Saturday, July 28, 2012

There's a New 5 Year Old in the House!

 Food on a fun table...


She's officially five.  All grown up, practically.  And she appears to be enjoying it.  We sure do love you, Carks. 

Monday, July 23, 2012

Time to Jam

It's summer--time to make freezer jam.  I like freezer jam better than canned jam because it's easier (duh) and it tastes fresher in the midst of a cold rainy winter.  Cold raspberry jam on a hot biscuit transports me from January to July with one big much!  I grew up watching and helping my Mom and Dad make oodles of raspberry jam.  They have several rows of berries in their yard.  That translates to many, many batches of jam as well as berries in the freezer for winter pies and smoothies.  Dad and Mom have always shared their abundance of jam with others.  I remember one gentleman who we loved dearly confessing that he ate the jam straight out of the jar with a spoon rather than enjoying it slowly on toast.  He needed a lot of refills : ) 

 We are blessed with raspberry bushes in our backyard--so I head outside to pick a few berries first of all.  The kids and I love to pick and eat, so we don't bring too terribly many berries inside.  A half flat will make two full batches of jam, though--so it doesn't take much.
 Then it's time to gather all the needed tools and ingredients:  berries, a strainer, measuring cups, sugar, potato masher and pectin--I like the Sure Jell brand best. 
 Wash the berries to get the dirt and bugs off--sort out any bad berries.
 Pour your berries into a bowl or a very large glass measuring cup.
 Using a potato masher or pastry cutter, mash up your berries.  I like to leave several berries intact.  A potato masher gives a nice "rough mash". 
 Making freezer jam really is "quick and easy".  The directions are straight forward and are found inside the pectin box.  Raspberries have enough acid that lemon juice is not necessary for jam.  Simply mix the 3 cups of mashed berries with 5 1/4 cups of sugar. 
 Recruit help, if possible.  Mix the sugar and the berries well.
 Then let it sit for ten minutes while the acid works to begin dissolving all that sugar.
 While the jam is resting, you need to cook the pectin.  Measure 3/4 cup of water and the contents of pectin package into a small saucepan. 
 While the jam is resting, you can stir it occasionally.  Or let any street urchins who wander into the house take a turn at stirring.
 Stir your pectin and water constantly as you cook them.  Let it boil while stirring for one minute.
 Then mix the pectin into the jam.  Mix jam until sugar is fully dissolved.  Rub your spatula against the bottom and sides to listen for any grains of sugar.  When you can't feel or hear any more grains you are done.  The package suggests about three minutes of stirring.
 Then pour your jam into freezer containers.  It will  begin to set up quickly.  I had used up all my super cute glass jam jars before I took pictures of jam making--so you get to see the mismatched plastic tupperware containers instead.
 The jam needs to sit out at room temperature for 24 hours before being transferred to fridge or freezer.  Or you can give it away to all your neighbors to get on their good side so that they'll water your veggies and flowers for you when you go on vacation : )  Or forgive you for the noise of fighting, screaming children in the backyard. 
After all that work at making jam you'll need a nice easy summery dinner--how about Pioneer Woman's "Chipotle Steak Salad" and some oat pan rolls with fresh raspberry jam?  It's a combinations I heartily recommend!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Stay-cation at the Tractor's

 After we got home from gallivanting we didn't waste any time unpacking and repacking to spend a couple days with Grandpa and Grandma.  They had the week off to do some work in their yard and enjoy the nice weather.  We enjoyed their backyard resort complete with a pool...
 a badminton court (that red quavery line was drawn by Uncle Brett to mark off the court)...
 and a tent for a backyard camp out with Uncle Jeff.  He needed some help from Nora to get it all set up.
 We enjoyed dinner al fresco and s'mores at the fire pit...
 before the kids snuggled up with Uncle Jeff in the tent.
 Nora was determined to stay out there with the big kids and curled herself right up in Jeffrey's arms.  I let her stay for about half an hour and then brought her in with me to save Jeffrey.
 But the others lasted the night. 
We spent the next day having more fun eating Grandpa's coffee cake, making raspberry jam with Grandma, coloring and more swimming.  There's no cation like a stay-cation!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


 Once we were at Jake and Emmy's it was time to be spoiled with good food and good fun. 
 The girls got to help Aunt Emmy pick and wash her fresh strawberries and then Uncle Jake made them into delicious strawberry ice cream. 
 Monday dawned bright and beautiful and we set out to walk a bit of Tubbs Hill around Lake Couer d'Alene.

 A view of the resort below.
 Nora was coerced into a sibling photo.

 Aunt Emily was able to spend the day with us, but poor Jake still had to be at work.

 After a little hike we needed to hit the beach!

 The many faces of Caroline:

Back home we had a few sparklers to get ready for the 4th of July the next evening.
 Ezra trying to be cool like his uncle.

 "Kids, don't copy your Uncle!"
Thanks Uncle Jacob and Aunt Emily for a super fun time!