Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Yaks Visit The Vet

Yes, I just got home last night from my folk's and off we had to go to the vet's today. Boy, am I tired of traveling. Everyday but one I sat in front of the steering wheel for at least an hour and a half to over four hours. Bless him, Kirk did the driving for the three hour round trip to the vets today to have our Gracie looked at.

Hopefully, you are not squeamish because it is a bit gruesome. Gracie had one BIG puss pocket and several connecting ones along her jaw.

These are in the area that is covered by LONG hair and the area in which we don't pet since Gracie likes scratched behind her ears and stroked along her back. With this excuse, we missed the lumps  until they carried down her jaw line a bit and Kirk discovered them while I was gone.

Since we have no squeeze chute to put her in to keep her still so we can examine her closely and cut the skin to clean out the bacteria, we went to the vets. And since the one pocket was so... large and near the wind pipe where it could soon interfere with her breathing and eating, we opted to go to the vets. And since we had no way of administering a shot safely, we opted to go to the vets. 

I've drained the same sort of thing on  horses, goats, and sheep but either they were easy to restrain with a halter or they were small enough to man handle. A yak on the other hand, I wasn't going to man handle with those horns so close to the action and when I knew some pain would be involved which could prompt the use of those horns.

The girls were so... good today. Sweet Gracie unloaded and went into the squeeze chute at the vet's calmly but when it closed around her neck, the whites of her eyes grew large but she only grunted softly to me in distress. Then before long she was out and Jasmine in as the vet checked to make sure she didn't have it also.

I cood softly to Gracie telling her it would be alright and as soon as she was reunited with her pen mate, Jasmine, she began showering Gracie with sympathy. That is a bit of what you see in the picture. 

What we appreciated most today was that the girls loaded like a dream into the trailer all by themselves. It took a few ins and outs until they both were inside at the same time but that didn't take long and we were headed down the road.

 They did the same thing loading from the alleyway at the vet's. You couldn't ask for anything more.

The downside of the day is both girls need shots several more times. Jasmine a shot every two weeks for a while to build up her immune system so she will hopefully not secumb to the bacterial infection that Gracie has that is apparently in the soil. 

Gracie needs the immune builder shot the same as Jasmine and a pennicilin shot every week to kill the bacteria that exists in the swelled areas we can see and the ones inside her body we can not.

We have no squeeze chute so we will have to take them out to a ranchers, which we'd hate to do for fear of spreading the bacteria to their place or get a chute in a hurry, take them back to the vets or buy a chute.

We are going to look into buying a chute since it would be handy for doing veterinary work, for trimming their hooves, and for combing their hair to remove their soft wool in the spring. Yes, we had decided just a couple weeks ago that we needed one eventually, we just didn't know we'd needed it so soon. 

Despite this news, a dirty house, a garden full of vegetables needing canning, and a zillion other things to do while my body screams of exhaustion, I'm ever so happy to be home and writing to you once more.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Garden Seed Trials

I have re-learned a very good lesson this year, FIELD TRIALS aren't over in one summer. To tell if a breed of plant will do well in your area, you really have to work with it. What I mean is you have to be aware of soil conditions (nutrients etc.), the weather that particular summer, what the weather was like when you planted, and the location in regard to the sun (I've some tomatoes that are getting shaded by the corn as the sun moves to a different location now that fall is approaching.

 Yes, those Siberian tomatoes that gave me tomatoes in early July have only given me a few red ones so far this year. The plant has grown  to twice the size of last year and the tomatoes are much larger this year. The advertisement for them says cold tolerant, definitely didn't mean when they are young. It could mean when they are full grown though. 

 This year they were some of the latest tomatoes planted and we'll see how they do when cold weather arrives. Last year the plants were pretty well spent by the time cold weather hit so I didn't get a true picture of their performance.
This tomato is a Roma and they do do well in cold soils so I plant them in late May, early June. I haven't figured out what this particular tomato's problem is. No, it isn't aphids or the healthy ones next to it wouldn't look so healthy. I've got to get it ripped out.
The same thing happened to a few potatoes earlier this summer that were just six feet away from the sickly tomato plant.

