Thursday, June 30, 2011

Artisan Jam, raw sugar, spiced jam, strawberry jam, strawberry rhubarb jam, kumquat jam, conserves

Day before yesterday was miserable. A trip to the dentist for a 'deep' cleaning (which translates to gum scraping).  Spent the rest of the day  with a sore mouth, sore throat,and trying not to barf because my whole face was numb when they gave me the  'do not swallow' rinse and I accidentally swallowed some of it because I couldn't feel anything.  Everything hurt to eat or drink.  Yesterday was different because I followed the  'do not swallow' instructions  on the 'before bed' antibacterial rinse and woke up feeling fine and very hungry!
So, yesterday was catch-up day.  Jimmy and I rolled out of bed and went golfing at the nearby municipal range.  Much fun and a fine walk.  Then to my favorite  supply store for  a 50 pound bag of raw sugar and  raspberries and  lemons.  Then over to the  farmers market to pick up  this years late and newly arrived strawberries.  Couldn't help myself, I also picked up Rainer cherries and outrageously cheap kumquat's.   Came home dug out every empty  1/2 pint jar I could find and  began making Jam.   I started out  with  a batch of just plain strawberry...... if there is such a thing as  plain strawberry.  Success!  I then threw the raspberries and kumquats in the blender and strained out all the seeds,  added two cups of whole strawberries and made the most interesting conserve.  Delicious of course but the consistency is what I love.  imagine:  raspberry, kumquat, strawberry BUTTER.  This is truly an artisan jam.  I still had  a couple of cups of strawberries left and some rhubarb the neighbors had given me.  I combined the two and added vanilla, allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg and a pinch of clove.  This jam is dark and rich and tastes like a holiday!  I used Ida Baileys 100 year old recipe and cooked the bejeebers out of it letting the  sugar do the jelling.  Once it reached a rolling boil I kept dropping it onto a saucer with a little cold water on it  until it formed a ball.  It gelled beautifully. It proved to me once again that sure gel is unnecessary.  
I water bathed it all.  I will not debate  the 'you dont need to water bath jams and jellies' argument with anyone because I water bath EVERYTHING (except the stuff I pressure bath) .  I absolutely will not take even the smallest chance of poisoning my family and friends.
Jimmy and I ate dinner to the music of popping lids.  Today I will move the 24 jars into the canned goods shelves in the garage and be happy that we are re-jammed again.  24?  Only 24?  you say.  There were 26 but I gave 2 jars to the neighbors who provided the rhubarb.  They, of course, were appropriately and enthusiastically  complimentary  of the spiced ,strawberry-rhubarb jam and offered up more rhubarb.  I told them if they give me a recipe to go with it I would take it but that I had to get creative with the first batch they gave me.  Seems they have the same problem with rhubarb this year that Jimmy and I had with brussell sprouts last year!    

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Opossum update, Frankie clampett, opussum fishin', opossum and backyard chickens

So, yesterday I wrote about the baby opossum that had been spotted twice.  It must have read my blog and wanted to be famous because about 5 minutes after posting, the girls started to make funny noises. I went out to check and there was the baby O wandering the chicken pen.   It saw me and ran under the fence and I thought ... 'Ok   its gone to bed.' and went back in to finish my  funny tasting coffee.  10 minutes later the girls started grumping again.   And a day of opossum fishing began.  This was one persistent little critter.  It had found a food source and was NOT going to leave it .
Hashtag was the hero in this saga.  The big girls hid in the pen huddle  together every time it showed up.  Hashtag kept confronting it. While it was interesting watching these two tiny critters face off. I couldn't   have Hashtag  take a  bite on the leg.   I enlisted Jimmy's help and sent him off to check and see if any of the neighbors had a 'have a heart trap'.  While he was gone, yet another confrontation occurred and  tension was building between Hashtag and O.  I HAD  to do something.  So I got a  garden planter out, turned it on its side, made an intricate nest of bird netting with a  piece of bread in the middle and tied hemp twine on the far corner of the net and ran the twine outside the coop, all the way to my favorite lawn chair.  There I sat for  about 40 minutes, quiet, waiting.  O kept poking his head out from under the fence and checking to see if I was still there.  It was a very Jed Clampett moment.  I'm glad no one saw me sitting in the yard in my pajamas and gardening shoes, fishin fer possum!.........   Finally he got brave enough to come out.  I just sat and waited for him to get into position.  Hashtag did not have the same patience. She  herded him right where I needed him and backed him into a corner.   A pull of the hemp twine and.......  target achieved.    Jimmy heard me yelling "I got him!" and came running.   We secured him in the garden planter and  walked  a few blocks to a wonderful park with lots of blackberries and bugs and a water source and let him go.  He bounced off into the bushes with an angry twitch of his tail and.......  the problem is solved.
Hashtag was the hero and just to prove it she  put herself to bed in the coop last  night.   This morning all is well in Frankie and Jimmy's private paradise.  Today I have a dentist appointment. Tomorrow I make jam to restock  our depleted supply. 

Monday, June 27, 2011

Back yard chickens in Seattle, Opossum problem, art festival, auditions, Home made Jam

Whew! What a week: working at the art festival, auditions, callbacks, keeping track of Hashtag and Jimmy (working long uncomfortable hours)  And  lots of company!

 Need to make some acknowledgements......  Good typist:CONGRATULATIONS!   Feral Jane: YOU ROCK (I'll tell you why later).  CG: THANK YOU! (couldn't have done it without you!)

Now for blogging. My coffee tastes funny this morning.  Hashtag is integrating pretty long as Jimmy and I are no where to be seen or heard in the evening, she is going to bed by herself with the big girls.  If she can see or hear Me or Jimmy she stays up till she falls asleep on the ground.  The Joys of chickening.
And now we have a new addition to our back yard paradise. A baby Opossum!  Spotted twice this week in full daylight.  Once by the studio and once in the chicken pen.  The thing is almost as cute as Hashtag but its an opossum.  And it will grow up and it will cause problems. So, now I have to deal with it.  I'm thinking a 'have a heart' trap will catch it but then what do I do with it?   I have no problem killing rats, but in my simple mind opossum are a  hair more sympathetic.  The chickens come first though since they provide food for us.  If I could find a use for the opossum, I would let it stay.  Oh well. I will figure something out.
Art Festival:  Interesting this year.  Waaaaaaaay fewer entries and what was entered was on the dark side.  We had our usual round of landscapes and  dogsyoursupposedtolove  paintings (i really hate those things!) but most of the art had a dark edge.  All the paintings, prints and sculptures of people were deformed, shredded, disjointed and, in general, gave one a sense of pain.  Guess the collective is beginning to express an emotional reaction to 3 wars , a dead economy, no health care and  the pressure of the ever increasing  isolation of the individual in our  distopian modern America. Oh and tons of crow /raven imagery.  Gotta give that one some more thought and do some research.  The collective is expressing an archetype.  Now I have to drag out all of my copies of Jung and Joseph Cambell.   No cutesy anthropomorphized animals this year.  The anthro-an art was all vicious  and predatory.  And only 3 paintings out of 300+ sold  from the festival.  Even the winners did not sell this year.  Folks might need to express it and view it but they don't want it hanging in their living room. 
Jimmy expressed a desire for strawberry jam on his PB&J this week and I was surprised to discover  that I am down to 4 jars of jam.  So, this week I will be buying a 50 pound bag of turbinado and  beginning the process with strawberries from the great farmers market just down the road.
And one last thing..... Good typist: I promise to have the pieces finished before rehearsals start in August...... I promise!