Monday

August 29, 2011

Spicy Dill Pickles

This might seem a little strange, but Matt and I are trying to squeeze in as many pickle making days as we can before the wedding. Do we have time for this? Hah. Not really...

The current pickle count:
-12 quarts of garlic dill pickes.
-7 pints of bread and butter pickles.
-60 pints of dilly beans.

We're hoping to double those numbers by the end of the summer, but we'll see what happens. With five days to go before the wedding, we're on a pickle moratorium.

Oh, and by the way? The weather channel says that Saturday is supposed to be 91°F, which is pretty much the hottest day of the week, and one of the hottest days we've had here in the Portland metro area this summer. I had to snicker a little when I saw that.

Focaccia

August 25, 2011

Homemade Focaccia

I made up an herb-y pizza dough on Monday, thinking we'd bake a couple simple pizzas for dinner once the sun retired and the weather cooled a bit. But then Matt came home from work with some steak for the grill, so I tossed the dough in the refrigerator, and set to work on making kabobs.

As for the pizza dough? I turned it into focaccia bread, which is something I've never made before despite how incredibly simple it is to prepare. I pressed the dough into an oiled, square baking dish, and drizzled it with olive oil, salt, pepper, chopped kalmata olives, torn basil, sun dried tomatoes and asiago cheese. Not to mention, the dough itself was already flavorful with herbs. After baking for 25 minutes in the oven at 400°F, the focaccia was out on the cooling racks, awaiting our eager mouths.

Lunch

It's times like these that I scratch my head and wonder, "What took me so long?" 'Cause this stuff is good, and it's even easier to assemble than pizza. I've been cutting it into squares, and slicing it in half for simple sandwiches filled with tomatoes, shaved red onion, and a little mayonnaise. Oh, and it goes well with a tall glass of homemade chai.

In the Garden

August 24, 2011

Frog Friend

Starting to ripen!

A frog friend living under the petunia, and what appears to be our first ripening tomato (finally).

Spiced Chai Concentrate

August 23, 2011

Chai

I've had this recipe for homemade spiced chai concentrate bookmarked since January, but I finally got around to making up a batch this morning. The verdict? Delicious. It's easy to make and smells delicious, too. I only made a couple of changes to the recipe, reducing the amount of sugar and ginger to suit my tastes.

Spiced Chai Concentrate
4 1/2 cups water
1 stick cinnamon
1 3-inch piece of fresh ginger, chopped
7 whole cardamom pods
2 whole star anise pods
10 whole cloves
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon orange zest
10 bags of black tea
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon vanilla

Prepare the spices and the tea, and set aside. Bring the water to a boil, and remove from heat. Add the spices and the tea bags, and allow the mixture to steep for 15 minutes.

Homemade Chai Concentrate

Strain the mixture into a 4-cup glass measuring cup or large bowl, discarding the spices. Add the sugar, honey and the vanilla, and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Pour the mixture into a jar and store in the refrigerator.

To serve, mix 1 part concentrate with 1 part milk. Heat for a warm beverage, or pour over ice to enjoy cold.

From TheCatNipCat's recipe on the Tasty Kitchen Blog.

In the works.

August 19, 2011

Waffle Knit Dishcloths

Knitting

After knitting six dishcloths last week, I decided it was time to move on, so I've started on a hat project called Autumn by Jane Richmond. I've had a ball of super bulky yarn laying around since Christmas 2010, so this project seemed perfect. The only problem is that the brim calls for size 11 needles, which I have, and size 13 needles for the rest, which I don't have. I guess I could go to the store for the 13's, but I really like my nickel plated interchangeables from KnitPicks, and I promised myself I wouldn't order anything else non-wedding until, well... after the wedding! It's a conundrum.

Dilly Beans

In other news, the green beans are finally ready for picking and pickling. I've been waiting for them quite impatiently. The urge to pickle things is bad this year, so I'm glad to say that we accomplished 19 jars of dilly beans two nights ago, and I can't wait for more pickle action.

Tomato Jam

August 16, 2011

Tomato Jam

Tomato Jam

I've been curious about tomato jam ever since I saw the recipe on Marisa McClellan's blog, Food in Jars, so I gave it a whirl last week with some tomatoes I brought home from the farmer's market. I wish I could say I used my own tomatoes, but they're still green as green can be.

Anyway, this tomato jam stuff is really nice. I love it on crackers with a little mozzarella and fresh basil from the garden.

Strawberry Fruit Leather

August 10, 2011

Homemade Fruit Leather

Homemade Fruit Leather

Remember those strawberries I picked up from the farmer's market over the weekend? Well, I used them to whip up some homemade fruit leather yesterday, and it's really, really tasty. Check out the recipe from Simply Recipes here. You can follow Elise's guide for fruit leather using all sorts of fruit - not just strawberries.

If you're one of those observant types, you may have noticed a dwindling in my Wedding Wednesday posts for this month. Well, now that the wedding is almost here, I've decided to leave the rest of the planning as a surprise, but I may still post a thing or two here and there. And, of course, I'll post pictures of the big event itself once the wedding is over. What a happy relief that will be!

But for now, I've got vows to write and more paper bouquets to construct.

Monday

August 8, 2011

Washcloths

I gave myself a break from the normal routine last week. Aside from spending all of my time in the sun, my only crafty projects were these waffle knit dishcloths. They're great for a beginner like me, and we were in need of a few more dishcloths around the house. As far as knitting goes, I'm still not very familiar with holding needles (as opposed to a crochet hook), but it's going smoother than before, with less random holes and dropped stitches in the middle of my work.

Strawberries

On Saturday, Matt and I visited the Gladstone farmer's market for the first time. We were lucky enough to catch the tail end of a parade on the main drag, so there were people everywhere. The market itself is tiny compared to most I've seen, taking up a modest parking lot and the corner of the neighboring street. It was kind of endearing, actually. I think we'll walk there again next Saturday to see what's new.

We picked up some strawberries and a bag of tomatoes. The guy at the stand said that these were the first tomatoes of the season, and they were going fast! I couldn't help myself and brought home about 3lbs worth. There's a recipe for tomato jam I've been dying to try, so I'll let you know how that goes very soon.