Dandelion Jelly-You Gotta Try It!

Last season I decided to try making dandelion jelly. I read people’s comments on how good it was and many of them said they would be making a double batch next year. So I figured, what the heck, why not?

I love trying things made from foraging. We don’t spray our yard (though my husband hates dandelions) and sitting in a grassy field of yellow flowers sounded heavenly.

 

Making the jelly is pretty simple. Certainly easier than making grape jelly.

What you need to do is go out and pick lots of dandelion flowers about 10 cups or so. Just the flowers. No stems or leaves and no flowers that have gone to seed. You need the yellow petals only which I used a pair of kitchen scissors to cut off from their green base. Just a straight cut right across. It’s ok if you have some green bits of leaf in there too but not too much. You will need 4 cups of petals.

Put the cut off petals in a large bowl and cover the petals with boiling water. Cover the bowl and let it sit overnight in the fridge. You are basically making a dandelion tea and while in the fridge the petals will steep and draw the color and flavor of the dandelion out. This tea is very nutrient rich and you can drink it if you like, but I prefer the strong taste be turned into a sweet, mild jelly.

The next day strain the petal “soup” through clean cheesecloth over another bowl and save the liquid and discard the dandelion petals. What you will have left is dandelion tea which is what is used to make the jelly. You will need 3 cups of the tea. If the liquid doesn’t measure 3 cups, add enough water to the tea to bring it up to the 3 cups needed.

Pour the tea into a heavy bottom pot and add one package of powdered pectin and 2 Tbsp of lemon juice to it. Bring the mixture to a full rolling boil, stirring frequently, then add 4-1/2 cups of granulated white sugar to it. Stir to dissolve the sugar and once again bring everything up to a full rolling boil that cannot be knocked down when stirring it. Skim off any foam. In the photo below you can see the pectin is setting up nicely in the jelly and it’s ready to can up.

Pour the hot jelly, leaving a 1/2 inch of head space, into hot sterilized jars and with hot sterilized lids, screw the bands on. I processed them for about 10 minutes in a boiling water bath.

After the jars have cooled, label and store in a cool pantry. How pretty are these? I love the golden color!

You might ask what dandelion jelly tastes like? Honey. Seriously, I think it tastes like honey. It’s very mild and a tiny bit earthy but I love this jelly and the main ingredient, the dandelions are FREE! I will be making a double, maybe even a triple batch of this golden goodness this year.

It will be a couple of months before the weather in western, NY will be warm enough for dandelions to bloom, but when they do you will see me sitting out there in the yard collecting them. Hope you try it! -MM

Here are the ingredients in recipe form again.

3 Cups dandelion tea

4 1/2 Cups sugar

2 Tbsp. lemon juice

1 box powdered pectin

Combine dandelion tea, lemon juice and pectin into a large saucepan. Bring to a boil.  Add your sugar and bring back to a boil. Remove from heat and fill jars. Process 10 minutes in a boiling hot water bath. Cool, label and enjoy on a slice of homemade bread!

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Week 1-2 Pop Bottle Garden


It has been a heck of a few weeks since I started the seeds for our 2017 garden. Here in Western, NY we had 80+ mile an hour winds which knocked our power out for well over 24 hours and closed school for two days. Then less than a week later we had a two day blizzard that closed schools again for two days and brought our lives to a grinding halt while we waited it out. Crazy weather I tell ya!

However, while all that crazy weather was going on outside, my little pop bottle garden and its contents were snug and warm and working away for me.

This year I planted peppers, both sweet and hot, celery, cilantro, dill, watermelon, basil, 3 kinds of onions, catnip and lemon balm. The only thing I have not gotten in yet are the tomatoes and I am getting a little nervous about it but I will get them started don’t worry.

Below are a couple of photos of what has been happening inside the bottles these past two weeks. Pretty cool huh? See you next week with another update! -MM

 

 

My First SAL (Stitch-A-Long) Post

I came across a group of bloggers here on WordPress who are part of a Stitch-A-Long group of stitchers. A SAL is a group designed to help motivate and encourage us to finish projects one at a time. How many of us have multiple projects, unfinished sitting in a drawer? This group is a great way to motivate everyone to get one project done at a time and I was so impressed by all of their work that I decided to inquire about joining them. To my delight I was accepted into the group so now I write my first SAL post! Thank you ladies for letting me join!

