The weather here this past weekend was wonderful...hot and sunny without a whole lot of humidity. It was a great weekend to catch up on yard and garden chores, mowing, weeding, watering and the like and of course to put a little effort into the camper (no it is still not quite ready to go).
I managed to fit in a little knitting time also and made this soft, beautiful hat as a gift for someone special. It's made with 100% merino wool yarn so even though it's super warm from the wool, it's nice and soft against the skin.
I also baked a little birthday surprise for another someone special in my life...I call it "Upside Down Rhubarb, Strawberry Shortcake"...it was very, very, very, very good.
You can't see it from the picture, but the sugary rhubarb was bubbling up all around the shortcake...mmmm
I thought I'd take some time and make another batch of Rhubarb Relish while the kitchen was already hot also. We had already finished a jar from the first batch, both agreeing that it was way better than anything store bought.
It's not pretty, but you would not believe the aroma coming from that pot!!!! The raw ingredients smell terrific but when you add the spices: ginger, pepper, cayenne, allspice and clove...WOWWA!!!!
This past weekend finally felt like the weekends we used to enjoy, there was some work done for sure, but there was also some fantastic leisure time and a few cold beer for good measure. Hope your weather has been good enough to enjoy the great outdoors too. TTFN
This weekend past we had a little fun painting the Boler....
...it's very groovy don't you think? This is fiberglass trailer number 5 and every time we get a new (old) one we just have to leave our mark on it. BUT, we always leave it in better shape that we found it.
I made new curtains too...
They're much more cheerful than the dark blue denim curtains that were there when we bought it.
The changes that we made that aren't pictured here have been painting of the interior, creating a set of bunk beds where the back sofa/bed was (giving us each a full twin size bed, I can't believe that the "Parents" were meant to share that little bed), new cushion covers, new vinyl flooring and a very good clean up. It wasn't in bad shape at all, we just wanted to freshen the whole place up. We also like to play around a little with the age of these campers, this one was made in 1977 but we have had older ones with avocado green interiors and you just can't help playing that up! This one's interior was much milder in colour but we still thought it appropriate to paint on the 70's daisies (which look an awful lot like the sheet set I had back then). This baby is also equipped with a solar panel and battery so that we can tuck ourselves into the smaller tent sites or go "off road" and still enjoy a little power.
This is what we do for Summer fun and I sure wish we were able to use it more than we do, but we're grateful for the times we do get out in it.
Last weekend saw the first preserves of the season being made. We have a small rhubarb patch (every homestead needs one don't you think?) that gives us a surprising number of stalks each year. Some of this year's bounty has been made into Rhubarb Relish, it's deliciously sweet and tart and pairs well with meat.
Four cups each of rhubarb and onion (along with the appropriate sugar, vinegar and spices) yielded 5, 250ml jars of goodness. It's the perfect small batch recipe and the cooking time was only about 45 minutes. I do enjoy my time spent making preserves! I love spending time in the garden too and did just that this weekend as well. It took just a couple of hours divided between two weekends to add more mulch, finish the mulch that was left undone from last year, add a bit more soil to the beds and plant. Such a small effort for some truly great, future results.
I planted tomato and kale plants, as well as seeds for lettuce, onions, pumpkin, beans, peas, beets and carrots. I ended up with some left over seeds as the beds are really quite small and manageable, and planted them in my experimental, permaculture (ish), forest, food garden. Let me explain....
....you see the wooded area above...that's just outside of my house. That whole brown area on the ground was covered in dense spruce that blocked a lot of light from coming into our living room. We wanted to keep the trees but let in that precious light so we had a go at cleaning out the bottom limbs. After doing so, the light was noticeably better in the house, we had a view of the orchard from the living room and we discovered this deep, rich, alive, composted, forest floor.
So, after reading up on, and watching many documentaries on Permaculture (and of course not having very much available time) I thought I could do an "annual" version of at least 4 of the 7 layers that a Food Forest Garden would be made of. When we have more time to commit, we will take these principles and, overtime, develop a proper, perennial Food Forest Garden (maybe in the orchard).....for now though...this is what I've done. All along the base of the skinny maples, I planted pole beans and peas in the hopes that they will have enough light to sprout and grow, using the maples for support. Further from the base of the trees, I planted some onions and some squash and zucchini...I figure the heartier vines of the squash and zucchini can either trail along the ground or find their way up the larger trees. I also stuck some sunflower seeds here and there around the property in such a way as to keep them from the lawn mower. Mother Nature was very kind to provide some much needed rain....
On February the 2nd I made cheese. I made a Monteray Jack, which I lovingly tended...turning, drying, waxing, turning, waiting. Waiting for it to age and turn into something wonderful.
It did turn into something wonderful, but it definitely did not turn into Monteray Jack. It's dry and crumbly and sour....just like Feta...mouth watering Feta!
I know exactly how it happened, after adding the rennet I waited the suggested time (near an hour) for the curd to set....it did not set hard enough. So I waited another hour for it to set hard enough and it still did not. Not knowing what to do I read up on it and the book said that cutting the curd too soon before it sets properly can result in loss of fat from the curd. That makes sense. I went ahead and cut the softer curd and made the cheese as directed in the recipe anyway. Like I said, it's very good....just not the result I was trying to achieve. It is amazing on salad with a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Even though it did not turn out as planned, I'm still pretty chuffed that I was able to make ANY cheese at all.
After making such a perfect Colby on my first cheese making adventure, I think I'll make another one soon. It was a little easier to make and the result was outrageously good.