Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween *** UPDATED WITH PICS ***

Happy Halloween to all.  I am still away because while I was visiting my parents, my mom fell and broke her arm.  I am on my way home now but visiting friends and relatives along the way.  I will be back in a week or so and have pics of Lulu in costume.  My sister had costumes for her cat so we had Lulu try them on (much to her chagrin).  My mom is fine - just unable do everything she usually could.  I'll update this thread when I get home.  Be back soon.  Joan and Lulu

OK, Here is Lulu dressed up for Halloween.  This is her "Cluck Norris"  costume from two years ago.  Notice her cute iddy biddy comb.

Here she is portraying a "Headless Chicken".  (Actually she was moving to fast and her head wasn't in the pic.

Here we have "Count Cluckula".  Are you groaning yet?  

"You're not putting THAT on my head are you?" asked Lulu.

"I told you it was too big," sighed Lulu.

Here we have "Hot Wings."

"What's that saying about the early bird in the worm."  asked Lulu.

"And talking about worms, I'm getting hungry!"  exclaimed Lulu.

"I sure hope none of my friends see me like this.  I look ridiculous",  pouted Lulu.

"Great pumpkin, indeed - bah, humbug." huffed Lulu.

"You guys had better quit laughing at me." 

"Grumble, mumble, bleep, bleep, bleep."

"I have never been SO humiliated in my whole life."

"Happy Halloween!  I'd better get some good treats after all this!"  exclaimed Lulu.  And yes she did.  She got some peanuts which are a favorite of hers, (I keep a special bag of unsalted ones just for her).

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Pear Juice and Pear Butter

We had a huge crop of pears this year so I decided to try some Pear Butter.  When you make fruit butter you need to cook the fruit for a long time to reduce the juice so the fruit is thick and spreadable.  I decided to make juice first and then use the pulp for the butter. 

I started with a couple of recipes and made my own.  Here are a couple of the links that started me off:

2 ½ quarts pear pulp (from juicer – cored not peeled)
½ c orange juice
2 c sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp cloves

Pick pears that are mostly ripe.  I had two sinkfuls of pears to use.

Wash and core.  Remove blemishes or bad spots there is but no need to peel. 

I do not need to core the pears to juice them but since I was going to use the pulp I did core them.  Juice the pears and pour into a large pot.  Heat to boiling point then simmer 5 to 10 minutes. 

Fill sterilized jars and process for 10 minutes in hot water bath. 

I ended up with 7 quarts of juice.  It is quite thick - more like a nectar instead of juice but it is quite tasty. 

Now onto the butter.  I placed the pear pulp into the crock pot along with 2 cups of left over pear juice.  I decided to add the juice because the pulp was fairly dry.   

 I cooked the pears on low for about five hours with the lid on, stirring occasionally.  Some fruit butter recipes have you keep the lid ajar so moisture escapes but it wasn't needed in my case.

I then ran the pears through my sieve to remove the peels.  In one of the links, they used an immersion blender to blend the pulp and peels.  I do not have one so did it my way.  I also found the peels were still tough - if you don't juice the pears first you need to cook much longer to reduce the liquid so the peels will have more time to soften. 

Since I did it this way, I probably did not have to core the pears first.  Oh well, one step less for next time.  There was not much waste left for the compost pile. 

I then measured the pulp so I would know how much sugar, etc. to add.  I had around 10 cups of pulp. 

The pulp was returned to the crock pot and orange juice was added. 

Sugar and spices were also added.  I used cinnamon and cloves because my mom used to can pears with cloves when I was young and I liked the taste.  You can use ginger or nutmeg instead if you prefer. 

Stir together and cook on low for 3 to 4 hours for the flavours to blend. 

Stir occasionally until smooth and heated through. 

Fill sterilized jars and process for 10 minutes in a hot water bath. 

I got 6 1/2 pints of pear butter. 

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Poppy


I had quite a number of lovely poppies this year.   Almost all of them were from seeds given to me or seeds I saved from last year.  Enjoy the pics and poem.

The Poppy

High on a bright and sunny bed
   A scarlet poppy grew
And up it held its staring head,
   And thrust it full in view.

Yet no attention did it win,
   By all these efforts made,
And less unwelcome had it been
   In some retired shade.

Although within its scarlet breast
   No sweet perfume was found,
It seemed to think itself the best
   Of all the flowers round,

From this I may a hint obtain
   And take great care indeed,
Lest I appear as pert and vain
   As does this gaudy weed.

By Jane Taylor

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Planting Garlic

Fall is the perfect time to plant garlic.  You just have to take a few precautions and you're fine.

First you choose your largest, healthiest heads.  You do not want shriveled, dry garlic as it may not sprout.  The two smaller heads were from bulbils off garlic scapes.

Choose your plot.  I usually plant mine at an edge or in an out of the way spot.  I tilled and raked the area.

I dug two more or less straight rows about a foot and a half apart.

Lulu came by to inspect my work.

It didn't quite pass as she had to do some minor adjustments to the rows.

Break the head of garlic into cloves.  I usually plant only the largest cloves and use the rest for cooking but since I am going away for a couple of weeks I just planted everything.  I also decided that since I planted the bulbils off the garlic scapes this year and they grew fairly well, smaller cloves will work fine.

Press the clove, whisker side down into the dirt. 

Cover the garlic with soil.

You now have to cover the garlic for the winter.  I use hay as it works well plus you don't have to remove it in the spring, the garlic just grows up through it.  The first year I lived here, I planted garlic in the fall but did not know enough to cover it.  It sprouted and grew and then when the weather froze, there was no protection and the garlic did not regrow the following spring.

Here the hay is spread on the rows and everything is good to go for the winter.

Here is the inspector checking out the laying of the hay.

Lulu must be satisfied with my work because after eating a few seeds from the hay, she decided it was fine and found a sunny spot to have a dust bath in the newly tilled garden.