Sunday, May 31, 2009

Rotting Rhubarb and Sour Milk

Great blog title, I know, but that's what we're on about today. I've decided that this blog is no longer a knitting blog, but a whole life blog. I find it ironic that it's been this way for a long time now and I am just getting around to making it official. But I digress.
If you recall in my last post, or maybe the one before, I said that I had started my very first ever batch of homemade wine. I started with rhubarb utterly without intent. There was no plan. The kit was here, discussions were underway about what kind of wine to begin with. Ideally I wanted the first batch to come from the yard. We have berries a-plenty. Strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, black raspberries and blueberries grace our place, along with currents and gooseberries. But "patient" is not a word in my vocabulary, and when a trip to the farmer's market yielded some large number of pounds of fresh, organic rhubarb; well, the decision was made. Chopped, mixed with golden raisins, orange juice, cane sugar and after a time, Pasteur Champagne yeast, the blend began the process known as primary fermentation. When you open it (as you must ever few days to stir it up) it looks like this.
It smells like a blend of rhubarb, alcohol, and yeast with a citrus tinge. And it sounds a lot like Rice Krispies in milk. It is very much alive.After stirring it bubbles and foams, and the lid is snapped back on with the airlock firmly in place - gas may exit, nothing may enter. A week from today it will be racked, which means the solids will be sieved off and the remaining liquid will enter secondary fermentation in a 1 gallon jug. Somewhere in there it will be racked a second and possibly a third time depending on sediment levels and clarity. Eventually, in about six months, it will be bottled, and six months after that opened and hopefully not turned to vinegar. Only time can tell.
Now about that sour milk. The idea of making my own yogurt has always been appealing to me. I also have a thing for making my own tofu, but that has yet to reach fruition. I've studied up on yogurt makers, watched Alton's "Good Milk Gone Bad" episode over and over, but it just seemed like such effort, or expense. Basic and not well recommended yogurt makers run about $30; good ones are closer to $60. A.B.'s method (love ya truly, A.B., but...) has you adding honey and powdered milk and fussing over a thermometer which must be kept at 115 degrees F with the use of a heating pad - meaning constant electricity use.
Then I found out about crock pot yogurt, thanks to a posting by Tipper on Facebook about her yogurt experience. She made reference to the blog "A Year of CrockPotting", wherein there is a simple recipe for making yogurt at home in the crock pot. No additives, just milk and a half a cup of yogurt. No fussing - just cook the milk for a while, add your yogurt starter, and insulate the crock for a day. My love of my crock pot and slow cooker are known. Not the obsessive 'use it every day' sort of love but a deep and abiding respect for fresh scotch oats at 7am that cooked all night, soups and stews of mixed and varied cultural heritage and (today) braised ribs just like my grandmother made. Could I add yet another favorite to this multi-tasker's repertoire? I am in deep need of yogurt right now, and the more live things in it the better. Having been recently diagnosed with Lyme disease (more on that later) and put on a pretty intense antibiotic regimen Lactobacillis acidophilus and Acidophilis bifidus are my new best friends. We've always been close, but the ante in our relationship has been upped by the death of ever possible good and healthy flora in my body. The cost of organic yogurt is not small. $3.99 buys a 32-ounce container of Stoneyfield Organic. And we're not even going to talk about Fage, for which I swoon. Running low on yogurt I made a decision. One phone call, and Mr. Wonderful brought home a gallon of local organic milk which cost, he thinks, "around $5.00". I think this may be a high estimate. Regardless, that's 128 ounces of milk. The crock pot recipe calls for 64 ounces; a half-gallon. At that price, if the experiment were a success, I would get roughly 64 ounces of organic, fresh, whole milk yogurt, loaded with L. Acidophilus and A. bifidus for a whopping $2.50. That's a savings of about $5.50. So if this worked, it'd be a win all the way around. Well. Guess what?IT WORKED! And it is wonderful. A bit more tang than the average yogurt, which is perfectly ok by me since I like the sour. I will play with longer and shorter fermentation in the future to see if I can reduce that sourness a bit for the sake of Girl. But still; smooth, creamy, and made right here - not to mention the longer fermentation time of home yogurt versus store bought means a higher concentration of the healthy flora I seek to slurp up. The only thing better would be if the cow were mine.Mmmm.
