Monday, July 16, 2018

Homemade pectin. New kitchen caper

Just wondering if it was worth it to take a longish store trip considering, to get a new supply of liquid pectin, since I decided I'm not a fan of the powdered no-cook variety, and decided maybe I could make it in some way.  

There must have been a way to make pectin before manufacturers produced it. So I did a bit of searching and came up with a way of doing it.  And, since I'm always up for a new thing to try in the kitchen on a day when it's too hot to go out in the afternoon, I got to work.

I needed unripe apples,which I don't have, or quinces, which I also don't have.  However I thought it might be an idea to try Granny Smith green apples, and I picked out six of the greenest in the produce department at the Asian store.  Just under three pounds, for future reference in case I ever do this again.

Then scrubbed and rinsed and scrubbed them again, and
chopped them, pits, core and all, into rough bits.  Added enough water to cover, and cooked it all down. 

I arranged two layers of cheesecloth artistically over the top part of the steamer I was cooking the fruit in, slung over a big bowl, so as to be ready to drain it. About 45 minutes later, the fruit was cooked down, very soft, and I started the draining.  Left it for a few hours, then squeezed the cheesecloth to encourage, or bully, the juice to come out.

Then put all the juice back into the cooking pot, now clean again, and cooked it down to about half in volume.  Took, hm, maybe up to an hour, didn't count, boiling constantly to concentrate it.

Ended up with a container of a sort of applesauce, the mash, that is, from which I took a little bowl to test as dessert with a touch of sugar, not bad at all.  Froze the rest, probably for an apple crumble, waste not, want not.

And now I have four cups of pectin, measured into containers, and ready to freeze. You'll notice the tried and true recycled freezer containers, they're indestructible.  I also tested my ladle and found that two scoops is about one cup, always good to know. This was the good bit, that you can freeze this stuff till ready to use it.  I did a bit of math and decided that one pint of the homemade is about enough for one of my smallish batches of fruit.  And homemade works best with small batches.

I'll report back when I use it for an actual jam.  But meanwhile I feel like a pioneer lady, in my handpainted and dyed apron, ready to  sweep the cabin once I find my broom. Listening to Lord Peter Wimsey detecting in an audio book on YouTube kind of spoils the effect, but I do like a nice murder while I cook.

So this is what happens when I'm too lazy to drive to the store.. 


Saturday, July 14, 2018

Thrills and spills in the kitchen

I made a wonderful lunch as planned, farm tomato, farm mozzarella, homegrown basil, sea salt, Tunisian olive oil I'm trying and liking. Chardonnay vinegar I made from leftover wine. And cherries and apricot dessert. Doesn't get much better.



Then I embarked on no-cook apricot jam, using the pectin that's supposed to work. Followed all the directions and ended up with something awful. The sugar had failed to dissolve, and the whole thing didn't work.

 Sooooo I tipped the two jarsworth into a pan and boiled the jam, until I got the metal spoon test working, to show the sugar had melted and the pectin had worked. You know this test? 

When a  big metal spoon, dipped in then held up to drain results in the jam coming off in more than one stream at once, you're done. Sterilized the jars again, just in case, and found that the jam now only filled one. 



 So this is rescue apricot jam! We'll see how it works after a night in the fridge.

West Windsor farmers market great haul today

Seized on the chance of apricots, very short season, maybe a bit of jam will happen. And Kennet Square mushrooms, cherries, first locals I've seen this year, first tomatoes. And farm mozzarella for great lunch today, with homegrown basil, homemade vinegar. Eggs from the same farmer who produces the mozzarella.

And a great new addition to the market, a grain farmer! The oats were harvested yesterday on his farm a few miles away. He has other grains and is working on hulling barley. I'm seriously planning on stocking up on produce from this farmer. Nothing like fresh flavor in flour like anything else.



The first taste of anything is the best. Today cherries, apricots, mozzarella and tomatoes,all first tastes of the year. Tomorrow breakfast oatmeal with sliced apricots..

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Peppermint harvest and geranium discovery

On care package run to handsome son, now down with flu, it seems to be going around, I found a stand of peppermint growing all over, where long ago a misguided neighbor had planted it in the ground, rather than a pot.

So I picked a few stems to replant in water then a pot, my own having sort of vanished, and with the leaves I took off, made a great Sunday morning drink back home. Spoonful of lemon ginger marmalade mixed with glass of water, peppermint leaves torn and added. Good for flu convalescing.



Back home I did a bit of pruning, and found that what I had thought was spearmint was, on closer inspection, rose geranium, another lovely flavoring for desserts. I had it years ago, lost track, then it shows up now. Surprising that in such a small area you can lose plants.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Potatoes again, but different dressing

The second half of the potato harvest for the year. Steamed again, but with a sauce of melted butter and fresh picked Italian basil, named to specify it's not Thai basil. No need for salt, plenty in the ham.


