Category Archives: Misc

Harvest Time

Yes, I have been quiet again. But it is harvest time and I am busy putting things up for the winter.

I have been busy putting apples, pears, tomatoes, green beans, and cranberries this past week or so. I still have a 32 pound monster heirloom pumpkin to deal with. Part of it will be pressure canned as cubes and the rest roasted and pureed before being frozen.

But while I have been busy, I have managed to create another apple jam recipe. This one is for the chile heads out there or those who like a little zing in their jams.

Apple-Chile Jam

A note on the apples – use what ever you have on hand. You need to like the apples you are using. Mix them up and use a variety. I have seconds from the orchard for applesauce and asked them to mix up the varieties so I honestly have no clue as to what type of apples I have in my box. Leave the skins on the apples because they will provide the pectin.

For a primer on dried chiles, see this page – The Cook’s Thesaurus Chile.

If you are suing fresh chiles, you may need to add about 1 to 2 teaspoons of pectin. For some reason whenever I use fresh chiles in a jam, it never seems to set up as thick as I would like it. So keep an eye on how your jam is setting up and test it!

I prefer to let the apples sweeten this jam as much as possible. If you do not have honey, you can add white or brown sugar in 1/4 cup increments to sweeten it. But do keep in mind that the taste of the final jam will change based on what you use to sweeten it. If you need to use an artificial sweetener, please make sure it is heat stable.

If you do not like the apples or apple cider you are using, you will not enjoy the final product. Cook with ingredients you love to eat!

Ingredients –
2 pounds of apples (read note)
1 to 2 dried chiles – I am planning to use a dried chipotle and part of a aji panca but adjust the peppers to what you can easily find and your heat comfort level OR dried jalapenos OR fresh jalapenos
1 cup of apple cider
1 to 2 tablespoons of bottled lemon juice
pinch of salt
1/2 to 1 cup of local honey (the amount needed will depend on how sweet your apples are)
1/2 to 1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
pinch of red chile pepper flakes – optional

Prepare your canner, jars, and lids for canning.

Crush up your dried chiles.

Pour the apple cider and lemon juice into the bottom of a large pan for jam making. Wash and quarter your apples. Core them. Shred the apples using the shredder blade of your food processor. (Or you can use a box grater.) Empty the container into the pot as it fills up.
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Add the pinch of salt and the dried chiles to the apple mixture. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Cover and turn down the heat and simmer for 15 to 30 minutes, You want the juices mostly gone and the apples to sort of melt and soften down.

Raise the heat back up and slowly add 1/2 cup of honey. Bring back up to a boil. Check at this point. Check the jam for sweetness levels and to make sure the chile levels are at a heat level you are comfortable with. If you need to add more sweetener, add up to 1 cup of honey total. Add the red chile pepper flakes if you want to raise the heat level a touch.

You want the jam to be thick at this point. Think jammy. Fill your hot sterilized jars with the hot jam leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Remove any air bubbles using a wood chopstick or the handle of a wood spoon. Clean the jar rims and seal with lids and bands. Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

You can expect this to make 4 to 5 8-ounce jars.

And as a double bonus, I am updating the cranberry jam that I recently posted.

A friend or three on Facebook asked about some variations to that recipe. And yes it is a jan but if you tell everyone it is a chutney they will not think twice about putting next to their turkey or using it as a savory. I mean they eat the canned cranberry jelly as a savory.

Cranberry Jam – Version 2

I was asked to create a variation on the first version of this recipe and make it more savory and add some items.

I was asked to add crushed pineapple and walnuts to the jam. And as a note to the savory side, you could add a small amount of crushed red chile flakes to add a note of zing.

1 12-ounce bag of fresh or frozen cranberries (a 12 ounce bag is 3 cups)
1-1/2 cups of water or pineapple juice & water to make
chopped zest from 1 orange (I used a naval orange)
chopped zest from 1 lemon
1 small can of crushed pineapple, reserving and measuring the juice
1 cinnamon stick
1 little bit of fresh grated nutmeg
a small pinch of crushed red chile flakes – optional
1 to 2 coins of fresh ginger or use 1/4 to 1/2 cup of minced crystallized ginger added at the end of cooking
1-1/2 teaspoons of calcium water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1 tablespoon white sugar
2-1/4 teaspoons Pomona’s Natural pectin powder
1/2 to 1 cup local honey (you may want to add some extra honey or sugar since this is very tart!)
1/2 cup toasted walnut pieces (or pecans if you like them better)

Combine the cranberries, cinnamon stick, zest, nutmeg, fresh ginger and water/juice mixture in a Dutch oven and simmer over medium low hear just until the cranberries start to pop. Once the cranberries start to pop, crush a few with the back of a spatula.

