Monday, September 29, 2008

To answer a few questions

Mamoo: The pickles are on the shelf in the kitchen. For those of you who have never been in my kitchen, the shelf is a shelf made specifically for holding your canning jars. It was a cast off of a friend and I was happy to take it. What doesn't fit on the shelf, gets put back in the boxes that the jars came in and they are tucked under the bed. Some people have sweaters under their bed. I have pickles.

Teyani: Thanks! And yes we do use them all winter and spring and summer until they are gone. The banana/ crimson hot mix is so delicious that they sometimes get snacked right out of the jar. Sometimes they get placed on a slice of cheese before being devoured. They also make appearances in hamburgers and sandwiches of all types. The juice gets used up for marinades and salad dressings.
The kids around a jar of dill's is reminiscent of lions around a downed zebra. Actually it is more like piranhas around the proverbial cow. They even eat the dill and peppercorns. And can do it in about 15 minutes flat.

The hot pepper recipe is the same basic recipe that I use for dills.

3 cups vinegar
3 cups water
1/3 cup pickling salt

bring to a gentle boil and scoop in a couple of cups of sliced hot peppers of your choice. Let heat for about 1 minute and transfer with a slotted spoon to jars. The reason that I do this is to soften the peppers a bit so that they will pack more efficiently. They will settle a bit and you can top them up with pepper rings until the peppers are about 1/2 inch from the top. Continue until you have enough full jars for a batch. Ladle the pickling liquid into the jars. I usually use a sieve to catch the excess seeds. Wipe rims. Put on softened snap lids. Apply screw bands.Process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

Christine: Most ripe crimson hots were made into pickled peppers. We used to freeze some and make a wonderful hot sauce, but we have found that the hot sauce wasn't getting eaten as much as it used to be, so we stopped. There are still some in the freezer from last year. A lot of the peppers that were in the pepper cookies were green crimson hots as well as the smaller and unripe bananas.
And I have found that the chopped peppers take up a lot less space!

I would also like to note that not all of my produce is in my possession anymore. When I ran out of jars, I put out a call at work asking for mason jars. I offered one jar of pickles for 6 empty jars. I actually had quite a few responses. One woman also offered to buy her pickles from me instead of the lady that she had been buying them from. Which lead to one of her neighbours wanting some Lady Ashburnhams too. Some have also been gifted out. And more will be going out the door at Christmas time. But most of the dills will be staying to be consumed by the children.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Done Done Done Done Finished

Did I mention that we were done? As in ALL DONE with the canning, pickling, and preserving.
The last to go was the peppers.
One of the things that I do with the smaller peppers is make what I call "pepper cookies". I'm sure you all know of the frozen cookies that come in a roll and when you want to make them, you haul them out of the freezer hack off a few and chuck them in the oven. I make rolls of peppers that are the same concept. First they get chopped in the food processor and laid out on wax paper.
Then they are rolled into a cylinder with the ends tucked in to try and prevent spillage.
Then the tray gets put in the freezer and when solid, put in a ziplock bag. Any time that I want to use some hot peppers in soup, sauce, chili, whatever, I just hack some off and drop it in. It slices surprisingly easy for something that is frozen.

And now a note from Bill......

The Ants are Done

Well, Flick and Atta were at it again this weekend. The last of the pickling is over for the year, and I'm glad to see the end of it.

And I think we surpassed last year's count by a wide margin. Here's the tally for the season's efforts.


Beets 6 jars
Dill 105 jars
Bread & Butter 22 jars
Lady Ashburnham 39 jars
Jalapeño Peppers 21 jars
Banana Peppers 41 jars

Salsa 5 jars
Green Tomato Relish 7 jars


Blueberry 8 jars
Elderberry 16 jars
Strawberry 11 jars
Carrot Cake 12 jars
Peach 5 jars

The grand total is 298 jars. Those are the ones that "snapped". There were a few that didn't snap properly after processing and they were consigned to the fridge and eaten straight away, so the "real" total would be over 300. And we will run out of some of these things rather quickly, especially the peach, blueberry and strawberry jams. Next year we'll be more organized and it's likely to climb even higher as more fruit jams get added to the mix.

And this says nothing of the sun dried tomatoes and sauce we made and are making still. We have about 6 one-litre jars of sun dried tomatoes, and a bit of well reduced seedless tomato sauce, and I think we'll have to make more of the sauce because there are still two big boxes of tomatoes ripening in the kitchen. There are some other vegetables too, but more of them are eaten fresh.

It's a big effort to put all of this food down, but it does taste good in the winter. Especially the banana pepper rings. The commercial ones aren't cored so you get lots of slices with hard bits of stem and core in them. We core ours. I think they put pectinase in theirs too, because our juice is viscous while theirs is watery. We use every drop of our pepper juice as marinade for chicken, which gives it a wonderful flavour, especially when barbecued.

