Join Janet on her adventures as a designer, writer, maker, and farmer in montana. no two days are ever the same. you might even see a bear or two.

Quilts on the Fence

Quilts on the Fence

We have a railing at the top of the stairs that my kids nicknamed “the fence” and that is how it shall forever be known. If someone says that something is “on the fence,” we all know exactly where it is. The fence is an excellent place to hang projects in progress, like this:

CandyCoatedFence.jpg

These are the parts for the Candy Coated scrap quilt. It is comprised of a dozen or so rows of strips sewn together and then cut to varying heights—anywhere from 10-1/2” down to 3-1/2”. There are multiples of some of the rows and singles of others. The only way I can keep track of what is happening is to hang them, in order of height, with sticky notes attached noting the height of the row and how many of that size row are needed.

I didn’t think I had enough scraps to complete an entire quilt, but I am on the last couple of rows. I may get this one assembled this weekend and put on the pile to be quilted. That scrap bag is now empty. And that clears the decks for another project.

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I put some beans to soak the other day. I usually soak mine for at least 24 hours—sometimes a bit longer—with several changes of water. Some people prefer not to presoak, and to allow the process of pressure canning to soften up the beans. I’ve tried that but think I get more consistent results with presoaking. And it may be my imagination, but I also believe that presoaking renders the beans a lot less gas-inducing.

The beans I did in this canner run were a variety new to me called Valle Verde beans. I picked them up at a Wal-Mart in Spokane a while back. Judge me if you must, but Wal-Marts in major metropolitan areas are some of the best places—barring an actual ethnic grocery store—to shop for ingredients for Mexican and Asian dishes. The ethnic foods sections in the grocery stores here in all-white Kalispell, Montana, are miniscule.

[One time, shortly after we moved to Montana, I wanted to make pierogies. My grandmother used a cheese in her recipe that we all knew as brick cheese. It was easy to find in grocery stores in Cleveland. I went looking for it at the grocery store here in town and couldn’t find any. I asked the nice lady behind the deli counter if they carried it. She looked at me like I had lost my mind, and after a few seconds, she leaned over the deli case, picked up a hunk of cheese, and said, “This one looks like a brick.” To this day, I have never seen brick cheese here. But we have lutefisk. Go figure.]

Valle Verde beans are also known as mayocoba beans, peruano, maicoba, or Mexican yellow bean. The appear to be a type of pinto bean. In the bag, the beans appeared almost greenish. After soaking, they looked like Great Northern beans. After processing, they do look like pinto beans:

VerdeValleBeans.jpg

I am curious to see how they taste. Part of the reason I can my own beans is because it’s way less expensive, but also because I think the taste is superior.

To can these, I covered the soaked beans with fresh water and brought them to a boil. I filled sterilized pint jars about 2/3 full and added water to 1” headspace. They were processed at 15 pounds pressure for 90 minutes.

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We have had three solid days of rain. I need to get out and see what is happening in the garden. I put in a row of cowpeas last week in anticipation of them getting the moisture they would need to germinate. The cowpeas are an experiment. My friend Cathy—who grew up in the south—talks about them and some of the dishes they get used in. And no, you can’t find them here. I was delighted to discover that Victory Seeds in Oregon, where we get all of our heirloom variety seeds for the garden, carries the variety Fast Lady Northern Southern Cowpea. From their website:

65 to 90 days — A productive and early variety bred for cooler climates, 'Fast Lady Northern' is a heavy producer of delicious, smooth textured peas that are excellent for fresh eating and also do not require pre-soaking when using as a dry pea. The plants are bushy, semi-erect, and compact with yellow flowers. The pods are seven to eight inches long and are resistant to rain induced molding. At the shell stage, the peas are light green and turn white when dried. Easy to grow and harvest. Bred by Carol Deppe of Fertile Valley Seeds.

I may have gotten them in too late for drying, but I think we’ll be able to eat them fresh, and maybe Cathy can teach me how to make some new-to-me Southern dishes.

One Bear, Two Bear

One Bear, Two Bear

Looking for a Free Chicken Dinner

Looking for a Free Chicken Dinner