Thursday, February 23, 2017

The Start of Something New

It is Thursday. I am usually babysitting, but I got the day off!
I had such plans!
I was gonna garden and plant and play. Ummm, it is still freezing outside!
The winds have picked up (no one on the news talked about winds)...and drives the warmth away.
So, I have been sitting and creating yet another baby quilt.
I have done laundry...and tidied here and there, but it is so cold. Especially for Southern California.
My sister in Northern California has snow showers today! Brrr, winter is not letting go so easily.
Usually by now I can at least plant something...not so this year.
So...I sew and sew and drink hot liquids...



The fabric was from a friend for my birthday and it has been calling to me for a while....
So, I pulled out my book that I received with my Accuquilt and picked the jewel box pattern. It makes a cute design the way the lay it out...and of course I never do it exactly as the books say...I always seem to give it a twist...which I will share later....I have about 20 more squares to make....
Nancy

Monday, February 20, 2017

A Busy Weekend

My weekend was busy......
I made that marmalade...with the 13 1/2 jars....
I also received the replacement grates for our stove...
Oh, didn't I tell you about that?? No? Well, let me tell you....
I was cooking on my lowest front burner...my favorite spot, in my favorite pan...nothing out of the ordinary....just grilled cheese sandwiches...when .....BAMMM!
The grate exploded! It got a huge break in it! A small piece flew across the room...!
Well, that is the second grate to break...the other broke years ago when I was using a griddle that straddles two burners....
Anyway....
Hubby called Kitchen-Aid...(which by the way is Whirlpool as of about 13 years ago...)
He told them about it and they confirmed the model, serial number and date we bought it, then told us that they would replace the grates....but we needed to send the old broken ones back after we received the new ones....
Ok, got them...they are lovely...Hubby packed the old ones up in the boxes the new ones came in and took it to the UPS store...it cost $50 to send them...(they said they would pay our shipping costs....)

Once the new grates were here I got them dirty....and made Lime Curd for canning...
Did you know that Lime or Lemon curd could be canned?? Did you know it can be frozen?? Neither did I! Oh the things we learn!
I found many recipes for canning the curd...and with a plethora of limes...why not??
So, I made curd. All that work for 4 jars! 11 eggs(7 egg yolks, 4 whole eggs), 12 limes(1/2 cup lime zest, 1 cup lime juice), 3/4 cup of butter and 2 1/2 cups of sugar....
The recipe I followed was from Utah State University cooperative extension and written by Brian Nummer, PhD extension Food Safety Specialist from 2008.
As there were many recipes on Google all fairly the same...I went for it...
It took about an hour all told I guess...though anyone who has done canning of any kind knows there is a great deal of prep before and after....oh the after.....
I also, finished a quilt top....
So, come dinner time...I wanted someone else to make it....so I had "Mrs. Pattmore" do it...
I made a really good split pea soup! The pressure cooker is the best way to to make it!
Basically you put everything in it and 12 minutes later we had soup...I did however carry it to another pot to puree it....though you don't have to....it's just split pea soup has always been pureed....


It was a lovely way to end the day...and a great recipe!
So, today...I finished putting things away....including the food I canned this weekend...
Yup....a couple of little shelves in the craft room closet (hey, it is a craft....) I have my little stash, which by summer's end is burgeoning, if luck is with me in the garden....
As you can see, there are still a few things left from last years crop...pickles and pepper jelly and one apricot jam....
I am so looking forward to gardening...
More rain is predicted....ugh...I am so ready to get outside and play in dirt and plant seeds....
I hope you have a great day!
Nancy

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Yummy For Taste

Well, that pioneer spirit got me through yesterday. Our power went off during the storm, I hear due to a transformer being taken out by a tree.....
It didn't ruffle my feathers at all.
I just got out the emergency lanterns and lit some candles.
When it was time for dinner, I already had it mostly made....I lit the stove the old fashioned way and cartelized onions and added them to that beef broth I had made.
Can we say "Yummy"? Nothing like French Onion Soup by firelight on a stormy night.
Then this morning....I was hungry!
So, I made some bacon.....
then some of Pamela's mix pancakes...
Then....I mixed some of that marmalade into maple syrup! We had bought this fantastic rich dark maple syrup last week...and well, we had to try the marmalade...so....why not mix them?
Oh my!! I have created a new treat for pancakes and french toast.....
Now, remember when I said I had doubled the recipe? and then realized I didn't have a pot big enough?? Yeah, well, I ended splitting the batch into two batches...and so I stirred and stirred and tired.
They came out awesome!
The only thing maybe not so great...the natural pectin in the peel may have worked a little too well...but on something hot, that's no biggie!
It came out and tastes awesome!
Just this morning Hubby was reading an ad for marmalade in the Wall Street Journal, it was for marmalade that cost $13 for 9 oz!!!
Well, my jars are 8 oz...so yay for the pioneer spirit!
Well, it is another rainy  day...so I will find something else to do today....
Nancy

