Friday, July 31, 2015

Day 230 Canning before vacay 2

So.... the next morning I actually canned the hot dog relish

  (The relish really looked pretty in the pan!)

and the dill hamburger slices..

Both new recipes to try this year...

I roasted a mother lode of beets for at least one new recipe

Kickin' Pickled Beets

I substituted hot banana peppers for the jalapenos and used the 5 in my fridge (instead of the 2 called for in the recipe!)  I am not sure about my quantity of beets - I THINK that I have more - so more beets can handle more peppers.  If I am right :-)

I have way more beets than I thought!  So I switched gears midstream.  I was close to running out of brine - which is vinegar and spices..... and I did like the ginger pickled beets from a few weeks ago.... so I pulled that recipe and made up THAT brine - adding it to the remaining brine with hot peppers.... and cut ginger to add to the individual jars.   I have no idea what I've done :-)  I am sure about the brine - which is the "food safety' component.... but we shall see in a few weeks what I think about my gingery beets with a little hot spice kicked in... sounds reasonable to me!

cut the rest of the cukes into spears for the half-pints and random chunks for the leftover jar..... used the leftover basic brine and spices to put together 6 jars of kosher dills.  The brine leftover from my sweet-hot beets.. I used with the rest of the cukes to make up a pint and a half of mystery pickles!

The last pro-active thing I did for the veggie prep is to strip the tomato plants.  I didn't want too many to ripen and kill off the plants while I was gone (the kids won't remember to pick them!)  So I pulled all the tomatoes, especially the green ones!

In order to pickle the green cherry tomatoes... I had to puncture their tough little skins so the pickling liquid could get in and flavor them..  I first thought to use a fork - but the fork was too big for most of them so I remembered my little corn holder thingie...

It was kind of fun.. though it does look like Bunnicula got to them! 

I did a sweet & spicy recipe with most of them

I like the thought of this recipe   4 Ways to Pickle Green Tomatoes... because it looks EASY!  But only did one flavor with the tomatoes left when the sweet and spicy brine ran out.  I really didn't have time to mess with all the flavor decisions at this point!   Do I did DILL, of course!

And... still.... tomatoes and peppers!  

I cleaned and chopped these and put one bag tomatoes & one bag for the peppers in the freezer to deal with later!  Whew!!  No more canning for a week or two!

......but the pear tree should be ready for me when I get home........  it's been a year since I started canning and I do indeed have pear recipes from last year that worked!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Day 229 Canning before vacay 1

This week will be NUTS as I continue to process and preserve the produce in the house,  My number 2 son and girlfriend are staying in the house and caring for the pets and they will use NO vegetables!  So.... I need to put them up so they won't die before I get back.

I ran out of sugar which limits my choices and eliminates JAM altogether.... so I will focus first upon the million carrots and jalapenos in the fridge

I had reserved the brine from last year's cowboy candy ...  seriously - I ran out of jalapenos at the end of the season last year and had a couple of cups of the sweet brine leftover so I went ahead and canned THAT!    So now I will open them up, heat the brine.. add more jalapenos (2 cups sliced and unseeded)  and get a few half-pints put together.  I like them but they are too hot for me.... but I WAS thinking.... they might be good as a chopped relish in egg salad or something.

The rest of the jalapenos & carrots went into second batches of dill carrots

 and Mexican pickled carrots.  Those are big hits already and I anticipate running out of them this year.

Once I ran errands and got more sugar, I used up the last of the prepared plums.  I had enough for a batch of Cherry-Plum Jam (using a bag of frozen cherries from the store)

AND I made Jalapeno jelly with the rest of the peppers - a big FAIL!  Well maybe not.....  It didn't gel... so it is jalapeno SYRUP.  I'm not sure what I will be able to do with it.  I mean - you use the jelly over cream cheese as an appetizer with crackers anyway - so I guess syrup will work the same as jam but not be near as attractive.   Maybe I can stir in a little clear gelatin when I open the jar to make it a better consistency.  Or maybe one of my readers has a suggestion?  I have 6 beautiful half-pint jars of jalapeno syrup that no longer qualify as potential Christmas gifts unless I figure out something to do with it!

