Another week done; skating right into Labor Day...right into the dreaded time of year....school buses on the road time. I am so sad. When the school buses come, they add about 10 minutes to my already too long of a commute! Feel bad for me. WAIT! You are probably wondering how all the projects went last weekend. WELL, I will tell you! They went great. Turned out awesome. My parents came over on Saturday morning around 10AM and Mom didn't leave until Sunday at 6:15PM. My dad was up on this totally vertical extension ladder so that he could paint as high as possible on the chimney and then I painted the very bottom of the house (so like up to 6 feet from the bottom) which was a total pain because we have like rose bushes and holly bushes and all types of other bushes that are pretty close to the house and poke you in places that you'd prfer not to be poked. Matt did all of the mid-ladder work for the whole house. Mom was up on the extension ladder all day Saturday. After Dad finished the chimney, he was in charge of priming all the shutters, and once he was done that, he joined me and mom on the rest of the extension ladder work. On Sunday, Mom and Matt painted all the shutters that had been primed and hung the shutters as well once they dried. I finished the last of the white wash on the extension ladder and then I primed and painted the front door and all the trim (which took SO long even though it was such a small amount of space). I didn't use any painters tape because I hate how it leaves not a totally clean edge...so instead of taping, I used straight edge razors on the glass when I was finished. IT LOOKS LIKE A TOTALLY DIFFERENT HOUSE! And you were right last week when you told me that we wouldn't finish everything, because we didn't. BUT...we got pretty close. Our extension ladder didn't reach as high as we needed it to so that we could finish the brick where the roof makes a point (or the chimney...), so our friend Fireman Rick is coming to finish that today with Matt. SO, hopefully when I get home, the whitewashing is finished! I also had to buy white paint today so that I can paint the stucco that is by the front door since it's kind of yellowy and doesn't match the white brick now. We also have to paint the garage doors, and Mom is coming over on Sunday to help me finish those! I can't wait!!! Now to pick out all the landscaping stuff we want to install...
Enough about the house though. I want to share with you a cool list of facts that Shaina and I came up with this week. Some of the facts are pretty obscure, some of the facts are funny, and some of the facts are shameless Karamoor plugs!
If you are not a winemaker or a sommelier, you may not have known this. The flesh of a red grape is the same exact color as the flesh of a white grape! The way that red wines turn red is that during primary fermentation, the flesh of the grape is allowed prolonged contact with the red skin of the grape. That's how the juice extracts that dark purple hue!
Oak barrels cost between $450 and $1200 depending on the variety of oak (French is the most expensive that we use). EACH year, we have to buy new barrels because an oak barrel's oak flavor decreases exponentially year over year. After the third use of the barrel, it is considered a neutral aging vessel. You can use the oak barrels for as long as you keep them clean; but they will no longer add any 'oakiness' to the wine (hence, why every year we have to buy about 25% more new oak barrels). $$$$$$$$$$$$
Remember the vineyard consultant that architected our vineyard? Her name is Lucie Morton (in case you forgot). Lucie is a top viticulturist in the United States and Lucie found AND named this disease. It's a type of fungus that is detrimental to vineyards. I just love that it's called The Black Goo disease. It sounds like a horror film from like the 50's...like THE BLOB! Say a little prayer that we NEVER see the BLACK GOO here at Karamoor...
That means that you can drink a whole bottle for only 625 calories! Karamoor's red wines and Chardonnay are 100% dry (meaning all sugar has been fermented out), so they are pretty low in carbs too!
This means that we don't have to leave things up to chance! We don't have to do a little bee or bug or hummingbird dance to make sure that the flowers get polinated so that we can have some grapes on the vines.
The shape of a glass DOES in fact matter. The shape of the glass is not going to help change a bad wine to a good wine...but when you are drinking wine you want to enjoy it to the fullest! The way that you enjoy it to the fullest is you get the most out of both; taste and smell. The larger bowl of the glass helps red wines to open (which is why red wine glasses are wider than white wine glasses), and they also have a larger rim (though still slightly fluted) so help blow off some of the ethanol (since reds are usually higher in alcohol than whites), so that the aromas can be enjoyed. White wine glasses typically have a much smaller bowl (because they don't need to open up), and they typically have a smaller rim because their aromas are more delicate than those of reds. Champagne should really, always be served in a flute (instead of those cute coupes) because it makes the bubbles last longer! Who wants to drink a flat champs?!
Shameless Karamoor plug! We are 100% grown, produced, bottled, labeled, and stored right here in Fort Washington! The truest expression of the finest wines that Montgomery County has to offer...
The first commercial vineyard in the United States of America was located in the Greater Philadelphia region and was established by Peter Legaux in 1793!