Friday, September 26, 2008

on the loom

Silk noil scarves. The slightly different coloured stripes are silk noil boucle. One scarf has already been cut off, one woven (you can see it wound around the front beam) and the final one getting ready to be woven.
I have been immersed in garden life lately and have been ignoring all of the crafterly things that I have been up to, and seeing as I started this blog as a "fiber arts" blog, I'm thinking that now that the canning has slowed down, it is time to get back to my "creative" side. And sharing that creative side with you. All three of you.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Change my name to Peter

As in .....Peter piper picked a peck
(including jalapeno,
crimson hot, and banana peppers)
of pickled peppers.
This is of course a small sampling of the jars and jars that we pickled last week. First we did the crimson hots and banana peppers and the I switched to jalapeno. And you can see from the middle jar that the switch over happened mid jar. And there are more to come.

For those of you who are interested in pickling your own hot peppers.....

3 cups vinegar
3 cups water
1/3 cup pickling salt

bring to just boiling point
spoon sliced peppers (Bill does all of ours by hand, but if I have to do them, I do them in the food slicer) and let simmer 1 minute
scoop out of pickling liquid with slotted spoon into clean jars and pack lightly
ladle pickling liquid to within 1/2 inch from top of jar
wipe rim and apply snap lid and screw bands
put in boiling water bath for 10 minutes
let cool on counter on towels
remove screw bands and wipe jars

Post Cards from the Selv-edge

As with the last postcard, there was something that bothered me about this one. Can you guess what it is?

Here is the back. It was pretty bland.
Now the new front. There is one slight change. It bothered me (heaven knows why!) that the fish was in a can while in his watery environment. So I cut him a little window so that he could see. Now he is wearing a "costume". A little strange perhaps, but with Halloween coming and his tale and bottom fin sticking out from behind the can, I thought that it would work.
On the back is where I did most of the work. I laid some gold paper that I had over the whole back and then glued down the "message".

When I was working as a gallery assistant one summer back in my student days, one of the things that I had to do was some typing. There was a computer of a very basic sort and I was much more familiar with the typewriter and so most of the time used that. It was one of those typewriters that had a corrector ribbon that would pick up the letters that you had hit by mistake. At one point during the summer, the ribbon that was in the machine became full and instead of throwing it out, I put it into my pocket and brought it home. Where I put it in a bin or drawer or container of some sort that was labeled " neat stuff". I thought that maybe I could weave with it.

Fast forward about 20 years and this little spool surfaces a couple of months ago when I was looking for something completely unrelated. I set it down on my dresser (handy horizontal surface that acts as a catch all) and when this postcard came in in all of its matt board stiffness, I knew that the letters (and some words) would be perfect for the back.

I unrolled the whole thing to look for what may act as a message and found some words and a lot of gibberish. But there are enough words that are recognizable that I am happy. I was very happy to find Fredericton amongst the gibberish and was able to put an address. Sort of. And I have to admit, that is one long postal code. ( As usual you can click on any photos to see a little larger version)

Friday, September 12, 2008

Over dinner....

Liam found a very interesting rock this summer. To me it looked like a volcanic rock. Several other people made other predictions as to its origins. Bill brought it up to a geologist at the university today and he said that it was most likely a volcanic rock. But that it might be a meteorite ( very unlikely, but possible) and if it was a meteorite, it might be worth a few dollars. Which, of course, got the kids speculating over how to spend this unexpected wealth.
Liam wanted to have a mansion and have a remote control that controlled everything. (That boy has big dreams)
Simon was undecided.
Mira said " I would make a little building to keep my bones so that they could rot undisturbed. I would paint it red and call it "Little Red Rotting Hut" "

Speaking of Little Red......

Has any one seen "Hoodwinked"?

Please do. Even after 16 times, I still pause and watch certain scenes.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Lake critters

The lake is out in the quiet countryside. Quiet, if you don't count the loons, crickets, mosquitoes, and the occasional duck begging for a hand out.

After sorting through the photos that I took while at the lake, I realized that I had a lot of critter photos and though that I would share with you the wildlife sightings from those fine, fun, relaxing weeks.

The first is a white spider. This was found on one of our walks to take mushroom photos. You have to look closely to see her. Or him. I didn't ask.
And just outside the cottage is an old birch that has been being visited by some rather small, quiet woodpeckers. Again, you have to look closely to see it. Out of the 20 or so photos that I took, this was the best one. The little fellow is right in the middle.

Mira also found an interesting bug.

She took a picture from a different angle. I rather like the look of this little guy. I'm also glad that I am rather larger than he. Click on this one to see him larger. Please do.

