Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Studio 5: Canning Utah's Wild Fruit


There are a lot of comfort foods in the world... I'm sure you have yours. But for me a Peanut butter and jelly sandwich is tops. I thought the jam of choice would always be raspberry, that is, until my friend Heather gave me a jar of Crab Apple Jelly.

It has knocked raspberries off the pedestal! It rules! There is something about the tart sweetness of the Crab Apple Jelly combined with Peanut butter that makes my mouth water just thinking about it.

Throwing 6 cups of sugar on even the very best fruit may make it sweet but can often hide the natural flavors. I opt for low-sugar pectin recipes. It's the best of both worlds. Still sweet, but a little tart and full of that fresh fruit flavor. Not to mention lower in calories! 

You can find Crap Apples in every state, so it's not unique to Utah, but it highly under rated and largely left untended and ignored.

In fact, when you do locate a nice Crab Apple Tree, ask the owners permission to pick, but I'm almost positive they'll be happy you did!

I can tell you there is HUGE crab apple tree behind the Carl's Junior in Centerville.  Also one for the Walgreens in South Jordan.  Keep an eye out, you're bound to find them.  It's actually easiest to spot these trees once the fruit is ripe.  They will be bright red and hanging heavily on the tree.  The ripen between Mid-August and early September, depending on the weather.

Pick only unblemished fruit.  This will save you quite a bit of time cleaning and prepping them.  

The best way to extract the juice is with a juicer.  There are other, more laborious methods (you can read on the internet), but using a juicer makes super quick and less messy work of it all.  If you don't have a juice, you probably know someone who does.

The juice will have quite a bit of foam on top, skim this off.  Place in an airtight container and place in the fridge overnight.  In the morning it will have separated.  Heavier particulates will have dropped to the bottom. a little more foam on top and in between a gorgeous light pink Crab Apple juice.

Carefully skim off any remaining foam on top and then ladle off the clear juice.  Sometimes, if I disturbed the bottom part, I would just let it sit a while and it would separate again.


CrabApple Jelly

4 cups Crabapple juice (use juicer, need about 12 cups)
3 cups sugar
1 package low sugar pectin (or 3 Tbsp from the container) I used Ball brand

Pour four cups of the Crabapple juice into a pot.
Mix a quarter cup of the sugar and a package of low/no sugar pectin and add to the juice.
Bring the mixture to a full boil.  Add the remaining sugar and bring back to a full boil. Boil for one minute, stirring constantly.
Pour into six 8 oz jars.
Process in a boiling water bath for ten minutes.


Ball Jelly Maker Recipe instructions
{Because I did a Review on the Ball Jelly Maker, I've included these recipes as well}
 

Pour four cups of the crabapple juice into pot fitted with stirrer.  Make sure it is room temperature.  If it's cold, put in microwave for 1 minute or so to take the 'cool' off of it.

Sprinkle pectin over the juice and whisk a bit to dissolve (I have a rubber coated whisk to it won't hurt the Teflon coat.  If you don't have that you will want to whisk the pectin and juice in a bowl separately, then add to pot.)

Press JELLY button.  The cook time will automatically default to 25 minutes.  You can add up to 5 minutes manually if you want to).

Press ENTER

When the machine beeps (about 4 minutes in), slowly add sugar.

When timer is finished, skim off any foam and place in hot jars.  Process for 10 minutes.



Chokecherries


Last year, during labor day we were driving through the La Sal Mountains near Moab and came across a huge patch of Chokecherry bushes.



Unexpected, but thrilling!  We grabbed any bag we had in the car and picked until they were full. 



My husband processed them all at home and now we have a freezer full of syrup and jelly.

As appetizing as they look, you really can't eat Chokecherries as a fruit.  It'll dry your mouth out...hence the name.  However, add some sugar and you'll have a beautiful Garnet colored jelly and syrup that is a favorite in our house.  It still has a bit of that astringent taste to it, which makes it very unique.

Chokecherry Syrup
6 cups Chokecherry Juice (use extractor)
3 cups sugar

Add juice and sugar to large pot.  Stirring constantly, bring syrup to a rolling boil and let it boil for 1 full minute.  This will thicken your syrup… too long and it will be very thick…. not long enough and it’s too runny.  Test it.

Take syrup off the heat and add 1/2 tsp almost extract.  Skim off any foam from the surface.  Fill hot jars and process for 10 minutes (or freeze at this point).

Chokecherries are unique to the Rocky Mountains and can easily be found along roadsides.   They bloom clusters of small white flowers in the spring, which is a great way to locate the bushes ahead of time.  They ripen mid-August through Labor Day.

