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Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Craft On: Much Progress!

I am almost at the divide the front and back on my cropped pullover! What is a middle aged mother of eight doing knitting a cropped pullover, you ask? Well, it does't have to be worn without anything underneath it! I plan to wear it over dresses and long tunic shirts. We have a couple longer drives coming up soon, and I am hoping to get some good knitting time then to get close to finished, so I can have the sample knit and the pattern written for my technical editor by the end of this month, but I am famous for making ridiculous goals for myself. I started this a month ago, and worked on it only intermittently until recently. Had I been working on it more consistently, I think it might have been finished a week or two ago. If you are interested in beta knitting it in one of the sizes from 29" to 58", please let me know, as I would love your feedback and the publicity.

Please keep me in your prayers. I still have a lot of mouth pain, and I think there may still be an infection in the gums where my wisdom tooth was not able to be removed. We have been so busy and have so much coming up that I just don't think I can get into the dentist in the next week and a half. So, in the interim, it's a lot of ibuprofen and natural antibiotics like garlic, manuka honey, and oregano oil. I've just been exhausted from the pain and waking in the middle of the night, so I'm not getting a lot done, but I have still been able to knit a bit.

The kids and I are more than halfway through Anne's House of Dreams and I really think that I might finish Desert Queen in the next day or two. I loved the description of Ibn Saud saying that if the British women were this strong, imagine what British men must be! If you look on my sidebar, you will see that I have updated my finished books, too. Lots of them are light fiction, or short stories, but it has felt good to get some actual reading in lately.


Linking to Unraveled Wednesday.

If you would like to receive updates and early notice of new patterns, beta knitting opportunities, and great discounts (plus pictures of new yarns, new tools, fun places, neat hints, book ideas, recipes and more) each month, please subscribe to 1,001 Knits. My best, and sometimes my only, discounts go to my subscribers.

I am a participant in the Amazon Affiliates program, so the book links you see here have the potential to net me a few pennies a month.

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Sunday, October 10, 2021

Menu Plan: October 10 - 16

So, we have had more than a week with freezing or below freezing weather. It is officially winter here. We have been running the fireplace, and not just to cut the chill in the morning. It runs nearly the whole day now. Pray for us. Also, I am still hurting, even after taking pain medicine for a week and a half and taking a strong run of anti-biotics. I'm worried there is still a little infection in there, which may mean another visit to the dentist and another round of anti-biotics. Sigh. At least it doesn't look like I will need an oral surgeon, but I will have them check again, just in case. We have so much going on in the next two weeks, too, that I can't afford any surgery or recovery time until after the 27th.

We are still setting aside a leftover day, and occasionally have to do another one, or bar people from making a new lunch and insist on eating leftovers instead. I have two options for dinner on Tuesday, because we may be starting up our study group again, and one of the ladies who comes cannot have nightshades, so I need alternatives. It has stretched my cooking skills, and was a good preparation for Jerome's dietary issues. In just over two weeks he gets to introduce eggs again! I am so excited, though not as excited as he is. His next re-introduction would be chocolate, so he can have it in time for Christmas. Then we move to dairy products. He chose those for his first foods, because he misses them so much. After that, mostly, we have ordered it based on what is most convenient for me, with the two that were the most likely to be true allergies to be the last two foods. It will be a year from the end of this month before he gets everything back.

What is on your menu this week? If you want a recipe, ask and I will provide it as soon as I can. If there are any starred recipes, I will follow up separately with a weekly recipe round up on Saturday.

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Saturday, October 09, 2021

Recipe Round Up: Peach Melba Pudding Cake

I saw a recipe for a peach and blueberry cake on Simply Recipes, and thought it would be delicious, but saved it for a later time. When we were still seeing raspberries on our vines and had some lovely peaches, I thought to modify it. I've modified it a little more, because it is basically a shortbread cookie filled with a fruit pudding. I am going to try to make this crust with a gluten-free flour, coconut oil and egg substitute next to see if I can make it for Jerome.

For the shortbread crust:
1 1/2 cups gluten-free or pastry flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) cold unsalted coconut oil or butter (or vegan butter), cut into small pieces
1 large egg or Bob's Red Mill egg replacer (made with one and a half the amount of water)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the filling:
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup tapioca starch
2 pounds ripe, firm, large peaches (about 5), peeled, halved lengthwise, pitted, and cut into thin slices
1 cup raspberries
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or paste
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon rosewater (optional, but not really)

Shortbread crust:

Place flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt into a food processor and pulse about 15 times, until combined. Add the coconut oil/butter pieces and pulse another 10 times or so, until the mixture has the texture of cornmeal with several pieces about the size of a pea dispersed throughout it. Add the egg/egg replacer and vanilla extract and pulse several more times, until the dough begins to clump together and form a ball.

Press dough evenly onto the bottom of a 9 or 9 1/2-inch springform pan, about 1/4 inch thick on the bottom and about 1 1/2 to 2 inches up the sides of the pan. Put into the refrigerator to chill for at least 10 minutes, while you prepare the filling.

Pre-heat oven to 375° F, with the rack in the center position.

Filling:

Mix sugar and tapioca starch. Add peaches, raspberries, vanilla extract or paste, lemon juice, and rosewater and gently toss to coat.

Fill shortbread crust with peach and raspberry filling. Cover pan with foil. Bake until the filling is bubbly in the center and crust is golden, about 1 3/4 hours.

Remove from oven and set on a rack to cool, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Run a blunt knife around the inside edge of the pan to help release the crust from the sides of the pan. Then carefully remove the side of pan. Cool cake to barely warm or room temperature, then cut into wedges to serve.

The filling will be quite wet when the pudding cake is removed from the oven, but will gel as it cools.

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Thursday, October 07, 2021

Craft On: Travel Knitting

We had the opportunity to go to a work conference for Rich and I had about four days of relaxation, which were wonderful. It was such a beautiful place, and on salt water, with trees all around us and mountains nearby and in view. I made a good deal of progress on my sweater, and was able to sit in on two talks that Rich gave, and I was so proud of him. He is a good public speaker, and I know it, but this time he really shone as a good man, kind and generous, thoughtful, all that I love in him.

My recovery on my mouth from all the dental work was better, and the rest did me a lot of good. I'm still a little concerned about the fact that I still have a little pain. I haven't been taking pain pills for a few days, but it isn't because the pain has ceased entirely. There may be another dentist trip in my future.

We have made a bit of progress on Anne's House of Dreams and I am really close to finishing Desert Queen. If I get some more reading time tonight, I might be able to get to the end of the book.


Linking to Unraveled Wednesday.

If you would like to receive updates and early notice of new patterns, beta knitting opportunities, and great discounts (plus pictures of new yarns, new tools, fun places, neat hints, book ideas, recipes and more) each month, please subscribe to 1,001 Knits. My best, and sometimes my only, discounts go to my subscribers.

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Sunday, October 03, 2021

Menu Plan: October 3 - 9

Thank you for your prayers. I'm still in pain, but it is getting better, little by little. I'd appreciate your continued prayers. We are going to have to decide if I need to see an oral surgeon if my mouth does not improve soon.

This week we have the first child's birthday in our family with that child living elsewhere. It is also the end of the birthday season in our family.

What is on your menu this week? If you want a recipe, ask and I will provide it as soon as I can. If there are any starred recipes, I will follow up separately with a weekly recipe round up on Saturday.

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Saturday, October 02, 2021

Recipe Round Up: Fluffy Gluten-Free and Vegan Peanut Butter Pancakes & Red Pepper Sludge

Fluffy Gluten-Free and Vegan Peanut Butter Pancakes

This is a recipe I have been using for a long time that I have converted into a gluten-free, vegan form. It is delicious and will be wonderful when Jerome can have egg in it again, and then regular milk. However, it is still fluffy and delicious without them.

