Easy Twine Wrapped Pot DIY

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All you need is sixty minutes, some sisal rope/twine, plastic pot liners and a hot glue gun to create these simple, inexpensive and eye-catching pots. Each pot cost less than $3.50 each and if you are able to recycle items around your home the cost would be even less. I used cuttings from plants I already own. Philodendron and spider plants are easy to propagate. Of course, you can adapt this method for all sorts of pots and containers. Try wrapping twine or rope around terracotta pots, tin cans, glass jars etc. From here you have yourself some beautiful vases, planters, pots or standalone deco items. I am also experimenting with making ‘rope’ or ‘yarn’ from scrap fabric. Have fun, try not to burn yourself with hot glue and share your results with me in the comments!

Set of Three Wrapped Pots – Supplies

  • 8 inch plastic plant saucers
  • 100 feet 48 lb ½ inch sisal rope
  • Hot Glue Gun/Sticks
  • Indoor plants/soil
  • Scissors
  • Sixty Minutes

Instructions:

  • If your plant saucer has a lip, you can trim this off with scissors if you like. I did them both ways and it turned out just fine but I think cutting it off is easier and was less likely to create gaps around the top. You can also trim the plastic saucers to a custom height.
  • Decide if you want to cover the base of the pot. I covered the base on one of the three but not the others, in part because I would have needed more rope and it is not visible in the area I am using.
  • Do NOT plant the saucers first, like I did. ……. I dilly dallied around and need to pot the plants and couldn’t quite decide how to spruce up the bathroom initially. It made the process a bit more challenging but I still made it in an hour.
  • If wrapping the bottom, trace out a pattern on some paper and then start wrapping up the rope gluing a lot in the beginning and then less, little dabs every few inches until the circle of rope is one rope wrap larger than then the base. I put some additional glue all over the top to hold together and then stuck the sauce down on top. Now keep wrapping and gluing intermittently all the way up the pot.

  • To wrap the sides, glue down the end of the rope to the pot then start wrapping. I overlapped the rope slightly when all the way around the first time to hide the start. I glued a lot more at the base to get is secure so that I could wrap it tighter and quicker going up. Do not overdo the glue, you don’t need every inch attached. Wrap and glue. Wrap and glue.
  • To end the wrapping I overlapped about a ¼ inch and then cut a 3 -4 inch tail and tucked it down into the pot, gluing it inside. You could also tuck it under itself or just stop when wrapped and cover the end with some buttons or other doo dads.

Done!

 

Preserving Figs: Jam and Boozy

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Fresh figs are a fine treat and preserving them opens up many more possibilities, from dried to newton to jam to pudding. I covet (yes, I know) my neighbors majestic fig tree and this year made it out in time to harvest about 10 pounds of green figs in 10 minutes. I am not sure of the exact varietal but think it might be a Kadota, Desert King or lattarulla (Italian honey fig) based on climate and description. I honestly hadn’t put much thought to figs (a flying fig?), other than I loved to eat them in any presentation but especially as a jam with cheese. Do some research for your self about this complex inward blooming druplet. Now let us get down to figgin’ business [groan].


Sultry Fig Jam

This recipe is made a tad bit sultry by adding balsamic vinegar. Inspired by Put Em Up by Sherri Vinton

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds of figs, any edible variety
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup nice quality balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ cup commercial lemon juice
  • ½ orange for zesting

Makes about 4 cups and doubled well, just increase time to reduce.

Instructions

  • Prepare the figs by trimming off the stems and halving or quartering the fruit.
  • Add them to a large nonreactive pot, add the water and heat it to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat and simmer for about 5 minutes until the fruit is really soft. You then can mash up by hand (potato masher) or use an immersion blender, on low, pulsing.

  • Add the sugar, balsamic vinegar and lemon juice. Keep it at a simma’ and stir frequently for 20 to 30 minutes, until it becomes thicker than honey. You can use the gel test or my favorite, guessing. About 10 minutes before done, zest in your orange peel.
  • Ladle into jars (smaller is better for sharing), leave about ¼ inch headspace and process using a hot water bath method for 10 minutes. If you have never canned please take a class or do more research on safe canning practices, as I do not expound on them here….

