22 June, 2012

I Be Jammin' !

My jam, looking almost too pretty to eat!

We live within spitting distance of a great little country fruit stand, Kruse Farms .  They have delicious locally grown fruits, vegetables and even garden plants.  I have been waiting for the strawberries to come in and they are finally here.  I'm going to make up a big ol' batch of strawberry jam. 

So I walked inside and there they were, my long awaited strawberries, bathed in a heavenly light from above.  I was almost certain that I could faintly hear harp music... 

One particular flat called my name.  

I  was going to check out when I decided to just take a little cruise/Kruse, HA!, through the pie section, just to breathe in the delicious aroma of fresh baked pies! 
Kruse Farms has it covered when it comes to delicious, freshly baked pies.


So I went home and gathered my canning supplies.  Although I am not a jammin' virgin,
 my jammin' skills were a bit rusty.  So I chose a recipe featured at 
The Pioneer Woman website.  There were detailed instructions
 along with LOTS of photos.  The recipe is super-simple.
You should give it a try.  It's not so hard.
your house will smell delicious.

To make your own delicious Strawberry Jam, you will need -

5 cups crushed strawberries
4 T. lemon juice
1 box powdered pectin
1 pat of butter
7 cups granulated sugar
8 or 9 half pint (or 4 or 5 pint ) canning jars with lids and rings.

I personally prefer the smaller jars.
Makes me feel as if I get more if I have more jars.   
Simple. Makes perfect sense, doesn't it?

 So, I washed the jars and covered them with water in the canner, then heated them up
until the water was simmering, no need to boil.
I also put the jar lids and rings into a saucepan to simmer. 

I washed and hulled the berries...

... then mashed them up on a cookie sheet.  These berries were beautifully red in the center, not like those monstrous, mealy, white-in-the-middle Frankenberries that you buy at the grocery store.  
These bright berries will give my jam great color.

I put the 5 cups of mashed berries in a big pot and added the lemon juice and powdered pectin.
A pat of butter reduces foaming as the berries boil. I turned on the burner high and stirred.

When the mix came to a full rolling boil I added SEVEN, that's right, SEVEN cups of sugar!  
And that.... Dear Reader, is the reason that home made jam tastes so very good.  

After the jam reaches a BIG rolling boil, one that can not be stirred down,
I let it go for one minute, then turned off the heat.  

I skimmed off the foam, which is kind of a frothy, gakky stuff.  But it still tastes good.  
I know... I licked the spoon...

I filled the jars with the hot jam.

Then I wiped off the rims with a clean damp dish cloth 
and put on the lids and rings on the jars.  

It is important not to tighten the rings.  
 Just turn until you feel some resistance.  
The jars have to be able to expel air during the canning process 
in order to create the seal.

Next, I processed the jars in the water bath for 10 minutes.  When the time was up
I turned off the heat and let the jars sit in the bath for an additional five minutes.  
I lifted them out of the water bath and all of the jars immediately popped!, 
which is their own little percussive signal to me that they were properly sealed.  
Music to my ears!

I sat them on the windowsill to cool,
 then stepped back to gaze at just how pretty they all looked.

The next morning Mr. T. and I enjoyed some of my newly made Strawberry Jam on toast.
It was... well, ... it was beyond delicious!

The next time that I'm Jammin', I will be making RASPBERRY JAM!,
and maybe BLACKBERRY JAM !

Update - July 12

DONE! I made batches of both Raspberry and Blackberry.
Strawberry is still my most favorite, but Mr. T. is all about Raspberry.
I think that we have jam for the year!
And at nearly $4.00 per jar at the grocery store, that's like money in the bank.  


 I'm Still Jammin'!  
(Sung to the tune of Elton John's "I'm Still Standing".)

Since my earlier post, I have put up two batches of Red Raspberry Jam
and a batch of Blackberry Jam.  

Mr. T. and I might just have enough jam for the year, that is, if I can refrain
from giving it all away to family and friends.

