Thursday, February 28, 2013

Beet Juice



I love beets and grow them every year. For the most part, I slice and steam them until fork tender and freeze them in pint freezer containers without any liquid. I find that they keep quite well. When it comes time to eat them, I remove a container from the freezer, thaw and enjoy.
The other day I did just that. I noticed the beautiful juice at the bottom of the container. The first thing that came to mind was using it for a dye. I went to the studio and unearthed a handful of vintage carved bone rose beads and plopped them into the juice. I left it overnight. In the morning I poured off the juice and rinsed the beads. I laid them out to dry.
This is the results. I just love how they came out. Two toned dusty rose beads. Perfect for something. What yet, I don't know. But I do know that I will be dyeing more beads with beet juice in the future. Maybe some wooden ones.
When I turn these into jewelry, I'll post the piece or pieces here.
Until next time.....

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Rain Day







It's a beautiful rainy morning here in Tennessee. After spending two days pruning trees and hauling brush, it's just the break I need.
Spring is officially here. The mockingbird is sitting atop the Foster Holly outside my window, singing her sweet song. They sing so quietly this time of year, after not singing all winter.
Our daffodils are beginning to bloom. I love being able to bring the sunshine indoors.
Althea is tucked away on the futon. She looks so comfy. I'd love to join her. But I really should head into the studio and get some work done. I have numerous pieces in the making and finished jewels that need to be photographed.
I think I'll have a cup of espresso first though and sit here listening to the sounds of spring.
Until next time.....

Monday, February 25, 2013

Granola



One of my favorite spring and summer breakfast foods is granola. I make it with whatever I have on hand. For the sweetener I use either honey, maple syrup or sorghum.
And here's how I do it:

Preheat oven to 275 degrees.
In a large bowl add:
5 1/2 - 6 cups oats
1 - 1 1/2 cups of the following: chopped almonds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, sesame seeds.
You should have a total of 7 cups of dry ingredients.
In a 1 cup measuring cup add 1/4 cup canola oil and 1 teaspoon of vanilla. Add sweetener to the 1 cup mark.
Stir into dry ingredients.
Spread out on a baking pan. Bake for 1 hour. Stir every 15 minutes.
Remove from oven and sprinkle with raisins and/or dried fruit of your choice.
Transfer to container. I use a large vintage glass jar.
Enjoy!
Until next time.....

Friday, February 22, 2013

Preserved Lemons


Now that we're learning how to cook Moroccan food, we decided to preserve our own lemons. After doing a bit of research, here's how we did it. I bought organic lemons. Wash the lemons and dry completely before processing.
I washed and sterilized a wide mouth canning jar.



Zest 6 of the lemons. I used a potato peeler because I didn't have a zester. I laid the peels on a pan and froze them for future use.



Cut the lemons in half and juice them. Remove any seeds. Pour it into a jar and store in the frig. You'll need this tomorrow.






Now, slice the remaining 6 lemons in quarters BUT do not slice all the way through. Stop when you get to about 1/2" from the bottom so the lemon remains intact. Pour some Kosher salt in a bowl. Sprinkle about 2 tablespoons of salt in each lemon.



Pack the lemons in the jar. You may have to squeeze them a bit, but they'll go in.



Put the lids on and leave them on the counter overnight.



In the morning fill the jars to the top with the reserved lemon juice that you put away. Store these in a dark place. I put mine under the kitchen sink. Shake once a day. Leave them for a month.

That's when they're supposed to be done. I'm three weeks away and will report back at the end of that time.
I'm not really sure how to store the lemons after that point, but will poke around on the internet and see what my next step is. I'll keep you posted.
Until next time.....

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Industrial Flora Part 2



Here's more jewelry from my Industrial Flora collection that I wrote about here. It's too early to work in the gardens and we only have crocus blooming now, so it's been a real joy working with my other flowers. I went through all of my supplies and pulled out any flowers, leaves and bits that I thought would work well in this line. I've been busy at work, enjoying every minute of it.
Until next time.....

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Ras el Hanout Chicken





The first thing we made in the tagine was chicken and vegetables. Actually, John made it. I chopped veggies. We didn't follow a recipe. We hardly ever do, but here's the gist of it.
Dredge the chicken in the Ras el Hanout. Brown in a dutch oven. Transfer to the tagine. Start stacking the veggies. We used: yellow bells, red onions, garlic, olives, chickpeas, carrots, turnips, red potatoes, lemons and parsley.
Cover and bake at 325-350 for about an hour or until chicken is to your liking.

Sorry for the crumby pictures. I'm still trying to figure out the new camera. I haven't gotten the hang of night photography. There is no photo of the finished dish. By the time it was ready, we were starving. It was delicious and we were very happy with the way our spice blend turned out.
Until next time.....

Monday, February 18, 2013

Ras El Hanout



The other day John came home with something he said that he's wanted for a while now. A tagine. Who knew? He's an excellent cook and is always trying something new. Moroccan cooking was new to both of us, so I hit the books and internet.
We thought we'd try something simple, so we made a chicken dish. It called for Ras El Hanout, which is a spice blend native to Morocco. It can vary from person to person and be as simple or complex as you wish.
I made a blend with the herbs and spices that we had on hand; all of which are being used in the ground state. This made 1 cup.

2 T. each: granulated garlic or garlic powder, salt, cumin, ginger, turmeric
4 1/2 t. black pepper
1 T. each: cinnamon, white pepper, coriander, cayenne, allspice, nutmeg, cardamom
1 1/2 t. cloves

We needed a shaker because our other ones were being used, so I drilled holes in the top of a canning lid. Put a new lid on top of the drilled one and screw on when you're ready to store the mix.