1 cup gluten-free or pastry flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

2 - 2 1/2 cups milk of choice (we have been using unflavored, unsweetened almond milk)
1/3 cup smooth peanut butter
1 large egg or equivalent of Bob's Red Mill egg replacer

1 tablespoon oil of choice to grease griddle or pan

Whisk together dry ingredients and set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together milk, peanut butter and egg until relatively smooth. Mix dry ingredients into wet ingredients and combine.

Heat skillet over medium heat or an electric griddle to 275˚ F. Grease with a light swipe of oil. Pour batter by 1/4 - 1/3 cup portions onto hot skillet. Cook until bubbles pop around the edges, then turn and cook 1 - 2 minutes more. Grease pan in between batches, as necessary

Red Pepper Sludge

This basic method is something I got from Laurie Colwin. I found her cookbook at a bookstore sale for only $1 when I was 14 or 15. I would read it like a novel. It is something I made in high school and ate with bread for lunches. My method is a little different from hers, and I don't use only sweet peppers as she did, but it is a recipe that could be seen as a tribute to hers. This makes a good amount, and it stores forever in the refrigerator, especially kept submerged in oil.

12 large red bell peppers
3 medium red hot peppers

1/4 - 1/2 cup olive oil
12 cloves of garlic, cut into 3 or 4 slivers each
salt, to taste
juice of 1 lemon, strained

Roast the peppers under your broiler for about 8 - 10 minutes, until they are blackened and blistered, but not burnt through. Turn and broil for another 7 minutes or so. Allow to cool, remove the peels, seeds and stems and cut peppers into strips.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat, add the olive oil and the garlic slivers. Heat for a minute or so, then add the red pepper slices and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook for 5 - 10 minutes, until the peppers start to break down a little. Season to taste with salt and add the strained juice of a lemon. Add a little more olive oil if necessary.

This can be eaten on pasta as a sauce or with bread. You can pour this sludge into a jar, well covered with the oil, and seal with a lid to store in the fridge indefinitely.

The picture above is of the cooking process, before it has broken down.

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Sunday, September 26, 2021

Menu Plan: September 26 - October 2

In your mercy, please pray for me. The tooth extraction went a little sideways and we only took one tooth (that part is alright), but that decision was made after wrenching on the other for nearly 40 minutes. I have been in more and more pain since Wednesday, getting rather bad Friday and this weekend. Rich met with the dentist yesterday to get me a stronger pain medication prescription and an anti-biotic, if it looks like there is an infection. Please pray that the pain lessens and that there is no infection or damage to the yanked on tooth, especially below the gum. What I can eat has been severely limited, and even chewing on crustless bread was hurting a little. The stronger pain medication helped me eat more solid food that was still on the soft side.

After many mixes and many experiments with gluten-free pancake recipes, I finally just used the peanut butter pancake recipe I normally use with Jerome's flour, egg substitute and almond milk, and they were the best pancakes he's had since being on this diet. When he can have egg back completely, in a month and a half or so, it will improve them even further. Since he can't have our Michaelmas dragon, I may just give him some of the filling to eat on some gluten-free biscuits. The girls' ballet schedule makes it easy to have our bonfire this year, so we will be able to enjoy that.

Jerome's name day is this week, as well, and I think I've found an appropriate treat that he can enjoy with the rest of us. In the interim, I am resting as much as I can and trying to heal. We are still doing as much food preservation as possible, so we don't let the late summer harvest go to waste.

What is on your menu this week? If you want a recipe, ask and I will provide it as soon as I can. If there are any starred recipes, I will follow up separately with a weekly recipe round up on Saturday.

Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they were defeated and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world -- he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. -- Revelation 12:7-9

Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle, be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him we humbly pray; and do thou, O Prince of the Heavenly host, by the power of God, cast into hell Satan and all the evil spirits, who roam through the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.Sancte Michael Archangele, defende nos in praelio. Contra nequitiam et insidias diaboli esto praesidium. Imperet illi Deus, supplices deprecamur. Tuque princeps militiae caelestis, Satanam aliosque spiritus malignos, qui ad perditionem animarum pervagantur in mundo divina virtute in infernum detrude. Amen.

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Saturday, September 25, 2021

Recipe Round Up: Battatas ou Bayd and Green Olive Salad

Battatas ou Bayd

This is not the prettiest dish, but it sure is delicious. It's a quick and hot breakfast, perfect for cold fall and winter mornings. In the Arab world, it seems like recipes are either very literally named (as this one, which simply means potatoes and eggs), or they have fanciful stories attached to them (like baba ghanooj, which is named for a spoiled papa).  I've given this recipe per person, and you can adjust up for as many people as you are serving. We normally do ten times this amount.

sunflower oil (or another light oil)
1 large potato, peeled and diced into 1/2 inch cubes
1/4 teaspoon sumac
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon Aleppo pepper
salt, to taste
1 large egg

Heat an appropriately sized skillet over medium-high heat until the pan feels hot for at least 30 seconds when your hand is held a few inches over it. Add a generous amount of oil (enough for the potatoes as well as the egg), then the potatoes. Increase the heat to high and allow to sit and cook until they brown a little on the bottom.

Flip the potatoes and allow to brown again. Do this another time or two, until all sides are crisp and brown. Add the spices and salt and toss to mix well.

Crack egg and add to the pan with the potatoes. Immediately reduce the heat to medium and mix up the egg with the potatoes and spices.  Serve hot with fruit, bread, and whatever you like.

 

Salatat Zeitoun (Green Olive Salad)

This is a salad and relish all in one. In the Middle East, pickles and relishes like this are eaten with just about every meal. Even foods like hummus and baba ghanooj are considered salads like this that can be eaten with the meal. This is a bright and tangy dish that is delicious with rich foods. Some people like to make a large batch of this to store long term. If you plan to do that, you may wish to reserve the fresh lemon peel to add at the time of serving to preserve their freshness. This is not necessary if you use preserved lemons.

2 cups diced bell pepper (cut into 1/2 inch squares)
2 cups pitted, brined green olives, finely chopped
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup chopped lemon peel (you can also use the peel from preserved lemons)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt + more to prep the vegetables
2 tablespoons shatta* (hot pepper paste), optional, but not really
olive oil to cover

Place peppers in a colander, sprinkle with salt, and place the colander in a bowl. Leave in the fridge overnight. (This is to reduce the water content of the peppers. This will preserve the salad much longer).

Mix the olives, pepper, lemon peel, walnuts and shatta. Place the mixture in jars and add enough olive oil to cover and fully submerge the mixture. Close with lids and store in the fridge.

Shatta 1 pound red chili peppers
2 tablespoons salt
juice of 1 large lemon, strained (about 3 tablespoons)
good olive oil
Wash peppers and dry them them. Leave them in the sun for 3 to 4 days or put in a food dryer for a couple hours. You want to dehydrate them a bit.

Remove stems and grind peppers in a meat grinder, food processor, or using a mortar and pestle.

Add 1 tablespoon salt and mix well with pepper paste, then place in a fine strainer in the refrigerator. The next day add another 1 1/2 teaspoon of salt, mix well and return to the fridge to strain for 2 to 4 days. Most of the liquid should be removed to help preserve the shatta longer.

Place strained paste in an airtight jar. Add remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and lemon juice and mix thoroughly. Top with olive oil and seal with the lid. This stores in the fridge just about forever.

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Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Craft On: Lost and Found

Tarboosh is finally published! It is available in my PayHip store, Ravelry store, and will be available in my LoveCrafts store within 24 hours.  You can see that it matches Kabsa, and I have a great deal for you if you purchase both right now. With the coupon code TarbooshIntro in both my PayHip and Ravelry stores, you can receive Tarboosh for 50% off with the purchase of Kabsa in the same cart. In fact, if you have already purchased Kabsa, that purchase will still count for Tarboosh. You will have to do it a little differently on PayHip if you made a previous purchase, and e-mail me your receipt for that one (or the name your account is in so I can look it up for you), and I will send you a coupon code for Tarboosh at 50% off specifically. This coupon is valid through the end of the day PDT, September 30, 2021.

