OK, not actual store-bought Jell-O, not when you've got a pantry full of beautiful canned fruit juices, straight out of your garden. This is the best fruit gelatin you'll ever have, and I doubt you'll want to go back to that awful chemical stuff once you've tried it.
Fruit Juice Gelatin
Each tablespoon of gelatin should gel 2 cups of liquid. The original recipe from Joy of Cooking calls for a total of 1 cup water (1/4 cup cold, 3/4 cup boiled), and 1 cup of juice. I use all juice, what the heck!
1 tablespoon gelatin
1/4 cup cold fruit juice
Dissolve it in:
1 3/4 cup boiled fruit juice
You might wish to add up to:
1/2 cup honey
for sweetening, depending on the juice you're using (e.g. unsweetened cranberry juice, you might wish to try 1 cup of Sprite or 7Up or ginger ale to the 1 cup of fruit juice, or perhaps all juice with more honey).
Let set in refrigerator about 4 hours or more. If you want to do this in a jelly mold, make sure to chill and wet the mold before pouring the jelly into it. I've not tried that, but it would be neat!
If you want to add pieces of fruit, wait for the jelly to set mostly (but not entirely) so that the fruit will stay suspended.
You can also replace 1/2 cup of the juice with 1/2 cup of vanilla yogurt for a bit of a different flavour.
Sunday, November 22, 2009
OK, not actual store-bought Jell-O, not when you've got a pantry full of beautiful canned fruit juices, straight out of your garden. This is the best fruit gelatin you'll ever have, and I doubt you'll want to go back to that awful chemical stuff once you've tried it.
Last year, I purchased a Wacom Bamboo graphics tablet for my art. A few months ago I decided that I needed to protect the tablet somehow, because I travel quite a lot with it. I place it in a pocket in my bag, but I still wanted something a little more substantial to protect it. So I took up one of my trusty little steel crochet hooks from my Grandma Hillaby, a couple of fine Mercerized cotton yarns (yes, bamboo yarn would have been much more appropriate, but I had this in stock and didn't want to spend any money), and my favourite crochet pattern (I've created two baby blankets out of this pattern to date) to create a little Bamboo Pocket!
Here's the pattern, for anyone who might be interested. I believe I started with 87 chains (there are 8 full repetitions of the wheel across the body of the pocket, plus the 3 stitches to start, and 4 stitches to end the first row. I just crocheted a "scarf" (i.e. a rectangle), folded it in half, and single crocheted the pocket together at the two edges. I attached a button at the top inside to just keep it closed. I had thought of doing an envelop flap, and I might do so still at some point, but the holes in the pattern fit a little button nicely, so I think this'll do fine for my purposes.
The circular motifs are achieved by working one row of clusters and one row of shells. Try a piece starting with 27 chains.
Row 1: (wrong side) 1sc in 2nd ch from hook, 1sc in next ch. *skip 3ch, 7dc in next ch, skip 3 ch, 3sc, rep from * to last 4ch, skip 3 ch, 4 dc in last ch, turn
Row 2: ch1, 1sc in same place. 1 sc, *ch3, 1dcl worked over 7 sts, ch3, 3sc, rep from * to last 4sts, ch3, 1cl over 4dc, turn
Row 3: ch3, 3dc in same place, *skip 3ch, 3sc, skip 3ch, 7dc in loop of cl, rep from * to last 5sts, skip 3ch, 2sc, turn
Row 4: ch3, 1cl over 3 sts, *ch3, 3sc, ch3, 1cl over 7 sts, rep from * to last 5sts, ch3, 2sc, turn
Row 5: ch1, 2sc, *skip 3ch, 7dc in loop of cl, skip 3ch, 3sc, rep from * to last st, 4dc in last st
Rep rows 2-5 to desired length.
