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Friday, September 1, 2017

Cornelian Cherry Jam

Once we planted a tree...

My sister picked it out. At the time, my sister and I owned the duplex I live in now. Sadly, she passed away 4 years ago last Saturday. The tree we planted survived though and thrived.

It's a Cornelian Cherry and if you have never heard of it before you're not alone. It's of the dogwood family and in the spring it blooms with beautiful yellow flowers.

In the summer though, it's loaded with small, bright red, cherries that resemble a coffee berry.

According to Wikipedia, the tree is native to southern Europe (from France to Ukraine) and south western Asia including Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran, Turkey, Israel, Lebanon and Syria.

The cherry's taste is very tart, almost sour, and they are ripe once they turn bright red and drop to the ground. The seed of the cherry accounts for over half it's size.

Last year, during my Home and Patio Sale, the tree was bursting with cherries when a lady approached to ask if she could pick the fruit. At the time, I was surprised anyone ate the fruit but she told me how it made wonderful jams. As she picked her fill of cherries, I decided next year I'd try my hand at cherry jam.

Fast forward a year and armed with a bed sheet and a colander, I went out to the cherry tree early last Saturday morning and started shaking the branches so the berries would fall on the sheet. It took less than 30 minutes to fill the colander (about 12 cups of berries).

I washed the cherries and set them aside as I was waiting the arrival of my food millfrom Amazon; I had no intention of pitting all those cherries one at a time. I was also waiting on a new canner and rackas I wanted to seal the jars of jam in a hot water bath.

Thankfully my food mill arrived later that day, however, by Sunday afternoon my canner had not. Since the day was predicted to be 100 degrees and I had to go to work the next day, I decided to get started on the jam and make due with tongs and a deep pot I had.

I brought the cherries to boil in about 5 cups of water for approximately 4 minutes. I then scooped out the cherries a cup or two at a time, placed them in my food mill, and started to remove the pits.

I'm not going to lie, removing the pits from the cherries even with the food mill, was hard work and probably accounts for why you don't see a lot of cherry jam around. It wasn't long work, just hard work, and in about 20 minutes I had pitted all my cherries, yielding about 6 cups of cherry sauce.

To this sauce, I added 2 teaspoons lemon juice and 3 cups sugar. I've read recipes that actually call for 8 cups of sugar! I couldn't bring myself to add that much, besides I didn't have it. I boiled the jam for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, I had my jars and lids in the hot water bath sterilizing.

Using a soup ladle I filled the hot jars with the hot cherry jam, put the lids on, and set them back in the hot water bath to seal for approximately 3-5 minutes.

Although most cherries don't contain a lot of pectin, these particular cherries do and the jam set up nicely.

The finished jam is a beautiful red color and has a nice lightly tart flavor. I think the cherry flavor is great on it's own however next year I think I may add a few habanero peppers to it for a little kick. Now if the weather would just cool down, I could make some homemade bread to eat with it!

Just a reminder, Lora's Beauty is celebrating the launch of the mobile friendly website and Labor Day! Get $5 off any order of $25 or more until September 5 (discount taken automatically!)

Friday, August 25, 2017

Grab Your Mobile Devices We're Having A Celebration SALE!

According to the latest statistics, people are accessing the internet by mobile devices over 70% of the time. Having a website that doesn't look perfect on a mobile device today means you could be missing a lot of sales!

Do me a favor, pick up your phone (if you're not on it already) and go to www.lorasbeauty.com. This week I worked on bringing the Lora's Beauty website into the mobile world! You could always access it via a mobile device however it wasn't pretty. You might have needed to scroll or zoom in. That is all fixed now though!

Not only that, I tested it using Google's Test My Site application. It should load under 5 seconds if connected via a 3G connection. Those areas with faster networks should load quicker.

I know, this is all pretty geeky-boring stuff, but it was on my to-do list for a couple years so I'm thrilled to have it done and working so nicely. In fact, I'm so thrilled of this accomplishment that Lora's Beauty is having a SALE!

