Thursday, July 28, 2005

We Be Jammin'

Well, I've been a busy little beaver! Making the blueberry lime jam the other day really got me going! I always forget how much I love to make jam. I know, I know, we have a move coming up and I should be working on getting my house clean. But homemade jam!!! Yesterday the cherries at the grocery store called to me. So I picked up 4 pounds of cherries to make jam with. I've never made cherry jam. And to be honest, except for my spiced blueberry jam (which i LOVE) I have never made jam except from the directions on a box of pectin. I found a cherry jam recipe in a Better Homes and Garden's book- and proceded. I hade intended to make 2 batches, but I used more than half the cherries to make one batch. So I made and processed the first batch and assessed my fridge.

I found a few more pints of blueberries- no what could be better than cherries AND blueberries? So I used the cherry jam recipe again, using about 3 cups cherries and 1 cup of blueberries. Oh..My..God. That is the single best jam I've ever made. It has this fabulous sweet and tart flavor all its own. A single mouthful produces a punch of the sweetest gooey goodness. You can literally taste the cherry followed by the sweetness that can only come from a blueberry. And you are left going- "wow, that tasted wonderful!"

The cherry jam by itself I was a little disappointed with. I think my problem was that I used fresh squeezed lemon juice for the 1/4 cup juice called for. I think it added too much of a fresh lemon tang- and while good, it almost is more of a lemony cherry jam. I can taste the lemon. Still good, but not the sweet goodness I was shooting for. So with the Cherry-Berry (nice name huh?) I used bottled lemon juice. And the fruity flavors just shine. Lesson learned on the bottled lemon juice, I think. I will save the fresh juice for marmalade, or a lemon- something jam. I am proud of the Cherry-Berry though.

Next up (I think) is a batch of Nectarine Plum Apple I got from Beth on the Cooking Light bulletin board. Beth seems to be some kind of canning genius, she has recipes and tips for everything. I just love reading her advice and experience. Anyway, she shared this recipe with me,and I hope to give it a whirl today. We'll see though. I feel like I've been neglecting my house, (not to mention kids) and I have a rule that I can't start a canning project until my kitchen is clean to start with. And well, my kitchen is a little bit trashy looking from yesterday's jamming.

And if that CL bulletin board is not working soon- I think I'm going to scream! Supposedly there is a big update going on. I can only hope that whatever they are updating does not ruin the boards. Surely there wil be something for everyone to complain about. One can only hope that maybe they are adding more smilies- and that will make everything okay. ;-)

On the Zander front, I have a bit of proud Mommy progress to report. Last night he spent the whole night in his big boy bed in his own room. Yippee! The night we got home from camping, he slept all night there too. Then on Sunday he spent the night in Mommy's bed because he wasn't feeling well. Monday night I had a fight on my hands. He did not want to go to bed. He kept crawling out of his bed (not an easy feat, mind you) so I decided to put him where he couldn't get out- his crib. Yeah, he was out of the crib before I was even out of the room!!! Seriously. So I put him back in, thinking it a fluke. Nope. He crawled out. So he spent the night in Mommy's bed again- only this time Abigail joined him. (I'm running out of room!) Two nights ago he fell asleep in my arms- so I put him in his big boy bed. He spent most of the night there- but woke up and ended up in bed with me again. But last night- he spent the whole night there! And woke up a sparkley little boy! Tonight after he's asleep I am going to put some toys at the end of his bed to find in the morning. I really want him to like his bed- and he seems to so far. This weekend Andy has to take down the crib. The way he crawls out of the crib is scary. He kind of half falls- so it's going away. Probably to the curb, it's pretty beat up.

Anyway, if anyone's interested in the Cherry-Berry recipe, here it is. It uses not quite 2 pounds of cherries, and basically a pint of blueberries that have been picked over. Pick over the cherries, pit, and coarsley chop them. Pick through the blueberries, and coarsely chop those. Measure 4 cups chopped fruit and juice. (admittedly though, I was over the 4 cup measure on the cup- but not by too much).

4 cups cherries blueberries
1 box powdered pectin (not low sugar)
1 tsp. finely shredded lemon zest
1/4 cup bottled lemon juice
5 cups sugar

Combine fruit, pectin, zest, and lemon juice in a large saucepot. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Add the sugar, and return to a full boil over high heat, stirring the entire time. Boil hard for 1 minute. Remove from heat, skim with a metal spoon, if necessary. Ladle into hot jars and process in a boiling water canner for 5 minutes. Start timing after the water has returned to a boil.
Makes 7 half pints.

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