a pineapple roll

August 30, 2010

Another tunic. The same pattern as the last one, but made with pineapple fiber!

When we got the new tunic pattern at the store, and when it turned out well in the linen, I decided to make it with the pineapple fiber as well.

The pineapple fiber (imported from Japan by Habu) is originally made in the Philippines. It is made from the fibrous leaves of the pineapple plant (which look like, and initially are, the top of a pineapple). I had started something else with it, and never finished it, so I ripped it and made this tunic instead.

I used three very fine strands of fiber stranded together throughout. The gauge was about the same as for the linen tunic, but the weight was much much lighter!

One of my favorites things about knitting with the pineapple is that it smelled lovely, and a little bit like dried grass the whole time. I quite liked picking up the garment as I was knitting it just to smell it…

an orange sweater

August 30, 2010

I have been on a sweater knitting kick this summer. We just got a new batch of beautiful yarn into the store. It is a Rowan wool and cotton blend, and organic! Very soft, and just a little bit shiny. I had been eying the pattern for this sweater for a while, and when we got the yarn, I decided to use it.

Of course I used the orange yarn…and I sewed on the wooden buttons this morning, so now it is officially finished. Except for a few stray threads.

The pattern is a four stitch, four row repeat. It was simple, but engaging, and kept the knitting a little bit interesting. There is six inches of ribbing at the bottom of the sweater, and no side shaping. I was a little worried that it wouldn’t fit well, but the ribbing seems to do the trick.

The sleeves are one of my favorite parts. They are a little bit puffy, which was created by dramatically decreasing over the last two rows of the sweater.

pickled okra

August 30, 2010

My dad likes pickled okra. He arranged with a farmer at our farmer’s market to pick a whole bunch of tiny okra (the size that is best for eating too!). If you pick them too large, then they won’t even fit in the canning jar! The tiny okra were pricy, and okra is definitely going on my list for garden veggies to plant next spring.

I made the pickle with vinegar, hot peppers, okra and dill seeds. A recipe from the Joy of Pickling by Linda Ziedrich. First step was to wash the vegetables, and then distribute them, and the dill seeds in pint jars. I ended up making 6 jars.

Meanwhile I heated vinegar, water, and salt in a pot, and then poured the brine-like mixture over the okra packed in jars, and processed the jars according to directions (15 minutes?). I remembered this time to remove the air bubbles (with a chopstick)!

I used a batch of vintage mason jars from my friend Jeanne, which made the finished jars of pickles extra cute!

a single serving

August 18, 2010

What to do when you have a few beautiful tomatoes that must be eaten, but you are full? Can them. In tiny jars, for single servings of pasta sauce.

I was canning peaches yesterday, and made along side a little pan of pasta sauce. I filled up two tiny jars with sauce, and processed them along with the peaches. I don’t think that I would have canned the jars if I hadn’t been processing the peaches already. It would have been too much boiling water for too small a result…

Now, when I am home some night, in the winter, I can open up one of my two tiny jars, and make noodles with sauce. And there won’t be any left overs!

The weather has cooled off (relatively speaking), I have a box of ripe peaches in my kitchen, and a bag of this year’s pitted sour cherries in my freezer. Pie time!

I picked up a box of butter on my way home from work, and made up a double batch of pie dough. (I like to bake my pies in twos. When you go to all the trouble to bake a pie, might as well make another one…) For the filling, I used about 8 medium-sized peaches and one bag (about 6 cups of pitted cherries). I dropped the peaches in boiling water to skin, and sliced into wedges. I added about 1 1/4 cups sugar for both pies, and a bit of flour as the cherries were very juicy. And dotted the top of the fruit with a few tablespoons of butter.

I kept the tops covered, as opposed to lattice, as I have been doing a lot of crisscrossed tops lately and I wanted a change. I folded the tops and dough over, leaving a generous crust edge, which didn’t end up browning too much in the oven.

just peachy

August 16, 2010

Kathy and I canned peaches today. When you can peaches, it seems like you have to can a lot. We picked up a 3/4 bushel box from the store (no peaches on my tree yet…) and canned quite a few (but not the entire box!).

Canning peaches involve lots of hot things.

Boiling water to slip off the peels.

Slicing the hot peaches and removing their pits.

Simmering sugar syrup for preserving the peaches.

Hot peaches into little jars.

Boiling jars.

Removing boiled jars from the boiling water…

Makes for a bit of time on your toes, in the kitchen with a lot of heat. Today was a perfect canning day though. A little breeze, sunshine, and, well, perfect. We successfully canned the peaches without incident. And made a little peach syrup as an afterthought!

I have to say I am a sweet pickle person. I can open a jar of sweet pickles and eat the entire thing. It is more fun with a friend, but I can definitely do it by myself.

I got this recipe from a woman who lived outside Iowa City. These pickles were one of the first (maybe the first) canning endeavors that I undertook on my own. In my tiny apartment without proper supplies. I burned myself, but ended up with 6 jars of lovely pickles. Needless to say, I was hooked.

The cucumbers are cut and left to sit, covered in salt and ice water. The salt draws moisture out of the cucumbers which results in crispy pickles!

After the cucumbers have sat for several hours, the vinegar, sugar and spices are heated up. The cucumbers are then heated in the syrup for 5 minutes and then ladled into jars and processed.

I am wondering how this batch will come out as I did let the cucumbers sit in the fridge for several days…it was just too hot to be working over a pot of boiling water!

I ran home this afternoon with a brown paper bag filled with peaches to a fridge filled with blueberries (okay, not filled but containing blueberries). I had a few minutes, and wanted to put the fruits together into a baked something. It is too hot right now for me to bake a pie (my kitchen isn’t air-conditioned, and that makes for a wimpy crust, and lots of frustration), so I went for a cobbler.

It is important to peel peaches, and to do so, I dropped them into boiling water for 30 seconds (as per mother’s instructions!). The peels come off very easily after the quick blanch. Then I sliced the peaches and added the blueberries, sugar, a lot of butter and a squeeze of lime to the pans. I put the pans into the oven and let the fruit cook for about 20 minutes. While the fruit was cooking, I made a biscuit topping with cream, butter, flour, sour milk, etc. I topped the baking fruits with spoonfuls of biscuit batter and popped everything back in the oven to finish cooking.

The finished cobblers were really runny right after I took the out of the oven. I was taking them into town with me, and every curve, pothole, and stop sign made the juices come close to dripping out of the pans. I used pie pans, and I think that it would probably be better to use casserole pans to contain the juices.

After the cobblers sat for a while, the top crust soaked up a lot of the juice, and the desserts were a lovely balance of fruit, crust and juice.