You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘canning’ tag.

So what has been going on the business world of Ellipsis? Well to be honest, lots of catching up mostly. 

Life has been more than hectic. There was a little bit there where I had three part time jobs, this was not conducive to running a business from home. I’ve acquired and sold quite a lot of books, but I am very behind on adding books to the various sites where I sell them. I have about 7 more boxes to add and I am currently hovering at just under 1,000 books for sale on Alibris. 

Many of the books I have yet to list online are vintage or antiquarian and need to photographed and listed on Ebay or Etsy or both! 

Yes I am now on Ebay! I am not consistently listing, but it is much easier than it was a few years ago when I tried it. It also seems to be less expensive, but maybe it’s that I have more money to throw around. Ebay is great for books/DVDs that I cannot list on Alibris. I am also selling non-media items that I am taking a commission on selling for clients. 

As far as jams and jellies go, I have been experimenting as time allows. I made a GingerGinger Peach White Tea Jam Peach White Tea Jam that is the bomb and I also made a classic Concord Grape that turned out quite nicely. In a week, I will be setting up a craft show. My aim is to sell out of the Winter Jams before Spring jumps into full bloom and I am drowning in violet blossoms. 

I am so excited about the garden this year! I dug the smaller bed into a larger bed about 8 feet longer. I bought fencing supplies to keep the rabbits (and my very rabbit like pug) out of the garden and I also bought tomato cages! I know it’s probably silly, but now that I have tomato cages I feel like a real gardener. Staking them up last year just did not work. They just kept falling down. Some of my cherry tomatoes were so full of tomatoes that the bamboo stakes they were tied to actually cracked and broke! Now this year they will be all caged and professional looking.

My compost also turned out gorgeous and a second bin is coming along nicely. I have seedlings all ready to go out and I’m planning a trip to the nursery soon. 

All in all, the business is doing great. I have 300 wedding favors (herbal teas) to package and ship out very soon (pictures will be coming). I am making money instead of loosing it, always a good sign. 

I am so excited for the new year, I am going to blog! It’s been a very long time, but I feel like I need to get back into it and also vent about how awesome 2012 ended up being.

This past year flew by me with the speed of light. Seriously I cannot believe it is over. Thinking back I am really quite happy with it. Ellimena turned two! She learned to count to five and some of her letters. She loves to read books and can name all the characters in Doctor Who. She says EXTERMINATE and makes the TARDIS sound! I am proud of my “nerd in training” She also makes her own scrambled eggs (with close supervision) and loved to be an independent yet loving human being. I am so proud of her.

Ellipsis has grown! I am now making the jams and jellies in a commercial kitchen at Ramona Sunny’s Bakery and Delicatessen in Galena. They are also for sale there and have been selling quite well. Jelly for sale at Ramona Sunny'sI am planning to approach other retailers in the area soon.

I made a great friend, Rachel O’Neil of Ayerish Designs. She does amazing knit-work and upcycled jewelery as well as sells vintage clothing. Rachel and I set up at craft shows together this holiday season. I’m looking forward to setting up at more in the Spring!

Business was great this past year. It is the first year I turned a significant profit. Not only did I run Ellipsis, but I also ran two other Etsy shops, Dodge Street Antiques and SisterCollective.Dodge Street is a place to vent all my vintage obsessions. I love vintage games and miniatures, but never indulge myself, now I can help others indulge themselves! SisterCollective is a collaboration between my sister and I. We create different forms of fiber art. Thea makes beautiful hemp jewelery with high end materials and I make needle felted wool sculptures and well as knitted items.

I want to really delve into fiber art and upcylclinNeedle felted owlg fabrics. I have loads of ideas for felting, I am becoming more of knitter, and my new sewing machine should be here soon (thanks mom) I bought a book on crocheting, The Happy Hooker, and I want to pick up that skill as well. I am so happy to be working in fiber again. I love tactile arts.

I am amazed and proud of my sister, her jewelery is beautiful.

Amber Piece with Troll Beads

Necklace with Shells and Blue Glass Charm

I worked my butt off this year, even with all three Etsy shops aside, I added 400 books to my Alibris shop and sold close to 200. I served on the steering committee for the Northwest Illinois Food Co-op and designed their website, maintained their Facebook, and set up their Paypal. Unfortunately it didn’t work out and the efforts were abandoned. I worked two part time jobs as a server in a restaurant and a clerk at a book store. Right at the end of the year I was blessed with a new job offer. I will start at the Galena Public Library as a Page this week. No longer will I be serving schnitzels and frites!