I put half of it into the recycled Stoneyfield container, and the remainder in a strainer wrapped in a loosely woven 100% cotton dish towel (with chickens on it). Ideally this would be a couple of layers of cheese cloth, but as my cheese cloth has left the building this worked.After about an hour, during which time I checked it, squeezed it, and rigged it to hang I had this:which is about the consistency of sour cream, still with the creamy richness and flavor of the thinner stuff. Much closer to Greek yogurt, though still not as sweet. I saved the liquid run-off (whey) and added a bit of yogurt and honey to it, blended it well with my stick blender, and drank a high-protein all-natural fresh and local breakfast.
So there you have it. Rotting rhubarb and sour milk, both of which fill be with delight. Fermentation Rocks!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Catching Up

In which we cover one knitted thing, and a lot of detritus in an attempt to get the blog back on track, fast.
This door has made me nuts for five years. When we first moved in it was green. About a week later we noticed the peeling. Whoever got this place ready for market took every shortcut they could, including slapping green paint on a galvanized surface. Every time we've moved to sand and paint this thing, something's gotten in the way.The time had come, and I got aggressive. This is mid-process; there's some sanding and a lot of scraping going on here. There's two odd holes in the door that made no sense to me, until some introspection and broaching of the issue with people who might know yielded answers - a knocker, perhaps? Looking at the listing sheet it was very apparent. Yes. A knocker. A knocker not listed in the exclusions was ripped off of the door by the departing former owner and family. This would not bother me if it were not another small but important thing in a long list of "buyer beware" issues with this house. Small things add up. It's made me very aware of how this all feels from the buyer's end though. We've sold properties before. I can say that I have nothing to be ashamed of in those deals. We were honest, we left things as they were, we told the truth. I hope the people who've bought from us pass that ethic on when it's their time to sell.
I knitted an owl, and felted him. He's pending assembly. This was tremendous fun and I adore him already. He is Fiber Trends FT-234, Baby Owl Takes Flight, and everyone should own a whole flock.I scraped, sanded, washed down with vinegar to remove the residue that forms on galvanized steel and primed the door.It's got one coat of paint now, but no more pictures till it's DONE and there's a new knocker in place.
Girl returned.When I said we needed a van to retrieve her, Mr. W said "We can just take the Fit. How much stuff can she have?" And aren't we glad I insisted on the van?
We went to the farmer's market and bought, rather impulsively, rhubarb. The stuff was sliced, and after a few additions most of it began the long process of transformation into wine.This is something I've always wanted to try, and now I can! I adore rhubarb, and the best rhubarb wine I've had is from Putney Mountain Winery. I just hope mine does not become vinegar. We're into active primary fermentation now, which is very cool, like a science experiment for adults. I am using the book "Making Wild Wines and Meads" with added support from a dvd that came with my kit from Midwest Supplies. I bought some extras - the kit I chose is a 5 gallon version, which is way more wine than I am up to right now. This isn't to say that I might not do a big batch at some point, and I intend to, hence the 5 gallon kit. But for my first batch I wanted to go small, so I bought 1-gallon jugs and a smaller primary fermenter. I also bought special wine yeast. For the rhubarb I used Pasteur Champagne yeast. Different yeasts ferment at different rates, and leave different flavors in their wake apparently. I chose a white wine yeast for this because it will play like a dry white when it's done. Or vinegar. One or the other. I'm hopeful!
