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Passata is an overlooked process for your end of the season tomatoes. There’s lots of variations out there that range from full cooked tomato sauce, to raw tomato purée. That’s what we made last week, about 5 gallons of raw tomato purée seasoned with salt, garlic confit and fresh basil. I cut the tomatoes in half, salted them and squeezed out as many seeds as I could. Then rough chopped everything and passed through a food mill to take out the skins. These are 22oz jars filled up to the top, lid tightened and then boiled in hot water for about 25 minutes. As they cool, they create a tight seal and are ready to put away for the winter. Simmered with a touch of cream and served with a mozzarella grilled cheese, passata tomato soup in the winter will be a throw back Thursday to the bliss of late July.
Major apple butter project this week. We had a huge harvest of our vintage Cox Orange Pippin apples. A British Victorian variety designed primarily for hard cider by horticulturist ( and master brewer ) Richard Cox in 1830 in Buckinghamshire, England. Our trees are 50+ years old and had to be pruned back pretty substantially two years ago. This was the first year they came back with vigor thanks to a lot of rain and our happy bee colony. The recipe I used is an old Appalachian version I’ve been lugging around since South Carolina, calling for Apples plus 50/50 apple cider and apple cider vinegar. That with baking spices, white and brown sugar, a little vanilla and salt, cook down for almost 5 hours. The last part makes it “butter” In my opinion. I take the stewed apples and purée them in a high speed blended until “butter” smooth with zero pulp or texture. Butter smooth, rich autumn flavor. So happy to see that our old trees are back, which is a good lesson. Sometimes you have to retreat a little to move forward. 5 years ago we maybe got a basket of apples and this year we put away 70 jars of Apple Butter for the winter.
Rock’s first superstar drummer. RIP Ginger Baker. The Co-founder of the legendary British group Cream. Baker, along with Jack Bruce and Eric Clapton, reverberated the American Blues movement in 1960’s U.K. with Baker’s psychedelic jazz percussion and Clapton’s power cords into a cocktail still sipped by rock bands today. Ginger Baker was 80 years old.
Packed away three gallons of home made chili oil today too. I can’t tell you how happy this makes me. I love chilis.... no really, it’s a problem. But I don’t love vinegary/fermented chili sauces. Although I do have three dozen bottles in my fridge. So, that’s a lie... Anyway, for me, this is a good as it gets. The absolute best expression of summer chili flavor. I used, three or four pounds of what chilis we had left in the garden. Habanero, Thai Dragon, Jimmy Nardello, Jalapeño, Cayenne and my last ghost pepper. I slowly poached them (250 degrees) in California Olive Oil, Orange Peel From our tree, Sicilian anchovies, garlic and hand full of fresh thyme. Then seasoned the whole pot with sea salt. When the chilis were basically confit, I puréed everything to extract the soul of the chilis, the bright red color. Blended the purée back together with the rest of the oil, strained out the fine particles and bottled. I will have this with every meal and mark the bottles so I know how much I have left. If anyone touches it, I will hunt them down.
We finally got to decant this other project @tolanflorence has been working on. An Eau De Vie hybrid made with our Bartlett Pears. Basically Pear Hooch.... or Pooch for short. The pears were pierced with holes using a chop stick a dozen times each then covered in vodka and flavored with cinnamon and star anise. Put up to macerate for 6 weeks the consistency gets syrupy and almost bourbon like, although no extra sugar was added. The flavor is fantastic. It’s what I would classify as a snuggler, sipped by a fire.
Cleaned out 90% of our summer garden yesterday and had a ton of random herbs left over. Three different kinds of basil, parsley, mint. So I made a mixed herb pesto with everything. Blanched the herbs, then shocked them in ice water to hold the color. Then blended with garlic confit, roasted cashews, Parmesan, California Olive Oil and Lemon. Spectacular flavor. Cashews nuts have an incredible rich fat that creams out the pesto and blends perfectly with Parmesan. Best pesto of the year.
As a child of divorced parents, and as a Dad who is on his second marriage, I can speak first hand that a family breakup can be so deeply scarring, for everyone involved, especially the children. Thank God, Two of my favorite people on planet earth @nikkidebartolo and @benswigradio have literally written the book on modern “decoupling” in a way that creates a larger, extended family that IS full of love and DOES stay together. @ourhappydivorce is a fabulous book that doesn’t hold anything back and tells a truth that is honest and refreshing. If you are in a not-so-great relationship, and the writing is on the wall, It doesn’t have to an end in a way that is spiteful and cruel. In the end we are all just people and people change. I have to tell you, Our Happy Divorce is a must read. From two of the strongest parents I’ve ever met, I’ve learned that a beautiful new path is possible. Fantastic job Ben and Nikki! You’re such an inspiration! If this feels important to share, tag someone you know. Our Happy Divorce is available on Amazon right now.
I’m beyond thrilled and honored to announce that Uncrushable, our documentary about the 2017 Northern California wildfires, will be screened for a Southern California Audience at the Downtown LA Film Festival, Sunday, October 27that 3:30 pm at the REGAL LA LIVE Theater 13. Tickets are available at the DTLAFF website (link in bio). Come on out and bring your friends…we’d love to see you there!
I never get tired of this. Stunning day out on the water. San Francisco Bay 9/15/19