Friday, April 25, 2008

First Harvest of 2008

We picked our first "harvest" of the season! Three spears of asparagus, which are capture below in the April 2008 "Face of Produce". This one is called "Man in Asparagus Patch". A few minutes on the grill and those spears were delightful.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Garden Irrigation 101

On the eve of Earth Day we dusted off the soaker hoses, sorted connectors and reset the timers. Voila, irrigation. It seems early this year, but the raised beds were a looking dry so it was time.

We started using soaker hoses for irrigating our raised beds several years ago and still marvel at the elegant simplicity of this system. Most importantly we appreciate the extra time for riding bikes, lounging on the deck with a cocktail, or pulling weeds. The steps are simple, first sorting out various hoses and connectors is key.

We use a 15 ft. soaker hose in each raised bed. The soaker hoses are connected between beds with regular garden hose using two-way splitters. The hoses all connect back into a timer, which is discreetly housed in a custom wood box that keeps out the rain and UV and promotes timer longevity.
Early each morning and at dusk each evening the beds receive a good "soaking". This approach reduces loss to evaporation, run-off and promotes happy healthy plants. The 2-hours we spend each spring and each fall setting up and taking down is a small investment in time come mid-summer when we would otherwise be standing with a spray hose, or using an inefficient sprinkler.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Wait, wait...don't tell me

Last night we attended the recording of a well known comedy radio show on National Public Radio. The "Wait, wait..don't tell me" cast were in Hartford recording this weekend's show and we were in the audience (if you listen hard on Saturday you'll be able to hear us clapping.....). It was a great evening out with lots of good clean humor, and witty repartee. If you have the chance to go in the future we thoroughly recommend it.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Give us our daily Sourdough

Once you experience fresh sourdough bread coming out of the oven, it is difficult to go back to store-bought bread. We have progressed from entirely white, somewhat chewy, phallic looking baguettes to a whole grain boule with pleasing symmetry and a lovely brown crust. Dr. Atkins may be rolling in his grave, but we are rolling down Hangman Hill Road clutching chunky bits of sourdough bread smiling all the way. This time the photo is of our own loaf.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Spring has arrived in North Stonington

Today it finally feels like spring in North Stonington! The daffodils are blooming and we have geraniums in flower in the sun-room. As an added bonus the seeds we planted a few weekends ago are coming up, and we could have lettuces in just a few more weeks.

We had lots of April showers in the last week, which is good for the plants and today we could smell that "characteristic agricultural odor" that indicates the folks at the Cool Breeze Farm at the end of our street are gearing up to plant their spring crops.

Pretty soon we'll be feasting on fresh home grown produce. Of course this means we need to get to work eating up the end of last year's supplies from the freezer! Come on over at any time for an apricot smoothy or pumpkin muffins........

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Soudough Bread for the Breadmaker

After reading about making sourdough bread we were inspired to give it a try. In a rather cavalier manner we prepared a starter consisting of 1 c flour, 1 c water and a pinch of yeast. After feeding the starter for several days by adding equal quantities of flour and water daily with a good stir, we make a simple white sourdough in the breadmaker. It was a success. While it didn't have the classic crust on the outside (ours was a bit more chewy) and it wasn't quite as light, it was a vast improvement on the texture of yeast only breads that we typically make in the breadmaker. We have since experimented with adding whole wheat flour, and using the breadmaker to make the dough and then baking it on a stone in the oven. The oven method gives a better crust, but you can't beat waking up to the smell of bread coming from the breadmaker.

We have done great deal of research since we made the first starter. This research suggests that making sourdough bread can be really complicated. Thankfully we tried it before the doing too much research, which may have been overwhelming and discouraging without a little beginner's luck. The sourdough purists would say the addition of yeast to the starter and to the dough isn't truly sourdough bread. We found including the starter greatly improves the texture of bread made in breadmaker. We also found that when formed into a baguette and baked in the oven, it is much better than any bread we can buy locally.

More information information on sourdough can be found at the following sites: (Pictures above and below were taken from Wikipedia. The "dough" in the breadmaker (above) captures the dough-stage very well. However, our loaves looking nothing like the example in Wikipedia (below), yet! (great videos about making starters)

Let us know if you want our recipe!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Hunkering Down in April

It was a brisk weekend for early April. Overcast skies and brisk winds didn't do much to inspire cycling. We did however spend a great deal of time wielding paint brushes at Spruce Street this weekend. On Friday night we took time out for dinner at home and a play in Westerly with Eric and Joann. When were at home we were mostly acting as cat beds. Even Eric, who is allergic to cats, was a vicitm of cats in need.