Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Freezing Blueberries & Jam

Local Blueberries!
The local Blueberries are now available!  That was the signal to me to get busy!  I purchase this yummy sweet fruit and then clean/ freeze the berries to place in Ziploc Freezer bags and we enjoy them in the coming months.  After going through each pint of berries, they are triple washed and then drained.  Packing them away and then placing the labelled bags on "their" shelf in our large freezer.

No, not all of the berries are frozen.  There's still snacking going on and also Blueberry Freezer Jam was prepared.  Each of 3 batches was prepared separately.  After the 24 hour time period, the containers of Jam were also placed in the freezer.  Looking back, I've been preparing Freezer Jam for probably 40 years.  For me it sure is a LOT easier than stirring the mixture over a hot stove on a HHH summer day.  Easy works so well.  This jam is just so yummy!

CERTO is the liquid fruit pectin that I use.  The preparation directions are located inside each box.

CERTO
The key things to remember here:
  • Use clean utensils, containers.
  • Prepare each batch separately.
  • Have ALL ingredients ready to use.
  • Follow Directions EXACTLY.
This year I discovered that I had a medley of freezer containers to use.  It was time to place "freezer containers" on my grocery list!

Blueberry Freezer Jam
 Homemade Jam is just the best!!!  Fortunately for us, this year we did not run out of our supply before the first of the new Freezer Jams (Strawberry) was prepared in June.

Do you freeze the local fruit in the summer?  Do you prepare Freezer Jams?

Enjoy!
Yummy!
        

Saturday, July 14, 2018

~Zinnias~


First there was one.
Now, there are some!!!
Summer is here
and the colorful Zinnias are blossoming!!!

Enjoy!
 

Thursday, July 5, 2018

~View of Flowers~

Oh, has it been hot!!  Walking outside reminds me of entering a greenhouse in the late spring.  The warm moisty air always seems to c-l-i-n-g.  No, I do not make a habit of walking into greenhouses.  Well, this hot moisty air has been enjoyed by the annuals and perennials that always add color to our yard!

Colorful Petunias!

The bright lavender Petunias are bursting with color!!

Budding Zinnias

The Zinnia seeds sprouted.  Before we knew it, many sets of leaves were visible.  Now, the buds are forming!

Front Garden
The Daylilies are beginning to blossom!  First, there were three.  Next there were four!  Tomorrow there will be so many more!!

The summer flowers are enjoying this 6 day heat wave!  The weekend looks cooler!!

Enjoying the view!

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

July 4, 2018


Have a Happy
&
Safe 4th of July!!!

Enjoy!
 

Thursday, June 28, 2018

FREE FUN FRIDAYS- 2018

FREE FUN FRIDAYS
It's the end of June!  It's summertime! FREE FUN FRIDAYS in Massachusetts are back!  It's the 10th anniversary!  The Highland Street Foundation generously gives all of us- living in Massachusetts, vacationing in MA or for visitors just traveling through- the opportunity to visit interesting places for FREE!

Starting this Friday, June 29 there will be 10 specific venues available to visit- no charge.  It changes every week!  Every Friday up to and including August 31 families and friends can learn something new- while having FuN!  That's 10 Fridays this summer!  They are located in Western, Central and Eastern MA.  Yes, including the Cape (Cape Cod). 

Are you interested???  Here is the Schedule this summer.

Do you have a question???  FAQ

Here is more information about the venues.

There are so many interesting places to visit!  Some include:

Springfield Museums
 
Old Sturbridge Village

The Mount- Edith Wharton's Home
This summer when school is not in session, take the opportunity to visit 1, 2 or more of these great places.  It is for visitors of ALL ages.  Remember that there are 10 specific venues to visit on 10 specific Fridays.

Have FuN!
Enjoy!


