Saturday, November 14, 2015

SEW Crafty!

SO, today at Taghhannuck Grange,
...we sorted and picked,
 ...pinned and ironed,

 ...trimmed and sewed

Monday, October 12, 2015


Home-grown hazelnuts and strawflowers adorn a twine-braid wreath made from bailing twine removed from bales of hay used to feed the Local Farm cows...
... at Motherhouse's annual Columbus Day FREE wreath-making workshop!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

We LACTO Pickle!

Thanks to Tal Hadani-Pease for teaching us the WHEY of pickling with lactic acid bacteria!  These mighty microbes are found everywhere in our environment and when given the right conditions, they will convert the sugars in fruits and vegetables to acid. This creates the sour taste of sauerkraut, kimchee, beet kavaas and other pickled delights. Not only does this process make food taste good, and become easier to digest, but it also preserves the food by making it inhospitable to disease causing organisms.
For sauerkraut, we chopped cabbage and used hand-made pounding sticks to bruise the cabbage and get its juices flowing.
We added mineral-rich Celtic Sea Salt and packed it tightly into jars, layer by layer.

Tal recommended using our shoulder and leaning into the pounding stick in order to press out every last bit of air.
Lactic-acid bacteria thrive in an anaerobic environment, whereas mold and undesirable microbes will grow in the air pockets. We packed the jars full leaving as little head space as possible.
Tal showed us how to fold a cabbage leaf to cover the new-kraut and keep it submerged under the salty juice*. We screwed the lids on tight to transport them home. At home, we'll leave them in a bowl to catch the overflowing juices as the mix ferments and cover them with a cloth to keep light from destroying the vitamins. As it ferments it will off gas so we need to either loosen the lid once a day to "burp" it or leave it loosened full-time. It can be left on the counter for about a week until it tastes like kraut then refrigerated indefinitely where it will slowly continue to ripen and the flavors deepen.
Next we started brined carrot pickles with dill and/or garlic. Tal uses a 5% brine or 3TBSP salt to 1 quart of water for all brined pickles. We cut carrot sticks of the same length, packed them into jars, covered them with brine and will let the microbes do the rest.
When pickling cucumbers, Tal suggests discarding the blossom end, as it contains enzymes that digest the fruit and make it mushy... also adding grape and oak leaves will also help keep their crunch.
IF they do turn mushy, strain off the juice, blend til smooth, spread on dehydrator trays and run at less than 115 degrees until crunchy and blend again for a tasty seasoning salt.

Tal recommends following the Wild Fermentation Facebook Page and her Pinterest Feed: New Twist Tal Hadani: Feed Me - Ferment. Contact her through her website: to purchase hand-made pounders or to arrange a private or party lesson.

*Other ways to keep your ferment below the brine include a 4 oz jar set inside a wide-mouthed quart with the lid screwed down, a slab of onion or a bamboo skewer fit inside the mouth and spanning the jar's shoulders, or a flat round river stone.
For hot sauce: pack any mix of chopped hot and sweet peppers in a jar with 5% brine to cover, let set on counter for 3 months, then pulverize in a blender.

Any of these lacto-fermented pickles can be kick-started by adding microbe-rich whey from straining yogurt... We'll teach you how to make your own at our next Family Cow Workshop!

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Canning Chili Today for a Chilly Tomorrow

Kelli Peet taught us how to use a pressure canner today as we "put-by" several pints of scrumptious chili using venison harvested by Kelli's husband and fresh veggies from Ridgway Family Farm. Using a pressure canner is absolutely necessary for canning low acid foods including meat, beans, and most vegetables. We tripled the recipe from using the following:
*only 6 cups dried pinto beans - soaked over night then boiled 30 minutes in 11 cups of water.
PLUS *3# red onions plus *2# green and red peppers chopped and browned in a skillet with 3 Tbsp olive oil. After they were browned we added *10 pounds of Ron's ground venison and continued to brown it with the peppers and onions.
Using rubber gloves for handling the chili powder, we added *1 Tbsp black pepper, *1/2 cup chili powder, *4 Tbsp paprika, *1/3 cup ground cumin, and 2 Tbsp chopped fresh oregano.
Instead of using canned tomatoes, we used *10# fresh tomatoes that we chopped after peeling by dunking in boiling water to loosen the skins. And we added*1/3 cup apple cider vinegar instead of lemon or lime juice.
 We set our clean, chip-free jars on a towel to fill.
 Kelli's 1-cup measure ladle with pour spout made filling the jars easy.
 She also had a canners' measuring stick so we could leave exactly 1 inch of head space in each jar.
 Then we stacked the jars in the preheated canners...
secured the lids, brought them up to temperature, and let them steam for 70 minutes while we ate lunch.
Once they cooled enough to open safely, we used jar grabbers to unload the canners and set our jars to cool and seal. Summertime stored in a jar! Thank-you Kelli!

