Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Canning Craziness!

Since my last cherry post my family went through 40 lbs. of cherries (minus the 12 pints I managed to can). Forty pounds of cherries in two days!?
So, we got back in the car and went cherry picking again today.

After many failed attempts to find a free source for cherries, we went back to our original place and found that we could get them for 99 cents a pound today. Combined, a friend and I bought about 160 lbs.
Each of these boxes is about 20 lbs.

Then, the canning began, the washing, sterilizing, destemming, washing, packing and boiling.
Everyone worked hard.
We left their house exhausted, two hours past my children's normal bed time. Falling into the chair, I checked my email. I found this response to my freecycle wanted ad to come and pick fruit trees:

We've got lots of Bing cherries here, and you are welcome to them.


I predict more canning in my future!


Monday, June 29, 2009

In Bee News...

I have a new excitement about my bees today. After much concern, I finally got a telephone call from the local bee expert. He laughed about my worries and told me to come down and open a few hives with him. I did. I got stung. Several times. But I'm sure hooked on bee keeping!

I found out the reason that my bees were swarming on the front of the hive all day was that the frames were chock full of brood cells. That's a good thing. That means the queen is doing her job. I was able to remodel my hive this morning in to a two story bee house, because of their growing family. :)
This afternoon I wanted to take a peek at how they were furnishing their new place. It was sure a surprise to see how many bees were on the frames.

While outside I enjoy watching my busy bees at work. I sit and watch them often, it gives me such satisfaction to see them all over the yard and even the neighbor's flowers. Here they are working on the lavender near the garden.
I love bee keeping.

Sunday, June 28, 2009


To me, when cherry season hits, it says, "We're off!" or "GO!" with out the ready or the set before hand. It sure seems to sneak up on me, but, ready or not, the fruit and vegetable season is in full swing. It's time to get outside and harvest the crops and then dust off the canning equipment and get to work.
As a family, we've enjoyed the process as well as the reward of home-canned produce. The children just love to pick fruit.

Today we filled two boxes at the orchard. The longer I live here in the valley, the more I appreciate the fact that right down the street I can pick fresh, sweet cherries for $1.25/lb. I've eaten more than my share of them, they are beyond description, so delicious!

We just couldn't keep them in our buckets!

I've canned 12 pints whole tonight and plan to make jam tomorrow.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

KP Duty

We've been working in the kitchen all afternoon. Speed Racer helped me mix up a four loaf batch of banana bread, two loaves with lots of walnuts for the kidlets and two loaves with chocolate chips for Daddy. We will slice them and wrap pieces individually for the freezer.

Girly Girl and Sweetie Pie helped me with quadruple batch of chocolate chip cookies. Since I had some cookies at a mom's retreat that Carrie made, I've been using an ice cream scoop to make them (baking 10 minutes per batch). It works perfectly and everyone is always impressed. We have guests coming (Grammy and Grampy and our good friend Thema) this weekend and always try to have a Saturday night game night when my parents come, where those cookies will be perfect.

Creative Genius found his own way to do his work. I asked him to peel potatoes for the potato salad I'm mixing up for a barbecue. He brought pillows and set up his own work station. He was a trooper and peeled about 8 or 10 big Costco potatoes.
Now it's time to get all those hard workers washed, jammied and brushed. Bed time is on the horizon!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Stop UN Children's Treaty

Call Now to StopUN Children’s Treaty

Dear HSLDA Members and Friends,

Monday in a Harlem middle school, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice told a group of 120 students that administration officials are actively discussing “when and how it might be possible to join” (that is, ratify) the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). As before, she also communicated what a disgrace it is that the U.S. would stand with only Somalia against such a widely accepted treaty.

This is the first direct public statement by the Obama administration that it will seek ratification of the UN CRC.

In my 30 years of political involvement, I have learned to recognize this as what is called a “trial balloon.” Like in World War I trench warfare, our opponents have “sent up a balloon” to see if it will draw fire. If things remain quiet, they will proceed with their plans to push for ratification of the CRC in the U.S. Senate. To discourage them from doing so, we need to make sure that our voices are heard with unmistakable clarity. We must let the Obama administration know that we oppose this anti-family, anti-American treaty.


Here’s what we need you all to do:

1. Call the White House comments line at 202-456-1111. Tell them you heard the administration wants to ratify the CRC, and you strongly oppose this giving away of U.S. sovereignty to the UN. Also, keep in mind that this treaty gives the government jurisdiction to override any decision made by any parent if the government thinks that a better decision can be made—even if there is no proof of any harm.

2. Call the Ambassador Susan Rice’s office at the United Nations. Tell her that you want her to represent the United States to the world rather than trying to get the United States to go along with international law initiated by the UN. Her office number is 212-415-4000.

3. Contact your senators and urge them to oppose ratification of this treaty. (Find your senators’ contact information by using HSLDA’s Legislative Toolbox.) Ask them also to defeat it once and for all by cosponsoring SJRes 16—the Parental Rights Amendment.
It is very important that we speak up right now. Please call before you close this email!

Michael FarrisHSLDA Chairman

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Watermelon Rind Pickles

Don't toss that watermelon rind out, make pickles from it with this easy recipe.


4 quarts prepared (see instructions) watermelon rind
2 Tablespoons salt
4 cups white vinegar
8 cups sugar
3 cinnamon sticks, broken
1 Tablespoon whole cloves
1 (1-inch) piece ginger root (optional)


To prepare watermelon rind, cut rind into 2- x 1-inch pieces. Trim green skin and pink flesh from rind. Place prepared rind in large kettle and add salt and enough boiling water to cover. Simmer until tender. Drain and chill rind in very cold water at least 1 hour or overnight in refrigerator. Combine vinegar, sugar and mixture of cinnamon, cloves and ginger root tied in cheesecloth. Bring to boil and boil 5 minutes. Drain watermelon rind and add to syrup. Simmer until rind becomes translucent, about 10 minutes. Remove and discard spices. Pack rind and syrup into hot sterilized quart jars, leaving 1/4-inch head space. Adjust lids and process in boiling water bath 20 minutes.

