Sunday, August 19, 2012

2012 Canning and Fermentation

2012 was our first big foray into the art of fermentation.  We fermented 40 lbs. of cabbage and jarred more than 4 gallons of Sauerkraut.  The process was incredibly straight forward.  We started with a case of cabbage, and then we sliced it down and layered it in our crock with salt.  We added a small amount of salt brine to supplement the water in the cabbage to ensure all the cabbage was completely submerged.  6 weeks later we had Sauerkraut.

Next up is deli dills.  For this, we're fermenting 25 lbs. of pickling cucumbers in pickling spice, dill and vinegar diluted with water.  All of the recipes we're using are straight out of the Ball canning book.  According to the book, this process takes approximately 3 weeks.  We have one week remaining before we jar some to refrigerate, and jar others to can.

On top of that, we processed salsa verde, peach butter, peach BBQ sauce, peach salsa, and dilly beans.  Approximately 150 lbs. of food in total.  This year we got smart and set up our canning operation outside for the extra space and to keep the mess out of the house.  That's something I'll be doing again in the future.  The pantry is rather packed with jars right now.  It's a rather good feeling.

We're planning an Oktoberfest event in October to ring in the arrival of fall.  For that, we'll be serving the sauerkraut, mustards, a pickle plate, home cured ham and homemade sausages that are all homemade.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Goodbye Garage, Hello Workshop

You probably thought we had abandoned our blog this year.  We were beginning to think we had too.  Hopefully we'll do better in the coming months!

We've had this project on our minds since we bought the house back in 2007.  At first, we had some pretty lofty goals, but somehow time and DIY brought us back down to reality which is a good thing.  Our "garage" is really ugly.  It has no architectural features that match our house, and the building is quite large.  (800+ square feet to be exact)  We stopped using the building as a garage years ago when we removed most of our driveway to make room for the gardens, outdoor dining room and orchard.  It would be an impossibility to drive back to the garage at this point.  Instead, we use it as a wood shop, and for storage/projects.  For that reason, we divided the inside space into two sections, approximately 400 sq. feet each.  Recently, we officially removed the 16' wide garage door and have officially stripped the building of its "garage" roots.  The building is hereby officially deemed a workshop.

Step one for this project was to finish the space in front of the workshop where the old concrete driveway once was.  For this, we used recycled brick found on Craigslist several years ago.  As patios go, this one was pretty easy to install all things consider.  The only thing special about this project was installing drains to prevent water from standing on the brick and then running into the structure.

Next, we tore down the old garage door and framed it in for the doors and windows.  The windows are salvaged out-swing casement windows, and the french doors are another salvaged item.  The doors had to be cut down because they were taller than the existing header for the old garage door.  This presented a small challenge, but in the end it worked out pretty well.  Already, things are starting to shape up and look a lot better.  This structure has been a downright eyesore for years.

This project is far from done.  Our plan is to reside the front and North side of the garage that face our property.  For this, we will likely use a horizontal siding material like Hardie Plank and try to match the siding pattern on our house.  It is unlikely that project will get finished this year.  Once new siding is installed, we'll be ready to paint this structure to match the color scheme of our house.

This winter, we will be using the inside front-half of our workshop as a work space to strip woodwork and finish trim, etc.  Eventually, this space will be more finished so that it is multi-use.  We haven't exactly decided what the space will be used for, but ideas include an art studio, home office, bar, entertainment/dining room area, and maybe a little of all of the above.  Whatever the use, it'll be nice when this structure isn't a complete mismatch from the house, and is a little more pleasing to the eyes.