Saturday, December 11, 2010

Yuletide Linkification, now with snark!

I'm not feeling terribly motivated to post something long today, as DS just had his birthday party, and i'm wiped.

so.... in lieu of a more insightful and thoughtful post... you get some Yuletide links to other interesting stuff! (yay)

How to celebrate Yule - basic ideas, good for someone not familiar with the holiday

celebrating yule as a family - lot of diverse ideas. might try some of these this year!

Decorating a Yule Altar - decent ideas. going to try to get my altar set up this week... well... maybe. we'll see how it goes. still have tons of gifts to wrap (and wrappers [furoshiki] to sew) yikes!

(more on furoshiki here, if you are not familiar with them)

and now, for your sing along song....

something just a little snarky (do not sing this in front of dear old Aunt Edith with the rosary beads clutched in her hands. It might just be too much for her!)

note: youtube karaoke singalong below the words.

another note: borrowed the words from this page here

yet another note: you really should sing along, eh? (well okay, unless you're at work...... YOU can hum along instead!)

(Gloria in Excelsius Deo)

CHORUS: Glorious!
Christmas time is pagan!
Christmas time is pagan!

Christmas time is here again,
Decorations everywhere.
Christmas carols ringing out,
Gentle pagans, we don't care.

Modern folks all celebrate
What they learned in Sunday School.
In December, they don't know
They are celebrating Yule!

Let them have their Christmas trees,
Decked in red and green and blue.
We rejoice at every one!
Christmas trees are pagan, too.

Bowls of bubbly Christmas cheer,
Fill your cup and quench your thirst.
They think the tradition's theirs.
Wassail bowls were pagan, first.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Every door and window bears
Wreaths of holly, wreaths of pine.
Circles represent the Sun.
Every wreath is yours and mine.

Christmas lights on Christmas trees,
Candle flames burn higher and higher,
Let us cheer along, my friends,
As they light their Yuletide fire.

There's a possibility
That this song is yours and mine
'Cause the tune was known to all
Back in A.D. one-two-nine.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Yule and gift-giving

Over the years, my family has worked our way towards a more home-made, hand-made gift-giving tradition. This is in part financial (the Jones's we are not), but it is also because working on gifts through the year, putting energy into them, is infinitely more satisfying than going and buying some miscellaneous item (thoughtful though it may be) that happens to fall in your price range.

This doesn't mean we don't buy items. Honestly, about half our gifting in any one year is purchased, particularly items within our household, but i think this is in part because the handmade goods get given within the house throughout the year.

one gift some of our family and friends can expect this year is pictured below:
orange and cherry fondants, with the small centre bits of chocolate covered candied ginger

candied ginger and eggnog fondant

coffee, peppermint, and chocolate flavours
this was all made with one batch of filling, and the recipe for it is on joybilee farm.

all told, i made over 3 pounds of chocolates!!!

one recipe i improvised was for the coffee flavored filling. i used the following:
1tbsp Kahlua
1/2 tbsp instant coffee

to note with many of the filling recipes: some are too dry, and need extra butter (or a few drops of water)
and the rest are too moist, and need extra icing sugar. but they all taste wonderful!

oh, and one more thing:  here's the finished super-secret gift for you to see:
asymmetrically striped dogswool/wool mitts

and for music today, here is a page with a number of songs, most containing an audio file. lots of nice variants on old standards!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

yuletide and still random :D

this years tree... still waiting on popcorn strings and the like

yarn for super-secret project. it contains suint-ferment cleaned wool and detergent washed dog hair.

the skein. it should work up as striping. we shall see.

(words below and more can be found at, as well as an mp3 of their version of the song!) 

O Tannenbaum       
German traditional, transl. by Diana L. Paxson:
O Tannenbaum, O Tannenbaum,
With faithful leaves unchanging;
Not only green in summer´s heat,
But also winter´s snow and sleet,
O Tannenbaum, O Tannenbaum,
With faithful leaves unchanging.

