Snapshots of life and crafts on our little homestead

Sunshine in a jar

Spent a bit of time today making orange marmalade which I like to call sunshine in a jar. Our local market had oranges at an excellent price and I love marmalade on dark rye toast.

The following is the Simple, limited ingredient recipe I like to use.

  • 4 cups thinly sliced orange peel with albedo (about 2.5 to 3 lbs)
  • 4 cups orange pulp, cut up
  • 1 cup thinly sliced lemon (about 1 large)
  • 6 cups of water
  • 5 cups of sugar


1.  Sterilize 8-10 half-pint canning jars and keep hot until ready to fill.  Prepare lids and ring bands according to manufacturer’s directions. 

2.  Rinse oranges and lemons well.  

3.  Peel oranges and slice into 1/8″ strips.  Measure 4 cups. Remove seeds and membrane from orange pulp.  Cut sections into smaller pieces; measure 4 cups.

4.  Slice lemon(s) into 1/8″ slices and remove seeds. If desired, cut slices into halves or quarters.

5.  Add water to fruit in a large stock pot. Bring to a boil and cook over medium heat until peel is tender, about 1 hour.  

6.  Add sugar and bring slowly to a boil; stirring until sugar dissolves.  Cook rapidly to the jelly point (~220 degrees), about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

7.  Fill hot marmalade into hot pre-sterilized jars, leaving ¼” headspace.  Wipe rims of jars with a dampened cloth.  Apply and adjust prepared canning lids.  

8.  Process filled jars in a boiling bath for 10 minutes.

9.  Let processed jars cool, undisturbed, 12 to 24 hours and check for seals.

Yin yang update

Starting to make some headway on the yin yang piece by Aaron Art. Between color changes I am working the outline for the blackwork background. Once the outlining is done the fill will be added to add shadow around the main subject of the piece.

Dehydrating winter squash

Some of the winter squash we had stored reached the end of its shelf life so I spent a few days roasting, dehydrating and preparing the the squash powder for long and short term storage. This is a multi stage process that is well worth the effort. The powder when stored properly will last for years and can be used in any recipe that calls for puree of pumpkin, butternut or other winter squash.

step 1: peel, seed and cut the squash into large cubes. Than, roast the cubes until soft
step 2: purée the roasted squash and spread out on dehydrator trays.
step 3: Dehydrate at 125-135 degrees until dry. In my dehydrator this took about 10 hours.
step 4: blend the dried squash into a powder. I powerful blender is very helpful for this step.
step 5: For long term storage portion the powder into Mylar with oxygen absorbers and seal. If the powder will be used within a couple of months an air tight jar worked well.

Multi-grain Porridge Bread

I really try to keep a zero waste kitchen, so on this snowy day I made porridge bread using whey from the Greek yogurt I made on Sunday and leftover 9-grain porridge from breakfast yesterday. The whey creates a nice soft crumb and the 9-grain porridge packs the bread with flavor.

The bread will be paired with what I like to call pantry soup for dinner. At this time of year my soups are made with what was canned of dehydrated from the previous growing season and rarely contains the same ingredients two times in a row.

The bread recipe can be found below if you would like to try making the bread (I always double the recipe so I have a loaf for the freezer).

  • 2 cups (227g) White Whole Wheat Flour
  • 2 cups (241g) Unbleached Bread Flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons (25g) sugar
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1 cup (227g) cooked 9-grain porridge or oatmeal
  • 1 1/4 cups (283g) lukewarm whey (waste from making yogurt)

Mix all the ingredients together and knead for about 10 minutes

Place in a bowl, cover and allow to rise until double in size

Turn out on a floured board, knead quickly, shape into a loaf, place in a pan and allow to rise until almost double in size

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 40-45 minutes

Spicy vegan eggplant

The eggplants at the coop looked so good that we couldn’t pass them up. Tonight I used our find to make a favorite meal of spicy eggplant served over a bed of vegetable rice. There  are a few steps to this dish but it is well worth the effort.

I listed the recipe below so you can try it for yourself. 


