August 24, 2010

Canning Peaches and Apricots


Last week, when my friend Caitlin and I were supposed to be preparing to go back to work, we were canning peaches and apricots instead. 


I have been canning for a few years and have always been told to can stone fruits in sugar syrup to preserve the them. However, peaches and apricots are actually acidic enough that you don’t have to use any sugar at all.

According to the OSU Extension Service “Sugar does not prevent spoilage in canned fruit, but adds sweetness and helps fruit hold its shape. It can be omitted safety. To can without sugar, replace any syrup required with water or fruit juice and follow regular processing methods and time.”

With this in mind, we decided to use a very light simple syrup.

You will need 10-30 lbs. of ripe fruit, jars (about 12 pints per 10lbs of fruit), lids, rings, sugar, 3 large kettles (one for sanitizing, one for syrup and one for blanching), a bowl for ice water and a water bath canner.  It is also helpful to have a wide-mouthed canning funnel and a magnetic lid grabber.


1. Sanitize the jars and lids in the dishwasher or process for 10 minutes in a pot of simmering water.

2. Fill a large water bath canner (big kettle with a canning rack) with enough water to cover the jars by 2 inches.  Bring the water to a boil.  It will take awhile.

3. Meanwhile, make a peach daiquiri the syrup.  In a large pot, bring water and sugar (we used a 1:8 sugar to water ratio) to a simmer.  You could also use juice or plain water.  Keep the liquid barely simmering until you are ready to use it. You may need to make multiple batches.

4. To peel the fruit, score the bottom of each piece of fruit with an X.  Blanch the fruit in boiling water for 30-60 seconds and then dip it in a bowl of ice water.  You should be able to easily slide the skin off with fingers.  If not, you can help it along with a parry knife.

5. Remove the pits and slice the fruit.  Pack it tightly into the hot, sanitized jars.


6. Fill jars with scalding hot syrup (or other liquid), leaving 1/2” of head space and top with a lid and a ring.


7. Process the jars in a water bath canner for 25 minutes. Remove the jars and allow them to cool.  Check to make sure all of the jars sealed (the lid shouldn’t flex when pressed).


For more information about canning fruit check out these sites:

OSU Extension Service

Ball Canning

Pick Your Own

August 20, 2010

Freezer Paper Stencil Flower T-Shirt


This technique is called freezer paper stenciling or “poor man’s screen printing”.  It’s easy, cheap and, best of all, you can now put anything you want on a T-shirt (or bag or hoody or pillow).  You boyfriend needs promotional T’s for his band? Done. Your kid wants a robot on her lunch bag? Done.

You will need freezer paper.  Make sure it says freezer paper and not wax or parchment paper on the box.  You can find it at most grocery stores.  Freezer paper has a waxy side and a paper side. The wax sticks to your shirt, keeping paint from seeping under the stencil.

You will also need fabric paint or acrylic paint with textile medium to mix in and some small paint brushes.

First wash and dry your shirt without any fabric softener.  Slide a piece of cardboard inside the shirt that is big enough to cover the area you are going to paint. This will prevent adhesive or paint from bleeding through to the other side of the shirt.


Next, find and print a graphic that you like.  Trace it on to the freezer paper and cut it out.  Alternatively, you can use a Cricut, which is what I did. 

Lay the graphic out on the shirt, shiny side down. It might help to try the shirt on to see exactly where the shapes will lie, which is what I should have done.  Instead I eye-balled it and the graphic is too far towards the center of the shirt. Oh well.


Set your iron to medium-high heat and no steam.  Attach the graphics onto the shirt by pressing firmly with your iron for 15-30 seconds at a time until all of the edges are securely adhered.  Don’t go overboard and burn/melt your stencils.


While the graphics are cooling, prepare your paint.  I used acrylic craft paint mixed 2:1 with textile medium.  Make sure the cardboard insert is still under your graphics so that the paint doesn’t bleed through.  Carefully paint the graphics.  Make sure you don’t go over the edges because the paint is impossible to get out once it touches the fabric.


Let the paint dry and then put on another coat.  And another.  And another.  Because this shirt was dark, it took about 7 coats. On a light shirt you can get away with 1 or 2 coats. Once the paint is how you want it, let it dry and then carefully peel off the stencils.

Wait 24 hours.  I know, it’s hard.  Crank your iron back up, cover the graphics with a thin scrap of fabric and press to heat set your design.  Follow the directions on the paint you are using for exact times.


