Friday, September 16, 2016

Apple Pie Filling

Apples are plentiful and beautiful this year.  Our primary apples are Silver Mutsu and Honeycrisp.  We did a quick harvest the other day in order to try canning apple pie filling (the freezer is full, so we're looking for new methods). 

The apples are huge and beautiful. 15 apples filled a 2 gallon bucket:

After much research online, I came up with a basic recipe and process that felt do-able. The recipe is at the end of the post. Here is the process we followed:
1. Wash, peel, core, and slice apples.  With these large apples, two apples = one quart.
2. As the apples were sliced/chopped, we put them in another bucket with cold water and lemon juice to keep them from turning brown.

3. Blanch apples to stop the enzymes that can cause the flavor to degrade during storage. Place about six cups of apples at a time in a big pot of boiling water.  Return to boil, boil 1 minute, and remove.  We simply returned them to another clean bucket and put a lid on them to keep them warm.

4. Make the sauce: Combine sugar, Clear Jel (this is a whole new product for me - look it up online. I bought it from - make sure you get the "cook type"), and cinnamon in large pot with water and apple juice. Stir and cook on medium high heat until mixture thickens and begins to bubble. Add lemon juice and boil 1 minute, stirring constantly.


5. Fold in drained apples. Fill jars, leaving 1 inch headspace.  Process 25 minutes. 

Apple Pie Filling - makes 6 quarts
6 1/2 quarts (approximately 25 cups) We only used 13 huge apples
5 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cup Clear Jel
1 T. cinnamon
2 1/2 cups cold water
5 cups apple juice
3/4 cup bottled lemon juice - bottled lemon juice ensures consistency acidity needed try an apple pie!

9-19-16: Note from second batch: It really helps to mix the sugar, Clear-Jel, and cinnamon together before adding the liquid - no lumps!

Dutch Apple Pie was wonderful!

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Making Umeboshi

This is the beautiful Ume Plum blossom.  Ume really isn't a plum at all. It is actually a Japanese sour apricot that is used to make plum wine and umeboshi -a sour pickled plum that is delicious.
The tree usually blooms sometime in January. 
This year was a banner year for ume - we harvested 32.74 pounds!  Last year's harvest was .... well...about 4 ume. In 2014, the harvest was 9 pounds and 2013 was 3 pounds.

Harvest took place on June 19, 2016, Father's Day. First, the fruit is fully inspected by K-9 certified inspectors. Then they were sorted by quality and size.

The selected ume are placed in a large glass container...

For 2 kilogram ume (about 90), 360 grams of salt (20% of weight of ume) and 1/4 cup vodka are added. Then a weight is placed on top - we use a container of coins! As you can see, this is June 27 and there are 90 ume plums in this jar.

In just 24 hours, this much juice has been extracted from the ume:

June 28

And one more day - June 29:

July 1 looks like this:

And here we are on July 4:

The next step is to add shiso.  Shiso gives it the characteristic red-purple color.  Some shiso plants are green and some are red.  Others are green on the topside of the leaf and red on the bottom.  This is what we had most of.  Unfortunately our seeds did not germinate well this year but there were lots of little "volunteers" in the area where we grew it last year.  We nurtured the shiso and were able to make two harvests, resulting in approximately 300 grams.

The shiso is salted and massaged...this was happening on July 8:

You can see the beautiful color that starts to emerge:

The shiso is added to the jar with the ume plum on July 8:

And here we are on July 30...

The next step is to remove the ume from the salty vinegar it has produced and dry them in the sun.  They are placed on trays and sit outside all day, brought in at night and return to the jar, and then this process is repeated for three days.

On the third day, August 1, they stay out overnight.

Back again...

