Tag Archives: blueberries

Adventures in jamming: fruit, pectin, music

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My friends gave me these beautiful yellow plums on Sunday, and I’ve been jamming up a storm. Both of these are ginger plum jam, with some chopped crystallized ginger added to the plummy goodness.

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The one on the right is my usual Sure-Jell pectin version. It requires an exact amount of sugar to set. It’s very sweet. The one on the left is my first experiment with Pomona’s pectin, which doesn’t require sugar to gel. The pectin is activated by calcium (included in the packet). I used less than half as much sugar in this second jam. It’s much more tart, and the plum and ginger flavors shine through. But why do these two look so different? I made the second jam with turbinado sugar, so it’s darker, and I don’t love how it looks. I went back to the drawing board (and picked more plums), and came up with this winner.

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Sunshine in a jar

It’s not as crystal clear/jewel-like as the Sure-Jell jam, but it has much less sugar, 4 1/2 cups of sugar for 8 cups of prepared fruit, instead of 8 cups of sugar for 6 cups of fruit. This is a little sweeter than the last version, per my family’s request. I like that I could add sugar until it tasted right. Pretty color. Delicious flavor. Nice texture. And I’ve run out of jars, so I’m done jamming for the season. Whew!

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Third time’s a charm

For reference for next year:

Ginger Plum Jam

8 cups prepared plums (pitted, not peeled, pulsed a bit in food processor)
4 1/2 C sugar
1/2 C lemon juice
1/4 C chopped crystallized ginger
8 tsp calcium water (from pectin package)
6 tsp Pomona’s pectin

Prepare and process per directions in pectin package.

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More jam? A couple weeks ago, we picked raspberries and made jam with this recipe I found last year. No added pectin, and an exquisite color and set.

Now I have a LOT of jam. I found this recipe for making jam ice cream a while ago. I haven’t tried it yet; I need to get out of the kitchen! But this may come in handy later.

I just picked the very last of my blueberry crop for this year. (Ring added for size reference. The bowl is only about 4 inches, and the berries are not so big in real life.)

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I don’t love blueberry jam, so I have gallons of berries stored in the freezer for (my signature) cobblers, pancakes, muffins, and compotes all year long. Eating them fresh off the blueberry bush is my favorite way to enjoy them. I’m going to savor these last few.

In a different kind of jamming, the Pie Birds (my friends Claudia and Becky and I) sang in church on Sunday. This is our version of the Wailin’ Jennys’ Bird Song. I’m the low harmony, and play one of the guitars. It is an absolute joy to sing with friends!

Snowy Woods Cowl

I’m madly knitting away, and about halfway done with two projects that are publishing soon. One is the re-worked Snowy Woods Cowl. Lorajean over at Knitted Wit is doing this custom color in her Aran weight yarn for me. Isn’t it gorgeous? And soft and bouncy to knit with, too. We’re planning a pattern launch sale and a KAL. Stay tuned!

How was your week?

Blues Roundup: music, skies, berries

Not much knitting here last weekend, but lots of music, and blueberries, too. The Waterfront Blues Festival ran from Thursday through Sunday, and the weather was perfect. Sunny and warm, but not hot. Portland knows how to throw a party! And it was for a good cause: The festival raised $1.3 million for the Oregon Food Bank, well in excess of their goal of $1 million, plus tons of canned food. (Admission most days is a suggested donation of $10 plus 2 cans of food.)

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The music was great all weekend. My favorites?

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Nikki HIll, a great big voice in a sassy package. Yes, those are sequined cowboys on her skirt, as well as sequined slide pumps on her feet.

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MarchFourth Marching Band, with stilt walker/dancer/acrobats! I think this is every band kid’s dream of a band afterlife. But even cooler and funkier.

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John Hiatt, an oldie but goodie. He’s written tons of stuff that others have sung, but I also like his own whiskey voice.

I don’t know that I’d classify all the music I heard as the blues, but the variety made the festival much more enjoyable. There was also a lot of zydeco music, which is always fun.

I missed Sunday, which featured Mavis Staples and Robert Plant. I was at the Oregon Zoo, enjoying the Go-Go’s and the B-52’s. Definitely a smaller venue than Waterfront Park, but still a sizeable crowd.

