Tuesday, October 14, 2014

"Boss Mouse Farm to Table Dinner......."

Sue Kurta, of Boss Mouse Cheese (http://bossmousecheese.com), located outside of Kingsley, MI, hosted a "Farm to Table" dinner Sunday evening.  The dinner was set up in a huge old barn on her property.  Her smaller cheese making facility is also on the property, closer to the house.

As you can see in the photo, it was a beautiful evening, although a little cool, but a few propane heaters were set up around the interior to help temper the coolness, and we very quite comfortable.

Here is our hostess, Sue Kurta, thanking everyone for coming, and giving us a quick overview of the menu.  The young guy in the background is a neighbor of Sue's, who came over to help with the event.  Don and I had the opportunity to chat with he and his brother, who was also helping Sue, prior to dinner.  It sounds like the area would be a great place to grow up.....neighbor helping neighbor, etc.  ;)

Our chef, Michelle Rodriguez.......

Here is the menu.....

Don took a few photos of our meal.......the delicious soup......

A wonderful Boss Mouse Cheese and fruit platter......

And the delicious main entree'.......

We had a very nice time!  We sat with Sue's parents, whom we had met at the Grand Traverse Commons Colantha Walker Dairy Festival.  Sue was this years " Festival Queen".  :)  We also sat with some friends of Sue's who had driven up from the Detroit area.  It was a wonderful night of great conversation and food.  ;)

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

"Little Studio Deck Changes......."

Here is a photo of the little studio with the old deck.  We had planned replacing the little deck with something a bit larger (and less rotten!) with the "assumption"that the large round logs at the top of the steps were an integral part of the decks structure, but found that was not the case.  Nice looking as they were, it didn't make sense to continue having them as part of the new deck.

After Rick, of Soper Services (http://soperservices.com), had taken the moldy and rotten planks off of the old deck, making it possible to see the support structure, it was immediately understood that a new approach/design was needed in replacing the deck.  Don and I chose the more direct, and less expensive solution, going with a rectangular design.

Don cut down the White Pine that was growing too large/too close to the building, making a wider deck possible.  We also decided that once the deck was built, we would have Dave and Rick switch which way the screen door opened.

Using cement "biscuits" (a term I had not know before), the new deck now had a sturdy foundation that would not rot, as the old posts in the ground had done.

Yes, this new deck is definitely much safer!

It is true that it isn't organically shaped like the one it replaced, but we like the looks of it none the less.

Here is how it looks completed and with the screen door opening the opposite way from the old deck.

There is even room for a chair.  ;)

Monday, October 6, 2014

"Harvesting the Ginger Root....."

After planting a ginger root sometime in December 2013...........and waiting a few weeks before seeing these little shoots beginning to emerge........I made an effort to take "growth photos" every once in awhile.

This is a photo I took in late January 2014.  Am I jogging any memories?

Or how about this one from April 2014?  :)

Near the end of June it had been time to transplant the ginger plant to a larger pot before setting it out on the deck for the Summer.

This photo was taken almost 5 weeks later.  As you can see, it loved being outside in full sun!

The previous photo is the last one I had taken of the plant prior to harvesting, which took place a few days ago.  I figured with the continuing cooler outdoor temperatures, it was time.  This is what they looked like after I had taken them out of the their pot, having trimmed the leaves/shoots at soil level.

After letting them dry a few days, thinking the roots may need to "Cure" so to speak, I then took the hose and using the "jet" setting, washed the roots, bringing in the cleaned roots and placing them on the wood stove hearth to dry.

I separated and took a photo of what "I think" are the pieces of the original ginger root that I planted in December 2013.  I chose them because they had the darker, bark like "skin".  They still look completely healthy and may also be the root(s) that I choose to once again grow as plant indoors.

Here is a photo of what I presume to be the newly formed ginger roots, some of which are actually "double" layers of root.

I really did not know what to expect when I planted the original root back in December 2013, but "assumed" it would propagate itself similar to potatoes.  After trimming the leaves/shoots at potting soil level and dumping the pot over, I wasn't sure what I'd find.  As you might imagine after seeing the photo, I am VERY pleased with the results of this "experiment" and will soon start the process over again.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

"Spiral Apple Bread......"

I saw this recipe on Facebook.....Spiral Apple Bread.....and decided to try it.  Of course, with this photo of delicious looking bread, who wouldn't want to duplicate it?!


2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup warm milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cinnamon, ground
3 apples, peeled, cored, and sliced (I used Granny Smith.)
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon apple cider
1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted

Place flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and yeast in a stand mixer with the dough hook attached. Stir to combine.

In a small bowl add your melted butter into your warm milk. Then, with the mixer on low, add this mixture to the flour mixture until it forms a soft dough ball.

Knead with the mixer for about 4 minutes. Then transfer dough into a lightly oiled bowl. Cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm area for 1.1/2 hours or until doubled in size.

