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Carrot Cake for Breakfast

Since it’s almost time to make more. I opened up my last jar of Carrot Confit Jam. It is made with cardamom and lemon juice. On toast with cream cheese it tasted like carrot cake! Yum! In the Spring it will make it’s reappearance on Etsy.

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Jelly and Time Travel

Ellipsis Pineapple Mango Pepper Jelly with cream cheese on homemade sour dough bread my sister-in-law made, Yogi tea in a TARDIS mug. What a way to start the day! Getting up before the baby sure has is advantages. Peace and quiet, hello I do believe we’ve met before.

Over the last few weeks I have started numerous projects involving just learning how the processes work. Mostly fermentation as it’s useful in many ways. It’s also very well suited to my life. You just mix together certain (and usually very few) ingredients and let them sit until they are ready. While the fermentation is happening there is usually very little maintenance involved.

Sauerkraut FermentationSo what are these projects I’ve been working on? First I started sauerkraut. I purchased a very nice two gallon crock through Ace Hardware online, which they delivered to the store for free  then I just had to pick it up. Then I chopped the three heads of green and white cabbage I had acquired locally, added them to the crock in layers. In each layer I sprinkled canning salt and pushed the cabbage down with my fists to draw the water out of it. There was supposed to be enough water when I finished to cover the cabbage so here I mixed a little canning salt in water and poured it over the cabbage to cover. Then you put a plate that fits inside the crock on top and place a heavy weight on it. At first I used a pumpkin as a weight, but should have known that putting it in salty water slowing gaining acidity was a a bad idea. So now it has half gallon jar filled with water on top. Every couple of days you have to check on its “bloom.” Which is a really nice word for the mold that gathers on top. It kind of freaks me out, but the sauerkraut is protected by the salty brine and the rising acidity.

When the kraut is all fermented and ready to go, I will post about it again!

Sourdough Starter and My ScaleAlso I am creating a sourdough starter for bread. This process uses no added yeast. The flour and water are mixed together in a non-reactive container and agitated every day by pouring out half of the mixture and adding new flour and water. I pour into the compost, but you could also make new starters out of it for yourself or to pass on to friends. What happens by the agitation is the waking up of the naturally occurring yeasts in the flour and the air.

To make your own sourdough starter first acquire a couple of supplies. A kitchen scale is very useful. The recipe I use is measured in  grams. Also a non-reactive container. I use a Pyrex bowl with a lid. When you actually get your starter activated, you will need a colander or basket, some canvas, and a large bowl, but the actual baking will be another post. So all you have to do is mix 200 grams of unbleached white flour and 200 grams on water in your non-reactive container. Put a lid on it and set it on your counter. Every day you pour off about half of the mixture and mix in 100 grams of flour and 100 grams of water until it is active. Bam! In about a week, it will be bubbly, like you added yeast to it, and it will have a lovely sourdough smell.

Active Starter

 Soon I will post about experiences keeping it active and baking with it! I think it’s so exciting when you can make things happen, just with what nature has available. It may take a little longer, but isn’t what we need as a society is a sense of patience and a feeling of creation?

As I continually get more and more frustrated with the day to day humdrum of my “day jobs” –Yes plural jobs— the necessity for change becomes all the more clear. So I ask myself, what do I want? I want to garden. I want to become sustainable. I want to help others do the same. So working six days a week is not conducive to this goal. I must find a way to make Ellipsis successful enough online to be rid of at least one job. The search for possibilities is on.

I have been making progress of sorts. In December Ellipsis made a nice bit of money on Etsy. A lot of it is going to have to go into buying more supplies and labels however. A physical business is a necessity, business real estate in Galena is up in the 5 – 600,000’s however. Hmmmmm . . .

As for the gardening, I’m ordering tons of heirloom seeds from Seed Savers Exchange, based out of Decorah, Iowa. This summer I will have some very unique varieties and we are planning to greatly increase the size of our yields. Hopefully enough to have an excess to sell at Farmer’s Market along with jellies, pickles, and maybe some baked goods. Mostly I’ve been reading about soil types, compost, heirlooms, and seed saving. Also I’m trying to come up with the best things to start with in the greenhouse and how to best utilize our outdoor space.

