Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Scribble Picnic: Watch Out!...Camembert...Garden Update

"Don't disturb the water and it won't disturb you!"

When you're in the ocean, do you think you're on top of the food chain? Think again. I'm a big fan of all critters...even the ones in the ocean that frighten me! I think we humans are much more dangerous...but that's for another post! :)

This week's Scribble Picnic theme is Watch Out! Whenever I do a watercolour, I'm always influenced by water...I guess that goes hand in hand! This is an image I saw online and only realized after I finished it that it is also an album cover for the band Faith No More. I know this because that's Alex's favourite band and he was pleasantly surprised to see it! I enjoyed doing this painting. The only area where I didn't use water is inside the mouth because I wanted it to be dark and dangerous! Who knows what's been in there??? :)

So how have you spent the beginning of your week? I had time to start my Camembert!! (I'll do a full post this weekend on Rainy Day Cheese Making!) This was such an easy recipe to make, but it took a lot of different cultures which I'd been waiting on in the mail. At this phase in the photo, the Cams are draining in the "Camembert/Brie Hoops" as they're called. They are molds with no tops or bottoms, which allows the whey to drain evenly downward; but also I've read this is to help the Camembert (or any soft cheese) sink down and you avoid holes.

This is a photo after about 18 hours of draining in the hoops. They still need to drain all day today. Tonight I'll be salting them, and then they go right into the cheese cave for about 2 weeks until that "bloomy white" starts to form all over the cheese. Then I wrap them and continue to age them about 4-6 weeks. They should be ready by mid-November!! I need to increase my dog walking because we have a Cheddar, a Colby, a Dry Jack AND TWO Camemberts to munch on from mid-October through to the end of November!!! Oooh la la! :) Gotta get more vino! :)

Camembert for some reason, seems intimidating...but it's not at all. The Mozza was more of a struggle! I made bread and yogurt while I was making the Camembert too, I guess I had energy about tempting fate though...good thing the pets were all quiet so I could focus and not mess any of the three recipes up!

I used a sweet yogurt bacteria to make my Vanilla Yogurt and it turned out okay - a little tart, it could have been sweeter...I have to tweak the recipe a little next time, but some maple syrup saved the day.

Gardening News!!  I have TWO pumpkins! I had to cut down most of the plants because little did I realize, my poor pumpkin plants were infected with white powdery mildew. I read that this is due to way too much moisture and not enough sun - the perfect description of our summer this year. Anyway, I'm hoping the pumpkins will do okay despite that year I'll be more prepared.

I do have two more small ones growing, do you think they'll make it???

We have some funny looking cukes growing too, I can't believe they are finally growing though!

The tomatoes are sparse but turning red!

Another foggy morning walking the dogs on the mountain, you wouldn't know there was a forest and lake back there!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Jack's Birthday...Smoked Cheddar and Apple Fondue...YOP (Week 12)

Hi Everyone :)

Here is my Year of Projects update! I knitted another hat. You Ravelry people have created a monster !! :) I even did some more work on my Beach/Fall Cover Up. The weather is so nice I've enjoyed porch-knitting every day! :) I also found a Canadian based online yarn company and am happily waiting for an order of yarn and needles!! I can't seem to stop now! :) I want to make some socks and I have some fall decorative knitting in mind too! And I might make another colour for each of my moods, lol!!! :) 

All of my other projects have slowed down for now. No cheese making because I was waiting on an order, which I received on Friday! These are my Camembert molds.

And my Camembert moulds. :) This is my next cheese and if I have time this week, I'll make a few. Alex and I have some errands in the "big city" this week, gah....we hate driving to Montreal...but we'll grin and bear it. Heck, we'll even sneak in an authentic poutine while we're there to soften the blow lol! 

It was Jack's birthday yesterday!! Our little fella is eleven years old. We don't know his real birthday so we celebrate on the anniversary of the day we adopted him!

I made the Spoiled Dog Cake again and we cut a little piece for each dog after dinner. We have to cut Jack's up in small pieces or he'll swallow it whole!

The dogs wait patiently as Alex says "take your place"...they are ready to pounce as soon as he says "okay!"...the cake was gone in less than 7 seconds...I counted! :)

Alex and I celebrated four and a half years together last week too. :) I try to make a fondue once a month on our special day. This one was AMAZING...and perfect for fall. Smoked Cheddar and Apple Fondue. Wow...we had an apple cider with it, so nice! We had to go for a long walk after dinner to help us digest! One thing about Quebec...they do apples right. There are so many orchards here and a few spots that make ciders, apple ice wines and apple liqueurs.