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Zoo concerts are great; you can picnic on the lawn before the show. Go with a group of friends, and it’s a potluck miracle. I made a blueberry cobbler, as requested.

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It’s great picnic fare, especially with a side of spray whipped cream. I’d prefer ice cream, but that doesn’t travel well.

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I’m coming to the end of my blueberry harvest. It’s my last chance to use my own berries for a blueberry cream pie in a gingersnap crust which requires fresh berries, so that was last night’s dessert.

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Lorajean saw my pie pic on Facebook, and then I saw her at Twisted when I was delivering patterns yesterday. She was hoping that the pie was for tonight’s knit nite, but sadly, no.

But I came home and did the last picking, and there are just enough berries to eke out one more pie. Let the rejoicing begin…

a little of this, a little of that

June-uary was a long month here, with a record amount of rain, and chilly temps. July is working hard to make up for all that.

My hydrangeas are lovely.

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They say that hydrangeas will be blue in acidic soil, and pink in alkaline soil. But what does it mean when both colors are on the same bush? Strange!

My blueberries have gone crazy this year. I have five bushes, and they are very happy. I’ve baked cobblers and banana blueberry bread (recipe at bottom of post), and put four gallons in the freezer, and we’re still not done. I guess it’s a good thing, but I’m getting tired of picking them.

Saturday we went sailing with a friend on the Columbia River. It’s been a bi-coastal water week; we went kayaking in Maine on Thursday. I have no kayaking pictures; I was afraid the camera would get wet. Here’s Saturday’s captain and pup:

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CollegeGrad and I both enjoyed time at the helm.

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I brought a picnic dinner, which DH was not willing to share with the dog!

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Mount Hood at sunset was even more gorgeous than this picture suggests.

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When the sun went down, the sky was pink and purple, and the mountain was sublimely lovely. My camera wasn’t up to the challenge, so it will just be a memory.

Here’s the recipe for the bread; it’s light and delicate, unlike my usual banana bread.

Blueberry Banana Bread

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar (I used a little less)
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (3 medium or 2 large)
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen

Preheat oven to 325°F degrees.

Grease and flour 2 loaf pans. Cream together butter and sugar. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Add mashed bananas.

Measure flour, reserving 2 tablespoons of flour to coat blueberries. Stir baking soda and salt into flour. Fold into banana mixture. Toss blueberries with 2 T flour, then fold into batter. Transfer batter to loaf pans.

Bake about 50 minutes. If you use frozen blueberries, it may take longer. Toothpick should come out clean. Enjoy!

Knitting in the next post, I promise…

I’ve got the blues…

And I love them! Blue is my favorite color. I’m still plugging away on the blue Ishbel and the blue Ruffle Tank. And now I’ve won some beautiful blue yarn from Lorajean at Knitted Wit.

blue sky

It’s 400 yards of fingering weight sock yarn, colorway Blue Sky. Lorajean noted that I don’t knit socks, but that’s not completely true. What’s true is that I don’t knit socks with fingering weight yarn! Someday I may. But wouldn’t this blue make a gorgeous scarf or shawl?

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I also harvested the first of the blueberries on Sunday when I got home from Carmel. I made blueberry cobbler, and we had it with vanilla ice cream for Father’s Day dessert. It was delicious! While I was picking the berries, I noticed a blue jay on the corner of my roof, with a big fat blueberry in his beak. I think there’s enough for all of us, but that was pretty cheeky of him!

Blueberry Forest

I just realized why I picked my February Lady yarn.

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I seem to have blueberries on my mind. They’re just coming into season, and I have five bushes in the side yard. We’ve been having blueberry muffins, blueberry cobbler, and my favorite, watermelon and blueberries. I’m going to try to freeze some for later, but I usually just pick enough for whatever I’m making that day.

I swatched for the February Lady, and am 15 rows in. I’m not sure I like the increases I’m using, and am thinking of a simple yarn over increase instead, which would make a double eyelet line at the raglan corners. There’s a knitalong group on Ravelry, as well as the upcoming KAL at Twisted, so I’ve been looking at pictures of finished Ladies on Rav. As you can probably tell by now, I don’t mind frogging and re-knitting!

I finished the knitting (and reknitting) on Josephine, and now it’s leap of faith time. Will it fit? Will it look good? It’s time for the seaming, and there will be a lot of mattress stitch in my near future. And we’ll see…