Enjoy this sophisticated jam served alongside cheese, on buttered toast or stirred into yogurt. You could even use as a marinade or filling for cookie (think jam thumbprints!)

Options: add in candied ginger, simmer a 2 inch cinnamon stick (then remove), fresh or dried apricot or really play up the orange flavor.

Boozy Figs in Honey Syrup

Boozy is optional but figs packed in honey syrup is a must. Inspired again out of Put Em UP! I cannot wait to try these out. I am thinking to smoosh and spread on a cheese plate or warmed up and served over ice cream. Black Mission figs are in the stores right now and for color/interest I used them in combination with my green figs. If all else fails, they look pretty in the jars.

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds of figs, stemmed, washed
  • 1 cup of honey
  • ½ cup Cointreau or other favorite liquor (thinking brandy or bourbon)
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • Commercial lemon juice, enough to put a tablespoon in each pint jar
  • 2 cups water plus more for initial simmer
  • Optional orange zest

Makes 3-5 pints, depends how good you are at packing the jars and how much syrup you have.

Instructions

  • Place the prepared figs in a saucepan and cover completely and then some with water. Bring this to a boil and then just simmer for 2 short minutes. Drain.
  • Combine the honey, sugar and water in small pan and bring to a quick boil. Pour syrup into larger pan with the figs, add the booze and simmer for 5-7 minutes. Do not over cook them or they will be even more fragile. Turn off the heat but you can leave the pot on the burner.
  • Have your pint jars all prepared (clean hot and ready) and add a tablespoon of lemon juice to each jar and the orange zest if you like. I used my wire egg yolk separator to scoop up each fig and place into the jars. Ladle or pour in the syrup into each fig filled jar, leaving about ½ inch of headspace. Put the lids on and swirl and invert to make sure that there are not air bubbles lurking. Take the lid off and remove bubbles as needed. You might need to add more syrup too. I poured the warm syrup into a large glass measuring cup and then poured. It was easier than ladling with this recipe.

  • Process the boozy figs for 45 MINTUES (yes, fourty five) in a hot water bath. Why so long? Do not question; just figgin’ do it… because you are packing lightly cooked whole fruit and figs are really low acid.

Some Figalicious Resources

  • Seattle Can Can: recipes, classes, references
  • No post on figs would b complete without mentioning the world renowned fig knowledge repository – www.figs4fun.com
  • Wikipedia – for lots of big words and interesting facts
  • Excellent overview of the canning process

Sorry for the fig puns….

National Honey Bee Day!

Out celebrating National Honey Bee Day this morning…. Here are some photos and quick videos. No stings either!

Happenings at the hive entrance (video clip, complete with buzzing)

Quick video clip of my honey bees being busy on the inner cover. Note: this is actual bee speed. It was a warm day and they had some fanning and communicating to do (about me entering the hive). They slow down more when I starting working in the hive (read: smoked). This year I have really tried to be light with the smoke. I think that some of my stings last year were from over smoking and really angering the girls. Fight the urge! I use cut up coffee bean burlap bags for fuel.

Another video of two of my girls gather some pollen and nectar off of one of my lemon queen sunflowers (photo above, part of the Great Sunflower Project). It is so interesting how the wings showed up.

Lastly – sweet reward for everyone. I cleaned out some burr comb that had honey it before adding a new box (I think the honey harvest will be a good one this year). Had a sweet snack for myself and put the container back out later for the girls to clean out.

 

Other fun bee and hive posts:

 

Quick Upcycle Ideas: Glass Mulch and Beehive Planters

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Here are two quick ideas to spruce up your yard or garden or balcony.

Recycled Glass Mulch

Taking a boring little step from weedy and drab to cheerful, blue and weed free. We have this great step down into the back yard that originally I grew thyme in as a steppable ground cover. That was until we got chickens, who massacred it. It has sat empty, save for the weeds, for quite some time now. The hubs threatened gravel, but that just would not have added anything to the area. Marbles? Too perfect and round. Finally, came up with idea of glass. Actually, I really wanted sea glass or tumbled vintage blue and white porcelain pieces BUT after pricing that out, decided shades of blue and green glass would be fabulous. Naturally, I wanted to DIY the tumbling (why must you make it so complicated!) but again it would have taken eons and/or required acquisition of a cement mixer or an ocean. Enter internets and recycled fire pit or landscaping glass. Click, ship and happy hubs! You can also find at landscaping supply stores. Note the varying types of sunlight and angles I used – violating good bloggy DIY photo etiquette.