Yield: 4 quarts

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Beginning of the End for the US?

"Five attributes marked Rome at its end: a mounting love of show and luxury; an obsession with sex, including homosexuality; freakishness in the arts masquerading as originality; enthusiasms pretending to be creativity; and an increased desire to live off the state." (Edward Gibbon, Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire)

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Rhubarb Crunch

We try to have a yummy dessert every Saturday for Torah study. This is what was prepared in our kitchen today for our guests (the above children were the bakers):

Rhubarb Crunch

1 cup flour
3/4 oats
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 melted butter
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup white sugar
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup water
4 cups rhubarb, chopped

Combine flour, oats, brown sugar, butter and cinnamon until crumbly. Set aside. In saucepan, combine sugar and cornstarch, stir well. Add vanilla, water and white sugar. Cook over low heat until thick and clear, stirring constantly until sugar dissolves. Line a 9 inch baking pan with part of crumb mixture. Mix rhubarb into liquid mixture. Pour liquid with rhubarb over the crumb mixture in pan. Top with remaining crumb mixture. Bake at 350 for one hour. Cut in squares and serve hot or cold with whipped cream or ice cream if desired.

(The picture above shows this recipe doubled in a 9x13 pan)

Friday, June 19, 2009

This Little Cowgirl

has the stance down,
maybe one day she'll grow to fit her big boots and her big personality.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Summer Exercise

This summer I resolve to get out more. Out in the sunshine with my children. Everyday!

Around the end of April I started walking to help my children get their miles in for the marathon they were running. (Here is Macho Man going strong. He did really well and enjoyed himself.)

Now that the marathon is over, I could stop walking but I decided that walking four days a week wasn't so bad. And guess what? I'm up to five miles a day now!

Four mornings a week you'll find me at the park pushing a double stroller with one child hanging on, another child in front of me and another bringing up the rear pushing another stroller. It's quite a sight but I sure feel good about getting out to exercise.

Those five miles, four times a week coupled with a hydro-fit class (a.k.a. water aerobics on steroids) two days a week is my plan for helping to kick myself back in to some semblance of a better shape.

I officially commit to this level of activity for through August. Thanks for the accountability!

(Oh, and the picture at the top just happens to be the stroller I am buying the minute I become rich.)

Monday, June 15, 2009

I Stand With Israel

Go here to read the full article.

Jamming Books

Most children really enjoy being read to. I know that at my house, anytime mom sits down, someone is there with a book! I am a connoisseur of children's literature and I like to have reading material available to my children all of the time. One of my favorite things to do is search out and find seasonally appropriate books about what my children are currently experiencing. (In this picture I am reading Dogger by Shirley Hughes, it is a very sweet book about a little boy and his special stuffed animal.)

One thing that we've been gearing up for is the summer fruit season. I love to go out to the garden or orchard and pick fruit with my children. It's a good experience for them! Coming home to make jam is something we've been doing for a while now. Here are some wonderful books to share with your children when you are in the midst of jamming...

Jamberry by Bruce Degan

Blueberries for Sal by Rober McCloskey

Let's Make Jam by Daniel Dorn Jr.

I hope you enjoy them as much as we do!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Strawberry-Rhubarb Jam

My husband has good memories of his childhood. Like Almanzo in the Little House books, he really has good memories of the food that his mother made him.

The other day he was reminiscing about strawberry rhubarb jam. Trying to be the good wife that I think of myself as (!), I procured the supplies, the rhubarb from a neighbor, the strawberries from the garden. I just needed a recipe. Everywhere I look they call for a package of strawberry jello. Ak! (See why this is a problem for me, here.)

I finally dredged this one up fromStrawberry from the Jam & Jelly Times from Sure Jell, Spring 1995 issue. It is what I am cooking up today.


4 cups prepared fruit (about 1 quart fully ripe strawberries, 1-1/2 lbs. fully ripe rhubarb and 1/2 cup water)

6 cups sugar 1 box Sure Jell Fruit Pectin

1/2 tsp. margarine or butter

Stem and thoroughly crush strawberries, 1 layer at a time.

Measure 2-1/4 cups into 6- or 8-quart sauce pot.

Finely chop rhubarb; do not peel. Place in 2-quart saucepan; add 1/2 cup water. Bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer 2 minutes or until rhubarb is soft. Measure 1-3/4 cups into strawberries in sauce pot.

Measure sugar into separate bowl. (Scrape excess sugar from cup with spatula to level for exact measure.) Stir fruit pectin into fruit in sauce pot. Add margarine. Bring to full rolling boil on high heat, stirring constantly. Quickly stir in all sugar. Return to full rolling boil and boil exactly 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim off any foam with metal spoon.
Ladle quickly into hot sterilized jars, filling to within 1/8 inch of tops. Wipe jar rims and threads. Cover with two-piece lids. Screw bands tightly. Invert jars 5 minutes, then turn upright. (Or follow water bath method recommended by USDA).

After jars are cool, check seals.

Makes about 7 (1 cup) jars

Saturday, June 13, 2009

On The Bookshelf

I've been reading this book. It contains everything you've ever wanted to know about preserving food. Good thing because I picked my first red, ripe strawberry of the season from the garden today. Yum!