Sunday, May 31, 2009

Resources for Home Canning

It's become cool again to live off the land. The ever trendy Outside Magazine recently had a tongue in cheek article about the living off the land just recently, and mentioned this canning book called Well-Preserved by Eugenia Bone. Recently, there was an article in the New York Times about it, too. There's been a ton of hype around around this book...which I haven't yet checked out of the library to see if I want to buy it. Eugenia Bone is the daughter of a cookbook writer. Shy must have a great publicist! She has a blog, too. I 'll have to see if it is a book I'd recommend.

Until then....long before canning became trendy, I always recommend the Ball Blue Book for the beginning home canner. It's a booklet/magazine style cookbook that gets revised every couple of years and lists for $8.95. But for a few dollars more, I really like the Ball Complete Book for Home Preserving by Juli Kingry. It has a ton more recipes and sort of eases the newbie into home canning. Any recipe you can find in the Ball Blue Book, you can find in the Ball Complete Book. So, if you are going to buy one canning book, go for the Ball Complete Book. Every time I open the book, I find something I want to try like the strawberry margarita preserves or the sunshine rhubarb drink syrup, which I am canning today with some stewed rhubarb. The rhubarb at the Ann Arbor Farmer's Market was a sky high $3 a lb. and no one would give me a bulk buy discount, so I went to the Dexter Farmer's Market and bought about 12 lbs. for $9.

That being said, there are lots of free online sources for canning information. First, there's the Fed - yes, that's right, the USDA has written the official guidelines on home canning, it's the 2006 USDA Canning Guide. You can buy this book in book form on Amazon or from the University of Georgia, but I wouldn't bother because it's online (follow my link). It has a food sciencey bent to it, but it's worth reading if you have a particular question about the hows and whys of food preservation safety. It also provides the information on the proper acidification of tomatoes:

Acidification: To ensure safe acidity in whole, crushed, or juiced tomatoes, add 2 tablespoons
of bottled lemon juice or 1/2 teaspoon of citric acid per quart of tomatoes. For pints, use 1
tablespoon bottled lemon juice or 1/4 teaspoon citric acid. Acid can be added directly to the
jars before filling with product. Add sugar to offset acid taste, if desired. Four tablespoons of
a 5 percent acidity vinegar per quart may be used instead of lemon juice or citric acid. However,
vinegar may cause undesirable flavor changes.

I use this information to determine whether a salsa recipe I am considering canning is safe for water bath canning. Many I see online aren't, so check!

For a more user friendly online canning resource, I'd recommend the National Center for Home Food Preservation by the University of Georgia or Ball's website Freshpreserving. There's also PickYourOwn, which has a ton of information but I find it not well organized and is a really amateurish designed webpage. Even though it's a .org website, and the guy that puts it together says it's not for profit, he does sell canning supplies online...hmmm That being said, he's got a ton of information on there, so check it out. Hopefully, over the summer, I'll write more posts about other great canning resources. Today, I've got to sign off and can some rhubarb.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Top 5 Happy Songs

Since my last song post pleased my little sister, I am following up with another. I owe it to her - she and my little brother have been taking care of our parents so well the past couple weeks. They live close by so they are the "first responders" - I live 50 miles away from Mom and Dad. Sandy and Sonny, here's to top 5 happy songs:

"The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)" by Simon and Garfunkel

I read that Paul Simon regretted using the term "groovy" in the song, but I am glad he did. Is there a happier song ever written? "Got no deeds to do....No promises to keep...I'm dappled and drowsy and ready to sleep...Let the morning time drop all its petals on me....Life, I love you,All is groovy." Maybe it's because I am a morning person...but I have never felt this way in the middle of the night. Anyway, the live version we always hear isn't as good as the original.

I recently heard a cover of this song by a group called "Harper's Bizarre" and it was vintage 1960s kitsch. I think it featured both a harpsichord and a flute solo, plus what sounded like 8 part harmony in the vocals. Without satellite radio, because I would never have heard this version, which is probably a good thing. One shouldn't hear that version too frequently.