And from last years trials I assumed buckwheat wouldn't grow very tall here so I planted it amongst some potatoes. Wrong move, it towers over the potatoes. Some of you are saying cut the things down for green mulch I do love buckwheat pancakes on occasion and silly me wants to try harvesting some of my own. If all goes well, they will get their own plot next year and not become a companion plant.

Two new kinds of corn are on field trial this year also and though the sweet corn is taller than any I've had before. The size of the ears and the taste will be the determining factor. But this corn has an advantage over the ones I've tried before for each stalk has two ears. If it does fairly well, it will for sure be a hit for two ears in the space of one is a huge deal in a garden my size. Yes, I should tell you the type it is but I'd have to guess for I'm on a very short time frame at the moment and can't dig through the box to look.  

The other type of corn on trial is a dried corn variety, Painted Mountain, and it was suppose to be planted first because of its cold hardiness label but I didn't get the plot of land cleared in time. And... though I had planted the two different types of corn two weeks apart hoping to have them tassel far apart enough to save corn for seed they played copy cat and both tasseled together ruining my plans. I haven't given up hope of growing two kinds of corn in my garden and so with a bit more planning, I'll try again next year.

So the moral of the story is, give a new variety a serious chance. Move it around the garden and plant at different soil temps and time of year if it shows any real promise. You never know, it just might end up being your favorite like my Washington Cherry tomatoes that give me loads of LARGE cherry tomatoes a month to a month and a half before my Romas.

Yup, gardening takes patient for it take time.

 Oh yeah, I almost forgot to tell you in my rush, please be patient and return next week for I will be gone for a few days while I take care of my parents. My step-dad is having surgery and my sweet hubby is goes to play double duty around here and he refuses to post. LOL I guess he has his own site to take care of.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Apples With a Little Extra

Okay, just say a big loud GEEZE LOO...EES and get it over with because this is a yes, I am sometimes very dumb confession.

You see I was looking forward to a nice crop of apples off our three small trees and then...
Yup, you know it, worms got ahead of me and took the first bite of almost every apple on the trees. Now I have trees loaded with wormy apples and many more are falling upon the ground before reaching full size.

To bad too because these apple were sweet where ones in the past were sour. The difference, a change in soil amendments but that is another post.

So reveling in the excitement that my apples were indeed becoming more appealing I watered and watched. Then came the,"Seriously Holly where is your brain, the aphids came and devoured your plum trees and you didn't think something would get your apple trees too." moment when I couldn't help but scold myself.

But honestly, I was so disgusted that as far as my health, I was feeling crappy once more this summer, and busy thinking of changes to make with the goats and looking for a bull for our yaks and ...... that I gave the apples hardly a serious thought.

In my defence though, years have gone by with hardly a worm to speak of.  Yet, I should have known it couldn't last and at least put in preventative measures for when I surveyed the full damaged, I couldn't help but throw up my hands and cry, "What ever shall I do?" Okay, I didn't but I thought it and then after I pouted for a few days I hit the Internet looking for the solution because you and I both know that once a bacteria or bug is well fed he's going to be back. Some never leave. I suspected this would be the case with apple worms.

My plan was that if I couldn't completely eradicate the little buggers at least I could make them feel really unwelcome and I suspect a Thieves Will Be Prosecuted sign won't do the trick. Having fought bugs and bacteria before I'm not above hitting a guy or gal, whatever it may be,when there down, after all this is war. So off I went on my reconnaissance mission on the Internet to find out more about my enemy. 

What I learned  was that I was either dealing with the larvae stage of the Coddling Moth or the Apple Maggot. But that whatever I had, the answer wasn't going to be organic as much as I'd like it to be.

If my enemy was the apple maggot then it flies swooning around the apple tree, becomes twitterpated with the opposite sex and you know what happens when boy meets girls, yup, multiplication. Then the girl fly pushes a small, sharp, hollow tube on the underside of her body into a nice juicy apple leaving behind eggs which having been deposited into a fully laid table of food. They begin to eat and eat me out of a apple pie. 

When the worm is full, has burped, and failed to say excuse me or even a thank you mam, the apple falls to the ground.  There the worm crawls out and forms a hard crust around its body protecting it through the winter. Come spring it crawls out having become a fly and heads out to check out the cute guys flying around the same apple tree. 
So beyond keeping the apples cleaned up off the ground which I've yet to do, you have to either set out traps with bait to attracted the guys keeping them from the girls or you have to spray and spray and spray every 10 days after the tree blossoms.

