin to watermelon rind. Gardening enthusiasts like to compare it to zucchini. But if it’s picked at the proper time, it has the crispiness and flavor profile of a garden fresh conventional cucumber, so that won out in the naming convention.” https://www.mysanantonio.com/food/recipes-cooking/article/Armenian-cucumbers-stand-out-for-size-and-11949986.php

This one is a midsized fruit, 14 inches long by 3 1/2 inches wide.
Ready to be seasoned after coating in olive oil.

I thought that I had allowed the fruit to zoom past right size for picking but apparently that is not true. Up to about 18 inches long they mimic an English cuke in flavor. The really big ones apparently become sweeter and more melon like in flavor. I suspect the larger and sweeter ones may caramelize while grilling adding even more flavors. I will have to report back with results in the near future.

Unfortunately I composted this one before educating myself!

Grilled Armenian cucumber…….I am happy to report that it turned out well. Next time I will season it a little spicier but one thing I really liked is that it retained it’s crunch after grilling. I like grilled zucchini but it zooms past retaining it’s crunch far too fast while grilling…..mush! “While the grill is heating up, slice the cucumber into 1½ to 2-inch chunks and lightly coat both sides with olive oil and sprinkle each side with Spice Rub to taste. Place the chunks on the side of the grill opposite of the coals, and cook for 15 minutes with the lid on the grill closed, flipping once midway through. Move the chunks over to the area directly above the coals. Sear for 2 minutes per side and transfer to a plate and enjoy.”

Turned out very well. It is a keeper and I will do some experimenting to find a spicier rub mix. All in all, we enjoyed the Armenian Cucumber. My “Goo Friend”, chef last night also grilled the zucchini nicely.

TTFN

Bishop

Goo Friend….. there is story there somewhere in my archives. https://bishopsbackyardfarm.com/2016/04/

Tomatoes, Sourdough and a Mexican Pilsner

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I may have mentioned it in an earlier post, but my new favorite tomato, just a notch above #2 Brandywine, is Cherokee Purple.. I quizzed my wife today and she agrees with my assessment. It is not truly purple but has been described as “beautiful, deep, dusky purple-pink color, superb sweet flavor, and very-large-sized fruit. … From Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. Both the color and flavor descriptions are dead on!

From Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds website.
From my garden next to a very large Brandywine…..the photo can’t quite capture the colors.

This tomato has become my favorite BLT tomato, especially when paired with my sourdough bread. Ok, just to pat myself on the back, no yeast used and allowed to ferment about 20 hours before baking. Of course, I also like to pair the sandwich with a beer, today it was a Pacifico, Mexican Pilsner!

I may try my hand at brewing one…….a bit more time consuming as it needs to be fermented at 50 degrees F and after a rest at room temperature, lagered at 34 degrees F for 6 weeks or so….
Yum!
Last night’s sourdough loaf. Damn I am pretty talented with a few things…..LOL!

Garden news, surprising success with summer squash this year, cucumbers are kicking in, pumpkin vines are going wild and the late summer tomato plants are in the ground. Cleaning out and spreading completed compost out of one bin in the next week or so. Honey harvest is dying down….maybe 300 pounds or so.

TTFN

Bishop

Tomato, Tomato, Bruschetta

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This has been a pretty good year for tomatoes in my garden even though facing the nemesis of the Houston heat and humidity. Most varieties tend to fade as the heat sets in.

Successes – Juliet, a smallish bunching type off indeterminate tomato. Like a small Roma shaped tomato, thick skinned, meaty and pretty sweet. Patio tomato– in a pot on the patio – duh, a determinate type. Very productive but slowing down with the heat. Brandywine, an indeterminate and tough to grow in the Houston heat as the blossoms don’t set well. I used buzz pollination, electric toothbrush vibrating the blossoms, and had my best harvest ever. Cherokee Purple, also an indeterminate type, what a great surprise! They have made the best BLT’s ever!

Failures – Celebrity, indeterminate type, usually great in Houston……fungus of some sort. Pulled it out after 10-15 maters but not before the fungus hit the adjacent Sweet Million cherry tomato. The failures may have more to do with my lazy practices…..the tomatoes were all in last year’s tomato bed….poor practice!

