Preserving Basil My Favorite Way

Basil cubes titleNothing tastes like summer as much as fresh basil. But how do you capture that taste for fall, winter and spring? My favorite method is to make frozen basil cubes. Here’s how:

What you need – freshly-picked basil, olive oil, salad spinner, food processor, ice cube trays, spatula, plastic wrap or wax paper.

  1. Pick your basil and wash thoroughly in a sink full of cold water, swishing to rinse off all soil. Pick off the leaves.

    Wash basil
    Wash the basil thoroughly.
  2. Dry the leaves thoroughly. A salad spinner is perfect for this.

    Basil
    Dry in salad spinner. I don’t know why this photo is upside down but it won’t seem to upload correctly. I’m sure you still get the picture (pun intended).
  3. Place the leaves in a food processor; slowly add olive oil until a sort of paste forms, scraping the bowl when necessary.

    Add olive oil to basil
    Add olive oil to basil.
  4. Quickly spoon the basil into ice cube trays. Basil exposed to the air starts to turn black pretty quickly. Cover with plastic wrap or wax paper. Freeze until firm. Remove from ice cube trays and store in freezer bags or containers.

    Basil cubes
    Spoon basil into ice cube trays.

Taste of Summer in a Pie

Blueberry cream pie
Blueberries are my favorite fruit, have been since I was 9 months old and my grandmother caught me in the pie safe, stuffing handfuls of blueberry pie into my mouth while declaring, “Nummy, nummy!” And this recipe is my all-time favorite.

Simple steps to blueberry cream pie
Simple steps to blueberry cream pie

Blueberry Cream Pie
3 cups blueberries
9 inch pie shell, unbaked
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/8 teaspoon salt, optional
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup lowfat sour cream
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup butter
1. Combine 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup flour. Cut in butter with pastry blender until mixture resembles course meal. I let my stand mixer do this – just cut the butter into thin pats, add to the flour and sugar and mix on low until the mixture resembles course crumbs. Set aside.
2. Combine 1 cup sugar, 1/3 cup flour, and salt. Add eggs and sour cream, stirring until blended.
3. Place blueberries in pie shell and spoon sour cream mixture over berries. Sprinkle flour/sugar/butter mixture over berries.
4. Bake at 350° for 50 to 55 minutes, or until lightly browned.
Note: May substitute any other fresh berries or finely chopped apples for the blueberries.
Blueberry cream pie
Blueberry Cream Pie

A Gift from the Herb Garden

2-IMG_1010Every summer the herb garden entices me with savory fragrances. But there’s always the sweet lavender, what to do with lavender? I’ve adapted a recipe from the site of my favorite King Arthur Flour to include two herbs from my garden, lavender and a particularly nice apple mint. It’s not the healthiest recipe but it does have some whole grain in the form of oatmeal. These are so tender and delicious!

Lavender Mint Scones

2 cups flour
1 cup oatmeal
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
2-3 teaspoons fresh lavender blossoms
1 teaspoon minced fresh mint
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup sour cream (I used light sour cream)
–Frosting (optional)–
1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
2-4 tablespoons shortening
2-4 tablespoons milk
1/2 tsp. almond extract
Pinch of salt

Preheat your oven to 375°F. Lightly grease a baking sheet or mini scone pan, or line a baking sheet with parchment.

Mix the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Mix the butter into the dry ingredients until it looks unevenly crumbly. I let my stand mixer do this – just cut the butter into thin pats, add to the dry ingredients and mix on low until the mixture resembles course crumbs. Mix in the lavender, mint and nuts until they’re evenly distributed. Stir in the sour cream.

Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface. (Keep sprinkling on flour if you need to.) Pat dough into an approximately 3″x 12″ rectangle. With a sharp knife, cut into 4 sections; then cut each section diagonally twice to make a total of 16 triangles.

Scone dough
Cut the dough into 16 triangles.