O Tannenbaum, O Tannenbaum,
Of all the trees most lovely;
Each year, you bring to me delight
Gleaming through the Solstice night.
O Tannenbaum, O Tannenbaum,
Of all the trees most lovely.

                                             O Tannenbaum, O Tannenbaum,
                                           Your leaves will teach me, also,
                                          That hope and love and faithfulness
                                        Are precious things I can possess,
                                         O Tannenbaum, O Tannenbaum,
                                       Your leaves will teach me, also.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Winter and wassailing


The Wassail Song (slightly altered)

Here we come a-wassailing
Among the leaves so green,
Here we come a-wand'ring
So fair to be seen.
Love and joy come to you,
And to you your wassail, too,
And Gods bless you, and send you
A Happy New Year,
And Gods send you a Happy New Year.

We are not daily beggers
That beg from door to door,
But we are neighbors' children
Whom you have seen before
Love and joy come to you,
And to you your wassail, too,
And Gods bless you, and send you
A Happy New Year,
And Gods send you a Happy New Year.

Good master and good mistress,
As you sit beside the fire,
Pray think of us poor children
Who wander in the mire.
Love and joy come to you,
And to you your wassail, too,
And Gods bless you, and send you
A Happy New Year,
And Gods send you a Happy New Year

We have a little purse
Made of ratching leather skin;
We want some of your small change
To line it well within.
Love and joy come to you,
And to you your wassail, too,
And Gods bless you, and send you
A Happy New Year,
And Gods send you a Happy New Year.

Bring us out a table
And spread it with a cloth;
Bring us out a cheese,
And of your Yuletide loaf.
Love and joy come to you,
And to you your wassail, too,
And Gods bless you, and send you
A Happy New Year,
And Gods send you a Happy New Year.

Gods bless the master of this house,
Likewise the mistress too;
And all the little children
That round the table go.
Love and joy come to you,
And to you your wassail, too,
And Gods bless you, and send you
A Happy New Year,
And Gods send you a Happy New Year. 

as much as i love the changing of the seasons, winter is admittedly my least favorite, and not only because we get winter-like weather for up to six months of the year here!

the photos above are of my driveway and yard about 4 days ago, shortly after a snowfall (one of many so far)

and are sent out specially for those of you in warmer climates who might not get as much cold weather... see all that white.... even the sky is frosty off white a good portion of the time. *sigh* oh well.... it's almost yule :) yay!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Yuletide traditions, a conversation (with added music!)

them: so, you're Pagan, right?

me: yeah...

them: so, do you celebrate Christmas?

me: no, we (my family) celebrate Yule, or winter Solstice, which is around the 21st of December.

them: what about presents? santa claus? christmas tree? everything else?

me: well, Yule is a celebration of the end of the fall and the beginning of winter. the winter solstice is the darkest day of the year, so we celebrate the return of the sun, and the beginning of the new.

My family doesn't have Santa Claus come and visit. instead, Chris Kringle, who is much like the early 1900's version of 'santa' comes, wearing his long green robes, and brings one gift to each good child, plus stockings for everyone. (he doesn't come visibly, of course. i'd be willing to help costume someone if i knew anyone willing to play the part some time!)

we have a yule tree. it has a lot of nature based ornaments, and pentacles. we also decorate a tree outside, and include decorations that serve the dual purpose of being food for the local birds...

as for everything else.. well, we tend to be pretty low-key pagans. we sometimes, but not always, do religious-specific celebrating. it is, however, a bit on the back-burner lately with our children needing most of our time, energy,  and attention.

we also sing carols, and you'd recognize some of  them, and give gifts to each other, our family, and friends, however, we work towards making gifts rather than buying them, and don't try to focus on the amount spent, as long as the gift is thoughtful and well meant.

(to note, this exact conversation is just a paraphrasing of a number of conversations i've had with friends over the years)

our yule tree 2009

The Yule Song

(Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire) : Lyrics -my version!

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire,
Jack Frost nipping on your nose,
Yuletide carols being sung by a choir,
And folks dressed up like Eskimos.

