Adirondack fall

Adirondack fall is a brief lovely season. With six weeks until winter, we had our first light snowfall this weekend and the temperature dropped to 17 degrees f.

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My Irish Moss sweater is well underway. There’s a tiny chance I may memorize the pattern, but not yet. I love the alpaca-merino, soft, light and warm. So does Shirley.

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I got around to pickling the venison heart today. I boiled it for several hours with a carrot, onion and celery, then poured a brine over it and let it sit under a weighted plate all day. Next it’s to the fridge. Tasted yummy.

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We’ve received a bounty of winter squash from our farm share and I baked my first pumpkin pie of the season. My Oxo good mill did the hard work. Funny how the pie came out though.

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We’ve had a few picnic dinners in the cabin but haven’t screwed up the courage to sleep in it yet. Lots of excuses- have to get up for work, too cold, forgot my sleeping bag, etc. one day. Tim writes about it here.

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Bountiful

I realize there aren’t enough hours in the day but managed to find a new addictive habit over the summer: rope work. I view it as another form of weaving.

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My first trip back to the farm to pick up our share found a whole slew of vegetables. I’ve learned that when there is surplus, take as much as you want to preserve because next week may be too late. Which means I was preserving, canning, pickling and freezing this weekend. So far I dried tomatoes, pickled cucumbers, canned tomato sauce and blanched and froze corn.

Next I MUST make more bread and butter pickles because they and watermelon rind pickles are my favorites. I still have watermelon rind pickles in the cupboard. I bought a book, Small Batch Preserving, last summer and it’s a great resource. I only make 4-6 pints at a time.

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We received a gift from Terhune Orchards of beautifully packed, softball sized, New Jersey peaches. No pictures because they made their way into blintzes, two pies and at least three were eaten au natural by me. I was a juicy, drippy mess and now they are all gone.

My compost pile jumped the gun. It’s sprouting melons before it’s even ready. Another bonus for our bounty.

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Kitchen produce

This photo shows why I must exercise.

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On the left, is my latest loaf of sourdough bread. The recipe is loosely based on a PBS episode with Julia Child and the owner of La Brea Bakery, Nancy Silverton. .

From the episode, I learned three important facts about bread baking. I made my own sourdough starter with red grapes, flour and water, which sits on my counter and ferments away; keep one hand clean while kneading dough; and taste the raw dough and adjust.

I’ve made several delicious loaves and hope to keep the starter happy. This was my best one yet.

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Next to the bread is a fruit pie, not really one of my vices but dear Tim loves them and I go along for the ride. Any fruit will do. I only like pie the day it is baked. After that, I’m only interested in the filling.

Next up is white bread, albeit a bit overdone. I make two loaves a week (whether we need them or not). This is definitely not a gluten-free household.

Finally, pasta. I received an Atlas pasta maker for Christmas and love it. I roll out a batch of fresh pasta a week. Semolina flour, salt and water. Run it through the machine several times to get the right thickness, then put it through the cutting blades. Because it cooks so quickly, the whole process doesn’t take longer than boiling boxed pasta. And clean up is a snap.

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Other kitchen additions include an old fashioned, metal bread box with holes and a magnetic knife rack. Aah, domestic bliss.

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I’m waiting for my new hula hoop and jump rope to arrive so I’ll be able to exercise on that tiny rock of an island in Alaska.

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Spring is in the air

The weather has warmed up – a bit too much – and spring is in the air.  Yesterday, the high temperature  was 85 degrees f and the low was 35 f – a whopping 50 degree spread.  What to wear?  Actually, we don’t even notice the cool nights, except we sleep well, or I do anyway.  We’re outside doing all sorts of projects – Tim is working on his cabin; I’ve been trying to figure out what are weeds and what are not; and the boat is ready to launch.

Trees are blooming and  love is in the air (and in the hills).  I see a heart in the trees.

Love is in the air

 

Our first Humming bird returned, Bluebirds are checking out the boxes (including  the Purple Martin house, which is supposed to be used by Purple Martins) and Eastern Phoebes keep trying to build a nest inside our porch.  It’s complicated when the birds refuse to keep to their own neighborhoods.  Goldfinch are wearing their bright yellow feathers and are so colorful.

