On our property, Spring rushes in with an array of sweet smells (hyacinths, lilacs, lily-of-the-valleys, and viburnum) as well as more pungent smells (wild onion, freshly mown grass, and natural wood chips). I love them all.
Lilacs, however, hold a special place in my heart. I have childhood memories of pulling over in our car and cutting some branches of wild lilacs to fill our home with their sweet smell. On our current property, we’ve planted a hedge of different varieties of lilacs, and every year it only gets better.
This Spring, I decided to try something new in order to savor the fleeting lilac season:
I’m not going to give you a recipe because there are many recipes online that are all very similar. The general gist is that you steep the lilac blossoms (without any leaves or stems) in water and make a jelly out of the resulting lilac “tea”.
We used white and purple lilacs. The white ones are more fragrant and I thought that they might make a better jelly.
Josh was willing to help me with the somewhat tedious job of pulling off the individual blossoms. Two cups is a lot when each blossom is tiny! 🙂
Honest verdict? Unique and delicious!
It’s a light, sweet jam with a pronounced floral note…. I’m picturing it served on warm-from-the-oven scones or else smeared on some brie cheese and a crusty baguette. Mmmmmm! For now, though, I’m debating whether or not to make a second batch…and also whether or not I want to make sugared lilac blossoms. 🙂
Posted in food
Tagged lilac jelly
With about 45 hours of sitting in the car ahead of me, what did I do an hour before we left? Whip up two travel pillows, of course. I cringed when I told Josh that I was going to make travel pillows while he was running back and forth, busy packing the van. His responding look spoke volumes, but seeing that we were not pressed for time and that I was positive it wouldn’t take too long, I pulled out my sewing machine and supplies.
Here’s what I did:
I started with a basic square pillow form that I had in my stash. I measured around my neck to get an idea of how big to make the circle, and then I drew the circle in pencil and cut it out.
Next, I pulled all of the pillow stuffing out.
Then I cut out the same circle on the bottom half.
My pillow form was already inside out for some reason, so I sewed all along the circle that I had just cut out, leaving a gap in one section to put the stuffing back in. I then turned the pillow right side out in order to stuff it.
I stuffed the pillow with the former stuffing, which surprisingly fit quite easily in.
I then sewed up the gap and the pillow was done!
Time to sleep!
Here are some takeaways:
- The pillow was super easy to make and I think it’s comparable in size and comfort to what I saw at the store for a whole lot more money.
- But, I wish the pillow was even poofier. Josh really likes travel pillows (instead of regular pillows) in the car, but he preferred to use both of the travel pillows at once to give more support.
- If I were to make it again, I would place the circle more off-centered so that at least one side would be bigger and give more neck support.
- Also, a darker colored fabric would be better. The pillows stayed white, but if we had stained them with food, it would have been obvious.
- In the end, because we traveled so far, the pillows were worth it and added a little extra comfort. I can see myself using them in the future for shorter trips to Canada as well.
Harvesting in the garden……
In mid-July, we dug up our mature garlic
Sometime you gotta improvise when you don’t have a proper drying rack
3 kinds of garlic: Chesnok Red, Music, Belarus Purple Stripe
Trouble in the vegetable garden….
You know you’re in trouble when a bunch of your tomato branches have been stripped of leaves! Time to start looking for….
….a tomato hornworm! These huge (4-5 inch) green caterpillar-like creatures have massive appetites and can do a lot of damage! They are very hard to spot and it can take quite some time to find them. Can you see it?
Look at its massive mouth!
Josh spotted a tiny one, which was great because it hadn’t had much time to consume our plants!
Second batch of house sparrows…
It’s so cute to hear their little cheeps as I walk by the birdhouse!
What a delicious problem to have: too much raw milk. We were getting raw milk from a local farmer for about five months ( which has since been cancelled due to our overreaching Michigan bureaucracy) and although we couldn’t seem to drink enough of that creamy deliciousness, on occasion we couldn’t keep up. And so I made yogurt and……drum roll……ricotta cheese! The yogurt was tasty, but the ricotta cheese? SO GOOD and super easy to make!
My recipe came from a “Cook’s Illustrated” cookbook, but there are a lot of recipes online that you could follow. I haven’t made it with regular homogenized/pasteurized milk yet, but I can update you once I have since I’m now back to store-bought milk.
Here’s how easy it is:
Ingredients: milk, salt, and lemon juice
Heat up the milk and salt to a certain temperature, mix in the lemon juice, and watch as it all curdles.
After letting it curdle, drain it through two layers of cheesecloth in a colander and then refrigerate.
A great way to enjoy the ricotta cheese is to mix some pesto through it and then spread it on New York Style Bagel Crisps. Very addicting!
But my very favorite way is to once again mix it with pesto and then serve it on Penne alla Vodka. The ricotta warms up and slightly melts on the pasta, making it a perfect combination. YUM!