Roussanne Harvest 2014

Roussanne grapes

After working all year, it seems unbelievable that in a few short weeks the grapes will be gone for another year!

Exciting? Yes.

A bit sad? Yes – we have to wait a whole year to have acres of grapes to eat!

But, the thrill of harvest – and money in the bank – outweigh the sadness!

Our earliest ripening variety is Roussanne. To see how we determine ripeness see pH and Brix Testing. Roussanne is a French white grape variety. We have 7.2 acres of Roussanne which is contracted to 7 different wineries. Each winery has a specific acre of grapes which is 3 rows that are 1/3 mile each. And, yes, that is a looong row when you are out there working!

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pH and Brix Testing

Roussanne Grapes

How do you tell if a grape is ripe?

If you answered, “by the taste”, you are right!

But, there are also other measures of ripeness. For starters, there are the characteristics of the seeds. When grapes are unripe, the seeds are green and as they ripen they become tan and finally turn brown. Also, before ripening, the seeds are chewy and the pulp clings to the seeds but when ripe, the seeds become crunchy and the pulp no longer clings but separates easily.

If you are a winemaker, there are also other factors – chemistry stuff like pH and Brix.

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Never Fail Brownies – Better Than the Box!

Never Fail Brownies - Better Than the Box!

Fruits and vegetables are seasonal – they come and go.

But brownies – ahhh…

Brownies are ALWAYS in season!

Have you wanted a brownie recipe that turns out great every time and is quick to throw together?

I know, a box brownie does, right?

Don’t worry, I’m not judging! After all, I only used box brownie mixes for years. Homemade brownies always turned out dry when I made them or the recipe was so involved that it took too much time. But, not anymore!

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ICF Basement Expansion

ICF Foxblocks ready to stack

For a chronological listing of our building projects with ICF (or insulated concrete forms), be sure to look through the new ICF Building Index tab in the menu bar.

In January 2012, we finished phase 1 of what will eventually be our basement built out of ICF (insultated concrete forms). We have been enjoying being in our own home but are so excited to finally be expanding it!

During my absence from Cultured Palate, we did some work you don’t know about yet so, let me fill you in before I share what we did last week!

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Fried Chicken with Kefir Batter

fried chicken with kefir batter

What says, “southern” better than fried chicken?

OK, maybe fried chicken and sweet tea.

The problem is, this southern girl doesn’t fix either!

My tea usually turns a bitter and I have always figured that if we want fried chicken, we can go out to eat!

Besides, drinking water is better for you!

So, imagine my dilemma when our soon to be 17 year old son requested, of all things, fried chicken for his birthday dinner … And watermelon.

The watermelon was NO problem!

But the fired chicken…

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GAPS Diet Supplements – Then and Now

Herbal medicine and herbs

I have recently had several readers emailing and asking what supplementation of vitamins I used while on the GAPS diet. I thought others might have the same question. So, today I want to share the supplements I took while on the GAPS diet and the supplements I take now. If you are not sure what the GAPS diet is, take a minute and read the GAPS Review.

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Zesty Quinoa Salad

zesty quinoa salad

Before Quinoa Almond Pilaf made it to our table, quinoa really had a bum rap. But, that is all behind us now and quinoa has a changed reputation in our house!

So, how did we get off to such a rocky start with quinoa? It was all my fault. I didn’t know how to cook it. Years ago, before the GAPS diet, I did a detox diet in an effort to gain relief from my rheumatoid arthritis and this diet included, among other things, quinoa. John and the children, supportive as always, did the diet with me. I have to admit that the diet was very restrictive and offered very few seasonings or condiments so, I boiled the quinoa. And, served it plain. Have you ever tried eating quinoa plain? It does leave a lot to be desired – mainly taste!

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Where Do I Buy…?

How many of you are like me and have asked the following questions of a trusted friend?

Where do I buy…?

What do you use?

Which one do you recommend?

Not only have I asked these same questions but I receive frequent emails containing these very questions.

For me, it helps knowing that someone I trust uses a particular product or brand and recommends it. So, I have added to the menu bar across the top of Cultured Palate a new tab – Shopping Guide.

This Shopping Guide is a list of items I use in my own kitchen and recommend from companies I trust. Everything from kombucha scobys, herbs and spices, starters to olive oil.

I hope the shopping guide will help provide you with quality products for your healthy, traditional/real food lifestyle.

Farmer’s Supper

Farmer's Supper If you are like me, you love meals that keep the kitchen cool in the hot summertime. With temperatures in the high 90′s and over 100 F, I find myself using the crock pot more often.

For our family size, my good old standby Hamilton Beach crock pot is just not large enough even though it is 6 quarts. Remember, we still have 7 of our 10 children at home and 5 of them are boys – farm boys with BIG appetites! So, I found that if I triple or even quadruple recipes, I can use my Hamilton Beach 22 qt roaster! Not only do I keep the kitchen cool, I often have enough leftovers for another meal – YEAH!

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Bernie – Our New Shih-poo

Bernie Our New Shih-Poo

After losing Sprinkles, our much loved  shih-poo, it took a while to find another dog to be our inside house pet. Considering the circumstances of her death, we decided against another shih-poo. But the dilema then became what to get.

Living in what will be the basement of our home with 1500 sq ft for the 9 of us, a large dog inside could become a source of irritation – especially for those in the family that are not true dog lovers! So, while a big dog would probably not be the best for us right now, I knew I wanted some type of a poodle mix because any dog bred with a poodle will have little to no shedding.

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