Wonderful day with my new booth at the Warrenton Harvest Festival!

Fit of Pique Mosaics featured!

So happy with my new larger booth!

One of my favorite customers inspects a FOP mini pot with cat grass

I had a wonderful time with CherryGal‘s new larger white booth at the Warrenton Harvest Festival! Great feedback and sales of my new Fit of Pique genuine pique assiette mosaics line which were featured. I had frames, mirrors, boxes and garden pots. We also had Lucky Like organic and all natural premium biscuits, CherryGal’s Organic Do It Yourself Gin Kits and gift vases of Paperwhite Narcissus. I made new friends and new customers! So I will continue to produce my Fit Of Pique and other special CherryGal and Lucky Like items, which are all available on my website, CherryGal.com and in my Etsy shop. I am also open to commission requests that are color and/or theme based. These make unique and wonderful gifts! And after a few customers suggested it, I am considering creating a Fit of Pique pique assiette class event locally, where you will be able to learn the art and create a frame, all supplies included. Let me know what you think about that idea! Thank you everyone for your friendship and patronage! Looking forward to seeing everyone again at the Spring Festival in April!

ChompDeLeezay

I have written before about the Autolyse method for Sourdough Bread baking. Yesterday I realized I had been neglecting my starter “Audrey” quite badly. She had developed a really impressive top layer of brown “hootch.” I poured that off and spent the day refreshing her every few hours until she was once again bubbly and beautiful! Then I scooped a couple cups and got to work making my dough.

I haven’t made olive bread in some time and since I had a half jar in the fridge decided that would do just fine. The thing I love about autolyse baking is that it is not regimented, but rather a relaxed method, relying on your touch, sight and nostrils to achieve your final product. You take a wet shaggy dough and instead of kneading it to death with a lot of flour, you use your bench knife to give it several turns on a floured board and return it to its rising bowl and box every half hour or so.

So I can go about my business, which lately is creating as many Pique Assiette frames as I can in preparation for the upcoming Harvest Festival in town. And just check on the dough, folding it with a little fresh flour on the board, doing this over and over until it is at kneading stage. Then I give it a couple of kneads and risings overnight, shape it (give it a half hour or so to do a final rise) slice the top and bake it.

The Autolyse baking method suits me too … you start with a 500F oven, put the shaped loaf in pouring a half cup of filtered water in the bottom of the oven and turning the heat down to 450. With Olive Bread, it takes 3 “steam shots” and about 45 minutes to achieve a nice “ear” and brown crust and “thumpable” finish. Cooling now, and soon to be “Chompable.”

Autolyse Sourdough Olive Loaf

 

CherryGal’s Fit of Pique Mosaics Makes Its Debut!

Fit of Pique Mosaics

CherryGal’s Fit of Pique Mosaics premiered at the Warrenton Farmers Market last Saturday! I was so pleased with the response! I will be preparing numerous new pieces for the Harvest Festival on October 14, so I will not be returning to the Farmers Market this season. It has been great fun, made new friends, and it was very rewarding! For the Harvest Festival I will have Fit Of Pique Frames, Trinket Boxes, Jewelry Boxes, Trays and Garden Pots. Hope you will come to Town Center Warrenton NC 10 am – 4 pm on October 14 to see CherryGal’s Fit Of Pique crafts and Lucky Like Dog Biscuits!

CherryGal’s Fit Of Pique Mosaics

The Holidays are Coming!

It’s the season for decorating with pumpkins, autumn leaves, pinecones, and more! Before you know it, Halloween will be here, then Thanksgiving, then Christmas! CherryGal.com is offering some beautiful holiday decoratives from Bethany Lowe, Olivia Riegel, Ragon House, April Cornell, Burton and Burton and soon … Fit of Pique! There are centerpieces, wreaths, ornaments, snow globes, frames and more! Hope you can take a moment to visit and buy!

And so much more!

As the leaves fall …

My thoughts turn to Autumn, my favorite season. I love the shortening days, the changing light; the cooling weather, putting my garden to bed for the winter and winding down at the Farmers Market offering the last of the heirloom tomatoes, herbs and bouquets. It is also fun to bring in some special peppers and flowers to overwinter inside. Sometimes I get surprises, as when I potted up my Red Rocoto pepper and found a small garden snake curled up inside its original pot.

It is now time to start planning for Spring, both what seeds to offer for the 2018 season and making the hard decisions about what seedlings to offer in the Spring, because the earlier I can start those the better and since space for growing is limited, these are difficult choices.

My attention turns also to my CherryGal.com store which is now filling with wonderful seasonal decoratives. There are snow and water globes of all kinds, wreaths, Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas figurines and ornaments, holiday table linens and special gift wares.

However, this year, as the seasons turn, my thoughts and prayers are with all those affected by Harvey and Irma. So I am also praying and donating as I am sure you are doing as well. What else can one do?

And the rain still comes …

Slow Cooked Apple Butter

I have been watching the coverage of the Texas storm almost non-stop (I don’t sleep much) and then our own rains started. They were all day, though gentle without wind, it helped sustain the sympatico with those affected by Harvey. So, I thought of things that are great to cook during cool, wet weather, and I put a chicken in to slow roast and started a small batch of apple butter, made from really tart local apples, apple cider vinegar, a cinnamon stick, black strap molasses and stevia (I don’t like to use a lot of sugar).

The aromas emanating from my kitchen all day have been HEAVENLY! And I wish I could share them with all the Harvey refugees. But I will do what I can to help online. Hope you will too!

A gem of a corn!

