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121  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / Blue Ribbon Sandwich Dill Pickles on: August 02, 2012 05:42:43 AM
I make my own pickles every year, and win bunches of ribbons at the county fair for them. Sandwich dill slices are my family's favorite.  Making and canning pickles isn't hard and doesn't require a bunch of fancy equipment. 



We grow our own cucumbers for pickling.  After trying a bunch of different varieties, the kind I like best is called Snow's Fancy Pickling Cucumbers if you are so inclined to grow your own next year.  You can get pickling cucumbers at the grocery store, as well as all the other ingredients. 



Here's everything you'll need; white vinegar, sugar, pickling salt, pickling spices, dill seed, mustard seed, hot peppers, garlic and bay leaves.  That's our bay laurel in the planter.  Besides the cucumbers and bay leaves, we also grow our own hot peppers, garlic and dill seed for this recipe. 



The first thing I do is sterilize my pint jars, bands and lids.  That's my pasta pot.  I put enough water in the pot for my jars to stand upright plus an inch or two and boil everything for 10 minutes.  You can reuse jars and bands, but it's important to use a new lid every time you can.



For the brine, I start with 1.5 tsp. of pickling spice tied up in a piece of cheesecloth.  That little bundle goes in a saucepan containing 2 cups of white vinegar, 2 cups of water, 1/4 cup of sugar and 1/4 cup of pickling salt.  You can use regular table salt if you want, but pickling salt makes the brine really clear (not cloudy). 



Simmer for 15 minutes.



While the brine is simmering, I take a spare pint jar and use it to measure where to cut the tops off of my cucumbers to make sure they will fit.  From here I will cut them into nice thick slices.



After the jars have sterilized for at least 10 minutes and the brine has simmered for at least 15 minutes, I fish a hot jar out of the pot with kitchen tongs and fill each one with a bay leaf, a fresh hot pepper, a peeled garlic clove, 1/4 tsp of mustard seeds and 1/4 tsp. of dill seeds.



I shove as many cucumber slices as I possibly can fit into each jar (they shrink a little during processing) then pour hot brine to fill the jar within 1/4 inch of the top.  For cucumbers of this size, I can fit approx. 2.5 into each jar.  If I've gotten brine on the very top of the jar I use a paper towel to wipe it off then top it with a sterile lid and band. 



Once all of my jars are ready to go, I put them back into the boiling water.  It's important that they are submerged with a least an inch of water over the tops of the jars.



They get processed for 10 minutes, then removed from the boiling water.  After 20 or 30 minutes, you'll hear the lids 'pop'.  As long as the lids pop, they are safe to store outside of the fridge until the jar is opened.  If for some reason one doesn't, just pop that jar in the fridge.  It takes about 2 weeks for the flavors to develop.



Here's an action shot!  I use this same recipe to make my own whole pickles and pickle relish.  If I have leftover brine, I store it in the fridge and heat it up the next time I have enough cucumbers to pickle.  Making pickles isn't difficult, I hope you'll give it a try!





122  HOME SWEET HOME / Interior Decorating: Completed Projects / Half Bath Renovation (Yay!) on: July 28, 2012 03:44:29 PM
My very first post on Craftster two years ago was our master bathroom renovation.  https://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=351200  We had always intended to update our guest half bath 'some day'.  It actually made it onto my list of 50 projects for 2012.  My husband got curious about whether there was hardwood floor under the ugly linoleum tile squares so he peeled the corner of one up and there sure was.  We got excited and pulled all the remaining tiles up then were not able to get the sticky linoleum glue residue up despite our best efforts.  'Some day' came early this year. 



After doing some research and speaking to a few wallpaper suppliers, we decided to paint over the country floral wallpaper.  We used an oil based primer then followed with a neutral gray paint/primer combo.  We opted for crown molding and wainscoting.  The flooring is a laminate.   

Here's the before


And here's how it looked on our first day of renovation.  The entire process took us just 9 days(!)  Unlike our master bath renovation, we did this one entirely by ourselves.  Tomorrow is construction clean up day, it will be nice to have our house back to normal. 


The only thing left is to decorate it with all the crafty artwork I've accumulated through Craftster swapping.  You know, the fun stuff!


123  COOKING / Vegetarian / Vegan / Roasted Cherry Peppers Stuffed With Goat Cheese And Basil on: July 18, 2012 05:58:30 PM
I'm always looking for ways to use our fresh goat cheese, and grew these peppers specifically to try something new.  They are called Alma Paprika peppers, not spicy at all.  It's the one on the left.  The ones on the right are incredibly spicy!  Any thick skinned cherry pepper you can find would do nicely for this recipe. 



I cut off the top and scooped out the seeds, then placed them in a baking pan.  I lined the inside of each pepper with a large fresh basil leaf then filled it with goat cheese.  You could definitely experiment with other cheeses.  I've also tried this with a chunk of parmesean and some fresh marjoram.



The last step is to drizzle the tops with olive oil then hit them with salt and pepper. 



Pop them into a 350 degree oven and bake for 35 to 40 minutes.  They are creamy and just plain yummy.  I serve them warm from the oven and the leftovers cold from the fridge. 

124  MORE ART, LESS CRAFT / More Art, Less Craft: Discussion and Questions / More Art, Less Craft 2012 Featured Projects on: July 11, 2012 01:55:22 PM
Thank you for your wonderful contributions to the More Art, Less Craft corner of the Craftster community!  Our Featured Projects were chosen by the Craftster community via the "this rocks" button and they do indeed rock!

