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Paonia Farm and Home Supply, also known as Paonia’s do-it-yourself center, wants to show your project(s) with pictures to inspire our community to get started with their project.  Please come into the store and share your before, during, and after pictures of your projects, gardens, remodeling efforts, and farm animals.

Enstrom’s Style Homemade Toffee

Finished Toffee

Finished Toffee

For about $10.00 for the ingredients including butter, sugar, chocolate and almonds, you can make this delicious toffee and have about 3 pounds of finished product. That is enough toffee for several generous, very welcomed gifts right from your kitchen!

Enstrom’s Style Toffee Recipe

Norpro Digital Thermometer/timer combo

Norpro Digital Thermometer/timer combo

2  3/4 Cup sugar
1 pound salted butter
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup slivered almonds

1 – 12 oz pkg milk chocolate chip

3/4 cup whole almonds, chopped very, very finely in a blender- almost a powder
NOTE:  Follow directions carefully and use a candy thermometer.  Be sure to subtract two degrees Fahrenheit from a stated temperature for every 1000 feet you are above sea level. Test your thermometer with boiling water before starting and make any additional adjustments accordingly.

Melt butter in a medium sized sauce pan – about 3 quart size over medium to medium high heat. Add the salt. When the butter is almost melted, add the sugar in quickly. Stir slowly, using a figure 8 motion with a wooden spoon. The sugar will not immediately dissolve or mix in, this is normal.

When the sugar absorbs into the butter the mixture will look more homogeneous and smooth. This takes 5-10 minutes. Then add the slivered almonds. This is what it will look like when you add the almonds. A would call this the blonde stage.

Blonde stage

Blonde stage

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Continue to slowly stir the mixture in the saucepan for about another 10-15 minutes until the mixture reaches the hard crack stage.  Do not hurry this process by increasing the heat or you risk failure. This is 290 ° F on a thermometer at sea level. (I use the instant read thermometer with a probe from Norpro.) You will notice that the sugar mixture is turning a darker more caramel color and it is almost starting to smell like burnt sugar. You can also drop a small amount of the mixture into iced water to test for the hard crack stage. Do not under cook. This picture shows how much darker the mixture becomes.

Hard Crack Stage

Hard Crack Stage

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After the toffee hardens, about 30 minutes, melt half the chocolate chips in a double boiler and spread over the toffee in a thin layer. Sprinkle lightly with finely diced. like powder almost, almonds. When this is cooled, flip the toffee over and repeat. Spread the other half of the chocolate chips, melted over the toffee and sprinkle with finely chopped almonds. When it is totally cooled, put portions into cellophane bags tied with a ribbon to use for gifts.

Wrap toffee in cellophane bags or similar packaging for gifts

Wrap toffee in cellophane bags or similar packaging for gifts

 

Pumpkin Chocolate Cheesecake Bars

pumpkincheesecake
1/2 c. butter + 2 TB
2 c. chocolate crumbs (for crust)
Two 8-oz packages cream cheese
1 large egg
1/4 c. canned pumpkin
3/4 c. granulated sugar
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp salt
1 c. chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350. Melt 1/2 c. butter and pour over chocolate crumbs, evenly coating crumbs. Press chocolate crumbs firmly into a buttered 9×9 pan, lined with parchment paper to create the base. Bake for 10 min. Remove from oven and set aside.
Beat cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add egg, pumpkin, sugar, spices and salt. Beat again to combine. Pour batter over chocolate base and return to oven to bake for 30 min. or until filling is firm to touch.
Remove from oven and cool completely.
Melt chocolate chips and remaining 2 TB of butter and then pour over top of cooled pumpkin layer and use spatula to spread evenly. Set in refrigerator for 30 min. until chocolate sets up. Run knife around edges. Use parchment handles to carefully lift the slab from the pan in one piece. then cut into bars.

 

Winterize your Yard Now

townpark
Five Steps to Winterizing:  

1.  Rake Leaves

Finish getting the leaves raked up, if they ever finish dropping, before the first snow hits which eliminates lawn damage caused by molding leaves.  Rake up the leaves, bag them for garden compost next spring.

