Back to Square One

It took me a long time to make my way to the sewing machine yesterday. Still smarting from the first fully unsuccessful day of quilting, I decided that housework was at least temporarily preferable. And since I spent all of Monday sewing and ripping and sewing and ripping, I never got around to doing the housework I'd planned for Monday. While I was doing that, I took the time to get some vegetable stock going on the stove top, which made the house smell very sweet.

Finally, I worked up the nerve to go back to Eliza and throw myself on her mercy. I'd decided that metallic thread was out for the whole project, and so I first had to take out the one successful bit of stitching I'd done on Monday, the gold shamrock on green fabric. I didn't have anything against the metallic thread, but it seemed as if this was an extra headache I didn't need for this particular quilt. I'll save it for something in which I'm less invested. That meant re-stitching the first shamrock, and then I went around the whole block in the North, East, South, West way I described in an earlier post.

When I had that finished, it was nearing time to go pick up our CSA share. I was mightily tempted to quilt the interlocking "Celtic knot" lines around the outside of this block, but I decided to quit right there so that I could leave it in a good place. I don't know about you, but it's very hard for me to walk away from something when there's ripping to do. It's mainly because I hate starting a day of sewing with ripping. So, rather than leave myself between the proverbial rock and a hard place, I decided to leave well enough alone.

Also yesterday, I moved my hoop for the first time on the Hocuspocusville stitchery. There's my Georgie cat.

And then I did some knotty stitching. There are lots of three-wrap French knots on this one.

This was our share of veggies yesterday. Sometimes they're so beautiful that I just have to line them all up for a class photo. 

Missing are two fennel bulbs. I didn't take the fennel bulbs for yesterday's share. Neither Mike nor I are fond of fennel. The anise flavor is too strong for us, and we are not fans of licorice either. I ended up using the two bulbs from last week in my veggie stock yesterday. It was enough to know that our farmers wanted us to have some. Thanks, but no thanks. Maybe another time.

Enough carrots have accumulated that I think I can make another batch of the Dilled Carrot Spears I made earlier this summer. They are a nice little surprise from this summer's pickling experimentation. 

I almost can't get enough of them, and fortunately, they're super simple to make. The original recipe came from Linda Ziedrich's book, The Joy of Pickling, but I made a few little changes to it. Here's the recipe I'm using now:

Spicy Dilled Carrot Spears

Adapted from Linda Ziedrich

2 Pounds Carrots
2 Cups Cider Vinegar
2 Cups Water
2 Tablespoons Pickling Salt
2 Teaspoons Dill Seeds -- divided
1 Teaspoon Black Peppercorns -- divided
1 Teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes -- divided
4 Cloves Garlic -- divided

Prepare a boiling water bath and 4 (12 oz.) jelly jars according to manufacturers's directions. Place 4 lids in a  small saucepan of water and bring to a gentle simmer.

Bring to a boil a separate saucepan of water in which to blanch the carrots. Peel the carrots and trim to fit the jars. (Ends and pieces may be used in a separate jar of their own.) Cut into thin sticks.

When the water comes to a boil, drop in the carrots and cook for 90 seconds. Remove the carrots from the water and run under cold water to stop the cooking. Divide the spices and garlic cloves between the jars (for each jar: 1 clove garlic, 1/2 teaspoon dill seeds, 1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns, and 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes) and pack in the carrot sticks on top of the spices.

Combine the vinegar, 2 cups of water, and the salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.

Pour the boiling brine over the carrots, leaving 1/2-inch of head space. Tap the jars gently to remove any air bubbles. Add more liquid to return to the head space to 1/2-inch, if necessary. Wipe the rims, apply the lids and rings, and process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath. Add five minutes of processing time for every 1,000 feet of elevation.

NOTES : Recipe as written has been doubled, and so it follows that the recipe may be halved without problem.

These carrots can be made without the canning step by increasing the blanching time to 3 minutes. Store in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours before using.

Also, in yesterday's share, the cutest little New England Pie Pumpkin. I've never made a pie or anything else from fresh pumpkin. The Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten, has told me time and again that canned pumpkin is every bit as good as fresh. Nevertheless, I'm going to roast this baby today and we'll just put that claim to the test. I'm planning to use mine for soup, however. 

