Summer Vacation Day 6: Reclaiming the Garden

It’s been such a rainy spring, followed by a rainy start to the summer.  The weeds in the garden topped out at over 8 feet tall – What a Mess!  This morning I was able to pull the remainder of the weeds in the garden and lay down two bags of pine shavings on the blueberries.  I also planted a few new plants: zucchini, yellow zucchini, acorn squash, patty pan and three types of basil.  Things are looking much nicer.  We still need to lay down the remainder of the chips we got last fall, add some soil to the low areas and do some cleanup.


Summer Day 5: Delicious Jam and Glorious Toes

I woke up this morning, the fog of the no-sugar headache lifted.  I had completely forgotten about the Strawberry & Black Currant Jam that I’d started so that was the first order of the day.  I strained the juice from the strawberries, added 3/4 cup of Black Currant juice and brought the mixture to 220 degrees.  Then I added back the strained strawberries, brought that to a boil and simmered the jam for 5 minutes.  It made enough for 3 small jars so I processed them in steam for 20 minutes.

The results smell wonderful and look beautiful.  Now what to do with the rest of the black currant juice?……..The next item on todays agenda is Lunch with my pal S.E. followed by a summer pedicure.  Time to bring those winter toes up to speed…….

……Pedicures were fantastic – hot rocks, warm wax, foot massage and pretty flowers.  What a fun afternoon.

Summer Day 4: Kicking Sugar

I’m trying (again) to kick my sugar habit.  I have been stressed out at work this spring and handling it by drinking waaaaay to many large Cokes at McDonald’s (there all the same price, I might as well get a large – right?).  Well, dental cleaning day was yesterday which seemed like a great time to quit bathing my freshly scrubbed teeth with sugar.

I was really tired by afternoon, but I made it.  This morning was a little tougher….I woke up feeling hungover – – foggy, headache, stiff neck, blah.   I came downstairs and really wanted to run out to the patio and get a cold, fizzy Coke out of the refrigerator…….instead I decided to make a healthy breakfast.

Breakfast Fried Rice Hash with Eggs

Summer 2017 Day 2: Black Current & Strawberry Jam

Day 1: Macerating Strawberries

1 cup fresh black currants
3 cups water

4 cups fresh, local Oregon strawberries
2 T lemon juice
1.5 cups sugar
peel of one lemon

Black currants are high in pectin and will act as pectin in the jam. Cook 1 cup of currants with 3 cups water – bring it to a boil and then simmer for 20 – 30 minutes. Drain, reserving the juice.

Combine 6 cups washed, hulled and sliced strawberries in 1.5 cups sugar. You can also add the peel of 1 lemon lemon peel or some ginger. Macerate overnight in the fridge.

Next morning, remove the lemon or ginger if you added it. Add 2 T lemon juice and 3/4 cup of the currant juice. Bring to boil in heavy, wide pot.  The process may take 15 – 20 minutes but it could take closer to 25 minutes – it depends on the water content of the fruit.  I bring the temp up to about 221 degrees or use a cold sauces to check the gel.

Ladle the jam into sterile jars and seal using either a water bath or steam canner.

Summer 2017 Day 1: Congratulations Kiddo

We had a small, family get together today to honor the high school graduation of our youngest son.  He will be studying music performance and music education at Portland State University in the fall on a music scholarship.

The weather was forecast into the high 90’s for the day, so we decided to abandon the barbecue idea and just go for some really nice, sliced ham, an assortment of artesian breads, some great salamis and several big, delicious wedges of cheese.  Fresh fruits and vegetables, and assortment of ships and crackers helped keep preparation simple and our favorite 7th Heaven Cake from JaCiva’s Bakery made it special.

Apparently, graduation decorations can not be purchased in June, at least in this area, so we had to improvise.  We used his graduation robe and sash in the entry and his diploma and mortarboard were displayed on the sideboard.  It’s amazing what you can do with curly ribbons. We used his school colors, hanging colorful ribbons from the light fixtures and the candlesticks……..

…….A nice homemade congratulatory banner was decorated with more curly ribbons.  This one was easy, I just hand lettered the message on some pieces of wood that I found in the clearance section of the craft store……..

………..The curly ribbons even made their way outside, joined by even more brightly colored ribbons – just to add a little festive color to the back yard.  Vintage quilts on the tables and lawn chairs and a galvanized tub full of icy cold drinks made the party feel county casual but festive…….

Strawberry jam – no pectin

  • 1 lemon
  • 1020g strawberries
  • 4 cups sugar
  1. Rinse, dry and hull the strawberries. Cut them in halves or quarters.
  2. Combine the strawberries, sugar and lemon juice in a bowl.   Cover with a towel and let macerate overnight.
  3. The next day, put the mixture in a saucepan and heat until the mixture just reaches a simmer. Let it rest in the refrigerator overnight.
  4. On the third day,  strain the mixture, collecting the syrup into a saucepan. Bring the syrup you’ve gathered to a boil, and let it boil for ten minutes (221°F).
  5. Add in the strained strawberries. Bring to a boil for another 5 minutes, stirring gently.
  6. Pour the jam into sterile jars and can using a water-bath or steam canner.

Ricotta Cake with Blueberries


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups whole milk ricotta
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/4 cup blueberries


Preheat an oven to 350 degrees.

Spray a 9-inch cake pan with non-stick cooking spray. In a large bowl, combine the first four ingredients. In another large bowl combine eggs, ricotta, vanilla extract, and butter. Slowly combine the dry ingredients with the wet ingredients. Once combined, gently fold in the blueberries, careful not break them. Pour batter into cake pan and bake for about 60 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven to cool before slicing and dusting with confectioners sugar.