Monday, December 31, 2012

My new toys!

The boy is napping (now he'll wake up just because I said it!) and I'm all set to play with my new toys! The sewing machine I gave myself for Christmas and the new sewing mat and cutter that was given to me from my inlaws, also for Christmas. Love it! :)

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas to all!

My boy's Christmas stocking that was finished late last night... Along with a more appropriately sized (huge) Santa sack!
Christmas morning was wonderful here, church at our local (St Canice's of Millthorpe) and then my boy (14mths) figured out what to do with all the wrapping!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Cheating at jam

I love making jam, especially at Christmas for presents. It solves my problem where I want to give a gift but I don't want to buy more junk that no one wants. Everyone loves jam, even if they don't really like to eat it there is so much more you can do with it eg. jam slice and there is nothing better than homemade jam. Since I moved to an area where I can buy berries locally and discovered how easy it is to make jam I just haven't been able to go back to the store bought stuff! 
So this year I've decided to make strawberry and strawberry and cherry jam. I haven't had a good track record with strawberry and cherry jams, never had a problem with marmalade or variations on blackberry or raspberry jams but strawberry and cherry don't have as much natural pectin and I've either made strawberry sauce or burnt cherry jam, neither are particularly nice! Since I've been pushed for time and making jam around a 1 year old is not the easiest task ( although Thomas the tank engine worked beautifully for whilst I was pouring hot jam into jars!) and I was using the tricky fruits, I decided to cheat. I always keep some jamsetta in the cupboard for emergencies but I decided to use it to make the jam. SO much easier! So if you are ready to give jam a go here are my recipes!

Strawberry jam
2kg strawberries (I bought frozen strawberries from my local berry farm)
2 granny smith apples pealed and grated (doesn't change flavour but adds pectin and bulk)
2kg sugar
1 lemon cut in half with seeds removed (more pectin and balances the flavour)
1 packet Fowlers VACOLA Jamsetta

Place clean glass jars in a low to medium oven, they need to be there for atleast 20 minutes to sterilize. You will know your jars are hot enough when you add your jam to it, the jam should boil slightly which also helps the jamming process.

Heat strawberries in very large pot slowly until defrosted. Add grated apple. I stewed them a bit as the strawberries were whole and I wanted them and the apple to break down. Once you add the sugar the fruit wont break down (much). Once the strawberries were a good consistency I squeezed the lemon into the fruit and added the entire lemon to the fruit. After that add the sugar. Heat until sugar dissolves  Then bring jam mixture to a rolling boil for about 10 minutes. Since I had the Jamsetta in the jam I tested it regularly through that 10 minutes so that I didn't burn the jam and to see if it had jammed.

To test to see if the jam mixture has jammed, you are supposed to drop spoonfuls of the jam onto chilled plates or into the fridge and leave for a bit to see if it has jammed. It has jammed if you can run your finger through the jam and it resists flowing back together again. I've found that seeing how the jam runs off the spoon and how it acts on the plate when I take a sample gives me a very good idea of how the jamming process is going. Little risky but less fuss.

After 10 minutes (and I was satisfied that the jam had jammed) I turned the heat off, let the jam settle then brought it back to a rolling ball again, for luck. Once it reached a rolling boil again, turn it off. Remove any scum, seeds and the lemons.

Then place in your hot sterilized jars. 

Strawberry and Cherry Jam
1kg strawberries
1kg cherries (with stones removed)
2 lemons
2kg sugar
1 packet Fowlers VACOLA Jamsetta

Same method as for the strawberry jam.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Christmas tree quilting

I'm finally getting in the Christmas crafting spirit! This quilt has been a work in progress for two Christmases so far and I'm determined to finish it! It is from a Kellie Wulfsohn pattern and I've had the snowflakes done (raw edge appliqué) done for ages but the free motion quilting had been stalled! I've finally started and I wonder why it took me so long! My spirals are a little wonky but I'm happy with the overall effect. Here is a picture of my work in progress. Now I just need to order a few more good nights sleep from my 1 year old so I can finish it... Wish me luck!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Sleepy golden

It's a dog's life here! It's been a hard day, Mahler is enjoying his nap on the loungeroom floor.