Welcome to Growbox Hill

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Monday, October 29, 2012

Check, done, and finished...

So, since I last tuned in...

Got the 2 pumpkins cooked up and pulped out. Roasted one, steamed the other. Hehehehe, used my new canning kettle as the steamer for my second pumpkin :) So I pureed up one pumpkin in the blender and ladled it into cheesecloth to drain overnight before putting it in dehydrator. I pureed the other one today. The first pumpkin filled 3 trays on the dehydrator- I want to keep the batches smallish since I want them to dry in a day. Got squashes roasting in the oven now.  I think I'm going to toast the leathers in the oven once they are all dry- give a nice toastiness to the stuff and make sure it's oober dry before pulverizing it.

Took all my berry goodness I picked up the other day and made up a batch of berry preserves. I really need to get my timing a bit better for getting all the stuff together and working at the same time. I had my water bath ready before the preserves. No biggie, it takes a while for that big kettle to heat up to a boil, and easy enough to hover it before kicking off the preserves. Though next time, I'm betting that heating that up would go faster if I had the whole thing at room temp instead of fridge temp. The recipe I used made 6 12oz jars of preserves- and yep, I thought it would only take 5 so I only prepped 5 jars. Good thing I could clean another jar quick and jar it up for the refrigerator. 

I used...
6 cups mashed berries. That's the measurement to put in the pot. I used 2- 16 containers of fresh strawberries, a 12 oz package of frozen mixed berries, and 12 oz macerated strawberries I had in the freezer from the last time I got fresh strawberries and didn't use them all up at once. Mashed it up with a potato masher. First I mashed the fresh strawberries- the whole bowl of them at once. Then I tossed in the mixed berries- mash again. Then I ladled in the macerated strawberries, and mashed one more time.
1 package of Sure Jell Pink Box pectin. It's the one that uses less sugar.
4 cups sugar- you divide off a quarter cup to mix with the Sure Jell first.

Bring berries and Sure Jell and sugar mix to a boil. Stir it a LOT.
Once at a boil, add in the rest of the sugar, in a fast stream while stirring.
Keep stirring pretty regularly till it comes to a boil.
Hit your timer for 60 seconds, and keep stirring the whole time.
Once your timer beeps, pull the pan off the burner.
You can finally slow down on the stirring! Now do it gently to help pile up the skum/foam, and keep working the bottom of the pan too.
Yeah, that is a crapton of stirring. But all that liquidy goodness can crisp up on the bottom pretty fast because you are working at high heat the whole time.
Can it up, boil it up. I used 15 minutes for 12 oz jars.
Already all 5 jars have popped. Lets just hope they continue to be like that in 24 hours. They are all already totally jelled up- top half is fruity chunky, bottom half is smooth jelly. Kind of cool. I shook them up as I was tightening the rings after the processing.. but it separated out anyway. 
Dehydrated a couple pounds each of frozen peas and fresh carrots. They are now jarred and on the shelf. Dried up a tray each of rosemary, sage, tarragon, winter savory, and marjoram.

Got the stuff to make birdseed ornaments.. really didn't feel like working on them today. I forgot the cornsyrup anyway for the ornaments. And I know it will go on sale along with flour soon with the winter holidays coming up. Baked up the pumpkin seeds I set to soak in the fridge last night instead. They are now dry, jarred, and on the shelf for the Halloween table. A couple cups of them :)
Made up a couple batches of bath salts. Figured I'd give those time to cure.  Keep your coffee cans if you can do so- Air them out for a while- or dedicate one to coffee scrbbions for this. You can use them to package up small collections of goodies, like pampering kits, goodie tins, whatever. I use the plastic ones a lot for bath salt curing. The cardboard ones are better for canning up presents. A quick trick for cleaning the cans before canning up is to use fabric softener sheets to really wipe out the inside of the can really well and help remove any seeped in traces of coffee. Do this after airing out for sure, you can if you want to before storing as well if you like.
Picked up some label tape on clearance at the closing Office Depot. Next time I'm out I might pick up a couple more rolls. The stuff is wonderful! Most of the ready sized labels weren't what I wanted for sealing and labeling the seed envelopes I'm doing up for garden in a box. And they were frigging expensive still- 20 bucks and I still would have needed to cut them in half to get them to work right. Or 3.50 for a 700 foot roll of tape, about an inch or two per label. Got all the seeds labeled. Got everything sorted out into favor amounts- I'm doing 20 each of those. I made the first test origami box, and I am not sure if I like it or not- used whole sheets of construction paper, and I think perhaps that will be too big.

Got half of the gardening stuff moved.. all the basket stuff and the hoses. I was able to take down the L-shaped gardenbench thing too. A noticeable difference in the space factor of the garage. Broke down a bunch of little box stuff and packed up a big ole block of burning for the (hopefully) holiday bonfire.
I decided not to mow anything. We are hitting into our first freezing temps overnight now, and I just don't want to do it. Also decided not to mark in the steps area yet. Sooner or later all of the forces will be in place with nice weather to set those things in. Just not right now.
Got another bottle return done, and picked up the jelly/leather sheets for the dehydrator. They were 2 packs for 5 bucks, not singly. So now I have an extra one. Still gonna see how I can sale off against that kind of price for the cut my own mesh plates. I wasn't too thrilled with the premade ones.

The Enchanted Bead is now on winter hours- will have to check in midweek about the square wire. Have to wait for some weekday hours midweek for the nursery tree action too.

Got the pillars top trussed and the floor completely backfilled on the Rosepetal Pavilion.  Got the scent into one geodesic ornament- not sure if it's really worth the bother of it though. did the preliminary gluing of the next one done.

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