Eric and I have made a couple of our annual treks recently, which I'm sure has something to do with it. First up, we headed to Lake Champlain for more wheat. I distressingly ran out of hard red wheat (the kind that grinds up into bread flour) and spent about a week and a half trying to figure out how you write a menu that doesn't contain bread before we finally got out there! Now I am happy to report that we're stocked back up and bread has returned to our menu in some delicious new ways! Incidentally, starting from scratch meant lots of time spent grinding flour... and not blogging. *sigh* (The picture, incidentally, is Champ. He's the Lake Champlain monster and shows up on the wheat bags. So adorable!)
Secondly, we did our annual Finger Lakes Winery Tour. As usual, it was self-guided. As it has been a long time since we hit the Seneca Lake shores (a long time since we've been wine-ing at all, actually), we decided to head there. I am pleased to report that we discovered several pleasant places we hadn't been before and came home with a handful of crisp, fruity new vintages. As a reference for anyone else looking to head for the wine trails, we found one of our longstanding opinions to still be holding true: Seneca Lake wineries have some of the most casual and least attentive or professional staff of all the lakes. The quality restaurant experiences are also vastly reduced. Those don't have to be problems, but it helps to know ahead of time! Also a word to those looking to spend a day relaxing on the lake - many wineries are dog friendly! They may not advertise it, but if you ask many will allow you to bring well behaved furry companions inside or to walk along the lush vineyard edges.
We also headed to Giant Mountain for a hike. We'd hoped to do more hiking this summer, but the weather has not been cooperative to say the least. Giant Mt. is out past Lake George and, like most NYS hiking trails, does not particularly feel the need to conform to the distances or formation marked out on trail maps - lol! We had a good time anyway until I decided that I'd had my fill of sheer rock faces that turn 90* angles with nothing to hold on to. Seriously, if you slip on one of those you're going head first down the mountain with no way to catch yourself until it's way too late. Who considers that a trail? Oh wait... border collies with four pad feet firmly planted on the rock face and their invincible daddies... *sigh* My boys were all set to keep going, but apocolypse boots or not I decided I was done. They were very nice about it and we agreed to try the other trail up the mountain next time in hopes of better luck. That or I'll just up my insurance policy and rewrite my will before we try again!
My quilting class is turning out to be phenominal! They have fabric covered walls in the classroom so you can put your finished squares on the wall and see what your quilt will look like when it's finished. We put mine up last class and it looks amazing! So excited! More pictures on that after I finish my "homework" for this week - nine block patches. They warned us that this can turn into an addictive hobby, and I absolutely agree. I'm hooked!
Most of the rest of this non-blogging time has been spent in the kitchen. I learned how to make whole wheat tortillas from scratch; it's so easy I wish I'd learned ages ago! You can find the recipe I used here. I made limoncello (lemon liquor) from scratch; vastly cheaper than buying it and quite delicious. An excellent hostess gift and convenient because the recipe makes a generous amount and a little goes a long way. Other new recipes we liked were Soaked Dutch Babies, Stuffed Zucchini and homemade mayo! Seriously, stop buying mayo stuffed with preservatives. It's super fast, cheap and easy to
make your own! I also made homemade lasagna noodles and fettucine. Yum! The bounty coming in from the CSA has been impressive, and we have to do very little grocery shopping. I could never have anticipated how fiscally rewarding this CSA adveture would be - there's no way we could have gotten the equivalent amount of product a la carte from farmer's markets for what we paid up front. I got adventurous with the beans they sent and canned up a batch of spicy green beans. I love my canner!
Incidentally, I'm systematically reviewing all the canning/dehydrating/preserving resources I can get my hands on. I've begun constructing a chart of their relative usefulness, content and helpful notes that I"ll publish here in the fall (end of the canning season). If you have any resources you recommend, please pass them on! If you would like a sneak peak at the chart for your own reference, drop me a line and I'll send you what I have. Kudos to my parents who succumbed to our bad influence and bought a dehydrator! If you don't own one yet, hurry up! This is the best time of year to stock up on produce and preserve it for the winter!
If anyone else is spending lots of time in the kitchen, check out Raising Homemakers' Kitchen Secrets. There was some great stuff in there I didn't know but I'm glad I do now!
Have you ever wondered why Amelia Earheart or Charles Lindbergh was considered an aviator but modern flyers are called pilots? I recently learned that it has to do with how they fly - aviators actively fly until until their plane has reached a complete stop. That's a necessity with tail-dragger airplanes, which were the standard in pre-WWII planes. Post WWII, tricycle gear (the modern standard) became prevalent and landing and taxi-ing became easier. People flying the newer model generated the nomenclature "pilots". Why does this matter? Because my handsome husband has begun earning his aviator endorsement! This beautiful plane, while not the exact one he's flying, is the same model - a Luscombe A8. They haven't been manufactured since the 40's, but are still flying! Amazingly, they have no electrical systems! No built in radios, GPS, or anything else electrically regulated. Eric is having a fantastic time and has been blessed to find a wonderful flight instructor willing to teach him the art of flying tail-draggers.
Any other random info from the homefront. From the reading pile: "Waste: Uncovering The Global Food Scandal" had great promise and a good concept, but got lost under the ponderous weight of it's facts, figures and caveats. I didn't finish it. "Last Child In The Woods" was also well intentioned, and intially interesting, but belabored it's point long past a reasonable conclusion, meandering into unneccessary and fruitless territory. Skim it or skip it. I watched three food documentaries and they were all vast disappointments: "Good Food, Good Business", "Food Beware" and "King Corn". My politely scathing reviews are available on amazon if you would like details. :0p
I keep reminding myself I need to be gentle with my reviews because I'm writing my first book. It's on long distance relationships, which I think I'm pretty qualified to expound upon... ;0) I've got a good start, but if you have experience with long distance or know someone who does, please send your thoughts or their contact info my way!
I think that pretty much covers everything that's new here. Sorry for the long post!