Monday, April 22, 2013

Its all a learning curve!

I am quilting, and have several things I'd like to share, but still need to fine tune my photography. This isn't as easy as I thought it would be! It doesn't help that my camera croaked - its over ten years old - so I've been trying out the one I bought for my husband last year. Lots to learn there, and I feel guilty loading up his camera with all my quilt photos. Unfortunately, the pix I have on file on my computer are pretty crappy, as some of you already know!  Be patient, hopefully good things to come...

Meanwhile I did manage to get some decent pix of some of my other creative endeavors:

This is my Navel Orange and Clementine Marmalade, made with oranges from my tree, and Clementines from the farmers market. The peak ripeness for my oranges does not always overlap with Clementine season, so I don't get to make this every year. And I have tried making it with "other" oranges, but I'm sorry its just not the same. This year I got lucky. I know many folks don't care for marmalade, but this is NOTHING like what you buy in the store! My oranges are super sweet, and with the Clementines the resulting flavor is almost like eating candy. BTW I do not use the Blue Chair method - I tried her method and the results were not to my liking. I like my preserves to be bright and fresh tasting, hers are darker and more concentrated, and taste more "cooked".  I guess its just a matter of taste. Anyway, everything I use is organic, including the sugar which Costco now carries, thank you very much! Isn't it beautiful?

A couple years ago I tasted a vendor's Rhubarb Ginger Jam at the Saturday Market in downtown Portland. It blew me away, and I knew I had to figure out how to make it! It took a few tries, but I believe I've nailed it. The hardest part is making it look pretty, 'cuz it mostly wants to look like mud. The trick is picking only the very young, very red stalks, cooking it slowly and not stirring too much. I know not very many people can hack the taste of rhubarb, but I love it. I can literally eat this stuff right out of the jar. Amazingly, the sugar to fruit ratio is much lower than ordinary jam - like, two cups to six cups of rhubarb. Its all organic, no pectin is involved, so its really very pure and almost healthy - ha ha!

This is everyone's favorite, my infamous Hot Pepper Jelly. I use a variety of peppers, including some really hot ones I grow myself, so the jelly has some really good kick. A couple years ago I went a little heavy on the "hot" side, resulting in a batch of jelly so hot I couldn't eat it! I went ahead and canned it anyway, and labeled it "Hella Hot Pepper Jelly" and you guessed it, it was a big hit! Nothing healthy about this jelly, its mostly sugar, and includes Certo pectin. But its killer over cream cheese, with crackers.

Here are a few of this year's pepper plant starts, ready to be planted. I actually got them in the ground this past weekend. Come fall, I'll have enough peppers for several batches of jelly, plus more to dry for hot pepper flakes, and I mean HOT. Which my husband loves to put on his pizza. I also end up drying a variety of other (milder) peppers and make a "blend" which I prefer - only a two alarm fire as opposed to a six!

Shoot, I should have taken a picture of my pepper flakes. Oh well, maybe next time.

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