Thursday, April 10, 2008

heather's garden

Heather, a good friend who went to Design school with me and now lives in Knoxville, sent me some pictures of her southern garden. (I'm green with envy because it'll be weeks before I can start planning for my own garden. Because Vermont's the coldest state in America*) But for the past few weeks she's been prepping soil, mixing in composts, raising seedlings and now her 4x20 foot mega box garden is seriously on it's way. She's focusing on heirlooms and herbs, which is awesome. Come fall, her, Sara and I will be trading recipes and sharing photos and complaining about zuchinis like old salts. If salts had anything to do with semi-urban gardening that is. Which they don't. However, we will use salt in the recipes, I'm sure. Or I will. Oh dear. Anyway, I like that my friends get their hands dirty.

*probably not.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

poland invades vermont

This weekend, Sunday to be specific, I'll be picking up my first Vermont livestock! The animals in question are a trio of chickens, all one year old Crested Polishes. One rooster and two hens. Polls are white egg layers, so they'll be a nice mix when the big girls come in may. A nearby farmer in New York is selling them and I'm hoping Sara and Tim are interested in picking them up with me and helping set up the coop. I always wanted a few of these, but never thought it was practical to get a bunch at once like other more logical breeds. This is a golden opportunity to have some rare livestock that looks ridiculous from the porch. Plus, I miss waking up to a crow.

Country Sayings I made up and encourage you to use in urban settings

Put a muzzle on your bird dog

I'd sooner punch my woodstove in the throat
(I strongly do not want to do that in which you requested)

Pasterns belong in pastures!
(keep your animals, or kids, in line)

Drink up the tall grass
(calm down)

Passing a highway tractor on the right
(Are you %@#^% kidding me?)

Those hawkfeet could pick up my veal calf on a Tuesday
(think you're right about that, but wish you weren't because I enjoy being correct)

Peas are born shut in the dark
(consider thinking before speaking)

Hey there
(there's some animal feed in the form of dried green grass over there)

beer and cream

I started home brewing soda a few weeks ago, and the first result wasn't great. I read the recipe wrong, used too much water and not enough sugar. I ended up with this root tonic that didn't hurt anyone but wasn't the root beer we know and love. Well, I did some research, bought updated supplies, and redid the recipe correctly and now have 2 gallons of soda fermenting as I type back at the cabin. One gallon of root beer in an antique whisky jug with a metal handle (thanks Ebay) and a 2-liter bottle and two liter glass bottles of birch beer also fermenting. By the time the weekend rolls to an end, and the chicken coops been built and my new birds are resting on their roosts, I hope to have the beer ready to serve. So we'll see.

But this post really isn't about root beer. It's about what root beer egged me on too. I was emailing heather, like I always do throughout our workdays, and she brought up the point of, "if you're going through all the trouble to make your own soda, why not make your own ice-cream for the floats?" Well, the answer to that was pretty logical. Because homemade ice-cream is expensive. A decent maker barrel costs at least 200 bucks and that isn't counting the bags of rock salt, ice and ingredients. But then I remembered a gadget I first saw on hiking blogs. The ice cream ball (by now, it's so common I think they sell it at Target.) I ordered one for eighteen dollars.

The ice cream ball is like a mini factory/soccer ball. You fill it with ice and rock salt and then fill the little metal vessel with cream, sugar and flavoring. What you end up with is a clamped shut ball you just kick around the yard, let the dogs play with, and roll down the hill and after 10 minutes you'll have a pint of fresh ice cream. I only did this once before in girl scout camp, and we used 5 pound coffee cans with one pounds cans inside them for the same effect. Sadly the ice-cream turned out salty as hell and gross (coffee can lids aren't very good barriers between the salt and cream). So there's this morning's update. Adventures in home brewing, part two with Vermont hill ice cream to boot.