Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Growing Oyster Mushrooms from Sow True Seed

     While we were visiting the Mother Earth News Fair, one of the top booths we wanted to visit was the Sow True Seed booth. Sow True Seed is a local seed company in Asheville, NC and sells open pollinated, Heirloom, and Organic seed. Sow True Seed is our favorite seed company and we are happy to support them. Planning on a buying a large bag of seed for a huge vegetable garden we started toward the booth. As we were walking we remembered that Grand already has enough seed to last us through the Zombie Apocalypse so we decided against the seed. When we arrived at their booth we saw a number of Mushroom Bags. We decided to buy the Oyster Mushroom Bag because it was the fastest and easiest to grow. We thought growing mushrooms would be a fun experiment. If you want to try to grow some mushrooms yourself  you can buy some from Sow True Seed. They have many other verities of Mushroom Bags along with Mushroom plugs that you use in logs.

     When we got home we cut six slots in the bag so the mushrooms could get out. Within a few days, we noticed small mushrooms growing out of one side of the bag. Grand filled a spray bottle with water and we sprayed them with water two times a day. The next day the mushrooms had almost doubled in size continuing their growth outward. This growth continued for a week before we decided to eat our Oyster Mushrooms. By this time, the mushrooms were very large. The largest mushroom we recorded was 2 1/2" wide. We cooked our mushrooms in a cast-iron skillet with a pat of butter over medium heat until they are lightly brown. Below are some pictures of the mushrooms growing and cooking.

Visiting with our friends from Sow True Seed at the Mother Earth News Fair. 

Oyster Mushroom Bag

Small Oyster Mushrooms on the second day.

Oyster Mushrooms on the fourth day

Oyster Mushrooms on the fifth day

Oyster Mushrooms on the seventh day.

Oyster Mushrooms lightly browned in a skillet.

Oyster Mushrooms (Top Right) served with Broccoli Salad (Lower Right) and Loose Stew (Left)

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Thanks to Lisa Kivirist and John Ivanko, we are having a Giveaway

     My sister, mother, and grandmother went to a program at the Mother Earth News Fair titled Launch a Food Business from your Home Kitchen presented by Lisa Kivirist and John Ivanko. After the speech, my sister wanted to meet the presenters. Meeting these people was life changing for her and we thank them. My parents also saw another program by Lisa and John titled Farmstead Chef: Organic eating on a dime. Below is some information about Lisa and John along with info on the giveaway.

    Lisa Kivirist is a the co-author of a number of books including Farmstead Chef, ECOpreneuring, and Homemade for Sale. She is also the co-owner of Inn Serendipity. She also does work for Freelance Writer, Midwest Organic & Sustainable Education Service (MOSES). She is a Kellogg Food & Society Policy Fellow and is working on a new book, Soil Sisters, which will be released January of 2016.

     John Ivanko is the co-author of a number of books including Farmstead Chef, ECOpreneuring, and Homemade for Sale. He is also an entrepreneur and innkeeper at the Inn Serendipity Bed & Breakfast and Farm, located in Browntown, WI. The Inn Serendipity is an off-the-grid hotel that powers its self, using wind and solar energy. The Inn Serendipity has a 5-acre farm surrounding it and can produce its own food. 

     These people are living our dream! We are grateful to them for supplying us with a free book to give to our readers. We are giving away ONE copy of  Homemade for Sale: Launch a Food Business from your Home Kitchen By: Lisa Kivirist and John D. Ivanko. To enter this giveaway comment below and you will be entered into the drawing. To comment as anonymous click on comment, then click on Comment As, and the select anonymous. If you comment as anonymous you must leave a name so we con contact you if you win. This giveaway will last THREE WEEKS from 4/14/15 to 5/5/15. If you have questions about this giveaway or would like to be notified when a winner is chosen please send a message to sweetsummerfarm@gmail.com. Check back Tomorrow on Tuesday, May 5, 2015, for a blog announcement of the winner.

A STOCK PHOTO of the book we are giving away

My sister meeting Lisa Kivirist and John Ivanco

Monday, April 13, 2015

Going to the Mother Earth News Fair

     We had a wonderful trip to the Mother Earth News Fair. Our day started like this.

