Monday, October 25, 2010

What to do with all that pumpkin: Pumkin Brownies

A friend gave me an immature giant pumpkin that he had to harvest in our early frost.  Yesterday we cooked it up and strained the flesh and got 16 cups of pumpkin puree. 

I've been baking brownies to take to our HOME Group on Sunday nights cause brownies are one bowl quick and can be taken while still warm to a gathering.  So here's a twist for a brownie that is moist, sweet, chewy and almost healthy.

The key to really wonderful brownies -- besides chocolate -- is to under bake them so they are chewy, gooey inside and not over cooked on the outside.  

Joybilee Farm Pumpkin Brownies with white chocolate glaze

1 cup butter, softened
3 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups pureed pumpkin, canned or home made

Mix together and beat until smooth, incorporating lots of air.

2 cups to 2 1/2 cups of whole wheat or all purpose flour,

Mix gently until just blended.  It should be the consistency of muffin batter.
Fold in 1 cup broken pecan pieces or other nuts

Spoon into greased 7 x 10 pan.  Bake at 350F for 40 minutes or until firm but still moist in centre.  Don't over cook.

Melt 3 oz. white chocolate and 1 oz. semisweet chocolate in separate bowls.

Spoon and Spread white chocolate over brownie while still hot.  Then make criss cross lines by drizzling the semisweet chocolate over the white and running a knife through it to swirl it.  Sprinkle with Scor toffee pieces or broken pecans, if you like, for added crunch.

Serve warm or allow the top to harden and the brownie to cool completely before serving.  Will keep well in the fridge.  Brownies are great for mailing in care packages, too.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Fleece Lust

At the Slow Fiber Show in Summerland on the weekend there was a booth across from us with washed Romney Fleece -- coloured and white -- for sale.  It was the loveliest fleece from a coated flock.  The staples were 4 inches long, with excellent crimp and lustre.  Everything I love in a fleece.  And they were already washed.

Now you need to realize, I have a thousand lbs. of fleece, skirted, weighed and sitting on my deck ready to wash.  I have a wringer washing machine that is ready to hold the fleece in hot, hot water while it steeps.  I have bottles of Dawn and Simple Green ready to work at removing grease and dirt.  And I have 5 or 6 already washed fleece ready for the natural dye vats.  The wood stove is lit and ready to dry the fleece as they are washed.  In short everything is in place.  But I wanted those fleece.

They were just beautiful.  Were they different than the fleece I already have?   No, they were a little coarser, just a little mind you.  But the colours were, well, natural...vibrantly natural browns, greys and white.. like the fleece sitting here waiting to be washed.  Fleece lust...plain and simple...fleece lust.

Looking at all the lovely dyed rovings, merino tops, corridale and half breed from New Zealand that Andrea at Auralia has, I just admire the colours, bring home a few bags for specific projects but I don't lust.  I don't think about them when I am away from them, and long to run my fingers through their lock structure.  Or imagine separating the locks in my fingers and spinning them, as they are, from the fold, over my finger.  Fleece lust...

I didn't buy any of those other fleeces.  It would somehow be unfaithful and adulterous to caress another fleece while my own is sitting at home waiting for me.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Fabulous Felted Clothing

My new felting book, Felting Fashion, Creative and Inspirational techniques for feltmakers, by Lizzie Houghton, arrived yesterday and I'm very excited.

The jacket on the cover is enticing and inspirational.  The book covers regular felting, cobweb felt and nuno felt techniques, using both flat felt and 3D felt with a resist/template.  The colour combinations and textures on the garments are rich and invite you to stoke each one.  Ah, but they are only photographs.  The directions are thorough and invite you to get out your soap, water, wool and silk scraps and have a go.  From simple but inspirational broaches to funky hats, scarves, shawls and on to fitted jackets

I have a jacket in my closet that I get compliments everytime I wear it. It is made with a patchwork of velvet and satin fabrics in rich jewel tones.  It is loose and flowing and looks great on my voluptuous sillouette.  I have wanted to recreate this designer garment in felt but I wanted the patchwork look without actually having to sew together a bunch of squares of fabric.   I wanted the contrast in textures and the flowing lines.  This book tells me how to create exactly the feel and look I am after using nuno felt techniques and a resist.  Awesome.

If you love wearable art, wool and silk, felting and fiberart you need to read this inspiring book.

I can't wait for next week and my dye vats to begin to dye some of our fleece for the project.  And speaking of slow fashion....

This Saturday in Summerland we'll be at the first annual slow fiber festival being put on by the Desert Sage Spinners and Weavers in Summerland at the Youth Centre.  It is a festival about local fiber and local designers who are using local fiber for their creatons.  It is a brand new baby so there are sure to be some messes, but I'm looking forward to participating and giving some of our energy to the adventure.   On Saturday at 1pm and again at 3pm I'll be demonstrating flax/linen.  We'll have the artisan flax break for breaking the already retted flax and we'll be talking about the steps it takes from linen flower to final garment.  Come on out and enjoy the momentum.  It can only get better.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Bugs are ironed out and we are back on schedule

Well the bugs with the Satellite internet are getting ironed out.  Apparently we can download as much as we want between 11pm and 2am, so our updates are scheduled for that time period.  It could mean a few late nights to upload website updates.  Windows has been reined in to comply with our wishes regarding update times.  AVL is now loaded and up to date.