Glass Gem Corn

This is my first year growing Glass Gem Corn — a triple use maize that is absolutely stunning! You can harvest fresh for use as a popcorn or parching/roasting corn or dry for popcorn or grinding up as meal corn.

A brilliant open-pollinated variety from Oklahoma, created by successive and stabilized crosses of several Native American (Osage and Pawnee) varieties. The result is appropriately named for its translucent rainbow of colors. Stalks grow 6′ to 8′ and produce an abundance of 7″ to 8″ ears. Corn is easily grown in blocks, especially in home gardens where they will get the attention they need to be successful. I grew mine in a spare 4 x 4 raised bed with a flexilble fence around it to keep out my chicks. It was amazingly vigorous and strong — never leaned or toppled despite some truly incredible storms this year. It required little except occasional watering and addition of organic fertilizer. I think growing it closely in blocks aids in the fertilization.

So give it a try next year in your home garden!

Glass Gem Corn July 2017

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For my Gourmet Artisan Gin Drinking Customers …

For anyone who does not imbibe, or for those who are struggling, please know that I do not want to encourage anyone to drink alcohol. But for those of my customers or followers who occasionally like a nice gin & tonic in the summertime (and you can put me in that column), this is for you.
Did you know that gin is just infused vodka? High end gins (and there are many) infuse their own special botanicals, spices and fruits before performing a final distillation. But the final distillation is only to remove the color and particulates. Before that is done it is “compound gin” as long as the primary infused ingredient is juniper berry. So you pay an exceptional price for this artistry or artisan flair.
But you can actually create your own compound gin by infusing these same selected botanicals at home. You will save money and create an incredibly delicious and fresh gin for mixing your cocktails.
Now, you can go and purchase or gather these infusion ingredients yourself — and it is fun to do — but CherryGal Heirloom Organics has done the research and put together a great little kit for infusing a 750ml bottle of neutral Vodka which you will purchase. It is a fallacy that inexpensive vodka is inferior vodka. There are very good and inexpensive neutral Vodkas available, including UV, Deep Eddy, Svedka, Luksusowa, Finlandia and Sobieski. Just be sure you choose a clear, neutral vodka, since flavored vodka is also on the shelves.
Another advantage to choosing a CherryGal Heirloom Organics Do It Yourself Artisan Gin Kit  — and an important one — is that the botanicals are all organic. When botanicals are infused in alcohol, the alcohol extracts everything from the botanicals — the flavor, the fragrance, the color and, unless it is organic, any pesticides or chemicals used in production. Yeck! Using my kit you will achieve a beautiful, clear gin with a golden botanical coloration.
So I hope you will give my new product a try. It is legal. It is fun. It is inexpensive (especially compared to Williams and Sonoma and others). And it takes about 5-10 minutes of your hands-on time and 36-48 hours waiting time. Available online at www.cherrygal.com or at the Warrenton Farmer’s Market each Saturday! Enjoy!

The Importance of Being Earnest(ly Organic): Cucumber Edition

I am embarking on a new Farmer’s Market initiative … organic produce! I will be bringing small lots of organic cucumbers, squash, tomatoes, peppers and eggplants to market beginning this weekend. Although I cannot compete with the larger market growers, I hope to provide some education to market customers on the importance of organics in produce.

For example, take the cucumber — that wondrous fruit grown 10,000 years ago in India and often overlooked in the vegetable aisle. It is remarkably healthy for you, providing so many benefits for digestion, skin and major bodily functions. But the Environmental Working Group, a respected public interest organization, ranked conventional cucumbers second for cancer risk and 9th most contaminated food. The USDA has identified 86 pesticide residues on commercially grown cucumbers:

  • 10 Known or Probable Carcinogens
  • 32 Suspected Hormone Disrupters
  • 17 Neurotoxins
  • 10 Developmental or Reproductive Toxins
  • 24 Honeybee Toxins

The only way to mitigate against the poisons both in the wax coating used to preserve moisture and the vegetable itself is to peel. However, doing so removes the most nutritious part of cucumbers! So much easier and healthier to just buy or grow organic!

My favorite ways to enjoy cucumbers are simply slicing and dressing with dill, a little sugar, and a little vinegar or slicing them into spears and eating with a good sour cream dip. And don’t forget, after a day in the sunny garden, that cucumber is great for restoring your skin to dewy freshness!

I’ll be doing a series of short posts as I add organic veggies to my Farmers Market offerings. For now, you can get some delicious ORGANIC slicing cucumbers from me this Saturday at the Warrenton NC Farmer’s Market, 8 am – Noon. See you there!

Enter … Papilio polyxenes

Weeding my herb bed this morning, I turned a corner to weed my beautiful bulb fennel plants and the lacy fronds of the one closest to me were gone! Only a stalk remained covered with a dozen or so beautiful yellow and black striped caterpillars. I knew immediately that I was looking at a “flock” of Eastern Black Swallowtails-to be. The other two plants were also in the process of being decimated by these beauties. But I don’t begrudge any butterfly its dinner, since they grace my garden once they complete their metamorphosis. Their scientific name derives from the Latin “Papilio” for butterfly and “polyxenes” after the Greek mythological character Polyxena, the youngest daughter of King Priam of Troy.

I am reminded of a book I used to read to my young son called “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle. It described the process in terms a 4 year could understand with charming illustrations. Basically, my very fat caterpillars will stuff themselves with my wonderful herbs until they are ready to begin the magical process of spinning their cocoons and metamorphosing into their new form and take flight. I hope it is soon … while I still have some herbs left! Once they do begin their transition, it will be about 10-14 days before emergence from their chrysalis. Can’t wait!

Courtesy D. Gordon E. Robertson