Friday, June 29, 2007

Behold the Jam

Behold the Jam that Riseth in the East! .... I don't know there have been more ridiculous attempts at spirituality. Above is pictured a bottle of strawberry syrup and I must say I do love the color of strawberry syrup.

I made 12 half pint jars (the cutest size ever) of strawberry jam.

First I had to cut the tops off 12 cups of strawberries.

Then i mashed them in my Baba's bowl (you've got to love the indestructible 60's Corell). My pastry cutter serves many functions in the kitchen.

Then you bring everything to a boil on the stove. I forgot to add the pectin until after things were heated up and don't know how much of an impact that will have.

The jam bubbles and froths; hence the apron.

I accidentally took a picture in mid bubble.

The syrup was made by boiling the strawberries for about twenty minutes straining out the fruit and then adding a ton of sugar. I'll tell the recipients of the syrup to refrigerate it but my hunch is that the sugar content is so high it won't spoil. I made about 3 liters of it. Fruit syrups are a very eastern European sort of thing and the only ones you can buy in the US are imported from Poland. DC people can go to Literri's and find it hidden in a corner by the olives.

Finally after 2 hours picking and 2 hours of preparation my first attempt at jam and canning are completed. I'll construct a small chapel to it later this evening. :)



As a child in the Appalachians of Pa you are require to go pick berries in the summer. They are everywhere. Strawberries in the meadows, blueberries on the pole lines, thickets of blackberries and tiny little pink teaberries in the forest. Some of my happiest childhood memories are of picking berries.

So when Flopper texted me at ten saying a local strawberry place was open I rushed over there and started picking.
It took about two hours to pick two quarts ; we had a hot flash last week and the week before that caused the berries to ripen before they were very large , but they are so very tasty. So this evening after cleaning up the house we are going to be making preserves and I'm certain to take many pictures and post about it. Tomorrow I think I'll make a colonial shortcake and may post the instructions for that as well.



Monday, June 25, 2007

Extremely Pink Saurkraut

Much To Flopper's Joy my sauerkraut has moved from the crock on our counter into these four jars which will be put in a dark cupboard to continue fermentation.

My Preserving Food Without Canning or Freezing book offered this as a viable alternative to using a weighted crock so we'll see if it works.

It certainly tastes like weak sauerkraut and smells like really smelly sauerkraut.

We'll see what a month in cupboard does to it.


Saturday, June 23, 2007

Tyings Times for Tomatos

I came home from Pride and Flopper had tied up the tomatoes onto my latticework using a cashmere blend I had left over from a hat.

I think it is safe to say that our tomatoes are rather gay.


Elias the Rottcollie?

So, eiKonnie goes to this gay barber in Minneapolis that is a show dog judge. Since he's quite fond of the canine species he allows customers to bring their dogs into the shop. Apparently he told Jason that we had been misinformed regarding the breedmix of Eli. We were told when we adopted him that he was a rottwiler/shepherd mix. According to Barber Show-dog judge. says that Eli is probably part collie.
I do say, I was quite surprised. We've always sort of ignored Eli's description because he's not big enough to be a mix of the first two breeds. I guess we figured he was some sort of farm mutt. And that he is. Apparently his form, especially his back legs are much like a collie body:

Apparently, so too are his ears collie like. I'm not sure if I see it.

Apparently his temperament is pretty similar. The reputable wikipedia states:

