I've moved!

I've moved this blog here: http://substances.tumblr.com/

I find the tumblr format easier to update on the fly.. hope you like it to!

the cure

Surprise it's me! I've decided in 2011 among other things, I'm going to make more of an effort keeping up with this blog. Since lately I've been experimenting more and more in the kitchen, the content will be dedicated more to that subject. Sorry if you were looking for something else but hopefully I can keep it exciting. So let's start this off with something fun. The Cure! You love Robert Smith? Fantastic. Me too! You love olives? Even better. Me too!

Curing olives is surprisingly easy. The hardest part may in fact be finding uncured raw olives to start. As it turns out there is an abundance of olive trees bearing fruit in our neighborhood but alas I didn't find them until it was past (what I thought) was olive season. As I understood olives ripen around mid to late October but lucky me this week at the farmer's market one of the vendors was selling olives for a mere $1.20lb! I bought right around 3lbs which in hind sight wasn't that much, probably 4 mason jars full.

From what I understand there are two main types of curing, dry or wet. The dry cure, essentially leaving the olives out in the sun, results in the super wrinkly black olives of which I'm not a fan. Thus I decided to go with a wet cure. With a wet cure you have 3 options, water, brine or lye. LYE! Yeah I'm scared of it too because did you see fight club? Lye is however the preferred method because it has the ability to produce the best tasting olive. Lye keeps the olives green and renders a better flavor. You do however need firm green olives with lye or otherwise they have the potential to get mushy. I separated mine out into green and not-so-green and have saved the best for lye. I've ordered some food grade lye and I'll be updating next week on that. Wish me luck.

Now what you see above are the not-so-green olives in a water bath. I read to speed the process you could smash the olives which I have done with the jar on the right. The water is already more murky than the olives on the left which I just sliced with a knife. T hey will stay in this bath for 1 week to 1 month depending on the olive and our patience, after which they will go in a brine with herbs and spices of my choosing. Excitement!

Up next, cleansing and why Dave and I love to punish ourselves in the month of January.

Heather #2

It seems the bees didn't waste much time raising a new queen. We opened them up today to see how things were going and low and behold there was a new gal in charge. Above is a photo of her. She's different from their others in her long torso which helps her lay the eggs down at the bottom of the cell. You can also see all the brood (larvae) around her... she's been busy.

Speaking of busy, while we were inspecting the bees someone else was busy making a mess of the string...

queen me.

Apparently raising bees is not as easy as one thought...and by one, I mean we. As is turns out our bees have been very busy. Busy making honey and busy doing other things, like raising queens. We were told that bees make queen cells when they are feeling cramped or when the queen is past her prime. Since our bees were neither of these things we thought we had nothing to worry about. Our bees had new digs with 20 new frames to work in! They had only built out a little under half of those twenty so they were in a small 2 bedroom working up to a mansion estate. Also they were with a new queen. They had only swarmed to our place with the newbie (who we call(ed) Heather) two months ago so again, no worries here. Oh how wrong we were. Today when we opened up the hive to inspect we found 7! opened queen cells and one capped. Also a hive that was around half the size of its former self. Ughs. Our bees as it turns our are just a wee bit needy. We've called the professionals in the area to try and figure out what went wrong, but in the meantime I've posted some photos. How many queen cells can you spot? Try not to be distracted by the full frames of tasty dripping honey.


Tonight via skype..

D: Did you watch Glee tonight?
Me: David (exasperated).. there is no Glee in Canada.

honey do

It was last Saturday morning that I walked out onto the porch and heard a faint buzzing sound. There were at most 3 or 4 bees buzzing around the north column of our porch. I asked Dave if he'd noticed them to which he said no, so I moved on. We were working on filling our new raised bed that day and by noon the 3 or 4 bees had turned into more and they were clearing moving in and out of the post.
We had a hive, or a swarm or both. We didn't know what to call it, but neither of us were thinking about exterminating. I googled "live capture" bees and got a handfull of companies. I called 3. All of them seemed more interested in taking our money than our bees. That night the bees appeared to be gone. I even knocked, loudly, on the post with no sign of life. Sunday though saw a return of the bees and more of them. I should probably at this point deviate slightly from this story to explain that Dave and I have discussed keeping bees before. Why? Because we are clearly bonkers. This is what growing up in small towns will get you. The belief that you can 'raise' anything, including bees. We've even gone to a bee class hosted by Kirk Anderson, the backwards bee keeper, where we learned that keeping bees was not all that difficult. Thus Monday arrived with a new plan. We'd keep the bees, somehow. We just needed to find someone to get them out of the post for us, but in general no sense of urgency. Then Tuesday the bees began to build and gather outside the post. I called a few people who referred me to Kirk. Why I didn't think of him earlier, who knows? Probably because my mind was clouded with visions of pints of honey. Kirk, after doing a quick review of the situation agreed to come Sat. (yesterday) and remove the bees and set us up with our very own bee box. To say I was excited was a severe understatement.
This is the post after Kirk opened it up. First Whoa! That is a lot of bees. Second. Wait a second.. where is the post of the post? It was at this moment that Dave and I realized our porch was being held up by essentially 4 pieces of trim. As we discussed this alarming fact, Kirk pointed our that it had lasted this long, 80 years, and survived a few earthquakes, why were we worrying. While Kirk has a very good point, a voice kept screaming in my head NOT-A-POST. Kirk did distract us with several interesting bee facts. 1. Bees can't see in the dark. 2. Bees can't fly when their wings are wet, thus Kirk's trick of misting the hive with sugar water. Which leads to 3. Bees can't resist sugar. He also pointed out the the comb was very white and flexible which meant it was new. When asked how it gets darker, he noted that bees have dirty feet.
Kirk was awesome.
He also taught us how to build frames with string to put the new comb in after he removed it from the not-a post. Which is what he's doing in this photo. It should be noted that he put his gloves ON for this part but chose not to wear any for the majority of the time.
After all the bees found their way into the nuc box, either by brushing, scooping, or general pleading, we closed up the box. Cut a hole in the lid and taped it up on angles at the top of the not-a-post, so any bees out collecting pollen could easily find their new home. This is where the bees stayed until about 30 minutes ago. When I taped the hole closed and carried it to the back yard which will be their final home location. That's right, I carried a box full of bees, and I wasn't even scared.
Honey will do that to you.

the good, the bad, and the newly built

This weekend had its share of highs and lows. It started out high with another fine dinner joined by the swirlwsmellslurp crew at Lazy Ox Canteen, which is quickly becoming our favorite place in LA. Then we (or to be specific I) saw a few lows. First the kitchen aid mixer vibrated off the counter top and crashed onto the kitchen floor making a nice dent of course not before taking out a eames chair on its way down . I also broke a spoon rest with a orange and split the oven stone in two while baking bread. Looks like I'll be heading to sur la tabla next weekend. Lastly I managed to check my knee on the shower door getting in. After which I promptly crawled into bed in attempt to avoid breaking anything further. I can report that David woke up in one piece. But among all the lows we did build the second vegetable bed in the back yard. Although building a triangle is decidedly more complex than squares.