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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

 

Second Start on my Fall Plantings

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About 5 weeks ago I began to ready my garden for fall and put some cool weather veggies in. I planted seeds for beets and Sugar Snap peas. We had been in a long period of drought here in the Houston area and the prospects for rain were slim. My poor luck was made worse by an extended period of time spent out of town to help out with grandkids thus, the seeds failed to germinate. I should have drafted some help to water in my absence but did not. So, today I added carrot seeds and beet seeds. I know that beet seeds are not the typical looking seed that you would recognize.

Beet and chard seeds are multigerm seeds. (Quick botany lesson: The germ is the reproductive part of a seed — the embryo — that grows into a new plant.)

Multigerm seeds occur when flowers grow in clusters, fused together by the petals (such as the flowers on a beet plant), which then produce multigerm seed balls.

When the seed balls germinate, they may have two to five seedlings sprout all at once. https://www.gardenbetty.com/why-do-multiple-seedlings-sprout-from-a-beet-seed/

I intend to do my beets in a long row and do succession planting every few weeks. This phase 1a ….. as Phase 1 failed.
In this area I am doing carrots that I have broadcast in 4 wide bands and will thin once they begin to sprout. Two varieties, Red Rocket and Danvers. They both seem to do well in our dense soil here in the Houston area.

I have challenged myself to do a better job keeping the seeds wetted this go around. Our weather is chilly for the next few days or two but next week we are back up into mid 80’s and mid 60’s at night. Perfect temperatures for the seeds and “multigerm seeds” to germinate. Insert smiley face here…..

Sugar Snap Peas are soaking tonight and will go into the ground tomorrow. I always let them soak over night and imbibe enough water to fill out the wrinkles…….Hmmmm maybe I need to imbibe a little more and see if my wrinkles will fill out! I wonder if beer would have the same affect on me. Maybe a winter time experiment.

Shifting gears. I have two large 4X4X4 compost bins and I am pretty consistent hauling kitchen scraps, egg shells and coffee grounds out to the bins. All of my grass clippings and leaves wind up either in the bins or as mulch helping to smother the weeds. (a never ending challenge). I am a bit proud of the fact that I have not sent any grass clippings nor any of my Fall leaves to the landfill in over 10 years. About 5 years ago I gave up on turning and tilling my beds and they seem to be as productive as ever. I have hired several thousand earth worms to till for me and because of their anatomy I have not paid one back injury claim, even though I employ thousands. (tongue in cheek)

I know that my egg shells take forever to break down so I have started drying them and pulverizing them in my coffee grinder. I do grind coffee every couple of days and I decided to tolerate and residual calcium dust in my grinder as a bit of dietary calcium. so far no ill effects …….. fingers crossed. The article I read suggested using a mixer, coffee grinder or a mortar and pestle to reduce them. My mixer wouldn’t be very efficient, mortar and pestle sounds like work and my arthritic hands would protest, so…….the coffee grinder is my choice.

Dried and ready grind up into some dust.
I probably could have spun these in the grinder a little longer. I am bagging them now and in the spring I will add them into the planting holes for tomatoes, reduces blossom end rot and for my peppers.

Plants like tomatoes, peppers and eggplants in particular will benefit from shell fertilizer. The extra calcium will help prevent blossom-end rot. Broccoli, cauliflower, Swiss chard, spinach and amaranth are also calcium-packed and could use extra from eggshells. So there you go…..waste not want not. Just in case you were curious about he origin……and I was….I assumed it was from Benjamin Franklin but was proved wrong

Waste not, want not – Grey Bears

https://greybears.org › waste-not-want-not

“We’ve all heard the proverb, “Waste not, want not.” This old saw has its origins from 1576 in, The Paradise of Dainty Devices by Richard Edwardes, a distinguished lyricist and playwright who was rumored to be an illegitimate son of Henry VIII. On page 88 the proverb was written as: “For want is nexte to waste, and shame doeth synne ensue.”

In 1721 the saying was recorded in an easier to understand version: “Willful waste makes woeful want.” Then, on August 10, 1772 in a letter to Alexander Clark, John Wesley wrote the saying in the more familiar: “He will waste nothing; but he must want nothing.”