For two colour Catherine Wheel, work as above, changing to the second colour on row 2. Change colour on every alternate row. Here's a video; it's about 20 minutes, but she goes through the whole pattern - very helpful if you don't figure out patterns easily without help from someone showing you what to do. It's a little different pattern than the one above - the demonstrator only does 1sc rather than 3sc in between each 3ch/cluster/3ch combination (and obviously she must only do 1sc wherever it says to do 3 sc above), but you get the idea of how to do the cluster stitch really well by watching.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
The original house layout was this:
A few years ago, Dave constructed these beautiful built-ins at the window end of the living room:
This year, Dave's built a pair of china hutches to go into the dining room:
Then in October, Dave framed in the new walls between the dining room & living room, to house the new built-ins, and installed them:
Here is the new layout of the house:
Along with framing the walls to house the built-ins, Dave moved the entry from the hallway into the living room down towards the other end of the hallway from it's original placement:
This has already improved traffic flow and has made the living room both physically (because it's blocked the draft from the front door) and psychologically more cozy. A huge side benefit to all this construction is the addition of a "hall" closet (it's actually in the living room, but close enough).
Dave has a beautiful piece of furniture that he'd built to hang jackets and store shoes on; however, it takes up a huge chunk of the hallway. Now, we can move all that stuff into the new closet when it's completed, and repurpose that furniture piece somewhere else, thus opening the hall even further.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Thanks to minouette for this - sounds like fun so here goes:
1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
1. Venison - kind of hard not to when we hunt & eat what we hunt ;)
2. Nettle Tea - does nettle beer count?
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare - but am not keen to repeat it; it was a Japanese version.
5. Crocodile/alligator - yup, in Queensland
6. Black pudding - Dave has and loves it. I think I'll avoid it but wouldn't put it in the strikeout list.
7. Cheese fondue - thanks Elizabeth, especially for serving with new fingerling potatoes, yummy!
Borscht - having had an unfortunate, life-altering experience with beets at a very young age, I can't even get past the smell to get anything beet-related into my mouth
10. Baba ghanoush
PB&J sandwich - love it but can't eat it any more; no more peanuts for me.
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart - is there any other kind?
17. Black truffles
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes - Practically anything alcoholic we drink in our household is fruit wine we've made not from grapes: apples, pears, blackberries, raspberries, plums, rhubarb (not really a fruit, though), while we don't make it yet, blueberries too.
19. Steamed pork buns - unless you're religion prevents this, how can you not?
Pistachio ice cream - allergy
21. Heirloom tomatoes - Um, yeah. See also here and here.
22. Fresh wild berries - Definitely. Leetle teeny tiny ground-covering blueberries in the Cariboo are our current favourites; next to impossible to find, and getting more than a mouthful is a challenge, but so much flavour. Also try this lovely pie filling version for wild huckleberries.
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans - staple. With salsa, of course!
25. Brawn, or head cheese
Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche - I hope that gelato form counts?
28. Oysters - thought this one would be a strikeout if you'd asked about a year ago, but I've since been converted, at least to the deep fried variety.
Baklava - while everyone in my family adores it, I'm allergic (dratted nut allergy)
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder - Manhattan & New England, and all sorts of other seafood chowder combos
33. Salted lassi
Sauerkraut - ugh. Cabbage.
35. Root beer float
37. Clotted cream
38. Vodka jelly
Oxtail - never again. So sick of ox tail stew from childhood experience. Ugh.
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects - probably have without knowing it, so won't eliminate it from the running
43. Phaal - not likely; not a huge curry fanatic
44. Goat's milk - not again if I can avoid it
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more - mmmmm
47. Chicken tikka masala
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
Sea urchin - not again if I can avoid it.
51. Prickly pear
Umeboshi - not again if I can avoid it.
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
Dirty gin martini - don't like gin & don't like martini's
58. Beer above 8% - "I live in Canada" - ditto
59. Poutine - "I live in Canada" - ditto
Carob chips - rather a shock as a kid; don't want to repeat it.
63. Kaolin - not on purpose, but it's probably in something I've eaten.
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake - "They should add beaver tails to this list" yeah, and whales' tails
Haggis - hopefully, I'll never repeat that event. Ugh.
