TSL Homestead Cocktail of the month – Egg Nog – July 2021

This month the video is from our camera angle, so there is some behind the scenes dialogue between the Mad Farmer and Miss Mercy as we were figuring out the Facebook ‘go live’ feature. This is the same feature we struggled with last month. Hopefully we will get all that sorted.

Now, on to the July Cocktail of the month – Egg Nog! We decided to do a little Christmas in July here at the homestead and nothing says holidays like Egg Nog (according to Miss Mercy).

This was a fun cocktail to research and fun to make. The recipe I used was from my 1941 Boston Cooking School Cookbook by Fannie Merritt Farmer. The first edition of this book came out in 1896, and the earliest edition I have is 1912. The 1941 book is the first one in which this eggnog recipe appears, as far as I could tell. As a side note, a very similar recipe is included in Esquire’s Handbook for Hosts, published in 1949.

Known during the medieval period as ‘posset’, it was made with hot milk curdled with ale, wine or something similar and then sweetened and spices added. Because of the high cost of ingredients, it was a drink enjoyed by the upper class. How the drink came to be called Egg Nog is a bit of a mystery. One possibility of its origin comes from the wooden cup used to drink it was called a “noggin”. Egg Nog was a pretty common drink in England and the United States by the 1700s. Here in states, we swapped out the alcohol for some that was not being taxed. Read more from the History Kitchen from PBS.

One of the more sensational notes about our cocktail this month comes in the story of the Egg Nog riot of 1826. This riot took place at West Pointe – and it was a doozy. The Superintendent of the school had forbade the consumption of alcohol by the cadets, which really put a wrench in their traditional Christmas celebrations which included spiked Egg Nog. The cadets spiked the Egg Nog and things, as they say, escalated. Cadets were expelled and Christmas celebrations were no more. Smithsonian Magazine had quite an article about the riot, which you can find here.

I am a big fan of Egg Nog, even more so now that I have this delicious recipe to make. It makes 5 quarts, which does sound like a lot, but it goes surprisingly quick! And while not everyone enjoys the tasty drink, as a country we manage to drink 15 million gallons of it during the winter holiday season.

If you decide to give this recipe a try, do let us know what you think!

Virginia Egg Nog – The Boston Cooking School Cook Book by Fannie Merritt Farmer

12 eggs

12 eggs

1 cup sugar

1 quart milk

2 cups whisky (we used Weller Special Reserve)

1 cup rum (we used Bacardi light rum)

1 quart heavy cream, beaten

Beat egg yolks with sugar until very light. Add milk, whisky, and rum. Fold in cream and egg whites, beaten until very stiff. Add more sugar or liquor to taste. Serve very cold with grated nutmeg on each cup. Makes 5 quarts.

Enjoy!

TSL Homestead Cocktail of the month – Harvey Wallbanger – June 2021

This was our second attempt recording this video as Facebook made some changes to its “go live” function. Pretty sure we still don’t know what we are doing! We managed to get something recorded though.

Our TSL Homestead Cocktail of the month was chosen by the Mad Farmer in celebration of Father’s Day. The Harvey Wallbanger became popular in the 1970’s . Here is an interesting post on the history of the drink. It was fairly extensive, albeit a little underwhelming. It provided the ridiculous tag line “Harvey Wallbanger is the name and I can be made!”

The Harvey Wallbanger is a dressed up version of a screwdriver – the dress being Galliano. Galliano has a licorice like flavor and is yellow. The bottle says it has over 30 herbs and spices – seems like maybe there could have been a different note to bring out instead of licorice. A little surprisingly, it does add a nice flavor to the drink. However, if you are not a fan of licorice, you may want to stick to the screwdriver.

We took our recipe from the Galliano site and you can find it here. If you give this cocktail a try, let us know what you think!

Please, drink responsibly and get into the spirit of things!

