Sunday, March 19, 2017

Buttonholes, Bills, Shrubs and Jellies

I apologize for not keeping up lately!

Life has been full!  One of the things I do in my life is substitute at my little local library.  Well.. the branch manager left for a full-time position.. and I applied for the job.  It's a part-time position just a couple of miles from my house doing things I love to do - read and talk to people :-)   I haven't heard from anyone about the position per se - but for now I am covering the hours left with the manager's absence.  So.. my personal library schedule has gone from a 4 hour shift once a month or so... to 3 4-hour shifts per week at the moment.  I do love it - but it IS a schedule change and that is always tricky to maneuver!

But today is a day at home so I will try to catch you up with what's happening!

Buttonholes!  I have 3 dresses I am making for my granddaughter.  She chose the fabric last fall and I got sidetracked with other projects.  Well.. they are made :-)  I need to make buttonholes and do handwork..... and my machine went NO!  Anyway - I took it in for help and now have it back.  I will get the silly buttonholes done today and if I am lucky - I will never do another buttonhole!  [actually this is a dumb idea.. because after today I will have made 9-12 beautiful buttonholes.... but will forget all about it by the next time!]  But I still prefer quilting to dressmaking - and short of another little girl showing up in my life... I may not be making more dresses!

 Bills!  Yuk - but it has to happen....  On a day at home, I try to take a little while to assess the finances.  Not fun, but catching up from way behind isn't fun either.  Last week, I finally got the tax paperwork together for the accountant - so now it's time to pick up the more current pieces of my life!

For the Food in Jars Mastery Classes, I have 3 shrubs brewing in my fridge... Blueberry Ginger (which tasted so good, a friend asked me to put a jar together for her), a cranberry shrub cold brew, and a coffee shrub.  The coffee one sounds a little strange [just think vinegar!] but I couldn't NOT try it :-)  I will talk more about these in a specific shrub post.  I also have some blood oranges sitting here waiting to become shrub today...

  March is also Jelly month and I have done NOTHING yet for that except buy wine and pectin and collect a few dandelion blossoms.  I am hoping today to have the opportunity to make the Wine Jelly and see how I do.  The one day there were a few dandelions popped out.. I got them - about 2 cups which I stuck in the freezer!  And then I pulled my back.... and then the weather turned and has fluctuated between too cold or too wet for me to bother.  I'm pretty sure over the course of time, I will have no shortage of dandelion blossoms!

And then for today - since it is a HOME DAY... I also need to do the usual stuff... like declutter something... like clean the bathrooms... like assess food for the week and prep some meals & veggies...  like look at the week ahead to plan for the family...

and it is raining.. so walking out side will be at a minimum so I need to see if I can get a little more movement going on indoors. 

I've been feeling so rough lately... I don't think I've shared my physical stuff.... nothing to worry about per se.... some facial numbness / pain I am trying to deal with - which sounds less annoying than it is!   I'm working with the specialist from my surgery last spring.... and have been going through rounds of antibiotics and steroids..... which has added a lot of nausea & digestive issues to the process.  Anyway, on a really good day, I feel okay.... but am usually not feeling good at all... for months :-(     All tests come back  negative.. but you can add all those deductible medical test costs to my life - BOO!  I seem to be caught in the midst of feeling bad with nothing discernible going on.  Which happens to all of us one time or another and will dissipate over time.  It's okay and I'm moving along the process

BUT it makes the thought of extra exercise a lot harder!  So.. I am definitely keeping my daily walking as a NO EXCUSE thing... I'm still getting 8-9K in steps daily and I think that helps me overall.

So... there are my plans for the day.... nothing earth-shattering....  I will poke my head in again soon with more details in the days to come.  Hopefully I will hit a better stride and be more regular. 

How are you doing?  What are your plans for the day?

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

March Preserving.. Jellies and Shrubs... and...

This month's challenge is new to me....  well, last month's was too and I learned a lot!  I think I am going to refer to this challenge as a COURSE.  I feel more like I am learning than challenging!

