Snapshots of life and crafts on our little homestead

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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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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.

Sunny days quilt

Just finished binding a gift for one of my aunts. She really loves bright colors and has been after me to make a quilt for their shore house, so I made her a quilt named Sunny Days. It is made of simple log cabin blocks, but the layout of the unit, and the lovely longarm quilting done by my friend Joanne at Splitting Stitches remind me of a bright sunny day. 45FC877F-008D-49DF-B734-D20D4CD612BB

Lovely duet

Lovely song about love between a parent and child.

Tree of Life Quilt: Part 3

The first of 22 trees of life completed. The quilt will be lovely but the piecing will be very tedious. Besides having many small pieces, the old technique of setting blocks on point will be used for the top. After creating the first block I can see why I had this pattern for 15 years before starting the project.

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Tea time

This summer I moved my craft space from the family to one of the small rooms in the basement. I the process of unpacking my fabric in the new space I ran across a tea pot print fabric that i bought about 10 years ago, placed in the fabric bin and completely forgot about. Before it was forgotten again it was moved to my cutting table for my summer rainy day project.

The rains yesterday and today allowed me to finish the top that I have named tea time, since I love a good cup of tea on a overcast rainy days.

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Teatime top 64 x 72 I inichs in size

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Closeup of Teatime

Summer kitchen

It is currently the point in the growing season where I spend a large portion of my time in the kitchen. This morning I filled the dehydrator with some of the items picked from our gardens last night (they will be used in soups and stews), started some pasta sauce in the crockpot (will can it in pint containers tomorrow), made some eggplant meatless balls for the freezer, made a peach crumble (oven was already on so why not), and started a batch of peach scraps fermenting  for salad dressings and marinades.

What has your day been like?

 

Fresh tomato and herb tart

Dinner tonight is fresh from the garden. Tomato herb tart topped with fresh goat cheese, and a bowl of mixed greens. 

The tart is made with a herb crust that was blind baked for 20 minutes so it stayed crispy. After letting the crust rest for 10 minutes I topped it with chopped mixed herbs, sliced tomatoes, fresh goat milk feta, basil salt, pepper, and finished the layers with a drizzle of olive oil. Then baked the tart at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. The resulting tart had a flaky crisp crust and juicy topping.

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Fresh batch of aubergine pasta sauce

With the very warm wet summer this year we have a bumper crop of green beans, tomatoes and eggplant. This morning I used 12 pounds of our tomatoes and 4 pounds of eggplant to make some lovely jars of aubergine pasta sauce.

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The recipe I use is as follows. Please keep in mind that the canning method is the one that I use in my house. Please follow the canning method and times that are appropriate for your household.

INGREDIENTS

    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 1 large onion , chopped
    • 6 garlic cloves , chopped
    • 1 large bell pepper , chopped
    • 2 lbs eggplants, cubed
    • 8 cups tomatoes , peeled & cubed
    • 1/4 cup tomato powder or 1-6 ounce can of tomato paste
    • 4 tablespoons fresh basil
    • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
    • 2 teaspoons dry oregano
    • 1/3 cup date sugar (can substitute brown sugar)
    • 2 teaspoons sea salt 
    • 1 teaspoon pepper
    • 1 cup dry red wine

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat.
  2. Add onion and garlic; cook until the onion is soft.
  3. Add tomatoes, eggplant, bell pepper, tomato paste, basil, oregano, hot pepper flakes, sugar, salt, pepper, and wine; stir.
  4. Bring to boil; reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Blend mixture with an emersion blender. 
  6. Put into hot jars and add prepared lids and rings. Screw rings on until finger tight.
  7. Process in hot water bath for 40 minutes.

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No matter how much canning I do, the reduction in volume when fresh produce is processed always amazes me. 

Time for ferments

It is time to start  vegetable fermentation today. Each year a portion of our veritable are set aside to be fermented. This process provides very healthy products that require little or not refrigeration.
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I wanted to try a different flavor profile for sauerkraut so a small batch taster was started. If we like the flavor I will start a large stone crock of the flavored sauerkraut, if not we will make a large batch of a more traditional flavor. A jar of spicy green beans was also started. It is to bad that we have to wait three months to dig into those lovely green gems.

Tomorrow I will start carrots and korhabi fermenting. What type of vegetables do you ferment?

Cranberry hazelnut rainforest crackers

4898A25B-E41E-448D-A467-32AB0557DE90Between other cooking and canning projects I restocked the pantry with some speciality crackers. These cranberry hazelnut rainforest crackers are full of protein and fiber and have some rich flavor in every bite. I like to make these crackers when I have to be in the kitchen because they take two days to complete from start to finish. Not that they are difficult to make, but there is a fair amount of wait time between the mixing of the batter and the actual production of the cracker. 

