Further Adventures in Domesicity

I happened to have taken Monday off, and since my hurricane clean up consisted of bringing my potted plants back out from the garage, I had a nice free day. (A note on Irene: we were extremely lucky here in Portland – I got off with a filthy car. BF is originally from Bennington, VT, and they were not so lucky. His family, and our friends there, are fine, but my thoughts are definitely with Vermonters with all they suffered in the storm).

So, what’s a girl to do a on a free day? Make Hot Pepper Jelly! This is from Liana Krissoff’s Canning for a New Generation. It uses apples as the pectin source, so I basically made pepper flavored applesauce, and then turned that into jelly. It’s pretty darn clear (though I would not be winning any country fair ribbons with it), and what I was able to sample was pretty delicious.

I used a combination of jalapenos from the CSA, and the Fooled You Peppers from my garden. She has several options for coloring the jelly, and I happened to have cranberries in my freezer. It’s not exactly the color I think of when I think pepper jelly (my standard being the sweet pepper jelly from Stonewall Kitchen), but it’ll definitely do.


Sewing Notes

I spent the morning on Sunday (aka Hurricane Irene day) finishing up my Emmeline Apron. It’s from quilting cotton I bought at Joann Fabric. (It’s reversible, which is why there are two pictures.) It’s a nice, easy pattern – extremely easy to understand, and probably doable in a day if you’re not like me and don’t have fifty billion things to do on any given weekend.

I had a blast finishing this off, because I used my new sewing machine. I bought a Brother 6000i, which is theoretically a lateral move from my old Singer, but it’s actually an upgrade. It’s so smooth! And other than the fact that the foot lever is in the entirely wrong place, and is still slightly throwing me off every time I use it, it’s smooth going.

I did read that it doesn’t appreciate cheap thread, and I had some issues when my bobbin got below half wound. I’m hoping that was a thread quality thing, and I can compensate with better thread next time. Other than that, I love the machine already.

These Old Shades – Georgette Heyer

The Duke of Avon has a bit of a reputation in both France and his native England – he’s known as “Satanas”, and absolutely no one thinks well of him. Late one night, he comes across a red-headed street urchin named Leon, who is fleeing a beating at his brother’s hand. Seemingly on a whim, he purchases Leon from his brother, and makes him his page.

I say seemingly on a whim, because the Duke always has several games afoot, and Leon will figure prominently in those games. It turns out, Leon is actually Leonie, a rather enchanting young lady who loves her rescuer unconditionally, and will not believe that he is worthy than less than the greatest esteem.

Throw in a switched at birth secret, a kidnapping, and plenty of high jinks while Leonie relearns how to be a girl, and this is an enjoyable read. Though I have to say, I think I’ve enjoyed Heyer’s stories that were set in England a bit more than this one. The court at Versailles is a bit much for my tastes.

Garden Notes

I’m pretty happy with what the garden looks like at the moment. The back garden especially looks so well composed with what I have back there this year.

I have no idea how it’s going to look come Monday. Hurricane Irene may not be very kind.

All of the pots will be going into the garage tonight. I’m not so worried about the wind (I would move them to a sheltered spot in the backyard if that was the only thing), but if we do get several inches of rain in a short space of time, I’m afraid all the smaller pots will flood out. I’ve amassed a fair collection of perennials, and I’d be pretty annoyed to lose them.

The four biggest pots (the veggies in the side garden, and the coleus pot in the back) are going to have to stay out – they’re just too big to move. They’re big enough I’m hoping they won’t get completely overwhelmed by rain.

My biggest concern here is the tomatoes. They’ve grown out of one side of the pot, which was naturally the side next to the rose bush from hell. I had to clip out a ton of roses to get that unentangled this morning, and I’ve piled all the outgrowth back into the tomato cage. I’ve probably broken a few branches doing that, but if I’d left it that side heavy, more would have probably gone when it inevitably tipped over. I’ve also turned the pot so the weight is leaning into the house. It’s relatively sheltered in our driveway, so we’ll just have to see how this goes. I may or may not have any veggies left, come Monday.

CSA 2011, Week 13

This ended up being a weird week, CSA-wise. They had to cancel the Portland pick up, between some fore casted severe thunderstorms with hail (I can agree that hanging out in metal framed tents in those conditions isn’t my cup of tea), and the impending arrival of Hurricane Irene requiring them to move up the planned September project of rebuilding the south wall of one of the green houses. So, I hiked out to Freeport today to get this week’s share.

The haul was: garlic, wax peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes (tomatoes, and more tomatoes), broccoli, zucchini, and potatoes.

Since we finished our storm stock up yesterday, and have no intention of getting anywhere near another grocery store until at least Monday, we also headed down to the Farmer’s Market this morning. We got: tomatoes, a purple bell pepper, a lovely red onions, an Armenian snake melon (a cucumber), and some wild Jamaican cucumbers. I also picked up a tarragon plant, to attempt to keep through the winter. It’ll be hanging out in the house for the weekend. I will pot it once the storm goes through, and keep it outside as long as I can.