I am quite pleased with the results. It is easy to pick out debris and the chickens have ignored it so far. I do wish that more of the pieces where larger than ½ inch, but I can add those in over time along with sea glass I collect when beachcombing and other durable lovelies.

Recycled Beehive Planters

I absolutely love beekeeping in top bar hives: bees seem calmer (or is it me?), no stooping (over a fiery caldron of pissed off ladies), no heavy lifting…. However, I just seemed that my particular version, while aesthetically pleasing, lacked sufficient volume for the bees to thrive. The first few pictures are right when they were new, not weathered. After a few years of failing to make it through the winter, I stopped using them. Not wanting to discard them and not feeling right selling them and enjoying upcycling and repurposing, I turned them into planters in two steps. Add dirt and add plants. Actually I had to remove the stand and added some packing peanuts to the bottom for some drainage and to keep it a little lighter for moving. But it was really that simple – left remnant honeycomb and propolis, for authenticity.

No empty top bar beehive hanging around? Do not fret! You can check Craigslist or simply look at other things that could hold dirt, maybe drain a little bit (or hold some rocks in the bottom for drainage) and just try it out. Think, wine crates, drawers, tin coffee cans, wheelbarrows, wagons etc….. A simple can of spray paint can transform a lot. Here is a link to simple transformation we did a few years ago on some IKEA pots.

You can also use Langstroth hive boxes to make beehive planters – perhaps some boxes that are pretty beat up or maybe boxes from a diseased colony. I used a few to make dirt bath areas for the hens….not that they use them.

How do you recycle your beehive boxes?

Reach & Read: Saving the World

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Book Review: Saving the World By Julia Alvarez

As promised by my co-worker, this is a beautiful story. What impressed me was how different of plot and approach this book was than her other book I have read, In the Time of Butterflies -still some ‘Latin flare’ but decidedly different. Julia weaves her two parallel story lines (love!) set hundreds of years apart to illustrate the innate need to belong and make a difference in the world around us. Learning about Balmis and his application of Jenner observations and the scientific method to spur the eradication of small pox was refreshing and always tickles that pharmacy geek in me. As always seems to be the case, there is some bee or chicken reference, Saving the World is no exception.

1880s: “I had scooped the honey from the hive, tasted its sweetness, but now the worrisome bees were after me. My mind was full of unease.” [p.65] Worrying is a family trait and this really describe that visceral feeling as you slowly build your mountain out of the proverbial molehole.

Modern day: “We belong to the people who love us.” [p.89] Alma lives this to the bitter end in her half of the book. Not much more can be said about this – now just ponder.

Consumed this book on vacation at our lakeside cabin. The adorbs bee flower pot features my nephews foot print. I could just eat him right up!

Reach & Read: The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down

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The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures – By Anne Fadiman

Remember my list of great books from my law professor? Here is another off the famed book list (see the December review of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks).

Anne Fadiman pens an eye opening book taking a mile deep plunge into Hmong culture, with intense focus on its intersection and collision with Western Medicine. This book should be a graduation requirement for ALL working in the health care industry. Beyond the exemplifying the Swiss Cheese model, the book highlights the immense impact culture beliefs and norms bring to definition and pursuit of health. Anne provides a very detailed desscription of Hmong culture and belief, all of which was new information for me, despite some misdrawn parallels between Hmong and Vietnamese (the hub’s story). She also provides a different view of several social issues that should be extrapolated beyond Hmong including foster care, child protective services, end of life, literacy, race, discrimination, family and immigration.