Bruschetta- my tomatoes, my basil and my homemade sourdough. I didn’t make baguettes but pleased with the results just the same. I used a mix of tomatoes to make about 3 cups of peeled, chopped and drained tomatoes. Added several thinly sliced garlic cloves along with ribbon sliced basil. Sea salt and some black pepper, extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar to taste. Let it chill for a few hours.

The sourdough loaf was quartered and the pieces were manageable.

Next, my sourdough, thinly sliced and toasted on one side in the broiler. Then the toasted side was rubbed thoroughly with a large garlic clove cut in half. The roasted bread seems to grate off the yummy garlic. I used every bit of the garlic halves. The olive oil drizzle was left off until served and then added by the slice as it was consumed.

Love my sourdough bread. I am using a slow proofing schedule that really enhances the flavor.

TTFN

Bishop

Sweet Variations

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It is honey season right now! Let me back up just a little, based on my March hive inspections I was anticipating a stellar season. I had nectar coming in and over the next couple of weeks I added honey supers. Some hives went up to two and several went to three. Mother Nature had different plans. April turned out to a a dry month…..bees were bringing in lots of pollen but upon a late April inspection it was like the taps shut off.

The inspections showed a lot of nectar, boxes were heavy but little, if any frames were being capped. In some cases the additional top supers were untouched. I adjusted to make sure I didn’t give too much room for the bees to defend against the small hive beetles. I put out a posting to my customers who were patiently waiting for their doses of local honey…..I hung my head and asked them to wait a little longer.

The rain began to pickup in early May. By the day of the third week of May I decided to see how much it had helped. Great progress on getting nectar dry and capped in many cases. The top supers were heavy with nectar but mostly uncapped. The local area Tallow tree flow was on and I felt better! I wound up with a pretty good haul from three locations.

Three locations, the darker honey is 12-14 miles from the location of the middle honey. The lightest honey is almost 20 miles from the darker honey and 6 miles due East of the middle location.

I bottle by the postal zip code in which the apiaries are located. I has it’s pluses and also drawbacks. The health benefits are pretty much identical but some folks have been hooked by the “hyper-local” concept. I aim to please and we, my sales manager wife and I, try to do our best to meet expectations. I still have two locations a little further north and east to be harvested in the next day or two……dodging thunderstorms now…..and the bees get a little pissy sometimes when inclement weather coincides with a planned visit.

Rainy days are good for me to make my creamed honeys, plain and with cinnamon……so good. It takes a little time but those that have tried it love it. During the off and on rains I place the extracted frames out in my garden and miles away from my hives for the local population to clean up!

The girls do a great job cleaning up the comb. I freeze it for a couple of days and may cycle some of the frames back into strong hives for a refill. Comb already drawn out accelerates the process.

TTFN

Bishop

Sourdough For Janet

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I had posted on Facebook some tidbits about how I was keeping myself busy during our COVID-19 social isolation time. Baking bread is one of my loves and one of my downfall……you know what I mean. A number of my friends commented, including the younger sister of one of my best high school buddies. Her name is Janet and she loves to cook. She asked for details on my sourdough adventures, I promised Janet that I would share with her how I have been making my sourdough bread. I am not a purist by any means, because in addition to my sourdough starter, I do use a little yeast in the process.

The starter, and this is really the critical part, takes time and patience to get it the way you want. The link below will take you to the King Arthur page for the instructions on making the starter. I use King Arthur Bread flour when I make my sourdough, it is a little more expensive but it is worth it. Now, if you don’t have your starter you won’t be making bread this week. Follow the process and again, be patient.

https://www.kingarthurflour.com/blog/2012/04/05/creating-your-own-sourdough-starter-the-path-to-great-bread

Ok, it is a week later and you are ready to make the bread. I weigh my ingredients and find that I have more repeatable results when I do.

Ingredients;

227 grams of ripe well fed starter. That’s about 1 cup

340 grams of warm water, About 1.5 cups

1 or 2 teaspoons of yeast – 1 if starter is real healthy and 2 if not

2.5 Teaspoons of salt….I use Kosher salt – Kosher is additive free

602 grams of bread flour – about 5 cups

I use my bread machine on the dough cycle. I add the ingredients in the order listed above, right or wrong, it works for me. Watch the dough while it is being mixed. The dough should just be a little sticky but not clinging to the sides. Rarely do I have to add water, usually a few pinches of flour…..a little goes a long way. You will learn as you go.

