Strawberry Jam, Drunk Slugs, and Mozzarella

This was my weekend.  We had a lovely day on Saturday visiting with friends and enjoying the sunny weather.  The peony in my garden finally opened and stunned me with its appearance.  Not what I expected.  For some reason, I just expected that it would look like these peonies.  I think it knew I was disappointed because the normally long-lasting bloom faded after only a few days.

The gardens have been especially damp with all of this rain we’ve gotten and my veggie patch is overrun with slugs.  I mentioned on Facebook that I was looking for an organic slug repellent and several people suggested the beer trick – you bury small containers of beer in the garden so the lip of the container is level with the ground and the beer is deep enough for the slugs to drown in it.  The fermented yeast attracts the slugs, they climb in the containers and then they’re supposed to drown.  Only mine did not drown.  They climbed in, swam around, got good and tipsy, and climbed back out.  We went back to the faithful pick-and-flick method of slug removal and now I’m going out to go buy Organic Gardening’s #2 recommended cure, Sluggo.

Sunday it was Farmers’ Market day again.  Despite the morning rain, it turned warm and sunny by the time the market opened and I planned ahead and wore my Keen flip flops for slogging through the mud.  It was another packed morning at the market and I came home with two bags full of asparagus, mushrooms, sugar snap peas, granola, ramps, rhubarb, freshly made mini donuts (yum!), a giant frosted chocolate cherry brownie for Luke, and STRAWBERRIES!  Giant, overflowing quarts of ripe, red strawberries.  They were gorgeous.  I took them home and immediately crushed them to make jam.

My goal for the summer was to make strawberry jam, and boy did I make jam.  There were more than enough strawberries for one batch of jam so I made another batch and added rhubarb.  Wow, yum.  I still think that canning and preserving is like magic and I’m even more taken with it after tasting this jam.  Of course it might have something to do with the fourteen cups of sugar that went into making both batches, but let’s not dwell on that.  And just so you don’t start thinking that everything comes out of my kitchen perfect, I have to tell you about my cheese making failure.

Once again inspired by Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, I asked for and received the book Home Cheese Making by Ricki Carroll for my birthday.  I ordered her beginner’s kit for making mozzarella and ricotta and set to making my first batch of mozzarella.  The photo, above, is in the middle of the process when everything was going well.  After that, it all fell apart and rather than coming out with smooth, stretchy cheese curds, I had grainy ricotta-like cheese that was spreadable but never in a million years would I have been able to stretch it “like pulling taffy”, as described in the instructions.  Ricki encouraged me to not give up, as “cheese making is just as much an art form as it is a science” so tonight I plan to give it another go.  After seeing me disappointed at the results of my first cheese making process, Luke told me “you don’t have to be good at everything”.  Huh… and I thought he knew me.

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4 Comments

  1. I have not yet tried this, as the only time I get slugs are on my stairs…a friend of mine suggested crushed egg shells around the plants you are trying to protect. The slugs crawl over them and it cuts their little sluggy bodies up. Kinda gross, but she swears by it.

    I have lots of eggs if you need them…and a rooster, too! I believe roosters eat slugs. I can give you mine and you can give it a try!

    Reply

    1. I did point out to Luke that chickens were the #1 organic slug cure. I’m not sure I have him swayed yet but I’ll wear him down soon!

      Reply

  2. I’m about to try my first batch of mozzarella tomorrow night, same path, Kingsolver to Ricki Carroll to Mozzarella kit. Sorry your first batch didn’t go so well. I hope you saved the ricotta and ate it anyway. (Sounds like my first batch of yogurt) which ended up making a delicious small curd ricotta. Ah well. Good luck to both of us!

    Reply

    1. Good luck to you! If this headache ever goes away, I plan on trying the mozz again tonight. And I did save the ricotta-esque first batch. It’s delicious spread on crackers so I think I’ll just call is “artisanal cheese” and pretend I meant to make it like that.

      Reply

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