Making Mulberry Jam

On this new property of ours, we found we have a Persian Mulberry Tree. The berries are more like a cross between mulberries and my favorite thing ever . . . blackberries.
Right now the tree is heavy with fruit, practically dripping berries in the most satisfying way.  Luckily the kids love them. When I was a kid we had mulberry trees, and no matter how hard I tried, I could not learn to like them. I ate them when they were green because with that much sourness anything is good, but even my dad’s doted on Persian Mulberry tree, did not turn my lack of fancy. 
 But whether the psychological shift of this being my own tree, my taste buds changing, or that these berries are truly fabulous, I am finding I like these dark sweet gems.  
So yesterday I made our first jam. It was unnecessary to add anything other than sugar to make it jammy. The flavor would turn any true mulberry lover over in their grave, and cause any current mulberry lover to come knocking at my door asking for a tid bit.  Even our rabbit and guinea pig are indulging in the lush rain of mulberries.

I can’t wait to make more jam.
                             ~ Marica

Sewing Class . . .

On Monday I held a sewing class . . . 
 There were six girls as prolific as honey bees, buzzing around my sewing machine, choosing cloth and building confidence in the art of “throw it together, it will come out”.
To say the the least, I was impressed. 
 We completed bags, pillows and even one skirt . . .
The girls worked hard at keeping straight seams . . .And how not to cut your finger with a rotary knife. 
 The bigger girls worked straight from 9:00 – 2:00, only stopping for a short lunch. The littler ones sewed a bit, swung on the hose swings and played Mother May I. 
Then they came back to the drawing board to complete their projects  . . .
And start new ones . . .
I don’t think it could have been more successful. Happy as can be they chattered, and woven throughout the day was a constant 
“Marica, Marica, can you help me . . .” 

A mermaid or two . . .

 Making dolls is always fun. Collaborating with the fabric to create a personality . . .
 As the face is stitched on, it is like meeting a new baby for the first time . . .
I always love them before the hair . . . 
 In this instance, it was mermaids that were the particular beings working to be made . . . 
Simply fun and satisfying. 

                                        ~ Marica

The Hundredth Post . . . favorite links, and a giveaway . . .

Well here it is. A hundred posts down the road into blogland . . .
I have to say, it has been fun all along. I love the blogs I have found and enjoy the camaraderieship that high technology, usually my evil nemesis, has offered. Due to the fact we are all obviously on our computers while we look at each-other’s chronicles of best lived life, I thought I’d link to some of my dearest finds. These amazing pockets of creation are merely a click away, and I recommend the time spent checking them out:
As to the giveaway . . . A couple of years ago, my mama put together, or better said, finally complete putting together, a cookbook. It was a trek of a journey to get it through the publishing house and out on shelves. I was very involved, illustrating each page, testing and retesting recipes, and sharing the triumphant enormousy of getting published. Due to the fact Wasabi Honey Bee is so intermingled with cooking, I thought it very fitting to offer readers an opportunity to win a copy of this book. I am actually putting three copies up for grabs, so there can be three winners. To enter, leave a comment on this post by midnight (Pacific Standard time) July 30th . If you link back to this post on your site, I will double dip you in the drawing. 
Winners will be posted July 31st
Winners are: 

The Hungry Crafter
Rennee G
Teacup Adventures

            Best Wishes to everyone ~ Marica

Summer dinner and the fastest pesto . . .

Last night I made the fastest pesto . . . What happened was I had a plethora of fresh basil that was just asking to be mixed with garlic and oil, but no blender to aid in the process.
 I wasn’t sure of a solution until I realized on my refrigerator shelf sat almond meal, just as ready for
 battle as the basil. Well the problem was solved and none to shabbily either. In fact, I might even recommend it as to the fact this was the fastest batch of pesto I have ever made, 
and remarkably tasty.Fastest Pesto
 To make, simply throw together:
1/4 cup fresh basil finely chopped
1/4 cup parmesan
1/4 cup almond meal
1/4 olive oil
1/2 teaspoon fresh crushed garlic or more to taste 
salt and black pepper to taste
Mix over fresh rinsed pasta . . . 
 I also made sautéed tofu, which the kids loved. It was a little salty for me,
 but it was certainly a hit with them.
Sautéed Tofu
In a cast iron pan saute until golden brown:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 lb. tofu sliced
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/4 cup Bragg
2 tablespoons rice vinegar 
 My two little ones threw together the salad . . .
 And dinner was made.
                              To summer dinners ~ Marica

In a cottage . . .