Rake leaves before winter sets in

 

2. Apply  Winterizing Fertilizer

Fertilome's Winterizer

Fertilome’s Winterizer

Fall feeding is the most critical feeding time for your lawn and trees.  Fertilome’s Winterizer is one of many great products to build up resistance to winter’s harshness by increasing stem strength and disease resistance.

following the application.

*A drip line is the outer edge to which a plant’s branches spread.  This is where rain water tends to naturally drip from the plant and where the root system is concentrated.

Organic Winterizing Products include Earthworm castings which promote root growth and plant nutrition and  Soil Activator contains humates.  All products are in stock at the store.

 

 

 

3. Clear Gutters and Drains

gutters-280x210

Removing debris from gutters and outdoor drains unclogs the gutter and prevents water damage to your house and roof.  Neglected gutters risks water backing up and seeping into your roof, or spilling down the side of the house causing possible foundation damage. 

This step must not be done so early that the gutters re-clog, or the gutters can become frozen with debris inside.  Aim, to complete this step when the leaves are down and before the first snow.  With our Colorado Indian Summers this step probably needs to be completed in November sometime before Thanksgiving.

4. Insulate Plants 
Protecting plants with a “jacket” for the inevitable extremely cold freezing temperatures helps eliminate winter-kill and promote plant health.  Cover plants  and their roots with at least a one inch layer of mulch or a thicker pile of leaves.

5. Drain Pumps, Lawn Sprinklers and Hoses

 Hopefully this job is done already, but if not, it must be done right away before the deep freeze of winter sets in or you will most probably incur broken, pipes, sprinkler heads and and other damage that will need to be repaired next Spring.

 

Apple Cinnamon Mimosa

Celebrate the Changing of the seasons!applemimosa

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon apple pie spice
  • 4 sticks – 3″ cinnamon sticks
  • 1 champagne bottle
  • 2 cups Big B’s apple cider or equivalent
  • 1 small red sweet apple (Honey Crisps are my favorite)

Directions:

1. Gently whisk together the cane sugar and apple pie spice on a small rimmed plate. Make sure the sugar and spice mixture is bigger in diameter than the rim of your glass. Set aside.
2. To create the sugar/spice rim, wet the rim of each glass by dipping just the rim of each glass in a shallow bowl of water or apple cider. You can also use an apple slice and rub the natural apple juices from it along the rim. Once the rim is wet, dip the glass rim in the sugar and spice mixture until the rim is fully coated. Repeat with all four glasses.
3. Just before serving, cut four thin apple slices and place one at the bottom of each glass along with a cinnamon stick. It helps to tuck the cinnamon stick under the apple slice so it doesn’t float to the top once you pour the liquid in the glass.
4. Pour the champagne until bubbles have settled and the glass is half way full. Next, pour the apple cider until the glass is full. Enjoy immediately.

This recipe is courtesy of Frontier COOP

 

The Art of Fermentation in Crocks

Sauerkraut-1

With Fall around the corner,  it is time to join the growing trend and start fermenting garden produce for the winter ahead.  IF you are reluctant to try fermentation, just know there are no documented case of dangerous botulism ever occurring in fermented foods.  Sally Fallon Morrel, author of Nourishing Traditions and founder of the Weston A Price foundation,   remarks, “Let your nose be your guide.”  and I have found this is trustworthy counsel.

Fermentation is the transformative action of microorganisms that are all around us.  Lacto-Fermentation (a more accurate term) is the time-tested process our ancestors used to produce lactic acid, a natural preservative that inhibits the bacteria which want to putrefy foods so lacto acid produced during the fermentation process naturally extends the useful, edible life of foods.  We will also discuss the nutritional benefits below.

veggies2Vegetables that can be fermented include cabbage, zucchini, onion, garlic, carrots, celery, beets, turnips, tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, kohlrabi, broccoli, cauliflower and much more just for a start!

By learning to encourage the proliferation of beneficial lactic-acid producing bacteria you are on the road to preserving food inexpensively, healthfully, and for extended periods of time.  There will be no need for water bath or pressure canning with this method.

There are many nutritional benefits to fermenting vegetables

  • Fermented foods are powerful aids to digestion.
  • The microbes begin to break down the food before it enters our digestive tracts.
  • Fermentation breaks down compound nutrients that are known to be hard to digest such as lactose, and gluten.
  • Beneficial for gut troubles.
  • Fermentation produces additional nutrients and enhances the ones already in the foods.
  • Helps to build up higher levels of B vitamins during digestion.
  • Lactobacilli create Omega-3 fatty acids essential for cell membrane and immune system functions.
  • The naturally occuring microbes are often better than high quality commercial digestive enzymes.
  • Fermentation will increase cancer fighting compounds found in cabbage and other brassicas

To ferment foods you can use Ball type canning jars with rings and lids which are ideal for small batches, or  Crocks for larger batches.  A fermentation crock is a stoneware pot designed to hold cabbage and/or other vegetables as they ferment.

Open Crocks and Water-Sealed Crocks.

The two primary types of ceramic crocks for fermentation available are Open Crocks and Water-Sealed Crocks.  Both have advantages and disadvantages to consider.  Generally speaking fermenting crocks have thicker stoneware walls which creates a more stable fermentation temperature, resulting in sauerkraut and fermented veggies with a greater depth of flavor.

opencrocksAdvantages of an Open Crock

  • Generally, less expensive than a water-sealed crock and readily available.
  • Open top and straight walls make it easy to clean.
  • Easy to fit whole or large vegetables into.

 

 

Disadvantages of an Open Crock

  • Ferment prone to developing surface mold and/or Kahm yeast (a harmless yeast that appears when a ferment is exposed to air).  This surface mold can be removed and discarded.
  • Older crocks may contain glazes unsafe for food use, especially crocks from Mexico.
  • Weights and lids often need to be purchased separately and can dramatically raise the cost of the crock.
  • If a cloth is used to cover your ferment, it’s prone to wicking brine onto the floor.

    Water-Sealed Crock

Watersealedcrocks

Water-sealed crocks are a bit more difficult to find.  After a water-sealed crock is packed, two half-circle weights are placed into the crock to keep your ferment submerged. Then, the lid is placed into an open moat which is then filled with water. No outside air is able to enter the crock and carbon dioxide gases produced during fermentation can easily escape or bubble-out.

Advantages of a Water-Sealed Crock

  • Makes for a very easy, almost care-free fermentation experience (You have to keep the moat filled with water.).
  • Neither flies nor fruit flies can get into the crock and lay eggs.
  • Very little chance of mold or surface yeasts growing on your ferment.
  • Takes the guesswork out of making sauerkraut and other fermented vegetables.

Disadvantages of a Water-Sealed Crock

  • The water in the moat must be monitored and filled as necessary. If not, the seal will be broken and air will be allowed to flow into the crock.
  • Narrower opening makes it more difficult to pack your ferment.
  • Shape at the top of the crock, where the lid is, can make it difficult to clean.
  • Sealed environment makes it hard to monitor what is going on inside.
  • Generally, more expensive than an open crock.

In general, the use of metal and plastic containers is discouraged for obvious reasons.

More Information and reliable recipes about fermentation. 

Maria Hodkins, is a local Certified Nutritional Therapist and Fermentation Expert.  She will be teaching an upcoming class on Fermenting Vegetables.  To receive information about Maria’s upcoming classes, please email her at realbutterandlove@gmail.com.

Idiot#2The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Fermentation By Wardeh Harmon

Maria says this book is loaded with easy recipes many of which are her favorites.

 

 

 

_artoffermentationThe Art of Fermentation by Sandor Ellis Katz Foreward by Michael Pollan

His book is widely considered the Bible of Fermentation.  For the serious fermenter, this last book is an in depth exploration of essential concepts and processes from around the world with practical information on fermenting vegetables, fruits, grains, milk, beans, meats, and much more.  Or you may watch a short Youtube video to familiarize yourself.