Freezing Fresh Basil

Last week I joined several ladies at the church for a “Canning Bee” as we sliced, cooked, squished, and bagged countless apples into over 20 gallons of applesauce. It was all spooned into plastic bags and frozen and it made quite a windfall for the Community Table! While I think it is really great to give food to community organizations that provide meals to those who need some assistance, I also think it’s pretty awesome to give them really GOOD food–good tasting and good for you, too!

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That same day, the woman with the proliferation of apples brought an equally abundant harvest of basil. In fact, it was so much basil that the whole church smelled deliciously of basil even the next day long after the apples were gone.

Ultimately, I was the recipient of the lion’s share of this harvest (two gallon sized bags crammed full!) and was delighted but clueless as to what to do with it all. My hope was to make pesto at some point but that point was not any time soon, so the only option I could come across was freezing.

However, I’ve never frozen basil before. One suggestion I had been given was to place them flat in a ziplock and freeze them that way. Then they could be crushed when frozen and wouldn’t have to be chopped. I was pretty worried that they would turn brown or black if I did that. I did a small sample of leaves in this way and while it was super easy to “chop” them by simply squishing the bag, they did indeed turn quite dark.

Even though I was willing to use a small portion of the enormous bounty of basil for that test, I wasn’t willing to risk it all, so I found a solution on Pinterest. (see my Pinterest page for my boards.) Here’s what I found and it really does a super job and it’s part way towards the pesto I want to make, too, because it involves olive oil.

You will need: fresh basil, olive oil of your choice, some kind of container to freeze it in that is (my suggestion) no larger than a 1 cup size.

Wash the leaves, trimming off any flowers and long stems. Let them air dry on a paper towel or clean dishtowels. This took about 20 min for me and I wasn’t super patient about the drying part! It was really late at night and I’d been chopping and squishing apples all day!

There seem to be several options at this point.

Chopping: fine or coarse. I chose coarse because, as I said, I was tired. Plus, my little tiny food processor would have taken FOREVER to do this much basil–if, of course, I could find the blades!

Containers: some people choose to freeze the basil in ice cube trays. I thought that was a brilliant idea! I didn’t have any, though, and I did have a few of those ziplock type small plastic containers. I think you could use anything you wanted but I’d guess it shouldn’t be more than about a cup size since you’ll have to thaw the whole container when you’re ready to use it.

Pour a layer of olive oil in the bottom of the container and swish it to cover the sides. The OO is what keeps the leaves from turning dark, so you want as much of everything covered as possible. Pack in the leaves, covering with the oil, and stick in the freezer. I did mine in layers since it was a rough chop: put in a bunch of basil, pour in some OO, squish, repeat.

Yummmy! I’m looking forward to making pesto soon!

Kitties and Puppies and Doggies and Cats

Now I know that money is tight for everyone in the world but I met a woman the other day who has a cause worth taking a moment to read about and, even if it’s only a couple of dollars, worth giving to. So please…. read on…

Her name is Chandra Spaulding and she has a great passion for caring for animals. Not just her own pets in her own home but caring for those that need homes, too. The last time I saw her, she was sitting on the floor in the bookstore petting the two very happy cats, Cedric and Theda. The store has recently provided the two matching black and white cats (“just like bookends” Chandra said) a new home and now they happily roam the shelves and greet the customers every day.

cedric (photo not by me)

Cedric (photo not taken by me--but it sure is cute!)

Chandra has a great love of animals that is readily apparent. She also spends a great deal of time and money not only helping find homes for animals but also helping people find ways to get the pets they love the vaccinations and spay/neuter procedures they need but may not be able to afford.

