Thursday, September 29, 2011

Frolic Baby Quilt

Pattern: made up as I went

Last fall I started this quilt for Pieter for his birthday, along with a birthday garland. It sat for quite sometime while I pondered what to do with it. Finally this summer I had some child-free time (thanks Oma!) to work on it and decided to quilt around all the objects in the panel by machine. It came out so nice. And then it sat waiting for the binding. Well, I finally did it today (using this great tutorial) and have a finished product, now with a new recipient, the baby girl coming in December. The result is very satisfactory and now I can start a new sewing project! 

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Fermented Dill Pickles

I finally got around to putting together a couple jars of Fermented Dill Pickles. When I made the Classic Dills, I used all the pickling cucumbers I had and then had a hard time finding more. This past Saturday we found some at the Farmers Market just in the nick of time. I'm looking forward to trying these with all that garlic and dill!

Fermented Dill Pickles
  • Sterilize a 2 or 3 gallon jar.
  • Clean cucumbers and soak in cold water if they are not freshly picked.
  • Layer the following: fresh dill, cucumbers (1 gallon), pickling spices (5 tablespoons) and garlic (2 bulbs)
  • Make a brine: 6 tablespoons sea salt, 2 quarts filtered water and 1/2-1 cup of whey. Stir until dissolved. Pour over layers.
  • Weigh down the cucumbers so that only the liquid is at the surface. A plate, jar or plastic bag with brine in it works well.
  • Cover with towel and place in the dark at 70 degrees.
  • Ferment from 5 to 10 days. Taste as it goes to see if they are done and then store in the refrigerator.
 Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon and Nourished Kitchen are good sources for this fermenting.

Sunday, September 25, 2011


What a busy week in the kitchen. While tiring, so satisfying. Fresh food from the garden and farmers markets all coming at the same time. It is apple time again with the trees in our yard and the neighbors dropping them like crazy. This year we are seeing less apples then last year, but our neighbor Donna had a huge crop. So, Donna and I spent one whole day just canning apple sauce. We did 21 quarts and I still have bags of apples sitting in the garage waiting for processing. Last year I did 40 quarts, so I still have a ways to go. I use a Victorio Strainer, which makes the job super easy. Quartered, steamed apples go in, and the peels and seeds come out one end and the applesauce the other. Doesn't get any easier than that. And if you want apple butter? Well, put the applesauce and some honey and spices in your crock pot for the night and you are done in the morning.

I am always inspired by new recipes, so I got quite a few canning books from the library that were new to me and found some good recipes. Here are a few of my favorites and what kept me busy over the week.

Put 'Em Up!
I made the Mincemeat (vegetarian), Corn Salsa, Spicy Peach Salsa, and Ginger Peach Jam. I just can't wait to try the mincemeat this winter in some puffed pastry for a quick and easy appetizer. It was a another great use of our apples. The corn salsa was so good that we ended up making three batches with varying degrees of hotness. The ginger peach jam has a delightful hot/spiciness that will be just right on a cold winter day. It is a good thing as I doubled the 6 half-pint recipe and ended up with 20 half-pints! I especially like that the author uses Pomona's Universal Pectin for low sugar jam recipes. I still have a box of beets in the garage and am thinking about using these two recipes from the book: Pickled Beets and Beet Relish.

Mincemeat, Corn Salsa, Spicy Peach Salsa, Ginger Peach Jam

I really liked using this book and plan on adding it to my bookshelf. It has all the recipes categorized by the fruit or vegetable. So, you have a bunch of corn sitting on your kitchen floor? Open up the book to the corn recipes. There are also drying and freezing ideas, along with canning.

Canning and Preserving with Ashley English
This book had a bit more chatting in it and less recipes. But, a few of them were pretty good. I made Whole Peaches, which I spiced with cinnamon, cloves, allspice, and brandy, and the Peach and Lavender Butter. I'd love to try these: Cardamon Apple Cider Butter, Fig and Thyme Jam, and Meyer Lemon and Lemon Verbena Curd.


Spiced Peaches with Brandy, Peach and Lavender Butter

Creative Pickling
This is the book that I used to start my dill pickles at the end of August. This morning they tasted just right after fermenting for 3.5 weeks, so I canned the pickles today. I also made the Peaches Supreme from this book, which is whole peaches with a raspberry and white-wine vinegar brine.


Classic Dills, Peaches Supreme

The River Cottage Preserves Book
There are so many unusual recipes in this book, that as soon as I got into it, I had to order it. I plan on making these recipes in the next week: Gingered Rhubarb and Fig Chutney, Roasted Sweet Beet Relish, and Roasted Tomato Ketchup. I can't wait to try some of these: Honeyed Hazelnuts, Apple Lemon Curd, Figpote, Bachelor's Jam, Rosehip Syrup, Lemon Syrup, Hearty Ale Chutney... Oh, this is going to be one amazing book to work through!

Brandywine Heirloom Tomatoes

I still would like to get my hands on Canning for a New Generation. That one looks really great, but I couldn't find it in our library system. Now that all that preserving is done, you'd think my pantry is full, but after loading it up it still looks a bit empty! Oh, well, there are still more things to work on. Namely, all those tomatoes that had better ripen in our lovely 70-80 degree heat this weekend and coming week.

Friday, September 23, 2011

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. - AS

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Robin Hood Jacket

Pattern: Robin Hood Jacket by ZoĆ« Mellor
Needles: US 7 & 8

For quite a while I've had this sweater in mind and was thrilled to pick up the pattern and knit it. So happy, that it only took me two weeks to roll it out. That is probably due to the small size, though! This is Pieter's winter sweater and it is already in use as autumn has arrived here in earnest. It was fun to use everything I had in my stash. 

