Easy Freezer Pesto

Another Hatchett Job blog, Creative Commons attribution, pesto, basil, preserving, freezing.
Fresh Pesto

I love pesto!  My hubby uses it in making many delicious meals and we used to buy it in a jar to savor the taste.  This summer, I grew basil for the first time and had a bumper crop (read about it here)!

So, I decided to make my own pesto to freeze for the winter.  Pesto is an oil based sauce and it can be very thick, so I don’t think that canning would be a good option this time, so freezing seemed the optimal choice for both safety and yumminess.

That having been decided, I didn’t want to take up any more freezer space than necessary.  Additionally, I knew that the basil would likely oxidize and turn brown if not packed tightly into containers to minimize air pockets.  So, I began to do some research.  I have found that the recipes at the One Hundred Dollars A Month blog with Mavis were usually really good, so I decided to modify one of hers.

So here is what I came up with.  It is really more of a method than an actual recipe that allows you to use what you have and adjust to taste.

Clean, drained basil leaves

Peeled garlic cloves

Parmesan cheese

Walnuts, Pine Nuts (pricey), pecans, etc.

A decent olive oil

Pack (and I mean pack them in fairly tightly because they will mince down into nothing) basil leaves into your food processor.  Add about 4 peeled garlic cloves to the top along with a good handful or two of the nut of your choice (maybe a cup).

Pulse and let the leaves start to grind down.  Open the top and add 1 cup or so of parmesan cheese (out of the container from the store is fine or grate your own, just get that goodness in there!).

Turn processor on and drizzle olive oil until the mixture just starts to come together to make a super thick paste.  STOP!  If you are freezing the sauce, this is where you want it.  Pack into small containers or baggies and either fill to the very brim or squeeze all the air out.  Label and freeze.

To use the sauce immediately, keep adding that drizzle of olive oil slowly until the mixture becomes a spoonable sauce.  It shouldn’t heap up on a spoon, but be just barely pourable.  That is perfect for immediate use!

To use the frozen sauce, defrost and then add to a bowl and slowly add in fresh olive oil (stir with a small whisk or a fork) until the consistency is the same as for ready to use.  That’s it!  Add to your recipes and taste a bit of summertime all year long!

What is your favorite use for basil or pesto?

Till next time,

Another Hatchett Job blog, signature, Jan Hatchett

 

Violence

Another Hatchett Job blog, creative commons attribution, crime scene tape, violenceLately, hearing the news absolutely sickens me.

It’s not that I don’t understand that violence and evil exists.  I am a big girl.  I am quite aware of what potentially lurks outside the safety of my home and car.  But, I don’t like it.

I am cautious and mindful.  But, I don’t like it.

I am aware and vigilant.  But, I don’t like it.

The worst part is, I think that we are becoming far too accustomed to it.

Case in point.  Last December, evil reared its ugly head and murdered children and teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School.  It was horrendous and the entire country mourned with the families of their treasured ones who Another Hatchett Job blog, creative commons, school safety, homeschooling, education, bullyingdied for nothing.

This past week, two teachers have died.  One of these teachers was an ex-Marine who lost his life disarming a student gunman.  Sure, it got news coverage.  People shook their heads.  And don’t even get me started about the situations that have come together to reduced some of our military to disgrunted employees who lash out.

But, it largely went without mention in what I saw on social media.  The very same media that overflowed with emotion and angst over Sandy Hook’s tragedy hardly noticed teachers who died.  No hearts poured out grief and the tragedy of the situation.  It was on the news.  It got official attention, but did we even stop for a minute and consider the enormity of this situation?  That violence and evil had overcome two of our schools again?  That the professionals who work for diminished pay compared to the corporate world were being murdered while in the bathroom or gunned down protecting other students.

Another Hatchett Job blog, creative commons attribution, police car, antique police carHave we become so innundated by violence that we no longer take notice unless the location or the extent of the injuries and/or deaths is somehow novel?  Is nothing sacred anymore?  Is life no longer precious and the loss of life tragic?  Are we so greedy for a new “sound bite” that the same ol’ murders bore us?

If this is the case, then we have created the worst tragedy ever seen.  Our collective selves and our callousness.

I don’t like it.

