Nothing sadder than to finish of the last of the most delicious apricot butter ever.
This past summer a friend gifted us with a box of beautiful fruit. There were lots of really delicious apricots in the box and I decided that making apricot butter would be the best plan. I love apricot butter which is just like a jam in that it uses whole fruit, but the fruit is pureed to make a nice smooth and thick jam without any fruit pieces.
I love making apricot jam or butter because the fruit is just so easy to prepare. Wash them, cut in half and the pits just fall out. No peeling is required either. I cut the apricots into quarters and simply drop them into a pot. Turn the heat on to medium and start cooking. If the fruit is a little dry, it’s fine to add a little water to the pan to keep things from sticking.
After about 20 minutes the fruit should be nice and soft. Remove the pan from the heat and turn the hot fruit into puree by pulsing in the food processor or running through a food mill. Don’t go crazy and turn it into liquid, just a nice thick puree.
Then measure out the puree. For every cup of puree you will need 1/2 cup of sugar and 1 teaspoon of lemon juice. Measure everything back into the saucepan, stir it well and give it a taste. Adjust the sugar and lemon juice if necessary. Now it’s time to cook it up.
Cook the jam over medium-high heat at a nice boil. Keep stirring. Soon the jam will thicken up. There are lots of jam tests: the plate or spoon in the freezer, the mounding on a spoon test, the sheeting off a spoon test or the temperature test – the target temperature at sea level is 220 degrees F. Pick your favorite to get the texture you like best.
Pour the apricot butter into jars and process in a water bath for 15 minutes.
Print the recipe: apricotbutter
Just be sure to make plenty so that you don’t run out in November!
- – marcella
I’ve baked my way through several bread books. Last year I joined French Friday’s with Dorie and cooked and blogged through a number of recipes from her Around My French Table cookbook. Last week the new Bouchon Bakery cookbook arrived and while reading it I thought it would be another great book to bake my way through.
I did have a little trouble deciding where to start. Do I start at page 1 – my usual thing – and bake cookies followed by scones followed by cakes and so on? Do I skip around and mix things up a bit? Once I hit the tart section I knew. I needed to mix things up or I would have trouble with seasonal ingredients otherwise. There was a luscious looking plum tart. Just the weekend before the best stone fruit man ever had told me that there was only one more weekend of fruit until next summer.
My husband went to the farmer’s market and picked up some plums. I gathered ingredients and started in making the various components: the pastry which is a fancied up version of pate sucree with the addition of almond flour, vanilla bean and egg, and almond cream a mixture of almond meal, butter, egg, sugar and a little flour.
The only rings I possess are for english muffins so I used my regular tart pan even if it does have ridges. The pastry rolled out beautifully and then the almond cream was piped into the bottom of the tart shell. Plums were sliced thinly and arranged over top. As the tart baked, the almond cream bubbled up through the gaps between the fruit slices.
I think it turned out as pretty as the one in the book. It tasted delicious!
- – marcella
My days seem to be sucked up by little random projects lately. Patching a hole in the wall made by a falling picture (and the gash in the baseboard and the gouge in the floor) making a halloween tattoo for my husband to wear to work, and starting a crazy baking project (more on that later this week). In spite of all of that, I did manage to finish another block of my very old block of the month project. Here’s September all finished:
Three more to go! First in line though are finishing the dining room curtains and the Christmas ornaments and one more little quilt for the NICU for this year.
Visit some other talented quilters here and see what they’re working on this Wednesday.
- – marcella
Yesterday I got to spend the day at the Pacific International Quilt Festival. This show is an annual event where I live and I honestly look forward to it all year long. I had a great time wandering the aisles all alone this year. It was fun to go at my own pace, talk to random people about the quilts (and get updates on the Giant’s baseball game!) and just be inspired. Here are some things that grabbed me.
I have been lucky to be able to help curate the New Quilts of Northern California exhibit at the show the past three years. It’s an exhibit designed to show off the best quilts being made in our area. The quilts are always a great mix of traditional and innovative and the last couple of years we’ve been getting modern quilt entries as well. Here are a couple of my favorites this year.
