Sunday, September 26, 2010

Quilt Step Three & Applesauce

This is the third step in a quilt design for me: drawing it on graph paper to scale. Although I admit, I have been known to whip out a 2D CAD program during my lunch break and design quilts that way too. For the fellow geeks out there: yes, this is engineering paper. I design most of my quilts on engineering paper. I think it's mostly because I'm comfortable with it and I have some left over from my college days.

So yes, when I tell people that quilting is like engineering, this is one of my reasons! My scale drawing helps me figure out how to lay out and cut my fabric when it comes time to do so. 

Part of eating locally is definitely storing food. Whether that be freezing, canning, drying, whatever. So I have a friend who has an apple tree (or 6!), and we also have an apple tree that is old enough to give fruit. We have several others as well that are getting there that Ryan planted, but our orchard is not really up to full swing yet. So one thing we've taught ourselves to make is applesauce. Now, I say "taught ourselves" because we do some things more of a "cheater" way due to our lack of patience and our lack of a food mill.
Step one is to core and cut the apples into largish pieces. We don't peel them because we don't mind the taste of the peels and that is where all the nutrition is!

Step two is to throw the apple pieces into the food processor and chop fairly finely.
The raw chopped apples

Step three is to put the apples in a saucepan with a little water or apple juice and some lemon juice (a couple tablespoons of each of these). Then you simmer it until the apples are soft, it takes about 15-20 minutes.

Raw apples in the saucepan
Step four is to add some sugar (I used brown sugar, about 2 Tbsp or so) and about 1/2 tsp of cinnamon (obviously the cinnamon is optional). If I'm feeling like it, I'll thrown in some ginger and/or nutmeg too. Then I simmer it 2-3 more minutes to get it all combined.
The completed applesauce: Ugly but yummy!
Voila, applesauce! Sometimes I can this, (like 2 years ago I did) but this year I just filled quart-sized ziploc bags and stacked them up in the freezer. We did about 6 rounds in the saucepan and got about 5 bags as well as another 3 cups or so for the fridge for the next few days' eating. If you wanted to, the warm applesauce could be pulsed in the food processor to make it finer. This is how you're supposed to do it, but I don't like dealing with all that hot, sticky applesauce. 
The applesauce assembly line in process

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Quilt design step 2 & tree frogs

I'm kind of obsessed with our clothesline. 

It's true! 

I was taking diapers off the line today and pondering this fact. The truth is that the clothesline makes such a good metaphor for how my life is now. Do I put all my laundry on it? No. Is it hard to motivate myself to get out there and stick stuff on the line instead of into the dryer 3 steps away? Yes. But my cooking is like that too. I try to source local foods, but I don't succeed 100% and I fight the urge to cook out of a box. So like the clothesline, I forgive myself and move on. Ryan holds me accountable for both of these, and I think that makes the difference.

Summer is fading, but we still get little web-footed friends everywhere. Here is a tree frog climbing on my kitchen window. 
Ryan also rescued one from our sun room yesterday. Our sun room floor is covered in pet hair, and as I walked by the door I saw Ryan with a little glass dish full of water. I asked him, "Did you just give that tree frog a little bath?" 
He replied, "It was covered with cat hair. I just wish washing the dog was this easy!"

I also worked on step 2 of designing a new quilt today. This quilt has color-fade fabrics, so the placement is very key for the design. I pulled out my colored pencils and started sketching alternatives.
I asked Ryan if he had a preference. Can you guess which one he liked? Which one pops out to you? I'm betting you guessed it: he likes the one in the top right corner. I admit that on paper it really pops, but I may yet change my mind on this one. 

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Livestock & Deadstock and the Birth of a Quilt

"If you're going to have livestock, you're going to have deadstock." Those proverbial words were spoken by our previous landlord when we were renting a farmhouse and few acres. 

It was funny at the time, but of course, he's right. 

I think Ryan is planning on posting our full tally for the season so far, but I just know he called me at work to tell me another ewe died. He called her Awesome II (he's great at ewe names, by the way) and is fairly disheartened about it. We're also down to about 60 of our original 260 turkeys. They simply refuse to stop dying, mostly of cold and/or wet. 

On a happier and more cheerful note, I thought I'd post a picture of the "first step" of most of my quilts. 
In this case, I actually have fabric to go along with the doodle. Usually I don't even have that. But the only difference between this sketch and 90% of my other quilts in the beginning stages is that this one is not drawn on engineering paper...