  • 1 large eggplant one or equivalent – cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 onion – diced
  • 2 TBS Sesame oil
  • 2 TBS Coconut oil
  • 6 garlic cloves – chopped
  • 4 TBS minced ginger (I used jarred)
  • 3 TBS brown sugar
  • 1 TBS sriracha
  • 2 TBS sambal oelek (or chili garlic sauce)
  • 2 tsp molasses
  • 3 TBS reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce (I used tomato powder from last growing season hydrated in 1/2 cup of water)
  • 1 TBS rice vinegar
  • 1 TBS apple cider vinegar
  • Crushed red pepper
  • Salt
  • Sesame seeds
  • 1/2 cup water


  1. Heat 2 TBS sesame oil in a pan & add the eggplant.  Add a little salt & some crushed red pepper.  Sauté over medium heat until tender but not mushy.  Maybe 5-8 minutes.  Set aside in a bowl.
  2. Using the same pan, heat 1 TBS coconut oil & saute the onion with a bit of crushed red pepper.  When soft – add to the bowl with the eggplant.
  3. In the same pan, heat 1 TBS coconut oil.  Add 2-3 TBS sesame seeds, garlic and ginger.  When the garlic begins to brown add the tomato sauce, brown sugar, sriracha, chili garlic sauce, molasses, soy sauce, rice vinegar, apple cider vinegar and water.  Simmer over med-low heat for ten minutes.  
  4. Add the eggplant and onions then simmer for another 5 minutes.
  5. Serve over rice garnished with additional sesame seeds.

Late winter snow

Snow is falling hard for the second day in a row here and has required a fair amount of shoveling, plowing and picking up downed tree branches. These activities have chilled us to the bone and made for some tired pups.

To help warm up and rejuvenate a bit I made a hardy meal of vegan chili and sweet cornbread to Serve by the wood stove tonight.

Yin yang cross stitch

I broke one of my New Years resolutions and added a new full coverage piece to my stitching rotation. Yin yang variation A by Nolda van Hezewijk of Aaron Art. This piece only uses full cross stitches and so colorful that it will be a joy to work.

my start today
what the finished piece will resemble

This morning I made a round of chocolate cherry slow rise bread with is packed with dark chocolate chips and dried tart cherries. The bake made the entire house smell like a chocolate factory.

I am really loving this stitch-a-long. The February installment of the SAL was even more interesting than the first, to the point I stitched it in just a little over a day.

Cant wait for the next installment on March 1st.

I am also enjoying this SAL. It take such a short amount of time to complete the weekly installments and it is fun to learn new stitches. The following shows what I was able to complete through the end of the month.

Amber Waves

This winter I reached into my stash and pulled out a counted canvas project that has been in the pile for about 10 years. I really don’t know what took me so long to start it because it is a joy to work.

Unfortunately, I bought the threads at the same time as the pattern and have run out of two of the threads before finishing, and as luck would have it the colors are no longer being produced, so this piece will have to be put aside until replacement colors can be found for the last band.

Dimensions finished

Finally finished Dimensions by Aaron Art. This piece was stitched with Anchor marlitt and backstitched with a combination of marlitt and Kreinik blending filament. The tread gives the piece a lovely luster but was a bar to work with. Not sure if I will ever use the thread again.

Peppermint Purple in the UK is offering a mystery Blackwork stitch-a-long (SAL) that has weekly installments. One of the nice things about this SAL is that each of the installment takes less than an hour to complete. Another is that the designer recommends thread selections and a recommend design grid, both of which make this SAL easy for beginning stitchers, yet also interesting for more advanced stitchers. The following is a picture of my start for this SAL.

This year I decided to work on three international stitch-a-long projects (SALs). They are fun, free, and working on timed projects keeps me on track. I also love interacting with stitchers around the world. The Linen and Treads is by a group in Australia and started January 2020 and will run through December of this year. For this SAL each stitcher chooses their own threads and fabrics, and the first of each month a new section of the mystery SAL is posted for all participants. The picture below shows my interpretation of the January installment.

Quilt finish

After 3 1/2 years my hand pieced hexagon quilt is finished and placed on our bed. I made enough hexes for a second quilt but not sure when I will get around to piecing that one.

%d bloggers like this: