Summer Harvest

Posted October 9th, 2013 by marcella and filed in food

We’ve been very busy in the kitchen over here. I haven’t been as good about photographing or sharing as I should, but here’s a quick recap of the highlights.

After seeing ravioli made on a tv show my husband who likes to make pasta was intrigued. Shortly after that the local paper posted a yummy looking ravioli recipe. A ravioli maker was ordered and conveniently enough zucchini arrived in our CSA box. It was a delicious dinner and easier than expected. Being only two of us we packaged up half the sauce and half the ravioli and stashed it in the freezer for a quick dinner another night.

A drive over the hill to Gizdich Ranch for some apples. We had perfect weather and let me just say that apple picking is loads quicker than berry picking! I didn’t bring home too many apples as I’d already dehydrated 40 pounds of Gravenstein apples from the farmer’s market, but just enough for some caramel apples, a batch of apple sauce to can and a few left over for snacking.

I’d been wanting to can tomatoes again this year after a couple years of skipping that chore. Finally our former CSA posted that they had cases of tomatoes for sale at a good price and to be delivered at a time that worked with our schedule.

This year I was armed with a new gadget – a tomato press. Wow, did that make quick work of the tomatoes! No blanching and peeling and seeding required. Just wash and quarter the tomatoes and into the funnel they go. The skins and seeds are pushed out the end into a bowl and the tomato pulp comes out the side into the larger bowl. It made quick work of the 50 pounds of tomatoes I’d ordered. I made one batch of marinara sauce and the rest became plain tomato sauce.

I had also used the press to make apple sauce and it worked great for that. I’m thinking this could make seedless berry jam a much quicker process than with my little food mill.

After an amazing trip to Mexico we were definitely in the groove for some more spicy food. We came home and made this wonderful salsa verde. We also made sriracha sauce and hot sauce. We liked the salsa verde so much that I tweaked the recipe a little and canned more of it for later. I swapped out the fresh lime juice for bottled lemon juice and adjusted the volume of onions and cilantro using the guidelines here.

Finally I just had to do something about all the turnips that were piling up. We’ve tried many a turnip recipe but honestly we really only seem to love them in soups and stews. It has not been soup and stew weather around here so we had to find something else that might appeal. I had some pickled turnips at a local mediterranean restaurant and loved them. How happy was I to find a recipe?

It was a very simple process of making a brine and pouring it over peeled and cut up turnips and one peeled and cut up beet. The liquid started to turn pink immediately. Now the jars sit on the counter for a week and then should be ready to eat. They are turning really pink; it’s amazing how dark that one beet is making all those turnips!

And, my sauerkraut is still hanging out on the counter fermenting. It should be ready to taste this weekend and then I’ll have to decide if it’s ready or needs a bit more time. I’m hopeful that this time it’s working – no signs of black cabbage or mold so far.

I feel like are cupboards are full and ready for winter – if only the rain would come! We could sure use some rain around here.

– – marcella

Summer Embroidery Finish!

Posted September 13th, 2013 by marcella and filed in quilting

This summer I joined Mollie’s Summer Embroidery Club and each Monday a little pattern appeared in my in-box. I tried hard to keep up each week and get my little bit of stitching done.

I did pretty well, but as usual for me, I had to depart from the pattern. Instead of sewing them together in rows I mixed them up with a charm pack of cute prints I had hanging out in my sewing room. The plan was to turn them into a little table runner.

So, although August ended a few weeks back, it took me a bit of time to sew it all together and fill in the gaps around the edge with some half-hexagons. I’m quite happy with it and have already found a good spot for it in our dining room.

I did a simple stitch and turn to finish it off and was quite proud of myself for stacking everything in the correct order – I often mess something up and then have to do a lot of unpicking. The only quilting is the stitching around the edge. I can’t decide if I want to do more or not but that can wait for someday if I’m ever inspired.

The autumn stitching club  just started so it’s not too late to join the fun for this season! I need to pick out some fabrics for this and get going before I’m too behind.

So nice to have a finish after months of puttering on odds and ends of projects!  I’m hooking up today with  TGIFF (thank goodness it’s finally finished) at QuiltMatters today. Go and check out lots of other finished projects!

– – marcella

Progress and Travel

Posted September 11th, 2013 by marcella and filed in quilting

It’s been crazy as usual here and I’ve gotten quite behind in my quilting progress.