Another plug! We're pretty great.
Doctor is to humans what a Viticulturist is to grape vines. We'd be lost without our viticulture team here at Karamoor! Thanks Joe and Casey!
Have you ever wondered how you get wine out of a barrel without having to dump the barrel upside down? (or use a pump...) WONDER NO MORE! This handy little contraption is made of glass and has a hole in the glass up by the handle, thus allowing air to escape as the wand fills with wine. Once you've got enough wine in the thief (which for me is at the very top...), you put your thumb over the hole and voila! You are ready to fill your glass...ahem...I mean...go run some tests.
Lol. My sophmoric sense of humor makes me laugh every single time I say this....or when anyone says this.
ALSO, Terrior can impart all different types of flavors in the wine!
ANOTHER shameless plug! Cases of our 2014 signature wines are 50% off!
UNTIL NEXT TIME................
TGIF. Seriously. This week has been so busy and I cannot wait to just do nothing (except for going out to dinner to our fav spot, Devil's Acre!) tonight and sleep in a smidge tomorrow morning. Sleeping in "a smidge" means that I get up at 7:20AM to go to the gym instead of 6:30AM to go to work. For some reason, that extra 50 minutes makes all the difference. I think that I am looking forward to an extra 50 minutes of sleep so much because on Monday night pretty much everything that could have happened to interrupt sleep, did. We go to bed at like 9:30PM, so by 1AM when the power went out for some reason (it wasn't raining or anything?) and our alarm started going off, I was in one of those deep sleep cycles. You know the kind...where you like lurch awake and are totally disoriented? So, I'm stumbling around the bedroom and Matt wakes up and he's fumbling around with the alarm panel trying to get it to be quiet (I'm literally not being helpful at all...just stumbling around). Finally he gets the beeping to stop and we get back into bed. Only now...I cannot sleep because all I am thinking about is, "how am I going to take a shower and get ready for work in 5 hours if the power is out?". See, we belong to a Crossfit gym, so there are no showers there (so showering at the gym is not an option), and I get to work by 7:45AM (after showering), which means that I would get to work by like 7:15 if I didn't take a shower. 7:15AM is too early to go to my grandparents' house to take a shower because they are usually exercising or getting ready for work themselves! So, after thinking about this for about 2 hours, I finally doze off. Only to be rudely awoken by my husband who has his phone out and all bright and is setting the alarm clock next to the bed. It is an old alarm clock with noisy clicking buttons and one of those alarms that go MEEP MEEP MEEP until you turn it off. I hate that stupid thing. I know what I am getting him for Christmas this year...an alarm clock that has like the woosh of the ocean or something that hopefully I can incorporate into a dream rather than being startled awake. So, anyway, now that I know that the power is back on (due to the alarm clock being able to be set), I fall back to sleep...only to be woken up at 4:45AM by said stupid alarm clock. Then I try to will myself back to sleep...and you know when the only thing that you want to do is sleep, you're definitely not going back to sleep. I should have just gotten up at 4:45AM and gone into work. Needless to say, Tuesday was a totally sleep deprived day. I wasn't making a whole lot of sense.
Speaking of Tuesday, that's also when we decided to run this wild and crazy case special on our 2014 Meritage, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay and our 2015 Sauvignon Blanc! What. A. Gift! The 2015 Sauvignon Blanc is $11.25 per bottle! The 2014 wines are 50% off! FIFTY PERCENT OFF! Why do things always look like they are spelled wrong when you put them in all caps? Anyway, the main reason for this sale is that we have A LOT of inventory and with the store still being at least a year away, we decided to offer these wines at a steep discount so that we just don't keep building inventory in the warehouse. If you are a local business, and are looking for client or customer or employee gifts, this could be the perfect answer to, "What do I get these people for the holidays?", it is also the perfect answer to, "How do I make the rest of summer super great?"! Since the 2014 Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Meritage were not released prior to this point, we wrote up some tasting notes for you to enjoy (along with some pairing suggestions from Shaina and Alana, let us know what you think!)! Here they are:
2014 Merlot: Cherry, ripe plum, dried currants and a hint of leather continue to an herbal component with tannins reminiscent of black tea.
Pair this powerful Merlot with robust, earthy cheeses, herb encrusted lamb, and blackened snapper or salmon.
2014 Cabernet Franc: Huckleberry, moss, and savory aromas are accented with light berry flavors, clove and peppercorns leading to a medium bodied, soft tannic finish.
Try this Karamoor favorite with grilled Italian sausages, stuffed portabellas with a smoked cheese, prime rib, or eggplant parmesan.
