Friday, July 31, 2009

Scarlet Runners

So a while back I was talking with my mom about the garden and the subject of scarlet runner beans came up. My mom had never heard of them. It occurred to me that possibly other people have not heard of them as well. Well the plant below near my lovely wife is a half dozen or so scarlet runner vines twisting up an obelisk.

As you see below the beans can be quite prolific. We have been picking them young for fresh green beans. But now that the dragon tongue and borlitti beans are coming along we have been letting them get a bit bigger.

We discovered that the beans can be shucked out of the pods and boiled quickly. It takes a bit of work and the skins toughen when boiled so you still need to slip them from their skins but they make a nice addition to three bean salads.

And since they look so nice before they are boiled here is another picture of the beans before they are boiled.

And after all that they can be dried and used in soups and cassoulettes as well.
So there you have it. Scarlet Runner Beans.

Saturday, July 25, 2009


You ever have the feeling that you are starting to know all the steps and then suddenly find out you are not even dancing to the same song as everyone else? Me either, I don't dance but I imagine it would feel about like I felt on Friday when we discovered Burley Coffee.
Jess and I had gone into town to run a few errands. We decided to stop in at the Ferndale market and see what was new. We picked up a few things and as we were checking out Jess noticed a small menu card for what looked like a sandwich place. The name said Burley but otherwise it wasn't too descriptive. We had to explore a bit to find the address until we came to some buildings near the old malting plant. We found a small nondescript green building with few windows and a sign that read Burley Coffee. Inside we found a bustling coffee shop and deli sandwich place. We asked the girl at the counter how long they had been open and she told us since December. Honestly Cannon Falls isn't that big and I had not noticed a sandwich place and coffee roaster located right on the main drag! I am so slipping. I guess they are trying to avoid publicity for some reason but it is just the sort of place we would like to see in business so I am telling all of you.

As for the garden things are really coming along. Jess and I have been cooking a meal almost everyday directly from the garden. We had some hail last week and that set things back a bit but it wasn't too bad. Some of the toms got beat up and so did the big leaves but otherwise things are looking good. Even my experimental pumpkin seedlings are coming up.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Nocino part deux.

First you have to start with some walnuts that are still green. These are the nuts we gathered down at the Callister farm on Wednesday.You then quarter the nuts and trim off any bruised or damaged areas.

The next three pictures are of us making vin de noix. This is the first time we have tried it but we had so many nuts this year as a result of the Callister's generosity it seemed like a shame not to try.

By the way that is the wine that I racked to secondary back in March.

We made a carboy and a large container of nocino on Friday after work. We ran out of containers and had to go get more bottles at Ikea at the Mall of America Saterday afternoon. I won't do that again.

Below you can see the difference between the batch we made on Friday and the one we made this afternoon. You can see how quickly it darkens.

And here is the final picture of all the batches we got started this weekend.

I think people may get some nocino for christmas this year.

Saturday, July 18, 2009


A picture of the first major garden harvest.
And if you look close you can see our first 2 apricots! We had them for desert !

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Nocino step one.

Well today after work we went down to the Callister Farm in West Concord Minnesota to pick black walnuts for nocino. We met Al Callister this spring at a dinner put on by Slow Food Minnesota and got to talking about walnuts. He mentioned that he had too many and that they were a bit of a nuisance to him. We offered to help him by taking some off his hands for the making of nocino. We made arangements to meet him and his wife at their farm this evening. They were kind enough to give us a tour of their poultry growing and processing operations. After that it was time to pick the unripe walnuts. The apple pickers we purchased earlier this week worked great. First Al helped us to spot them and then Jess and I did our best to get them down. I think we picked for around an hour and we now have more than enough for the next step.

Here is last years nocino post.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Dinner last night

Last night Jess and I made a dinner almost entirely from the garden. We made Fried Kale salad again. I love the taste of Brassicas after they have been exposed to high heat. It doesn't matter if it is deep fried broccoli or pan seared cabbage I just love the taste of them all.
We also made a sort of a frittata meets pizza dish (Fritatza??) out of our eggs and Swiss Chard. We topped that with some Blue Cheese and Antelope sausage made by a friend. We finished the plate off with some steamed Runner beans with butter.

We are hoping for rain tonight but the radar doesn't look promising.
I am also attempting to direct seed some pumpkin seeds. Not sure if I am too late but I thought it would make a neat experiment to plant them into some of the mole hills on the north end of the property.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

We are back!

Well we took a quick midsummer vacation to the north western Minnesota lake country this weekend. We had a wonderful time. We enjoyed quite a few trips around the lakes. We looked at the homes and gardens and marveled at the castles. I was happy to see so many gardens with edibles planted. I notice vegetable gardens more these days. I am not sure if there are in fact more of them or if I am just noticing them more frequently. But either way I think it is good.
I also did a bit of fishing as well. I caught a smallish Pike and we poached it in white wine with lemons and red onions. It was quite good. I may have to try and catch more pike in the future.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Illegal Bees

Hope everyone had a great fourth and found some small way to be more independent. Things are moving along well here. All the plants are just loving the sunshine and heat. I started some direct sown cucumbers today. We will have to see how that works out. I also planted four Red Lake current bushes on Saturday. I also finally got my winter squash seeds panted on Saturday as well. That is a full 2 weeks later than last year. Well you do what you can and hope for the best.
The title of this post comes from an article I read last week that highlighted the move to legalize bee keeping in New York city. I think it probably should be legal as long as the bees are kept healthy and safely away from people. So here is a link to the projects web site. Check it out if you get a chance.