Monday, October 17, 2011

Blueberry Wedding

A customer who found me on Etsy sent this lovely photo of her wedding favors in action.  Thanks for sharing your presentation with us!  I'm thrilled to have been a part of such a meaningful and memorable day.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Making Grape Jelly

Thanks to my cousin Jason, who dropped off a ton of Concord grapes a few nights ago, I'm now making batch after batch of grape jelly.  I use the simple recipe straight out of M & S Meyer's Saving the Seasons, my latest favorite preserving guide.  We're thinking about mashing some of the rest of the grapes we have into apple-grape juice using our little cider press.  On the other hand, wouldn't it be so fun to just let the kids mash them all up with their feet?  I'll let you know how that goes...


Monday, September 19, 2011

Jar Swap, 2011

Our house was full of excitement last night as the 15 of us examined each other's jarred bounties.  I can't  specify the highlights for me this year, as everything turned out to be so incredibly awesome!  I'll have to report back on the jarred grape juice, as that needs to sit for a couple more weeks.  However, you can be certain I'll be critical, as I enjoy giving my cousin Keith a very hard time.  Here's what we ended up with:

A table full of incredible stuff:

A few photos of individual things... I couldn't get shots of everything with the chaos of babies, kids, and adults all surrounding the table.

Keith and Ange brought this super-cool looking grape juice in jars.  Can't wait to try it!

Laurie's salsa.  It goes without saying that this stuff is hot!  And yummy of course.

Can't get any better than raw honey.  And I'm pretty sure Sarah wins the award for presentation.

Matt's beet-pickled eggs.  A well-executed adventure for my brother.

Sarah's red tomato piccalilli.  No cukes in this fall favorite.

This funky sauce goes awesome on grilled chicken and is chunky enough to eat with chips.  
Thanks to Holly, I made out with an extra jar! 

Here's a family favorite and my favorite item from the night.  I swear it's not because my Mom made it!

Peach Raspberry Jam made by an incredibly talented jamasseur.  Oh, it's mine!
I definitely feel humbled by all the effort that went into everyone's creations.

Other jarfections not shown here included Aunt Judy's Adirondack pickles, Erin's Caramel Apple Jam, Trish's Chocolate Raspberry Jam, Shellene's Pasta Sauce, Amy's Apple Sauce (last year's favorite), Aunt Carol's Caramel Popcorn, and Jady's Piccalilli.  Jady was new to the swap this year, and I am SO GLAD she participated.  It's always a nice treat to have newbees, and this woman can cook!  I can't wait to try everything!  

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Vanity Plates

Something needs to be pretty personally amazing to specialize your license plate with it, don't you think?  The other day I saw a LADYGA plate, and a young guy was driving the little car.  Was it his car, Mom's car, the girl-friend's car?  Here are a couple others I've seen lately, and ones I personally prefer to Gaga.



Sunday, September 11, 2011

Keeping up with Kennebunk

If you haven't yet had the chance to check it out, the Kennebunk Farmers Market is an awesome place to find local food, eat breakfast (or lunch), and spend a Saturday morning.  It's kept me extremely busy this summer as well, as the locals and summer visitors just love jam and pickles (and other goodness too, of course)!  At the moment, I'm sealing hundreds of jars of preserves and pickles (OH THE PICKLES!) each month, and we're considering making plans to build a new kitchen set-up to meet the demand.  Here's a wee glimpse at what I've recently brought to market and the stands:  

Aside from the usual popular goodies including bread & butters, the berry jams, and anything with rhubarb, I've had a great time making batches of hot stuff.  Most recently I've cooked a ton of Cranberry Hinkle Hatz, named for the very hot pepper with the same name.  Thanks to Pam at Trailside Herbs for introducing these spicy gems to my garden.  Local cranberries, a few strawberries, and some sweet and hot peppers go along way spread over goat cheese in a little dish with fancy crackers.  Yum. 


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

When Being Busy is Good

I haven't blogged in a long time now, and I'm happy to say it's because I'm super busy with the jam and pickle gig.  Also, we're doing a lot of summer stuff with the kids.  After all, we live in Maine, and it's summer, and who wouldn't take advantage of that?