Prickly Pear Cactus
  
One of the few plants that has both fruit and vegetable on it.   The Nopales (green pads) can be pickled, or fried.  The fruit (or Tuna, as it's called in Mexico) is the beautiful juicy fruit that produces a unique flavor that is hard to describe.  Watermelon/berry is the closest I can get to a flavor, but even that doesn't really cover it.



There are hundreds of varieties of this plant, but all produce a beautiful 'cactus flower' in the spring (May) and is ready to harvest mid August through Labor Day.  It's a good idea to watch and check early in the season, as ripeness depends on moisture and heat.



The farther south you go in Utah, the large fruit you will be able to harvest, but we do have smaller fruit in our deserts (near Salt Lake City).

A hard plastic bucket and long pear of tongs is all you need to harvest.  Although I would recommend long pants and closed toed shoes as well (speaking from experience).

 The easiest way to get the juice from Prickly Pear Cactus is with a juice extractor.  Simply put the fruit in the basin, boil water underneath and watch the stunning Magenta colored juice pour out.  It makes a beautiful jelly but a delicious Lemonade as well.

Because we were too late in the season to get ripe fruit I ended up at one of the many Mexican grocery stores in Utah.  They'll carry the fruit (without spines!) towards the end of summer, which is it's season.  Prices range from .69 to .99 a lb.  Of course, you won't get the same satisfaction as finding your own, but it's good in a pinch! :)




Low Sugar Prickly Pear Jelly
 
4 cups prickly pear juice (requires approx. four pounds of fruit)
1/2 cup lemon juice
3 cups sugar
1 package low sugar pectin (or 3 Tbsp from the container) I used Ball brand


Pour four cups of the prickly pear juice into a pot and add a half cup of lemon juice.
Mix a quarter cup of the sugar and a package of low/no sugar pectin and add to the juice.
Bring the mixture to a full boil.  Add the remaining sugar and bring back to a full boil. Boil for one minute, stirring constantly.
Pour into six 8 oz jars.
Process in a boiling water bath for ten minutes.



Ball Jelly Maker Recipe instructions

Pour four cups of the Prickly Pear juice and Lemon Juice into pot fitted with stirrer.  Make sure it is room temperature.  If it's cold, put in microwave for 1 minute or so to take the 'cool' off of it.

Sprinkle pectin over the juice and whisk a bit to dissolve (I have a rubber coated whisk to it won't hurt the Teflon coat.  If you don't have that you will want to whisk the pectin and juice in a bowl separately, then add to pot.)

Press JELLY button.  The cook time will automatically default to 25 minutes.  You can add up to 5 minutes manually if you want to).

Press ENTER

When the machine beeps (about 4 minutes in), slowly add sugar.
When timer is finished, skim off any foam and place in hot jars.  Process for 10 minutes.





Prickly Pear Lemonade
 
A few years ago I did a segment on Cool, Creative Lemonades.


For this recipe, I followed my easy basic Lemon Simple Syrup (follow the link to get it).

1 part Lemon Simple Syrup
1 part Prickly Pear Juice
2 parts cold water
Ice

Enjoy!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Q's Creative Kit: Halloween Bags & Boxes

I can't believe it's taken me seven years (yes, seven this month!) to create a Halloween kit.

I've been in the US for 18 years now, you would think I would realize just how crazy popular this holiday is.

I had a lot of fun designing this kit.  I wanted to keep it playful, but it had to have a bit of  'creep' in it.  There are several interactive elements and so many little details.  

The kit comes complete with bags & boxes and everything is pre-cut and ready to assemble.  You'll receive a slideshow to make putting your kit together fun & easy.  Plus, you'll receive all the printables so you can easily duplicate for even more Halloween fun!


Halloween Bags & Boxes


Kits will begin shipping Sept. 25th.  After you add the kit to the shopping cart, go back and add shipping as well. 

What you'll need:

Adhesives: Your favorite tape to put cards together, foam squares and glue dots (mini, micro and craft) and scotch tape.

 
Tools: Scissors (long & fine-tipped), micro hole punch, Score tool (trimmer and bone folder).  Paper piercer. 


Misc: Distress "Frayed Burlap" Ink pad & Sponge.  Craft Mat (to work on), lid (to keep small pieces in), pencil.

Any questions?  Just email me








Q's Creative Card Class: Thankful Thoughts

Everything I love about Fall tucked into one class kit.  Texture, warm colors, layers, but most especially the call to count our blessings...it always makes me a little happier.