State of the Greenhouse – May 16, 2021

Greenhouse Walk-Through
Looking into the greenhouse from the deck

So we’ve made some significant progress on the TSL Homestead greenhouse. We’re not finished by a long shot but the space is now completely enclosed and mostly draft proof. As you can see in the photo above we’ve got the outside trimmed in weathered shiplap siding that was gifted to us by some friends a few years ago when we were building the Pub Shack (thanks Mike & Wanda)! The siding didn’t match the cedar siding we were using on the Shack so I kept it back to use in a future project and, TADAAAA, we used it!

The planting tables have been installed

We installed planting tables along the front wall at two different heights. The longer run, about 10 feet, is lower and a good height for working at if seated and it’s also an advantage if you are just sitting in the space and looking out into the yard. The Mad Farmer and Miss Mercy have spent more than a few evenings since we got the roof on sitting in the greenhouse, discussing modifications, changes to our yard and just enjoying the space. The higher table on the West end is 36 inches high, a good height for standing and working, and about 6 feet long.

The planking for the interior walls and the table tops are recycled cedar pickets from old garden fence that we used to have up when we had more of the garden blocked off.

Inside looking West

The greenhouse is close to one of our outside spigots so we put a splitter on the outlet and ran a short hose behind the greenhouse and through the back wall, giving us water inside the greenhouse without having to drag a hose around. A 25 foot hose with a wand attachment was the perfect length to allow us to water anything inside and not have to deal with a lot of excess hose.

You can see our existing cold frames in the background but we’re going to be moving those to allow for easier access along the path to the greenhouse door.

Looking out into the vegetable garden. It’s fenced in because Sasha likes brassicas, especially Brussel Sprouts.
Inside looking South out into the yard

We haven’t had too much sun yet this year but we have already been super happy that most of the windows open.

It’s a nice space to sit in when the weather outside is damp and dreary

The Mad Farmer really wasn’t happy with the way I originally framed the East door leading into the greenhouse from the deck. The original plan for the East wall looked a lot different and when we ended up making it symmetrical and using slightly larger windows it narrowed the door frame. We were using an older screen door so that we could raise and lower the window but the opening became too narrow for the stock door so ended up initially framing the door on the outside of the greenhouse, opening onto the deck. After walking through it a few days I just didn’t like it.

So, because screws are a Farmer’s best friend, I was able to deconstruct the door and re-purpose most of the frame. I cut notches into the edges of the door frames using a table saw. You lower the blade down to the height you want to cut to and then run your wood through multiple times, widening the table guide a little each time to make the notch wider. You can do the same thing better with a router but I need to replace my router so sometimes you do the best you can with what you have.

After notching the rails I cut them in half, placed the glass from the door into the custom notches and screwed the top halves back on. I’m sure there are better ways to do it, and it’s possible down the road I might replace it, but it works fine, fits with the look of the greenhouse and I will eventually build a screen door in a similar manner that will open onto the deck so we can have the door open and still keep the bugs out.

The greenhouse dimensions are about 16 feet long by 8 feet wide – a nice space to move around in without feeling cramped.
The steps lead up to the deck where Sasha likes to keep watch for squirrels and Sasquatch

We made the steps leading down into the greenhouse off the deck wider and shallower than a normal step, to make it easier to step down if you are carrying something. The distance between the deck and the ground is only about 15-16 inches, so they didn’t have to be steep and it’s easier on both the dog and the people – important as you get older. Sasha is nine now and while she thinks like a puppy she doesn’t move that well anymore.

We are going to be insulating the wall spaces and covering the interior walls that are open but the good news is that we have some time before winter so we can start looking for some additional salvaged lumber to fit the look. We the price of new lumber at the moment if we decide to go that route we’ll have to decide which child to sell. Father Day’s coming up kids, so would be a good time to make some points with the old man before that decision takes place…

TSL Homestead Cocktail of the Month – Mint Julep May 2021

The first Saturday in May is the Kentucky Derby so the Mad Farmer and I thought it would be fun to do a Mint Julep for our May cocktail. We were busy the first Saturday in May, so we did not watch the Kentucky Derby. However, not watching does not equal not celebrating 馃槈

Since there is an event tied to the cocktail this month, right out of the gate it seemed reasonable to do a bit of research on the race and the drink. So first, a little information on the Derby.

