Yeah…I definitely hate when that happens

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Today is pick strawberries day.  We are off to pick 18 quarts of strawberries to make our strawberry jam.  It’s the only jam my son has known and will eat so I like to have 18 jars…12 for us and 6 as gifts throughout the year.  We will also freeze 8 gallon bags by flash freezing so you can pull out a few or a whole bag as flash freezing keeps them from clumping together in the freezer!!

FLASH FREEZING:  wash and cut the hulls (leafy things) off.  Pat dry on a paper towel.  Lay on a cookie sheet and place in the freezer for 30 minutes.  Remove and place in gallon freezer bags and store for up to a year (you can go longer if you want to).

FLASH FREEZING can be used on peppers, cherries, blueberries and any other fruit/veggie including tomatoes!!

Enjoy your day!!

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Remember when….

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Yesterday was the last day of school.  I can still remember the feelings I would have when school was over.  It was a feeling of freedom.  Especially during the elementary and middle school years.  I loved not having a schedule, knowing I would be camping for 3 weeks with my family, riding my horse all over the place, swimming, boating, sleeping in, bonfires and so much more.

Then in high school that feeling started to change.  Responsibility kicked in if I wanted to have a car and buy nicer clothing.  Those cherished summer vacations were cut short so I could babysit and earn money for gas, car insurance, and clothes.  In my junior and senior year, I almost dreaded school ending for the reason of having to work more and also not seeing and flirting with the cute boys for 2 months.

So tonight while my children are still in their innocent years, years of summer vacation truly being a vacation spent doing what children should do, we celebrated with a toast while in the hot tub.  We had the bonfire going, Chance’s best friend Graer sleeping over and their happiness was contagious.  I love them being home for the summer!!

Canning Cherries

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These are little bits of summer stored to help us through the cold winter.  These are bing cherries canned in a light sugar water syrup.  All natural and perfect to strain and use in yogurt, oatmeal or pour the juice and the cherries over vanilla ice cream, angel food cake, or vanilla pudding.  They are great in smoothies and right out of the jar as a snack!!  This is so easy and you can have cherries, crisp and fresh all year long this way!!  In the winter when my children bring some to school as a fruit their friends hound them for some.

Here is the way to make your Cherry Pitter (a must have and you have what you need to make it)

You DO NOT need special equipment to can.  I will post about that in another post.  As long as you have a big “spaghetti” size pot, you are good to go!!  New to canning go here or here to see directions or check youtube.
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How to make our family CANNED CHERRIES:

Fill a spaghetti pot of hot water 1/2 way, bring to a boil and reduce to simmer

In a another pot bring 6 cups of water and 3 cups of sugar to a bowl (you can reduce for less sweetness)

Choose the size jars you are going to can in, lids and rings

Sterilize them in the dishwasher or you can fill your sink with hot water when the syrup is ready and keep all hot pulling one out at a time to fill and placing back in hot water (standing up with water below rim) until ready to add all to the hot water simmering)

pit cherries and stuff them into jars (you can do as many as you like as it’s simple to make more syrup if needed) leaving 1/2 in headspace at top of jar

fill with hot syrup leaving 1/2 in headspace at top of jar

tap jar lightly on potholder to remove bubbles

place on lid and wipe jar around the top

place on right and tighten slightly (You do not have to make sure it’s super tight)

place in hot water standing up to keep them hot until putting into simmering water

once all jars are filled, place in simmering water making sure the tops are covered with 2 inches of water

bring water to a rolling boil and process for 20 minutes

remove and let cool listening for the lids to make a “popping” sound when they seal

once cool, run your fingers over the lids to make sure the  middle is “sucked” down

store in a cool, dark, dry place for a year

FREEZING CHERRIES — you can freeze cherries also which is way cheaper than buying them frozen in the store.  First wash and clean the cherries.  You can pit them or leave them whole.  Dry them and lay them on a cookie sheet in the freezer for 30 minutes.  Remove and place into freezer bags and store in freezer for up to a year.  These are great in smoothies or ice cream and you can make another cherry pie if you need to!!

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Carrots (container gardening)

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I mentioned I would share my first experience trying container gardening for some of our vegetables.  I am so impressed with how well the containers are doing.  I tried containers for peppers, lettuce, potatoes, and carrots.  So far everything is taking off perfectly.  These are great ideas for the person with limited space.  Now there is no excuse not to grow some of your own food 🙂

My carrots are coming in great.  Here are the before pictures through today.  I planted these on May 8th.  I usually do 3 to 4 plantings of carrots so the second set is going in this weekend.  I like to space it out so not everything is ready for harvest at once.

carrots3   Second container I planted

CARROTS this was the picture on June 4th.

