Friday, June 22, 2012

Cultured Butter!

I recently learned to make this amazing treat....and can't stop!  So simple.  And so wonderful on home baked bread.

One quart heavy cream, not ultra-pasteurized.
1/4 cup of cultured buttermilk. Most grocery stores carry this.
(*note, you can also use 3-4 tbs. of unflavored active culture Greek yogurt, or a mesothelic starter culture...I like's quick and simple.)
Mix together in non-reactive pot and slowly heat to approximately 110-115 degrees.
Remove from heat.  Cover and keep in a warmish place overnight or at least six hours.
When done, it will look like very thick cream.   And taste incredible.  I usually scoop a bit of this non-churned butter into a container and spread on scones!

Put the mixture into the refrigerator for several hours. 
It needs to be about 55' to churn well.

Now, dump it all into your food processor (or your churn if you have one!) and turn it on.
It will whirr around, and then all of a sudden, it will separate....and you'll have buttermilk and butter.

Some folks wash the butter, I don't.   It's just as yummy with a bit of the liquid in it, and I find it molds easier.

You can then transfer it to a moist cheese cloth, and squeeze a lot of liquid from the butter...this will be the best buttermilk you've ever tasted, AND you'll be able to use it to make your next batch of butter...or salad dressing....or pancakes.....or or or or or!  The uses are endless and this will beat any store bought buttermilk in any race it wants to run!  So, what I'm getting at here, is don't toss the stuff out.

Once you have squeezed all the liquid out, you can add sea salt or flavoring with herbs or even honey if you like.  The butter is very soft at this stage.  

The final step is to either roll the butter into a wax paper and store in the fridge to solidify, OR you can freeze it for about three weeks.  OR, if you are lucky enough to have someone (my wonderful Mom and Dad, in my case) find you an antique butter press,  you can press the butter into a form and slice at will!

Try this!  You'll be hard pressed (I know, bad pun) to ever use store bought color added butter again!

The Mobile Garden!

Since I knew I'd be moving, 'though I had no real idea when or where, I planted my entire garden in 15 gallon pots, alongside the grow boxes and self-watering containers from year's past.  It was a large investment in soil and energy.   I could not have done it without the good-hearted people, particularly John, of Mid-City Nursery in American Canyon, California.  This business has been around for decades, in large part because of their incredible loyalty to customers, their knowledge of plants and trees, and because of John and his family.   If you are in town, I highly recommend them.   And you can't miss John....he stands about nine feet tall and has a heart to match his height.
Over the years, John and his wonderful family have helped both myself and dozens of gardening friends to create the garden of their dreams.   When I told him I was moving, he even offered a truck to help move my plants.   What a place!  Check them out.

As you can see from the photographs, the mobile garden experiment is rolling along swimmingly.  I am a bit annoyed in that in hindsight, I could have probably planted the entire garden and still been fine in terms of moving, but I didn't want to risk having to leave behind all my hard work.

I'm hoping for a large harvest....time will tell!


Amazing how the time does fly.   I updated that last post, but it was actually written close to a year ago!

I've been busy packing up the farm the last several months, and it's been quite an arduous task.

Of course, since I had planned on moving MUCH earlier this year, and of course, since that didn't happen, I had to plant my entire garden so that it would be mobile.

All of my lovely raised beds are fallow, and so shall they remain.   I'm in the process of looking, via a tremendous and unexpected gift, for a new place to plant seeds.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

A year later and here we still reside!

Here we are, a full five years from the starting date of this blog. I've enjoyed writing about the farm, the kitchen, and the life...but it's time to move on from. As the last couple posts hint, I'm in the process of reshaping this world and as a result, I'm packing my suitcase and heading to a new home  soon.  As much as I've loved the urban farm here in town, I'm ready to lose the long commutes to work, and the crime ridden neighborhood.

I hope you'll come along for the ride. I can't promise what it'll be like, because my sense is that it will not encompass quite the same things that this one has. It will be broader in scope, and with any luck, a little more involved with the art and cooking side of the life.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

A heart for you!