Then I made my most favorite summertime dessert ever. Rhubarb Tapioca.It's made in the microwave. I tripped on the original recipe by accident when my kids were small. I was looking to use up rhubarb, and tapioca, and was not in the mood for crumble, or pie. Now, with the gluten thing going on, this is the perfect dessert for me. You can vary the fruit - take out some of the rhubarb, add some berries, mix and match. The original recipe is from my first cookbook, The New Good Housekeeping Cookbook which was gift on the occasion of my first marriage in 1985. The original was destroyed in The Great Sink Overflow of 1989. This is a replacement. But it's got to be THAT one, THAT edition for me, and no other. Anyway. I modified the recipe to suit our tastes, and I present my version below.

MMO's Microwavable Rhubarb Tapioca

2 tablespoons instant tapioca
4 cups fresh rhubarb, chopped
2 cups plain soy milk
scant 3/4 cup Florida crystals (I err on the side of 'less is more')

In a microwavable casserole place the sugar, milk and tapioca. Allow it to stand while you chop the rhubarb. Add rhubarb and stir to combine. Microwave uncovered on high for 5 minutes. Stir down. Repeat this for about four total cycles, or 20 minutes. Along the way it looks pretty scary. It congeals and clots and looks just ugly. After the first cooking cycle you'll think I am nuts. Persevere. The ends justify the means.
Allow to cool, chill, and serve. We eat it naked, although the original recipe calls for whipped cream. I've never felt the need for it. I think it would hide the fresh and clean flavor of the pie plant.
Summer in a cup, that's what this is!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

If I were any farther behind, I'd have caught up to myself by now. which we briefly glide over Sheepin and Woolin in New Hampshire...With Side Trips to Maine and Connecticut.
Look! I remembered that I have a blog!
Every Mother's Day will find me at the New Hampshire Sheep and Wool Festival. This is not a new tradition for us. This year was difficult for me, as it was my first Mother's Day without a kid at home. Girl was in Indiana, finishing up the semester. Dan is old. Eric and Brendon are old. None of them understand the lure of sheep dogs and wool. Brendon came by on Saturday with a gift, and stayed to play cards and eat Chinese...but there's something about Mother's Day with Girl at a sheep and wool that really makes the day for me. So I knew going in that it would be a tough day.We tried to have fun, and were successful. Mr. Wonderful did refuse to wear the braided Girl-wig and Girl-hoodie with knock-off Birk sandals. Nor did he jump around getting excited over felting supplies and sheep dogs, while saying things like "Mom, you totally need that!", but he did his level best, I am certain. AND he let me shop, even if by accident! We began with breakfast - Fage yogurt with honey and apple for mealong with a Chai from Shelburne Falls Coffee Roasters. He had the Day-Old Goo in a Pile there - something cinnamon-y and chocolate croissant. These were well received.We found the Tsock Tsarina, Lisa, first and I bought my long-coveted Vintage Leaf kit. It was a close call, that or Imbas really. But I figured something could wait till Cummington, right? Mr. Wonderful never even saw it coming. He made the crucial mistake of wandering off, thereby failing to prevent my little shopping accident. Then we had lamb, or I had lamb, and he had french fries. The lamb stuff was in a cup with tsatsiki sauce and was excellent. Very, very yum. We wandered around a bit. I bought Girl a spindle at Foxfire Fiber and said hello to Barb Parry, who had a busy morning signing a certain awesome new dye book - that would be her newly released Teach Yourself Visually Hand-Dyeing, for those who haven't heard of it. I don't think signing books ever gets old. I always say I'll sign anything, except a blank check. It's fun meeting people and chatting about something we all love, whether it's dyeing or knitting or spinning or crochet or what have you. Heck, you can also talk to me about chickens, gardens, bees, and now wine making (but I'm saving that for another post).We entered the raffle, which we do every year, and I won a lovely basket that I can't show you because I loaned it out for the photo shoot for the book before I took it's picture. But trust me, it is lovely. While we were dropping raffle tickets in buckets with hope in our hearts, we found Mary Alice and her friend Deanna. Mary Alice was easily convinced that raffle tickets were a good thing. She's more convinced now and will be hooked for life, since after the raffle she came away with a car full of winnings! Really!! I don't remember now how many items she won, but she won a LOT!