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Generally a batter is made, poured into mini bread pans then baked. The cool beard is then placed in the refrigerator over night so that it easer to slice. The next day the bread is sliced very thinly and placed on dehydrator trays. The slices are then dehydrated on the jerky setting  until Crisp (in my dehydrator this takes about 4 hours).

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These crispy, slightly sweet treats are wonderful served with almost any type of soft cheese. The recipe that I use can be found on the Wives with Knives blog. This recipe will makes a little over six dozen crackers.

One of the things that I like to to do is package the finished crackers into appetizer size packages and store them in the pantry so they can be brought out when unexpected guest arrive or for that special family meal. If you would rather have small batches of crackers on hand, then just freeze the baked breads and defrost and prepare the crackers on an as needed basis.

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If you try the recipe noted above I strongly suggest that you use a dehydrator instead of the oven to dry the crisps. This will reduce the time needed to watch an oven, address any uneven thickness in the slices, and do away with any possibly of the sugars in the crisps burning. 

Fruity Oatmeal Cookie Bars

My wonderful honey volunteered me to make a desert for the monthly community choir board meeting. So I made one of my standby deserts that is always receive well, fruity oatmeal cookie bars. Not only is this desert quick and easy to make but it uses few ingredients and allows me to use up some of the jam I can each year. 

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Today I used a cherry pie jam I made and canned last year as the center in the bars. Please excuse the plastic Christmas tray in the first picture. Over the years I have learned to only send food items on trays I don’t mind loosing, since the love of my life often forgets to bring them home from events.

The recipe I use is:

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt (omit if you are using salted butter)
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 small container of homemade jam or 3/4 cup of store bought jam

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Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease an 8 inch pan and line it with parchment paper
  3. Combine brown sugar, flour, baking soda, salt and rolled oats. Rub in butter with your hands to form a crumbly mixture
  4. Press 2 cups of the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan

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  1. Spread the jam to within /4 inch of the edge
  2. Sprinkle the remaining crumb mixture over the top, and lightly press it into the jam

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  1. Bake 35 to 40 minutes in preheated oven until lightly brown
  2. Allow to cool before cutting into bars

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Based on recipe at Allrecipes

Back to basics: Egg Custard

This time of year our chickens start producing a lot of eggs and there is a lot of milk avalable, so I make a lot of old fashioned recipes for family and friends. One recipe that I make often is egg custard. It only takes about five minutes to prepare, uses simple ingredients, and if made in single serving container can be pulled out and dressed up for guests.

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My family likes the custard plain with a healthy sprinkle of nutmeg on top. For guests it can be pulled out of the refrigator, topped with fresh seasonal fruit and some fresh whipped cream. Some of my favorite fruit toppings are blueberries, raspberries and strawberries in simple syrup.

The custard recipe that I use is:

  • 4 cups milk (room tempature)
  • 6 large eggs (room tempature)
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • fresh ground nutmeg

Cooking Directions

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  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Place all of the ingridents in a blinder and mix until will incorporated.
  3. Pour mixture into 8-one cup baking dishes or a 9×13 inch pan. Place in a large pan with enough water to reach about 1 inch  from the top of the custard dish(s).
  4. Sprinkle a bit more nutmeg on the top of each dish.
  5. Bake for about 45 minutes or until the custard has just set. Be careful not to over cook.
  6. Cool custard then cover and refrigerate. Will keep for 5-7 days in refrigerator.

 

Early July Garden

Living this far north I get a little inpatient waiting for the vegetable gardens to start producing. Regardless of how I feel the gardens have a mind of their own and provide eatables when they are good and ready.


So far:

  • the radishes have matured and been harvested
  • Snow peas have basically played out for the season, but will leave the plants in to see if any more develop as the weather cools
  • spinach has been planted in the radish bed
  • asparagus is just about done for the season, time to do a bit of cleaning of the bed and laying new straw
  • tart cherries have matured but the small critters and birds have eaten almost all of them
  • The deer have been keeping the strawberries and ground artichokes well trimmed
  • pears, peaches, and on a limited basis apples and plums are maturing nicely
  • Have been able to pick some Swiss chard and kale to go with meals
  • tomato plants are loaded with fruit just waiting for them to ripen
  • have even able to harvest small amounts of broccoli and cabbage so far, but there is a promise of much, much more in a few weeks
  • will be able to pick the first offerings of bush and pole beans in about a week for canning
  • Eggplant, peppers, summer squash, onions, carrots (had to plant these twice since an unseasonable heat wave fried the first batch), and various hers are coming along nicely
  • Ground finally got warm enough for the cucumbers and witnter squash varieties to start growing well and producing flowers of promise

Homemade lemon curd

Now that the days are longer our birds have been providing us with a large quantity of eggs. Some have been sold, dozens are frozen for the fall when the birds molt, and a number have been used in various baked goods. Today I used  a dozen of the duck eggs to make a batch of lemon curd for cakes and toast in the winter months. We will really enjoy this liquid sunshine during the cold months…

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