Sheared Bliss

An Echo in the Bone

As some of you may be aware, yesterday was the release date for An Echo in the Bone – the much anticipated and anxiously awaited latest installment in the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon.  Now, working at a library I rarely buy books – I only buy books that I know I will read more than once or books that I will use as reference – cook books, craft books, history books, etc.  The Outlander books definitely get read more than once and I usually buy them shortly after they come out.  For this particular one, however, it was important to buy it immediately.  Why?  Because Diana was speaking and signing books at the Tattered Cover tonight.  So to that end, I got to the store an hour before they opened yesterday morning and succeeded in scoring copies of the book and reasonable spots in line for the signing.  Tonight it was NurseK’s turn.  She got to the store early and held down our spot in line until I could get there from work.  Now, some people (the uninitiated) have expressed skepticism over just how many people would turn out to see the author of some crazy historical fiction/time travel/romance novels.  Here’s the line waiting to be seated:

Doesn’t look too bad?  Look back into all of the nooks and crannies.  Here’s the crowd after they let everyone sit down:

There were around three hundred chairs – all full – and lots of people standing at the back.

After securing our seats, NurseK and I relaxed and knit.

Hey, look at that, an actual WiP on WiP Wednesday.  Yes, it’s still the Poison Dart Frog Socks.  Yes, I’m boring.  What can I say – it’s the most portable WiP I have right now and the only one that’s not a gift.

Diana gave a lovely talk and read a bit from Echo.

Then she signed . . .

. . . and signed, and signed, and may in fact still be signing as I type this.  NurseK and I were numbers 45 and 46 in line and got out of there by 8:45, but there were at least 375 books sold for this event.  I’ll find out tomorrow from CoworkerL just how late it went because she was there working and was staying until the bitter end.

All in all a very enjoyable evening and a much needed break from the cleaning/fixing/packing/moving frenzy that my life has been lately.  I don’t have a good picture of me with Diana because, although NurseK has many outstanding qualities, photography is not one of them (in her defense, the lighting was terrible in there).  I do however have this:

Diana: (signing book) “Slainte” – that means to your good health in Gaelic.
Me: Thanks!  I have a slightly bizarre request.  Will you take a picture with my sock?
Diana: (puzzled and slightly worried look)
Me: (hands her sock in progress)
Diana: OH!  You’re knitting it.  My daughter knits socks all the time.

I attribute her smile in the picture (as opposed to a look of horrified confusion) to the fact that she’s related to a knitter.


Shrub On The Box
September 19, 2009, 9:37 am
Filed under: Randomness | Tags: , , ,

So I know I’ve been a little quite about what’s going on around Chez Bliss lately.  Rest assured though that there’s been A LOT going on.  What, you ask?  I’ll give you a hint.

More to come later, but for now I’m off to buy shelf liners, downspouts, and window blinds.

My Weekend In Food
September 13, 2009, 9:43 pm
Filed under: Baking, Family & Friends, Food, History, Museum | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Months ago, my friend Lulu suggested that we sign up for a class at the Culinary School of the Rockies together. We signed up for one on curries then promptly forgot about it. Suddenly the class was upon us so Lulu and I headed up to Boulder this past Thursday.

The class was presented by both the Culinary School of the Rockies and Savory Spice Shop and was fun, informative, and tasty. There were spices to see, smell, and taste.

There was an interesting lecture about the history and culture of curry, modern uses of spices in different types of curries, and tips for making curry at home. Then of course we got to taste some different curries.

Clockwise from top – Shahi Sabz Korma (braised vegetables in cardamom nut sauce), Thai Cocount Curry Mussels, Molaghashyam (dahl with coconut milk), and Pork Vindaloo.

Saturday was spent at the museum doing interesting things with tomatoes. It’s nearly the end of the season for the garden so it’s time to use up the remaining produce before the first frost. The green tomatoes went into a green tomato chutney.

I failed to bring the recipe home with me, but it’s got green tomatoes, apples, celery, onion, garlic, ginger, raisins, brown sugar, vinegar, and spices in it. Cook it a bunch then can it.

We also made tomato jam with the ripe tomatoes. This recipe is from the Presbyterian Cookbook by the First Presbyterian Church, Dayton Ohio 1873.