Till next time,

Another Hatchett Job blog, signature, Jan Hatchett

From the Past: A Two Quilt Top Week

A short time ago, in a blogosphere far, far away, a little red headed blogger got in WAY over her head with a self hosted blog and one day–POOF–it refused to publish or save any more posts.  Even her techno savvy friends and family members (hi, Dad!) couldn’t save her beloved blog.  Sadly, the girl (who loves to write, but is only minimally techno savvy, by the way) restarted her blog on WordPress (but not the self hosted kind).  But, hating to lose her previous 800+ posts that wouldn’t be seen, she came up with a brilliant idea (!) to institute a feature to bring back some of her older posts that she wanted to keep or thought were good.  Hence the new feature:  Blast From The Past!

So, if you have followed my blog in that other, sadder blogosphere, you have probably already seen this one.  But, you might like it even more now…  Hey, you never know!

So, from February 17h, 2012…

Just a quick quilting update for all of my friends who are interested in that kind of thing.  Because we have had numerous people at our church who are ill, having surgeries, and/or grieving lately, we are running a tad behind in getting lap quilts made for my Mom and Dad to deliver.  So, we have been working overtime this week to get a few more done.  Mom has made one quilt top and will try and finish it tonight.  I have sent over two quilt tops for her to finish up and I have pulled fabric for a third, so that is my next project.

Another Hatchett Job blog, photo by Jan Hatchett, Quiltville quilt patterns, Bonnie Hunter, quilting, charity quilting
Scrappy Bargello pattern by Bonnie Hunter
http://www.quiltville.com

The quilt top above is made from a pattern by one of my favorite quilt designers, Bonnie Hunter at Quiltville.  It is called Scrappy Bargello and all of the instructions are very well laid out on her site–free for the taking!  Bonnie is very generous with her time and efforts, making oodles of charity quilts each year, teaching, writing books, and sharing her techniques and patterns to keep fabrics (especially scraps and ugly fabrics) out of the landfill and used to make beautiful projects.  I find myself drawn to her site for inspiration, patterns, and insight from a master quilter.

I must admit that this pattern is a little bit more complex in layout  than what I usually do for charity quilts, but I was able to use up lots of random fabric scraps that Mom and I had around, creating a lovely quilt for really no financial outlay.  And trust me, when you begin making as many quilts as we have been making lately, that is a very big consideration!  Personally, I really think that the scrappy look is so intriguing and interesting that I enjoy working with scraps.  Don’t get me wrong, love the beautiful, planned out, color coordinated designs, too, but nothing takes the place of my scrappy babies!  I will definitely be using this pattern again.

Now this baby is one of my old standby patterns, the 1600 quilt.  I made it with purchased batik strips (tossing the pinks, corals, and most of the purples aside to keep the color scheme more

Another Hatchett Job blog, photo by Jan Hatchett, batiks, 1600 quilt, charity quilts, quilting, quilts, strip quilts, jelly roll quilts
1600 Quilt in Batiks

masculine).  Sorry the photo is out of focus.  It’s odd, but we don’t have very many fabrics suitable for men in our stashes.  Or we have used up the ones we have had and are down to having some, but seldom enough to mix together to come up with a respectable quilt.  So, I am always on the look out for masculine prints and solids on sale (or donated).

Lately, I have been collecting thrifted, er, I mean, vintage shirts from the thrift shops to make masculine quilts for my sons.  I am hoarding, er, collecting red, white, beige, tan, and blue plaids for my oldest son’s planned quilt, which will be in a scrappy star pattern like this.  It will have to generously fit a double bed, because he will outgrow it soon and have to move on up to a queen.  Woah!

I have been hoarding, I mean collecting similar shirts in greens, beiges, white, browns, tans for younger sons quilt.  It will be a bento box pattern.  He is currently in a twin bed with plenty of room, so I am planning a generous twin size.  I am not sure how I will finish out these quilts yet (heck, or when I can get them started).  I am leaning to a quilt as you go kind of thing so I can do the entire thing myself.  I am not crazy about spending cash on longarm quilting (although I LOVE the look) and am unwilling to hand quilt something that will receive wear and tear from a kid.  If I put that kind of time into a project, I want it to be cared for.  Kids need to be able to drag them around and be rough and tumble.  Machine stitching is great for that.

So that is my week in a nutshell. Are you doing anything creative this week?

