Friday, December 9, 2011

Merry Kari- Soule Salsa!

Yesterday I made salsa. It may not seem like a big deal to some of you, but in all of my 30 years on this earth I've never cooked with tomatoes, so yesterday was an interesting day. The recipe came from Amanda Soule's newest book, The Rhythm of Family. If you haven't caught her blog, here is a link. It's one of my favorite blogs to read.

I first had the idea to make salsa because my husband loves it. It's his go-to snack/meal as long as we have some in the house, so it seemed like a no-brianer to make some for him. I just made it yesterday, so he'll try it today and let me know if it's good enough to give away for Christmas gifts. I hope it is, because I already promised my brother I'd send him a jar...

I jarred it the same was I do jam. I even added pectin at the last minute because the store-bought salsa we have in the house listed it as an ingredient. And this way if it's not good enough to give away, we'll be able to save it for chili and use it up over the next several months.

If you decide to make salsa, my suggestion to you is this: wait for a good sale on tomatoes. My local Sprouts had Roma tomatoes on sale for $0.69/lb so that's when I got my tomatoes for the salsa.

Here's hoping you do well with your salsa if you're planning on making any!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Merry Kari- Bread Bags

My sister is a domestic goddess. No, seriously. So what do you get a domestic goddess for Christmas? You make her a bread bag!

I had the pleasure of staying with my sister for 6 weeks last year when my husband was deployed. We arrived before Thanksgiving and left after the New Year. It was so nice to spend that time with her and her family, especially since I'm only able to see her and her family at the most, once a year.

During my time with her, I got to experience her amazing bread making abilities she learned from the Tassajara Bread Book, a book I looked at but read as if it was a textbook written in a language I didn't know. (I'm not a read and learn girl if you haven't already guessed)

The one thing that I noticed was that Christine didn't have a bread bag. She used her old cereal bags, which worked out well but I decided I would be making her a bread bag for Christmas. Since she gives my mom bread often enough, I made them each a bread bag with similar embroidery.

~Linnen (bought at good 'ol Jo Ann's for a reasonable price)- I used 1/4 yard for each bag
~Thread to match the linnen
~embroidery thread
~embroidering hoop
~Ribbon or string for the draw-string

:: I made the draw-string portion first, ironing the fold and then sewing. Then I sewed the bags sides and voila!
:: I then drew a bird on a pice of lined paper (or you can print an image) and went over it with permanent marker to make it stand out.
:: Then I used pencil to 'trace' the image onto the bag.
:: I used the thread (2 strands) to embroider the image onto the bag.
:: I have yet to get a ribbon for the draw string, but here are images of the finished bags. My mom's has a mama bird with a baby bird (she's the full time guardian of my 5 year old niece) and my sister's has a mama bird with three baby birds (she has three children). I think it came out great, and can't wait for them to see it!

Yes, after months of sitting folded, they are creased. Don't worry, I'll iron them before I send them!

Merry Kari- Jam

*sigh* Yes, I do apologize for such a long absence... I just got busy with life, and the crafts I was doing I didn't feel I could blog about because they were Christmas presents. But I decided to tell my family members to avoid my blog for the rest of the season, because I want to BLOG! And blogging [right now] means making presents for those I love. I'm going to title the blogs that are about Christmas presents Merry Kari. There are a few reasons for titling them as such: You'll have a way of seeing all my Christmas crafts (in case you would like to make some of them for the loved ones on your list) and my family members who need to avoid these until after the holiday can do so easily.

Todays blog talks about jam. I blogged about the first time I made jam here. It was so rewarding to have a cupboard full of jam that I made. And even back then [in September] I knew that I wanted to make jam for gifts. On Saturday I made blackberry/raspberry jam and today I made another batch of Strawberry jam. I followed the recipes in the Certo pectin package for both, but anyone who knows me knows that I'm no good at following instructions to a T, so I guessed on my quantities of fruit. I'm pretty sure it was about four cups for each batch, but who knows and who cares, it tastes wonderful. I plan on making at least one more batch of blackberry jam (seems someone wasn't listening when her husband said he'd prefer plain old blackberry jam as opposed to blackberry/raspberry jam).

Some suggestions to you, the novice jam maker: don't buy jars!!! I've been pretty good about saving jars for the last several months since I made that first batch of jam because, let's face it, jam is not only a wonderful way to feel accomplished as a mother, wife, and woman, but it's also a way to try to provide your family and others with something nice while still keeping a budget. If you save all your jars and use those instead of buying jars, you will not only save that money on the jars, but each jar will be a different size, shape and the lids will be different colors. My favorite jars are from Trader Joes, they are bruchetta jars: square with a black lid. Very much in keeping with my idea of a homemade gift from the heart. I also have short squat jars from artichokes which are adorable with jam inside. If you're worried about the writing on the lid, grab some wrapping paper or scrapbooking supplies and embellish it to reflect your style or the style of the person getting it. I ran out of jars for this last batch so bought a flat from Walmart from their Better Home and Gardens jam making section. I bought the smallest ones I could get in a large quantity: pint. Turns out they are gigantic for jam (They would be perfect for salsa though) and I filled up four jars with one batch of jam. Not a good thing if you're trying to give them as gifts.

Another tip: Buy your Certo pectin first to review before you buy your fruit. If you're anything like me you'll decide on a whim while you're out and about one day that you'll make jam for the first time ever. Then you'll have to guess how much fruit you'll need because the recipes are inside the Certo package and you'll get home, start mashing and realize you're short about 1/3 of the fruit. So if you do end up wanting to only make one trip, overbuy! Use the extra fruit (if you end up having any) for your family.

So there you have it, one of my 2011 Christmas presents is jam. Don't tell my family!

Strawberry jam setting

My stockpile of jam in my pantry. I will make labels for them from my scrapbooking supplies.