I had pulled out an old unfinished appliqué project and was determined to get the background pieced and the appliqué pieces in place. This will be my project to take to quilt bee and work on each month. It had originally gotten put aside because the original pattern in a Japanese book had almost no instructions (and I do have a Japanese reading friend to help me) and the directions the kit maker had written didn’t add up at all. While a very organized person when it came to labeling a zillion little pieces of fabric, she does not have math skills. I had packed it up in frustration of getting things to fit together and pieces of fabric that weren’t large enough for their intended purpose.

This time I was really determined and after substituting some fabrics from my stash and a lot of measuring and re-drafting I got the rest of the background pieced together into units.

The units on the left side had been completed a couple of years ago. All pieced and the hand appliqué is finished. The middle section now has the little baskets ready to appliqué in place. In the center there will be one large basket with flowers. One the right I still need to add all the little baskets. Adding the rest of the  appliqué pieces should go fairly quickly.

At that point it was time to pack and leave for my embroidery class. Yippee!

I flew into Portland where I was picked up by my quilting friend and we took off driving along the Columbia River. Lots of fun things to see though I think we spent far more time talking than looking.

After a lunch stop for burgers and giant onion rings, it was across the river and into Washington. Rolling hills and lots of farms. It was very pretty.

And wheat, lots of wheat. I guess the farm kick still hasn’t ended.

We stayed in Spokane and each morning took the drive to Reardan. Class was held in the grange hall. We loved this little house we passed each trip.

Class was wonderful we spent two full days playing with embroidery stitches and all sorts of different threads and even some beads.

Looking now it doesn’t seem like I finished enough circles to represent two days but honest, I was really working!

I was very glad I had basted the circles onto a linen background. It was soft and easy to handle. Also, the first day of class I wore shorts and the fabric got flipped while I was working and some of the circles rested on my knees. That gave me really itchy spots! I was glad I wasn’t dealing with a whole piece of wool or I would have been in trouble. As it was, I wore long pants on day two just to be safe.

That night we got to head out to the Buggy Barn shop and enjoy some treats and listen to the teachers speak and share their quilts. It was fun to see the variety of projects that were going on and oogle some very lovely quilts.

Next morning it was back on the road. We did make time for a couple of detours on the way back to the airport.

We saw giant sturgeon at the fish hatchery. There is even a pond with a glass wall so you can watch those huge fish swimming around at your eye level.

To further stretch our legs we stopped at Multnomah falls and walked a couple of short trails.

Then it was back in the car to brave rush hour traffic to the airport.

I’m sure the quilters at FreshlyPieced have been more productive than me. Go see what they’ve been working on lately.

I’m hoping to share my summer embroidery project on Friday, we’ll see if I can finish it off in time.

– – marcella



Down on the Farm

Posted September 9th, 2013 by marcella and filed in random fun

For my birthday I wanted to go and tour a goat farm. I know, I know, not the usual birthday celebration. It was something I had wanted to do for a while and my birthday seemed like the perfect excuse to go. Also, less fuss from the peanut gallery regarding my idea of fun since it was a birthday wish.

We took a little walk out to the pasture and got to see all the goats and their guard llamas. Then we got to enter the pasture and discover how very friendly goats are.

It was hilarious how they just swarmed us and wanted to rub up against us and be petted. It was like a bunch of excited puppies except much bigger and with nubby horns. They also loved to nibble on buttons, zippers and any other little bobble hanging off your clothes.

After that we donned most attractive hair nets and got to watch some cheese making. We went home with some yummy cheese.

At that point I suspect my husband felt pretty safe that we were over the farm thing for a while. That would be wrong though. We got an invite to tour another farm the following Saturday. I’d ordered meat and eggs from them previously and they decided to invite their customers for a little tour.

It was actually two farms in one. Two different producers share the land. One raises cattle and the other raises poultry and pigs. The cows and birds rotate through the pastures keeping everything healthy and in balance. The pigs forage in the forest.

We walked out into the pasture and hung out with the cows a bit while we learned about how that side of the ranch works. We also got to “herd” them into a new pasture area. Let’s just say they weren’t terribly interested. Eventually the men who work there got behind them and got the cows to move along. Then we saw some chickens and turkeys and heard about that part of the ranch.

Up by the barn a small area had been fenced off and a couple of pigs had been brought in so we could see them. This one was too lazy to stand up and eat and he just yanked what he could out of the ground while lying there. Such a rough life for a pig. Perhaps he was disheartened by the smell of all the beef they were grilling down by the barn.

It was delicious though and we went home with quite a few tasty meat packages in our cooler.

Now I think we’ve probably done enough farm visits to last us for a while :-)

– – marcella


Posted August 14th, 2013 by marcella and filed in Uncategorized

I've been sewing in circles lately.

