Snapshots of life and crafts on our little homestead

Canning time again

Heirloom tomatoes are in and our lone peach tree is so laden with fruit that the branches are touching the ground. Yesterday I canned a dozen jars of diced tomatoes and started a batch of spicy ketchup.

Today I canned the ketchup, made a large batch of zucchini bread for the freezer and picked the first batch of peaches from our little tree.

I really love all the wonder food our little corner of the world produces.

Summer Foraging

In our walk in the woods this evening we found and picked some wild butternuts ( also known as white walnuts) and hazelnuts before the critters got to them. Now they are laid out on a screen in the greenhouse to dry. I am so happy with today’s discovery.

Fresh butternuts and hazelnuts

After three years and more than 2,000 hand stitched hexagons I am about a week away from finishing a scrappy quilt top.

Pillow Music

Stitched and finished a pillow that was made for a friend who lost her mother. The notes on the pillow are from a hymn she sang at her mother’s funeral.

Mango salsa

Canning season has officially started in my household. This past week corn, kale, snow peas, and fruit cocktail have been canned and shelved for the winter months. Today I canned a lovey peach and mango salsa that turned out so well that I wanted to share the recipe with all of you.

The recipe makes about 11 half-pints so adjust the ingredients according to your needs.

  • 6 cups seeded, peeled and diced peaches (~4 large fruits)
  • 6 cups peeled, seeded and diced, firm ripe mangos
  • 2 cups diced orange or yellow bell peper
  • 1 1/2 cups finely diced red onion
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 4 diced fresh jalapeños
  • Juice and zest of a fresh lime
  • 1 1/2 cups white vinegar
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  1. Sterilize canning jars and tops.
  2. place all the ingredients in a large pot and bring to a boil stirring until the sugar is dissolved.
  3. reduce to a simmer and cook for an additional 5 minutes.
  4. scoop the salsa into hot jars leaving 1/2 inch head space.
  5. wipe the top of the jars and screw the lids on.
  6. process in a water bath for 20 minutes.

Peach fiber muffins

These moist and tasty high fiber muffins are totally vegan and easy to make.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 cups (750ml) Organic bran cereal
  • 2 ½ cups (725ml) sifted whole wheat flour
  • 4 tsp (20ml) baking powder
  • ½ cup (125ml) + 2 tbsp (30ml) coconut oil
  • ⅔ cup (180ml) maple syrup
  • 1 ¾ cup (425ml) plant based milk
  • 2 tbsp (30ml) ground flax seed
  • 1 tsp (5ml) vanilla
  • 1 cup (250ml) skinned and chopped peaches

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F/177°C. Prepare 2 standard 12-cup muffins tins.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together coconut oil, maple syrup, milk, flax, and vanilla. Set aside.
  3. In a food processor, grind bran cereal into a fine flour. In a medium bowl, combine ground cereal, flour, and baking powder, mix well. Add chopped peaches and stir to coat.
  4. Use a fork to stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Do not over mix.
  5. Divide batter between 20-24 muffins cups. Bake for 18-22 minutes, until the tops are golden-brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  
  6. Once cooked, cool muffins on a rack.

Mango cake

Mango cake slice

It is that time of year when mangos are plentiful and inexpensive and find their way into many dishes in my house. Today I used a few very ripe ones to make a mango upside down cake for desert.

The following is the recipe I used to make this moist and flavorful cake.

Ingredients

Base

  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3 ripe mangos chopped 

Cake

  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup milk

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). 
  2. Melt 1/4 cup of butter into a 1/4 sheet cake pan. Swirl the butter around the bottom and sides of pan and the sprinkle the brown sugar on the bottom of the pan. Set aside. 
  3. In a medium bowl, cream together the sugar and butter. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. 
  4. Combine flour and baking powder, add to the creamed mixture and mix well. Finally stir in the milk and 1/2 cup of the chopped mango until batter is smooth. 
  5. Sprinkle the remainder of the mango on top of the brown sugar in the pan. 
  6. Spoon batter into the prepared pan.
  7. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes in the preheated oven. 
  8. Cake is done when it springs back to the touch.

Pillow fun

There is a silver lining in every dark cloud. I was able to avoid colds and flu the winter, but after several days of spring gardening I was struck a flu that kept me in the house and under covers for a week. Not being one that can do nothing I picked a scrap piece of cross stitch fabric and a nice red thread and stitched a pillow cover of blackwork patterns (my silver lining).

Chocolate Egg Custard

Spring has finally arrived so the chickens and ducks have started laying again, which means it is time to start making more egg based dishes.

Today I made a family favorite — chocolate egg custard. This tasty dish is light, sweet and creamy. Best of all it uses a limited number of ingredients and only takes about 10 minutes mix at 45 minutes to cook, which makes the custard a great weeknight treat. The recipe for the custard is as follows.