I'll be back with pictures of our chicken dish later in the week.
Until next time.....

Friday, February 15, 2013

Rendering Lard



Back in December I mentioned that John bought a half of a hog the week before Christmas. He sucessfully processed it and put it up. I decided not to post photos here. During that time he said "Katie, why don't you make some lard?" Hmmmmm. Let's see. This is the week before Christmas. I'm crazy busy in my Etsy shop, trying to decorate for the holidays, etc, etc, etc.
Not to mention that the thought of using, let alone making lard, didn't sound like something I was interested in. So, I took to the internet and visited my dear friend Google. I was surprised to learn that homemade lard isn't the devil. Just like anything else that's homemade, lard, minus the additives that you find in the storebought version, is actually quite good for you.
I poked around for a few recipes. One woman mentioned that I should open my windows because it was going to smell awful. But this is December!
On the day before Christmas Eve, while baking and making merry, I decided to give it a go. I used the stovetop method and before you know it, my first batch of lard was complete. By the way, I didn't notice an awful smell. I was relieved.
The next time I made quiche, I substituted lard for the butter in the crust. It was a fabulous, flaky crust. I was thrilled with the results. Now to get into the freezer and render the rest of the fat.
Until next time.....

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine's Day



We don't celebrate Valentine's Day. Never have really been into it. But for those of you that do, here's to a Happy Valentine's Day.
Until next time.....

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

A Sea of Flannel



The other day John mentioned that he needed a couple of new flannel shirts, so I made plans to visit one of the Goodwill stores in our county this week. I went today and hit the mother load. I probably could have come home with twenty soft, beautiful flannel shirts, but stopped myself at six; five for John and one for me. Neither one of us like red, so my eyes just passed over those. In the end this is what I ended up with. I didn't even realize that I picked so many shirts in the same color palette.

I have always loved thrift stores. I started shopping in them when I was in high school.
When I first moved to Nashville, there was a Goodwill within walking distance of my house. They used to have rows and rows of cowboy boots that were barely worn, in every color imaginable. I had several pairs of those beauties.

Then when I moved out to the country, I heard about a town named Hoenwald; thrift store heaven. Old buildings in this sleepy town in the middle of nowhere were piled high with mountains of incredible finds. Clothes from the 50's. Bark cloth fabric. Whole curtain panels of that beautiful fabric for pennies. I sewed bark cloth curtains, pillows, show curtains, quilts, skirts, shorts, shirts. Oh how I wish I had a fraction of that material today!

It's been a wonderful day. I can't wait for dearJohn to get home and see his treasures.
Until next time.....

Monday, February 11, 2013

Daffodils and Ditches



During our Sunday walk, which was cold, windy and gray, we noticed that patches of daffodils were in bloom. These are the heirloom varieties. The early bloomers. Varieties from years past that can be found along roadsides and around abandoned farms. They're always a welcome sight to see.
Until next time.....

Friday, February 8, 2013

Winter Greens








Winter greens. Good for a gardener's soul.
Enjoy your weekend.
Until next time.....

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Feels Like Spring


Today it was in the high 60's. It feels like Spring. Yesterday was almost as warm. I was out in the garden sprucing up the place, getting a jump on the season. I don't like the unseasonably warm weather. I'm probably in the minority here.
The rosemary is still alive. It is usually dead by now. I do love having fresh rosemary, but it's just not normal for the bush to be alive now.
I can only imagine how bad bugs will be this year! Happens when the winters are warm. Oh, did I mention that I got a tick yesterday? ALREADY!
Until next time.....

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Industrial Flora




I've always decorated my gardens with found objects. The thing finder in me is always bringing something home. Driftwood and shells from a walk at the beach. Fossils and rocks from a stroll down the creek. Rusty wagon wheels. Old milk jugs. Cedar posts. I can't help but peek inside the metal dumpster at the recycling center, in hopes that there will be something good in there that I can bring home.

I have a new jewelry line that reflects my love of mixing rusty and forgotten treasures in with my flowers and veggies. I named it Industrial Flora and it's starting to bloom in my shop. Click here and you'll be taken to my Etsy garden.

It's going to be a warm week, with no rain expected. I may be able to turn some of the garden. Perennials are coming back to life. Beds need to be weeded. Leaves and compost spread. All of a sudden there's so much to do. And just when I was enjoying my hibernation.
Until next time.....

Monday, February 4, 2013

Snow in the Southland






Snow dusted the landscape this weekend. With camera in hand, I headed out to photograph trellises, sculptures and rusty bits that grace our gardens. I could use a few more snow days. Pretty please.
Until next time.....

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Groundhog Day


Punxsutawney Phil predicted an early spring after failing to see his shadow. There were no shadows to be seen here in TN either. It snowed this morning. A beautiful heavy snow. I went out to feed the birds, with camera in hand and stayed outside and enjoyed the winter weather. I'd much prefer 6 more weeks of winter. I guess time will tell.
Until next time.....

Friday, February 1, 2013

Hearts For Sale



My Valentine Heart Jewelry is for sale for a few days in my Etsy shop, while supplies last. The sale is scheduled to end February 5th at 12:00 AM. Everything in my heart section is marked down 10%. You can find that section here.
In other news, we woke up to a dusting of snow. It looks beautiful! I'm planning on heading out in a while to take some photos.
Happy February!
Until next time.....

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