Next week I get to take an embroidery class from Sue Spargo. I've been wanting to take this class for a long while, but every time I have tried to register her class is full. Finally and friend and I were able to get spots (sorry, I couldn't help myself with that one) at the Buggy Barn show near Spokane.

As part of the class we are sent a kit of wool to prepare in advance. There are about a zillion (or maybe in my case just 83) little squares of wool that are to be cut into 1″ circles and hand sewn down onto the wool background. We are supposed to sew 96 circles onto the provided background in little regimented rows to make a little 16″ x 24″ project.

Naturally, I had to change all that. First off, wool makes me itch. So while I kept the little circles I changed the background to Essex linen in sand. Since I had a bigger piece of background I was able to play around a bit with the layout and also was able to give the circles a little more breathing room and spread them out a bit.

Also, since my friend is far more speedy than I, she had her dots all cut out and basted in nothing flat and she gave me her extra circles. That gave me enough to do what I wanted, and I ended up using 98 dots.

For the past couple of weeks I've been slowly hand sewing each circle down. Today I finally finished the very last dot. Can't wait for class next week when we get to embellish each dot with some fancy embroidery stitches!

Yes, I am packing my allergy medicine and hoping for no hives from the wool.

– – marcella



Posted August 2nd, 2013 by marcella and filed in food

My kitchen has been very sticky this week.

Last month a friend and I went berry picking followed by a trip down the highway to an apricot orchard for 20 pound boxes of blenheim apricots. The car smelled amazing! However, we were having a heat wave so there was no way I was going to do anything other than put all that fruit into the freezer.

The weather has cooled off quite a bit and my need for freezer space is growing so I decided it was a good time to do some jam making.

It was a long afternoon as I made four batches of my favorite apricot butter. Twenty half pints, countless dishes and a really splattered floor and stove to wash and I was done.

I love these canning jar labels! They were a birthday gift from my husband.

The next day it was time for some olallieberry jam. I just wanted a single batch of this kind, so it was a much shorter venture and produced 7 half pint jars.

For this jam I use commercial pectin as it allows me to cook the jam for a much shorter time. I prefer this as I think the berry flavor is better with less cooking. I buy the low sugar variety of pectin and mostly follow the blackberry recipe.

Rather than crushing the berries I run them through the food mill. This removes most of the seeds though some do sneak through. I use 6 cups of the berries rather than 5 but follow the recipe for the rest.

An olallieberry loving friend is due to arrive this weekend to stay for a few days. I suspect we’ll be having some of this jam with our breakfast. I might have to pull some more berries out of the freezer and bake up a pie as well.

I think I’m done with jam making for a bit. Tomatoes are next on the canning list.

– – marcella


Posted July 24th, 2013 by marcella and filed in quilting

It’s Wednesday and time to join in with FreshlyPieced to share what we’re all working on.

My scrap bag is getting pretty full. Normally I donate my scrap bags to the local quilt guild and those ladies put the fabric to good use. However, I haven’t made it to a meeting in a while, so I decided to try making something with some of those scraps myself.

It seems like everyone else has coordinating scraps. They like a style of fabrics or certain colors and it all works together. I like it all, but a little bit of everything doesn’t necessarily look good together. At least, I’ve never managed it.

I’ve been told that if fabrics don’t work together it’s because I haven’t cut them small enough.

So when those clever ladies at Temecula Quilt Co. posted a little basket pattern with the challenge to make a block a day in July, I decided to test that cutting small theory.

Cute, right? The block will finish at 2″ square.

Yep, that’s pretty small.

I didn’t start until after scout camp so I’m a bit behind in my block making. I’ve only made 17 so far but they are awfully fun to piece.

And this small it looks ok with batiks and kaffe’s and 30’s and novelty fabrics and who knows what else in the mix.

So, while cutting small may help my disparate fabrics look better together, I have to say that 2″ blocks really don’t use up many scraps. My scrap bag seems as full as ever.

– – marcella

Back to Quilting

Posted July 17th, 2013 by marcella and filed in quilting

It felt so good to sit down this week and do a little bit of sewing that wasn’t Boy Scout related!

Between getting sick and getting ready for scout camp I hadn’t gotten to do any quilting at all in a while. I had gotten quite behind in my summer stitching club project.

Now I’m all caught up and ready for next Monday’s pattern. I’ve even started sewing them together with the print hexagons and my little table runner is looking pretty cute.

