Monday, May 27, 2019

They're All Dead

Six years ago, I planted a small Common thyme plant.  It grew and flourished and spread into a huge patch. I had harvested enough time to last me a year, last year, and couldn't wait to see how lovely it would be this year. That didn't happen. Every single plant I had in that patch died. I can only guess it was last year's strange winter. We had warm weather well into December and then the temperature dropped hard and fast. This thyme was acclimated to this area. I bought it from a lovely gentleman that lived just up the road from me and he had taken some from the thyme he had grown for years in his garden. I was heartbroken to see it all gone. I waited and hoped it was just late coming back. It wasn't. It is truly gone.

I will now have to start over. So, out with the old, and in with the new. I'm hoping this one will survive. This one is English Thyme. I've read that some say the Common and the English are the same, others claim the Common is has larger leaves. Personally, I think this one looks a lot like the one I started with - both in the size of the plant, as well as the size of the leaves. We shall see.

On the up side of things, I was combing through Craig's List, when I came across a listing for canning jars, rings, and lids. I wasn't hopeful that they were still available, but they were and I got a nice little deal. For $8, I got:

  • 1 dozen quart jars - 10 wide mouth and 2 regular
  • 10 12-oz jelly jars
  • 11 pint jars - 6 wide mouth, 5 regular
  • 2 new boxes of wide mouth bands/rings
  • 1 new box of regular bands/rings
  • 1 opened box of regular bands/ring that had 6 lids and 8 rings
I was pleased with my find. They will be put to good use!

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Market Bag Finished

The Market Bag is finished and although it's nice, it's not exactly what I wanted. The bag is smaller than I thought, however it does hold quite a bit. I put in a decent size head of cabbage, 2 grapefruit and 8 clementines and still had room to spare.

The only thing I didn't like about it was the bottom design. Although it is solid and won't allow things to slip through, it has corners that look like weird "ears" when you put something in it that doesn't completely fill the bottom. My cabbage was the heaviest and looked VERY odd in the bottom. I know that aesthetics won't affect usefulness, but I guess I'm just a snob when things don't look right. I will continue on my bag search, but will still use this one for smaller things like peppers, etc.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Crocheting a Market Bag

I've been looking for good bags to use at the Farmer's Market. I'm not sure how sturdy my Tyvek type reusable grocery bags are, and they aren't the most joyous to carry around at the market. I usually have a numb and painful hand by the time I get back to the car.

I came across some market bags on Ravelry (don'tcha just love that place?!!) and found one that I liked. It's called Market Bag by Lily Sugar 'n Cream and Bernat Design Studio. It's a free download at their website. Ravelry has posted you need to be a member to download it, but I am not logged in, and could still download the pattern.

I'm using Peaches 'n Cream 1-pound cone in #159 Pink Lilacs colorway and am about 1/3 of the way done. It's an easy pattern and I'm hoping it will perform the way I want it to. I chose this over other mesh bags that were on Ravelry, because of the solid bottom. I thought it would help keep smaller things from falling/poking through the bottom. I also like that the sides expand and fit around the items that you put in the bag. Just not sure if it will be wide enough to get things like cabbages, etc. in. I guess I'll find out when it's finished and being used.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Superbowl Recipes

It's coming up on Superbowl Sunday, so now is the time to start looking for a good recipe or two to snack on while you watch the commercials game. Both of these have been deemed game worthy, so I thought I'd share. The first is a simple dip that is made with items you may already have on your pantry shelf or in your fridge. The second will take a trip to the store to pick up some fresh produce.

Chicken Ranch Spread

1 pound of cream cheese, softened
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 - 12.5 oz can chicken breast (drained)
2 Tbsp. Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing Mix

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Chill. Serve with chips, crackers, etc.
Note: The above recipe is the original list of ingredients. I found that it was quite stiff and could use something like sour cream, ranch dressing, mayo, etc. to loosen it up if you would prefer to use it more like a dip. The flavor is decent and hubby loves it with multi grain crackers.

Mango Salsa

2 ripe mangos
2 medium avocados
1 medium bell pepper (yellow, red, etc. Not green), diced
1/4-1/3 cup finely diced red onion
1 lime
1/2 tsp salt (to taste)

Peel and dice the mangos and avacados. Add to bowl. Add bell pepper and onion. Roll the lime back and forth a few times on a flat surface, using the palm of your hand and pushing down firmly while rolling. This will help get more juice out of your lime. Cut then squeeze the lime over the ingredients in the bowl. Add salt. Mix all ingredients gently being careful not to mash the avocado.

This salsa is good served with tortilla chips. I love putting it on chili - the sweetness of the mango blends well with the spice of the chili!

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Roasted Dandelion Root Coffee

Finally! After a long, dreary winter, spring has arrived! My favorite part about the spring is gathering up the fresh greens and flowers that are packed full of vitamins and minerals and are super tasty. This year I have dried my dandelion leaves, flowers and made the roots into a wonderful roasted "coffee".