One of the walks that we went on was to a place that the kids call Slow Lentement. (pronounced (by the kids) len-ta-ment) Lentement, as some of you may know is French for "slow". We live in a bilingual province (or so we have been told) and all of the road signs are in both French and English. I don't know if Mira knew this when , a number of years ago, she named the walk, but the name has stuck. In any case, at the end of a small road, there is a bit of a pond that contains some frogs.

They are just little fellows and they can hide very well. They come out of the water to sun themselves on the edge of the pond and when someone, or something, comes by, they all hop back into the water and all but disappear. I had to go away and come back a few minutes later to watch them hop away and keep an eye on where they landed in order to get a picture.

There are also a crazy number of bugs. This moth is about two inches from nose to wingtip. It wouldn't have been spotted if it hadn't decided to land on the part of the tree that had the pruning paint sprayed on it to protect the tree from burrowing insects. Talk about good camouflage.

Yet again, Mira's eagle eye spotted this little fellow on the way back from a walk one evening. It is actually not uncommon to spot snakes on the road, but usually they are a lot less lively than this one. And they usually have at least one flat part. This guy hung around long enough for me to run and get the camera and I was able to snap off a few decent pictures before he (or she) decided to head for the bushes.

And a few feet from the snake was this lucky slug. Lucky because he was also heading for home and was not destined to be a bedtime snack for the snake. This fellow was a good size for a slug. Stretched out he was probably between 1.5 and 2 inches. They can travel over a mile in one night.

I don't really care all that much for slugs. But the kids say that the fish like them. I guess that fish don't have much taste.

So there you have it. Apparently there are bears, fox, moose, deer, lynx, and bobcats around. But we didn't see any of these. I am OK with that. There was also, on the Sunday before we left, the reported sighting of a Sasquatch. Four people in two separate cars said that they saw something that looked hairy and over 8 feet tall cross the road in front of the cars. It was reported about in the local paper and people were wondering. But it turned out to be someone in a gorilla suit that was playing a joke on a friend and by chance crossed the road in front of the cars.

And to think that the lake could have been world famous. Oh well. I'm glad that it will still remain the quiet lake. So long as you don't count the loons.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Inquiring Minds Want To Know.......

Mira: (on the eve of the Boys birthday): If you had a dragon who has a birthday, would he blow the candles on instead of out?

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Just call me Flick

And for those of you who don't have kids and haven't seen A Bug's Life, Flick is the hero. He is also, you guessed it, an ant.

Yesterday, Bill and the older kids went to the garden and brought back some of the bounty that resided there. It was all washed and dried and put in heaps (see yesterday's picture) and then we went to bed.

Today was a day to deal with that which needed to be pickled. Starting with the peppers. We had three types of peppers to pickle. A banana variety called Hot Spot, our regular Crimson Hots, and Jalapeño.

Here are the banana peppers. Aren't they just a thing of beauty? The pile beside the big bowl is some of the crimson hots. So sexy with their shiny red skins and nice broad shoulders. Mmmmm.

Also on the list was bread and butter pickles, and dills. All together today's pickle production was 40 jars. My mother in law called earlier and when she found out what I was doing, said that I sounded like a pickle factory.

I feel like a pickle factory. I'm tired like one too. And to think that I now am looking forward to a week of work, followed by, most likely, more pickling next weekend. The garden is still producing an amazing amount and frost is nowhere to be seen. Coupled with the heavy rain that Hannah dumped on us over night and today, and I see more veggies in my future.

Oh my.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Ant behaviour Continues....

Bill took Mira and Liam out to the garden today to do some picking.

You can see most of the harvest below. There was cukes, basil, beets, tomatoes, broccoli, and peppers.

Here is a photo just for David. Who asked about my peppers. Tomorrow most of these will become pickles peppers. Makes me sort of wonder if they are a peck. Anybody know how much a peck is?
Mira decided to celebrate the lovely harvest with a tomato sandwich from a tomato with one slice.

On the agenda for tomorrow are bread and butter pickles, maybe more dills, perhaps another batch of Lady Ashburnham pickles , and pickled peppers of many different sorts. Time depending, I may even get a batch of salsa in too!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Like an Ant

Most of the summer, I played at being the grasshopper from the kids tale of the grasshopper and the ant I did put in the garden and weeded a few times. We watered a couple of times. But basically the garden was just left to fend for itself. Then we went to the lake for a couple of weeks. My summer of leisure is now over. Now it is time for me to be the ant in the story.

I have been turning this....

into this....
Lady Ashburnham pickles (which originated here in Fredericton- Who knew?)
and this.....
Dills dills and more dills.
and this.
Pesto premix. basically 4 cups of packed basil and a cup of olive oil. These get thrown in the freezer and hauled out every now and then to make pesto. All I have to do is add 1 cup of each parmasan and pine nuts as well as garlic and a pinch of salt and we have pesto.

I have also been doing some weaving of the warps that I managed to dye during my artist in residence stint in July. I'll hopefully get some good pictures soon and share them with you all.