Late night molasses run

2012-12-06 16.41.54

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 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

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

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

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

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.


Another week…..

I just came in from an hour of weeding in the garden.  Strangely, I find weeding addictive.  Feel free to throw things at me, I know it sounds bizarre.  When I was a kid and was sent out to weed the garden, I couldn’t wait to be finished and hated every second of it.  Maybe I get carried away now because as an adult I don’t get to spend a lot of time by myself doing something that my brain doesn’t need to think about.  Does that make sense?  I always feel like I’ve got so many balls in the air, I’m constantly thinking about what needs to be done and what I am doing (which is usually several things at a time.)  When I’m weeding, I’m just pulling stuff up and pulling more stuff up.  My brain is quiet, I’m quiet.  At night, I need to read, even just for a few minutes, in order to shut off the constant ticker tape in my head.  It’s like a few pages of someone else’s story helps me forget my own long enough to pass out.  No more grocery lists, to do lists, family schedules, ect.  Just me and that stupid blade of grass in the middle of my beets.  Weird, but I stand by my assertion that weeding can be therapeutic.

One of the many things I got to do this week was spend a day in the city with my husband and youngest son.  We went to the movies, out for dinner, and I did errands.  On the way home, we stopped at my brother’s house for a quick visit.  He was in the barn working on a trailer, my little nephew enjoying his sandbox.  My brother has alpacas.  They are such lovely animals, I like checking in with them when we visit.  And this time, there was a new baby!  This little boy (name pending) was only three days old.

The new baby boy in the field

But he’s not the only new baby at the farm.  This little guy is three weeks old.

Another new baby boy

He’s a little camera shy, I guess.  But hanging out with these guys is also one of those things that brings me a few minutes of quiet and a feeling of peaceful contentedness.  Kind of like weeding, minus the sore back at the end.

Week number two at the farmers market was good.  I had a much bigger booth this week, which was terrific.  Thanks to the couple who normally occupy it but offered it to me this week since they wouldn’t be there.  They have permanent shelving in their stall for the gift baskets they do.  And it was terrific for my display.

The big seller this week was strawberry margarita jam.  It’s amazing how excited people get when you tell them there is tequila in a jam.  Really.  Everyone who sampled it bought a jar.  That was a pretty good track record, I thought.  I have two jars left of the two batches I made.  So I’ll be off to the strawberry u-pick this week in order to do up a few more batches.  It’s probably the last week for strawberries, so I’m going to make it count.  Another item gaining in popularity is the lemon poppy-seed mini loaves.

Lemon poppy-seed mini loaves, still hot from the oven.

I put the lemon zest in the loaves, and then juiced the lemons to make the lemon syrup.  I basted these little babies for about an hour while I was making the strawberry margarita jam.  First I used a skewer to poke holes in them, then basted, then flipped them over, then basted.  Then flipped them back and basted.  And basted again.  They were well soaked with lemon syrup by the time the jam cooled.  There is one loaf left.  I think it would be great with a cup of tea right about now.  While I recuperate from all that weeding.