The "coffee" is a not actually coffee but makes a wonderful substitute. It has a nice flavor - a somewhat coffee, caramel and chocolate flavor combination. It's hard to describe, but with a little bit of cream and a touch of honey - it's pretty much heaven! The spring crop of roots are much more mild than the fall crop. The fall is more robust and bitter and packed with more vitamins and minerals because the roots are storing all the nutrition required to make a strong plant in the spring. Fall is the best time to harvest for drying roots for their medicinal value and for the most robust coffee, but I love the spring harvest as well! 

I dig up my dandelions whole and try to get as much as the root as possible. They are long and do easily break off. I found it best to try to run a long screwdriver or a dandelion removing down next to the root as closely as possible and break the ground around it by wiggling it back and forth. If difficult to remove, I will do this around the plant. A shovel works, too, but it leaves a lot more mess to deal with and depending where you harvest your plants, you may not want to leave holes behind.

After digging the dandelions, I pre-rinse with a hose to get rid of as much dirt as possible. Then I put the whole plant in a 5 gallon bucket and rinse, drain, rinse, drain, rinse, drain.... until the water looks quite clean. Next, I cut off the top part of the plant and put in two separate piles.

I then put the roots in a bowl and soak for a little bit. Then I rinse a few more times and try to swish off as much of the remaining dirt as possible.

I then use a scrub brush to take off the remaining dirt. I like putting a small cutting board in the bottom of the sink to have something to scrub on. If the roots have a lot of off-shoots, I'll break them apart to get in between them.

Then I put them in my food processor and chop until the pieces resemble brown rice.

Next I pour them on a cookie sheet and put them in a 225 degree oven and let them dry. This can take about an hour. 

I then check to see how they are drying by stirring every 10 to 20 minutes or so. Drying times will depend on the day, your oven, how large the pieces are, etc.

After the pieces are dry, I increase the oven temperature to 325 and continue to bake. Now the roasting process has started. I kept a close eye on it and mixed every 10 minutes. I love this part because when the root is almost ready to remove from the oven, it has the most amazing aroma of baking a chocolate cake or brownies! 

Some people will remove the root as soon as they see small wisps of smoke coming from the root. I put mine back in a bit longer. I like a darker roast. I find it to have a bit more of a robust flavor. 

After removing from the oven, I let it cool and then put it in a jar. The contents in the jar are much more true in color to the actual end product. 

To use:

Put water in a pan and bring to a boil. Add the dandelion root, stir well and boil for 1 minute. Make sure it doesn't boil over because it will produce foam on top. You will need 1 tsp. of Roasted Dandelion Root Coffee per 8 oz of water (adjust to taste). Serve with a little cream and honey if desired.

DISCLAIMER: I am not a qualified/licensed instructor or certified to teach wildcrafting, using herbs or explaining how to identify any plant I use or speak of in these posts. This is only describing what I did and how I use the item described in MY home with MY family. I am not to be held responsible for any misinformation or any mishaps if anyone decides to try this at home. If you decide to try this method - it is at your own risk. Please research and study any plants, methods and side effects of the plant describe in this post.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Ribbed Cast On

A new-to-me cast on that is perfect for my socks and mitten knitting. What a wonderful tutorial for a fantastic ribbing!!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Blue Ribbon Canning by Linda J. Amendt

Blue Ribbon Canning
Award-Winning Recipes
Author: Linda J. Amendt
Publisher: Taunton Press
Pub Date: Apr 28 2015
ISBN: 9781627107693
Paperback: 272 pages

About the Book:
Blue Ribbon Canning takes readers on a canning journey and celebrates two American traditions--preserved food and state fairs--with more than 140 prize-winning recipes for jams, preserves, pickles, vegetables, fruit, and more, plus tips and methods for making delicious--and safe--blue ribbon recipes at home.
My Thoughts:

When one hears mention of canning and preserving, for many it seems to have a connection with older women or someone's grandmother and days gone by. I have been told that canning is going out of style. Why should one work so hard to produce things that could be purchased in the store for close to the same cost to possibly even cheaper than it can be made?!

Blue Ribbon Canning answers that question with the delicious recipes that are provided in this gorgeous book. These are award winning recipes from fair and competition winners and will be winners on anyone's table! Believe me, there is nothing that comes close to the taste of home canned food and preserves. Remember when you thought no one cooks like Grandma? It's true. You can't get these great tasting foods from the grocery store. It just doesn't happen.

Perfect for the newbie as well as the seasoned canner, this beautifully photographed book will delight the eyes while making the mouth water as one tries to find the perfect recipe to start with. There are so many to choose from ranging from the everyday Strawberry Jam to some of the more unusual recipes like Eggplant Caponata and Georgia Peach and Basil Preserves.

The book is well written with clear and concise instructions. It has canning safety information and USDA recommendations and seems to have food safety well covered. I love the stories of the blue ribbon winners that have been included throughout the book and especially love the serving suggestions that are included with the recipes. It's nice knowing how to use these more unusual recipes once you've put them up. At the end of the book are secrets for canning for competition for those that want to "show off" their talents.

This is a wonderful book that would be a well-used addition to any canning library. Make sure to add it to your must haves - you won't be sorry that you did!!

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley courtesy of the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review, but instead, one that gives my honest opinion.