Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Soft Evening Rain

We had some much needed, and welcomed rain tonight. It has cooled off considerably from the hot humid weather of this past weekend, and the garden has soaked up all the lovely water! Soon I will be picking some of the tomatoes and zucchini which will go into salads and bread!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Beautiful Summer Evening

Well, we had a very hot and humid weekend...but we survived and had a successful yard sale to boot! This evening is nice and cool now, fireflies everywhere with rain on the way for the next two days. I have made lots of lemonade and ice tea this weekend, and enjoyed visiting with friends and neighbors. Have a wonderful Monday everyone..Smiles :)

Friday, July 22, 2011

Heat Wave!

Okay, so it's 105 in the shade...coastal Maine, light sea breeze...humidity off the charts!! This is why I love winter so much, I don't have to deal with the humidity of a sweltering day. Ugh!! The water isn't even helping it just makes you more humid. Oh well, it won't last for long and the beauty of fall awaits...Oh how I love the fall in New England! Ice cream sounds great right now, or ice tea? Either way, I'll have to move to get it so hopefully it is close by!! Have a wonderful day my friends and stay COOL! 

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Canning Vegetables

Well, I enjoyed my weekend...I canned Pickled Beets and Tomatoes with Garlic and Basil! I will can just about anything that's not standing still...I make sure to put up things for our long New England winters. Next week Zucchini Chips. I have provided you with the recipes I used for these two projects.

Pickled Beets
PREP TIME: 1 hour 40 minutes
Yield: 10 (1 pint) jars

10 pounds fresh small beets, stems removed
2 cups white sugar
1 tablespoon pickling salt
1 quart white vinegar
1/4 cup whole cloves

Place beets in a large stockpot with water to cover. Bring to a boil, and cook until tender, about 15 minutes depending on the size of the beets. If beets are large, cut them into quarters. Drain, reserving 2 cups of the beet water, cool and peel.
Sterilize jars and lids by immersing in boiling water for at least 10 minutes. Fill each jar with beets and add several whole cloves to each jar.
In a large saucepan, combine the sugar, beet water, vinegar, and pickling salt. Bring to a rapid boil. Pour the hot brine over the beets in the jars, and seal lids.
Place a rack in the bottom of a large stockpot and fill halfway with water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then carefully lower the jars into the pot using a holder. Leave a 2 inch space between the jars. Pour in more boiling water if necessary until the water level is at least 1 inch above the tops of the jars. Bring the water to a full boil, cover the pot, and process for 10 minutes.

Canned Whole Tomatoes With Basil and Garlic
PREP TIME: 3 hours
Yield: 4 quarts

12 pounds Roma Tomatoes
16 whole cloves of garlic
8 tablespoons lemon juice
4 teaspoons salt
8 fresh Basil leaves

Place 4 quart jars or 8 pints along with the two-piece caps in hot, soapy water. Rinse well and drain. Heat jars and lids in simmering water (180 degrees) and allow them to stand there until ready to use. Select fresh Roma Tomatoes at their peak of quality. Use firm tomatoes, free of cracks and spots. Remove the stem and using a paring knife make a small "X" cut through the skin on the top of the tomato. Place large stock pot on the stove filled with water and bring to a rolling boil. Place the tomatoes in a wire basket and lower them into the boiling water. Blanch tomatoes 30 to 60 seconds or until the skin at the top of the tomato starts to peel away from the "X" mark carved into the top. Dip the tomatoes immediately into cold water to stop the cooking process. Once again using the paring knife, slip the skins off the tomatoes beginning at the "X" mark and leave the Roma Tomatoes whole. Place the peeled tomatoes into another large sauce pot adding just enough water to cover by one inch. Bring the water to a rolling boil and cook tomatoes 5 minutes. While tomatoes are cooking, remove the canning jars from the hot water along with the lids and place on a towel. Add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice in each jar. Carefully pack the hot tomatoes into the jar placing 2 Basil leaves and 4 cloves of garlic into each jar. Carefully ladle the hot cooking liquid over the tomatoes leaving one half inch of head space. Top with 1 teaspoon of salt. Move the jar gently to remove any air bubbles that may have formed around the tomatoes. Repeat two or three times. Screw down the lid and rim firmly onto the jar and place in a simmering water bath for approximately 45 minutes. Remove from hot water and set aside to cool. Once cool, check lids for proper sealing, label and store in a cool, dark place.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Making Tassels for Accessorizing

