Sunday, September 28, 2014

Becoming a Lady...

Yesterday, evening, I went out to take a little breather after a busy day. Pasta party, meets weekends, art sessions, and a playdate a lll crunched up into few hors we were all engaged in something. During my quick outside trip to make sure chickens have clean water and wanting to give them kale ribs. I peaked inside to find out one of my chickens have becomed a lady! 

Yes, just that, I think peanut has begun to lay eggs. They were all in a some kind of a conversation and I felt like I was in the middle of it. But only downside of it was I couldn't understand what they were ranting about. 

Being super excited I rushed inside to grab the camera and asking Nigel to find the answer to my riddle. I head outside to snap few pictures. It was a super exciting I even had to share it with my neighbor who was heading inside after a long day of work. I quickly took the egg out and and pluck few other garden crops and headed inside to finish the rest of the evening which was pack with activities to the brim!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Fall is upon us...

Fall has approached us quietly, adding a dryness to the air. The garden is prepping for winter by itself. I can see the leaves falling gently on the ground. Our grass has become so brittle due to the lack of rain this year. I miss seeing the green patch outside. We added few mums to our annual containers. Chickens are enjoying the cooler breeze as much as I do. 

August was really hot for us and some days I felt like it was astronomically high may be due to the heavy canning in our house. Capturing the garden under the dapple sun was fun few days ago. 

Chickens have got use to the treats that I bring to them with a pleasant welcome. I like to think at this point they are all hens, but I have my doubt on Noah. 

Soon it will be time for me to pull the rest of the tomato plants and make a salsa verde or a chutney with it. I am looking forward to prep the raised beds for this spring. 


Craft a day, I don't think it a good way to start my day as I feel like I have to make something everyday. I do recall reading an interview of a photographer who gave up her job to create. I can see my self easily doing doing something like that. I am excited begin 2015 and kind scared of the uncertainties it will bring to us.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Tomato & Basil Jam.

I was informed by our neighbor, that Mansfield, from the entire state of Massachusetts have got the lowest amount of rain during this spring and summer. I have been out and watering in the mornings and evening every other day kind of deal. Despite the fact getting water for chickens.
I felt this much more with my tomato crop this year. I decided to plant tomatoes without stakes, big mistake I will not attempt it again. Because there is tomatoes drawing all over the place and killed some of my herbs I am not that happy about it. I have been picking tomatoes every two weeks but not a big crop comparing last year, although I have planted more this year comparing to last year. This is my third year planting and I am really enjoying it. We got few vegetables a bumper crop of herbs. I will be learning how to preserve them so I can have them in winter. Most of all I did not make it to the grocery store very often this summer which was my goal. 
This tomato recipe comes from food in jars, the canning queen I like to say. I had my doubts but I did not want to see our tomatoes going to compost gave it a try, and I am glad I did that because it was delicious. Only thing I did different here is blanched the basil and add it later about half of it, because I want it to bee green. I hope I can save some for winter, because lately they have been flying out the window for cookouts, party, get togethers, and some are making requests for our garden tomato jams. I have change few components in some recipes. Mainly to add a bit of heat for our asian palette. I did planted yellow tomatoes this year so I was all set to make this. Most of all I simply like preserving garden crop for long winter months. Recipe credit goes Marisa from Food in Jars.  
4 pounds Sungold or other yellow tomatoes
3 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup lemon juice
zest of two lemons, divided
1/4 cup roughly chopped basil
1.   Cut Sungold tomatoes in half, or, if using larger yellow tomatoes, chop them into smallish pieces.
2.   Combine chopped tomatoes with sugar in a large, non-reactive pot and stir. Let sit for at least one hour, or until the tomatoes release their juice.
3.   When ready to cook, prep canning pot and jars and place jam pot over high heat. Add lemon juice and bring to a boil.
4.   Cook at a boil for 30-35, stirring frequently, until the tomatoes have softened and the syrup has gotten thick. Once you’re satisfied with the set, remove the pot from the heat and stir in half the lemon zest and chopped basil. Taste and add remaining lemon zest only if you feel the jam requires it.
5.   Pour jam into prepared jars. Wipe rims, apply lids and rings. Process jars in a boiling water bath canner for 10 minutes.
6.   When time is up, remove jars from pot and let them cool on a kitchen towel. When jars are cool enough to handle, remove rings and test seals. Place any unsealed jars in the refrigerator and use promptly. All sealed jars can be stored in a cool, dark place for up to 1 year

Monday, September 22, 2014

Baked Salmon

We enjoy salmon a lot for dinner and at times breakfast as well. 

There is nothing like smoked salmon, red onions, few salty capers, bit of salt and pepper on a cream cheese toasted bagel. Typical New York breakfast, thanks to few New Yorkers which I hang out with. 

There is nothing like a great salmon steak baked at home with very simple blend of garden herbs and generous portions of lemon juice. 

