New Year New Projects!

Now that the holidays are finally winding down, I can finally share some of my works in progress. Many of these are presents from Christmas or projects I’ve had around and haven’t been able to do much about completing it.

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First up is my current list of  plants for my upcoming gardening bonanza. I was inspired a bit by the arrival of Jung Seeds & Plants book. I love flipping through the pages and seeing new and interesting seeds for sale. I am also a little bit more excited to start planning now because my boyfriend has agreed to build me a fancy raised garden bed this year. He also has given me run of the whole yard so I will be planting a lot. This also does not account for what I may also be able to plant at my Grandparent’s house this year, but I suspect it will be similar to last year’s arrangement, as well as the regular tending to the other plants already in their yard.

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I also have this adorable Woodland Creatures knitting kit! I actually got it a while ago but because I have never knitted before I’m a little nervous about starting it. The kit comes with a booklet of 12 patterns and vague-ish instructions for each creature. The kit only contains enough yarn for the fox and the doe. So I’ve been studying up on the language and techniques needed to get my cute little buddies assembled.

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This is my new diamond puzzle that my boyfriend got to me for Christmas. I haven’t had an oppertunity to work on it as I need to first flatten out the canvas. It should be flat enough in another few days to start working on it. I’m really excited because I’ve seen pictures of this particular puzzle in its completion and its really pretty.

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This is the pattern for my new cross stitch pattern. 2 years ago I had a really elaborate peacock cross stitch that I was diligently working on it for a year and a half before I realized I made a major error. As in the only way to fix it would be to undo almost half of the piece. Its been sitting in a box since then. So I recently got the urge to cross stitch again but I needed something new. The yellow in the pattern are the stitches I’ve already added to the cloth.

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Its looking pretty good so far. Its a lot slower progress than I’d like but I’m definitely not in a rush to finish this. I just get extra excited when it starts to look like something. lol

I have been researching for my next mythical creature, the manticore. I have several ideas but none have really been to my liking yet. I immediately think about one in an attack posebut I feel like its too ordinary. I’ve also thought about drawing one in a more restful/sleeping pose.  I’ll keep playing around with it more and we’ll see what turns out to be the best one. Any thoughts or suggestions are much appreciated!

I have also started to brain storm some ideas for a new banner and thumbnail icon for Katagi’s Kreations. I love my little dragon but I need something a little different. I really want soemthing that better portrays my blog’s theme.

 

Tomato Jam

Probably my last ripe tomato harvest for the season. I decided to go with a long term use of turning these tomatoes into a delicious tomato jam.

These guys are pretty big and at various stages or ripe. I somewhat followed a pintrest recipe because time and ingredients were an issue.

General basis of this recipe is chop up the tomatoes, throw the other ingredients into the pot and let it simmer. The original recipe said to simmer for 4-5 hours. I really dont have that kind of time to hover over a pot waiting for liquid to evaporate so I used a higher heat for a longer period of time before switching to a simmer.

This process helped evaporate a lot of the liquid quickly in under 30 minutes and without compromising texture too much. In the end I was able to get it all done in about 2.5 hours and boy is it tastey! Through some experimentation, we discovered that our favorite way to consume this jam is to replace it as the BBQ sauce on top of Meatloaf.


Tomato Jam

Ingredients

  • 4-5 large tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground corriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 4 (or more) Mason Jars w/lids

Directions

  1. Rinse and chop all tomatoes. I also removed all the seeds. Place chopped tomatoes into a medium stock pot on medium-high heat. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Stir frequently until the pot begins to boil. Reduce heat to medium and continue to stir frequently for 30-40 minutes. This help to evaporate the liquid faster. Once it begins to look a little thicker, reduce heat to medium-low and allow to simmer. Once the texture has thickened up to a jam-like consistency, remove from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes.
  2. Prepare and clean mason jars. Be sure to dry out all wetness from cleaning. Carefully transfer the jam into each mason jar. Allow to comletely cool before adding lid and refrigerating jars.

Its Pickling Time!

I finally had an opportunity to make some bread and butter pickles out of my Mexican Sour Gerhkin harvest.

I used a recipe that I found on pintrest and made a few alterations. For starters, I had to double the recipe for the amount of cucumbers I harvested. Due to availability, I could not get ahold of mustard seeds so I used ground mustard instead. I also did not submerge the jars into water to seal them.

The brine itself smelled so very yummy while it was simmering. Very aromatic! Since I did not want to locate, unbury, and clean the large canning pot I had to go with a refrigerator pickling method. After the brine was ready to come off the heat, I allowed it to cool.

After the brine was cooled it was time to fill and close the jars. 3 jars in total for this harvest and more are still growing.


Pickled Mexican Sour Gerhkins

Ingredients

  • Mexhican sour gerhkins, rinsed and cut in half
  • Kosher Salt
  • 1 Small Onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups Apple Cider Vinegar (5% acidity)
  • 1/2 cup Sugar, I used Cane Sugar
  • 1 tablespoon mustard seeds, I used ground mustard which requires another 1/2 tablespoon
  • 1 teaspoon celery seeds, add more or less to your liking
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground tumeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, add more or less to your liking

Directions

  1. Rinse off the mexican sour gerhkins. These can be pickled whole but I prefere to cut them all in half. Pat dry with a towel and place into a bowl filled with some kosher salt. This will help dry them out a little bit. Leave in bowl for an hour. Remove from bowl and rinse off excess salt. Add onion slices to cucumebr and set aside until ready.
  2. Add apple cider vinegar, sugar, and all spices in a sauce pan. Allow the brine to come to a boil over medium-low heat. Stirring occassionaly until all the sugar has been dissolved. Then remove from heat and allow to cool a little bit before pouring
  3. Clean and prepare the Mason jars. Then evenly distribute the gerhkin and onion mixture int each mason jar. After the Brine has cooled off a little bit carefully begin pouring the liquid into each mason jar. Each jar should be filled enough to submerge all the gerhkins and onions.
  4. Place clean lids piece onto jars and allow to refrigerate for at least 24 hours. This allows the flavor to get into the gerhkins and onions. Dont forget to give the jar a shake to redistribute the flavors.