Monday, August 24, 2009

Busy Harvest

I have been so busy this late summer that I wonder when it is all going to slow down. I suppose it will not really happen until winter, and that brings its own time full of things to do. Last week was very busy with the rebuilding of the tent at 826 Valencia. I spent quite a while on Tuesday and Wednesday over there working on the massive project. More on that tomorrow with a detailed posting with pictures.

Thursday was spent teaching a friend all about canning. I am by no means an expert canner, and call on my mother and sister as well as another good friend for guidance often. They are all able to send me in the right directions. I BARTed out to where she could more easily get to me, and we headed out into the country for some farm stand goodness. I was happy to be out of the city for a day and enjoy seeing nothing around me but wind farms, brown grass, and fruit trees. There was even some corn fields to make me feel like I was back in Illinois. We found good peaches at one stand, and at another there was some of the famous Brentwood sweet corn that Annie assured me would be just as good as my missed peaches and cream variety from Illinois. She was right, it is just as good. At the stand where I got the corn, he also had these wonderful green variety of figs that are pretty common around this part of California. They have a sweet but smoky flavor, and I though they would be great for some jam. The farm owner, after realizing that I was making jam with them, brought us out a flat of figs that were too over ripe for selling at the stand but would be perfect for our cooking. Best of all, when I went to pay for the corn and figs, he gave us the 5 pounds of figs for free! I gave him a few dollars for them as I just could not take them with out giving something to him for the favor. I look forward to getting more corn from him soon!

Annie, being the food person that she is, wanted to learn to make jam not using the commercial pectin that we bought. I had not done that before and was willing to learn with a partner in cooking crime! We washed the figs off and blanched them for 10 minutes in boiling water to remove the natural wax and soften up the skins, which were already pretty soft.

From there, we opened up a bottle of wine and began destemming and rough chopping them up.

Then it was into the pot, adding a thermometer this time, and lots and lots of stirring. We learned the spoon test and also the cold saucer test for the jam. I found the spoon test to be very hard to learn, but the cold saucer really worked well. Before you start your jam, you place a couple of saucer in the freezer. Once your jam gets around 220 degrees Fahrenheit, you take a spoon of jelly and place it on one of the frozen plates and place that back in the freezer for three minutes. After that time, you run your finger through the middle of the jam puddle to look for correct jam texture for you. It was also nice because you got a preview of the finished product. Once the jam is at a proper jell for you, I like mine so that the two sides of the puddle do not come back together, you stop the cooking and start the canning. We ended up with five very full pints out of the free fruit.

We then moved on to cocktails and peach jam! We took less pictures of that one, but here I am stirring the pot of jam:

It was so fun! I also received some wonderful flowers this week from Dan. While I am not as great at arranging flowers as my mom, here was my attempt:

My flower arranging teacher in college said that when someone gets flowers for another person, they get them for anyone they pass by because seeing another person bringing flowers to someone brightens up the viewers day as well. I hope this brightens your day!

My posting is late today due in part to my need to use the light when I have it for pictures. I took several pictures for new hairflowers that I hope to list this week in the Etsy store. I am also going to list up more destash clasps and things that are great for jewelry makers out there. Today I am hopefully going to finish processing the rest of the bushel of apples in the new toy - a food dehydrator! It is fun and I love it. I am also going to get the house straightened around and cleaned a bit more. There is also fabric for Christmas presents to be tossed in the wash. Yes you read that right.... Christmas presents are going to be started waaaaaayyyy ahead this year so there will be less hair pulling and gnashing of teeth come December 20th. I want to make mailing deadlines before prices are through the nose again. Tomorrow I will have the tent wrap up finished with the pictures!


Steph said...

The jam looks delicious! I so want to learn someday, but I'm forcing myself into a temporary hobby hiatus, until I get some things accomplished.

Fabulous Pants said...

I will definitely teach you how to make it once your hobby hiatus is over. I do have to say that we are slowly slipping out of canning season though. *I am such the crafting enabler!*