The yarn was a gift from my friend Mary Jane. It had been in her attic eaves for quite some time, so some of it had been moth eaten, which led to a bit of spit splicing here and there. This yarn, made of American and Russian wool, brought back memories of being in eight grade social studies class in the 80s and learning about glasnost and of the American businesses that were starting to work jointly with Soviet businesses. Peace Fleece is a perfect example of it. And how fun to use it for such a nice aran sweater. The beautiful wooden toggles were scored on one of my drives from Cambridge up to New Hampshire to visit my parents when we were living in Massachusetts. They are from the Fiber Studio in Henniker, NH. 

Now, as far as the pattern, here are my notes:
-The gauge is completely off in this pattern. While it calls for bulky yarn and size 11 needles, I used aran weight yarn and size 8 needles. Quite a difference to get the same size garment in the end!
-Thanks to Ravelry, I saw lots of examples of sweaters using the four buttons and how it wasn't quite enough, so I added a fifth button to avoid bulging and it looks great.
-I made this a bit longer for a growing boy, just beyond the 14" for size 2/3T.
-I did a 3 needle bind off on shoulders for a cleaner edging and picked up the live back stitches for the hood. This did leave the neck loose, so when all was done, I put in two crochet chains inside neck to strengthen it, since I didn’t bind off the pieces. TechKnitting just put up a very informative post about this issue here. While they promote binding off and picking up stitches, I think I'd still do the same, as putting in a crochet chain/slip stitch was very easy and had a clean finish.
-I grafted the hood with the kitchener stitch and only knit it to 10”, which still is a bit too big.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Where the beavers live

Yesterday we hiked in the hills along a beautiful stream that had been dammed up by beavers. They are such clever animals, using everything they can to stop that water. We were amazed to not just see wood and mud being used, but rocks and reeds as well. 
Pieter saw some cool things - 
ducks (an absolute favorite!)
And, throwing rocks with Papa doesn't get any better!
I am starting to collect ingredients to make root beer on our hikes. I found a great recipe on Nourished Kitchen. But, oh my, that is a lot of stuff to find! On this hike I picked juniper berries. I think that I had better write down a list and bring it next time, because I keep forgetting what I need to hunt for. 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

End of Summer

Over the weekend we visited Dugout Gulch in Wyoming again for another hike while our warm, summery days continued into September. Pieter found acorns and rose hips and Papa found some more special plants to collect. I just enjoyed being outside, seeing the clear blue sky and the clean air. That is one nice part about living in such a rural place - the air pollution is non-existence (except for an occasional forest fire). 

Our warm weather came to a sharp halt this week with 50 degrees and rain. That is also welcome, as it then is fun to bake bread and make soup again. But, it looks like we might get some more warmth this weekend, which all my green heirloom tomatoes desperately need!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Let the art begin!

P really loves to draw and color now. A few months ago I picked up some great ladybug plastic from Hobby Lobby. It was with all the home decor fabric on a big roll. I had been meaning to make a cover for his table all this time and finally just had to do it before he colored all over the table Saturday morning. So Papa and P went outdoors for a bit, while I went to the sewing machine and whipped up a cover for the table. The sewing isn't the best, but the cover fits just right and now we are ready for all kinds of art projects!

Friday, September 9, 2011

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. - AS
Blueberry-banana ice cream smoothie curtsey of Papa. Note the circular line around his face from trying to suck out every last drop from the glass!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Fall food & knitting

Our autumn like weekend has turned back into warmer days and cool nights. Just right for baking bread and enjoying strawberry jam and apple butter on the porch. I've started a project that has been in my queue for quite a while - the Robin Hood Jacket by Zoe Mellor. This will be P's sweater for this winter. Last year was the Duffle Coat, also by Mellor. This is a stash busting project, using Peace Fleece yarn that was given to me from a friend's attic. Majorly scratchy, stiff yarn, but that is good for an aran project like this. The back is in the photo above and I just finished that up last night. Now on to the front.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Hot Chocolate

It cooled down here over the weekend, cold enough that a cup of hot chocolate was in order. We pulled out our chocolate from Mexico that Oma brought to us on her visit this summer. The chocolate comes in discs made of bitter chocolate, sugar, cinnamon and nuts. Here is a nice article on it. We put it into a pan with yummy farm milk and whisked it up with our molinillo. Pieter really enjoyed doing it for the first time. Now, we just need a traditional chocolate pot to make this in. Oma, perhaps on your next visit you can squeeze it into your suitcase?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Pretty Thing

Yarn: Bristol Yarn Gallery Buckingham
Needles: US 5

I've had this in my queue on Ravelry ever since Stephanie posted it on her blog. Seemed like such a nice bit of lace. And I had just enough yarn leftover after finishing Cladonia. This one is destined for the mail to someone special. I'm starting to think about all those gifts coming up and getting busy!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Play Dough

We've been enjoying a new art project - play dough. Meg at Sew Liberated put up a great post on play dough with lots of information and links to recipes and tool ideas. So far we've made two batches using the recipe below. It is a smaller recipe, allowing us to make different colors and scents. So far we've made purple with lavender essential oil and a dark pink with rose geranium. Next up is orange. We also just added some cabinet knobs for stamping to our tools. I've been reading First Art for more ideas, which really helps because I'm not very creative in art or even think about doing activities like this. 

Play Dough
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup salt
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 1/2 cups water
3 tablespoon vegetable oil
food coloring
essential oil

Mix all the ingredients together except for the flour in a medium pot. Heat it up to a simmer and add the flour. Stir well. Turn out and knead for 10 minutes. That will make the color very even and mix the oil in well to keep it from drying out.
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