Snapshots of life and crafts on our little homestead

Archive for the ‘Homestead life’ Category

Optical illusions

Starting to make a bit more progress on my optical illusion pattern by Aaron Art. I finished the counterclockwise center yesterday evening and will move back to the larger clockwise outer circle in about a week. Once all of the cross stitching is done metallic threads of various colors will be used for outlining and to add detail to the piece.

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Diamond play


New project start to bring in 2019 will combine cross stitch and quilting. I spent the past few weeks selecting fabrics and designing a finish of a piece of cross stitch completed last year. Since the needlework piece contains a series of diamonds filled with vintage patterns, gilded fabrics containing vintage patterns, and double windmill pattern were selected for the project.

The following images will step you through how I took my paper design from concept to the design wall.

Quilt block units
Design layout and units for the first blocks – background blocks and four square units.
The four square units were first strip pieced and then cut to the appropriate size.
4 square block sandwich
Four square sewn on all four sides to the background square.
Sandwiched blocks cut into four units on the diagonal
Block units opened
Cut sandwich opened and ready for layout
Finished double windmill block
Finished double windmill block
Design wall layout of blocks
Design wall layout of the first set of blocks

Botanical Garden finished

I have my first craft finish for 2019. Almost 100,000 stitches later my Botanical Garden quilt is finished, washed, pressed and added to the finishing queue. The combination of blackwork and counted cross stitching on the piece was so much fun to work.

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Dehydrating winter squash

When I rotated our cold room produce there were a few winter squash that were reaching the end of their storage life. The Hubbard, butternut and buttercup squash that were starting turn around the stem ends were roasted, puréed, dehydrated, ground into powder and moved to dry goods storage.

I find that dehydrated wInter squash re-hydrates well and can be used in any dish that calls for puréed squash or pumpkin. I have also found that most winter squash is interchangeable in pies, quick breads, soups and stews.

The process I use to create squash powder can be found in the images below.

Large Hubbard squash from our harvest this past fall
Seeds and associated pulp removed
Seeds ready to be washed and dried for planting next year and
pulp set aside to feed to the chickens
Roasted chunks ready to be mashed and placed on dehydrator sheets
Dehydrator loaded and ready to start. For my type of dehydrator
this process will take about 10 hours.
What the squash will look like at the end of the process
Place the dehydrated squash in a blender and process to a fine powder
Dried squash powder
place the powder in an airtight container and store away from direct sunlight.
For most recipes mix 1/4 cup of powder into about 3/4 cups of warm water and let sit for about 15 minutes before usinig.

Happy New Years

May the new year bring you all that you need and some of what you want.

 

Botanical garden: Part 7

Now that my holiday projects are done I started working on the botanical garden piece again. Finally figured out the blackwork pattern on the “B” letter, and finished outline the border. Just four letters to finish before I can call this piece complete.

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The Gift of Handwarmers

In early November we made the 7 hour drive to my in-laws house for a weekend visit and family pre-holiday dinner. During the visit my father-in-law talked about how much his hands hurt now that the cold weather had set in. His complaint gave me a great idea for some things to add to their Christmas basket — a set of hand warmers that could be heated in a microwave or on top of a wood stove, paired with muscle salve I made earlier in the year.

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The hand warmers were so easy to make that I thought I would share the process with all of you.

  1. Trace a hand outline approximately 2 inches wider and higher that the actual hand onto a piece of freezer paper or directly onto the piece of fabric that will be used for the hand warmer.
  2. If freezer paper was used iron the paper onto the fabric to be used and the cut 8 pieces of frantic using the template.
  3. Put the cut fabric pieces in pairs with the back sides of the fabric facing each other. On the top piece of each side draw 2 channel line from the top to the bottom (about 2.5 inches from each side works for most adult size hands).
  4. Sew each set of fabric pieces together along the channel line – any type of stitch will work.
  5. Stack two sets on top of each other and then sew a 1/2 inch seam around the outside of each set. Next, turn the sets right side out. 47212C2D-28F3-426E-9DA0-7C35F8BD4986
  6. Mix rice (buckwheat hulls also work well) and dried herbs of your choice (I used rosemary and eucalyptus) together and then fill the channels in the mitts with the rice mixture, filling each channel 1/2 to 3/4 full.B48FE213-2F5E-4A91-AD2E-33EF972A79BA4F1CC8CB-EFF0-423A-883E-C7C8B2002461
  7. Sew the openings of the mitts shut.E9E2D9B3-1EBD-41E4-89A0-4549D7B76F67
  8. Cut cuffs for the mitts (5 inches by 14-16 inches works for most adult sizes. Press a 1/2 hem over on one of the short sides of each cuff, then press the long side in half.F065613E-E0FB-4CDB-8078-E5AAF09DC494
  9. Pin the cuffs to the inside of each mitt, placing the raw edge of the cuffs inside of the seamed edge, and the sew the cuffs in place.12E66D81-4646-4B43-B258-37854A47CB84
  10. Pull the cuffs up, fold over the seam and tack in place.

Noel, noel

Just finished my first holiday pillow of the season. The combination cross stitch and blackwork portion of the pillow is a free Elizabeth Almond pattern I found online. This pillow top was so much fun to do that I think I may do another one before the holiday season is over.