I have a new design on needles, and I am hoping to have it ready for tech editing and beta knitting by the end of October. It is a project I had almost finished for years, but I was unhappy with it, so I started over, and it is much better. This will be a woman's garment, and it will be graded from 29 inches at least up to 54 inches in bust circumference. I am trying to figure out the math to figure out the armscye for larger sizes, so I can perhaps have it graded to 58 inches.

We are finished with Anne of Windy Poplars and started Anne's House of Dreams. I'm not as far into Desert Queen as I hoped, but am making progress. I've had too many sleepy nights. Another blogger shared The Lost Words and I had our library send it to us. As soon as Rich finished reading it, he said he thought we should own in, so I think I will get on that. It is a beautiful book, illustrated in watercolors, with lovely poetic verse about several of the 400 words which the Oxford English Dictionary (mostly regarding nature) thought should be excised from the new edition almost ten years ago. My thoughts on that are that if people and kids are more familiar with technology, then it is precisely the nature words we should keep for them to find in the dictionary, as they already know what blog and download and cut-and-paste mean. They didn't ask me for my thoughts, though.


Linking to Unraveled Wednesday.

If you would like to receive updates and early notice of new patterns, beta knitting opportunities, and great discounts (plus pictures of new yarns, new tools, fun places, neat hints, book ideas, recipes and more) each month, please subscribe to 1,001 Knits. My best, and sometimes my only, discounts go to my subscribers.

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Sunday, September 19, 2021

Menu Plan: September 19 - 25

We are basically entering winter here. It has been actually cold in the mornings, and we are set to have a morning at or below freezing Wednesday. We are so grateful for God's provision, and are spenging quite a lot of time on drying, canning, and freezing so we can enjoy this bounty all winter.

Even planning on using leftover ingredients and putting a leftover day on the weekly menu, we still ended up having leftovers again for dinner on Saturday. Aside from Alexander no longer eating with us each night, Dominic was housesitting this weekend, so we had a lot extra from several meals over the week. Since we were busy with the preservation all day on Saturday, I just had everyone eat leftovers for dinner again. I have a little urgency in getting the preserving done, because I don't think I will be up to it after my wisdom teeth are out Tuesday (at Tooth Hurty). While the kids will be able to help with most meals, I do most of the heavy lifting on the canning, so that part needs to be done before Tuesday afternoon. They can handle the freezing and drying, though.

The Orthodox service was canceled this past week, and they are trying to hold it this Saturday. I'm hoping I will be feeling well enough to go. If not, the family can go and I can stay at home and rest. Our co-op began this past week, and I will have to be there for that this week because this is the only week my co-teacher is going to be gone, so I may be using up my energy on that. We shall see. We are still only doing a little school work, but will begin the serious work next week.

What is on your menu this week? If you want a recipe, ask and I will provide it as soon as I can. If there are any starred recipes, I will follow up separately with a weekly recipe round up on Saturday.

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Saturday, September 18, 2021

Recipe Round Up: Tourshi Makhloot

Tourshi Makhloot

Tourshi makhloot just means mixed pickles. So, this recipe is very customizeable. I grew up eating this, and we like to eat it. Since we had bits and bobs of various vegetables to use, I decided to make it for us. However, I think there are things that must be in it, things that should be in it and things that may be.

There must be: Carrots, cauliflower, cucumbers, onion, sweet peppers.

There should be: Celery, hot peppers, salt packed or brined olives, and turnips.

There may be: Beets, cabbage, or green beans.

You need to wash all the vegetables, but you must peel carrots, onions, turnips, and beets. Ideally, your onions will be little pearl onions, but we don't often have them, so I use slices about 1/4" thick.

If you like, you may include turmeric in the brine. Don't do this if you are adding beets to the mix. The color will be awful. Turmeric is not essential, and I usually leave it out, but it is traditional in many quarters. If you use beets, do not use turmeric; if you use turmeric, do not use beets. Neither are essential, though. However, if you do not have celery to add to the mix, you can add some celery seed instead, as I describe below. Normally, I would have included coriander seeds, but since Jerome can't have that right now, I left it out of this batch. This recipe makes about four quarts of mixed pickles. Any extra vegetables can be put in a jar on the counter with the brine and an appropriate amount of the spices and herbs in it; cover it with the lid and turn the mix around for a week or so, then put in the refrigerator to eat right away. Any extra brine can be kept in the fridge and used for other pickles or added to salad dressing.

6 pounds of mixed vegetables, scrubbed, peeled if necessary, chopped into similar sized pieces, leaving small hot peppers whole
1/2 cup pickling salt
about 2 trays of ice cubes or equivalent
Brine:
6 cups white vinegar
3 cups water
1 tablespoon turmeric (optional)

For each jar:
3 cloves garlic, peeled (12 total)
2 heads fresh dill (8 total)
1 dry, hot chile (4 total)
1 teaspoon peppercorns (4 total)
1 teaspoon mustard seed (4 total)
1 teaspoon celery seed, if you don't have celery, if you do, exclude this (4 total)
1 teaspoon coriander seed (4 total)

Layer chopped vegetables in a large bowl and toss with the pickling salt. Cover with the ice and let sit at room temperature for about 4 hours.

In a large pot, bring vinegar, water, and turmeric (if using), to a boil. Keep hot at a low boil.

Drain vegetables well (do not rinse, you need the salt). Place the garlic, spices and herbs into the hot, sterilized jars. Pack salted vegetables into hot quart jars. Ladle hot brine over the vegetables, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Using a thin knife, or skewer, poke down through the jars to release air bubbles. Wipe rims and cover with new lids. Screw on rings to finger tightness, not too tightly, just enough to keep the lids on before they are sealed.

Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Cool upright, remove rings and check seals, and store without the rings. They will be ready to eat in about 2 weeks.

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Friday, September 17, 2021

Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant

We were talking about how so many Americans really don't seem to know what to do with an eggplant. Our kids are excited when they see eggplant, but I know that most people either are perplexed or repulsed by them here. I think Americans tend not to cook them enough. There can be crispness to them from frying or roasting, but there should never be crunch on the inside. They should be soft and silky, otherwise, they will be too astringent. Anyway, I thought I'd give you some ideas on what to do, all in one place.

We had about eight eggplant left in our fridge (after using about eight or nine already) because of our gleaning club last week, so I took the time to make caponata, as it freezes so well and can be made into so many meals. I use it as a pasta sauce on abstinent days, it can be a side dish with grilled or fried sausages, I add it to lasagne, you can brown up ground beef or Italian sausage and add it to it for a meat sauce. We froze two gallons of it. The other thing I made was Baba Ghanooj. Rich was really wanting some, and even though Jerome can't enjoy it right now, I made it. Between the two of those, we made short work of those eggplant. Here is how I made the caponata:

Caponata

6 medium sized eggplant, cubed
6 zucchini or summer squash, sliced
3 large sweet peppers, cut into chunks
6 tablespoons capers, drained
3 dozen kalamata or green olives, pitted
3/4 cup red wine vinegar
3 28-ounce cans chopped tomato (or equivalent amount fresh tomatoes, chopped, with all their juices collected and saved)
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1/2 cup basil leaves, chopped
6 stalks celery, thinly sliced
3 red onions, finely chopped
12 cloves garlic, minced
olive oil
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
chopped parsley, to garnish

Lightly season eggplant cubes with salt, set aside.

In a large pan heat olive oil then pan fry eggplant cubes until they are turn golden on each side. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Add additional olive oil to the pan, then sauté onion, peppers and celery. Add summer squash and brown slightly.

Add the garlic, and cook a minute or two. Add oregano, basil, red wine vinegar, capers, olives and chopped tomato. Bring to a boil, then add fried eggplant and simmer for 15 minutes on low heat.

Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper then garnish with chopped parsley.

