Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Sweet Cherry Jam - different and so tasty!

Darrell found this recipe referenced several places on the Internet - if you like sweet cherries, you will love this jam recipe!

Traditional Cherry Jam
(from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving)
4 c sweet cherries, pitted & chopped (about 2 lbs)
1/4 c lemon juice
1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 t ground cloves
1 package (1.75 oz) powdered pectin
5 c sugar
Prepare the jars & lids for canning. Jars should be boiled in water for 20 minutes & lids for 5 minutes.
In a large enamel or stainless steel saucepan combine the cherries, lemon juice, cinnamon & cloves. Whisk in the pectin until completely dissolved. Turn heat to high & bring to a boil. Stir in the sugar all at once. Return to a boil. Boil hard while stirring for 1 more minute. Remove from heat & skim of foam.
Ladle into eight hot sterilized half-pint jars leaving about 1/4-inch headroom. Clean off the tops of the jars & cover with a lid. Close with a neckband & finger-tighten. Process in boiling water for 10 minutes. Turn off heat & let sit for 5 minutes. Remove jars from the water to a heat-proof surface & let cool for 12 - 24 hours (do not dry jars). Check to make sure the top of the jar has been drawn downwards, creating a seal. If it hasn't either reprocess that jar or store it in the fridge to be eaten within 3 weeks. Remove the neckbands & store jam in a cool dark place.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The blessings of friends

Today we rented a huge wood chipper and had sent an email to everyone who had offered to help with cleanup. We needed to clean up a downed tree and tons of branches that were between our house and the pasture so that the professional tree people can take down the hazardous still-standing tree parts, and get the branches off the deck, which is what our insurance will pay for . . . all the rest is our problem.

32 people from 4 counties turned out at our farm today - some for 2 or 3 hours, some all day. Some were neighbors, some were people we work with, people from Barbershop who Darrell sings with, people we know through other affiliations, a cousin, her daughter and grandson and their friends - I'm completely awed by how hard everyone worked, in spite of the heat and brutal humidity. And even more amazing is what we accomplished with a Bobcat, a Kubota tractor with a bucket, chain saws, and just plain hard work feeding that monster chipper.

Here's a photo of our side yard "before" and another one "after" this monumental effort everyone put forth. Our unending thanks to everyone who turned out - you all were fantastic!

So now, the tree guys can get the truly dangerous stuff cleaned up so that THEN the contractor can come in and begin repairs. Wow, it's going to be an interesting summer!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Major storm damage!

Well, we got hit by what had to have been a small tornado last night - every tree around the house is exploded and wrecked EXCEPT the dying one we were planning to remove this summer, naturally! Given the position of the trees around the house, we are incredibly lucky to have sustained as little damage to the house as we did . . . even so, it's going to be a major repair project.

Tree guys are working right now to begin clearing the downed wood, then will remove the damaged and now very dangerous remnants that are still standing. We will end up with no shade around this house at all. The deck is pretty much toast, the upper story of the house has a major hole in it, as does the garage attached to the kitchen end of the house. I am in mourning over all our beautiful trees . . .

None of the animals were hurt, although Jock, the stallion, was very lucky, as his relatively small turnout is littered with debris from the walnut tree by his pen and he was outside in the pen when this happened. We couldn't get to him right away because the power lines were down across the lane to his pen and partly over his fence. Once Consumers' had turned off the juice from the road, Darrell was able to get him into the barn. He's going into another turnout tonight, as there is a bunch of work Darrell will need to do to repair his normal spot.

We were without power for most of the day, but the Consumers' guys got us back together about 2 p.m., which meant we could stop worrying about all the meat and stuff in the freezers.

You can view the damage in this online photo album. Wish us luck!


Friday, June 18, 2010

Mid-June and things are jumping!

Back from nearly a week of traveling on business. While I was gone, Darrell got some strawberry jam done, and is ready for the cement tomorrow morning for a new chicken coop. The strawberry patch is being neglected more than we like this year, but there is so much else going on. The vegetable garden is getting off to a decent start - could not believe how many things had sprouted and how big they had gotten while I was gone! During my trip, I talked with a fellow foodie who recommended two books, which I ordered used on Amazon. One is called "Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking", and the other is "The Flavor Bible". This one just came today in the mail, and the other should be here shortly. Will comment on them after I get a chance to go through them. The person who recommended them was raving about what a great resource they are. He owns a cheesecake business in Grand Rapids, MI called "Cheesecake Jake's", and he uses these reference works to play with flavors and combinations for cheesecake.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Baby Pigs are escape artists!

Darrell brought home 15 baby pigs today - some are a couple months old and some are so small they're hardly bigger than the cats. Two of them managed to somehow get under the trailer as we were unloading them and trying to herd them into their pen in a big pasture, so things got exciting for a little while, but all is well. They have deep grass to root around in, one of the shelters he got this spring is in their pen, and their feeder and waterer sit up on a sled that can be moved. The fencing is electrified and portable, so when they thoroughly work over this area of the field, they can be moved to another one.