How to Protect Yourself Against Ebola

How to Protect Yourself From Ebola

The news is filled with reports of the Ebola virus.

Fear is definitely in the air!

With its appearance in the US and yet another confirmed case of the Ebola virus here in Texas, the big question on everyone’s mind is “how to protect yourself from Ebola?”

The Ebola virus as certainly been the topic of quite a few of our family’s conversations the last couple of days! Even our younger children are concerned and as parents, we are trying to answer their questions honestly without raising alarm – that can be challenging! It is especially challenging with the conflicting and changing information that is coming our way!

Before I go any further, I want to say that  propagating fear is not my intention but I want to encourage you to think for yourself, be aware and be prepared. Sometimes simple awareness and being prepared makes a big difference in the outcome.

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Aglianico Grapes – Here They Come!

Aglianico Grape Harvest

Wednesday, October 7th, marked the first Aglianico grape harvest of 2014. We finished harvesting the Roussanne grapes about a month ago, before the rain began. Because of the rain, cooler weather and cloudy days, the Aglianico and Montepulciano grapes have been slow to ripen.

But, the wait is finally over and harvest time is here!

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10 Ways to Save Money Juicing

10 ways to save money juicing

You might think juicing is expensive, especially for a large family.

I did too – And, it can be!

But, do you remember the saying, “Where there is a will, there is a way”?

There are ways to make juicing fit into the family budget!

One of the benefits of juicing is your body’s ability to absorb all the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, chlorophyll, etc. – they are delivered much faster to your body in liquid form since the body doesn’t spend time breaking down the bulkier items like fiber. So, for the family’s health, I think it is worth making juicing budget friendly!

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3 Steps to Beautiful Stucco – DIY!

3 steps to stucco collage

I love the look of stucco!

Especially since we are going for the “Tuscan” look in our vineyard home, stucco is what I want!

Real stucco is applied in multiple layers and is very labor intensive. But, we have found something that gives the same look as stucco but is more durable and easy to apply – great for do-it-yourself’ers like us – it is the exterior insulation finishing system or EIFS for short.

For a bit of background, we have done several building projects using insulated concrete forms (ICF) including our house overlooking the vineyard, filter house, barn, and greenhouse. You can find a chronological index of these projects in the ICF Building Index tab in the menu bar.

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My New Juicer and a Raw Carrot Juice Recipe

Juicing Bandwagon - Breville juicer and carrot juice recipe

Sometimes I am late jumping on the bandwagon and this is one of those times.

The bandwagon I’m talking about is juicing. I really enjoy carrot juice but to take the time to do it is another story. It is not so much the juicing but, the clean-up afterwards. You know, the juicer itself – it can really be a pain to get clean!

Then again, there are some juicers that leave quite a bit of juice in the pulp. Cheap, frugal or whatever you want to call it, when I see the pulp still wet with juice, I think I need to run the pulp through a second time – talk about a mess! Imagine trying to ring the feed spout with pulp that has already gone through the juicer – take my work for it, it is messy! Well, that has all changed – thanks to my new juicer!

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Wine Making at Home

crushing grapes tips and tools winemaking

One day, the plan is to open our own winery!

Someday.

But, not today!

For now  we are content to make wine with our own grapes at home  – hobby wine makers, that’s us!

Making wine was the planned activity for Monday – to glean the Roussanne grapes which were left after harvest and begin the wine making process. The first and last plants of each row are always left without being harvested because they are so close to the end post. The Pellenc grape harvester is turned on and off over these plants which means even after harvest, we still have some grapes to eat or to make wine with!

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Roussanne Harvest Continues

Roussanne grape racus

The decision has been made and is unanimous – we love harvesting in the daylight!

Yes, nighttime harvests are beautiful with stars twinkling overhead and the invigorating cool night air. Last year, our first Roussanne harvest of the year was a nighttime harvest and it was beautiful!

But, less stress comes with the daytime grape harvests! You can see what you are harvesting, how clean the fruit is and how thoroughly you are cleaning the vines. While the Pellenc grape harvester does have lights, flashlights must be used behind the harvester to see how clean the vines are being picked – it is just more difficult!

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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

 

how to tell if grapes are ripe

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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ICF Basement Expansion

icf building blocks - great for diy'ers

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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