Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Thankful



In this busy life, a moment of reflection with Sarah McLachlan and St. Francis of Assisi.....

We have been very busy (typically, October/November are our biggest months of the year!)Here's Jon taping up boxes yesterday - and then there's Sean (our UPS Angel!) flexing his muscles to begin the pickup!


Besides "work" I have added quite a bit more to the canning pantry, including several pints of our home-fermented Sauerkraut, and Wool-Wash. Well, the wool-wash isn't for eating.... but it will help get those stains out of Jon's sweater after he's eaten the sauerkraut...


I got the "recipe" for Wool-Wash from an Australian friend...
4 cups boiling water
4 cups pure SOAP flakes (not "detergent! - if you can't find it, just grate a bar or 2 of pure castile soap)
Pour the hot water over the flakes, and beat with a whisk or mixer, until well blended. It gets "foamy - that's alright! When well incorporated, add
1 cup rubbing alcohol ("mentholated spirits" if you live in Australia!) PLUS 1 Tbs or so of essential oil - I used eucalyptus -just enough to smell "fresh"!
Incorporate some more, and pour into wide mouth containers (I got these little ones at the Dollar Store). It will be foamy and cloudy, then go through a clear stage, and lastly firm up into a white gel.
To Use: Swish about a TBS of the gel in warm water, to soak your hand-washables and woolens in.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Medicare-for-all, Round 4! It could Happen this week!!

Please follow this link to support the Weiner Amendment extending MEDICARE for ALL to the Health care Bill in front of Congress. The link take you to a fax you can send from your computer- and gives you phone numbers for your representatives as well as the major players, and the White House. Let your will be known! Here's the scoop:

Breaking news from PNHP (Physicians for National Health Plan). The Weiner amendment 'could' come to a floor vote on Friday or Saturday with maybe a 20 minute debate allowed. Your calls and faxes were instrumental in making this happen.
Now is the time to push hard on your congressperson to vote for the Weiner amendment. Even if it fails, it is very important to show that it has support. If the entire health reform bill fails, as it very well may, then Medicare For All has a real shot at enactment when Congress realizes it MUST address health care.

Here's the link to the FAX YOUR REPRESENTATIVE page.

Here's the link where you can easily find your congresspeople's phone numbers!

The Birthday Spurtle and what I did with it...


My birthday is Hallowe'en, and yes, the apostrophe indicates that you know how to properly spell the word! ("e'en" is a contraction for "evening") As a child it was much akin to a Christmas birthday -but it's gotten much more fun the older I get. This year, my friend, Joni happened to be visiting from Scotland where she's lived with her husband for many years. And she brought me a spurtle!!! I was soooo excited :-) The spurtle is that lovely turned piece of wood in the pic above - and it's been used since the 15th century to stir.... porridge! The Golden Spurtle Porridge Making Championship competition is held in Carrbridge Scotland every year.

I quickly chopped and steamed up some of the delicious apples Stan and Bev brought down, ran them through the chinois, and added some spices for Apple Butter making...



The spurtle lived up to it's reputation - the rounded end fitting evenly against the ceramic sides of the pot - not one lump was left after a few minutes of stirring. So, we sent the butter into the oven for a few hours, and later canned it up - yum!!
Very Good Gingered Apple Butter

*this is more like "the technique" than a recipe with measured amounts *

Core and roughly chop several apples -you don't have to peel or seed them, but cut out the bad spots. I filled up my 5 qt. cast iron enameled pot.
add about 2" water to the pot and simmer until the apples are easily mushed -
about 15 minutes.
Place your chinois or food mill over a large bowl or another large pot, and press the apples through. This separates the peels and seed out, and also creates a "saucy" texture!
Pour the apple mush back into the (wiped out) original pot, and place on the stove top over medium heat. Turn on the oven as well - to 300 degrees, and let it heat up a bit.
Add the following spices, to taste :
cinnamon
ginger
cardamom
anything else on the shelf look like a contender?
for my pot of sauce, i used about 2 tbs. each. then i added more ginger :-)
Now, get out your sugar bin. Add some in - maybe a cup or two. Taste it - should taste like good "applesauce". We don't really like ours too sweet - and after everything is cooked down, the flavors will be greatly concentrated. Stir everything about until it's nicely bubbling.
Pretend you are a Scottish witch from 1709 if you are using your new spurtle.
When it's nice and bubbly, open the oven and place the pot, uncovered, in the oven on the middle rack. Let it simmer there for about 2-3 hours. You'll know when it's done because not only will it smell lovely, it will have reduced by at least 1/3, and be thick and dark brown.

I can it in pints or 1/2 pints - 15 minutes in the water bath canner.