Tassels are a wonderful accessory in almost any room, they can be formal or informal, simple or ornate. And they can cost a fortune! Here is an easy way to make them at home. Add detail to your rooms for the price of a skein of yarn!
These are directions for a simple tassel and ideas for how to use them in your room. Tassels can be adorned with more detail with beads or gems.
You will need a skein of yarn or embroidery floss. I really like the textured yarns because they give a real interesting look to your finished tassel. Embroidery floss will give a more formal, smoother look, and a smaller tassel.
You will need an object to use as a template. Something thin and sturdy, like a book, or a video tape, depending on the size of tassel you are making.
Starting at the bottom of the template, start wrapping around your object from 12-20 times, depending on the thickness you desire for your tassel, and the material you are using. When you have reached your desired thickness, gently pull the wrap off of the template, holding the loop in your hand. Now continue wrapping horizontally around the loop itself 1-3 inches down from the top. This will create the head of the tassel. When it has a nice “neck” cut the yarn leaving a long tail, and tuck the tail under the neck.
Now cut the loop apart at the bottom to create the skirt, trim the ends straight across for a neat look. Slip another length of yarn through the head loop., tie once, and now you can use your tassel anywhere in the home!
Great ideas for tassel details…

Curtain tie backs
Tied to drawer pulls or cabinet knobs
Used on the pull chain for ceiling fans
Tied to the switch on table lamps
Looped around a decorative shelf item
Hung from the back of doorknobs…
The list is endless.

One skein of yarn will make many tassels, and you can enhance them if you wish by stringing bead to the ends of the tassel, and tying, or string them throughout the whole tassel while wrapping.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Basic Dry Mix for Baking


10 cups Flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup baking powder
4 tsp. Sea Salt or iodized Salt
2 cups Shortening (like solid Crisco)
½ cup powdered milk
Divide this mixture into two large bowls and with your hands crumble everything up until nice granules form. You want to achieve the texture of course crumbs. Place large amounts in plastic bags and keep in a cool place for up to 6 weeks. Longer if you refrigerate. Use in the following Recipes. Each batch Yields about 13 cups

Pancakes: 2 ¼ cups "Basic Dry Mix," 1 egg, 1 cup milk stirring only long enough to be damp. You want to achieve a medium batter. Check to see if you need more milk or mix.
Pour scoopfuls onto a greased frying pan and fry until nicely browned. Turning only once when the top is bubbly. Yield 8-10 pancakes.

Biscuits: 2 ½ cups of "Basic Dry Mix," 1/3 cup of milk. Mix long enough to make a decent biscuit dough. Turn out onto a floured counter board and Here’s a judgment call: add more milk or mix to pat out into a circle.
Now cut with a 2" circle cutter and place each onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake 350* for about 10-14 minutes or until nicely browned. Serve with butter and honey. You also might like to make a chicken cream sauce to pour over the top of a biscuit for a lovely dinner idea. With a salad on the side.

Pecan sweet rolls: 3 cups "Basic Dry Mix" adding ½ cup sugar. On a floured board, pat out thinly into a rectangle shape. Spread out melted butter or margarine. Then sprinkle a mixture of sugar, cinnamon and chopped pecan nuts.
Begin rolling up the dough covering the sweet mixture. Seal the edges. Cut into 2" slices and place them onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake 350* for 10-14 minutes until nicely browned. Ice while still warm and sprinkle chopped pecans over the top.