Ingredients

  • 4 cup milk (I use 2%)
  • 6 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Heat the milk in a large saucepan until bubbles form around the edges. Remove from the burner and set aside.
  3. Add the eggs, sugar, vanilla, salt, and cocoa to a blinder and give it a few pulses until blended.
  4. Turn the blender to a low speed and gradually add the warmed milk to the egg mixture.
  5. Pour the custard into a 9×13 casserole dish or 9 custard cups.
  6. Place the dish or cups in a large roasting pan and fill the pan with enough water to rehash about an inch from the top.
  7. Bake for about 45 minutes or until the custard has just set. 
  8. Cool before serving. 


Thanks to a couple of spring days of sleet and snow I was able to finish the stitching on Cup Full of Wishes. I will be turning this piece into a pillow that will be gifted the next holiday season.

Stitched on an 18 count, opalescent Aida fabric

Cup full of wishes

The rainy weather this past weekend allowed me to start a blackwork and counted cross stitch piece that will be turned into a holiday pillow to accompany a postage stamp quilt. The needlework piece is titled Cup full of wishes by Valentina Sardu, and the postage stamp quilt is designed with holiday fabric scraps that I have collected for the past 15 years.

The cross stitching on this piece was stitched with single threads of DMC floss on an 18 count white opalescent Aida fabric. Outlining for the gloves UVA’s done with a black 40 ply Egyptian cotton. All blackwork in the gloves and cup steam will be completed with a slate gray DMC floss, and the work on the cup will be stitched with an opalescent thread.

March bread day

It was time to feed my sourdough starter, which left me with 2 1/2 cups of waste. I used the waste starter to make sourdough rolls for burgers, a loaf of cinnamon raisin bread and some cheese crackers. The rolls will be packaged and frozen for warmer barbecue days, the crackers packaged for my honey’s lunches. The raisin bread probably will not last though weekend with my carb loving family.

Sourdough raisin bread
Cinnamon raisin bread


Bottles of sunshine

It was time for the final filtering and bottling of peach, pear and apple vinegars started last harvest season. I still have another gallon of apple cider vinegar to filter and bottle, but I would like the mother in the jar to get a bit larger before disturbing the contents. The nice thing about the vinegars is that they are organic and created from fruit from our trees or the orchard at the bottom of the hill. 

Earlier this week I also started lemon and orange extract as well as a citrus liqueur for next summer.  I find that extracts are some of the simplest things to make. All you need is some rinds, seeds or pods, an inexpensive vodka, and time to make luscious extracts.

Citrus extracts

Now to feed the sourdough starter and have a nice cup of coffee.

Have a great day…

Guilted Komons completed

Finished Guilded Koran quilt

Gilded Komons finished after a little over two years. The quilt is named for the type of kimonos worn by Japanese women shopping and for visits at one point in time. The fabric in Komon kimonos contained small repeated patterns of items found in nature, but as far as I could tell they did not use gold or crystals, so I added “guilded” to the title.

It didn’t take 24 months to finish the quilt, but the chain of events to bring it from start to finish spanned approximately two years. finished to base top of this quilt about 18 months ago and placed it on the pile of unquilted tops where it remained until I convinced my friend Joanne (owner of Splitting Stitches ) that she had the long arm talents needed to quilt the top (she is very good at edge-to-edge quilting but this point did very little custom quilting). After a couple of planning talks she agreed to talk the project on, so the top moved from my pile to her work pile, where it sat for about six months waiting for her to build the confidence to put the top on one of her long arm machines. Over the past several months the top moved on and off her machine between other jobs, and visits and email exchanges to discuss design and in some cases design modifications. At the end of January Joanne set me photos of the quilted top and asked when we could meet to discuss the quilt.

The first week of February we met to view the top and discuss the next steps. Joanne’s work was lovely and made the piece shine.

Guilded Koran quilt back
Guilded Koran quilt back that shows off the wonderful stitching

Now it was my turn to get to work. I added a number of embleshments to give the quilt some additional dimensions. Folded fans were added to the back of each kimono, the center flower received some heavy beading and a 3D gold center to add some bling and to draw the attention. A few crystal butterflys were were added both the quilt fronts and backs to reflect light when the piece is hung.

Beaded center flower
Guilded Koran quilt section
Close up of one of the kimono sections

I am not sure if the embleshments are done, so the quilt has been hung in my sewing room waiting for feedback from my collaborator and so that I can study it for a bit.

Spent today adding fans to the kimono backs and butterfly shaped crystals to the backs and fronts. Since the top is quilted all of the stitching for the embellishments have to be started from the top and embedded batting, needless to say progress is slow. After seven hours of stitching I started making mistakes so put the quilt aside to finish another day.

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