Everybody knows a turkey and some mistletoe,
Help to make the season bright.
Tiny tots with their eyes all aglow,
Will find it hard to sleep tonight.

They know that Kringle's on his way;
He's loaded lots of toys and goodies on his sleigh.
And every mother's child is going to spy,
To see if reindeer really know how to fly.

And so I'm offering this simple phrase,
To kids from one to ninety-two,
Although its been said many times, many ways,
     Merry Yule to you.


hope everyone has their gift making and buying nearly done! mine is about 90% !!!

Friday, December 3, 2010

more yuletide randomness

yule decoration ideas    some of these you may have seen before, but there are lots of great tree decorating ideas.

yule-centric nativity varient       this version includes the different faces of the Goddess, the reborn sun-god, and lots of nature. sounds pretty cute!

and here's the _full_ lyrics... including one verse i hadn't heard before!

Jingle bells:

1. Dashing through the snow, 
on a one horse open sleigh,
o'er the hills we go,
laughing all the way!
Bells on bobtail ring,
making spirits bright,
what fun it is to ride and sing
a sleighing song tonight! Oh...

Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way.
oh what fun it is to ride on a one horse open sleigh!
jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way,
oh what fun it is to ride on a one horse open sleigh!

2. A day or two ago,
I thought I'd take a ride,
And soon Miss Fanny Bright
Was seated by my side;
The horse was lean and lank;
Misfortune seemed his lot;
He got into a drifted bank,
And we, we got upsot.

3. A day or two ago,
the story I must tell
I went out on the snow
And on my back I fell;
A gent was riding by
In a one-horse open sleigh,
He laughed as there I sprawling lie,
But quickly drove away.

4. Now the ground is white
Go it while you're young,
Take the girls tonight
And sing this sleighing song;
Just get a bob-tailed bay
two-forty as his speed
Hitch him to an open sleigh
And crack! you'll take the lead.

hope everyone enjoys singing along. i know my kids did! :)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Yuletide music and thursday randomness

i've discovered that i can ply yarn with one hand (and a foot), while drinking coffee with the other.

my Yule tree is up, and lovely, but needs more pagan ornaments. will have to work on that

darling daughter + homeschooling is seeming like a fight right now, so we're backing off to 'easy stuff' for a bit, see how that goes...

my tomato plants suck water like nobody's business. i'm having to water them heavily every two days

i love hot chocolate, but wish that it didn't have any calories ;)

ravelry truly is addicting. really. trust me.

i've tried spinning my first 'alternative fibre'.... and am currently plying a unique skein of dogswool+sheepswool  :) fun times.

hope everyone is having a wonderful and chilly time.

see y'all soon. expect more random.... 'cause random's what i got!

Friday, November 19, 2010

let it snow while i watch my window garden grow!

the weather. cold. blowy, and snowy. it's actually much whiter out now than when i took the picture.

my tiny pot of ground cherries

Ripening rainbow peppers

carrot tops. i'm experimenting to see if i can get them to produce seed without a full root.

green tomatoes

chili peppers
not pictured: spider plants, baby pines, avacado plants, lavender, geraniums.

it may only be a little, food-wise, but my indoor garden really keeps me from going nuts in the white months (and, since those total up to about *counts on fingers*... 6, sometimes 7 months.... that's a lot of preserved sanity!)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Wool stuff

Okay... lots of things happening on the fibre front in my life:

Mom and i recieved a drum carder from another family member. it's pretty old-school, and for medium/coarse carding... but SO SO much a step up from hand carding everything!

We also took advantage of a local arts studio selling off unused items, and picked up a picker (that'd be a super-scary tool that picks open the wool and lets the bits of vegetable matter fall out) and..... (drum roll..)

my new toy!
spinning wheel!

originally made in Winnipeg!

okay. it's not new... in fact, it's 20-30 years old. and it was in need of a lot of love when we picked it up. we'd been told it had been in storage for at least ten years. It showed.

after lots of tightening of bolts and screws, about a half cup of lemon oil, some machine oil, and a new belt, it's now running pretty nicely...
a very full plied bobbin...
on other fibre notes:

been crocheting up a storm. some of my recent FO's:
my dapper little gentleman

stocking from a KAL/CAL

warm neckwarmer
other odds and ends:
suint fermentation wool process similar to detergent washed wool.... still has a spicy/earthy smell when dry... and probably smells a bit like sheep when wet. overall, seems like a decent way to process. next year, i plan on having a number of fermentation tubs set up to process the wool (um... about 6 fleeces) sitting in my porch. then, i get to spin it all! (whee!)

Sunday, October 31, 2010

an update and some recent FO's

fyi, FO is finished object.
finished play rug! (finally!!!) it's to be part of the yuletide gifts (so don't tell them!)

warm and fuzzy warm ankle socks for reenactment

made this rag rug in about 4 hours!!!  go crochet!

happy Hallowe'en!

We're not doing anything particularly pagan this Samhain... pretty much just taking the kids out for candy, then crashing at home.... it's just been to busy for me to expend energy on planning a feast or something like that. perhaps next year, the kids will be big enough to do something together.
hope everyone is having a good (if rather chilly and snowy) Fall!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

time for something new - crochet stuff

Well, I finally gave in recently and joined Ravelry. A fibre artist's hotspot, that's for sure. Addiction too, possibly.

While i was perusing their patterns for neck warmers and  cowls, i decided that none of them were 'perfect', so I made up my own.

the following is my own pattern. if you make this for gifting or sale, please include a tag with the original pattern web address. thank you.
under a fall coat

Buttoned Up Neckwarmer

 This pattern makes a close-fitted wool collar. It can be easily adjusted to fit. Original pattern makes a neckwarmer for a slender neck. I made this with a random skein of light wool yarn (kamb garn by Gefjun, apparently a defunct icelandic company that closed in the eighties, if i remember correctly) it was 100gr, and i used less than half of it, so i expect a 50 gram ball to be sufficient for most folks.

Materials needed:
1 ball 3ply or lace weight yarn, wool or natural fibres blend (mine was 17wpi, but 3 ply)
2.5 mm hook
wool needle
3-5 buttons of your choice
the neckwarmer, all buttoned up
stitches used and abbreviations:
chain (ch)
single crochet (sc)
half-double crochet (hdc)
double crochet (dc)
Treble-crochet (tc)

a note on gauge: initial 2 rows of pattern will be approx. 4 1/2 inches across. depth is somewhat unimportant, due to stretchiness of pattern.

the Pattern:

please note: work in back loops of the stitch for all repetitions of rows one and two! (this creates the ribbing effect)

chain 31.

row 1) ch 2*, hdc in next 20 stitches, dc in next 8 stitches, tc in next 3 stitches. turn.
* this will make 33 chain altogether. First hdc should be in the 3rd ch from the hook.

row 2) ch 4, tc in next 2 stitches, dc in next 8 stitches, hdc in next 21 stitches. turn.

Repeat these two rows until your pattern is 61 rows total, or to fit. (61 rows will fit a slender neck)

Next row) ch 4, tc across. turn. (this creates the 'button hole' row, allowing for flexible buttoning.)
next row) ch 1, then in both loops, sc across. turn.
next row) repeat sc row as above. finish off.

button flap:
This is worked in sc and in both loops to create a firm surface for the buttons to attach to.

on the initial chain, attach your yarn at the top (narrow end)
first row: ch 1, sc in next 23 stitches. turn
next row: repeat until flap measures about 1", or 7 rows total. fasten off.

with yarn and needle, stitch the bottom 7 stitches of the neck warmer together. tack the button flap down on the inside of the neck warmer.
place then attach buttons.
weave in all ends.
open for putting on/removal. bottom is stitched together.

laying flat

if you have any concerns or questions with the pattern, feel free to contact me.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

a quick update

it's a bit hectic around here right now, but i thought i'd let you all know how it's going:

i'm preparing for my daughter's birthday this weekend... she's having  fairy themed party, with a pinata. i hope she'll have a great time! i still need to make the cake and wrap the gifts, but i'm otherwise ready for it, which is fortunate... as i've got lots of other stuff going on!