"Ol' 55" by the Eagles

To quote the Dude in the movie "The Big Lebowski", "I hate the f*ing Eagles, man." While I admit to being able to stomach some Eagles stuff when Joe Walsh was still in the band, I have to say I harbor a long term hate of most everything by the Eagles. But their cover of Tom Waits' song is really well done. I've heard many versions of this song, but the Eagles version is the best. Tom Waits, like Leonard Cohen, is a great songwriter but their own versions of their own songs always aren't so hot. Why is that?

Ol'55 is another song for morning people....when Glenn Frey sings "And now the sun's coming up, I'm riding with Lady Luck, freeway cars and trucks,stars beginning to fade, and I lead the parade. Just a-wishing I'd stayed a little longer,Oh, Lord, let me tell you that the feeling's getting stronger"....don't you wish you were him at that very moment? Maybe it's not the Eagles that I hate, but it's just Don Henley that I despise. Come to think of it, I always liked "Take It Easy"...hmmmm

"Heaven" Los Lonely Boys

It sounds so happy...probably because we don't hear to many rock songs in a major key. But the Boys remind us that "...there's a better place than this place I'm livin', how far is heaven? So I just got to show some faith. And just keep on giving, how far is heaven?" Should be a song sung in church.

"Shiny Happy People" by REM

Okay, so I know Michael Stipe hates this song and REM never performed it live. And the video is really lame. But Mike Mills sings on it, and he's my favorite REM guy. (Near Wild Heaven is another Mike Mills song I love) "Shiny Happy People" came out in 1991, a great year for me. The whole CD it came out on "Out of Time" reminds me of a visit my boyfriend and I made to California and drove up the coast on Highway 1, and he became my husband.

Walking on Sunshine by Katrina and Waves

How can you not hear this song and have it provide you with a must needed boost? I don't know who Katrina and the Waves were, but there one hit wonder has provided me lots of energy over the years since 1985.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Camper Cabin at Bruin Lake

This Memorial Day weekend, we camped a the camper cabin at Bruin Lake at Pinckney Recreation Area. If you don't have a tent, a camper cabin is a great way to start's a 3 room structure...2 bedrooms and a common area with a futon. Ours had a coffeeee maker and a microwave, and a coffee maker. We have a popup camper, aka a tent trailer, but all the campsites were booked for the weekend.

You'll need to bring all your cooking gear - we're big on dutch ovens in our house - but there's a grill to cook on if you don't want to bother. Here's some dutch oven recipes for you to try:

Dutch Oven Potatoes

10 inch oven
6 Russet potatoes, cut in 1 inch cubes
4 cloves garlic, minced
kosher salt
olive oil
Heat 22 charcoal briquets (cheapest you can find) until they're gray. Cook for 30 minutes in a dutch oven with 8 charcoals on the bottom, 14 on top.

If you have any left over, use them the following morning for

Mountain Man Breakfast
1 lb bacon, diced
1 green pepper, diced
4 cloves garlic
1 onion, diced
1 dozen eggs
Leftover potatoes and cheese
salt and pepper

Heat 30 briquets in a charcoal chimney until gray. Put 8 on the bottom of of your grill, and cook bacon until brown/ Add 8 more coals, and vegetables, cook until soft. Add one dozen eggs, scrambled, with cheese and potatoes, salt and pepper and replace lid. Top with 14 coals and cook for 20 minutes or until eggs are done.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

5 Sad Songs

Patti asked for my list of my Top 5 Sad they are:
  • (Don't Fear) The Reaper by Blue Oyster Cult. (Insert oomlauts where you see fit). I still love this song for some reason...must be my continuing fascination with the Dorian Mode, although I hate anything by Carlos Santana. The Dorian mode is his calling card. Do you like "Scarborough Fair"? "Mood Dance"? Any church song based on Gaelic tunes from the Sacred Harp? Then you, too are a fan of the Dorian Mode. It's a minor key scale, and also the one used in "The Reaper".
  • Speaking of Scarborough Fair, Simon & Garfunkel are a veritable treasure trove of sad songs. "Sounds of Silence"??? "I Am a Rock"???? They pale in comparison to "The Boxer"? That's one of my sad 5....but then again, they also wrote "Feelin' Groovy" which is one of the happiest songs ever.
  • "Selfless, Cold and Composed" by Ben Folds Five. Another one of those deceptively happy sounding songs, like Patti's listing of "Veronica" by Elvis Costello. It is home of the saddest lyrics ever written: "You just smile politely, like a bank teller, telling me to have a nice life." What could be worse than breaking up with someone that isn't affected?
  • "Chelsea Morning" by Joni Mitchell. Another "Veronica" type song, it really is a sad tune talking about denying the inevitable and trying to do whatever it takes to make a relationship work. Think about it - Joni says..."Won't you stay, we'll put on the day and we'll talk in present tenses?" You know he won't was just a one night stand. Even though she promises that "when the curtain closes and the rainbow runs away", she will "bring him incense owls by night, by candlelight, by jewel light", if only he will stay. He's not gonna stay....
  • "Rock Star" by the Carpenters. Just think of the lyrics....captures the feelings of every 14 year old girl everywhere. So sad, so true!

