Sunday, April 26, 2009

Cleared and bottled Raspberry Wine

Well, here is the finished wine, cleared and bottled. Red Raspberry on the left and Wild Grape on the right. They are really, really good now...just wait for the magic number birthday (1 year) and I MIGHT have a bottle left to try. Dearest hubby told me to hide what I didn't want gone. He keeps giving it away...without the understanding it needs the entire year to age. Oh, well...
I also bottled Apple Raspberry, which isn't shown. I was impressed that you can see the trees through these, and was so darn excited about it all that I ordered a Blackberry Cabernet KIT. I haven't made any from a kit yet, but it sounded intriguing. Supposed to be everything I need but the water and containers. It was. It is now in the secondary fermentor.
I have blueberry started (5 gallons) as well, and a smaller batch of blueberry pomegranite (3 gallons). Tomorrow I will start jalepena pepper wine (1 gallon batch), and Pineapple (also, 1 gallon), and maybe pineapple orange (1 gallon).
I gotta remember to keep my stuff on schedule, so I have empty fermentors and carboys when the rhubarb and dandelions come. I also asked the Milk Man's wife, Heidi, to save some barley at harvest in the fall, for a little barley wine. It sounds like I am getting carried away, but some of it doesn't work out, and some of it does. The raspberry wine was for someone else, and I only took a little for the supplies I used. The blueberries were from my late parents...10 lbs of them...and who can eat that much pie. We would all be obese. And how about the dandelions? There are so many of them just waiting to be plucked.
About that makes great pie, crisp, bars, custard, jelly, gets as bad as zuchinni. You know, you have to lock your house and cars in the fall around here, because if you don't the neighbors leave you zuchinni! Well, it's the same with rhubarb. Not that I mind, but a person needs to be inventive about ways to use all that bounty. (Incidentally, I have found a recipe for zuchinni wine, which I REFUSE to try. That seems to go a bit far.)
Well, the fam is in for supper, and of course it was a chore to do chores. Maybe a smidgen of raspberry wine and some good hot food will tame the savage beasts. Or not. Night all.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Jade, the Caique (Ky-eek)

Introducing Jade, my friends' Caique, who has come to live with us for a while. Jade's owner's husband is in the service and they are now stationing the family in either Germany or Italy. Both owners are already missing him, I am sure.
Here he is reaching for a peanut offered by my daughter, although it looks like he is waving hello, instead. He is really beautiful, and we feel pretty special that he came to live with us.

His new home is in my sewing shop, since that's where the action usually is. No sense in putting him in the house 'cause no one is usually in the house!! He already loves the sound of the sewing machines...I imagine it will be one sound he will learn to mimic. Here is one of his best front shots. He's really neat to look at and listen to.

So far he really only squaks and whistles and squeels. He is a bit upset at moving. Today, we moved his cage into the sunny window. I let him out and he went straight to the window and started whistling to the outside birds. Today, we made him very happy!

Here, he is turning his back on us. I am sure he is ignoring us, but it was such a pretty picture of his back and tail, I just had to include it!

Jade came with lots of toys including this great big wheel made of rope that he gets to climb on and swing from. At first, it freaked out my zebra finches, because I hung it between their cage and Jade's, but now they only freak out if Jade actually hovers above them. I would imagine he could hurt them in the wild, but this guy is really layed back and not very aggressive. He did pinch our fingers a bit 'cause he's somewhat upset...but not hard. He was testing the waters, like 6-yr-olds usually do. I guess they live for about 50 years, which is a great age! So, mid-life crisis should occur around 25, right??!!
Well, lots of love to Jade's owners. We will see you in three years!!! Now, that's a lot of bird sitting. I'll leave you with this silly thing I learned a long time ago, and Please don't be offended if you are from Long Island...It is supposed to be said in their accent...
The Poiple Boid
Dere was a poiple boid sittin' on a coib, choipin' and boipin' an' sayin' doity woids.
Along came Moitle and Hoiman, who woiked at da vinager woiks at toity toid and toid street.
Day seen dat poiple boid sittin' on da coib, choipin' and boipin an' sayin' doity woids,
and boy was day distoibed.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


It began as a glow in the sky to the west of our farm (We were on our way home from our daughter's spring concert, and it was about 9 pm). We wondered just exactly what was burning, so we drove over about 5 miles and came upon a huge grass fire...headed for the woods.

We turned off the jeep and could hear the crackle of the fire clear as day, and the flames started getting higher...

