Our Epic, Family Road-Trip

Sometime around St. Patrick’s Day, I bumped into a Facebook post comparing a lovely little corner of the world to mother Ireland.  It resonated with me, seemed to be such a wild and beautiful place that I looked further.  It became clear that this place – green and rural, small-town and snowy, full of lobsters and Irish moss – might be the place for me to retire to when the time comes…..and thus began the plan for the ‘Epic, Gardner Family (minus one that hates riding in the car) Road-trip’ – – almost 8,000 miles to Prince Edward Island Canada.

Last night we booked the anchor property – the place we will stay for 7 nights – a charming 2 bedroom home located in Historic Downtown Charlottetown. It is a five minute walk to the shops, restaurants, and theatres Downtown Charlottetown has to offer. The historic Charlottetown Waterfront and the Charlottetown Event Grounds are only minutes away.

…..and so….the adventure begins.

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Our Cider Mill is finally Home – and in Need of Repair

Almost 20 years ago, we found a beautiful, old cider mill and press that someone wanted out of their backyard.  We offered them $85.00 and managed to get it into the truck and home.  We cleaned it up and it lived inside for a few year (mostly in the way), eventually making it out into the garage when our apple trees got big enough to make pressing viable.  It was still in the way so we made the decision to lend it to an environmental learning center in a neighboring school district until we had a better place for it.  We would take our apples there to press, they could use it for their harvest celebrations with kids, and they would see if they could find someone to fix the legs which were deteriorating.  Severl years on, we have never been able to coordinate getting our apples there, the kids love it, and the repairs have not happenes, if anything it’s worse (not their fault, just happend) so we’ve decided to bring her home.  What follows will be posts of our attempts at fixing her up back to the glory something that beautiful deserves.  This post will be the “before”.

Lovely May Weekend

We had two days in a row with breaks from the rain……time to head outside and do a little gardening.  Yesterday was errands day, and then I was, I must admit, a little lazy.  Today, I was up with the sun, cleaned the house, straightened the refrigerator, and tended to the dairy chores.

I made…..

  • Viili Starter Culture (5200): A Finnish yoghurt variety, Viili is very mild and creamy, with a fairly thick consistency. It’s a versatile favorite that’s perfect on its own or in any yoghurt recipe.
  • Matsoni Starter Culture (5202):  Matsoni, from The Republic of Georgia, has a thin, custard-like texture with notes of honey. Its flavor is the most “yoghurty” and is a popular choice for frozen yoghurt.

I haven’t tried these cultures yet.  They incubate at room temperature and don’t require a yoghurt machine.

There was also……

A batch of the yoghurt I typically make, started from a store bought yoghurt.  This one I scald the milk to 175 degrees, cool it back to 115 degrees add the starter yoghurt and incubate for 5-6 hours.

The jar to the left is culturing milk kefir and the others on the right are cultures of crème fraîche.  The batch closest to the yoghurt maker is cream, the far right jar is milk.  Both were heated to 85 degrees before some crème fraîche starter was added.

I also find it hard to pass up butter making in the spring when the cream is so bright yellow from the new grass.  I had a little over 1 quarts of cream, and now I have a nice bit of delicious butter and a jar of buttermilk for cooking.

After the morning chill burned off, I made my way outside to put in the start of my new herb garden.  I’ve tried several spots around the house and they are either too far from the kitchen, too prone to being taken over by quack-grass or too close to too much dog hair.  I decided to try the bed in front of the garage.  It’s close to the front door, has a sidewalk acting as a quack-grass-barricade, and is protected from dog fur by the garage.  It also seemed to winter over my tiny Bay Tree and a Thyme plant from last summer when all of the others frozen in our record cold spell.

I put in fennel, dill, variegated oregano, green oregano, thyme, and sage. I was also able to pick up some violas last week on clearance for $0.40 so I added them to the window boxes of lettuce and nasturtium.  In addition, I potted up a clearance lavender and a pretty little lemon scented geranium.

The potatoes I put in a week of two ago have started coming up in the galvenized tub.  It will soon be time to add some extra soil.

 

 

Its beautiful and green outside.  The perfect time to add a little green inside the kitchen.  Fresh herbs and cress are tasty and beautiful.