VisibleBlue

Tutorial: Tablet Cozy November 17, 2012

Filed under: DIY — VisibleBlue @ 10:28 pm
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Our wedding anniversary was this week, and my dear husband got me a Nexus 7. (As well as a custom app that tells me how long we’ve been  married – 7 years, 4 days, 5 hours, 16 minutes, and 50 seconds as of this writing.) With a toddler in the house and a notoriously cluttered purse, I knew I needed a protective cover of some sort if it was to survive until our 8th anniversary. Enter the DIY tablet sleeve.

You’ll want a little more room for seam allowance on the side.

I’ve had some lovely, soft, green minky in my fabric collection for some time, earmarked for baby blankets but sadly neglected. I paired it up with a pair of scrap-pile flannel pajama pants. I wanted a little padding for the case, so I also grabbed some leftover thick fleece to go between the layers. You need very little fabric to make a sleeve for a small tablet like the Nexus 7 or iPad Mini, so scraps are great for this project. You will obviously need thread as well, and a closure of some sort and interfacing if you like.

The first thing you need to do is cut out your fabric. If you’re using a rotary cutter, you can cut all three layers at once. I was constrained by the width of my pajama legs (I wanted vertical stripes) so I had to cut it really close, but you can measure your tablet, double the width and add about an inch for seam allowance and ease, and add about a half inch to the height. For the Nexus 7, that’s about the size of a sheet of paper.  If you’d like to use a tab closure, cut a strip about 1 1/2 inches wide and 3 inches long from the lining, outer fabric, and interfacing. (I didn’t use interfacing, but I wish I would have. This tab will take some abuse.)

Stack order and orientation

Stack the three pieces of fabric that will compose the body in this order: padding on the bottom, lining (RIGHT side up) next, and outer fabric (WRONG side up) on top. If you’re using snaps like I did, you will want to put the snap on the body at this time, before you make any stitches. This way, you can put it only through the outer fabric and avoid having the hard back rubbing against the screen of your tablet.  Put your tablet on the fabric and fold it over to determine where the center (and thus the snap) will need to go.  Don’t forget to account for seam allowance along the top! Make sure to position the snap with the business side down, like in the picture. If you’re using a magnetic or hook and loop closure, you can do those the same way. (Curious where I got these snaps? I’ve ordered from http://www.kamsnaps.com/ and have always been happy with my experience. If you’d like a referral to be used toward a future purchase, let me know in the comments!)

Topstitch it if you’re good at that sort of thing – I’m not, but I did it anyway.

You will also need to make the tab at this time. Fuse the interfacing to the back of one of the pieces. You can add the other half of the closure at this time, if you want it to be invisible, or wait until everything else is done in order to line them up exactly how you’d like. With right sides together, sew close to the edges on the two long sides and the top. You can make this a curved edge or leave it square. Trim the seam allowance to make it easier to turn and less bulky. Turn the tab inside out and press. I chose to topstitch, mostly because I didn’t want to iron, but that’s optional.

Brought to you by a litre of beer.

Put the tab on the opposite side of your snap, open end matched up with the top of your fabric stack, between the outer and inner fabric layers, with the side you want to face out (contrasting lining for me) facing up. Unfortunately, we went for beer and brats in the middle of this project and when I came back and finished it, my photo-taking suffered. I blame Oktoberfest. Anyway, please refer to the graphic instead. Pin the top edge and fold the outer fabric over, to make sure everything is properly placed and the tab has the correct side up. Unfold it if you’re happy!

Top edge and snap, seam allowance trimmed.

Stitch only the top edge. Trim the seam allowance. Fold the outer fabric over the seam, to encase the padding. Press the seam, and topstitch if desired. You’re almost done! Lay the fabric flat, right (outer) side up. Place your tablet on one side and fold the other side over. Line it up vertically (do you want the top peeking out or hidden?) and pin around the tablet, making sure your closure is centered. Take out the tablet and sew up the side and bottom. Trim the seam allowances and clip the corners. Turn out the bag. Attach the other closure if you haven’t already.