I`ve got a high quality web cam and speakers on order so that we can use Skype.  Did you know there are harp teachers who will teach harp lessons through Skype?  I was hoping to visit with my son and his family through Skype.  Most of the grand parents we know use Skype to visit with their grand children -- most of them weekly.  But I've been informed that they don't want to do that.  Its really sad for me.  But we're going to install it anyway.  Maybe my eldest son will hook up Skype and we can visit.  It will be a long time before I can travel to Vancouver again. 

So look for website updates coming soon to  I washed 3 white kid mohair fleeces yesterday.  Made our last batch of Joybilee Farm Hemp Rescue Remedy of 2010, used up the 2010 harvest of Balm of Gilead, and harvested 2 rows of potatoes, with Robin's help. The dehydrator is full of prune plums and white grapes.

The garden continued to produce even after the frost started.  I'm really happy about that.  We've had awesome broccoli, potatoes, chard, kale, and a few beauty radishes and cabbages. And finally we've had enough season that I'm sure we'll have carrots to harvest in a week.  The squash didn't produce but I bought some butternut squash from Mobetta Farms in Grand Forks, so we are good for winter.

A farm visitor brought some corn, grapes, apples and plums on Tuesday and invited us to come to their farm in Westbank after the Fiber show on Saturday and pick plums.  Our friends are bringing more apples and some pears back for us from Keremeos when they travel for Thanksgiving Weekend.  So by next week we should be good for winter fruit, have all our potatoes harvested and be getting the garden to bed for the winter.  I will still need to buy a bag of onions.

Robin had to cut down 7 trees for the satellite dishes path so once he's cut it all into stove lengths we'll have another cord of wood for winter, too.  Just 200 more bales of hay to bring home for winter.  The first 100 we got were dusty with mold so we have switched hay sources and are getting it from another farm, closer to home -- better quality -- lower price -- less time and this farm is helping Robin load it.

Homesteading is rewarding work.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Satellite internet

The satellite internet is in and working.  The new computer is empty, or so it seems with its 1 T. of memory and 6 gb of ram.  I downloaded firefox, malwarebytes and AVG and everything was going smoothly.  Sarah updated her AVG after almost 6 months and then the unthinkable happened.  Windows, all on its own, with no prompting from me, and without my permission, downloaded 28 updates and used all the available bandwidth -- 250 mb.  That exceeded our allowance for the day and we are down to less than dial up speeds -- actually its worse than that -- I can't even load blogspot on it.  Now it should be for just 10 hours -- the end of the first 24 hours on the satellite,  but instead it is for the next 24 hours -- how does that work?   

I can see that we will be curtailed on our internet usage considerably over the next two weeks while each of our 3 computers downloads the updates that are necessary to allow it to function optimally.  (I'm currently working at the 7 year old Gateway computer) It may be a month before I can actually get down to business with website upgrades.  So we'll keep the dial up for a month or two while everything get sorted out.

Our satellite internet provider is Xplornet, but we are hitchhiking on the Hughesnet satellite over Spokane.  We have a great connection -- its just the bandwidth that's a bit weird.  Also we don't have an email account yet.  Hope that comes in soon.  John, at the Source in Grand Forks, told us that we could download between 11pm and 3am without affecting our bandwidth limits but I haven't seen that in writing yet.  In fact I haven't seen the contract at all.

I'm not very high tech but I do try to learn what I need to know to keep our website useful to you.  Hopefully this learning curve, (actually it seems more like a mountain, with steep precipices and death-defying cliffs, along a narrow, curvy inclined road) will be surmounted soon and I can get on with business.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Satelite Internet and Joybilee Farm's Law of Acquisition

Telus dialup has been out since Thursday.  A cable was cut between Hope and Princeton that cut off dialup internet access to the Southern B.C. Interior.   Can you believe it?  One cable has silenced a huge part of the province and greatly curtailed our ability to update our website, blog, and facebook fans.  One day was manageable but when it stretched into 5, Robin had to go to the neighbor's, who wisely is on satellite internet, to check for business emails.  Then I went into Grand Forks yesterday, to check emails again.

Enough!  Today we are hooking up to Satellite internet.  Hopefully, that will mean more efficient website updates, greater blog-ability, and more striking Facebook entries.  My goodness, I will even be able to upload videos!  Hey, I will even be able to watch other people's videos on spinning, weaving, -- even harp playing.

And all while leaving the phone lines free to take your calls.  Nice.

To celebrate we purchased a brand new computer on the weekend.  The computer I am using right now is 7 years old.  It was time to upgrade.  But the old computer will still be in use.  The problem was that Robin needed the computer to do his HST returns, and keep the business books, while I needed the computer to update the blog, facebook and website.  And Sarah needed the computer to print out her school work.  Now there will be a choice of computers and hopefully a more efficient Joybilee Farm, and a calmer family atmosphere. 

Ok, if I could I would knit a computer, but it aint possible yet.  So I'll save the knitting for clothes and household textiles and spend the money on the computer.

Our new computer has an energy efficient LCD screen -- bigger than our old screen but uses only the power of a 60W light bulb.  Wow!  You could run this new computer on solar power.

And it was 1/3rd the price of our former computer.  What's with that?  The downside?  All the programs that we previously needed to run our business have to be bought again for the new computer -- for the most recent editions.  Hey, Microsoft Office costs more than the computer did. 

Joybilee Farm's Law of Acquisition:  For every acquisition, another acquisition must be made to use, protect or maintain the original acquisition . Carefully consider each acquisition that you bring into your life.  Don't be owned by that which you acquire.

See our website to learn more about Joybilee Farm, sustainable and ethical livestock husbandry and our natural dyes and eco-friendly wool, mohair, and angora fibers and yarns.  Farm fresh Goat's milk soap and herbal moisturizers and healing balms are made weekly.