All of the various forms of this proverb get at the idea of how we can always have just what we need. The less we waste (or acquire), the more resources we save and the less we’ll want for anything later. Waste not, want not reduces the risk of poverty and need. Put another way, many of us are saving money for something we’ll need or can afford in the future (savings). We will opt to not have what we may want/desire now in order to preserve what we need/want in the future.”

Maybe it will come up one day in trivial pursuit or on Jeopardy and you will be well armed.

TTFN

Bishop

What is in Season Now?

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Well, let’s fast forward past all the plants that have come into season, been harvested, been converted to compost or have graced my table……….March 8th 2022 was about Celery growing time LOL. Today’s topic class, will be about Muscadine grapes and the missed opportunity with the local close cousin, Mustang Grapes, that grow wild along waterways here in the Houston, area.

Vitis mustangensisn – A common and easily recognized grape with a white, velvety surface on the lower side of the leaves. A vine climbing over shrubs and into trees and often shading their leaves. Leaves in two forms: one form unlobed or shallowly lobed, and the other form deeply lobed, with the latter less common and on rapidly growing shoots. The lower surface of the unlobed leaves often concave. Grapes up to 3/4 inch in diameter, few to the bunch, ripening in August and September to dark purple, and usually bitter, even irritating, but popular with makers of homemade wine. Note; I will disagree a bit with ripening dates……here in Houston area it typically the last week of June and first week of July…….except, as always exceptions, this drought driven year, 2022, it was early June.

Distribution; – USA: AL , AR , LA , OK , TX
Native Habitat: Woodlands’ edge, Opening, Thickets, Stream, river bank, Fence rows. What is really crazy about the growth habitat it that the vines seem to grow wildly heaven bound……70, 80 and my guess is even 100 feet tall before making the turn and heading the other direction. It can be a challenge to harvest with out long reach pruning tools.

Today’s class though is for, Muscadine grapes (Vitis rotundifolia), which are native to East Texas. They thrive in slightly acid soils and have good disease resistance which makes them particularly suited to the humid climates of East Texas. My harvest is a mix of the native Muscadine grapes and a commercial variety that I have trellised along my back fence and over the entry into my garden. They can be grown commercially here it Texas, actually East Texas, but it is difficult.

At the entrance to my garden

As you can see they don’t grow in bunches like most grapes we are all familiar with. 2022 looks to be a great year for this variety that I planted 3+ years ago. That said, I am in direct competition with the local squirrels as they ripen…..a real challenge. Every day I make a pass along the vine looking for the hidden ripe ones before the squirrels indiscriminate approach…….Yes they knock an awful lot of green & unripened ones to the ground……unforfunately the green ones do not continue to ripen……dang squirrels – If my wife didn’t think they were so cute I would ……….. well, strongly encourage them to go elsewhere.

I do believe I will retrieve enough to make some outstanding jelly. I missed harvesting the Mustang grape which makes a to die for jelly…….there is always next year.

Cucumbers…..can’t ignore this year’s natures bounty…….It is nearly as bad as the gardening neighbor that looks to give away the their abundance of zucchinis! I always wondered why they planted so many….LOL…..Kinda like me and my cucumbers this year……neighbors lock their doors when the see me coming now……I guess I should make some cucumber Gazpacho…..hope it freezes well and I don’t run out of freezer space……

TTFN

Bishop

Homegrown Celery and Lessons Learned

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I have seen many suggestions that celery can be grown from the base of a store bought celery stalks. Being of curious mind for most things, I decided to give it a try. Beginning last Fall/202,1 I began to plug the cut off stalk bases into the soil. Nothing fancy, just shove the base down until the top cut is flush with the soil and keep it moist.

Two recent additions to the garden waiting to sprout.
After about a week or two or three, the cut off stalk will begin to sprout.
This is one after about 45+ days of optimal growing weather. Adjacent is a Golden Beet competing for space.