Here's what we've been up to, and this is just the stuff I have photographed!

The usual river swims with my girls.

Bubba versus the Porcupine AGAIN.

Preschool Graduation...  sniffle sniffle.

Our annual (should be more frequent!) visit between the Rubys and fams.

Ferry Beach with the Sims.

Below the dam with Cam.

Storyland with cousin Lily and Camden.

Who woulda thought that three college roommates could come up with this number of kids after 17 years?

A whole lotta bike riding.

Lemon Cukes.  Pickled in vanilla and lemon juice.  Just one example of something new and funky I'm enjoying making.

The farmers market circuit.  Loving it!

Farmer's Daughters Farmstand Fridays.  Can't believe I get paid to work here.

Jumping around with family and friends on the big new pillow at Pumpkin Valley Farm.

Addie's and my old past time:  making cookies.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Chocolate Strawberry-Rhubarb Sauce

This bit of yumminess is brought to you by a big mistake I made while cooking a humungous batch of strawberry rhubarb jam.  I forgot to put the pectin in with the fruit before putting in the (you really don't want to know how much) sugar.  So, I added lemon juice, grabbed a bunch of unsweetened chocolate, and went for it.  Oh, let me preface the actual recipe by assuring you it's fine to halve or quarter the recipe to make a smaller, more normal-sized batch.

3.5 lbs rhubarb plus 1 cup of water
5.5 lbs strawberries
10 lb bag of sugar, plus 6 cups (if you must know, it's about 28 cups)
1 cup lemon juice
8 oz unsweetened bakers chocolate

I used a 20 quart stock pot.  Cook the rhubarb (and water) until it's nice and tender.  Add the strawberries and mash to your liking.  Boil and add the sugar quickly.  Stir in the lemon juice and chocolate, then bring all of the above to a boil again.  Once the chocolate has melted completely, turn down the heat and simmer for 40 minutes.  This will give the mixture a jam-like consistency.  If you prefer a saucier consistency, I'd simmer for 20 minutes instead.  Once cooked, pour the mixture into jars and seal.  Always bathe in boiling water for 10 minutes if you're at sea level.

This will give you about 30 half-pint jars of sauce.  The reason I go for a thicker consistency is to allow myself the opportunity to spread it on a biscuit like jam.  It's much easier to make jam thinner than thicker once it's in a jar.  Heat it up and load it onto your hubby's ever-so-boring vanilla ice cream.  For yourself, of course.  Well, I guess the hubby could have some too.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Devil's Portal and Vacation in Virginia

Today I cooked a LOT.  I made a couple batches of bread & butter pickles, dill pickles, cherry pie jam (TO DIE FOR), blackberry jam, blueberry jam, and strawberry-rhubarb jam.  I also whipped up a quick facebook page for Farmer's Daughters Farm Stand in Waterboro, as Ed and Sarah do not yet use facebook, or, what they fondly call the devil's portal.  I think it's because between us, we know of more than one married couple who have broken up as the result of spouses reconnecting with old flames through said portal.  Scary!  Anyway, it was a busy day and a good one.  Normally I get caught up in some dramatic tv series to obsess over while jamming, but today I mostly reflected on our vacation in Virginia last week.  We visited with Joe's family for a few days and had a fun and easy time, just the way a vacation is supposed to be.

Did you know that Joe was a Rescue Swimmer in the Navy?  Do you think he learned this move in survival school?  We're definitely framing this one!

Would you believe that four families, including all of these children (our kids, 2-year old triplets, and our little 1-year old nephew), all vacationed together in the same home?  Thankfully Grandpa has a big house!

Oh, Charlie.  She gets such a kick out of herself!  We do too, of course.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Cutting Onions and Looking Hip

Thanks to the Achorn Farm kids, I can now cut onions ALL day, which seems to be happening lately, as it is finally pickle season!  Seriously, I wore these ski goggles for the entire day on Friday.  Not only didn't I tear up at all, but it was a very good conversation starter.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Garden Update, June 2011

Some things early, some things late.  Weeds everywhere.  So far no sign of bird damage to the fruit, but we'll see what happens when it gets really ripe!