Of her work she writes, “I assist folks in western North Carolina by arranging low- and preferably no-cost spay/neuter, plus transport, for their pets through Humane Alliance in Asheville, North Carolina. These people love their pets but lack the financial resources to get them fixed and vaccinated. Often these cases involve multiple pets, including puppies and kittens. Further, I work with partner organizations, making the most of available spay and neuter vouchers. There are other associated costs, though, such as basic vaccinations and travel expenses. Rabies vaccine is required if an owner does not have proof and a pet is four months old or older, and frequently even the $10 for the vaccine is hard for families to come up with, especially when there are more than a couple animals in need. Sometimes these trips to Humane Alliance are the only contact a pet will have with a veterinarian for a year or more. Trips to Humane Alliance require an hour or more of driving (one-way) two days in a row and considerable effort in coordinating with families. Any assistance offsetting these costs would be very much appreciated by me and the families which receive your contributions!  There are people asking for your help, and it’s a great example of how a little bit can go a long way. A little bit of giving makes these families feel acknowledged and understood, and a little bit of giving helps keep our pets population under control and healthy! Pets are very much part of the culture of this mountain area, and they help us be better human beings in so many ways.  When you help with spay and neuter, you are contributing to stronger society.”

So, here’s the deal. She needs help. No, let me put it a better way… the animals need help and she’s one of many who are getting it to them. And you can be one of those people, too. Chandra is using ChipIn, an excellent and quite secure fund-raising site, and every little dollar you can give will help. Check it out HERE.

Also, if you’re in the Sylva, NC area or if you want to make a trip to the most beautiful place on earth (the mountains of western NC) or buy a book online this weekend, come by City Lights Bookstore and be a part of Cedric’s special promotion. Cedric will give a portion of the money you spend in the store or online on Friday, January 20th to PAWS, the non-profit, no-kill animal shelter from whence he came. Want a kitty of your very own? Go downstairs to Citylights Cafe between 11AM and 4PM to adopt a furry friend for yourself!

Donate through ChipIn to support Chandra’s work and buy books from Cedric to support PAWS.

(and if you don’t have anyone in your life who wants a book, feel free to check out MY WISH LISTS!  😉  )

Random Acts of Kindness

Take a look over at this blog:

yearofkindness

Really interesting! I believe she’s come to the end of the 100 days, but it’s still worth looking at and getting inspiration.

I am still making my prayer boxes, post-its and other such things but have chosen not to blog about them for a while for a whole plethora of reasons, mostly related to not wanting people to hunt for them but for whoever comes along to happen upon them. I may, however, do a  little round up of some thing just to show them.

Today is Crafty Pastor and we’re working on prayer boxes. It’s sometimes hard to get the concept across and I’m hoping I’ll have a little better luck this year.

Thumbprint Stole For The Bishop

This past week was the NC Synod assembly for the Lutheran church (more about that and other stuff here) and I was asked to assist in making a stole for the bishop. The idea was that I’d make one out of all cotton fabric and we would then lay it out on a table in the social gathering area outside the auditorium. We would then have people who attended the assembly come and put their thumbprints on the stole. All as a surprise for the bishop.

The stole was made from a pattern I created a couple of years ago. A friend of mine who is a pastor in Texas asked if I could make him a camouflage stole. He had been invited to bless the hunt and this was not some sort of formal horse-and-dog kind of hunt involving small furry animals. This was deer season. So, I designed the pattern and made a really awesome…that is, awesome if you like camo…stole. Even had safety orange crosses on the bottom.

Now, I am no fan of ‘novelty’ liturgical wear and this is certainly NOT something my friend would ever wear in a regular Sunday worship. However, for one special outdoor blessing service a year, it would be just fine.

At any rate, that was the generation of the pattern. It’s actually quite simple. It is two long rectangles joined at one end in a mitered right angle. This works particularly well with a wide stole or one for a tall person. When I re-sized it for myself for an Advent blue stole, I narrowed it and lessened the angle a bit so it would hang properly. However, since my bishop is well over six feet tall, the original pattern worked just fine.

It was constructed out of 100% cotton twill with a medium weight fusible interfacing. Also, white embroidery thread for stitching down the edges for a little nice non-floursh-y finish.

The paint is actually a fabric paint designed for screen printing. I did not choose it but it was an excellent pick! The colors are greens and golds so that the stole is suitable for wearing during the greatest portion of the year.

It worked marvelously! Throughout the days of assembly, people came and put their thumbprints all over it! I also got some great pictures of people’s hands while they did it, too.