Punch dough down then divide into 2 balls. On a lightly floured surface, roll out each ball into an approximately 8 x 11-inch rectangle. Cut into 9 strips.
Lightly grease an 8- or 9-inch round pan. Starting at the center of pan, coil apple slices with dough strips into a spiral, pinching ends securely as strips are added.
Repeat the same steps for the other half of the dough. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise for 45 minutes. Toward the end of rising time, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.

For the topping, mix cinnamon and sugar together in a small bowl. Once the bread is removed from the oven, brush each loaf with melted butter and then sprinkle with the cinnamon and sugar mixture.

While the bread cools, melt butter in a 1-quart saucepan over medium heat. Stir in 1/4 cup brown sugar. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly; reduce heat to low. Boil and stir 2 minutes. Stir in cider. Heat to boiling; remove from heat. Cool to lukewarm, about 30 minutes.

Gradually stir powdered sugar into glaze mixture. If the glaze becomes too stiff, stir in additional cider, 1/2 teaspoon at a time. If the glaze is too thin, add more powdered sugar. Drizzle glaze over the bread.

So, after peeling enough apples to fill our dehydrator once again, it was time to begin prepping for the Spiral Apple Bread.  After mixing the bread dough and allowing it to go through its initial rising period, the dough was punched down, divided in 2, and rolled out using a rolling pi  Each rolled out piece was then sliced into several strips.  The spiral is started in the center of the cake pan with the end of a strip beginning to be turned onto itself, then apple slices are inserted between the dough strips.  Here is a photo of my end product prior to letting it rise a 2nd time.

After letting it rise, I then baked it, although I added an additional 5 minutes to the bake time.  Even with the additional time added, it still was not as golden brown as what I would have liked to see, but I feared baking it longer might have dried it out too much.  Immediately after taking it out of the oven, instead of following the directions about melting the butter and pouring it over the bread, I used a pastry brush and "painted" the bread with soft butter.  Of course, it melted almost immediately due to the hot bread.  The bread was then sprinkled with a mixture of cinnamon sugar.

This all took place after dinner and the bread needed to cool completely before adding the glaze, which brings me to this morning.  :) Having stored the cool bread in a pie carrier overnight, I made the glaze this morning and finished the last step of the recipe.  :)

Although I am saving it for later today, I decided I should cut a slice "just for the photo" (and yes, I slid it back afterwards!).  ;)  It looks and smells delicious, but "that" test will be later today.  ;)

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

"Don's First Riding Lesson Continued......"

After everyones help with getting Baby ready, Don was up in the saddle awaiting the next step in the lesson.

His stirrups needed lengthening, so with Julie on one side and Patrick on the other, they were adjusted to fit comfortably.

After he once again settled in the saddle and with adjustments completed, he gently nudges Baby into moving forward.

Baby is an excellent beginning riders mount as she smoothly follows Patrick around the riding arena.

Patrick then tells Don how to get Baby to move along following only his guidance.  Up until then, Baby had been basically following Patrick around the arena.

Don is then on his own in the arena with Patrick giving suggestions and advice from further away...

Don did an excellent job with following Patricks advice and soon had Baby riding in a figure eight pattern.

With his lesson over, Don spent some time talking with Baby and thanking her for a great lesson, while Patrick made sure her saddle and bridle were back in their proper place. ;)

Then Baby was led back to her pasture to join the other horses......

After Baby was safely in her pasture, Patrick went back to the barn to close everything up and Don joined Julie and Abigail in walking out in another pasture to get a closer view of some mares with their foals.

Of course, as they were heading back, the stallion and a mare also wanted some attention.  :)

We got into our respective cars and headed home, with plans to meet them in Traverse City at The Mackinaw Brewing Company later that afternoon for dinner to celebrate their 6th anniversary.  I KNOW!!! 6 years already!!!!  Abigail made us promise several times that we would meet them later. ;)

Sunday, September 21, 2014

"Don's First Horseback Riding Lesson........"

Julie and Patrick offered to teach Don how to horseback ride.  Don had ridden a horse back in 1969 when he went to Chile and Argentina after graduating from high school, but he had not been given any instruction.  Seeing those photos of him "back in the day" of him galloping along,  we're very fortunate he survived his first time riding.  ;)

Patrick puts a halter on "Baby" (behind "Baby", on the right), while Julie, Don, and Abigail look on......I am by the gate to the pasture taking photos and ready to open the gate for them to come out.  Crystal, a young pup and one of the resident Doberman's, runs around in the pasture.

After bringing Baby into the barn, Baby is cleaned up in preparation for putting her saddle and bridle on.  Don is given instructions on this aspect of horseback riding and then participates in getting Baby ready.

As you can see, Abigail participates as well.

I'm getting this look because I needed to move so Patrick could "pick" Baby's back hoof.  :)

Abigail and Grandpa Don at work......

Yep.....perfect example of our "no fear" Abigail!  She's letting Baby know where she is.......

Don wearing Patrick's riding helmet and enjoying a moment with Bella, young Crystal's Mom.

We have so many photos of yesterdays lesson, that I am breaking it into a couple of blog posts.  To be continued.......