After years of neglect on this blog, I'm reemerging so I can share one of my passions: scrapbooking. I've been doing scrapbooking for over 15 years. I started out scrapbooking on paper but I have transitioned over to completely digital scrapbooking in the last 7 or so years.
Most of the time I just use whatever freebies I can find but I wasn't able to find a lot of scrapbooking elements and papers to properly document my Thailand travels so I decided to create my own. Thailand is a very vibrant country and I went with very saturated colors to reflect that.
I hope you are able to enjoy this freebie. Please feel free to leave me a link to what you create with it! You can download this kit for personal use only here at dropbox.
Also, here is a link to a new collab project I'm working on with Pixel Scrapper! You can download the elements/papers individually here.
Today we made pinkish gnocchi with our pink and purple potatoes. It's hard to beat fresh gnocchi with fresh garden potatoes. I use this gnocchi recipe omitting the oil, halving the salt, using only 100% whole wheat flour, and doing my own pasta/pesto sauces. (I don't pan fry either, they are great straight from the water.) The result is so yummy! Try it. It's crazy fantastic (and healthy).
Pink Gnocchi (though, full disclosure, I did enhance it. The pink didn't pick up in my pictures.)
Oh, and check out what our neighbors caught nosing through their trash. We learn quickly here that it's best to keep the trash inside.
Sack of purple and pink potatoes, beets, and cucumbers fresh out of the garden.
The girls and I processed the beets tonight. We washed, peeled, and cut off the greens to eat later (we put the greens in smoothies). Then we grated all the beets and froze them for later. We'll use those for smoothies and burgers. We love these beet burgers here.
I learned through Dr. Greger that berries lose their antioxidant value significantly through cooking. For example, fresh or frozen strawberries have two times the number of antioxidants than those in traditional jam. It's a shame, because we have actual proof that strawberries can slow down and in some cases reverse esophageal cancer. JUST berries! Who knows what they could do for other cancers? That's a power I do not want to dilute! (If you want to hear more about that, you'll have to check out this video by Dr. Greger.)
So how do I preserve the berries' antioxidants but still get the jam I love? Freezer jam, right? But most jam recipes require you to use a lot of sugar in order to ensure it will jell (some have as high of a ratio as 1 to 1). We all know sugar to be cancer promoting and is something we should eat in moderation. Well, thanks to Pomona's pectin we can enjoy jam with all the antioxidants but without a ton of excess sugar. Pomona's works best in low sugar jam recipes. The more sugar in the mixture the LESS likely it will jell! How encouraging! Besides, berries are basically sugar themselves just with all the protective fiber and nutrients intact. They should be the star.
I ordered a 1/2 pound bag of it. I think the bag is going to last me for a REALLY long time based on how much I used and how much jam I made. I'm talking at least 5 years worth (if not more) and it keeps indefinitely. (The lesson here is do NOT be discouraged by the price!)
To get started, I didn't have to cook the berries at all. I just washed them and mashed them. That's it. Then I boiled some water per the recipe. I put the boiling water in a blender with some pectin and whizzed it until it dissolved. I added the pectin to the fruit and sugar mixture. Then I added some calcium water (all easy to make and details come with Pomona's pectin.) Voila! Done. It's thick right then and there. I scooped the jam into my jars with 1/2" of expansion space. It was that simple.
Full disclosure though, the first batch I made, I used a ratio of 4 cups of berries and 2 cups of sugar, the upper limit on the amount of sugar that could be used per Pomona's Recipe. To be honest, it was a little runny. It was also very sweet. I was able to save it by making and adding in some additional pectin. No big deal in the end but I decided to have another go of it.
The second time I used a ratio of 4 cups of berries to 1 cup of sugar. The result was out of this world. It was sweet but not so sweet that the flavor of the berries didn't pop through... but it wasn't bland either. It jelled really well so there was no need for additional pectin. I couldn't wait to enjoy it so I ate toast for lunch. It was the best I've ever had.
I can't say enough about Pomona's nor about freezer jam.
Quadruple Berry Jam : blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and blackberries.
This was a crazy good pizza. So good, I must share it with you along with where to find this delicious recipe.... and also to give myself a place to find this special recipe should I not be able to find it in my plant-based recipe binder. My binder's getting awfully fat these days with delicious recipes found off the interwebs (though technically this one came from a dear, vegan friend).
I finally got the labeling done and am able to show you the final product of our spice rack. Pretty cool! I probably could line them up a little better for the photo but that's not my style these days. Looks like we are low on onion powder! This rack saves me so much time, you have no idea and I love that there is room to grow. I'm always picking up new spices and such.
Also, it snowed AGAIN last night. I'm quite tired of it. In a month, we are supposed to be planting. Go away snow!! You are no longer welcome (not that you ever really were to be honest)! One days it's near 70, the next we're lucky if it makes it to 50. Yuck, yuck, yuck.