There are a lot of ways to customize this case. You could add a pocket, appliqués, or even quilt the fabric after stitching the top edge. Make a flap or use a zipper  instead of a tab to keep it closed. Add a little charging port. This is a great way to upcycle old clothes – I’m planning on making another from old felted cashmere sweaters. Whatever you use, make sure to use something soft to go against the screen – bonus points if you can use it to clean the screen!

 

Square Foot Gardening – Post Mortem November 1, 2012

Filed under: Food,Gardening — VisibleBlue @ 10:29 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Last weekend, Hurricane Sandy brought a cold front through my neck of the woods, and with it, an end to my gardening season. Sure, I still have a few squares of lettuce and the kale and nasturtium are going strong, but pulling down yards and yards of (still flowering!) tomato plants broke my heart. Still, with the end of one season comes the planning of the next, so here’s what worked and didn’t work for me, and what I’ll do differently for next year.

For the record, I live in zone 6a.

Garden, late June. You can see the tomatoes on the left side, already at the top of the trellis, and pumpkin on the right side, already invading the neighbor’s yard.

General setup: Two 3′ by 4′ boxes, each 6″ deep, filled with the Mel’s Mix recipe. Two 4′ by 6′ trellises, on the east side of the boxes, against a fence. (I know, I know, horrible placement for a garden, but I have a small yard in the city, and not a lot of choice on where to locate!) I did not add fertilizer or anything other than water throughout the season. When replanting squares, I replenished with compost.

Spring Planting: 

  • 2 squares red onions (variety unknown) – 30 small-medium sized onions harvested. Next year I will do a smaller variety or plant the larger ones 9 to a square, as well as plant a sweeter yellow variety.
  • 2 squares ‘Super Sugar Snap’ peas – Harvested occasionally until hot weather, but never enough at one time for a side dish. Next year I will do at least 4 squares. Peas are my favorite!
  • 2 squares ‘Winterbor’ kale – Still going strong, in November, and nearly 3′ tall at this point! They have escaped the box and are annexing the sidewalk.
  • 2 squares ‘Short ‘n Sweet’ organic carrots – around 25 harvested.
  • 1 square ‘Salad Select’ spinach – A handful of leaves harvested. This was one of my bigger disappointments, and I’m not certain if it was lack of light or something else, but I will try at least one square next year.
  • 2 squares ‘Rainbow Blend’ microgreens – I never really ended up using these, but I could have harvested plenty…
  • 3 squares ‘Burpee’s Looseleaf Mixture’ lettuce – Very prolific, and I was able to harvest well into the hotter days of summer. I will do at least 2 squares of this next year.

Summer Planting:

100% garden-sourced salad.

  • 2 squares ‘Jewel Mix’ nasturtium – 50/50 results on this. One plant limped through the season, producing really weak foliage and just a few flowers, while the other plant did great and is still going. I’ll probably do these in containers next year, but it was nice to have some color in the garden beds.
  • 3 squares ‘Bush Blue Lake 274’ organic beans – These did horribly. The cucumber beetles devoured them and I never got a single bean. If I have some open squares next year I may try again, but these will not be a priority.
  • 2 squares unknown squash – One turned out to be a pumpkin, and the other never produced fruit. This was a fantastic example of why not to plant volunteer squash in a square foot garden, though. The two plants completely overtook my trellis, started in on the other trellis, ended up over the fence in my neighbor’s yard, and sprawled about 12 feet into the rest of my yard. We had every pest imaginable, including squash vine borers, cucumber beetles, squash beetles, and what I think was powdery mildew. It was a mess, but for my trouble I got 5 cute small pumpkins, which were actually fun to carve instead of the tedious giant ones we usually do at Halloween. These plants also completely blocked the light of the surrounding squares, essentially rendering that box unusable until fall.
  • 1 square basil – I only had one plant left after something ate the other four. It did okay, but didn’t get much light after being shadowed by enormous tomato plants.
  • 1 square cumin – Never sprouted (thanks, giant squash plant.)
  • 1 square dill – Ditto above.
  • 1 square serrano pepper – Harvested about 20 peppers. I probably would have been able to get more, but the plant produced one pepper, and didn’t flower anymore until after I harvested that one. I wish I had cut it sooner. The plant was still flowering when I pulled it over the weekend.
  • 1 square ‘Rose de Berne’ tomato – Least favorite of the tomatoes I planted. Harvested a handful around mid-summer, and just a few since then. I’ll pass on this one next year. Still, even the smallest and least prolific of my tomatoes was over 6′ tall and still flowering at the end of October.
  • 1 square ‘Valencia’ tomato – We loved this one, and got a lot of tomatoes off the plant. They look so pretty in a salad or salsa!
  • 1 square ‘German Johnson’ tomato – Very prolific, very HUGE. This one went all the way up the trellis, then folded over the top and went all the way back down, and started going up again! We got some nice fat tomatoes, at least 6″ in diameter, as well as some smaller ones.
  • 1 square ‘Sungold’ cherry tomatoes – Definitely my favorite garden item this year. I could not believe how big this plant got, and we’ve been swimming in cherry tomatoes since before the fourth of July! They are so juicy and sweet, my son ate handfuls every time we went outside.