Kim's inadvertent Local Food Meme

Recently, my friend Kim blogged about Chris Bedford's questions to ask yourself about local food. She participated in Michigan Friend's Center day long conference about local food. I love the Quaker is so similar to the Catholic social teaching. Just eh other day, Deacon Romeo Leone was talking about the wisdom of knowing your own neighbors. I know Kim didn't plan on this being a meme, but I am going to make it so. Please think about your answers to these about them if you are my answers:

What was your Soylent Green moment? Have you had a moment of "food epiphany" when you decided something needed to change? What was that epiphany?

I have always preferred local food and am surprised and thrilled it has become fashionable to do so now. My food epiphany this year is that the poor don't get a chance to eat local food very often, and I want to help in this regard. My church is participating in Dexter Plant a Row for the Hungry. I can't wait to give it a try.

Do you know your nearest neighbors? Draw the block around your house with every house (or each house in your nearest vicinity). Label each with the names of the neighbors you know.

I do know some of the neighbors that live around me - Tina and Jim, Ann and Bill, Dave, Martha and Steve, Marjorie, Don and Pam. But I can do better....

What are your real-world skills and abilities? List what you can grow, make, do, or manifest.

I am good at organizing people around ideas. I can grow herbs, I am a good cook. My gift might be to get others energized around feeding the poor. I should cook more for the poor.

What foods are you currently growing and could you be growing in your own yard? List them, including things like bees, chickens, fruit trees.

Just herbs...I have too many critters. I should try a serviceberry again. I have started some rhubarb, and I want to grow some asparagus.

For extra credit: list your neighbors' skills and abilities. And for even more extra credit, on your neighborhood map, label any other sources of food like: a farmstand, an abandoned apple tree, a neighbor's overgrown patch of rhubarb.

I like Ruhlig's Farm and Lesser Farms, out on Island Lake Rd. west of Dexter where it becomes dirt and not suburbia.

So, what are your answers to these questions

Shrimp and Tomatoes

I am guilty of buying shrimp from Thailand. I never can remember whether I should be buying farmed or wild shrimp. I wanted to buy U.S. shrimp, but there wasn't any at the's why. None percent of shrimp sold in the U.S. that comes largely from Southeast Asia and Latin America, where environmental regulations are sometimes lax and often not enforced, and 33%
of U.S. shrimp imports that come from Thailand, our largest single supplier.

Mr. MomsKitchen got me an Earth Box for Mother's Day, and so we planted tomatoes. I have not tried to grow tomatoes since one of the cherubs was in preschool and her tomato she grew got eaten by some kind of critter and she cried, so I figured it wasn't worth it, but why not give it a shot? I planted Mr. Stripey and Sugar Lump. I bought them solely for their names. As it turns out, Mr. Stripey is a big tomato with orange and red stripes and Sugar Lump is a cherry tomato. My friend Johnna is from Kentucky, and she always called cherry tomatoes "Tommy Toes". I like that name. We'll see how this goes - we parked the Earth Box on the front porch to keep it away from the rabbits, chipmunk, deer, whatever that likes tomatoes. If it works, I'll try more Earth Boxes.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

StainRemoval Guide....