Now through Labor Day (September 5) order $25 or more from Lora's Beauty and receive $5 off (discount will be taken automatically)! That's a free bar of fresh-from-the-goat goats' milk soap! We've restocked the store and are ready to celebrate so grab your phone, tablet, or even your laptop and place an order today.

Don't forget, Lora's Beauty offers Free Shipping in the US on orders $30 or more!

Friday, August 11, 2017

Grilled Pizza

What's a person to do when it's hot out, you don't have air conditioning, and it's PIZZA NIGHT!? It's like the perfect storm, right? Lucky for you, I have a workaround to this vexing issue: grilled pizza.

Although I had heard of people grilling pizza before, it still wasn't an easy decision to grill our homemade pizza. If it didn't work pizza night would be ruined and there's no coming back from a ruined pizza night. Disappointment would be lasting.

None the less, I maintained a positive-can-do attitude and did not show any doubts as I boldly laid our homemade pizza on the George Foreman grill confidently reassuring everyone that it would work; no problem, the internet never lies!

As it turns out, at least in this case, the internet didn't lie! You can grill a pizza, although oven cooking it is still our preferred method.

To grill our pizza, I set my George Foreman grill to the highest setting (5) and let it heat up for about 3 minutes.  I then placed the pie on parchment paper directly on the grill.

I cooked it covered on the grill for about 30 - 40 minutes until the toppings were well done and the dough was fully cooked.

The bottom of the pie looked beautiful and had a nice crunch to it, as though it was cooked on an open fire.

Grill cooking doesn't get the pepperoni crispy and oily which, let's face it, if you're putting pepperoni on your pizza, you want it crispy and oily!  However, if the choice is heating up an oven on a hot day or non-crispy pepperoni, I'll take the latter (notice forgoing pizza altogether was not an option!)

Click here for my pizza dough recipe.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Another Kitchen Gadget: Ice Cream Maker!

Last weekend was the Home and Patio Sale! I sold all the furniture except the two coffee tables which I'll list on craigslist. Best of all, a lot of furniture was saved from the landfill and (hopefully) will still be used for years to come.

I also sold quite a bit of soap and once the weather cools down I'll need to replenish my stock of Peppermint Ice and Cinnamon and Honey goats' milk soap!

Now, on to more important things, like ice cream!

Fourth of July came and went this year with little fan-fare around our home. Since the holiday fell on a Tuesday it meant work on Monday, holiday Tuesday, and work on Wednesday.

None the less, I thought I should do something for the holiday, after all, I did have the day off! Well that something led me to searching ice cream makers which in turn led me to this attachment for my KitchenAid mixer.

I'm always amazed at the versatility of the KitchenAid mixer and this attachment did not disappoint. The most important thing about this attachment and how it's different from the many other KitchenAid attachments, is the bowl HAS TO be put in the freezer for AT LEAST 15 hours.

Notice, I capitalized and italicized those key words? That's because I bought my attachment July 4th afternoon with hopes of having homemade ice cream for Fourth of July night. I went so far as to read the instructions and felt they were obviously written for someone else so I only froze my bowl for about six hours. Let's just say, we topped our ice cream with some chocolate wine and drank it that night (still yummy and would have been good with our homemade nocino as well!)

Since that night we've made plenty of homemade ice cream that came out great. I've experimented with several recipes to find one that's awesome tasting but still not completely laden with high-fat cream and I think I've finally landed on one.

So here it is, my first ORIGINAL (you won't find this anywhere else) recipe!

Low Fat Homemade Ice Cream


  • 1 1/2 cups plain non-fat yogurt (not Greek just the original kind)
  • 1 cup low-fat coconut milk (I used the kind in a can)
  • 1 cup non-fat evaporated milk
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • Any and all kind of toppings you can think of!
  • Mix sugar, yogurt, evaporated milk, and coconut milk together in separate bowl.
  • Chop up toppings.  I've used fresh mint, chocolate chips, walnuts, blueberries, mango, coconut, and yes, even Fruity Dino Bytes cereal.
  • Add ingredients to ice cream maker and immediately start churning for 15-30 minutes until preferred ice cream consistency.
Makes about 1 - 1 1/2 quarts. 