The fondue called for Apple Butter so I decided to make some. I made it very bland since I didn't want any spices in it. It's just 8 apples (peeled, cored and sliced), tossed into the crockpot for 8 hours with a sprinkling of brown sugar and a pinch of salt. I blended it after and it made about 2 cups. Delicious! Since apples and pears are in season now, we're going to try to load up when we go out so we can store some...and so we can try making some apple and pear liqueurs!

The weather is PERFECT!! Each morning it's cool, around 10 degrees Celcius...when I walk the dogs up the mountain, it's been foggy every morning. I love it! Then the afternoons are hot and humid so I can sit on the porch and enjoy what's left of summer. I always take a photo of the lake to show you the view...

...and here is a photo from behind me. This is the top of the "Green Peak" where I live. It's nice that there are some benches there but unfortunately I often see cigarette butts and empty beer bottles. At least when I go early in the morning, there is nobody around.

September promises to be "Indian Summer" here in the Laurentians and I couldn't be more thrilled! My tomatoes are ripening on the vine finally! :)

Friday, September 15, 2017

Halloween On My Mind!!

Halloween is my favourite holiday! I just love the spookiness, the weather and the fun I make for us each year. It has special meaning for me in so many ways! Wanda from Got a Minute Or Two posted some lovely fall decorations so it got me thinking about what I'll be doing this year!

I've already got a bunch of new ideas. These were four of my five pumpkins from last year. My favourite was the Frankenstein. I didn't think I could pull it off, but it turned out really well! I don't think I'll do so many carvings this year...but I'm hoping they'll be my own homegrown pumpkins!

The fifth pumpkin was for my Grim Hollow scarecrow. I just noticed the snow on the ground...Eeek...too soon...I don't remember it snowing last year on Halloween...I probably repressed that memory lol!

I'm going to do something different this year though...maybe a Grim Reaper or some kind of zombie...

I made little coffins for treats for me and Alex.

And shrunken heads made of apples.

Lunch was a prosciutto head with coffin-shaped sandwiches and little egg men...actually it looked nice and creepy but Alex and I couldn't stomach the prosciutto lol...I went overboard on the yikes-factor lol!

Here's a close-up, pretty grosse huh?

Dinner was easier to stomach! I made "Boo-ritos" with cheese and chicken...and a cheese dip.

I even decorated our wine bottle!

Dessert was a double layer Jack Skellington cake. We had too much cake! The top layer was coloured with carrot juice since we can't handle food colouring.

I think we went through THREE of these last year, oh my....can I get away with saying we were fattening up for the winter lol???

I have so many good ideas for this year, but I don't know how I'll outdo last year's efforts! I still have Canadian Thanksgiving next month so I'm going to try to focus on that first! Do you decorate for holidays and make special dinners? I'd love to see pictures from my friends!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Scribble Picnic: Black and White and Poutine Night!

This week's theme for Michael's "Scibble Picnic" (follow the link for more wonderful art!), is Black and White. I'm fascinated with fairy tales - not the "happily ever after Disney" kind though - the real cautionary tales for children that were written in the 1600's and didn't usually end well! This is my Red Riding Hood. I did a big acrylic on canvas years ago with this theme but I wanted to recreate it with watercolour. I did use watercolour paint, but no water it's more of an acrylic style! It's hard to see, but I did add a wee bit of red to Red's hood and cape! This was really fun to do!

I got some curd cheese made this week so that we could have a poutine night. Still not squeaky though (more details on Rainy Day Cheese Making)...I have another recipe to try next time!

I made this poutine with breaded chicken bites and we made a homemade red wine gravy. It was really good! But we still have to perfect our poutine gravy! More tests will be needed, oh too bad huh? :) My cheese making has slowed down a bit as I wait for my new bacteria order. I'm waiting a little impatiently! It may only arrive in another week. One of the cultures I ordered is Penicillium Candidum. I find all of this bacteria stuff really interesting, that one is for the Camembert so that it'll form it's white coat!

By the way, I'm a Turophile. That is, by definition, a "fancier of cheese". Oh yes, I fancy the stuff alright! Are you a turophile too? :)

We are in a mini heat wave this week, so nice! The highs are in the 30's (high 80's) but the nights are cool enough to sleep well. The leaves are starting to turn too, it's a wonderful time of year! This is the river near our house. I pass this every day when I walk the dogs.