Side view of garden in mid-July.

Autumn Planting:

has pretty much been a failure this year. Everything went in kind of late because I had to get rid of the squash first, and everything’s getting eaten up by animals of some sort. (I hope it’s not my dog!) Still, here’s what went in:

  • 2 squares carrots – Maybe I’ll see them next year?
  • 1 square looseleaf lettuce – 2 plants survived.
  • 1 square ‘Tom Thumb’ butterhead lettuce – Still holding out hope for this one.
  • 1 square spinach – Another miserable failure.
  • 2 squares (8 heads) hardneck garlic – So excited about this one! See you in 2013…

So what will change for next year? First of all, I plan on putting in 2 more boxes, on the other side of the yard. (Yes, next to a fence on the west side. Sigh.)

One 2′ x 4′ box will be only for tomatoes, and I’ll do a taller trellis (using the entire 10′ length of conduit, I think) perpendicular to the fence. I’ll be making this change for several reasons: first of all, the foliage of the tomatoes shaded everything in the box except the kale, which escaped onto the sidewalk. Secondly, 6′ was just too short for even the smallest tomato plant I grew this year! And orienting the trellis perpendicular to the fence will make harvesting easier – on a few occasions, I had to have my monkey-armed husband reach the tomatoes on the very inside of the plants. I need to be more careful with pinching the suckers – I was very good about it, until we had to abandon our house for a powerless week. When I came back, it had grown so much that I just gave up and let them go. I’d like to do 6-8 different plants next year, and add a paste-type tomato or two.

I will also be building one deeper box, for root vegetables. I really want to try growing potatoes next year! I’ll put the carrots and onions in there as well.

With the squash out of the picture, I’ll have room for cucumbers on my trellis. I grew a few of the ‘Homemade Pickles’ variety in a pot, but I’d like to see how they’d do in the SFG, with proper support. I also want a bell pepper plant (we got tons of these in the CSA this year, but we won’t be joining next summer) and possibly another chili pepper. I’ve also got  a whole list of herbs I’d like to try, though I’m not 100% sold on doing these in the boxes if I don’ t have room. Even though space is an issue for me in my yard, square foot gardening helps me to get a ton of different crops into the limited area I have!

 

Homemade Cookie Monster Costume, Part Deux October 23, 2012

I’m going to go ahead and post this without a proper finished project picture since we’re just a week away from Halloween right now, and some of you (slackers!) might still be looking for resources to help you craft a homemade Cookie Monster costume for a child. If you’re super short on time, just make the eyes and attach them to the hood of a blue sweatshirt, throw on some blue sweatpants, and you’re done!

You will need:

  • Pattern for jumpsuit-style costume with headpiece (I used Simplicity 2506 and modified it to suit my needs)

    Simplicity 2506

    Do you see Cookie Monster in here somewhere?

  • Blue or white shaggy faux fur in the amount the pattern calls for (for my 2T-wearing son, it was about 1 5/8 yard)
  • Notions, as per the pattern
  • Blue fabric dye for the fur, if it isn’t blue already (I used iDye Poly)
  • One set of googly eyes

I was able to find everything I needed (except the eyes) at my local Jo-Ann.