Goldfinch feeder

 

It’s so nice outside, I haven’t been doing any quilting or weaving.  I still do laundry though and love to dry clothes outdoors on a windy day.  I may find clothing scattered around the lawn, but they smell nice.

Laundry            One of my favorite pictures is my porch swing in the snow.  Here it is in the spring.

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Time to go enjoy another day.

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Busy, busy, busy

On all fronts.  Despite nighttime temperatures in the 20’s f, Spring is definitely here.  Shoots are shooting, I see the grass but the wooly bear still hasn’t moved, even though  I sprinkled some sprigs of grass near him.

I have managed to layer four or five quilts and am getting ready to start quilting them; perhaps one or two by hand.

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My new Icelandic sweater is finished.  I had to attend a forty hour course, which provided at least thirty hours of solid knitting time.  I was basically done when the course was over but ran out of yarn.  Rather than go back to the Icelandic source for Lopi, via Canada, I ordered Reynolds Lite Lopi and knit the button and neck bands.  They match perfectly.  This wasn’t the same lot, or even the same brand!  Go figure.

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Four bracelets are in the works for a reunion with high school friends.  So are 12 placemats.

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Now the loom has a blanket on it.  My widest project yet but by no means the hardest.  I’m using Plymouth Encore yarn, which is very smooshy and washable.

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The kitchen has a batch of sourdough starter in the works.  I found a loose recipe on PBS’s site with Julia Child.  I took a pound of grapes, mashed them up a bit in cheesecloth and added flour and water.  The concoction has been bubbling away for about a week and will soon be ready to create a rustic loaf of bread.  And I will feed it more flour and water and perhaps it will last for years.  Will I want it to last for years?

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We miss fresh greens in the winter and even would like more in the Spring.  I found a little hydroponic grower and have sprouted arugula, mustard greens and red lettuce.  We’ll see how this goes.

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Now to get my butt off the couch and get outside and enjoy Spring!

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Birthday bounty

I am not a material person. Like a lizard (?) I have shed my skin and possessions more than once in my lifetime.

But I recently had a birthday – a big one – and am as pleased as punch with my gifts.

Here they are. To avoid any favoritism, they are listed in order based upon the number of years I have known the giver. My kids are very competitive; each one asked me if they were the first birthday wisher. Yes to the 6:00 am text message and yes to the 8:00 am phone call.

1) A beautiful bouquet of spring flowers, just when I am getting a wee bit tired of winter weather.

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2) A beautiful floral blouse, fits perfectly and looks perky.

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3) An extremely functional, handmade gift for my pepper mill. I have one of the older brass pepper mills, featured on the Frugal Gourmet years ago. It’s so tall and top heavy, it’s lethal around pottery or glassware on the counter because it frequently tips over. No more.

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4) The sky delivered a beautiful sunset and should probably be listed first.

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Unfinished business

It’s a sad day when you are invited to raid another crafter’s home. I didn’t know this woman but friends did and her widower kindly offered to give away her fabric stash and library.  I’m not an opportunist, but got more involved in weaving after I acquired equipment, I couldn’t even name, at an auction of another local crafter’s home (raddle and bobbin winder).

In both instances, the saddest items to see were the unfinished works in process.   Were they abandoned earlier or still active projects? The family had already gone through everything and this is what they didn’t want.

A baby quilt, which only needs a few seams, with Dresden plates I would probably never make myself.
Dresden Plate baby quilt

 

Or a larger version.

Unfinished business 008With a separate patch  quilt.     Unfinished business 003

Some patches and more Dresden Plates.

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And, what I thought was a reasonable amount of fabric.

Unfinished business 010This made it imperative to organize my fabric, which had been stuffed into shelves.  I try to make it seem as if I don’t have a lot because, not only do I have a store of fabric,  there is raw fiber for spinning; spun and purchased yarn for knitting; weaving cotton for weaving; and fabric for quilting.  It will be much harder to find my entire stash because  it is literally tucked away all over the house.  In what appear to be empty suitcases, in an old trunk, in various baskets.  I read about one woman who stored her yarn in the  “boot” of her car.

