Friday, July 30, 2010


One of my greatest joys is being in the kitchen.  I love cooking, baking, canning...creating.  I'm definitely more creative in the kitchen than in my craft room.  After I sorted through all of my old magazines I pulled out several recipes I wanted to try.  My family LOVES blueberries.  When my daughter was itty bitty she used to stand at the refrigerating repeating 'buberries, buberries'...they were a must on camping trips.  I have always enjoyed them in muffins and bagels but lately have been enjoying them fresh.

Blend up some fresh or frozen stawberries with some lemon zest, lemon juice and sugar.  Add some fresh blueberries (do no blend them).  Now you have a wonderful versatile snack.  Spoon it over some yogurt and top with granola...easy tasty parfait.  Or, if your like me, and you don't like the fruity goodness with extra granola...what a refreshing healthy snack.

I usually freeze blueberries for muffin and such in the winter, but one of the recipes I had to try was for ice cream.  That's right...homemade blueberry ice cream!!!  I took the opportunity to take some pics along the way so I could share the recipe with you.  The recipe is from Alma Mosher and was published in the May/June 2004 edition of Country Woman.

There are only 4 simple ingredients:
4 cups of fresh or frozen blueberries
2 cups of sugar
2 tablespoons of water
4 cups of half-and-half cream

Combine the blueberries, sugar and water in a large saucepan.  You will be tempted to add more water...don't.  Just start at a medium heat and stir them around every few minutes.  The directions say to bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer (uncovered) until sugar is dissolved and berries are soft.  As I stirred them I would mush the berries a little.  The whole process probably took about 20 minutes.  But, as usual, I was doing this while I was doing 3 other things so I'm no real sure.

Next I strained the mixture and discarded the seeds and skins.  I did this using a mesh strainer and the back of my spatula.  You could use cheesecloth or a food mill too.  I might leave the berries in it next time (will just have to make sure all the stems are off first)...I think the family would like that too.

Last step for today is stir in the half-and-half.  Cover it and refrigerate it over night.

Good morning...time to make the ice cream!  You will need an ice cream maker of some sort.  New fangled electric or old fashion crank...whatever you have available.  Fill your ice cream make 2/3 of the way full and process according to mfg. directions.  I have a krups maker and you simply turn it on, pour mixture in and let it run for about 20-30 minutes.

You can either enjoy your ice cream soft from the maker or let it harden up in the freezer for a bit.  Either's a little taste of Heaven.  While homemade ice cream may not be "cost effective" it is certainly worth the minimal time invested.  We are already brainstorming about what flavors we can come up with...I think banana is next!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Preseving summer...

I haven't had the time to can very much in the last couple of years.  So, I am taking advantage this year.  I made a trip to White House Fruit Farm yesterday to see what all local produce they had availabl.  Boy was I surprised!  They already had beautiful purple beets by the peck, prickly cucumbers overflowing their baskets and tender string and wax beans pile high in their bin. They also had, not only the classic Bing cherry, but some shiny yellow/pink Ranier's as well.  Less than 20 minutes and my cart was overflowing with goodies.

I know some people wonder why I can.  I hear..."but you can buy pickles at the store" or "you're not saving any money" or "that's so much work".  Yes it is alot of work, but I enjoy not only the process and hearing that distinct "pop" but seeing the look on my family and friends faces in the middle of winter when they taste a beet that 'tastes' like a beet.  Or my kids rationing their pickles to make the last until next year. (you see they could eat a quart a day, seriously...and we won't even talk about the peppers).

For those of you who have never canned I will give you a very basic (shortened version) tutorial.

The two most common sizes are pints and quarts coming in regular or wide mouth size.  I have come to prefer wide mouth.  They are easier to clean, pack and get the goodies out of later.  I have also recenty developed a fascination for the half-gallon sized jar.  I actually saw some at the vegetable market, so I must not be the only one.  However, I found they do NOT fit into a regular sized canner.  The two most important words in canning are...HOT and CLEAN.  Those two ingredients are essential for safely preserving your bounty.  Along with your jars you will need 2-piece lids, they consist of the lid and the ring.  You can reuse the CANNOT reuse the lids.

