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HANDMADE GATHERINGS

 

A YEAR OF PIES!

 

HOMEMADE LIVING: HOME DAIRY

 

HOMEMADE LIVING: KEEPING BEES

 

HOMEMADE LIVING: CANNING & PRESERVING

 

HOMEMADE LIVING: KEEPING CHICKENS


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  • Such a thoughtful birthday gift from @melissaweisspottery. Been using it every morning to get sugar from the sugar bowl out for coffee. Thanks, sweet friend!
  • If you're going to help a friend with wedding planning, then this is totally the view you should have whilst doing so. Lovely afternoon sipping hard cider, eating hush puppies, and helping @shelterprotectsyou plan, with @thecuriouseye @forvillagers @toandfromwithlove and Claire Hummel at the Grove Park Inn.
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  • This amazing pile of all organic produce hails from Hominy Valley Organic Farm, a gorgeous plot of earth just down the road from us. Tom's prices are astoundingly good (he posts a weekly listing of what's available on his FB page). If you're in the area, Fridays are open farm days for purchasing produce. If you go, please do tell him I sent you!
  • The amazing Dave Bauer, mastermind and baker extraordinaire behind @farmandsparrow and @allsoulspizza, cradling some precious loaves for yesterday's River District Tailgate Market. Easily the best bread (and pastries, and pizza!) I have EVER had!!!
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Monthly Archives: July 2010

Canbassadorship to the Nation

(The cache)
(Apricot & Nutmeg Preserves)
(Poached Apricots & Cherries with Cinnamon)
(Pickled Cherries with Chinese 5-Spice Blend)
(Poached Apricots & Cherries with Cloves)


Those of you that know me personally are all too well aware that I’ve been engaged in a love affair with the state of Washington for some time. From its snow-capped peaks to its rugged coastline, from its temperate rain forests to its profusion of islands, the state has long called to me with its siren song.

Imagine, then, my profound joy at receiving an e-mail from Annie, a representative for the Washington State Fruit Commission, asking if I’d be interested in serving as a “Can-basssador” for the state’s soft fruits. Would I like to receive free, ripe, fresh, delicious, succulent fruits to render into jars of preserved bliss? Is the pope catholic? You bet I’d like to enjoy a bit of Washington’s finest!

And so, within a week, I was the proud recipient of a box containing 30 apricots and 7 1/2 pounds of sweet Rainier cherries. With fresh fruit, in the summer, in an un-airconditioned house, you’ve got to shake a leg. No dilly-dallying, waiting around for a day when you “feel” like canning; you make that feeling happen. As such, I set about on several marathon early morning canning sessions this week. The above delicacies are the end result of my sweaty labor of love.

In the final analysis, the fine fruits of Washington state offered to me resulted in: 4 pints of pickled cherries with homemade Chinese 5-spice (I used Leena’s recipe, but made my own Chinese 5-spice blend, the information for which can be found in the “Kumquat 5-Spice Marmalade” in my “Canning & Preserving” book), 4 pints of poached apricots & cherries with whole spices (including cinnamon sticks, star anise, and cloves), and 6 half-pints of apricot preserves with freshly ground nutmeg. I’ve got a large, pitted and stemmed bag of cherries waiting in the freezer at home (couldn’t get to them before leaving for vacation on Friday and I’m still not yet certain if I’ll turn them into homemade maraschino cherries, make them into cherry marmalade, or just dump them into a big cherry pie). I’m SO looking forward to pairing up these delicious delicacies during the approaching cooler months with the likes of baked brie, orange polenta cake, and hot buttered toast.

I invite you to take a peek at Sweet Preservation, the website developed by the organization. Not only is it rife with helpful canning tips, it’s got a number of gorgeous downloadable canning labels. All of the labels were created by Etsy crafters, each designed with a fresh, modern feel for today’s canning enthusiast (I especially love the yearly calender label-genius idea!).

So, if you love to can, and you love summer stone fruits, and you come upon a bounty of Washington’s cherries, apricots, peaches, or plums, I highly encourage you to grab them up and put time in a bottle, made possible through the gentle alchemy of canning. I promise you, it’s worth the hot-kitchen-in-the-summertime effort, offering up the sweetest reward.


Herbal Sun Teas & Simple Syrups

Happy Friday, everyone! My “Small Measures with Ashley” post is up on Design Sponge. This week I wax rhapsodic over the ease and incomparable flavor made possible through herbal sun teas and simple syrups. Pictured above on our porch railing are: (from left to right) thyme & lemon, rosemary, pineapple sage & fresh ginger, and peppermint & bee balm sun teas. See what’s growing in your yard or available at your local farmer’s market and set some tea of your own to sun-shining!


I’m so excited today! In just a few short hours, I’ll be on a plane to Tampa to visit with my father, sisters, my father’s wife, and a whole mess of other family members and friends. Pops has rented a gargantuan home in Palm Coast, just south of St Augustine, which we’ll load into the car and drive to tomorrow.

We all camped out there last year, as well, and I’m hoping this year proves to be a repeat all of the lazy river floating, pool-side lounging, novel reading, ice cream-eating, delicious meal-cooking, frozen beverage-imbibing (sans hooch, this year!), ocean-gazing, nap-taking, silly film-watching, board game-playing, sister-chatting, porch-rocking, and other goodness that occurred then.

