Monday, May 28, 2012


Lots and lots of mulberries. Right by our driveway for our camp in Oklahoma we have a rather large tree of white mulberries. I'm not a big fan of them raw, I think they taste like nothing but sweet. Since we're not up here often, when we "picked" off the tree the first time, we just hit everything (literally) to knock off good, bad, dried old ones, etc, and give the rest of the young ones a chance.

We spread old bed sheets and visquene (can't spell that...) around the tree, held them down with rocks from the dirt road and started shaking. Nathan (my brother) was using that stick to shake outer branches while my mom and I picked up berries enough for him to walk around (that's what all those little dots on the sheets are). She also took the pictures for me.

My dad climbed the tree in order to get the taller branches. He used a ladder leaned against the tree to get in and just crawled around in the rest of it.

That's after they've all been washed and the bad ones pulled out. It came out to a scant 4 gallons. I raw packed a few quarts, made a few pints of jam, and dehydrated some. We stuck some of the dehydrated ones in a butternut squash souffle the other night. They worked out just like dried raisins and figs, the seeds softened up wonderfully and didn't crunch. We'll be picking some more this week sometime, as they've had about a week to grow some more and such, most of them will be dehydrated with possibly one pie for my dad's sake.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Scrap Afghan and Plarn Purse (in progress)

I came across the coolest (to me, anyways) scrapghan on Ravelry about a year ago. It's a yo yo afghan. Use up a ton of tiny scraps too small for granny squares, make a blanket that doesn't have holes big enough for toes to poke through and ta-dah! Beautiful afghan. I'm kind of slow. I've only worked on it when I got a few spare minutes or in the truck between Louisiana and Oklahoma (we're in Oklahoma right now). So it's not too huge yet. I've got the yo yo's made, now it's just to put them together. Here's a work in progress picture of it. I like it, nice and warm for the little it is so far. I wasn't sure how much I was going to like it after I started looking at the yo yo's with all the colors touching. With the beige yarn connecting, though, it looks kind of stained glassy.

My other current work in progress (OK, one of my other) is something I got out of Interweave Crochet a year or so ago. I started it last Christmas while sitting in a deer stand because as much as I love hunting, I get bored easily. It's plain white plarn and brown variegated plarn. The white comes off of mostly WalMart or other such bags, the brown is from my aunt's Toys R Us shopping, Home Depot, Piggly Wiggly, and Albertsons for the most part. Some come from other stuff, some I've no clue where they're from.

The bottom of the bag is kind of funky right now. I think I may have messed up on the increases a bit, but once I put some stuff in it after it's done, the weight should rearrange it better/flatter. I've added a few more rows of the stair-steppy colors since this was taken. I like the brown and white together, it gives a nice tweed look.

This first one is with the picture in the magazine. You can kind of see the funky-ness of the bottom here.

And a closeup of the colors/pattern.

Hopefully this afternoon or tomorrow I'll get the stuff with black currants and mulberries up here. That's the other stuff I've been spending my time on. :)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Cucumbers and Yellow Squash and Zucchini Oh My! (Updated w/Recipes)

(Edited to add in recipes for my sake, so even when I lose the book, I can find them.)

We have a garden. My dad has a theory that what we can't eat, I'll can or dehydrate or freeze or he'll give away. It works great, but it also means that my entire summer vacation that hasn't been screenprinting t-shirts (my parents are self employed and we print shirts) has been mostly spent in the kitchen canning, dehydrating or making soap.

So far, I've made 4 or 5 batches of pickles: Garlic, Kosher Dills and Sweet Pickles. My dad likes sweet pickles, but not too sweet, so the recipe I used for those called for 10 cups sugar, I only put 7. They're sweet enough, I hate to think about what 10 cups would be like. For the Kosher Dills, it called for mustard seed. I didn't want to go to the store and buy more, so I just took the 55 gallon drum of mustard green seed stalks we have drying on the porch and my mom and I spent 2 hours cleaning mustard seeds to use in pickles. They're tiny black ones, but the Kosher Dills are delicious. :) Not one to waste anything, I decided to use the ends of the cucumbers to puree and make cucumber soap the next day. I'll put up pictures of that soap and the other ones I made later. The top picture is some of the Kosher Dills, the second one is some of the Sweet Pickles. The easiest way to tell them apart is the dill floating in the Kosher ones versus nothing floating in the Sweet ones. :)

Kosher Dills (From So Easy to Preserve from the Cooperative Extension of University of Georgia)
(6-7 Pints)

30-36 cucumbers, 3-4" long
3 C vinegar
3 C water
6 T salt
Fresh or dried dill
Mustard seed

Wash the cucumbers. Slice 1/16" from blossom end and discard. Leave 1/4" of stem attached. Make a brine of vinegar, water and salt. Bring to a boil. Place a generous layer of dill, 1/2 to 1 clove of garlic (sliced) and 1/2 teaspoon of mustard seed in the bottom of each pint jar. Pack cucumbers into hot jars. When the jars are half filled with cucumbers, add more dill and complete packing. Fill the jars 1/2" from the top with boiling brine. Remove air bubbles. Wipe jar rims. Adjust lids. Process 10 minutes in a Boiling Water Bath. Pickles will shrivel after processing. They will later plump in the jar.

