Andrew's Blog


A City Boy Making His Way in the Country
July 2011

Best in Show!

What an afternoon! While at The Ohio State Fair today, I saw some beautiful Rambouillet rams, ate some crispy french fries, and mocked the diva Budweiser Clydesdales as they stood in their Martha Stewart stalls, sipping Bud Light Lime from their troughs. Oh, and I also learned that our Jammery’s Carrot Cake Jam won Best in Show for preserves.

While it may be a stretch, I consider this exciting win as an affirmation that our jam is among the best in the state. And let’s be real, Ohioans know their jam. So I really consider this an affirmation that our jam is among the best in the Nation. Perhaps I’m getting a little carried away, but I only started canning about a year ago and am thrilled to have our award-winning Carrot Cake Jam as the cornerstone of the Orchard House Jammery.

If you’re interested in sampling some jam, send us an e-mail and we’ll be happy to sell you a jar or two! It’s the food of the gods…sweet, sweet carrot cake jam.

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Poison Ivy.

I’ve had a run-in with Poison Ivy today. And me without my Batmobile. I was cutting branches, tons of branches, and then the three-leaft Ike Turner emerged. And it was everywhere. It owned the branches. And now, potentially, my arms and legs. And maybe an eye or two.

The bad news is, I may, within 24 hours, be a plague victim. On the up-side, I’ll live. And may be so heinously covered that I can lie in an oatmeal bathtub with a small bell, ringing only for comforting re-fills and Toddlers and Tiaras synopses.

I also battled some wasps today. For some odd reason, there were some flies – what I can only imagine to be the same size as Justin Beiber – zipping around this poorly placed wasp nest. We all know real estate is about location, location, location! So don’t start a nest on the side of the shed where I keep animal food. You’re bound to be found out. And today was their day. I used some oven cleaner to start their demise. But, like a Blackhawk rising from the desert sands, I saw one coming straight for me. So I ran.

I later returned with large buckets of dishwater soap. It works. Sadly, I think it dissolves their outer skin or something. But it worked and the wasps are no more. But now, the Beiber flies think they own the shed. And I can’t kill them. Their haircuts are too stylish.

And so I’ve lived through the hazards of Mother Nature today. Poison Ivy may cut me down, but won’t take me out. And the wasps are now my minions – like the flying monkeys with those wheels for hands. But water won’t melt me. It’ll take more than that to bring me down! More something like a California Merlot or a midling chop suey sauce.

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3 interesting things that happened to me today…

Three interesting things happened to me today.

1) The first involved this turtle pictured to your right. Bob Evans was barking at something in the middle of the orchard. It’s never a good sign when he’s going crazy and circling something dark in the field. The last time it was a groundhog, and before that, an opossum. Today, it was a turtle. A real one! Where did it come from? Lord knows. The nearest lakes are some distance away.

I picked it up and moved it to the Christmas Tree Forest. 30 minutes later, and the turtle was hanging out with the rabbits. He (or she) walked about a 1/2 mile back to the house. So I gave him some water. Now he’s missing. Perhaps he’ll pop up in my bed tonight. And sing me a lullaby.

2) Also today, I checked-in on the finches and discovered babies in the nest. I swear, I clean that darn cage! I usually don’t look in the nest though, privacy and all! There are two lil’ ones in the nest. And one egg. We shall see what will come.

Looking back, there were signs that babies were imminent. They were eating a lot of food. And then there were the small cheeps coming from the nest. Hindsight is always 20-20. And now, they have an egg cake in their cage. It gives them stamina. Or at least that’s what the label says. Even my finches fall victims to my capitalism. They lay eggs and they eat them.

3) And finally, we started our cookbook challenge today. I made the first recipe. And it was ok. Not great, not bad. Plums and black bean sauce. Tomorrow I envision some fish. Just don’t tell Donnie. But don’t worry, I’ll tell him it’s chicken.

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The cookbook challenge…

I’ve decided something big. Something huge. Something that has been both a successful book and major motion picture. I’m going to cook through a cookbook for dinner each night. I know, you’re thinking Julie and Julia. It’s not that.

Dinner is hard to prepare. After working all day, taking care of animals and guests, nobody wants to make a creative dinner. It takes a lot out of you. I could always make my favorite – mac and cheese with tuna – but man cannot live on delicious boxed goods alone. So I thought, why not find a cookbook and make everything inside it. It’s my own recipe planner. My personal nutritionist.

And with summer hitting us in the face, why not use a vegetarian cookbook?! The farmers market, and my garden, can hand me the bounty of the season. Cucumbers are in abundance. And can’t I loose weight while I eat them? To be honest though, tonight we had pizza. The healthy starts tomorrow.

Join us on our own personal journey though “Almost Vegetarian.” It promises to be a bumpy ride. And I’ll be sure to tell you about the time I looked into the heart of an artichoke. (If they’re in season.) It’s the least I can do.

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You call this hot?!

Sure, it’s warm out. But hot? Don’t be a baby – like this little coyote that could only find relief in a Quizno’s, snuggled in-between the Sobe and the Snapple. The air probably does keep him cool. And he’s not sweating. And if he’s thirsty, he doesn’t have far to go. Maybe this coyote is on to something! I will demand an open-air beverage cooler immediately. Mine will be stocked with mini Pinot Grigio bottles and brie.

This month, Food and Wine Magazine had an interesting article about the wines served in the hottest climates around the world. In Death Valley, where the temperature can mirror the age of a Galapagos turtle, the wine of choice is a 2010 Riff Pinot Grigio. In Dubai? A 2009 Pascal Jolivet Sancerre. And in Seville, a 2008 Valdemar (Voldemort?) Tempranillo Rioja. They add Sprite to it. That’s a daring move, the kind of irrational behavior heat stroke would cause.

It is a comfort to know that should water ever run out in these steamy locations, wine will be available as a substitute. But one would also need to eat. On a hot day? Some melon, a nice salad, and some delicately cooked fish. All of these ingredients grown, mind you, somewhere else because it’s too hot for an edible garden in Death Valley. And I don’t know how you’d cook. I’m sure not turning on a grill with the temperature reaches 100. Or even 90. Possibly even 85. After all, it’s hot out!

Try and stay cool this week! Orchard House is a breath of cool air, and you’re welcome to stop by and lounge for an afternoon, or a weekend! We’ll be serving cheese and 2011 Franzia Crisp White. That didn’t make it into Food and Wine for some reason. I guess it just doesn’t get hot enough here.

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