AND THEN....... I got my CSA box with more carrots - quite a few beets... lots of cucumbers and tomatoes, jalapenos and onions.  And another eggplant that I need to give away FAST!

And on the same day, a friend asked me to come pick tomatoes from HIS garden.  I did promise him last year I'd help... so on I go bearing a few jars of pickles in trade.

In case you are wondering, I usually do 2-3 things per session.... depending on when I am home.  So I  sorted out the produce and pulled a few recipes for salsa and pickles that I wanted to try so that I would be ready the next day I was at home.

And on THAT day....

Prepping cucumbers for hamburger slices and hot dog relish was on my list..... both needed to sit overnight in the fridge so once I did all the chopping and slicing for those......

I moved on to  Blender Salsa!  I based it on this recipe: Canned Salsa (Medium Hot) and tweaked it enough that I should write my own recipe!

Everything goes in the blender so I don't need to do much chopping and NO skinning of the tomatoes..  I was very liberal in my interpretation of what to use.  I skipped the tomato sauce and added a tablespoon of chili powder.  The canned tomato paste I use basically as a thickener.  While I am sure about the quantity of peppers and onions I used... I am not at all sure what types I used.. I basically used what I had.  The peppers are a mix of jalapeno, sweet bell, and banana peppers of unknown heat :-)

They do look pretty :-)  There are no safe "rules" for processing quarts of salsa so while the seals are good, I am putting them in the extra fridge to use first.

And there is still more but I'll post it tomorrow!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Day 228 Work in Progress preparing for vacation...

This week has been a whirlwind!  Working on multiple projects daily as I do - planning for vacation always is a good thing... but a whole process in itself!  I must admit though - I do like putting a deadline on myself every now and then to clean up and reorganize and keep turning our finished projects!

First off are three priorities:  NO new projects, assess what I can finish in the allotted time frame, and choose and prepare supplies / projects to take with me.  This really does take a couple of weeks of prep as you've seen in the last week or so...   (though I DID squeeze that Japanese panel print quilt top in there!)

I am kind of tickled with all the progress I made on the "Roads" quilt for the grandboys' Christmas.  I LOVE making the blocks - a really good thing since I will need 120 of them (which means I am hand tracing and cutting out 240 each of 3 different shapes!)   I had cut several blocks for this.... my shapes fit on shapes I cut with my rotary cutter.... 4X7 for the gray road..... and then 2 other shapes that fit on a 6X6 and a 4X4.  Initially I went through my fabrics and cut a "width of fabric" strip to those measurements and prepared those sizes to work with.  As part of my vacay prep, I marked, cut and stitched everything I could.  So... at this point (I ran out of the gray pre-cut blocks..), I have 30 completed blocks.    Still a long way to go... but I am still having fun and see no reason why I can't have them for Christmas....

Here are some of the completed blocks randomly laid out.... I think they are going to make a wonderful quilt  And if I don't work fast enough, I will switch from bed-sized quilt to playmat..... I did find some wonderful train track fabric I can back it with....  mmmm...... seems I MUST make a trip to that quilt store again!

The hexies to go  are taking a lot of time.  making sure I have something to do on a 17 hour plane trip without overloading myself   so little zip loc bags with supplies for maybe 5 flowers.  That should give me enough to not get bored.... and of course I have a book on Kindle AND my husband to keep me occupied:-)

and.... I worked on my lovie project until the last minute!  I completed these 3 - except for the last edging rounds!  They will have to wait until I return!

So that's it!!  Deep breath here... leaving all but my hexie bags and my sample Hawaiian quilting attempt to mess with while I am away!

What are YOU creating?  How do you prepare for a trip away from your normal crafting schedule?

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Day 222 - Canning Adventures July 2015

Plums, plums, plums.......  It didn't look like so many when I picked them.  I mean - last year when I started my canning adventures, I had a pear tree that yielded more than 5 wheelbarrow loads!   The plums....  a couple of plastic grocery bags....

BUT..... enough for

Spiced Plum jam -
    Forgot to take a photo but you can imagine!

Asian plum sauce  from The Complete Book of Small-Batch Preserving by Ellie Topp & Margaret Howard

A little salty but I think I will like it to jazz up my chicken occasionally.  I will probably cut back on soy / salt and increase hot peppers if I make it again.

Basic tomatoes / peppers with a little lemon juice

Okay.. well.. these tomatoes and peppers were hanging around and I am tired of being creative!  I guess these are my pints of 'Rotel wannabes' for beans and chili next winter!

Plum Jam with Lime and Ginger   

Another batch of plum jam..... I appear to be into lime and ginger this year!

Spicy Kosher Dill...   Based on this recipe  Kosher Dill Pickles but I added the same amount of dried hot pepper as dill seed.  I do usually have to adjust the spices in the jar since my preference is half-pints as opposed to the pints usually specified. Oh - and I usually stick a slice of jalapeno in my jar so I can tell at a glance if it is spicy!

I had a pack of three sweet peppers in the fridge and I forgot why :-)  So I saw this recipe and figured I'd give it a go.  I'll report back in a couple of weeks once they cure.   You can see the one "leftover piece" pint above with the dills. 

Multi-colored Ginger Pickled Pepper from the same book as the Plum Sauce:  The Complete Book of Small-Batch Preserving.  I like this one because it has some unusual recipes.

A lot of stuff this week!  And  more next week as I wind up the plums and use up what's still in the fridge and what will come in my next CSA box.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Day 221 - WIP Wednesday July 2015

It's booked!  An upcoming potential business trip is no longer potential!  We are going to Hawaii... and in our usual fashion.... business trip morphs into vacation .... so now I am going to remain in crafting limbo for a few more weeks...

I can't exactly dig into a new project.... so I am prepping crafts to take with me (does anyone else do that?), winding up projects I have in process and setting up projects to jump into when I get home.

So... more cutting....

......for hexies to take with me on the plane.. (can I take needle and snips on the plane?)  [Research says YES as long as the blade is less than 4 inches long]

..... for the reverse side of the grandgirls' Christmas quilts  (Princess and the Pea)

And I've continued to stitch on the ROADS quilt for the boys.  This is something I can work on until I run out of what I cut.  I will get back on it after the trip:

The photo below gives you an idea of how these blocks will come together.

I'll share more next week as I assemble them!

There are new classes at my quilt shop - a jewel box and a double pinwheel.  I have a hard time NOT jumping in to do what my peers are doing....  I got the fabric for the jewel box because I have a similar pattern in a book I already own

But nixed on the double pinwheel.  I do LOVE pinwheels so will make my own scrappy one with a free internet pattern... or just do some half square triangles and play by myself!

I also came home with the fabric for an advanced class this fall... a Virginia sampler where all the blocks have something to do with Virginia.  I'm NOT looking forward to it... It IS advanced with paper piecing and an exactitude I don't care for - but I do have to keep the learning going... and this is what is offered.  I LOVE the fabric though so I will enjoy that part.

And finishing the top for a wedding gift - 

I apologize for the lighting here - it's a pretty lighthouse panel that I created blocks to go between.  Nothing fancy - BUT I planned and created it myself so I'm kind of proud of it :-)  The sandcastle fabric on the side will be the back...   This project can go in the "need to be sandwiched and quilted" pile for after my trip (to Hawaii!!  stay tuned!)

So - there you go for this week.....  what are you up to?

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Day 215 - Canning Adventures - July 2015

Beets!!  Again!  Oh my goodness will they ever be done?  I am almost grateful for the batch that died in my fridge over the week my grands were here

Not my fave - but great to learn on because we don't care for them as a cooked veggie.  I remember loving pickled beets growing up but have gotten so out of eating pickles and beets since my husband doesn't like any of them.  This learning project of mine is a great exercise because I am rediscovering things I like to eat that I have slowly given up over the years as too much trouble for ONE.  I need to keep remembering that "I" am the "ONE" and I deserve my best efforts :-)

Anyway - back to beets.... I tried the PHAT beets I made a couple of weeks ago - and they were okay EXCEPT.... rosemary.  I was a little heavy handed with it and that did not go well (in my opinion).  I like rosemary - but I have to remember that whatever spices I choose to use in a pickle - are going to be shut up in the jar like a genii in a bottle and just gain strength over the time it is bottled up!

Anyway - they are salvageable by opening the jar, removing the rosemary and diluting the liquid with water.  This, of course, is as you are ready to eat them - you must leave them in the fridge after opening!

So - I tried a new recipe for a basic pickled beet and onion... well.. I merged two recipes actually...

I took a Basic Pickled Beets Recipe  and changed up the spices to match a Spicy Pickled Beets Recipe    Mostly it doubled the cinnamon and cloves and added allspice... spices I can handle better than rosemary..... I think!

SO MANY!!  That quart jar in the back is the remainders!  I think I put up more than a case of half-pints (my preferred size for gift giving and personal use) and then just got tired!  Two batches in the canner and one left over to process later....

Sometimes these recipes are hard to figure..... I mean - truly I have no idea how many pounds of beets I have!  So I SEARCH pounds beets = cups chopped ... or whatever parameter is in my recipe.  And I factor in that this recipe makes However many pint jars (which = twice as many half-pints).  It's a ballpark amount at best.

As long as I am EXACT in my ACID...  (ie vinegar, water, lemon juice).... I feel free to play with spices and produce!

I also learned this week that a new cucumber I have been receiving in my CSA box... dies really fast!  With all the excitement in the last few weeks, sometimes produce might sit a week in the fridge before I can get to it.  These new yellow - supposedly burpless - cucumbers.... won't last a week.  I had to throw out quite a few when I got back to them!

I used what I had to make another batch of kosher dill spears.. since I have so many dill lovers...  most in half-pints.... with a pint jar of the remainder odd pieces of cuke and brine...  and, of course, that lone remaining beet jar to be sealed..

 A friend did approach me and ask for a favor this week... apparently she has a plum tree that hangs over her driveway.... the plums are starting to fall.  Would I mind too much coming and taking the plums?  Hmm.... not at all!!  Look out next week for PLUM adventures since I have never done anything with plums besides eating them!

And that is it for this week.... still keeping notes on the print-outs of the recipes I used so I can begin to compile my personal faves.....

What would YOU do with a bunch of plums?

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Day 214.. Work in Progress.... July 2015

Since I had the little grands for a week.... I've had a hard time getting back into the swing of things.  I had put most of my work away when I knew they were coming... and now I am having a hard time getting projects back into focus.

That said..... I have a whole list of things I can do when I am out of focus :-)  That is one of the blessings of having multiple projects in the works!

First off... I have been behind in my scrap management projects.  I have an ongoing scrap basket on my cutting table that could use a little sorting out..... PLUS all the separate containers of brown, orange and red (that I worked on last week)..... with beginnings of black/white & Christmas.  I'm not sure about what other categories of bins... maybe florals because they are hard to categorize by color.

Anyway - unfocused but ready to work....and still cutting..

at my weekly crafting group, a friend had remembered a quilt I am working on for the boys this Christmas and brought a garbage bag of scraps for me to go through.  SO I started cutting those up and refolding the rest to return to her... more browns and greens and golds....

I used my usual method and returned pieces to her that had been squared up and folded neatly and I gleaned lots of random pieces large and small to work into my projects....

In the midst of the cutting.... I realized there were plenty of half-done projects to complete while I was deciding where to focus....

The black top I added borders to a week or so ago... needed one more set of borders to make it a size I like better.  Adding an additional 6 inch border gave me an additional 11 finished inches all the way around...

And now this top is ready to add to the "square up" pile.