Saturday, June 23, 2018

Strawberry Freezer Jam

~Strawberry Freezer Jam~
Sweet juicy local Strawberries are just the best!  They also make a wonderful flavorful jam!  For a few decades now, I've been preparing Freezer Jams when the fresh local fruit is available.  This week 3 batches of Strawberry Freezer Jam found its spot on our dining room table to "do its thing" for the required 24 hour period.  My kitchen had this production line set up.  The strawberries had already been prepared. 

My fave containers to use are the Ziploc 1 cup containers.  The circular ones that Ziploc no longer sells.  So, during the year after we've enjoy a container of jam, each container is carefully washed/ dried & stored away for future Freezer Jams.

One day this week was Strawberry Freezer Jam Day!  The strawberries, sugar, Certo (liquid pectin) and Lemon Juice were placed on the counter- ready to use.  The Directions are located inside each box of Certo.

While preparing this Jam follow directions exactly!  I always reread the Directions and also reread my Helpful Hints.  One batch is prepared at a time!

We had been enjoying the very last container of Freezer Jam- Peach - that was prepared last year.  What great timing for our local strawberry season!  Now, our freezer has a new supply.

Do you prepare Freezer Jams?
They are so much tastier than the commercial brands of jams!

Enjoy!
Yummy!
      

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Freezing Strawberries

Local Fresh Strawberries
It's Strawberry Season!!!

Now!!!  The time of year when we can drive out to a local roadside stand and purchase a quart/ quarts of the sweet, juicy, red, local strawberries.  This week was the week to drive out to Meadowbrook Farm in East Longmeadow and purchase a flat + 2 quarts of these tasty local berries.  No, there is no way we are devouring them all at once.  The strawberries were prepared for the freezer and then frozen.  There were other plans for 3 of the quarts.  During the remaining months of the year a bag needs only to be defrosted to enjoy as a topping on Belgian Waffles, Oatmeal Pancakes or on ice cream. 

Living in MA where this fruit does not grow year round, I like to freeze the local berries in June.  The quarts purchased during the winter/ colder months in our grocery stores are not very tasty. 

Packaging the Strawberries!
Freezing the strawberries is an easy process.  Well worth the time, too, if you enjoy eating the local tasty fruit during the winter months. 

There is always a little "strawberry snacking" going on after the bags are placed in the freezer.  Some berries are saved out to enjoy now!  Yum!  While preparing the fruit, my kitchen has the aroma of a strawberry field.

Freezing Strawberries
  1. Working with a quart at a time, the tops are cut off. 
  2. Then, the strawberries are triple rinsed in cold water.
  3. Drain.
  4. Slice each strawberry in half or thirds and measure out 2 and 1/2 Cups to place in a Ziploc Quart sized Freezer Bag.  
  5. I prefer to add about 1 Tablespoon Sugar to each Ziploc Bag before freezing.
  6. Move the Sugar/ Strawberries around in the bag to dissolve the Sugar.
  7. Close, label & date each bag.  Then, place in your freezer.
  8. Defrost in fridge when needed.
This year the Strawberries are so sweet & so juicy!  What a delicious local fruit!  We need to make a return trip and purchase a few more quarts.

Do you also freeze the local fruit??

Enjoy!
Yummy!

     

Saturday, June 9, 2018

~Raisin Rice Crispies Treats~

Raisin Rice Crispies Treats
So many times I have purchased a bag of marshmallows.  So many times I have plans to make a batch of Raisin Rice Crispies Treats.  But, so many times I was not quick enough and my DH had opened the bag and started snacking on those yummy white puffs and soon they were gone!  Well, this week I was quick enough!  Woohoo!  This is a snack that we have enjoyed for so many years and I make occasionally! 
  • They are so easy to make. 
  • However, read the directions first.
  • The key is to work quickly!  :)
  • After cutting into bars, store in fridge.  
  • Before eating, microwave a bar for 7- 9 seconds to warm slightly!
 Raisin Rice Crispies Treats

Ingredients:
4 Tablespoons Butter/ Margarine 
1 (10 ounce) package Marshmallows
5 and 1/2 Cups Rice Krispies cereal
1 Cup Raisins