The Derby was started by Meriwether Lewis Clark, Jr., grandson of William Clark of the William and Clark expedition [An interesting book about the Lewis and Clark expedition is called: Or Perish in the Attempt: Wilderness Medicine in the Lewis and Clark Expedition by Dr. David J. Peck. While it is out of print, you may be able to find a used copy]. Clark modeled the Kentucky Derby on the derby held at Epsom Downs, in England, that he saw while traveling abroad. That derby was started in 1780 by the 12th earl of Derby. The first Kentucky Derby was held in 1875 at Churchill Downs race track in Louisville, KY. The race is 3 year old thoroughbreds racing 1.25 miles. The original distance was 1.5 miles but was changed in 1896 after complaints that the distance was too long. It is the longest running sports event in the country.

In 1884, Clark gave the winner of the Derby roses. This tradition continued and in 1925 a sports writer dubbed the race the ‘Run for the Roses’ and it stuck. Later, in the 1930s, the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes, and the Belmont Stakes were grouped together and called the Triple Crown. And, while everyone may not be familiar with the Preakness or the Belmont, most folks know that the Kentucky Derby is known for extravagant hats and mint juleps!

Well, it turns out that the julep has a very different beginning than what we currently know as the mint julep. For starters, it used to just be a julep., no mint – or bourbon. They were typically rum, water and sugar. The word julep is derived from a Persian word then it went to Arabic and then Latin and eventually we got to julep. The original Persian word meant sweetened rosewater. Early juleps were made with cognac or other French brandies. Sadly, an infection of grapevines in France in the mid 1880’s and an excise tax on American made brandies made whiskey the staple for the julep after the Civil War. The first reference to mint julep goes back to 1784 when they were used as medicine. The first print mention of the mint julep is 1803 in the book by John Davis called Travels of Four and a Half Years in the United States of America.

Fast forward a little bit, 1938 – and we find the mint julep becoming the official drink of the Kentucky Derby. Fast forward a bit more, 2015, and we find Old Forrester being the official whiskey. They serve 120,000 mint juleps at the Derby – yes, 120,000. The race is one lap around a track. I can’t imagine how many it would be if it were two!

Hope you have enjoyed our stroll through the history of the Kentucky Derby and its official drink, the mint julep. We are including two recipes for your enjoyment, one with cognac, and one with Old Forrester. If you have the time, mint, and patience, do make the mint simple syrup – it is delicious!

Please, drink responsibly, and get into the spirit of things!

The Old Forester Mint Julep Recipe from KentuckyDerby.com

路         2 cups sugar

路         2 cups water

路         Sprigs of fresh mint

路         Crushed ice

路         Old Forester Straight Bourbon Whisky

Make a simple syrup by boiling sugar and water together for five minutes. Cool and place in a covered container with six or eight sprigs of fresh mint, then refrigerate overnight.

Make one julep at a time by filling a julep cup with crushed ice, adding one tablespoon mint syrup and two ounces of Old Forester Kentucky Whisky.

Garnish with a sprig of fresh mint.

Cognac Mint Julep from Hennessy.com

1.75 oz Cognac

8 mint leaves

.5 oz simple syrup

1 fresh mint branch to garnish

Place the mint leaves in a tall julep glass and gently press the mint leaves with a pestle (or spoon) to release the oils. Add the simple syrup and cognac. Stir completely and finish with crushed ice. Garnish with mint.

Happy Anniversary!

Today is the Mad Farmer and Miss Mercy’s 10th Anniversary. To some people who’ve been married 43 years (you know who you are) that might not be as big as deal as some anniversaries but to us it’s pretty darn important!