I was surprised at the growth habit in my garden and being a novice to celery growing I was expecting a tightly bunched stalk. Here is where some of my lessons to be learned began to be realized 1. increase spacing especially if sharing space with other veggies. 2. As you will see in a photo later, commercially grown celery is blanched either by trench planting or by wrapping in paper and cardboard and mounding the soil up around the stalk.

Here is a method incorporating wrapping in newspaper and mounding up the base of the stalks. Source; https://gardenerspath.com/plants/vegetables/blanch-celery/

Another lesson learned…..celery takes 120-130 days to mature. Record keeping is not one of my strengths whether it be for, gardening, beekeeping, beer brewing( a little better here for repeatability) or vehicle maintenance. So for the next go around of stalks to harvest I will just be guessing based on size and shape. My usual process…..LOL

Unmounded, unblanched and poorly harvested. I had to do a taste test and just cut a handful of stalks.
Obviously unblanched yet surprisingly tasty. Also nice and crunchy so I will give it a thumbs up

Based on my dead reckoning I have 4 or 5 stalks needing attention for blanching. I am not confident that the most recently planted cut offs will not degrade into something to bitterness due to the Houston, Texas heat. I will update all y’all my progress as the heat finally sets in.

So, those articles you have seen or read about planting the cut off bases of celery stalk do have merit. In the Fall of 2022 I will begin again. As for record keeping, technology may help……so as I put a cut off base in the ground I could use use my smart phone to establish a harvest date 130 days out minus the 3 week window for blanching! Ok…….I’m sure it could work but…….

TTFN

Bishop

January Post Recovered

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Some of the good days prior to our freeze.

Surprise, surprise…..looks like Mother Nature will give us another shot of near freezing weather this coming weekend. A fitting chill as I celebrate my 71st birthday on Saturday.

TTFN

Bishop

Where Should I Start?

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Let me jump in with some homemade cookies. I will backtrack just a bit to share my ,dilemmas…… FYI I looked it up because I wasn’t quite sure what the plural of dilemma was….. my guess was dilemmas but I worried that a certain English major friend of mine might subtly correct me…..I have beer blogging adventures that I am behind on, garden blogging that I am also behind on – my beekeeping adventures are included in the gardening blogs. Then there are those times when I meant to post a gardening blog and I don’t pay attention and it becomes a beer blog post and obviously vice versa. This post will be kitchen focused and feature my award winning Oatmeal Raisin Applesauce cookies with Chopped Walnuts. Credit goes to my Aunt actually but read on.

No brag just fact…..When I was 11 years old, 1962, I was encouraged to submit some baked goods into the youth division of the Kern County Fair. My sister, a year younger was on the hook to submit baked goods in more than 10 categories, primarily cookies. I committed to one cookie recipe and a coffee cake recipe. I will post the recipe that won first prize, ribbon and cash……..I am a professional of sorts. Just to set the record straight my coffee cake also won first prize, how, I will never know. My coffee cake was a rectangular sheet type cake, all of my competition were works of art in various shapes, glaze covered and adorned with all kinds of goodies (almost gaudy looking……) alas, that winning recipe has been lost in the fog of time and and many moves.

The winning fruit cookie was from a recipe given to us by my mother’s oldest sister, my Aunt Lula. If you look back in my blogging history I posted the recipe but received feedback from a cousin that I must have missed an important ingredient. After digging through scraps of paper and handwritten recipe cards I managed to find a pink 3X5 card in my mother’s hastily written handwriting and a college ruled 8 1/2 X 11 sheet in my hand writing…..there were gaps between the two that I tried to reconcile. My taste memory of Aunt Lula’s cookie was pretty well imbedded so I made a half batch to test the reconciliation. It turned out almost perfect. I made a small adjustment and the full batch recipe was an overwhelming success.