If you would like to see more quilts, click herehere, and here!

Till next time,

Another Hatchett Job blog, signature, Jan Hatchett

How to Prolong Basil Harvest

This past year was pretty horrible for our little garden.  An unusually wet Spring and early Summer caused many things to just rot where they stood instead of growing and producing as much beautiful fruit and veggies as they would normally.  It made me sad.

It was, however, a phenomenal year for our herbs, particularly our basil plants!   From our few plants (maybe 9), I harvested gallons and gallons of basil for pesto, to freeze, and to enjoy fresh.  My friends were even able to fill their freezers with some yumminess from my plants.  It was amazing.

Plus, I still had basil as late as one week ago while many others in my area had pulled up their plants just before the highest heats of the summer.  I literally ripped out the plants (which were now waist high with woody stems at the base) and used the last of the good leaves a week ago, so they wouldn’t get caught in a hard frost and start to look horrible and dead.

Another Hatchett Job blog, gardening, herbs, basil, how to prolong basil harvest, basil bolting
Flowering Basil

How did we manage to do this?  By recognizing that basil plants “bolt” or flower and go to seed.  Many producers rip out their plants on the first signs of them sending up a flowering stalk.  I have read time and time again that production will be diminished and the resulting leaves will taste bitter if eaten after the plant has begun to set flowers.  But, in my experience, that wasn’t the case at all.  Once the plants began to send up the flowering stalks (and in the heat of a Georgia summer, they will send up loads of them at one time) the leaves that the plant will produce will be smaller and bees will begin to flock all over the garden to get at them!  To prolong the plant, every time you walk through the garden, pinch off the little flower stalks at the base where two leaves join.  Simple.  Every time you do this simple act, you are buying more time to grow the leaves that you eat and enjoy.  It’s that simple.  As for the leaves, they did get a bit smaller after the plants tried to bolt, but they had the same rich flavor as they did before.

My hubby is a very picky eater.  He is probably a supertaster, as he can eat a restaurant meal, determine what flavors he tastes and then reproduce it at home.  While my brain is going, “Mmmmm, good!” his brain is going, “Is that a touch of Cardamom?  With allspice?”  Anyways, he thought the basil leaves tasted essentially the same before and after bolting, so that is good enough for me.

Keeping these plants over the summertime allowed us to harvest approximately 10 gallons (no kidding) of leaves for freezing that we would otherwise not have had.  And the smallest of those flower stalks that are still tender will go well into a homemade pesto for freezing and taste just like the leaves.  I think this qualifies as a thrifty move as well!

To preserve our harvest, I wash leaves in cold water and drain.  Then I pack my poor, old food processor to a ridiculous amount and begin to pulse the leaves.  After 3-4 pulses, they leaves on top arent’ moving around, so I begin to drizzle a decent olive oil in the processor while it is running.  This will make a green slurry.  When it is a nice, pasty consistency, spoon into ice cube trays and pack down.  Place in freezer.  When frozen, transfer to airtight bags or containers and label.  To use them, just drop a cube (or half a cube) into the final few minutes of cooking a pasta sauce, soup, etc. at the last few moments of cooking to add a taste of summertime!

Till next time,

Another Hatchett Job blog, signature, Jan Hatchett

Blast From the Past: A Quilt for Hubby & Me!

A short time ago, in a blogosphere far, far away, a little red headed blogger got in WAY over her head with a self hosted blog and one day–POOF–it refused to publish or save any more posts.  Even her techno savvy friends and family members (hi, Dad!) couldn’t save her beloved blog.  Sadly, the girl (who loves to write, but is only minimally techno savvy, by the way) restarted her blog on WordPress (but not the self hosted kind).  But, hating to lose her previous 800+ posts that wouldn’t be seen, she came up with a brilliant idea (!) to institute a feature to bring back some of her older posts that she wanted to keep or thought were good.  Hence the new feature:  Blast From The Past!

So, if you have followed my blog in that other, sadder blogosphere, you have probably already seen this one.  But, you might like it even more now…  Hey, you never know!

So, from July 19th, 2012….

Another Hatchett Job blog, log cabin quilt, Pat Wys, White Chocolate quilt pattern, Silver Thimble Quilts, brown and cream quilt, baptist fans, hand quilting
Log cabin quilt in the log cabin!
Photo by John Purdy

A couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to take a set of classes with Pat Wys of The Silver Thimble Quilt Company.  The classes were so wonderful!  Pat is a fantabulous teacher and I learned so much about how to make my piecing and quilts so much better.  I really hated it when circumstances forced me to stop attending.

Now, Pat no longer teaches at my local (well, kind of local) quilt store and I miss those classes. But, anyway, this is a quilt that I made from a pattern called White Chocolate that Pat designed.  Each class, we had a choice to bring something of our own to work on or we could purchase one of Pat’s patterns and a kit made up by the quilt shop.  This is one of those quilts.

Of course, back when I started this quilt, I was looking to improve my skills, not being terribly concerned about the fabrics.  I remember seeing it and thinking, “Ooh, that’s masculine” which isn’t often stated about many quilts lately.  The fabrics can tend toward the crazy frou-frou.  And, hey, I like some frou-frou!  But, this one was striking, but terribly different from anything that I had ever picked out.

Pat’s pattern showed a monochromatic look of creams, caramels, and khakis.  But, this monochromatic quilt kit offered such amazing drama with the increased contrast of the fabrics. Little did I know that I would end up living in the log cabin while quilting away on this beauty in a homemade quilt frame.  The quilting pattern is a free form Baptist Fans (sometimes called Methodist Fans or Church Lady quilting).  I am marking with a water soluble blue marker one row at a time so Mom and I can both work and know for sure that we are working in sync with it even if the other is not around.  It goes fairly quickly and easily (more quickly when I actually make myself sit down and work on it!) and is not difficult to do while watching a bit of television or a movie.

My stitches are nothing to write home about and, since I am quilting with YLI Rust quilting threads, I cringe a bit when I see imperfect stitches (all of them!) against the pale cream background, but when you step back a bit it isn’t jarring at all.  You don’t see individual stitches, just the movement of the pattern.  Those are the moments when I can’t wait to see what the end results will be!

I am hoping to get quite a bit done this weekend as most of my family is travelling.  Mom and Dad are off to her 50th class reunion and Hubby and the boys are camping and whitewater rafting.  It’s just me and the Army brother who is home on leave, who drifts in and out occasionally.

Mom occasionally laughs that we need to finish the quilt so we can put up the Christmas tree when time comes.  I want this baby on my bed long before that time comes!  It almost feels kind of prophetic, the road that this brown log cabin quilt and I have travelled to end up in our log cabin.  It just feels right to me.

Edited to add:  this Blast From the Past is still on the quilting frame.  However, now it is about 3/4 completed and should definitely be on my bed before Christmas!

What projects are you working on?

Till next time,

Another Hatchett Job blog, signature, Jan Hatchett

Blast From the Past: Vintage Sheet Crafts

A short time ago, in a blogosphere far, far away, a little red headed blogger got in WAY over her head with a self hosted blog and one day–POOF–it refused to publish or save any more posts.  Even her techno savvy friends and family members (hi, Dad!) couldn’t save her beloved blog.  Sadly, the girl (who loves to write, but is only minimally techno savvy, by the way) restarted her blog on WordPress (but not the self hosted kind).  But, hating to lose her previous 800+ posts that wouldn’t be seen, she came up with a brilliant idea (!) to institute a feature to bring back some of her older posts that she wanted to keep or thought were good.  Hence the new feature:  Blast From The Past!

So, if you have followed my blog in that other, sadder blogosphere, you have probably already seen this one.  But, you might like it even more now…  Hey, you never know!

So, from April 2nd, 2012….

Another Hatchett Job blog, apron, vintage sheets, sewing, vintage sheets craftAfter a few really good deals at local thrift shops, I have amassed a good amount of vintage sheets to use in various projects.  I simply adore the beautiful, feminine prints on them and find them lovely for sewing.

This apron was crafted from a single king sized pillowcase in a pink roses print (it’s a bit faded in the photos) and some soft rope that hubby had on hand.  It was done in about an hour, even with sewing machine issues and needles breaking.  Love that.

