Showing posts from November, 2011

Canning: Pickled Green Tomatoes.

Utah is special to me and my mom's garden in Utah even more special, so when I saw the pear tomato plants hanging heavy with unused fruit back in my October visit I jumped into action. I though surely that itty bitty tomatoes, yellow pear-shaped things would be too dainty and cute to be canned-- not true! The 8 pounds of pear tomatoes turned into a lovely lemon tomato jam and an experiment of pickled proportions tried on the unripe green tomatoes. Pickles and Relishesprovided a recipe on page 106 and soon the Thanksgiving Pickles were born. 1 quart and 4 pints. Being a refrigerator pickle, the process was easy. Wash your cherry tomatoes (or other small varieties). Put them in jars with hot brine, spices, herbs and salt. Throw those babies in the refrigerator and wait 6 weeks for a tart pop of summer in your mouth, celebrating the glow of ripe fruit with Thanksgiving dinner. I'm not sure how to describe them, it's an interesting flavor. A sharp pickle, somewhat dry, and very…

Full of thanks.

Much gratitude.
Relationships. With my family, friends, beau, coworkers, roommate. I feel lucky to have people in my life that share their personal knowledge, empathy, wit, compassion, generosity, patience and values-- being surrounded by good, kind people is important to me.Stability. Some days I feel poor, trapped, stricken with some discontent malaise... and then I see that it's not terrible to have a home, income, routine. I'm still unsure if this is the right routine for me but I've been afforded benefits in this position of life that were previously beyond my reach. Frivolity was/is fun for a time... but eating well and going to the doctor when I want is nice too. Health and sanity. Crucial.Life's pleasures. Dancing. Spinning. Knitting. Food. Conversation. Inspiration. Cat companionship. Kitchen kisses. Social activities. Music. Long hot soaks in the clawfoot bathtub. Access to education (to some extent). Extended family. The beauty of my surroundings/the great ou…

Canning Mom's Pickled Beets

Pickled beets represent nearly 24 years worth of Sunday dinners to me. With a pot roast and vegetables on the table, or a shepherd's pie and hot rolls, pickled beets made a weekly appearance on that special day when the entire family gathered together. I'd drive home from college nearly every Sunday, and even as my older brother and sister-in-law had their own kids they still came over most Sundays. I miss that tradition and am glad it still happens even though I can't make it home in a quick drive. These beets are represent all that is holy in canned food at mom's house, and were likely the first thing I ever helped with. What kid doesn't want to peel beets and pretend to have bloody hands?

Mom would chop the larger beets into smaller pieces and save the small beets all to be packed into a few special jars to be opened when company visits. I love the traditions of food and family. Below is the recipe my mom shared with me on that handwritten card in her scrolling…

Spinning Polwarth (sheep's wool)

The more I spin, the more I find myself loving sheep's wool above all else. Yes, yak down, camel, and silk are all luscious fibers but the broad range of breeds makes sheep the most appealing fiber animal to me-- their fiber can be durable, cozy, soft, coarse, strong, fine, springy, etc. According to the The Fleece & Fiber Sourcebooka newly published compendium detailing the characteristics of over 200 animal fibers and the yarns they produce, Polwarth are considered a conservation breed, developed by crossing Merino & Lincoln, with staple length (the locks of their hair) of 3-7 inches and well-defined crimp.
This wool was given to me as an assignment for a spinning class, roughly four ounces of combed top for spinning into yarn. I spun the singles and 2-plied on my Ashford Traditional spinning wheel on the largest whorl (ratio 6.5:1). This was such a delight to spin that it slipped quickly through my hands and in a matter of a couple days it was complete. The resulting yar…

Spinning Jacob Sheep's Wool

Wool = happiness.

Many months back I sauntered on down to the Puyallup fair grounds for the Shepherd's Extravaganza, a part of the Spring Fair that celebrates wooly goodness. It may have been a tad less exciting than monster trucks and demolition derbies but it paired well with the mutton bustin' we saw. Judges rated the best fleeces and awarded corresponding ribbons, vendors sold prepared fiber and yarn of various sorts, and I ate fair food and spent my money on sheepish delights...

... such as this beautiful roving of all black jacob sheep's wool. Above you can see the wool in three different states: prepared fiber (roving in this instance), handspun singles on a bobbin from my spinning wheel, and the two-ply end product. And another view:

I've been practicing my ability to spin worsted or woolen yarns, and I'd call this a semi- worsted. The fiber is much softer than I expected from this sheep and I'm glad to be supporting the livelihood of a rare breed. Long …

Knitting: Mock Cable Socks for Men

The intrinsic reward of giving something handmade is apparently great enough to convince me to knit man socks ;). Using a pattern from the book Getting Started Knitting Socks (my go-to sock bible that taught the very basic steps in sock knitting, and walked me through my very first pair a few years ago), I measured his feet so they'd be custom fit and jumped right into the Right Twist Cable Rib Socks, aka Mock Cable Man Socks on Ravelry.
11 inches of foot length translates into many, many hours of knitting and luckily I enjoyed this pattern. Big socks aren't easy to do, and this pattern was the right choice for the project-- easy to memorize, simple to set aside and pick up again. The yarn is Spud & Chloe Fine, an 80% superwash wool and 20% silk blend. The socks felt somewhat rough during the knitting process but after washing and blocking they've softened right up. Speaking of which, this yarn is the way to go for someone who doesn't want to be committed to hand-w…