I am also very proud of my garden efforts! We put up the green house this summer and grew seedlings in it. I revamped the garden and even though we had a horrible drought, I think we did pretty well. I learned a lot about how to deal with drought conditions. This Spring I plan on extending the gardens and growing more fruit. Huckleberries and ground cherries as well as some other interesting varieties. And a big shout out to Rachel O’Neil! She allowed me access to her wonderful property where peaches, wild plums, apples,mulberries, pears, and pumpkins were to be had and they made delicious jams, jellies, and fruit butters.

Fortunately, the world didn’t end last week! Bring on 2013!

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!

Since it’s now 2012, I thought this would be a good time to write a blog. It’s time to collect my thoughts on the last year and put down my abstract ideas for the future into words. Over the last year I think I made more changes in my life than any since perhaps the year after I graduated high school ( a year in which I traveled to Kazakhstan, moved from Pensylvania to Orlando, Florida, attended college, and met the love of my life : ) )

In 2011, I celebrated my daughter’s first birthday, settled into our first house, learned to make jelly, started selling used books, planted a garden, worked in a restaurant, an ice cream parlor, and a bookstore, tried managing a restaurant only to discover I really don’t want to work in the restaurant industry at all, I learned what the word “terrior” means, I received a certificate in Web Design and started the advanced certificate, I made salsa from green tomatoes and how to cook celeriac, I traveled to Fairfield, IA and learned that the way I want to live is possible, and perhaps most monumentally I registered Ellipsis Books and More as a business, making me a small business owner!

Yes, it is still all online, but it’s doing so well! I am so happy with all my progress. The year 2011 was such an important year in my life because I figured out what I want to be and what I want to do and I am honestly on a path that could lead me to a place where I feel successful.

So with 2012 now upon us, what will I do? Well I will set up the greenhouse and make it into a little paradise of orchids, spices, and a dwarf citrus tree. I will plant a garden full of heirloom seeds and nearly extinct varieties. Using vertical techniques and forest gardening, I will create a biologically diverse and extremely productive micro-ecosystem in my backyard. My kitchen will become a testing ground for food preservation and organic cooking. Ellipsis will grow into the physical realm, through consignment. And I will take a vacation! A real vacation to somewhere exotic.

Bring on the new year! I am ready and willing and I will blog all the way through.

 

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 . . .

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

It’s been a while since I’ve posted. I’ve been hard at work remaking the Ellipsis logo to embody the mission statement, drying herbs, canning jelly and jam, and experimenting with baked goods.  The most exciting thing I’ve canned up is lavender jelly. It’s a beautiful pink color. There is something magical about jelly. I paired it with clotted cream and vanilla bean scones. Add a cup of tea and it’s perfection. The photo below shows the pink lavender jelly and the dark purple black raspberry jam on the vanilla bean scones with clotted cream.

Homeade Jelly and Scones

I still have plans for a borage mint jelly, a cherry jam, and a Queen Anne’s Lace jelly recipe I found that looks very intriguing. Also I dried some mint to make a mint tea and I’m coming up with a summer blend that I think will be a delicious iced tea. So far I’ve been able to grow everything myself or acquire it locally. It’s a good feeling to support local businesses while being as self sustaining as possible.  Soon I will have to figure out exactly what I’m doing for labels. The new logo is finished, but I’ve decided not to reveal it online until everything is ready to launch. There is also the issue of business licensing when selling food. I’m doing research on what Illinois requires.

How are all of you working to live sustainable lives? I would love to hear about it.

LED PhotogarphyAlso I’ve recently started selling my photography on Etsy to raise money toward Ellipsis. If you have any money to spare (the prints are $15 and $18) please help. The link to the Etsy shop is here.

LED Photography will not be my only fundraiser. I’m also working on and Indie Go Go campaign that should be very exciting! Keep an eye out for different ways to help. I know money is tight for everyone, but I really appreciate any support. This business idea means the world to me.

Another great way you could help me out is if you have any books you no longer want/need. I need to increase my stock by  . . . a lot. If you have any unwanted/unneeded books please let me know. A donation of books would be wonderful, but I will also buy them from you if you would like.

And a third way is to give me access to your gardens. I need herbs, fruits, and vegetables to make my teas, jams, and baked goods. And of course I need guinea pigs to try these things!

And spread the word! I don’t know where we are going to end up at this point, but I’m only giving the job search two more months before I just make a decision and start this thing. If you know anyone who would have any interest in this type of business in any way, please let them know I am working to get it started and all support is appreciated.

Thank you so much for the support I’ve already been given in all sorts of ways! Enjoy your day! Summer is fleeting . . .

Summer

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 347 other followers

Goodreads

Follow us on Twitter!!