13 September 2013

11 September 2013

Jam and Jelly Progress

I spent a lot of Saturday chopping strawberries and slicing peaches (but not so much that I didn't have time to spend with a friend and attend another friend's birthday party).  The fruit has been sitting in jars in the fridge for the last couple days, macerating in xylitol and vanilla (split beans with the strawberries, homemade extract with the peaches).

I also saved my peach peelings; I boiled them for about a half hour yesterday and then let them steep all night to prepare to make peach jelly.  This morning, I strained out the juice and then squeezed all the peelings in a cloth to get every bit of juice.  I have over a gallon (I think - it's in a big mixing bowl, not in a measuring cup or a pitcher).

After school today, I'll be working on my first few batches of jam.  I'm using small-batch recipes so that I don't feel overwhelmed my first time jam- and jelly-making.  I've never canned before, either, but after seeing some of the pictures on other blogs, I realized that it's not as completely complicated as I thought it would be and that I already have the big equipment.  I did invest in a six-utensil canning set, but that was only about $10.

On my radar:

  1. how to make vanilla bean paste
  2. how to make cola syrup with xylitol to mix with club soda for a low-cost, sugar-free soda
  3. learning about aromatherapy (I'm thinking about studying chemistry with my high schoolers when they start next month as a beginning point)
  4. perfecting my sugar-free (almost), grain-free chocolate chip cookie recipe (improved from Alton Brown's recipe and, really, almost there)
  5. experimenting more with almond flour, coconut flour, and whey powder as a substitute for wheat flour (trying to adjust Paula Deen's peach cobbler recipe for dessert tonight; also want to work on sandwich wraps, crépes, pancakes and waffles, and English muffins to go with all this jam!)


06 September 2013

Hello, Again!

Lots has been going on here.  I'm about finished with another of the King's Meadow Study Center courses (it's been a busy summer) and am eager to get back into the kitchen and the garden.

Tomorrow morning,  a flat of strawberries and a flat of peaches arrive, and I thought I'd experiment with making jam.  I've looked up some recipes that use xylitol instead of sugar and will be experimenting in the next few days.  I hope to post more later in the week (with pictures) to share how it went.  This will be my first time trying to water bath can, so the potential to learn something new is huge (of course, the potential for failure is also huge, but it's a fair trade-off).

I'm also hoping to get some seeds started inside (it's still pretty hot out there for seeds, and I'm afraid the chickens would eat them).  I'll be getting out my Extension planting list to see what's in season.  Of course, I have to get out there and clean up from last spring.  I also think it's time to have the boys make a few more raised beds and work on some trellises.

We started school this week, and I've had some interesting thoughts about motherhood and leadership, spurred on by my beginning to mentor a new homeschooling friend, that I hope to mull over (while making jam!) and post soon, too.

And I've had quite a few requests for a post or two about our water kefir-making adventure.  Life is settling down a bit, and I hope to have the time to revive things here.  Thanks for your patience with me!!