Friday, July 30, 2010

Summer Canning

This summer, my canning friend June & I decided we needed a plan. Last summer things got a little out of control as we canned a a ton of jams in one crazy nine hour canning day.

This year, we decided to simplify things a bit and do more seasonal canning.
So this summer, it was all about the jams: raspberry, blueberry, blackberry & a mix of blue/blackberry. For fun we tossed in a Lemon Vanilla jam.

It was a very sweet afternoon.

The blackberries in their jamming glory (or gory?).

Final tally:
26 - 1/4 pints
13 - 1/2 pints
7 - pints

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Jane Austen's Fight Club

It's so wrong, yet so funny.....

Jane Austen's Fight Club All the proper ladies are doing it.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Go Local Challenge: I'm the guest blogger this week!

Head on over to Living Senses this week! I'm the guest blogger for the Go Local Challenge! This year I wrote about the resurgence in canning. Plus there's lot of informative link for those who are  interested in learning more about canning.

Oh, and there's a link for super cute download-able PDF canning labels. And they're free. Go on, check them out, you know you want too!

Monday, July 19, 2010

GL Challenge*: Canning with Amy Pennington

Last week I took a canning class from gardener, canner, cookbook author & uber savvy business woman Amy Pennington. She's recently written a cookbook called Urban Pantry, Tips & Recipes for a Thrifty, Sustainable & Seasonal Kitchen. It's about growing what you eat, eating local and preserving food. It's a delightful book full of great recipes and a lot of inspiration.

During the class she made a quick batch of raspberry jam and brandied cherries. I learned a quick and easy technique for water bath canning when one doesn't have the official water bath canning equipment (shes says to put a clean dishtowel in the bottom of big old pan to keep the jars from clanging around together).

Here's Amy looking all Seattle suave with her iced drink and hot pot! raspberries cooking down for jam!

All prepped and ready to go!

If you're in the Seattle area, Amy is teaching a canning/preserving class one Thursday a month (day and evening classes) through October at Cupcake Royale on Capitol Hill. Each class she'll can something different and seasonal so if you take more than once class, you'll learn something new! I'm thinking of signing up for the October class to see what fall goodness she comes up with!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Summer baking

For some reason, when the temperatures heat up outside - and inside my un-air conditioned kitchen - I seem to feel the need to bake. Because 83 degrees inside isn't hot enough, I break out my bread pans, muffing tins and cooking sheets. Why you ask? I blame the summer fruit. Fresh picked blueberries from the farmers market seem to want to become warm, gooey blueberry muffins.

And who am I to stand in their way?

Although, I think next time I may try to make Popsicles. There would be less sweating involved in those.

Monday, July 12, 2010

GL Week 3*: Our go to meal

Our go to meal this summer has been steak salads. I've never really eaten them too much before. I figured if I'm going to have a steak, than have a steak. And the same with a salad. While they're on most menus they've just never really appealed to me. Until now.

On a whim I bought some steak from the farmers market at work. It was from a farm  in Carnation, WA. The steak was a smaller cut and thinner than most in the grocery stores. Since it was smaller, and I'm not much of a meat eater, I suggested the idea to the hubby since we had so much lettuce in the garden. (Plus, I'm already getting a little tired of salads with everything. Not a good sign as it's barely the second week in July).

We marinated the meat, then the hubby fired up the grill as I got the salad fixin's (there's a nod to my Southern' days) ready. In the end, it was a delightful treat full of our lettuce, snap peas, carrots, local blueberries, a sprinkle of local cheese and of course the steak.

But the recipe I want to share this week is that of the dressing. It's not local, but since it goes on a local salad, I'm calling it close enough. It's my mom's balsamic vinegar. And as many times as I've tried to recreate it, it's just never as good. She was here this weekend so I got out all the stuff and an empty jar and asked her pretty please to make me some. It's quite tasty! Enjoy!

Joy's delightful summer balsamic vinegrette
- some balsamic vinegar
- some olive oil
- a teaspoon or so of dijon mustard
- a dallop of honey
- juice of 3/4 lemon
 - pinch of salt & pepper

Dump all ingredients into a jar and shake. Taste and season to your preferences. Feel free to add more of other spices if you prefer.

*GL stands for the Go Local Challenge. It's technically week 6, but I'm a little behind as Mother Nature didn't quite cooperate here in the PWN.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

A sunny day in West Seattle

Today was the lowest tide of the year. I started my day at Alki Beach to take a peak in the tide pools.

I saw lots of critters and learned a thing or two from the beach naturalist.

Later that night, we took a stroll through Schmitz Preserve Park. It's hard to believe you're about 5 minutes from the beach and less than 10 minutes from downtown Seattle all while being in the middle of an old growth forest.

On the way home, I spotted this. Someone else was out enjoying the day as well. Tea time, what a lovely way to end the day.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Garden discoveries

A funny thing has happened in the garden. You see, this bright orb has made an appearance here in the Pacific Northwest and with that my garden exploded! It's as if the plants are afraid the sun is going to disappear so they are sucking up all the warmth they can while it lasts.

Our first artichoke has shown up.

I am in love with my snap peas. And they are quite tasty!'s all big and pretty! Even the marigolds are thriving!

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Ode to a Power Trimmer



(The vines on the new trellis are three kiwi plants which apparently grow rather well here.)

Bushes tackled: 1
Trees trimmed: 2
Vicious Blackberry vines ripped out of the ground: 5
The power trimmer is my new favorite toy.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Happy 4th!

Hope your Fourth of July was a festive and tasty one!

Friday, July 02, 2010

The sweater conundrum

I have been really wanting to knit a sweater lately. A big girl sweater for myself. I've never done that before. In all my years of knitting, it just hasn't happened. It's such a big undertaking. It seems so permanent.

But I've recently cast those fears aside and cast on for not one, but two sweaters. The Vine and Trellis sweater from Interview and the Minimalist Cardigan. They were pretty and lovely and like all young crushes, started out so innocently.

However, once the butterflies in the stomach settled, the excitement each time I picked up the projects. The love stopped. Literally. And in one case was slightly painful.

The Vine and Trellis was challenging. It was a lace and cable pattern. But I got a little confused and it got a little messed up. Then the project needed a little space of it's own. And well, you know how that goes. While the project was in time out it seemed to have gotten even more messed up. Unable to get back on track, I ripped it out.

Then there was the Minimalist Cardigan. I love the simplicity of the project - it's the in freakin' name. The project was all seed stitch. That stitch, combined with the worsted wool yarn actually made my hands hurt. Really hurt. So out that project came as well.

Now I've got plenty of sweater yarn, the desire to make a sweater. So I just need a little push. Got any sweater suggestions for me? Perhaps some advice? I've got a summer of great knitting time planned. I just need a project  or two. Or four.