I delivered it today and my friend, Beverly, absolutely loved it.  She and I both have two boys, so we understand the need for a little something practical and pretty sometimes.vintage sheet creative commons

Of course, there are a hundred ways to jazz up this simple apron.  The pocket is made of the same fabric and it isn’t very obvious like it would be if I had used a contrasting fabric.  Or some ric-rack, or lace, or bias binding, or piping, or an applique….WHEW!  The ideas just don’t quit coming some days.

What interesting craft materials do YOU find at thrift shops?

Till next time,

Another Hatchett Job blog, signature, Jan Hatchett

Why We Support Special Olympics

Another Hatchett Job blog, Creative Commons attribution, Special Olympics, Special Olympics logo,This week, our oldest son will be taking part in the Equestrian events for Special Olympics, Georgia.  This is his second year participating in this program and I wish I had realized that he could be a part of it years earlier than I did.  It is amazing how well he has responded to the horses and how well that the horses have responded to him.  He has gained so much from the experience, from better balance and posture, to a better outlook on life and more confidence.  I would totally recomend Special Olympics to anyone who may have a child who qualifies or who might want to participate in an amazing event as a volunteer!  I have watched volunteers blossom and benefit as they work with the riders over the past couple of years, also.Another Hatchett Job blog, horses, therapeutic riding, Creative Commons attribution

In writing this article, I checked out the Special Olympics website.  In their About Us section, it gives a really good explanation of what Special Olympics is all about:  Special Olympics transforms lives through the joy of sport, every day, everywhere. We are the world’s largest sports organization for people with intellectual disabilities: with 4.2 million athletes in 170 countries — and millions more volunteers and supporters. We are also a global social movement.

I am honored to be a part of this social movement!  From personal experience, I can truly report that this is a movement that not only changes lives, but celebrates life in its infinite and beautiful diversity.  Every athlete is loved.  Every athlete is valuable.  Every athlete is celebrated!  How amazing that is for a population that is largely overlooked (at best) and reviled (at worst).  These kids (I think of them as kids, but there is not an age limit in the Special Olympics, with some athletes training at our Equestrian Center (Calvin Center, Hampton, GA) being in their 40s) work hard and learn so much in preparation for various events.  Currently, 32 Olympic style sports are included.  I only have personal experience with the equestrian events, but other parents whose children participate in multiple sports report similar positive effects in the athletes in other events as well.

Another Hatchett Job blog, Creative Commons Attribution, Special Olympics swimming, Special Olympics, Special Olympics athletes, swimmers, swimmingParents may have to look around to find a Special Olympics sports group to practice with.  The county we live in has absolutely no Special Olympics groups here.  That is pretty telling, because if there were support from our local businesses and government for these kids, we would be easily able to find athletes!  Fortunately, a friend through our Boy Scout Troop introduced us to the Special Olympics training at the Calvin Center in the next county over.  Fortunately, the county north of us has 17 events that athletes can compete in and they have NO problems including those of us who don’t have access in our counties.

And all of this positive energy and caring comes through a rich history that started with Eunice Kennedy Shriver noticing that children with disabilities didn’t have places to play.  For a great look at the history of how one woman worked to change the perceptions of the day and start Special Olympics, read the article here.  I couldn’t do it justice by paraphrasing it.

I never knew I would have a child who would be able to take advantage of this amazing organization.  I couldn’t have prepared for it in advance.  But, I know that my son, and indeed, my Another Hatchett Job blog, creative commons attribution, western riding, equestrian events, horse showwhole family, has received love and support from a group of volunteers who are changing the world each and every day!  Maybe not in the way that some view changing the world, but no matter what moods we are in when we arrive for my kiddo’s lessons, he (and I) always leave smiling.  In a world of hatred and anger, this is an amazing and profound thing.  I refuse to overlook the beauty in that time on horseback and the kind and supportive words we both receive due to this organization.  Special Olympics is one of very few organizations that I feel very good about.  I have seen first hand how they operate and how they benefit their athletes.  They aren’t blowing wads of money on television ads and trying to blow up their own corporate salaries.  They are working to make the world a better place, one athlete at a time.  I can support that.

Margaret Mead once said, “Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For, indeed,  that’s all who ever have.”  I think that Mrs. Shriver has also changed the world, possibly more than she ever thought possible, and I, for one, am incredibly grateful.

Do you support Special Olympics?

Till next time,

Another Hatchett Job blog, signature, Jan Hatchett