Cooking highlights for this past week centered on tomatoes. I did BLTs the night of the last pickup, and that weekend, when BF was working, had my traditional easy summer dinner of a baguette, fresh mozzarella, and a tomato. Best freaking edition of that all year.

I also made gazpacho. I happened upon this version online, when trying to come up with a chunkier version, and it came out quite nicely. You really do need to puree some of it, or it’s just non-spicy salsa.

The other CSA based meal I completed was Lemon Ricotta Pasta with Garlic and Zucchini, and I actually made the ricotta.

The ricotta was shockingly easy, and sooooo much better than anything you can get at the store (and I’ve tried some pretty high end ricotta from the speciality store). I’m not sure I got as much as I was supposed to out of the amount of liquid I put in, but it was certainly enough for the recipe. I’d definitely do it again.

More Spoils from Borders

Borders is up to 50%, and drew BF and me with its siren song last night. I decided to restrict myself to cookbooks, craft books, and fantasy/scifi that I’ve actually wanted to read, in that order.

I lucked out with two cookbooks I’ve had one my want list for a while (saw one other that I couldn’t quite justify buying because it was more of a nice to read but I’ll probably never cook from it book). Sadly, the craft section was well picked over. But, I managed four books out of the fantasy section – one I read and loved, but had borrowed, two more in a series I’d already started, and one by an author I like.

BF managed three graphic novels to fill in holes in his collection, and a cookbook he was interested in, so it was a fruitful trip.

We also heard this week that Books a Million has bought out the lease here, so we will be getting a new bookstore (I imagine they’ll be in by Christmas. They’d be idiots not to.) I’ve never been in one of their stores before, so I’ll be interested to see how different it’ll be.

Percival’s Angel – Anne Eliot Crompton

Read for the 2011 YA Reading Challenge.

This book is a companion to Merlin’s Harp, which portrays the Fae as a primal people living alongside the human inhabitants of King Arthur’s Kingdom.

In Arthurian legend, Sir Percival is raised far from court by his mother, because his father and older brothers have all died in service to the king. She thinks by never telling him of knights, he will never go to court. But, several knights find their way to their hiding place, and Percival goes off to Camelot, where he becomes one of the finest Knights of the Round Table. He dies after seeing the Holy Grail.

This book has Percival’s mother escaping to the Fae Forest, where Percival is raised among the Fae ruled by the Lady of the Lake. His best friend is Lili, and when he leaves to become a knight, she goes with him, determined to find a Human Heart for herself, as that seems to be where humans gain their power.

From here, the story follows the path of the legends, with a modern-style twist to the ending. It’s a sweet little story, and fits well in the World of Merlin’s Harp.

Wolfe’s Neck Farm – Freeport, ME

It was the work summer outing today, so we wandered up the coast to Wolfe’s Neck Farm, for a low key afternoon of relaxing and barbeque goodness.

We were smack in the middle of the farm, with sheep, and oreo cows, and turkeys, and chickens – the kind of things that delight my urban little heart to a silly degree.

The farm is also next to Recompense Campground, which the BF and I had visited about a month ago, and we walked through the west section to reach the water. I can now safely say that the camp sites in the middle section are nicer than the west (some which were just roped off areas of a field).

Me and My Sewing Machine – Kate Haxell

I don’t often read craft books cover to cover – they’re not usually designed to be read in that way. And to be honest, this one really isn’t either, but I’m fighting a summer cold, and I have a new sewing machine I haven’t dared try yet, and a whole pile of knitting I don’t dare touch, for fear of screwing it up in my fever scrambled state. So reading about craftiness seemed the next best thing.

I bought this book along with the sewing machine after happening upon it in a trail of Amazon.com recommendations. A number of people that were experienced sewers said it was the kind of book they wished they’d had when they were starting out, and that they used it as a reference even though they were now experienced sewers.

It is indeed a good reference. It has the most clearly laid out sections about common stitches, hems, decorations and other finishes that I’ve seen. It’s certainly not comprehensive, but it’s not meant to be. It has everything in it you need to be able to do a wide variety of projects on a machine, with0ut getting into needlessly complicated territory, and I’m definitely glad I bought it.

Further Adventures in Domesicity

So, what’s a girl to do a on a Monday night when the BF is working and she may or may not (turned out to be may) be coming down with summer cold?

Make pickled jalapenos, of course! The recipe is from Ellie Topp and Margaret Howard’s The Complete Book of Small-Batch Preserving, and I put them in smaller jars, in the hopes that they’ll be the appropriate size for casseroles and soups come winter.

Believe it or not, this only took care of half of my stash (half from the CSA, half from my garden), so it looks like jalapeno jelly is still on the table.