Also, I got my “never ending” quilt back in the mail. I had sent it off to the Las Vegas guild show and it had won second place in its category. Excited by that I decided to enter it into the National Quilt Association show in Columbus, OH and it came back with a third place win! You can see it listed down in category 600 – even if my name is spelled wrong it’s really me.

Next up to work on is another Moda club top to quilt and 18 more boy scout neckerchiefs.

Today I’m linking up with FreshlyPieced for Work in Progress Wednesday. Go visit and see what other quilters are working on this week.

– – marcella

Catching Up

Posted July 10th, 2013 by marcella and filed in food

It’s been busy here, how about with you?

I was sick for a week and then got to play catch up on all I had missed while lying on the couch. I went olallieberry picking and also took a drive to pick up a big box of apricots.

We had a hot week so the fruit that was supposed to be jam is now waiting patiently in the freezer instead.

Scout camp is coming and I’ve been busy preparing for that – sewing patches, making camp neckerchiefs and sewing the patrol flag. It’s been taking up what little quilting time I had left. I’m hopeful next week after camp is over I’ll get to quilt again.

Our veggie box came a couple days early because of the 4th holiday. That made it seem like we were really behind in eating up our produce around here so I tried a few new to us things.

Beet chips made in the oven. They do get pretty crispy like potato chips. My husband thought they tasted like Terra Chips. I used this recipe but I didn’t bother with the baking sheet stacking. Instead I flipped the chips over halfway through baking and they were plenty flat with fewer pans to wash.

I pulled out the dehydrator and dried our abundance of kale, leeks, turnips and bell peppers following these directions. The other night I roasted up some potatoes and added a scoop of this to them before popping them in the oven and it was yummy. Definitely a tasty and clever way of storing up veggies for another day.

I got a new preserving book and it is awesome! Even though I’m still in the middle of reading it I couldn’t resist trying a couple of the recipes right away. I made a batch of cucumber refrigerator pickles and because we are swimming in carrots a batch of pickled carrots as well. We took them to my sisters on the 4th for sharing.

Taqueria Style Pickled Carrots
Adapted from a recipe in Saving the Season by Kevin West.
  • 1¼ lb carrots, peeled and sliced into ¼" coins
  • 1 small red onion sliced
  • 1 fresh jalapeno peppers sliced
  • ¼ t cumin seeds
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 C white wine vinegar
  • 1 C water
  • 2 t kosher salt
  • ¼ t black peppercorns
  • 1 t oregano
  1. Toast the cumin in a hot pan until fragrant. Pour the cumin into a quart size jar along with the garlic cloves.
  2. In a saucepan bring to a boil the vinegar, water, salt, peppercorns and oregano. Add the onions and peppers and remove from heat. Set aside.
  3. Place a pot of water, large enough to hold all the carrots, on to boil. Add salt to the water and stir in the carrots. Cook the carrots for 2-3 minutes and drain.
  4. Add the drained carrots to the vinegar mixture and give it a stir to combine. Carefully transfer everything to the jar. Cover the jar and refrigerate for 2 - 3 days before eating.

– – marcella

Veggies Week 4

Posted June 27th, 2013 by marcella and filed in food

It even feels like summer around here – quite a change after a drizzly weekend. I picked up a box full of deliciousness today:

Veggies for cooking – kale, broccoli, purple potatoes and red onion.

Things to munch raw – strawberries, carrots, salad mix and cilantro.

Odds and ends – dried cranberry beans, eggs and honey.

I’ve been sick the past few days so not a lot of cooking has happened around here. The combination of being sick and cool weather did mean we managed to make a pot of minestrone which helped use up many of last weeks veggies.

The strawberries weren’t being eaten so I put them into the blender and turned them into a pitcher of strawberry lemonade which is particularly delicious now that the weather has turned warm.

Strawberry Lemonade
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
Taste your strawberries first. If they are particularly sweet you may want to hold back some of the sugar syrup so that the final drink doesn't end up too sweet. This is very strawberry, so if you want more of the lemon to shine through you might want to cut back on the strawberries a bit as well.
  • 1 lb ripe strawberries
  • ¾ C sugar
  • 4½ C water - divided
  • 1 C lemon juice
  1. Wash the berries and remove the leaves. Put them into a blender or food processor and let the machine work its magic until the berries are a smooth puree.
  2. Heat together the sugar and ½ C of the water until the sugar is dissolved.
  3. In a pitcher mix together the lemon juice, the strawberry puree and the sugar syrup. Add the remaining 4 C of water and stir to combine. Chill and serve over ice.

Last weeks cabbage was still hanging about so I tried making sauerkraut. I’ll let you know how that experiment turns out in a few weeks.

– – marcella