69. Fried plantain - also barbequed / deep fried bananas are great, too.
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette - I think so?
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill - Probably wouldn't.
77. Hostess Fruit Pie - the things you try as a kid!
79. Lapsang souchong - love it.
81. Tom yum
Eggs Benedict - hate hollandaise.
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare - well, rabbit - does it make a difference?
89. Horse - not knowingly, but I did have non-duck "duck" in France, so maybe it was horse?
90. Criollo chocolate - maybe?
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
Lobster Thermidor - don't like lobster
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
Saturday, September 26, 2009
I have been trying to clear out Mom's freezer to make some room for meat. She'd gone to all the work of peeling, coring and slicing apples into chunks, then freezing them. I thought it'd be nice to have them preserved in some of the juice that we'd been making.
Good idea. Bad execution.
Wanna know what happens in your pressure canner (yes, pressure canner, i.e. under pressure, not just as a boiling water bath canner) when you don't have enough headspace for your jars?
Yup. That was a mess. And it was fun to clean up.
FYI - for apples that have already been frozen, by the time you bring them up to temperature in the juice, they pretty much become applesauce consistency, no longer firm apple slices. Follow applesauce headspace directions (heck, maybe even give 'em a full inch, just to be sure), otherwise, this too could be what you experience when you open your pressure canner!
We decided that we didn't want to mess around with little plastic sheds over our tomatoes this year, so we took a plunge into the savings, plus hauled a load of donated materials from Uncle Steve, and built our greenhouse this year. This is no ordinary glass house type greenhouse; we wanted to be able to insulate it at least somewhat during the winter, and we want the structure to be a season extender, more than the "perfect" mid-summer growing unit. So it's positioned a little differently than a summer-only glass house would be, and it's not all window (cheaper that way).
Dave laid out a foundation of gravel, then built a frame for the walls to be attached to, sitting on the gravel.
He built the walls, we helped him hoist them up & held them in place while he secured them.
He built the trusses, we helped him hoist them up & held them in place while he secured them.
He did everything else, just about by himself; we watched while he did the work. Especially the tall stuff on ladders.
(That wire across the front of the greenhouse is deer proofing; the little so-and-sos were reaching into the greenhouse and nibbling my eggplant and tomato leaves. Oh, yeah - Dave, helped by Mom & I, built a ruddy great deer defense around what will be our orchard and field crops, which the greenhouse falls within).
Mom grew & maintained, and "bumbled" flowers on the plants that got stuck into the tubs that he filled with horse manure labouriously hauled from the local riding stable.
Then I preserved the results.
Yay, Dave!! He's our hero. And we shall be toasting his efforts all winter long as we crack open those jars filled with all the lovely goodies from the greenhouse that Dave built.
v. to "bumble" - pretend you're a bumble bee, buzzing sounds included if you're Dave, and gently shake the flowers of Solanaceae plants to improve fertilization and fruit setting.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Yes, this is a lot of work. During the winter, you scour seed catalogues (online and in paper format), cruise the Seedy Saturdays, and pick out what you want to plant for the upcoming season (or maybe you were organized and patient enough to save some of your own seed from last year). Some stuff gets started inside and babied through until ready for hardening off. The rest get directly planted outside at the appropriate time. Gauging when that time falls is always a challenge with variable frosts and capricious early spring weather. Then you have to weed, water, prune, trellis, water, water and water.
But what magic! From a teeny, tiny little package of DNA and nutrients springs forth a new generation, ready to provide us with flavour, colour, gourmet delights and inspiration for art on many levels, sometimes within a matter of short weeks, others take the whole season or many years to bear forth with a result. And being in the garden really brings you in touch with the seasons, with all the critters that make their homes in your garden (the good, the annoying and the downright destructive, alike), and with the complexities of the soil from which all your plants draw forth their resources.
