eat! craft! live!

Baking, crafting, mama-ing and taking photos of it all. When I remember.

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No Spend 2019 – Jan/Feb update

So, now that it’s March, are you wondering how I did with my spending in January and February?

Probably not, but I’m going to tell you anyway.

It wasn’t until a little ways into January that I decided to be intentional about my spending this year, so there were a few purchases that slipped into the beginning of the month that I may not have made otherwise. (Some home stuff, a new [secondhand] dress, skincare products.)

Interestingly, my February spending on home improvement actually went up…by a fair amount. Oops! I bought some under cabinet organizers and a new toilet seat to replace our cracked one. My household bills were about the same – they really only change with the weather and it isn’t warm yet. I spent less on gas & tolls – entirely because of February vacation and not driving my kids to school every day that week. I spent slightly more on groceries and far more on eating out, which I also attribute almost entirely to February vacation. I spent much less on personal care (no new skincare products this month!) and clothing. I did end up buying a pair of leggings because I wear them religiously and my many pairs are starting to become hole-y. (See what I did there?)

It was also my birthday this month and I did choose to spend birthday money on fun* stuff instead of getting ahead financially. All work and no play, y’know… And thus, I now own proper bread proofing baskets, a fancy lame, and some lightweight lidded containers so I no longer have to lug around a heavy glass bowl. My bread today was fabulous, yes.

Screen Shot 2019-03-03 at 5.13.49 PM

Cranberry walnut sourdough. Amazing.

*I am now at an age where fun = bread baking supplies and storage systems. Yup.


brussels sprouts with bacon and mustard cream sauce

brussels sprouts with bacon and mustard cream sauce

This dish. Oh, this amazing dish. I’ve mentioned it before, briefly, when I first had it at the Blue Spoon for my birthday last year. I had every intention of re-creating it at home and sharing the recipe with you but then…well…things kinda fell apart.

Shortly after I first made the dish at home, H came down with a nasty stomach virus. M had a gig out of town that weekend and I thought I’d managed to avoid coming down with the bug, but mere hours after he left…I got sick too. All night, all by myself. No sleep. The morning brought me two bright eyed children who had slept soundly all night, one of whom had to be at her very first dance class mid-morning. I’m sure all the fellow dance parents in the waiting room thought I looked horribly hungover.

All this to say – you know how when you get a stomach bug and you can’t manage to eat whatever it was that you ate right before said stomach bug, regardless of whether that food had anything to do with it?


I couldn’t stomach the idea of Brussels sprouts for ages afterward, or rosemary in any form. Bacon I came back around to pretty quickly but it’s been almost a solid year before I could even entertain thoughts of making this delicious dish again. Heartbreaking!

Heartbreaking because it’s so good. It would be like having your favorite birthday cake (well…*) right before coming down with something. A tragedy.

brussels sprouts with bacon and mustard cream sauce

Brussels sprouts with bacon and mustard cream sauce

  • 1 lb Brussels sprouts
  • 4 oz bacon, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 – 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed rosemary
  • salt & pepper, to taste

Put chopped bacon into a large skillet and fry over medium heat til crisp. Set bacon aside when finished but do not drain bacon grease.

Meanwhile, wash Brussels sprouts and cut ends off. Remove any undesirable leaves and cut into quarters. (If they’re small, halves will do.) Add to pan with bacon grease and cook until tender, adding the garlic near the end.

When the Brussels sprouts are tender, add the cream, mustard, rosemary, salt and pepper. Stir well to combine and let cook for a few minutes until sauce thickens slightly. Finally, stir in bacon. Serve and enjoy!

brussels sprouts with bacon and mustard cream sauce

*I mean, they are Brussels sprouts. Nothing like cake. But you get the picture.


growing & preserving, 2014

Canning, 2014.

Time for the 2014 canning roundup! It felt like I canned a ton of stuff this year, but putting it all out on the table…it doesn’t look like as much as I was expecting. Granted, this is just one specimen from each type of thing I canned and for some things there were many, many jars. (Like 19 jars of strawberry jam. *ahem*)

But first, the garden. I grew a lot of produce last year. I think perhaps it was my best year ever, or at least close to it. I didn’t keep track of everything, but I did weigh the larger harvests, with a few exceptions – I ate a lot of tomatoes straight from my garden at work and I didn’t keep track of any of the carrots or cucumbers or anything leafy. (And I had a lot of carrots – yay!) But, of the things I did keep track of – dum da da dum! – the grand total came to 73 lbs 4 oz of produce.


