Monday, February 27, 2012

We're Not In Kansas Anymore

We love local food, but we also love traveling and partaking in new experiences.  Chris and I traveled to Italy three years ago and had an incredible culinary and cultural experience there.  

Here we are outside The Roman Coliseum.

In Italy, the grape vines and countryside are breathtaking.  I snapped this picture of an Italian farmer tilling his grapes.  Because I grew up on a Kansas wheat farm, I found the Italian method of weed control interesting and familiar.

As I looked through our Italy pictures I wanted to do a whole food post for you, like I did when we went to Hawaii, but that will have to wait for another time.  For now, most of this post will focus on an Italian experience we found right here in Kansas!

What I never expected is that I would harvest grapes not in Italy, but right here in my home state of Kansas.  Amazing.  Last summer we received an invitation to KMUW's Grape Harvest Gathering at Grace Hill Winery north of Wichita.  Who knew such a fun, ecotourist experience was waiting for us less than an hour from our home...and is waiting for you to experience too.

On the morning we arrived at the Grace Hill Winery there were plenty of grapes to harvest.

So our family of three got started.  We were immediately introduced to our picking tools, which I must say, made the process incredibly easy.  By sliding the stem of the grape cluster into the "v" on the tool, the two blades easily sliced it off the vine.

Once the grape cluster was sliced off the vine, it went into a large, yellow tub.  You can see a stack of them behind Chris in this picture.  Because we harvested for the entire morning, there were many, many tubs filled to the brim and ready to be made into wine.

In order to save grapes from the birds, a "cannon" is set up in the vineyard and used when needed.  Sometimes I think I need to invest in one of these for the big black birds that overtake our street in Wichita!

Once the day's harvest was complete, the group went into the event area for a lunch and wine tasting provided by the winery.

The Chambourcin Grapes we harvested that day would eventually become the "Dodging Tornadoes Silver" wine.  We got to taste this wine, and many others that the winery makes from other types
of grapes they grow.  
Tasty, very tasty.

Then we got to see some of the Chambourcin grapes we picked in their first stage
of the wine making process.

We also learned about the process which turns them into tasty wine.

It was a great experience, something I never expected to get to do, or even realized happened so close to our home.  Would you like an Italian experience right here in Kansas?  Contact Grace Hill Winery and volunteer to pick grapes for a few hours one morning.  I'm sure they would love to have the extra help, and you'll love the experience and tasting the local wine.

Not into grape harvesting?  Plan a free wine tasting of some great local wines.  Just contact the winery for more info.

Here's to more exciting local food experiences this year - Love Local Food!

Friday, February 17, 2012

&*$#@!...I Hate Peeling Hard Boiled Eggs

These impossible to peel hard boiled eggs are 
looking beaten up - but taste yummy as egg salad!

Lately we've been thoroughly enjoy egg salad sandwiches.  Hubs, the chef, does the cooking on the weekends, and most recently when I asked for this little joy he responded with, "I hate peeling hard boiled eggs."  I was a bit surprised, my husband is not the complaining type.

So, as with everything, we used the "Google machine" to look up easy ways to peel hard boiled eggs.  How do you do this?  Use old eggs...what!  There are no old eggs in our house.  We go out to the coop, grab the eggs, and use them within a short amount of time.  (Once we were out of eggs, and I got a hankering for cookies, so we went to the coop and there sat the exact number of eggs we needed.)  No, our eggs don't take time to be packaged, shipped, sit on  the supermarket shelf, travel to our house, sit in our fridge...and then get hard boiled for a breezy peeling process.  Our hens have been champion layers this winter (most likely due to the mild temperatures) and we have gotten 1-3 eggs daily all winter long.  A blessing, but to my chef, it's sometimes a curse!  Although, I think next time we may try the bicarb soda method suggested by this blog.

FYI:  Readers who are subscribed via email are not currently (and haven't for quite some time) getting updates via Feedburner.  This is a huge frustration for me, and something this techy-challenged blogger is working to figure out.  Once I've gotten the problems ironed out, and have a new system in place, I will send out a message to email subscribers to restart your subscription.  So sorry for the delay, oh, how I wish it weren't so!