Earlier this fall I got wind of a pumpkin shortage coming our way. We were admonished not to wait until the week of Thanksgiving to buy our canned pumpkin, and so I stocked up. When I looked for it on the day in question, there were only four cans left on the shelf, and I bought three of them. 

Then, I went to the grocery store the following week and found this display:

Yeah, so I don't know if there's a pumpkin shortage this season or not, but I am prepared for anything. As my friend Marei noted (probably accurately), if there's any shortage, it's probably my fault.

Mike is home today, and so I've decided to bake some Gingerbread Biscotti. There are lots of good biscotti recipes, but this one is my current favorite. Mike is hardly ever around when I'm baking, and so I decided to let him enjoy the way the house smells while it's in the oven.

It has crystallized ginger baked into it that gives it the nicest gooey chewiness. You're supposed to dip the ends in the white chocolate, but I opt for drizzling instead. I've never had much luck dipping. The chocolate seems too wet and clingy, and it takes too long to harden afterward.  If you like biscotti, I can recommend this recipe with the changes I made; i.e., use slivered almonds, roughly chopped, and drizzle rather than dip the chocolate. Aside from those changes, I make the recipe just as you see it.

Also, there's a trick to cutting the biscotti for its second round of baking without breaking it that most recipes get wrong. This method works like a charm, and it works for any biscotti recipe you choose. Here's how you do it:

First, chop any nuts or other added solid particles (crystallized ginger, in this case) fairly finely.  The large hunks are difficult to cut through and cause the cookies to break. Second, when taking the logs out of the oven to cool before slicing them, cover them with a dishtowel so that they cool more slowly.  The sudden change in temperature makes them brittle and the dishtowel will help with this. Third, cut them with a large butcher knife rather than a serrated blade, and do not saw.  Rather, lean into it with your body weight and cut straight through.

So, as you can see, I have lots of stuff to do today that will keep me safely away from the sewing machine and any more ripping out of my quilting stitches. I'm hoping to get some quilting done today, but I'm not as enthusiastic as I was on Day One. I'll get back to it, but I'm just taking it slow for now.

8 comments from clever and witty friends:

Vroomans' Quilts said...

What a gorgeous photo of the veggies! Truly represents the harvest of the season. I can smell the baking way over here!!

Marei said...

I'll have you know that I went out and bought pumpkin as soon as I knew you were hoarding it!! Love the veggies.

Lynette said...

Wow - those sure are gorgeous. I don't like fennel/anise/black-licorice either. Nasty stuff. That's a bummer about the earlier no-go's on your Irish doors quilt. Hopefully it behaved better!

Dana Gaffney said...

Lots of color in those veggies, beautiful. Now I need to buy some canned pumpkin if there's going to be a shortage, I buy my pies but make dog biscuits with the canned pumpkin.

liniecat said...

We seem to have had a pumpkin harvest giving us smaller pumpkins this year, can't recall why now, but probably the weather - too warm too cold, too wet, too dry - that kind of thing.
Can I just say I did pickle some sprouts and your right, sooo smelly when you open the jars lol But - so tasty!!!
Mine have been pickled and in the fridge for about 3 weeks and I had to open one jar to sample this week.
Crunchy and very tasty, perfect with British pork pie or cold meats!
Thanks for heads up that you could pickle them!
Oh and I have had to order the Hocuspokusville pattern, your looks such fun I've given in, despite the postage involved.
Now to seek out a suitable pen to use for copying the pattern!

Lyndsey said...

Those veg look very tasty. I'm not too bothered by a pumpkin shortage as it isn't my favourite but I agree the pumpkins this year seem smaller than usual. I do like potato and fennel bake, mmm tasty. It's great we don't all like the same things or there could be acute shortages of some items.

Kate said...

My Guy makes biscotti for work all the time and his usually turns out OK.

Judy1522 said...

You get such a nice variety of vegetables in your CSA share. We just got back from visiting our son in CT and he was getting a CSA share but was getting a lot of the same thing. He had tons of squash which I ended up cooking and pureeing for him and freezing for soup. He had a small dark orange squash that I made into a pumpkin pie and it tasted great. As part of his CSA he received eggs and milk each week so that might be why he didn't get more variety.