Sunday, July 17, 2011

Barking Mad!

Now that we are in an area that rains we have tree frogs.  They are everywhere and I'm in heaven.  I love frogs!  Just about every night this week we've had a visitor to our pool, which is still not up and running yet.  It's a barking tree frog.  A liitle different looking from the ones I grew up with in the deep south but a barker none the less.  And of course those of you who know me personally, know I'm going to go pick it up and take pictures right? < insert maniacal giggling here>
Now here's the point of this post, and a funny story.  Well other than I finally live in a place where I can catch frogs again.  This little frog started barking the other night.  The dogs went nuts trying to find the perpetrator of the noise since they had never encountered a barking frog before there's no telling what was going through their minds.  Barking frantically back at it.  Running all over the yard, up and down the fences until one of them found it.  He just stood there and barked right back at it for a good 5 minutes.  Frog, Gus, Frog, Gus, Frog Gus....  We finally had to make him leave the poor thing alone but not before laughing our butts off.  Every night since has started with the frog climbing up on the pool ledge and barking at dusk followed by the dogs, all of them, egging it on for as long as we let them.

Cherries anyone?

I found a really good deal on cherries the other day in the store.  $1.99 a pound, out here that's cheep since they are normally $4 a pound and up.  So I bought 3 of those useless zippered produce bags full.  Landed 6.5 pounds.  What to do, what to do, what to do?  Had no idea, but hubby offered to eat all of them right then and there.  Pulled out the canning books and nothing appealed to me so I just decided to put them in syrup and be done with it.  Yes I saved out a handful for hubby but the rest went into the jars!

Canned cherries
6 pounds cherries (or a little more)
6 cups water
3 cups sugar

First you might want to pit the cherries.  Or not, decision is totally up to you, just be sure to label them as unpitted if you don't.  Wouldn't want any dental injuries in the middle of a midnight snack would we?  For me, well I have this mid-evil looking contraption that was given to me a few years ago and it was claimed to be a pitter but, well, I have no idea how rolling cherries down across a ribbed wheel would work without loosing a lot of juice so I opted to poke them out with a heavy duty chopstick.  Just hold the cherry and push it through the stem end.  Takes a few tries to get it perfect and you'll get lovely stained hand for your effort.
Heat up water and sugar to boiling.  Pack jars to half inch head space.  Ladle syrup over them to half inch head space, make sure there are no bubbles and lid up.  Boiling water bath 20 minutes for pints.
Landed myself 11 pints:

Friday, July 8, 2011

Pickled Cantaloupe, The Rematch

So, remember that pickled cantaloupe recipe I shared last year? This one?  Yeah, well it didn't get rave reviews, was actually called disgusting by one person (though hubby likes them, go figure) and the original link to the recipe is no longer working.  But I shall persevere!  I will try it again!  I will make it edible!
And I did.  We found a little farmer's market and landed ourselves 2 very large muskmelons.  Hubby started eating on one but ran out of steam before he could finish it so I figured they'd be worth the experiment.  I pulled out my Ball Complete book, love this thing, you need one, really, and found a recipe.  It's on page 299.  But I didn't have the whole spices it required so I tweaked it a bit:

Pickled Cantaloupe
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground allspice
3 cups white vinegar
2 cups water
13 cups cubed cantaloupe (peel and seed it first!)
41/2 cups sugar

Combine spices, water and vinegar, bring to a boil for 5 minutes, remove from heat.  Stir in melon and let sit for about half an hour, covered please.
Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally and keep at a light boil for 45 minutes or until the cantaloupe starts looking 'translucent'.  Ladle/pack melon and syrup into jars with 1/2" headspace, work out bubbles and water bath 20 minutes.

I ended up with 8 pints, but I used a little more melon than the recipe called for.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Leaving Texas

Well.  It finally happened.  That move I mentioned a while back.  It took 7 months, a lot of angst, rebuilding a credit score and in general a lot of aggravation.  But it's done.  I've now moved across country to the eastern seaboard where it rains.  I've been here 3 weeks now.  I finally got internet connection as well.  So I must let you know what I had to leave behind in Texas.
First and foremost I had to leave friends.  More friends than I've ever had in my life.  I couldn't bring them with me.  Some of them close enough to be surrogate parents, one of those women I would have forcefully packed in the car with me the day I left had I had room to stick her in there with all the critters.  Friends that mostly accepted me for me.  Which is a huge deal in Texas, I'm not 'normal' out there, though I'd probably fit in really well with those folks in Austin.
I had to leave one of the oldest quilting clubs in Texas.  We were 12 members ranging from 35 to 90+.  We only met once a week but we did beautiful hand quilting.  I don't get to take quilt show trips with them anymore and have one member exclaim in the middle of a parking lot that the pie she just had was better that sex.  Or spend and entire day quilt shop hoping.  Or a day thrift store hoping with a few of the ladies.
I lost a very dear pet right before the move.  My 100 pound puppy, Tesla.  She was my first dog once we moved there and had a yard.  4 years was not long enough and I still tear up when I see a black great dane on TV or any huge black dog.  Though I didn't completely leave her behind, I brought her urn with me.
I had to leave the food.  Which in all honesty was perfectly fine with me since I couldn't eat out due to being allergic to peppers and tomatoes.
I had to leave the heat.  Well no, I didn't get to leave it there, it followed me here.  It was 103* the afternoon we left and 4 days later it was 104* here.
I had to leave the lack of rain, gladly I tell you, gladly.  It's rained more here in 3 weeks than it did in the last 10 months there.
I had to leave my first house there.  It was small.  The carpet was old.  The kitchen was minuscule but it was MINE.  I had so many plans for it.  Now though I have a bigger house, with acreage, 2 sheds and a massive shop.  Time to start over.
I had to leave my peach trees.  Hoping to start planting fruit trees here very soon (well as soon as I can find any for sale!).
I would like to say I left the drive to town but well I'm further out in the sticks now than I was there.

All in all I left a piece of myself there.  That's never happened before.  Texas somehow has a way of getting under your skin and taking root.

So I'm mostly settled in.  Once the produce starts coming my way again I'll go right back to canning and post my progress.  Along with a few projects I need to get done for the place, maybe some ideas on what to do with all the stuff already in the pantry, who knows what else.

Friday, January 7, 2011

So what have you done productive so far this year?

Well, I have been cleaning house, making repairs, AND I canned a few things. 
On New Years Day I botched a recipe for cranberries.  I started out on one page of my Ball Compete Book and my helper (his name is Jefferson, he did a drive by tailing of the book while it was on the counter behind me) decided I needed to change to the page before to finish the recipe... I didn't notice this until AFTER I put the jars in the water bath.  So instead of 'whole cranberry sauce' I made whole cranberry jelly.  Either way it's still good, 6 pints and 3 half pints:

And today I attacked cauliflower.  2 heads, on sale this time of year out here, just couldn't pass them up so I set off to do something interesting with them and landed back at the recipe for the pickled brussel sprouts which is basically garlic dill pickles.  This time though I didn't add the pepper at all since I'll probably be eating them at some point.  Then, right as I was finishing the last jar of cauliflower and realizing I had a lot of pickle left, I decided to make a jar or two of carrots/zucchini/onions.  Just for something different.  Ended up with 5 quarts of dilled cauliflower and 2 quarts of dilled veggies: