This was originally meant to be a blog about knitting. The only problem is that, in the summer months, when I’m struggling not to melt into a puddle of goo, I don’t like to knit. At all. I’ve barely touched my knitting since I was at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival in May. As a matter of fact, I started a pair of plain vanilla socks at MSW and only just finished them last weekend. That’s all I’ve touched all summer. NOTHING else has been knit.
And so here are my socks. Now I’m starting to feel the urge to knit again, but it’s still so hot! The idea of having a lapful of warm knitting just does not appeal to me right now.
Hopefully with the advent of cooler weather (and a trip to Stitches Midwest in a few weeks), the urge to knit will return! I have so much stuff I want to make, I just need to finish a project or two before casting on something new.
On to canning… it seems to have become a weekend tradition for me to gather up ingredients and schlep on over to my friend Kari’s house to make some jam or pickles of a Saturday afternoon. Remember the discussion about the one-burner stove? Yeah. That’s why I can at Kari’s.
This weekend was no different, but the ingredients certainly were! I decided to attempt mango jam, since Kari could live off mangoes and be perfectly happy. Sadly, I can’t eat them at all, since I’m allergic to them. I kind of screwed this up a bit, since I figured out AFTER the jars were processed in the water bath that I had been using the 1/2 cup to measure out the sugar instead of the cup, so I guess these are more preserves than actual jam.
Next up were the cherries. I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned this, but Rob LOVES Sweet Cherry Jam. I made some for him in 2010 that he gobbled. I tried to make more in 2011, but I ended up using lime juice instead of lemon juice and he felt like the lime flavor overwhelmed the cherry a bit (I love it). Made him another batch in 2011, but that batch didn’t set right, so he’s been using it as ice cream topping. I kind of gave up after that, since the cherry thing just wasn’t working for me any more. Well… earlier this year, I ended up getting a few cherries at a somewhat reasonable price (Cherries are EXPENSIVE here, and I can only get sweet ones – sour cherries are nowhere to be found!). I didn’t have enough for an entire batch of jam, but I did have some blueberries in the fridge, so Cherry-Blueberry jam was created. It went over pretty well – my friend Sue said her jar lasted all of half an hour. Rob really liked the jar I gave him as well.
But this weekend, I managed to get a decent price on a big bag of sweet cherries, so I decided to try my hand at plain Sweet Cherry Jam again.
It smelled fantastic, but I’ll have to wait until I get to Rob’s house in a couple of weeks to see if it’s “right.”
Then we started on the carrots. I bought a big bag of carrots on Thursday, left them in my trunk, and by Saturday afternoon, they were awful. Squishy and rotten and smelly. So we tossed those, and Kari went off in search of more carrots. She ended up going out twice because she brought back a 3 lb bag and that only made four jars. Half the carrots were done up with a hot finger pepper and some lemongrass, and the other half were done up with garlic cloves and dill. I had enough garlic left over to do a small half-pint jar of pickled garlic with a bit of dill in it (those are for Kari, I don’t do garlic).
Pickled Dilly Carrots
3 lbs carrots, scraped and quartered lengthwise
1 bunch fresh dill (do NOT use dried, it’s not the same)
1 head garlic, peeled and left in whole cloves
3 cups white vinegar
3 cups water
4 Tbsp pickling salt (or coarse or Kosher salt)
Boil 7 widemouth pint jars in a boiling water bath to sterilize. Once jars are ready, remove from pot. Place a few sprigs of dill and one or two cloves garlic in each jar. Pack carrots into the jar, cramming as many as possible in – they will shrink slightly during processing. In separate pot, boil water, vinegar and pickling salt together. Ladle into filled jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Place lids on jars and tighten bands until resistance is met. Process pints in boiling water bath for 25 minutes. Remove from water bath and place on towel-covered counter. Once jars lids have popped, the rings can be tightened the rest of the way. Store jars in a cool, dark place. Makes 4 pints.
Spicy Pickled Carrots – variation
Follow the recipe as above, but instead of dill and garlic, place a few slices of hot finger pepper and a few chunks of lemongrass in each jar. Jalapeno or scotch bonnet peppers can be used in place of finger peppers, depending on level of spice desired.