I found this here...
  • Adhesive Tape, Chewing Gum, Rubber Cement - Harden surface with ice;
    scrape with a dull knife. Saturate with a prewash stain remover or cleaning fluid.
    Rinse, then launder.
  • Baby Formula - Pretreat or soak stain using a product containing enzymes;
    soak for at least 30 minutes or several hours for aged stains. Launder.
  • Beverages (coffee, tea, soft drinks, wine, alcoholic drinks) - Soak stain in
    cool water. Pretreat with prewash stain remover, liquid laundry detergent, or a
    paste of powder detergent and water. Launder with the bleach safe for that fabric.
    Note: Older stains might respond to treatment with an enzyme product, then
  • Blood - Soak freshly stained garment in cold water for 30 minutes. Rub detergent
    into any remaining stain. Rinse, then launder. Dried stains should be pretreated
    or soaked in tepid water with a product containing enzymes, then laundered.
    Note: If stain remains, rewash, using a bleach that is safe for that fabric.
  • Candle Wax - Harden with ice, then remove surface wax with a dull knife.
    Place wax stain between clean paper towels and press with a warm iron. Replace
    paper towels regularly to absorb more wax and to prevent transferring the stain.
    Place stain face down on clean paper towels. Sponge remaining stain with a prewash
    stain remover or dry-cleaning fluid; blot with paper towels. Let dry, then
    launder. Note: If any color remains, relaunder with a bleach that is safe for that
  • Catsup/Tomato Sauce - Rinse in cold water, then soak in cool water with 1/4
    cup detergent per gallon of water. Spray with a prewash product; launder with a
    bleach that is safe for that fabric.
  • Chocolate - Treat the stain with a prewash spray or pretreat with a product
    containing enzymes. If stain remains, relaunder with bleach that is safe for that
  • Collar/Cuff Soils - Rub area with a stain stick product and let remain for 30
    minutes, or longer for heavy stains; launder.
  • Coffee, Tea (plain or with sugar/sweetener) - Flush stain immediately with
    cool water if possible; or soak for 30 minutes in cool water. Rub the stain with
    detergent and launder with bleach that is safe for that fabric.
  • Coffee, Tea (with cream only) - Sponge stain with a dry-cleaning solvent.
    Air dry. Rub with detergent, then launder in hottest water safe for that fabric
    (with bleach that is safe for that fabric). Pretreat or soak older stains with an
    enzyme product, then launder.
  • Cosmetics - Pretreat with stain stick, prewash stain remover, liquid detergent,
    or a paste of granular detergent or laundry additive and water, or rub with bar
    soap. Work into dampened stain until outline of stain is gone; rinse. If greasy
    stain remains, soak in an enzyme product. Rinse and launder.
  • Crayon (few spots) - Treat the same as for candle wax, or rub dampened stain
    with bar soap. Launder with hottest water safe for that fabric. Washer load of
    clothes can be washed in hot water, using a laundry soap (not detergent) plus 1
    cup baking soda. If colored stain remains, launder again, using chlorine bleach,
    if safe for the fabrics. Otherwise, pretreat or soak in a product containing enzyme
    or an oxygen bleach using hottest water safe for fabric, then launder.
  • Dairy Products (milk, cream, ice cream, yogurt, sour cream, cheese,
    cream soup) - Pretreat with stain stick or soak in an enzyme presoak product for
    30 minutes if stain is new, or several hours for aged stains; launder.
  • Deodorants, Antiperspirants - Treat light stains with a liquid detergent and
    then launder. Pretreat heavy stains with a prewash stain remover. Allow to stand
    5 to 10 minutes. Launder, using an all-fabric bleach.
  • Dye Transfer (white garment that has picked up bleeding dye from other
    garment) - Remove stains with a commercial color remover; launder. If stain
    remains, launder again with chlorine bleach, if safe for that fabric. For colored
    fabrics and whites that cannot be chlorine bleached, soak in oxygen bleach or an
    enzyme presoak product, then launder. Note: Proper sorting before laundering
