monkey socks

September 30, 2009


Monkey Socks

These are inspired by some monkey socks that I used to have. They are made from Koigu KPPPM, a super soft, hand dyed 100% merino wool. I am not much of a pattern writer, so please email me if you have any questions! It is pretty much as basic sock with a short row heel and a rounded toe. You can use your own sock pattern if you want!

Download pattern here

RaspberriesinhandIt seems to be the end of the raspberry season. I went to pick last night, and the berries were smaller, fewer, and farther between. And they definitely had a different taste. A little old maybe. Trying to make the most of the last bits of warmth and sunlight.


The yellow jackets were out too, practically burying themselves in the riper berries.RaspberrypatchThis is the raspberry patch. All the berries are planted in raised beds, with grass planted between them. This makes for slightly easier weeding and care. and easy picking too! You don’t have to bend down as much to pick the berries.


It is the end of the season, and I am getting a little tired from all the cooking, stirring, etc. So with this batch of berries I decided on something a little easier. Raspberries in red wine vinegar, raspberries in apple cider vinegar, and raspberries in brandy.

The berries are put in sterilized jars and mixed with the vinegar or brandy.

The brandy berries have to wait at least 40 days. Vinegar berries wait at least a month.

Recipes for raspberries in brandy (and a million other interesting ways of preserving foods) are from Preserving Food without Freezing or Canning: Traditional Techniques Using Salt, Oil, Sugar, Alcohol, Vinegar, Drying, Cold Storage, and Lactic Fermentation. A very interesting book compiling many traditional recipes from the French countryside. With a forward by Deborah Madison.

For recipes for raspberries in vinegar look in The Joy of Jams, Jellies, and other Sweet Preserves, by Linda Ziedrich. Another wonderful source for recipes, and lots of interesting information!


September 28, 2009

ChestnutsThis has got to be the best time of the year. My head is spinning from all the fruits, vegetables, and now chestnuts!! My friend Valerie told me about some chestnut trees this afternoon, and I practically ran (drove) right there. Chestnuts always seem to sneak up on me. They aren’t ripe until I forget about them, and then they are dropping prickly bundles all over the place!


I learned today that it is best to let chestnuts dry out for a week or so before eating. I am not sure exactly why, but it is easier to remove the shells when there is less moisture. So the nuts are drying out on a drying rack. I just hope that the mice don’t decide to eat them all!

The owner of the tree gave me two little chestnut trees! I am sad that Heli isn’t here to plant them.. I guess that I will have to figure it out on my own. The larger one (in the trash can) is a two year tree, and the smaller on is just a sprout! Hopefully they will grow nice and big one day and produce lots of chestnuts!!MamaBabyTree

I am just starting to think what to do with all the chestnuts. I am going to visit Heli in a few weeks and would like to make some Monte Bianco, a dessert made with chestnuts, milk, sugar, vanilla, and creme. A mountain of chestnut puree with a cream top. It is really good, but requires lots and lots of peeling…


September 28, 2009

We have several bell pepper plants in the garden, and Heli was always trying to make me save them until they ripened. So here they are! All ripe, and in the pan with some small onions to make Erika’s Peppers.

Erika’s Peppers

Simply slice some red and yellow bell peppers and sweet onions into strips. Add a sprinkle of salt too. Cook over low heat, with enough olive oil so that nothing sticks, until peppers are caramelized, and cooked way, way down. (about 45 minutes or an hr) Add white wine to the mixture as it is cooking for extra flavor. This is delicious spread over fresh bread with cheese, or alone with a drizzle of Erika’s Traditional Balsamic Vinegar. ErikaPeppers

I also found a pickle recipe on a wonderful blog called Saving The Season ( which is all about canning. I got so inspired that I went to the market in search of red jalapenos to make jalapeno pickle. Unfortunately no one had any. I think the cool weather that we have been having has caused peppers to ripen much more slowly. So I opted for green jalapenos, and roasted them to make pickle. I forgot to wear gloves and had slightly warm sensitive hands all day…Jalapenoroasted