We watched dogs run, which I have always loves to do. I took some video for Girl, so she'd feel like she had been right there with us.Then we headed into our traditional "last building", located right near the kettle corn guy. I bought a lovely basket from The Children's Initiative. All funds go directly toward helping kids in Ethiopia, Vietnam and Honduras. I contemplated a huge basket for Mervin or Dazee, figuring they could fight it out. Maybe next year.We found Leslie Wind, who gifted me one of her really lovely new seaming needles. Just beautiful. It makes me happy just to hold it, AND it works, so double bonus.She shares her booth with Ball and Skein. Meg bought me sock yarn here last year, and I felt I needed to buy more in I did (oh, please, twist my arm to get me to buy the sock yarn, right??). I selected one skein of Arbori merino silk, dyed in this lovely iced purple and black colorway called Purple Haze. I love how tencel resists dye just enough to give it that frosted appearance.
The following weekend (wow. I have not posted in a while, have I?) Mr. Wonderful and I headed for Maine to teach a class on 2-at-a-Time Socks at Halcyon Yarns in Bath, Maine.
We headed out route 101, which is our traditional method of getting north into Maine and New Hampshire.
Dublin Lake...this is probably why we take 101. We can see the mountain (Monadnock), the lake, the drive is just plain pretty.We arrived in Maine just in time - thanks to my GPS, which is another post, possibly involving small arms and the firing thereof at small electronics - for my book signing at 4pm. I signed a few books, ate some yummy fresh vegetables, and had a delightful time with a certain little girl who's insistence that her mom did NOT have my book resulted in probably my favorite 2AAT Socks story to date. And I got to meet Jean in Maine from Ravelry in person, after the wonderful local Maine gift bag she'd left for me on a visit to Webs. While I signed books Mr. W. took a bike and cruised around town, finding things he had to show me once the signing was completed. First, the Bath Iron Works which covers a huge chunk of coast with these very large objects. How large? Well. In the picture below you can see the white peaked-roof raft there? Just a run of the mill raft?Can you find it here as well? Seriously huge toys we're talking about.He showed me a few other sights as well. The charming streets and shops of Bath, the waterfront dog park that I think would give Dazee and Boo a joyful heart attack, and the lovely homes scattered along the coast.
On Saturday morning I headed back to Halcyon to teach eager learners all about knitting socks 2 at one time on one long circular needle. I think I cut three knitters, or four, out of this image, and I am sorry for that. Also note that in this picture they appear happy and joyful? That's because I haven't hit them with the hard stuff yet. We're still at coffee-and-attendance-sheets here. See Deb (Lose The Mittens) and her mom Judy on the right? And way down at the end of the table is a family that began with three eager learners, and ended with one eager learner and two wise women saying "She'll show us later, that's why we brought her!"I am sorry I can't remember everyone's name, but you were truly an awesome, wonderful, welcoming and eager group and I would come back in a heartbeat! Many, many thanks to Halcyon and Denice for inviting me. What a wonderful group of knitters. The shop is expansive. I bought some Peace Fleece, and a Dale baby book after I saw this jumper displayed in the store. Must...knit...wee...jumper...
Mr. Wonderful took me to Popham Beach. Just lovely. The rugosas are everywhere and make me want to return in June/July to see them in force. Just a beautiful Maine beach...of course tourist-free I always think they're more lovely, and I don't think I've been to a beach during "the season" in so long I've forgotten what it feels like to lay in the sun all day with other tourists!Loved this guy. He was awesome, and very busy with his crab. Mine, mine, mine!
All beach visits require that I get my feet wet, regardless of season or current weather.We stopped at Fort Popham for a quick look around, and then headed south. I loved this sign, and would have stopped for lunch if they'd been open. How can you resist "Wells House of Pizza and Roast Beef"??
