The making of a giant batch of herb salt has turned into a yearly event.  We first did it (complete with something resembling instructions) back here.  And we did it again just about this time last year.  And this week we did it yet again.

herb saltWe use this salt in everything we cook (well…everything except sweets, because that would be odd) and more or less wouldn’t want to cook without it.  You absolutely need to make some of your own.

And this year?  This year we learned something very very important.  You can totally use the food processor instead of a knife, and your salt doesn’t turn to paste.  That turns this from a three hour project to a one hour project and makes it way way way less tedious.  It’s still a bit of work (shucking that much garlic is a pain no matter what, so is stripping that many herbs off their stems), but absolutely worth it.  And my house smells awfully good too.



So it seems my domestic urges are tied to the calendar.  In the dead of winter, I preserve lemons.  In the middle of summer, I make herb salts and syrups.  Once it’s properly cold, it’s hot chocolate paste.  And when fall starts to set it, it’s shrubs.

fig shrubI went to the grocery store, found figs on sale for some ridiculously good price, bought pounds and pounds of them, and made a huge batch.

fig shrub 2It’s percolating on the counter right now, all bubbles and good smells.

fig shrub 3And before you ask, yes, it does seem ever so slightly gross to think about (but in pretty much exactly the same way beer or yogurt or cheese is a bit gross to think about).  No, I’m not worried it will kill me.  No, I can’t promise it won’t kill you.  Yes, it is awfully delicious (and it only gets better in the fridge over time).

I was going to write it all up in detail, but then I realized I’d already done all that earlier (there are three posts, click through if you want them all).  So instead I’ll have a drink (with an earlier batch of shrub), and wait patiently for this one to work its magic.  Lay a batch down now, and in a month or two, you can do the same!

Fig Syrup

The grocery store had fresh figs.  The grocery store very rarely has fresh figs (they seem to have a shelf life of about 47 seconds, so I understand), so I felt I had to take advantage.  Of course, there is a limit to how many you can just eat out of the bag, but you really can’t let the others go to waste.  So I made fig syrup.  Fig, rosemary, pepper simple syrup to be precise.

syrup 1I used two figs, four biggish sprigs of fresh rosemary, and two tablespoons of peppercorns, plus one mason jar of white sugar and the same amount of water.  (When I’m making syrup, I just use whatever container I want to store it in to scoop out the sugar and measure out the water…perhaps inelegant, but it works. In this case it’s a one pint mason jar.)

syrup 2Slice the figs, tear up the rosemary, and give the peppercorns a bit of a pound to crack them a little.  Dump it all (including the sugar and water) in a pan and boil.  I take a fairly unorthodox approach to my syrups and boil them for a longish time (10 minutes or so).  It reduces the syrup a bit and gives it a nice caramel flavor.  Just don’t walk away, because it does sometimes foam up.

syrup 3Kill the heat and let it stand for an hour or two (both to cool off and to let the flavor get a bit stronger).  Strain it into a jar (this is the hardest part, I used a tea strainer, but a fine mesh sieve would work too).  Taking a moment to bask in the pretty color and possibly nibble on the stray rosemary needle is optional but encouraged.  It will keep in the fridge for weeks and the freezer for months, though I don’t imagine it lasting that long.

As for what to do with it?  Well, I’ll go into that more some other time, but I recommend drinks.  Fizzy, frothy, happy drinks.



Yes, yes I am still making the trivet.  Yes, I am having more fun than anyone should be able to have with some felt and some string.  No, I don’t expect anyone else to understand the appeal.  But I’m fairly sure you’re all an obliging lot and won’t begrudge me my odd obsessions.

DSC_0829I started by cutting out three equally-sized rectangles (size determined by setting the teapot on various books until one looked right, and then tracing around that book).  Then I held them together with a few pins and started stitching.  There was no particular plan for the stitching, I just wanted swoops.  Closed swoops.

DSC_0824I’m going to keep going, until most of the fabric is filled with swoops.  Then there may or may not be some snipping away of the top layer of felt inside the swoops to make little holes and let the yellow middle layer show through.  I’m not sure yet.  And really, its goal in life is to keep my teapot from marring my table, so it’s allowed to be somewhat…freeform.

I have, however, discovered that I can work on this for just about precisely 15 minutes before my hand starts to cramp up (erm, and what you see there is two of those 15 minutes stretches of stitching), so it will be a few more days before I have to make any decisions.


Not Knitting

I like my dining room table.  And I absolutely adore my teapot.  But alas, the two of them don’t quite get along.  When I set the hot teapot on the table (something that happens about once a day if all is right with the world), it has a tendency to leave white marks on the table.  Now I’ve discovered that these marks come right out if I rub them with a walnut (no idea why, but seems to be true).  But that’s a bit tedious if you do it too often.  And of course I could just set a potholder or a folded up paper towel down first.  But that’s also unreasonably irritating.

So I’ve decided to devise a more suitable solution.  I have a closet full of woolly things, and woolly things are good at managing heat.  This should be fun.