Method:
  1.  In a large pot (6 quart pot) melt 4 Tablespoons Margarine/ Butter over Low heat.
  2.  Add in 1 bag (10 ounces) Marshmallows, stirring until completely melted.
  3.  Turn off heat.
  4.  Add in 3 Cups Rice Krispies cereal, stir quickly.
  5.  Add in 1 Cup Raisins, stir quickly.
  6.  Then, add 2 and 1/2 Cups more Rice Krispies cereal, stir again.
  7.  Place the mixture (will be sticky) into a 9" x 15" glass baking dish (sprayed with PAM).  Press down lightly with the bottom of the measuring cup.  
  8.  Cover with plastic wrap & place in fridge for 1 hour.
  9.  Cut into bars, place in covered container & store in fridge until serving. 
These are definitely a treat!!
Enjoy!
Yummy!

    Tuesday, May 29, 2018

    Spring in New England!!


    Just walking around our home outdoors beautiful colors change when we go around the corner.  The pink Peonies are just bursting with fragrance.  The flowers are heavy, so the stems are staked- ready for any rain that may fall. 


    Turning around 180°, the Purple Irises come in view.  The first buds opened this morning!  There are so many more that will add color to our yard this week.



    The lavender Chives are going a bit wild!!  The delicate flowers always add color to our back perennial garden.




    Glancing to the right- the Variegated Iris!  It has flowered again this year!!



    On our deck 3 potted Citronella (Mosquito) Plants are very helpful- all summer.  The Vinca adds a bit of color to the pot. 

    Spring is a great and beautiful time of year!! 

    Enjoy!
         

    Sunday, May 27, 2018

    ~Memorial Day~


    Today 
    we honor 
    the men and the women
    who have died 
    in service 
    to our country!




    Sunday, May 13, 2018

    Today- May 13


    I wish all Mom's 
    a very
    Happy Mother's Day!!! 

    Enjoy your special day!!!

    Sunday, April 22, 2018

    Chicken Florentine via Slow Cooker

    ~Chicken Florentine~
    via Slow Cooker
    One morning a little over a week ago a few snowflakes began floating down.  What??  No!!  Say it isn't so!!  Well, they did, but the melting process happened really quickly.  While watching them, suddenly it just felt like "Slow Cooker" time.  The kind of morning when there is much to do and you just know that dinnertime will come just too quickly- even though it is hours away.  You just have that feeling! 

    It had been many months since I'd made this Chicken dinner in my Slow Cooker.  A quick glance and I had most of the ingredients.  So why not??  It seems whenever I prepare it, I make it a little differently.  This time there were no Potatoes or Yams to add to the Slow Cooker's pot.  Well, that was just no problem!  We enjoyed this flavorful dish served over pasta. 

    It was so good!  It's always very tasty.  The Chicken is always so tender.  Carrots and Spinach are filled with flavor.  There's a sauce to drizzle over the pasta, too.  On a busy day this is tasty and hearty to enjoy at dinnertime.

    Chicken Florentine
         via Slow Cooker
     

    Ingredients:

    1 lb. Baby Carrots
    1 teaspoon dried Parsley
    1 teaspoon dried Chopped Onion
    1- 1 and 1/2 lbs. Chicken Tenders
    1/4 teaspoon dried Oregano
    1/4 teaspoon dried Basil
    1/8 teaspoon Garlic Powder
    1 (10 oz.) pkg. frozen Spinach, defrosted
    1 can Healthy Request Cream of Mushroom Soup
    1/3 Cup Water

    Method:  
    1. Rinse Baby Carrots under cool water.  Place in Slow Cooker's pot.
    2. Sprinkle on 1 teaspoon dried Parsley and 1 teaspoon dried Chopped Onion.
    3. Rinse Chicken Tenders under cold water and place on top of Carrots.
    4. Sprinkle on Oregano, Basil and Garlic Powder.
    5. Add defrosted Spinach on top, spreading evenly. 
    6. In a small bowl mix well Cream of Mushroom Soup with 1/3 Cup Water.
    7. Spread evenly over top of Spinach.
    8. Place lid on Slow Cooker and set temperature.
    9. Cook on #5- High for 1 Hour.  Then, reduce heat to #3 for 2 Hours
    10. Serve over Pasta.
    11. Enjoy!
    Refrigerate any leftovers! 