There are so many ways you can make eggplant, though. I like to just shallow fry slices, crisply, and eat them salted. You can get fancy and fry them in garlic oil with chile peppers, too. I like to make a green curry with shrimp or chicken and eggplant. Also, I roast eggplant, peppers, onions, summer squash, seasoned with salt and pepper, garlic and oregano, and toss them with balsamic vinegar and olive oil and top flat breads or pizza dough with it and bake. Here is a list of my recipes and other recipes that I love which feature eggplant:

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Sunday, September 12, 2021

Menu Plan: September 12 - 18

Glory to God who provides so abundantly for us! Not only are we blessed with our gleaning club and our local Grocery Outlet, but our Fred Meyer rewards showed up this week, and we were able to buy some pickling cucumbers, tomatoes, and basil for $0.50 a pound or a bunch (for the basil). We have been preserving up a storm! We are still below our Shelftember monthly budget, but we will be squeaking by if we make it this month. Last year we were over by only a little, and I was hoping to break even or be under this year.

I'm finding that even with just Alexander gone, we are building up quite a backlog of leftovers in the fridge. On Thursday last week, I wouldn't let anyone eat anything new until just about all the leftovers in the fridge were eaten. That was for both lunch and dinner! So, now I am trying to build in a leftovers day on Thursday, since that seems to be one of our busier days, until I get used to making just a little less. It makes my heart ache a little. I did alright not crying until after Alexander left Monday night. Nejat was sitting at the dining room table and just started to bawl. I held her and told her it was alright, that he still lived nearby, still loved her, and we would still see him, and that there was no reason to cry, all while tears started. I miss waiting for him to come in the door from work and miss saying goodnight to him. I don't want to spoil the fun and adventure of having his own place and freedom, so I'm telling you instead of him. He is doing well, and lives among several elderly folks who will soon find out that he is a big, friendly teddy bear, and will probably have him helping around their places soon enough. He is a light of Christ in a dark world, and among his neighbors, but I miss seeing him every day.

Anyway, it looks like this week is Mexican week at our house. Or at least Mexican style. I didn't quite plan on that, except that those meals worked out the best for our schedules this week. Next week is going to be much more about soft foods and soups because I get TWO wisdom teeth out and I think I will not want things that require lots of chewing or are too crunchy.

What is on your menu this week? If you want a recipe, ask and I will provide it as soon as I can. If there are any starred recipes, I will follow up separately with a weekly recipe round up on Saturday.

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Saturday, September 11, 2021

Recipe Round Up: Spicy Garlic Dill Pickles and Half Sweet Bread and Butter Pickles

We did loads of preserving this week. Between our gleaning club and a homeschool family selling their garden produce at $0.50 a pound, we are overflowing with good things. I made and froze a few gallons of caponata, made a few basil, garlic and olive oil cubes to freeze, canned peaches, made peach jelly and butter, crabapple jelly, some peach and raspberry preserves, dried apple slices and tomatoes, and made loads of dill pickles and bread and butter pickles. The dills cost us under a dollar per quart, which is a dollar cheaper than even at the Grocery Outlet and larger by eight ounces, and the bread and butters cost under a dollar per pint, which is about $0.50 cheaper than the Grocery Outlet for an equivalent amount, only made how I like them. We go through pickles quickly, so we will still have to buy them this winter, but we will spend less on them now. If I keep getting cucumbers from this family, I will also be able to put up more.

Spicy Garlic Dill Pickles

This is how we like pickles. The grape leaf helps keep them crisp, so I strongly recommend them, but you can leave them out if you don't want or have them. I usually have Rich or one of the kids packing the hot jars while I prep the lids and rings and the brine. This quanity of brine will make about 4 quarts of pickles. Any extra brine can be kept in the fridge and used for other pickles or added to salad dressing.

Brine:
4 cups white vinegar
4 cups water
1/4 cup pickling salt

6 pounds small pickling cucumbers, washed
4 young grape leaves (optional)
8 cloves garlic, peeled
4 - 8 dried red peppers
4 fresh dill heads or 4 tablespoons dill seeds
4 teaspoons peppercorns

Put all brine ingredients in a large pot and bring to a boil. Keep hot at a low boil.

Trim very thin slice off both ends of cucumbers. Pack one grape leaf, 2 cloves garlic, 1 - 2 red peppers, 1 dill head or 1 tablespoon dill seeds, 1 teaspoon peppercorns in the bottom of each hot quart jar. Pack about 1 1/2 pounds cucumbers into each jar, tightly.

Fill with boiling brine, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Leave to seal on their own (I trust them with this much vinegar and salt, and it keeps them crisper, but you may not want to do that) or use boiling water bath for 5 - 10 minutes. They will be ready to eat in about 6 weeks.

Half Sweet Bread and Butter Pickles

I didn't grow up with these, so when I saw how syrupy the normal recipes were for them, I wasn't keen on that. I add lots of onions and a bit of spice, and reduce the sugar by quite a lot. That is more like bread and butter for me. I use the larger pickling cucumbers, that aren't quite as good whole, for these, but are perfect cut into slices. This recipe yields about 10 - 12 pints. Any extra vegetables can be put in a jar on the counter with the brine; cover it with the lid and turn the mix around for a week or so, then put in the refrigerator to eat right away. Any extra brine can be kept in the fridge and used for other pickles or added to salad dressing.

5 pounds pickling cucumbers, washed, ends trimmed, and cut into 1/4" slices
3 pounds onions, peeled and cut into 1/4" slices
3/4 cup pickling salt
about 2 trays of ice cubes or equivalent
1/4 cup whole mustard seeds
1 tablespoon hot pepper flakes
1 tablespoon celery seeds

Brine:
6 cups apple cider vinegar
5 cups water
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon turmeric

Layer sliced cucumbers and onions in a large bowl and toss with the pickling salt. Cover with the ice and let sit at room temperature for about 4 hours.

In a large pot, bring vinegar, water, sugar and turmeric to a boil. Keep hot at a low boil.

Drain vegetables well (do not rinse, you need the salt) and toss with the mustard seeds, hot pepper flakes and celery seeds. Pack spiced vegetables into hot pint jars. Ladle hot brine over the vegetables, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Using a thin knife, or skewer, poke down through the jars to release air bubbles. Wipe rims and cover with new lids. Screw on rings to finger tightness, not too tightly, just enough to keep the lids on before they are sealed.

Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Cool upright, remove rings and check seals, and store without the rings. They will be ready to eat in about 3 weeks.

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Sunday, September 05, 2021

Menu Plan: September 5 - 11

It is September, and I am doing Shelftember again. My cooking style is very different than the woman who organizes this, and I include all our household supplies and animal supplies in my grocery budget, but I do like to try to eat as much from our freezers and pantries, and save money at the beginning of all school and co-op and dance and all of that. Plus, we have to buy both snow tires and regular tires for my van. This will give us more cushion for that, too.

Since we belong to that wonderful gleaning club I mention here so often, though, we are still flush with produce. Also, I have a pretty big Fred Meyer reward rebate that we will be using in a couple weeks, which I don't count against our lowered budget. Normally, we spend about $1600 a month on our groceries, including toiletries, paper products, cleaning products, and animal feed/supplies. This month, I have reduced that to $550 and we are eating out of what we have here. With the way prices have gone up, though, I think it will be a little harder to do this year even than it was last year. When I went to the grocery store for my bi-weekly trip, many prices that have been stable for a long time had gone up significantly. Thank God for our gleaning group and friends at the Grocery Outlet.

We have had a few changes this past week. One of those is that the local Orthodox Mission has set up Divine Liturgy twice a month, and the first was yesterday. We were able to join them, and will be going every other week. Rich will still be leading the Anglican Evening Prayer service Sunday nights, so I think we will just be alternating which weekends we go to either the Catholic or Orthodox Church in the morning. It has been the biggest challenge since we have come here not to have a home parish. We love each of these churches, but we miss our own. However, it is beautiful and our boys, especially, love the Orthodox liturgy, and they are so glad to be going. It has been good for our youngest girls, as well. They see the icons and ask about them, and they "read" the history of our faith in them. That has been wonderful. We are always trying to see the great blessings God has given us here in our desert place.