All of this made me think  of organizing at least my fabric, craft library and weaving cotton.

First, all the fabric went into piles with similar prints or colors.

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Then it went back on the shelves with more  order.  Now if only Tim would straighten out his stuff.

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Almost finished projects were kept together and I will piece them in a pinch.  In the meantime, I went back to working on my blue and white quilt with a clear head.

 

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Lobster and chips

I took a trip across the lake today to the big city. Big, as in town with a grocery store where I can buy tarragon. It was a lovely day for a ferry ride, there was some chop, the boat was rolling and sea fog drifted across the water.

The view home was pretty sweet.

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During my last trip to the state liquor store, where the taxes and therefore prices are lower, I met a Mainer who sold lobsters. I don’t trust or eat much seafood in the Adirondacks and I had a hankering for lobster.

I picked up a couple of beauties and decided this time I would cook them humanely by pithing them first. Maybe it was good for them but it was a little traumatic for me.

Last year I bought a healthy chip maker made by Mastrad and wrote about it here. It was stuffed away in a cabinet and I had forgotten about it. I dusted it off, sliced and salted a potato and made a delicious, low calorie batch of potato chips.

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It couldn’t be easier and the key is the slicer, which cuts the veggie paper thin. Then they are laid out on a silicone cooker, zapped for 2 minutes and away you go.

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Don’t try it with kale though. I almost burnt the house down as outlined here.

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The (quilting) universe delivers

Well, actually my email delivers.  I’m headed off to visit family today, and like Goldie Hawn in Private Benjamin, “I never visit empty handed.”  But what to bring a couple who have everything.  Maple syrup is always a good standby because we have delicious, local syrup in large quantities.

I opened my email yesterday and found a new video was uploaded by Missouri Quilt Company.  The tutorial demonstrates a french braid table runner.  I told Tim I was thinking about making a table runner and he said, “that’s the most useless gift ever.”  Perfect.

I found some stash material. My work area was already set up because I’m working on a large quilt.  By noon, I had it pieced and by dinner it was put together and quilted.Image

I stitched in the ditch with my walking foot for the borders and then practiced machine quilting.  My little Singer featherweight doesn’t like any of the free motion foots I have tried.  So, I use my regular foot, cover the feeder dogs with a business card and loosen the presser foot.  It seems to work.

Once again the universe delivers.  I have my gift and a lap blanket for the ride since the thermometer read 19 below zero this morning.Image

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My northern CSA provides international experiences

Our farm share continues all year. During the winter months, we eat food I imagine Russian peasants have always eaten – beets, cabbage, onions, carrots, potatoes, parsnips, turnips and rutabaga with some kohlrabi and celeriac tossed in.

I make borscht, stuffed cabbage, roasted vegetables, soups and stews.

This week hominy, or dried corn, was added to the share with suggestions to make tortillas. I gathered my corn and culinary lime and headed south of the border.

Lime is calcium hydroxide and is called “cal” in Mexican recipes. It softens the corn, boosting its nutritional value and helps remove the husks. Water, hominy and cal are heated and then left to soak overnight. Next the corn is ground into masa, traditionally between two stones. Since I live on an old sand quarry, I opted for my food processor.

I may have been better off with two stones. I ground the masa as fine as I could then made a dough with some salt and water. Next I flattened the dough with a spatula and peeled them off the board and tossed them in the hot griddle. The flavor was perfect but they were too thick and a little soft. I tried to pass some dough through my new pasta maker but that was too cross cultural and didn’t work.

Next time…

My knitting is well under way for the year. I already knit three mittens, a hat and wove a scarf. Next is to start a quilt and weave some new placemats.

These are the thrummed mittens waiting to get felted by the wearer.

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This is one of my new mittens. I made a pair last year for one of my daughter’s friends a coveted a pair for myself.

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Next up is a scarf I wove with alpaca, my handspun merino and silk and a little novelty boucle alpaca and silk. Sweet.

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