Friday, March 29, 2013

Making Sauerkraut

Because of the recent St. Patrick's Day festivities cabbage was on sale in all the markets. A perfect time to stock up and make some sauerkraut. When I was a kid I was a sauerkraut addict. Loved the stuff! I ate it straight from the can. That's right I said can. I had no idea it came any other way. So imagine my delight when I tasted fresh kraut from the deli. H-E-A-V-E-N. Crunchy, salty heaven. My kids hate it. They don't live here any more. Let's make some. 

making sauerkraut

 Sauerkraut is made through lacto-fermentation, the same process that produces dill pickles. Basically it uses salt to kill bad bacteria and allow the growth of good bacteria, lactobacillus. That's the good stuff found in yogurt too. So lacto-fermented foods can be good for you. You can read more about it here. The trick of course is to be CLEAN. So wash your hands and all your utensils really well and keep washing. You can not be too clean.

Start with two medium sized heads of cabbage (about 5 lbs), green or red or a combo. Green and red together will produce a pretty pink kraut. Remove some outer leaves wash and save for later. Cut into fourths and remove the core. Thinly shred using your preferred tool. I used my food processor with the slicing blade, not the grating blade. You can do this with a knife it just takes longer.

making sauerkraut

In an large bowl thoroughly mix the shredded cabbage and 3 tablespoons of pickling salt. That's right just 3 tbsp. bet you thought it took a lot more salt. Let this stand for 2 hours until the cabbage has started to soften and begun to release its liquid. With a potato or a meat pounder, pound the cabbage until it release enough liquid to cover itself when pushed down. Don't wimp out keep pounding.

Yes, I'm using a clean wine bottle and yes there is wine in there. If you just don't get enough liquid to cover you might have to make some brine by boiling 4 cups water and adding 1 1/2 tbsp pickling salt. Cool before adding.

making sauerkraut

Pack your kraut in a clean gallon jar. Tamp it down as you go, be firm. Remember those reserved outer leaves? Cover with those. Now you have to weight the whole thing to keep the kraut submerged in the brine. I use a zip lock bag of water with all the air removed.

making sauerkraut
Now cover loosely and wrap in tea towel to keep out light and set in a cool place to ferment. You might want to set it in a pan in case of overflow but I've never had that happen.

Check after 24 hours to be sure the cabbage is covered in brine. Check the sauerkraut every few days and remove any scum that forms on the surface. This stuff looks like a mold but it's harmless, anything below the brine is perfectly good. Of course, if you see any pink mold or if it smells funky, not a clean briney smell you need to throw it out and start over. This probably means things were not clean enough to start with. I didn't have any scum form maybe because it was really protected from air. You should see little bubbles rising to the surface indicating that fermentation is taking place. Be patient. It will be fully fermented in 2 to 6 weeks depending on the temperature. The flavor should change from salty to pickled.

You can store you sauerkraut in the refrigerator in covered jars for several months for delicious fresh taste and that's the way we like it best. I got 6 pints from two heads of cabbage. If it seems too salty when you serve it just give it a rinse in cold water before eating. 

For long term storage at room temperature you'll need to process it using the boiling-water bath method. Consult canning methods books for details. Unprocessed sauerkraut has a crunchiness that's lost with heat from processing. 

Check out this web site if you want to know more about fermenting foods: Wild Fermentation

circa 2011 The ORIGINAL Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop 
The Self Sufficient HomeAcre

Until next time,

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Still Smiling

Freddy Moran pieced quilt
Here I am three days after my encounter with Freddy Moran and I'm still smiling. I defy anyone to spend time in a room with her quilts and not come away with a more positive outlook. Yes, they are bold and bright but more important than that is the sense of freedom that her work conveys.

Just let go, have fun, try something new. That's what these quilts say to me anyway. I know it makes me think I need to be more adventurous in my color choices and maybe even less uptight about my construction.

flower vase collage quilt Freddy Moran

Her collage works are all raw edge applique, makes me think I can do that too.

tree collage Freddy Moran

tree quilt collage Freddy Moran

Freddy's House
Art should be thought provoking, uplifting and inspiring and with that criteria in mind these quilts certainly qualify as art. What do you think? Too wild for you or just what the doctor ordered?

Until next time,

Monday, March 25, 2013

Meeting Freddy Moran

quilt self portrait

 I had such an unexpected thrill this weekend. The local quilt guild Foothills Quilters guild held their annual quilt show and I was the first person in the door on Sunday morning - literally! It wasn't that early, 10 AM but I just happened to get there right on time for a change. Anyway the show was just so so in my opinion but unknown to me in another building they had a featured guest artist - Freddy Moran! I almost missed it. It wasn't well marked and no one at the show was talking it up. I just happened to wander into the right place and came upon one of my quilting idols! It felt like walking into a museum side room and stumbling across Picasso sitting at a table surrounded by his paintings. I was gob smacked! Freddy was so charming and friendly, we chatted for quite a bit I probably sounded like an idiot I was so star struck. When I asked if it would be OK if I took pictures she said her feelings would be hurt if I didn't.

