Monday, September 27, 2010

Juicing the First Grapes

The day has finally arrived - time to juice the grapes!

This has been a weird year for the garden and the grapes - this same weekend last year saw all the grapes sweet and ready...

... this year most of the grapes are still sour. There were enough ready to pick, though, so we loaded up a bucket.

Here's a nice bundle. It seems like this year's crop has many more small, wimpy berries. The ones that grew are nice and big, though, and very sweet.

Juicing grapes is pretty time consuming - the picking is fun, but the stemming takes a while.

The hornets have reallyl started hitting the berries hard this week too - another indicator that they are ready to juice.

We put out a hornet trap... and it filled up. The old water from canning peaches we left out on the porch also filled up!

Yuck! Alot of the big, black hornets this year, too.

We mentioned it last year, but the juice recipe is simple - 1.5 cups of grapes, 0.5 cups of sugar. Fill with boiling water and then waterbath (boiling) for 20 minutes.

You can add more sugar before, or after when you mix it up 1:1 with water. Either way, it is great!

Here is the 'before'...

... and the 'after' when adding the boiling water.

After canning, the jars need to sit for a few weeks to 'stew' - it takes about 3 weeks before the sugar completely disolves, and the juice turns a deep purple.

This year we 'pressed' some grapes for juice. We tried some without cooking the berries to strain out the seeds.

5 cups of grapes => about 2 cups of juice.

Pretty simple and easy.

We're going to be making jam this year with local honey, and will be using "pressed" juice, and also juice from cooking the grapes to strain out the seeds (like the grape pie filling).

Here is the finished juice - very fragrant and tastes just like the fresh grapes. Very different than the canned juice we make.

We'll be doing more juice, jam, and of course Grape Pie in the next few weeks as the rest of the grapes ripen.

Stay tuned.

Garden Update - Pulling Out the Grub

Ok, maybe "grub" isn't the right term to use in the land of slugs...

But this weekend was beautiful out. All the sunflowers are in full bloom.

The first of the fall colors are out, too.

We picked our first sweet corn out of the garden, too! For a while, we weren't sure it was going to come out at all.

We finally picked the biggest pumkin, too. This fat boy weighs over 76 lbs... and the kids can't wait to give him a face!

Alot of big, purple potatoes came out of the ground, too.

This was the first year the potatoes did well for us. They turned out great - very good eatin'.

The girls got busy decorating the place for Fall, too. Alot of gords and little 'sweet' pumpkins are scattered all over the place now.

The hot weather and long light of Fall made for a great weekend. It sure is fun to gather in the food.

More Mushrooms - Yellow Ones This Time

We picked a load of Shaggy Manes - they are best before they open up.

Before picking them, feel if they are hard or mushy... and don't take the mushy ones.

They cook up fast, and if overcooked will turn gooey.

They have a mild 'mushroomy' taste - very good with mixed vegetables.

We went out hunting Chantrelles for a few hours - it was a great day in the hills...

...but we only found 2 of the mushrooms we were after.

Oh well...

They cooked up FANTASTIC - definitely one of our favorites for eating.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Early Arrivals - The Mushrooms are Up

Today at lunch there were a bunch of Shaggy Mane Mushrooms up - the first of the season!

There has been alot of rain lately, but this is the earliest we've ever found them.

Dozens and dozens of them were out. Very few were mature and melting - most were ready for picking.

These have a nice "mushroom" taste, and are best in soups or eggs, because they are rather gooey if you cook them too long.

Time to get into the hills to check on the Chantrelles...

Enjoying the Fishing Indoors - Seafood!

Here's a great way to cook up fresh tuna, and its easy, too!

All you need is some marinade, bacon, toothpicks soaked in water, some foil, and BBQ sauce.

Guarenteed to be a hit.

Soak the tuna loin in marinade for however long you want.

Then, using the wet toothpicks (so they don't burn in the BBQ) to hold the bacon in place, wrap bacon around the tuna loin, completely covering the fish.

Finally, BBQ until you are happy that the fish is done. 350*F is a good temp, and don't overcook.

Use foil to catch all the oil - tuna is very rich and there will be alot of oil!

Also, BBQ the fish while cooking the crab you just caught - highly recommended as a side dish.

Finally, tell everyone that the fish will be done in 1/2 hour, and hide in the bathroom with the shower running - the water will drown our the noise of your lip-smacking and crab munching.

And it will help clean up the BBQ sauce all over you.

No advice on what to tell the hungry family when the fish is gone - they won't believe anything you say.


Monday, September 20, 2010

Catching Crab in Netarts, Oregon

Armed with crab bait, and with a short break in the liquid sunshine, we dropped down to Netarts bay for some fun.

As usual, several boats were working the mouth of the bay.

There were also alot of bankies fishing, too.

It was easy to find a slot, and start slinging our snares.