Friday, February 17, 2017

The Pioneer In Me

I once read and used The Foxfire books. Anyone know them??
Yes, books written by a group of High School students and put together by their teacher...to help them understand that not everything comes from a store and self-sufficiency is a lesson to learn and understand.
We as a young married couple had the complete set...and used them...for some of the skills they showed. (I won't go into detail.....)
But, those days are long gone as are the paperback books that never made it to the last move. If you can find them...they are fun to read about life in the Alleghenies and the people who choose to live in the remote areas....
My point is this...every now and then as I travel through traffic and crowded streets I occasionally want to live that far simpler life. In my 60s now, I don't think I could....but still....
However, there are things that I can do to embrace the simpler life and enjoy it....
Last night, as I drove home from babysitting, I decided I would make orange marmalade, which meant I had to wash these fabulous organic oranges from a friend that night and slice them and get them ready for the canning....
I also decided that a winter storm is coming in, so, nothing better than onion soup on a cold and wet night. So, when I got home, I took out the beef bones from the freezer to make beef bone broth.
In all the self sufficient things we do, there is one thing in common. Planning ahead.
Yes we have pressure cookers and such to speed things along, but it still takes planning.
So, last night, though I was tired, I got going....



First, I washed them... 
Then I finely chopped them....
And put them in a pot. When the oranges and two lemons were in, I measured out the water and brought them to a boil. I removed them from the heat and measured out the sugar. (lots is required)
I stirred that in until it was fully dissolved and then covered and let it sit overnight.
There are lots and lots of recipes out there and I have tried numerous ones. The best recipes all let the oranges sit in their juice overnight on the counter, lightly covered.
What it does is draw out the natural juice and the pectin from the orange peel. This way no added pectin is really required.
This is one recipe my jelly maker cannot do. It is great for most all jams and jellies but cannot do marmalade, butters or tomato jam (which is really a tomato butter....)
So, old fashioned canning techniques are used here and the water bath canner.....
So it is a day for "pioneering" though I am using some more modern tools of sorts.
Meanwhile, while I prepared the oranges...I put the beef bones sprinkled with salt and pepper into the oven to roast for about an hour.
The homey and yummy smells that emanated from the kitchen were sublime.
Then when those were roasted, I put them in my pressure canner with carrots and herbs and garlic (I was saving the onion for the next day)...so I could make broth.
In 35 minutes I turned it off and added some wine and set it for 15 more minutes.
In the end, I had a rich smelling broth that then went into the fridge.
However, the meat had not come off the bones, so I stuck them back into the pressure canner and set it for slow cook and added more liquid and wine and herbs and stuff....
I set it for 10 hours. So, it cooked and steamed all night long.
Problem here was a learning curve....I left it on HIGH...and hadn't changed it to LOW...so there was virtually no broth at all in the morning! OOOPs
No loss. Like that pioneer, I wasn't going to let perfectly good bones and meat go to waste....nope, not me. I put them back in added water and wine (see a trend here??) and more salt and pepper and turned it on to slow cook (yes, on high) for 2 hours. I should get more broth that is concentrated this time.
Meanwhile,  this morning I was up and ready to make marmalade.

So, the water bath canner got filled, the jars went into the dishwasher to get thoroughly cleaned and hot, and the oranges went into the Le Creuset. It was then I realized...another OOOPS, I had doubled the batch in my excitement (a total no no) and had to divide the orange yumminess...oh well...we will see.....
So, here I sit, waiting for beef bone broth and orange marmalade.
There is a basket of limes waiting to be sliced and dehydrated and possibly be made into a marmalade as well....I don't know yet.
All I know, is that Pioneer in Me is calling me to do something with the bounty I have and not waste it.
I hope you have a great day! Stay warm and dry wherever you are.
Nancy

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Valentine's Day

I hope you all had a wonderful Valentine's Day....I know I did.
We woke up later and then after a casual breakfast we went looking for dinner.
Once upon a time, many stores carried lobster and they would cook it for you (I don't want to do "the deed" myself )...
It turns out most no longer provide lobster...tails only and frozen ones at that.
We wanted the whole lobster (is there any other kind??) We went to Costco as they had lobsters last year....not this year.
We called several stores and were told no.
Finally, we called Bristol Farms...and were told that yes, they had fresh live Maine lobsters and yes, they could cook them...what time did we want them??
So, after telling them the time we were free for several hours....Hubby wanted to get both cars washed and I wanted to sew (no surprise there)...
So, I did...I needed to embroider the name of the new baby for the sampler quilt that I made for them...so it can indeed be quilted.

