Monday, September 27, 2010

Blog Giveaway over at Two Kazoos!

My friend, Steph is giving away these cute little animal magnets over on her Two Kazoos blog to celebrate 400 Facebook fans. Run over and check it out! There are many ways to get an entry, here's the link: Two Kazoos Blog

Good Luck!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Concord Grape Pie

farm-fresh northeastern Ohio concord grapes

It is Concord Grape season and we are in the heart of grape growing country. There was even a Grape Jamboree Festival here this weekend that we attended. On the way home, we stopped at one of my favorite nurseries and picked up 15 or so pounds of Concord Grapes. You can only find Concord Grapes in September and October, so I tend to go over board since I love them so. I generally won't buy them in the supermarket because they are so darn expensive but there is nothing like freshly grown and harvested Concord Grapes (and Concord Grape pies, YUM!) Buying 15 pounds is a little crazy however unless you can call in the troops to help you *process* them. Before I actually purchased my yumminess, I called my mom to ask her if she could help me and if I could freeze the goods. (you can freeze grapes after you cook them and remove their seeds) So here is how we do that and my favorite Concord Grape pie recipe (originally published in Better Homes and Garden Cookbook) If you can find fresh concord grapes and feel so inclined to undertake such a labor intensive recipe, I highly recommend it. [note: I haven't baked our pies yet because I'm still cooking and freezing the grapes for future use. I'll update this post with those pictures when I do:o)]

The troops measuring the grapes

Step One: Measure out the grapes. If you are doing a large quantity measure out the amount of grapes you will need for your recipe and store them unwashed in plastic ziploc bags until you are ready to cook them. We got 6 batches of grapes out of one large, very heavy basket of grapes. I was able to cook and freeze two batches and have 4 more to finish today. I use deeper dish pie plates so I measured out 5 cup portions and adjust my recipe.

Step Two: Wash the measured grapes. Slip the pulp out of the skins, reserving the skins to reintroduce later.
grape pulp

reserved skins

Step Three: In a heavy pan (I use a large stock pot so that the grapes will cook and breakdown faster)bring grapes up to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and continue to stir until the pulp has cooked down and the seeds are separated from the pulp. When the grapes are ready to be strained you will not see many formed grapes. [Be careful, the grapes will burn quickly due to their high sugar content if you don't watch them or cook them at too high a temperature for too long.]

grapes cooking down

fully cooked grape pulp ( note how smooth it is. the pectin in the seeds thicken it and it looks similar to a lemon filling in consistency)

Step Four: Put your cooked grapes through a sieve. Since it is hot, I use a silicone spatula to push the concoction back and forth until nearly all the pulp is separated into a cold sauce pan beneath the sieve.(The cold sauce pan will help to cool the grapes for the next step) Remember to scrape the bottom of the sieve as you do this so that you don't lose much of the pulp. I even dump the seeds and scrape the pulp out of the sieve. The pectin in the grapes help to thicken the finished pie so I try to retain as much of this cooked pulp as possible.

Strained cooked grapes

Step Five: Reintroduce the grape skins into the cooled grape pulp. The skins add flavor and color to the finished pie. It is at this point you can either make your pie or freeze the cooked grapes for future use. We put the cooked grapes into quart-sized ziplocs, force out the excess air and then put those inside plastic freezer boxes. I'm not too sure how long they will keep but I do know that the finished pies are so yummy you may use up your reserves before you have to worry about it!:o)

Concord Grape Pie
servings: 8


  • 1 recipe Pastry for Single-Crust Pie
  • 1 1/2 pounds Concord grapes (about 4 cups)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine


Prepare and roll out pastry. Line a 9-inch pie plate with pastry; trim and crimp edge as desired. Set aside.

(shown above) Remove skins from grapes by gently pressing each grape between your fingers. The skins will slip off easily. Set skins aside. In a large saucepan bring grape pulp to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Sieve the pulp to remove the seeds. Add the grape skins to the pulp.

