Fall Harvest



Posted in Agriculture, Oyster River | Leave a comment

Inaugural Boule Season

© T20R11.com

© T20R11.com

You could cut the eager anticipation with a knife as the boule court is finally ready for play. The Provinçals call it pétanque, the Italians bocce, the British lawn bowling. But to those of us having observed the game played in Parisian parks, we know it as the adult drinking game.

© T20R11.com

© T20R11.com

With all the accessories assembled, ice, cold water and boules we head for the court. After a brief discussion and a pastis or two, we decided the smartest and most talented should begin. A hush came over the crowd as Allison pitched le but (cochonnet or jack) . . .

© T20R11.com

© T20R11.com

The competition proved experienced and aggressively attacked the court showing excellent form.



It was an auspicious beginning to the season, looking forward to additional competitors stepping up and challenging for the Durham Boule Championship Cup.

Posted in Durham, Oyster River | Leave a comment

Tomato Sauce

I like going into fall with 6 gallons of tomato sauce in the pantry. I add it to stews, I braise with it, make barbecue sauce, chili and, of course, I use it for pasta sauce among many other dishes. With the garden in full production right now I spend everyday harvesting drops and ripe paste tomatoes for the pot.

Tomato Sauce 001These are San Marzano paste tomatoes but I also grow Amish paste, Big Boys, Goliath, Sweet 100s and Sun Gold. When there are more ripe tomatoes than we can eat, they all end up in the pot at one time or another. I use mostly ripe tomatoes but I can’t let a good hard green one get away.

I used to peel the tomatoes and de-seed them before beginning the process of reducing to a thicker liquid consistency. A few years ago I read that the pulp mass surrounding the seeds has excellent flavor and so decided to try a different approach. Now, I simply cut the tomatoes into smaller wedges

Tomato Sauce 002and pitch them into a large pot. To get them boiling faster, I use a potato masher to free up some of the tomato liquids. I leave them to boil for a while, separating the skins from the meat and thickening the liquid.

Tomato Sauce 003In stead of using a moulis or similar device, I use a large tamis that nests nicely in a stainless steel bowl.

Tomato Sauce 004When the skins are soft and the pot simmering away, I scoop out some of the hot tomatoes and push them, using a bench scraper, through the tamis  into the pot below.

Tomato Sauce 005The tomatoes are hot and working in smaller batches saves your fingers from being scalded. The juice and meat go through the screen with the skins and seeds remaining behind.

After scooping out all of the tomatoes you are left with mostly liquid that you pour onto the tamis and will discover that many of the seeds separated during boiling.

Tomato Sauce 006

Once all of the tomatoes and remaining liquid are through the tamis make sure, using a clean bench scraper, to scrap the solid tomato remnants from the bottom side of the tamis.

Tomato Sauce 007You now have clean tomato juice, reduce by gently simmering on top of the stove. I use a 7 pint stock pot and fill it right to the top, after it has reduced 3 or 4 inches I will add the remainder of the tomato juice.

Tomato Sauce 008Once all the juice is in the pot and reduced to the desired consistency, I go until my wooden spoon stands straight up, you are ready to can.

Tomato Sauce 009This batch was 5 pints after processing. I sterilize the jars and lids in a 250° F. oven for 30 minutes. Then I fill a hot pint jar half way with simmering tomato sauce and add 1 teaspoon of lemon juice before filling the jar to the top with more tomato sauce. Newer hybrid tomatoes are not always as acidic as the heirloom breeds so I add the lemon juice as a precaution.

Once sealed and the ring tighten down on the lid, I process the filled pints in a 217° F. oven for 12 minutes.








Posted in Canning | Leave a comment

2015 Durham Farm Days

Believe it or not there really is much more to Durham than student housing and the Historic District. Saturday looks to be a great day, maybe too hot to work in the yard but just right to see some of Durham’s agricultural finest up close and personal.

Farm DayFarm Day Flier Hand Out 8 10 152

Posted in Agriculture, Durham | Leave a comment

Blackberry Season

No better way to begin blackberry season but with a small dish of blackberry sorbet garnished with blackberries and chocolate mint.

Blackberry Sorbet ©T20R11.com

Blackberry Sorbet

Posted in Agriculture | Leave a comment

BBQ Sauce by Region

From my good friends at The Sausage Maker:

“BBQ Sauce By Region

Barbeque sauce. There are so many kinds it can be a bit overwhelming to find the right sauce to compliment your dish. Of course, you can make your own. You can release your inner alchemist and stand over the pot making adding a little bit of this, taste it, add some of this or that until it has reached perfection. Of course, no one expects to slave over the stove making a sauce for your causal barbecue, unless you love it.

Throughout the southern United States there are many styles of barbeque and with each style comes its own sauce. The sauces used in the Carolinas are far different from the sauces used in Texas, and the sauces used in Texas are far different from those used in Alabama. With such a variety of sauces that range from incredibly simple to amazingly complex, it is no wonder why people love them so much.

With the amount of sauces there are for barbecue, we could go on for days and days explaining each one. So, we picked out our top five regions of the United States and picked our favorite style of sauce (or mop) from each. The following are our favorites, in no particular order.

South Carolina –  Mustard Sauce

In South Carolina there is usually a good chance that if you get barbecue, you’re going to get a mustard sauce slathered on top. The mustard based sauce is usually found in the areas around Charleston and Columbia. The sauce goes perfectly with pork, you can’t go wrong with mustard sauce on pork, it is to die for. Here is the recipe: http://goo.gl/T39gCA

Texas – Mop Sauce

This one is tough to describe, quickly. There is a ton of great barbecue in the Lone Star state, and one of the most popular outside of the state is the mop sauce. The mop sauce usually starts with drippings, seasonings, and ketchup. The sauce resembles a very thin tomato soup, and adds so much flavor to your barbeque.  Here is a recipe for a Texas mop sauce: http://goo.gl/OBiys

Memphis Dry Rub Ribs –  Vinegar Mop

Now, Memphis doesn’t have a sauce, per say. Down in Memphis there is a way of cooking succulent ribs with a rub and a mop that will knock your socks off. A mop sauce will make or break your BBQ, so using one correctly can make your BBQ so tender you’ll just want more. Memphis knows its stuff when it comes to barbecue, because of their wonderful dry rub ribs. These ribs are charcoal grilled, mopped with a vinegar sauce, and then crusted with a spice rub (of choice). There are plenty of ways to go about this, the vinegar sauce can be tweaked in many ways. Here is a link to a simple vinegar mop: http://goo.gl/bh2VfE and a link to a Memphis Dry Rub Rib Tutorial: http://goo.gl/1jJX9G

Kansas City – Tomato and Sugar Sauce

Kansas City is the birthplace of the tomato and sugar sauce. We can thank Heinz, K.C. Masterpiece, and the other bottled sauce brands that almost every American knows exclusively as barbecue sauce. Most of these sauces don’t represent the sauces served in Kansas City. The heavy tomato sauces coat the barbecue with its intense sweet and smoky flavor. Most of these sauces are prepared with molasses or brown sugar, with some vinegar, pepper, and other ingredients as the cook sees fit. Here is a recipe for a homemade heavy tomato sauce: http://goo.gl/QnlqDJ

Lexington Style BBQ Sauce

Vinegar sauce, the most basic of BBQ sauces. It is one of the easiest to make, and one of the easiest to customize. In Lexington, Kentucky this type of sauce is generally found. In Lexington it is generally a base vinegar sauce, then they add a bit of tomato paste or ketchup to thicken and sweeten the vinegar based “Dip.” Vinegar sauce is best served with whole hog or pork shoulder. The sweetness and smokiness of pork barbecue is perfectly complemented by the vinegar’s acidic tang. Here is a link to make your own vinegar sauce: http://goo.gl/AJLGms “

Posted in Food | Leave a comment

Food Security

Lloyds the specialty insurance and reinsurance carrier commissioned an analysis of food security to assist them in determining various scenarios and their associated risks.   It is worth noting that the study wasn’t commissioned by a chemical firm looking to sell more fertilizer or genetically modified organisms (GMOs) but by an insurance carrier trying to determine underlying risk inherent in a potential set of events.

