June, June, June

How did we get here this quick?  I am always shocked when it is June and another year is half-way gone.

Whitney and I have been keeping busy with multiple graduations (Congrats Sam, Rosalyn & Keegs!), seeing family and friends (yes, you “No-Name”).

Since Summer actually decided to come out and play and kick Spring’s ass last week, a lot of fruit is coming into season!  Finally!  We are close to a month and a half behind up here in Sacramento/Northern California.  Though this means lower crop yields for some fruits, it usually extends the season.  So it is time to get my ass in high gear and to making some new stuff for the Etsy Shop and to share with friends and family.

I have a favorite jam that will be out next week!  I’m excited because it is DELICIOUS!  Can’t wait.  Here are some random pics in the mean time.

Mostaza en flor. It's everywhere

A rice paddy.

The survivor tomatoes that sorely need to be planted into the ground

A canna blooming

Another unspecified wildflower of Whitney's

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What season is this?

Sheesh.  Sacramento weather has been a little confused lately.  Winter storms complete with lightning and hail and raining for several days in a row.  Kind of feels like January.  This year has just been really weird for the weather.

I started my garden seeds indoors in January of this year and they were attacked by aphids from one of Whitney’s house plants I think.  So I started over again at the end of February- put them outside in their flats in late March and then a freak cold snap came during the day and basically killed them all off.  Being the ever persistent guy that I am, I tried YET AGAIN!  This time in the beginning of April.  Most of the seeds didn’t germinate and several died.  So basically my garden is going to suck this year and be super behind.  So far I have several varieties of tomatoes hanging on, but no Puerto Rican plants germinated/lived the 3rd time around.

But since we had hail (marble sized!) over the weekend, I am happy that everything is still in their flats and peat pots.  Hopefully this weekend I will get some plants from Farmer’s Market, and I can cobble together a small garden this year.  Bleh.

At least Whitney's wildflowers are doing well. I have no idea what this one is. I think it is from Seed Saver's Exchange.

The lilies finally started blooming this week.

Welcome to my neighborhood

Complete with escaped peacocks and burning down barns.  Last week was crazy to say the least.

The escaped peacocks decided to try to roost on my neighbor's roof. This excited the kids in the neighborhood to no end.

Then later that night I heard a boom. At first I thought it was the "normal" gunshots. But then another happened and it was different. I was surprised to find that the barn on the farm behind our house was on fire. It was scary to say the least. Complete with 911 calls and fire engines.

New Item: Organic Navel Orange Jelly

Super excited about my new Navel Orange Jelly.  It is available in my Etsy Shop.

This is my offering to all the marmalade-haters out there!  Though I love marmalade, sometimes you just don’t want to deal with the rind or bitterness of marmalade.  This offers all the great orange flavor with none of the bitterness.  Sweet and well-balanced!

These organic oranges came from Whitney’s friend’s garden in Davis.  I really appreciate the windfall of the oranges and the fact that she keeps an organic garden.

And since my Blood Orange Label was a labor of love I adjusted it and used it for this one as well.

As always, $6 for a half pint.

How to can Seville (Bitter) Orange Juice

Well as Spring is finally warming up, one of California’s best and most valuable assets is winding down: Citrus.

When the lilies start growing, Spring is in full swing

One citrus that I think a lot of Americans don’t completely utilize is the Seville Orange.  It goes by a myriad of names, including: Bitter Orange, Sour Mandarin or Naranja Agria in Spanish.  This is the citrus that marmalade (great recipe for marmalade is here) is made out of.  The British have on lock the whole sour/sweet/bitter thing that is a staple on many a breakfast table.  But many cultures use the fruit in other ways.

Puerto Ricans use this fruit in marinades and sauces as well as making “Lemonade” out of them (even though they aren’t lemons).  It is kind of difficult to keep up with being local and organic with some of the Puerto Rican ingredients (How about Achiote!)- but I have now kicked another one out!  Adios Goya Naranja Agria marinade- you are out.

It is super simple to can your own citrus juice, but there seems to be some contention throughout the interwebs about the flavor of canning your own.  In my experience, I have never had an issue or off flavors.  But as always, results may vary.

First, find some primo fruit.  I was lucky enough to be gifted a HUGE bag of Bitter Oranges by my friend’s Aunt and Uncle.  Their tree was loaded with them and I happily took some off their hands.

Extract/Squeeze the juice.

Heat the juice until it boils and keep it there for 1 minute exactly.  You don’t want it longer or else it changes the flavor profile.

Pour into jars and process for 5-10 minutes for half-pints and pints or 15 minutes for quart jars in a water bath canner.

If you don’t thoroughly strain your juice through cheesecloth, filters, etc. there will be cloudiness and some settling.  I have no problem with it; my canned juice isn’t being entered into any beauty pageants.  Store out of direct light in a cool, dry place and you can easily store for over a year with no refrigeration until you open.  Enjoy!

New Item: Blood Orange Jelly

I have a new item in my Etsy ShopBlood Orange Jelly!

It is muy delicioso!  Everyone loves it, not to mention the BEE-U-TEE-FULL color!

As always, a half-pint of it going for $6.

The Blood Orange (aka Cara Cara Orange) is known and named for the beautiful deep carmine color of its juice. The taste is totally orange, just a little more acidic. Which makes it perfect with baked goods, cocktails and even savory dishes!  These Blood Oranges were grown in Woodlake, California by a family of 5th generation farmers (which is totally amazing in my book).

I have to say this label was a total labor of love.  Normally I bust out my creative hat and my labels are brainstormed, designed and printed in a matter of an hour or less.  And that is with the couple of different approvals that I normally get through my “Executive Team”.  Well let’s just say that my first label that I created was a total flop per my “Executive of Marketing and Everything Else”.  I didn’t want to believe it.  Nick?  Create something terrible?  Nah.  But then she pulled out a big needle and popped my big ass head.  It took quite a long time (several days!) for us to find something that really was appropriate for the jelly.  So a big thanks to Kristin H. for keeping my labels on point.  Mucho gracias.

Spring has sprung

Though you would have no idea of that fact by the freezing temps that we had last night.  And the constant rain for the past week.

This year it seems like Sacramento is having a bit of an issue shaking off the winter doldrums.  I, on the other hand, am extremely excited to get some sun this spring so that I don’t stay this nasty shade of pale too much longer.  Blech.

Cherry blossoms and barbed wire. There has to be a joke in there somewhere.

Along the levee road

Daffodils. Such a weird name...

Rosemary blooming. And kick ass Canon 50mm bokeh

One of a million magnificent trees.