Touch of Nectar

{October 26, 2009}   Two Foes and a Whip

Or two FOs and a WIP.

First, a couple of finished dish/wash cloths. Nothing exciting, but they are likely to be Xmas presents.

And a work in progress… This is the Irish Hiking Scarf  from Hello Yarn. Also a Christmans present.


{October 20, 2009}   Farmer’s Market Abundance

What do you do when you are given an over abundance of free food from a wonderful local farmer’s market? You make biscuits of course!

Step 1: cut the squashes in half and remove the seeds. Rinse the seeds and put them aside to roast later.

Step 2: place squash on a baking sheet and rub edges with extra virgin olive oil. Bake at 375* for about 45 minutes or until the flesh is tender and scoopable.

Step 3: Scoop out the flesh into a big bowl. Discard the hard outer shells.

Step 4: puree the squash with a stick blender (I don’t have a food processor) until all of the chunks are gone.

Step 5: make biscuit dough. I used this recipe, replacing squash puree for the mashed potatoes. I could have used more flour and added some herbs. Fresh sage would have been especially nice.

Step 6: make biscuits. I just did drop biscuits. Easy!

Step 7: Bake!

The biscuits turned out very moist. I served them with a ham and mulit-bean soup (also from the farmer’s market). Perfect fall dinner!

The remaining 4 cups or so of squash puree got put into zip lock bags and stuck in the freezer. I’m hoping to make cream cheese cupcakes soon.

Last weekend I went and harvested blue elderberries. Lots and lots of elderberries. Too many really. But I’ve never done this before and had no idea how much they would yield. My friend, Monte did most of the picking for me.

It was fun to be outside, chatting, working.

The picking was the easy part. Cleaning all those berries took forever, but it went quickly once I got the hang of it.

Whew! That’s a LOT of berries. That middle dish is a 9 X 13 casserole. 24 cups worth of berries went into the freezer. Another 18 cups or so (7 trays worth) went into the dehydrator… The rest? Some will be jam, but I made elderberry vinegar first. This took 3 days total.

First you wash the berries and mash them, trying not to make too much of a huge mess out of your kitchen.  Then you pour the vinegar over them.

Then you cover this with a cheesecloth. Your house will smell like vinegar. You have been warned. Let the vinegar/elderberry mixture stand for 24-36 hours (I did this on successive nights). Line a sieve with cheesecloth and allow the fruit to drain for 24 hours.

I loosely covered the berries with the ends of the cheesecloth to keep the fruit flies down. You aren’t supposed to press on the berries because it can make your vinegar cloudy.

Finally! The last steps. You add the sugar and bring the mixutre to a boil.

Simmer for 15 minutes, then allow the liquid to cool before bottling up in clean jars.

Store in a cool, dark place. Use like you would use raspberry vinegar. I’m imagining spring greens drizzled with elderberry vinegar and topped with candied nuts and chevre… Nom!

Last weekend I met a friend over at our property in eastern Washington to harvest blue elderberries and rose hips. More on the berries later.

Here’s the rose hip haul:

And hear they are all cleaned up. We got about 10 cups worth of hips. The jelly recipe called for 8 cups so I’m letting the rest of the hips dry for teas.

I made jelly using this recipe: Rose Hip Jelly

This was my first attempt at jelly making so it was a bit of an adventure. I skipped putting the butter in.

First you boil the hips

When they were softened, I took my stick blender to them (I don’t have a food processor). This might have been overkill.

Then I set the mashed hips to drain on cheesecloth.

Here’s where I think I took a slightly wrong turn. The hips weren’t draining, too thick, so I poured boiling water over them to get out all the juices. I squeezed the cheesecloth too. This worked, but I forgot to measure the liquid when I was done. Oops!

Boil the liquid and add sugar and pectin

Then skim off the foam

And into the jars it went.

Processed in a boiling water bath

And we have jelly… or not.

Pretty isn’t it?

Only… It didn’t look like the jelly had set up. I had jar after jar of rose hip syrup! Yummy, but not what I was going after. I knew that jelly could be re-processed, so I did a bit of googling… And found this recipe for fixing jams and jellys.

Ahhh… I think there’s part of the problem! There’s no lemon juice in the original recipe. No acid. So the jelly has now been reprocessed (except for 4 jars – those can just be syrup) and it looks thicker. Now it’s a waiting game. It can take weeks for jelly to fully set up. I’m so impatient!!

et cetera