Thursday, September 29, 2011

Fall Harvest

It's almost time for Harvest at the vineyard! I always think of it with a capital H because it's such a major happening around here. Harvest is so exciting - all the work that went into the vineyard all year long: the pruning, the tying-on of vines, the weed-whacking, the spraying, the vigilance against birds and raccoons and blackrot and mildew ... It's all finally paying off!
The grapes look fantastic. The picture here is of a bunch of the Cabernet Sauvignon and it looks like they'll be ready for harvest next week. You can tell when they're ready by testing the amount of sugar in the juice. Eric can tell just by tasting them, but he also has a little machine that measures it precisely. The level of sugar at which you start harvesting depends on the type of grape and the preferences of the winemaker.
Pretty soon we'll be harvesting and then it will be time for the crush!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Gilda is. A punk rocker.

Gil-da is. A punk rocker. Gilda is a punk rocker now-ow-ow.
Yes, I dyed Gilda's eyebrows pink. I was eating a beet the other day and thinking about how I could use beet juice as a dye. It's the best shade of reddish pink. I actually wanted to use it to make some kind of diy lipstain and tried mixing it with some lipbalm base that I had laying around. Weird to just have that, I know. That was a dismal failure because the juice (water-based) failed to combine with the balm (wax & oil). Duh. I guess I thought that would happen but was hoping that it would somehow work. It was one of those kitchen science days. The next day I made biscuits that looked beautiful until I took a bite and realized that I had added baking soda instead of baking powder. So maybe it's planetary misalignment or something. The comet Elenin messing up my kitchen projects.
So I ate the rest of my beet raw while googling beet juice dye a d came across a story of a woman in Colorado who was fined for dyeing her poodle pink. Apparently dyeing animals is illegal in CO. Her (brilliant, I think) response was that she had merely stained her poodle with beet juice - not dyed it! So I had to try it on Gilda. I only did her brows, but I think she is rockin' the look.
It only lasted a couple of days though. I might do her head-to-toe one of these days. Breast cancer awareness month jumps to mind as an opportunity to have a pink dog.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Two Wine Recommendations

Eric and his dad have a winery here in Southwest Michigan. So we end up drinking a lot of wine - a lot of their wine, to be sure, but also a lot of other wines that we try for comparison. Their wine is fantastic, and I will always recommend it to anyone. The chardonnay is my favorite, but the Shou is really great too. I just happen to be in a white wine mood of late. And the December harvest Reisling: Mmm.

But I actually wanted to recommend some super tasty & inexpensive wines that we've tried lately. One is the Eins, Zwei, Dry Rheingau Reisling from Leitz. We tried this at a comparison tasting in which we were trying a variety of Reislings and this one was the group favorite.
They're a German winery that does fantastic and affordable wines. This one was around $14. I really liked this one. I had their Dragonstone the other night and it was similarly affordable and delicious. So definitely recommendations for Leitz.
The other wine is the 2010 Vigna Rocca Albana Secca from Tre Monti. Tasty and inexpensive. What more could you ask for? We had this one with a tomato-based stew of garden veggies, mushrooms and fennel sausage and it matched it really nicely. No reason to only drink red wines with tomato-based Italian dishes!
Eric's dad Jim brought both of these over, but he got them from his local wineshop (City-Wide), so they should be generally available.


Chikaming Nature Preserve is my new favorite place to take Gilda for a walk. What a gorgeous spot! And it's so close-by; just a few miles north of Three Oaks. The paths are really well maintained - it looks like it will be a great place for cross country skiing this winter too. First you walk along a cornfield, past wild concord grapes growing by its side. You come to a fork in the path - the left tine takes you through the pine forest and past the marsh while the left tine takes you through the meadow, past the crabapple trees and the pussy-willows. The two paths meet up in the middle, near the edge of a little farm. This is exactly the place that I've been looking for since we moved here. Gilda, of course, couldn't be more thrilled. And the little guy loves any opportunity for a backpack ride.


One of our fallen sugar maples had oyster mushrooms! A ton of oyster mushrooms! Well, about 10lbs so far, actually. Eric made some Asian style rice noodles with some of them and we traded 4lbs to Ellie and Pat at Local in exchange for some of their amazing sausages. We're planning to make a cabbage, mushroom & bratwurst thing for dinner tonight and then to dry a bunch for the winter.
I absolutely love being able to gather delicious goodies from the woods. Especially mushrooms - I feel like I'm living out all my Heideggerian Black Forest fantasies. Not to mention my lower-brow Laura Ingalls Wilder/Lucy Maud Montgomery fantasies. There's something so comforting about finding what you need on the land. and mushrooms are such weird and wild creatures. What a blessing to live on this land.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Shedd Aquarium

Oh, how I wish that I had time to sit down and properly write some posts! But teaching is getting crazy, Julian is wigglier than ever, and we had a weekend packed with events to celebrate my step-daughter's 13th birthday! It was actually the best weekend ever. Clara had a party with her school friends at the go kart/blacklight minigolf place and then a second party at our house - 10 preteens running around fueled by s'mores until they crashed. Woo! And then we went to Chicago the next day to visit the Shedd Aquarium. Which rocks. Check out the photo above from the jellies exhibit!
And here's a photo of Julian communing with the dolphins: