What A Fungi!

This property continues to deliver amazing surprises - over the course of 2 days one of our many dead madrone trees sprouted the most beautiful bracket fungi Iíve ever seen...

Fungi Fungi Fungi Fungi

Strange Fungi

Strange Fungi

This bracket fungi showed up on an old oak next to the drivewayóIíve never seen anything like it and looked online but couldnít find anything similar, the bracket with that huge poof on top, really remarkable. There was an old one on the tree when we got here, all darkened; I heard a loud POP while I was out there one day and it had exploded, pieces of it were all over the ground...!

The Colnik Latch

The Colnik Latch

Nearly 50 years ago a fire gutted an East Side mansion in Milwaukee, taking the life of its reclusive elderly occupant. Long forgotten at the time of her death, she had been one of the first female architects in the country, had a successful career and had designed the home where she died.

Free-lance salvagers descended on the property to save what would surely have been destroyed in those daysóthere were reports of antique dealers throwing Chinese tapestries out the attic windows, of carved fireplace surrounds and stained glass. My brother stopped by and came away with this latch forged by noted Milwaukee metalworker Cyril Colnik.

The Austrian had arrived in the late 1800ís and for many years furnished fences, gates, lamps and balustrades for the mansions of the cityís Guilded Age eliteóa staircase for a brewing magnate took 3 years. He was known for his fluid, natural forms and life-like detail.

The latch lay in a box at the farm all these years, until my brother had to replace the screen door on the front porch this summer. He finally had a place to use it. Cyrilís curled acanthus leaf latch once more opens into a much loved home.

Cyril Colnik latch

Answers to Customer Questions

1. I bought a bottle of your superb lime syrup about 4 months ago & put it in the fridge as you recommend after opening. I had not finished it all nor used it for a while but noticed recently that it developed considerable cloudy precipitation. Is this sugar precipitating out? I gave it a brief period in the microwave and it largely disappeared.

I'd like to buy some more of your syrups & other products but have some other questions first: What is the "refrigerator life" of your syrups? You say you use corn syrup in your syrups. Is this the high fructose type? Do you recommend refrigerating your marmalades too after opening? Thank you.

Good questions all. The refrigeration I recommend is to be safe--say, someone who stores a half-used bottle over his stove for 3 years, then wonders why if anything happens. Most of the citrus syrups contain enough citric acid that they will not go bad in the short term, say 4 to 6 weeks, if left out. Some customers do not refrigerate them at all. I keep a jar of stray syrups out for my tea and it never gets moldy on top, which is all that would happen anyway, but I use it daily.

I sometimes keep syrups refrigerated for years. They can, as you observed, crystalize, but as you also figured out, this is easily remedied by heating in the microwave, just as you would crystalized honey. They can be brought back repeatedly by this method with no loss of flavor or quality. If it's not clear, go a few seconds more.

The corn syrup in the syrups is not high-fructose, but if you are concerned about corn syrup in general I suggest reading food authority Marion Nesbett's article on the subject, the most balanced, considered, and definitive parsing of this controversy:

Like all jams, the marmalade should be refrigerated. It can, if kept a long time, crystalize as well, but the same procedure noted above will work for them as well.

My Best,
Robert Lambert

2. Hello - I placed the order below via your website. I didn't see an option in the checkout area to not have the invoice not included, but if it's possible to do that I'd appreciate it -- the order is a gift.
thanks, AB

I took care of that, A! If I see that the Bill To and Ship To are different names, I automatically assume it's a gift and only include that part of the receipt, inside a card, so they'll know who it's from. Thank you for your order!

My Best,
Robert Lambert

3. I'd like to suggest that you consider using compostable vegetable-based 'peanuts' for packing instead of styrofoam ones.
Happy Holidays, AB

Thanks for the suggestion! I know everything about the styro is negative, except for the fact that it works. The starch varieties compress readily against the weight of a heavy object when the box is shaken as it is in shipping, and the product is soon rattling around in the box and subject to breakage. Since the things I'm shipping are glass, liquid and expensive, experience has proved that being well separated and secured with material that keeps its shape is the only way I can be sure they will safely reach their destination--and more ecologically sound than sending it twice, I think. You note I do now use the paper grass on top, but only after the bases have been secured with the peanuts.

Have a Happy New Year!!
My Best,
Robert Lambert

4. To my surprise, the Vintage 2011 Dark Fruitcake didn't get opened this holiday. How long will it keep?
Thanks, R

How long can you wait? It all depends on your appetite! ;-) I've kept one as long as 7 years and it was better than when I made it - so what I'm saying is it's up to you! I've heard of them kept as long as 25 years. Don't freeze it, just refrigerate but make sure it's in a second zip seal bag to keep it moist. I the case of a loooong hibernation, it might require an extra splash of Jack Daniels. Who wouldn't?

My Best,
Robert Lambert

5. I came across your website and wow, your products look amazing! I am also an artisan jam maker, but in the west of Ireland. We don't get all the beautiful fruits you get. I try not to use anything that is not local, with the exception of lemons and oranges. We get oranges, blood oranges if we are lucky and once a year Seville oranges. One type of lemon and one type of lime!

10 years ago a butternut squash was unheard of! I grew up in Africa, and let me tell you it took a lot to get my head around the lack of choice in the fresh produce section when I moved to Ireland. It is much better now, but still not near what there is in your part of the world or even in the rest of Europe. Ahh well I digress.

I was browsing through your website and came across this picture... please will you tell me where you got this sieve or what it is called so I can look online to find one. I use a small normal sieve and oh this would make life so much easier!

Raspberry Champagne Jelly

I make a lot of elderberry jam, and let me tell you this would be a Godsend!

I laughed too hard when I read your bit about pectin! I get asked that question... UMMMM you need pectin to set, and if a fruit does not have enough pectin to set, then you will have syrup, not jam! I also make my own pectin with the orange seeds, but make a lot with reduced apple juice from my apple trees in the garden. I freeze it in muffin tins, then put the frozen pectin muffins into zip lock bags. I have read a bit about a pectin called pomona's pectin, have you used it? It is not available here in Ireland, but I have been thinking about getting some to experiment with.

Thanks for taking the time to read this, look forward to hearing from you.
Regards M

So funny that Iíd read this upon returning from visiting my parents in Wisconsin over the holidays. Even the all-seeing internet canít bring you that amazing device - I designed it with my 92-year old Dad, and he built it! This visit I had him build a rack for my 2-piece jar rims, I re-use them for my boiling water baths, always wanted an orderly place to keep them when not in use - and now Iíve got it! He made my bottle filler as well. I know, Iím very lucky. Iíve forwarded your message to him. He will love this. Hereís a shot of him cutting the plugs to hold the columns in place for the new piece, on his lathe - and it was 23 degrees in the garage!

Robert Lambert Dad

Yes the pan strainer does make life so much easier. Ideal for all kinds of berries, and if I take out the fine screen to prep small plums, it lets the skin & guts thru but holds back just the pitsóheaven! One thing youíll never find is the screen, though, just fine enough to hold back every last raspberry seed. Itís a very large piece of fine industrial stainless mesh screen for instruments, from one of Dadís last business contacts. Not something one can go out and buy. I have a nephew whoís the manager of a chemical plant near Boston, and he couldnít get us any.

Besides the pectin I make, I use a French citrus-derived import that is available only to the trade, and wildly expensive, but worth it.

Delightful to hear from you! Mom says Dadís not got much to do this time of year, perhaps we can coax him back into the shop! ;-)

My Best,
Robert Lambert

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