We are in love with glass beach. Been there? It's up in Fort Bragg, near Mendocino where we spent a few days last week. Glass beach used to be the city dump! Horrible way to treat the ocean goddess, if you ask me. Apparently the town concurred several decades ago by cleaning it up. What was left were hundreds and hundreds of pieces of glass...soft edged silvery green sea's staggering to think about the tonnage involved. Savage and beautiful what we idiotic humans can do to the land and sea, isn't it?
This is a little heart shaped from the glass. My intention is to use the image in a piece of art soon...but liked the photo well enough to post it.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Times They Are a'Changin'

It has been a hell of a ride, folks. I've learned a great deal about what I need, who I am and what I want in life over these last six or seven years, but I'm making some choices right now about where to land in the next six or seven to come. These are hard choices, with little assurance as to whether or not they will be correct.
As much as I've loved the farm here, what I'd call the saving grace of all the other white noise of life, I've decided to pack up my seeds and get out of dodge.
I think if we are to grow as human beings on this planet, we must grow forward in some positive way.
Although I will miss my soil, my wood floors, my laundry chute and my studio, I have reached a pivotal point in life where I am intending to make enormous, somewhat intense and drastic changes that will involve letting go of this nice piece of earth, and moving ahead to find another.
The economy has tanked my little town which struggled to survive even before this crash. As a result, I'm surrounded by empty places, high crime, and drug use that goes beyond what ought to already have been legalized. In short, NashobaGardens in its current location is no longer a safe, healthy, viable living or growing space.

Over the course of the next year, my intention is to continue on with the posting you've come to expect around gardens and cooking....

I'm excited for the change. I get itchy feet every few years and perhaps also need a new challenge around bringing a new place to live to life....
This summer, since I'm aware this may be the last; I've planted the most enormous garden I've yet to have and it's cranking along nicely. I am setting and intention to have the smoothest transition out of the American Dream as possible.

It was just a dream, after all, wasn't it? A nice one. But there are other things to dream about, aren't there.

The Killing of the Trees and the Privacy.

For the last five years, I've done major battle with an elderly woman living next door who had dementia. She'd routinely cut my plants down, pour poison over the fence, and create all manner of mayhem. Sadly, it was her dementia speaking, but she was convinced I was on her land in my yard and house, and was going to take it back by hook, crook or Round-Up. I could delight or terrify you with the hair raising stories about this woman and all I went through with her, but I think you get the picture. If you know me well, you've likely had the er..pleasure, of seeing this action first hand.
Well, long story short....sort of....she died. And she went the way she wanted to go, in her own her own time. It's horrible, and sad, and honestly, we came to some kind of a degree of peace between us when she realized I was her only lifeline if some dreaded thing happened and she needed help. I survived several rescue missions on her behalf--and so it goes.

Her very dilapidated house sat empty for eight months, and then was sold. The new owners moved in, paying 50k cash for the place, and began renovations. Great, thought I to myself! Finally some nice people. And I present this information to you all with the pre-presentation that they are indeed nice folks. But! They are very loud. Very different. Very BIG. And since they've moved in, there's been non-stop partying in their yard with loud music, big families, and sadly---a total lack of privacy for myself and O.C.

All of this get used to it business aside, my greatest sadness about this whole thing has been the loss of the beautiful fruit trees. They paved paradise...not that crazy ladies house or land was that, but this area where we are is full of large lots and very old homes. With this comes very old trees.

These folks came in and tore down just about every fruit tree in the yard. Ripped out a large shed that provided privacy, and put in cement to park their trucks. Not cool.
The photos above will give some indication of the current scene. The two trees in front are lovely pineapple, er, were lovely pineapple guava. All gone now.

It has put a spin on the world I never thought I'd have. Total lack of privacy and really noisy, but nice, folks next door...and a parking lot of gardener trucks to look at.

In wondering about karma, one has to ask, why me? I did my time already....
But so it goes.
A lot has changed around here, given the economy. Empty homes lead to more crime. And this has been utterly true in these parts. It has gotten to where I only feel safe in the confines of the farm here, and have given up trying to run or ride the foldy bike here in town. Too many dangerous types and too much violence out there in urbania.