Archive for the ‘blanching’ Tag

0912-2014 Journal Entry – The First Fall Update!   Leave a comment

Today will be a general update on a few of the useless things I’ve been doing or trying to do.  I’m happy to report that the highchair restoration has been completed.  It was a relatively simple project that took only a week to accomplish.  The last posting on the chair had me sanding my heart out to remove the old layers of paint, stain, and shellac.  Once that was completed I then pulled out my handy-dandy Dremel tool and wire brushed all of the hinges and other hardware. Fortunately I was able to remove almost all of the corrosion.

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I discovered quite by accident that this highchair was made from an assortment of woods glued together and painted.  This made my staining job a bit more difficult but I persevered. The results were satisfactory but not as good as I’d hoped.  Once the stain was on then came three coats of a good polyurethane and a few days to let it dry. 

I installed the new modified safety straps which put me one step away from completion. The toughest part of the project was finding the proper decals for the chair.  The original had some sort of cutesy puppy on it which I immediately sanded away.  A little too lame for me or any kid who might eventually be using it. After visiting a few dozen websites and a few actual retail stores I found two  stickers that I felt were acceptable. I installed them yesterday and officially declared this project complete.

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Now to the garden which is slowly coming to an end. I harvested the remainder of the kale yesterday.  I picked the plants, cut and cleaned the leaves which left me with a large bag full.  The process included washing the leaves twice, blanching them all in boiling water, dropping them into an ice bath to stop the cooking process, and finally a last thorough washing.   A spin dry in the good old Salad Spinner and it’s into the vacuum bags and then the freezer. The process took a little longer than I liked but it’s important to keep the food as clean as possible at all times.

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‘In the Garden’

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‘In the Wash’

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‘Into the Freezer’

Another week and I’ll start the final cleanup of the garden to get it ready for winter. That includes removing all of the fabric from the frames and composting the entire garden with three or four inches of prime compost.  Once that has been rototilled in I can concern myself with the remaining yard cleanup and storage of all lawn furniture and equipment for the winter.

Just another slowly fading Summer week here in Maine. 

07-31-2014 Journal Entry–Herbs ‘R’ Us!   2 comments

This Summer continues and of course the garden related tasks keep right on coming.  With a break in the rainy weather I thought I should begin harvesting and drying some of the herbs from the garden.  This summer’s abundance of rain has caused the herbs to grow like never before. 

I learned a lot of what I know about herbs from my later mother who had a world class green thumb and could grow damn near anything. Herbs were no different.  Over the years I’ve collected a small library on growing herbs and their many uses both culinary and medical.  I’ve always maintained an herb garden and use them in almost every dish I prepare and eat.  I realize that many of you recognize the names of herbs but have never actually seen the growing plants.  Here’s a shot of what Oregano looks like in bloom. The blossoms are beautiful and can be used to enhance the presentation of any kind of pasta dish.

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I’ll guide you through the drying process as best I can so please don’t get too bored.  First I cut a collection of chives from a number of areas in the garden as well as an armload of Oregano for drying.

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The part of this task I dislike the most is cleaning weeds and other debris from the herbs. It’s a pain but must be done meticulously.  I do meticulously really well especially when it’s concerns something I’ll be eating.

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A quick blanching and a dip into ice water helps kill bacteria and maintain the bright green color.  A quick chopping and then it’s off to the dehydrator for drying.  Tomorrow I’ll remove it from the dryer and package the herbs in airtight containers for storage.  This should supply us with excellent flavors for our meals in those cold and nasty months of January and February.

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I’m sure that by the end of the summer I’ll complete this process at least three more times with the Tarragon, Sage, and Parsley.  The entire house smells of fresh herbs when their drying and I love that.  Someone should come up with a room freshener like that instead of the everyday run of the mill vanilla and spice.

I’ll continue this posting in a day or so with a few photos of the finished dried herbs and the veggie mix the better-half is preparing for canning later today. This pace will continue for another four weeks or until every thing is dried and canned. Then we can kick back and enjoy the late summer and Fall activities. It’s the best time of the year here in Maine with dozens of festivals being held on the weekends. We  Mainer’s do our best to make the most of the Summer and Fall  seasons because they just don’t  last very long. 

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