Friday, July 6, 2018

Steamed new potatoes





First half of the harvest, steamed for about ten minutes, dotted with butter, sprinkled with fresh picked thyme, some smoked ham. Great small lunch. Dessert farm blueberries and yogurt.

Doesn't get much better. No need to do a lot when the ingredients are this good.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Tattie liftin. Translation: potato harvest 2018

The potato foliage having died back and started to shrivel, I emptied out the patio containers, and harvested a nice crop of new potatoes.


A couple of meals here, to be steamed in the skins, dot of butter, herbs yet to be chosen.



I did replant a couple that already had new foliage starting and we'll see what we get. This year we had the best flowers ever, and this is not a bad little crop for a little container project.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Bad national news needs an urgent offset

Hot biscuits from the oven, ginger and lemon marmalade, English breakfast tea.

Trying to keep despair at bay.



This is fuel.  A lot of work ahead, GOTV, Get Out The Vote, for November.  If you have a vote in the US, please use it. Every single election, even the unopposed ones, to preserve your right.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Why people like me can't watch TV

I usually have raw materials prepped in the freezer for when the urge strikes to cook.

I don't have tv service, not interested in what's on. Working in public TV tends to remove the need to watch at home.  Anyway I do have favorite DVDs, and today I was watching Mapp and Lucia, the episode where Mapp is making ginger and marrow jam. Using marrows from Diva's garden. She's rented out her own house for the summer to Lucia, rented Diva's house for herself, Diva's staying somewhere else, but visiting to gossip.



Mapp was back biting Lucia as she took out the hot jars for the jam, when something went off in my head, and I suddenly was in the kitchen




 boiling up jars and cooking down the ginger and lemons from the freezer in a simple syrup.



So now they're cooling and I can watch the rest of the episode. 


I just hope Mapp or Diva or Georgie don't start hooking a rug or something or I'll never get to the end of the series.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

New kind of bread, and other great stuff

Before I go out to a local concert this afternoon, and a visit to the library gallery to cast a ballot for best in show at the artist's group annual exhibit, a bit of baking and other things.

Tried Patricia Wells ham and cheese loaf. I think this is in her salads book, but in the book the list of ingredients is in italics, too likely to cause slipups on measuring. So I just googled on it, and you can too. Here it is, and pretty successful. Since it had eggs, cheese and ham, it's great with a green salad or, for me, as a breakfast food. Warmed a little to soften the cheese.


And a German potato salad, red local potatoes, one of which I planted for future ones, tossed with olive oil, bit of minced fresh tarragon, and vinegar I made from Chardonnay.


And, since raspberries are in at the farm, some in the freezer, maybe for jam, and one lot to eat fresh, little sprinkle of sugar.


Good food, set for several days.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Seeds and neighbors






The herbs are all growing nicely. All planters are by the front walk, so neighbors can pick. Thai and Italian basil, English thyme, rosemary, tarragon, lavender. Several neighbors are good cooks who are happy with fresh herbs, just take what's needed for today's cooking.



And one, who's talking about making lavender ice cream using my lavender, made me a present. Bought the copper tops, created a fitted base for each, removed old fence tops, replaced with these lovely additions to the patio. And the lovely new deck, ahem...

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Midsummer lunch, and little visitor


Lunch today, hot summer weather, local peas, steamed with carrots and homegrown thyme, tuna salad with homegrown tarragon, local strawberries with mango yogurt and chocolate drops. Followed by Vietnamese coffee and Goya cookies.



Then a tiny visitor came to play on the deck, safe from the active local foxes.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

The pitcher's final journey to the well

So if you're one of the afternoon tea guests over the years chez Boud, who've worried in case yours might be the hands in which the valuable Wedgwood Queensware pitcher might meet disaster,  your troubles are over.

Yesterday a cheap old saucepan lid fell into the washing up bowl I'd just put the pitcher in, ready to wash it. And this is the result.



It's retired for flower duty, sigh. Served me well. I can probably glue the handle back, but it won't work as a pitcher you can trust not to dump the milk on your guests.

Sic transit gloria Wedgwoodi.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

But there's always home cooking

Midst shot and shell, home cooking definitely helps the spirits.

New batch of hot biscuits, with golden raisins in, chocolate button on top, to be split and spread with homemade strawberry preserves from local berries, and labneh. Anywhere you'd use cream cheese, labneh works.



These went over big-time with handsome son visiting last evening to hear the latest dispatch from the plumbing front.

And my deck builder received a little pot of the jam and rushed off to try it.

Afternoon tea on the (beautiful new) deck features these, too. The biscuits, not the son and builder.

Another day, another flood...the plumbing saga continues.

