Monday, September 20, 2010

Welcome party and sunflower seeds

My progress toward official residency continues.

New Tag

As I mentioned in my last post, on Saturday, we hosted a party welcoming me to Michigan. We made it a local theme, with veggies from the garden and the farmers market, Dearborn Sausages, Faygo soda, and Michigan beers, including Bells, Founders Brewing, Atwater Block Brewery, Detroit Beer Company, and Arbor Brewing Company. With Scott's friends and family that showed up, we had a headcount of 41 adults and 2 babies. Everyone seemed to have a good time hanging out and chatting, then playing board games and Rock Band (the video game) into the night. Scott's family also ensured that I am now stocked with University of Michigan gear, local products, maps, and even an indoor plant, which I was sadly lacking since my last one was eaten my my friends' cat (who, fortunately, showed no ill effects).

Sunflower stalks

As you can imagine, Saturday was spent getting ready for the party, then hosting it. Sunday ended up being a lazy day. On Saturday, we were forced to harvest the sunflowers because they were already dropping seeds in the garden as we were harvesting tomatoes. On Sunday, after completing our party clean-up, we put on a movie and pushed the seeds from the huge sunflower heads.

Sunflower head

Even though we left some undeveloped seeds on some of the heads, in the end we had bowls full of seeds. Today, I prepared the seeds for storage.

Sunflower seeds

I decided to salt most of the seeds before toasting, but also toast some without salt. I toasted the seeds from the less developed heads without salt. These seeds were much lighter than the others, so I thought this would be an easy way to identify which ones are salted.

In the photo above, you can see that I am soaking the seeds in the bowls on the left in brine. The brine should be 5 parts water to 1 part salt, and the sunflower seeds should soak overnight before toasting.

Sunflower seeds

Seeds are placed in a single layer in cookie sheets for toasting. Unsalted seeds are toasted at 275ºF for 10 minutes. Salted seeds are toasted for an additional 5 minutes to dry out the brine. We'll see how the salted ones turn out tomorrow.

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