Chamomile Apple Cinnamon JellyFinally I made a completely 100% natural pectin jelly! The Chamomile Apple Cinnamon is now totally natural. Apples contain strong natural pectin. Apple pectin is full of benefits including radiation cleansing properties. The jelly is awesome! So tasty with butter on whole wheat toast. Now I will be attempting to adjust all my recipes to work with apple juice heavy in pectin, it will be a complex procedure in which I waste a lot of ingredients!

I’ve also been blending some new herbal teas. January is Hot Tea Month and I’ve been Sage Teaexperimenting with different combinations. It’s so much fun to play with herbs I’ve harvested and dried from my own garden. I have a lot of ideas in mind, but my most recent to go up for sale is a sage blend. Pineapple sage and culinary sage blended is lovely and smooth with just a bit of fruity-ness. Sage is found most useful when combating anxiety and depression. You can read about the benefits of sage here. This is a whole leaf tea of course. When the leaves are crushed, they tend to loose a lot of their natural oils. Left whole they retain their flavors and benefits better.

Soon I will be posting some special Valentine’s Day jellies and more books of course. Currently I have a catalog of over 200 books posted on Alibris and quite a few very nice editions on Etsy, including a second edition Lord of the Rings Boxed set and a first edition of Louisa May Alcott’s “Jo’s Boys.” I also have a beautiful set of Pooh’s Library, on the very early printings – 1965. And of course I have some very interesting vintage offerings in my $2 and $5 bins!

Thank you again for your support!

Gift BundleEllipsis Books and More is finally actually more. In addition to my Alibris store. I now sell antiquarian and vintage books, herbal teas, and jams and jellies on Etsy. I make several varieties of jelly including lavender, white tea and pomegranate, earl grey, and peach butter. All of the produce and herbs I’m using are either grown by me or grown by another local farmer. I’m very proud of that fact!

I’m planning big things for the spring. Reading the book, Vertical Farms by Dickson Despommier and also Permaculture magazine, has really opened my eyes to growing more effective gardens. The idea of “forest gardening” in particular is something I would like to incorporate. It’s when a garden of food emulates how a forest is set up from the forest floor to the canopy.

The greenhouse is also something I really want to do a lot more with this coming season. Including some more tropical varities of fruits and spices.

Look for some different kind of jellies in the next few weeks and over the holiday season as well as more availability of the favorites for the holiday season. And don’t forget to check out Vintage Booksellipsis.alibrisstore.com for your holiday gift shopping. There are nearly 200 different titles listed and counting. If there is something you’ve been looking for, message me. I might have it! Or I may be able to get it at a lower price. Also Ellipsis is venturing in publishing a bit. Which is super exciting! Thank you everyone for your support. This is all becoming a reality!

So it’s the end of the season and you have a garden full of green tomatoes that you could allow to sit on your counter and redden. It will take a couple of weeks, but it will happen eventually. Or if you’re like me and ended up with dozens and dozens of little green cherry tomatoes, what do you do with them? Well there are quite a few things you could do. If you are also finding yourself with a load of cabbage, you could do chow chow, which is delish. Or you could do a relish, or some other kind of pickled green tomato thing. Or you could do what I did and make a salsa. I happened to have a lot of peppers and onions as well as tomatoes. It is very good! And it’s relatively easy, once you get everything chopped. This was quite a chore for me since I have dozens of little, tiny tomatoes.

This is the recipe I used:

5 lbs green tomatoes, chopped small (as you prefer for salsa)
6 yellow onions, chopped (4 cups)
3 jalapenos, chopped with seeds (1/2 cup)
4 large red bell peppers, chopped (2 cups)
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 cup lime juice1/2 cup vinegar1 tablespoon salt1/2 tablespoon cumin1 tablespoon dried oregano leaves2 teaspoons pepper1/4 teaspoon cayenne (optional, to taste)
1 -2 teaspoon sugar

Combine everything in a large pot, mixing well. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, and cook for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally. To continue canning, bring salsa to a boil.
Ladle salsa into hot sterile jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Wipe lids and jar edges clean before finger tightening lids and placing them back in the boiling canning pot.Process (boil) jars for 15 minutes. Remove carefully and let sit for 24 hours. Check lids for seal, and refrigerate any unsealed jars
I wish I would have added more peppers or more spice. It really didn’t turn out spicy enough for me, but it is still really good. I just spice it up right before using it.
Queen Anne's Lace Jelly

Queen Anne's Lace Jelly

On another note, Ellipsis Books and More is on Etsy with jams, jellies, teas, and antiquarian books. Vintage and handmade tea ware are coming soon! We will be doing gift baskets for Christmas. This is really, really exciting and I’m so happy to finally have this part of Ellipsis realized. Hopefully someday I will selling out of my very own physical store and farming sustainably on a large scale.