We were only there for about a half an hour, and the fire got MUCH bigger, and LENGTHENED out over more acres.

Below are before and taken a half an hour apart. Sorry about the double image, but my daughter was pretty excited.

Here are a final shot as we left. There were people out there, all over like ants, trying to fight this fire. This picture was taken about a half a mile away. The thing had at least tripled in size in the short time we were there. My husband and brother in law went back to see if they could help...Will try to supply after pics in the morning. Although there are no homes in the direct path of this fire, if it crosses the gravel road there will be. Pray hard for those fighting it and near it. The wind is picking up here...

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Righteous road rash

Before: Upright and confident 16-yr-old on his newly acquired yz250...Note helmet. Mom said this was required at all times. Although I cannot mend broken necks, lumps bumps and head injury will be drastically reduced.
Notice the pace dog, behind rather than in front!

After: He's goin' down, down, down...He tried to pop a wheelie, and, well, you know...


Left leg has severe abrasions and turning purple...Both brain cells still intact (mom thinks additional information was gathered).
Is there a moral to this story??? If so, please comment...

Friday, April 17, 2009

Milk Dud

Here is that little Milk Dud all cuddled up and fast asleep after an exciting day of Easter celebration. Thanks for having Easter at your house, Milk Man!!
I hope you enjoyed all the yummy leftovers, too.

And here is Itty-Bitty's kitties, now a couple weeks old. Their eyes are just opening.
Our cousin picked the middle one to take home when the time is right. The other two will likely turn siamese in color.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Baby kittens

New life at the farm means lots of trips to the barn to provide for the mamma and kids. Our Kitty, Itty-Bitty, finally popped. She ran out of the box to eat lasagna leftovers as she was in the process of having one kitten. Then, as soon as she was full of meat and cheese, went in the box and had 3 more. Notice her violet eyes. They are way prettier than dark blue. Lovely violet.

The kids checked up on her yesterday and found one kitten deceased, and the others Itty-Bitty had moved to a hole in the straw bales in the hay mow. Still reachable. We have an order for one baby kitten (from our cousin). We will try to keep them socialized so they are easier to give away when the time comes. Maybe she will take two!!!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The sugar bush

This might not be real interesting, but it is informative. I had my daughter take some pics at the sugar bush tonight when they went to unload sap...
Lots of neighbors take their sap to this sugar bush. Here we are backed up to the stainless tanks that will allow us to measure our sap. As it is unloaded, we also take a sample of the sap, which will be sent through a little machine that reads the sugar content.

The white PVC transfers the sap to the tank. At the end of the PVC is a sock that filters crud out of the sap as it gets dumped.

Here is the little reader that tells us the sugar content of the sap. This tells the sweetness. Much of the sap this year reads a 30:1 sugar content, so for every 30 gallons of sap, you will get 1 gallon of syrup.

This is Merlin's evaporator. First, he runs the sap through a reverse osmosis machine and removes a good share of the water, then he cooks it down and stores it in barrels. It's a sticky job.

This is where the sap comes out of the evaporator. It's really hot!! This is set up to automatically draw off the sap as it reaches the right time.

That is Merlin. He looses a lot of sleep this time of year. But sticky, sweet, and loosing sleep, it's a great job!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Sugar Snow

This is what we woke up to this morning, after a great muddy week here in Northwest Wisconsin.

This is called a sugar snow, and it gets its name from the timeliness of the event. We are Wisconsin Sap suckers, those of us who tap maple trees for their bounty of sap for Maple Syrup...This dusting of snow will boost the sap and actually tell the trees to give us more! It's a great event, even though we are tired of this white stuff. Kids got up and said, "oohhaww" which, roughly translated means they are equally sick of the snow.

I, personally, don't like mud, which is prevelant in the spring. The milk truck comes up our driveway and sinks, and makes ruts up to 18" deep. I am SO glad we don't have to deal with dirt roads to much. I tore the exhaust off my poor jeep last week! It is not fun. My sewing customers have had to walk up the driveway for a while now. Doesn't seem to phase them, however. Spring is indeed in the air.

Here are a few more pics, then it's off to Northern MN for the day. My brother lives in Milaca and he says there is no snow there. They are grilling out today. MMMMMM. Obviously I am NOT grilling out today...Or riding bike...I could make a snowman.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Wine racking 101

Hey all, been really busy and no computer for a while. Sorry. Well, here is the long-awaited wine racking procedure.

