We certainly never had tomatoes like this last year. Remember Late Blight? It's coming around again I've heard but so far so good here. I'm happy with our tomato crop this year.

You know the life lesson, "be careful what you wish for?" I've been thinking about it today. I got what I wished for this summer. I have a wonderfully productive garden and I'm preserving all kinds of things from it. I've learned more about canning and drying and freezing. I've learned more about medicinal herbs and how to use the ones that are growing outside my back door. Mmmm, sounds nice, right? Yes, it does to me too. But what I didn't quite realize when I wished for all of this was that most of the preserving happens inside, in the kitchen. That means that on super-nice days, I have to spend some time inside, in addition to the time I already have to spend inside doing all of my other household stuff like cooking dinner, cleaning up, etc. Sometimes I don't want to spend an hour inside making and canning jam, but I know that if I don't do it, the berries will rot and all that time spent picking them and the money spent to bring them home will be lost. So I stay inside and I can jam.

It's a drop in the bucket on the wheel of time, I realize. These weeks now are the most productive for the garden and it's the only time of the season when I'll be a slave to the stove, so I am trying to grin and bear it.

Today I made blueberry jam. I started out with the basic recipe from the Ball Blue Book and modified it along the way. I started with this:

9 cups of crushed blueberries
6 cups of sugar

I brought it to a boil in a large pot on the stove. While that was going, I brought the big canner pot full of water to a boil too, along with another large pot of water in which I put the glass jars and lids to sterilize and heat them.

As the jam was reaching the gelling point, I thought, "I have basil in the garden. Wouldn't it be neat to make the blueberry-basil jam I heard about?" So out I went to get some basil. The jam recipe was supposed to make 3 pints, so I filled 3 half-pint containers with the basic blueberry jam and got those ready for the hot water bath, and to the remainder of the jam I added about 1/3 cup of finely minced basil and 1 1/2 tablespoons of lemon juice. I loosely followed this recipe. Keeping in mind that this blueberry-basil jam would be good with goat cheese and crackers or cooked in a pastry with a wheel of brie, I thought it would be a good idea to can it in smaller jars, with the intention of using the whole jar in one appetizer dish. It's not the kind of jam you keep hanging around in the fridge and spread on your warm buttered toast in the morning. I ended up with more of the 4 oz. jars than I anticipated - 10 to be exact. I was very pleased with the result and I'm excited to try it out one night!

Okay, you're seeing that I take something straightforward, like making jam, and turn it into something a little more complicated, like making herbed jam in tiny little jars. Maybe I do bring all this "work" upon myself. Maybe.

Later in the afternoon, before I hit the gym, I decided to turn one of the four ripe and sweet cantaloupes I got from the farm yesterday into popsicles. Four is a large quantity when it comes to cantaloupes and I had to do something different with them. I loosely followed this recipe but instead of adding the mint and the lemon juice separately, I used what was left of a mint/lime/honey/OJ dressing I had made last night for the cantaloupe we had for dessert. I used this recipe for the dressing, leaving out the orange peel and substituting honey for sugar.

Just when I thought I was done cooking for the day, dinnertime rolled around. Potato chips, wine and turnips- a nice foundation for a healthy dinner, right? I made a turnip dish from one of Jack Bishop's cookbooks and I was mostly happy with it. Next time I'll braise the turnips longer so they aren't as hard and crunchy. And I have to say, since I know I'll be eating turnips all winter, I just don't feel like eating any of them now, not when I have so many other things to choose from.

As a side note, my stepfather volunteers at Nauset Light, the lighthouse depicted on the bag of potato chips, and every time my girls see the bag, they exclaim, "Grandpa Dick's lighthouse!" It's cute to watch. It's not his lighthouse. It's all of ours. Yours and mine. Ours to protect and appreciate.

I'll leave you with this link, a website geared toward teaching teenagers about the environmental and social consequences of their consumer choices. I'll keep it on my radar.


Post a Comment

About Me

My name is Jillian. I started this blog as a way to experiment with my camera and it's a become a nice little spot where I enjoy spending time. I'm a mother to 6 and 4 year old daughters, wife to a cool computer guy, and mama to a cuddly cat. We enjoy eating local, organic food; managing several food allergies; homeschooling with love; spending time in nature; and we love to take time each day to be creative. You can also find me over at From Scratch Club from time to time. Welcome!