Friday, August 26, 2011

Irene and the Long Island Express

Sounds like a children's book, doesn't it?

It's not. Irene (of course) is the hurricane currently making its way up the East Coast here in the States. The Long Island Express is the name given in retrospect to the hurricane of 1938. The '38 hurricane was devastating. Even in upstate New York I grew up hearing about it--in the 1970s--and here in New England it was awful.

It's the reason that there are so few old-growth trees here. Also, indirectly, why the MacIntosh apple took off--the orchards of heritage varieties were ripped up and destroyed. Macs were just coming up in popularity, and easy to grow. Self-pollinating...and so...good-bye heirloom apples.

Buildings were destroyed, and many, many lives were lost. I've seen photos of the carnage. It was horrible. There are still reminders downtown in Providence, even a plaque documenting the flood lines.

We're worried here. Many New Yorkers have been ordered to evacuate. A state of emergency has been declared in Rhode Island, and to be honest, I've been filling containers with potable water and rounded up the crank flashlight and radio, and made sure I could put my hands on the cat carrier.

Irene is supposed to mean "peace". I'll close with the words of a drag queen who, I hope, is correct in her estimation:

"Who names these storms? I'm sorry, but Hurricane Irene doesn't sound very threatening... What does she do, fling a cocktail in your face!?"
--Jackie Beat

Monday, August 22, 2011

Apple Bourbon Slices

This is a recipe I came up with last year. I had lots of just-picked apples, a full bottle of bourbon, and...well...why not?

The recipe makes two generous pints, with a 1/2 cup or so left over. I gave one away to a friend and we kept the rest. Yesterday we had them over cinnamon pancakes--it was wonderful. The bourbon mellows quite a bit after cooking and processing, for those of you who are not big spirit drinkers.

Bourbon Apple Slices 2 pints

2 1/2 lb. peeled, sliced, cored apples (weigh before prep)
1 lb. sugar
pinch salt
2 c. bourbon
1 tbl. lemon juice
6 dashes orange bitters
6 tbl. butter, melted (optional)

Prepare apples; toss with lemon juice. Mix bourbon, sugar, bitters & boil for five minutes. Add apples and salt. Simmer till just tender, stirring as little as possible. Stir in butter.

Ladle apples into jars and pour syrup over. Leave a generous 1/4" headspace at least.

Process for 20 minutes in a hot water bath. Let sit overnight and check seals after 12 to 24 hours before labeling and storing.

Friday, August 12, 2011

With this yarn...

...I will make [fill in the blank].

That's how most of my yarn-buying goes. I buy something because I'm quite sure that I know what it wants to be. And it could be that I'm right, though I seldom find out, because (A) I get sidetracked (B) the "something else I'm working on" takes over (C) LIFE takes over.

And so, weeks, months, or (more likely) years later I find this yarn again. In some vague fashion I can usually remember why I bought it, and even where, but now it wants to be something else.

Case in point: last Christmas I made a pair of boot socks as a gift. The main color was a natural superwash Irish yarn I picked up in Cambridge at a lovely Irish shop. It was destined to be a baby blanket...only I didn't have time. The intended recipient was a work acquaintance, not a close friend, so I didn't push myself into it. I did make a lovely pair of socks with ruffles, and a cotton washcloth. The washcloth was a big hit, so I think I made the right choice.

But the baby blanket became socks.

This year I'm making my MiL an alpaca and silk lace neck kerchief. I've already sent the hat off for her birthday present.

I'm closer this time, though...the yarn wanted to be a pair of gloves. (The first half of the first glove is still languishing in the depths of my work room, waiting to be frogged.)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Tomato-Peach Salsa

We found more good things at the farmers market, as you can see. Seven pints of hot salsa later...I still want to can some more. Maybe more salsa, but we'll see what's there this coming weekend.

I am knitting, too--honestly! I made this beret for my mother-in-law, and just sent it off today for her birthday, which is Friday. It's the Sprinkle Stitch Beret.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Christmas in August?

Christmas knitting in August, anyway. Can't show it, of course, as some recipients might see it.

But I'm on item #2 now. If I can keep on the trajectory, the holidays should be a snap. (Except for the wrapping and shipping...not the easiest part of it all.)

This year most of our gifts--to the adults, in any case--will be handmade...knitted things, marmalades, etc.

I don't know whether I'll bake myself into another cookie coma, but it's just possible. I can feel the "putting up" (as in canning) urge settling in firmly, too. And today is Saturday, so off to the farmers market in a few hours....