Eco Rugs Workshop is scheduled for Wednesday Jan. 23, 2013, 6pm – 8pm at Tres Puertas Galleria in Rincon. We need 5 participants to hold this event so pass the word. Instructions will be given for preparing plastic shopping bags to crochet throw rugs. Plastic rugs can be washed in a machine or sprayed clean with a hose. They dry quickly and bugs don’t like them…great in front of a door, sink, shower, refrigerator. We’ll also cover recycling t-shirts into crocheted rugs. You’ll need to bring scissors, plastic shopping bags, an old t-shirt and a crochet hook (USA size Q or 16mm) available at Walmart in Mayaquez. I have a few crochet hooks I will sell for $5 ea. Cost of the workshop is $20. If interested please call 787-672-5284.
Gingerbread cookies are a tradition at Christmas time. They make terrific gifts for school parties, hostess gifts and neighbors. So cute all dressed up in royal icing and candy hearts. Molasses is typically used to make the dough but here in Puerto Rico its next to impossible to find Gramma’s Molasses and the Blackstrap Molasses available here in health food stores yields nearly a black cookie rather than a golden brown cookie. Honey makes a terrific substitute as long as you use dark brown sugar which has a higher molasses content than light brown sugar. After making a couple sample batches of dough I’m really pleased with the flavor and color achieved with honey and dark brown sugar…these cookies are just like Mom made way back when.
The El Coqui Rincon magazine was kind enough to advertise my cookies for sale in the November issue (check out http://elcoquirincon.com). Each cookie is 4-inches tall, wrapped in a cellophane bag and tied with a red ribbon. Orders are pouring in this week and I expect they’ll continue to come up until Christmas week.
The dough is quite soft so to roll it out I use parchment paper dusted very lightly with flour, then dust the top of the dough with a bit more flour and place plastic wrap on top. Once the dough is rolled to about 1/8-inch I remove the plastic wrap, cut the cookies with a floured cutter, remove the excess dough and place the parchment with the cut-out cookies on a cookie sheet. Pop the whole baking sheet of cut-out cookies into the freezer until they are firm. This will prevent the cookies from spreading too much. I got this idea from Laura Vitali’s video and I thought it was so clever. When the oven is up to temperture 350° F. (180° C.) I bake the cookies for 18-20 minutes.
Do try this recipe and method.
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 4 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp cloves
- 1-1/2 cups butter (salted) (3 sticks as room temperature)
- 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1 whole egg
- In a medium sized bowl whisk the first 6 ingredients together and reserve.
- In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter with the dark brown sugar until fluffy, add the honey and egg, beat well. Gradually add the reserved flour mixture to the butter mixture.
- Scrape the dough onto a large piece of plastic wrap sprinkled with flour and using the plastic wrap shape the dough into a rectangular package. Refrigerate for 2 hours or up to one week. Remove dough from frig when it is quite firm.
- Preheat oven 350° F. Roll dough 1/8″ thick and cut out gingerbread men using parchment paper as detailed in blog post above. Chill cut-outs 20 minutes before baking. Bake until golden brown, 18 to 20 minutes for my oven but your’s could be only 10 or 12 minutes.
- Remove baking sheets and let set 5 minutes before removing cookies to a cooling rack.
- Decorate cookies with royal icing when they are completely cooled.
Hurricane Sandy did a number on some of the beaches in Rincon, taking away the sand right down to the bedrock in some areas. My friend, Judy, lost several beautiful fan-palms on the beach side of her home leaving an eight foot drop off. Fortunately the rest of the property was intact and the fruit trees were unharmed. Judy had one starfruit tree loaded with fruit so I brought home about 10 pounds of fruit for chutney and this jam.
Tropical fruits are very sweet when ripe with delicate flavors and its important not to overcook them or add ingredients that will overpower their intrinsic flavors. A couple tablespoons of fresh grated ginger was all that was needed to turn a batch of starfruit into a jam with just a hint of sparkle. Starfruit tastes like a strawberry with apple tones and has the texture of watermelon or ripe pear depending upon the ripeness.
Do give this jam a try and remember jams make lovely Christmas gifts.
- 2 cups cubed starfruit (about 6 medium sized)
- juice of one lemon
- 1 cup water
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
- 2 Tbsp liquid pectin
- Remove stem, blossom ends and any brown skin from the star points of the fruit. Cut into 1/2 inch cubes.
- Place in a heavy bottom saucepan. Add water and bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes or until fruit is tender. If necessary use a potato masher to smash the fruit.
- Add lemon juice and pectin, bring to a roiling boil and quickly stir in sugar until dissolved.