Some went solo, others stayed together.

Very pretty out, with cool, dark lighting.

Obviously people have been successful in finding crab lately.
If you can't crab, it is fun to beachcomb, too.

We ended up with two nice big crab. We had a great time and caught lots of small males and big females, of course.

In fact, it was so much fun that a rainy ride in the back of the truck was good, too!

Cutting up Fish and Crab Bait

The crew made short work of our pile of tuna - that was alot of fish to cut up!

Look at those nice loins...

Tuna make GREAT crab bait - so oily it calls the ugly critters from a-far.

We bundled up a few "bait balls" to go crabbing off the beach with while our hands were still so oily.

More crab bait than we can deal with - at least until we bring down our pots!

Good thing there are alot of folks around eager for more bait...

Tuna are big rockets consisting of huge eye balls and lots of meat. Not much else there going to waste!

Video Camera Testing - in the Ocean

We tried using a "waterproofed" mini spy-camera while tuna fishing... and our waterproofing failed miserably!

The best waterproofing we found was heavy-duty packing tape.

We deployed the camera down the line while fighting a fish...

... and when it came up, it was full of water!


It did get some video before dying, so we will try to recover the data and post it if possible.

It was very impressive how fast the salt water corroded the circuitry inside - the solder joints and exposed copper were in BAD shape!

The thin copper wiring to the battery completely disintegrated.

We also used a camera attached to a hat to capture all the action. It worked really well - even in the rain.

However, the video was too close up in the close quarters of the boat, and every time we turned our heads, the video jumped around to different areas we were looking. Very disorienting and confusing to watch!

Oh well - they will probably work very well hunting, so we'll give them a try then.

The cameras did work well in providing good shots while filming - the entire video wasn't so good to watch, but grabbing still images off the video was cool.

We'll figure something out...

A Few Tuna Action Shots

Ok, tuna fishing was so fun, we had to post a few more pictures!

Yeah, the date is off...

This was a pretty site - bright flashes in the deep blue!

Another pretty site - fish on the gaff!

These fish are fast, fighting machines.

Here is one of the XRAP plugs - we caught fish on all colors, dark and light, on clones and plugs, and even different swim-bait colors.

When we found them, they responded!

Nice job gaffing this one!

Into the Deep Blue for Tuna!

We've been wanting to chase Tuna for a long time. August was so busy, we put it off into mid-September hoping for summer weather that we didn't get all summer.

The forecast was iffy, but we went for it.

We headed out early to meet in Garibaldi... and the truck wouldn't start!

Not a good sign, but no big deal. Go, go, go!

The weather and water turned out really nice in the morning!

Water was flat, and we hit good temperature and color after motoring out ~26 miles.

The 30' custom boat we were in was awesome - very tough and very comfortable to ride and fish in.

We never saw many "jumpers" or birds, but we did manage to scratch out 4 nice fish in the morning.

We motored out another 10-15 miles farther looking for fish, but never saw them, so we headed back closer to land.

Back at our original spot, we found 4 more.

These were great fish - very feisty and fast, and good size.

Never found a big school, but trolling here and there we picked up 8 by 3pm. All of the fish were caught trolling plugs, and in singles.

The weather started darkening to mixed squalls, but never got tough to fish in.
We started trolling back to land, and hit a decent school for a double-take down! While fighting these fish we got a 3rd fish on a swim-bait - a triple!
Now it felt like tuna fishing!

Alot of nice 20+ lbs fish made us grunt... and smile!
This was a dandy - about 25lbs.

We made another pass through the spot we scored the 3 fish, and got another double! Two more fish in the basket.
Just after boating them, we caught another fish on the swim-bait.
"Lets do another pass!" was the cry after all the fish were boated...

Bam! A third double and both fish in the boat. We were up to 17 fish now - a great day!
It was starting to get late - later than we planned. The Captain worked really hard to get us fish and was alot of fun.
We are already planning to fish with him every time next year - send an email and we'll give you his contact information.

The seas got bigger and rougher as we raced back into Garibaldi - but the boat was fast and comfortable, so we didn't mind.

We were wet and tired - a good thing after pulling on fish all day!

We had to cross into the bay in the dark - very weird with the poor lighting and markings on the Tillamook Bay enterance.
We never were worried, though - Captain Ron did a great job piloting us in safely and the seas settled down near the mouth.

17 fish averaging 22 lbs was a pretty good haul, especially after having to work so hard to find them.

Oh no - another jumpstart needed on the truck!

None of us had ever caught a tuna, and we didn't loose a single hooked fish. A couple of tangles and near misses, but everyone did great!

It was late, so we loaded up at BK.
Not the fanciest feast, but it was hearty after a day in the open ocean.
Tuna fishing is definitely the best fishing the Pacific NorthWest has to offer - bar none!