Aunt Lula’s Oatmeal Applesauce Raisin Cookies with Chopped Walnuts

  • 2 C applesauce
  • 1 stick butter (1/2 C)
  • 1 C brown sugar – I prefer the light brown
  • 1 C raisins
  • 1 tsp baking soda dissolved in ¼ C hot water
  • 2 ¼ C all-purpose flour
  • 1 C quick oatmeal
  • 1 C chopped walnuts
  • 1 tbsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground Allspice
  • I tsp ground cloves
  • Pinch of salt (1/16 tsp)
  • 1 Large egg

There is a method to my madness in making the line breaks in the ingredient list. My suggestion is to prepare the three steps in the process in advance. In a large sauce pan mix add the applesauce, brown sugar, butter and raisins. I use a microwave safe measuring cup with 1/4 C water and the Baking soda stirred into it but not yet heated. All the dry ingredients mixed well with egg sitting off to the side. It will be the last ingredient added!

Start heating the saucepan mixture up to a boil while stirring often. As it approaches a good bubbling boil, heat the baking soda water mixture to almost boiling. Remove the saucepan from the heat then quickly pour the baking soda and water into the hot mix. It will foam up so continue to stir until it settles. Pour into the dry ingredients, it will become a sticky mess, then mix in the egg stirring/mixing thoroughly. Don’t forget the egg……don’t forget the egg.….there I said it twice …… well, you can guess why.

Saucepan ingredients ready to be heated up.The butter could be softened or as in the photo cut into smaller pieces in order to speed the process up.
Hot baking soda mix has been added and settling down.
Nice sticky gooey lumps of cookie dough. Surprisingly these cookies do not spread much at all. If aesthetics are important a cookie scoop would tidy the look up. The are baked at 350 Degrees F for 15 minutes or a little more – remove and cool on a wire rack.
24 cookies, 12 to a sheet were made with this batch and the remaining cookie dough is good eaten by spoonful or shaped into cookies…. The cookies actually taste better and become more moist the next day……soft, cake like and chewy.

The search it still on for the coffee cake recipe. My cookies won first prize two years running….

I really do need to give a lot of credit to my mom for giving me the love for cooking and baking.

TTFN

Bishop

Backyard Farm Resurrection

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June of 2021 was my last update, don’t get the wrong idea…….I haven’t given up on the garden……but nearly given up on my blogging. Oh, I have good intentions, taken photos, jotted down notes in my brain……an unwise and not secure place to store thoughts…LOL. A friend began shaming be about the hiatus and I agreed to be more diligent!

One of the aspects of gardening that bothers me, but I also realize that thinning when planting by seed is a necessary evil…..the taking of a life….pulling out a crowded seedling and seeing it suffer, wilt but yet, create the circle of life becoming organic material for the soil. oh well, necessary for those that grow to harvesting size.

Thinning activities are happening with the carrots and the beets. Need to be sure to wear my reading glasses because, too often, the emerging seedlings are almost twins!

Some emerging beets previously thinned.
Carrots poking up through the leaf mulch. So delicate at this stage so I really need the reading glasses for my 70 year old eyes.
Some beets with a head start. My first plantings were from a packet dated for 2017 so germination wasn’t too good! latest beet seeds are 2021 season packets, both red and golden.

Sugar snap peas aren’t cooperating at all so I may have to try again in the spring. I have added some bases off of celery stalks and, lo and behold…..they are taking hold. Hopefully they take off and enjoy the cool Houston fall and winter.

It should be pretty obvious which one went in first and which one was last. I may continue and eventually make an edible border in the garden! They also share space with some beets….they seem to get along pretty well.

Bees seem happy and I will do my best to help them through the winter….I will share more about them soon…..really I will!

TTFN

Bishop

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Homegrown carrots

If I Am Lucky – Muscadine Jelly From My Garden

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My vines are 4 years old now and put out a few bunches of grapes in 2020. It wasn’t enough to get too excited about so I combined them with the local Wild Mustang Grapes. I may not have quite enough this year for a discrete batch solely from my garden/backyard but it may be close. Timing may be an issue. ……. They may ripen when I am in Denver seeing my newest grandson.

Winter of 2021 I decided to learn how to prune the vines….my prior attempts were really just butchery. it was real actively simple if you follow instructions, not my long suite as my Goo friend John will attest too. If interested look into the archives for Goo Friend….. a typo that became a standard reference for my buddy, assistant beekeeper, beer drinking buddy, a long time ago mountain biking buddy and the list goes on.