Someone who Miss Mercy works with asked “how many of those were good ones”? We know it was meant as a joke but for some couples it’s a sad, but valid, question. For the two of us we both answered “All of them” and that is absolutely true.

It’s amazing to the Mad Farmer (that moniker was given to him by Miss Mercy, either referring to how the Farmer sometimes drives her crazy, or hopefully, it might refer to the Farmer’s tendency towards Chaos Gardening – only Miss M knows for sure) how with the right person the relationship is so easy and fulfilling that ten years flies by and you can’t wait for the next day to see how that is going to turn out.

That’s not to say that sprinkled through out the years there haven’t been an occasional day with friction – but they are typically the Farmer’s fault for communicating poorly and Miss Mercy is big on grace, so that’s a fantastic bonus.

It’s been a great 10 years and I know that personally, the Farmer is looking forward to many decades more.

Love you Miss Mercy!

Flower Miss Mercy picked out for the Church in honor of our 10th Anniversary. She does good work!
Wedding day – what an awesome bride! And how cool is it that the Farmer got to wear vintage Hawaiian – best wife ever!
“Jumping the Broom” an awesome tradition we had at our wedding. The broom was handmade by a friend of the bride.

TSL Greenhouse 2021 – The Dutch Door

One of the really cool things about Miss Mercy (there are lots) is that sometimes her casual ideas are just brilliant. The Mad Farmer was explaining (probably poorly, but at least with sketches) his idea for what the West wall of the greenhouse was going to look like.

There were several discussions about the door, what side it would be hinged on, what it would look like, door handles, etc. During the discussion the Left-Handed Miss Mercy (I’m told that most left-handed people are awesome – although I’m mostly told that by left-handed people) went in depth about why the door should open this way versus that-way and which side she would prefer. So that prompted a quick inventory of doors about the homestead. Turns out on the TSL Homestead the front door is hinged on the right, the back door on the left and the garage door is on the left. Interior doors are a whack-a-doodle hodge-podge and the basement door is on the right.

Anyway, as we’re discussing the door Miss M says “I want it to be a Dutch Door”. The Farmer was gob-smacked to say the least. Awesome concept. After a quick search on the interwebs we found a style we liked and the Farmer set about making a $500 door appear out of $20 in parts – good thing Miss Mercy is on board with the Repair, Reuse, Recycle lifestyle.

Framing in a window to use as the upper part of the Dutch Door

The upper part of the door is framed from the window we were going to use anyway and we decided to use a simple black style for the hinges and the connecting latch.

The Mad Farmer decided to use three hinges on the upper door because of the weight. The lady of the Manor has decided that she would like an “X” on the lower part of the door, so that will be something that will happen as the Farmer stiffens and finished the framing on the lower part of the door.

Dutch Door open. Going to be super cool when it’s finished!

Snow in April

Last week was the “Average last frost” week in Kansas. Guess what Mother Nature brought us?

Looking out at the frozen over ornamental pond and snow covered Pub Shack. Missing Key West quite a bit at the moment.
Pergola and deck, covered in snow
Not sure the Paw Paw trees in the front yard are enjoying the snow.
We got about three inches of snow overnight – the week after “average” last frost.
Inside looking onto the flower garden
Looking at the flower garden from inside the Greenhouse
Looking west, bet the potted fig tree is surprised.
I don’t think the potted fig tree is as happy as it could be.
First snow on the new greenhouse roof

Come over and follow us on Odysee at TSLHomestead

TSL Homestead Cocktail of the Month – Blue Hawaii April 2021

This month we are celebrating our 10th anniversary with a drink that reflects our honeymoon to Hawaii – the Blue Hawaii. Hard to believe we are rounding the corner to 10 years. What a fun journey it has been!

This cocktail was created in 1957 by Harry Yee, while he was working at the Village Hotel in Waikiki. Mr. Yee was approached by a representative of Bols (a Dutch distiller) and asked to create a drink using their liquor, Blue Curacao – and so the Blue Hawaii was born.

