Month: May 2015

Big Red Eye

I don’t really think about Bigfoot or Sasquatch much. The myth doesn’t really excite me. Unless there’s a new movie coming out or someone brings it up in conversation, it’s not one of the motifs that sees a lot of usage around here.

I am however interested in American folklore and mythologies, and it turns out that the idea of Big Foot is fairly common throughout the states. I have touched briefly on other variations of this story before (Sheepsquatch). Big Red Eye brings us to New Jersey.

It’s actually a fairly new story, coming out of the mid to late 1970s. Small animals like pet rabbits began dying in Wantage; the local paper suggested that it was a Bigfoot like creature. The police, however, say it was a bear.

The conflicting origin stories haven’t prevented eyewitness reports of the creature that was eventually named Big Red Eye. While the stories started in the 1970s, the cryptid has become something of an Internet legend leading to many people wandering through the woods of Northern New Jersey hoping for a sighting or encounter.

The legend has led to questions such as ‘How would the Jersey Devil hold up against Big Red Eye?’ The Jersey Devil is the monster who might be more familiar in the American psyche; as New Jersey’s other major monster, that myth has a much longer established footprint.

As Bigfoot, Sasquatch, or N.J’s Big Red Eye…

Big Red Eye vs. The Jersey Devil

Big Red Eye

May Preservation

strawberries-99551_1280

Not much this month, but I didn’t start until last weekend, so I need to take into account that this is a ‘what I put away in a week’ more than ‘what I put away in a month.

I did score a giant jar of local raw honey. One of my coworkers’ families owns an apiary and she gets more honey than she knows what to do with. And she passes it onto me. And I cherish every drop of it.

Carrot Cake Jam

Firestarter

–different fruits as well as peaches

—-pineapple has been requested

apple pear jam

-apple sauce

-cyser style apples

-banana fridge jam

-dilly beans

3 pints (year total: 3 pints)

-whole and crushed tomatoes

-dill pickles

-spiked oranges

-plum sauce

-pickled hot peppers

2 pints (fridge batch) (year total: 2 pints)

-bbq sauce

-apple butter

-peach butter

-peach pie jam

-cherry jam

-mint syrup

-preserved mint

-salsa

-cider molasses

-pickled beets

-…lemons?

-sweet pickles

-blackstrap strawberry jam

-relish

-strawberry mint syrup and jam

-fruit syrups

-hot sauce

-whole peaches and nectarines

Other projects

Spring berry jam

1 1/2 pints

[More] 2015 Canning

Pixabay

Pixabay

I’ve been pulling out my hardcover cookbooks and looking at recipes.

…I’m going to be spending a lot of time at the canner.

All recipes from either Food in Jars or Preserving by the Pint.

spicy mango salsa

cherries with bourbon

peach with sriracha

blueberry maple jam

pickled wax beans

garlic dill spears

yellow plum with vanilla

raspberry habanero

salt preserved herbs

blender salsa

pear cranberry chutney

apple tart filling

spiced apple half moons

pickled garlic

Spiced plum jam

Peach plum ginger jam

Cantaloupe jam

Tomato jam

Tomato ketchup

Spicy honey mustard

Bread and butter pickles

Peach Salsa

Wrapping Without Hair (DIY Style)

wpid-img_20150525_161325.jpgI know that it’s bad form to show your hair for a post on hair wrapping, but I want everyone to understand what kind of situation I’m talking about in this entry.

When I say that I have no hair, I mean…I have no hair. This isn’t short, this is Furiosa. Who I want to cosplay now, by the way. I’ll be the fattest woman in dystopia, but whatever. Or maybe not Furiosa. Just her rather chubby sidekick. You get the idea.

[In theory,goggles worn like that are goggles on head, thereby fulfilling the ‘something on my head at all times’ requirement.]

I know this beauty came from Tumblr. Give me a source and I'll credit.

I know this beauty came from Tumblr. Give me a source and I’ll credit.

Point being, I was left with a not so minor problem after shaving my head.

You can certainly manage to get stuff to stay on your head. But not without some wrangling and a fair amount of swearing. I am not a delicate flower, there was swearing.

So I did what I do best-I went to the Internet. I can’t claim credit for this, the idea came from the wonderful people of the Wrapunzel Facebook page.

The most direct route would be to buy a volumizer. But I don’t really…well…like a lot of volume and it didn’t solve the problem in the short term-I still have to cover until it comes in.

The next best thing is to make something-and with at least 2 dress socks and a hair tie, you have a fairly functional volumizer if all you want is a small amount of volume to mimic the look of hair and something to anchor to.

sockYou will have to pardon my sock. I once used it to dye wool, hence the fuzzies and the weird pink color.

Fold your first sock into a compact and fairly neat ball. It’ll lay better under your wrap if you can keep it as lump free as you can. Put into the second sock and fold the second sock neatly around the ball. Repeat with as many socks as you would like-more socks = more volume. Secure with a hair tie.

To use-I tied my under scarf into a half hitch knot, and then keeping that metal secure facing up towards the scarf and not against scalp, tucked it under the scarf. I wrapped the first scarf into a bun style wrap, and then wrapped like normal over that.

baldwrapNot only did it hold, it held more securely and longer than when I had hair-and it gave me more volume than I ever had with my hair.

Garlicky Beans

garlickybeansstart

I buy my produce for canning wherever and in whatever packaging is cheapest. It ranges from the free for all pick all you want apples I sometimes get in the fall, to Aldis, to Tops, to the farmer’s markets. A lot of time it comes from Aldis, which is kind of nice because it comes in cheap, pre-portioned blocks. Yeah, I admit, not as green as loose but sometimes my budget really does take priority.