At the end of the dough cycle turn the dough out onto a very minimally floured surface. I fold 4 corners, pulling and stretching them out, then folding into the center. I may do this every 30 minutes or so 3 or 4 times. You can also do it once, place in a greased bowl, seam side down and refrigerate overnight. It adds to the flavor. Then stretch and fold a couple of times before proceeding. Video of my hands doing the folding somewhere below.

If using a mixer with a dough hook, mix it to form a smooth dough, albeit just barely sticky, place in a greased bowl, cover and let rise. Then follow the steps outlined above to pull, fold the dough and shape it.

I almost always make a boule, french for ball. After the third or fourth folding I flip the boule over seam side down and shape it. I work it, pulling and working a little at a time under the boule, working around and around to create tension across the top of the boule. I place it seam side up into a lightly floured proofing basket/brotform. Let it rise for an hour or so. Good shaping illustration in the link below.

https://www.weekendbakery.com/posts/video-shaping-a-boule/

In the mean time place a lidded dutch oven into the oven and preheat to 425 F, 218 C…..make that 220 C. Make sure the oven has come up to a stable temperature. Now it is time to bake your bread. I lay a piece of parchment paper across the risen bread, gently turn it over while working it loose from the basket. Carefully now, open the oven, remove the lid, place the boule into the bottom( leave the parchment paper underneath if you like….I always do) of the dutch oven, add a couple of deep slashes across the top to allow it to expand. Replace the lid and close it all up. After 25 minutes, remove the top to allow the bread to brown up a little more.

Bake for another 20 to 25 minutes then check the bread. If you thump it, it should sound hollow. I will also insert a digital thermometer into the middle of the loaf to ensure it is above 200 F, 93-94 C. Turn out onto a cooling rack and then challenge yourself to be patient.

Now lets back up a little, while making your starter you will be tossing out some yummy stuff. Not every time, but fairly often I will make sourdough pancakes with the excess. See recipe below.

Pancakes – Ingredients:

  • 2 cups fresh sourdough starter
  • 1 egg
  • 3 Tbsp. sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. oil
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 2-4 Tbsp. milk, coconut milk, or water – just get the consistency right.
  • Butter or coconut oil for frying

They are really tasty!

Enjoy!!!!!

TTFN

Bishop

Strawberry Fields – Not Quite Forever

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Last fall I planted about 75 Chandler June bearing plants……they began producing at the beginning with a “beauty” on February 14th, scored a few points by giving the first Berry to my bride…….yeah, almost June bearing LOL. Half of the new plantings were in plastic covered raised beds, about a quarter in version #4 of my strawberry tower and the remainder in a strawberry specific pottery vessel. The link included goes back into the history of my efforts with strawberry towers. The three inch diameter towers have been mothballed for a couple of years. Fall of 2019 I snagged a piece of heavy wall 6 inch pipe…..it was challenging to build the pockets.

Not perfect and the thick pipe wall created challenges making the pockets. I will need to write a separate post with details!

https://bishopsbackyardfarm.com/2014/01/18/strawberry-towers-forever-v-3-1/

Surprisingly this has been my most successful use of the pottery style planter for strawberries. Previous years were sparse.

My raised bed planting under the plastic sheet have been disappointing. The biggest source of my disappointment is with my poor choice of plastic covering. In fact, it was much more than disappointing, it was a bonehead mistake. Yes, in my haste, I grabbed the wrong material, didn’t read the label, installed it and planted all the berry plants before I realized my mistake. I will remedy the error at the end of picking season.

One of my 4’ X 24’ raised beds has been fallow for two years due to my laziness. Lazy no more! By the coming weekend it will be reframed and planted. Most likely candidates will be cucumbers and pole beans. I am growing potatoes in pots again this year and will place them strategically around the beds. The sugar snap peas went in late but I should be able to harvest before the Houston heat lays them low. Carrots and beets also went in late but …….. life goes on.

