Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Top is Finished!


You'll be nice and ignore the non-matching corners, right?
I used a rotary cutter and ruler and everything.
Don't even ask me how the corners didn't match up, because I don't have a clue!

I didn't have enough of my gorgeous floral fabric, so I had to improvise and add some green squares on each side.

Now all I have to decide is what my border color should be: bright orange, peacock blue, fern green, or soft tan. I need help to decide. So, take my poll over there! ---->

If it helps, click on the middle picture to analyze the colors better.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Sugar Alternatives

I've been working to eliminate corn syrup from our diet. The movie King Corn helped this desire along. They have a section in the movie where the two guys who are hosts of the documentary try to duplicate the process it takes to make corn syrup. It's a tricky food science feat with obscure chemicals added to succeed; chemicals that I personally have never heard of before. And yet corn syrup, now so much cheaper than cane sugar, not to mention honey or maple syrup, has found its way into almost everything, even spaghetti sauce and bread!

Recently I ran across a corn syrup alternative. I've known you could use honey in place of corn syrup, but if you don't want that honey flavor in what you're making, here's another option:

1 cup sugar + 2 cups water. Cook til thick.

And there you go! Corn syrup replacement!

If you're looking to replace cane sugar with honey in baking, here is a helpful conversion:

Use 3/4 cup + 1 Tbsp. honey in place of 1 cup sugar, then subtract 2 Tbsp. of liquid from the recipe. (since honey is liquid and sugar is dry) "Unless the recipe calls for sour cream or buttermilk, add a pinch of baking soda to neutralize the acidity."

The above link is where I got some info and has other sugar alternatives/substitutes to use in baking.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Garden

My happy dill is growing tall! 

My garden is going fairly well these days. My only insect problem so far is the black flea beetles which seem to adore my potato plants. I've tried a garlic tea, but I'm not sure it worked so well because it rained the next day and washed away all the garlic smell. I've heard planting radishes draw them away, but I have planter boxes, not a whole garden in the ground. I'll have to think on some new tactics.

My pickling cucumber plants are about 8 inches tall. It looks like my dill will be ready for sure! I've already hung and dried some dill, waiting for that happy pickling day.

I finally broke down and bought some gardening gloves after one too many times of digging dirt out from under my fingernails. Best $5 purchase EVER! I don't know what I was thinking all those years digging around without gloves. It's amazing the different they make.

I feel very lucky to be living in a more southern state. Already we have cucumbers, rhubarb, strawberries, lettuce and other odd produce at the farmer's market. The past couple weeks my family and I have been out to Larriland Farm picking strawberries and a boatload of sweet cherries. Hello, cherry pie filling! Oh yeah!

(However, I'm waiting on getting my Clear Gel in the mail. I had no idea they don't sell modified corn starch out here! How crazy is that!)

Pie Crust Carving

My 4-year-old son loves birds, so I thought he'd like a bird on our chicken pot pie for dinner. I had no idea that he'd get upset about cutting the bird in 8 pieces!

Oh well. No one said creativity was painless.

Monday, June 6, 2011

A Few Projects

Two rows done in this picture
My quilt is coming along. I've almost got all the rows sewed together. Then I'll need to find some fabric for the back and get some light batting as it's going to be our spring quilt. (I'm borrowing the idea from my friend Holly to have a different quilt for every season. Doesn't that just sound so happy?) :-)

Our container garden is coming along nicely. Most of my plants are looking happy. I think watering them every morning has been the biggest difference over last year's garden attempt. I was so inconsistent in the watering back then and my poor plants suffered. I'm really trying hard to do better this year. I've been harvesting cherry tomatoes and my lettuce needs to be picked. The problem is, that we keep getting lettuce from our produce co-op and we can't eat it fast enough! What a wonderful problem to have!

I was also reading over at the Chickens in the Road blog and she mentioned canning her soups, stews, and chilis for the days that she's too busy to cook. I just thought - that's brilliant! Why don't I ever think of doing things like that? I make all that stuff from scratch as it is, but it's a pain when I'm in a hurry. Well, okay, I do know the reason why I haven't canned that stuff yet. I still haven't conquered my intimidation of my pressure canner. It's quite silly really! So, I've been reading on where they have step-by-step instructions for canning everything. I've had great success using their recipes for jams and pie fillings when Ball Blue Book's recipes failed me. Here is their page on pressure canning. I am determined to conquer the pressure canner this year! What a lovely dream... to open a quart of my own homemade beef stew in the dead of winter made from carrots and potatoes and onions that I harvested myself! Mmm! Let's hope it becomes a reality!
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