It's only been six years! Life got busy...Facebook came along. Our garden has expanded beyond my wildest imaginings. The "kid" graduated high school...and then attended five years of college...and graduated from college!  We lost our wiener dog, Moose, and a new little gem, Jasmine, aka "the Jasmanian Devil" joined the family. Takashi retired!
So...I'd like to document some new ventures - like making umeboshi! We'll see what happens...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Rugs & Dogs

Once again time has run away from me. Summer has come and gone. The garden was challenged by cool weather this summer but we did add blueberries, raspberries, some fruit trees and a few other things.
Here is the "Mini Sarouk" pattern that I recently finished – except for whipping and binding. This project was a joy from day one until the last loop was pulled. There may be some minor revisions…or I may just leave it as is. Now I just have to get around to dyeing yarn to bind the darned thing. And maybe figure out how to make fringe.

One reason I have been particularly busy is the addition of a new family member: Sasuke was born on August 4, 2010 in Salem, Oregon. We drove up on September 25 to bring him home and he has certainly won me over. He is a very sweet puppy…and smart! I believe that he is a healer and I hope to be able to write about that at some time.

Introducing Sasuke to 8-year old Musashi - who has been an "only" dog for two years now – was more traumatic than I had anticipated. Sasuke came to us weighing in at TWO pounds and Moosie thought he was a squeaky toy. After a week or so of constant supervision, they are now the best of buddies. They play and sleep and do doggy things together and really seem to love one another. Yep…change…takes time…

Monday, May 10, 2010

Catching up….Hooking

Mid-April almost always finds me at my favorite rug hooking camp at Friends by the Sea in Rockaway Beach on the northern Oregon Coast. This was my 10th year to attend in the 15+ years that I have lived on the West Coast. It's always such fun to see the same wonderful women I've seen year after year.
What a joy to have one's only task be to hook and create and learn. The food is wonderful and "cinnamon break" mid-morning is always a treat. This year my classroom was in the Lodge which is a great spot away from the bustle of the other classrooms.

My teacher was Carol Fegles and she is so gracious and generous. I took a trip to Eugene about a week before camp (yep, cutting it close!) to discuss my project and get some ideas for color-planning and dyeing. I decided to take the plunge and use Prochem dyes. I have used Cushings for years simply because when I started out I inherited a shoebox full of them. It seems that I never have one color to complete a formula so am constantly buying more of these annoying little envelopes. Carol ended up scanning some samples and sending them to me via email. From there, I chose a few colors, placed an order and within 3 days had my dyes. Of course this was over Easter weekend which is a super-busy time. So just days before camp began I was hustling to get dyeing done – some of it was still drying when I packed it up to drive up the coast.

This was a wonderfully relaxing rug camp – a real zen experience. Much of that had to do with the atmosphere Carol creates in class and much of it had to do with the project. I had decided to hook Jeanne Benjamin's "Mini Sarouk" (New Earth Designs). Her patterns are top-notch – on the grain, very clear, and high quality backing. I LOVE this pattern. I am really only using 3 colors – Forest Green, Gold/Toffee, and Evergreen…the "white" is a light wash of Straw (which ended up being dyed in an electric roaster at camp).
Here is what I got done at Camp...this may take a life time... 
Carol introduced me to a #2 cut – oh my! I fell in love! I've done a lot of #3 (3/32 inch) and have ventured in to 4-6…but never #2! It's like 2 threads…amazing. Of course I had to buy a new cutter head for my Bliss and was shocked to find they have doubled in price. Unfortunately when I got home I couldn't find the darned thing even after massive searches. Thanks to the generosity of hookers everywhere, Saundra from Delaware, sent me hers as she had never used it. I will be eternally grateful! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

10 Minute Challenge Update

I've been really consistent in keeping up with the 10-minute challenge. This is a pattern called "Water Nymph" that I must have started over ten years ago and had about 1/5 done. I kept trying to get the background darker and in so doing ended up felting the wool too much so it was very difficult to pull through the burlap. To top it off, I was using a #6 cut which is HUGE for me. I remembered that I had bought a Hartman hook back at Cape May so I dug that out and voila! It was much easier to do. Now that it's done, I kind of like this rug!