The coddle moth maggots I didn't bother to look up as the whatever their story is, I'm already sunk with the apple maggots anyway so it wouldn't really matter. The ever hopeful, I went to site after site but found the same story -- give up and start to spray or hang a bag around every apple on your tree. 

Monday, August 22, 2011

Goodbyes and Preparing for the Future

Yesterday, the last two goats said goodbye. Well, theoretically anyway. For in actuality, though I can't translate verbatim, I'm pretty sure the panicked look in their eyes and the loud bleating wasn't a happy goodbye but a frantic, "Please let me stay. Please let me stay.", which made it hard to let them go. None of them went to strangers though and each will have a good home, something you don't often get to say with assurance.

Three of the goats I will be able to see often and don't tell her but I'm secretly hoping Florence will soon loose her voice. She didn't go far and is just across the road in Michelle's pen bellering to beat the band. I haven't gone over to speak to her because I suspect it wouldn't do any good to tell her that she should be playing with her pen mate, which just happens to be her cousin and only a few day older than she is, rather than hollering to come home.

Six goats went bye bye in total which leaves what? Just Chicory and her grand daughter, Megan. Yup, I was going to keep four goats and then I went and listened to a ADGA goat appraiser. I decided to get rid of almost everyone and form a serious breeding plan. It is a goal I'm wanting to spread across to chickens and a far more serious garden plan too.

Next, spring a buckling and a doeling from Mega-Milkers will join our two goats. I've another doeling I'm wanting from another herd but I'm waiting for next year before making that move or the year after as I seem so often to take that long to act upon my plans. That is what I get for having so many.

As for the chicken in the blogging title above. She's there to motivate me to hurry and cull roosters and hens. The new ones are in a coop meant for chicks, not nearly full grown chickens, and so they are way over crowded. My conscience is biting at me something fierce over the thing and so I've sped up the work project on the new small chicken coop we are going to have in our back yard. We've wanted one ever since we had the six hens in our garden a couple years ago when the hoards of grasshoppers descended upon it and threatened to annihilate it. But, then along came our cute grand kids to live with us for a year and that plan sat on the back burner until now.

It is high time I decided what chickens need to go into the stew pot, what chickens will stay until November, and what ones will be with us through the winter. And lastly, what one or two of the four roosters is staying.  

It isn't just the over crowding that has me motivated though for two different weather men have stated that winters for the next few years are going to be doozies, similar to the ones we experienced during the latter 1970's. The ones where fellow high school friends snowmobiled to the bus stop because the roads were closed day after day. Winters where in the open countryside you couldn't tell the road from the barrow ditch and elsewhere you traveled in a kind of snow tunnel for walls of snow were on both sides of you completely obscuring your view. Fifty below zero wind chills were common.

Read it for yourself, I've included one of the sites. Your area could see things very differently than ours but after reading two different national weather blogs saying the same thing, I'm thinking batten down the hatches.  Some of our goals for this fall are going to change. We need to work a bit on some livestock sheds to shore them up for winter, see what it would cost to put some more insulation into our homes attic, and put a fan in the stove pipe of our coal /wood stove to capture more of its heat to warm our home. 

The 1980's weren't too warm either and our kids remember those winters too when I use to put heated bricks in the bottom of their beds at night. Brr... I'm not looking forward to those cold days again even though our home has undergone quite a bit of remodeling and should be warmer.

This winter I'm going to be glad I have fewer animals to feed. The money we've earned from those who left will go toward new hay feeders and it looks like they just might get stuffed full on more than one occasion when a particularly bad storm is expected.

As I think about preparing for winter, a observation comes to mind. I believe that there are two kinds of people 1. those who are like the Pronghorn antelope who like to stay out in the open so they can see what's coming and 2. those who like to hide from trouble in the woods. I'd rather prepare to meet trouble head on with a, "If ye are prepare, ye shall not fear.", attitude

 Others disagree. They'd rather not think about unpleasant things and live for today hoping the bad won't find them or that it doesn't exist.   

So don't laugh when I show you pictures of my new hen house. It is a part of my antelope personality, being prepared. I've not done too bad at handling the miter saw, the circular saw, But the drill, well, you could definitely say that the screws are drilled, just some of them at odd angles. The saws all on the other hand has done just that, sawed all, meaning more than it should have. Whoops, my door doesn't look too hot.