Last weekend my mother was energetic enough to host a family reunion for my father’s side of the family. To accommodate so many people, a nearby property was rented to hold the overflow of guests. The cottage we stayed in was undoubtedly charming. It felt like we stepped back to countryside living in 1942.
When I was a child, my four great-aunts lived in a farmhouse outside of Utica New York. We would visit yearly and, although often bored, it simmered in the rustic summer heat, that made me feel like my mother’s mother. Or I guess my father’s mother, because it was his aunts, her sisters. We would try to get lost in the corn fields and play croquette for hours. They would teach us to knit and say old fashion expression after old fashion expression.  I wish I had realized it wouldn’t be long before it was all a memory. That farmhouse is now sold, and that piece of my childhood is unvisitable, except for the images left in my mind.
 This cottage had similar smells and an air of knowing just like theirs did.
A long covered porch it sit on . . . 
And the furniture all went along with the era . . .
The kids found fun in the wooden bench-swing outside, but I could feel their boredom 
just like I had felt. 
The resident geese posed for pictures . . .
Especially these two, who decided to share a shoelace . . . 
It was wonderful to see all my family, and fun to spend a night away.


Loving Laundry . . .

When you haven’t had a washing machine for a while, and your new favorite place is the laundry mat, it gives a fresh perspective on simple things that might be taken for granted. I would tell the kids, “don’t get muddy, we can’t just throw things in the wash . . .” I am a firm believer in getting muddy, so then I would back track and say, “you know what, it is okay,” and then feel frustrated as the hills turned into mountains.  But the other day, just down our street someone was moving, and had left a  washing machine out for sale. It looked in good condition, and she said it worked great, so we wielded it into our car and drove it the two hundred yards to our house. 
The miracle of clean clothes in half an hour, spun to almost dry, felt as good as a first dip in the river come summer. We strung a clothes line between our plum tree and a back fence post, and there, with our bright weather, clothes have been drying at racing speeds. 
I love when simple things feel so satisfying. It is so easy for me to forget the perfection of sunshine and a damp shirt. 

The black lentil progression . . .

Last night I made a simple lentil dinner. It was fine, but It needed a little more punch, so I kept adding things, first lime, than fresh crushed garlic, finally wakame seaweed. The seaweed did it. It rounded out the flavor to a finished level of satisfaction. Then of course a doused of chili pepper flakes . . . 
This has to been such an iron filled bowl of dinner.

Black Lentil Bowl
In a large pot simmer for 25 minutes:
2 cups black lentils rinsed 
1/2 cup wild rice rinsed
8 cups water
Once lentils are soft, 
drain most of the liquid and add:
1 small can tomato paste
3 cloves fresh garlic crushed
6 sticks dried wakame seaweed broken into pieces
1 lime squeezed
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
salt and black pepper to taste
Serving options: Chili pepper flakes, yogurt or sour cream.
                       ~ Marica

Old to new . . .

Well it is all in good fun the phrase reduce, reuse, recycle. I imagine bottles as vases and hand-me -down clothing. But this week I added another word to that list: Refresh. we managed to turn one old item into a lovely new item. We had an old bedside table given to us by a friend. 
 It never rubbed me entirely the right way, and I almost passed it on several times. But my daughter liked it, it has a secret writing table that slips out the side, so I decided to give it a new life. My daughter and her friend worked hard painting it blue, and the dog and their hair too . . .
Then I took my paintbrush and some leftover orange-sample paint, to do the rest. Unfortunately my five-year-old slid his hand along the paint which created smudging, but what can you do?
 I added her name, because when your eight years old, there is nothing more exciting than having something with your name on it written in cursive.
                                                                     Anyway, cheers to everyone ~ Marica Thompson