It has been downright cold in the mornings here. I'm trying not to complain, but instead be grateful for our warm house and bed, but it is hard. Also hard is that Alexander finally moved out on his own this weekend. It is time and we are happy for him, but it is hard, too. I imagine, he will find some things harder than he expects, also, because while he won't have to work around nine other people or do dishes for nine other people, he also doesn't have those nine other people doing all the things they do for him here. He's still in town and working here, too, so we will see him; he goes to church with us, and he already plans to be here for some dinners and such, but he is the first to leave the nest.

What is on your menu this week? If you want a recipe, ask and I will provide it as soon as I can. If there are any starred recipes, I will follow up separately with a weekly recipe round up on Saturday.

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Thursday, September 02, 2021

Craft On: Garment Design

One of my goals for this year's designs was to create more adult garment patterns. Initially, I was hoping I could make two new ones and re-grade another that was initially made for infants and small children, but I think if I can make just this one and do the re-grading of the other, existing, pattern, I will be more than satisfied. This sweater should be quick, once I really get started, but I don't know if I can have the other ready before the end of the year.

This color is so lovely, and I just cannot capture it with my photography skills. It would likely be easier in outdoor lighting, so I will try that next. I wish you could see how pretty it is. When I swatch for a design, I don't bother to try for a particular gauge, but rather for a fabric with texture and drape that I like. This time, I started on size 6 needles, and finally settled on size 4 needles.

Besides the swatching for a new sweater, you can see that I am still working on the baby blanket and just started a little baby hat for some friends of ours who are due in February. I still have the final mitten of Basbousa to make, and hope to make both a hood and a hat before the end of the year. It's the time of year that I want to cast everything on at once. What are you working on now?

We are still reading through Anne of Windy Poplars, and the kids are enjoying the fun humor of it. I have only read a little in Desert Queen, but still think I can finish it this month. In the times that I cannot handle deeper thinking, I have another happy, little murder to occupy me. It is fun, but I am not sure I will read any more in the series.


Linking to Unraveled Wednesday.

If you would like to receive updates and early notice of new patterns, beta knitting opportunities, and great discounts (plus pictures of new yarns, new tools, fun places, neat hints, book ideas, recipes and more) each month, please subscribe to 1,001 Knits. My best, and sometimes my only, discounts go to my subscribers.

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Sunday, August 29, 2021

Menu Plan: August 29 - September 4

We are so thankful for our gleaning club and the Grocery Outlet We have crates of peaches for canning, peppers, and cucumbers because of our gleaning club, plus some cheaper purchases of nectarines and peaches for fresh eating and a huge watermelon with seeds. We like to salt and roast the watermelon seeds for snacks and the seeded watermelons really taste so much better than the seedless kinds. We have been getting such great deals on our regular groceries at the Grocery Outlet, but especially now that we are sometimes buying specialty items for Jerome, we are paying about a quarter of what it costs at the regular store. This is one of the ways that God truly has blessed and cared for us. I try to keep my eyes open for how He provides for us, and this is a gift to any family, but especially a family of our size.

Fall continues apace. I can only hope that we get a real autumn, and not head straight into winter by the third week of September. My hopes are limited, because of our weird, short, hot and cold, summer. We shall see. I love the autumn, and it makes me sad that it is so short here and just makes me anticipate the cold and misery of winter. On the positive side, we have an abundance of produce from our gleaning group, and we are able both to share with others and stock our pantry and freezer with them. We have so many peppers, eggplant, cucumbers, and summer squash, as well as quite a few peaches. There will be a lot of freezing and canning this week. We will also have a lot of salads, just because we have an embarrassment of salad greens.

We are keeping both Jerome's special diet and our abstinent fasts as best we can. Again, we are so thankful for the blessings God has sent us to help feed our family on a budget and care for special diets without too much expense. I need to spend some time this week preparing lesson plans and schedules for our school year. Alexander is just about out of the house, and when Dominic either goes to a university program or begins his film internship, which is still being decided, we will have no need for our big van. It might come in handy if we needed to give someone else a ride, and it does come in handy for having an extra vehicle for Amira, when I need the mini-van, so we may not get rid of it yet, but we could. Part of me wants to sell it really low to a family who needs it, so they can afford to do the repairs that would be necessary to really make it fit again. Our other option is just to drive it into the ground and donate it for parts. We will have to decide soon, I suppose.

What is on your menu this week? If you want a recipe, ask and I will provide it as soon as I can. If there are any starred recipes, I will follow up separately with a weekly recipe round up on Saturday.

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Saturday, August 28, 2021

Recipe Round Up: Blackberry Lime Pie

This pie is so good! And it won a blue ribbon at the fair this year. You can decorate it with a lattice crust as I did in this recent one, or just top it with a regular top crust, as you wish. this recipe will make either one large, deep dish pie, or two normal sized pies. We had an elderly lady at one of our neighborhood potlucks tell me how good it sounded once, and I made sure to make one in a mini-pie pan for her for the next dinner. That was almost two years ago, when we were able to do those things. This year, we have finally decided we will do it no matter what, thank God. It is not right for people to be isolated like this. I will bring another couple of these pies for her and the rest of the neighbors.

Blackberry Lime Pie

1 recipe Flaky Butter Crust
6 cups blackberries (fresh or frozen)
2 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup tapioca starch
zest and juice from 4 limes
2 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces (optional, but much better)

Pre-heat your oven to 400˚ F.

In a large bowl, mix blackberries with sugar and tapioca starch, to coat each berry. Add the zest and juice of the limes and stir to combine well.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pie crust and line a large, deep dish pie pan. Roll out the second crust and either set it aside, or cut into strips to make a lattice crust. Fill the pie crust with the berry filling and dot with the butter. Cover with the top crust and cut vents or weave the lattice crust over the top of the pie. Bake for 55 - 60 minutes, until filling is bubbly and the crust is lightly browned. Allow to cool completely on a rack (if you have any self-control) and serve.

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Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Craft On: Fair Week, Ribbons, and Tarboosh

Remember how I had to undo my nearly finished hat and start over? Well, I did it, and won at yarn chicken! Do you see that little, tiny ball of yarn? That is just over 1 yard. I am absolutely thrilled with the flat, circular crown on the hat, and really glad that my calculations worked. Today, I am polishing off the pattern to send to my tech editor, and should have it ready for beta knitting in a couple weeks. Are you interested in that? Please let me know, as I really hope to get some project photos from beta knitters out there on social media. It has been almost nine months since I last published a pattern, and I really hope to have this and at least a few others before the end of the year. Your willingness to try a tech edited pattern for free helps me publicize my patterns, make sure that it is knitter-friendly, and I really appreciate those of you who do that.

Our fair had super weird rules on exhibit entries this year, and it didn't seem like the department superintendents really knew much about them, nor had any input on them, nor liked them. The rule for knit/crocheted items at our fair has always been that they needed to be completed in the time between the last fair and this one. This year, that gave us two years. So, I wanted to enter my Khamseen shawl. However, this year, they prohibited professional division entries. Before, I hadn't qualified as a professional, because you had to make over a certain amount of money that year to count, and I was just below, so it didn't matter. This year, I did, but there were no professional entries allowed. So, did that mean if you made under that amount you weren't a professional? Or that you couldn't enter at all? Also, do all my knitting entries count as professional? Or just my own designs? I asked four people, none of whom knew. So, we compromised, and I entered a pair of mitts I made from someone else's pattern, but not my shawl. I'm frustrated that they entirely eliminated the professional division, especially because it's not like they have a surfeit of entries so they need to limit them. It was so empty. The superintendents were upset, because they said that the professional entries helped the beginners see what they could do if they progressed. I am going to politely ask the fair board about it once fair is over (along with a few other questions/suggestions) and try not to be elected to the fair board, since I want to tell them what to do.