Blue Curacao uses the peel of the Laraha citrus fruit for the taste (think orange-ish) and color is added to make it blue. Here’s a fun video about how to pronounce Curacao

The liquor we used was Combier Le Bleu. They have been making Curacao for 180 years. Their recipe was created by J.B. Combier while serving time in prison in the French village of Nantes (Combierusa.com).

There is another blue cocktail called the Blue Hawaiian, which is a blended drink and has Creme de Coconut in it. That may be for a different show…

The recipe we used came from Imbibemagazine.com and their recipe is from The Pink Squirrel:

3/4 oz white rum – we used Barcardi

3/4 oz vodka – we used Tito’s

3/4 oz blue curacao – we used Combier Le Bleu

3 oz of fresh pinapple juice – we used Knudson’s

1 oz fresh sour mix (recipe below)

Sour mix

1 C water

1 C granulated sugar

Heat the water and sugar until the sugar dissolves. Cool to room temperature then add:

1 C fresh lemon juice

1/2 C fresh lime juice

This stores in the fridge up to a week. I think I am going to try it in margaritas…

Mix in a shaker and strain into a glass with ice – if you have a hurricane glass, use that. Enjoy!

Wheaton Labs SKIP Kickstarter & Earth Day Giveaway

Wheaton Labs is currently undergoing a new book Kickstarter. The book is SKIP (Skills to Inherit Property). The book is about building the skills that are used in homesteading and looks to be well worth backing. The Mad Farmer has backed several of Paul’s kickstarters, including this one. The kickstarter ends on May 1st so get involved before then. You get a ton of really cool stuff by backing the project at any level.

Paul is also giving away a digital copy of his “Building a Better World in Your Backyard” for a few days. You can get a copy while it lasts at https://permies.com/goodies/92/fbde

TSL Greenhouse 2021 – West Wall

Using ripped Cedar pickets to frame in the windows

The Farmer does a lot of things with Cedar pickets – I just like the look, it’s easy to work with and since it’s usually used for fencing it’s not super expensive. On all the inside window frames the pickets have been ripped down to 1″ wide (that way there are five strips to a standard picket). Then cut to 45 degree angles on the ends, cut to the appropriate length and screwed into the 2×4’s I’m using to frame the window openings. Smells great when you’re cutting them as an added bonus.

West Wall Framed and looking towards the Garden – Original framing

In the above picture you can see we originally had the big window going in the top and were planning to add shelving to the lower left wall.

We ended up finding that some of the frame on the larger window we were going to put on top of the West wall had some wood rot and we could either remove the glass and build a new frame or change the plan up some. One of the reasons the Farmer likes working with wood (and the main reason I use screws) is that when a plan changes it’s relatively easy to adjust. In this case the West wall was re-framed to add in the two smaller windows on top that open horizontally and the larger window was framed in as a non-opening window on the bottom.

Clamps of various types are a Farmer’s best friend (besides Miss Mercy).

When we changed the window framing plan on the wall I had to remove the existing window frames I had already built, move a vertical stud over a couple of inches and then create new frame spaces for change in window layout. It’s always super handy to have a variety of clamps in various sizes and types around to hold things when you are missing that third hand. In the picture above I’m using a C-Clamp and an adjustable frame clamp to hold a new spacing stud in place while I screw it in. Way easier than trying to hold it with one hand and run a drill with the other.

West Wall modified framing with Windows in place

Miss Mercy liked the way it turned out and was willing to lose the planned shelf space we were going to build in on the lower side of the wall. With a lower shelf planned for under the sixteen foot planting table we are building against the South wall we probably won’t miss the few feet of shelves and we gained a pretty cool look for the wall with more glass than originally planned.

All four walls framed in and windows in place – starting to come together.

Overall, a pretty productive couple of days, even with the change in plan. That’s why they call it a project…