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I'm Laura. I am female, 31, a gamer, a bookworm, a knitter, a spinner, a tatter, pierced, tattooed, musical, vehemently geeky and occasionally ineptly artistic.

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The first preserving of 2009


Posted at 03 Jun 2009 11:34:10 AM

Owing to my car acting up and the only appointment being at 7am today, I am now running on about 2.5 hours of bad, dream-filled sleep. Good times.

On the plus side, I have an interview next week with a company for which I would rather like to work, so that's something. Wish me luck. On the negative side, er... well, car repairs and no sleep. Also my cats are insane, and the dog is hyper. Again on the positive balance, the storm which came through yesterday has spared the power lines to our subdivision, thankfully. At least one friend that I know of was not so lucky.

I went strawberry picking on Saturday with a group of (I hope) new friends, and came home with a good experience and 6 pounds of fresh gorgeous strawberries. I decided to make strawberry-rhubarb jam with them, and turned out to only need about half - for a double batch! So now I have 9 half-pints and 2 pints of jam on my counter, and another 2.5lbs of berries still in the fridge.

The next venture, once I wake up sufficiently, will probably be strawberry balsamic jam. You all know my weakness for balsamic vinegar and even though I'm assured that the tang doesn't really come through in the finished jam, the color and a slight darker flavor still will.

Although I knitted for an hour and a half this morning at the mechanic's, I had noticed on my way in the rather characteristic pain in the soft part of my hand below the thumb which can really only come from whatever type of RSI to which I'm prone. So... the second Maeby sock may not be finished today. And although I really want to work on the Harper Hall shawl (given that it's 145 rows of 491-and-not-appreciably-decreasing stitch counts, I feel like I have to make some progress every day of it'll never be done) I may not be able to do that either. Curse my wrists.

Of course, cursing them while typing is probably not my brightest idea ever, is it?

It's dark and dreary today, so of course I am curled up on the couch reading The Nine Tailors. Nice and atmospheric, wot?




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What not to do when making apple butter.


Posted at 03 Jun 2009 11:36:54 AM

Even though I know that small batches are always better, I just don't seem to learn.

The folks at the farmer's market didn't feel like counting out 50 lbs of apples (they pack them in 40lb boxes), so they offered us 2 boxes of 40lbs each for less than 50lbs would have been. We said Ok! Swung by the grocery store for extra sugar and cloves, picked up some wine, and headed home to open the windows, drink some wine and make some apple butter.

The problem was, we also looked at those huge boxes, contemplated the 10 or so 8-lb batches that would be necessary to cook all of them down properly, and said "hey, we've got that big extra water bath canner - why can't we cook down a whole box of apples in that?" The answer, in case you were wondering, is because you cannot possibly maintain a constant temperature throughout 40 lbs of applesauce over one little kitchen burner flame. The sugar will crystallize out, the sauce directly over the flame will scorch to the pan, you will miserably miscalculate the amount of apple vinegar needed, and add about 10x as much cloves as necessary. You will get a headache from smelling hot vinegar all day. It will be BAD.

We threw the whole mess out. Good thing we got them cheaply, huh?

Sunday, I did it right. Stuck to an 8lb batch, reworked my calculations for how much liquid was really necessary, and realized that where my handwritten recipe said "1 tbsp cloves" it really meant "1/2 tsp." The result was much, much better, and I canned up 6 half-pints with another little tupperware container in the fridge for immediate enjoyment. I read and re-read the instructions, and the pressure canner worked like a charm.

I figure, if I can do a batch a night, I should be done this week. I'm trying to screw up my courage and do one batch tonight on the stove while letting another one simmer in the crockpot overnight, so that I don't end up with truly mushy apples come Thursday and Friday. Benefit of the pressure canner is I can really fit a lot in there at once - it's big and scary, but it's my new kitchen toy and I will enjoy it to the hilt!




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Oh no - more stuff!


Posted at 03 Jun 2009 11:35:15 AM

I'm so going to catch it when BF reads this, but I have to boast. With any luck, I'll have scored a brand-new Presto pressure canner, plus new HWB canner, a cookbook I wanted plus a bonus one, and some random bonus canning supplies for just about $100, no shipping. Oh, craigslist, how seductive you are >_>

I don't care what else is going on this weekend, apple picking will get squeezed in. My car could get -totaled- and I could be walking around in a neck brace*, there will be apples!

I am having visions of my apple butter, Annie's Salsa and chili paste all winter long. Don't ask where I plan to store all this - although with some creative shuffling, I think I can fit it all in the sideboard again. Reading the Gardenweb Harvest forums is seriously bad for any free storage space I think I may have!

* Yeah, so last thursday on the way home from work, I got rear-ended at an intersection. Bumper's only loosely attached to the car, real stiff neck for a couple of days, but no other casualties. We're still working through the insurance stuff now, and my car's going to be fixed next week. All is well :)

I really need a cooking icon...





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Picked a pack of pickled peppers


Posted at 03 Jun 2009 11:38:12 AM

Oh, and I forgot to mention (no doubt it's the badly-formatted HTML in the previous post which distracted me) - my pepper plants -finally- are growing peppers!

I noticed that it's October, yes. I'm not sure anyone's told the plants yet...

So, what to do with the copious amounts of small mild-to-hot peppers that I'll be getting, assuming they don't freeze? I'm thinking something with a sweet pickle brine, if I can pull it off. Odds are there's probably something at Orangette's blog on the subject - her boy's pretty into the pickling thing...

(Note to self - try this. Matt mentioned those pink onion quick pickles too awhile back, and anything those two darned good cooks recommend can't be bad!)