Anyway, my mitts received a blue ribbon, as did my blackberry-lime pie*, Cashew Brutal, Brown Sugar Shortbread, Best Ever Chocolate Chip Cookies, Sirnica, and Light Bread. Yasmina and Mariam also made the chocolate chip cookies and shortbread, respectively, and we entered a special contest for a parent and child contest, and it seems like we were the only ones to enter, so we probably have a good chance of winning. Also, we are waiting to see if I get best pie award, or any awards for the yeast breads. Jerome entered a loaf of his gluten-free bread and Amira, Jerome, Yasmina, Mariam and Nejat all entered pictures they had painted or drawn and some crafts that they had made.

So, I'm frustrated that just about every modern fiction piece I have read recently has to include at least one divorced person. I know it is a reality of modern life, and much more common, but why do all the main characters have to be divorced? Where are the happily married characters? Or even widowed ones? Anyway, I was trying to decide if my happy, little murder was worth all the divorced people on the make or not, but I did finish it. The kids and I are slowly working through Anne of Windy Poplars. Fair booth schedules and work schedules and who is at home schedules threw all our reading and family time off last week. I picked up Desert Queen again, and I'm hoping to finish it soon.

* I will be posting the pie recipe this weekend!


Linking to Unraveled Wednesday.

If you would like to receive updates and early notice of new patterns, beta knitting opportunities, and great discounts (plus pictures of new yarns, new tools, fun places, neat hints, book ideas, recipes and more) each month, please subscribe to 1,001 Knits. My best, and sometimes my only, discounts go to my subscribers.

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Sunday, August 22, 2021

Menu Plan: August 22 - 28


"Holy Spirit, inspire me. Love of God, consume me, on the true path, lead me. Mary, my Mother, look upon me, with Jesus, bless me. From all evil, from all illusion, from all danger, preserve me."

"Always remember to love your neighbor; always prefer the person who tries your patience, who tests your virtue, because with them you can always gain merit."

"It is sweet to think of Jesus; but it is sweeter to do His will."
~ Saint Mariam Baouardy (Mary of Jesus Crucified) ~

Another fair week has come and gone, and just like clockwork, fall is here. Every year since we have lived here, fall winds come after fair and the Monday following it is the first day of autumn. I love the fall, but here, it is just a sign that winter is on its way. We can look forward to about two to four weeks of fall weather before we will see below freezing nights most years. You'll notice that we have started including more fall type meals this week, too.

Fair week, even with planning for people being all over the place at all hours still wreaked havoc on our meal schedule, so we have a couple repeats this week. This week, we have Mariam's birthday, and though we won't be able to have her party on her birthday, we will be able to have some of her friends over for a party. Yasmina is still waiting for her birthday party, but we are hoping to put it together for another weekend, since it is a little more complicated to put into action.

We begin Jerome's fifth month on his allergy diet. Two months to go before we start re-introducing foods, and we are so excited! If you have any food allergies and have hints for us, we would appreciate it, or are looking for ideas, I hope our menu plans help.

What is on your menu this week? If you want a recipe, ask and I will provide it as soon as I can. If there are any starred recipes, I will follow up separately with a weekly recipe round up on Saturday. Linking to Menu Plan Monday

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Sunday, August 15, 2021

Menu Plan: Feast of the Dormition


In birth, you preserved your virginity; in death, you did not abandon the world, O Theotokos. As mother of life, you departed to the source of life, delivering our souls from death by your intercessions.

Shudder, O ye heavens! and, O earth, give ear unto these words: God descended once before for our sake; He descends again today for His Mother.

Blessed Feast! This is the fourth highest feast in the Church year, following the Paschal feast, Pentecost, and the feast of the Nativity. Church teaching is that all the apostles but Thomas were gathered mystically around the Blessed Mother as she died, and were there for her burial. Thomas, arriving three days later, was taken to her tomb, only to find that it was empty. This Church teaching of the assumption of her body into heaven is not just a pious tradition, but holds some deep spiritual and physical truths for us. It is a sign and reminder to us that not only Christ resurrected bodily, but that we all will rise. Also, we now know, as they didn't then, that all women bear the DNA of each and every child borne to them in their bodies forever. So, by raising His mother, our Lord made sure that His resurrection was complete on this earth. If this had not happened, then He would not be completely risen. What a wonder and miracle!

So many times, when people deny the honor to the Theotokos, it is really a dishonor to the Lord. Even denying her the title Theotokos ends up declaring that Christ was either not God in her womb, or that He is not God incarnate. It is not intentional, but I think a good question to ask oneself when putting her "in her place" is what does this mean about Christ and His divinity? If it ends up dishonoring Him, calling His divinity into question, or lessening Him, it isn't a good thing. Likewise, so many people say that there is too much honor given her, without actually considering whether or not they honor her enough or even at all. What is just the right amount of honor? Surely it isn't debasing the woman who bore and raised our Lord? Jesus was born a Jew and fulfilled the law. He loved and honored His mother, and as we could not have had Him without her, why would we want that, instead of following His example?

Since it was the feast of Saint Laurence last week, Rich said that we should grill the kofta. So, we did. And he shaped them like little men. Also, while we ended up moving a few things around, because it is a busy fair week this week, we will probably not see them until next week. We ended up with a ton of lettuce, so I am making loads of salads this week, too. It will be great in sandwiches and wraps when we need to run for fair, also.

Jerome's diet means that I am not going to try to do the fair food night this year. There are just too many things that he can't eat involved, I don't know that I can figure them all out for that whole meal, and I don't want him to be left out of the festivities, so we will put it off and eat it at a later date. However, that doesn't mean that we aren't baking up a storm. Two of the girls, Jerome and I are all entering things into the fair. So, today and tomorrow, there is a lot of baking going on. We will have to do our family celebration on Sunday.

Rejoice, O Virgin Mother of God, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee! Blessed art though amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, for thou hast borne the savior of our souls.

Dominic said that when we pray this prayer, or any other Marian prayers like the Hail Mary, which are based on the text of Luke, we are placing ourselves in the prophecy from Mary's own lips: "For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed" Luke 1:48

What is on your menu this week? If you want a recipe, ask and I will provide it as soon as I can. If there are any starred recipes, I will follow up separately with a weekly recipe round up on Saturday. Linking to Menu Plan Monday

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Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Craft On: Not Even Close

That is what my new hat design looked like before I ripped it out and started it again. I had forgotten that the gauge on the mitts was knit flat, and then worked this in the round, and let's just say that it was a bit too large. All of my calculations were off because of that, so I reworked them, and I started again last night. Needless to say, this will not be with my tech editor this week, unless maybe it is right at the end of this week. On the plus side, I had been worried about losing yarn chicken, and it will not be so likely now that I am making a smaller hat. Also, I do know that my decreases and the way I have worked the hat will turn out in the shape I intended, so that is another good thing.

Can you see the texture of the inside of the hat? This isn't technically a reversible pattern, but the wrong side of it is also pretty, and I think I may have to use it in something else. Do you pay attention to the wrong side of your knitting?

I've been reading another happy, little murder, and making good progress in Desert Queen. The kids and I finished Anne of the Island and have just started Anne of Windy Poplars. I can't wait to show them the next movie!


Linking to Unraveled Wednesday.

If you would like to receive updates and early notice of new patterns, beta knitting opportunities, and great discounts (plus pictures of new yarns, new tools, fun places, neat hints, book ideas, recipes and more) each month, please subscribe to 1,001 Knits. My best, and sometimes my only, discounts go to my subscribers.

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Sunday, August 08, 2021

Menu Plan: August 8 - 14

We have an abundance of cucumbers and peaches this week. My goal is to pickle a whole lot this week and eat a ton of peaches.

Fair is nearly here, which means that our brief autumn is nearly upon us. I have always loved the fall, and here it just makes me sad because it is only a couple/few weeks, then it is below freezing at night. So now fall just anticipates cold and sorrow for me. I'm trying not to think about that, and instead focus on that last fun of summer.

