Friday, July 31 –
The kids have been having so much fun with their new bikes. They have strings of lights interwoven in the spokes that look really neat when they pedal, especially in the dark.
Monday, July 13 –
Marian sets the record straight about what goes where.
Sunday, July 5 –
Yesterday, while at Cim & Courtney’s near Afton, we picked wild plums. We didn’t make any at our place near Northfield this year, but the Afton bushes were really loaded.
We had a lot of help picking.
It’s not easy to pick these because the bushes grow all together in big groups, not to mention that the bushes are covered with thorns, the air is full of gnats, and since they get ready around the 4th of July, it’s usually very hot. Did I mention the rattlesnakes you have to watch out for that like to curl up in the shade of the plum thicket?
Here’s the plums we ended up with.
When we got home Saturday night, we spread them out in shallow dishes so they wouldn’t crush each other.
We had some special events after church today, so it was almost 4:00 pm before we got home. I decided I’d better go ahead and boil these down before they got mushy. First, I washed them, one bowlful at a time. The leaves rise to the top and can easily be tipped out with the overflow of water.
Once they were all washed, then I put them in pots on the stove, just covering them with fresh water. Because I’m out of propane, I had to stoke up the woodstove. It was a hot day and by the end of it, I had run Nathan out and all the doors were propped open.
I had a lot of juice when I got done. I had intended to store the juice in the refrigerator and make the jelly on Monday, but I really didn’t have the refrigerator space and since the fire was going and Nathan had brought me a pile of wood, I decided to just get it over with.
Here I’m boiling caps and lids and starting to bring my juice to a boil. I used some new pectin that I bought through our Azure food co-op. It’s called Pomona’s Universal Pectin. One of the things I had to add to the juice was lemon juice and some calcium water that I mixed up (included in the pectin bag).
The selling point of this pectin is that you have lots of choices for sweetening your jelly. Unlike the store-bought stuff which requires lots and lots of white sugar, you can use honey, stevia, concentrated juice and more. I was out of organic sugar anyway, so I decided to use honey.
I was very tired after I got it cleaned up, but glad it was done. The jelly was extremely firm which is unusual for jelly made with honey, almost too firm for me. It was also right on the verge of not being sweet enough. Since the sweetener went in at the boiling stage, it was almost too late to add more when I tasted it. I did add another cup of honey at this point, with more pectin, but by then it was boiling again and I had to take it off before I ended up with plum taffy or something. I guess the next time I’ll tweak the recipe a little bit and try to get it sweeter. The plum juice is very tart and the lemon juice made it more so. We like to keep the tartness and have it contrasting with the sweet. Everyone seems to like it so far, so maybe it won’t go to waste.
Saturday, July 4 –
Today we went to Cim & Courtney’s for the afternoon and for supper. We picked plums, watched the kids shoot fireworks and play tag and visited. We had Mexican stack for supper with all the fixings and homemade ice cream for dessert.
We took our jeep with us and it worked great for taking rides around the farm.
On the way home we stopped by Roaring Springs and watched their fireworks show. It was a great day!
Check out this video I made for Marian while we were there:
Friday, July 3 –
This is the story of a birthday cake that shouldn’t have been edible, but somehow survived a very unusual baking process.
It begins with a broken stove. My stove went out and we decided not to try and repair it because I didn’t like it that much anyway. I’ve only been using it a short time because the one I really like has been out of commission for a while.
This is the stove I really like. I paid it out little by little until I had paid the full amount to a man with a little antique/salvage business on FM 1585 in Lubbock. That was about 15 years ago or more.
Anyway, until I can repair this big stove, we bought this little apartment stove that has a charm all its own.
So, back to the cake. Now that I had a stove again, it was time to bake Carolina a birthday cake. Unfortunately, after only about 15 or 20 minutes into the baking, my propane ran out! I called Nathan to see if propane could be delivered, but being Friday, July 3rd before a holiday weekend, they were already out of the office. So I hurriedly kindled a fire in the wood cook stove and hoped it would get hot before the other one cooled down too much. Once it was hot enough, I carefully moved the jiggling half-baked cake to the woodstove and continued the baking.
Here I am with the nicely cooked cake and the hot, hot stove in the background.
Well, there you have the miracle cake. I wouldn’t recommend this method, but I’m glad it worked out this time.
So was Carolina.
Another batch of pictures that don’t fit any one category. Alas, they are still interesting.