Juice your orange and lemon into a measuring cup. Add enough bottled lemon juice to get 1/3 of a cup. Add to the cranberries along with the crushed pineapple.

Add the calcium water and reserved lemon/orange juice mixture to your berries. Bring to a simmer. Adjust your seasonings at this point. Add your vanilla bean paste at this point. Add 1/2 cup of the honey at this point. Allow the mixture to come back to a simmer and check the sweetness. You want the mixture to still be slightly tart. If needed or you want a sweeter mixture, add another 1/2 cup of honey.

In a small bowl, blend well the white sugar and the pectin powder well.
Once the berry mixture is back up to a simmer, add the sugar and pectin mixture. Bring to a low boil. Check the mixture for seasoning once more before canning. If you need to adjust the flavors, allow it to simmer for 5 to 10 minutes before canning.

Put into hot sterilized jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.

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Easter Sunrise

Okay, yes, there has been knitting going on. But I have also been taking a number of yoga classes lately too. Including a class Easter morning. It was a renewal class. So I was up extra early Easter morning. And I shot this photo before class at the farm that is basically right behind me.

And the class was a renewal commitment to yoga. It was taught by one of the master teacher instructor for Shiva Rea. I have tried hot yoga before but this time it just clicked. And it was hard but I kept up. And yes, afterwards, I felt like a wet noodle and my clothing was soaked with sweat. But I cam looking forward to taking more classes in this style. And it turns out that I know the instructor’s mother. Her mother is a knitter!

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Contest Winners

The bulbs are starting to pop up through the debris left from winter's ravages

Okay, I emailed almsot everyone who won from my reentry blog post. There is one person who I did not email simply because I already have her address. I just heard back from the last person and I can now announce the winners.

And the winners are –
Tasha of Adventures of a Sisu Girl up in the far north. Tasha is a spinner so I will be creating a lovely batt for her. And I will be sending her some other fiber since we are trading fibers. Read her blog for stories about what it is really like to live in the bush of Alaska.

Linda of Altered Vision. Linda is a fantastic spinner and creates really wonderful art yarns. Check out her Etsy shop to see them plus her dyed fibers. And I am trading fibers with her as well.

Mel of Misadventures in Knitting in wonderful Switzerland is a knitter who I met through Ravelry. I will be sending some handspun yarn her way. She couldn’t believe that I not only picked her but was willing to mail internationally as well.

Crazy for pink Emy of Emy’s blah blah blog will be getting a wonderful braid of top that will have her favorite colors in it – pink!!! Emy is now a spinner and I am sure she will be spinning sock yarns really soon. I did not even have to ask EMy what color she likes. Um, she is the person responsible for me having some rather shocking pink sock yarn.

Charlotte won some handspun yarn as well. She doesn’t blog. And it turns out that she is local to me. She is a beginning spinner but she is also a weaver.

And the one winner that I did not notify is the wonder talented Jodi of a A Caffeinated Yarn. I think Jodi may get the yarn that is currently on the wheel. The colors will cheer her up in a wintery Chicago. Although, I may pick another yarn for her.

And I got back two shawls yesterday that Pris had blocked for me. I had knit them both back in the fall out of handspun. My niece was by yesterday and feel in love with them both. But she preferred the blue one best. The pattern for both is Boneyard. The only way I let her have the one was for her to agree to knit one for herself. She is in a show choir and has a long bus ride coming up right after Easter. She has picked out the yarn and I will get her started since she needs to learn to M1L and M1R and how to yarn over. She wants something to occupy her hands on the bus trip. Maybe this time, she will actually follow a pattern kind of.

And does anyone play Travian? I am playing it on Servers 3 and 4. Let me know if you are playing or interested in playing. It is actually quite a bit of fun now that I have figured out the ropes and not about to have my village farmed or destroyed.


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Still Alive

Dear BLog,

Why yes, I am still here. I have been playing with the new toy aka the new Mac. And I have managed to get sucked into Facebook. I spend way too much time trying to beat Pris on Farmville. (And yes, I am currently ahead of her.) Plus I have sucked into Treasure Madness which is fun. I have been knitting and spinning. And shoveling snow and looking at snow. A lot of snow. I am still trying to figure out who pissed off Mother Nature.