You will also need a canner w/ rack, wide-mouth funnel and jar tongues...a Ball Blue Book is a great idea as well...I still use mine.  Now all you need is water and your bounty.  Some recipes are very involved and require alot of time. i.e. pickles, chutneys, jams  Other recipes are basic without a whole lot of preparation.  For example beets.  Just wash them and boil them until the skins come off (and they slide right off) then you slice them to your desired size or leave them whole, pack in jars with a little salt, pour boiling water over and process.

Process...I know...what's that?!  After you have your bounty packed in their jars with their lids and rings on.  Ooops, almost forgot...warm up your lids in a small pan of HOT water.  This softens up the rubber ring so they will conform to the jar and seal.  Now put your jars into your canning rack in your canner that's about 1/2 full of water.  Water level will change depending on if your using pints or quarts and how many.  I usually start with 1/2 full and then add after my jars are submerged. AFTER the water comes to a boil you start your timer for however long the directions say, usually anywhere from 15 to 35 minutes.  When the timer goes off, life out your jars, place on a towel and wait for the "pop"...this sound tells you the jars have sealed...and that's a good thing!  That "pop" can take several minutes to an hour, so don't panic.  As the jar cools it pulled down the lid, so it does take a little time.

That's basically all there is to hot water bath canning.  This is a great tool for people with health issues or those wanting to eat organic.  You control the ingredients.  Say you are watching your sodium...if you make beets don't put any salt.  Or control the sugar.  While there are some recipes you have to follow to a T, most have some room for playing (those are my favorite). 

Canning can also be a holiday saver..REALLY!  I like canning my own pumpkin puree.  We enjoy not only pie but bread, muffins and cookies made from pumpkin. Last year there was NO pumpkin on the shelves of local grocery stores due to some flooding down south.  My family did not have to go without their pumpkin goodies! And afterall, what would Thanksgivng be without pumpkin pie?!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Pay it forward...

In the midst of trying to decide whether to have a yard sale or not I received a blog update that kind of made up my mind.  My Mom lived in Toledo for a few years and still has very good friends who live there.  A few months back they were hit with horrible tornadoes, causing quite a bit of devastation.  Here is just a small way we could help.  Sometimes the smallest things offer the biggest comfort.

God Bless...hope everyone is having a happy day!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Wow, now that's a giveaway...

I new gadget! I know you think you don't have room, or you already have a machine that does that...but the Silhouette is totally amazing...and they're giving one away!  Check out Little Birdie Secrets for the details.  This Wednesday is the last hurry.  Good Luck!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Loving My Country Family & The Country Life...

I have been blessed to come from a very large extended family.  My Great Grandma Eva (and Pop, too) had 12 living you can imagine how the family has grown as the generations have replenished.  We have a family reunion every year and for the last two months have had a cousins breakfast the first Friday of the month.  We are a loud, opinionated, comical, caring bunch!  If you want to really know how it is, ask one of us.  If you need help on the farm, ask one of us.  If you need a friend, ask one of us.

My day started seeing this little bird sitting in the grass.  His Mama must have decided today was the day he was going to learn to fly.  He has a sort of gruff kinda look to him.  We kept an eye on him throughout the day and he would flit around from place to place and eventually learned to take flight.  I think he's a sparrow, but I'm not quite sure.

After breakfast we went to Cousin Nancy's house to discuss updates to the Family Cookbook.  Which is sooo much more than a cookbook, it's packed with pictures, stories and geneology.  It's a treasurer!  We finished it in 2004 and wanted to update births in the family as well as any additional stories or recipes anyone wanted to share.  We plan to update every 5 years from here on out.  I LOVE my Cousin Nancy's home.  It's a century home located around the corner from my Grandma and Aunt in some of the most beautiful country in the world (in my opinion)!  I couldn't resist taking a picture from her beautiful front porch and then, of course, her beautiful front porch.  To sit on their front porch with a cup of coffee, feeling the gentle breeze flowing, hearing the tractor make hay in the distance...yep, that's what I hope Heaven is like!