Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Went Fishin'

We went on a little fishing trip for a few days and this was our catch. We went to Shasta and had a very nice and knowledgeable fishing guide take us out on his boat to all the hot spots. The lake was very low, but the fish were still there. There have been several fires in the area caused by lightning strikes so there was a lot of smoke still hanging around. You couldn't even see Mt. Shasta through all the smoke. Michael will be writing more about this on his fishing blog. He learned a lot of fishing tips from our guide, Ben. Some he'll share and some he will keep to himself.

We went from there to my Dad's in Shady Cove, Oregon where we all went on a rafting trip down the Rogue River. What a fun filled 3 days!

We came back to gardens full of tomatoes and basil. We have been busy making sauce and pesto!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

A little more Thyme to Water

Okay I am not moving very quickly on this project with all the watering to do at the nursery and in my garden it is sometimes hard to look at a watering can. It has been over 100 degrees for the last few days and looks like we have a few more to endure. The heat has made me a little too tired to sew, but I did manage to do a little the other day. This project is so fun and as usual for me I always try to improvise a little and make the design a little more my own even though for the most part I am following a pattern. I spent a lot of time deciding on the fabrics for the next step and am happy to say that I have still not had to purchase any fabric for this project it has all come from my stash. That has been part of the fun. The tiny yellow gingham was something I used when I had my first baby and I made a little quilt for him and also made some velcro diapers that I ended up using for burp cloths instead. That first baby of mine is about to turn 24 so just goes to show if you keep long enough you will eventually use it (or at least some of it).

I don't have a felt board to lay my pieces out on so I use my carpet. It was sure fun laying out what I have so far and seeing how it will actually come together. I know, the picture is not very good, but it shows enough of how it is coming along. I still have no idea what I will use this for, but I really don't care because the project has been so enjoyable. I am making a lot of changes in the colors here from what the pattern called for and I am quite happy with my choices so far. One thing I have tried to do to tie it all together is to use the red fabric in each step in some way. Sometimes it is a little bit and sometimes it is something big, like the flowers in the flower blocks. I am thinking of using the red for the inner border and the binding too and who knows if I can find more fabric I might use it for the back too...only that may be too much red. The red fabric is Magic Vine by Eleanor Burns. I went to her web site to get some more though and it is sold out. I had bought it on sale a few months ago so I hope that doesn't mean it will be hard to find now. Guess it is time to do more of the Fab Shop Hop and see if I can find it in one of those stores. I am finding that I am buying more and more fabric online than in fabric stores these days and I have been really pleases with the results. If you have air conditioning and like to look at fabrics or just enjoy looking for bunnies be sure to check into the Fab Shop Hop and see if you can win a sewing machine! It is a fun way to pass time and do a little shopping at the same time.

Stay Cool and enjoy summer in your own way!

Thursday, July 03, 2008

More Plums!

Today Michael made Hungarian Plum Cake with the plums. It was delicious! I have waited for this cake for a whole year and it was worth the wait. I am going to share this recipe for anyone who might have a few extra plums around. This recipe came from Michael's Hungarian Grandmother and he insists that you must use Crisco to get the right texture. He used the butter flavored Crisco this time and it worked very well.

Hungarian Plum Cake

½ C. Crisco Shortening

½ C Sugar

2 Eggs

In a separate bowl sift together:

1 C. Flour

1 tsp. Baking Powder

Dash of Salt

1 tsp. Cinnamon

Splash of lemon juice

Fold into batter. Spread into a greased cake pan (6X11X2).

Cut plums in half and press into batter until it is covered, about 6-8 plums. Sprinkle with topping of 1/4 C. sugar mixed with 1 Tbsp. Cinnamon (reserve some for finishing touch). Bake at 400 degrees for 30-35 minutes. Sprinkle with reserved sugar/cinnamon after removing from the oven.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

When life gives you plums make jam...

I love this time of year with all the fresh food to eat and cook with. Sometimes you have way too much at one time like zucchini...we have made everything we can think of with zucchini and added it to many dishes and there is still more to come. My favorite thing is zucchini pie, it is a lot like a quiche only we make the crust with a roll of crescent rolls. Last week I harvested the rest of my carrots and made carrot raisin salad and a carrot cake and still had a little shredded carrot left to add to the zucchini pie...yummm! Then the plums on the Weeping Santa Rosa tree at work were ready and falling all over the ground. For some reason the Weeping Santa Rosa taste a little bit different than the Santa Rosa and boy are they delicious, a perfect mix of sweet and tart. The guys pick a bucket for me and I brought them home and made jam. I will try to show my process here...(my first tutorial, sort of)

First I pitted them and chopped them up. My big mistake was to not measure the fruit. I am pretty good at measuring by site and kept thinking that this looked like more than 4 cups, but I marched on not listening to my instincts. You add the pectin at this point, before the sugar, I could have added another half package of pectin here. I didn't add any water because my plums were very juicy. Bring this to a boil that can't be stirred down. This will take quite a while. After I had it cooking for a while and the plums were getting soft I pulled out my hand mixer and used it to chop things up a little finer because I didn't want chunks in this jam. I have made plum jam before where I added some ginger for a little extra zing, but I didn't want to do anything to take away from the flavor of these plums and I knew the sugar would do enough of that.

Once you have that rolling boil that can't be stirred down you will proceed to add the sugar. This batch called for a whopping 10 cups of sugar. Normally I would cut back but, in jam it is important to use the measurement called for and since you only use a teaspoon or two at a time I figure it can't be that bad for you. After all the sugar is in and dissolved you have to bring it back to a rolling boil and let it boil for 4 minutes. As you can see in the pictures I have pot quite full so I had to keep stirring it so that it wouldn't boil over.

Well, my jam looked beautiful but it wouldn't set so the next day I dumped it all back in the pot and added a half pack of pectin to 1/2 cup of water and brought it back to a boil again. It was a pain, but in the end worth it. I now have perfect jam. I like to do the hot water bath method of sealing my jars so out comes the canning pot and fill it up with water. After this boils I sterilize my lids and rings. I like to use the dishwasher for my jars and time it so that they are just coming out and hot as I am ready to spoon my jam into them. Then the filled jars go into the bath for 10 minutes. I am happy to report that every jar gave me the little ping that is music to my ears and tells me that they have sealed.

So when life gives you carrots make carrot salad and carrot cake...zucchini, make zucchini pie...and if it is strawberries or plums...well, just make jam! Whatever life gives you find a way to make it delicious!