Friday, July 25, 2014

jamming update

I've added a few more jars to the pantry after a trip to the u-pick berry patch and Sam's. At the berry patch, I brought home six pounds of the biggest, yummiest blueberries. About half a gallon went straight into the freezer. One kilo is waiting to be bottled up in a sugar syrup with bay leaves for eating with yogurt and on pancakes. The remaining four cups went into a really wonderful blueberry-lime jam that I sort of made up along the way.

Blueberry-Lime Jam

4 1/2 cups blueberries, washed and picked clear of debris
6 tbsp powdered pectin, or one regular box pouch
1/2 cup lime juice
zest from two limes
4 1/2 cups granulated sugar

Combine all but the sugar in large heavy-bottomed, non-reactive sauce pot. Stir all well until pectin dissolves and bring to boil over medium high heat, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Boil one minute, stirring.

Add sugar all at once, attempting to avoid getting sugar on the sides of the pot. Mix sugar in well, stir over medium-high heat until all sugar is dissolved. Bring back to boil and boil hard one minute. Remove from heat.

Prepare jars, lids and rings in the usual way. I recommend using five half-pint or 11 quarter-pint jars. If not, you'll really know what small batch canning is... and have two pint jars (and one pint that didn't fill to the top) to show for your work. Process in boiling water bath canner for 10 minutes.


Half the Tuscan melon (about four pounds at the start) went into making a very bizarre ice cream/gelato. Neither of us quite know what to make of it. It certainly tastes very fresh and melon-y. It has enough fruit in it to be a bit like an icy sorbet and yet, enough cream in it to make you think you're just eating freezer-burned sherbet. Hmmm... the jury is still out. FYI, I used this recipe by half.

About half of the other half of the melon went into this jam. I would have never thought about preserving cantaloupe this way (or at all) unless it had been recommended to me {by Tracy, I think, but I cannot recall for sure}. It is called a jam, but it is more like "preserved melon in a heavy, honey-like sauce". I think I like it. We've only had the opportunity to try it on a slice of toasted brioche and let me tell you, there are worse things.

Are you adding to your pantry this week?

Thursday, July 24, 2014

In the kitchen, part 2 - the chickens

My introduction to Julian's extended family happened abruptly, without planning it and without time to think it over. Julian and I had really only been dating 'for real' for about two weeks when I asked him if he wanted to go back to Knoxville with me for the graduation of my college friends who were a year behind me. He sad yes and off we went. We got there and his parents emailed - his grandparents  (and aunts, and uncles, and neighbors) were in Knoxville for graduation, too! His cousin, Sara, was graduating from grad school and was having a house party so we stopped by. My first conversation with his grandmother went about like this:

Me: Hi, its nice to meet you!
Granny: Hi. (Put her hand on my knee and gripped, hard) Do you go to church?
Me: Yep! Was raised Presbyterian.
Granny: Ok! Do you want children?
Me: Yep! Four would be nice.
(What was I thinking? I knew she had four so it must be the correct answer. I was 23 then, too.)
Granny: Good! What do you collect?
Me: *panic* Collect? Oh, um. Chickens!
(What on earth? Why didn't you say something useful like... diamonds!)
Granny: That's nice.

Truth be told, it was the only thing I could think of and no, I had no collection of chickens. I also did not know that Granny collects collections: peacocks, rabbits, frogs, baskets, Christmas trees (yes, Christmas trees), etc. On the way home, we passed by a frontage road pottery shop - which in the south is code for a bunch of cheap house junk - and my sweet Julian said, "I suppose we should stop in a get you a chicken." If I were going to get stuck with a chicken collection, I would at least not be a liar anymore.  And so, my collection started with my dot chicken from Julian and now totals over 35 chicken themed articles, from salt and pepper shakers to clocks, to an apron holder.  They are, for the most part, a cheery lot, and my kitchen just wouldn't be the same without them.

PS. That green Aladdin lamp is from my father's side of the family. It was made in 1937 and was lovingly restored last night by Julian when we discovered that the vine had grown inside the gallery!

PPS. That box up there is a Mason Pearson Hairbrush box. I cleaned hotel rooms during the summers in college. One day I went in to clean a room after a guest had checked out and they left that box behind. Upon inspection, you can see that it has a $125 price tag on the bottom. Its a HAIR BRUSH, PEOPLE. I had a bit of a Scarlett moment and kept it as a reminder of my roots.

This is part two of my link up with Heather @ Beauty That Moves.

in the kitchen, part one - the food

more tomatoes every day :: chelsea buns, recipe below :: 
cherries and berries (my secret? a spoonful of elderflower liqueur!) :: homemade fried rice (recipe)

Chelsea Buns
*not to be confused with cinnamon rolls*
From The River Cottage Bread Handbook

For the buns
550g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
50g granulated sugar, or vanilla sugar
5g powdered dried yeast
10g salt
150ml warm milk
225g butter, melted
1 egg

For the filling
25g butter, melted
100g caster sugar
200g dried fruit, chopped

For the glaze
50ml milk
50g sugar

In a bowl, combine the flour, sugar, yeast and salt, then add the milk, butter and egg and mix to a sticky dough.