We stopped at Ogunquit, which we love, and ambled some more.And Stonewall Kitchen in Kittery, which may as well be called "lunch". I bought some grill sauces, and sea salt, and a few wee mustards. I love their mustards, especially the maple and the champagne.I lusted after this lovely lazy susan made from an old oak wine barrel lid. Each has a different wine and winery name. If the man had said yes I could have spent an hour just choosing a vintage, so really it's better that he said no. I did get a really nice hot sauce, Habanero Mango. Nice sweet and hot balance. I love hot stuff.I resisted this delightful charmer Mr. Wonderful found, but it was by a hare's breadth. He found this at a kitchen outlet store in Kittery. It comes complete with it's own outhouse. For later.
On Sunday morning as we ambled further south I was saddened to discover that Yoken's on route 1 in Portsmouth (Thar she blows!) is totally gone. Now, I don't think we ever ate here, but that isn't the point. And I knew they had closed since the last time we were up the building was gone. When I was a kid the place was mobbed, always. Packed parking lot. The sign has some kind of significance to my wee little brain, and I am sad to see it going, too.
All the way to and from Maine I worked feverishly on a pair of socks for the cover of the new book. Monday was the photo shoot in Lakeville, CT for the technique section of the book. Last time I didn't go to the photo shoot, but this time I really wanted to be there. Here's Gwen and Mary (the brilliant art director who's penchant for paisley prints has made my little heart sing and my eyes leak a bit with great joy and delight but the rest of you just have to wait till it comes out to see why!) and Kathy Brock, one of my most excellent editors pondering a shot taken by photographer John Gruen. This was a great glimpse into a really interesting part of the process.Basically shooting the technique involves stuffing a hand model, in this case KT, in a box and taking very detailed step-by-step shots of every single step of the process of casting on and knitting 2 socks at one time, in this case toes up. Checking for accuracy, clarity, presentation of each individual photo takes a lot of patience and time. Really, really glad that I have stubby little fingers, let me tell you. KT was very patient. I don't think I could have sat there for all those hours without coming unhinged. At one point we ever discussed cutting off her left thumb, which she seemed ok with - anything so it looks right!Therapy for claustrophobia, right?

I came home that evening to discover that Corinne's rhododendron had bloomed. Corinne was my mother's former neighbor and a nurse with whom I worked when I was in school who struggled valiantly against cancer and lost her battle shortly after my mother lost her house. She and her husband Ron had given my mother the rhodo after it seemed unwilling to bloom in their yard. It's bloomed ever since her death, even after multiple moves. Every spring I am reminded of her courage and valor in the face of a disease that ended her life well ahead of what the rest of us would consider "time", of her husband standing by her side steadfast when so many men run from end of life illnesses in the women they love, unable to bear the pain of watching that person being taken from you inch by inch. Yes, men. Statistically men will leave an ill and dying wife much, much more often than a woman will leave an ill and dying husband. You can surmise why. I believe everything happens for a reason, but this death tested that belief. She was young, vital, and a dedicated nurse. There is never a right time to die, I don't think, for those of us left behind. Sometimes the person who's dying is ready, but I don't think we ever are. The rhododendron reminds me of her; of her amazing compassion, dedication to her patients; her love and understanding. She was an amazing woman and a fantastic nurse.
And is missed, still.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Busy as a Honey Bee, All Weekend Long

Beginning Saturday morning with a visit to Twist Fair and culminating with a JamFest (the kind you eat) that's lasting into today, this was not a slacker weekend by any definition. We even had a dead chicken scare on Sunday morning culminating in a chicken rising from the dead. Well, sort of anyway.
On Saturday morning I'd planned to meet up with Rue, Kristen and Sara and head on up to Twist Fair, which " an exciting event showcasing original handmade goods and art, held twice a year (May and November) in Northampton, MA." It's put on by the talented Ms. Lexie Barnes and her equally brilliant husband Cory, owner of Spire Bags. The stuff last time was awesome. I was ready to shop this time.
I am nothing if not impatient, so at about 10:01am (look, I waited as long as I could, I swear it) Kristen and I set off for Twist leaving a note on my car that indicated by lack of patience. I just, sometimes, cannot sit still and wait. Saturday was one of those days. What I didn't know is that Sara had no idea where Twist was being held and this time unlike when she got lost on the way to my house, Rue was not there to guide her. Oops. Restless MMO Syndrome strikes again. A little technology, a little direction and all was well.