Kirk just keeps telling me that the chickens won't care how straight the door frame is. They will care that I've made the ceiling low to keep the warmth down where they are and that I've insulated the walls and ceiling against the comb freezing winter winds. That I've also taken care to locate the coop where fences will protect it from the worst of our high winds.

Yup, call me an antelope for I see a myriad of circumstances in which some skill with wood working tools would come in handy. So while I have a talented coach nearby, I'm going to take this opportunity to learn and call it a blessing that he doesn't have time to do it himself. I'll just take all the help he can give me in the form of advice while he is busy trying to fill knife orders that have piling up.  And if in the future something unforeseen creeps over the horizon where I need some woodworking skill, I've a head start on being prepared

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Want More Cabbage Heads From One Plant?

What if I could tell you how to get more cabbage heads from this plant after you picked this head; what would you say?

That is just what I'm going to do. I've had this (that which is in the photo) happen all on its own instead of forming one nice big head but I'm here to tell you how you can get a lovely head of cabbage and then have mutiple little ones form after you've cut the first cabbage on all your plants.
We have a short growing season in our area and so for this to happen I have to start my cabbage plants inside under grow lights. Then the cabbage has a jump start when transplanted out into the garden. For those of you lucky ones with a long growing season, you can simply plants seeds.

When your first head forms and is ready to pick, you cut it from the rest of the plant as close to the bottom of the cabbage as possible, therefore leaving as much plant behind as possible.

Then you make a slit with a knife horizontially and vertically across the white core that is left on the garden plant. This will make an X. From this X several small cabbages will form. The book I learned this trick from said four but my plants insist on forming more than four. Don't ask me why because I really haven't a clue.

 Some of my baby cabbages are at this stage a bit larger than brussel sprouts. My plan is to use them in a nice savory beef stew and throw some others into a salads with greens from the gardenfor a bit of crunch.

I prefer the purple cabbage which has a bit more Vitamin C than its green cousin but either green or purple, this method will work.

Getting more vegetables out of my limited garden space is a big priority. So next year try this and  

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Travelin Along

Went out to check the bees Saturday and see what the country side looked like. Especially to see if there were any blossoms left. There were some and I emphasize some alfalfa blossoms. With the nights being cool and the days warm, it should make the nectar flow. That is it would flow nicely if it wasn't so dry. I'd guess most of the nectar is dried up since it has been weeks and weeks since we've had a good rain. "So Lord, if you are listening right now, we'd sure could use a nice rain. Keep the hail you sent around the bee's area a week ago as it destroyed my friends garden and busted out a window on her house. Besides, I'd cry if it lit on mine. Our middle grand daughter has high hopes for carving a Cinderella pumpkin for Halloween. As for me, I figure we need at least a few more weeks and a month or more would be better for the slow growing garden to produce about all its going to this year.
You know how we depend on our garden." 

 Sorry, for the interruption but as forgetful as I'm getting these days, I find myself praying when I think of it instead of saving up for night time prayers. By then the thought has clean gone south to light here no more.

And speaking of forgetfulness, I almost forgot to comment on the picture. Please, please, please readers, keep your baling twine picked up. This lamb had a length of it wrapped around its leg cutting off circulation. It would not be long before it lost its leg. I contacted the ranchers and they are taking care of the problem. I'm surprised to see this on their ranch as this is plastic twine which is a no, no with sheep. It breaks down and becomes tangled in the wool and messes up the wool processing equipment. Buyers hate it. I'd guess this plastic twine is something that came over from the neighbors who have cows next door. We prefer jute twine that breaks down back into the soil. 

I do my best though to keep it picked up and I'm begging each of you to keep yours picked up too. Animals swallow it and nasty things happen inside, they get it around their appendages like with this lamb and a horse I rescued with a length tight around its neck, and it gets buried into the ground making it almost impossible to pull up.

As for me, the klutz, I trip all over it and if we didn't keep ours picked up, I'd be in the emergency room with a broken this or that.

You see he has yaks on his mind. We went to the Wyoming State Fair to look at the goat does we had previously viewed on the Internet to reaffirm our decisions that we wanted a buck out of this doe and a doe out of that one. Then after looking around, we visited a ranch in the area that had some yaks.
Funny how much more attentive he was when looking at yaks then goats.