From personal experience, it is challenging to incorporate different ideas and cultures into Western Medicine, in part because of rules and regulations that make accommodation challenging if not a liability but also due to lack of scientific “rigor” around long held belief systems and practices, especially when they are so difference from our own. This book will definitely challenge your thinking and while I could wax poetic on the subject, I will spare you. Short of it: I still believe in the need and practice of evidence based medicine, in fact more scrutiny and value and less industry and money is needed, however, we as a system need to find a way to allow for some art, take time to step back and reflect if a plan/practice makes sense (example: antiseizure regimen for Hmong child) or if there is another way to achieve the same end and continue to work to meet closer to the middle with patients.

This book does have themes of handicrafts, urban farming and chickens, albeit as sacrifices, but as per usual, lead me to wonder what connection might be out there between the Hmong and bees? Well the internets do not disappoint, granted I was looking more for a legend. I came across the “Yellow Rain”. In the early 1980s, the US accused the then Soviet Union of supplying chemical warfare agents (t-2 mycotoxin) to Vietnam and Laos. Refugees from these countries, which include Hmong, reported a yellow liquid falling from the sky, presumably planes, hence yellow rain. The US purported thousands have been killed, yet the Soviets denied the allegation and the UN found it inconclusive evidence. Eventually samples made their way to some independent scientists who deduced that Yellow Rain, was in fact honeybee poop. Honeybees do not defecate in their hives, so some of the first days they are out and about, in particular after an extended stay in the hive, they take much needed “cleansing flights”. As a result, with my bee jacket to prove it, yellow rain falls. It is plausible that a large number of bees flying overhead could generate Yellow Rain and panic, consider the effects of warfare in Laos and Vietnam at the time.

Resources to learn a little more:

There is also mention of honey and beeswax as part of the funeral ceremony, a passage describing how the deceased is leaving this world.

[…]When the columns of life crumble, my veins and vessels sever.

My flesh disintegrates, melting away like honey and bee wax;

My bones decay, becoming as fragile and brittle as the stalks of dry hemp.

In this way, the road has opened up for me to be on the way.

Her V. Hmong Cosmology: Proposed Model, Preliminary Insights. Hmong Studies Journal, 2005, 6: 1-25.

 

So what else is on this great medical law and ethics reading/viewing list?

DIY Painted Jars, Bottles & Vases

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Upcycle, repurpose and be penny wise with this simple decorating DIY. Painted jars, bottles and vases make wonderful centerpieces for weddings, parties or everyday viewing pleasure. By painting on the inside, you get the illusion of colored glass, smooth to the touch and results in cleaner look. Rest assured that this is not a complicated craft but it took me a very long time finish due to several “craft-astrophies” along the way. I am confident the next time I make a set of painted glass jars, it will be a breeze. Apologies upfront that this is a long post but I feel it is my blog-ly duty to share the fails. Here is my tutorial of how to make your own painted vessels, COMPLETE with lessons learned and thoughts on the various paint options.

Filled with a few stems of flowers, they were the perfect centerpieces for the hub’s birthday party.

Supplies

  • Paint (recommend 1-Shot Lettering enamel)
  • Newspaper
  • Paper towel
  • Muffin papers
  • Plastic spoons or oral syringes
  • Disposable cups
  • Wine corks (optional, great for bottles)
  • Toothpicks, cotton swaps
  • Towels that you can toss when done
  • Acetone
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Paper plates
  • Assorted glass vessels: jars, vases, soda bottles, mason jars

Instructions:

  • Prepare the vases by removing the labels, washing inside and out and rinsing with rubbing alcohol. Let them dry fully before applying any paint. This might be good to the night before to decrease temptation.
  • To remove labels, I submerge in hot water, soak and then rub the label off, sometimes using cooking oil on paper towel. The labels on the soda bottles peeled right off and rubbing with oil removed the glue. BE CAREFUL! Glass + oil = slippery … but your hands will be soft.
  • TIP: Pour rubbing alcohol into the first clean bottle, swirl around and then dump into the next one. CONFESSION – I used the dishwasher as a drying rack; a tad Asian-momish. My MIL has an extensive collection of plastic dishware stored permanently in her working dishwasher.
  • TIP: I used soda bottles (Fever Tree, Jones and Fentimans, if curious), a few Mason canning jars, other random glass around the house (the rice wine vinegar bottle is my favorite) and rounded it all out with some inexpensive vases from Value Village. Don’t be afraid to scrounge in your recycle bin – the hubs had some friends over a few nights before I started for Moscow Mules but “forgot” to save me the bottles. I fished them out.
  • Cover your work space with several layers of paper and set up for painting.