I hemmed a skirt for my granddaughter while I was working a little bit on the hexie flowers....  I had made a simply gathered skirt for her a year ago - and she likes them dragging on the ground.  Well... since last year... she GREW!  Fortunately I had put a large hem in it... and it can still drag :-)  And enough yet for another inch or two letdown.

I finished up the quick Japanese quilt I started a few weeks ago..... learning how to miter corners.   I do like the look - but need a LOT more practice!  I ripped each corner out twice - which is my limit! [unless things are absolutely terrible]  I am more than willing to overlook some flaws in my work as long as I continue to improve.

The mitered corner.....

...and the finished top.   One more for the 'square up' collection...  I am not sure how I will quilt it - but that is another problem for another day!

And one more little thing... started two more lovies for my daughter's project.  I had pledged a lovie blanket for each sponsor she finds (she was up to 8, I think) .. and I think she is almost up to 20 now.....  I will keep my pledge but not my time frame!  I will share those as I do them!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Day 208 June Canning Adventures

More carrots on the agenda this week so I am still hunting for recipes.  I found a couple to try but settled first on one that uses jalapenos and cumin.

Mexican Pickled Carrots

which look so very pretty.  I hope they are good.  They are a complete departure from anything I've ever made!

Blueberries are still waiting to be processed so I went for another batch of the Blueberry Mojito Jam.  I love the flavor - and it is so pretty

The lime and mint in it are a great twist! And good experience for me grating the limes to get the zest.... since lime zest is not available dried for me to buy!  I did take the leftover limes and mint and tossed them in a pitcher of tea to enjoy to the end!

AND... for a finale this week I put up a quick Kosher dill pickle with my overflow of cucumbers.  The hardest part was cutting spears that fit my half-pint jars that I typically use for canning.

It left a bunch of ends and weird shaped pieces.....  but since I also had leftover brine....  I pulled a quart jar.... some garlic and a head of dill... tossed in the cuke pieces and leftover brine.... and stuffed in the fridge to eat later.  In a week or two, they should be pretty good eating!

Not sure what is on next week's agenda..... but there are a couple of beets and carrots in the refrigerator waiting to see what comes in the next produce box!

Happy canning!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Day 207 - Wednesday WIP

After last week's adventures with my grandchildren, I still haven't gotten back in the swing of things!

I have spent the last few days CUTTING!  Catching up on cutting my stash into usable pieces that work with the scrappy projects I have in progress.  I cut up my browns and my reds and finished up with my purples....  I still need to share the colors as I do them.  I have grand plans to do a post or two on the way I cut up and organize my stash.

I've been cutting scraps for the Christmas quilts I have in progress for 4 of the grands..... will share more on that later.  One side of the girls' quilts is done and I am piecing the back to make a reversible quilt... both sides come with a Book :-)

And for the boys, I am doing a bed-sized quilt that is also a roadway play mat....  All 4 quilts are so scrappy that I will have leftovers and will probably have to make another one or two of each and then figure out what to do with them.  But that is a problem for another day!

I was confident of my receiving blankets but when I asked the question - I found out they are not needed.  So, rather than finish them now... I will put the set away and see what happens next!   If a boy arrives and I need a gift, they will be a cinch to finish up with a little more of a border!

I finished the lap blanket for the VA hospital.  Considering it is what I concocted from a bag of random donated balls of yarn, I think it looks pretty good!

And my daughter and granddaughter are working on a project filling bags for pediatric cancer patients.  They are looking for people to sponsor bags for $20 - and I volunteered to make little lovie blankets for each sponsor.  So far I have to make 8 (and have one done!).  

Needless to say I'm pretty proud of my girls.  The patients will get nice 31 thermal bags filled with goodies!  The lovies will be extra but I like the idea of adding to their project and encouraging them.

That's about all I have to share for this week.  I'll have to see what I can do for next week to be a little more impressive...

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Day 201.... Adventures

So no real post this week....

I'll just say that this guy

arrived in our family

and these guys

are staying with me this week.

Not so much with the handwork and canning!  But we are sure having a lot of fun!

Back to business next week :-)