The meals this week might shift, because I am not sure how much of the turkey we will have left. If we have a lot of it, I will make a red chile sauce to mix with it and stuff some arepas with that. Also, we have a repeat meal from last week, because we ended up having something else for the feast of the Transfiguration.

What is on your menu this week? If you want a recipe, ask and I will provide it as soon as I can. If there are any starred recipes, I will follow up separately with a weekly recipe round up on Saturday. Linking to Menu Plan Monday

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Saturday, August 07, 2021

Recipe Round Up: Apple-Coconut Breakfast Bowl

Apple-Coconut Breakfast Bowl

This recipe was one we found when we were first figuring out diets for Jerome. It is vegan, full of protein, and very filling, so it is a perfect Lenten breakfast, as well. It has a mouthfeel like cereal, but is much more healthful. And it is delicious. This amount serves four generously, which of course is about a third of what we make here.

3 large apples, cored and roughly chopped
1/3 cup chopped dates
1/3 cup pecans
1/3 cup dried coconut

1/4 cup almond butter (or peanut butter)
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons honey

Place apples, dates, pecans and coconut in a food processor or grinder, and process until they are uniform and small in size.

In a small bowl, whisk together the almond butter, water and honey.

Serve the apple mixture in a bowl with a drizzle of the honey nut butter sauce.

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Friday, August 06, 2021

Frugality (Part XVIII): Preserving the Harvest

It has been a while since I last wrote a frugality post. So, hello! If you want to go back and read some of the ideas I had by looking at the list at the bottom of this post. I still haven't gone back to put the photos back in, but will get to those as I can.

One of the best ways to take advantage of the abundance of produce in the summer is to dry, freeze, or can it so you will have it in the fall and winter, when those fresh fruits and vegetables are not available. Even if you don't have a dedicated food dryer, you can use your oven with a little care. Early in our marriage, I used our biggest stock pot with a folded towel in the bottom of it to water bath our preserves.

One thing to remember is that only high acid or high sugar foods can be canned with a boiling water bath. There are plenty of resources online for safe canning procedure. One place where I disagree is the use of bottled lemon juice only for acidification. This is unnecessary, unless you are using Meyer lemon juice (which is not acidic enough). All standard lemons available in the US provide an acidity the same or higher than that of bottled lemon juice, and are far superior in flavor.

Most produce is easily prepared for freezing, and not all even need blanching. We regularly wash and slice bell peppers and just freeze them on a sheet, before bagging them up for the freezer, for instance. We have a vacuum sealer, thanks to my brother in law, but you can just as easily use freezer bags and press out as much air as possible and have them last quite a while. Tomatoes, also, can be washed, cored, and frozen whole on a sheet pan, then bagged and used in soups and stews and sauces all winter long. The skins slip off quite easily when they have thawed a little, and then off you go. Blueberries can be frozen whole in their baskets, and then put into bags. This presumes that you have the freezer space. However, if you do, it is a good and quick way to make sure you have summer produce, at its peek flavor and lowest cost, throughout the year.

Last year, our boys helped harvest at a farm for a farmer's market, and every week, they came home with crates and crates of peppers, hot peppers, onions, tomatoes, summer squash, eggplant, melons, winter squash, you name it. We put up almost a year's worth of frozen, sliced peppers from just a few weeks of their work, and it saved us almost $300 in peppers that we normally would have bought from Trader Joe's (which are still an excellent deal and product). It was only this summer that we started to have to buy any.

In the following recipes, you will note that I recommend using Pomona's Universal Pectin. I like this product, because you do not have to use nearly the amount of sugar that is required for the other pectin products on the market. This means that your fruit preserves taste more like the fruit than the sugar. It also cuts the cost a little, and reduces the amount of refined sugar in your diet. We order ours through Azure Standard, but if you cannot do so, you can order it online directly or find it locally, that would be even better.

Blueberry Orange Preserves*

I make this either with lemon juice and a little nutmeg, or with orange juice and zest. Either is delicious. If you don't have time to can in the summer, or if it is too hot in your kitchen to do so, you can easily use frozen berries that were gotten in the summer. This makes a good amount of preserves. I make this in pint jars, because we eat a lot of it at a time in our home. However, if you want to make this in half pint jars, the canning time is the same. It makes us about 5 pints of preserves, with a little dish of leftovers that we put in the fridge to eat immediately.

9 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
3/4 cup fresh orange juice
zest of the oranges you juiced
4 1/2 teaspoons calcium water (from the Pomona's pectin)

6 cups sugar
4 teaspoons Pomona's Universal pectin powder

Place blueberries, orange juice, orange zest, and calcium water in a large stock pot. Stir to combine and bring to a boil over medium to medium-high heat.

While the berries are coming to a boil, mix together the sugar and pectin powder in a bowl and set aside.

When the berries have come to a full, rolling boil, add the sugar and pectin mixture and stir to mix thoroughly. Return the mixture to a boil, then remove from heat, stir down a little, and pour into hot, sterilized jars, leaving 1/4" headspace. Wipe rims and cover with new lids. Screw on rings to finger tightness, not too tightly, just enough to keep the lids on before they are sealed.

Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Cool upright, remove rings and check seals, and store without the rings.

*If you wish to make this with lemon and nutmeg, simply replace the orange juice and zest with the juice of a large lemon and a teaspoon of nutmeg.

Canned Peach or Apricot Halves in Medium-Light Syrup

This same process can be used for apricots. It is a really simple process, and if you have another set of hands in the kitchen to help you scald, peel and stone your fruit, it will go even more quickly. This syrup recipe is sufficient for at least 15 quarts. I can usually fit about 2 - 3 pounds of peaches or apricots in each quart jar. If you like spiced peaches or apricots, you can add a broken stick of cinnamon or the little scrappy end of a grated nutmeg that is always so hard to grate completely into the bottom of the jar before you put the peaches or apriots in it. You can make less than this, quite easily, but we tend to get multiple, big boxes of peaches, and this is a good and fast way to put them up for the winter, while still leaving us enough to eat fresh, make into pies, cookies, and cakes, and add to oatmeal.

Syrup:
4 cups sugar
11 cups water

40 pounds of peaches or apricots, scored on the top and bottom to make peeling easier

Make syrup in a large stock pot by bringing the sugar and water to a boil and boiling for 2 minutes, then removing from the heat.

In another pot, bring water to a rolling boil, and place a single layer of the fruit in the pot. Cook for 30 - 45 seconds after returning to a boil and immediately remove the fruit to a platter or ice water bath. The skins should come off rather easily on the peaches. Sometimes, it is not so easy on the apricots. Often, I simply wash and scald the apricots to make sure there is no dirt or bacteria on the outside, and can them with the peels on them. Slice the fruit in half and remove the pits.

Pack hot, sterilized quart jars tightly with the peach or apricot halves. Then add a few more than you thought would fit. They always seem to float a little, no matter how tightly we pack them. Ladle in the hot syrup, leaving 1/2" headspace in the jars. Using a thin knife, or skewer, poke down through the jars to release air bubbles. Wipe rims and cover with new lids. Screw on rings to finger tightness, not too tightly, just enough to keep the lids on before they are sealed.

Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Cool upright, remove rings and check seals, and store without the rings.

Method for Preparing Fruit for Jelly and Butter:

This jelly process is tied to the butter process and can be used with any stone fruit, like apricots, plums, nectarines, and so on. I learned it from a virtual friend on a food group online more than 23 years ago. It is a way to get two preserves from one batch of fruit, and is really lovely. It doesn't matter how much fruit you have, as you can make it work for any amount. However, I like to have at least two quarts of fruit to begin with, as it provides enough juice for this amount of jelly. This is one of the only reasons I ever use our microwave (tempering chocolate and heating milk for yogurt are the other two). You won't get as much juice from this as you would from steaming or boiling it, but it will be much more concentrated and flavorful. We have so many pitted cherries in our freezer that I think I will try this method with the cherries for making both jelly and butter as an experiment.