Sadly, G. won’t be going with me, as our much loved friend, and long-time house-sitter, crossed coasts this week to set up house in California. With 5 geriatric cats, 2 young dogs, 4 hens, and 2 beehives to attend to, one of us had to stay. So, I’m heading out today, while G. will travel next Friday to Dallas for 5 days of cutthroat word-smithing at the National Scrabble competition.

Have a great weekend, all!

Cucurbit Love




This month’s Can Jam (selected by across-the-pond homesteader Gloria, of the imminently inspiring Laundry, etc.) celebrates all things cucurbit. Encompassing that much loved network of extended, yet similar, kin, cucurbits include melons, squashes (all of them-zucchini, winter, summer, pumpkins, etc.), cucumbers, and luffas. Although most cucurbits are inclined towards vining, some appear as shrubs or trees.


I’ve yet to meet a curcubit I don’t love. From my recent prego-induced watermelon ravaging benders (and yes, it is entirely possible to have too much of a good thing) to pumpkin butter, zucchini bread and beyond, I’ll gladly consume any cucurbit you put in my path with gusto. I even like saying the word. Cucurbit. Reminds me robust croaks emanating from the tiny throats of frogs and toads. But I digress…

If pressed to choose a favorite, if backed into a corner and threatened with permanent obstruction lest I select a preferred cucurbit, I’d have to go with cucumbers. During hot summers (this one certainly being no exception), I’ve been known to form a meal from sliced cucumbers and tomatoes, sprinkled over heavily with sea salt and coarsely ground black pepper. The preferred method for cucumber consumption chez English, however, is pickles. Hands down. We eat pickles all year long, especially dill pickles. Nothing fancy. Nothing exotic. Just simple, straight-up, heavy on the fresh dill, dill seeds, garlic cloves, and black pepper, dill pickles. Crunchy and sour in all the right ways, in my house, dill pickles can cure whatever ails you.

From my book, I offer you classic dill pickles. They might just become your new favorite thing.

CANNING CLASSIC-DILL PICKLES

For many, a sandwich just isn’t a sandwich unless accompanied by a dill pickle. In my opinion, their pungent saltiness is the perfect lunchtime companion. Aside from an overnight soak, this canning classic is ready in no time. Yield: 8 pints.

You will need:

- 6 pounds pickling cucumbers

- ½ c. + ¼ c. pickling salt (divided)

- 4 c. white vinegar

- 3-½ c. water

- 8 garlic cloves, peeled

- 4 tsp. dill seed

- 8 fresh dill heads (if unavailable, use 4 tsp. dried dill)

- 3 tsp. black peppercorns

To make:

-Rinse cucumbers in cold water. Scrub gently with a vegetable brush to loosen any hidden soil. Remove a thin slice from the blossom end of each cucumber (if you can’t tell which end is the blossom end, just take a thin slice off of each end). Place cucumbers in a non-reactive bowl, add ½ c. pickling salt, cover with water, place a plate or towel over the top, and set in a cool place or the refrigerator overnight or for 8 hours.

-Drain off the brining solution. Rinse cucumbers thoroughly to remove salt residue. Set aside.

-Sterilize 8 mason jars, lids, and screw rings.

-In a medium-sized stainless-steel pan, combine vinegar, water, and ¼ c. pickling salt. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

-Into each sterilized jar, place 1 garlic clove, ½ tsp. dill seeds, 1 dill head or ½ tsp. dried dill, and 8 black peppercorns.

-Pack cucumbers into each jar and cover with vinegar solution. Leave ½-inch headspace. Use a non-metallic spatula to remove any trapped air bubbles and wipe rims clean with a damp cloth. Place on lids and screw bands, tightening only until fingertip-tight.

-Process for 10 minutes in a boiling-water bath. Remember to adjust for altitude.

Host A Canning Party!

Hi folks! My “Small Measures with Ashley” post is up on Design Sponge. In recognition of this weekend’s Can-A-Rama being sponsored by the good folks at Canning Across America, this week’s topic discusses hosting a canning party. A great way to use up extra produce whilst chatting it up with your buddies, canning parties are THE social event of the harvest season.


In other news, Glenn and I are serving as hosts to Sara, Thor, and little Henry Jensen for the next few days. You might remember me mentioning Sara several months ago, with our auspicious internet meeting. Well, we’ve now met real-time and the Jensen clan is all that and a bag of chips.

Happy weekending, everyone!

*Image courtesy of Lark Books.

Auntie Love





As I mentioned yesterday, my sisters were absolute workhorses (along with G.) during their visit. They moved all of the furniture out of what will be Nugget’s room (it was our guest room), moved all sorts of things around in the office/additional guest room, and painted the nursery.


The paint we chose was “Globe Artichoke” from Olympic Paint. A zero VOC paint, it was pretty amazing to become conspicuously aware of the complete lack of odor as my sisters painted. Having painted many a room in my life, and suffered through can after can of noxiously scented paint, I can’t recommend this product enough.

The color could best be described as a sort of fresh, mossy green, perfect for the outdoorsy nature theme we’re going with. We left the trim a deep cocoa and the ceiling a mushroomy-taupe. Now all it needs is a crib, a rocking chair, a chest of drawers, a changing table, a mobile, a play table and tiny chairs….

Thanks, aunties. Glenn and I appreciate all of your efforts more than you can possibly know (and thanks, G., for later painting the floor!). Nugget is one lucky little feller.