As a result of my Adult-Onset ADD (I think I like Restless MMO Syndrome better. Votes?), Kristen and I and Kristen's daughter were lucky enough to receive the most awesome swag bags! Early birds were rewarded with a reusable muslin bag stuffed with all sorts of good things.Seriously good things. Among the goodies were an embroidery transfer from Sublime Stitching (and mine is about as perfect as could be, I got Sushi Bar!!), a copy of Things I Learned from Knitting, and a $10 gift certificate to Pinch Gallery. There was loads of other things, including a Lexie Barnes Venus luggage tag, a really good Webs coupon, and a Twist Fair poster.
My first objective was Celadon Studio. I love Malea's stuff and I'd seen a couple of mugs I really wanted to get my hands on. But then I saw this cup, and was lost.Cup, mug, same thing, right? I love the dragon flies. What I really love, and you can't see, is the wonderful glaze splashed on the inside. Love this one, inside and out!
Wandering on Kristen discovered these adorable little origami stars, in a cute kit, and I had to have those, too. Because I have so much time in which to make origami stars, right? Also at this booth was a lamp made from drink umbrellas which I adored, but had not planned for. I am planning for the future, and hope to see Bright Lights Little City back again at Twist in the fall. I will plan for a lamp next time around!
Next I found the self-proclaimed fuzzmason (I love that) Jessica Fafnir Adamites who's so local to me I could probably throw something from the front yarn and it'd hit her (ok, maybe I'd have to get up on the roof, but still, next town over really!), and was compelled to buy a woolly envelope. A difficult decision in terms of color, really. I wanted them all. I love the idea of it as a wee little gift carrier.You can find the fuzzmason's (I really love that) wares at her Etsy shop - check it out, she's got some really lovely felted vessels and wall art in addition to the very charming and useful felt envelopes.
We saw the talented Tina, measured with spoons, creator and purveyor of the darling-est jewelery, which always makes me wish I wore the stuff. I particularly love that she used wrapping paper Katy gave her a gift in to make jewelery from. Tina gave me a pin that says "no. but I could have." which pretty much could apply to about anything I am wearing or carrying on any given day that causes people to say "Did you make that?". I think there should be a coordinating pin that says "why yes I did, thanks!"
I'd seen these adorable Beehive Kitchenware spoons on the Twist website before the fair, and was determined not to buy one. Really. I told myself before I left home that I did not have a baby, nor was I planning to have a baby, nor did I know any baby who did not already have spoons.That worked. Rationale on this one: it's a chicken, and I have grandchildren. Please, enable me. tell me that makes perfect sense. I sort of wish I'd bought their lemon juicer, too.
In keeping with the 'handmade holiday' theme that we're working on for Christmas 2009, I bought these charming painted vintage tea towels. They'll accompany some handmade trivet tiles we found earlier in the year.Their blue handpainted stripiness just makes me happy.
At Bill Pickles Dog Co. I snagged a new collar for Dazee and whole wheat peanut butter and carob treats for Boo. He knew exactly what they were for before I'd even opened the package. Dazee's new collar is perfect, too. It's wider so you can see it. Her little one gets lost in all that hair. Boring. I can SEE this one, green with orange and pink circles. She may need more.
Oh the yum. Bunny Butt Apothecary makes the most delightful things. I succumbed to two pots of whipped cream, not the edible kind. This stuff smells decadent. I got Pirate Booty and Masala Chai. You can find their things on Etsy as well. The only way to describe their fragrances is as they do themselves: delightfully smelly!