  • Start painting! Pour, spoon or drizzle in some paint and then start swirling, tilting, turning and inverting the bottle to coat the inside with paint. The wine cork is handy when inverting the bottles. If pouring the paint, spoon the paint out of the can into the cup and then pour. You will have to invert, swirl etc. several times. I rested some of the bottles propped upside down in an empty cup and started applying paint to the others. Here is where having an oral medication syringe would have been helpful. Why I didn’t buy some at work? I don’t know…

  • TIP: Do not rush and put a ton in. I started with about 3 spoonfuls. The less you use, the longer (and more patience) it will take to cover the inside but if you use a lot you need to leave them upside down to drain and dry. Out of the small 1-Shot cans, I was able to paint at least twenty pieces, probably more like thirty, as some were done twice (see below) and a few others just bombed (see below).
  • After the inside is completely coated, invert the bottle to start draining out the excess. You could use a cup for each of these but I used a muffin paper per bottle. I was then able to pour excess paint back into can/cup. Let this drain for a while (?30 minutes). When you go to lift it up be ready, more paint will come out. Switch out the muffin paper and invert it again. You do not have to wait as long this time.
  • Invert the bottle again this time though it needs to be elevated so that the paint can drain completely out of the bottle. I set mine up on tooth picks on newspaper. Leave the bottles alone. After a while, you can move them to a clean spot on the newspaper to check if paint is still draining out. Do not knock over causing a domino show – not that I would know.

  • After most of the paint has drained out or you have grown weary of waiting, go ahead right the bottles, clean off paint on the outside and rim (or leave the rim painted) and let them dry. This will need to be at least overnight. I suggest drying them outside.

  • TIP: If you google hard enough you will come across some 1-Shot recommendations to speed dry by placing in a 150 oven (page 33/37), DO. NOT. DO. THIS. I tried, granted my oven’s lowest setting was 160F, but I propped the door open! A few dried but the rest it was like the paint evaporated, gone, vamoosed and left me with something spooky. So, basically, I repainted them repeating step 3-5, at midnight.

  • TIP: The can will mention that it dries to touch pretty quick. I did not find this to be remotely true for this project, due to application technique and lack of air flow inside the bottle.
  • Once good and dry they should hold water for quite some time. My paint held up and I know for a fact not all of them were 100% dry in time for the party, since it took me eighty nine times longer to complete this project..
  • Decorate to your heart’s desire, or leave them plain, maybe in clusters. For the birthday party, I used some honey bee ribbon, various stamps and tags, bakers twine and ribbon scraps.

Paint Selection for DIY Vases

  • I tried four different kinds of paint. I am not endorsing over the other, just telling you my experience. Of note: I couldn’t located the enamel Martha Stewart line but I would hypothesize it would perform the same as the Folk brand, in terms of thickness, based on feedback from others.

  • The Folk Art enamel line was thick and hard to cover the inside of the bottle without using a ton, meaning you could only paint a couple jars and had to wait a very long time for it to drain out the excess. Despite the pretty colors, I would only use this for onesie, twosie projects or using a brush. I also tried thinning it out with enamel paint thinner. Yes, it made it thin but dried really weird when I tried popping into the low heat oven (I swear it recommended the heat drying as an option) after air drying overnight.

  • Pebeo Vitrea Glass Paint (at art supply stores) comes in a nice variety of colors. The jars are small but paint is a little thinner than Folk Art, so it was a little easier to apply but still really slow to cover and drain out the excess. It also pooled in the base of the bottle, even after being upside down over night. This paint is supposed to be heat set (not me just being impatient) but came out streaky, not opaque and with surprise bare spots. I think this paint would be best for painting, faux stained glass versus covering a larger surface.