I am very pleased how this turned out....embroidering on a quilt is always a bit risky as it can pull both in the frame or the fabric itself....and I am still going to put his birthdate on this morning....then I get to quilt!
After that we went on a short walk with the dogs...
And then it was time to get our lobster!
Did you know that they give Senior discounts at the market? Yeah, I guess because it was Valentine's Day or something...but we got $5 off! Pretty cool. It was far less to have lobster at home than at a restaurant...and we could be as messy as we wanted! (I am known as an otter when it comes to lobster or crab....I eat everything but the shell and get very messy....)
 Here is our dinner! A slightly over one pound lobster, mashed potatoes and salad.
 This is the salad, with cucumber, tomatoes, and pistachios....
 And this is the what is left of the lobster when I get done with it....LOL.....
Then Hubby got us chocolate covered strawberries for dessert....quite yummy....and later while watching TV we had some Nespresso decaf coffee.....
While watching TV, I worked on "weeding" our book collection which was getting unruly....really don't need all the books...some haven't been enjoyed for years or never really looked at....I mean, how many recipe books do I need??
I also continued trimming threads from the whole cloth quilt I finished....
I had it hanging up for you all to see, but the fact that it is all white reflected the light too much...I figured this way you get an idea of how it looks....It is all sewn free hand and free motion on the machine. It has roughly 1200ft of silk thread through it and you can see some of the raised portions...that are "trapunto" technique...
Because this was a preprinted quilt I had to wash it....twice to get the blue marking out. Now it is soft and cuddly....I am pleased with it actually. I know the lines of stitching aren't perfectly straight....but hey, it still looks good and I did it. For hours and hours and hours. It was actually quite fun....like tracing with thread....
Today....I made Hubby breakfast of french toast and bacon....because really, Valentine's Day should be celebrated almost every day as we never know what the future might bring.
Have a great day!!
Nancy

Sunday, February 12, 2017

When Life Gives You Lemons

We have all heard that saying, haven't we?
Well, today dawned bright and shiny, with warm winds blowing.
I decided to harvest lemons for a couple of recipes I saw, candied lemons and dehydrated lemons, and preserved lemons.
Hubby helped me harvest, my oh my what a harvest!
The tree is simply exhausted from producing so many. (I also fed it while I was out there)


This is a meyer lemon bush...and it has been quite neglected...not anymore....
We only harvested from the large clusters, keeping a few on the bush for later.
Of course they got washed first....especially since these are indeed organic....
A recipe I found said to simply slice and dehydrate...so I did that.
And it said for a delightful twist to cover the slices with sugar and dehydrate that way...sounded good to me!


I have a lovely old dehydrator that was given to us, a great big one that lives in the garage. We use it so much more than I ever thought....but this sugared recipe was a new one...We will see.....
I also have mixed according to another recipe 1/2 cup kosher salt and 1/4 cup sugar and quartered without going all the way through more lemons and put them in a sterilized jar...
And another recipe for preserved lemons call just for the salt and squishing them into a jar...with salt on the bottom of the jar and more on top...them filling the void with cooled boiled water...I am also trying that.
The sugar and salt recipe I did years ago, don't know why it got forgotten....it is a sublime preserved lemon recipe and they keep for months in the fridge.....
 These are the lemons with sugar and salt...they will sit out for a day and then get refrigerated and are good for about 6 months or so.....When you use them you use only the peel...not the meat...that gets tossed and you rinse them quite well of salt/sugar....they are so very delightful in fish and chicken dishes...How did I forget about this??
This one I haven't done before...it is just salt and lemon...and the water that fills the void.
You use them the same as the others, but they sit out for quite a while, much like if you were making sauerkraut or something......
I also harvested limes from the lime tree....and will be making dehydrated limes....
Probably not lime marmalade as no one really like it so well....I did...for adding to teriyaki sauce for a marinade....
In any case....I am grateful for the bounty in our yard.
Have a terrific weekend.
Nancy

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Delicious Butternut Squash Soup, Thank You Mrs. Pattmore....

Ok, so I have been having great fun with my pressure cooker, that I call Mrs. Pattmore.
Why you ask do I call it that? Because, in Downton Abbey, Mrs. Pattmore is the head cook...and having this pressure cooker is just like having a cook.
Yesterday, we had a guest for lunch.
We have been having rainy weather and soup and sandwiches filled the bill.
I laid out sandwich makings and let Hubby and our friend make their sandwiches, but in addition, in 10 minutes I had the most delicious Butternut Squash Soup!
Now, don't get excited about the picture. I took this from the recipe online at AllRecipes. However, it looked quite similar. (I didn't want to be taking pictures with company at the table!)
It is so incredibly easy!
The recipe is from the Best Pressure Cooker Recipes on the Planet, by Debra Murray
She gets the credit here, but yesterday I did!

6 cups peeled and diced butternut squash (ours came from Costco all ready in a pack)
3 cups of chicken stock
1 cup apple cider
2 medium apples peeled and seeded
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
sprinkle of pumpkin seeds or sage for garnish if desired

We didn't have any garnish... or creme fraiche to top it with, it was still quite amazing!(follow directions for your pressure cooker...mine is electric and automatic)
With the pressure cooker...put all the ingredients in the pressure cooker, lock and set timer for 10 mins. When the time is up release the pressure and remove the lid carefully.
Take the lovely cooked makings out and blend. Now I put mine into the Vitamix to blend as I have a non-stick pot and a submersible blender might damage that......but I suppose you might be able to use one....
Serve ....and enjoy!
It was just the right flavor!

For dinner last night we had Mrs. Pattmore make us Chicken Cacciatore ! I'll give you that recipe later....but let's just say...I am happy with our "chef".....
Nancy