Mel really enjoyed my return from Twist Fair. So much so that he decided that any and all tissue paper and paper bags? Were his. But with a face like that, who could say no? (Not me, that's for sure)
Sunday morning began sadly, when during morning dog-walk we found these feathersin a pile by the garden fence. Even absent any blood, this many feathers is never a good sign. Celia, Girl's little bantam Silkie hen who's been kicking about for nine years now was obviously gone. Nine years is a long time in chicken years. She'd been refusing to come in at night and we'd been unable to find her to put her in ourselves. She must have been found by something smaller and slippery who could squeeze into wherever she'd been holing up at night. She'd always been a bit of a flake, really. A great auntie for me to introduce unsocialized chicks to the concept of grown-up chickens, and a lovely little brooder with a penchant for sitting on anything and everything, and the best "mom" hen I ever had in spite of her extremely diminutive size, she would be deeply missed.
With a heavy heart I headed for Greenfield to take my mother shopping and to run errands, and give her a Dazee visit. Somewhere along the way, I believe at lunch on Saturday, Sara had mentioned violet jelly. Somewhere in the dim recesses of my mind I have an image of this as something I'd heard of, probably from Sara last spring, and wanted to do along with lilac jam. I had never quite managed to get around to, and now, reminded, was insistent that it needed to be done. I headed to Greenfield's Market for unbleached cane sugar. It makes the jam a bit darker, and jellies aren't as crystal-clear as some like them, but I feel a bit better about what's in them. The optically dazzling white stuff gives me the creeps, really.
As I parked at Greenfield's my cell phone rang. On the other end of the line, Mr. Wonderful said "Uh. I think we counted your chicken before it was dead." I said "What??" and he said "That chicken, I don't think you'll believe me, but she's right here. I am staring right at her." No way? Yes way! Celia lives. I didn't believe him until I came home and saw for myself. And see her I didevery fluffy hairy-feathered little bit of her, alive and well in the yard, as if nothing had happened...except for the part where she's got hardly any feathers left on her tushie. Difficult to tell, since she's got no shortage of them to begin with, but trust me she's down by a good predator-sized mouthful of feathers back there. My guess is that whatever was after her was as young as she is flakey, and it really didn't know how to do what it was trying to do. She somehow managed to get away and hide. She's been through more than one traumatic incident in her abnormally long life already. One more does not seem to have effected her nearly as much as it probably should.
Happily I turned back to my original afternoon plans - jam! - with periodic checks out the window to verify that we weren't seeing things in chicken land. Using Sara's Violet Jam recipe with a couple of modifications, thesebecame this.Obsessed with jam and with the 5 sterile jars sitting here staring at me, I moved back into the yard and procured thesewhich I handed to him to pull the green off of, leaving only yellow petals behind; 2 cups worth.I then sat down to help, lest you think I work him too hard, poor sockless man. When all was said and done we each had a waste pile, and I had 2 cups of petals.Go ahead. Guess who's waste is whose.
I added some ginger and lemon to the dandelion recipe, and set it to cooking.All of these are cooked jams and have been processed in a hot water bath. There's a lot of steam, and boiling, and yelping when hot things hit me, but I love it. It's very fulfilling.
This morning I extended the jamfest into Scary Berry (just strawberry but made from store-bought gargantuan and unnatural looking California berries deeply on sale making it impossible to resist) and my new favorite, Lemon Ginger (without dandelions).Next up? This evening when Gene brings me more jars, I'll put up Lavender Berry Jam using some berries from the freezer and a handful of lavender flowers from a farm in Dublin, NH.
And Celia? With some quick thinking on Mr. Wonderful's part last evening we managed to get her indoors for the night. The rest of the chickens will now need to stay in their yard for a couple of weeks until Celia remembers where it's safe to sleep
if she can remember. And I hope she can. I've grown accustomed to her little brown face!
I've been toying with some more jam ideas. Every now and then I look over the backyard and ponder savory jams using garlic scapes and nettles and things, or more sweet ones. And maybe more dandelion. And the lilacs are coming soon. I love to forage. There's something amazingly satisfying about bringing in things from our own property, some wild some we plant on purpose and incorporating them into our lives. It's a feeling I wish I could share with the world.
Next time - knitting, crocheting, and how potholders and the internet can be dangerous to your work-life.