Wednesday, July 19, 2017

June 2017 - gardening in Alaska

June 2017 was mostly about secret sewing (no pics!) and gardening.


May had been a very windy month, so it was June 3rd before we got the roof put on the high tunnel.  I started planting on the 5th (carrots) and finished on the 13th.  Here's what I planted this year:

  • Carrots (4 varieties)
  • Peppers (2 plants that I purchased, and seeds that decided they didn't want to come up)
  • Lettuce
  • Broccoli (only one seed sprouted...)
  • Zucchini
  • Yellow squash
  • Peas
  • Purple beans
  • Yardlong beans
Here's how stuff was looking at the end of the month (actually, June 28):
from the back porch

one of the 2 pepper plants

row of zucchini

lettuce was planted in all 3; only grew in the center one

peas!

chives

purple beans

carrot

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Rhubarb Recipes

Our rhubarb plant (well, the big one - we have 4 total) is getting pretty big!

Of course I still have rhubarb in the freezer from last summer...

Here's my go-to rhubarb recipes:

Rhubarb Dump Cake

1 lb. fresh rhubarb, chopped (about 4 cups)
1/2 cup sugar
1 pkg. (3 oz.) JELL-O Strawberry Flavor Gelatin
1 pkg. (2-layer size) white cake mix
1 cup water
1/3 cup butter, melted
3/4 cup thawed COOL WHIP Whipped Topping

Heat oven to 350ºF.
Place rhubarb in 13x9-inch baking dish sprayed with cooking spray; sprinkle with sugar, then dry gelatin mix.
Beat cake mix, water and butter with whisk until blended; pour over rhubarb. Spread to completely cover rhubarb.
Bake 45 min. or until golden brown. Serve warm topped with COOL WHIP.

Complete honesty?  I don't really follow these instructions.  I put the rhubarb (and once, strawberries) in the bottom of the pan, put the sugar and Jell-o over it, mix up the cake according to the box, and bake according to the box.  It's been delicious!


Rhubarb Crunch

Ingredients
  • 1 cup sifted flour
  • ¾ cup oatmeal (uncooked)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon or ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 4 cups rhubarb, diced
Sauce
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Method
  1. Mix the flour, oatmeal, brown sugar, butter, and spice
  2. Press half of the mixture into a pan
  3. Add the rhubarb
  4. In a saucepan add the sugar, cornstarch, water, and vanilla
  5. Cook until thick and pour over the rhubarb
  6. Top with the remaining oatmeal crumbs
  7. Bake at 1 hour at 350 degrees
I usually do step #4 in the microwave...  Again, delicious recipe, tastes like my Mom's, best served warm with ice cream, delicious the next morning as breakfast.


Rhubarb Butter

The most recent rhubarb item I made was Rhubarb Butter.  I took a bunch of recipes, like this one, and basically made my own taking ideas from each recipe.

Here's how I made it:
6-7 ribs of rhubarb
2 cups (or so) of frozen strawberries (left over from making slushies)
an apple, cut up (one recipe said you can use applesauce instead - this is for the pectin)
3/4 cup maple syrup (or honey, or sugar, however you want to sweeten it)

I cooked all the fruit, plus a bit of water, down a bit, then used the immersion blender to turn it into a "slurry".  I put the "slurry" through my food mill, as I didn't want all the rhubarb strings and apple peel in it.  I do love my food mill, which I purchased in order to make tomato paste.  I put the "solid" from the food mill step into the compost.
half-blended
half-milled

Take your liquid from the food mill process, and reduce it on the cooktop, making sure you stir frequently.  I don't know if you should add your sweetener now or later, but don't add too much sweetener before it's at the desired consistency.  I made that decision and used way too much (the amount I wrong up above is how much I'll use in the future), next time I'll wait until the end to decide on sweetness.

One of the recipes I read said that it's at the desired consistency when it "sits up" on a spoon.  You may not even have to get it that far as it really gets thicker when it cools.  I put my rhubarb butter in a canning jar and into the fridge.  I did NOT can it as I knew it would be eaten quickly, but this is a product that can be canned.  I loved it and will make it again!  It reminds me of the Strawberry Rhubarb Sauce from Tastefully Simple.  I had it on ice cream (or, more accurately, ice cream sandwich), corn bread, brownie, and a spoon.  Delicious in every way!

Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

May 2017

Before flying home, we stopped by Hurts Donut Company in Des Moines.  I have to say, I've always been happy that I didn't have to put up with a brother - I had heard that they do mean things like ask if you want a Hurts Donut, and when you say yes, punch you in the arm and say, "Hurts, don' it?".  Well, someone finally cashed in on that phrase.



You should click these two pics and read the names of the donuts...

yes please!

 There aren't fresh donuts out here by us, so this was a nice treat before we flew out...

After all the excitement and travel of our trip, May ended up being a very low-key month.  We kept watching the wind, wanting to put the roof on the high tunnel.  The weather didn't cooperate in May...

Rhubarb is a good 2-3 weeks behind last year.  It was a colder winter, and snowier winter.  I wonder how things will go come fall?
5-18-2017
It was definitely an around-home month.  I also assembled the composter, made tomato paste from last year's tomatoes, and did some secret sewing.