The graphics are permanent and can be washed and dried just like screen printing.

August 17, 2010

Faux Jadite


Can you spot the fake pieces? 

Jadite was produced from the 1930’s through the 1970’s by Fire King and a few other glassware companies.  As I’m sure you know, dishes that get used on a regular basis often end up broken, especially ones that have been around for awhile.  Jadite’s relative fragility coupled with Martha Stewart’s public adoration of it have made it spendy to collect. Some pieces go for $500 or more.

Being that I’m a new teacher and therefore on a tight budget, I decided to make some fake jadite to supplement my collection.  There are many tutorials on painting glass and, after trying a few of them and wasting a bunch of supplies, I found that regular acrylic craft paint worked the best.  When I used glass medium, as some tutorials suggested, it made the glass look wavy.  Latex (interior house paint) worked okay, but was too thick and made the glass look too opaque.  Plus it took FOREVER to dry. 

I bought clear glass containers at the dollar store – a shaker (like the kind for parmesan cheese), a sugar jar and salt and pepper shakers. 


After thoroughly washing and drying them, I squirted a little paint all the way around the inside of the rim of the container.  I let the paint drip down a bit and then used a brush to smooth it out. 


I turned them over on an egg carton to dry and the next day had four new lovely pieces of (fake) jadite.  The total cost was about $5, not including all of the test runs. 


Using glass pieces with screw on lids makes this project quick and easy.  You can use open containers or vases but you have to be careful to keep the excess paint wiped off of the rim as they dry.  If you are going to use an open vessel, it’s best to choose one with a narrow mouth to help keep the painted inside hidden.

Note: These are not food safe! No one wants to pick bits of green paint out of their dinner.

August 10, 2010

Thai Salmon Cakes


Last week I went salmon fishing with my grandpa and caught a few of these:


I had most of the fish smoked but saved a small coho to eat fresh.  After my boyfriend and I were both sick of eating it, I turned the leftovers into salmon cakes. 

If you know me, you know that I despise mayonnaise, which is the glue that holds most salmon cakes together.  So here is my sans-the-mayo, Asian version.


3 cups cooked salmon, skin removed, finely flaked and picked over for bones

juice and zest of one lime

1 tsp pepper

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp Sriracha or other hot sauce

1 Tbs rice wine vinegar

1 Tbs soy sauce

1 tsp sesame oil

1 egg

3/4 cup panko crumbs + 2 cups for breading

1 small red bell pepper, seeds and stem removed and coarsely chopped

2 green onions

2 cloves of garlic

1/2 cup cilantro leaves, loosely packed

4 Tbs oil


In a medium bowl mix fish, lime, pepper, salt, Sriracha, vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, egg and 3/4 cup of the panko crumbs until well combined.

In a food processor, chop the bell pepper, onion, garlic and cilantro until very finely minced. Stir into the fish mixture.

Heat 2 Tbs of oil in a large frying pan over medium high heat.  Sprinkle remaining panko crumbs into a pie plate.  Form fish mixture into 2 1/2” patties and gently press into panko crumbs to coat both sides.

Cook patties, working in two batches, until brown and crispy on the outside and heated through, about 3 minutes on each side. Add additional oil between batches.

Serve with jalapeƱo jelly or sweet chili sauce.


These are great for entertaining because you can make them ahead and keep them warm in the oven.  You can also substitute other fish or finely chopped shrimp for the salmon. 

August 4, 2010

Cheap and Easy Art: Lichen and Fern Photos


I have a little point and shoot camera that is on its last leg but it has a really good macro setting.  It takes up close shots much better than my bigger, more expensive camera and so it often finds itself riding in a pocket when I’m venturing outside. 

Last spring I took some shots while I was running in a wooded area behind our house.  Yes, that was me with the camera shoved into my sports bra (TMI?).  I had the pictures printed at Costco, which is ridiculously cheap and easy.  If you have a Costco card and you’re not using their online photo service, you should be.  I bought some IKEA frames that come with plain, white mats and voila, instant art.

macroprints1 macroprints2


The top two photos of are of young, curled up fern fronds otherwise known as fiddle heads.  The bottom pictures are of lichen, a moss-like mix of fungus and a photosynthesizer like algae.  It comes in a myriad of colors from neon green to light blues.