Sunday, August 29, 2010

Cook's Warehouse, have I said I love you?

We took another class yesterday at The Cook's Warehouse. Their classes are so much fun, although grating carrots isn't the most fun I've ever had.

We took Pickling and Brining: Not Your Grandma's Pickle Pantry. After taking the class on canning earlier this summer, when I saw this class, I knew I had to take it.

We were to meet at The Cook's Warehouse in order to carpool down to the Morningside Market and get some of our ingredients. I'd never been there, although I'd driven by on a Saturday or two and thought about stopping. We'd received an email on Friday reminding us to bring cash and a cooler if we wanted to buy anything. I was planning to meet Beth afterwards, so I decided that I wouldn't worry about getting any cash. No credit cards accepted, so I was safe from spending.

Ha! Two vendors of things that could sit out in the car for a couple of hours did take credit cards. I got some locally made granola from Pure Bliss Organics, and a grab bag of soap ends from Hazelbrand Handmade. I haven't tried the granola yet, but I did open up the grab bag and smell all the soap pieces. Those only reminded me of how much I'm looking forward to my soap making class in a few weeks.

There are cooking demonstrations by local chefs also on Saturdays. We watched Chef Gary L. Mennie prepare Roasted pears with speck ham, blue cheese and arugula. Thank goodness they handed out the recipe! Although I'm not a fan of prosciutto, I thought it was delicious, and quite honestly, I'm sure I could find another meat that I'd like better. Maybe a more common ham.

Of course, I couldn't be at the Morningside Market without seeing people I know. One of the women in the class was someone I recognized from when I was working at the local yarn store. I also recognized another woman I knew from there, but as I couldn't remember her name, I let her pass me by. As I was buying the granola, I heard, "Is that Eve under that hat?" from Kim of Knitch. Funny that everyone I knew down there was knitting related!

After getting a danish and latte from Alon's, I was fortified to go back to The Cook's Warehouse and start the class in earnest. (As an aside, almost everyone in the class had ventured to Alon's at some point during our field trip.)

Before we go back to Cook's Warehouse, I should tell you a little more about the market. There are local farmers, bakers and soap makers there. Grass fed, feed range beef and pork are available. How cool is it to be able to talk to the person growing your food? I found the market to be one of those simple and wonderful pleasures. Fresh food and an overcast morning that was a few degrees cooler than it's been lately, along with a delightful danish and great coffee made it very enjoyable.
Anyway, this class was an accelerated version of brining. We honestly didn't have enough time for everything to be brined as long as it should be, but there was a corned beef that had been brining for 5 days and was pressure cooked during class. My mouth is watering thinking about it even now. The aromas being carried upon the steam shooting from the pressure cooker were sublime. I do love savory foods.
However, we do have the recipes, and I understand about brining now. It's one of those techniques I'd actually never thought about until I took the canning class, and to be honest, it was the word pickling in the class title that caught my attention.
One of my favorite quotes, which I'm sure I've shared with you before, is from Ellis Peter's Brother Cadfael. "Nothing learned is ever quite wasted." You can read this quote it The Raven in the Foregate as I don't know which page it's on.
Have a great Sunday!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Alas, no photos!

I've been busy this past week, but not doing much that was photo-worthy.

I've been dyeing yarn. I filled in for a friend at the knit store where I used to work. I didn't do a bit of canning, although I think I'll be doing some more this next week.

I did do a lot of admin stuff for Fiber Charmer - looking for wholesalers of undyed yarn, ordering business checks, printing and labeling yarn.

Hopefully sometime next week I'll have lovely pictures of homemade plum jam to share. I love plum jam, but it's hard to find at the grocery store nowadays. However, there are mountains of plums at the Dekalb Farmers Market, and I plan to purchase a hill or two.

I did find an induction burner on sale at Tuesday Morning this past week. Woo hoo! Now I'll only have to contend with 2 of the eyes going on the stovetop. Hey, with this extreme heat, I'll be thrilled to have one less gas eye burning!

I finally ordered the fancy-schmancy and really expensive Oster clippers to use on the longhaired kitties off ebay a few days ago. Thankfully I was able to get them for about 1/2 of what they sell for at Sally's Beauty Supplies. I discussed it with Keith, and since they are less than the last time we had the kitties shaved by the mobile groomer, I went ahead and got them. I'm a little nervous about shaving them ourselves, but I have someone who come train us, so that's all good.

