Archive for July, 2011

Cherry Pit Infused Brandy

So remember how I told you in yesterday’s Cherry Balsamic Shrub Syrup post to save your cherry pits? Well I hope you did, because we’re going to make a really delicious infused brandy with them. That’s right, two projects for the price of one!

It’s super simple because all you need are two things—cherry pits and brandy. Oh, and a jar to put it all in. I didn’t have tons of brandy, or cherry pits for that matter, so I just combined everything I had and it was the perfect ratio: a small handful of cherry pits per ½ C. brandy. The result: a slightly sweet and sort of almond-y liquor. Just like in my Almond Scented Apricot Jam, the pit lends great flavor to the final product.

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Sweet Cherry Balsamic Shrub Syrup

When we think preserving, we automatically think jams and pickles. I know I do. But preserving is much more than just canned goods. Beyond fruit jams and pickle preserving there is also dehydrating, fermenting, infusing, and the list goes on. It helps if you think of preserving as a process in which you extend the life of an otherwise short-lived piece of produce. I mean, that’s what we’re doing when we hot water bath can, right?

With that in mind, I’m going to take you on a journey into shrub land. It’s a journey I have never been on before, but have always wanted to try. The concept, like many preserving skills, is super old school and totally awesome. Plus it’s, like, super hot right now.

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Thrifty Tip Tuesday: DIY Produce Wash

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My CSA share is getting bigger and bigger by the week, which means lots and lots of produce washing. It’s funny, you’d think that straight from the farm would mean less cleaning, since everything’s local, organic, blah blah blah. But that’s really not the case. I find more dirt and critters in my CSA fruits and vegetables than I’ve ever seen in any produce at the grocery store. You don’t even want to know what I found in one of my peaches this past week… seriously.

Dirty veggies are totally fine, though, because it means that the produce is super fresh, and that the spider growing inside my peach (told you you didn’t want to know) wasn’t killed from pesticides. I can deal with the occasional bug if it means that I’m ultimately getting uncontaminated produce.

However, the task of cleaning vegetables can be a pain at times. So to make it easier, I decided to make my own produce wash out of some everyday kitchen products. Pick up a new, clean spray bottle (I got mine at the dollar store), fill it up with the mixture below, and keep it on your counter for squeaky clean vegetables every day.

What You’ll Need:

1 C. Water
3/4 C. Distilled white vinegar
1 Tbsp baking soda
1 Tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice

Place all your ingredients into a spray bottle and shake it up until well combined. Spray your produce and let it hang out for about 5-10 minutes. Then rinse everything under room temperature water.

Simple and cost effective!

Quick little FYI: Don’t use this sort of produce wash on fruits like berries—it will get into the fruit and make it funky tasting. But go wild on stone fruits, apples, etc.

Sea Salt Lemonade

It’s effing hot in this city of mine. New York is 104 today and I feel like I’m melting. I was so happy to come home to AC that has been continuously running for 3 days now that I did a little dance–after I changed into as little clothing as possible, that is. I know I’ve spoken about how much I loathe the hot weather before, so you can imagine what a rough week I’ve been having with the heat wave and all. Plus the first week home after vacation is never a picnic. But I somehow made it to Friday and that makes me really happy.

So in celebration of this disgustingly hot weather, I thought it appropriate to pull out my vintage lemonade pitcher and make a batch of Sea Salt Lemonade.

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White Nectarine Jam

I was walking home from work recently when I passed a fruit stand that was just overflowing with baskets of beautiful nectarines. At first they caught my eye… then they caught my nose. They looked gorgeously ripe, and perfumed the warm summer with their sweet scent. If you’ve ever smelled a ripe nectarine you know what I’m talking about. It’s almost floral, in a way, but just utterly spectacular.

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Thrifty Tip Tuesday: 5 Household Items with an Added Bonus

This week’s Thrifty Tip Tuesday is all about using common household items in unexpected ways. That’s right—after this, you may never be able to look at your bar of soap the same way again. Today I’ve got 5 thrifty tip minis for your homesteading pleasure. So sit back, read, and enjoy.

Coffee grinds: Believe it or not, freshly ground coffee can help draw foul smelling odors out of the home. Just place a good handful in a bowl and let them sit in a room for a week or so. You’ll be surprised at the work your morning cup o’ joe can do for your home. I find this especially helpful when I’m making my Black Onion Relish, since the scent seems to linger forEVER!

A bar of soap: Don’t forget to bring an extra bar of soap with you when spending time in the great outdoors. A dampened bar of soap makes a great insect anesthetic. Rub it on an itchy mosquito bite and the desire to scratch will subside considerably.

Peanut butter: Forget all the other useless hiccup tricks you’ve heard about. (Even if it worked, I know I wouldn’t be caught dead drinking a glass of water upside-down on my head.) This one is a sure thing. Swallow a spoonful of peanut butter and your hiccups will be gone instantly. I swear this works. You’ll believe me after a wild night of drinking, just try not to polish off the whole jar while you’re at it.

Olive oil: Hate trying to get every last drop of honey or corn syrup out of your measuring cups when baking? Spray a little olive oil, or swirl a few drops in a measuring cup before measuring out your sticky ingredients. It makes them slip out so much easier.

Table salt: Hate to clean that greasy cast iron pan? Put some salt on a damp paper towel. The salt will help draw the grease out of the pan while scouring it slightly and keeping it clean.

Got a thrifty tip of your own? Shoot me an e-mail at handjobsforthehome@gmail.com for a chance to be featured on the blog!

Craft Market Update!

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I’m back from vacation and man, that was relaxing. Alex and I have just returned to our cozy apartment and were greeted with big sloppy kisses from our pug Ira, and hugs from our house sitter and dear friend Blair (thank you again!). I don’t think I’ve ever been happier to see my little pup… until I had to walk up and down four flights of stairs to walk him later that day. Regardless, he’s been a real snuggle bug, and is showing how much he missed us by being super sweet and lovey–which I love, and is just what I needed to come down from a true vacation high.

On top of vacation being absolutely fabulous, the craft market went extremely well! I went in with 85 jars of canned goods and tons of marshmallows. I returned to New York with just 11 jars of jam. Not too shabby for a day’s worth of work. Of course, that’s not including the months of craziness I had to spend beforehand in preparation. Almost selling out was nice, but the real reward was meeting everyone that stopped by throughout the day. Then throughout the week, people began coming up to me on the street with concerned looks, asking how they could mail order more jam because they were already all out. There were so many people, in fact, that I think I’m going to need to get an Etsy store going with some jams, crafts, and other projects. Good idea, yes?

The tables at the market came draped with white linen, but I spiffed mine up with brown packing paper and adorned it with some pink gingham ribbon. It was super cute. It was also really great to meet some other male crafters, one of whom I absolutely adore–Greg Der Ananian–and his cross stitched dirty pillows. He also wrote a really fantastic book, Bazaar Bizarre, that I picked up too. All in all it was a lovely event and a lovely week.

So now that that’s over, I’m back to blogging, and I have some really fabulous projects lined up for ya’ll. I am back and more crafty than ever. So get excited!

Additionally, Handjobs is going to get a little facelift with a new layout and banner, so look forward to that as well.

Keep it crafty.

xoxo

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