Sunday, August 31, 2008

Stirring up something besides soap!

A beautiful Sunday morning! Lovely and cool on our screened porch. Crows are a bit angry and noisy about something.

Yesterday I finally had enough of my garden tomatoes to make salsa. finding a recipe was a challenge! There are so many rules about canning!!

Finally adapted the Chile Salsa recipe from the above link by adding an extra cup of onions and reducing the chopped chiles to 3 cups. I know you're not supposed to change the vegetable amounts...but I know they mean NOT to use more proportion to the acidic tomatoes.....I used less. Still used 1 c. of vinegar to keep the acid high for safety. Oops...I also addes 5 cloves of garlic and 1/2 tsp. of ground cumin.

The results were spicy and good. I used jalapeno peppers and long green chiles.

So...this morning we had scrambled eggs and leftover cheese grits with salsa. On the porch.
Soon we'll have to start eating inside....but until that day, we'll enjoy al fresco!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Stir Crazy!

I've been looking for a better 'soap spoon' for my really big soap pot.

I kept thinking I could find something in a sporting goods a wooden paddle.

Then today when we were getting ready to make the 'big batch' of mango butter soap....Pentti said he had brought a paddle from his mum's cottage in Canada.
What a guy! This is perfect!! It's plastic (so it doesn't react with soap) and it also comes apart for cleaning....I think I can even get it into the bottom part of my dishwasher!!
So, I even got Pentti to do some of the stirring.....and it's the perfect size. Doesn't take much to make a soapmaker happy!!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The French Funambule

Acrophobia aside....I've been dying to see "Man on Wire"....the documentary about Philippe Petit's 1974 wire walk between the twin towers. Finally got out to see it tonight.

I was amazed at the perseverence of this French Funambule.

Take a peek:

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Yellow Pear Jammmmmy, Yummy!

An abundance of yellow pear tomatoes.....

A recipe from the internet: Yellow Pear Tomato Jam
Add jalepenos and sugar...A few hours later.....We toasted cibatta, spread with goat cheese and topped with the jam.


women's retreat

Sunday to Sunday.

Pentti went to Canada to see his mom while my cousin and her friend came to visit.
No men here for a few days (except Rae Qwan)

We relaxed, talked, ate a bit....

Went to Brooklyn and NYC...had the best lobster rolls in NY at Pearl Oyster Bar in the village.

Also a stop at Fresh to find cousin Karen some new perfume!

We had a delightful 3 days. Then one day later Jessica came home from Atlanta for a few days. It's always fun to see younger daughter. We don't get to spend enough time together.

So....2 days by the pool, watching movies, talking. And tomorrow(Monday) she has a 6 AM flight back to Atlanta. And I'm back to work.

It was a great week! Oh, and Pentti came home last night.....and I'll be back to blogging more regularly!

Tomato Jam is next up!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

soap, soap, soap....

I've been making lots of soap so I can take a few days off for house guests.

Nothing better than racks full of soap!

From the top....saltwater (and some geranium/basil sauna soap on the top right), lavender rose geranium, green tea and red currant....

I saw a hiker...

Yesterday I saw a hiker on the side of the road. He had a back pack and looked like he was traveling.

We're not far from the Appalachian trail, so that's not so unual. But he had a black lab with him and the dog also had a back pack

I think the dog carries his own bed, dish and food.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

A Buddy sighting...

My friend Buddy has moved to a new home, but occasionally shows up for a visit.

He came by today, but wouldn't come out from under our truck...because

This Little Girl...was keeping him at bay. She and Clarisse, our momma cat wouldn't let him near the house. Those girls can be pretty tough when they don't want another man around the house!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Roasted for me.

Okay, so I've never roasted tomatoes. It's never too late, is it?

I had these great plum tomatoes, both yellow and red from my local farm market. No, mine are STILL not ready, yet.

And I wanted to make my favorite pasta with tomato and mozzarella. I got great fresh mozzarella from the farm market on Saturday.

So here it is:

I cut the tomatoes in half and drizzled them with garlic olive oil. This is the oil I make by baking garlic scapes in 2 quarts of olive oil for 1 hour and then straining and jarring up for the summer. (I keep it refrigerated) I added fresh ground pepper and salt. I roasted on a baking sheet for about 1 hour at 325 degrees. Then added some minced garlic on top and roasted another 30 min. Then they looked like this:

I cut the tomatoes in chunks being sure to capture all of the juices. Cubed the mozzarella and sliced some fresh basil.

I cooked penne pasta (I use brown rice pasta)and tossed it all together.
Yum.......that and a bottle of cabernet savignon and we had a lovely dinner!

