Monday, October 21, 2013

It's All Painty Up In Here

Ellis has been inspired. He saw a painting of a lightning bolt at the movie theater and loved it so much he came home and wanted to paint something like it himself. Obviously, I had a moment of total parenting awesomeness. It was amazing not just because my child had a moment of inspiration but because I had everything on hand to help him realize his vision. Hooray for art supply hoarding!

He loved it so much he wanted to do it again a few days later!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Canning Swap, and Canning Season Updates

I'm gearing up for the social event of the season tonight: Our Canning Swap. 9 of us are bringing our yummiest, most safely-canned jars over to my place and we'll trade and leave with all kinds of goodies.

I'm offering up Peach Bourbon BBQ Sauce, Caponata (featuring garden-grown eggplant), and Peach Salsa.

Here is the Caponata in progress.

It's been a busy canning season, with a focus on things we can in quantity, like tomatoes.

Last year we canned tomato sauce for the first time, but in a group of friends. This was my first solo effort for sauce in my own kitchen. Of course, the food mill is borrowed from my friend Karen.

After processing, it all went into the roaster, a thrifted Christmas gift from my friend Erin. Even when you work alone, it takes a village to can tomato sauce!

All told, we got 19 pints.

We used the Ball Seasoned Tomato Sauce here, which is my favorite for canning. I'm heading out the the farmers market now for more produce. It's a cold and rainy day, so I'm feeling like beets might be on the agenda!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Millions of Peaches

Not quite a million, but our fresh produce fairy Anika hooked us up with a bushel of freshly picked organic Michigan peaches. They were quite possibly the most beautiful peaches in all the land.

So, what's a girl to do with 50 lbs. of peaches? I freaked out and did nothing the first day. But I did make a plan for jam, salsa, barbecue sauce, peaches in syrup, and frozen peaches. And Ellis made a plan to eat as many peaches as possible before bedtime. We both triumphed.

The next day, things got real. I took Ellis and his cousin to one of those crazy trampoline places in the morning to wear them out and then I spent the afternoon and evening putting up as many peaches as I could.

The first step in any canning session is to take your kitchen to Beauty Base Zero. Your kitchen must be a pristine blank slate onto which you can project your particular brand of canning carnage, er, I mean canning glory.

Then I sorted my produce. (Cue the gratuitous peach beauty shots!)

And then, my friends, it's time to get to work.

First up was peach jam. We used the most-bruisey peaches for the jam (though even the bruisey ones were awesome). Peaches can be tedious to process because you do have to take the skins off. Once you get into a rhythm, things go quickly. We used the Pamona's Pectin low-sugar recipe, but I used the most recommended sugar. Last year, my peach jam didn't set well. It was fine and we used it mostly in smoothies and things like that. Still, I wanted it to set. I must confess, it took over a day of cooling, but the jam does seem to have set up nicely.

With 12 half-pints of peach jam put up, I turned to the most awesome but most labor-intensive recipe: Peach Salsa. I'd gotten the peppers and onions and all at the farmers market that morning. Peach Salsa is a wonderful confluence of ripe things here in the midwest. Every ingredient was freshly picked. Still, salsa-making is basically a chop-a-thon. The chopping and prepping can take hours.  And it did. But what a pay-off!

14 pints later, all was well. Oh, except that it was 3 in the morning, I'd gone to bed, and the lovely and sleep-deprived Sarah has to finish up. True love means finishing up your partner's overly-ambitious canning projects.

Stay tuned for Peaches in Syrup, Frozen Peaches, Peach Bourbon Barbecue Sauce, and whatever I end up doing with that last bowl of peaches eyeing me from the end of the table.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Gearing Up For Fall

Fall draws close. Ellis is starting school on Monday. He's successfully completed his Kindergarten orientation.

His school is lovely. He likes it so far. He's ready.

Me? Not so much. How did my baby get so big, so fast? I'm certainly excited to get back to work, to have time to breathe, to be able to actually clean my house. But, oh, does it have to be so soon?

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Cheetah Man

It was dress as your favorite animal day at camp. Ellis went as a cheetah. Or, he went as his invented cheetah-based superhero: Cheetah Man!

He plans to be Cheetah Man for Halloween, too. I will need to make a less half-assed costume for that. At least I don't have to buy a drab, muscled superhero costume from Costco.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Blueberries for All

A few weeks ago, we headed to Blueberry Ranch for some organic blueberry goodness. It was hot. Like 95 and not breezy. But we still managed to pick around 22 lbs. We didn't smell all that good afterwards.

Then we headed home to put up half the berries into jam and freeze the rest.

We used the Pamona Pectin low-sugar recipe, adding basil from our garden to one of the batches for some extra zing.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

In the Studio

I finally got around to a much-needed studio cleaning. And there's only one thing to be done with a clean studio: mess it up.

A dear friend's daughter is having her 7th birthday party. What 7 year old doesn't need a fairy headband?

Isn't it nice to have so many pretty materials to work with? Sometimes I spend a lot of time just gazing at all the colors. And other times, I get to work.