Monday, November 22, 2010

Do you smell the grape jam?

(note..this is a re-post from last year, updated with some corrections. )

Man, I sure wish I could bottle the smell of grape jam cooking! It smells SO good! I made quite a few batches last month when a friend gave us some grapes. 3 of us got to work and made several batches. Well, last Sat. another friend dropped off HER grapes! So, I thought I'd better get them done. They aren't easy to come by and sure hated wasting them. They don't seem to be like the other ones though. They never did ripen to a dark purple but Kirt said they tasted good. Which is weird, because Concord grapes usually are a bit bitter to eat. Oh I go. These are going to make great little gifts for all my quilting friends, family members, teachers, church friends....I think I might need more grapes!

Here's the box of grapes she brought me.

It looks like a lot, but it was surprising how many I had to throw away.

Washed the grapes. I sorted them, keeping only the ripest ones and unblemished ones. I thought they would be about 40 or so in human years! LOL They aren't too young and unripe, have no blemishes, aren't old and wrinkly. It seems like I threw away more than I kept. I ended up having enough for one regular batch (with reduced sugar, but still a lot--and had to be water bath canned) and one Sugar Free batch (which requires no cooking, but doesn't set up as much as the regular kind).

Then I popped off the skins. Just squeezing them pops the insides out

and then you put the skins in another bowl. I tried to speed up the process by grabbing a handful and squeezing them. What a mess! There was grape pulp all over the place! Okay, one by one....

Cook the grape pulp (the insides--seeds and all) with a little water.

Put them in a sieve and strain all the seeds out.

Only the seeds are left to be dumped.

While the pulp is cooking, chop up the skins in a food processor.

Then add this to the cooked and strained pulp.

While all this is cooking, you need to wash your jars (either in the dishwasher or by hand in hot soapy water. I then pour boiling water over all them)

And simmer your lids (not the bands) in hot water. It sterilizes the lids and makes the seals soft so they will seal better.

Cook your grape pulp/skin mixture with pectin and sugar. Bring to a full roiling boil and cook for 1 minute.

Do you know how hard it is to take a picture while constantly stirring something? hahaha

Quickly ladle into prepared jars (using a funnel)

Then wipe off the jar tops with a damp rag. If there is anything on the rims, the jars won't seal.

Add the jar lids and band and process in a hot water canning bath for 10 minutes. I tried to take a picture, but it kept fogging up my camera! Remove the jars and let cool

Here is a jar of Sugar Free jam........

I had leftover pulp to make this batch. It is not cooked, but simply mixed with Splenda and a sugar free pectin. I stirred it for 3 minutes and then ladled it into these jars. I store them in the freezer.

This grape jam doesn't set up as well as the regular. But it's still full of fresh grape flavor. And actually I like it better than the regular stuff. Well, I have to like it since I can't like the other one now. :)

All done--3 1/2 hours later, kitchen is cleaned, all the pots/pans/bowls put away and I have 9 half pint jars of jam and 5 half pint jars of Sugar Free jam in the freezer.

Cost of grapes: $ a jar of jam (to my friend who gave me the grapes)

Cost of jars: $15.00

Cost of sugar: $2.49

Cost of pectin: $3.00

Time spent: 3 1/2 hours

Value of HOMEMADE jam with NO extra stuff: PRICELESS!

BONUS: My kitchen smells like grape homemade goodness! Now if I could figure out how to bottle that..........................

Sunday, November 21, 2010

I'm going on a mouse hunt....

(sung to the tune of "I'm going on a Manhunt") 

And it's not going to be pretty!

I was showing some students some of my quilts and pulled out my Grandma's quilt, a hexagon quilt made in the 1940's.

 I had my Amish friend hand quilt each and every hexagon, and she did a wonderful job.

 As I opened the quilt, my friend asked what something was and as I looked as to what she was pointing, I almost fainted! A mouse had made itself a nice cozy little nest!

 I was sick! It was the bottom quilt in a huge stack of quilts. I quickly checked all the rest of the quilts, and no other quilts were bothered, at all. This was the only one done with a polyester batting and all the others had Warm and Natural batting. Think that was the difference? I could just cry.. Any other quilt I could duplicate or had no real sentimental value. It just sits on my table right now, looking so sad.

I have no idea how to fix it without it being obvious. I do have some vintage fabric, but nothing close to what is in there. Am I better off making a new (using old fabric) hexagon flower?

 Or trying to get fabric as close as possible and just replacing the chewed ones? It's such a beautiful quilt and is so valuable to me as it's one of the few things that I have of my Grandma's.

All I can say is that that little bugger better watch out because I'm going to set traps ALL over the place and catch him and the whole family! And I know it's a him, cuz a female would just not do that.

Now I'm going to go cry some more.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

You'll never guess what I found!!

A fabric store!! That sells cotton fabric! YeeHaw!