2014 Meritage: Dark cherry cobbler, vanilla and tar aromas precede the tastes of blackberries, mocha, and sage. The bold elements of this wine are supported by a velvety mouth-feel leading to an elegant tannic finish.
Accompany this Karamoor Flagship with a grilled ribeye steak, decadent dark chocolate cake, or in front of a roaring fireplace with a good book!
Case prices are as listed on our new SALE page on the Karamoor website, and they will be listed until the end of August! A lot of Karamoor fans have already taken advantage of these prices and we thank you for your orders!
We have a tour this afternoon (3rd in a row that has been sold out), but there are still two tickets remaining for next Friday's tour (8.25.17). Come on out and join us! Next Friday will be extra fun because I will be able to fill you in on how I did with all of my house projects that are scheduled for this weekend (that I will be completing with the help of my loving parents and husband!). I will tell you what they are and you're going to be like, "Ali, there is no way you guys are going to get all of that done this weekend!", and I would be like, "What do you know?!". But you would probably be right... So, we are going to whitewash the brick front of our house and our chimney with a mixture of lyme and salt (my mom's idea), we are also priming and painting the shutters of the house, the front door, and the garage doors! ...and I think I'm tired now! Can't wait to fill you in on how it went! Until next time...
So, I don't think that I have kept it a secret that I do not like super hot and muggy weather (you know, the type of weather that is typical in August...), but I do like August for other reasons... And all of those reasons can be found in a vegetable garden. I mean, is there any additional reason that you can think of to actually like August? Neither can I. I think that I also mentioned in another blog article that I am my grandmother's favorite grandchild (I've turned off the commenting for this blog so that none of my cousins or brother can refute that), so I am a beneficiary of the colossal vegetable garden that lives on this property. I am not sure if you follow Karamoor's Instagram, but last weekend I showed a video of me using a ton of tomatoes to make a 3 part sauce. And lemme tell ya, it did not disappoint. This week, I scored 2 more flats of plum tomatoes that I plan to use to make a boatload of bolognese - be on the lookout for those steps on Sunday afternoon (we've got a party Saturday night, so I probably won't be up too early the next morning...). In addition to all the tomatoes, I've been lucking out with peppers, carrots, string beans, and a whole lot of cucumbers. I also got some XL zucchini and squash (not great for eating, but they got so big because of all that rain and they couldn't go into the garden to pick) that I used for zucchini bread. It has been saving me A LOT of money at the grocery store because I would say that on average, I eat about 50 cups of vegetables a week....maybe more. And that doesn't include sweet potatoes. So, summer vegetable season really helps out the old pocketbook.
Are you interested in how I made my sauce last weekend? I bet you are. Even if you're not, I'm going to tell you what I did because it turned out great. I used to throw the tomatoes into a pot of boiling water and then turn off the water and leave them in just long enough for the skins to crack and then I would have to peel the skin off and squeeze out the seeds and it was just the BIGGEST pain in the rear. So, on my way to Wholefoods on Sunday, I swung by Kitchen Kapers in Montgomeryville and bought something that I have been meaning to buy for like 2 years. Makes no sense why it took my so long to get one because they are like $35. Anyway, what a time saver! I threw all of the tomatoes whole (after I cut out any ugly parts) into a massive pot (I think I had like 20 lbs of tomatoes or something like that so I had to use the largest one I had). Luckily, we just got married, so there is no shortage of pots in my kitchen! So, if you cook these tomatoes on low for like 20-25 minutes and stir them around with a large spoon, the tomatoes start to break down and release their own juices...so nothing burns. I should mention that I added 5 cloves of garlic with the uncooked tomatoes so that it would incorporate into the sauce from the very beginning. So, once everything was nice and juicy and the tomatoes were soft, I broke out my new food mill and used the medium hole insert (I wanted some chunks in it and I don't mind a few seeds) and removed all the skins and most of the seeds. Once all the tomatoes were milled, I separated the juice into 3 parts. I eyeballed about 1/4 of the sauce into a separate container, and then I poured some of the sauce to fill about 1/2 of an inch in two (2) 1/4 sheet pans, and then left the remaining 3/4 (minus the sheet pans) in a large pot.
-For the large pot, I put that back on the stove over low heat (for about an hour and a half) to let it cook and bubble and reduce. To that sauce, I added salt (don't add too much and taste in little increments so that you don't OVER salt...no one likes salty tomato sauce), I added another 4 cloves of crushed garlic, and some red pepper flakes. When there was about a half hour left on the stove top, I added a large handful of ripped basil leaves and oregano.
