Saturday, August 11, 2012


It's the season to make jam and it is happening in my kitchen. Just finished blueberry and multi-fruit with blueberries, strawberries and plums - Yum! And a friend, Barb David, suggested Carrot Cake Jam which I also made and it is delicious --- tastes just like carrot cake. Imagine it on cream cheese or marscapone smeared on fresh hot bread, or bagel, or English muffin. Here's the recipe from Taste of Home Canning & Preserving magazine submitted by Rachelle Stratton of Rock springs, WY, if you think you'd like to make it.


1 can (20 oz) unsweetened crushed pineapple, undrained
1 1/2 cups shredded carrots
1 1/2 cups chopped peeled ripe pears
3 Tablespoons lemon juice (fresh squeezed is best)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 package (1 3/4 oz) powdered fruit pectin
6 1/2 cups sugar

  • In a large saucepan, combine the first seven ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until pears are tender, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; stir in pectin.
  • Bring to a full rolling boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Stir in sugar; return to a full boil. Boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; skim off foam.
  • Ladle hot mixture into hot sterilized half-pint jars and adjust lids. Process in a boiling-water canner for 5 minutes or put in a 250 degree oven on a baking sheet for 20 minutes.
  • Yield: 8 half-pints
End of summer is preserving season. It's not as difficult as it seems if you don't have experience. Just read the recipe, make sure you understand all the steps, have all the equipment and food ready and prepped then get started. It is the most satisfying feeling to see the beautiful jars of food on the counter and in the pantry. Our pantry is getting filled --- well, the jam shelf anyway!

My tomatoes are slow to ripen so I'll check out the vegetable stands to see if someone is having better luck! I feel the need to start putting up tomatoes, hummm, think marinara sauce but especially homemade ketchup.

Monday, August 6, 2012

The Long Hot Summer

We've just enjoyed two days of temperatures in the 80s after most of the summer in the 90s and 100s! We are in drought here in Nebraska and I've finally gotten into a routine of watering to just keep plants alive. Our lawn is suffering as you can see by the brown spots...
The garden is stressed too. Earlier we had nice beets, spring peas and greens. This year the garlic and onions are fabulous so I should have my own to use until next year. I'll be planting garlic again in October because they are fabulous and so easy to grow. Both red and sweet white onions did great.

Our potatoes are doing great. I got them in late so they aren't quite ready to harvest yet. I can't wait. We have two tanks full of them.
Then there are the tomatoes. Oh my, what a challenge this year. I got them in late too, well more like the normal time but everyone had theirs in early due to the early warm weather this year. I have blossom end rot this year on some of the tomato plants that set blossoms early. The heat had set in and the watering wasn't consistent enough, bummer. It's a tough lesson. Now I have the soaker hoses in place and use the moisture meter to keep the beds evenly moist. The heat slowed ripening but now with the cooler evenings, I'm getting ripe tomatoes. Yeah!!! A summer isn't complete without home grown tomatoes.
Below is the good and the ugly! I hope you never get blossom end rot. It is really ugly. However, you can cut off the rotted end and use the rest in cooked form.
The Swiss chard is the only green still producing. I've left several of the leaves to grow large to shade the smaller leaves that I harvest daily and that keep on coming. We love chard, it is delicious stirred into olive oil and garlic until it wilts, it is wonderful in soup, omelets and stirfrys. I'm so grateful I have it so I can have fresh greens every day.
The daylilies aren't doing very well in many Nebraska gardens this summer, including mine...
My first preserving of this season is with Colorado peaches for jam, Mark's favorite. I made a small batch of peach-strawberry jam too. Delicious. I need to get the pantry jam shelf filled for Mark for this winter. So next will be blueberry, strawberry and hopefully, wild plum, my favorite.
Hope you are enjoying your summer and if you garden that it is producing richly for you.