So yesterday, finishing up a load of laundry, upstairs, I was in the living room, downstairs, having a peaceful cup of tea.  When suddenly splatter, splatter, sploosh, a cascade of water joins me in the living room, through the ceiling,  all over the floor and the cat, and requiring an instant basin.  The shutoff for the house is right there in the closet, did that, called the plumber who blessedly was at home, and came in five minutes.

After a bit of detective work and trudging about he diagnosed it as a clog in the washing machine drain.  Which accounted for the waterfall downstairs.  As it spun dry, the water rose up, over the drain, down the wall, and directly into the room below.  But he said not a clog, mor likely a small object had fallen, been dropped, in the course of installing the washer a couple of months ago. I also wondered about the plumbing and other handy work done since and wondered if a small tool had fallen down there. It took a bit of dislodging, but he finally managed it, and all is now well.

He tells me the ceiling won't fall.  Which is something, I guess.  My heart and my wallet are struggling to keep up with the excitement around here.

I have to rest on the (beautiful new) deck now and read something quiet and peaceful like a murder mystery.


Friday, June 8, 2018

Tea outdoors, and strawberry jam happens

The weather veering wildly from summer to fall, complete with high winds, and back again, any afternoon that allows for walking then tea on the deck is welcome. 

 
Here's the last slice of banana bread with a nice spoonful of labneh, great contrast, between the sweeter, fruity bread and the tart labneh, a favorite of mine. And a couple of shock horror, bought cookies! Goya Maries to be exact.

The book is Second Honeymoon by Joanna Trollope, great deck reading.  This is one I got enough of before the end, though, since there's a lot about actors and their lives, and it's sadly tedious stuff, as theater is to me, when it's just talking about it.  I've known quite a few actors over the years, and they're most interesting when they're on stage interpreting other people's words and thoughts.

And strawberry jam happened. I remembered having frozen a couple of containers of strawberries after eating some fresh, and last evening thought it would be good to have a little something to spread on bread.  Also to give to helpful neighbors who have been very good lately, what with setting up my washing machine after the plumbing adventure, the kind of job that's too small to get anyone to do for pay, but way beyond my strength to just do.  You need burly relatives or friends, and fortunately I have burly neighbors.

They are both mad for my bread, and the preserves, sooooo, a breakfast kit is going to happen for them soon.  And I need to buy more strawberries before the season ends.  Next jam plan is ginger and lemon, already prepped and in the freezer, the ingredients, that is.


Making jam, or in this case preserves, whole fruit in there, is not a big deal.  This small batch took half an hour start to finish.  It's just a matter of remembering to do it.  It used about one and a half strawberry containers.  Small batch is not only good to make, it's very good to taste.  And it's well received, since homebaked bread and jam is just not available even at the poshest stores.  Boutique food, even the best, has been packed and shipped.  Mine travels about fifty feet to its destination. I like this.

Friday, June 1, 2018

June is here! white rabbits, and the deck almost ready for summer loafing.



And, since you're already reading here, please note the following.

As you probably know, the EU GDP (General Data Protection) laws recently went into effect, and you have a right to know how and if they affect your participation in  my blogs.  Though the law applies only in the EU, it's important to know that my own policies have always respected personal information, and here's my assurance on that.

Your privacy is important to you,  so the statements below outline how I handle your personal information. First of all, thank you for visiting my blogs, following my blogs, and for leaving comments on my blog posts, all of which I so much appreciate. 
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ABOUT MY BLOGS
"Field and Fen" and "Art the Beautiful Metaphor" are independently operated blogs created, written and run by me (Liz Adams) and within which I share a range of subjects, including my creative work and process along with book reviews, art exhibit reviews, recipes of my own cooking, adventures with my character dolls, the Dollivers, and my forays into DIY, and my own photos of the work.  I am the owner, creator and only administrator of this blog. I do not have any advertising contracts for these blogs.

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So that's where we are!  Same as we always were, in fact.
Enjoy the weekend!

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Potatoes in full bloom

 Potatoes are blooming busily now.  This means new potatoes by about mid to late June.  With any luck, to coincide with farm peas. Weather permitting.

The flower is very interesting, one solid petal with points.









Monday, May 28, 2018

Memorial Day 2018














A quiet Memorial Day visit to the local memorials, where the pavers inlaid in the walkways do not celebrate and glorify war, but rather urge peace. They remember WW1, Korea, Iraq, and 9.ll

And a final dedication of a tree to an old friend who died in great old age a couple of years ago, also a veteran.






Friday, May 25, 2018

Man at work.

Replacement deck in progress. Hoping my plantings will recover. Mike is an excellent contractor,  not a gardener. But Nature usually prevails.



I'll be out this afternoon with my knitting pals, so I won't be agonizing over the deck. Which will be lovely when it's done.