Thursday, July 23, 2015

Porch conversion idea

As I make my way through what feels like my neverending list of projects I have been obsessing about fencing the yard, remodeling the bathroom/ laundry room and I have added a new obsession--
an enclosed front porch!

I dislike how my main entry opens to the dining room and always believed I needed some type of vestibule. The it dawned on me--for a smart person, sometimes I am a little slow on the uptake--that my current porch really is useless as a porch due to it diminutive dimensions but would make a wonderful enclosure. We truly seldom use the front porch, so why not try to reclaim it as usable living space?

Now I have absolutely no idea as to the feasibility of this project--zoning, permits and cost--but it hasn't stopped me from such things. Hello Google and Pinterest, ha.

This is my porch from 2012 and not much has changed except the plants have gotten bigger.

My idea would be to shorten the porch so as not to cover the living room window. 
 I found this posted on Old House Web forum. It gives a good visual as to how my addition could look with  the entry offset and  a small scale enclosure. 
Old House Web Forum
My porch dimensions currently are 5 feet depth by 24 feet length and  if I were to have my enclosure the dimensions would be 5 feet by 18 feet (shorten the length so as to not cover the window. That seems like a lot of good space!

There would be a larger space on the left (5x 9)--I envision low bookcases under the windows with plants lining the outside wall with possibly a club chair and ottoman and to the the right (5 x 5) would be a coat/ boot bench--sort of the "mud room" area of the vestibule.

Project wish list 
Remove all the current siding within the vestibule.
Insulate and drywall
Add a few outlets
Move the exterior light fixture from wall to ceiling
Slate tile for the flooring but would settle for a faux painted and stained concrete.
Full pane horizontal sliders, so as not to block the view--even if it is of my neighbors house.(The dimensions would allow for 4-5 nice sized  windows)
Bamboo blinds for privacy.
Main entry door would be 2/3 glass but etched/ frosted for privacy.
A transom with our house numbers!
Expand the entry into the dining room  from a 36 inch opening to 42-46  inches if possible. I would like to frame it in nice thick molding and casing and no interior door. Wide open space. How lovely. 

Can you picture it?

Forgive my poor artistic skills but these are my mock ups and they aren't to scale...

Of course this is a "down the road aways" project and would need to take place around the siding and roofing phase. But a girl can dream...

Monday, July 20, 2015

Sweet Heat Georgia Peach Jam

Y'all, remember when I said I found a good deal on peaches? Well my original plan was to make some boozy peaches. Except I kept eating the peaches! And they were oh-so delicious. Since I reduced the amount of peaches considerably -don't judge me- I decided to make a small batch of jam.

It ended up being late in the evening by the time I started my batch, because it took 2 hours for me to locate and clean all my stuff. This was the 1st time I canned since putting the kitchen back together. Then I had a not so quick jaunt to Rural King and Target--with the idea,  I was only get canning lids. Hahahahaha...Um, yeah. Not so much. I ended up with 2 new pots, some additional mason jars, some new tongs, a new pizza cutter, um a few other things, oh and canning lids. Moving on...

And unlike most of my perceived brilliant notions from my fatigue addled brain--this one WAS brilliant. Or delicious. Or brilliantly delicious!

Aren't they lovely?
3 1/2 lbs of just barely ripe peaches
2 cups sugar
1-2 TBS lemon juice
3 TBS bourbon
1 TBS pure vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cayenne

Setting up my supplies and work stations

After washing in hot soapy water and triple rinsing, I placed my inverted 4 oz jelly jars on clean heavy duty baking sheet. I placed in the oven at 275°F for 30 minutes. I then lowered the temperature to 225°F and held the jar at this temperature until I was ready to hot pack.

I rinsed and scored an X on the bottom of each of 3 1/2 pounds of peaches in preparation of blanching. I placed several peaches (don't crowd the pan) in boiling water  for 2 minutes. Remove and immediately place in an ice water bath. Repeat until all peaches are blanched and ice quenched.

While the peaches were cooling in the ice bath, I heated the water in the canner and an extra pan (in case I needed it). I peeled, pitted and sorta broke the peaches up a little as I dropped them in my blender. I also a added a little squirt of lemon juice in each blender batch to keep the peaches from browning.  My blender has a grate function. So I pulsed that for a few seconds. The resulting mixture was chunky, I transferred it to the stock pot, added 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and 2 cups of white granulated sugar.* You may need less or more depending on the sweetness of your peaches. Rule of thumb is  1 tablespoon of acid (vinegar or lemon juice) and 2 cups of sugar per 3 pounds of fruit. Please refer to the USDA Home Preservation guidelines for additional information.  I do NOT add water like some other recipes. The peaches released plenty of liquid. You will need to cook the jam down anyway so why add the water? Adding water only increases the opportunities for microbial growth.

