Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Eye Candy -- Just Pictures of the Recent Creations!

All of these items are available at M Design Boutique!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Photo Documented Cherry Preserves - How I Made It!

Last weekend I made Cherry Preserves (or Jam or something...I don't know the difference between them to be perfectly honest). This recipe yields 5 or 6 half pints or 3 pints. I did half pints in some cute jars with checkered country style lids that look pretty and modern, but with a call back to way back when. 

I am not going to give the recipe here (unless by popular demand), as this is meant to show how the process looks for those of you considering making your own fresh canned jam/preserves!

The apples are just here to look pretty. So, you won't need apples for this recipe. I pitted all of these and it took a good long time, made a mess and was really fun (for the mess-makers out there).

The fruit, measured and washed.

The pitted and mashed cherries in the pot with sugar and pectin.

Simmering for awhile breaks down the fruit and blends it with the sweetener and pectin.

After some simmering, we now have the final product! Its that simple!

Sterilized Canning Jars. I boiled them for 10 minutes (the lids too).
Having the right tools will prevent contamination and burns! Do it the right way! Canning is science. Read up!

I prepared 6 half pint jars, but only 5 were needed. I got a little lazy with pitting the cherries and cut the recipe back slightly.

Pressed out air bubbles, fastened lids and then return the jars to boil for 15 minutes, covered with an inch of water. Remove from pot and place on wood or a towel to cool slowly. Any jar lids that don't seal properly should be re-canned or refridgerated and contents consumed within three weeks!
 There you have it! Stay tuned for my photo documented pickling! Coming soon!

Also...available soon in M Design Boutique, Canning Jar Candle Gift Set!
Warm Apple Pie, Sage Citrus, Maple Pumpkin Pie and Strawberries & Champagne

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Latest Happenings at MDB - Lots of Photos!

First off I MUST show off the first success of my new Food Candles. Not only do they smell like food...but you're going to have to take a really close look to figure out if they are real. I will allow my image to do the speaking.

The calender has turned into the Fall months and people are ordering lots of great pillar candles in Fall baking and spicy fragrances. My studio smells so comforting I have to resist the urge to take naps! 

Something about Sandalwood intermingling with Mulled Cider takes me back to my childhood in Colorado. In the Fall the whole neighborhood would go up to the mountains to chop down marked trees and load them on to our neighbor's large truck (he was a trucker and somehow could get a semi for us...talk about amazing fun for kids!). The large logs would be loaded on to the truck and then unloaded in front of our house at the bottom of our cul de sac and for weeks everyone got to chainsawing and chopping and splitting. 

It smelled so great and to this day I love the sound of a chainsaw off in the distance. Anyway...Fall is full of memories and comforts. Here are some of the beauties I've been working on.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

9/11 Ten Year Tribute

In the past week we have all been hearing so much about the ten year anniversary of 9/11. Seeing the footage and hearing all of the stories of hope and despair and human courage have brought my (and likely your) emotions about the event, the people and the United States to the surface.

9/11 was the first day of my life that I truly really wholly felt proud and so lucky to be American, in a whole new way. In the days following the horrible event, I drove from Oakland, California (where I lived at the time) to Los Angeles. I don't know if many people realize how much of California is farm land. Beautiful rolling acres where garlic, tomatoes, spinach, squash and everything else you can think of are grown. Just south of the Bay Area within an hour you can start to feel the middle America associated with the mid-west. It is alive and well between the Silicon Valley and Hollywood.

As I drove that day listening to radio coverage of the aftermath, I saw American flags everywhere. There were huge banners made from bed sheets stating "We Will Never Forget" and "USA" and so on. I grew up here in the US with all of the privileges of being a citizen...which I appreciated, but never to the core like I did that day. We are lucky. We are fragile as individuals. Our country is strong and standing on the shoulders of the people who built our buildings, highways, schools, justice system and all of the infrastructure that we don't think about until we are rocked by something like 9/11.

There are a lot of tributes, big and small happening around the US and the world to commemorate all that is 9/11.

I am a candle maker. It is my favorite form of art. So tonight I am working on the first of my two Twin Tower candles. These candles are a meditation on the massive loss of human life and the deep grief felt by the loved ones of those lost. I am making them in dark colors to represent the darkness of the day, both literally and figuratively. The dark wax will be in incense fragrances to represent the ceremony of loss and healing. Within the darkness, there will be bright, bold Fall colors to represent the time of year and the bright boldness of humanity that we all saw on our televisions, and are re-living through footage as the tenth anniversary comes upon us. The fragrances of the colors will be of life. Apples ripening on the vine. Baking in the kitchen as the weather cools. Pumpkin Pie. It is just two candles, but it is my small tribute as I wish for the relief of the darkness of pain to be relieved by the flame of hope in the embers.

I wonder if everyone feels compelled to sit and take a moment to reflect like this.

I will post photos tomorrow when the Twin Tower Candle Tribute is completed, and ready to burn in memory of all that was lost on that terrible day.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Recipe of the Week: Potato Leek Soup

So it is after Labor Day now and here in New England we're having a rainy Tuesday. Yesterday my husband and I went to Shartner Farms and picked up some fresh produce. Knowing that it would be rainy today, I decided to get fresh veggies for Potato Leek Soup. Mike set up the bread machine to start in time for fresh bread to be ready for dinner. I am making a variation on a few recipes that I perused (as usual I can't just go by the recipe!).

I am slow-cooking this recipe, but it could be done more quickly in a regular stock pot over medium heat.

Here's what is in the pot:

  • Red and Russet Potatoes (cubed)
  • Two Celery Stalks cut into large, about 2 inch pieces (smaller if you're not slow-cooking)
  • Three cups of Carrots, cut into two inch sections and sliced horizontally (smaller if you're not slow-cooking)
  • Two Small Onions, carmelized  in a separate pan
  • Optional: I am adding two diced, sauteed chicken breasts
  • Four Leeks, sliced large (using only the white and light green parts)
  • Fresh Rosemary stalk (from my garden)
  • Fresh sage, chopped (from my garden)
  • Fresh ground pepper (to taste)
  • Dried Thyme (about a teaspoon)
  • Chicken broth and water to top of pot (use your judgement)

Once the potatoes are cooked, I will take about half of the broth, potatoes, celery and carrots and blend it in the food processor (you can use a blender if you want). Then add it back into the pot and continue cooking. If you like a creamier soup, you can add heavy cream, corn starch or even a little bit of flour to thicken it. At the end, I will add a pinch of salt at a time until the flavors of the other ingredients shine a bit more (you should let the salt bring out the other flavors rather than making the other stuff taste salty).

If we lived in San Francisco, we would make this a pretty thick soup and serve it in bread bowls. Because it would be silly to waste the opportunity to pair up sour dough and leek flavors. But since we're in New England, we're going to have this with some fresh bread machine bread. I will post that recipe in a later recipe of the week. We have a favorite that is by far the best we've tried.

Photos will be added to this post after we chow down!

Bon Appetit!