Peel and pit the fruit (for peaches/nectarines, for plums and apricots, I leave the peel on) - see how I scald peaches above for a method, and put it in a big glass, microwavable bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap. I microwave it for about 20 - 25 minutes, check on it, and maybe microwave five minutes more, until the juice starts to release well. If your microwave is more powerful than ours, you may want to do your 25 minutes at 10 minute intervals. Then I put the fruit in a jelly strainer over a bowl, and collect all the juice. You won't get as much as if you were treating the fruit only to get juice, but it means you can get juice and pulp at the same time, and it starts the process for the butter, of eliminating some of the liquid, right off the bat.

Once all the juice is strained out, I make jelly with it as follows (the yield on this recipe is about 3 pints, or an equivalent amount of half-pint jars):

Peach Jelly

5 cups peach juice (extracted using the method above)
juice of 1 large lemon (about 1/4 cup), strained to remove seeds
5 teaspoons calcium water (from the Pomona's pectin)

1 1/4 cup sugar
5 teaspoons Pomona's Universal pectin powder

Bring peach juice, lemon juice and calcium water to a boil in a large pot, over medium-high heat.

While the juice coming to a boil, mix together the sugar and pectin powder in a bowl and set aside.

When the juice has come to a full, rolling boil, add the sugar and pectin mixture and stir to mix thoroughly. Return the mixture to a boil, then remove from heat and skim off any foam (we save that to eat ourselves when we are finished canning). Ladle into hot, sterilized jars, leaving 1/4" headspace. Wipe rims and cover with new lids. Screw on rings to finger tightness, not too tightly, just enough to keep the lids on before they are sealed.

Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Cool upright, remove rings and check seals, and store without the rings.

Peach Butter

This process is highly interruptible, but while it is cooking, you cannot leave it. However, you can turn it off and take it off the heat, and even put it in the fridge and get back to it again the next day. I can these in pints or quarts, again because of our family size. If you eat less than that in a few sittings, I would make this in half-pints and pints.

Prepare fruit acording to the method above.

For the butter, I purée or grind the fruit, and put it in a heavy bottomed pan, and heat it over the lowest heat possible. I add a third to half the volume of the fruit in sugar (depending on how sweet the fruit is), and the strained juice of 1 lemon for every 4 - 5 cups of fruit. You could use lime juice or vinegar, or whatever you like. It brightens it a bit. Cook down, stirring occasionally, and more frequently the closer to the consistency you want. I reduce the volume by about a third or so.

I like to add nutmeg to the peach and nectarine, I like to add cardamom to the plum, apricot can be left pretty plain. Of course, you can use whatever you like, but I use about a teaspoon to a teaspoon and a half of ground spice for about 5 cups of puree.

Ladle the hot butter into hot, sterilized quart or pint jars, leaving 1/2" headspace in the jars. Using a thin knife, or skewer, poke down through the jars to release air bubbles. Wipe rims and cover with new lids. Screw on rings to finger tightness, not too tightly, just enough to keep the lids on before they are sealed.

Process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes for pints, 20 minutes for quarts. Cool upright, remove rings and check seals, and store without the rings.

Blackberry Peach Jam*

This can be made with frozen berries, as well as fresh, so can be made at your convenience. It is super tasty and I also make a variation with blueberries. The recipe yields about 7 - 8 pints, or an equivalent of half-pints.

8 cups diced peaches
6 cups blackberries
2 tablepoons calcium water (from the Pomona's pectin)

7 cups sugar
3 tablepoons Pomona's Universal pectin powder

Place peaches, blackberries, and calcium water in a large stock pot. Stir to combine and bring to a boil over medium to medium-high heat.

While the fruit is coming to a boil, mix together the sugar and pectin powder in a bowl and set aside.

When the fruit has come to a full, rolling boil, add the sugar and pectin mixture and stir to mix thoroughly. Return the mixture to a boil, then remove from heat, stir down a little, and pour into hot, sterilized jars, leaving 1/4" headspace. Wipe rims and cover with new lids. Screw on rings to finger tightness, not too tightly, just enough to keep the lids on before they are sealed.

Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Cool upright, remove rings and check seals, and store without the rings.

*If you wish to make this with blueberries, use 9 cups of blueberries with the same amount of peaches tossed with the strained juice of 1 lemon, and 3 tablespoons of the calcium water. Mix 8 cups of sugar with the same amount of pectin powder. Follow the process as for this recipe.

Blackberry Lime Jam

I make a blackberry lime pie and figured it would make a tasty jam, and it does. I use more sugar in this than in other recipes, to compensate for the tartness of the lime. This recipe makes about 7 half pints. They make fabulous Christmas gifts.

4 limes, zested and sections scooped out, keeping any juice from scooping out the sections
6 cups blackberries, crushed
2 tablepoons calcium water (from the Pomona's pectin)

6 cups sugar
2 1/2 tablepoons Pomona's Universal pectin powder

Place blackberries, lime sections, juice and zest, and calcium water in a large stock pot. Stir to combine and bring to a boil over medium to medium-high heat.

While the berries are coming to a boil, mix together the sugar and pectin powder in a bowl and set aside.

When the berries have come to a full, rolling boil, add the sugar and pectin mixture and stir to mix thoroughly. Return the mixture to a boil, then remove from heat, stir down a little, and pour into hot, sterilized jars, leaving 1/4" headspace. Wipe rims and cover with new lids. Screw on rings to finger tightness, not too tightly, just enough to keep the lids on before they are sealed.

Process in a boiling water bath for 5 minutes. Cool upright, remove rings and check seals, and store without the rings.

Crabapple Jelly

We used to be able to glean the most beautiful crabapples at a park where our midwife held her annual picnic. I have a great, out of print, cookbook of fancy preserving, and it had a recipe for crabapple jelly in it. We took her recipe and ran with it to match our tastes, and this is the result. The jelly in jars looks like stained glass, and it was one of my favorite items to include in Christmas gifts. There is so much pectin in crabapples that you do not need to add any. However, it does make the process faster, so you can look up a recipe for apple or crabapple jelly that includes it if you want to speed up this method. The recipe as written makes about 10 half pint jars of jelly. Again, I tend to make them in pints for our family and the half pints as gifts.

3 pounds red skinned crabapples
8 cups water
juice of 1 lemon, strained
6 1/2 cups sugar

Stem, wash and quarter the crabapples and place in a medium stock pot. Remove any bruised spots from the apples before placing them in the pot, but leave the cores. Add the water, just covering the fruit. Bring to a boil and cover, over medium heat, for about 45 to 60 minutes, until the apples are very soft. Stir and mash them up a bit occasionally.

Ladle the fruit and juice into a jelly bag over a large bowl and let the juice drip a few hours on the counter or overnight in the fridge, until the flow stops. It is alright to press a tiny bit on the bag, but you don't want to press too hard or you will get pulp and your jelly will be cloudy. Stir the juice of the lemon into the apple juice. Measure the juice for volume, you should have around 9 cups.

Pour the juice into a large, heavy bottomed pot, and mix in the sugar until it has all dissolved. Then turn the heat to high and bring to a boil. Boil rapidly, about 10 - 15 minutes, or until it passes the jelly test or measures about 220˚ F with a candy thermometer (at standard altitude and pressure). Remove from heat and skim off any foam (we save that in a dish for us to eat immediately). Ladle into hot, sterilized jars, leaving 1/4" headspace. Wipe rims and cover with new lids. Screw on rings to finger tightness, not too tightly, just enough to keep the lids on before they are sealed.

Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Cool upright, remove rings and check seals, and store without the rings.


Previous Posts:
Make it at Home
Grocery Shopping
Waste Not, Want Not
Soup
The Celery Stalks at Midnight
Use What You Have
Combining Trips
Storing Bulk Purchases
Turn It Off
Grow Your Own
Buying in Bulk
Gleaning
Entertainment on the Down Low
Finding Fun Locally
Holiday Shopping
Reconsidering Convenience
More Bang for Your Grocery Buck

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