Four cards featuring a mix of vintage and modern designs with lots of little details like carved wooden buttons, burlap flowers and leaves, mini paper clips and more.

But the highlight is your little Gratitude book, a real keepsake.  Keep it handy (purse, nightstand) and write a little everyday.  When it's filled it becomes a treasure for years and generations to come.

Thankful Thoughts Cards & Keepsake Journal




Kits will begin shipping Sept. 25th.  After you add the kit to the shopping cart, go back and add shipping as well.  

Class Schedule (will bring kit to class if you're attending one, do not add shipping).

Monday, Oct. 6th        Sandy Hobby Lobby              2 - 4 pm
Tuesday, Oct. 7th       South Jordan Hobby Lobby     5:30 - 7:30 pm
Tuesday, Oct. 7th       South Jordan Hobby Lobby     5:30 - 7:30 pm
Wed., Oct. 8th           South Jordan Hobby Lobby     10am - noon
Wed., Oct. 8th           West Valley Hires Big H         6 - 8 pm
Thurs., Oct. 9th          American Fork Senior Center   6 - 8 pm
Friday, Oct. 10th         Layton Hobby Lobby             10am - noon
Friday, Oct. 10th         Layton Hobby Lobby             2 - 4pm
Friday, Oct. 10th         Layton Hobby Lobby             5:30 - 7:30 pm

*Note a change of location for West Jordan students.


What you'll need:

Adhesives: Your favorite tape to put cards together, foam squares and glue dots (mini, micro and craft) and scotch tape.

 
Tools: Scissors (long & fine-tipped), micro hole punch and Corner Rounder.  Paper piercer. 


Misc: Distress "Frayed Burlap" Ink pad & Sponge.  Craft Mat (to work on), lid (to keep small pieces in), pencil.

Any questions?  Just email me





Monday, September 1, 2014

Q's Creative Cruise: Eastern Caribbean 2015!


Announcing my 3rd Creative Card Cruise!

We've been to Mexico and Alaska...now it's time to enjoy Caribbean blue waters, sun, breezes and culture.

I am super excited about this cruise...I found the perfect itinerary, the perfect ship and the perfect classroom.

It's simply hard to top our last 2 cruises, we have had such a blast...the pressure is on!

Here's a quick look...



*Royal Caribbean - Navigator of the Seas.

*Cabins.  2 choices; Promenade & Balcony  

*Nov. 14 - 22nd, 2015 (eight-day cruise!) 
 
*Departure port: Fort Lauderdale 

*4 Ports; Labadee (private beach resort), San Juan, Puerto Rico, Basseterre, St. Kitts and Philipsburg, St. Maarten. 

*3 at-sea days with six creative classes!
 
·        Here are the details...

  Promenade Cabin
This is an awesome alternative to an interior cabin, and was only $40 more, so I only went with this kind.  It is larger than the interior cabins, plus, it has a window overlooking the promenade.  It is not noisy, I've been assured, but gives the room a more open feel.   My brother stayed in one of the cabins on a recent cruise and said it's a big improvement over an interior cabin.
Price $607.00 + $119.46 Taxes = $726.46

·         Balcony Cabin
There are very few 'ocean view' cabins on this ship, most have balconies.  These will be across from all our promenade cabins.  I've reserved a couple of triples (where 3 can stay in a room) and one handicap room.
Price $959.00 + $119.46 Taxes = $1078.46

Deposit due upon reservation: $250.   (balance due about Sept. 1/15)
Pay by check (email me for address) or for convenience, here is an online credit card option that reflects the fees incurred.
 
 

Deposit
(Use the drop-down menu to pay for a couple.)

Gratuities are $96 for the 8 days.

Approx. cost (promenade cabin)            *Flight, cruise, gratuity, Transport & classes $1650.
Approx. cost (Balcony cabin)                   *Flight, cruise, gratuity, Transport & classes $2000.

*price based on higher end.  You could probably save a little on a cheaper flight.




This is why I love cruising!  The math equals to about $200 a day.  For lodging, amazing food (all-day-long), service, entertainment, tropical ports of call, fun people and of course, a myriad of crafting classes!



Dates

Nov. 14 - 22, 2015.  This gives everyone a year+ to plan & save.  This is also a safer (hurricane season ending) time of year to travel and slightly cooler temps.




The good thing about our dates is that it is the week BEFORE Thanksgiving.  Generally, people will not want to travel that week, since they will likely travel the following week.  This should translate to better flight for us.  It is, I'm sure, a large part of why our rates on the cruise are so good.