I have given jars to each of our three children are they are loving my jams.  I'm feeling like
The Bomb Mom!

18 June, 2012

Especially For Baby E.

Our younger daughter, known here in my little corner of Blogland as "Butterfly", told me that she wanted to make a baby quilt for her dear friends, Kim and Jeff, who will be having their first child, a baby boy, in August. She wanted to make a quilt that was not too babyish and that would carry this little boy on into his toddlerhood, and perhaps, beyond.  It is larger than the usual baby quilt, all the better for Mom and Baby E. to cuddle up together. Butterfly chose the pattern for the quilt and she and her handsome husband, the "Trooper", chose the fabrics. I LOVE that Trooper took an active part in the choices! ... 

When Butterfly and Trooper visited a few weeks ago, B. and I got the quilt cut out and we sewed the blocks together. We hit it hard and heavy, getting lots and lots accomplished with the two of us working together. That just warmed this mother's heart, she working on my Bernina and me working on Georgia, my Featherweight.

The finished quilt.
Mr. T held it up for the photo.  I cropped out his feet.
Pre-cropping, the quilt looked as if it could walk to Albuquerque in big ol' size 12's, all by itself.  

I just have to say, that Butterfly and Trooper chose fabulous fabrics! Here they are, pictured below. The off-white fabric was used as the setting fabric and the blue dot is the backing.

As an aside here, I learned to sew by watching my mother at her machine. I wanted to sew too, and began early in my childhood. Sewing has been one of my lifelong loves. I was making some of my own clothing by the time I was in Middle School. I don't recall that my mother ever "taught" me to sew. She set the example for me and was always there to guide me or to answer questions.  She pointed me in the right direction and set me on my path. What a perfect way for me to learn.

As the mother of two daughters, I thought that was the way for me to inspire my girls to sew, by letting them see me sew.  But somehow, it just didn't take.  I sewed and sewed and even sewed some more, but both of them seemed not to have inherited the sewing gene.  I even gave each of them their own machines, but neither of them were bitten by the sewing bug.  Don't get me wrong.  Both daughters are very creative, but they just don't sew much. So imagine my delight when Butterfly announced that she actually wanted to SEW A QUILT!  Maybe, just maybe, the bug has done it's thing.  

So Butterfly and I worked together on the quilt, but time ran out, their visit was short, we went as far as we could and I agreed to complete the quilt. I put the blocks together, then did the quilting. I finished up the binding this morning.  

Take a look at the piped binding pictured below.  I'm getting pretty good at this!  The striped binding was inspired by a quilt done by my friend, Carolyn D., who used a similar binding on one of her quilts. I love the way that the stripes add another design element.  

I am happy with the finished result and Butterfly is beyond happy!  She likes it so much that she is not so certain that she wants to give it away. She's anxious to make another quilt, this time, one for Trooper.  How cool is that?  We are already talking about fabric options.  She's lucky.  She has MANY more fabric resources available to her in The Big City than I do here in the Burg.

Baby E.'s quilt will be shipped off via FedEx tomorrow, in order to arrive in time for Kim's Baby Shower on Saturday, hosted by Butterfly and the Trooper. I hope that Kim and her dear Baby E. love this quilt as much as we do. 

I can't wait until Butterfly and I can work together on a quilt again.  Soon, hopefully.  

13 June, 2012

Ahhhh,.... Roses!

My roses are in bloom.  The photo above is the result of one of those lucky things that happen when the light is just right, I am in place with my camera at the perfectly precise moment in time, and the planets are properly aligned .

I confess, I am not so very knowledgeable when it comes to caring for these amazing plants, but despite my ignorance, they continue to bloom spectacularly.  Each day, when a new bud opens into a beautiful rose, I pronounce it to be my favorite, until the next one blooms.  It's as if I get a stunningly perfect gift with each new bud. 

Thank you, Mother Nature.  You know how to make this girl happy!