My Changes
I cut larger cucumbers up into chunks instead of whole little ones. I used black mustard seed from our garden instead of the yellow one I'd normally buy at the store. The flavor is good though, so I'm not complaining. I used quart jars, just tacked on 5 extra minutes of time in the BWB.

Sweet Cucumber Pickles (From So Easy to Preserve from the Cooperative Extension of University of Georgia)
(4-5 pints)

3 pounds cucumbers, medium sized
1 quart vinegar
2 t salt
5 C sugar

Wash cucumbers. Slice 1/16" off blossom ends and discard. Pour boiling water over the cucumbers and let stand 5-10 minutes. Drain off the hot water and pour cold water over the cucumbers. Use running water or change water until cucumbers are cooled. Mix vinegar, salt and sugar. Bring to a boil. Place cucumbers into the boiling liquid. Return to a boil. Pack hot pickles into hot canning jars, leaving 1/2" head space. Fill jars to 1/2" from top with boiling liquid. Remove air bubbles. Wipe rims. Adjust lids. Process 10 minutes in a Boiling Water Bath.

My Changes
I used chunks of bigger cucumbers again instead of little ones, only 3 1/2 C of sugar instead of 5 since my dad wanted not too sweet pickles. I made these in quarts so I tacked on 5 minutes to the BWB time.

Since we also have an exorbant amount of zucchini and yellow squash, we cut them up and dehydrate them. This is great if you like zucchini Parmesan but hate the wetness of squash in food. Simply layer your pan's bottom with dried summer squash, lightly spray some water on it, pour spaghetti sauce, put squash, pour sauce, etc. Let it sit about 20 - 30 minutes before putting it in the oven to give it time to soften some.

For drying, cut them up in chunks.

Lay them out on the tray, it doesn't really matter if they touch.

 Dry them at 145 Degrees until they snap when you break them in half. For reference, the dried zucchini below is what came from that loaded tray above.

Any suggestions on other pickle types or things to do with squash would be great. We've tried a ton of things, love a bunch of them, but after 3-4 years of squash, I'm running out of ideas... :P

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Garlic Pickles

So Monday was the first my second full day out of school for the summer, so naturally that means begin preserving anything that came out of the garden recently. This case was pickles. I used a recipe that my grandma gave me that my dad loves (and loved when he was a kid too). It came from a friend of my grandma's from West Texas named Mrs. Totsie Hines. It's a rather...sparse...set of instructions, but they serve well. It didn't have a processing time for boing water bath, so I do them for 10 minutes just because. It's the prevailing time that I came across from other pickle recipes.

Mrs. Totsie's Garlic Pickles

6 cups vinegar
13 cups water
1 cup salt (I used pickling salt)

Bring to a boil. To each jar of spears, add 2 cloves garlic, 2 peppers. Let stand 6 weeks. (I BWB for 10 mins.)

In this batch, instead of doing spears, I did thick slices and chose not to put peppers. Mainly because our pepper plants haven't a thing on them but flowers right now. But the recipe tastes great without peppers as well. Just don't eat a clove of garlic thinking it's a pickle. It doesn't say if it's for quarts or pints, but every time I've done them, I make pints and 2 cloves of garlic/2 peppers works for me in that size. I made 12 pints and ended up with a little under 2 quarts of liquid left over to make some more later.

I decided to keep the ends of the cucumbers and used them on Tuesday to make cucumber soap. Right now it's a nice green. I'll post that later once I get some pictures.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Wild Onions!

So a few weeks ago, I decided to make use of the copious amount of wild onions growing in our yard. I started digging them up, but was rather slow. My dad came out and started going crazy with the shovel and got me over two 5 gallon buckets full of beautiful smelling greens and bulbs. Between my mom and I, we spent the entire day cleaning and cutting onions. In the end, we got I don't know how many greens, but ended up with a whole gallon of bulbs.

Since I couldn't find much by way of recipes specifically for pickling wild onions (read as nothing), I decided to substitute them into recipes calling for pearl onions. I didn't have enough onions to make a whole batch of all three types I wanted to try doing, so I made 3 small small batches. We'll be tasting them this weekend, so I'll let ya'll know how that goes when the time comes. In order to use both the tops and bottoms, I dehydrated the greens. My mom said the one thing they cooked them with, they worked great. I'll have more info on both subjects after the weekend.

The first batch is the one I did the biggest group of. It's from here. For some ridiculous reason, one of the jars decided to crack in half right below the threads of the jar. I don't know how it happened, or why, but I was putting jars in the water bath canner, turned around, looked back and saw onions floating. Kind of strange experience there. Anyway, here's a picture of some of them.

The second batch was done with this recipe. They're the yellowish golden ones. The third batch, I did one 3/4 pint jar of because we weren't sure how it would taste. The recipe for that is here. It's in the jar in the back right corner with the silver band on it.

So far, my dad and brother both love the first batch of them. I wasn't too fond of it, but then again, I don't really like pickled onions. They haven't tried the second and third yet. I gave some of the first two batches to my grandpa to try. I'm still waiting on a response there.