Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Summer Celebrations...

We had a good kick off to summer on the solstice...Summer grilling...Summer gardens and Summer birthdays...

Can you say cheese ...yes, the smile above is my oldest daughter Arianna who turned the big 21..and all she wanted was a Carvel ice cream cake and a party with the family ...no bar hopping for her..some of her freinds were a bit bummed about this!!
Can you also say Burrata Cheese...that creamy mozzarella with the gooey center, Oh Yeah ...now that is some good stuff ! It is now my favorite food at the moment.
We are having so much fun with the World Cup and what the menu will be for the games. This Saturday's menu was olive tapenade with Labneh cheese which is a Mediterranean  Kefir yogurt cheese, grilled veggies drizzled with 18 yr old balsamic vinegar and pasta with onions, zucchini, peas and cherry tomatoes sauteed at a very high heat...it was something I saw on Anthony Bourdains's Parts Unknown when he was in Israel. Its very good, just a nice quality olive oil, the veggies and I added some Sweet Marjoram and high heat and just keep them moving....Yum! It is my new go to way to cook veggies.
Sunday's menu was pizza on the grill. my favorite dough recipe comes from the book The Italian Baker. I highly recommend this book by Carol Field.
I did not do a good job at wintering my heirloom Dahlia bulbs so I had to reorder from D.Landreth seed company. They are my favorite Heirloom seed house. I love them cause they are a small business..I love their selection and I love just how nice they are...every time I order it is the most pleasant experience. If you garden I highly recommend checking them out. Now I got to get those babies in the ground!
The summer blooms are all starting to put on their show in the garden and indoors my orchid is just a blossoming more and more.
The Crafts...the fabric is for a needle book swap...it has some English paper piecing and cross stitch monogram. right now the whole Lavender, Crimson and Honey colored fabrics are making me swoon! I am finishing it up tomorrow and then onto the crochet tutorials for you I swear!!!

How has your summer begun?

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

During A Rainy Week...

Much was accomplished...this is what has been going on...

It may be a bit gloom outside, but I have to say I am happy for it. As it is giving me a much needed break with the yard and garden work. So needless to say I am enjoying it.
The Shawl...  A few months back I joined Romi's Mystery Shawl KAL. I couldn't post any pictures of it until all  the clues were given. It is over now and I'm not finished it as it was giving me a hard time  but I persevered and am finally making good progress. I love the Lorna's Laces special edition Olympic yarn Sochi 2014. I am in love with the warm golds with the hint of silver. I think it goes amazingly with the grey.
The Cake ... If you want a quick and easy cake really one bowl ..you must try this. It is a great base cake with berries. Quick easy effortless.I did make it into a Bundt and added about 1/4 cup more cream as it was looking a bit to dense for me.
The Onsie...I am making these for the 4th to sell on Etsy and some for some new editions that will be joining us this month. Lots of friends having babies. Very easy cut applique and I will be adding some stitching. Maybe a tutorial in the future???
The Food...Asian chicken lettuce wrap and homemade egg rolls ( I just followed the directions on the package of the egg roll wraps). These were easier than I anticipated. I got the recipe idea from Pinterest but them went online and used the one linked here. I didn't feel like it needed all the extra flavors so I altered the recipe and kept them simple. They were extremely GOOD! 
The Flowers...this is what is blooming right now in the garden...My shrub roses, Lantana and the honeysuckle...lots of pink right now which really makes a splash against the grey skies...a great color scheme.
The Rain... is hanging on for the rest of the week but to me it is anything but gloomy for I am finding it to be extremely inspiring and creative.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Things are Jamming...

...around here these days literally and non... I got the call the other day from my dear friend who owns a local farmers market.I wrote about it last year here. Its always happens on a day that i am not planning on being in the kitchen but when you get the call you have to get  jamming...literally ! This year I made regular yet a lower sugar jam and a Vanilla scented balsamic strawberry jam. I've included the recipe as I am extremely pleased how it turned out...and when I say pleased I mean I am have been eating it everyday for breakfast...on toast...mixed with Greek yogurt ...with almond butter..

On other non literal jamming notes ...my orchids are all starting to bloom as is the backyard, it's all finally starting to come together which is good as my body is a bit tired from all the yard work the past few weeks. I am adding new veggie garden beds and breaking the earth up with just a hoe and me. Its back breaking, but the physical exercise and daily sweat feel good when it is all done. Its amazing how getting your hands dirty really cleans the mind ...hey wait that's a good line "Get your hands dirty and clean your mind" or " Clean your mind...get your hands dirty"!

I  finished up my second pair of socks. Several years of knitting & crocheting, making sweaters, scarves baby clothes, booties and such I have never attempted socks. I am extremely excited to pick out my next pattern for my third pair. they are such great little projects that you can take anywhere.

Now for the Jam recipe...If you like to jam I highly recommend the book "Mes Confitures" by Christine Ferber. I adore the simplicity of this book. I haven't really used her recipes just more of her techniques. One thing I did this year was let the berries macerate overnight...this is how I got the gorgeous red juice in the measuring cup that I so wanted to make strawberry lemonade with. The color was amazing but I never got around to it. Maybe next time...

Vanilla Scented Balsamic Whole Strawberry Jam
  • 2 quarts strawberries I kept mine whole
  • 6 cups sugar 
  • juice of two lemons
  • Good quality aged balsamic vinegar I used about a quarter cup but would use more next time
  • Pure vanilla bean paste 2 tsps.
Macerate the berries overnight in a cup of sugar ...drain ...add strawberries and sugar in a heavy bottomed
stock pot ( this is what I use I haven't yet made the investment for a copper jam pot ..one day)add lemon juice. Now to make matters easier because I believe jam making is subjective, as is any recipe, follow any jam making cooking instruction you are comfortable with. It is a practice makes perfect/ trial and error process. After making jam a while you learn to judge by looks and texture as to when its done. When you have reached desired consistency add the balsamic and vanilla and start the jarring process. Enjoy!
I am thinking this would make a great topping for a Mascarpone cheesecake recipe. Now that will be the next recipe!

Oh and how about that strawberry that looks like a tea pot!

Well I leave you with this ... a little Jammin with Bob Marley

Have a great weekend and if you have a favorite jam recipe to share please do!