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Jammin' with Little Green Apples

 Today we met at Taghhannuck Grange #100 in Sharon, CT for a Jam Session! For making all-natural pectin, Brent Prindle let us use his basket pole to pick green apples.
 We took off their stems, cut them into quarters, and...
 dumped them into a saucepan with just enough water to cover. While they cooked until soft on the stove...
 Tal Hadani-Pease showed us how to make mixed-berry jam with honey and Pomona Universal Pectin.
 We used Brent's magnetic tool rod to dunk the jar lids in hot water for 10 seconds....
... and then, tighten in place with the metal jar ring. 
Once the apples were well cooked, Brent spooned them into a jellybag so the gelling pectin from the stems and peels would drain away from the mash. This is his natural pectin for adding to the fruit with lemon juice and mashed fruit to make jam.

 Brent made a jam using rosehips, quince, and sugar. For six cups of berries and juice, he added 5 cups of sugar, saving out another cup to stir in, to speed it's cooking.
 Using a large plastic measuring cup, Brent showed us how to fill the jars to 1/4 inch from the top...
...then we took turns putting a lid on it!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Waising Wabbits Workshop

Meeting at Alden's Rabbitry, we learned how Alden and his dad raise rabbits as meat for their family and to sell as pets, breeding trios, or live for meat.
They use three different type bucks: New Zealand White, Satin, and Lop. First time does are usually bred to the New Zealand White because he predictably casts the biggest kindles and the fastest growing bunnies. However, for flavor and for delightfully soft hides, Alden prefers the Satins. .. especially prepared with his mom's creamy mustard sauce.
 We agreed that they are wonderful to cuddle.
 Each cage has a removable tray for catching the droppings. Alden and his dad empty the trays directly onto their garden every week, then hose them clean. Rabbit manure is not "hot" and won't burn the plants. However their urine is extremely concentrated and will bleach your clothes if you spill it on them.

Keeping a breeding trio for one year will produce about 150# of rabbit meat for less than $2 a pound That's three litters of 8 bunnies/doe, dressed out at 3# each at 9 weeks of age.

Rabbits need hay every day and pelleted rabbit food. Blue Seal Feeds sells it for $16/50#. Tractor Supply sells organic pellets for $12.50/10 pounds. Jacqui Gueft at / in Millbrook, NY bags organic rabbit feed and resells it almost at cost for $16/25 pounds. Call her at 845-677-9507 to have it delivered to / in Cornwall, CT if that's more convenient. You can feed them almost anything from your garden, but NO cabbage! Cabbage kills rabbits! Too many greens will give them the runs.
Rabbits don't tolerate heat or wind well. They also may not breed if they don't get enough light during the day. Put a doe in the buck's cage to breed and take her out as soon as he falls off or she'll likely tear him up. 33 days later she'll kindle. Put a nest box with steep sides and fresh hay into her pen approximately 26 days after her date with the buck. Right before she gives birth she'll pull hair from her chest/dewlap to make a soft nesting place in the hay in the nest box. Check in the box within three days to be sure there are no dead bunnies rotting in there. 9 weeks later you'll have rabbits ready to harvest.

Next, we went to Local Farm to harvest some rabbits we'd pre-purchased from Alden's Rabbitry. After a pot-luck lunch featuring Rabbit Pot-Pie, Margaret demonstrated and we learned to break the rabbits' necks using a broom handle to hold their heads in place. We were fortunate to find the killing went quickly and relatively humanely. We were also very thankful not to have set off the ear-piercing, heart-wrenching, nervous system vocal spasm that sometimes happens.
  Under the guidance of Margaret and Kate, we skinned and gutted the carcasses.
Margaret told us about her experience tanning rabbit hides and we left ours with her with possible plans to return to help her with that. We washed, cooled and bagged our fresh lapin and went home with plans of how we'd prepare it after thoroughly chilling it for 4 to 12 hours.
Visit fried-rabbit-recipe/ for how to cut up a rabbit and batter fry it. YUM!

Thursday, March 19, 2015


Camp Eureka staff are making aprons to sell to make money for this summer's camperships. Please consider making a donation to help us bring more kids to camp!