In a large mixing bowl stir together the 3/4 cup sugar, the 1/3 cup flour, and salt. Stir in the grape mixture, melted butter or margarine, and lemon juice. Pour mixture into the pastry-lined pie plate. To prevent overbrowning, cover the edge of the pie with foil. Bake in a 375 degree F oven for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, stir together the 1/2 cup flour and the 1/2 cup sugar. Cut in the 1/4 cup butter or margarine until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Remove foil from pie. Sprinkle crumb mixture over pie. Bake about 25 minutes more or until topping is golden. Cool on a wire rack. Makes 8 servings.

Nutrition Facts

  • Servings Per Recipe 8 servings
  • Calories402,
  • Total Fat (g)18,
  • Saturated Fat (g)4,
  • Cholesterol (mg)23,
  • Sodium (mg)223,
  • Carbohydrate (g)61,
  • Fiber (g)2,
  • Protein (g)4,
  • Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet

Thursday, September 23, 2010

From My Garden (and more!)

Large garden mums

What's left of my football mums after the deer snacked on them

Scary weed in my potted peony that I can't pull without heavy duty gloves(at least it will have flowers, LOL)

my little one with *his* Japanese Maple tree we bought the year he was born

the last remaining bloom on my butterfly bush :o(

Stowaway Grandpa Ott's morning glory.(it secretly transplanted itself )

my garden moose

In the past couple of weeks, all the energy I had going into my latest works has shifted to fall cleaning. Since I loathe cleaning, I heavy duty clean, purge and rearrange about twice a year (sometimes 3 times depending on my mood;o) Now, this doesn't mean I don't clean here and there throughout the year, I do on a semi-regular basis, but the entire house is never as clean as it is after my fall or spring cleaning is finished. I take down and wash the drapes(and shower curtain) and vacuum under all the furniture. Pull up all the floor rugs, wash them and mop all the tiled surfaces. Clean all the cupboards and rearrange everything so I can find it.(there must be a little troll running around this house who just puts things wherever they can find an open place) Dust and wipe down all the furniture, clean baseboards and all flat surfaces. And so on and so on. Needless to say, doing all this in short succession doesn't leave much time to create. Thus the reason I only do the heavy duty stuff 2 or 3 times a year and spot clean when needed. I'm almost finished with the insanity which means I will soon be painting and creating (oh! how I long to escape to my happy place once more.)

In the meantime, here are some new photos from my garden. We are still waiting impatiently for the cosmos to bloom! (But the marigolds are blooming) and my little one's latest creation. We go to a little ceramics place here every year and he makes me an ornament for the Christmas tree and gets to paint a piece of his choice (this year a race car!)

While I think of it, does anyone know if you can bring Gerbera daisies in for the winter?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Newest WIP

I have been on a roll, creatively speaking, and since the energy usually doesn't flow this freely, I've been taking full advantage of it while it does. I also have a table full of pieces that need to be sculpted. As soon as I finish them or run out of paper clay, whichever comes first, I will start painting. Then, after those are all finished and listed, I have to make a display tree for my upcoming shows and start working on my elf ornaments. An elf's work is never done :o)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Latest Pretties from My Garden

Deer do eat Chrysanthemums! These survived the hungry deer only because of the netting (which makes it a little difficult to deadhead but at least I have blossoms)

My little one and I planted these old marigold seeds very late in the season. I didn't think they would grow(they were about three years old) but we are actually getting flowers!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Recent Photos

We had a chance to go out and play this past Saturday. The weather was my favorite: slightly chilly, gray and windy. Sorry, the only thing I like more might be a good snow. The 90 degree weather we've had all spring and summer long has stayed well past it's welcome with me.

These photos were taken at Penitentiary Glen and Geneva-on-the-Lake, Ohio. The barred owl is a permanent resident of the Kevin P. Clinton Wildlife Center at Penitentiary Glen. His name is Hunter and he came in with a broken leg. They later found he had severe cataracts and so he remains a resident today(selfishly, I am glad he has a safe home because I just love him!)