    This is a great dinner any season of the year.  I always keep a can of the soup in the pantry, just in case I need it.  Much like there's always an extra bag of Flour sitting on the shelf, too.

    Dinner tonight??  Oh, our temps were in the mid 60's°F, so Chicken on the grill was quick and easy.  We live in New England!

    Enjoy!
    Yummy!
       

    Monday, April 16, 2018

    Just Around the Corner

    Question: 
    What is the season??


    ...might be Spring!  You know, the season when we enjoy wearing short sleeved tops, light weight or no jackets outdoors.  Maybe even shorts.  This year we need to rely on memories when thinking of Spring! 

    As I write this, it is raining.  Earlier we had snow.  It does make for a fascinating photo.  

    Three seasons are represented in our backyard perennial garden:  Autumn- Zebra Grass, Winter- Snow and Spring- pink Hyacinths and sprouting Japanese Irises.

    However, this is New England!  With a blink of our eyes the weather will change again!  :)

    Enjoy!
     

    Monday, April 2, 2018

    ~April 2, 2018~


    One just might believe that it's April 1st and Mother Nature wanted to surprise all of us!  However, it's April 2, 2018.

    Excited about Spring,

    Saturday, March 31, 2018

    Blueberry Torte


    Blueberry Torte
    (File Photo)
    Decisions, decisions, decisions! There are so many yummy desserts that can be baked to enjoy after a delicious Easter Dinner.  What would be the choice??  Last night the vote was cast!  Blueberry Torte!  A slice of Blueberry Torte served with vanilla ice cream.  That led to a package of frozen local blueberries from our large freezer to be placed in the fridge to defrost overnight.

    A slice will be served with vanilla ice cream
    (File Photo)
    This dessert is always so good.  A light cinnamon flavored cake filled with blueberries.  It taste delicious any time of year.  Did I mention that this dessert is easy to prepare?  It is.

    I use 1 Whole Egg + Egg Whites along with Soy Milk when preparing the cake batter.

    Click here for my recipe!

    The afternoon is moving along and I need to get started!  Now, it's time for me to pull up my recipe on my iPad and get started.

    Enjoy!
    Yummy!

    Happy Easter!!!

             

    Friday, March 16, 2018

    ~A Welcome Sight!~


    What a welcome sight!  Every year I await the first Crocus sprouting up.  Usually the first flowers are located near our front bushes.  Not this year!  This lavender Crocus sprouted in our lawn.  They do every year, but just not the first visible flower in our yard.

    Enjoy!

    Wednesday, March 14, 2018

    Best Ever Irish Soda Bread

    Best Ever Irish Soda Bread!
    (File Photo)
    It's like clockwork!  Every year about a week before St. Patrick's Day I check to see if I have unsalted Butter in the fridge.  Buttermilk is always on the top shelf.  Raisins in the pantry, too.  Those are 3 of the needed ingredients to bake an Irish Soda Bread.  Every year on St. Patrick's Day we enjoy a slice of this light sweet tasty bread at breakfast.  It's also called Spotted Dog!  

    This week I've baked 3 of these yummy breads.  One son had a bread delivered and the other son will have one delivered, soon.  
     
    Sliced & packaged!

    The third bread is for my DH & me to enjoy.  Oh yum!! 