  • My recommendation for this project is clearly the 1-Shot Lettering Enamel. It might seem more spendy up front than Folk Art and you will not find it at Michael’s or JoAnns (try Amazon or art supply stores) but it will apply like a dream, cover several times more of the surface area and leave you with an even layer of color. You could probably blend colors if need be (e.g. add white etc). Do not dry in the oven, drying outdoors on a warm day but not in super hot or direct sun worked great.

Don’t hesitate to ask questions in the comment section!

Conclusion: not all stories have a happy ending, but don’t worry this isn’t one of those… only bummer is we were having too much fun at the actually birthday celebration to get good photographs of the centerpieces in action. Just this one lame shot that required cropping and zooming….. oh well! We had a blast!

 

Other tutorials – because there is always more than one way….

Plum Dandy Fruit Leather

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Fruit leather (or “fruit roll-ups”) make a great snack for full-size and tiny humans. Inspired by an abundance of frozen plums from backyard, impending bumper crop and recent success with a strawberry fruit leather, I created a batch of plum fruit leather with honey and plums. I know exactly what did and did not go into this snack. Very little work all the way around, except the honey bees. Our plum tree is several decades old and therefore little to no effort and I am a devotee to the lazy beekeeping method. To jazz it up a bit, I incorporated candied ginger into half of the batch. All in all a very easy recipe!


Plum Dandy Fruit Leather

  • 3 – 4 cups chopped, pitted plums
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 heaping tablespoons honey (add more if you want them sweeter)
  • ½ cup chopped candied ginger, fresh would work too, but use less *OPTIONAL

Heat plums and water over medium low until soften and starting to simmer. Blend up a bit using an immersion blender or potato masher, just to get it to start liquefying more. Add honey and continue to simmer, mash/blend until it is the consistency of apple sauce. Now blend it up really well. It would be a-ok to use a regular blender as well, just transfer back and forth. If it seems too thick add more water, a tablespoon at a time. You do not want to add too much or it will take longer to dehydrate but you need it to be spreadable into a thin layer.

Prepare your jelly roll pan with parchment paper and pour in plum sauce, smoothing it out into a thin even layer. Pop into the oven at 175 F for about 2-3 hours depending on your oven. Goal is to dry it till its tacky. I use the convection option on my oven, which I think speeds it along. Caution to not over dry or it will be brittle and crack.

When done, remove the pan and slide the parchment paper with fruit leather onto a cooling rack. Let it cool to room temperature, 10-20 minutes. Trim off the extra paper on the side, but do not unwrap. Roll the sheet up and then cut with a knife or scissors into 1-2 inch sections. I taped them with washi tape to keep together and differentiate the plum-ginger version. Store in an airtight container or refrigerator, if it lasts that long. I think I might also trying cutting with cookie cutters for a playful snack and definitely will be trialing this with other fruits. Based on my back yard, there will be an Asian Pear version later this summer. Yikes!

Other Fruit Leather Versions: Original 50 Mile Strawberry Fruit Leather

Other Plum Recipes:

Peking Duck Pizza: Fresh, Savory & Simple

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We have started a new tradition at our home – #pizzanight (I like throwing a # in for em-phas-is). The goal is to use up food in the fridge or pantry when possible. To keep it more “dynamic”, we use premade frozen dough from either Essential Bakery or Whole foods, although pizza dough is super easy (here is another leftover upcycled pizza with dough recipe). The most recent pizza idea was inspired by the jars full of homemade savory plum sauce and another looming backyard bumper plum crop this year. We also drive past a Chinese BBQ place every. day. and smell those delicious roast ducks….. I did think my idea was original, until I googled it only to a slight bit of dissatisfaction found that California Pizza Kitchen beat me to it (but hey! I have only ate there maybe once). There was a small amount of “discussion” that stinky cheese could go on this pizza with the hubs…. “but there is nooo cheeeeeese on Peking Duck at the restaurant”, ” I know, this is an interpretation”, “I am putting it on anyways and you can pick it off”. [Cheese was perfect btw and Chairman Mao did not rise from the dead.] Ignoring all that, here is our version of Peking Duck Pizza.