Bees will be keeping me busier as the summer approaches. It looks like it could be a very bountiful year. I sure wish I hadn’t wrecked my truck. Turns out it is too expensive to repair so I have to jump through the hoops to get the check and shop for another. I think I said it before……. life goes on.

FYI- gardening is a pretty good social distancing tool or activity. Frame building for the beehives also works well.

TTFN

Bishop

Facebook Memes…..Do They Work? Or – Doing it “My Way”

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If you follow Facebook there are multiple memes showing how to grow vegetables from your kitchen scraps. I don’t know about you, but they seem a bit too good to be true. Ok, raise your hand if you have tried…….hmmm, how many hands are up?

Well, I am going to raise my hand now. If you have followed me for a long time you have seen some of my experiments. At the top of that list are my strawberry towers, with reasonably good results, but only for the initial growing season. I do have an update coming, but will hold off for a few more weeks.

Let me start with celery. I didn’t follow the instructions in the meme, surprise, surprise! I did it my way as Frank would have sung. As a side note, I heard that Frank hated singing that song.

From a Wall Street Journal article, June 2nd, 2009.”Frank Sinatra may not have always been the easiest guy in the world to get along with, but he was nothing if not consistent. One attitude that rarely varied was his opinion of “My Way,” a song whose 40th anniversary is being heralded with the reissue of the 1969 album. “My Way” was quite possibly the single most popular number from the final act of Sinatra’s career. And in concert after concert over a 25-year period, he never hesitated to tell audiences exactly what he thought of it:

— “I hate this song — you sing it for eight years, you would hate it too!” (Caesars Palace, 1978)

— “And of course, the time comes now for the torturous moment — not for you, but for me.” (L.A. Amphitheater, 1979)

– “I hate this song. I HATE THIS SONG! I got it up to here [with] this God damned song!” (Atlantic City, 1979)”……………..

Ok, back to the celery, did it my way and just poked the stub into the ground in the garden and walked away. A week later it was showing life. Now, at three weeks, it looks like a young celery plant. See photo below.

I hope it survives the coming warm weather so I can finish the experiment by eating some!

Well that worked pretty well. I next took a couple of cut off ends from some Romaine lettuce, and yes, I did it my way. They too were just poked into the dirt and allowed to fend for themselves.

One of the twin plantings
I poked this one in the ground a couple of days ago and the center is sprouting!

One more little tidbit, I have been a no till gardener for about three years now and it seems to be working. I use layers of leaves, grass clippings and buckets full of compost out of my bins. This has made a very dark and rich looking soil.

Stay tuned for more gardening done “My Way” ……. sorry Frank I just had to do it!

TTFN

Bishop

February Going, Going, Almost Gone.

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2020 is a leap year and we only have 3 days remaining in February. I have sugar snap peas up 2-3 inches, one round of carrots planted, two varieties of beets planted (February is considered a marginal time to plant), potatoes planted and strawberries are ripening. I have some Romaine lettuce seeds in trays in the house to germinate as well as some lettuce cutoffs that are growing leaves. My Meyer Lemon tree is loaded with blooms and it should be a good year.

In the bee world things are looking good. It was a mild winter and 15 of my 16 hives have survived but March can still be a tough month. Five hives were overflowing with bees so I added supers last weekend. Probably four more hives are needing supers very soon. I have 4 new swarm traps baited and set and 4 of my older swarm boxes out. Seven more swarm traps awaiting paint and locations to hang them.

An open air colony that seems to be surviving our mild winter pretty well.

I am putting together a plan to rescue this open air colony but ……. it poses a few logistical issues, 15-18 feet high and 10-12 feet away from the trunk. I promise to document the adventure. In the mean time I will hang a swarm trap to entice them, not likely, but worth a try. The rescue…. may require ladders and a long reach chain saw.

One of the new swarm traps on the oak tree in my yard.

A bit of boredom set in today so I thought I would attempt an Instapot sourdough bread recipe. Ideally I needed one with a yogurt setting, mine doesn’t, so I improvised.

After 25 minutes with the top in place.
This is after 8 minutes with the top off. Good texture and close to a real sourdough flavor.

TTFN

Bishop

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