Major disclaimer before we begin – I did end up saving money by making the costume myself, but it was a huge investment of time and energy – don’t underestimate the value of your own time! It may not be worth it to save the extra $10-$20 when you need to put ten or more hours of work into the costume. (I’m a pretty amateur seamstress so your mileage will definitely vary on that estimate. You will need basic sewing skills and the ability to make sense of a pattern.) That said, I still enjoyed this project, and of course I’m happy to be able to say that I made it myself. My mom always made my Halloween costumes as a kid, and I’m glad that I can do the same for my son.

"After" picture of blue fur

Previously white fur after dying with blue iDye Poly

First things first – if your faux fur isn’t blue, you will need to dye it. Since it is probably polyester, nylon, or a blend, you won’t be able to use traditional (Rit) dye. I found some iDye Poly in the dye aisle of the store, picked up a blue pouch, and crossed my fingers. My faux fur was a long-pile, 60% polyester, 40% nylon white fabric, and the dye actually turned it the perfect shade of blue. You need to boil the fabric for up to an hour, however, and it is stinky, messy business. You will need a stainless steel pot big enough to boil the fabric – for me, that was a giant stock pot that we use to make beer. DO NOT let it boil over – you will end up with blue everything. I boiled the fabric for about 45 minutes. After rinsing it thoroughly  I washed it with a gentle cleanser and hung it to dry in my bathtub. If you need to clean up after – my stovetop and bathtub were a little blue, as well as the inside of the stock pot – Mr. Clean Magic Erasers seem to do a good job. My fabric ended up pretty warped at the selvedges unfortunately, but I was able to pull it into shape along the bias well enough to cut out the pattern.

After the fabric has completely dried, follow your pattern to make the jumpsuit portion. As I said above, I used the Simplicity 2506 pattern and modified it. I used the jumpsuit from style E without the tail, the headpiece from view A without the ears (which ended up being oddly small, and I will need to go back and fix,) and made the booties into spats, without the soles. I sewed a piece of elastic to the bottom to keep the toes of my son’s shoes covered. Make SURE to follow the nap of the fabric when you cut out the pattern pieces – otherwise, the fur won’t lie the same on all pieces, and it will look weird.

The final step is to attach the eyes. (If you missed the post on DIY googly eyes made from ping-pong balls, click here.) I used my Dremel to make two small holes in the bottom of each eyeball and sewed them to the headpiece with embroidery floss. They move around just the right amount when you walk! Now all you need to do is get your child to practice saying “OM NOM NOM!”

Finished Cookie Monster Costume

My husband suggested that this would make a great Cookie Monster-skin rug when Halloween is over.

It was 39 degrees and raining. Couldn’t get the head on while he was wearing the hood, but at least the dye stayed fast and he didn’t come home all blue!

 

DIY Googly (Cookie Monster) Eyes October 17, 2012

Filed under: DIY,Kids — VisibleBlue @ 4:41 pm
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As I’ve said before, my son is a little obsessed with Cookie Monster. Naturally, this was his choice for a Halloween costume. I could spend $45 and buy one, or I could try to make one myself! (Though I’m halfway through the project now, and thinking buying was the smarter option.) I’ll blog the rest of the project another day, but I wanted to hurry and get these eyes out there in case someone else needs to make them before Halloween.

*Part 2 of the project is available here now.*

These are super simple to make, and only a few items are needed:

  • Compass (the kind you use to draw circles)
  • Three white ping-pong balls (an extra or two if you want, in case of mistakes)
  • Craft knife
  • Black paint/paintbrush
  • Two tiny screws and appropriate screwdriver

Handy to have: sandpaper or a nail file and a vice to hold the ping pong ball as you are cutting, though I made do without.

Draw the circle

How did I keep my ping pong ball still? A jar opener and the container the balls came in!

Using the compass, draw a circle the size you want the pupil to be on one of the balls. The balls I used had graphics, but they were easy to avoid.

