Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Pickles! and Cherries!

Miss Abigail did her fair canning yesterday. I was personally glad that she was willing to repeat the 4-H canning project this year. (If Abigail were a Border Collie I would describe her as "biddable." She is so good to go along with all I ask her to do!) I felt that repeating the project would help solidify the skills that she learned last summer and help her feel confident that she could preserve food this way. She canned regular quick pickles and two kinds of pickled fruit. The pickled cantaloupe recipe was a repeat from last year. We tried pickling cherries just because we had cherries ready to can. The cantaloupe looks so pretty in the jar that she will exhibit that one. Here is the recipe for pickled cantaloupe, in case you want to try it.

Cut one just barely ripe cantaloupe into 1" pieces, as evenly square as possible. 7 cups of cantaloupe will fill three or four pint jars. (Abigail used a melon ball tool, just so that the fruit would look pretty in the jar. Because the judge doesn't open the jar, about the only way to gain points in a judging situation is to be exact on the headspace and to make things as pretty as you can!)

Combine 1 1/2 cups white vinegar and 1 cup water in a medium saucepan. Make a spice bag with 1 stick cinnamon, 1 teaspoon whole cloves, and 1/2 teaspoon whole allspice. Bring liquid to a boil. Reduce heat and let it simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add melon. Let stand about 2 hours. Add 2 1/4 cups sugar to the melon. Bring to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat; simmer until cantaloupe become slightly transparent. (Don't let this go on too long or the cantaloupe will become mushy!)

Begin to heat the water in the water bath canner. Prepare clean jars and heat these in the water canner. Heat the lids in a small saucepan to soften rings. Working quickly, one at a time, remove the jars from the canner and drain briefly. Pack the hot melon into the jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Ladle hot pickling liquid over melon, again leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Remove any air bubbles. Clean the rims and adjust the two piece lids.

Once all the jars are in the canner, make sure there is about 2 inches of water over top of the jars and bring the water to a full boil. Process the jars for 15 minutes, keeping the water boiling the whole time.

Allow the jars to cool and listen for the "pings" that tell you the jar has sealed. BTW, sometimes you won't hear the ping, but when the lid is fully concave, the jar is sealed. Wash the jars and clean the rings before storing in the cupboard (and certainly before exhibiting in the fair!)

On to the other pickles...

and cherries...

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Cute Summertime Outfit

Miss Abigail has had a VERY busy summer this year. It has been all I can do to keep up with her and get her where she needs to be, with what she needs to have, prepared to say what she needs to say! Mostly it all has to do with 4-H, which is a fabulous program and I love, love, LOVE it! But, this year seems to have been especially demanding for some reason. Maybe just because I'm getting older every year... Anyway, we are now in the middle of what we call the fair "crunch." Our county fair happens twelve days from now and we're on a serious deadline to get all the project exhibits finished.

For the Creative Touches 4-H project, Abigail used the celery rose printing technique to embellish a tee shirt. You might remember the tutorial on this technique. The top turned out so cute! She is really becoming skilled at this embellishing thing...

She also re-purposed a pair of too-short jeans by cutting them even shorter, creating a cuff, and adding a line of yo-yos on top of the stitched hem. Yo-yo's are one of the techniques Abigail has learned in this project. Abigail really liked the way everything turned out and wanted to wear it right away, which made me very happy. Then she added a little yo-yo bouquet to a denim  visor to accessorize the ensemble.

The whole outfit was then judged for construction technique and modeled in our District Fashion Revue contest. One nice thing about this project (and the contest) is that the outfit is now finished and ready for the county fair! One more item checked off the list. ;o)

Yes, the first place medals for the Creative Touches project are around Abigail's neck.
Her good friend Avery also won first place for her darling "Sew and Go" duffel bag.

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