While the work involved in starting, growing, protecting and maintaining these plants so that we can at some point glean a harvest, and then of course the work involved in putting that harvest away in the freezer, canning jars, dehydrator or fermentation vessel, can be overwhelming, the returns of satisfaction, knowledge and pleasure are sure worth it!
We had a wonderful harvest of our green figs this year; however, every year, we seem to have a second crop which absolutely never matures. It seems a shame to let them just drop off and rot, so I tried to find something to do with them. I'll tell you, it was a challenge. While I did find a couple of recipes (or thought I did), none of them provided me with actual, specific processing instructions, and that's a problem for figs (here are instructions for canning fresh, ripe figs - you'll notice how long the boiling water bath processing takes with them).
Figs are not a highly acidic fruit, so you either have to acidify what you're preparing them for, or you have to pressure can them (I got reference for the pressure processing from a couple of different sources, including Stocking Up, to use 5 lbs pressure for 10 minutes, but my pressure canning manual that came with my weighted-gauge pressure canner doesn't recommend anything done at less than 10 lbs pressure). That's fine, but I didn't really have a positive idea of how long & at what pressure to process in the pressure canner. And how much lemon juice or vinegar do you need to add to acidify them sufficiently to just use the boiling water bath method? And really, who wants to process for 45-50 minutes in the boiling water when a pressure canner cuts the time enormously?
Not really knowing what to do, I sort of combined knowledge from a few different locations. My base recipe was from a post by "denninmi" on a garden forum. But I added a signifcant amount of vinegar (roughly based on this pickled green tomatoes recipe) to hopefully increase the acidity sufficiently.
2 pounds unripe figs
3 pounds sugar
2 cups cider vinegar
1 cup water
1 lemon, seeded & diced fine
1/2 tsp cloves
1 tsp cinnamon
Rinse the figs and poke a hole in blossom end of each fig with a thick nail, a screwdriver or just a paring knife. This step is very messy from the sticky latex oozing out of the figs. I also pruned off the stems, but other recipes suggest to leave the stems intact (I suspect this is for ripe figs only, but I'm not sure).
Place figs in water and let them soak for a few hours (I basically let them soak overnight). Discard the soaking water.
Boil the figs in plain water for 15 minutes.
Transfer figs into cold water, allow to cool down, then drain.
Replace cooking water with fresh water, and repeat the sequence of boiling the figs for 15 minutes, putting them in cold water until they’re cool, and then draining them.
I used a less than perfect aluminum pot (stainless steel is always recommend for preserving foods as it's non-reactive), because I didn't want to have an uncleanable, boiled-on latex mess on my wonderful stainless steel maslin pan. Yes, the boiled latex came off with a significant amount of elbow grease and a scrubby pad.
Boil the 3 pounds of sugar with the vinegar and water for about 5 minutes, then add the figs, diced lemon and spices.
Boil the figs in the syrup for 30 minutes, then turn the heat off.
Leave the figs in the syrup for 12 hours.
Remove the figs from the syrup and boil the syrup until "thick" - I boiled the syrup to soft-ball stage (230F). This took a good hour of stirring and waiting.
Put the figs back in and bring back up to a boil so that the figs are hot and the syrup is boiling. I did this part in my maslin pan, which was perfectly shaped for this step, and by this point the latex had been boiled out of the figs.
Transfer the figs to clean, scalded half pint (250 mL) jars.
Now here's the tricky part. I couldn't find any concrete information about the processing time, so I placed the jars in my weighted gauge pressure canner and processed at 10 lbs pressure for 10 minutes (remember that you have to vent the canner according to the manufacturer's instructions before you place the weighted gauge on the vent, and timing for processing starts once the gauge starts to jiggle, indicating that the 10 lbs pressure has been reached).
I have to say that boiling the green figs is horribly stinky. I didn't enjoy that at all (about as pleasant-smelling, in my opinion, as boiling stinging nettle for nettle beer; in fact, I thought the boiling figs was far worse than the stinging nettles, and that's saying something). But once you get the figs into the syrup and start to flavour them with sweet & spice, it seems much less unpleasant. I tried one of the figs today and while it's not sweet, exactly (the syrup is), and it doesn't taste like a fresh ripe fig, you can certainly get an essence of fig-ness from the flavour, as well as green-ness. It'll be really interesting to try it with stinky cheese and crackers; that's what I'd originally wanted to do this for. So, fingers crossed it was worth doing!!