CAREFULLY cut around the circle with the craft knife. I shouldn’t need to say this, but

Cut out the circle.

For some reason the inside of the ping pong balls smelled awful, like mothballs!

obviously you’re using a very sharp instrument with a small and smooth object, so it’s really easy to slip. I suggest using something non-living to hold the ball firmly in place. After you remove the circle (this is now the pupil), you can sand the edges to make them smoother. I used a nail file.

Punch a hole OFF CENTER in the pupil. If your hole is dead center, the pupil won’t appear to move. The closer you get to the edge, the wilder the movement will be, but don’t put it so close that it’s structurally unsound. You’ll likely need to widen the hole so the pupil swings freely on the screw. You will also need to punch a hole in a fresh ping pong ball. I used the sharp end of my compass. If your balls have logos like mine did, make sure that the part you will attach to the costume (or whatever) will hide the logos, and place the pupil appropriately.

Attach the pupil

These tiny screws were left over from a computer build or something, but I imagine you could use the kind found in glasses.

Insert the screw into the hole you made in the pupil, and make sure it doesn’t stick when you shake it around. Then screw the pupil into the eyeball, stopping before you tighten it all the way (or the pupil won’t swing.) Shake it around again to make sure you’re happy with the movement. You may need to trim some from the pupil if it gets caught.

After the pupil moves like you want it to, unscrew it and paint it with black paint (I used acrylic Paint the pupilscraft paint.) Make sure not to paint the hole closed. You may need two coats. After it’s all dry, put the eyeball back together. You may want to paint the end of the screw to match the pupil.

That’s it! Attach the eyes however you want. I haven’t done it yet, but I plan on putting two holes in the bottom and sewing them on, or if I’m feeling particularly lazy, maybe I’ll just hot glue them.

Finished project

The more I look at this picture, the more creeped out I get.

 

 

Square Foot Gardening – a Revelation August 1, 2012

During the dead of winter I was at the library with my son, in the kid’s section. I spotted a book on the reshelving pile called Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholemew. Intrigued by the picture on the front, I picked it up and glanced through. I was impressed and curious about what I saw inside. I took it home with me and waited impatiently for the growing season to begin.

Square foot gardening is a re-engineered version of the traditional home garden. It has a few major tenets:

  • Gardens are built in raised boxes with a grid divided into one square foot sections
  • A special soil mix fills the boxes – you don’t use existing soil, which means you can put your garden anywhere you like, with minimal digging/weeding/etc.
  • The garden is located in an often-used part of your yard
  • You plant only the seeds you need, and store the rest for following years
  • Plants are grown in groups of 1, 4, 9, or 16 within the square divisions, not rows

Some of the major benefits of square foot gardening are space conservation (plants grow in 20% of the space required in a traditional bed garden), water conservation (only water the roots of your plant instead of the entire garden), easy upkeep (weeding takes very little time, and doesn’t need to be done often, since you’re using brand new soil), and natural crop rotation (when one square’s crop is done, replant with something else!)

I live in a fairly urban area, so my backyard is about the size of Buckingham Palace’s bathrooms. In past years, I tried to garden on the side of the house, but you know what they say – out of sight, out of mind – and by midseason, my garden would invariably be a tangle of weeds and crowded, sickly plants. Last year I attempted to do all my gardening in containers on the deck, but that failed even more miserably as I wasn’t able to keep them watered properly. I assumed gardening just wasn’t for me and that I would never grow more than a few tomato plants.

SFG Garden

Sorry for the cell phone picture!

When I decided to try SFG, I opted to put the boxes on a patch of weeds and bone-dry dirt between my neighbor’s fence and the path to our garage. Nothing would grow there anyway, and it was heavily trafficked, so it seemed like an ideal location. The area was almost exactly 3 feet deep, so I built two 3′ by 4′ boxes. The cost? Nothing, I just used some lumber we had sitting around in our garage. I’m no carpenter, but I was able to build the boxes in an afternoon mostly by myself (I needed a hand cutting the lumber to size.)

