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End of the Week

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It has been a busy week. The bees have occupied some of my time, weeds too much of my time, lovely carrots so sweet when roasted, removing the fading sugar snap peas…..replaced with English Cukes & Straight 8 cucumbers, two loaves of sourdough bread just pulled from the oven moments ago…….fortunately we are  not web-camming as the drool drips from the corners of my mouth, trimming back banana plants to maximize production, making strawberry jam, yard cleaning/kitchen table office cleaning……sister-in-law arriving this evening…..I am already tired and ready for my nap.

The bees, the queen and brood going back into the original top-bar hive over the weekend seems to have gone very well. The companion Langstroth hive is filling with honey!!!!!! Yee Haw! I am also helping the property owner get his garden up and going, feeding his chickens, harvesting eggs and mowing his grass. The things a beekeeper will do to for the host!

The split in Splendora on the “Cowboy” hive failed…..I feel guilty, as it was my mismanagement that lead to the failure. The only saving grace is another lesson learned to add to my prior mistakes. The remaining hive out there is doing well but may have earned a re-queening this coming fall. They are a bit defensive…..yes another one popped me in the face….on the nose.

Strawberry Jam. My “Goo” friend John’s daughter gives me the ultimate compliment for my strawberry jam – when she runs out of mine she falls back to “Smuckers”, she says mine is sooooo much better than store bought…..According to Brittany. I am a fan of the low sugar recipe from Sure-Jell light. Seems to let the taste of the berries shine through. I use Sure- Jell light for all my berry jams!

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The jam, cooked, ready to skim the foam prior to canning. The foam does not go to waste, my wife uses it on her egg-white/oatmeal frittatas.

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Six half pint jars and 3 – 45 ml jars for fun and gifts.

I have to share more about my carrots. As I have mentioned before, my soil has lots of clay but the adding of compost for four years has improved the soil, somewhat. I plant varieties that are shorter, stockier and tolerate the heavy soil better. Well, either a seed mix up or a rogue carrot in my patch. This guy was pretty hefty!

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Frame of reference – I have to order XXL beekeeper gloves and would love to find some XXXL gloves.

Just had to add a bee picture.

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There she is….tucking some pollen away. The symmetry is almost mind-blowing! I just marvel at what nature can accomplish.

Now, butter, knife, warm bread and some strawberry jam. Next slice, butter, knife, warm bread and honey.  Next slice, butter, knife and warm bread! Why can’t I lose any weight??????

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Proofed for 28 hours…..the sourdough flavor is outstanding!

TTFN

Bishop

 

 

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Lula’s Hot Applesauce Cookies

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This cookie won first prize two years running at the Kern County Fair….. I baked them both years but my sister Denise won the ribbon the first year…..  she entered too many categories and I helped her out. Not sure if she ever acknowledged the fact nor thanked me.

Two part recipe; 

Dry stuff

  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon 
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp allspice 
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts(optional)
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • Add to hot mix below once it reaches boiling

Hot mix

  • 2 cups applesauce
  • 1 stick of margarine or butter
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup sugar
  • Heat to boiling and then add 1 tsp baking soda

Add dry stuff from above

Bake at 350 for 15 – 20 minutes. They are best after day 2. 

TTFN

Bishop

Lots of Blueberries

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Yesterday, June 11th, was the day after the opening of Moorhead’ Blueberry Farm. The crowd was very large and traffic in and out was a zoo…..we learned a lesson, the smart people park outside the gate along the road….it is just a short walk in! I have been wanting to go gather blueberries at this farm for several years now but life seems to get in the way. Swim meets, soccer games, vacation, chores or the dreaded disease of age, CRS. (can’t remember shtuff).

http://www.moorheadsblueberryfarm.com/

On, Friday my “Goo” friend John and I had – (I just discovered an interesting tidbit, the difference between friend and fiend is a missing “R”) – Now back to the story. John and I had gone to inspect a house with bees in the wall. Structural cutouts are not my thing but the gentle man that called me to recue bees from a storm downed tree at his machine shop called me to help a friend. The owner of the house is an amazing creature lover, refusing to kill any insects. He wanted someone to safely relocate the bees.

The job was well out of my expertise, so I decided to decline. I knew the people in the house, the home owner’s daughter and children were anxious, as the bees had also found access to the babies bedroom…..just a few but disconcerting for the mother.  I knew two people that are “one with bees” to refer the owner to. One of them was booked for weeks the other, I leaned on him a bit, and he took the job as an emergency job.  I will share the full story later….I am going over to help/observe the removal in a couple of days.