I love this. It’s quilted by hand with perle cotton and big stitches in various colors. I was shocked when someone told me this is only his third quilt. Really, I don’t know that I’d have the courage to enter my third quilt in a show. I’m glad he did!
This traditional one is just lovely. I have a thing for appliqué and this is just beautiful.
There are lots of special exhibits in addition to the judged show. I walked through the special exhibit of quilts by Yoshiko Katagiri several times because I love her work so much. This one was my favorite.
As I walked the rest of the exhibit hall there were so many details that really inspired me. Here are some close ups.
Oh how I love appliqué and this is just amazing. The number of pieces and variety of fabrics she used to get those details. There is also ink work to add more detail.
Rouching and embroidery. Love that hand quilting too – it would take me years to hand quilt something like that.
Love how she fussy cut the fabrics to make the center stars look like a kaleidoscope.
I love all kinds of things going on here – the embellishments which I am never brave enough to do. The bias along the triangles that’s top stitched down, the trim used at the edging and the brown background. I’ve been on a light and white background kick but the brown is just so rich looking.
Speaking of backgrounds, who would have though to use this Kaffe Fasset print as a quilt background?
Clearly I do not have enough buttons. This quilt just glowed and I would have never thought to use just buttons to create design.
Now, off to my sewing space to see what I can work at today.
- – marcella
This year I did a little something different with our garden on the balcony.
First, I threw in the towel with the tomatoes. With all the fog and the wind it is just too hard to get a great crop. I told my husband if I didn’t grow tomatoes then this would be the year for a bumper crop. This morning I got an e-mail from our CSA farm telling us it’s been a great year for tomatoes. I’m sure I’m responsible for that.
Then I decided to grow things we don’t get in our CSA box.
Mostly I grew herbs this year which has been great. I still have a nice pot of teeny wild strawberries which are delicious and never make it into the house. They are my reward for watering. As a new experiment I bought a blueberry bush.
Aren’t they pretty? Really, the things that excite me!
So naturally, I had to make something with them. I pulled out an old favorite muffin recipe and we enjoyed them for breakfast one morning.
1/2 C butter, softened
1 C granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 C flour
2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1/2 C milk
2 C blueberries
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease or line a muffin tin and set aside.
Cream together the butter and sugar until very light and creamy. Then add the eggs one at a time beating well after each addition.
Stir together the flour, baking powder and salt.
Add the dry ingredients alternately with the milk to the creamed mixture. Fold in the berries.
Scoop the batter into the muffin pan.
Sprinkle with extra sugar if you are feeling fancy.
Bake 20 – 25 minutes until golden brown.
blueberry muffins printable recipe
Next year, I’m really going to try rhubarb in the yard. I’m told the deer don’t eat it. Think the deer know that?
- – marcella
I wasn’t sure I’d have anything to share today for work in progress Wednesday since I’ve been so busy around the house catching up on things. However, a few very warm days hit and yesterday afternoon it got too hot to do any more cleaning around here. Instead, I spent some time working on my Moda U sampler quilt.
With a new (giant) spool of thread (so I don’t run out, again!) and a freshly cleaned sewing machine I was ready to go. Yesterday I finished stippling (that little wiggly pattern) on one side of the vine border. I still have the outer side to go. It’s fun to do though and goes fairly fast.
All of the sashing and 9 patch blocks are completed; they were quilted with a pumpkin seed pattern. There is only one block that’s been quilted. I decided to quilt each block differently to highlight the piecing. I think it will be fun to do different things with each block. Eleven blocks to go.
- – marcella
I’ve gotten so behind in sharing what I’ve been doing that I’m not quite sure how to catch up. Things have been busy here, to put it mildly, and the pictures are piling up. Do I go back and forth between a real time post and something I’ve missed in the past? Do I just go back in time and work my way frantically forward? Maybe I just do a quick photo blitz. Get ready!
Had a bridal shower for a friend with a delicious dessert bar and baked up these little cupcakes.
