Canning Tomatoes – Fall 2009

I like tomatoes, but there is no way that I can eat all the fresh tomatoes that I have, so it’s time to test out some more of my canning skills.

I put off canning the tomatoes from the garden for a while now. Since I had a very tough time finding citric acid. But after a little bit of searching on the net, I found out that a lot of homebrew websites carry citric acid. I swung by my local homebrew shop and sure enough they had 1 lb bags of citric acid in stock. So I was back in business. Continue reading

Garden Pictures – End-September 2009

I haven’t posted any garden pics in a while, so here is a giant dump of pics from the past month.

On a side note during a random conversation with my next door neighbor who works on a organic CSA farm. We started to talk about my backyard garden and I was telling him about some of the disease issues that I was having with my tomatoes. And he was telling me that some of the seeds that Lowe’s was selling this year were infected with powdery mildew. And in an unrelated conversation my mom was also telling me about disease issues with tomato & cucumber plants this year. Continue reading

Canning a batch of Pickled Jalapenos

For some reason this year, I’ve grown all these jalapenos, but I’m not really in the mood it eat multiple pounds of jalapeno poppers. So instead of making jalapeno poppers I’m going to cut the jalapenos into rings and try to pickle and can them.

There is just something about canning/pickling that really interests me. Maybe it has something to do with preserving and enjoying the bounty of the harvest year round. Plus if I’m going to grow some of my own food, I don’t have the heart to toss any of it on the compost pile. Yeah I leave some of the harvest on the vine for nature to take their share, but that doesn’t mean that they have full reign of the garden. Continue reading

Made First Batch of Hard Cider this weekend

Its that time of the year again. With the fall harvest fast approaching, so it could only mean one thing. Time for fresh apple cider! And with fresh apple cider, it means that its time for me to make some hard cider!

Since the local homebrew shop that I use doesn’t carry White Labs (long story from the owners), my only other option was a Wyeast Sweet Mead smack pack or Red Star dry yeast. So I ended up going with the Red Star Premier Cuvée dry yeast (PDF datasheet), since I’m looking to make more of a dry cider instead of a sweet cider. Continue reading

What time is it? Bloody Mary time!

Every once in a while I get a craving for Bloody Mary’s, the last fix was during the Forth of July this year. I don’t know if it’s the spices in a Bloody Mary, or the vitamins in the tomato juice. But when I want one, I’ve got to have one.

Since Bloody Mary’s are made with tomato juice, V8 or Clamato I automatically place the drink in the exotic drink category (even though tomatoes are technically a fruit and not a vegetable). But other then that horticultural peculiarity called the tomato, I still find the drink a little bit hard to understand. But slowly I’m coming to grips with the whole concept. Continue reading

Yeast separating the dry stout

One tip on separating yeast in the fridge, don’t let it sit in the fridge overnight. Since the yeast in suspension will eventually settle on top of the trub. It may look pretty cool in the growler, to see all the gradations of trub and yeast. But all it does is forces you to start from scratch, putting everything back in suspension. The lesson I learned is don’t rack beer at 1:00 am, since more then likely you won’t be up at 4:00 am to separate out the yeast in suspension from the trub.

Shop-vac back in action

All it took was less then $4.00 in parts from Radio Shack, and my Show-Vac was back in action. It cost me $1.69 for a thermal fuse, with a 129C limit/10amp rating, and $2.19 for a bag of mixed bullet electrical connectors. At first I thought about just hard wiring the fuse to the circuit. But if the fuse blew up once, more then likely it will blow up again. So I might as well make my life easier, and wire it up using bullet connectors. That way it will be easier for me to swap out the thermal fuse in the future.

This Shop-Vac almost turned into the proverb about “all for want of a nail“. But it helps that I have at least some technical knowledge to get me out of a jam. I would categorize this situation as only a small jam, hence only about an hour or two of time invested into this project, and now I’ve got my Shop-Vac back up and running.

Add one more item to the broken list – Shop-vac

And the hits just keep on rolling.
I set out some time tonight to finally vacuum and mop the whole house. And while I was vacuuming my bedroom, which by the way is the only room in the house with carpet, my Shop-Vac stopped working out of nowhere. At first I thought that the extension cord had gone bad. After that was ruled out, all I had left to troubleshoot was the Shop-Vac itself.

After the instruction manual left me wanting, I turned to a couple of online forums and my worst suspicions were confirmed. I ended up blowing the thermal fuse that is all the way inside the motor housing. As you can probably tell from the exploded view below, you really have to take apart the whole shop-vac to get to that little part. Luckily I think that I may have found a replacement thermal fuse at Radio Shack (always saving me in an electronics pinch). So all I have to do is swing by the one that is a couple miles from my house, and pick up a replacement fuse. Wish me luck.

Potato Chip Review – Wavy Lay’s – Au Gratin

What can I say other then the suspicions I had with the Wisconsin Cheddar Lay’s have been confirmed when I finally re-experienced Au Gratin Wavy Lay’s. Other then the obviousness of these being wavy cut chips versus the flat cut on the Wisconsin Cheddar. The flavors are pretty much the same other then the Au Gratin having less cheddar overtones then the Wisconsin Cheddar version. Surprisingly I actually prefer the Au Gratin to the Wisconsin Cheddar, since I really don’t care for the pronounced sharp cheddar cheese flavor on the Wisconsin Cheddar. But hey, to each their own.

Showerhead Watering Wand

I’ve been thinking about getting a watering wand the last couple of years, but all the models that I see in the store suck. They are either made with cheap parts (e.g. plastic valves), or they add crazy bells and whistles to jack up the price (e.g. swiveling heads and/or heads with multiple spray settings.)

So I thought to myself “I can make a better watering wand.” So I put on my thinking cap to come up with some ideas to make a watering wand. And I kept stumbling on the actual sprayer head itself, since all the wands in the store have special sprayer heads. I did a little bit of searching online, and I found one guy online that made his own watering wand. It turned out good, its just that he already had a sprayer head from a broken watering wand, so that really didn’t help me out since I didn’t have an old watering wand to steal parts from.
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