Turn out on to a floured surface and knead until smooth and silky. Return to the cleaned bowl, cover and leave to rise until doubled in size {This may take a long time! 4+ hours, or so for mine}. Brush the base and sides of the baking tin with a little of the melted butter and coat with a little of the sugar (for the filling), shaking out the excess.

Tip the dough out on to a floured surface, dust with flour and roll out to a rectangle, about 60x40cm. Brush the melted butter all over the dough to the edges, leaving a 2cm margin free across the top (long) edge. Sprinkle with the sugar and scatter the currants evenly on top, right to the edges, but leaving the top margin clear.

Press the deed fruit into the dough, then starting from the edge closest to you, roll up the dough to enclose the filling and form a long sausage. Moisten the margin at the top with water and press to seal. Cut the roll into nine equal pieces. Turn each piece on its end and press with your hand to flatten slightly, until no more than 3cm high. Arrange in rows of three in a 12x12in. square tin or on a cookie sheet lined with parchment – they should just touch each other.

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F. Leave the buns to prove for about half an hour until doubled in size again. Sprinkle a little of the sugar for the glaze over them and bake for about 25-30 minutes until golden brown. Warm the milk and remaining sugar together in a pan until dissolved, then brush over the buns when you take them out of the oven.

Variation: If you'd like to use this recipe for traditional cinnamon rolls, make the filling using brown sugar instead of white, two teaspoons of cinnamon, and omit the dried fruit. 

Makes 9

This is part one of my blog link up with Heather @ Beauty That Moves

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

{Yarn Along} New ideas

My current project is a gift for my sister (from whom I apparently stole the ruler) and she is about half the size of a ladybug, so I think when it is a full 20 inches at the point, it will be well to her hip. So as I am nearing the end of my redwoods shawl (a matter not of "if" but "when") there is only one thing to do.... decide what's next on the needles. I am trying hard to keep only one yarn project going at a time so I don't have a graveyard of WIPs come Christmas. I have a fair bit of yarn that needs using and 'tis the season to be thinking about yarn-y Christmas gifts.

Here are a few pins I found and like. What do you think?
Jeweled Cowl

I'm still reading James Herriot and loving it (44 chapters take a while to get through)! This past Saturday, I went to my friend's BYOBook Club and got a few good suggestions:

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day
Major Pettigrew's Last Stand (the two are unrelated)
Suite Francaise
Love in the Present Tense

Linking up with Ginny and throwing in a few random photos of our week.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


I have a crisis of personality from time to time regarding my favorite color. Isn't it interesting that we make such a big deal of it? If you meet a child what do you ask? Name? Age? Favorite color? When we find someone who shares our favorite color, we have a bonding moment.

My nephew decided when he was very young that, because the photos of me in his home were of my wedding day, white must be my favorite color. This past winter, long winter of long winters, I lived through a few weeks where I was fairly confident that gray was my favorite color and I thought, "What kind of person thinks gray is their favorite color?" Perhaps it was a coping mechanism.

The moral of this story is that, on this day, I am declaring yellow to be my favorite color. It is everywhere at present, and that suits me just fine. It is so cheerful a color. What's not to love?

What is your favorite color? What colors fill your world this week?

Thursday, July 17, 2014

This {fun} week in my kitchen

This week in our kitchen has been a really fun and adventuresome one. I'm doing my best at finding room for several new yardsale finds. Lots has been coming in to the kitchen but little has been going out. It soon will be time to purge the cupboards of the things I never use to make way for new things... like my $2 pizzelle maker!

Like I said, its been fun. One day this week, we ate lunch of nothing but hushpuppies and grapes. One meal this week, I shelled our fresh-from-the-garden peas and tossed them in the skillet with some curry, garden chard, onions and ginger before wrapping them in phyllo and frying them in my new anniversary gift.

Also making a mess of the kitchen were the 63 vintage glass snack sets I couldn't resist while yardsale-ing last week. No, they are not all for my collection. Some are just passing through on their way to friends' houses, others are in search of a good home. I feel like an heirloom Robin Hood, taking from one generation and giving to another.

Lastly, I baked some bread using some cider that Julian didn't care for. It actually made very good bread, and we ate too much of it before giving it to our neighbors. It turns out that apple cider bread paired with apple butter spread is just heavenly!

We'll see how productive my next week is in the kitchen and perhaps I will share the story of how these crazy characters (above) came to be. 

Joining Heather @ Beauty that Moves.