And fingers crossed that I don't kill us all with botulism from under-processing the figs. But with the vinegar, and the increase pressure, I think (hope!) I've over-compensated.
Monday, August 24, 2009
Dave & I took a break from the garden and took to his Dad's sailboat for a week. We had a fantastic time, had some great sailing, beautiful weather (not necessarily coinciding!) and managed to not kill each other in the tight quarters of the 22' Puffin.
Day 1 - Ioco to Mannion Bay, Bowen Island
It takes a remarkably long time just to get out of Burrard Inlet from Ioco in Port Moody; we spent a good chunk of our time fighting the current to get out past First Narrows (our fault; we didn't get going early enough in the day). Then it was clear motoring past West Vancouver, beyond Point Atkinson and into Mannion Bay, just on the other side of Snug Cove. It was our first anchorage, and it was beautiful.
We had a couple of gentleman row past warning us of the low tide that night and that the anchorage would get shallow. We were ok - with only about 3 feet below us in the keel, we're more flexible than larger boats. But just in case, we set the alarm on the depth sounder; it went off around midnight, with only an hour's worth of ebb left and about 6 feet to spare below us to go, we turned it off and went back to sleep.
Day 2 - Crossing the Salish Sea to Silva Bay, Gabriola Island
A little jockeying for position as we sailed out of Bowen Island to avoid power boats and ferries, we managed to get out into the Salish Sea (Strait of Georgia) in pretty good time, and cross with the wind pushing us all the way. It wasn't exciting sailing, but it was good sailing, and we averaged about 4.5 knots (given our hull speed is about 5 knots, that's not bad at all). The weather was overcast & glaring until we got about 2/3 of the way across, then we broke past the cloud banks into glorious sunny weather. We gave Thrasher Rock a wide berth, and managed to navigate our way successfully into our second night anchored out, this time in Silva Bay. Another gorgeous sunset and lovely evening.
Day 3 - Through Gabriola Passage and Sailing Trincomali Channel
I was getting little sleep (and that pretty much continued) as our forward berth is a little cramped, and pretty hard surface. Hips & knees weren't particularly pleased with me, so I took some kick-starting in the mornings to become somewhat human. The weather was grey and breezy; we wound our way out towards Gabriola Passage close in time to maximum ebb, and rode the currents wildly through. It was great, but brief, excitement. We poked our nose into Degnan Bay, an alternative anchorage to Silva on Gabriola (depending on which side of the Passage the tides catch you), then headed out to Trincomali. We decided the wind was fair, so we set the genny & main, and had a fantastic sail down the Channel - we heeled over 35 degrees at one point!
We took a brief lunch at Clam Bay on Kuper Island, then fought our way past the waves and wind back into Trincomali Channel, and sailed for another few hours. Unfortunately, our time ran out and the wind wound down a bit, so we had to motor for the rest of the afternoon and into early evening to reach our destination at Montague Harbour on Galiano Island. On our way there, we saw a small pod of Orcas off our starboard (maybe 50 yards away), it was magic! We moored at the public wharf, so that we could get up and spend the day exploring the Marine Park.
Day 4 - Montague Harbour Provincial Marine Park
We woke up to drizzle, so we waited out the weather until late morning, reading and playing cards on board. When the weather cleared, we made our way along the shoreline to the forest, and walked along the trails through the salal (nibbling berries as we went), then down to the shoreline again, looking in tide pools, watching bees on flowers, looking at weird and wonderful rock formations. After lunch, we felt we should brave the temperatures and snorkel. Yikes, but it was cold!! And on the side we were on, pretty murky. So we kept the snorkel brief, and then went back to move the boat around the other side of the peninsula to a beautiful bay for our night's anchorage.