I mentioned that a lot of my tomatoes have been falling off the vine before ripening. I read a trick that you just put them in a window and they'll eventually turn red, well, they did! I picked some lettuce too so tonight will be some kind of salad. We also have a nice yellow lemon! I LOVE my garden! I'm just so sad it's nearly done for the season!

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Cheese Cave Is Filling Up! Winter Garden and Year of Projects Update (Yop Week 11)

Hello Everyone!

I hope you've all had a nice week and a lovely weekend! Things have slowed down a bit here. I didn't make ANY cheese this week - GASP! Actually as I type this, I have some curd cheese ripening for tonight's poutine! :) I ordered a bunch of new cultures to make new cheeses, I can't wait to try them out! My next attempt will probably be a Camembert! I can't wait! But I wanted to show you my cheese cave...aka the old bar fridge. I have SEVEN cheeses aging!! How exciting! (I posted a more detailed update on Rainy Day Cheese Making).

I did have eight cheeses aging, but we decided to try the Mozzarella on Pizza Night! My little aging experiment really turned out well. I aged this Mozza just for a week but it really changed the texture into a cheese that was easily grate-able. It melted perfectly on the pizza and tasted wonderful!

The two Cheddars were finally dry enough to seal. The one on the left will be aged for a year and the Newcastle Cheddar on the right...well, we'll try to wait until Christmas!! :)

Garden Update: I spent a few days in the garden this last week. I had to move my Morning Glories...they just haven't even bloomed yet, oh well. The tops look healthy but the bottom of the plant is very dry and brittle. Not sure what happened there but I do hope I get some flowers before winter!

One of my projects for the year is to plant a winter garden. I'd been doing lots of reading up on what crops can handle cold climates.  So I got to work on a very muggy but warm afternoon!

The two spots I have planned for the winter garden are on either side of the porch. These are the best areas because they are protected from the North wind plus they are on the South side of the house so they should get lots of sunshine and warmth! I planted carrots, Brussels sprouts, beets, turnips and green onions on one side. Then I planted Miners Lettuce, Corn Salad (M√Ęche), Leeks, Mustard Greens and Spinach on the other side. This is yet another first for me, so I'm hoping with lots of mothering, my winter garden will give me some freshness throughout our cold snowy winter. They are currently protected each night under poly-tarp until I can manage to build two cold frames. I didn't plant too much since it's my first winter garden. If things work out, I'll plant more next year.

I ordered some garlic bulbs to plant as well as a bunch of seed packs for the spring. I'll be planting the garlic at the beginning of October for next year's harvest. I also plan on planting some of my favourite lettuce too...but somehow grow it indoors without grow lights...more to come on that! :)

Knitting Knews: :)  I had to make an extension to the neck band for Jack's sweater. It started to stretch a little and fall down to his shoulders. I'm hoping this will keep it all up and comfy for him!

Enjoying the fall weather with his "twin" Marlene - joined at the hip!

Here is another non-planned knitting project: I finished the "Man Hat" as suggested by Farmgirl Sam, who is a great inspiration to me! It's a nice pattern, very easy! I'm going to knit another one for myself because it's just a wee bit loose on me. I know I'll get a slap on the wrist for this, but I NEVER check my gauge (and you can't make me!)...but it does make for adjustments and sizing surprises now and then! Still, I'm really proud of myself, despite the double-pointed-needle-stress at the end lol! I'm very happy I joined the Ravelry group. It's really got me knitting again! 

Bargain Hunting!!!  Alex and I spent last Thursday hitting the thrift stores, what a haul we got! I've always wanted a Raclette machine, but they are a bit expensive. We got this one for $6 and we tested it, it works! I can't wait to melt some cheese on way to add melted cheese to my life, go figure.

I also scored on cookbooks. It's not easy to find English books in this area, but I guess some Anglophone was generous lately with the thrift stores and I snatched them all up!

This book was a great find! I love all things Halloweenie...and we got some  board games for fun too...we are building a huge collection of those! The gal on the "Yum" board game seems to be having fun! :)

We got a duo of blankets and barware too. And we only spent a total of $27 so it was a nice treat!

But honestly? Being out in really takes its toll on us. We spent most of the day Friday in bed watching movies and putting our new little liqueur glasses to good use! Living a hermit life is exactly what we love...but when we need to get out into humanity, our bodies and minds are never prepared for it! I don't know that I'll ever be comfortable around people again...but somehow that doesn't really bother me. :)