Just in case you didn't notice, I took a little blog vacation. It seems to happen every year around this time. I guess I just need a month off at the end of summer to recharge the creative batteries, so to speak. I've been more or less ignoring my computer at home, so other than cleaning out the enormous amount of spam I get, I've neglected my e-mail as well. Please accept my apologies if you've left a comment recently. I will respond eventually, I really will. Of course, by then you'll probably be all, huh? why are you talking to me? I said that 5 months ago you dodo brain. But it will make me feel better, so just roll with it. k. Thanks :o)
I had grand plans for a gi-normous garden this summer, but somehow, with the whole tree situation, it never happened. I need to let go of my Martha Stewart induced perfectionism, where I seem to think that if I can't create the magazine-picture perfect, neatly laid out vegetable patch with 15 different kinds of tomatoes, exotic beans and every kind of dark leafy green I can find then why bother? I really wish I had just thrown a couple tomato plants and maybe some zucchini out there and just been happy enough with that. Ah well, there's always next summer.
I've also been wanting to have a pantry full of home-canned delicious things, but didn't see how I could find the time and the resources to bottle quarts and quarts of tomatoes or pickles or jam (thanks again, Martha). First of all, have you ever read a canning website? Every time I do I end up thinking that I'm going to get botulism and die from canning my own vegetables. They're all about special recipes and sterilizing every bit of equipment and processing time and pressure measurements. I don't remember it being that difficult when my mom and grandma would can peaches and pears and cherries each summer. But then I read this series of articles (via Angry Chicken), and saw that my little sister had canned a few things, and realized that I could do this. It didn't have to be quarts and quarts at a time and all I really needed was a little patience and a lot of hot water, and an hour or two in the evening after work. So I decided to give it a try. First I splurged on a couple pints of raspberries. In my speed reading of the recipe in the link above, I didn't notice that it was for 2 half pints, not two pints, so my first batch of jam was a measley one pint jar. But no matter, it looks delicious and sealed up nicely, and gave me the confidence to keep going. Next up, strawberries! This time I made two whole pints. Unfortunetely, I let them sit in the fridge a little longer than overnight, as the recipe states, so it was a bit more runny and never really got very thick. We'll just call it strawberry sauce. There was a little extra, so I poured it over ice cream as a reward for all my hard work. It was delicious. I guess I now have an excuse to make lots of waffles this winter.
The other day a co-worker brought a bag of tomatoes in, and I waited until the end of the day so that everyone could have their shot at taking some, and I squirreled the rest home. Serendipitiously, I stopped at my usual produce store, and they had tomatoes on sale, 3 lbs. for a dollar! They also had pretty little heirloom tomatoes, two pint boxes for $4, so I spent about $8 on more tomatoes. Not bad, eh? And I went home and canned them that very night. I didn't use all the big tomatoes, and I still ended up with 5 quarts. Aren't they pretty? The little green and yellow and purple spots are the heirloom tomatoes, not tomatoes gone bad :o) I'll have to make a pot of our favorite soup this week and use a jar to see how they taste.
Oh, I almost forgot! I created a Flickr group for the Softies book, so if you make something using a pattern from the book, please join and share it with us! I wish I could tell you how to get a copy if you are somewhere other than Australia, but so far, the only possibilities seem to be to have a friend in Australia send it to you, or buy it from an online bookseller located there and pay a lot of money for shipping. :o( so sorry! Maybe if there is enough demand Penguin in the U.S. and U.K. will re-publish it.