I have never heard of a SHRUB before - so there is the first challenge.  What actually is it?  A syrup.  In a nutshell, It is a simple mildly acidic syrup to add to soda water or tea or a cocktail.  It is supposed to have a long refrigerator life - about 6 months.  And there are ways to prepare it for actual canning.  But I think I want to see if I like it first!  It sounds to me like a Kombucha relative.... I like store-bought Kombucha but have only been marginally successfully with brewing it myself.  Anyway - I am gathering recipes!

And jelly.  I've ignored jelly in my canning adventures for two reasons.  A) I LIKE chunks in my jam... and b) straining the fruit is another step of work PLUS the additional decisions of what to do with the pulp.  [my same juicing vs smoothie dilemma]

Plus, it is MARCH.... so I challenged ME.... what can I make jelly out of that is fresh and seasonally available?

   I found a recipe for WINE jelly :-)  that sort of fits the bill.  And I found a bottle at our little country store left from Christmas that is both local and likely NOT to be drunk before I get to jelly-making!

   I asked for ideas... and got CORNCOB jelly (? - not seasonal but an idea for using a waste product this summer just in case I am not inundated :-) ) and DANDELION jelly.  Now THAT is intriguing since the little yellow blossoms are just now beginning to pop up in my lovely untreated lawn.  So.. foraging AND jelly .... more new things!  I popped one afternoon last week and clipped some blossoms to store in the freezer.  I got 2.5 cups.... but pulled my back out the next day and haven't been back.

Anyway - the jelly is made a tea made from the blossoms.. so that is on the list too.  And in the back of my mind, I am watching and waiting for some pretty leaves to come up with them to dry for tea....

AND herb jellies is another possibility if more herbs pop up this month... though I will def use them when they do come!  The mint is not up yet - the rosemary needs new growth to pick.... I will watch.

The AND in my title comes from 2 batches of marmalade I processed this weekend - I thought I was through and then there was this sale on blood oranges.....  and I had limes in the fridge to use up... I added Blood Orange and Coconut Lime Marmalades to my repertoire!

Thursday, March 2, 2017

February Preserving Recap

So.....  a recap - most of the recipes are available on prior posts or a simple Google.  Most are from The website

February's Preserving :-)

Salt Preserved Meyer Lemons
Salt Preserved Limes
Salt Preserved organic Key Limes
Salt Preserved Grapefruit with Peppercorns and Cloves

**  I've started using the limes pretty regularly with my avocado and the simple baked chicken with the lemons was pretty awesome!  I found a Cambodian chicken soup with salted limes that I want to try - and the Vietnamese salted lemonade - Chang Moui - is also good.  Though I will probably LOVE it better in the summer!

* a side note I picked up from research... salted citrus is used often in Asian & African cooking... I found quite a lot of articles and recipes from Morocco, India, Viet Nam, Cambodia.... that really helped me a lot to envision what to do next.  I still have 4.5 pints of assorted salted citrus in my fridge to deal with..

Celery Salt
Basil Salt
Parsley, Scallion, Garlic Salt
Toasted Parsley, Scallion, Garlic Salt  (this one actually I scorched a little but it only changed color - not taste - so renamed!)
Habanero Salt

*** My general takeaway here is that these are too salty for me.  Yes, yes, I know - they are SALT!  But I never realized how little I use salt any more.  So I have enough to last a long time - and to share as gifts.  Also - I know I will use them on very low salt items like potatoes or refried beans - they will be perfect!

I DID love learning about drying the herbs with just a hint of salt [or not].  I can tell you I am READY for when the summer basil and mints come in.

New habits?
   Zesting and drying citrus.  I did not make the citrus salt because at this moment, one more salt would be terrible overkill even for me!

BUT - No more tossing good zest out!  I don't use it often but have you priced that stuff?  This is nuts when I have it right here most days for 5 minutes of work. 

I also want to tried some candied peel.... but it's a LOT of sugar so we will see!