November 7, 2014

"I Wasn't Going to Eat it, I Was Just Going to Taste it." ~ W.Pooh


This is the year when we actually took some honey out of the hives!! 

 Pete goes into his hives usually once a month to make sure the
bees are still healthy and thriving!  This time, he took out some
of the frames to extract the honey!

ALWAYS careful not to make the bees angry and donning the
appropriate clothing just in case, they are using a smoker to
keep the bees subdued. 

This 'triangle escape board' is put in 1 day before taking the
honey out. It is suppose to confuse the bees and create a maze 
so the majority of bees aren't up in the honey frames that you want
to take out! If you leave it in too long (a few days) the bees
figure the maze out and you'll find a lot more bees in that area!

Checking to see if the frames are capped. 

A couple of days later... now using the uncapping knife to remove
the cappings (the wax over the honey to keep it preserved).

Another uncapping tool to scrape off more of the wax.

The frames are then put into the extractor 6 frames at a time!
The cover is placed back on the top and then it's time to 
turn the handle on top! You really need to turn the handle 
fast for a while to get it spinning fast enough. 
(Thankfully, there were 3 of us at home to help!)
The centrifugal force forces the honey out from the frames
 and it all pools at the bottom of the extractor! 

You can see how clean the frame is now AND how much yummy
honey is on the bottom waiting to be bottled!

Running the honey our and into the double
sieve to remove any of the wax that may have
spun out with the honey.... 
and the final step is bottling!!

Aren't bees amazing?! 
I thought you might enjoy a closer look!!

You can see the lace in their wings!
Such intricate little creatures....

(Thanks Austin, for the last three pictures!)

November 2, 2014

Just Me and My Girl!

Audrey and I decided to check out the Paint Bar in Manchester this past August!! We had soooo much fun! We'd never gone here (or to any paint bar for that matter) before, but it looked like fun!! You actually go to their website and look at their calendar and choose what painting you'd like to paint! They have different ones each day of the month ....  check it out!! Muse Paint Bar Events, Manchester, NH 

I love the saying that they had on the wall.... "If you hear a voice within you
say "you cannot paint" then by all means paint and let that voice
be silenced."  ~ Vincent van Gogh

(Don't you just LOVE the paint cans & paint brushes as hooks to hand the aprons!)

Audrey and me following the instructor's directions about
how to mix our colors and get the background painted on!
There were quite a few people there that night... they have a light 
snack and drink bar set up if you'd like anything while you work... 
I mean, paint!

We are putting the finishing touches of a branch over hanging
the lake.... the instructor was very good! She was up on a platform
so we could all see and she taught us step by step each thing
we needed to do and still left a lot of the decisions up to our
own artistic flair!  

Our finished products!!
So much fun!
The class was only 2 - 2 1/2 hours long!

An awesome night to remember!!

Mushrooms & Butternut Squash

As you may or may not know, Pete has a 'mushroom yard'! He's completed his second season of growing Shiitake mushrooms and mmmm, they are good! The best way to eat them is fresh of course, but with the quantity that they put out, there's just NO WAY to keep up! We sell and give away quite a bit of them... I dehydrate LOTS too. One day Audrey asked, 'Is there any way to can them?' Hmmm, that got me to thinking.... why not? We buy them canned! So, checked out my first source 'Ball's Blue Book' and a few other books I have about stocking up. I went online and looked at a few mushroom sites and I went to YouTube and checked that out too....  AND THEN OUR ADVENTURE BEGAN! Yes, we did can some mushrooms!!

                                                       "CANNING  MUSHROOMS"

Clean dirt from mushrooms (we use a soft paintbrush to clean them). Trim stem ends. (I sliced them up in strips, ready to use, bite sized pieces). Put mushrooms in a saucepan, adding water to cover and bring to a boil, boiling for 5 minutes. ONLY PROCESS IN PINTS and HALF PINTS! Pack the jars hot, leaving 1 inch head space. Add 1/4 tsp. salt to each half pint and a 1/2 tsp. of salt to pints. Ladle boiling water over mushrooms, still leaving 1 inch head space. Remove air bubbles. Adjust the two piece lid and rings, and process the jars half pints AND pints for 45 minutes at 10 pounds in a pressure canner.    NOTE: Do not can wild mushrooms!  (THANK YOU, BALL BLUE BOOK!)

My new canning adventures didn't end there....   after a crazy, hectic summer I new find myself in November and staring out at the garden which is still NOT picked up for the winter! I have carrots, beets, kale and bok choy still growing well.... and a hug pile of butternut squash to figure out!

I'd been looking at the You Tube videos about canning squash and pumpkin... there has to be a way to do this!! I've always read NOT to can it because it is too dense... but this guy is peeling and cutting them into 1 inch cubes, parboiling for 2 minutes then hot packing them LOOSELY in quart jars. sealing them up and pressure canning them for 90 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure! SEEMS DO-ABLE TO ME!!

Pete and I spent the day in the kitchen/living room cutting and peeling and packing jars! IT TAKES A LONG, LONG TIME to peel & cut squash... and butternut is one of the easiest to work with! We only brought in one milk crate of squash ... and there are MANY, MANY more out there!! We'll leave most of them whole and keep them in cold storage for the winter....

God bless my husband!! He took on the beets, digging them up and washing them... parboiling and then peeling them!! We canned up 18 pints of beets and I have 4 pints left over that wouldn't fit into the pressure canner, so they will become pickled beets and take a water bath!! After he was finished with the beets he helped me finish cutting the squash and we put up 14 quarts of squash!

By the end of the day.... it felt good to see the finished veggies!! Time to clean up and get ready to do it all again tomorrow!!! Except, it will be carrots instead of beets and more squash and maybe even the pumpkins....