Take one half pound of sugar to one pound of tomatoes; put together in a stone jar and let stand twenty-four hours; then take off the juice and strain it. Put it in a porcelain kettle; bring to a boil, and skum; then put in the tomatoes with a handful of stick cinnamon tied in a cloth; stir all the time. About ten minutes before removing from the fire, take out the cinnamon and add one teacupful of good vinegar to one gallon of jam. Boil until the jelly will not separate.

The tomato jam is in the pot over the fire. In the dutch oven on the right are biscuits and in the skillet on the left are fried green tomatoes. Those along with some jam and tomato and cucumber salad made a very tasty lunch.

Today was baking day – cranberry pecan chocolate chip cookies and blueberry lemon balm scones. The cookies were based on this recipe and the scones on this one.

Jam Session 2
September 4, 2009, 8:08 pm
Filed under: Family & Friends, Food | Tags: , , , , , ,

MommaCodeMonkey and I spent an entire day processing about a case and a half of delicious, local Palisade peaches from the farmers’ market.  All of the same washing, boiling, sterilizing business from the strawberry jam applies here too, but frankly the pictures look exactly the same so we’re gonna skip them.

Peach Brandy Jam

  • 2 1/2 pounds (4 cups) fresh ripe peaches – scalded, peeled, and chopped
  • One 1 3/4 ounce package powdered pectin
  • 5 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup brandy
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ginger

Combine chopped peaches and pectin in a very large saucepan.  Bring to a full rolling boil over high heat stirring constantly.  Immediately add all the sugar and stir.  Bring to a full rolling boil and boil for two minutes stirring constantly.  Remove from heat, stir in brandy and spices, skim off foam.  Stir and skim for 6 minutes.  Ladle into hot, sterilized jars.  Seal at once.

Makes 6 or 7 1/2 pint jars.

Still life of peach jam ingredients with lotion bottle in background.

Mmm . . . juicy, juicy peaches.

Beautiful, juicy peaches.

Mmm . . . peach goo . . .

The finished product.

The finished product.

We also canned peaches when we ran out of jam jars.  These were processed in a hot water bath.  Remember to adjust processing time based on altitude when doing hot water bath canning.

We also canned peaches when we ran out of jam jars. These were processed in a hot water bath. Remember to adjust processing time based on altitude when doing hot water bath canning.

Disclaimer: The jam’s super yummy, but I’m still not an expert.  Please consult one if you’re canning for the first time.

Jam Session
September 3, 2009, 9:45 pm
Filed under: Family & Friends, Food | Tags: , , , , , , ,

MommaCodeMonkey and I have been doing some preserving recently, so the next few posts are going to be about canning.  Let’s jam!

Strawberry Jam

  • 2 pints fresh strawberries
  • 7 cups sugar
  • 3 ounces liquid pectin

Wash, hull, and quarter berries.  Add 1 cup sugar, mix, and let sit for 15 minutes.  Put berry mixture and remaining sugar into large saucepan.  Bring to full rolling boil and boil one minute stirring constantly.  Remove from heat and add pectin.  Stir and skim alternately for five minutes.  Ladle into hot sterilized jars and seal at once.

Makes 7 half pint jars.

Wash everything.

Wash everything.

Sterilize the jars and rings in boiling water, add the lids after turning off the heat.

Sterilize the jars and rings in boiling water, add the lids after turning off the heat.

Prepare the fruit.

Prepare the fruit.

You need a lot of sugar to make jam.

You need a lot of sugar to make jam.

Assemble all of the ingredients.

Assemble all of the ingredients.

Cook the jam.

Cook the jam.

Fill the jars.

Fill the jars.

Admire the jam.

Admire the jam.

Eat the jam.

Eat the jam.

Disclaimer: I am not an expert.  You can absolutely make jam using this recipe and it will probably be darn good jam.  However, if you haven’t canned or made jam before and would like to try, I would highly recommend consulting a book or website for official instructions and expert advice regarding canning procedures.  It’s not difficult, but there are some important safety considerations and some adjustments may need to be made based on altitude.  Jam on!

Dear California . . .
September 1, 2009, 8:28 pm
Filed under: Colorado, Randomness | Tags: , , ,

Please stop being on fire.  We’re tired of your secondhand smoke.  Thank you, that is all.