Kitchen Science

Science in the kitchen:

IMG_6510My SCOBY (symbiotic community of bacteria and yeast) that gives us water kefir.  Yummy !

IMG_6509More yeast in action, Maillard reactions, and a bunch of other chemistry (aka bread).

IMG_6512An emulsion of cocoa butter, avocado oil, beeswax and water. Yes, you can make your own moisturizer !

You Can’t Please Everyone


I was actively soliciting rain yesterday so that I wouldn’t have to water the garden. Well, nature delivered –  in quantity ! It seems like we’re in for another stretch of cool weather. The tomatoes alas, will likely be staying green for longer. When it comes to weather you just can’t please everyone in the garden. But, when you diversify what you are growing usually somethings will do well. At the moment, the beans are particularly happy, so I’ve started making some lacto-fermented dilly beans. They’re awesome, and good for the tummy too ! Last year we tried dill pickles, and while our pickling cucumbers are still small, I found some at the farmers market so I could get more batches in this year.

PS: I use horseradish leaves in all my pickles so they stay nice and crunchy. Grape leaves also work, and possibly raspberry leaves, although I’ve never tried them.

Virtual Garden Tour

Yes, there are all kinds of things I’d like to be writing about the garden. But, I’m so busy IN the garden. Some pictures I managed to snap …

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More flowers …

Bee Happy !


Our alternate leaf Dogwood was flowering the other day, and was just humming with bees. It has a heavy pollen load and was particularly popular with the smaller native bees. Some bumble bees were around, but few honey bees.  I thought I’d try a bit of a photo survey of the bees that were out and about on some of the plants that are in flower right now. Some I could identify, a few I’m just guessing at.

IMG_4232Sweat Bee (Halictidae, Halictinae, Halictini): Augochlora pura ?




GUESS: Leaf-Cutting Bee (Megachilidae, Megachilinae, Megachilini)


An Impersonator: Syrphid Fly

I love seeing the big queen bumble bees at this time of year. They’re so big you can see the down draft from their wings kicking up particles from the ground or moving leaves. And the honey bees, well they just have their heads in the flowers !


Bumble Bee (Apidae,Apinae, Bombini) on Red Clover


Bumble Bee on Wild Black Raspberry


Honey Bee (Apidae, Apinae, Apini) on Comfrey

Garden Update Spring 2014

It was a cold winter and this spring has been a steady but seemingly slow climb towards warmer temperatures. The garden is in pretty good form so far and I was busy in early May planting fruit trees and bushes. Woo-hoo !! We now have four trees: peach; plum; apricot; plumcot. Also, two chum bushes and six black raspberry canes were added. All came from Whiffletree Farm.

IMG_4290In the photo you can also see another spring project; my mini Benjes Hedge. It was a great way to use the trimmings from a large Manitoba Maple on the property. I hate to loose any organic matter ! I’ve planted some climbing nasturtiums along it which will hopefully lessen the number of stares from passers-by.

We’ve already started enjoying a few pickings from the veggie garden. Radishes, baby Red Russian kale, cilantro, multiplier onions, rhubarb, as well as herbs have been gracing the table. Peas are looking promising and should be bearing in a few weeks. The heat lovers have been put in as starts (tomatoes and peppers) or direct seeded (cucumbers and zucchini). Spring turnips have lots of greens but are a bit slow bulbing up. I suspect the phosphorous levels in the soil still aren’t ideal. The garlic, despite a slow start, is being its usual dependable self. We almost made it through the year with our home grown garlic, but fell short by a dozen or so heads. This year I hope to have more than enough !