Friday, January 13, 2017

Brewing Ginger Beer

Brewing has been on the to-list for a few years now. We purchased a bunch of equipment when I still lived in Toronto and it's been through a few moves now. I did attempt a few batches of all-grain but they never really worked out - my husband insists that the fact that I winged my own recipe has something to do with this failure. That can't possibly be true as all the books say 'if you can make lasagna, you can make beer!' 

Those failed beer attempts really zapped my enthusiasm for brewing so we decided to start slowly with a non-alcoholic extract ginger beer kit. This was meant to test our sanitation process and to boost brewing related skills.

It was a success! We have 5 gallons of bubbly, clean tasting, ginger beer in our fridge at the moment. 

Now to order in some supplies for an all grain beer recipe! Onwards and Upwards! 

Friday, January 6, 2017

Natural Dye: Black Beans

I have been doing research and development for an upcoming on-farm project entitled Foraged Fibre. I have big plans for this project but I started with learning how to dye 100% wool with natural dyes.

I followed this Mother Earth News article to mordant a hank of 100% wool.

The dye liquid was made out of the water usually thrown away after soaking black beans. I put 750 grams of black beans into a cooking pot and covered with an inch of water. This soaked for 24 hours and was drained and used as the dye liquid. (The beans were cooked and consumed.) The pre-mordanted wool was placed into the dye liquid and brought to a slow simmer for 1 hour. Once the wool and dye liquid returned to room temperature the wool was rinsed until the liquid ran clear.

The dye liquid was saved and used to dye a second mordanted hank of wool and resulted in a lighter version of the original colour. (Not pictured)

Monday, December 19, 2016

Preserving Citrus

Dried Orange Peels

Before eating oranges, I've taken to peeling the rind with a vegetable peeler (taking only the orange part and leaving the bitter pith behind). This is laid out on a cookie sheet to air-dry over the course of few days. After which the curled, hard peels are ground in a food processor. The bright orange powder is then added by the teaspoon to baked goods (like chocolate chip cookies) and coffee drinks which imparts a delicate but powerful orange flavour.      

Candied Orange Peels

Peel three or four oranges, trying to keep the peel in large pieces. Cover with cold water, and bring to a boil. Boil for 20 minutes or until peels are tender. The pith begins to look slightly opaque when the peels have boiled long enough. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water. Use a paring knife, to cut off the white pith. You should be able to take the majority of the pith off in one piece. Cut the peel into strips. Boil 3/4 cup sugar, with reserved cooking liquid and 1 cup of water until the mixture begins to thicken. Add peel and boil another five minutes. Drain and coat the strips in granulated sugar.

Orange Chocolate Biscotti

2/3 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons ground flax
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1/3 cup diced candied orange peel

Preheat oven to 350 F. Whisk sugar, ground flax, oil, and orange juice until well blended. In a separate bowl, mix baking powder, flour, cocoa and orange peel. Fold dry ingredients into wet until just mixed. Scope unto baking sheet and, using damp hands, form into a log. Bake for 30 minutes. The surface of the biscotti should be cracked. Remove from oven and let cool. Slice. Bake for an additional 15 minutes. Enjoy! 

Preserved Lemons

Lemon juice

Cut lemon into wedges, but do not cut all the way through the lemon. This creates a lemon that has open surface area but is still attached at the bottom. Stuff lemon with salt. Stuff salted lemons into a glass container. Cover with lemon juice. Leave undisturbed for a minimum of two weeks. 

Salty Lemonade: 
1 wedge of preserved lemon
2 teaspoons sugar
squirt of lemon juice

Muddle preserved lemon and sugar. Add water, ice, and lemon juice. Be careful with the balance of sugar and salt. It's supposed to be a tiny bit salty but not extremely so. 

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Easy Vegan Eggnog

Vegan Eggnog
This creamy vegan eggnog is so thick that it basically requires booze to thin it to a drinkable consistency. It is fairly easy to put together and does not require much in the way of speciality ingredients. It's an eggnog for true nog lovers! 

5 tablespoons flour
1 cup water
1/3 cup almond milk
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons icing sugar
1/3 cup aquafaba (liquid from unsalted canned chickpeas) 
Ground nutmeg
Booze of choice

Combine flour and water in a pan over medium high heat. Stir constantly to remove lumps. This mixture will smell like toasting flour and then start to clump together in clear-ish blobs. Stir consistently until mixture forms one sticky ball then remove from heat. Remove mixture from hot pan. Combine 2 tablespoons of flour mixture with milk, sugar, and vanilla and blend together in a blender. Once combined set aside. Combine icing sugar and aquafaba in a stand mixer and mix until soft peaks form which will take anywhere from 7-15 minutes. Combine two mixtures in a mug and top with ground nutmeg and booze of choice. This recipe makes one serving but 3 portions of flour mixture which will keep for a few days in the fridge. 

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Lessons from a Newbie Woodworker

My first woodworking projects have taught me a lot --- here are a few things I've learned!

Friends are Your Best Resource: I was having a very difficult time removing 4 inch nails from the reclaimed wood I planned on using for the bench and I made a random Facebook post asking not-at-all seriously for advice and some seemingly unlikely folks offered some tremendously helpful advice.

Approach Every Project as an Opportunity to Learn: I am shocked at how much I learned from only a few successful wood projects. A lot of this 'learning' is abstract and non-tangible which means it is hard to qualify the lessons learned but your ability shows when you approach a new project. When I built my reclaimed wood bench I researched the project extensively and had a detailed plan to follow but when I built my second project (a dog leash organiser) I designed on the fly. To me, this depicts how much my woodworking knowledge has grown from a few simple projects.

Start Small to Build Confidence: Starting with small, easier projects is important to ensure success and each successful project accumulates into woodworking confidence! A bench is a bit much for a beginner project as a bench has to withstand use and weight. I would suggest smaller, decorating items for the absolute beginner woodworker.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Plot 13: Garden 2016

As 2016 was my first year gardening, I had one simple garden goal for the year - GROW SOMETHING!

This was my first year gardening so I wasn't even sure I would enjoy it - but thankfully I love everything about gardening.

I planted these 'Red Russian Kale' on 2 May 2016 - which is remarkably early for Yellowknife - under home made pop bottle cloches. That seemed to work remarkably well as they guys have lived through several frosts. As the weather warmed up they grew quickly!

Another project I tried in the garden was the use of olla pots - which are simply buried clay pots as a form of irrigation. I picked up some unglazed terra cotta pots from the store and buried them in the garden. They seem to be working quite well and have been keeping my kale nicely watered. 

My garden was a bit thin when compared to other folks in my community garden site but I think this is a wonderful and successful first garden!  

You can read all about my garden plans, adventures, and misadventures in my new zine. 

Friday, November 4, 2016

Plot 13 Zine Release!

2016 was my first ever gardening season and my successes and failures are documented in this 20 page, 1/2 sized black and white zine. I have a community garden plot (Plot 13) in Yellowknife, NWT. The subtitle of this zine might lead you to believe that there is a lot of location specific information in this zine but most of the information presented is general gardening information, experiments and results.

Topics include
... an overview of the Yellowknife Community Garden Collective
.... my 2016 Garden plan
.... an overview of the results I saw in 2016
.... my 2017 Garden plan
.... a list of resources I found helpful