I’m reading this fantastic book called “Vertical Farming” by Dr. Dickson Polmmier. It is unbelievable what ideas are floating around right now. This man is purposing taking the farm directly to the cities by way of skyscrapers that use hydroponic techniques to produce food all year round. How cool is that? I would love to do that on a smaller scale in a smaller town also involving a small geodesic dome. When people start putting these plans into practice, them everyone else will realize that it’s not too late.

In order to preserve Summer’s bounty, I do many things. I can, freeze, and dry my way to a wonderful winter full of locally gathered and sourced ingredients.

Applesauce cooking

Making some applesauce!

Summer's Bounty

A small portion of my preserved food!

Another thing I do, that is probably the thing that most preserves the flavors of summer this.

Frozen Thai Basil

This is Thai Basil in the perfect state to throw into a curry later this winter. I love making these and freezing them. Mostly I do this with basils, parsley, cilantro, and fennel greens.

Blending
First I take all my fresh herbs from the garden (leaves only) and put them in my food processor. Then I put some water in and whiz it up, spoon it into an ice cube tray and put it in the freezer. Once it’s frozen pop out those delicious little cubes and put them in a freezer bag labeled as what they are.

This is a great way to preserve herbs. I throw them in soups and sauces for extra fresh flavor.

 

It was Summer last time I posted and now it is Fall! How time flies when progress is being made. My cabinet is bursting with dried herbs, tea blends, and canned jellies, jams, and pickles. I’ve designed Ellipsis’s new logo and ordered labels for all the teas and jellies. Also I’ve acquired quite a large backlog of books! New ones, old ones, good ones, better ones and they all have to be cataloged!

So things are moving along. Of course they would move along a lot faster if there was more money, but alas things are as they are.

There are some other very exciting developments happening, involving a book club and Etsy. Of course all good things come to those who wait patiently  . . . right? Well yes, but of course there is always hard work involved.

Check out Alibris for new books I am adding all the time!

Just plugging along as of late. After a couple of catastrophic canning attempts, I decided to take a break for a bit. There are still plans for Queen Anne’s Lace Jelly. I did make a test jar and it’s very good. I didn’t know at all what to expect, but it has a honey lemon taste to it. Very pleasant. I will be making a large batch. The borage mint jelly also turned out very good. The cherry jam on the other hand I overcooked. So it did not work out. Neither did my first attempt at Jardiniere, but not to fret. I figured what what I did wrong and will try again. I have about 4 1/2 pounds of Southern Illinois peaches that are awesome and will make a spectacular peach butter.

Also drying lots and lots of herbs for tea. I’m been procrastinating about making labels for the jars and tea tins. I’m just not entirely sure how I’m going to go about it. I’ve priced out a lot of online options and found that labels are expensive bordering on ludicrous. So I may be printing them from my own printer. I have to figure out which is more cost effective. I’ve also been compiling nutrition information. Quite an odious task.

The garden is doing fabulous. I believe I’m going to have more cucumbers than I know what do with. There is a lemon pickles recipe I found that sounds good . . .

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Some pictures of our progress. You might recognize the pot the ginger plant is in, but I bet you don’t recognize the plant! It’s grown so much in the damp humidity we’ve been getting. Also you’ll see one of our cucumbers and a cantaloupe. Cantaloupes are green before they grow the netting and become brown. And of course our little corn field. I’m pretty impressed with it, myself. It keeps falling over in the rains though. I’m trying to figure out a way to prop them up better and stimulate more root growth. They are growing ears! So they must be fine. I’ll just keep helping them stand back up after a storm I guess.

Oh my, life does move on with our without us, doesn’t it? Sometimes it’s hard to keep up, Keep calm and carry on, it’s the only thing that makes sense.

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