We already have a bull lined up to take Jasmine to, to have her serviced next year and we will be making a trip to Turkey Hill to check him out and solidify our decision.

 But for Gracie we are holding out in wanting to breed her to a Royal, the black and white ones. We aren't decided yet where we want to go. But, as we travel about to more and more yak owners, we are learning more and more about these fascinating animals. So I guess we will just keep travelin.

Kinghorn Wax Beans

 "Grandpa, you'd be proud of me. I grew your beans this year but the yield doesn't look anything like yours."

"In fact Grandpa, none of my beans this year look too hunky dory. They are really late producing too as they are just beginning to come on. I guess that means I won't be able to save seed off of the Kinghorn beans you created for Del Monte and others. Oh well, maybe next year."

"But oh how I do wish you were still here with us so you could give me the scoop on what is going on in my garden. Some stuff is doing real well, like the Rouge something or other pumpkins that I now just call the Cinderella pumpkins since your grand daughter, our oldest, looked them up and found out they were the inspiration for the pumpkin shaped carriage on the movie Cinderella. One of my favorite movies when I was a kid you might remember."

"This new heirloom species has taken over the garden. I'll know to put it somewhere else other than smack dab center next time I grow it. I am getting pretty excited about this kind as one of the good sized pumpkins is turning orange and I just can't wait until it turns red and I can taste it. I hope it is good since it is pretty hard to get much to grow here in eastern Wyoming."
"Well that's all for now, I just thought if you were looking down from heaven, you might see that I'm thinking of you and missing singing those silly little songs with you like, "Once There Was a Snowman" and the one about the goat that ate the long johns off the clothes line. Tell Grandma, I love her and miss her a whole heap too."

your grand daughter,

Thursday, August 11, 2011

No, Really It Was Breakfast

 No, really, it was breakfast not dessert. The topping may have been home-made pie filling and the garnish a scoop of home-made ice cream but if you think about it, it is healthier than sugary syrup.
The pie filling has apples and the ice cream is dairy and surely that has more nutrition in it than maple syrup.
 The kids loved it
 And they all dug right in.
For a few minutes anyway they were smiling big time at what Grandma had whipped up to put on their apple cinnamon waffles. They all have the stomach flu and their appetites are a waining a bit. It isn't required to have flu to enjoy this delight so the next time you have waffles think pie filling and ice cream.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Strangling Pumpkins

Some of you might remember earlier in the summer my whining about not enough bees in the yard. LOL The Lord answered my prayers and we've had lots and lots of Bumble bees arrive. As for the other types of bees, they are still a bit scarce but beggars can't be choosers. I'm just happy these girls arrived.
As for my Rouge Vif d'Etampes, don't ask me to say that, they finally quit dying on the vine and started making red pumpkins. I know, I know, they are yellow right now, but if the good Lord blesses them, they will be red this fall. I've never grown them before but I wanted to start raising some heritage pumpkins as they are reputed to have far more flavor than the modern variety. I do love a good tasting pumpkin so I started some plants and then never got them planted in the garden last year. 

Why does it often take me two years to reach my goals? Last year was the year I was going to grow sunflower seeds on the north and south ends of the garden. It didn't happen, as is often the case. I think I have too many, goals, silly, not sunflowers.

 Now that I've planted them and they are growing, I'm questioning if they will make heads before frost and give me seeds or if they will just keep reaching for the sun. In the heavily manure area, they've grown way past the corn, which is taller than ever before having passed my 5'7", and I'm wondering if my goals of producing some seeds for my goats and chickens is yet another year off.

I haven't researched the soil and water requirements for sunflowers but I suspect too much fertilizer is the culprit, for I once had potato plants that were monstrosities but underneath only a few scrawny potatoes developed. I've heard I should of stomped on the plants a bit. I don't know if it works for I've never had the problem again. I do know I can't exactly stomp on my sunflowers. 

BUT, what about the picture with all the Bumble bees. Well, it is a lone volunteer in my flower bed. I suspect the seed blew in from my bird feeder.  
Oh my, I've gotten side tracked haven't I? I was talking about those Rouge something or others that I can't pronounce. I suspect the word is French. Blond, blond hair, and blue eyes, nope, I'm not French and so I can only guess. 
But I do love to explore things from different countries like the Siberian tomatoes and the Glacier once from Sweden which I'm still growing in my garden.