Friday, August 8, 2008

More about pies..

So here's what I did. I always make 'fool proof pie crust' from my Aunt Hazel's recipe. Have used it for years. It's basically flour, shortening, salt, a bit of sugar, 1 egg, vinegar and water. It always makes a flakey crust for me and rolls like a dream.

But I keep reading about butter in the crust. It seems butter has better flavor, but the shortening makes it flakier. So I adapted my fool proof recipe as below. I also only made a half batch...hence the 1/2 egg. The full recipe makes enough for 2 double crust pies..and then some.

1 1/2 cups AP flour
1/2 cup pastry flour
scant tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp sugar
Mix above and cut in:
7 tbsp. shortening
6 tbsp. butter

I used a pastry blender for this. I know many use a food processor...but I think maybe the pastry blender makes the little layers of fat and flour come out better.

1/2 egg
1 1/2 tsp vinegar
1/4 c. ice water

Pour over cut in mixture. Stir with fork until it comes together nicely. Refrigerate 15 minutes before rolling. It rolled out beautifully and I put the large circle on parchment to make the 'free form' pie. There was quite a bit of juice in the peaches. I mixed flour with brown sugar and then tossed in the peach slices....they released their juices right away. When I put the filling on the crust, I kept the juices back...then folded the crust over. I then poured the remaining syrup into the hole in the top of the pie. This was probably my undoing...but I couldn't waste it. When the pie baked it leaked all out onto the parchment. Thank goodness for the parchment. I served it by cutting away the burned parchment and sliding it onto a cake plate.

It was quite yummy with vanilla ice cream - a must for peach pie! Sorry I don't have a full photo. This is what's left. I guess I'll take it to Brooklyn today for the Saipua kids. Get your forks ready Sarah and Eric....

And BTW...the butter in the pastry worked out great.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Busy with soapmaking....

The last few days I've been busy with soap. It IS what I do......most of the time.
But I also like to 'pretend' I'm I end up with a very short candle...burned at both ends.

I'm off to Brooklyn tomorrow and hosting my Mah Jong group this I had to do all of my soapmaking early in the week.

Yesterday I fill every soap mold I have. This morning I'm going to whip up some kind of peach pie from the peaches that were left from the jam I made earlier this week. I like to make a variety of jams that look good together in the jewels. I still want to do blueberry, elderberry ( I have a bush filled with berries) and plum. Oh...and pink tomato in the garden. Can others be far behind??

Friday, August 1, 2008

A little cheesecake?

I haven't made cheesecake in ages. But I needed a dessert for pot luck Mah Jongg last night...and I know everyone loves chocolate. I am not a big fan of chocolate: give me a fruit dessert any day. But I do like cheesecake and this little Chocolate Swirl Cheesecake is easy to make.

Here's the recipe:

6 oz. choc. chips
1/2 c. sugar
Melt in microwave and stir smooth. Set aside. (be careful not to overcook choc.)

1 1/4 c. graham cracker crumbs (about 16-18 squares)
2 Tbsp. sugar
1/4 c. melted butter
I process all above in food processor and then dump into cheese cake pan.
Press on bottom and 1 1/2 " up sides of a 9" springform pan. I use the bottom of a metal measuring cup to do this.


16 oz. cream cheese
3/4 c. sugar
1/2 c. sour cream
1 tsp. vanilla
4 eggs

Beat cheese and gradually beat in sugar. Mix in sour cream and vanilla.
Add eggs one at a time beating after each. Divide bater in half. Stir melted chocolate into half of batter. Pour choc. batter into crumb lined pan. Cover with plain batter. With knife swirl plain batter with choc. to marbelize. Bake at 325 degres for 50 min. to 1 hour. or until only a 2" -3" circle in the center will shake. Cool at room temp. Refrigerate.

Voila! I used 3 pancake turners and my husband to get it off the bottom of the springform and onto my cake plate.

Soap delivery and a mini road trip

Sarah and I just returned from a quick overnight to Philadelphia and the surrounding area. We delivered 600 lbs. of soap to one of our biggest retailers. This options is not only more economical for allows us a few hours together to catch up on personal stuff...and yes, talk shop, too! Not to mention a night in downtown Philly and dinner at a great restaurant: Pumpkin. You can read more about out trip on Sarah's blog.

Before coming home we made a stop at Terrain. It's Urban Outfitter's new garden center extraordinaire! One could spend a whole day there exploring all there is to plant on their 9 acre spread.
This is the outside of their potting shed...and you'll see the inside below. I want a potting shed like that!

We left for home with these lovely portulaca's and a lot of garden inspiration.