My last post on my peacock cross-stitch project was on weeks 1-3. This photo is week 4. It may seem like I am almost done but the entire plume on Miss Peacock has yet to be worked on. Wait until you see how big it is. Yikes! That will take me a while especially with spring gardening in my future.

I will be back April 2nd with another update and SAL post so stay tuned. I wonder what I should name this peacock? Any suggestions? -MM

Please check out the other SAL member’s blogs by clicking on the links below. They are doing some fantastic work! If you are interested in joining the group please contact Avis who is the very first link.

AvisClaireGunCaroleLucyAnnKateJessSue,

ConstanzeDebbieroseChristinaSusanKathy,

MargaretCindyHelenStephLindaCatherineWendy,

Mary Margaret

 

 

 

 

 

Starting Seeds Week #1

Every year I start my seeds, indoors, about 6-8 weeks before the plants go into the ground outside.

Last year was the first year I tried starting my seeds in a pop bottle. Sound kinda weird? Not really if you think about it. A pop bottle is just like a mini greenhouse. It keeps the warm sunlight in and the cold temperatures out. Even in my cool basement the seeds are warm and snug in their individual little bottle greenhouses. The results I got were fantastic! I grew things like never before. Cilantro, basil, celery, and watermelon just to name a few.

Baby basil plant from 2016

I don’t have expensive lights to grow my seedlings under and I don’t have tons of space either. What I do have is a sunny 8′ basement potting bench that has 6 hours of direct sunlight a day and a bottle garden works perfectly in this scenario.

For the next 6 to 8 weeks I will report back each week on how the seeds are germinating and let you take a look inside the bottles to prove that you don’t need expensive lights and fancy heating mats to grow strong, healthy seedlings.

Here are the steps to start using a 2 liter plastic pop bottle for a mini greenhouse.

Step #1

Cut two clean 2 liter pop bottles in half with a sharp knife by poking the tip of the knife into the sides of one of the bottles and slicing around the side of it until it is in two pieces.

Each “greenhouse” uses 3 pieces of bottle to create a complete unit.

Step #2

When you have the first bottle in 2 pieces invert the top half, which has the cap, upside down into the bottom half of the bottle. Now you are ready to plant some seeds in it!

Step #3

Fill the top about half way full with starter soil, which is lighter than traditional potting soil. Drop a few seeds on top of the soil of whatever you are planting such as pepper seeds and cover them with more soil to finish. Water well until the water runs out the bottom. Note: if there is water in the bottom after a day or so dump it out because it will start to mold and could kill any plants starting.

Step #4

Finish the greenhouse by putting another half of the second bottle on top. If you have the cap, put it on. If not, cover it up with a piece of plastic or tin foil.

Step #5

Put the bottle into a sunny window and see what grows! Once the seeds germinate and start to grow into plants, take the cap or plastic off to get some air into the bottle.

Let me know what you think. Have you ever tried growing in a pop bottle? -MM

 

 

 

Poppy Remembrance Project

 

I finally finished it! It took two years on and off but I finally finished my lovely poppy remembrance field. This cross-stitch project was my most challenging yet and at times made my eyes cross but it was worth it. Over 23,000 stitches.poppy

All that’s left to do is mount and frame it. I will post a pic when I get it all put together.

Meanwhile I have already started a new project. A pretty peacock which I hope to get done by Christmas. My hubby doesn’t think I can get it done by then but after just one week I am well on my way.

peacock

I’ll keep posting my progress so check back next week! -MM

Jalapeno Popper Potato Salad

I was going to save this recipe for a summer picnic type post but what the heck – might as well use it for a dish to pass this weekend for the big game, right? Heck yeah!

Bacon, potatoes, cheese and jalapenos, what could be better!

I tried this recipe last year from Christin Mahrlig’s blog, Spicy Southern Kitchen. 

This potato salad turned out just like the photo in the post and it also tastes as good as it looks. I found that the salad was best, made fresh, the day you want to serve it.

I love the texture the bacon adds to the salad and the cream cheese was something I would never have thought of but it adds a depth of creaminess that mayo alone cannot achieve.

If you would like the recipe head on over to Christin Mahrlig‘s blog and check it out by clicking on her name which is highlighted. You won’t be sorry!

Enjoy the Big Game! -MM