“The vulnerability of the global food system to sudden shocks, and the repercussions for communities, businesses and governments, is highlighted in a report published today by Lloyd’s, the specialist insurance and reinsurance market.

Supported by academics at Anglia Ruskin University, the report contains a scenario where disruptions such as weather catastrophes and plant pandemics – which are exacerbated by climate change – have far-reaching economic and humanitarian consequences.

Launched today at Expo Milano 2015, the study shows how three events – El Nino, the spread of windblown wheat rust in Russia and warmer temperatures in South America – could lead to wheat, maize, soybean and rice prices quadrupling, significant losses on European and US stock markets, food riots and wider political instability.

The key findings of the report are:

  • A combination of just three catastrophic weather events could lead to a 10% drop in global maize production, an 11% fall in soybean production, a 7% fall in wheat production and a 7% fall in rice production.
  • Wheat, maize and soybean prices could increase to quadruple the average levels experienced during the 20 years prior to the global food price shock of 2007/8. Rice prices could increase by 500%.
  • The scenario indicates this series of events has the potential to lead to food riots breaking out in urban areas across the Middle East, North Africa and Latin America, leading to wider political instability and having knock-on effects for a wide range of businesses.
  • While agriculture commodity stocks might benefit, the overall economic impact of high food prices, combined with rising political instability, could severely impact financial markets. The scenario indicates that the main European stock markets might lose 10% of their value and US stock markets 5%.”

Food security starts at home; plant a garden. Take unused urban space and plant crops to feed the neighborhood. Towns should be more proactive in utilizing Town owned land to improve the access to fresh produce, vacant manufacturing space can be converted to year round space for Farmers’ Markets, fruit trees can be planted in public parks . Instead of hoping for a brighter future, do something about it. Which weights more, a million mice or an elephant? The accumulation of little local steps can make a large impact.

Posted in Agriculture | Leave a comment

Beaucoup des Montgolfière

“Some 433 hot air balloons fly above eastern France on Sunday, breaking the record for the most simultaneous hot-air balloon flights. A variety of balloon designs, including a French chateau and cartoon character Obelix, lifted off from an airbase, covering a stretch of four miles across the sky.” From AFP as posted on The Guardian 27 July 2015:

Posted in France | Leave a comment

Post-Landfill Action Network

Purchase Tickets and More Information Here

Posted in Durham | Leave a comment

Asparagus Damaged by Beetles

I had avoided damage to my asparagus beds in prior years but this year was different. Almost all of my fronds have significant damage as the outer skin was eaten away.

Damaged Asparagus Fronds, stripped of outer skin by Asparagus Beetles Durham, NH 9 July 2015 ©T20R11.com

Damaged Asparagus Fronds, stripped of outer skin by Asparagus Beetles
Durham, NH 9 July 2015

Fortunately there is some new growth so all is not lost. I started, too late, spraying with Captain Jack’s Dead Bug but will be more attentive next season. You should inspect the area for a natural predator (Tetrastichus asparagi, a parasitic wasp) before spraying.

There are two beetles that cause this damage:

Asparagus Beetle, Crioceris asparagi Durham, NH 9 July 2015 ©T20R11.com

Asparagus Beetle, Crioceris asparagi
Durham, NH 9 July 2015

Spotted Asparagus Beetle, Crioceris duodecimpunctata Durham, NH 9 July 2015 ©T20R11.com

Spotted Asparagus Beetle, Crioceris duodecimpunctata
Durham, NH 9 July 2015

Here they are together and you can see the damage done to the asparagus frond.

Asparagus Beetle and Spotted Asparagus Beetle Durham, NH 9 July 2015 ©T20R11

Asparagus Beetle and Spotted Asparagus Beetle
Durham, NH 9 July 2015

The asparagus beetles larvae overwinter in leaves and frond debris, one of the most common organic control techniques is to remove all leaves and other vegetative matter late in the fall and lightly till the top soil to disturb any larvae that might be in the surrounding soil. After doing that, I will spray the crap out of them next spring; Captain Jack’s Dead Bug is an organic pest spray.

Posted in Agriculture | Leave a comment