One of the side effects of that though is having sort of awkward amounts of produce left over because I couldn’t buy the 2 pounds of whatever that I know will fit x number of jars for whatever pickles I’m making. I bought two packages of green beans for dilly beans, and then realized that I needed to get them canned before they turned (I’m really, really terrible with time).

After pickling I had about a quart sized bag full of prepped beans-too many to just do away with and not enough to warrant running another batch of pickles.

Notes

This recipe is not my idea. I’ve seen similar in a lot of different places, and honestly by now I just eyeball it.

A couple of tips-cook the beans until they start to blister, either dry frying or with a little bit of olive oil. Add the sauce at the very, very end, and you might want to pull the pan from the heat outright to add it. I’ve had a lot of scorched batches where the heat was too high and the sauce went up in smoke.

Garlicky Beans

(Eyeball the amounts. Start with around half a tablespoon of everything, with a lighter hand on the garlic)

Soy sauce

Dried (or minced fresh or pickled) garlic

Sesame oil

Sugar

Fish sauce (or oyster, or hoisin-to your taste, what you can find, or what you have in the house)

Green beans

Over high heat, fry-either skillet or wok-beans until they start to blister (see notes)

Mix sauce in a small bowl, remove beans from heat, and add all of sauce. Working fast, mix sauce into beans. You can return to heat for a very short time to let the sauce cook down but it does scorch, very quickly.

 

Rhys [On Doing Extreme Things,Impulsively]

rhys3

I shaved my head today.

Yes, completely.

Yes, buzzed it.

My hair went from middle to bottom of my back to fuzzy bald.

Unfortunately, my depression did terrible things to my drive this winter (I’ve mentioned in passing that getting into a beauty routine was one of the best things I’ve done for my sanity in a long time, and I’ve meant it) and the weather did the rest-the back of my head essentially dreaded to itself. There was no saving it. I knew for a long time that it was coming to this. [That was a very hard paragraph for me to write, but reading about people’s experiences with this on Reddit helped me immensely so if I can let one person know that it’s okay. these things happen, then I’m happy.]

So, not entirely on a whim and not entirely surprised, I had my sister shave my head for me this afternoon.

The first cut was the hardest but I’m surprisingly calm.

It’s a very decisive move-the people who love, really really love it and the people who hate it are vocal about hating it. But I veil in public most of the time anyway (part of the reason it took me so long to do it) so it’s not going to make that much of an impact on my social life.

How much of an impact did it have on me emotionally? I know that a lot of women put a lot of weight behind their hair. I’ve never been one to do that…it’s hair. It grows. So I never really had an emotional attachment to it, so going this extreme wasn’t that hard. I actually find it very freeing. I feel a lot lighter, and not just in the literal ‘I just shaved my waist length hair off’ sense.

Ultimately it’s just hair. It’ll grow back-which was the point, crop it and let it grow back healthier, because even if I managed to get it teased out it was going to be destroyed.

But do I recommend it? In a sense, yes. I want you to do the scary things. I want you to do the uncomfortable things. Because that’s how you make room for the new things.

And in the end it’s just hair. It grows back.

Edit: by request
image

Spring Berry Jam

stockpot

That, right there, is a picture of a beautiful thing.

My mom gave me a bright orange stock pot at Christmas to go with the rest of my orange kitchenware. She knew I was going to use it as a canner. It looked a little…off but I shrugged and put it aside.

I’m finally hitting the bottom of my ‘sandwich friendly’ jam-I’m not eating firestarter with peanut butter. I got the pot out, and realized what was funny looking about it is that it’s narrower than the rest of my pots (which means it fits enough on my completely functional, smaller burner that I can avoid the wonky larger burner) and what it lacks in width it makes up for in height-so I’m not flooding my stove at a full boil when I can pints.

So yes, welcome to canning season 2015.

*A berry recipe with a hint of vanilla. Add a splash or two of bourbon and let me know how it works out. I bet it would be lovely. I did use a full 2 quarts of berries-split between black, blue, and strawberry. Use what you can find. I bought berries when they were cheap at Aldis and froze them until I had time to pull them out and get them cooked down.

**This batch gave me  4 quarter pints and a half pint jar. Remember that water content, humidity, how long you let the fruit cook down, and other factors will impact output-but that was my jar count for a baseline.

Spring Berry Jam

2 quarts mixed berries (frozen is fine, or fresh that’s frozen until you have a full amount-I waited until berries went on sale at Aldis)

4 cups sugar

2 tablespoons vanilla (real, preferably, not imitation)

1/4 cup lemon juice (mainly for flavor, berries are acidic enough to can without it-but to ensure acidity, use bottled lemon juice)

In a large saucepan, bring fruit, sugar, vanilla, and lemon to a hard boil. After 10 minutes of boiling check for gel by placing a plate in the freezer. Place a small amount of jam on the plate and freeze for 30 seconds. When you can run your finger through the jam and it holds it shape without running together, it’s gelled.

Fill jars and process for 10 minutes using a boiling water canner. Or, you can freeze the jam for up to one year.

I did BWB process these jars. If you are not familiar with how to boiling water bath process food for canning, please make sure to read over a source like the Ball Blue Book or the National Center for Home Food Preservation. Canning is not particularly difficult, but it’s also not a process that you should take lightly. This recipe assumes you know the basics of boiling water bath canning. If you are not comfortable with canning, this recipe can be stored in the freezer for 1 year.

rhys2

Obligatory Rhys progress photo