I'm going to my first 'knit nite' with some other fibre artists tomorrow ... should be interesting...
i'm still finishing preserving... got a few things left on my plate: rosehip syrup, frozen carrots, and something with beets... my larder is looking plesantly full...

i'm working on processing a bit of wool so that i'll have a surplus of batts ready to spin over the winter... even better if i can gt a spinning wheel (it's on my wish list!)

um... .. i know there's more... i just can't think of it right now. expect another post with some pics soon....

Sunday, September 5, 2010


okay folks. It's time for me to send out a HUGE passel of blogger love for the wonderful authors of Sew Green.
They recently posted a Fantastic recipe to make your own deodorant. The link to the recipe is here.

The kicker? IT ACTUALLY WORKS!!!

 a single serving - one armpit worth  :D

I admit, i was skeptical. I've been off Antiperspirants for years, and have tried nearly every commercial deodorant brand out there. Most of them leave me stinky by mid-afternoon, at best! I'm pretty aware of my stink, particularly when i'm working, because i'm in an enclosed area with another person, and tend to be rather close to their head a lot of the time.

I decided to try making the recipe mostly because the author stated that it worked really well for them. My only alteration to the recipe was to switch out the bergamot oil for the anti-bacterial properties of Tea tree oil.

I've now used it for a week, and i can honestly say, it really does work! I've used it both after showering, and after a period without showering. In all cases i've been very pleased with the results. I've had NO odor issues when using it right after showering, or in the morning when showering last thing before bed. This is SO wonderful!

I'm so enthused about it, that i've been giving out samples of my original batch to friends and family, because i think everyone should give it a try.

Oh, and did i mention it's easy to make? It's mix and use. A word of caution though.... if your intended container is more on the narrow mouthed side, I'd suggest mixing it in a small bowl, then just use a spatula to put it in the container.

so all you readers, thin on the ground though you may be...if your natural deodorant isn't quite cutting it, or you _want_ to switch from an antiperspirant but are worried about stink... TRY THIS! please!  And let me know what you think!

Friday, September 3, 2010

going nutty

Well, I've made some progress on our hazelnut harvest. All the nuts have aged and been husked. Now they're just awaiting the day when we crack and eat them (sure to be soon!)

I did find some interesting information on choosing 'good nuts', specifically for planting. Apparently if you put your nuts in a dish of water, the good nuts will sink, the bad ones will float. I tested this theory, and then took all the floating nuts and cracked them open. The results: of about a dozen floaters, 10 were hollow/rotten and 2 were edible nuts. Not a perfect method for  sorting eating nuts, but certainly good if you wanted to enlarge your forest :)

Anyone for clandestine planting practices? *raises hand* gonna put a few hazelnuts, acorns, and chokecherries in good soil this fall, and see if any sprout next year!

my relatively meager hazelnut harvest
on a secondary, but related note, i decided to try (another) something new....  Acorns.
My mother's yard has 3 acorn trees of various ages (none terribly old yet) and two of them are chock full of nuts this year, so i thought it would be a good experiment to try and harvest some of them, see what they taste like.

Interestingly, according to this page, "Over the course of human history it has been estimated that people have eaten more acorns than both wheat and rice combined." and yet today it is such a non-food, perhaps something you might feed to animals... but certainly not to _people_! :)  Heh. Whatever. Here goes for bucking convention again...

I went out with a small container a couple days ago, and collected the nuts that had fallen off the one tree (a burr oak) and both the ones that had fallen, and the ones about to fall (ie brown and fell out in my hands when i tested them for looseness) from the other one (tentatively identified as either a Gary oak, or a burr oak hybrid). 