The soil, Mel’s Mix, is a blend of 1/3 each of vermiculite, peat moss, and compost. The vermiculite and peat moss I was able to buy at our local nursery, and we’ve been composting kitchen scraps for years, so I had no shortage of compost. You fill the boxes and affix some sort of grid to the top. I stapled mini-blind slats to the boxes to create my grid – each box held 12 1′ squares.

In addition, I built trellises for each box for vertical gardening. I made these out of electrical conduit, cut to size, and attached at the corners with some plastic plumbing parts. Each trellis was slid over rebar hammered into the ground, which both keeps them vertical and gives you the option to put the trellis away when it’s not in use. Finally, I tied nylon trellis net (available at garden centers) to the top and sides to form the trellis itself. These fixtures are extremely strong, and have held up in 70 mph+ winds. Here is a great video tutorial on building your trellis.

Now, we’re mid-summer, and here is a list of things I have successfully grown in just 24 square feet of previously unused yard space: kale (2 plants), basil, cilantro, peas (16 plants), carrots (2 squares), onions (2 squares), tomatoes (4 plants), nasturtium (2 plants), microgreens, green beans (3 squares), lettuce (3 squares), squash – but I’m not sure what kind yet, they were volunteers – pumpkin, maybe?, Serrano peppers, and spinach. The kale, tomatoes, and squash have done particularly well – my tomato plants are over 12′ tall, and just LOVE the trellis. I’m harvesting at least 20 cherry tomatoes a day off a single plant. The squash has sort of taken over – it covers the entire trellis and has moved on to the rest of the yard and is trying to annex my neighbor’s yard as well, so I have to keep it in check. At the moment I have about 6 empty squares just waiting for fall’s crops to go in.

If you’re interested, the best place to get started is Mel’s book, but there are lots of resources available online to help you, too. One excellent reference for plant spacing and other information specific to SFG is My Square Foot Garden. So, what I’m trying to say is that I can’t believe this gardening technique isn’t more popular. I haven’t even listed half the benefits – it’s amazing what a little fresh thinking has done to revolutionize what is a centuries-old process.

 

Jam Math, and a Recipe (Cherry-Berry Ginger Jam) July 31, 2012

Filed under: Food — VisibleBlue @ 1:28 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

A year or so ago, my mother-in-law gave me a bunch of canning jars and a canner that someone was trying to get rid of.  I found a new home for them on an empty shelf in my basement, and they’ve been there ever since. After all, I have a freezer, right? Can’t I just store everything in there?

Well, after a nasty weekend-plus-long power outage and a summer full of tasty berries from my CSA, I see the value in canning. I bought a few lids and gave myself a crash course in canning by cobbling together little tips I found all over the internet. One thing I noticed over and over again was the warning not to alter a jam recipe, or it won’t set. But that’s not my style! If I can’t personalize and experiment with my cooking, I’m just not interested.

Homemade Zesty Dill PicklesFeeling daunted, I started small with this Zesty Dill Pickle recipe I found. Technically, it doesn’t involve canning at all, but I did get to use the jars and lids. I haven’t tried them yet as they take a few weeks to pickle, but the brine smelled fantastic. (As fantastic as something that’s half vinegar can smell, anyway.) I did one batch of cucumbers and peppers and another of green beans.

After that, I decided to go ahead with the jam. Worst case scenario – a learning experience and lots of runny ice cream topping, that doesn’t sound so bad! I didn’t have a recipe to go off of specific to the fruit I had on hand, so I tried using a little math to find the sugar to fruit ratios myself.

First on the list of fruit that had to go – blueberries. After crushing them, I had about 2 cups of fruit, which was about 40% of the fruit required for the blueberry jam chart in the pectin box. 40% of the sugar in that recipe was 1.6c, so I wrote that number down and went on. I also had about 2 cups of crushed blackberries and raspberries, a little over 30% of the fruit called for in the raspberry jam chart. 30% of the sugar was 1.38c. At this point, I had 70% of the fruit accounted for, so I filled the last 30% with sweet cherries. 30% was 1.5c of cherries and .9c of sugar. Adding the sugar totals together produced about 3.88c of sugar, so I just rounded it to 4 cups even. I used grated fresh ginger as well as ground ginger to add a little more depth to the flavor, and a bit of lemon juice and zest.