Now, I'm going to try out different squash but between these Rouge pumpkins and the Delicata squash, both heritage vegetables new to the garden, they've taken over the whole garden plot strangling tomato plants, crawling over the broccoli and now they escaping out onto the lawn. I know, I know, I should trim the things back but I can't hardly find anywhere to put my feet in my garden that I won't be stepping on plants.

Yes, once again I've crowded too much into too small a space. But I think this year it is worse than ever. If only we lived in the country with a bit of land to stretch out on to. Alas, I'll just have to plan better for next year and curb my gardening appetite.

Monday, August 8, 2011

For The Love of Zucchini

 Oh how we love zucchini!!! No, seriously, they are one of our favorite vegetables. And though we have four large plants, we aren't one of THOSE people who leave them on doorsteps of unsuspecting friends and neighbors. But, we do occasionally share. We took three nice little ones over to an older couple last night. Just enough for a nice side dish for supper. To keep zucchini from getting too large, I pick them every other night or in the morning if I'm going to freeze a batch for winter.
Since we don't like zucchini shredded in muffins, chocolate cake, and the like we pick our zucchini often to make sure they stay small. If any fruit do manage to hide and become large boats, I cut them up to feed the chickens or pigs if we have any. They are quite fond of them also.

At the end of the summer though I've a hankering to let some of my zucchini reach colossal size for I want to have zucchini races like Kirk, our oldest daughter, and I watched at Boulder Colorado a few summers ago. The local kids were invited to decorate an over grown zucchini in any fashion they desired and after attaching wheels, they raced it down a Pine Wood Derby race track. It was a hoot.

Think of it. A summer version akin to decorating Easter eggs or pumpkins for Halloween.

Only these get to go splat. Secretly, that was one of my favorite parts. There was the cute and the bizarre zucchini racing down the track like a bunch of crash dummies. LOL It was quite a sight.

Our oldest daughter did the same basic thing with a group of young adults, only they used huge potatoes. Prizes were given out for the most cleverly decorated and for those who won the potato races. As for us, we don't have a Derby track but we do have a mighty steep drive-way. And  I know the kids would love it since they are frequently in trouble for, on purpose, sending something crashing down into the street.

Until then, I'll keep our zucchini small and use them in souffles, scrambled eggs, in green salad and pasta salads, in stir fries, and in soups. But most of all, we'll be eating them sliced the long way and grilled on the gas grill. Nothing is better beside a home grown beef steak. With a splash of butter and a sprinkling of garlic salt, the green healthy vegetable is turned into a bit of heaven.

So if you want any of our zucchini, you'll have to ask real nicely. I promise to share - a little anyway - LOL.

It's a good thing zucchini are so good for you with a substantial dose of Vitamin A, quite a few Vitamin B's, Vitamin C, phosphorus, copper, magnesium, manganese, iron, zinc, potassium, and even protein all rolled up in a low calorie green high fiber wrapping. When I looked up the nutritional benefits of zucchini I knew why I loved it so much. A large portion of the calories is due to sugars. I do have a sweet tooth.  
To keep this sweet treat for winter, the best way I've found so far to preserve them is to blanch WHOLE small store sized zucchini for three minutes. Cool them quickly and then slice them on to cookie sheet and place them in the freezer. When frozen, you pop them into freezer bags to use in your favorite dishes in the winter. this way they don't become all mushy like when you blanch slices. 
My experiment for this year will be after blanching and cooling them to slice some the length way, like we do when we are going to grill them. Then this winter, we'll see if they will be firm enough after freezing to grill or if they will just make a mess.

What is your favorite way to save zucchini for winter?

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Whipping Egg Whites

I've started collecting my notes for my first cooking class, Breakfast Is In The Freezer, and we'll be discussing eggs. Souffle is on the menu. But there are a few tips to whipping up egg whites nice and fluffy.