- Add ginger and bring back to a roiling boil for 1 minute more. Remove from heat and fill jars.
- For long-term storage – wash jars and lids in hot soapy water and rinse thoroughly. Keep warm until ready to fill. Fill jars within 1/4 inch of the rim. Wipe the rim and place lid on finger-tight. Place jars in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Remove to a draft-free area and let sit for 24 hours. Check lids have sealed before storing. If lids have not sealed, refrigerate jam.
- For more info on canning jams check out YouTube http://youtu.be/Os6225I_Lco
Puerto Ricans are mad about snowmen…who knew! I suppose its a novelty for those who haven’t seen nor experienced real snow. I had lots of requests last year for snowmen so I made these little ornaments from 1-1/2 inch and 2 inch styrofoam balls with paper mache clay to form the noses, eyes, buttons and hats. They’re sitting on cork platforms with paper mache clay filler so they’ll sit by themselves on a mantel. Red and green pipe cleaners were used for the scarves and ear muffs. The cap and scarf on the snowman to the far right was made of stretchy T-shirt fabric.
Paper mache clay is one of my favorite mediums for crafting. Its used in place of paper mache (paper strips and paste) over an armiture. It’s simply toilet paper soaked in water, squeezed dry then shredded fine in a food processor. Joint compound, homemade white glue, flour, bleach and gylcerin was whirled with the shredded paper until a smooth dough was achieved. This recipe is adapted from Ultimate Paper Mache. Check out the recipe video below from Ultimate Paper Mache. Jonni Good is the author of Make Animal Sculptures with Paper Mache Clay.
Paper Mache Clay Recipe – makes 1 quart or 2 pounds
- 1 roll Angel Soft toilet tissue
- 1 cup regular joint compound
- 3/4 cup homemade white glue (recipe to follow) or Elmer’s Glue All
- 1/2 cup flour (all-purpose)
- 1 Tbsp Chlorine Bleach
- 1 Tbsp Glycerine
Homemade White Glue
- 1 cup flour
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 2 Tbsp cornstarch
- 1-1/2 cups water
- 1 tsp vinegar
Place homemade glue ingredients in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until thickened like a medium thick white sauce.
To prepare the paper mache clay: Remove the cardboard roll from the toilet paper. Place toilet paper in a bowl of warm water until completely saturated. Squeeze as much water as possible from the toilet tissue. Break up the roll of toilet paper into chunks and whirl in a salad spinner until it feels just damp. Transfer to a food processor, pulse and whirl the paper until finely shredded. Add the remaining ingredients and whirl until its like cookie dough. Place in a plastic container with tight fitting lid and let set 3-4 hours or overnight.
Next up – Three Kings statues made with wine bottles and paper mache clay.
Noni grows throughout the South Pacific and Caribbean islands. For centuries the natives used the leaves of the noni plant for medicinal purposes. Today the fruit and its juice are more commonly known, though I can’t understand why that stinky stuff would appeal to anyone. The leaves, however, are pleasantly fragrant when dried and steeped for an herbal tea. It really tastes like another green tea. Noni Leaf Tea is naturally caffeine-free and to quote http://nutritionwithsonia.com :
“Studies have shown the leaf to be the most nutrient-rich part of the plant, containing health promoting nutrients including phyto-chemicals, antioxidants and bio-flavonoids. Rich in a number of vitamins and minerals – phosphorus, iron, calcium, magnesium, vitamin E, vitamin K1, niacin and more. Noni leaf is rich in plant sterols, protein, glycosides, and anthraquinones.
The leaf has many benefits when taken regularly – will protect us from toxins and pollutants, encourages the body to detox, helps prevent the premature onset of age-related diseases, boosts our immune defences, reduces our risk of developing cancer, aids in better digestion and assimilation, helps to cleanse our intestinal system in a very mild way, reduces inflammation and eases pain, has mild anti-bacterial properties, and helps to maintain normal blood sugar levels.”
Daily use not recommended for people with kidney or liver disease. Do not take if pregnant or nursing.
To make Noni Leaf Tea place 1 bag in two cups of boiling water and let steep for 3-5minutes. A little stevia, agave nectar, or cold-pressed honey can be added only if necessary. To make iced tea, place 2 bags of Noni Leaf Tea in 1 quart (32 ounces) of hot water and let steep over night. Add a slice of lemon to make it more aromatic.
Noni Leaves grown in Puerto Rico are organic, hand picked, washed and dried, then packaged in individual tea bags. 12 bags to an ounce packaged in mylar bags to maintain freshness and prevent damage during shipping.