 Once all the peaches were added to the stock pot, I turned it to low-medium. Constantly stirring and scraping, so the sugar didn't burn or caramelize. When the sugar was dissolved I turned the heat to medium  for a rolling boil. Again, constantly stirring. Once the foam began to form (after about 10 minutes) I reduced the heat slightly. Bubbles were still breaking the surface--a gentle boil. I let this cook for until the volume was reduced by slightly more than half (make sure to remove the foam and kinda smoosh the bigger chunks of peaches)

I then pulled the pot from the heat added in a "nip" bottle (50 ml) of white label Jim Beam (this is equal to 3 tablespoons, 1 tablespoon of pure vanilla extract, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper. I put this back on the heat and stirred allowing the added flavors to incorporate. After 15 minutes I checked for gel.

  Some people use a thermometer; other use the gel test to determine set. I use the gel test. I had a finger bowl which I had cooled in the freezer, to which I added a small amount of jam to see how quickly it set. I also taste tested by jam and decided it needed a bit more heat. I added an additional 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/8 cayenne. The jam cooked for an additional 10-15 minutes. 

Once ready, I removed the jam from the heat and pulled the jars from the oven. The lids and rings were placed several at a time in the low boil water. I hot packed the jars, run the wand through the jam to remove air bubbles, leave 1/2 in headspace, and wipe the rim with a paper towel moistened with boiling water. The lids were pulled from the hot water bath, tapped dry on a paper towel, affixed to the jar a ring added and screwed onto finger tight.

I used the 4 oz jelly jars  and processed in a  boiling water bath for 8 minutes. Technically I could have done 5 minutes but I prefer to err on the side of caution. The jars were removed from the bath and placed on a double folded towel, in a draft free location. The jars pinged within 1 minute of being pulled from the bath. I LOVE that little melodic metallic ping! I let the jars set overnight undisturbed before removing the rings and checking for lid flex. They all sealed! 

Look at the little strands of peaches and flecks of spices, mmmm!
I ended up with 9 of the 4 oz jelly jars and 1 8oz (1/2 pint) for the fridge. I always keep a "taste jar" hehe. I must say thought this jam is sooo good. I could not stop eating it. I wanted to climb inside the pan and lick it clean, haha. 

Let me tell you how this tastes... You know the last day of summer? It is really hot, clear blue skies, fluffy clouds, all the vivid colors of nature and the leaves are just beginning to to turn. The evening is dropped temperatures, just enough of a brisk chill you need a sweater and maybe think about having a fire. You step out on the patio in barefeet and can still feel the heat from the day's sun . The air is cool, crisp and carries the perfume of  the grass, trees and flowers. That my friend is how this jam tastes. Sweet, sunshine, warm and spicy.

I plan to make this again, and maybe, just maybe, up the oommpf factor. Maybe reduce the sugar and add some honey. Maybe a little pinch of mace. Maybe a little grated apple to added extra pectin and firm it up just a wee bit. And maybe a few cherries added to the stockpot to  hold the color, because it did darken just a tad. Overall I consider this a WIN my first time making it.  

I think this jam is versatile... on toast, honey butter biscuits, and a glaze for pork or chicken. Don't take my word for it..go on and make y'all some!

Friday, July 17, 2015

Oh deer, a project diss and boozy peaches

Hello all my bloggies! A quick post today.

1) The marauding band of deer returned and finished the remains of my garden. The strawberries are merely green sticks, all the tomato plants stripped bare--every last tomato is gone-- the only thing I am left with are a few fat jalapenos and a couple of habaneros....Sigh... We are expecting temps in the 90's this weekend, which would have been great for my tomatoes--if there were any left! I am considering buying a couple of plants for the patio. Damn deer! What are some of your tips for keeping the wildlife from turning your garden into an all you can eat buffet?

The deer could have at least eaten the weeds in addition to the strawberries. How rude!

2) I am almost finished with my No Dig Zone project. The hubbs kinda dissed my project. Stay tuned for part 3 which shows the completed project, you can read about his unfortunate diss and decide who was right about this project...ummm me!

3) I scored a really good deal on some peaches, so there is some small batch canning going on at the MCLF homestead. Boozy peaches anyone? oh yeah!

 As a side note, I am wondering if my blog is working properly?

Hello...Is this thing on?
I am experiencing a lot of traffic on my site and seeing shares with Google Plus but not one comment in 10 days. I know some other bloggers were experiencing some issues with comments. So if you would take a moment, to leave a comment. If you find there is an issue and you are unable to comment on my post, would someone be so kind as to go to my Facebook page, leave a comment there or private message me?