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Saturday, July 28, 2007

Hardy Hibiscus, corn, and circles

This is what my hardy hibiscus looks like. We love it so much, that when we were at the garden center (see previous post) that we brought 5 more home with us. As you might know, it gets really, really hot and humid here in the summer. AND it gets pretty darned cold here in the winter too, with ice and lots of moisture (usually). It's surprising, then that these plants are hardy to 40 below zero and thrive in the sun. We got the other ones planted in the other beds - two smaller bush versions, same dinner size plate blooms of white, and three other colors. They should make a nice display.

And before you ask another question - here's an answer. Yes, that is a bowling ball "gazing ball" that I made last year from shards of tile from my master bath make-over. This gives you an idea of the size of blooms on the hibiscus, doesn't it? I have several of this kind of shard-work throughout my garden. Needless to say, no one in my family bowls anymore:)
Several questions to be answered here that I couldn't reply to otherwise. My answers are not necessarily the RULES, but just how I do it.


Get the corn clean, then cut it off the cob. I use a bundt pan and put the ear of corn (the end with the self-grown handle?) in the center hole, and cut the corn off the cob with a very sharp knife. We don't like creamed corn, so I don't scrape the cob, but if you want creamed corn, then scrape liberally.

Next step is to blanche the corn kernels over low/medium heat for 8-10 minutes (or until the water is milky looking). Blanching (according to the Ball Book of Preserving) is low/medium heat for 10 minutes. Stir the corn occasionally during this 8-10 minute step. I don't process more than 12-14 ears of corn at a time. I use about a cup of water in the pan, and get it hot before adding the corn. About a dozen ears make 3-4 pints of freezer corn.

A friend of mine adds some sugar and some saltto hers while it is blanching - I don't add anything at all.

Once out of the blanching pot drain it, then dump it onto a cookie sheet with deep sides. I have my deep sink covered with a layer of ice cubes, and then sit the cookie sheet directly on the ice. I try to have the cookie sheet nice and cold before I dump the corn on it. Then I stir the corn around, and up and down, and back and forth to cool it quickly (which stops it cooking). This is important, or the corn keeps cooking and it gets kind of soggy/nasty.

It takes about 10-15 minutes before it is cooled. Then I pack it into freezer bags, 1 pint at a time, press the air out of the bag and seal it. Straight into the freezer it goes.

The quicker you can get the back end of the stuff done, the better the corn is, and you will say you just cut it off the cob!


Here are a couple of references for those of you who asked about how to make these MACHINE PIECED circles. I don't think I can explain it on my blog better than how they are explained in these two references.

I learned how to do this in a class at Empty Spools in Asilomar this past spring, and as you can tell, I am thoroughly addicted to them. I am getting ready to teach a class at a LQS here in a couple of weeks, and then again in September. The method is pretty slick!

Dale Fleming's method is the the method I learned. Her book, Pieced Curves So Simple is more of a process/technique book rather than a pattern book. (Have you noticed that these are my favorite kind of books?) You can see the steps here on HGTV with Dale's process. You can see the Floral Fantasy quilt that I made from one of the patterns in the book for my upcoming class in a June post on my blog.

I really can't share the pattern for the flip circles, since it is copyrighted material from Dale, and I believe it is going to be in her new book. Sorry, but I just can't, and I think you understand.

Another site for a similar method is Kelly Gallagher-Abbott's Jigsaw looking quilt top at Jukebox Quilts. You must download the free pattern to see her technique. She uses spray starch instead of glue. I have now incorporated both methodologies in my circle making, and I think it's a nice marriage that works for me. MY RULE is to do what works for YOU.


Libby said...

More ideas for my polka dot farm *s*

Anonymous said...

Gosh, you are truly amazing. Your hibiscus is beautiful. Mine froze last winter here in CA but now I want to get another one. Your gazing ball is wonderful. Thanks for sharing the frozen corn recipe. I think I need Dale Fleming's book. I had a tour of her house and studio a couple years ago. Sherri

Judy said...

I feel so privileged to have learned the method in "Class" with you!

I love hybiscus plants and they hold a special place in our thoughts for my MIL. Funny story: She gave us our first plant from her yard and we planted it next to the front door of our rental house when we got married. The leaves strangely looked very close to a marijuana plant and only the male teen pizza delivery guys would think this. They would notice the huge flowers then look at the leaves and look at me. I don't know how many times I had to say "it's a hybiscus plant"

Anonymous said...

My 40 below Hibiscus put out 50 shoots this summer and some of them are taller than Yo Ming. Still not blooming at this late date - must be trying to reach 8 feet tall. Should have at least 600 flowers this year - 435 last year.