Monday, December 27, 2010

food, grog, and skiing

Not much new around here except that our food self sufficiency rating has just about dropped to zero, mainly due to winter . The ducks have stopped laying for the season and all that's in the field are beets and some lettuce. Waiting on some brussel sprouts and broccoli though. Did barter some hombrew for venison and wild boar, both of which were excellent. (thanks Yabanjin) Here's the making of a venison stew in my new best friend the pressure cooker. Haven't bought any beer for quite a while now. Have a system pretty well worked out for fermenting even at low winter temperatures. Just place a water jug of wort on the sacrilegious electric radiator for a week. Killing 2 birds with 1 stone.
These electric radiators make the difference between unbearable and bearable temperatures in the far corners of the house where the woodstove warmth will not reach. But still it pains me to I can't say money for heat. Then do a second fermentation in the bottle for another 4 days
wait 3 weeks or longer if you can stand it, fresh Belgian style ale for 1\5th the price
Then you have to go out and work off all those calories

                        杉山          段が峰
should be able to ski up there in another day or two , looking forward to trying out the new gear

                        Dangamine from Sugiyama

With more snow it is now getting good. The problem is the road to the top of the pass is snowed in and I have to hike up the ridge from the beginning, brutal.

Skiing on the ridge top at 900m.

A typical glade that can be skied right off the trail, what goes down must also come back up. After a few of these glade or tree runs you're wiped.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Quince wine 花梨ワイン

This giant caterpillar has nothing to do with wine
I was really hoping to try making persimmon wine this year but my secret mountain persimmon tree either didn't fruit well this year or my timing was way off. Acorns also were absent due to the very dry August weather probably.

The dandelion wine たんぽぽワイン bottled back in May is ready and came out quite well. I'm pleased because it was my first attempt at wine and used only regular bread yeast.
An aquaintance gave us some very large quinces. The quince or karin 花梨 is a large, hard, asian pear that must be boiled to be eaten.

boiling the karin
cut into bite sized pieces, add sugar, honey, lemon juice and a little ginger. Boil for 1/2 hour.

strain into carbuoy with cold water added

using proper wine yeast this time

Sprinkle on yeast and fit airlock in place

Insulate the warm brew and store in a warm place till fermentation ceases. This will be racked (transferred) to another carbuoy in about 2 weeks, and sit for about 3 months . Then bottled and aged for another 3 months at least. Hoping for the best.

Thursday, October 21, 2010


Well, autumn started off great with a computer crash and my potatoes getting eaten by boars and bucks. 100 plants were down to 20 or so. They left the plants and roots uneaten but got the little tubers. I managed to salvage a row of spudless roots.

Then things got better and we had to have the entire bath replaced due to the inept construction of the original contractor. Rigged a solar shower on the roof next to the deck. It worked for a week, then it got colder.

Into the second week of remodeling had to use buckets of hot tap water to fill containers, the kids, wife and I enjoyed bathing al fresco in the evenings.

All the amenities of home

Trying a system to force dry wood by February. That is when I figure I'll just about run out of dry wood on hand. Green logs are split in half and stacked with large air spaces.

Covered on ominous looking days but opened and free to breathe and dry when nice.

The rape seed- green manure is really taking off. It's about knee high and looks like broccoli. The ducks get a good bucketful per day, well chopped.
And the row of salvaged potatoes is hanging on and some are actually flowering. What is going on underground is anybody's guess though.
Things were looking up and had some good luck in the yard with parasol mushrooms.

Most years I'd get one or two total, but this year they're coming in groups of 3. I'll harvest 2 and break up 1 and throw it around the yard for next year's crop.

Tried my hand at Matsutake hunting way up on the mountain but found nothing but poisonous Death Caps.
After taking this picture, I read " do not handle these mushrooms, if you do wash hands thoroughly". Well I'm 3 km. in and up the mountain, have 200cc of water and a 500 meter descent ahead, what would you do?

Couldn't positive ID these as Oyster mushrooms , tempting they were, darn.

Earthballs, poisonous of course. If I start a band it's going to be called Earthballs.
Looks like Matsutake

Wait it's an egg..

Death caps

After that things got better round the house with even more monstrous parasol mushrooms.

Makes about a dozen for the year so far

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The water in the Sea of Japan is sometimes incredibly Caribbean-like

This August,and September so far, was absolutely blistering, but with little rain. For that I'm thankful. April-July was wetter than normal with 1200mm in that period. (4 feet) We've finally gone under 30C/85F inside the house.
Is that Diamond Head?

The corn harvest topped out at 250 ears, from 450 plants, not bad. It was pretty much on my prediction for 1\2 being successful.

Didn't make it over 300 due to boars/deer/insect damage on the final 2 rows. Recently in the evenings the hamlet resonates with the sounds of radios in the fields, banging on fences, and a few bottle rockets (my contribution). The other day a lone monkey foolishly came down for a daytime glimpse of the now golden rice paddies. Poor little guy was ruthlessly harassed by all. Actually felt sorry for the him, till he comes near my house that is.

Put in 秋じゃが fall potatoes. 3 beds of 30-40 seed spuds. Continuing with the use of double wide rows between raised beds. The few visible remaining corn plants mark the beds used in summer. They will rest and were broadcast seeded with rape. This should act as a green manure for next year's planting.

The solar powered yard lights have been upgraded from compact fluoresent to LED's. This simple but somewhat costly act has extended their range to 60 hours. Of course I waited till the bulbs were on sale. Edison would be proud, a 20 dollar light bulb. The new LED's are 0.11 amps, using less power than the already super efficient CFL's. A very small home could easily be lit with a single PV panel and one battery. Lighting is the easy part of trying to be off grid , but it just got a whole lot simpler. Before, the ultimate in off grid lighting was supposedly propane, I'd say the standard has changed. The bulbs are said to be good for 40,000 hours or about 20 years.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Yellow Gold

Got about 100 more ears from the middle rows with my son's help. There are still 2 rows remaining that are not quite ready. Hopefully this will push the total over 300. About 1/2 are "supermarket large" some with a little insect damage, usually on the very top. The other 1/2 is a mix of medium to small sizes. This really makes up for the poor potato crop. I'm tickled pink to say the least.

Though my wife shares my enthusiasm for maize, freezer space is a different story.

Corn fed ducks enjoying the irrigation ditch


corn "raisins"

I think I accidentally discovered a new food. While trying to dry par-boiled corn to make flour, it wouldn't quite dry all the way no matter how long it stayed in the electric oven at a very low temperature of 45C. Not having any screens to properly dry it in the sun, and having fruit flies attack the hung cobs, the only option was to raise the temp to the next lowest setting. As it turns out, about 2hrs at 100C makes perfect "corn raisins". The family is wild about them.