Tequila pepper jelly on the left and margarita jelly on the right. Theme canning.
It’s been a busy few weeks here. I think the dog is feeling neglected because every time I turn around she has a sock in her mouth. It’s her way of acting out. “Love me!!” There is literally a trail of socks from my bedroom to the living room. I have extracted at least a dozen from her mouth this morning. Poor thing. When we are gone a lot, she seems to want to make sure we pay attention to her, no matter what. There will be puppy cuddles a little later today after I get some housework done. You know, the work that never gets finished, it just gets done? Yep. Laundry, cooking, driving my now 15 year old daughter to work, making jelly, ect, ect.
My tired puppy
My amazing baby girl turned 15 yesterday. It is crazy how quickly she has grown up into a terrific, thoughtful, compassionate, intelligent almost woman. Kind of freaks me out, to be honest. Only two more years, and she’ll graduate from high school and move on to university. Raising kids kind of feels like tobogganing. It’s a long, cold, hard climb to the top of the hill, but once you hit the teens, you are racing to the bottom, holding on for dear life and hoping not to fall off. The oldest is graduated and moved out, and my not so baby girl won’t be far behind. Thank goodness I still have a six year old. Still climbing the hill with that one.
My birthday girl, who doesn’t want her picture taken
So, Christmas markets. I had two to prepare for. One was at a seniors complex. I’ve done four there now and love them, they are so fun! The residents, staff and families seem to really enjoy them and we are getting to know the residents a little more each time we go. I started canning by 9am the day before, and pulled the last jar from the canner at 9:30pm. Crazy! Then it was time to start baking. Ugghh. I know. I’m insane. My big sellers are the giant ginger cookies, so I couldn’t not bake them. It was at 10pm when I discovered I was out of molasses. Not good. Can’t make my gingerbreads or my cookies without it. Here I am, texting my friend Cynthia, who does the cupcakes, asking for molasses. The good thing with us is that we do almost all the same markets and have been able to supply each other during late night baking sessions. She called me a few minutes later and said she was out, but had called her mother in law. Joyce lives almost next door to Cynthia, so off I raced down the road after 10pm to nab some molasses. It was a cool, clear night and after being in a hot steamy kitchen all day, it was a welcome respite to head outside in a t-shirt. Joyce was on her way to bed, but met me at the door with the prized molasses, for which I traded her a freshly bottled jar of apple cider jelly. Then it was off to the kitchen, where I baked until 3am.
Giant ginger cookies at the market
Up at 7:30am to get groceries, then come home, pack up, pick up my friend Monic the Dutch pie baker and head onto the highway for the hour drive to Riverview. And it was all worth it. This was a great market. Lots of Christmas shopping. I brought along some knitted items, as well as insoles and yarn from my brother’s alpaca farm. In exchange, I got to pick out whatever I wanted from his products. There is a selection of woven scarves that are to die for. So I now have one for me. And I love it! So soft and warm. I managed to do quite well for him, which made us both feel pretty good. A good day with lots of laughs, fun and a few dollars in my pocket for Christmas shopping.
Some of the lovely items my brother has to offer from his farm
However, not the case at our next market a few days later. I’ve never done a deader market. Six hours, maybe thirty people through. I made enough to pay for my table and gas, that’s it. C’est la vie. It’s the way it goes. But I was so tired, and it was really disappointing. The good news is I’m getting people dropping by the house for jam, and looking for gift baskets. So I’ve made a few this last week. And I’ve been busy making fruitcakes.
Nana’s dark fruitcakes
These are made from my Nana’s dark fruitcake recipe. Truly nothing like the stuff you get at the store. I actually like this fruitcake. A lot. I soak the fruit and nuts in brandy for at least a week, then bake it. I’ve had orders, so I’ve been working away at getting them done. They take three hours to bake, so I can only do so many at a time. I’ve got three more batches of fruit soaking, then that’s it for this year. But I’ll be keeping one for me to nibble on throughout the holidays. The best thing about fruitcake is that its like wine, it gets better with age. Hey, it’s quality control, right? That way I’ll know how the flavour profile changes from week to week for next year’s orders. Uh huh, I’ll keep on telling myself that.