Today and tomorrow I'll share the exhibit with you so your eyes won't bug out of your head all at once. Unfortunately the display was not the best and I couldn't get a good angle on a lot of these amazing quilts. Let me just say they are a feast for the senses.  If you are not familiar with Freddy Moran's work I found this small biography online:
Freddy Moran likes to divide her life into three periods: school years, parenting years, and artist years. She graduated form Dominican College, a small liberal arts women's college in San Rafael, California. Pottery was Freddy's first love, and she majored in art. After graduation, she married her childhood sweetheart, Neil----they met when they were 12 and 13. Fifty-three years later they are still boyfriend and girlfriend. Freddy and Neil raised a family of five sons. Their children's families, including 13 grandchildren, live near by and continue to keep her busy and fill her with joy. 
Her first quilting book, Freddy's House, brought her fearless use of color to a wide audience and is still in demand. Freddy travels and teaches extensively, challenging quilters to break the rules and do what works best for them. She has appeared on national television programs including the DIY network. "Red is neutral" is her quilting mantra.
Now on to her AMAZING, FEARLESS and JOYFUL quilts. I hope you get as much pleasure from these photos as I got from seeing them in person. 

ladies in the house Freddy Moran

This quilt was so heavily beaded it looked like it was lit with electricity! It was stuck in a dark corner and I couldn't get a good picture.

I'll show you the rest tomorrow. Linking to Patchwork Times for more inspiration.
Until next time,

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

New Boots

It's a rainy first day of spring here in the Sierra foothills but the previous week was sunny and mild, perfect hiking weather. AND I have new boots! Aren't they neat? Time to get them dirty so Chris and I headed out with River to a trail close by to try them out.

River has some new gear as well. Here she is modeling her new pack. At 8 months she's old enough to carry a light load and she was able to haul her own water and water dish for her first pack outing. Doesn't she look proud of herself?

River and Chris at the trail head. This is an all use trail/bridle path so really good practice for River with runners, hikers, horses and even trail bikes sometimes popping up. She took the whole thing in stride, alert but calm. So far she's turning into a perfect hiking companion.

River does not like the water AT ALL! Ironic huh? Once summer hits and we take her to the lake with Shadow I think she'll get the idea but for now she just can't stand to get her toes wet. What a princess.

Yes, I'm including a picture of me in my new boots just to prove to you I was there. Glamorous as always. We had a great day knowing that the good weather is fleeting and we can expect more cold maybe even snow again before true spring arrives. 

circa 2011 The ORIGINAL Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop

Until next time,

Monday, March 18, 2013

DWM/Mini Quilt Show

Not a lot of sewing has gone on this past week on Dogwood Lane but that doesn't mean that I've been sitting on my behind. In fact I've been busier than a person should be. Better to wear out than rust out our grandparents used to say, right?
The Nellies met last Wednesday and Vickie tried her very best to teach us the art of paper piecing. Most of us worked diligently to complete our beginners project but a couple of us (Bev and Dolly I'm calling you out) chose to sit and knit and gossip chat instead.

Helen brought her example/suggestion for our charity quilt project this year - a disappearing 9 patch. What a beautiful example of a simple pattern.

I don't remember whose super cute Christmas project this is. I do know they've been working on it for quite a while and it turned out so nice.

Five of the girls had formed a mini group to work on a row quilt challenge and they brought their completed tops for us to admire. What wonderful quilts these women came up with. This was the first time that they were able to see their own tops since starting the challenge over a year ago so everyone was thrilled and pleased. I have no idea whose quilt is whose or what the rules were so I'm just going to show you the magic.


As you can see most of the Nellies are amazing applique artists!

Be sure to visit Patchwork Times to see other design wall Monday works.

Until next time,

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

I've Got Sunshine On a Cloudy Day

 Sing along with me!

 The forecast was for sleet and hale so I rushed outside and cut all the daffodils I could find to bring them inside before the storm hit. Hope your day is sunny as can be.

Until next time,

Monday, March 11, 2013

DWM/Piecing Progress on Fall Jewels

 The weather has been all over the place this week giving me some sewing room time. Whenever it's rainy I retreat upstairs and get some quality time in with the rotary cutter and Janome 6600. Remember how I found that project box with all the pieces already cut out? I got down to serious sewing and turned those bits into flying geese and half triangle squares. A LOT of flying geese and half triangle squares! 

The original cutting directions had said to cut squares 2 7/8", draw a line and sew on either side of the line, cut down the middle and presto two half triangle square that will measure 2 1/2". Now this is the way I usually make those units but believe me when I tell you that if I had followed directions I would not have ended up with 2 1/2"  half triangle squares. No Way! I'm just not that accurate. Instead I cut the original square at 3" giving myself a little more wiggle room and trimmed those babies down to 2 1/2". That extra 1/8" makes all the difference to me in being able to have completely accurate squares.

QUILTER KNOW THYSELF! If your not the most accurate piecer do yourself a favor and read the directions, figure out what they're really asking you to do and why and how that works for you. You can always take away but you can't add on

Here's the first block mock-up. Isn't it fabulous?

It's Design Wall Monday on Judy's blog so go see what's up over at Patchwork Times.

Until next time,