Do this by cutting straight down through the dough so you shear the edges. If you saw the dough, you tend to press the edges together, which keeps the scones from rising as they bake. At this point you can sprinkle with sugar, if desired, or you can frost the cooled scones after baking. If you have a prepared mini scone pan, simply place the triangles in each section.

Pace triangles in prepared mini scone pan.
Place triangles in prepared mini scone pan.

Otherwise, transfer the scones to the prepared baking sheet. Separate the scones slightly; there should be about 1″ between them at the outside edge. Bake the scones for 16-18 minutes, or until they’re just beginning to brown. Frosting: stir ingredients together in a small bowl, using just enough milk for desired consistency. Spread on mostly cooled scones. These freeze well. Makes 16 scones.

Lavender Mint Scones
Lavender Mint Scones

First Moose 2013

You know about our moose obsession, right? We love to to go moose “hunting”, especially in northern New Hampshire. The “hunting” is just in hopes of snapping a photo or two.  Whenever relatives visit, we trek up there in search of the gangly critters. We are usually successful, seeing as many as 27 moose in one trip.

This first jaunt to Pittsburg, NH area was to try to show a grandson’s girlfriend her first moose ever. While taking a leisurely hike, she suddenly asks, “Is that a moose?” Sure enough, a big black bull moose ran out of the woods and kept right on moving down the road away from us. We were so stunned, only the girlfriend had her wits about her to get a photo. Success! We ended up seeing 2 more on the way home. Here’s one of them –

Moose in Pittsburg, NH
Moose in Pittsburg, NH

A most satisfying moose “hunt”!

Crispy Cheddar Chicken

The family loved this one. My favorite cheese to use for this is from right here in Vermont, Cabot sharp light cheddar. Yum!

Crispy Cheddar Chicken

  • 4 lbs. chicken tenders or 8 chicken breasts
  • 2 sleeves Ritz crackers
  • 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3 cups cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • Sauce:
  • 1 10 ounce can cream of chicken soup
  • 2 tablespoon sour cream
  • 2 tablespoon butter
  • 2-4 tablespoons water

Crush crackers. If using chicken breasts and not tenders, cut each chicken breast into 3 large pieces. Pour the milk, cheese and cracker crumbs into 3 separate small pans. Toss the salt and pepper into the cracker crumbs and stir the mixture around to combine. Dip each piece of chicken into the milk and then the cheese. Press the cheese into the chicken with your fingers. Then press the cheesy coated chicken into the cracker crumbs and press it in.

Spray a 9×13 pan with cooking spray and lay the chicken inside the pan. Sprinkle the dried parsley over the chicken. Cover the pan with foil and bake at 400° F. for 35 minutes. Remove the foil, bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until the edges of the chicken are golden brown and crispy.

In a medium sized sauce pan combine the cream of chicken soup, sour cream and butter with a whisk. Add water if sauce is too thick. Stir it over medium high heat until the sauce is nice and hot. Serve over the chicken. Serves 8-12.

Introducing the Garden

Here in Vermont, winters are long and harsh. But that makes our short summers all the sweeter. Our gardens aren’t anything spectacular but they give us an enormous amount of pleasure. Here’s a first glimpse at the yard.

Little back garden
Little back garden

This little garden is our quiet spot. It’s the only area that the deer don’t visit (at least haven’t up until now) so the hostas and phlox grow and actually bloom! The lean-to looking structure on the left serves as a bird feeding station in winter and a grill shelter in the summer.

Grapes on the pergola
Grapes on the pergola

In the heat of the summer, this is a spot where the grapevines provide the coolest spot in the yard. Bill built the pergola, on which the grapes are growing, as well as the Versailles boxes, those big yellow boxes. He puts an ever-changing array of potted shrubs in them for constant blooms all summer.