1. Separate your whites from the yolks when the eggs are cold.

2. Use egg whites that are at room temperature to whip because they will whip higher. 

3. a. Use a copper bowl to whip them in as it stabilizes the eggs. I don't have one so I use the stainless steel bowl in my kitchen- aid mixer or my favorite glass mixing bowls that were imported from England.

b. If you use stainless steel or glass it is recommended that you add cream of tarter to stabilize the proteins in the egg whites.

c. Plastic is not recommended because it is too porous and absorbs odors, oils, you name it. And oil is a big no, no when trying to create volume. Remember to also thoroughly clean your utensils.

d.Aluminum bowls are a no, no also as the metal turns the eggs a grayish color. Plus, as the mixer beats around the bowl, it shaves off tiny particles of aluminum putting it inside your food. Aluminum is not one of the good metals necessary for optimal health. 

3.Start beating your egg whites on low and increase the speed slowly. If you start at too high a speed the air bubbles become unstable resulting in a flatter result.

4. Add the cream of tarter after the eggs are beaten and have formed shiny peaks.

There you have it, one of discussions we will be having in class.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Cooking Classes

 If I'm not as regular with blogging over the course of the next week, please be patient. I promise I'll be back, but right now I'm not feeling at all well.

I do want to touch base quickly and tell you about an exciting new adventure I'm preparing for. I'm going to teach cooking classes this fall through the recreation center. Not a typical thing you think of when the word recreation center comes to mind. Swimming, racket ball, basket ball, or weight lifting, yes, but not cooking. It just happened that I wanted to earn a little extra money and I felt promted by the Lord to ask the director, (a gal I've known for years) if she'd be interested in helping me coordinate such a thing.     

 She, unbeknownst to me, had been thinking of offering cooking courses through the recreation center and was trying to come up with a teacher. I guess our recreation facility will be torn down next spring and she's looking for things to offer that don't involve a swimming pool, racket ball courts etc. which won't exist. Who would of thunk we would be on the same train of thought? 

I don't know about you but I always give a big sigh of, "WHEW, got that one right." when I've listened to the still small voice and have done as the Lord directs. Unfortuneately, I'm not always a good listener.  
The director and I decided that though the recreation building will be there this fall, we'd like to start the courses to get the ball rolling. Something  new always takes a while to build momentum.

After our brief conversation at the local hardware store, where we happened to run into each other, I typed up a list of classes I thought I'd like to start with along with a short outline of what the classes would entail. Between us we narrowed the list down and came up with a five month plan. 

Just how much to charge we weren't sure as I'm not about to make everything and then figure the cost of supplies as I'd be in the hole financially before I'd begun since each class offered cooks something different and I don't have the time to cook up a storm with the garden producing.

I did think about not only do I want to cover my cost and make a little money but I had to try and guess what people in our area would be willing to pay. People around here aren't willing to pay much for educational classes.

I chose to go through the recreation center because they have insurance and we could do the courses through the town hall which they already have a deal with. The town hall has a big kitchen and lots of counters space making it the best spot in town.

And though I've put in a number of hours already, I've only just begun for I have to outline my classes in detail, make signs to put up on all the bulletin boards around town advertising, contact the local paper to ask if they'll run an article, do up a notebook with photos of the foods that will include a class outline to leave at the recreation center so they can use it to promote the classes. Then there are my lists of supplies to buy, list of cooking utinsels to bring to class, recipes to copy, and research and organization of tips I want to be sure and cover.

My idea is to create a science based cooking classes somewhat like Alton Brown's Good Eats program  -- only in my own style. My goal with the students is to help them understand cooking so they can branch off of recipes in magazines and books. Use what's available in their cupboard and in our very small grocery store.

I want them to understand why you do what in a recipe and what will be the results. For instance many foods have similiar ingredients -- think muffins, bread, and buiscuits for instance- but their texture is very different from each other. The main factor is the develop of the gluten or not developing it that lends to different textures. Plus, I want to cover choice of ingredients, why do you add baking soda versus baking powder and a conzillion other things like substituting one ingredient for another. I'm always substituting according to what's in the cubboard and in the days to come I think more and more homes are going to feel a financial crunch.

The students after taking a few classes should be comfortable in adventuring out a bit on their own, tweaking recipes and tailoring them to their own tastes. I want to do much, much, more than just giving my student good recipes to follow. I want them to understand what to do and why.

Since I've taught lots and lots of workshops over the years, I'm not at all nervous about the teaching part but this formal setting is a bit different than I've done before. It will be an adventure.