What's happening in your kitchen?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Wedding ring ... thing

It seems the quilting women of my family all have a niche, a kind of quilt that is "their thing." My grandmother loves a simple nine patch, my great aunt Mildred did hexie flower gardens and my great grandmother was known for her double wedding rings. I grew up playing I Spy on the one she made for my parents as a wedding gift.

This past spring, my grandmother showed up with her most notorious kind of gift - the you-can-have-this-if-you-promise-to-finish-it kind! So here I am. On a rainy Tuesday, I'm still in my pajamas and preparing the binding for what I've decided will be a wall hanging.

Three parts of it were pieced by my great grandmother and one piece added to complete the motif by my grandmother. The fabrics range from original feedsacks to 1980's chintzy prints. This has presented a challenge for picking binding fabric, so I did the only logical thing and put it to a vote on Facebook. So here we go with a scrap from none other than Julian's grandmother.
A three grandmother wall hanging wedding ring quilt thingy - how special!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Daylilies - an inventory

Orange recurved petals with red inside, huge flowers, chest high scapes, latest bloomer

Lemony-ivory, mid-height, early bloomer 
Double bloom, electric orange, small/knee-high

Chest-high scales, large blooms, mid-season, three salmon/orange petals, three maroon (my Hokie lily)

Pinky-mauve, lemony green throat, early bloomer, medium height
Short, dark orangey red, mid-season

My favorite! Tennessee orange, very tall scapes, simple flower, fragrant

Salom, mid-height, mid-season

Stunning ruffly burgundy, mid-season bloomer, short/knee-high

Dusty pink, three recurved petals, three cupped petals, mid-season, medium height

(the double trouble ones...)

Peachy ruffles, small bloom, earliest bloomers, started by me from seed from Tamarack
I am blessed with a wonderful variety of day lilies. Julian's uncle collected them and my sister-in-law has carried them on (abundantly!). This post serves as a list of all the ones I have so we can see who has which kinds and make sure that when the divisions are made, all varieties are accounted for. Do you love them as much as we do?

Thursday, July 10, 2014

This week in my {messy} kitchen

tidy spice drawer :: tidy beside-the-stove cupboard :: yardsale finds ::fresh pears :: 
pear salad with goat cheese and roasted sunflower seeds

This week in my kitchen was about leaving it cleaner than it started. It has been months since I've sorted and taken inventory of what's in the pantry. I just keep buying groceries without really knowing what I have. Two sea salt grinders? Three peppercorn grinders? About 12 lbs of pasta!?!

We've also had some good luck yardsale-ing these past few weekends and now I have a few more things to fit into my kitchen cabinets. My vintage glass snack set obsession has gotten me up to 40 matched sets of plates and glasses. What a party that would be! So far as I can tell, antique stores sell them for about $8+ a set and my most recent purchase cost me 80 cents per set!

We must have eaten something this week, though I'm not exactly sure what. I am excited that good fresh pears are in season. They were my very favorite fruit as a child and mom wouldn't often buy them. Perhaps because the second they are ripe, they are prone to bruising badly.

I also tried a "Holy Yum Chicken" recipe from Pinterest. I found the sauce a bit mustard-y and strong, but the chicken was moist and delicious. If you try it, I recommend using half and half mustard to maple syrup instead of 2:1 mustard and syrup.

Join me and some other fine bloggers at Beauty that Moves

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

{Yarn Along} Same shawl, New book

The knitting was on hold for two weeks: one for finishing up these two projects and one for the holiday. Both this pillow and needlepoint were gifts for my sister-in-law, overdue but with timely sentiments. The pillow marks her 14th anniversary, for which the traditional gift is ivory. The needlepoint was done for her birthday a year ago but the frame only recently got finished by Julian. I think both turned out so nicely.

I'm back to the Redwoods shawl with fervor. I don't know why but it is like a book I can't put down. I am just finishing the first skien of yarn (229 yds.) and I have finished the first set of eyelet rows. I'm very happy with it so far and so delighted that I've managed to knit while watching hours and hours of soccer and not mess anything up!

As for the reading, I had to punt on Maeve Binchy. I just wasn't into it on audio, not because I didn't try to be, but too much time went by between chapters and I was having a hard time wrapping my mind around the characters and plot. Instead, and thanks to the recommendation of my friend (take a minute to click that link for more book reviews), I am now listening to James Herriot's All Things Wise and Wonderful.  In addition to his country veterinary tales, Herriot tells a bit about his time in the RAF. Since I finished the potato peel pie book and have binge watched the first six seasons of Foyle's War in the past two months, it seemed fitting to stick with the WWII in Britain theme. I just love the book.  I love his candor, his recollection of a different time, both more simple and more complicated. 

What are you crafting and/or reading?

Joining Frontier Dreams and Ginny...