Monthly Archives: July 2016

Homemade Pesto

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Homemade Pesto

 In my herb garden, basil has been growing like crazy! We use a little bit in salads and with tomatoes, but I was thinking that by the end of the season, I should make some pesto. 
 But then we were at a farmers market, and they were selling these huge bunches of basil for $3.00!  So I figured, why not make it now!  

I plucked and washed all of the leaves. 
 I wasn’t sure if the kids would like the strong basil taste, so I read online that you can make it a little milder by adding spinach, so I decided to try that. Also, I am not a big fan of pine nuts, so I left those out too. So, in our little blender, I put about 1/3 basil leaves and 2/3 spinach leaves. 

 I squeezed half a lemon… 

  Added a couple of cloves of garlic…  And about 1/2 cup of olive oil to start…
I also added a couple tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese.

 

  
I had to add some more oil to get the blender going and get everything to blend properly, but once it was moving, I kept adding handfuls of spinach and basil. It doesn’t look like the most appetizing food I have ever made, but it smells and tastes fantastic! 
 
I searched and searched online to try to find a way to preserve pesto, or seal it in jars, but because it isn’t cooked, I couldn’t find any other way other than freezing it. It will keep about a week in the fridge, but the only way you can keep it for longer is to freeze it. 

So, I spooned it into little salad dressing containers, and sprinkled a bit of cheese on the top, and popped them into the freezer. 

   
  

Looks a little yummier with some Parmesan on top…  
 

We had it for lunch today, it was delicious!    
   

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Rose Petal Jelly

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Rose Petal Jelly

We have benefitted in the past from our neighbour’s green thumb… We enjoy the apples that hang over into our backyard every fall, and we enjoy the roses that grow through the cracks in our fence and end up blooming on our side. And, as you may know, I am a bit of a hoarder, so… I saved all of the petals from the roses and dried them… You never know when rose petals might come in handy! And, guess what I came across today? A recipe for rose petal jelly using dried rose petals! Perfect.

I started with about three cups of rose petals. I also had a few dried rosebuds I had left over from when I made tea…

 
The recipe said to use 3 1/2 cups of water and about a cup of rose petals. I had more than double that, so I made two batches, and I just dumped in the extra rose petals. I brought the water and rose petals to a rolling boil, and turned the heat off and let it steep for about 5-10 minutes.

  Look at how pretty the petals looked!  
By letting it steep for 10 minutes, the boiling water absorbs all of the flavour and colour of the petals.  I used my Teavana tea pot to strain all of the petals from the water, but for jelly making, most instructions say to use cheesecloth, but I figured this was much easier!    

I was a little disappointed that the colour of the water was a little brown. I divided the water into two pots so there was a little over three cups in each pot.

 

But, look what happened to the colour of the rose water when I added lemon juice!  The pot on the left has the lemon juice added… Cool eh? 

 I got so excited about the change in colour, I forgot to mention that after I squeezed the lemons, I strained the lemon juice to get rid of the seeds and pulp. 

 
Before starting with the rest of the jam I washed the jars, and put them, and the lids into the oven and turned the heat to 300 degrees. 

Then, to the rose water, I  added a few fresh rose petals, to leave in the jelly, and a box of powdered Certo (I am a very loyal customer…I love the Certo brand) 

    
And brought it to a rolling boil. Here is my free tip for the day: this is the most important step to making sure your jam or jelly sets, and thickens. Once you add the Certo, you have to be sure that the temperature is high enough that it is a true rolling boil. This means that the boiling doesn’t stop when you stir it, and it almost doubles in size because of all of the bubbles. The picture below is not quite a rolling boil. 

  This is a rolling boil! Now you can turn your timer on for 1-2 minutes and stir it, and let it boil away.  
Then, I added 4 cups of sugar to each pot…

 And brought it up to a rolling boil once again. At this point, I turned off the oven, so the jars and lids are hot and sterilized. Another tip is to half full each jar, and let the jelly/jam sit for five minutes before filling the rest of the bottle. Fruit (or petals in jams and jellies tends to float to the top, but if you let the jam thicken a little before filling, the fruit will be evenly distributed throughout the jar. 

After waiting a few minutes, I carefully filled each jar. Then, I put the filled jars back into the oven. The oven keeps the jars hot, and if you leave them in the oven until they are cool, they seal perfectly every time! I have bottles of jam from five years ago that are still perfectly sealed…

  Here is the finished product, you can see the petals floating in the middle.   
It thickened perfectly, ended up being a very pretty colour, and it is delicious on a cracker with a bit of cream cheese!

 I might have to actually plant some roses in our own backyard, because I don’t think there are any more roses poking through our fence! 

Have a great day! 

Garden! 

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Sorry I haven’t been posting a whole lot lately, I have been so busy at work the past few months, I just haven’t had the time to make stuff and write about it… So I have a whole bunch of projects to catch up on sharing! Now that we are on summer break, I can finally take a step back and breathe, do some crafts, and then actually write about them. I love being a teacher, especially in July and August! 

Ok, I am the first one to admit that I am not a gardener! I basically buy a bunch of perennials I like in the spring, I plant them and keep my fingers crossed. Sometimes it grows, sometimes it doesn’t. Then, when stuff starts growing the next spring, I never know if I should pull it out, or let it grow… So I let it grow, as you can tell by this photo I took of our garden last fall (below), I should probably not do that. And, Yes, that is broccoli growing in the middle of the garden bed below! By the time I figured out it was broccoli, I figured I might as well let it grow…and maybe we could eat it.  

What a mess ūüė¶  I wish I could say that the rest of the backyard was way better, but nope. It was pretty overgrown too. 

So as you can see, everything had grown on top of everything else, and by the end, I had no idea what I had actually bought, and what was weeds. So, I decided to start from scratch this spring. I pulled everything out, except the plants I was sure about. I spread thing out so they have more room, and we unloaded a trunkful of topsoil a couple weeks ago. So, here’s what it looks like now…

  The ferns are from my grandmothers garden…and the forget me nots were so pretty, I decided to let them take over a little. 
Here is the side gardens in the backyard…it is not a good picture, but this garden is my favourite.

   

And here is the side garden.
 And the front of our house…
   
   
I even got my vegetable garden planted down the side pathway, in front of the arbour my brother made. John and I (and my younger brother and wife) were married under it. 

 

So, bring it on, I’m ready for summer, and I am ready to pull out whatever starts growing that I don’t recognize… Including broccoli! 

Here is a better pic of our whole backyard…

  

The picture below is what our backyard looked like when we first moved in…. It looks a lot different now!

   

And here is John and Dylan at the front of our house… It was pretty overgrown there too! 
  
Anyways, it has been a couple weeks since I have taken the photos, and I already notice a difference, but I am determined to keep things under control this year! I’ll keep you posted…