-For the 2 1/4 sheet pans (you could just use a 1/2 sheet pan if you wanted) I put them in the oven at 350 (with the sweet potatoes I was cooking for lunches) and let them reduce and reduce and reduce until I was left with a delicious tomato paste. Make sure that you keep an eye on this or it could easily burn. Stir it every few minutes and more frequently as the water continues to evaporate.
-For the removed 1/4 of sauce, I did nothing to it. I left it and all its fresh tastiness alone and added nothing.
Once all separate components were completed, I added them all together into the same pot. I tasted, and then seasoned with more basil and oregano, salt, and I added a little sugar. I portioned it all out so that I could freeze it and not have to defrost the whole heap at one time. I didn't add onion or anything - I will do that when I am going to use it. I kind of wanted it to be a blank canvas that I could use for anything. Making pizza? Got a sauce for that. Making bolognese? Got a sauce for that. Eating some spaghetti and want an arrabiata? Got it covered. Anyway, give it a whirl. I'd say that it took a total of about 2.5 hours, so it's a great Sunday-while-you-meal-prep project.
To wrap up today's blog, I am going to make a brief mention of Karamoor wines (since I talked about Karamoor's vegetable garden and sauce for the rest of the post). Today, we are bottling our 2016 Chardonnay. There will be about 430 cases when all said and done. We will probably send it out to our Mixed Wine Club members for the September shipment! Stay tuned for next week when I promise to show you some vineyard pictures since we are approaching harvest! Have a wonderful weekend! Until next time...
Another week into 2017 and we are in August. Last weekend we were up in the Reading area to hang out with my brother-in-law and sister-in-law. Matt and his brother played in a golf tournament in the morning and Nicole and I worked on perfecting a frozen mojito! It was a great Saturday. Their friends up there are so nice. At the end of the night, Matt, Andy, and Ryan (their childhood pal) set off a bunch of fireworks. It was great! Then on Sunday morning we woke up entirely too early to go to this place called The Tomcat for breakfast. The Tomcat has this INSANE menu. It is like 5 pages long and has wacky breakfast combos like these pancakes: chocolate chip cookie dough pancakes with layers of vanilla mousse - topped with chocolate drizzle and whipped cream or this breakfast sandwich: Honey Sriracha beef BBQ, two over eggs, smoked Gouda, frizzy onions and jalapeños between two oversized silver dollar pancakes. We've kind of made it a yearly tradition...we went there last year after the Pig Roast (and also to celebrate Andy's birthday) and now this year too! I think once you do it more than 1 time, it becomes tradition. That's the rule, right?
Anyway, when I got home last Sunday after The Tomcat, I had to weed the flower beds. I got sick of looking at the weeds and they weren't just going to go away (sadly), and I had already sprayed Roundup this season (the weeds had the audacity to come back)! I haven't had to do any weeding really since I got stung by a bunch of hornets when I was weeding with my mom when I was in high school...but now that I don't live at Mom and Dad's and I don't feel like paying someone to come and take care of our beds, I had to do it (Matt was mowing the lawn and fixing the fence because Murph is BAD and he has been getting out to go and visit his dog friends and kids in the neighbors pool....). I still hate it just as much as I did when I was in high school, but I will say that I felt very accomplished when I saw how nice it looked when I had finished.
I guess this is kind of how the guys feel out in the vineyard. Every single day Joen and his crew are out there making the vines look beautiful and keeping the fruit clean and making sure that they can grow the best that they can. I know they are starting to get nervous because we are down to crunch time and these thunderstorms that dump 2 inches of rain in an hour are less than ideal! Did anyone else get that storm that we had last night? I live up in Doylestown and literally, it rained for about 35 minutes and no lie, we got 2 inches of rain. The front yard looked like a pond for a few. Hopefully the weather doesn't do too much of this during harvest...but it's been a weird summer, so you never know. This is my favorite time of year in the vineyard (my favorite time of year on the property is winter)...it is so cool to see all the grapes that will be brought in to make our wine. I mean, this is the time of year that REALLY counts here at Karamoor. It decides how much wine we get to make and what the quality potential is. It is exciting and nerve wracking. But the vineyard is so pretty with all the red grape clusters hanging out there.
Last week, we released 2 more dates for tours (8.18 and 8.25); we have sold out 8.18, but there are still spots remaining for 8.25! We hope that you will come and visit us. Tours start promptly at 3PM and come prepared for an experience! It's not just a tasting. The visit lasts about 2 hours!
I think that's all I've got. No major plans this weekend other than playing golf tomorrow with Matt and then having dinner with my grandparents. Sunday should be nice and lowkey. I hope that you've got some fun weekend plans...one of the last few of summer! Make it count! Until next time...