     On Friday Night excitement was building and everyone were packing for the one and only Mother Earth News Fair! When we went to bed the excitement kept us awake. When we finally drifted off to sleep, the Mother Earth News Fair was in our thoughts.

     We woke up a little before 7:00 to get ready, pack the car, and head on our way to the Mother Earth News Fair in Asheville for the second time. Once the car was packed and we were loaded up we were ready to hit the road!

     On our way to the Mother Earth News Fair, we stopped for a breakfast picnic. We stopped at a rest area about halfway between Franklin and Asheville, when we found a picnic table and we sat down to a meal of pimento cheese sandwiches, fresh pineapple, and deviled eggs. There was a cold wind blowing, so next time I think we should bring Hot-Chocolate and Coffee. After our picnic, we continued on our trip.

     As we entered Asheville it seemed as if everyone was going to the Mother Earth News Fair.
Traffic was backed up for miles. It felt like we would be there forever!

     When we finally made it to the fair it was almost 10:00, the fair started at 9:00. We saw many of the exhibitors like the Green Life, Sow True Seed(http://sowtrueseed.com/), Northern Sun, and John C. Campbell Folk School (https://www.folkschool.org/). We thank the above exhibitors for letting us hyperlink their website. We also saw some programs that we really liked. There was a program called Mushroom Cultivation for Everyone by Tradd Cotter. There was another presentation called Launch a Food Business from Your Home Kitchen By Lisa Kivirist and John D. Ivanko. Meeting these people was life changing for us.

     Stay tuned for more exhibitors, presentations, animals, and pictures from the Mother Earth News Fair 2015, Asheville, NC!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Making Homemade Bacon

        When we get the farm we want to get some hogs for meat. we will feed them organically and non-GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) food. But for now we can still make bacon, besides there are very good places for bacon to go, such as in a bacon biscuit, in a BLT, even beside some scrambled eggs that our three chickens laid, but the best place for bacon is in your tummy! Here's how to make your own bacon! Before we get started I just wanted to say that bacon is not hard to make.  It does take time!!! Below is grand's recipe for bacon nirvana!

   Grand's Recipe For Bacon Nirvana
5 pounds pork belly, skin removed  
1/2 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup brown sugar, light or dark, or honey, or even white sugar

1-2 teaspoons celery salt or celery seed
1 teaspoon whole cloves
1 teaspoon whole allspice
2 or 3 broken cinnamon sticks
6-8 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons paprika smoked if you like

1-2 teaspoons of whole mustard seed

1. Rinse and slice pork belly into approximately one pound pieces. Remove skin with a sharp knife. If you like the rind on your bacon leave the skin on.

2. You are now ready to brine your pork belly. Mix all ingredients with one gallon of warm water. Stir until dissolved. Put your spiced gallon of water into a container that is big enough to hold all of your pork belly and spiced water. Place in the refrigerator and brine for 7 to 10 days

3. Remove pork belly from brine and pat dry. Remove any loose spices. Take your now brined pork belly and put on drying racks. Take a fan and make it blow on the pork belly. Move around occasionally. When the pork belly is dry it will feel slightly sticky. This is called the pellicle. This will help the smoke adhere to the pork belly.

4. Now you are ready to smoke the pork belly. Measure out a large handful of wood chips. Soak the wood chips if you like. We use apple wood chips, but you can use hickory wood chips or even cherry wood chips. After you have soaked your wood chips, take your pork belly and smoke for 6-8 hours.

5. Eat! Congratulations you now have bacon! Now fry your bacon. Place beside eggs or on a biscuit.

Grand's Hints

You can taste your brine BEFORE you put it on the pork belly. If it needs more or less of anything feel free. You don't have to make a brine! You can just mix up all the ingredients above and rub it on your pork belly. You can also smoke the pork belly for less 6-8 hours. It still gets a smoky flavor even if it is only smoked for 3-4 hours. Experiment and tell us what you like. Also, our smoker is an old dorm sized refrigerator. You don't have to smoke your pork belly in a smoker you can smoke it on your grill or in your oven, but the flavor won't be as smoky. One more thing, there are no bacon police. 
Future Bacon in the brine

Drying the pork belly

Our smoker is an old dorm sized refrigerator
Merlin the Corgi is standing guard

We use a hot plate, an old frying pan, and applewood chips to produce the smoke. 

Bacon out of the smoker

Bacon Nirvana