Canning

Old fashion strawberry jam.

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Scooped up four quarts of strawberries at a farmers market yesterday. To kick off canning season, I made old fashion strawberry jam, which means there’s no added pectin and lemon juice to firm up the jam.

This recipe is super simple: 8 cups of mashed up strawberries and 6 cups of sugar. Boil on medium heat for a couple of hours until your mixtures reduces and thickens. Then can!

It is pretty damn delicious! So excited to get canning again!

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Garden

Productive planting

Yesterday was an incredibly productive day. I mean seriously productive. I got up at 4:50 a.m. and went to a spinning class. When I got home, I took my dog for a walk before work. I made breakfast for two days and lunch. I got a ton of stuff done at work, too. AND when I got home, we made dinner that I had marinated overnight before running to Home Depot to buy mulch. And yes, I spread it, too! This seriously never happens! I don’t know what took over and said “You are not gonna sit still for a single second today,” but it needs to happen way more often.

On to my productive planting…

This weekend my dad met up with a parent he met at on of Elliott’s baseball games go was splitting her perennials. She gave him an entire trunk-full of plants for us to plant in our yard! Thank you so much, Rene!

Free plants

We got right to work unloading and planning where to plant our plants so we could get them back in the ground and soaked with water. Three hours later we planted two hastas, three liriope, a bunch of lamb’s ear, a bunch of fern…. and a ton of other stuff we didn’t know the name of. We also transplanted one of my strawberry patches to join it with the other patch, so now I have one huge patch! Yummo.

Last night on my productive spree, I dragged the hubby (OK, OK, he went rather willingly) to Home Depot to buy mulch so I could mulch my new garden beds. We bought 15 bags for only $1.48 each. Score!

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In the photo above we have some daffodils braided down on the left and my strawberry patch on the right. I’m not crazy about daffodils, so I am thinking I might eventually make the whole thing a strawberry patch 😀

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This picture is less exciting, seeing as I don’t know the name of this plant, but it has pretty purple flowers and will hopefully wind up the fence when it grows. It also shows my next plan for my garden, which is lining all of my beds with big(ish) rocks. The tricky part — I don’t want to pay for them haha. I will be rock  scavenging to try to complete this task. I’m starting with the beds on the side of the house so the incompleteness won’t be super obvious when you drive by. I think it will look really great when it’s done.

This weekend I’ll be planting six tomato plants, which is absurd because how many tomatoes does one person really need? And yes, only one person in our house eats them — me!

I got three regular plants, one Roma plant and two cherry tomato plants. CAN’T WAIT FOR TOMATOES!

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Speaking of gardening… my broccoli are doing well (I think). We cut down the itty bitty tree right behind our car port earlier this spring to help get my garden bed a bit more light. The broccoli look like they are doing well, but I know my dad’s plants will be 80 times the size because of their direct sunlight all day long. I think this year will be really telling for future garden plans. I thought about moving my garden to the back corner of the yard that gets more sun, but that was gonna be way more expensive so I decided to give this area one more try.
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And to round out a productive planting post… you know what isn’t productive?

This guy….

He just wants to play in the dirt and chase water from the hose. In fact, last night he took to crying when we stopped playing with the hose. Needless to say, he was rather soaked by the time we went inside for the night.

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And when he isn’t sidetracking me from gardening, he’s certainly not being productive inside….

Lazy bones!

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Recipes

Homemade Strawberry Jam

Homemade Strawberry Jam

I got the most random appliance for Christmas (I asked for it, btw) — a jelly and jam maker! I absolutely love making homemade jams and jellies and thought I’d share a recipe or two with you guys.

Today I made strawberry jam. It’s the hubby’s favorite and it is so soooo delicious. I like making my own because I don’t have to put nearly as much sugar in it as the store-bought jellies. Plus, it is tastier.

Here’s what you need (yes, real measurements! I know, that’s crazy coming from me.):

  • 2 lbs Strawberries
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1.5 tbsp pectin
  • 3/4 cup sugar

Before I start I should add that this recipe will work on the stove as well. The jam maker is preset to make jam or jelly and has a stirrer in the middle so nothing burns. It’s just a glorified pot. (But it is awesome!)

First, cut up your strawberries into little bits. If you like your jam chunkier, leave some bigger chunks of the fruit.

Next, mash your berries with a potato masher to get some of the juices loose and the strawberries extra squishy.

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Add your strawberries, butter and pectin to your jam maker and turn it on. In my jam maker, the preset time for jam is 21 minutes. If you make it on the stove, cook on medium heat for about the same amount of time.

Side note: I had no idea what pectin was before I started experimenting with my jam maker, so here’s what I’ve learned. Pectin is a natural substance found in apples that helps fruit to gel up. For fruits with a lot of pectin in them, you do not have to add pectin to make the jam or jelly (although it doesn’t hurt). Berries don’t have a lot of pectin, so you need the added stuff. I buy mine on Amazon.

After 4 minutes, add in your sugar. Cover and walk away and let the pot do its work.

Jam

Come back in 21 minutes to a steamy pot full of delicious jam. If you want to can your jam, do it immediately while the jam is still boiling hot and you won’t have to boil your jars to seal them. Simply place your seal and your lid onto the can after it is full, then flip it upside down. The heat from the jar’s contents will seal the jar and make it last for about a year.

The jam will also burn badly if you spill it on yourself. I learned this the hard way after spilling a bunch of boiling peach jam on my hand. Be careful!!!

If you are going to use some right away, plop it into a container and place it in the fridge. Once it is cool, try it out!

jam on toast

(Don’t just my white bread. … It’s what the hubby likes and mine was out :p)

The main reason I am sharing this recipe is that when I got my jelly and jam maker it came with a recipe book. This recipe book called for a ton more pectin (which is expensive) and a TON more sugar. I’m talking three cups. Gross. I think the recipe I have here is a really good one that I plan to use from now on with this jam.

Enjoy!