Sunday, August 26, 2012

Tabasco Sauce Recipe

While at our neighborhood farmer’s market I noticed a friend selling a bag of tabasco peppers.  I really wanted to make tabasco sauce this year, but my plants are still about 5 inches tall so sadly I don’t expect to get any peppers from them.  But since the market was almost over and no one else showed any interest in the peppers, my friend gave them to me and in return I would make us some hot sauce.
While looking around for recipes I stumbled upon this site that has several different tabasco pepper recipes.  Apparently the real Tabasco sauce is still made by taking tabasco peppers and salt and letting the mixture ferment for 3 years in oak barrels.  It’s pretty cool they still use this technique, and don’t have to add anything else except some vinegar, so you can really taste the pepper.
I didn’t want to wait 3 years for our sauce so I went with the 1947 Tabasco Sauce Recipe.  I can’t remember what tabasco sauce tastes like exactly, but mine turned out sweet and spicy.  I’ve been putting it on all kinds of food; veggie burgers, eggs, soups, etc.  I would definitely use this recipe again.  Here is what I did…
To start, I had way more peppers than the recipe called for so I adjusted the recipe accordingly.  I ended up with about 150 peppers.  I pulled the little green caps off them, and I saved the seeds from the largest peppers by slicing them down the middle and scooping the seeds into a bowl.
Then I peeled 4 big garlic cloves and put them in a pot with my peppers and 4 cups of water.  I let the peppers and garlic simmer until they were tender.  Maybe there is a better way to do this, but this stage was pretty intense.  The hot pepper fumes filled the house and made our eyes water.  Once I put a lid on the pot and got all the fans going it became bearable, so I would recommend doing this from the beginning.
Once everything was nice and tender I put the mixture in a blender.  Then I dumped the pepper mash through a strainer over a bowl in order to keep the seeds and skins out of my sauce.  I put the liquid back into the pot and added: 4 tbsp sugar, 2 tsp salt, 4 tsp wasabi powder, and 4 cups of white vinegar.  The recipe calls for horseradish and hot vinegar, I didn’t have either so I substituted these ingredients for wasabi (since it’s similar to horseradish) and white distilled vinegar.  I let this mixture simmer for a while until all the ingredients were blended together.  Then I poured the sauce into mason jars and immediately through some on a sandwich!  Adds great flavor, I just don’t know how long it’s going to last because we can’t stop eating it!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

My first attempt at Pickling

I wanted to try a super basic pickling recipe my first time and we really only had one huge cucumber ready.  Our pickling cucumbers didn’t do great this year, but we decided to try pickling an 18 inch Nippon Sanjaku Kiuri Cucumber.  I made refrigerator pickles and just used a pack of Ball Dill Pickling mix (found with canning supplies).  The small pack makes 2 quarts, or 4 pints.  I figured our one cucumber would only fill 2 pints, so I grabbed some beets and okra and a couple beans for the other half.  The recipe was super simple.  I boiled the beets for 10 minutes or so until they were tender and washed and sliced the veggies.

Then I just followed the instructions on the pickling mix, which entailed bringing water, vinegar and the pickling mix to a boil.  Then pour that mixture over your sliced veggies in a bowl.  Let the mixture cool to room temperature.  Then I sterilized the jars and lids by placing them in simmering water.  Then stuff the jars with veggies and liquid, store in the refrigerator for at least 3 weeks.  And then they should last for about 3 months.  I will update when we actually get to try them.  Can’t wait!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Drying Herbs

Many of our herbs are starting to flower. I wanted to start drying bunches so we can use them all winter long.  Today I harvested a few different types: spicy globe basil, purple shisho, greek oregano, summer savory and some of our hopi red dye amaranth that was knocked over by our gourds!  First I washed all the leaves as best as I could (except for the amaranth, it’s too fragile) and let them dry off.

For hardier herbs like oregano, savory, rosemary, etc you can simply air dry them out of direct sunlight.  Just gather them in bunches from the stems, tie together and hang.  I always have lots of dust, dirt and animal hair in my house so I prefer to be safe and put a brown paper bag around the herb bunches.  I took some scrap fabric strips and tied the herb bunches tightly together. 

Then I placed the herbs in brown paper bags, cut a small hole in the bag and inserted the fabric strips through the hole. 

I tied the strips tightly around the outside of the bag, and tied an additional loop with the excess fabric so I could hang the bag. 

Worked out pretty well!  I hung them under a shelf that doesn’t get much sun.