Here is my 5-gallon carboy full of raspberry-apple wine. Time to siphon it off and add stabilizer and sparkloid powder...

After I do this, it takes a couple weeks before I can bottle it. This is the 3rd racking, but the first time I have added these ingredients. This wine is nearly done, except for clearing and bottling. I had three kinds going at once this winter...Raspberry-Apple, Wild Grape, and Raspberry. I only got 3 gallons of raspberry, which I am actually making for a friend who has a longing for scratched arms and mosquito bites. And a passion for raspberries!

Here are the jugs of the other kinds. The wild grape is still working, and also the best tasting at this time. The one with the expanded balloon is the grape. I sometimes use balloons because it gives me a better indication of when the yeast is done working. When the balloon goes down, the wine is usually done. Here are the two wines, side by side. I have racked them and added clarifier and stabilizer, along with a bit more sugar. The wines I make are very dry. Most of the people in my hubbies family like sweeter wine, therefore I sweeten it up a bit. I was most successful at white grape and honey wine last year. I also made 2 kinds of strawberry, neither of which I liked. I didn't really know how to make wine last year, and I didn't add the right ingredients. Some of the strawberry exploded in the basement!!!

After adding the sugar, my grape wine started working again, and started bubbling. That won't last. Neither will this wine. Want some???

Too bad I can't sell this stuff! Against the law and all that. I did make some great labels, however, and included the alcohol content...13% by volume. Plus a warning about drinking responsibly, and returning my bottles!
I give all my wine away at Christmas, anniversaries, and family functions. The joy is in the making and the giving. Not everyone likes my homebrew, but they are just so used to the boxed garbage that their tastebuds have become immune to the good stuff. My husband calls it my "science experiment". He only likes it if he adds enough maple syrup to kill the taste. He figures it should taste like, Lord forbid, grapes, or strawberries, or fruit. I just told him to buy fruit juice if that's what he wants!!! Here is the finished product, although the clarifier and stabilizer make it a bit cloudy...

This doesn't show off anything special, just the raspberry wine bottled, no label.

It is just the leftovers from racking; the stuff that didn't fit in the gallon jugs, because I added a bit of sugar water to sweeten this wine a bit. We get to drink it tonight!

Here is the sludge on the bottom of the jug. This is the lees. It is the dead yeast cells.
Now, if you are ready to try this at home, here are a few sites you will find helpful. One is , where I get all my supplies. Very good place to purchase from. The other is , a great place to start looking at recipes.
Well, that is the extent of my knowledge. Everything gets better with time, including your ability to make wine. I am hoping to eventually bottle some and enter it in a contest. Or not.
Have a good time looking at those sites. You can get lost in there....

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

I am a new Auntie!!!!!!!!!

Introducing my newest nephew, Hudson Nathanial. Scott and Bhan's baby born 2/28/2009. He shares Luke's birthday, for all you geneology buffs and family members.

One of these days I'll get ambitious and post them all...there's been plenty...and they are mostly boys. What the heck; the Milkman's wife has that boy problem too. I grew up with a family that had 8 sons. Now wouldn't you think one of us girls woulda had something to choose from there??? No way. We had to go searching for our knight in shining armor. Thank heaven mine rode in on a horse*snicker*.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Kue Semprong (Crispy Sweet Rolls)

Well, what do YOU do on Sunday? Find someone who wants to bake, of course! This isn't just any baking day, however, it is part of my daughter's 6th grade Taste of the Hemisphere project.

Each student and partner pick a country, then make a the whole town and then some!! Yep, there are approximately 150-200 people who attend this event each year, held by our 6th graders. The students dress in the traditional clothing of their country, write a report, make a 3-D project, color a banner, present a flag, and of course...make some FOOD! The country we have is Indonesia and the food we picked is Kue Semprong, a type of appetizer. So, these are the ingredients, simple enough. Since we couldn't find any rice flour, we settled for cream of rice hot cereal and put it in a blender until it made flour. That part worked GREAT! Then, you mix that with the sugar. Then you add the beaten eggs and mix well. Next add the coconut milk and the cinnamon. It should be thinner than pancake batter, but not much.