    It's become a tradition with me to share with all of you how I discovered this best ever Irish Soda Bread.  I post this story every year:  

    "I'll always remember the year I was "googling" for an Irish Soda Bread recipe that used 1 Cup of Buttermilk.  That's all I had in the fridge.  There was the recipe on the blog Charli and Me written by Carol.  Carol shared that this great recipe originally came from the Will O'Glenn Irish Bed and Breakfast in Michigan with Mrs. Biddy Gahan sharing it.  I'm always so happy that all of these kind folks passed it along!  I use unsalted & fat free/ low fat ingredients & it's so good!  Every year I bake this Irish Soda Bread for St. Patrick's Day & also a couple of other times during the year.

    One year in my haste, I melted the unsalted Butter in the microwave.  I then learned that it was much easier to mix the cooled melted Butter with the flour mixture, so that has now become my method.  I also add the drained Raisins and stir in before adding in the Buttermilk. 

    Some Hints:
    • Melt, then cool Butter before using. 
    • Before placing the very sticky dough in the pie plate, rub a little Butter on your hands, so the dough will not stick to your hands.
    • Spray the pie plate with PAM.
     
    Ready for the oven!
    (File Photo)

    Best Ever Irish Soda Bread 
    Oven:  400°F, then lowered to 375°F.

    Total Baking Time:  40 - 45 Minutes

    Ingredients:
    1 and 1/2 Cups Raisins
    1 Cup Boiling Water
    * * * * * * *
    1 stick unsalted Butter 
    2 and 1/2 Cups Flour
    1 teaspoon Baking Soda
    1 teaspoon Baking Powder
    5 Tablespoons Sugar
    1 Cup Buttermilk, can be Fat Free or Low Fat

    PAM- to spray on pie plate

    Method: 
    1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
    2. Spray Pyrex pie plate with PAM.
    3. In a small bowl combine Raisins & boiling water.  Let sit while preparing dough.
    4. Melt Butter.  Cool.
    5. In large mixing bowl combine Flour, Baking Soda, Baking Powder & Sugar.
    6. Add melted Butter to dry ingredients.  Stir in.
    7. Add drained Raisins.  Stir.
    8. Add Buttermilk.  Stir.
    9. Shape the dough into a ball after placing in pie plate.  **Dough will be sticky.
    10. Bake 15 Minutes at 400°F.
    11. Then, lower oven temperature to 375°F.  Bake 25- 30 Minutes longer.
    12. Use a cake tester or toothpick to test for "doneness".
    13. Remove bread from pie plate to a cooling rack.
    14. Cool on rack.
    15. Wait at least 5 hours before cutting into slices.
    16.  Enjoy!
    ***Before removing from pie plate, I use a knife to separate bread from pie plate edge.  A spatula also helps to lift the bread to the cooling rack.

    This is the best Irish Soda Bread I've ever tested, 2 thumbs up!!!  It is yummy served warm or cold.  However, heating a slice in the microwave for a few seconds is just the best. 

    2 slices are also placed in our freezer to enjoy sometime in the next 2 weeks.

    Put unsalted Butter & Buttermilk on your grocery list!  Raisins, too, if you do not have 1 and 1/2 Cups ready to use.

    Happy St. Patrick's Day!!!

    Enjoy!
    Yummy!
      

    Tuesday, March 6, 2018

    ~March 6, 1930~

    My Freezer Door
    (File Photo)
    It was on March 6, 1930!  The location was Springfield, MA!  That was the day that Clarence Birdseye test marketed his new product- frozen food!  That was way before my time, but Springfield is just north of my town.  What an interesting story of Massachusetts history!   

    This inventor was born in 1886 in Brooklyn, NY & attended Amherst College in Amherst, MA for a period of time. Later, when Clarence lived in Labrador with his young family it was challenging to feed his family.  It was during this time that he watched the Eskimos "quick freeze" their food.  His interest in "quick freezing" grew.  Now, his name Birdseye is so familiar to us.  We see it on packages of frozen foods in the grocery stores.

    For the complete story from MassMoments click here.  I always enjoy reading Massachusetts history!!!  

    Thank you Mr. Birdseye!!!
    We enjoy your idea!!!