Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Seeing the finish line on Baby's Room

I can see the finish line right around the corner.

The walls are painted and the flooring is in. 

Now it just needs the trim and a closet door attached.

We shall return to normal soon.

Blisters and Sweat Equity

I have a goal for this summer: don't let the heat keep me out of the garden. I have a plan to make this years garden the best Resistance garden ever. I am going to can, preserve, pressure can, and dehydrate the living guts out of everything it produces. I am a woman on a mission.

This past weekend I met my goal for the first time. Despite sizzling heat and sun, I refused to start my inside tasks before I had crops reseeded and my second rotation of onions (both red and white) in the ground. It was touch and go for a while there, but through grit and water, I persisted. This only problem? A sunburn? Hell yes but in my haste to get the heck out of there and into shade as fast as possible, I worked my trowel a bit too hard without gloves on.

Chive Vinegar

This was the simplest act of sustainability I have ever done, and it is SO pretty!

and a day later... voila!

I can't wait to see what it looks like in a week!

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Lilac Jam

As I searched for recipes for violets, I learned that lilacs are another edible flower and was immediately entranced by the task of finding a recipe to make jam with the last two remaining flowers on my lilac tree. There was lilac jelly (oh so beautiful you must wait until next year) but the Jun Food in Jars Challenge is jam, so I had to settle on the only recipe I could get my hands on that worked with my available time (as in right then and there) and my available resources (two flowers only makes about one cup of usable flower). 

This recipe I found was from Music, Life, Love blog that appears long out of service. Do I trust the recipe? It seems an awful lot like the violet recipe and it will be going in the freezer, so... what the heck, I can always dump it later if it is awful.

2 cups, loosely packed lilac blossoms (no green parts or stems)
Juice of 1 fresh lemon or 4 Tablespoons of bottled lemon juice
3/4 cup water
2 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup water (a second time)
1 pkg. Sure-Jel pectin

1.  Put 3/4 cup water and the lilac blossoms in a blender and blend well.
2.  Add the lemon juice and notice how the lilac paste turns a richer purple as soon as the lemon juice hits the dull purple paste.
3. Add the sugar and blend again to dissolve.
4. In a saucepan over medium heat, heat  the second 3/4 cup water in a sauce pan. Slowly stir the package of pectin into and bring it to a boil, continuing to boil hard for 1 minute.
5. Pour the hot pectin into the blender with the lilac paste.
6. Blend again and pour into jars or small storage containers.
7. Let cool, then cover with lids and store in the freezer. The jam will turn a deeper purple as it sets up. You can dip out the jam whenever you want some.

I'm really quite excited about them but once again worry about the pectin texture. I really need to get better at doing pectin the natural way.

They took on a surprisingly browner hue as time went on. It still has a shade of purple, but not as much as it was.

Store in freezer for up to a month. 

Monday, June 5, 2017

Violet Jam

A boy in the grass picking flowers
June is a jam month for the Food in Jars Mastery Challenge and I need to be honest, I really wanted to challenge myself and jam was a hard one to find. Jam is my THING.... how could I take it up a notch?

Then I remembered that we had violets growing at the edge of the woods.  FLOWERS .... I could challenge myself by using flowers. It was a wonderful Sunday morning activity. With the help of Baby, we went foraging in the field for violets.

It was an ideal Sunday morning, drinking my tea, sitting in the shady grass with my youngest picking flowers.

I need to be honest here though one cup of packed violets is a hard earned venture, even Baby bagged out before I got them all. They almost camouflage themselves among the grass - you can only see them when you look at them from the right direction.

I love the swirl in the leaves. 

All in all, it took over an hour to procure one cup of violets but luckily that is all I needed because I picked every last one of them.

I used a recipe from  Soule Mama found HERE.  

I don't know if I did it right or used the right amount of pectin because my jam isn't as purple as hers. It also seems to have a grainy consistency. I would definitely make this again, but I might use natural pectin from apples. This was a nice experiment in foraging and I will tinker with it again. How many rounds of blooms do violets have in a season?
I Tweezed out any impurities

1 (packed) cup violet blossoms
1 cup water
juice of one lemon
1/2 cup honey
pectin (I used 1/3 of a box of Pomona pectin - turns out that 1/3 is 1 Tablespoon and 1 Teaspoon.)

1. Spend a lovely late spring morning with your youngest child foraging for violets. 
2.  Blend violets, 1/2 of the water and lemon juice.

3.  Heat remaining water and honey in a saucepan. 
4. When warm, add pectin and stir until mixed well. 
5. Add pectin/honey mix to blender. Blend again until smooth. 
6. Place in hot jars immediately to set. This is a freezer jam for preserving.

Sustainable plant watering

Look at that rich color left from Fiddleheads!

I don't know why I didn't think of it before learning it from Marisa at FoodinJars.com , but one should ALWAYS save their blanching water. It provides a nutritious drink for your plants.

From blanching my fiddle heads for 3 pints of pickled asparagus, I yielded two quarts of healthy nutritious water for my plants.

I know my Hibiscus and Orchid are thanking me!