I then took off the husks from the burr oak (they don't fall off on their own). I did it what i'm thinking is the hard way, peeling it off in bits with my nails. It worked, but was tedious, and scratched up my nails (which would be a bad thing, if i cared much about them!)

Today, i went out with a larger basket, and collected again. the most ripe nuts are the ones that have fallen to the ground, and are the ones to take.

  a slightly blurry picture of my harvest. 

I'm still in the process of peeling the husks, but i've discovered an easier way: 
Use a small sharp knife to carefully cut away the husk on one side. 

  The nut should then come out fairly easily by pushing the pointy end towards the cut side, and prying it out with your fingers. 

While going through the nuts (particularly the 2 day old ones) i have found some worms, even though i took all the obviously holed ones out. Thus, here is a bit of an aid for anyone else who might want to pick: 
 This nut almost definitely has a worm in it.  

This nut has a smaller blemish that may or may not have a worm.

Nuts without blemishes like those above may still have scratches on them (the color is different on the outer layer of shell than the inner ones) This seems to be normal, and doesn't indicate a bad nut.

I decided to sort my nuts by blemish status... i now have a 'quarrantine' tray, and a basket for the un-blemished nuts. Every couple of days, i need to check on all the nuts, and remove any bugs, holed nuts, moldy nuts, etc... apparently it will take a couple of weeks indoors for the nuts to be fully ripened, cured, and ready to process. 
 quarantine in the box on the left, good nuts on the right.

As for the 'okay, so what do i do now' step? I'm going to follow the instructions on this page, which seems very informative. 
I plan on shelling, boiling, and freezing for later consumption (i think... i may grind and dry them for flour instead).

For the record, i tasted a couple nuts. they were pretty sweet and not astringent, so they likely have fairly low tannin content. Please note that un-boiled acorns in quantity are toxic, however tasting one or two is unlikely to do you any damage.* Tannic acid is a type of tannin, the same stuff found in grapes, tea, and numerous other sources. It just happens to be rather concentrated in acorns.

*if you have nut sensitivities, be extremely cautious! These nuts can cause the same reactions as more conventional nut choices!

I opened a wormy nut for ya, to show the damage, and an underage worm.

Here's a good nut. See the lovely white meat? And how thin the shell is? No wonder the nuts are only good a few months if unprocessed (ie boiled and either frozen or dried).

On the harvesting front, i've run out of both jars and energy for jams and jellies. However, i still want to do: more applesauce, more crabapple juice, some jelly juice to freeze for use in later fall (i have plans to do crabapple rosehip jelly) as well as can some apple pie filling. We shall see. 

As for brewing, we started some chokecherry mead, some jelly crab mead, and most recently some pear mead. It all looks wonderfully fizzy and active. (yay!) I also have some chokecherry liqueur on the go, which is a wonderful color!

And if anyone is interested in a little barter, just gimmee a shout!

If you're interested in fibre stuff, expect a post about wool and things shortly!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

persevering to preserve

still slowly working away at canning here folks. I've got one (hopefully only one!) batch of jam left, then i've got lots of juice to make....   I also _hope_ to get the chance to can some apple pie filling (children permitting!) as well as do up some pickles... if i can get my hands on pickling cukes. No, i didn't plant any this year.

does anyone know of a locally set up bartering group/ co-op?  i'm just curious to see if there's anything like that available in my province, as i'd love to be able to do more bartering...

and now, a recipe for you!

blueberry-crabapple jelly on to cook!

simple Crabapple Berry Jelly

crabapples: at least 8 cups
berries: at least 3 cups ((note: i've tried blueberries, hawthorn berries and chokecherries, but try anything you like!)
sugar: 7 1/2 cups
2 TBS lemon juice
pectin: liquid type, one pouch

  a full rolling boil

Place washed crabapples in a large pot. Add water until fruit is _almost_ covered (just a few spots sticking out) Bring to a boil, and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring frequently, or until the fruit is cooked through. put fruit in a strainer or jelly bag over a large bowl. Allow it to drain at least 4 hours, or overnight ((note: i tend to press/squeeze the pulp, as you'll get more juice, but you won't have a crystal clear end product. however... i don't care if it's clear or not!)