Oh, that reminds me! I had to bathe Monster the other day. She has long hair, and she's too fat to groom her rear end. She had poopy dingleberries, so I decided to put her into the bath tub and wash her.

Let me tell you that it is a great idea to wear a mask when bathing an angry, poopy cat. I'll preface this by saying don't piss the cat off by trying to clean out her ears, then decide that it would be a good idea to bathe her. She lashed that poop water covered tail like a whip, all the while yowling like she was being killed. Needless to say, I took a shower once I let her out of the tub!

I guess I did have some misadventures this week. I hope I've provided you with a funny visual and a laugh! Have a great week. You can think of me sweating in a hot kitchen while I'm canning plum jam.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Canning and dyeing

Here you see most of the jars of tomatoes I put up this past week. One jar didn't seal, so it's not pictured here. It's in the fridge, about to become some more tomatoe soup. I also had packed a jar full, then noticed that it had a big chip in the top. I wasn't sure where the chip was, so I threw it all out.
The greatest thing about this recipe is that it allows you to can by the jar, so if all I have is enough tomatoes for 2 jars, that's all I need to do. I love having a recipe that doesn't start with

"8 pounds of tomatoes."

I had/have a lot of cucumbers, so I put up more jalapeno-cucumber relish.

I was running low on some of my dye supplies, so I was unpacking the box and stepped away for just a moment. As you can see, Inspector Lily took it upon herself to check the contents for me.

My friend Shari recently suggested that I start compiling all the pictures of Lily for a book, entitled "Lily, Dammit!" I've posted a lot of pictures of her getting into things, and it does seem like a good idea. However, I've got too much on my plate right now, including a bunch of merino sliver and whole 'nother fleece that is at least cleaned, but needs carding or combing.

I'm thinking that Keith needs to learn how to card, comb or spin.
This past week I've been doing some immersion/kettle dyeing, and I've gotten some colors I really like. I'm not sure yet where I'll be selling them.
I'd been working on some ideas for my first knitwear designs, and I'm finding that it's more challenging that I anticipated. Of course, things won't work out as you expected when you change them in the middle. I've just kept knitting. I'll see how this hat turns out. I already see two changes so far I'd like to make, and even though I'm not wild about this one is knitting up, I'll have something I can donate this fall.
Have a great day! It's drizzly, humid and muggy here, but it's cloudy and under 90F, so I'm happy, really happy.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Tomatoes everywhere!

My poor garden has taken such a beating with this oppressive heat! Who am I kidding? We've all taken a beating from this heat.

Between the heat and the humidity, my bean vines dried to a crisp before blooming all over with mildew. The cucumber vines grew mildew first, then turned into a gooey, prickly mess. Several of the tomatoes grew with such abandon their supports totally collapsed. I went out earlyish this morning to start pruning away the dead, mildewed and collapsed. I'll tell you, I don't like this heat at all.

I recently decided that instead of giving all my lovely yard waste to the county, that I would start a new compost area in the backyard. We're going to need to augment the soil like crazy after last year's new drain field was installed. As I was taking the bags to far back corner, I found myself thinking about this past year's weather. Our backyard is still a mess. I would have happily worked out there all winter long if it hadn't rained from September through March or April. I don't remember a winter that wet! It rained just about every 24-48 for a good 6 months. I think our sump pump ran practically non-stop during that time.

I don't like the heat. I'm one of those people outside working in a t-shirt when it's 50-60 degrees outside. I'm sweating when it hits 65, and by 68, I'm ready to come inside and call it a day. Our lows have barely gotten below 75 in weeks, and while the yard looks like hell, it also feels like hell working out there.

I'll admit that I'm glad it's August. That means fall and cooler weather aren't that far away. I'm about ready to start my countdown the fall equinox again. I just hope it doesn't rain like crazy all fall and winter.

As for the garden, I'm not ready to give up on it. I plan to start planting things again as it cools down. Until then, I can go out for a little while early in the morning, maybe 5 a.m. when Sassy wakes me up, and finish getting it cleaned up and ready to go.