Thursday, July 31, 2014

Canning Green Beans....with Flavor!

I was recently very fortunate to have run into a fellow gardener.  The gentleman, who instructed me to call him 'Coach', has been growing vegetables of all kinds nearby for several years now.  In a fortuitous meeting, he informed me that his wife just might hurt him if he brought home any more green beans, and to help myself to as many as I could pick.  

He's easily got four or five dozen plants.  So it's off to the drawing board.  The first thing I ever learned how to pressure can was green beans.  With canning salt.  And water.  Now don't get me wrong, they were as good as any canned green beans you get from the store, but really, how good is that?  

Monday, July 21, 2014

Winnie the Pooh Baby Shower Cake

I'm going to pretend like I haven't been m.i.a. for a few months.  Instead I'm just going to post some pictures of my first attempt at using fondant!  I was asked to make a Classic Winnie the Pooh cake for a baby shower.  Other than the general subject, I was given free reign.  This is a glimpse of what I came up with.

Piglet, Pooh, and some bumblebees too!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Tips for Beginners (Canning)

I had a friend pose the question recently if I had any tips for new canners.  Well I can certainly think of a few!  I'd love to hear more from any of you who have tried some home canning, from fellow beginners to pickled veterans.  In the meantime, here's a handful.
(These are mostly aimed at water bath canning, fyi)
  • Have a stack of hand towels or rags at the ready.  You'll need one damp one to wipe the rims, a dry one to hold the jars while doing so, and there's a great chance that you'll just need a few extra.  Trust me on this one, you don't want to be running in circles around the kitchen after you've just dropped a huge glob of jam on your big toe!
  • Never put your hot glass jars, empty or full, on a bare countertop, oven, or table.  That gives them a great opportunity to crack and ruin your project.  Or your will to can.
  • Take a medium sized baking sheet and line it with a hand towel.  Sit this next to your canner and use it as a jar-friendly counter space.  Not only will the towel keep the jars safe, but if a jar should crack, the contents will mostly be caught by the baking sheet.  One less headache.
Admittedly a little hard to see...but you get the gist.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Oven-dried Cherries

I give myself very good advice,
but I very seldom follow it.
                                                                                   -Alice in Wonderland

Alice and I have that in common.  Remember how I JUST SAID to get your cherries squared away within 24 hours of picking?  Well I didn't do that.  I picked all the stems off of a pretty sizable batch, washed them, and then got lazy and stuck them in the fridge over night.  The next morning they were all yuckish.
See how they've all started turning brown near where the stem was?

Monday, June 2, 2014

The Miracle of Fruit

Have you ever watched a piece of fruit develop from a flower?
Chances are, unless you have some sort of fruit tree or vine in your 
yard, you probably haven't been able to enjoy this phenomenon.  Let's have a quick look through pictures from my peach tree.  With the exception of the last picture, these were all taken on the same day, of flowers in different stages on the tree.

Maybe this sounds a bit science-class for you.
But I promise you, it's pretty cool.
(also, if you have young children of the question-asking age, it might end up being convenient)