Day 5 - Ganges Harbour on Saltspring Island
The weather finally caught up to us and turned rather snotty. So we motored across Trincomali and up into Ganges for the day. We spent the day wandering the shops, and were delighted to find the complex work of Quadra Island printmaker, Richard Calver at the Pegasus Gallery. The gallery manager spent a very long time showing us the portfolio they carry of Calver's work, explaining his inspirations and stories behind his works. It was delightful. We stayed tied up at the Ganges Kanaka public wharf, watching the sea planes arrive and their pilots dock dexterously across from us.
Day 6 - Sailing to Sidney Island
We motored just out past the Three Sisters on a sunny, clear day, then brought up the sails and tacked our way along Saltspring and Pender Islands, and we finally had to start the motor just past Portland and Moresby Islands, then we saw another small pod of Orcas just off Sidney Island. The way into the wharf at Sidney Spit on Sidney Island is somewhat anxiety-inducing; there are some really shallow bits. So we aimed our bow for where all the big sailboats were anchored, and worked our way between them, keeping mostly to the less shallow areas. Sidney Island is part of the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve. We had a little walk around the Island, noting where the overpopulated fallow deer had chewed all undergrowth into non-existence, and a "high tide" line of branches trimmed six feet above the ground, as well as very stunted and thorny hawthorns. We even saw a small herd of six bucks wandering through the forest.
Day 7 - Sidney Island
We spent the day walking the sand spit, looking at birds & flowers (of course!), and searching the shallows for critters off the dock, then the afternoon walking through the forest, surprising fallow deer and seed eating birds. We shared the wharf with a huge catamaran crewed by a family with five kids and four adults; they loaned us their little foot-driven paddle kayak for a little trial run around the lagoon in the evening. Our other neighbours were a powerboat from Washington, and one of the gentlemen took a beautiful photo of Dave & I on board.
Day 8 - To Cowichan Bay
Another poor weather day, but we saw a raft of rhinocerous auklets, a nice sighting to add to all the pigeon guillemots we'd seen up to that point. Again negotiating the passage between where the WSDOT ferry from Anacortes comes to Sidney, and the BC Ferries travel between the Island and the Mainland, and the Island and the Gulf Islands. We made it into dock at Cowichan Bay just catching the tail end of a squall, so we didn't have to endure rain in the cockpit for long. Mom picked us up, and we were off the boat for four days. Guess what I got up to? Yup, canning!
Day 9 - Cowichan Bay to Silva Bay
Our intention had been to cross the Strait, but we once again didn't get going early enough. Through Sansum Narrows at a great speed near maximum ebb, then caught sight just barely of what we think was a Harbour Porpoise. Little wind, but we were trying to make the tide through Porlier Pass. We did succeed, but got out into the Strait with little wind and waves running across our path. We tried, but it was so slow that we'd have gotten across at midnight, and not even into anchorage by then. So, cutting our losses, we turned up Valdez and went to Silva Bay again for our final anchorage. Sitting at dinner, Dave noticed a river otter swim towards a sailboat, haul himself up the ladder on deck, and proceed to chomp down on the huge bullhead sculpin that he'd dragged up with him. It was such a great sight!! We would have loved to see the owners return to a gut pile and fish head... I wonder what they thought?
Day 10 - Return Home
We had a beautiful wind for 2/3 of the way across the Salish Sea, and sailed along at 5-7.5 knots, then the wind dropped off, yet the waves and swell didn't. I made the mistake of trying to focus on something through the binoculars, and that, combined with the chop and swell, seemed to make me really feel sick (an unusual event for me). So I had not much focus other than feeling like crap while Dave manouvered us towards the entrance to English Bay. We managed to get closer to shore and out of the chop and swell, and I felt much better as we motored through First Narrows (making over 9 knots!), and proceeded through at maximum flood towards Second Narrows (making over 11 knots on the other side!!). We made it back to Ioco, and managed to haul our crap off the boat, then collapse at home.