For herbs with delicate, soft leaves like basils or mints you have to dry them quickly.  So you can use a dehydrator, which I do not have, or your oven.  I just spread my basil and shisho out on a cookie sheet, turned my oven to the lowest setting, and checked on the herbs frequently, flipping them over here and there.  It took about 3 hours until they were completely dried.  Then I pulled the leaves off the stems and stored them in air tight containers out of sunlight.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Turkey Feather Hair Weave

My sister gave me these wonderful turkey feathers months ago.  I haven’t been able to figure out anything to do with them other than hanging them around the house.  I wanted to put one in my hair, but they are so stiff and bulky I wasn’t quite sure how to do it.  I finally just went for it and this is what I came up with.  Still a little stiff but worked out ok.  And even though I bent it sleeping the first night it still holds its shape nicely.  I’m hoping my hair will just dread up around the feather, but it looks good either way (and it’s been about a week since I did this)!

MATERIALS:  Feather, wire, clear drying craft glue, thread

First I cut away as much of the center stem as I could using a razor blade (be careful!) and some heavy duty kitchen scissors.   And I cut some of the top off so the feather was a little shorter than the length of my hair.

Then I poked a couple holes in the top of the feather with a sewing pin (any needle-like tool will work, I’ve even used pin backs for this).  I threaded a piece of wire through the holes and then wrapped the wire around a small section of my hair near the roots.  Wrap as tightly as possible and cut off any excess wire.

I divided my hair in 2 and braided my hair around the feather using the feather as the third braiding piece.  I continued braiding past the feather, and then wrapped the excess hair around the base of the feather.

I took a little bit of sewing thread and stitched the braid end in place, knotting it a couple times for added security.  Then I dipped the tip of my hair in glue, let it dry and I was good to go!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Today’s Harvest – Feathers, Veggies, Herbs and Art

I love days when I don’t have to go to work!  I can do so many wonderful things!  I started the day with a little photo shoot, taking pictures of a couple new skirts to put up on Etsy.  There is this amazing alleyway next to my house that is filled with colorful graffiti, so I can literally walk 2 minutes to a perfect back drop for my photos!
I came home, cleaned up some chicken poop and collected a bunch of feathers. We didn’t choose our chicken by breed, just took a group of random chicks my dad’s neighbor hatched. And at first I was disappointed that 2 of them are white, because I thought their feathers wouldn’t be that exciting. It didn’t occur to me then that this was a wonderful thing because now I can dye their feathers. Apparently you can use good old Rit dye easily and get all kinds of colors. I also have been interested in experimenting with pokeberries, so I plan to dye feathers this way as well. I found this great site for information on using pokeberries, which you may very well already have growing in your back yard!

Along with the feathers we also harvested these amazing veggies and made a big salad for lunch.  Then I picked a ton of herbs and made Italian herb bread.  Actually I made 3 loaves of bread; one for dinner tonight with a few friends, one for making bruschetta tomorrow for dinner with my family and one for the house!

And in between the bread rising and baking I splatter painted some fabric for future rock and roll skirts!  As you can see!  I wish everyday could be a day off “work”.  One day.  I also officially started my future farm savings account last night so I’m ready to get serious!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Amazing Huckleberry & Plum Pie

Some friends planted a few Huckleberry bushes in the garden this past spring and they are covered in berries.  We had to start making something with them and what better than Huckleberry pie!  We also picked up some awesome little plums from our friends at Allways Farm Collective in Indiana.  We wanted a super simple pie recipe, after a bit of searching I found this perfect one on Just Get Off Your Butt and Bake.  We adjusted it a little since we didn’t have all the ingredients, and about half as much fruit, but it turned out great.  A perfect little pie for 2 and now we know how to make simple fruit pies for any season!

First we harvested our huckleberries and removed the stems.

Then cut up and deseeded our plums (we had about 1.5 – 2 cups total fruit). And we saved those pits of course!

Squeezed half a lemon over the fruit and mixed together.

Then we mixed in ½ tbsp corn starch, cup brown sugar and a few dashes of salt.

We used half a box of one of those store bought pie crusts where you just add water.  Then rolled the dough out onto a floured pizza stone and scooped the fruit mix into the center.  Then added a few slivers of margarine.

Then we folded in the sides of the dough, sprayed it with a little oil and dusted it with chunky sugar.

Baked it for about 40 minutes at 375° until it was golden brown

Amazing!  We made this pie 2 days ago and there are already plenty more huckleberries ready to go!  We are thinking about trying huckleberry, goji berry tarts next.