Now, you have to figure out how to cook the darn stuff. Not a problem if you have the two-sided flat irons that are used in Indonesia, but the closest thing we come to that is a waffle iron, which won't work. You see, traditional Kue Semprong have etchings in the flat griddles and they work a lot like an over-the-fire sandwich maker, you know...for camping. So, I had a Hillshire farms iron skillet, and another with a flat bottom, and we compromise. I heated both equally on their own burners, so it was like an open flame, and ta-da! Instant sandwich maker. Watch as we make these yummy treats...
First, you have to heat the skillets, then spray the bottoms of each. Very important because you can't have this stuff stick to either skillet.

Then, you pour about 1/8 cup of the batter onto the skillet with the impression. I did a very bad thing here when I put the hot pad on the burner. NEVER DO THIS AT HOME. I actually used it under the handle of the 2nd skillet so I didn't burn my hand. Iron skillets get hot all over!

Then, you put the other heated skillet over the top. Look at the above picture and you will see the skillet heating on the other burner. Keep them like this for a couple minutes; if you did it right, they will brown, and the skillet's impression will brown onto the "sweet roll".

If your top isn't very brown, just flip it for 30 seconds or so and it will become browned. Flip it back and begin rolling it either on the skillet or on a plate. This part has to be done right away, because they cool fast and into whatever shape you have given them. They are usually rolled, like this:

Then, they are served whole, dipped in chocolate or filled with filling. Ours are plain, and we cut them in half. Our recipe makes 50, so I quadrupled it to make at least 200 "rolls".

Can you see the Hillshire Farms impression?

Traditional Indonesians' griddles are made with impressions that identify the maker. Here is the bowlful of bounty. They taste like cinnamonny corn bread pancakes, and I liked them better hot and soft, although cold and crunchy isn't bad.

Here is the recipe, in case anybody wants to have a go at it. For a first attempt we did rather well, and only had to feed one to the dog!! He likes them as well. LOL.

Kue Semprong:

9 1/8 oz rice flour

5 1/4 oz granulated sugar

4 eggs, beaten well

1/2 tsp cinnamon powder

1/2 can coconut milk

Mix the flour and sugar thoroughly. Add beaten eggs, stir well. Pour the coconut milk and the cinnamon into the flour mixture. Stir well.

Heat the cookie mold over a low flame, grease with cooking oil. Put a small circle of batter onto the mold and close the mold. Bake over a low flame on each side until browned, about 5 minutes. Roll it right away. Cool on rack. Makes 50 rolls.

Anyone who wants the original recipe and side notes, it can be found at

Listed under Kue Semprong

Happy Cooking!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Log cabin quilt

This is what I've been up to lately. As you can see, I haven't had time to blog much...but just look at the cool stuff I've been doing.
This is a log cabin quilt, all layed out and ready to sew together. All vintage fabrics from 1920-1975 or so. The pattern is "barn raising" and it is 6 pieces x 8 pieces. Finished without the fancy bindings it is about 60 x 80. Since I want it bigger, I will add at least 2, if not 3 complimenting bindings. The back will be the normal muslin. So...first I layed it out. Then, I started sewing it in strips. Then, I sewed the strips together to make the main part of the top.

I made 2 tops so far, and I have finally found the right color binding. One is gold, the other a
neat swiss dot in turquoise with gold, red, and orange itty bitty flowers. It looks vintage, so I'm thinking it will look good. Below is one of the finished tops with some of the fabric I THOUGHT looked good, but decided they just weren't right for the project. You know how that goes. Well, anyhow, I will put some pics up as soon as I have the bindings on and before I take them to the quilter to finish.
I have decided I like making tops, but not quilting, and the time it takes the nice lady to quilt it, I could have another top done. Right? Please tell me I'm right!
Today, seeing as how it's Sunday, I got to work on fun stuff, and I started another top. This time I made red centers, the traditional log cabin block, with some more vintage fabrics. I have enough to make another 3 quilt tops! The biggest problem is finding the right color and style fabrics to go with the tops.
Tomorrow I go and get two of the three tops I already gave to the quilter. I am very excited, 'cause they are the first quilts I have made for a very long time (years). I am determined not to be a quilter, but with all the scraps I have sitting around, it's hard to pass it by. I had fun on ebay buying lots of quilt books, as far away as Alaska. I have plenty of ideas now, just needing time to accomplish it all. I have lots and lots of custom orders in right now for motorcycle chaps and horse packs, zipper repairs and other custom items. I can't always spend that time having fun, you know, plus I have to take time out for the Milk Man's wife and sons. Well, it's time for some serious shut-eye. Chores, church, ham dinner, 90th birthday party, sewing, and supper. All just today. Yep, some serious shut-eye is due. 'Night all.