Below is a sterilized jar waiting for the peppers!! It looked so cute all arranged on the counter, I couldn’t help taking a picture. I ended up with three jars of peppers, one with my mom’s name on it for sure (she loves pickled hot peppers!). PepperJarsAnd I keep thinking about peter picking pickled peppers, or pickling pints of peppers, but I can’t remember exactly what..

quince part three

September 28, 2009

I processed another batch of quince this weekend. I think this was my favorite so far. I think that this is for two reasons. Firstly, the quinces have been ripening in my kitchen. Every time I walk into my house there is a delicate, sweet smell of quince. As they ripen, the color of the fruits turns a deep yellow, and the fur on the skin becomes easier to remove. Secondly, I made quince paste (from one of my favorite preserving books, “The Joy of Jams, Jellies, and other Sweet Preserves” by Linda Ziedrich). Quince paste is like the essence of quince. The tang, the sweetness, and the gritty and firm texture (at least in mine) are what remind me of quince.


The general idea behind quince paste is that the quince fruit is cooked, pureed, added to sugar, and cooked some more. The result is a fruit gel of sorts that I am thoroughly addicted to. All the pectin in quince (particularly in the peels, seeds, and cores) helps to gel the fruit, creating almost a cake. I am trying not to eat it every time I get near the kitchen…which is pretty much all the time that I am in my house.


Witherspoon Quince Family Trivia

After talking with my dad, I learned that my great grandmother had a huge quince tree, and that my dad and a friend used to own 20% of the quince fruit tree crop in California! This turns out to have been 12 trees, and because there was so little demand for the fruits, they ended up giving them away!

one berry pies

September 24, 2009

I have been wanting to do this for a long time. Kathy brought me some berries from the market, and I promptly ate most of them, and had to re pick some berries from the back garden. Not sure that I need to say more. Except that my mom came over half way through the baking process and the results were more perfect pies and a teddy bear picnic on my counter.









pears, pie and aprons

September 23, 2009


Pears, and more pears. My friend Clint planted this tree in 5th grade, and now look at it! We spent all day picking pears and apples, wandering through the fields, peeling pears, and baking pies. And wearing aprons!


This has to be the best way to pick pears! At least the lower ones. The tree is absolutely loaded. There are so many pears everywhere. We filled our entire bucket, but barely made a dent in the pear population.

Here is a general recipe for pear pie. I am not the most precise cook, so hopefully the directions are clear enough..

Pear Pie


8 large pears, or a mixture of pears and apples (The pears were a little unripe so we decided to add apples to them when we were baking.)

1 teaspoon vanilla, or a snip of a vanilla bean

3/4 cup sugar (more or less depending on the tartness of fruit)

a pinch of salt

1/4 cup flour

several dots of butter

Pie Dough

1 1/2 cups flour

1 stick unsalted butter

a little salt (I use salted butter and a bit of salt, and so does my mom..)

1/2 cup ice water

Mix flour, salt and butter with a pastry cutter until texture resembles cornmeal. Add ice water a bit at a time until mixture comes together to form a ball. Divide dough into two balls and chill at least 1/2  hr in fridge.

Meanwhile, peel, core and slice apples and pears. Place in pot, with a little water and vanilla bean. Cook until pears are soft. This step allows you to fit more fruit in the pie! Add sugar, salt, and flour. You can let the pears cool a little before you put them in the pie shell (we didn’t, but it is probably a good idea..).

Roll out pie dough, place one in pie pan, fill with filling, and place top on. Seal the edges, and poke the top with a fork.

Bake in a 450 degree oven for 10 minutes, and then bring temp down to 350. Bake for an additional 35-45 minutes, until top is nicely golden. You might need to cover the pie with some parchment paper if it gets too brown on the top early on. Remove, and cool as long as you can wait.

Yummy with vanilla ice cream!