On the return trip John and I wandered by a mutual friend’s house, one that is hosting one of my hives. He and his wife had just returned from the opening day of picking blueberries at Moorhead Blueberry Farm. Mike and Anette had 35 pounds of blueberries spread out to do the culling and drying before bagging and freezing. That piqued my interest as well as John’s. We decided to go on a berry picking adventure the next day. The wheels were turning and plans were being made. Mike and Annette suggested going early, they arrived at 7:00 AM and people were already leaving loaded down with bags of plump and ripe berries.

We didn’t take the advice to arrive early, but managed to gather three full buckets in a relatively short time. Entering and parking around 8:45 in the morning was very congested, thus the recommendation to park out on the road. John grabbed a small bucket, he put 6 + pounds into it. Kathy and I went big and each of our buckets ultimately held over 12 pounds of berries. Note for berry pickers; bring a couple of small towels. The buckets have a cord that hangs the bucket around your neck….one towel will provide cushioning and the other to wipe hands, sweaty brow and whatever else.

 

Berries 1

Two 12 pound buckets and a 6.5 pound bucket of plump and seet berries.

Berries 2

Kathy and John showing the fruits of our labor. We finished just before the rain hit.

Arriving home, we spread berries out in single layers on butcher paper to dry as we sorted them before bagging. Kathy over-filled 8 small freezer bags, labeled pint size, but they hold much more than that. I made two batches of jam, 10 cups of berries in each batch and we still have a bowl to eat fresh. YUM!

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Some of the many iterations of sorting and drying before bagging. In the background are some jars of wild plum jelly.

The first batch was straight up blueberry jam made with SureJell light….less sugar, only 4 ½ cups per batch. The result was 10 half pint jars. The second batch, also made with less sugar plus a vanilla bean steeped in the hot and boiling jam. FYI, scrape the seeds out of the vanilla bean before using. In the future I may experiment with vanilla extract – vanilla beans are too friggin’ expensive.  The Vanilla Bean version made 4 pint jars and 2 half pint jars….identical yields…… and so very sweet!

Jam 1

1o half pint jars of wonderful and sweet blueberry jam.

Now, plan a blackberry picking trip!

TTFN

Enjoying the Central Coast

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Following my class reunion in Bakersfield on the 31st of August I drove over to my Mom’s place in Los Osos, CA. Nice change from 98 F to , what the locals considered hot, a pleasant 81 F. Her list of honey do’s was short. I had a dead potted plant to deal with and a few drip sprinklers that were misbehaving. My work done I could concentrate on just visiting with mom, she has been very lonely after losing her best friend and husband, Ed, a few years ago. She does have a good deal of spunk, she teaches/facilitates a Tai Chi class in her little community three days per week. It as much a social session as it is a physical activity session. The women benefit from both.

Mom likes to nap in the afternoon and I will usually slip off for some sightseeing or picture taking. The weather was amazing, hot for the locals but so perfect for this Houston boy. I walked across to Sweet Springs Nature Preserve for a few photos….nice view of Morro Rack and the estuary at the south end of Morro Bay. I then walked on over to Baywood Park. It runs together with Los Osos! Baywood Park is a nice picturesque location where I have captured some nice sunsets as well as shots of locals & visitors. (Click on any image to see it enlarged)

A panoramic crop looing toward Morro Bay

A panoramic crop looking toward Morro Bay – Taken from Sweet Springs

Across the water to the Baywood Park area

Across the water to the Baywood Park area – taken from Sweet Springs

Baywood Park sunset

Baywood Park sunset – From in front of the coffee shop

My timing was right! The farmer’s market was in full swing and the streets were full of people. The diversity and quality of produce grown along the Central California coast is amazing! I wandered up and down the main aisle crowded with shoppers. I didn’t buy anything as I was leaving early the next morning and Mom didn’t need anything at the moment. The little coffee, breakfast and lunch spot near the water was full of visitors. I found something to my liking there……they now serve beer. Two on tap, the Firestone 805 and an IPA from a local San Luis brewery. FYI, if you stop by the Back Bay Café in the near future some of my photos may be hanging on the walls. Yee Haw!

http://thebackbaycafe.com/

The crowd enjoying the day at the Farmer's Market

The crowd enjoying the day at the Farmer’s Market

Wonderful colors

Wonderful colors

Great Selection

Great Selection

Squash with blossoms attached. Looks yummy.

Squash with blossoms attached and Brussels Sprouts. Looks yummy.