Someone marked the ends and point of the stole with little gold crosses. I didn’t see who did it but I think it really added a little special touch to it.

It came out far more beautifully that I could have thought it would! I am so glad I was invited to help with this project!

this photo courtesy of the NC Synod, ELCA

Baby Blanket

Just finished this baby blanket for a baby shower a few days ago.  It’s made from a linen/cotton yarn–not super soft but still feels really good and has a nice hand (as they say in the fabric industry).

It comes from the book Knitting in the Sun and it’s actually for a bag/blanket with a drawstring so that the blanket can be pulled up into a tote bag. I skipped the eyelets for the drawstring and simplified the lace edging.  It came out pretty nice!

Christmas Roundup

Ok, so it’s time for the Christmas Roundup!

First, some things I got as gifts.  Books, for one thing, which I’ve already listed in the previous post.  Also some scrapbook paper and a really cool kit for making Christmas crackers–those little tubes that you fill with small candy and toys and the POP apart. Had some store bought ones last year and they weren’t so hot. These are great because I can fill them myself.  A few other things, too.

One of the best things was an awesome tool box for my sewing supplies. It is actually one of the coolest toolboxes I’ve ever seen. It is cantilevered, which means that instead of opening up, the top slides back, and it also has really neat little boxes to divide everything up inside and keep things from slipping around. The little sorting boxes have grooved places to sit so that when you take one out, the

others do not slide around. They’re in the lid and in the inside section, too.

Ok, and now the remaining things that I gave as gifts.

This bag is really cute. It is a bit like a lunch bag with really long straps. The pockets are all around the outside, though there are none inside.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This one was super cute because I also made an apron for myself out of the fabric. It’s the same Frenchy Bag pattern I’ve made over and over.  I think I’m done with it for a while, though.  It was not very difficult and fun to make, with good results, but I”m sort of tired of it now.

All Done But The Baking

Well, finally, all the DIY Christmas gifts are complete!  All except the baking part, of course. I didn’t end up doing as much knitted items as I have in the past, but that’s actually ok.  Most of my family and friends have gotten all the knitted stuff they want for a while.

There were a few things that I had to give in and not do myself. In some cases, there just was no do-it-yourself option or even something hand made by someone else. However, I did manage to keep that to a minimum!

Christmas cards, although not “hand” made, were designed by me. The image itself is of a hand-made banner at the church. I modified it in some of the Creative Memories software–the Storybook Creator–and added the swirls and snowflakes around it, adjusted the color in some places and removed it in others. The back image is the same Celtic cross I use on most everything.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the knitting category, we have this cashmere hat in a simple 1×1 rib and a farrow rib knit scarf. Came out quite nice!  Super soft but I think still pretty warm. They’re a bit light weight, but the recipient seemed to like them just fine.hat and scarf

One more apron–this time in black and white! The main body of it is this really pretty tone on tone swirly pattern. The girl at the shop said it was a Halloween fabric, but it sure didn’t look like it to me. Just because it was black maybe? I don’t know.  The ruffle, ties and pocket are another tone on tone, this time white. The image on it is a stylized reindeer. I wasn’t planning to make this a Christmas apron, but it’s just fine if it becomes one when I give it to the person for whom I made it.  This is the same pattern I used for the previous two on the last post. I did, however, make one small modification. The black fabric for this one was very lightweight and it didn’t lay flat across the chest. The other two were also a bit “blouse-y” here but because the fabric was a tad heavier, it didn’t seem to matter. So I made two small tucks right at the ties at the top. This makes it lay flatter and look better while being worn.

 

 

 

 

 

 

And the last and final bag! This was made from the Frenchy Bag pattern I used for these bags. There’s another tote bag I made that I haven’t photographed yet, but I’ll probably have a Christmas Roundup post with lots of stuff later on and I’ll try to get one then.  It’s pretty, I think. 🙂

Anyhow, this one is for my mom’s neighbor who is so very good to her! Red and white and just fun!  It’s tote bag size.