Early garden
Early garden

Finally, here’s my favorite bench, a Lutyens bench, in front of the main flower garden. Notice the pale mulch? I call it the starving artist mulch – it’s sawdust from the mountains of the stuff Bill produces in furniture making. The vegetable garden is off to the right. In the past 5 years, our garden has changed considerably because of the influx of pesky deer. Gone are all the tulips, phlox, and several other plants that the deer love. They let the hosta get just big enough to bloom, then chomp them to the ground. Day lilies aren’t even immune.

So we’re slowly adjusting and discovering plants that those pests won’t touch, like marigolds, blanket flower, roses and iris. We’ve fenced in the vegetable garden otherwise we’d never get any vegetables, but haven’t done the same with the flower garden…yet. But I still have to admit, I love to see those pretty deer!

 

My Hubby Listened!

As any wife can tell you, her husband often is hard of listening. Well, I’m happy to report that my hubby not only listened, he actually outdid himself! For a couple of years now, I’ve been wishing for some kind of a  small sales desk to use at our craft shows. Bill sat down and started designing just before our most recent fair. Here’s the gem of a desk he came up with –

Sales desk by Bill Prue
Sales desk by Bill

The top opens to a large, flat surface to give the customer an area to write. That top compartment is perfect for the cashbox. Drawers hold other essentials and the bottom cabinet is a handy cubbyhole. And to top it all, he’s made it locking! So much better than perching things on cardboard boxes, wouldn’t you say?!

I think I’d like one of these as a regular little desk, with the top opening down to make a writing surface, with little cubbyholes inside. Hm-m-m, wonder if hubby would listen to that one… ;)

Did you know…?

That we do custom ornaments? Here are but a few examples of the hand painted custom ornaments that we’ve done.

Jeanne Rae Crafts' custom ornaments
Jeanne Rae Crafts’ custom ornaments

Do you have a special pet, event, vehicle or whatever (I’ve even done a yurt!) that you’d like to commemorate as an ornament? First browse our ornament selection HERE. You’ll find a Custom Design order form HERE. Just call or email, address on either of the above websites.

Balloons A Flyin’ in Quechee

Balloon festival ornament
New ornament! Balloon Festival

Coming up Fathers’ Day weekend, June 14-16, is the Quechee Balloon Festival in Quechee, Vermont. You can find these ornaments for sale at the newly opened and very cute Clover Gift Shop in the The Quechee Gorge Village.

June Block of the Month

Inchworm quilt block
Inchworm, June block in the Pixie Garden Quilt Block of the Month

If you’re diligent, you’re now on your way to being half done with your Pixie Garden quilt!

Sue from Wisconsin is a real go-getter when it comes to her BOM projects. Her appliques are done for Blocks 3, 4 and 5, just waiting for further embellishment. Aren’t they sweet?!

Block 3 Flower 1
Sue’s Flower 1
bee block
Sue’s Bee
Block 5 Butterfly 1
Sue’s Butterfly 1

Notice that Sue’s butterfly is oriented differently than mine – just as cute, unique to her own Pixie Garden! Thanks again for sharing, Sue. :)

May Block of the Month

The Pixie Garden Quilt has a new block!

Butterfly 1
Butterfly 1

How is your project doing? Sue from Wisconsin passed along photos from another of her BOM group.

Jane's blocks
Jane’s blocks

This time it’s Jane who shows us her progress. Jane’s bright colors contrast nicely with the black prints. Won’t it be lovely? Thanks so much for sharing, Jane!

New Veggies!

Did you know that we make veggie garden row markers? We have some for every garden:

Beans
Beets
Broccoli
Buttercup Squash
Butternut Squash
Cabbage
Carrot
Cauliflower
Corn
Cucumber
Green Pepper
Lettuce
Onion
Peas
Potato
Pumpkin
Radish
Summer Squash
Tomato
Zucchini

Drum roll please – now revealing our new veggie row markers for 2013 –

Garden row markers
Garden Row Markers from Jeanne Rae Crafts

I’m pretty pleased with the new veggies on the block: Eggplant, Yellow Beans and Hot Pepper. What do you think? :)