The day before during her usual nap I drove over to Morro Bay showing up just in time to catch a few laps of a sailboat race. The route was not long but it did involve some changing obstacles. Fishing boats coming and going, tethered boats, kayakers making the trek across to the dunes and the harbor cruise boat. The there was the old guy in his little day sailor, oblivious to the race, looking very much like I would in a year or two……warning to my kids, I like the image of me emulating this old guy!

That is me I a few years!!!

That is me I a few years!!!

The tourists flock to the massive Morro Rock at the harbor entrance. This time of year is a great time to be entertained by the otters feeding in the boat channel. It seems that they know that people are watching and strike a pose as the tourists snap photos. I brought several lenses so I put the 400mm lens on to get a little more up close and personal. They are handsome creatures.

Smile Mr. Otter

Smile Mr. Otter

I then had to fly home to Houston to see what damage the heat and humidity had wreaked upon my garden. The stellar plant(s) in my garden right now are the sweet potato vines. Not sure if I will have lots of sweet potatoes but the vines have overwhelmed the area. My job today will be a massive haircut with the string trimmer for the runaway vines.

I dream of a few acres somewhere near San Luis Obispo. I would have a slice of gardener’s Heaven!

If you like my photos and would like to have one or two please check out my refurbished web page at; http://pappadecker.smugmug.com/

Hopefully the redesign will be easier to navigate!

Sunsets are in this folder; http://pappadecker.smugmug.com/Outdoors-and-Wildlife/Landscape/Sunsets

TTFN

Bishop

Photos and Garden News From Home

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I am still a long, long way from my garden. My son Joe arrived home and resumed gardening duties – watering(rain has helped him) and picking – he says he can’t find any cucumbers….I think he needs to bend that 6’4″ frame a little more and check a little lower!

We opened the gate to friends and neighbors to swing by and pick whatever they wanted. In our absence we have checked in with some of our harvest crew. Unfortunately not all are well trained! They seem to recognize ripe tomatoes and do a very adequate job with that duty. When it comes to harvesting my limes…..the skills seem to be absent. Coach Hendrix swung by the house and picked a couple of limes and dropped them off at her father’s house to accompany his cold beer. I can just imagine his surprise as he pops the cap on an ice cold beer, takes the knife to slice a wedge or two, only to discover that he has a green Meyer Lemon……You see, I don’t have a lime tree, never have, but apparently the green Meyer Lemons look like big fat limes right now! Coach Hendrix received a jar of my lemon curd this past season but her name is now scratched off of the “who’s been nice” list! I may forgive her……I think she knows that I love good IPA’s from several of the local breweries!!!!

Thank you Joe for giving me a fix. Just two more days and I can get my hands all grubby and show you where the cucumbers hide.

Celebrity Tomatoes

Celebrity Tomatoes and some Chard

Cucumbers - I am sure there are some hiding!

Cucumbers – I am sure there are some hiding!

Peppers and Leeks

Peppers and Leeks

Strawberry Towers

Strawberry Towers

Sweet Potatoes spreading nicely.

Sweet Potatoes spreading nicely.

Joe does a nice job snapping photos with his iPhone….Thanks again Joe!

TTFN

Bishop

Preview of Father’s Day Gift

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My daughter Ashleigh is an organizing fool. She rode herd on my sons, Ben and Joe in order to clean out the two car portion of the garage. Over a year ago she scored a very nice wine barrel with the intent that I would make a compost barrel out of it. I did some research and also considered making a unique smoker…..I do live in Texas and the south, so, smoking meats of many types is the norm.

As the garage clean out progressed Ashleigh and Ben figured that the ” round tuit” in needed to finish the barrel and get it out of the garage was missing. As a surprise to me they tackled the job.

The barrel intact and ready for modification.

The barrel intact and ready for modification.

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They decided that they would support it in a horizontal fashion on a large wooden dowel. They used one of my Forstner bits and hopefully, centered the holes so it will tumble smoothly. Ashleigh vacuuming up the cutting….she is such a neat freak….

Doing the clean up

Doing the clean up

The work crew is shown below with the handiwork in the background. I can’t wait to get the hinged door installed and tumbling compost in the backyard!!!!

Come on Ash....smile

Come on Ash….smile

Ah that is better!

Ah that is better!

I promise some working photos and an update soon.

TTFN
Bishop

Sweet Potato Alert

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For family dinner in Thanksgiving my wife lovingly prepared a sweet potato casserole with my home grown sweet potatoes. I’ll bet it could have been good! We have a new memory to laugh and smile about for future gatherings. FYI I did sample a bit that appeared to be free of broken glass. The emergency room indicates that I should be able to eat again in a few days. Just kidding!

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