This is my favorite one way to enjoy salmon:

a generous bunch of chopped parsley
few sprigs of fennel 
1/4 cup of light mayo
salt and pepper to taste
2 lemons 1 for serving
baking dish

Chopped herbs and mix it with mayo. Add salt and pepper to the mix. Finally add a juice of one lemon. Bake for 30 min for 400 F until salmon is flaky yet moist. Serve this with lemon wedges we like to have a lot of lemon in our fish. Enjoy this with nice, salad, or vegetables

Friday, September 19, 2014

Tale End of Summer...

I had so much fun with these and killed an entire afternoon on this... I think worth posting it so I can look back one day.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Best Potato Salad Ever!

Summer makes me not want to cook, mainly because the heat gets into me. Past few weeks have been crazy here over MA. it was a great change to use to clear the refrigerator and make few cold dishes my son and I always find ways to eat cold food. I bought a bag of red skin potatoes few weeks back and wanted make sure that I use all. 

i like potato salad made with redskin potatoes because it adds a beautiful color to the dish. After spending few hours in the net I was able to narrow the dish to few recipes. Funny thing is I like few ingredients in one and I did not like some in the other. 

Usually what happen in a situation like this is I create my own with mix of recipes. It was the birth of our potato salad add one more thing I was able to clear out few almost empty bottles from the refrigerator as well and it is always a plus making space!  

We loved it so much I could not take any pictures of the potato salad because it was gone, we were too hungry to control ourselves to take few pictures of the potato salad on a dish, kind of sad. 

However, I was able to capture the process of making the salad you could see the dressing minus the redskin potatoes.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

This summer I baked!

This summer, I decided to work on creative frosting. In other words I want to know all about frosting and making it white and fluffy, frosting a cake with no crumbs, and finally to know all about frosting patterns. It was a success with almost every week baking a cake. The heat was so high somedays and I was thinking why did I came up with this crazy idea to bake during summer, but there is always little people who loved my baking. Licking the cake batter off of the spatula to taste testing and running around when I finished decorating a cake was heart warming to see and experience with my little girl. She wanted to frost a cake so much! I promised her that I will be helping her to achieve her little goal soon!

My favorite was the little sunflower that I frosted and decorated with simple frosting recipe. It was fun to see how everything came together! We are planning big for next spring with mini cakes to celebrate with tiny sandwiches which I feel like a long ways to plan. Our backyard welcoming summer was a huge success with our neighbors this past summer.

The hydrangea cake was definitely fun creating, May be next time I might work on covering the entire cake with little flowers. At the end  really liked how it turned out. Varigated frosting was a winner! It was an orange cake with strawberry preserve in the middle with almond flavored frosting! It was the most flavorful cake ever, I have to admit!

Finally the very first cake which includes transferring patterns was fun to make and frost. Little Nicolette was so confused which to eat first. Everyone enjoyed summer baking hopefully we will continue this into fall with few exceptions. Perhaps we will try to bake during weekend so it will be ready for the busy school nights!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Camping August 2014

This summer we did a bit of local traveling as spouse to international. We decide to do that due to many reasons. However, at the end I am glad that I made that decision because I needed it more than anyone in our family. Our camping trip to Vermont was super fun! We enjoyed every bit of it. 

I was so happy that my children had company to do what they want to mainly Nicolette had fun with her friends. I had couple of drinks every night with really good company. 

It was educational with the right amount of amusement for every one, we learned how cheese is made at Cabot cheese factory and how Ben & Jerry makes sweet ice cream, matter of fact we were there twice! It was very educational and inspiring. 

We were adventurous to kayak to Jasper Island after lunch, I wish I had hiking shoes, then we would definitely miss dinner. We enjoyed kayaking back although it was tiring our arms, mainly me compiling to my oldest. 

Burlington, Vermont has so much to offer, community gardens, breath taking beautiful lakes, earth clock, and so much healthy food.

Our favorite was The Spot for breakfast it was neat place! I want to say 2014 summer was a blast! I am so sad it is coming to an end. 

I will be making a 2015 summer bucket list soon!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Peach Chutney

When I get home from school on the days that I don't have to go to night classes, I enjoy the time with everyone at home with a quick snack. It is rewarding to open a bottle of jam or chutney to spread on a toasted english muffin or a slice of bread. 

Stepping into my second year as a much season canner and understanding the elements of canning has push me to explore the possibilities with canning and pickling throughout the year. 
My goal this year is to push the boundaries to do more canning towards the late winter, that would be great to have to stove on during cold winter months. Perhaps watch the snow fall with few jars of canning on hand would be an ideal snow day. 

This summer feeling the new territory of chutney making is extremely satisfying to me and to close friends who gets to enjoy them. Some are new to chutney embraced it with new taste buds. When I was a teenager, my mum took me to a christmas party of her friend. I tried chutney for the very first time with pork and to this day I remember that moment. 

However, American chutney tends to gravitate towards more sweeter side of my taste buds, but I do crave for Sri Lankan chutney. I might work more with chutney making next year to create something closer to Sri Lankan palette.  

This is my very first attempt to make peach chutney, I have to admit spices cooked in harmoniously with peaches makes this a very desirable chutney to enjoy with pork chops. I took one of these to the camping trip and it was the star during snacking. I followed the canning queen Marisa’s recipe. I would certainly add more heat to this on the next round of chutney making.