    and not allowing wet clothing to stay in washer after cycle is completed helps
    prevent this type of stain.
  • Egg - Pretreat with an enzyme product for 30 minutes for new stain, or several
    hours for aged stains; launder.
  • Fabric Softener - Moisten stain and rub with bar soap. Rinse, then launder.
    If stain remains, sponge area with rubbing alcohol or dry-cleaning solvent. Rinse
    thoroughly and relaunder.
  • Fingernail Polish - Try nail polish remover, but do not use on acetate or triacetate
    fabrics. Place stain face down on paper towels and flush with remover.
    Replace paper towels regularly. Repeat until stain disappears; rinse and launder.
    Some polishes may be impossible to remove.
  • Fruit Juices - Soak garment in cool water. Wash with bleach that is safe for
    that fabric.
  • Grass Stains - Pretreat with stain stick or soak with an enzyme product. If
    stain remains, and if safe for dye, sponge stain with alcohol (dilute alcohol with
    2 parts water for use on acetate). If stain still remains, launder in hottest water
    safe for fabrics, with bleach that is safe for that fabric.
  • Grease (motor oil, animal fat, mayonnaise, salad dressing, butter, cooking
    oil and car grease) - Light stains can be pretreated with a spray stain
    remover, liquid laundry detergent, or a detergent booster. Launder in hottest
    water safe for fabric. Place heavy stains face down on clean paper towels. Apply
    cleaning fluid to the back of stain. Replace towels frequently. Let air dry; rinse.
    Launder in hottest water safe for that fabric.
  • Ink - Test stain with water or dry-cleaning solvent by placing a drop of each
    on stain. Use method that removes more of the ink. Ballpoint ink stains can be
    placed stain face down on white paper towels. Sponge with rubbing or denatured
    alcohol or dry-cleaning solvent, or rub detergent into stained area. Repeat if some
    stain remains. Rinse; launder. Drawing ink usually cannot be removed. Try flushing with cold water until pigments are removed; rub liquid detergent into stain; rinse. Repeat process. Soak in warm sudsy water to which 1 to 4 tablespoons of household ammonia per quart of water have been added. Rinse thoroughly. Launder in hottest water safe for that fabric, with bleach safe for the fabric.
  • Felt Tip or India Ink - Usually cannot be removed. Try pouring water through
    the stain before it dries, until pigments are removed. Allow to dry. If you notice
    some reduction in stain, sponge with dry-cleaning solvent. Allow to dry. Rub liquid
    household cleaner into stain. Rinse. Soak stain (possibly overnight) in warm
    water to which 1 to 4 tablespoons of household ammonia have been added.
    Rinse and repeat treatment if necessary; launder.
  • Iodine - Rinse from back side of stain under cool, running water. Soak in
    solution of color remover, or sponge with a solution of sodium thiosulfate crystals
    (available at drug store). Rinse and launder.
  • Lipstick - Place face down on paper towels. Sponge area with dry-cleaning
    solvent, or use a prewash soil and stain remover. Replace towels frequently;
    rinse. Rub light-duty liquid detergent into stain until outline is removed; launder.
    Repeat treatment if needed.
  • Liquid paper - Sponge the stain with amyl acetate (banana oil). Air dry.
    Repeat treatment if necessary. Rub gently with detergent, then launder.
    Mercurochrome or Methyolate - Rinse out as much of the stain as possible
    under cool, running water. Soak for 30 minutes in a solution of 1/2 teaspoon
    ammonia per quart of water. Rinse; if stain remains, soak in a solution of 1 quart
    warm water and 1 tablespoon vinegar for one hour. Rinse thoroughly and allow
    to dry. Launder with detergent and bleach. For delicate fabrics, apply alcohol
    and cover with pad moistened with alcohol. Change pads frequently until stain
    is removed. Rinse; launder.
  • Mildew - Launder stained items using chlorine bleach, if safe for that fabric.
    Otherwise, soak in an all-fabric bleach and hot water, then launder. If some stain