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Apple Chips

the apple harvest is in so it is time to process our sweet bounty. Earlier this month I made 12 pints of unsweetened applesauce, started a batch of hard cider and used all of my scraps to start a large batch of apple cider vinegar (ACV). We use the apple sauce for snacking and as a replacement for fats in baked goods, and the ACV in cooking, as a hair rinse and in some of the soaps we make.

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Yesterday I cored and sliced about a dozen apples 1/8 of an inch thick (a mandoline is a real time saver for this step). Then payed the slices out on dehydrator trays and lightly sprinkled them with cinnamon sugar and processed them in the dehydrator for 10 hours.   The resulting product is a crunchy chip with a concentrated apple flavor, low in calories that takes care of a sweet tooth. I will be making a larger batch of these little treats this weekend and storing them in air tight containers for winter treats.

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Botanical alphabet: Part 6

Another row finished, time to adjust the frame. Two more rows of letter blocks to finish the piece.  Really loving how this is turning out.

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End of Vegetable Garden Season

The hard frosts at night have started and the daytime temperatures are sliding towards the low 30s this week, so it was time to harvest some of the last vegetables in the gardens and start bed cleanup and  fertilization.

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This morning I cleaned and blanched a laundry basket full of kale that will be dehydrated and then ground into powder for winter recipes. Then started shredding cabbage that would not fit in the sauerkraut crock for dehydration as well. 

Our gardens have been good to us an will keep us fed through the winter, but I will really be glad when all of our food prep is done….now I need to figure out what to do with all of the sweet peppers….

Fermented Cranberry Relish

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Started preparing a batch of cranberry relish for fermenting this morning for Christmas. Cutting my start a bit close this year, normally like the ferment to sit for 4 months before using. 

This is a very easy recipe to make. Take a bunch of fresh cranberries and rough chop them, add the berries to a jar along with some grated ginger and a cinnamon stick, and then cover the mixture with unfiltered local honey. Next, cover the jar and store out of direct sunlight for at least three months. Check the jar every week or so to assure the berries stay covered with the honey juice mixture — you may have to add a bit more honey now and again.

Winter Squash Soup

Our winter squash are coming in and it is soup time in our house again. For dinner tonight a made  arch and creamy winter squash soup with a side of corn muffins.

If you have some winter squash you may want to try this recipe.

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Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced 
  • 6 cups chopped winter squash (I used kabocha squash for tonight’s recipe)
  • 1 pinch each sea salt and black pepper 
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 14-ounce can coconut milk
  • 2 cups vegetable broth 
  • 2-3 Tbsp maple syrup (can use brown sugar or coconut sugar)
  • 1-2 tsp chili garlic paste (optional)

Instructions

  1. Heat a large pot over medium heat.
  2. Once hot, add oil, onion, and garlic. Sauté for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
  3. Add squash and season with a pinch each salt and pepper, curry powder, and ground cinnamon. Stir to coat. Then cover and cook for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add coconut milk, vegetable broth, maple syrup or sugar, and chili garlic paste (optional – for heat).
  5. Bring to a low boil over medium heat and then reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes or until squash is fork tender.
  6. Use an immersion blender, or transfer soup to a blender, and purée on high until creamy and smooth. If using a blender, return soup back to pot.
  7. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding more curry powder, salt, or sweetener as needed. Continue cooking for a few more minutes over medium heat.
  8. Serve as is or with garnishes of your choice.

Small batch canning

It is just about the end of our vegetable gardens for this year, which allows for some small batch processing of special treats. Today I made apple chips, pickled jalapeños and a few jars of spicy green tomatoes.

Later today I will be pulling out the last of the kale and dehydrating it for the winter.

Hubbard Squash Pie

The winter squash harvest is starting to come in. Unfortunately, the squirrels have reeked havoc on crops this year. Many summer and winter squash were eaten prior to maturity or scared by their little nails.  Some of the Hubbard squash grew to maturity but were to scared for long term storage and needed to be processed immediately. I used one of these squash to make our first pie for the season since Hubbard, butternut, buttercup squash and pumpkin are interchangeable in pies and quick breads.

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The recipe that I used is as follows. I hope that your family enjoys it as much as mine does.

Ingredients

  • 1 medium Hubbard squash
  • 1/2 stick butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup evaporated milk
  • 1 unbaked pie crust
  • Maple Whipped Cream, optional, recipe follows

Maple Whipped Topping:

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degree F.
  2. Slice into quarters, seed and bake squash for 1 hour in the oven on a baking sheet. When done, let cool.
  3. Scrape the pulp out of the skin, transfer to a large bowl, and mash. Set 4 cups of the mash aside.
  4. In a medium bowl, beat together butter, sugar, and brown sugar until creamy. Add eggs, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice and salt.
  5. Add evaporated milk and stir mixture into squash. Beat together with mixer until smooth and pour into an unbaked pie shell.
  6. Bake on bottom rack of oven for 1 hour or until center of pie is firm. Serve warm. Add dollop of whipped cream if desired.

Maple Whipped Topping:

In a medium bowl, beat together whipping cream and confectioners’ sugar. Add maple syrup. Beat together until soft peaks form.

 

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