Surprises: 2 ½ cups of "Basic Dry Mix," 1/3 cup of milk. Mix long enough to make a decent biscuit dough. Flour you hands and taking about 1 tbs. of dough make a 1" ball. Make a hole and poke "one" of the following inside: Pitted olives, chunks of cheese, or hot dog slices seasoned with a dab of mustard.
Seal up the edges, roll into sesame seeds and bake at 350* for about 10 minutes for some nice warm appetizers, or snacks.

Muffins: 3 cups of "Basic Dry Mix"1/4 cup Sugar or honey, 1 egg and 1 cup of milk. (At this point you could add ½ cup of one of these: chopped raisins, apricots, apples, pineapple, coconut etc…) Stir long enough to we. Here’s a judgment call: add more milk or dry mix to create a nice muffin batter.
Fill muffins pans ¾ full of batter and bake 375* for about 15-20 minutes until nicely golden browned. Yields about 12 sweet muffins.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy Independence Day!

Cape Cod Massachusetts Independence Day 
Barnstable Village Celebration

I just love a good parade on this day, and Barnstable is the place to be for all the wonderful things to experience from our past. God Bless America and have a wonderful year ahead. 

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Make and Freeze Basil Pesto

As expensive as basil pesto is in the stores, you'd think it was difficult to make; but it is incredibly easy. The only equipment you need is a food processor or blender.


2 cups fresh packed basil leaves (pack them into a measure cup and press them down with your hand).

1/4 cup pine nuts (if you don't have pine nuts, you can use walnuts or hazelnuts)

3 garlic cloves, finely minced (or 1 tablespoon of prepared minced garlic)

1 tablespoon "fruit fresh" or 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Fruit fresh is available at most grocery stores where canning supplies like pectin and pickling salt are sold. It is basically a form of citric acid and vitamin C, that helps prevent the pesto from turning brown upon exposure to the air.

1/4 cup Olive oil. It should be the "extra virgin" variety, not the ordinary cooking olive oil. If it is extra virgin, it will say that on the label.

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (only if not freezing).

Pick the leaves off of the stems. Discard any flower buds, stems or leaves that aren't in good shape. All we want are leaves; small, medium or large; as long as they are a healthy green, not brown.

Wash the basil in a large bowl under cold water. Chop the pine nuts, olive oil and garlic in the food processor or blender. 
Add the basil leaves and olive oil and chop. Now start putting basil leaves (in small batches) into the food processor and chop them into the garlic, olive oil and pine nuts.
Chop the mix until it forms a thick, smooth paste.
Adding 1 teaspoon of sugar to the batch really seems to bring the flavor alive. You can use splenda also.

Blend in the grated Parmesan cheese, (note: If you are going to freeze the pesto, leave out the cheese, it doesn't freeze well), You can add the cheese to your recipe when you use the pesto for cooking.

The pesto will keep in refrigerator for about a week, or you can freeze it and it will last for 3 to 6 months. Freeze the pesto in ice cube trays, when it's frozen, just pop the cubes out of the tray and put them into a freezer bag. When you need them, just take one of two of the cubes out to use in cooking.

Most people serve it over pasta or use it to season fish and chicken dishes, I like to put it homemade vegetable soup in the winter....lovely way of remembering my summer garden! Enjoy!

Independence Day Picnic

I love being outside in the summer, with all the smells and colors! It is the 4th. of July weekend and it is time to set up for the BBQ picnic. The colors are so easy, with the Red, White and Blue decorations..flags for all!
We will be making these pretty cupcakes for after the BBQ...the girls love to come up with special ideas for the desserts.
Have a safe and happy celebration!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Happy 4th. of July!!

I remember as a little girl going to Congress Lake for the July 4th. fireworks, and like clock work, as soon as it became dusk....it would start to RAIN! Not a downpour kind of rain, just that drizzley kind that misted you as you looked up. Then after the finale was done, we would fill to our cars and be stuck in a traffic jam for 30 minutes...then it started to rain hard! Oh, it used to make my father so irritated and he would grumble while my mother smiled to us kids in the back seat. Those were fun times for sure. I wish everyone a fun and safe Independence Day!