Departure Port
 Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  This will be a nice & easy to navigate, as the dock (Port Everglades) is right next to the airport!  Despite being only a few minutes from each other, they still recommend planning on 45 minutes to allow for claim luggage and fill out forms at the terminal.  Fare from airport to dock will be between $15 and $18.

Optionally, you could also fly into Miami.  It is 30 minutes south.



The one tricky thing about Florida is finding a flight that gets you in before the ship leaves (5:30 pm, but they want you there 2 hours before, 3:30 pm).  I couldn't find any for 2014.  They haven't listed 2015 November flights yet.
Your options are getting in the day before and staying overnight in a hotel OR red-eye.

There are usually several red-eye flights, which will leave you tired, but this way you don't have to pay for a night's stay in a hotel.
Prices range from $350 - $500.  As to the best time to book flights, I found this article that explains it well. 

Ports of Call
Besides the typical (and fun) days of shopping and beaching, I've listed some other unique things to do in each port.

Labadee.  



I have been here before!  It's a beach day like no other!  White sand beaches, lots of fun and/or relaxation in Labadee.  Privately leased by Royal Caribbean, we have it all to ourselves!






San Juan, Puerto Rico


 Explore Old San Juan, the second-oldest European settlement in the New World. Ride to San Felipe El Morro, the most dramatic of all the city's military fortifications. Visit the Casa Blanca Museum & Gardens, the Ballaja Barracks, Quincentennial Square, San Jose Church, San Juan Cathedral, and Cristo Chapel.
OR
See BaƱo Grande, a natural swimming pool. Then take a walk on Camitillo Trail and look for the artificial nest of the Puerto Rican parrot and the flora and fauna of the Palo Colorado forest.

Basseterre, St. Kitts  


 Whether you're a history buff or just want to take in the scenery, be sure to visit the 350-year-old estate, Romney Manor, once owned by a British earl. The beautiful grounds include magnificent gardens, exotic plants and an amazing African Saman tree, which covers half an acre and is believed to be as old as the estate itself.
OR
  • Explore Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park. Climb to the top of the main hill to take in amazing views of St. Eustatius and Sandy Point Town.
  • Walk through Independence Square. Now a small public park, it was built in 1790 for slave auctions and council meetings.
  • Visit St. George's Cathedral. While originally christened Notre Dame in 1670 by the French, it was destroyed more than once and was most recently rebuilt in 1869 in typical Georgian style.
When the Spanish closed their colonial fort on St. Maarten in 1648, a few Dutch and French soldiers hid on the island and decided to share it. Soon after, the Netherlands and France signed a formal agreement to split St. Maarten in half, as it is today. Philipsburg displays its Dutch heritage in its architecture and landscaping. The island offers endless stretches of beach, beautiful landscapes and great shopping.
Admire the delicate nature and dazzling colors of hundreds of butterflies as you tour St. Maarten's popular Butterfly Farm
Tour the saltwater lagoons by kayak, and discover egrets, plovers, heron and pelicans.
Discover the undersea world of coral reefs and exotic fish as you take a snorkeling expedition through Shipwreck Cove.

Classes!
I'm happy to report we have a great BIG (1800 square feet, almost 3 times bigger than our ship in Alaska) classroom with desks aplenty.  I have it booked for the entire 8 days, so we can leave our work station and our supplies there!  You can access the classroom in the evening for catch up crafting, playing cards and games and whatever else you want.

We have 3 full days at seas, so we will have classes from 9-noon and 1-4.  That give us time to sleep in, have a nice breakfast, lunch and time to get ready for dinner at 5pm.

I've already been planning my classes and we have some fun surprises and new things to share with you all. 
Of course, we will have goodies bags, lots of prizes and a Grand prize or a Cricut expression and a 2nd prize of a Cricut Mini!
And of course, plan on our traditional Card swap on our last night together.

Much more info on this later!





Classes $300



Creative Cruise Class Package
Because I have to start planning, buying etc... far in advance, I must ask for a nonrefundable $50 deposit.  If you have to cancel at some point, you will still get a goodie bag and one class kit.
___________________________________________________________

Ok, that's it for now!  I'm not sure how I'm even going to wait a whole year before all this fun!  Hope you can join us!

To reserve your spot, just email me. 
You can mail the deposit, bring to class, or use the shopping cart here on my blog.
$250 (cruise deposit) + $50 (class deposit) = $300












 




 


 
 

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Studio 5: Card Maker's Cure
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