Welcome to 2012

by Lisa Linderman on January 1, 2012

in commercial kitchen,general

As often happens when the summer season winds down and  the fall begins, I sort of fell out of the habit of blogging.  Resolution:  Get back to it!  Fall is always crazy busy for me, and I seem to get slammed with allergies or something every fall as well, so the period between September 1 and December 31 flies by before I can even turn around twice.

So a general catch-up.  In October, we finally completed construction on our commercial kitchen/commercial coach/food service facility!  (What it’s called depends entirely upon what government agency is currently inquiring.  They apparently don’t speak to one another, and they all have different terminology, and none of them have guidelines for exactly what we’ve done.  I didn’t think it was that outside the box, but apparently so…)   Very excited to have the facility up and running, but unfortunately it came about 18 months too late for the bills.  So, we’re going to be ramping up actual production slower than I’d anticipated, because I’ve had to take a full time job in the Real World ™ again.  But life is funny, because the job I’ve gotten is right up my alley, should be busy and fun and the people are wonderful, and a regular paycheck should ease a lot of stress around here, not to mention regular health care again!   And if it means I have to focus more sharply and take it a little slower on the food production, well, that might actually be helpful anyway.  I was feeling a little unfocused, and now I have to really narrow it down and get organized, which is how I operate best.

In October, we also went to our biggest show ever, the Tacoma Holiday Food and Gift Show.  It was both a great show and a bad show.  It was great, in that I sold more product than I’ve ever sold anywhere.  I met a lot of great customers, gave out a lot of cards, and got some wonderful feedback on my products.  I learned a lot about what did and didn’t work for my packaging.  I got a banner for the booth, and learned a little more about display techniques specific to food, and got a handwashing station built.  I got easily transportable containers filled with necessary equipment for sampling food, and for administrative purposes.  I’ve learned a lot about the shelf life of my non-preserved food products (and it’s all good news…remarkably long shelf life for having no preservatives beyond sugar!)   On the down side, we spent more than we took in, largely because the show was insanely expensive to enter, and we had to drive about 100 miles each way to get there, one of us towing an RV, and the other of us making the trip twice in the same week.  I won’t be doing the show again, but it was a good experience.

So.  Coming up in 2012, lots of changes.  We have a greenhouse to start plants for the first time, so I’ll be out poking around in there earlier than I used to be.  We’ll be getting new chickens later in the spring, though we’ve nixed the idea of Blue Andalusians because they’re so loud and Jersey Giants because they’re kind of boring.  Still hunting Lavender Orpingtons!  We’ll be reconsidering the idea of a very small CSA locally, with a slightly different, non-subscription model including canned fruits and jams.  And we’ll be posting old-fashioned, small-batch, handmade foods to our website, finally!   The first up will be Cherry Almond Vanilla Jam, Ginger Peach Jam, Rhubarb Orange Marmalade, and Blueberry Lavender Jelly.  Very soon we will be producing another batch of our sold-out Pflaummenmus, which is a wonderful, lightly sweetened spiced German plum jam which has received rave reviews, even from some native Germans, which was enormously flattering and a bit surprising to me.

Looking forward to a great year with all kinds of changes on the food front and around the Homestead!

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Zucchinocalpyse is Nigh!

by Lisa Linderman on August 28, 2011

in baking,recipe

This is the time of year where you can’t leave your car windows rolled down, for fear that your neighbors will jam zucchini through the window and run away.  And if you hear the doorbell, you better get there before the person runs away and leaves a basket of orphan zucchini on the porch.  Unless you’re me.  For some reason, I can’t manage to raise prolific zucchini out here.  I tried planting three zucchini plants this year, just to have enough…and they turned out to be yellow squash.  Well drat.  On the other hand, I can honestly say to friends, “Yes, I’d love some!” when they offer me excess zucchini, so I suppose that’s my lot in life, to be the sink for others’ zucchini overload.

Why do I want zucchini in the first place?  I have to say, the primary reason is the following recipe.   It’s probably my favorite cake.  It’s moist, and not overwhelmingly chocolate, and has just enough orange to be different.  And did I mention that it’s moist?  Amazingly moist.  So good.  And crazy easy.  Anyone can do this, seriously.  You might find yourself wishing for more zucchini!  (Incidentally, one medium zucchini will generally suffice for the three cups called for.)

Chocolate Orange Zucchini Cake

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3 cups grated zucchini
  • 1 Tbsp orange zest
  • 1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbls fresh squeezed orange juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour regular bundt pant. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beat well. Add 1 tsp vanilla and the milk, beat well. Stir in the dry ingredients, mix until well blended. Fold in zucchini and zest and 2 Tbls of the orange juice.

Pour into prepared bundt pan. Bake for 50-60 minutes until a toothpick inserted halfway between the edge and the center comes out clean. Allow to cool.

When cake is completely cool, invert onto a serving dish. In a small bowl, combine the powdered sugar, orange juice, and 1 tsp vanilla until smooth and it drizzles easily. Pour glaze over the cake.

 

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Easiest Berry Pies

July 13, 2011

Strawberry season is either nearly over or completely over, depending on where you are in the country.  (We have maybe a week more here…got a late start this year!)  Raspberries are up next, then we’ll be into boysenberries, marionberries, tayberries, blackberries, blueberries…yum. I had so many strawberries this year, I made four batches of jam, [...]

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Great E-Scapes

June 29, 2011

Today was one of those days where I puttered in the garden.  “I don’t want to weed the garlic,” I thought. “Well, maybe I’ll just pull that one big weed.”  And I pulled it.  And it came out easily, and then I thought, “Well, maybe just one more.”  Before I knew it, I’d weeded all [...]

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Book Review – A Book of Bees, by Sue Hubbell

June 24, 2011

I’ve really enjoyed several of the books I’ve read by Sue Hubbell.  She’s a writer now in her 70′s, who was a librarian at Brown University until 1972, when she and her husband moved to the Ozarks to raise bees and sell honey for a living.  After they divorced, she stayed on and worked her [...]

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Happy Solstice, Hive Style

June 21, 2011

Today was the Solstice, and coincidentally it was warm enough to declare it Hive Day.  The bad news is, I woke up with a screaming migraine.  The good news is, I took a few painkillers, got an ice pack and went back to bed for a few hours.  By the time my headache was gone, [...]

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Rheum rhubarbarum.

May 25, 2011

Rheum rhubarbarum sounds like some character out of a bad space opera, but it’s the scientific name of rhubarb.  Just one of those weird little trivia tidbits that get lodged in the wrinkles in my brain, probably because I’ve always liked the sound of it.   And right now, rhubarb is on my mind! About 10 [...]

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We Have Achieved Greenhouse!

May 24, 2011

Some time ago I wrote about starting a greenhouse project.  The floor was complete on April 24th…of last year.  Then things happened and life went on, and the greenhouse project was abandoned for a while.  But now, it’s complete! It’s sturdy as heck, and quite a bit taller than I needed, but I can hang [...]

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Adventures in Cheese

May 11, 2011

One of the things I’ve been meaning to do for a long time is learn to make cheese.  It seems mysterious, but I know people who do it, and it didn’t seem so much hard as a wee bit complicated.  So when the Clark County Goat Association held a cheesemaking class for a mere $15, [...]

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Musings on Food Safety

May 5, 2011

Right now, I’m taking courses through the WSU Extension office to become a Certified Master Food Preserver.  Basically, it amounts to 40 hours of training and lots of reading, at the end of which I will owe a minimum of 80 hours of volunteer work passing on the information I have learned.  The purpose is [...]

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