I grew 49 lbs 15 oz of tomatoes in three different types – 17 lbs 10 oz of slicers, 12 lbs 12 oz of cherry tomatoes and 19 lbs 9 oz of paste tomatoes. (Though I must admit it seemed like more…)


I also had a bumper crop of tomatillos this year – 15 lbs 4 oz and then at least that again, which I ended up giving away because I just didn’t need them. We also had 6 lbs 1 oz of green beans and would have probably had much more had there not been a snake living in my green bean vines, somewhat scaring me away from digging out all the hidden beans. And, lastly, 2 lbs of jalapenos, which, for Maine, doesn’t seem too bad.

But now! On to the canning!

the spicies

Much of what I canned I grew. Lots of tomatoes, salsa, salsa verde, pickled jalapenos, dilly beans. Another large portion was local – we picked our own strawberries, blueberries and apples, for example. Some stuff (remember those cherries?) was not remotely local, but was delicious, nonetheless!

2014 canning total!

  • low sugar strawberry jam – 17 8oz jars, 2 4oz jars
  • cherry lime jam – 5 8oz jars, 1 4oz jar
  • holiday cherries (sweet pickled cherries with spices) – 6 8oz jars
  • cherry bounce – 1/2 gallon
  • vanilla peaches – 1 quart, 1 pint
  • cherry butter – 2 pints
  • low sugar raspberry jam – 4 8oz jars, 2 12oz jars, 1 4oz jar
  • Rotel-style tomatoes – 3 pints
  • pickled jalapenos – 4 pints
  • tomato salsa – 5 pints
  • low sugar blueberry maple jam – 5 8oz jars, 1 4oz jar
  • crushed tomatoes – 2 quarts, 1 pint
  • dilly beans, some spicy – 7 pints
  • salsa verde/enchilada sauce – 12 pints
  • blueberry pie filling – 4 quarts (only one sealed, the rest I had to freeze…boo!)
  • applesauce, some spiced – 7 quarts
  • apple butter – 2 pints, 2 12oz jars

Aren’t they pretty?

home grown jalapenos

I primarily use three books for my canning recipes – Food in Jars, Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving, and Canning for a New Generation. I also refer to the National Center for Home Food Preservation website for basic recipes like pie filling, crushed tomatoes and applesauce, mainly to refresh my memory regarding proper headspace and processing times. But I’ve been at this long enough that I feel comfortable winging it, to a certain degree. By now, I’ve got a pretty good grasp on what’s safe and what isn’t and where I can improvise and where I shouldn’t. You’ll also see that I do most of my jams as low sugar jams – they taste so much fresher and more delicious to me that way, without being burdened by massive amounts of sugar. For those, I use Pomona’s Pectin and the basic recipes that come with it.

Looking forward to seeing what I’ll have the opportunity to preserve in 2015!

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358: salted caramel corn

Today was full. I started off the day with a photo shoot for a lovely friend and her family, followed by some toddler-not-napping and salted caramel corn making. I used this recipe and wow was it tasty! H could barely not keep his hands off it. As evidenced by the photo above…

We went to my dad & step-mom’s in the evening for some great food, fun and a pass-the-phone-around type of chat with my sister in Connecticut. The kids were up way too late and ate way too much sugar (they aren’t the only ones!) but all is quiet now and Santa has made his (or her, as the case may be) appearance. My favorite night of the year!


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airplane cupcakes

tiny planes!

I wanted to incorporate something that H loves into his cupcakes…but what? Tractors? Cars? Somebody else’s shoes? I finally decided on airplanes. I really wanted more generic airplanes, but the ones from Disney’s Planes were on clearance at Target…so! (And, interestingly, E picked out a plane from the movie for H for Christmas and none of us realized it at the time. A recurring accidental theme!)

With simple blue frosting, some puffy white clouds and tiny planes – perfection! The kids at the party loved it. (The grown ups liked ’em too.)

tiny planes!

Cake & frosting recipes from Scratch Baking Co.

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Well, they’re finally gone.

This was the last of them. Delicious!

the last of the cherries...

I slipped a photo in a couple weeks ago on a photo Friday and it wasn’t at all clear, I don’t think, just how many cherries 18 pounds is.

Um, it’s a lot.

Why did I buy 18 pounds of cherries? I am a sucker. No, actually, they were on sale at Whole Foods, as they do one day per year, for less than $2/lb. And I’m a sucker. (And I really, really love cherries.)

Thanks heavens I’d already ordered a cherry pitter…

So what did I do with them all? Here’s the final tally:

1 half gallon of cherry bounce
6 half pints of cherry lime jam (using Pomona’s pectin)
6 half pints of “holiday cherries” (think pickled with festive spices, from Canning for a New Generation)
2 pints of cherry butter, from Food in Jars
1 batch of cherry cream cheese brownies
and 1 cherry pie (my first!) which apparently was the only thing I actually photographed. (It was awfully pretty.)

my first cherry pie!

Plus, uncountable bowls, handfuls and dishes of fresh cherries. We all had sticky purpley-red fingers for days, if not weeks. Nothing better!