"Fourty-two Cowboy Hats" - Rodeo Watercolor by UnRuli



Tree Collage
by dahlymama


Magic Mosaic by pottermouth


Some Pyrography work by lmcneil



Quilled Paper Art Mosaics
by littlecircles


Lap of Luxury - Tiger With Butterfly Wings by TheDaytimeHeroes


No, no, no! We Dare Not Marry!-- A Painting (Pic Fat!) by CraftyOctober



Jelly Bean painting by chek101


Flea Market Watercolor (my fifth one now) by UnRuli


Edna Scissorhands Painting -IMG HEAVY by LolliDiablo


Save Me - Detailed Painting of a Cheetah by TheDaytimeHeroes


"Alive," final piece in Sentient Machinery collection- lots of process pics!! by Phantome


A Classic is A Classic: Hedy Lamarr by stitchzBstitchz

125  HOME SWEET HOME / Crafty Housewares: Discussion and Questions / Meet Our 2Q2012 Home Sweet Home Featured Member - craftewoman! on: July 07, 2012 04:31:09 AM
We've been inspired by her artistic and clever solutions to home repairs.  We're pleased to announce the 2Q2012 Home Sweet Home featured member is craftewoman!


Your "Bone" replacement faucet handles are such a clever solution to a common problem.  What was the biggest challenge in making them?
https://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=410404
The biggest challenge was making them the same size and shape. I started with aluminum foil as an armature, and was able to get them the right shape and size, but then as I added the clay they became too long, and I had to cut off the already baked clay and reform and add to it. I think if I were to do it again, I'd sacrifice some of the clay and use it as a two part mold. Making them look like bone was the resolution to them being less than perfect in shape.



Your Legend of Zelda mural was an adorable surprise, how was it received?
https://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=397623
I am told by her brother that she screamed and laughed when she walked into the room. When I asked her about how she liked it her eyes lit up and she smiled, saying that she loved Zelda.



What advice would you give to someone contemplating painting a mural?
Make a smaller version of what you want to make on the wall first, and then use large pieces of paper to draw the main subject matter on and then transfer with carbon paper onto the wall. There is an easier option of using an overhead projector, but I didn't have one of those laying around!

Your arched doorway repair, From Pow to WOW!, is so pretty.  Where did you get the inspiration?
https://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=386474
I used Pinterest to pin several carvings that I liked, whether they were architectural features or just carvings. I stumbled upon an article about how to make polymer clay look like wood, and I had my answer. The "carvings" didn't have to be very detailed, and the cruder they were, the more convincing they were that they were actually carved from wood, rather than sculpted from clay.



What is your favorite project on Craftster that's made by someone else?
There are so many inspired artisans that display their work here that it's difficult to choose, but one that has always stood out in my mind was the tree corset.
https://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=156988.0

On what other Craftster boards can we find items that you've posted?
I make a lot of dolls, so, the dolls and toys board is filled with my work and even some patterns that I've shared. I also cook gluten free, so, the cooking board has some stuff.

126  HOME SWEET HOME / Exterior Decorating / Yard Art / Gardening: Completed Projects / Heirloom Tomatoes on: July 04, 2012 04:56:12 PM
We started seeds saved from last year's best tomato specimens the second week of January under lights.  They were potted up in our greenhouse in April then transplanted in May.  We're at peak season now, and really enjoying the fruits of our labor.  Smiley  They're surrounded by a batch of canned dill pickles on the left and some freshly picked shallots on the right.  I love summer!

127  JEWELRY AND TRINKETS / Trinkets and Jewelry: Completed Projects: General / Mosaic Pendant on: July 04, 2012 04:26:50 PM
I had the opportunity to learn a new craft this past weekend from HSG, our glass crafts board moderator.  She brought mosaic pendant supplies to a small Craftster moderator get together.  I've never worked with mosaics before and was very happy to learn!  I selected a few glass discs, some colorful shards and silver microbeads.  The decorative elements were glued into a pendant tray using E6000 and then sealed using a two part resin.  I fussed with my design for a good hour before I was satisfied with the placement and am happy with how it turned out.  It reminds me of the ocean.   Smiley

128  HOME SWEET HOME / Exterior Decorating / Yard Art / Gardening: Discussion and Questions / Great Garden Challenge 2012! Enter your garden now through August 31st! on: June 28, 2012 08:23:41 AM
The Great Garden Challenge is UP! Enter now through August 31st! https://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=413141.0


Hey everyone, make sure to get photos of your flowers, fruit, veggies and anything else you've got going in your garden this summer.  We're going to have a Great Garden challenge announced some time in July.   Smiley

129  HOME SWEET HOME / Exterior Decorating / Yard Art / Gardening: Discussion and Questions / Great Garden Challenge - 2012 on: June 27, 2012 05:53:59 PM
Start getting photos of your lovely flowers, vegetables, fruit, trees, etc. together.  We're going to host a great garden challenge in late July! 
130  HOME SWEET HOME / Exterior Decorating / Yard Art / Gardening: Completed Projects / Growing Mushrooms at Home on: June 22, 2012 11:02:02 AM
We've had shiitake mushroom logs for a few years now.  Once you get through the initial process of introducing the spores to your logs, they pretty much take care of themselves.  We purchased plug spores and drilled lots of holes in 3-4 foot lengths of dead white oak logs.  The spore plugs were inserted in the holes and then sealed with melted beeswax.  It took a year to get our first crop.



We keep the logs up off of the ground in a shady place by our back door where we can keep an eye on them.  My husband built them a swing of sorts under a bradford pear tree.



Once we notice the mushrooms sprouting, it takes about a week until they're ready to harvest.  These photos were taken a day apart across a few days to show how fast they grow.









This is our spring crop, we're expecting another in the fall.  They're a huge hit at our farmer's market and make a wonderful addition to risotto! 
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