Sunday, January 27, 2013

Bathroom Remodeling - Week 2

We got the old bathtub out today - along with all the tiles that surrounded it.  Jens came over to help us with the heavy lifting and precision sawing to remove the 2x4's.   The water to the bathroom is now obviously disconnected, and half the walls and the doorway are gone.  The copper pipes that led to the bathtub are pulled out as well.

We still have to remove a small wall by the sink, as we are going to put a larger sink into that spot.  But our next steps involve wiring and plumbing, which currently run through that small wall.  This will be more time consuming - but not nearly as dusty and dirty!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Making Pasta

We had no idea how much better home made pasta really is - though others had told us to try it for a while. Ever since Sammy got a pasta attachment, we've been "borrowing" it, and experimenting with various noodles.  So far we made several batches of spaghetti and linguine, but also made some lasagna noodles and raviolis.   We used some of our frozen pesto and added it to one of the noodle batches, which turned out great.

Seems that the trick to making perfect noodles is a rather dry dough.  Our ratios vary from 3 cups of flour to 4 eggs, to 3.5 cups of flour to 5 eggs.  Then we add a bit of salt, and either a small amount of water of olive oil - depending on the consistency of the dough.  Have not messed up a batch yet, so there seems to be some flexibility :).

Definintely can't beat a meal of homemade spaghetti, with homemade pasta sauce and homemade wine! And if we made too much pasta, we can store it for a bit and use it later.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Home Improvement Project: Bathroom - Week 1

We finally bought a whirlpool tub - we've been searching for one ever since we moved, as that is one thing we gave up and have been missing.  So the tub sits in front of the barn, under the overhang, waiting for us to expand the size of the downstairs bathroom to accommodate it.

This weekend we finally got started by tearing out the closest in the downstairs guest room and pulling off the drywall.  That allowed us to figure out which walls are weight bearing, and which way the ceiling joists run, which is step number 1 for tearing out walls :)

The plan is to increase the bathroom size about 2 feet in length, and 4 feet in width.  This should allow us to put in the significantly larger tub, as well as a double sink (which we have had in storage for years).  One step at a time.  School is off tomorrow, so Lars will be home to help Jeff with more demolition.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Adding More Fruit

CHAMBOURCIN (JS 26-205)We just ordered more grapes!! 
  • 200 Chambourcin  (this will double our Chambourcin patch)
  • 150 Concord
This is a 50% increase for us and we are so excited.  They will be shipped in early March.  About the same time, we should also receive our "Christmas Presents", the 8 Bartlett pear trees, 2 Bosc pear trees, 10 Wyldewood elderberry bushes and 10 Samdal elderberry bushes.

Bundt Coffee Cake

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup butter at room temperature, cut into smaller pieces
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 cup sour cream   (sometimes I use 1/2 cup yogurt and 1 cup sour cream)
  • Filling (see below)
  • Glaze (see below)
Thoroughly grease bundt cake pan and preheat oven to 350 degree F.  Beat sugar and butter, then add eggs and vanilla and beat for 2 minutes.  Blend flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a separate bowl.  Alternately add sour cream and flour mixture to batter, on slow speed until well blended.  Prepare filling.

Spread about 1/3 of the batter in cake pan, cover with 1/3 of filling, repeat two times.  Bake in 350 degree oven for 1 hour (use wooden skewer to make sure it is done - meaning it comes out clean when inserted near center of cake).   Cool slightly on rack, for about 10  minutes and then invert pan, drizzle with glaze and enjoy!

Filling:  mix 1/2 cup brown sugar with 1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts and 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon.

Glaze:  melt 2 tablespoons butter, add 1 teaspoon vanilla and about 2 tablespoons milk, blend in enough powdered sugar to make a soft icing.  Spread on warm cake.

    Saturday, January 12, 2013

    "January Thaw" Weekend

    According to the "Farmer's Almanac", the January Thaw is more than just another piece of fanciful weather lore, because annual averages really do show a slight temperature increase, and subsequent dip in  January.  During the January Thaw, which usually lasts for about a week, temperatures rise an average of 10° F higher than the previous week, then drop back down.   Usually this happens around the third week of the month, but I am certain that the "2013 January Thaw" is happening this weekend. Temperatures were near 60° F on Saturday.

    We worked outside much of the day, taking down most of the holiday decorations (I left some of the lights on the fences yet, as they brighten the winter nights, no matter which month it is).  We cleaned up our woodpile and got more firewood, and we finally picked up all the branches that came down during the couple of days of high wind warnings around New Year.  It made our brush pile even larger.

    Friday, January 11, 2013

    Farmshow Week!

    We enjoy visiting the PA Farm Show every year, and today was the day for 2013.  The food court remains Lars's favorite spot, and we stopped there for lunch and dinner.  New this year (at least we had not seen it before) were pumpkin funnel cakes with cream cheese icing - they were delicious. Of course we visited all the animal exhibits, watched some of the goat judging, saw funny looking chickens and watched ladies spinning alpaca yarn.  Spent time in the large arena watching tractor square dance and walked down every isle of the PA Preferred food vendors.  We saw the winning quilts, jams, apples and more - and the largest gingerbread house we'd ever seen.

    Sunday, January 6, 2013

    Experimenting with Labels

    I picked up a package of oval "print-to-the-edge" labels that Avery makes. I have to say, they worked great with the templates available from their website.  Much, much better than the ones I tried last year.  I chose a matte, textured finish 2" x 3 1/3" sized white label and had a lot of fun trying out different designs.  Actually I spent way too much time "playing" with design options, without realizing how much time had passed.  A great option for hobby winemakers :)
    We used these labels for our last two carboys from 2010 (!)... the wine still tastes great, we just never got around to bottling it until the holiday break.  We had 6 gallons of a mixed apple and 5 gallons of a light concord wine.

    Tuesday, January 1, 2013

    Happy New Year!

    Wishing everyone a happy and healthy New Year
    filled with peace and joy! 
    We are looking forward to a "fruitful" year, with additional plots of grapes, fruit trees and elderberry patches and possibly our first real harvest of blackberries and grapes.  While we are pouring over seed catalogs and dreaming of Spring, we are also enjoying peaceful winter scenes around our farm.