Ingredients:

  • Pizza Dough (buy or make) or premade naan or other flatbreads
  • ½ to ¼ roast duck – could use left overs or take out or even a nice BBQ or rotisserie chicken
  • ½ cup of savory plum sauce
  • 2 – 3 green onions, cut into 2 inch “matchsticks”
  • Approx.. 1 cup loose Thai basil leaves, whole (regular basicl is a-okay)
  • ½ cup crumbled or shredded nice pungent cheese: Seastack, blue, gorganzola etc
  • OR mozarrella or brie cheese would be great too.
  • Extras: cup of arugula leaves, crispy duck skin, zucchini, mushrooms (all sorts – shitake, portabella etc)

 

Preheat oven to 450 F. Remove the meat from the bones and shred into reasonable pieces, bite size but not to small. Prepare the pizza crust. I roll and pull mine out as thin as I can on a piece of parchment paper. It is always a strange shape, this time it looked like Ohio. Cover with sauce, add duck and cheese (add mushrooms and zucchini at this step). We first baked the pizza with the greens on it but then added more on fresh when done. Just do it at the end. Bake at 450 for about 10-12 minute until crust is golden brown. We like to finish for a minute or two under the broiler to get some char (it’s a thing with us). Remove pizza from oven, add the fresh toppings like basil and green onion, drizzle with a quality olive oil (if you want) and enjoy! We did an extra step and took the duck skin and pan fried (no oil needed) separately to make it crispy and then sprinkled it on top. A Sinful treat… not as good the second day, as it wasn’t crispy. But the left over pizza was great! You could also add cooked and crispy bacon crumbles.

 

Share some of your pizza ideas!

Savory Plum Sauce: Canning Recipe

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This is simple yet versatile savory plum canning recipe from The Complete Book of Home Preserving. Makes a great sauce or marinade for a variety of foods. We love it on meat! Think chicken, duck or pork. Delish.

Ingredients: Makes about 4 pints, suggest canning or freezing in 8 oz portions

  • 2 cups lightly packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • ¾ cup finely chopped onion (I’ve used yellow, white and purple)
  • 2 tablespoons canned chopped green chilies (you could do fresh too!)
  • 2 tablespoons whole mustard seeds
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 cloves of minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 10 cups chopped and pitted plums

Instructions:

  • Combine all the ingredients EXCEPT the plums in a large pot/pan over high heat. Bring to boil, stirring constantly. Add the plums, return to a boil and then reduce the heat to low, and simmer for about 1 ½ to 2 hours, stirring every once and while. Goal is a thick but still fluid sauce.
  • Prepare your jars and lids as you would for other hot water bath canning recipes. Fill the jars leaving ½ inch of head space and process for 20 minutes. If you have never canned using hot water method, be sure to go learn about it. I do not regurgitate all the really important steps (air bubbles, prep, safety) – do your research. J Here is a great site for more details.

How can you use this tasty plum sauce?

  • Chicken marinade (see below)
  • Peking Roast Duck Pizza (coming soon)
  • Duck Banh Trang (J) Sauce
  • Pork loin or chop marinade or sauce

Chicken Drumsticks with Spicy Plum Sauce

A simple recipe using the bounty of your back yard plum tree. Adjust the spicy to your liking. Enjoy! The best part is the char…. You could do them on a grill or in the oven. Enough for 6 drumsticks, drummettes (plus/minus wing) or 2 full legs. We love the drumsticks and leave the skin on! More meat, still some skin and finger friendly. But you could really use any cut of chicken.

Marinade:

  • ½ cup of savory plum sauce (recipe above)
  • 1 tablespoon hot pepper sauce (you can omit and just dip it in Sriracha or other favorite hot sauce when eating) – adjust accordingly!!!
  • If you don’t have a hot sauce, use some red pepper flakes (1 tablespoon) and canola oil (3 teaspoons)

Mix marinade with chicken pieces and let sit for at 30 minutes. Prepare the baking sheet by lining with foil and spraying with cooking spray or rub with oil. You will hate this recipe if you don’t line the pan. Trust me.

Roast in a preheated over at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes. Feel free to baste while cooking with remaining marinade, but totally not necessary. Finish under the broiler for a few minutes to get the skin crispy and charred. Warning: have napkins at the ready.

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