The Life and Projects of An Avid Hobbyist

Monday, August 30, 2010

I Like my Currants Spicy!


In my household growing up red currants were not a commonly used fruit.  I pulled out my great-Nana's cookbook and did some tinkering in the kitchen.  The end result was not a ribbon winner at the fair, but a tasty jelly nonetheless...enjoy! ~ksp


Spiced Currant Jelly
• 4 pounds fresh red currants
• 1 cup water
• 7 cups white sugar
• 4 fluid ounces liquid fruit pectin
• 1 tsp ground cardamom
• 2 tsp ground cinnamon
• 1 tsp ground allspice

  1. Place the currants into a large pot, and crush.
  2. Pour in 1 cup of water, and bring to a boil.
  3. After boiling, simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. Add spice mix and stir.
  5. Process juice through jelly cloth or cheese cloth, and measure out 5 cups of the juice.
  6. Bring juice to boil in large pot, and slowly stir in the sugar. Bring to a rapid boil over high heat, and stir in the liquid pectin. Return to a full rolling boil, and allow to boil for 1 minute.
  7. Ladle or pour into sterile 1/2 pint jars, filling to within 1/2 inch of the top.
  8. Process in a hot-water bath of simmering water for 10 minutes. Adjust time for your elevation.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Baby Selven

As a college student at TU I made lots of life-long friends including Selven.  In the mid-nineties he was a business major and was number 27 on the football team.  He and I are fierce friends and in the 10 plus years since we've graduated, we still speak several times a week.  I call him my "brother from another mother"...he calls me "grasshopper*".

He and his girlfriend have a baby due in a couple of weeks and I am SO excited.  He's wanted to be a daddy for some time and his baby boy is almost here.  To celebrate this momentous birth I, grasshopper, am preparing a mostly green flying geese crib quilt for him.

Strips salvaged from layer cakes purchased in Fl, June 2010
Selven's Squares
Squares all lined up.

Squares sewn together.
I am a Quiltville fan and follow Bonnie's instructions on creating bonus 1/2 square triangles on what would otherwise be discarded fabric.

Highly irregular 1/2 triangle squares.

I'll probably use these to make a lavender filled pillow for use in the baby's nursery.

I"ll keep you posted on progress. Baby Selven is due September 10, 2010...must hurry. ~ksp
* That's a longer story.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Doing Much With Little

Picture Heavy Post

I won a first place ribbon in the NJ State Fair for my watermelon rind jam.  I have been fascinated for some time by coming up with gourmet/tasty fixins' with ingredients that would otherwise be discarded.  

After some experimenting, I now love watermelon rind as much as I love the red pulpy pieces. ~ksp

Watermelon Rind Jam

• 2 lbs pound of fresh skinless watermelon rind (1 medium-sized fruit)
• Juice from 1 lemon or lime
• 2 cups sugar
• 1tbsp fresh ginger – grated
• 1tsp powdered ginger
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• Water







  1. Cut watermelon rind into 1 inch cubes.
  2. Add the watermelon rind and grated ginger to a pot, cover with water and boil until fork tender and translucent; stirring regularly.
  3. Drain out the water but keep 2 cups of this liquid for use to blend; let cool.
  4. Pulse in a blender or food processor adding little liquid only if necessary. Process until smooth (the consistency of thick applesauce.)
  5. Pour in a heavy pot.
  6. Add sugar, salt and lime juice. Bring juice to boil in large pot, and slowly stir in the sugar.
  7. Bring to a rapid boil over high heat, and stir in the liquid pectin. Return to a full rolling boil, and allow to boil for 1 minute.
  8. Remove from heat and skim off foam from the top. Ladle or pour into sterile 1/2 pint jars, filling to within 1/2 inch of the top.
  9. Process in a hot-water bath of simmering water for 10 minutes.  Adjust time for your elevation.~ksp


Being Neighborly

I live in a rather quirky little neighborhood in a quasi-suburban college town. Nothing demonstrated this more than my neighbor "Paul". He's a bit high-strung and frankly can be annoying...but hes my neighbor nonetheless.

My boxed "garden plot" is just outside of his bedroom windows, and although I've never actually heard him complain, I am often at the garden early in the morning and sometimes with a chatty assistant.  Thus, I thought it would be a good idea to throw some fresh produce his way.

Organic Cornucopia O'Goodness
He loved it and later in the week complemented me on the "tastiness" if the peppers.

Winning neighbors, one cornucopia at a time. ~ksp

Monday, August 23, 2010

2010 Ribbon Count

ETA: Left to right: watermelon rind jam, cracked pepper cranberry chutney and golden mint jalapeno jelly.

I won three ribbons in this year's fair.  I'll be sharing the recipe in future posts. ~ksp

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Random Sunday

I've got a lot to share with you but there is no central theme:

1.  I finished a quilt top for one of my guys.  He's had his first child and is very excited about it.  Here is an "in progress" shot of the top.  I used a Moda jelly roll purchased here in a colorway tag that is long lost.  It is crib sized and has a simple mitered border in cream.   All I have to do is schedule time here to get it all quilted.  I am waiting for several tops to be done and then I'll make a day of it.
A very pink simple jelly roll pattern
2. The NJ State Fair is over and I entered 4 delectables for judging.  I'll be sharing recipes shortly.
    2010 Fair Receipts
    Left to right: golden mint jelly, spice currant jelly, watermelon rind jam and cracked pepper cranberry chutney.
    3.  I got some of the last fiber that the Sanguine Gryffon was selling before discontinuing dyed roving.  Fiber Content: 65% merino 35% silk.  Colorway: Tea Estate.  These 8oz are marinating in the stash until this humidity goes's been a way sticky summer.

    8oz of fibre goodness
    4.  My much neglected garden is beginning to give up her gifts.  It seems this summer I could not adequately keep up with the watering  between the extreme heat and the near drought-like conditions. On a recent maintenance visit, I lost a tomato (I plan to fry it up green).  Also there are some thai hot peppers and habaneros and more rouge mint.  More stuff to get mixed into the daily cooking.

    Small bounty

    Monday, August 2, 2010

    Sugar...The Final Frontier

    These are the voyages of a sugar addict. My boldly explore ways to cut my sugar intake down (trek anyone?).


    I consume way too much sugar. 

    Not surprisingly, it comes in so many forms.
    1. I drink a lot of fruit juice - there's a special place in my heart for cranberry juice, but I am not particular.  
    2. I drink soda (damn that Pepsi) less often, but when it suits me.  
    3. I have a sweet tooth that won't be stopped - oh, how I love all types of cookies, cakes, tarts etc.  I doesn't help that I am a decent baker too.
    4. Pasta anyone?
    5. Hidden sugars - condiments, coffees, fruit leathers...
    So, I'm not going to make a pledge or anything, but I am going to more closely monitor my eating and cutting sugar down.  I'll be reporting back my progress...wish me luck

    This week's challenge: Begin to ween myself off of sugar in my coffee.
    In canning news, I searched high and low for hermetic jars and lucked up when I found some here and here.  I've been using them to develop a Sunshine Pickle recipe.

    What are sunshine pickles you ask? They are cucumbers that have been allowed to ferment in a brine in full sunlight for a period of days.

    Here are my first 2 jars,  a kirby cucumber in one and a mix (very) hot pepper in the other.  Can't wait to try them.