Then I spent three days sitting outside among beauties like these and learning all about grains and bread and baking in a wood fired oven.
Mark Doxtader showed us how to make bagels and baked them off in his wood fired oven. That night he baked us amazing pizzas for dinner in that oven. Really, just writing this has me craving another slice of his pizza with fresh peaches and smoky bacon with endive on top.
My husband learned about baking sweet pastries with yeasted or sourdough from Naomi Duguid. That fruit was so smoky and delicious from the oven! Really, I think I ate my weight in baked goods in three days.
We got to wander through the test wheat field and learn about the different varieties of wheat they are growing. What a cool patchwork the grains made!
We took a tour of a farm and nibbled some blueberries warm in the rows and saw tons of tomatoes growing in the greenhouse.
And we got to see a grain mill in action. We brought home some flour too and maybe some day we’ll have time to bake with it.
Then we got to go behind the scenes at Breadfarm bakery. A few more baked goods might have made it back to the car with us. I’m still craving their coconut macaroons.
Saw my first yarn graffiti in person
Spent a day wandering around here and eating really delicious things.
Came home for a day to do laundry and pack again. Then headed to Las Vegas.
Took a bus to a quilt show in Utah. This border on a quilt really caught my eye. So creative! There were many lovely quilts.
Visited a few fabric shops and might have brought some of it home.
Spent three days sewing with these ladies.
Got back home, did more laundry, wrote and printed up a quilt pattern, made too many buttons to count, arranged two raffle baskets…
And helped set up the guild quilt show.
The traveling is done, the quilt show is packed up and put away. I can now settle in back at home and catch up on all that household stuff that is woefully behind. Maybe I’ll even get to finally finish unpacking. It was fun to be off on all these adventures, but it’s awfully nice to be home.
- – marcella
Last week I was traveling. I thought I had been clever and wrote up a post before I left town and scheduled it to post bright and early last Wednesday. But nothing. When I got home I checked and it brightly told me it was scheduled to appear on the appointed day. Who knows what went wrong? My husband loves to tell me computers only do what you tell them. Yeah. Well I told it, and it seemed to agree but still didn’t do the right thing.
Good thing my sewing machine loves me more than my computer does!
I was off on yet another quilting adventure. This time with my sister and our mother. We got to attend the Utah Quilt Guild show which was being held in St. George, visited a few fabric shops, and then spent the next three days quilting away at the Desert Quilters Guild retreat. We had lots of fun, and is usual with quilting retreats, ate too much food.
My big project to finish was the vendor hop quilt for the guild show this coming weekend. I was so happy that I was able to finish it!
I even had time to finish the appliqué on one of the basket blocks. There’s still a bit of embroidery to do and then it will be complete.
One thing I learned is that I hope to never have to haul my sewing machine through two airports ever, ever again! That machine gets heavy when you don’t have a carrier with wheels.
Which is all folded and ready for quilt show set up on Friday.
Be sure to stop over at Freshly Pieced and see what the rest of the quilters are working on this Wednesday.
- – marcella
I’ve been spending a lot of time quilting this past week. The view I posted last week hasn’t changed a whole lot.
Progress is being made on that quilt. Slower than I would like progress, but progress.
However, I also have a second quilt to complete for the show. This morning the first row of blocks was sewn together.
I’m happy with how it’s looking. The goal today is to get the border finished and the binding on the other quilt. A little shopping is necessary as well for the other quilt. Some more white background fabric is needed and I need the “perfect” thread to quilt it with. I’m thinking lime green. We’ll see.
Check out the other quilters over at Freshly Pieced and see what they’re creating.
- – marcella
This has been my view lately.
Lots of machine quilting going on in my spare moments.
The quilt show drop off date is coming up and I’ve got two trips scheduled between now and then. My goal is to get this quilt finished by next Wednesday. Yikes! So far I’ve gotten all the stabilizing quilting done and I’m only on the second row of sashing. Lots left to do in a week.
See what the non-procrastinating quilters are up to over at freshly pieced.
- – marcella