Collies are known to be generally sweet and protective. They are generally easy to train due to a high level of intelligence and a willingness to please. Some collies are a bit clingy, but this is often seen as an overdeveloped sense of loyalty. They are excellent herding dogs and benefit from the companionship of a family or other dogs. Collies are very playful and gentle around children. They can also exhibit a strong herding instinct, especially around children.
Sweet - check
Protective - check
Intelligence - not so much
Clingy - Check
Herder - Check
Playful with kids - Check

~~~~Eikon's Addendum

My barber said border collie ( which is similar to but a different breed than the standard collie which is basically a border collie crossed with borzoi two centuries or so ago) and in reviewing Eli's original paperwork his former owners claimed he could herd cows. I totally want to set him loose in a her of animals to see what he does.


Friday, June 22, 2007

Banana Bread and Morels

I made some banana bread today in my lovely bread bowl and have been nibbling on th wheat bread I made last night (which was ugly but tasty) I am pleased that my banana bread is not ugly.

Here in the midwest people are rather into a mushroom called the morel. Apparently people guard their morel gathering spots with their lives and the little blighters are prohibitively expensive anywhere else in the country. Here they cost six dollars for a small container courtesy of the local mushroom growers Forest Mushrooms.

Thanks to an NPR story (all good things are from NPR) we will de eating this meal tonight.

Pasta with Morel Cream Sauce

Morels have a tendency to turn cream a bit gray with prolonged contact, so in this recipe, they are sauteed separately then mixed with the cream at the last minute.

Serves 4

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 to 4 medium shallots, minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 pound morels, rinsed in cold water and drained on paper towels

1 cup heavy cream

1 pound dried fettucine or taglierini (or 1 1/2 pounds fresh pasta)

Fresh chives, snipped

Salt and pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil.

While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat until it just shimmers. Add the minced shallots and a pinch of salt and saute until just beginning to color, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the minced garlic and saute until aromatic, about 30 seconds. Add the morels and saute for 2 to 3 minutes.

With a slotted spoon, remove the morels to a plate and reserve, leaving the aromatics in the pan. Add the cream to the pan and slowly simmer to reduce by nearly half.

Meanwhile, cook the dried pasta in the boiling, salted water until just al dente. If using fresh pasta, wait until the cream sauce is nearly done and cook the fresh pasta for just 2 to 3 minutes.

Drain the pasta and transfer to a warm serving bowl. Add the morels to the cream and heat briefly. Toss the morel cream sauce with the pasta and scatter with chives.

Serve immediately.




Thursday, June 21, 2007

Christening the bread bowl

I couldn't help myself and was compelled to bake some bread.

So I pulled out my Large Type New York Times Cookbook and found this recipe.

I really like this particular cookbook for easy to make "American Food". 15 minutes later my dough was ready to rise.

After our 2 mile evening walk with the lovable furball I shaped it into a loaf and tossed it into the oven for the required 40 minutes with a pan of water (not sure what this does but the recipe called for it.

With this rather ugly but I'm sure tasty loaf being the result at midnight. One of the reasons I prefer round loaves or braided loaves is that they just tend to look nicer when they are done.

I love my new bread bowl and I bet Flopper will love the bread.


Bread Bowl

So I have been wanting a bread bowl for quite some time now. And this was waiting for me at the "Lemonade Art Fair" .

The God of Queer Kitchen Items Smiled.

I was especially pleased to learn that I could bake in it if I want to and it is large enough to knead two large loaves of bread in.

The potter explained that the leaves are made by placing leaves from a tree in the underglaze, putting the over glaze on top and then the leaves and the glaze atop them burn up as the kiln fires leaving the pattern.

My grandmother and Baba were weeping in heaven that I was making bread in a plastic tub. They were both thrifty ladies but drew the line at plastic.


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Having bought each of these three books at least twice in the last decade i decided picking up a hard cover was in order. I don't give away hard cover books

Saturday, June 16, 2007

One year of Elias

This week we celebrate our one year aniversary. It was a year ago that we rescued him from the Humaine Society. Upon reflecting on our year together, I have come to be most grateful for his dutiful cuddling and his unconditional love. Those of you who read, know that we're not the biggest fan of St. Closet. In fact, our lives are generally unhappy here - but having something that needs us so much is so fulfilling. I guess, I could even say that Elias' presence has in many ways saved us from the monotony of the bland lives we live.

Anyway, here's a quick recap of our year together. May we have many more happy years with Elias.

Stoic in the snow.
Holy Thursday good shepherd pose.

Another model pose from Elias, he could be a pro.
He hasn't grown much since we got him at 8 months. He's still a skinny thing, and maintains a very shiny and soft coat. Hmm. . . a fur coat. . .
Eli wet at the dog park.

Eli's adorable, give me some, look.

Sometimes when Eik gets out of bed, Elias isn't ready to get up yet.

We're all about afternoon cuddle sessions.

Our christmas picture.

The first tomatoes of the year

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Latvian Mittens!

So here is my first mitten from the Latvian Mitten Book.

It's amazing how much knitting I can get done in four hours of classes; though I do make more mistakes in knitting when I do it in class.

I started the color work Monday and really enjoy it as the completion of each row seems like a palpable accomplishment.


Sunday, June 10, 2007

New Bumper Stickers

Now all we need is the HRC sticker for in the middle.

Grand Portage National Monument and the High Falls

Before the Gathering began we wandered about the North Shore for a few days. The most surprising and enjoyable experience was a few miles from the Canadian Border in Grand Portage, Mn.

The monument is a preserved fur trading station and a reconstructed stockade.

It is particularly noted for it canoe workshop where they make period birch bark canoes used by the fur trade. The largest canoes are among the most amazing vessels I have ever seen at 40 feet long and capable of carrying 2500 lbs.
Remarkably this vessel weighs 500lbs ; which is absolutely astonishing for it's size. Even with 200 years of nautical technology under our belts people haven't come up with a lighter vessel of this size.
Here's a view of the underside one of the canoes. It is made of spruce and then it is covered in birch bark pieces sewn together with spruce roots. The seam are tarred over with a boiled down mixture of pines gum a spruce sap.

The main compound was impressive with a lovely but very small bake oven.

This delightful china setting in the main hall.

And finally some very beautiful birch baskets on the top shelf; unfortunately it is a felony to steal from a national monument But I was sorely tempted to make off with the baskets.

After Flopper indulged my historical chatting with the historic interpreters we headed norrth to the Pigeon River which marks the border between the US and Canada to look at the High Falls. They are 120 feet (very high for the midwest) and are the second highest falls on Laake Superior. The US is on the left and Canada is on the right.
I thought about crossing downstream to have a few moments of legal equality but decided the water was rather cold and so stayed stateside.


The Iron Range

The Iron Range of Minnesota reminded me distressingly of my homeland in the Coal Region of Pennsylvania. Same dying towns and immigrant descended populations scraping out an existence with next to no economy to support them.

We found two churches in Chisholm; one being Russian Orthodox and the other a Serbian Orthodox (the latter being quite the rarity).

This rather large statue of an iron miner is also in Chisholm and claims to be the 4th largest such monument (free standing and metal) in the United States.

Lastly the town supported a dwindling Italian community (extraordinarily rare for the upper Midwest outside of a large city like Chicago or Milwuakee) and here is a picture of the local pasta manufacturer.

Pennsylvania supplied the coal, Minnesota the iron; Carnegie got to found a whole slue of libraries from the proceeds.