Repeat exact above instructions with your second fruit, into a second bag/sieve and bowl. (depending on the fruit, it can take anywhere from 5 minutes to nearly an hour to cook through. check frequently!)

as the cooking doesn't take long, prepare your canning equipment, and have it COMPLETELY ready before you start!
In a clean large pot measure 3 cups crabapple juice and 2 cups berry juice. if you are short on one, make it up with the other. if you run out of both, you can add as much as 1/2 cup plain water.
add the sugar and lemon juice
heat on high, and bring to a full rolling boil.
Add your pouch of pectin. bring back to a full rolling Boil. BOIL ONE FULL MINUTE!
take off the heat. continue to stir constantly for about 3 minutes.
pour into canning jars, and can in hot water bath for 10 minutes.
makes about 8 - 250ml jars

 yummy jelly!

note: this recipe is an adaptation of the crabapple jelly recipes found in both major brands of liquid pectin.
for more detailed canning instructions, purchase a good canning book, or try online.

one source is:  (though there are better sites for basic info, i happen to use the bernardin canning recipe book, and i love it)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

going nutty

over the weekend,  i read a post from a very interesting blog, the foraging family. they were discussing hazelnuts, and harvesting thereof. Now, just the day before, i had picked what i had told might be chestnuts, and a bit of stem in order to identify them. Hubby identified them as American Hazelnuts. Nice. I then went online to try and figure out when to pick said nuts. everything i could figure out said 'soon' so...  this weekend, i took little girl out for a short jaunt to go picking what nuts we could find. (with our poor weather, most crops were sparse, at best) 

little girl in front of a hazelnut bush

nuts ripening on the bush. the reddish leaf tone made it easy to spot other bushes amongst all the other shrubs

unidentified berries. anyone have any idea?

more unidentified fruiting plantlife. this one is a climber of some sort. can't figure out what it is though...

our 'bounty'....  perhaps 4 cups of husks... maybe a cup of nuts still in the shell?

a big difference in nut sizes. some were tiny, some were huge... and it didn't seem to correspond with bush size either. also, the pollination was obviously poor, as while most of the nuts i picked were singles or twins, a couple were four or five on one stem.
the instructions i have suggest finishing ripening them indoors before shelling... so i'll do just that. i know some of the nuts have holes in them, but i'm hoping to have enough to share a nice taste in a week or so.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

more preserving

today i'm going to show you one of the ways I'm processing the copious amount of apples available to me (thanks mom!)

this has got to be the fasted method out there, and allows me to make 'orchard fresh' pies, apple sauce, etc, even in the middle of winter... and without buying fruit from the store!

step one: pick some apples

step two: rinse the apples (i just use cool water)

step three: prepare a large bowl with water and about 1/4 cup of lemon juice. also prepare cookie sheets with waxed paper or parchment paper.

step four: slice and core apples, dropping slices into bowl of lemon water (peeling is an option i don't do, as the skins are thin on this particular type of apple. HOWEVER you can choose to peel them if you desire)

step five: drain apples by the handful, and spread them out in a single layer on the prepared trays

step six: repeat until you run out of apples, or space on the trays (or space in your freezer!)

step seven: place trays in freezer overnight, or until frozen solid

step eight: remove apples from the trays, place them in freezer-safe storage bags, and label with date and contents. These should keep at least 3 months (i end up using mine throughout the winter and following spring).

to use: substitute in place of fresh apples for crisps, pies, and sauces.  Also makes decent teething chews for toddlers (all the normal cautions apply).
   note: just take out as much as you need, keeping the rest of the bag frozen. if defrosting before cooking, DO NOT discard liquid (juice) as you'll need it (if you drain it off, the apples will be too dry)!

hopefully EVERYONE can preserve some apples now. it doesn't take long, and it is a great way to save some of that harvest of apples from the birds!