What would YOU do if 24 quarts of just-picked Anderson Farms strawberries showed up on your door step?  Start eating?  Make jam?  Both.  Thanks, Sarah!  Soooooo yummmmy.  It all started tonight with no-sugar, all strawberries and local-honey-sweetened jam.  Next, on to more SR while the R (rhubarb, of course) is still aplenty.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Kennebunk Farmers Market in June

The Kennebunk market is well underway, and I'm having a wonderful time of it.  It's terrific to be so close to so many great farmers and other vendors.  Pop by for a visit any Saturday morning from 8:00 to 1:00 in the middle of town for awesome seedlings and new veggies, a wide variety of dairy items, all kinds of meats, baked goods, and other yummy and creative stuff.  Here's just a glimpse at our end of the market-- next time I'll run down and grab some pics from the entrance.  Hope to see you there!

Trailside Farm Herbs:  This stuff really works.  Our whole family is using it this summer.

Tracy and her girls from Maple Ridge Farm

Monday, June 13, 2011

Rhubarb Pie

One of my best-sellers right now is Rhubarb Pie jam.  Did we determine yet if I'm personally allowed to judge my own jam as sooooooo good?  Well it is, and of course the idea came from my neverendingly favorite kind of pie, which must be baked at least a few times during the height of the rhubarb season.

If you're not a pie-baker, don't be afraid to try this super-simple kind.  For real, it's easy.  You can do it.

When it comes to crust, if you're a pie-baking newbee, go ahead and get yourself a box of rolled up crust from the grocery store.  No one will know, and you won't tell anyone either.  When someone asks if you made the crust, you say, "Why yes, I did bake it."  You did.  Otherwise open up any recipe book to find a crust recipe you're comfortable with and go for it.    

In addition to the crust, you'll need:
1 2/3 cups sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
5 cups rhubarb, cut up in 1/2 inch pieces.  Do NOT peel the rhubarb.
1 Tbs butter

Set your oven at 425.  Place one pastry in bottom of 9 or 10 inch pie plate.  Mix sugar, flour, and cinnamon.  Turn half the rhubarb into the pastry-lined plate and cover with half the sugar mixture.  Cover with the rest of the rhubarb, then the rest of the sugar mixture.  Drop little bits of the butter around the top of the sugar mixture.  You'll want to put slits or decorate small openings in the top crust before you cover your pie with it.  I usually put 4 little leaf-shaped holes around the pie, and an x-shaped slit in the middle.  Seal your crusts well and cut off excess pastry.  Oh, I almost forgot this very important part!  Beat an egg then paint it on the top of your crust.  Next sprinkle sugar or cinnamon-sugar on top of the egg.  You will not be sorry you added this step!  Next, I cover the entire pie with tin foil to avoid burning the crust, but it is important to put a large slit in the tin-foil where the middle of the pie is so your crust doesn't get soggy.  Keep the foil on for about half an hour before removing it, then baking your pie another 15 minutes.  You'll know the pie is done when juices starts bubbling through the slits in the crust.

Feel free to eat this pie for breakfast.  Joe and I have determined that it can't be less healthy than a muffin, and doesn't rhubarb look healthy?  It is!  You will love it.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Why did the turtle cross the road?

I saw this little guy trying to cross our road yesterday.  I was so worried about coming home later and finding him smushified that I pulled over and waited for him to cross before I left again.  When he saw me walking toward him, however, he went into hiding, which did not at all help my cause.  So, I got back in the van and moved up a few yards, then watched until he finally did go for it.  This is not the first time I've stopped traffic for a turtle-crossing.  One time Jesse and I got out of my truck in the middle of busy route 28 in Wolfeboro.  Summer traffic was stopped on both sides of the highway while we used a towel to sort of "tempt" a tiny turtle across the pavement.  I like to think all the beeping cars were cheering us on.