    remains, sponge with hydrogen peroxide. Rinse and relaunder. Dry in sunlight.
    Badly mildewed fabrics may be damaged beyond repair.
  • Mud - Let dry, then brush off as much mud as possible; or rinse under running
    water and let soak overnight. For light stains, pretreat with a paste of dry detergent
    and water, liquid detergent, or a liquid detergent booster; launder. Pretreat heavy
    stains by presoaking with a laundry detergent, a product containing enzymes, or a
    container of water with 1/4 cup each of ammonia and liquid detergent; launder. Red
    clay can be rubbed with a paste of vinegar and table salt. Leave for 30 minutes.
    Launder with hottest water safe for that fabric and bleach. Repeat if needed.
  • Mustard - Treat with a prewash stain remover, or dampen with water and rub
    with bar soap. Launder with chlorine bleach, if safe for that fabric, or use an allfabric
  • Paint - Water-based paint, such as latex acrylic stains, should be rinsed in
    warm water while stain is still wet; launder. This stain usually cannot be removed
    after it dries. For oil-based paints, including varnish, use the solvent listed on the
    label as a thinner. If label information is unavailable, use turpentine. Rinse.
    Pretreat with prewash stain remover, bar soap, or detergent. Rinse and launder.
    Perfume - Treat with prewash stain remover or liquid laundry detergent; rinse
    and launder.
  • Perspiration - Treat with prewash stain remover, or dampen stain and rub
    with bar soap. If the color of the fabric has changed slightly, apply ammonia to
    fresh stain or white vinegar to old stain; rinse. Launder in hottest water safe for
    that fabric. Stubborn stains may respond to pretreating with a product containing
    enzymes, then launder using an all-fabric bleach.
  • Pine Resin - Sponge the stain with cleaning fluid; let air dry. Rub with detergent
    and launder as usual. If stains persist, apply a few drops of household
    ammonia. Air dry. Launder, using liquid laundry detergent.
  • Pollen (tree or flower) - Sponge, then flush with dry-cleaning solvent. Let air
    dry. Rub gently with detergent. Launder as usual, using bleach that is safe for
    that fabric.
  • Rust - Apply a commercial rust remover. Follow manufacturer’s instructions.
    Do not use chlorine bleach on rust.
  • Scorch - Launder with chlorine bleach, if safe for that fabric. Otherwise, soak
    in an all-fabric bleach and hot water, then launder. Note: Badly scorched stains
    cannot be removed.
  • Shoe Polish - Pretreat liquid shoe polish with a paste of dry detergent and
    water; launder. Use a dull knife to scrape residue of paste shoe polish from the
    fabric. Pretreat with a prewash stain remover or cleaning fluid; rinse. Rub detergent
    into dampened area. Launder with chlorine bleach, if safe for fabric, or an
    all-fabric bleach.
  • Tar - Act quickly before stain dries. Use a dull knife to scrape excess tar from
    the fabric. Place stain face down on paper towels. Sponge with cleaning fluid.
    Replace towels frequently for better absorption. Launder, using hottest water
    safe for that fabric.
  • Tobacco - Moisten stain and rub with bar soap; rinse. Pretreat with stain stick
    or soak in an enzyme solution; launder. Note: If stain remains, launder again
    using chlorine bleach, if safe for fabric, or use oxygen bleach.
  • Urine, Vomit, Mucous, or Feces - Treat with prewash spray or pretreat with
    a product containing enzymes. Launder with chlorine bleach that is safe for fabric,
    or use an all-fabric bleach.
  • Yellowing of White Cottons or Linens - Fill washer with hot water. Add
    twice the detergent as normal. Place items in washer and agitate four minutes on
    regular cycle. Stop washer and soak clothes for 15 minutes. Restart washer and
    agitate 15 minutes. Complete the wash cycle. Repeat process if needed.
    Yellowing of White Nylon - Soak garment overnight in an enzyme presoak
    or oxygen bleach. Launder, using hot water and twice as much detergent as usual
    with an oxygen bleach.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Rhubarb Pie