So get to the dollar store of garage sales and pick up some large containers and a bag of soil and get planting!!!

 

Cherry Pitter (BEST EVER) & Pie recipe

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It is Cherry season!!!  This little tool that I found on youtube is the ABSOLUTE best Cherry pitter.  Here is the video on how to make your own HOMEMADE CHERRY PITTER.  If you are a cherry person like I am and make pies, can and freeze cherries, you will thank me for sharing this little tip with you!!  This is easy, practical and leaves the cherry intact only removing the pitt.  YOU’RE WELCOME!!

I don’t like to have long posts so will cover our family cherry pie recipe here and will post another on how to can them for toppings (think ice cream, plain yogurt, greek yogurt, smoothies or just out of the jar for a snack!!)  Now on to what I do with cherries:

PIE…the cherries we pick are usually dark bing cherries.  They are perfectly sweet and work great in pies (you do not need sour cherries for pies!!)

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My two always ask to bring friends when we go picking.  My friend also came along with her older daughter.  We picked 44 lbs of cherries and split them!!  It was about $60 in cherries but figure the savings in just pies alone as one frozen cherry pie is about $8.00 so $64 if you were to buy them. And we will get 8 pies, canned cherries, and frozen cherries for the whole year for less!!

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making filling for pies (with pitter this took about 2 minutes!!)

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1-1/2 lb.  Bing cherries, pitted (4-1/2 cups)
1 cup  sugar (I have cut mine to 3/4 cup if the cherries are super sweet)
1/4 cup  MINUTE Tapioca
1 Tbsp.  lemon juice
Combine all and let sit for 15 minutes
CRUST:    (you do NOT have to make a crust- you can easily use a store bought one but make sure it has 2 crusts in the package)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons shortening
4 – 6 tablespoons cold water

Make crust:

In medium bowl, mix 2 cups flour and the salt. Cut in shortening, using pastry blender (or pulling 2 table knives through ingredients in opposite directions), until particles are size of small peas. Sprinkle with cold water, 1 tablespoon at a time, tossing with fork until all flour is moistened and pastry almost cleans side of bowl (1 to 2 teaspoons more water can be added if necessary).
Gather pastry into a ball. Divide in half; shape into 2 flattened rounds on lightly floured surface. Wrap in plastic wrap; refrigerate about 45 minutes or until dough is firm and cold, yet pliable. This allows the shortening to become slightly firm, which helps make the baked pastry more flaky. If refrigerated longer, let pastry soften slightly before rolling.
With floured rolling pin, roll one round into round 2 inches larger than upside-down 9-inch glass pie plate. Fold pastry into fourths; place in pie plate. Unfold and ease into plate, pressing firmly against bottom and side.
Place pie dish on a foil lined baking sheet for easy cleanup!!
Fill with cherry mix from above.  Dot with butter around the top of the pie
Roll out second half of crust and using a knife slice it into strips for a lattice crust or lay it on top and cut slits to vent while cooking.  Seal edges
**For lattice crust follow this video.  
If baking, bake for 20 minutes and then cover edges of crust with tinfoil or crust edge cover.  Bake another 25 minutes or until crust is browned and filling is bubbling. 
Let set for at least 3-4 hours before slicing.  Overnight is best.
YOU CAN FREEZE THE WHOLE PIE WHEN IT IS ASSEMBLED UNBAKED.  Be sure to double bag it in freezer bags.  I make 8 pies, cook one and freeze the other 7 for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, July 4th and Valentines Day and 2 for gifts for friends.  Just remove from freezer and bake same as above making sure to cover edge of crust after 20 minutes so it does not burn.

Sunday Blessings

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I dislike when the days are not my own.  Today we have a baby shower and then we are babysitting an almost 2 year old and then the tween has a pool party birthday party from 7 until 10 p.m. which means a lot of busy time today and none of it is my own time. 

Working parents have 2 days off a week to get things done.  Living on a farm those two days involve keeping up with things around the home but it’s work you love to do if you live the lifestyle.  While I appreciate the “tradition” of showers, be it wedding or baby, I dread losing “me” time to attend them.  That does not mean I do not like or love the people they are for as I do.  But I love my “homelife” more so it’s a chore for me to give up some of that time.

My daughter is invited to the shower today too and she got up early and started this breakfast for us as she knew it would lift my spirits and help with getting things done while I did the morning feeding of the animals!!   She is my Sunday blessing!!

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Our pancake recipe:

1 1/2 cups flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/4 cups milk

2 eggs

3 Tablespoons of butter melted

Put all in a bowl and mix until smooth

Cook in the griddle until bubbling and flip.