I am aiming to get back to regular blogging next week. I am trying to clean up Bloglines first. When I finally logged in yesterday, I had over 12,000 unread posts. SO I am going through and unsubscribing to quite a few blogs that I never really read anyway. And the number is now under 10,00 at least. Hopefully, I will be able to get a decent photograph of one of the shawls I have finished and have some thing to show off of the shawl on the needles now. I am still on the st-st portion.

An d there will be a contest for coming back to the blog. The prize may be handspun yarn or it could be a lovely lofty batt. Depends on if you are a spinner or one who has not come over to the dark side of knitting yet. And Pris, sorry but you are not allowed in the contest. I have spun up your yarn.


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Dear Blog

Dear Blog,

Yes, I have been absent quite a bit lately. But it isn’t all my fault. The old computer is having major issues and just seems to slow down and crash at weird times. And that makes blogging and editing photos … well, not fun. Okay frustrating. Okay, the Facebook addiction with the wonderful games over there hasn’t helped matters either.

But I promise to be a much more regular visitor starting some time next week. See yesterday, my lovely Christmas present was ordered. I am finally moving away from a PC and going over to the dark side of Apple. Right now as I write, a lovely little MacBook Pro is being built for me. Okay, not so little since I went with the big one but still it is being built for me. And Apple has promised me that it will be here sometimes early next week.

Once the lovely new computer gets here, I will start playing with it and start blogging again. I promise. And once the taller than I am annoying techie teenage boy helps me transfer all of my music over to the laptop, I will be very very happy. Plus he will be taking this old computer and reformating the hard drive and such. But never fear, all of my picture files and patterns are stored on a external drive. I will be able to go back and finally finish editing all of those lovely pictures taken over the last several months.

But I have been knitting. And I have also been spinning. Actually right now, I really need to get back to the spreadsheet that is being filled with destash yarns. Yes, I am doing a serious destash of sock yarns. I have finally admitted that I would never be able to knit that many pairs of socks in the next three years.

So until next week when the lovely box from Apple arrives, I will be playing around with Facebook between the computer going slow and such.




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Crafty Bastards

I just realized that I never posted about Crafty Bastards and that made me realize that I haven’t posted this month! Pia aka sparklypia everywhere went home with a skein of handspun alpaca. The only way to describe Crafty Bastards is crowds. Just think hordes and hordes of people. Working with Karida meant that each of us was able to take turns and try to wander the show. But the crowds made it hard. But I did manage top get some shopping done. I bought two Christmas presents for the nephews and plenty of soap for me. I adore handmade soap and never use commercially made soaps anymore. So I took the chance to stock up for a few months.


And there is more knitting going on but it is secret knitting gain. You will just have to wait for the big reveal. And I am still trying to make sure that the photo blog is updated daily.

Crafty BastardsCrafty Bastards

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Bad Blogger

I have been a bad blogger. I didn’t blog at all last week. I mean I didn’t even post a photo! But I have actually been knitting which was proved by the fact that I gave away two hats and a pair of fingerless mitts to some of the reenactors that I know this past weekend. And of course, I forgot to take photos of the knitted items before giving them away. I also have realized that I have not spun in almost two week either. I keep getting dirty looks from the three spinning currently sitting in my living room.

Musket Loading

And yes, there are three spinning wheels in my living room. I have one on loan thanks to the wonderful Lauren. Lendrums are actually lovely and I have fallen under the spell of the Cult of Lendrum now. I also have a Louet S15 sitting in my living room which I just purchased from another friend. And of course, my Matchless is in the center of the line up.

Fort Frederick

Fort Frederick

So what have I been doing? I have been spending time working on finishing up some quilts and learning about open hearth cooking. I spent this past week working as a docent at Schifferstadt in the kitchen both days. I was dressed in modern clothing but we were able to show that women’s work really hasn’t changed that much. And the fun part was that both days, we had the interns aka das kinder working in the kitchen. Water had to be fetched from the “well” (the hose outside), dishes washed, and the fire tended too. And we also made them help with the cooking too since after the museum closes we all get to eat. So they were told that if they wanted to eat dinner they had to help. Funny how mentioning to teenage boys the magic word of food means they are willing to help out in the kitchen works. One of the boys was actually able to complete a merit badge for Scouts by making dessert on Saturday. There are plenty of photos from this past weekend but I haven’t even downloaded them yet.

Fort Frederick

Fort Frederick

I have also starting making trips up to Fort Frederick to get familiar with it and the history of the Fort.


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