Monday, June 12, 2017

April 2017

April brought something I had been waiting on for nearly two years - I trip home to see family!  Yeay!  There was so much travel in this 2.5 week trip.  Fly from Anchorage to Des Moines, drive to Illinois, drive around Illinois doin' stuff, drive to Pennsylvania, drive to Niagara Falls, back to Pennsylvania, back to Illinois, back to Des Moines, and fly back to Anchorage in time to drive home.  Gah!  At least we got to see our peoples!

This trip, unlike the one a couple years ago for Nate's graduation, I didn't take many photos.  I spent time being in the moment and just being with family.

Easter Egg Hunting at Mom & Dad's house
Other than giving Tina her quilt, we also went to a couple of softball games while in Illinois.  The first game we went to was twice as long as a normal game.  Luckily, eventually one of the Lady Trojans got a run, and Rylee's team won!  At the second game I was less paparazzi, more just hanging out with Tina and Mom.

pitching

throwing out a base runner

this freaking game went 14 innings....

She bats like my Dad farts - one leg up...

Rylee plays on her high school team as well as for a travelling team.
She's friends with the girl who was catching the game.

The second game I went to - Rylee played short stop for this game.
I'm not sure about you, but I think she enjoys the game...

When we went to see Rhyanne in Pennsylvania, we took an overnight trip up to New York to see Niagara Falls.  Neither Jeff nor I had ever been there, and Jeff had never been to New York before, so we went!  Rhyanne had been before, so she served as our tour guide.  It turned out to be the best day of the whole trip.  We got to Niagara Falls early, got good parking (thanks to Rhyanne's knowledge of Goat Island), didn't have to fight crowds, and were done in plenty of time to be at the home of the original Buffalo Wings when it opened at noon!  The drive back was beautiful too and we all hung out until late in the evening.  It was too bad Rhyanne had to be back at campus for class the next day.
We drove to the Canada side the night we got there.
Darkness, tons of people walking around, and not knowing where we were or where to go....
Jeff just sorta pulled over at one point and Rhyanne and I jumped out for a minute and I took out of focus pics like this.

The next morning we were up early and got to the falls before most of the tourists.




looking straight down
I was super scared about dropping my phone...


Buffalo Wings, anyone?
I had pizza...

With Rhyanne being an Education major, she had an impending need for a vehicle.  We were able to make sure that happened before we left.  And I know how much Jeff wishes he could be with his girls, available to help, at all times, so it was nice to get to watch him show Rhyanne around her car.  She had questions and he was so eager to answer them.  I loved it.  It reminded me of why I fell in love with him.
Daddy-Daughter air filter change out
Kiaj is now officially a college graduate!  She gave us other exciting news while we were there - we are going to be grandparents!  They are expecting Baby K in December!  You have no idea how excited I was!  Oh man, this baby is going to have so many quilts!  And I am just itching for it to be the end of tourist season - I'm gonna hit the sale at the gift shop and get this baby some Alaska gear!
These girls love their Grampa Jeff!
April was a good month.  :-)

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Meow or Never Quilt - finished!


Since Tina has the best sister in the world, I thought that I should make her a quilt. Of course, I started thinking this a while ago, in plenty of time for her *milestone* birthday.  But I missed that, as one does, which means I was able to give her a quilt when we visited in April!


For the top, I used Meow or Never by Erin Michael for Moda.  I decided on a chain link fence pattern, and determined the size of the squares and strips based on the large dot cat print.  I used most of the cat prints that came in the fat-quarter bundle that I bought - that is a cat-centric quilt!  There are 4 cats that live in her house (I think three of them actually belong to my niece), and we've both always loved kitties, so I knew I wanted to make her a kitty quilt.  I cut out the center squares and used my design wall to determine how to arrange them.  Gosh, I love that design wall!  And based on picture, it looks like the quilt was started and finished/given within a 2-month time period!  That must be a record!

we may have trespassed a little for some of the photos

The first night down there (Easter!  I got to spend a holiday with my family!) I asked if everyone wanted to see the newest quilt that I made.  When I brought it out, Tina's response was "Kitties!"  I had Trekker read the "tag" of the quilt...
For Tina From Kristin
Meow or Never 2017
I would just like to tell you the name of that pink fabric - Cat Tongue.  Seriously.  Cat Tongue.
I think she was happy with it.  I hope so!  At least it will get used.  Trekker was under the quilt before they left for the evening!
This photo taken at Mom's house, on her request.  Turned out to be the best photo-shoot location...
I love to see photos of "quilts in the wild" - so I got Tina and Mom to go out with me and take some.  This is the first quilt that I've made to be photographed off-property - all other quilts photos were taken at home!  It was fun to run around with Mom & Tina taking pictures, even if it was cold and windy...
Tina's response when I asked her to show the "back side"...
This is the biggest quilt I've every made (so far)!  I am so lucky that I have a friend with a long-arm - I would never have attempted this size of a quilt without her generosity!
Man, I love using Audrey's long-arm sewing machine!

The Meow or Never Quilt was my third quilty finish of 2017.

Linking up:
Cooking Up Quilts
Laugh Love Quilt
Freemotion by the River
Funky Polkadot Giraffe
Show Off Saturday
Let's Bee Social