Though the weather is absolutely terrible outside, the starts are coming right along indoors. We had a really good sprout ratio. So good, I'm going to have to do some serious thinning. I hate picking out perfectly good plants. I plucked a lot but I still have to thin out the tomatoes and peppers. In previous years I had troubles getting the peppers to sprout. The addition of the lights and seed mat made it much more productive. Let's hope it continues that way!
I love to plant squash early before the bugs come. We'll direct sow as well, but the first ones are the best because there's no competition with the pests!
Last year's underneath the house seed project completely failed. It started off really well but two things happened 1.) mice in the crawl space ate our plants and 2.) we would occasionally forget to water (out of sight, out of mind) and the plants the mice didn't eat dried out.
Though unsightly, we had everything we needed already to repeat the experiment in our sun room for no extra cost, away from the yucky country mice. We already had the heated seed mats, lights, shelving, etc. from the previous project. We set it up this morning. While it's less attractive to have our seeds growing in our sun room, it will be very easy to water and we'll have the extra benefit of natural sunlight. The kids get to watch them grow too. The only danger now is the toddler roaming the house. (Note the baby gate surrounding the grow zone. )
Love these purple potatoes... They should really be called adirondack purple, not blue!
Last year we didn't grow adirondacks because our co-op ran out of them and buying them for $15 plus shipping online was ridiculous. They cost just $.69/lb at our co-op. We tried growing the potatoes we could find left at the co-op in containers/bins outside of the garden to give us more space but less work. Unfortunately, they were a flop too. It was another out of sight, out of mind thing as we would forget to water them.
We had much better success growing them in mounds in the garden. So this year, we'll be returning them to the garden, however, we'll be using a box tower method in lieu of just lumping dirt on top of the plants as they grow. We grew these potatoes with great success before in the garden so we have no reason to believe they won't yield again. (Crossing fingers!)
I used to think potatoes a lesser vegetable but I know them to be much more than starch these days. It's what you put on them (oil) that negates their health benefits. Now I make them without oil and eat them with my own homemade bbq or chili. They are SO delicious! They keep my blood pressure nice and low and are incredibly filling for the calories. Contrary to what most people believe, potatoes are very healthy for you, so don't believe the bogus hype! Below is a video by Dr. McDougall about the awesomeness of potatoes.
Hopefully, with that in mind, we'll get a good crop of yummy purple potatoes to nourish our bodies. Other things on the agenda this week are to plant snap peas, peas, mesclun mix and maybe a small test patch (if it isn't too late) of kale! It probably is too late, but we'll give it a small patch and see what happens.
I've seen these everywhere.... Pinterest, the Food Network, various blogs. It's no longer a fresh or new idea, but it is a good one and it was finally my turn to take on the project and clean up my spice pantry. My lazy susan spice rack was getting out of control. Something had to be done!
I loved the idea of the magnetic spice racks especially because I've become quite fond of buying only what I need of spices in the bulk bins at Whole Foods. After all, it's kind of silly to buy a $4 jar of spices for a meal you only make once in a blue moon. I much prefer 50 cents worth and to know it's fresh. It costs less in the long run, in my opinion. But having a bunch of flimsy little plastic pouches laying around isn't practical.
With this system, I only need to buy a little of the spices I don't use often (enough for say tonight's meal and maybe a few others) and have a place a little nicer than a plastic baggy for them. For those spices I do use regularly and seem to always being running out of and need to buy in large quantities (CUMIN!), well, I've got a giant container for those too! Awesome, 16 oz. containers!
Here's the low down:
I used JB Steel Weld to glue the magnets onto the tins. I roughly sanded the bottoms quickly before affixing the magnets. I bought the magnets from Amazon. They are 1/2"x1/8" neodymium magnets with a 3 pound pull strength. I used 3 magnets on the larger containers.
I bought all the containers through Specialty Bottle Online. Some of the lids seemed a little loose (I had heard about this), but a quick bend in the lip of the base makes them tight. If I had to change anything I think I wouldn't buy the 2.5 oz. flat jars and gotten the 4 oz deep jars instead. They take up less space (not as wide) and would work just as well for small quantities. That said, I had plenty of room, so it all worked out just fine.
I bought the magnets (a set of 100) at Amazon for $20 after shipping. (Link on right)
The holder is a sheet of 24"x36" galvanized steel from Lowes ($9) that my husband cut with a special blade that cost $4 on his table saw to cut it down to 21" wide. He pre-drilled the holes where we wanted to attach it into the steel. Then he predrilled the door and screwed the sheet onto the door. Note: not all stainless steel is magnetic. Only 400 series stainless steel would work. Quick research showed this to be a much pricier option.
I attached the rack to the back of my pantry door to keep the spices in a cool, dark place.
I haven't finished yet, but I'll be labeling them with my fancy labeler. For now, I used a sharpie on the back. Honestly, with the clear lid, things are pretty clear as to what they are but cayenne and paprika are a little hard to tell... so a quick label prevents me from making that mistake!