Today June 11 marble sized
A few weeks earlier
Covering the new arbor, thanks Ashleigh for the construction assistance, and being trained along the back fence.

An FYI, I must be doing something right because I have captured 4 swarms in my backyard this Spring/Summer. I am hanging in there at 16 colonies now but……the rains have had a negative impact. In some cases lots of nectar but they can’t get it dried out enough for honey to be capped. I shoot for 18% water content or lower. Other wise the wild yeasts may begin to ferment the honey before it is consumed.

Bee swarm consolidating itself into one of my swarm boxes.

TTFN

Bishop

Snow? It Snowed In Houston

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Crazy as it sounds, a big blast of Canadian icy air made it as far south as Houston. For Houstonians it was brutally cold this morning, 16 degrees according to my backyard thermometer. It looks like it won’t warm much for a few days. Obviously my vegetable garden will nor fare well. I covered a new bed of carrots with fingers crossed that they will make it. I covered my strawberries with a couple of inches of leaves and I suspect they will survive. The Romaine lettuce had already started to bolt, so no loss there. My biggest concern was for my Meyer Lemon tree. I have it tented and a small light bulb included under the tent to keep it, hopefully, warm enough.

Lettuce is biting the dust. Upper left is a section of carrots that are covered and fingers crossed they survive. Top right is my topbar bee hive and I believe the colony is strong enough to survive.
I have put a bar in front of the opening to the hive and completely closed off the similar opening on the back side of the box.
There were a couple of bees slowly moving around near the entrance so I do have faith that most are clustered up tightly and keeping the central portion warm.
Swiss Chard standing defiantly against the freezing weather…..at least for today.

Roads are icy and I don’t have any place to go so, sit tight and hope the power stays on! A couple of my pineapple plants are in the garage and hopefully warm enough. If we do lose power at least my home brewed beer will stay cold…..always a silver lining. I was proactive enough to pull a good portion of my beets yesterday and ready to be roasted today!

TTFN

Bishop

Blueberry Syrup…. Yummy

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My wife was needing to make some room in the freezer and a bag of blueberries I picked last summer was blocking her efforts. Rather than toss them out I decided to make some blueberry syrup. I love it on pancakes and Blue Bell vanilla ice cream. After defrosting I found that, magically, I had the perfect amount for my recipe.

It took a little longer than I anticipated and I did deviate from the recipe as described below. The results are fine!!!

Step 2. Preparing the base syrup sugar water with the lemon zest. I used Meyer Lemons from my garden….maybe not perfect but I think it worked out well.
Hard to see but I had no luck after 25 minutes with getting the syrup up to 225 degrees F.
Added the prepared blueberry juice and went to plan B. Pulled out my Cajun burner and cranked it up…..hit 225 F very quickly.
Final result is a little over two cups of very sweet and very tasty Blueberry syrup. Sunday is ice cream day at the Decker house…..guess what I am having?

Blueberry Syrup

  • 1 1/2 pounds blueberries (5 cups)
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • Six 1-inch strips of lemon zest removed with a vegetable peeler
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Directions

  • Step 1 In a pot, combine the blueberries with 1 cup of the water. Crush the berries with a potato masher and bring to a simmer. Simmer over low heat for 15 minutes. Strain the juice into a heatproof measuring cup, pressing hard on the solids. Discard the solids.
  • Step 2 Rinse out the pot. Add the sugar, lemon zest and the remaining 3 cups of water and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Boil the syrup over moderate heat until it registers 225° on a candy thermometer, about 20 minutes. Add the blueberry juice and lemon juice and boil over high heat for 1 minute. Let the syrup cool, then discard the lemon zest. Pour the syrup into just-cleaned bottles. Seal and refrigerate for up to 6 months.

https://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/perfect-blueberry-syrup

By Grace Parisi

August 2010

I modified step 2 and chose to add the extracted juice and brought both, the sugar water and juice, up to the final temperature. It seemed to work fine.

TTFN

Bishop

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