A Bit of Nostalgia

unclesamchickens

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Autumn Fruit Jam

While we were living in the trailer with just a very small garden plot I bought this book: 51u+Z6KaI4L._SX338_BO1,204,203,200_The Complete Book of Small-Batch Preserving

I don’t have an Amazon affiliate account so feel free to click or not click the link above.

At the time I was thinking we’d only ever have small batches to put up and it’s such a pain to try to divide big canning recipes that this book would be handy.

I was disappointed that it only covered water bath canning but I guess that’s probably what most small batch canners would need.

Anyway, enough of that crazy back story.  The real point of all this is it came handy today when I only wanted to make a quick, small batch of something with some of the fruit around here!  Whew, so many words to get to this point.  Hemingway would just shake his head.

Last night, lying in bed I thumbed through the recipes and found Autumn Fruit Jam which just happened to call for plums, pears, and apples.  Three fruits of which I have a plethora.

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This was the delicious result!

And oh my gosh it is yummy!

I doubled the recipe and it still only used 10 plums, 2 apples, and 2 pears but at least we’ll have a little taste of our first year’s produce later this winter.

IMG_1726It made 3 and 1/2 jars of jam.  We put the 1/2 jar in the fridge and have been “tasting” it all day.  I will be surprised if it makes it to morning.

Along with the fruit it contains cinnamon and ginger.  It tastes amazing.

Anyway, have a good night!

Rearranging

IMG_1679Yesterday I pulled fence posts.  The first of many that will need to be moved.  They were in surprisingly good shape.  I only lost one.  It was right next to a stump and had been invaded by ants. Carpenter ants are rampant up here.  We’ve been dousing the house with chemicals on a regular basis fighting an infestation. We’re normally pretty austere in our chemical usage but I have no problem going atomic on bugs that are eating my house.  Again I say, it’s not the use of chemicals that is bad per say, it’s our over-use of chemicals that is bad.

On that note, a quick aside:  To kill weeds try this recipe.  1 gallon of 6% vinegar mixed with one small bottle of lemon liquid dish soap (the cheapest you can find). Put that in a sprayer and douse those unwanted plants.  You will be amazed at how well it works. We sprayed some thistle out by the barn and by that afternoon they were as brown as if we had used Roundup – which we don’t… anymore… to the best of my knowledge.

One more quick aside.  I can remember as a kid watching my dad put diesel in a sprayer to spray weeds.  Wasn’t ignorance blissful?!

IMG_1681Anyway, these posts were remnants of a pretty nice three rail fence.  You can see some of the rails on the ground.  And like I said, they are in pretty good shape so we’re going to repurpose them into the front fence and entryway to the property.  And although we can’t afford to do a rail fence around the whole farm – at least not now or in the near future – we will be able to combine this fence with some existing fence and pretty frugally enclose the yard, garden, and fruit trees.  It’s all about doing what we can with what we have.

Creativity

You may remember a post (screed? haha) about dunnage a few posts back.  Well, I found myself without wrapping paper this weekend so I had to get creative.

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It’s amazing what can come from salvaged paper and old christmas cards.  And, it was fun!  I have so missed doing stuff like this.

Just wanted to share.

Fried Biscuits

Sometimes I fry biscuits just because my mom used to sometimes fry biscuits.  This takes patience and courage.  Patience because too high a temp will leave you with a charcoal crust.  Courage because you’ve got to use a lid and the condensation you will see dripping will engender horrible thoughts of soggy bread.  But don’t despair, if you persevere you will have little nuggets of golden deliciousness.

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Idle Hands

IMG_0754My friend says my quilting always seems to precede large life changes.  Maybe it’s my way of processing things I know are coming but am unready to face.  I don’t know, she’s much wiser than me.

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Lately though, I feel as if idle hands are a sin.  Recently while puttering in the garden I had the thought that I should occupy my hands as much as possible with work that adds to my household.

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Since then I’ve kept a stash of scrap material, scissors, needle, and thread in a drawer in the end table next to the love seat where I sit to watch television.  This quilt is paper-pieced in the English tradition.  It’s very easy but very time consuming.

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Each little hexagon is a small piece of fabric folded over a paper template and basted in place.

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Then each of the hexagons are whip stitched together.

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It’s a lot of small steps but not complicated.

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I don’t know what the future holds for me or what it is that I am working through but at least I know that I will have a quilt (something beautiful?) at the end.

You Never Know Until You Try

At roughly $95 an ounce you would think you could get rich growing Saffron.  Probably not gonna happen.  Saffron is the stigma from the flower of the Saffron Crocus.  Each flower produces only three of the tiny filaments and each one has to be harvested by hand.  It takes about an acre and several hundred thousand plants to produce one pound of spice.  That’s only $1500 an acre.  It’s not a winning agricultural strategy.

But we’re going to try growing our own anyway.

We ordered bulbs from the Dutch Grown catalog and they arrived a few days ago.  The instructions said to plant them as soon as they arrived.  Well, we couldn’t really decide on a spot in our tiny yard.  They need rich soil that is well drained.  Rich soil we got. Well drained? Well, that’s a rare commodity in the Pacific Northwest.  What we did have was some lumber from some crappy shelves my husband had removed from the utility room recently.

IMG_0697Rip, screw, and fill with compost and potting soil and voila – Saffron Crocus bed.

IMG_0699The bulbs go in two four inches deep, four inches apart.  Easy peasy tucked away to grow or not as they see fit.  Worse comes to worst I will at least have another bed to utilize in the spring.

IMG_0707This little guy approves.

IMG_0711Just another shot cause he’s so cute.

Serendipity

This is the Himalayan Blackberry, or as I like to call it, the Kudzu of the Northwest.  Several years ago this non-native bramble found its way into Washington state and now covers practically every non-mown square inch of land.  We looked at a house here where the backyard was seriously, no lie, so packed with these things that you couldn’t go in.IMG_0484

This is my husband picking said blackberries while we were out riding bikes on the edge of town.  I think he’s so hot when he’s out foraging food.  Hahaha, he will kill me when he sees I’ve posted that he was “foraging food.”IMG_0487

This is the juice of those berries coupled with some sugar (ok, a lot of sugar), and some pectin.IMG_0490

I didn’t feel like digging out my water-bath canner so this is the pot with a folded tea towel in the bottom that I used to can the delicious black jellied bounty.  One of the greatest and most discouraging myths about canning your own food, especially high acid food like jellies, jams, and pickles is that it is difficult to do and requires large amounts of equipment.  It doesn’t.  If more people would learn that this is not true the world would be a better place I believe.  It’s tough to be mad at the world when you’re licking sweet blackberry juice off a spoon.  I mean really.IMG_0492

And this, this is wondrousness in a jar.  Gift of mother earth and some thoughtless horticulturalist.  Life is beautiful and sweet if you just take the time to pick the free berries.IMG_0497