After making ice cream, clean the bowl and store it in your freezer so it will always be ready for the next batch! Also, if your ice cream tends to get super hard in your freezer and you end up bending spoons to get it out of the container, an easy hack is to store the container in a plastic bag, remove all the air from the bag, then place it in the freezer. 

This attachment works good on all versions of KitchenAid mixers; the kind where the head lifts back and the kind where the bowl lifts up.

Summer won't last forever so start making ice cream today!

Friday, July 21, 2017

Final Push: Home and Patio Sale 2017!

Last week before the 2017 Home and Patio Sale! I've passed up many free sidewalk finds these past couple weeks simply because I don't have the time to refurbish them before the sale and I don't want to be left with them.

I still need to price and tag everything and I have special little tags to make each item seem more like a boutique-one-of-a-kind piece and not a yard sale find. Each item in this year's sale is a boutique-one-of-a-kind piece as they've been personally selected from the many items left on the Portland sidewalks then hand refurbished by me!

Take for instance this beautiful wrought-iron table.

This isn't some light weight fake wrought-iron plastic, this is HEAVY wrought iron.

I scrubbed it with a steel brush and used Restor-A-Finish (walnut)to make the top pop!

Who wouldn't love this one-of-a-kind piece gracing their homes? I would and I won't be upset if I'm stuck with it!

Also available in the sale is this beautiful oak drop leaf table.

Seriously, look at the little casters on each leg *swoon*! Drop leaf tables are great for people who don't have a lot of space for a large table but still like to eat their meals in a civilized fashion and occasionally entertain.

Don't forget this farmhouse table and chair set! Yep, it's in the sale!

Need a rolling cart to serve drinks outside this summer? This sweet cart came with a bird cage for Ed and Olive.

We didn't need the cart so we cut a couple boards to fit the top and I painted it with Miss Mustard Seed's Shutter Gray Milk Paintand added a stencil to the top. Can you not see yourself behind this cart as you wheel it to the deck full of ice tea and sandwiches?

Wait! You say you don't have a place to sit outside!? Well this beautiful wrought iron bench will be in the sale as well!

Also available will be plenty of clean and well kept clothing, like-new shoes and sandals, jewelry, leather handbags (Coach even!!), vintage wallets, dishes, Lora's Beauty artisan fresh-from-the-goat goat's milk soap, and lots more!

The sale will be Friday and Saturday July 28 and 29th in NE Portland, Oregon. Go to NE 17th and Fremont and follow the signs! I promise you'll find it, even the signs are one of a kind!! Sale starts at 9 am and items went quick last year so get there early!

Friday, July 14, 2017

Chalk Paint Patterned Table

This table showed up free on a neighborhood social group I follow.

After seeing it, I decided to paint it because there were a fair amount of scratches and frankly it was a pretty imposing table for a coffee table and I thought a lighter color would help make it less so.

The wood grain on the top of it had a pretty pattern. As you can see from the photo, I taped off the wood grain pattern and started to paint it.

I used Rust-Oleum Chalk Paint in Linen White and Rust-Oleum Serenity Blue Chalk Paint then trimmed the design with Miss Mustard Seed's Milk Paint Curio. In the cracks on the legs and sides, I used beeswax so the paint wouldn't stick giving it a little definition that would have otherwise been covered with paint.

This was the first project I've painted completely (other than the brown trim) with chalk paint rather than my typical milk paint. Chalk paint is definitely thicker than milk paint which made the top design easier to paint, however, I think I like the finish of the milk paint a little better; it seems less matte and 'chalky'.

Because this is a table and will see plenty of cups and spills, I sealed it with Rust-Oleum Clear Sealant. It's important to finish milk paint and chalk paint with some kind of wax or sealant if the surface will see a lot of use and possibly spills. An unfinished surface could lead to stains.

This table and the lamp that matches it (seriously, doesn't that lamp look great on it?) will be available in the Home and Patio Sale in Portland Oregon July 28 and 29! Go to NE Fremont and 17th ave and follow the signs!