Stocking the Shelves

Today: granola, cheese crackers, chocolate cake with buttercream frosting, yogurt, granola bars, and tomato cashew cream pasta.

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The crackers are from The Homemade Pantry, by Alana Chernila. I don’t own a lot of cookbooks, but this one is worth having.

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It’s eminently readable, and every recipe I’ve made from the book and Alana’s blog has been eminently eatable as well.

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Kissing the Blarney Stone

My dad told me stories. He told me stories of a boy who lived his whole life upside down, and stories of a pony named Tony. He told me stories of a child eating steaming-hot homemade applesauce in the kitchen and drinking ice-cold homemade root beer in the cellar.  He told me stories of girls just my age who found treasures under floorboards, and animals in my yard who loved classical music and poetry. He told me stories of collecting rainwater so his sister could wash her hair, and of being so shy that it pained him to be called on in class.

For the most part I knew which stories to believe, but sometimes the line between imagination and reality blurred. Some part of me may always believe my mother did really take my father, who couldn’t swim, out in a paddle boat and tell him if he didn’t marry her she’d dump him in the water.

grampa charles st circle for 30 years

And do I know for sure whether my Grampa, who directed traffic at the Charles Street Circle for 30 years and was known as The Smiling Irish Cop, was really the inspiration for Michael in Make Way for Ducklings? No, and I’d just as soon not. A  good story leaves a bit of space open so you can turn around in it, check it out from different directions, and make up your own mind what you see.

I Think I Can

It’ll come as no surprise that I enjoy a blog called Food in Jars. I haven’t gotten my hands on the author’s book yet, so I was excited to find a recipe from it (for Basic Tomato Salsa) on another blog I love, Eating From the Ground Up.

In her post introducing the recipe, Alana Chernila references an article from 2010 about the resurgence of home canning, and responds to some of the ideas presented. My own response to the article is this: Imagining we know what other peoples’ motivations are in doing anything is unwise. Disparaging people and the work they choose to do with terms like “self-congratulation”, “cultish hobby”, and “bloggable and boastworthy” based on those imaginings is not in good taste. And I’m all about good taste. It’s not the only reason I put Food in Jars or fill my Homemade Pantry, but it would be enough of one for me.

Recently Rowan and I read The Homeschool Liberation League. One of the interests of the main character is eating food that grows wild. I’ve been interested myself lately in learning more about what’s edible. There’s an amazing amount of food growing around us that we think of as weeds or ornamentation.

I always knew roses were edible, but I really didn’t know what to do with them. This weekend I tried out a recipe for rose petal jelly. I’ve made lots of preserves, but this was my first jelly. It’s a simple one to start with.

I used petals from the Rose of Sharon we inherited from whoever landscaped our pool area.







3-1/4 cup rose petals or any edible flower petals (be sure they have not been sprayed with anything you wouldn’t want to eat)

2 cups water

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup white grape juice

1 package powdered fruit pectin

3 cups sugar

1/4 cup rose petals

Remove bitter white nail of all the rose petals. Rinse petals and pat dry. Bring the 3-1/4 cups rose petals, water, and 1/2 cup sugar to a boil; reduce heat.

Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Let stand, covered, for several hours to overnight.

Strain syrup, discarding flowers.

Combine syrup, grape juice, and pectin in a saucepan; mix well. Bring to a boil. Boil for 1 minute, stirring occasionally. Add remaining 3 cups sugar; mix well. Bring to a full rolling boil that will not stir down. Boil for 1 minute; remove from heat.

Place remaining 1/4 cup rose petals into 4 hot sterilized 1/2 pint jars (or 2 pint jars, if you’re me). Ladle jelly into jars, leaving a 1/2-inch headspace; seal with 2-piece lids. Drape jars with a towel. Cool to room temperature and store in a cool place.

Yields 2 pints.

All of the color comes from the petals. The color leaches out of them very quickly when you first start to cook them. In the morning the syrup is a beautiful purple (the picture doesn’t do it justice), which lightens up to pink as you add the other ingredients. Most importantly – yum.

I’m reading Dragon Spear, by Jessica Day George. It’s the third in a series about a girl named Creel. Creel is a dressmaker, and (when not battling alongside dragons) designs elaborate embroidery patterns inspired by things she sees around her. Just reading about these designs makes me want to get myself a load of fabric and some floss, a notion that fades after I close the book and remember a needle in my hand usually winds up a needle in my hand.

I do like to imagine what Creel could do with these layers and colors and textures and lines, though.

We have been so busy and getting so much done and I haven’t taken any pictures to prove it. I keep thinking about it, but never at the right moment.

My mom and I are almost done refinishing the two tables for the studio/office/gunroom/atelier. We stripped them, a messy, sting-y project, and we’ve done two coats of poly. We’ll do the final coat tomorrow. Today she gave us some very pretty illustrations to hang in that room, which I’m excited about.

We’ve got the new garden ready for transplanting our 17 blueberry bushes. I think I’ll end up planting in the rain, based on the forecast for the next week. I’ll get wet, but the happiest plants I have are the ones I’ve planted in the rain, so that’s good.

Jon and I have been banished to our bedroom because Dagny and Andrew are filming some top-secret footage in the rest of the house. Jon is snoring loudly beside me. I’m going to read The Sisters Grimm, but forgive me, Rowan, if I inadvertently end up taking a nap instead.

What do you do when you get tagged by Kelli (who, by the way, knows just how much I love to have my picture taken under the best of circumstances) and you’re already in bed for the night, reading a book assigned by Rowan? (The latest Sisters Grimm book came out yesterday and Rowan was done with it by last night. I’m under strict instructions to read it asap.)


Aren’t I an obedient little thing?

Uncle Mo brought out his sketchpad and quickly, deftly, drew the dolphins leaping in the air. He said, “They remind you of being a child, with all that curiosity and energy. They remind you that this is what you could be, not what you should grow out of.”

~The Wanderer, by Sharon Creech

I tried posting this over at RUN, but I didn’t get any responses, so I thought I’d try here.

We ended up with two copies of a couple of books. We’d like to give away the extra copies, and we’re willing to mail them anywhere in the US or Canada. I’ll send them separately or together, to the first person who comments asking for either or both.

The first book is Where the Heart Is, by Billie Letts.


The second book is Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat, by Lynne Jonell.

Both are new and paperback.

I keep a list of books that I want to read. (Everyone does, right?) Here’s what’s on it today:

The Splendid Table’s How to Eat Supper, by Lynne Rossetto Kasper and Sally Swift

Villette, by Charlotte Bronte

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, by Anne Bronte



Where the Heart Is
, by Billie Letts



East of Eden
, by John Steinbeck



The New Moosewood Cookbook
, by Mollie Katzen

The Way of Zen, by Alan Watts

Funeral Rights, by Robert Larkins



Our Inner Ape
, by Frans de Waal

Natural Fashion: Tribal Decoration from Africa, by Hans Silvester

Square Foot Gardening, by Mel Bartholomew

Eat Me, by Kenny Shopsin



Still Life with Woodpecker
, by Tom Robbins

Rowan says this is the most boring post ever. Kind of shocking from someone who can get so, shall we say, ‘agitated’ about the fact that the next Sisters Grimm book isn’t out yet, but I forgive her.