After we returned from our tour, the day was still a bit too cloudy to enjoy laying at the pool, so we set out on a shopping trip.  And guess what I found?????!!!!!!!!! A fabric shop!! with Cotton fabric!

It looked like a white goods shop with towels, sheets, shower curtains, etc.  As I peered into the shop, I thought I saw stacks of fabric. BINGO!  I asked if they had 100% cotton fabric, he indicated he did not know English (a common thing here--I thought they would know more English--hmm. geez, like I should know THEIR language--I know, bad on our part), but when I spoke slowly..he said no.   Oh well, I'll still look. And as I was looking at the signs, it was a bit hard to tell.

But feeling some of the fabric, I thought it might be cotton.  I looked at the tag on the bolt and sure enough, it was 100% Algodao .

  I was sure hoping that meant cotton! LOL  Looking at other tags, I did read polyester, elastica, etc. So I was assuming it was cotton.  AND was made in Brazil. (note: when I got back, I looked it up on my translator, and sure enough, it did mean cotton! woohoo!)  One of the big things I look for when buying fabric in another country, is that I want it to be FROM there, not imported from America! And this was made in Brazil.

 Obviously this was not a quilt shop, but I did find a few pieces I could use.  And the one I loved (hmm...looked a lot like a Kaffe Fassett fabric) was double wide! (it's the one of the bottom if you can't tell).  I thought it would be a great backing for something, so asked for 3 yards, the gentleman kept pointing to the price, like he was asking, do you know how much this is?  LOL  Yes, not cheap, but certainly in line with what I normally pay.

I have a couple ideas in mind with what I got, the black/white prints are really a jacquard and I think I'll make a few purses/pouches with them.  The others? well, I'll think of something I'm sure.

Oh what a day!

Busy, busy day and lots of good things going on yesterday.  First on the agenda was a tour of the Rain Forest tour in Rio de Janeiro/visiting the Christ Redeemer statue, that is one of the 7 Wonders of the World.

Walking through the Rain Forest, we saw the Palm trees where the Hearts of Palm come from..who knew?  and then next our guide found a Cashew nut that had fallen. Apparently, they are attached to a type of fruit that resembles an apple at the bottom. It was black when we found it, I put it in my pocket and then it turned kinda of a weird green/gray by the time we got home??  And we also saw the Palm trees that had the Acai berries on them. They grow in clusters, similar to grapes.  Kind of cool...

We also saw a few waterfalls, the couple that was with us took our picture, unfortunately, it was a bit blurry.

Seeing the Christ Redeemer statue on the tallest mountain in Brazil, overlooking all of Rio was awe inspiring.

And the view from there! WOW!  It was really a cloudy, overcast day and I was afraid the pictures would turn out dull and bland, and they were.  I can just imagine what it would have looked like on a beautiful sunny day.  I guess we'll have to return! ;)

Our tour guide was Henrik, from Paris.  What a wealth of knowledge he had! He moved to Rio 5 years ago, after meeting a girl of his dreams from Brazil. He followed her here, married and had a little girl.  They are no longer together, but he stays because of his daughter.  His other job was a Set Director for cinema/movies. He just finished working with Sylvester Stallone on his new movie.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

On a search for new quilting inspirations...

What do you do when you want new inspirations for quilts?  I tend to look at tile public restrooms, churches, cathedrals and floors.  I found a new source!   On our annual business, just relaxing, etc., we take daily walks and look what we found along the WHOLE beach promenade.

This is on Copacabana Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, South America.   Now why on earth did I think it was in Cuba?  Geez, that's why I have to travel, so I can learn geography first hand! LOL  All the sidewalks here on the main drag in front of the beach are mosaics like this, on the boardwalk is this particular design. It is a pavement landscape in large scale (4 km long). It was completed in 1970 and has used a black and white Portugese pavement design since it's origin in the 1930's, a geometric wave. It was designed by Roberto Burle Marx. Now....if you were to use this for inspiration, would you try and do it mosaic style?  That would be my first choice as it would be awesome...but wow, what a lot of work!

Now the second boardwalk, I can find NO information on, but yet I have to believe it's done by the same guy.  It's on the famous Ipanema Beach and it's totally cool as well. 

Very modern looking. Ipanema's boardwalk is not as long as Copacabana's, but it still is quite impressive. 

Did you know where Ipanema was?  We have all heard of it from that famous song, 'The Girl from Ipanema' by Antonio Carlos Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes in the 1960's.  I'm not EVEN gonna tell you where I thought it was located!  Of course, I was a very young child when that came out, so I imagined it  to be somewhere else, and that's my story. 

 The park right before you enter the gate to the beach.

This last picture was taken from the rooftop from our hotel, overlooking Copacabana Beach. If you look close, you can see the boardwalk.

Now if I could only speak Portugese or at least read it to see if they had any fabric shops.  I did find one, but it was a bridal shop with bridal fabrics.  hmmm, not the kind of fabric for which I was looking. 

Telcido..that's the word I'm supposed to be looking for....think I'll find any?