Avid listeners of the Prairie Home Companion know about the fake commercials - the one for ketchup, the one for powder milk biscuits, and the one for rhubarb pie. I like the one for ketchup, and I really love the one for powder milk biscuits - it is great bluegrass, but I hate the one for rhubarb pie. It's to the tune of "Shortnin' Bread" and to me, that song is better left to be sung by someone sounds like Mammy, not Garrison Keillor and Sue Scott. It's a guarantee channel changer for me.

And that's ironic, because rhubarb pie is my absolute favorite pie in the whole world. Today I baked for me and one for my friend Alison's mom. Alison and her mom have never had rhubarb is one of those pies that no one eats anymore, like mincemeat pies. I hope they like it! Rhubarb is tangy, like a good apple pie, but it also tastes like springtime to me. Rhubarb is a very hardy plant and is cultivated in China as a medicinal. It is said that some of the best rhubarb can be found in Michigan. Kim at the Farmer's Marketer wrote a great post about the history of rhubarb in Michigan.

Here's my recipe for rhubarb pie. Make it with a lattice top, because for some reason, that is what rhubarb pies always have. If you are pie crust phobic, a lattice top is very forgiving. All you need to do is cut your top crust into slices, and lay a row of slices on top of your pie. My favorite trick is to lay the center cross lattice first, weaving over and under. Then place the outboard cross lattices from that center stripe, weaving them opposite of the one next to it.

Rhubarb Pie
6-8 stalks rhubarb, cut into one inch pieces
1 c. sugar
1/4 flour

One double pie crust recipe - I like my Old Reliable Pie Crust

Roll out the bottom crust. Mix the rhubarb with the sugar and flour and put in the pan on the crust and top with a lattice. Bake at 350 F for 45 minutes.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Why I hang my laundry out to dry...'s not to save the earth. I previously did the math to show that if you have a gas dryer, you really can't reduce your carbon footprint much by hanging out the wash, despite what some might tell you. But every week, I look forward to doing it. And I absolutely hate doing the laundry, in general.

Why do I like it? It gets me outside. I have to check the weather report to figure out what day will be best to hang out the laundry to dry. My husband hung up a retractable clothes line for me and on laundry day, I'll start with sheets and towels. I wash them in cold water, and make sure I add white vinegar as fabric softener. By the time I drink my coffee and take a shower, the load is done and I can hang it out and start off running errands or whatever else I need to do.

I prefer the pinch style wooden clothes pins, and I store them in a hanging clothes pin bag. It usually takes an hour or so to dry a load if the sun is out - but it goes by even quicker if it is sunny and windy. I fold the clothes as I take them off the line. They smell great - like the sun! Smells like how everything smells after a day at the beach.

I can actually get the laundry done quicker by hanging it outside, because the clothes dry faster than in my dryer. If I have a load that takes longer to dry outside, like jeans, I might wash undergarments after it because I never line dry that stuff. I can put those in the dryer and they dry relatively quickly. Then, the jeans have some more time outside to dry. I have a foldable drying rack that I use to dry sweaters and socks.

So, I like to hang the laundry outside! Who knew?

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Blue Oyster Cult

These are blue oyster mushrooms that I grew from a kit I bought at the Ann Arbor Farmer's Market from Michigan Mushrooms. They took a lot longer to fruit than I thought - over a month, but they are working out really well. I hummed "(Don't Fear) The Reaper" as I harvested these shrooms this morning for breakfast, along with some of my chives. I made them with scrambed eggs, and they were great. Now, if I can only find some morels in my woods - some years I do, some I don't - I will be in mushroom heaven.

What is this plant?

It's growing everywhere on my's choking out the garlic mustard...what is it?

Friday, May 01, 2009

BBQ sauce

We made smoked beef brisket for Easter dinner, and it was great. I bought a half brisket, but it takes just as long to make as a whole one, so next time we'll make a whole one. Our recipe was a hybrid of Food Network recipes. I can't remember which rub we used....I don't think it really matters. Tonight, I made pork chops with Alton Brown's Rub #9, which is simply:

5 parts brown sugar, 3 parts chili powder, 1 part garlic powder, 1/2 part ground thyme, 1/4 part cayenne, and 1/4 part allspice

And I served those pork chops with this BBQ sauce. It rocks! I had it left over from Easter, mostly because I should have made a whole brisket instead of a half. It took 8 hours to cook.

The BBQ sauce I made is based on one by Wood Chick, who beat Bobby Flay in a Food Network Throw Down. I despise Bobby Flay, so I am glad whoever Wood Chick is, she beat him. I made a few tweaks to her was delicious. Here it is...

Mothers Kitchen BBQ sauce
printer friendly

1/2 cup chopped onions
2 tablespoons butter
1 can tomato paste
1 cup ketchup
1/3 cup chili sauce
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup honey
1 cup white vinegar
1 teaspoon allspice
1 tablespoon dry mustard
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
2 teaspoons chipotle chili powder
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon paprika
3 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons maple syrup

Put all the stuff in a pan, bring mixture to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes.