{this moment}

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Joining Soulemama in {this moment} – A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

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Sweater Handbag {KCCO/Yarn Along}

DSCN9926A neighbor passes us down some clothes recently. One of the items, a blue sweater, was way too big but I liked the knit pattern. It made me think of a bag I saw on Pinterest. Coincidently, sitting right next to the sweater was a plaid shirt that didn’t fit anyone either. The two went together so well I grabbed up both and got to work.

DSCN9914After “borrowing” some handles from another bag it’s ready to go! I’m super pleased. It’s big enough to hold my knitting and whatever I’m reading at the moment yet it’s not too bulky either. Just right to bring along in the car- just in case the little guys decide to take a  nap.

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KCCO and Yarn Along

Pig Butchering

Another 10 inches of snow. So much for thinking spring was on the way.

DSCN0055Despite the snow it was time to butcher and process one of the pigs.  I helped to separate the girl pigs then Struggling_along did the deed and hoisted her up.  DSCN0072

The kids were happy it was snowing and that my brother and his girlfriend were showing up soon so they danced around.

DSCN0070 DSCN0091 DSCN0092 Struggling_along tended to the gutting and hair removal as we headed inside to start supper. Plus, I needed to sharpen all the knives for breaking down the pig into chops, roasts etc. the next day.

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The few photos I took while we were cutting up the meat were too blurry. Besides, most of the time my hands were too busy breaking down the hams into more manageable sized roasts and ham steaks or wrapping the meat for the freezer. Ezra decided to help label the bags.Now we have cute bags with H A M scrawled across; a few even have smiley faces.

I did snap these as I finished up grinding the sausage.

DSCN0148 DSCN0149Then we (and when I say we I mean Struggling_along and my brother) moved Mercedes in with Chevy. Hopefully he will indeed “make good things happen” and we’ll have an early fall litter of pigs.

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Homemade Breadcrumbs

Here’s a cooking staple so easy to make at home I don’t even know why breadcrumbs are sold in the supermarket. They’re almost too simple to post about-  but they’re that good.

First, start with some bread. Store brought or homemade- even gluten free. End slices, whole slices, edge pieces from sandwiches; room temperature or frozen, it doesn’t matter.

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Place the bread in a food processor and pulse several times, running the processor until the bread is in fairly uniform crumbs.

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And there you have it: fresh bread crumbs. Use right away or store in the freezer for a longer shelf life.

For dried breadcrumbs you can dry some bread in the oven before processing or dry the breadcrumbs afterwards. Generally fresh crumbs can be used interchangeably for dry crumbs. Although, once in a great while, a recipe may specify dry crumbs to absorb more moisture.

Also, if you don’t have a food processor you can dry some bread and rub the slices together creating dried bread crumbs or you can use your fingers and crumble fresh slices for fresh crumbs. It works but it’s a lot more labor intensive, hence the food processor.

DSCN9960These fresh crumbs are especially great on homemade chicken nuggets, Chicken Kiev…. basically anywhere you want a tasty, crispy breadcrumb coating these will be the star.

Enjoy!

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Nourishing Traditions: Latin American Sauerkraut {with pineapple vinegar}

DSCN9544 I’ve been on the look out for recipes using pineapple vinegar. I noticed one in Nourishing Traditions for Latin American Sauerkraut which isn’t necessarily a recipe I’d normally make.  I happened to have a small head of cabbage left from making stuffed cabbage- which works best with the large outer leaves. So I figured why not?

DSCN9542Now, as you can see below, the original recipe calls for onions. I left them out because the last few times I added raw onions to, for example, pickled beets I found the raw flavor way too strong. Also, there are two versions: one with salt (and optional whey) and one with pineapple vinegar. Since all of the shredded cabbage and carrots didn’t fit in one jar I made both. The fuller jar contains the pineapple vinegar version, while the lesser jar is just salt.

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DSCN9560The salt only version packed down significantly more. And already appears softer. Following the instructions I left both out for three days before transferring to the fridge.

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{KCCO & Yarn Along} Noah’s Sweater

A few weeks ago Noah’s vest, I mean sweater, was officially finished with some sleeves.

DSCN9626It was time to dye it! Noah had been waiting forever (he said) for this part. So we decided to use a couple of blue kool-aid packets as the dye.

It looked quite electric.

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DSCN9639Noah immediately wanted to ditch the spoon. Since it was just kool-aid I gave the go ahead and he dove in.

DSCN9643Sadly, it wasn’t the right shade of blue. It was more of a blueish gray.

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 I also had a regular dye packet in reserve. Noah opted to use it.  Since it contained some pretty harsh chemicals I did the second round of dyeing. And boy is it blue now!

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DSCN9659It’s a tad big but that hasn’t dampened his enthusiasm. Room to grow, I say.

DSCN9683And while we’re talking about Noah – he made his first bag on the sewing machine! A small drawstring bag for carrying around all those little things: legos, coins, small rocks, marbles etc.

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Over the Weekend

Last week Struggling_along brought me home a surprise – a stack of metal syruping buckets with lids and spiles! It was like Christmas. I had resigned myself long ago that metal buckets were too expensive. Luckily Struggling_along just happened to be at the feed store at the right moment (ordering this year’s chicks) and he was able to snatch up the last of these previously used buckets sold by a man getting out of the business. Score!

And it was perfectly timed too as this weekend it finally warmed up, and even rained!

We went from this:

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To this:

DSCN9841It’s finally starting to look like spring is on it’s away around here.

DSCN9868So the boys and I went around identifying our maples and fighting over who got to drill which tree and whether the person who drilled also got to use the hammer to tap the spile in. There was also much sap sampling- straight from the tap of course.

DSCN9869Since then I can’t count the number of times we’ve crossed the field to check on the sap levels. We have 4 buckets on each side of the field. It’s quite the journey across because it’s a ways, plus, every step has to be taken with caution. Sometimes the crust holds us up, or we may sink an inch or two, but the next step may send us suddenly lurching forward, sinking us down past  our knees and potentially onto our faces, or alternatively, stuck like a turtle on our backs. It’s all good fun though.

DSCN9874So yesterday Ishi and I went around and collected the sap.

DSCN9878The first buckets didn’t have too much sap yet. I use my own methods to boil the sap down; it takes a while, so I don’t want build up too much in sap storage.

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DSCN9848The trees on the other side of the field held a surprise for us-

DSCN9890our first full bucket. Those buckets are deceptive – they hold a lot! It just about filled my 5 gallon pail and with the little bit from the other buckets I had a slow return journey trying not to slosh sap over the sides of the pail.

DSCN9891Boiling it down has begun. Here’s to a great season- and syrup on waffles!

Here are some links to last year’s sap collecting posts back in Maine, using our previous collection method. An informational how to: Sap to Syrup  and photos: Tapping the Trees: A Short Photo Essay.

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Honey Mead

Lately I’ve been experimenting with honey mead. The (really simple) directions and inspiration came from Sandor Katz’s The Art of Fermentation (of course!). I went with a honey to water ratio of 1:6. This seems to be a good amount. I use Really Raw Honey as it contains natural yeasts.

DSCN8892Then for fun and flavor I add in some dehydrated lemon- enough to cover the surface.

DSCN8903And a sprig of rosemary. That’s it.  Although the flavoring options are endless, and optional!

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DSCN8912Then you just let it sit and wait for the bubbling to begin. Stir it up at least once a day (more frequently in warmer temperatures) to disperse the natural yeasts and help ensure no mold gets started on the floating additions.

DSCN8919The bubbling will get going and be pretty active for about a week to 10 days.

DSCN8959 DSCN8960I wait till I notice the bubbling subsiding. Then I strain out the lemon slices, rosemary and all the tiny waxy bits from the honey and bottle. I like a lot of carbonation so I let it build up a little before putting the bottles in the fridge. These are still in an early mead stage and don’t contain much alcohol. I also poured some mead off into my airlock jar. Only a quart because that’s the size jar I have.

DSCN9050I let it sit for, I dunno, maybe a month before I really wanted my jar back so I transferred it to another bail top jar. It’s still aging but it definitely has a drier more wine like taste compared to the fresh mead.

Then start a new (larger) batch!

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A Quilt for Me {KCCO}

DSCN9397I started this quilt last year, or maybe it was the year before. Piecing and then quilting each square has certainly taken a while but I really like where it’s heading. Some of the fabric is salvaged from old clothes,some were scrap pieces from friends and a few I even brought, but all of them are favorites. I had a blue and white quilt from my mother for ages.I can’t even remember when I first had the quilt but despite my attempts to patch it said quilt has disintegrated into rags. Hence this one.

DSCN9403The best part isn’t that I’ll have a new quilt; the best part is the making. Whether it’s picking out fabric or deciding where to place each square we’re making it. The boys are eager to lend their opinions and being the guy who lifts and lowers the sewing machine’s foot as we rotate the square to quilt  it is awesome. Plus, it’s like magic.

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DSCN9386Twenty squares down. I’m not really sure how many more we’ll go. I’d love a large blanket -like queen sized- but that’s also pretty huge! We’ll see, after all it’s all in the making.

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