Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Apples and Goats

We took Gavin to Indian Ladder Farms last weekend to pick apples. Apple picking is a big deal around here and is a tradition for many families each fall. We went early on Saturday morning and had breakfast in the cafe. Apple cider doughnuts are amazing! We also had fresh mulled cider, pressed right there at the farm.

Afterwards, we took Gavin to meet the farm animals. We took a video of him feeding the goat- his laugh is so adorable.
We picked 1/2 bushel of apples, which I will be using to make apple sauce, apple butter, and some other treats. Here are a few pics of our apple picking adventure.

Day 5 of the Sourdough Project

Day 5- life is confirmed- foamy sponge under an air-dried crust. Peel off and discard crust. Whisk 1 cup warm water into the starter, then strain through sieve into a bowl
Happy to be discarding the grapes at this point. They were beginning to gross me out.
Add 1 cup flour to form a thick paste.

Divide the starter between two canning jars, cover the jars with cheesecloth, and secure with the metal-ring bands. Put them back in a warm spot. If the starter triples in size within 4-6 hours, it is strong enough to make your bread rise.

If it doesn't, feed it each day with 1/4 cup each warm water and flour. If the jars get too full from feeding, discard some of the starter.

When the starter is strong enough, remove 1 cup to make bread.

So, now we wait...

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Day 2 & Day 3 of the Sourdough Project

Ok, feed the beast was not that interesting. I added 1/4 cup of warm water and 1/4 cup of flour. It does have a sweet smell as it should according to the recipe. My kitchen is freezing cold though- so I turned on the oven for a few hours and placed the bowl next to it.
By day 3- there should be a foamy sponge under an air-dried crust. Well, it's morning of day 3 and there is no such thing. The book says that if this is the case, the kitchen might be too cold and you must warm the starter by the oven again and then let sit for a couple more days. Ok, so no life confirmed yet; I'll keep you posted.

Friday, September 25, 2009

An example of some of the weird crap I do to entertain myself...

So have you ever found yourself wondering what you would do if you didn't have to go to work each day? Well, this stay-at-home adventure I'm on has led me to some interesting hobbies- from taking day trips and writing about them, knitting a ridiculous number of hats, gardening, cooking, to well, making a sourdough starter from scratch.

My mom gave me a cookbook for my birthday: Family Meals, Creating Traditions in the Kitchen, by Maria Helm Sinskey. The author actually grew up in upstate New York. It's a great book that discusses how to create meals as a family and getting your children excited about food, etc. It also talks about the importance of knowing what goes into a meal by making things from scratch. In a world as fast-paced as ours, it's kind of a nice reminder to slow things down and appreciate some simple things. There is a recipe for a sourdough starter that has intrigued me since June and I have decided to take it on. First, I did a little research on various recipes. See, it's a little freaky. You have to think about what makes it "sour" dough.

My recipe calls for grapes, flour, and water. The grapes will ferment and create a yeast naturally. Another recipe calls for milk- but for some reason, milk grossed me out more - so I decided to stick with the grape method. After all, fermented grapes do produce wine, so how bad can this be? In fact, when I was on the wine tour at the Finger Lakes, the winemaker discussed this very thing- how grapes create a natural yeast. I found this sort of fascinating and decided it was a sign that I must not ignore this experiment.

As my garden has winds down, I will take you on a new adventure with me. Now- full disclosure, this could completely blow up and be a tremendous failure! But, what the hell, let's try it out!

Day 1:
1 cup organic grapes
1 cup unbleached bread flour and 1 cup warm water, whisked together in a metal bowl
squish grapes with your hands (secretly wishing you were making wine)
Add the grapes to the flour paste and stir. Put the bowl, uncovered, in a warm place.

Stay tuned for day 2- where we "feed the beast"

Monday, September 14, 2009

A future Tyler Florence?

We got Gavin a little kitchen for his birthday. While some may think this is more of a girly gift- I think it's perfect! He is always playing with my stuff- getting into the cabinets, trying to open the oven door, and pulling ice cubes out of the freezer. Now he has his very own vintage kitchen! It's red with stainless steel- actually not girly at all! Besides, many of the best chefs are men and I want my boy growing up with mad culinary skills! It just arrived so Adam put it together tonight. It fits perfectly in our kitchen, under the bar area. Now we can cook together! Here are some shots of the future "Top Chef".
Preparing something he saw on the food network...
Adam's parents got him some fake food and pots & pans - he enjoyed taking them out and putting them away.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Happy Birthday Gavin- Can't believe you're two!!!

Well, the little man is now 2 years old! I can't believe it- it seems like I just wrote the post about him turning 1. My baby is now a toddler! Of course, he has no idea that it is his birthday. Even so, I think he enjoyed his day. Gav and I went to the museum, where we took a ride on a 150 year-old carousel. Adam joined us for some fun at the playground after he came home from work. Gavin is so very independent- doesn't want any help climbing up to the slides. "No! Mama- no!" After some good play time we went home and had dinner, followed by cupcakes. And you all know how that goes...
Starts out slow, dipping the finger into the icing...
Oh, who am I kidding!!?!?

Labor Day Weekend at the Finger Lakes...

We spent the long weekend in the Finger Lakes. The Finger Lakes are about a 3 hour drive from Albany and is New York's wine region. We rented a house with 3 other couples on Keuka Lake. It was an incredibly fun weekend and we feel very lucky to have made some really wonderful friendships here in New York.

One of our friends has a neighbor that is a wine distributor so he set up a private tour at Glenora Winery with the winemaker. It was fascinating to listen to him explain all that goes into growing grapes in the area. Obviously the climate has a huge impact and it's not surprising that New York does not produce many good red wines. However, I did find a few that were fantastic- they just cost twice as much because there is such short supply. They have about a two week period to harvest red grapes before they have to worry about frost. Although Adam is not a wine drinker, he also enjoyed the tour and found the science behind winemaking especially interesting.

These are Gevurtztraminer grapes. The winemaker let us sample a few off the vine and they were so delicious. I'm not a huge fan of Gevurtz wine but the grapes have a spicy taste that is very unique. I was tempted to grab a bunch and go buy some brie.

We spent the day touring different wineries and taking in the spectacular views. I can only imagine how gorgeous the area is in October when all the trees change colors. The weather was perfect while we were there, mid-seventies and no humidity. I am serious when I say this, everyone should experience fall in New York. I will drive this message home over the next few months!

These are my girlfriends- Toyin, Fahmida, and Ryan.
Jeff, Reh, Adam, and Doug- a little male bonding.
Here we all are- such a fun group! These are the people that help us cope when we find ourselves missing all of you back home. And these are the friendships that will bring us back to New York for many visits in the years to come.
Jeff's mom watched Gavin while we went on the wine tour and then Gav joined us for the rest of the weekend. He's getting so big and loves being the center of attention. We had a great time skipping rocks and splashing around.

P.S. Notice that Gavin is finally starting to look a little bit like me!!