At this point, I followed the directions in the box of pectin. (You can find those here if you need more detailed directions.) The process wasn’t difficult, just time consuming. The jam turned out great, but maybe a little sweet. It had a fairly firm set so I’m sure you could reduce the sugar by at least 1/4c, if not more, or use sour cherries instead. The ginger adds a nice bite to counteract some of the sweetness. This recipe made about 7.5 cups, so there’s a half-jar in my fridge that we’ve been enjoying!

Recipe:

  • 1 pint blackberriesCherry-Berry Ginger Jam
  • 1 pint raspberries (crush with blackberries to make 2 cups total)
  • 1 quart blueberries (crush to make 2 cups)
  • 2.5 cups sweet cherries (chopped in food processor to make 1.5c)
  • 4 cups sugar, divided
  • 1 box less/no sugar needed pectin
  • 1 inch grated fresh ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • half a small lemon, zested, plus a generous squeeze of juice

Combine crushed fruit, 1/4 cup sugar, and pectin in a large saucepot. Bring to a full boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Stir in remaining sugar, return to a full rolling boil, and boil exactly one minute. Remove from heat and skim foam if desired. Fill prepared jars to within 1/8 inch of the top, wipe the rims, and cover with two piece lids. Process in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes (at sea level.) Let stand 24 hours at room temperature.

I’m thrilled that the experiment worked out – here is the formula I used to arrive at this recipe, in a little clearer format than the rambling words above. The reason I needed to use the formula was because I wanted to make a full batch of jam with the whole box of pectin, but I didn’t have enough of any one fruit. This method requires that each original recipe uses the same amount and type of pectin (if any) as they are not interchangeable. I can’t guarantee it’ll work for every recipe, but it seemed to do the trick in this case! Sorry if this is unclear – as you can see, math is not my strong suit. Feel free to leave a comment with any questions and I’ll do my best to explain any confusing areas!  (Example in red.)

fruit on hand (crushed) / total fruit in original recipe = percentage of fruit 
--- do this for each fruit, until the percentages add up to 100%
2 cups raspberries (crushed) / 5 cups berries in original recipe = 0.4, or 40%; 
2 cups blueberries (crushed) / 6.5 cups berries in recipe = 0.31, or about 30%;
1.5 cups cherries (chopped) / 5 cups in recipe = 0.3, or 30%

sugar in original recipe * percentage of fruit = new sugar amount 
--- again, do this for each fruit you're using
raspberries: 4 cups sugar * 0.4 = 1.6 cups sugar;
blueberries: 4.5 cups sugar * 0.3 = 1.35 cups sugar;
cherries: 3 cups sugar * 0.3 = 0.9 cups sugar;

fruit 1 new sugar amount + fruit 2 new sugar amount + ... = total sugar
1.6 c (rasp) + 1.35 c (blue) + 0.9 c (cherries) = 3.85 c sugar total (I rounded up to 4)

 
 

Easy Summer Snack – Banana “Faux-yo” May 29, 2012

Filed under: Food — VisibleBlue @ 11:09 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,

A quick post for a quick treat – what do you do with your past-their-prime bananas in summer? It’s too hot for banana bread, so try this instead. The prep: peel your overripe bananas and wrap each banana individually in plastic wrap.  Freeze for 2-3 hours, or do what I do and store them in a bag or container in the freezer to be ready at any time.

Banana “Faux-yo”

  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1 6 oz. container Greek yogurt (any flavor is fine, but I like a simple vanilla)

Break the banana into 2-3 chunks and add to your blender. Spoon in the yogurt (pour extra liquid off the top if you’re not using Greek yogurt.) Blend! Look for a thick consistency like soft-serve frozen yogurt – you don’t want to turn it into a smoothie!

This recipe works better with an immersion blender – I just put everything into a cup, blend, and then I can eat it right away with a spoon. It’s great for kids, too – my son loves this as an afternoon snack. It is so similar to ice cream, you’ll feel like you’re cheating if you eat it for breakfast.