Tag Archives: jelly making

Beautiful Berries and Brambles

 You don’t have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces —

just good food from fresh ingredients.

                                                                                                           ~Julia Child

fresh and local

Ahh . . . the early weeks of autumn. The gardens and fields are exuberant. I am in heaven with all the fresh produce — either what we grow at Rose Cottage or what we are able to obtain from local growers and producers.

 The just-picked vegetable or fruit turns any meal into something fantastic! The fragrance, taste and texture of fresh produce truly shines in any recipe.

buy fresh buy local Mark and Sues 0909 v2

In the fall, the fabric of our lives are filled with gathering and preserving. It is incredibly difficult to exercise prudent restraint with the abundant produce — I have an insatiable desire to preserve it all. A few bushels never seems quite enough of one thing or another! The kitchen at Rose Cottage is bustling daily with various stages of preserving the plethera of fruits or vegetables.

lovely brambles

 While vegetables abound, the time is ripe for picking those precious little black nuggets — blackberries! The blackberries are about two weeks tardy in their appearance since it has been a bit cooler. Many of the brambles are still filled with gorgeous soft-pink blackberry flower buds and half-dollar sized five-petaled white flowers. Aren’t the blossoms simply lovely?

flowers bud, berry FAV

The rows of blackberries are all-a-buzz with hundreds and hundreds of bees dancing from flower-to-flower. The bees are growing quite dizzy in all the frenzy and merrymaking as they gather the blackberry flower nectar in the warm mid-morning sun.  Some bees are so overcome by the sweet nectar they nearly fall off the blossom.

flowers, bud, berries and bee FAV

gathering “black gold”

Aside for the boisterous bee chorus, all is quiet and peaceful as we start down the first row of blackberries . . . seeking the dark, beautiful berries. The unmistakeable sweet fragrance of just-mowed alfalfa lingers following each sporadic breeze coming from the southwest. The first row furthest to the north is just developing berries. It is fascinating to observe the berries from bud to blossom to blackberry on one bramble.

blackberries (unripe) and flower FAV2

One ripe blackberry FAV

While many berries are still underripe, we find many gorgeous 1/2 to 1-inch berries on the south side of the rows. The darker berries are ripe. When ripe, they so sweet and luscious! My fingers become stained with the beautiful dark purple-red juice. One berry for the ice cream bucket . . . one to sample . . .Someone has to make sure they are perfectly ripe.

Blackberry clusters FAV

The effects of the warm September sun, the soothing music of the bees and nature’s aromatics are futile to resist. I look up from my intense berry gathering to find my Sweetie comfortably resting with his hands behind his head on the meadow grass between the berry rows. He looks so peaceful! Just a sneak peek into his ice cream bucket reveals there is barely enough to cover the bottom. I laugh, but am so glad he can rest! Back to picking berries, but not without first noticing my Sweetie’s quick wink and impish smile.

priceless treasures

We are both content and enjoy the amazing moments amongst the beautiful berries and brambles on a gorgeous September day. Time seems to stand still whilst picking berries. I think of nothing and everything all at once. What a day to treasure!

Soon, the two buckets of the beautiful black gems will be preserved as jam or frozen as whole berries to be enjoyed over the winter months.

blackerries in a bowl FAV

blackberry jam FAV

And . . . the memories of a gorgeous day linger as brambles are added to a lovely bouquet of roses. Memories . . . just gathering some more roses for winter . . . roses and blackberries FAV1 Love is a fruit in season at all times,

and within reach of every hand.

                                             ~Mother Teresa 

You may also . . .

Enjoy reading about Fall Nesting {Summer in a Jar and Antique Mason Jars {before and after.

Also posted on  Hooked on Houses,  The Inspired Room and Designs by Gollum.

 

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Filed under Cooking, Family, Gardening, preserving

Fall Nesting {summer in a jar

The late summer garden has a tranquility

found no other time of year.

                                                              ~William Longgood

time for change

September is my favorite time of the year . . . the air is crisp, clear and fresh . . . the early morning and evening lighting is more enhanced as the angle of the sun changes . . . and fall colors are starting to emerge on the trees. Just this week, glimmers of vibrant reds and golden yellows sporadically dot the sugar maples and sumacs along our river town. The colors are promising to be a gorgeous contrast to the vibrant greens enjoyed throughout the summer.

Amur Maple FAV

I think about September as a time of change. It is a time of change in that new creative ideas and goals for the months ahead can be made. One way of change is to decorate for fall — simple ideas that make a home feel welcoming, warm and cozy. Jenny Wren needs a little update to celebrate fall around one of her many houses at Rose Cottage. Don’t you think her nest looks quite autumnal bedecked with broom corn?

Wren House and broom corn FAV 3

What fall decorations are you adding to welcome friends and family to your front door?

time of preparation

September is also a time of preparing and preserving the summer garden produce for the months ahead. I really feel that I am “nesting” as I put fresh vegetables and fruit in jars to be enjoyed in the months ahead or give as gifts with family and friends.

Marybeth shared a few of her antique canning jars with me — some are from 1858! I think about all the women (and men) who “put food up” for the winter months in these amazing hand-blown glass jars. I wonder what their lives were like as they began their fall nesting . . .

Ball and Jewell FAV

Canadian Jewel FAV

Green Ball Jar and Strawberries

Jewel lid FAV

While the dark olive green Ball is perfectly beautiful and rare, and the Canadian Jewel is a real treasure, I still am quite drawn to the lovely blue canning jars — all in various shades from a robin’s egg blue to cobalt. 

 Four Blue Canning Jars

1858 MASon and other antique blues with roses

EZ Seal Antique and Cobalt Blue FAV 1

1858 Mason FAV

Nov 30 1858 CLOSE FAV

While preserving and “putting food by” is a bit of work, it is immensely satisfying to see the glimmering jars of golden peaches, red tomatoes, perfectly sliced pickles, and an array of  jeweled jams and jellies lining the pantry shelves.

Pickled onions and bird FAV

Jeweled Raspberry Jelly FAV

Sweet Baby Crock Pickles

Crab Apple Pickles

Best Ketchup EVER FAV

Sometimes, I go down to the pantry cellar, turn on the overhead light and just admire the gifts of summer. 

Strawberry Jam

For me, canning or preserving is like putting summer in a jar to enjoy when the north winds howl and temperatures are well-below zero — just a few months away!

Peaches

Do you put a bit of summer in a jar? Do you have a favorite to preserve?

Perfect Seal and Brown eyed Susan FAV

You may also enjoy reading Beautiful Berries and Brambles and Antique Mason Jars {before and after.

This is also posted at Twice Remembered,  The Inspired Room,  A Southern Daydreamer and Designs by Gollum.

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Filed under Cooking, Gardening, Home, Homekeeping, preserving

Market Fresh Treasures

It’s difficult to think

anything but pleasant thoughts

when eating a homegrown tomato!

                                              ~Lewis Grizzard

saturday morning ritual

The first glimmering rays of the early morning sun filter through the pines and ancient maples — the sun is just rising over the river valley. The cool morning mist lingers a bit, but is slowly lifting across the meadow below Rose Cottage. I look out a bedroom window. A doe and her offspring — a fawn still with mottled spots — are laying in the dewy meadow grass under the cedar trees. The chickadees, gold finches and cardinals are eating breakfast seeds at the feeders outside the kitchen windows. Boisterous Bob The Rooster proclaims to the world that it is another new day, and “it’s the early bird that catches the worm — so get out of bed you sleepy head!”

saturday morning

In the summertime, it is off to the farmers market in the capitol city — truly a highlight of each Saturday. My Favorite Son, recovering at home following his surgery, joins me on the early morning market adventure to gather the freshest, local produce. How sweet it is! Soon the sights of covered market stalls come into view.

market vendor 1FAV

market vendor 2 FAV

The market growers stalls are filled with a plethera of seasonal produce — brillant green romano beans, purple and yellow onions, perfect green peppers, aubergine and soft pink eggplant, lush red raspberries, golden corn with the silk still fresh and tender, heirloom Italian zucchini, yellow and green pattypan squash, crisp English cuccumbers . . . the fragrance of fresh produce is envigorating and fills the early morning air. Superb aromatherapy.

heirloom tomato and blueberries FAV

tomatoes and cauliflower

 apples and pear 2 FAV

sweet mama 2

corn

eggplant 2

Friendly “good mornings’” are exchanged as the market bustles with liveliness. The rays of the early morning sun brings some of the vegetable offerings to center stage — as if under spotlights. Ah, the tomatoes!

Cauliflower and tomotoes with sunlight FAV

Peppers and Beans FAV

The aroma of freshly-brewed peace coffee calls to the Favorite Son. The steamy dark roast brew fills his mug . . . a sip . . . a smile . . . and his eyes are opened! Now, we can continue on to visit some of our favorite market growers.

coffee FAV

a few favorites

Mark Christopher brings outstanding produce and product from the Maple Leaf Orchard to the market each Saturday. In March, Mark and Sue produce gorgeous amber maple syrup in their sugarbush when the sap starts to flow in their maples just across the river. “I have the dark, full-bodied syrup this morning — your favorite,” Mark says. A half-gallon goes into the market basket . . . Who can resist?

Mark and Maple Syrup FAV

 

Maple Syrup FAV 2

Mark reminds us it will be a good late afternoon for picking pie (sour) cherries at his orchard across the river. I ask, “will your new cherry pitter from Michigan’s Upper Pennisula be working?” Mark replies wholeheartedly and is confident we will shave hours off of the hand-pitting alternative. I am eager for the cherry picking later today, and cherry jam and jelly making tomorrow.

Cheeries and Honey FAV

Sour Cheeries Marks FAV

aromatherapy

Next stop is at Dan and Meryl’s herbs. Rub and sniff the distinctive fragrance of thyme, rosemary and lemon verbena. The yellow and red flowering maples are in this week. Sniff some more aromatic herbs.

red flowering maple FAV

yellow flowering maple FAV

Meryl learns that the Favorite Son wants to plant another pot of herbs for his house. She excitedly asks, “how do you want to use them?” A few quick recipes are exchanged between the two. Dan shows me a few treasured culinary lavender he brought in for us from last week’s request. Rub and sniff some more. . .  sweet memories of dream trip to France return . Several of the lavender are placed in my market basket. The Favorite Son proudly carries his tray of herbs to the car.

Thyme 1 FAV

more favorites 

We visit Otis Family Farms market stall down the same aisle for a few fresh cuts of pasture-feed meats. This stall is also one of the highlights with the flavored honey sticks — especially for those with a sweet tooth. Usually, a long line forms.

Otis and Maple Leaf Signs

eggs

honey sticks

bountiful gifts

More visits to other favorite vendors. The produce is gorgeous and bountiful . . . I am a little girl in a candy store! What would you like to take home in your market basket?

beets FAV

Cabbabe FAV

 bok choy FAV

eggplant FAV

garlic and tomatoes FAV

green onions FAV

onions red FAV

pickle cukes FAV

potatoes FAV

raspberries FAV

jeweled bouquets

The crowds start to arrive. We are finished with our weekly gathering of fresh treasures. One last item on the list — a bouquet of golden jewels. Aren’t they spectacular? Which bouquet shall we take home? I think all of them would be quite lovely, don’t you?

flowers and shoppers FAV

colorful bouquet2 FAV 2

colorful bouquet FAV 1

dahlia FAV 1

lilies FAV2

sunflowers

Flowers always make people better,

happier, and more helpful; they are

sunshine, food and medicine to the soul.

                                                         ~Luther Burbank

Rose Cottage Cooks! is coming soon

We are creating some fabulous cooking adventures at Rose Cottage Gardens and Farm using mainly locally produced and seasonal foods. Watch for our first batches of “Cheery Cherry Jam” from cherries picked this afternoon at Maple Leaf Orchard. The Favorite Son will be sharing his fabulous home made pizza and other baked goods.

Hope you will like some of these tasty treats . . .and will share your recipes, joy of cooking and the fun in sharing meals with others, too! Stop by in a few days for a link to the new site.

What is your favorite recipe using market or garden fresh produce? 

We would be delighted if you shared a recipe in the comments section below.

Post note: Special thanks to the Favorite Son for all the photography at the market this morning!

Be sure to visit A Southern Daydreamer for more outdoor musings.

See what other’s are “hooked on” at Julia’s Hooked on Houses, and find out more about Melissa’s inspiring beauty at The Inspired Home.

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Savoring Violets {la partie deux

Hath the pearl less whiteness because of its birth;

Hath the violet less brightness for growing near the earth?

                                                                                                       ~Thomas Moore

second thoughts on day two

What was I thinking when I decided to make jelly using a simple spring flower?  Oh, modest violet–what kind of flavor do your azure blue blossoms impart to a jelly?

Blue Violets close

My taste buds and mind can’t quite grasp the flavor, even though I cook with a lot of fresh herbs and culinary flowers. Is violet jelly a novelty or is it something that I would really serve our guests at Rose Cottage? 

glass basket and violets

jelly making

Yesterday, I spent a fair amount of time preparing for jelly making — picking enough dainty, sweet blossoms (all chemical free!) to nearly fill the English trug, and then removing the blossoms from each stem while struggling against wind gusts. So, I resolve to not give up on making violet jelly. (Read more about getting started on making violet jelly on yesterday’s Savoring Violets post.)

Monet in a Jar

After, 24 hours of “steeping” in the refrigerator, I strain the infusion using a fine mesh strainer into a glass measuring cup . The result is crystal clear light turquoise-colored violet water.

Violet Infusion Before Lemon

One Meyer lemon is squeezed–decidedly, to preserve the gorgeous color and fresh delicate flavor.

Meyer lemons and violets

Next, the juice of the lemon is strained using the fine mesh strainer. The 1/4-cup of lemon juice is added to the turquoise-colored violet water. Viola!

Violet Infusion After Lemon

Look at this! Isn’t it remarkable how the violet water turns to the most gorgeous rose color within seconds after adding the lemon juice?

Then, in a large stainless steel pan, I pour in the rosey violet water and add one box of powdered pectin. The mixture is brought to a boil, and 4-cups of granulated sugar is added. This mixture is brought to a boil again, while stirring constantly. It is kept at a full-rolling boil for one minute, then removed from the heat. One-tablespoon of raspberry liquor is added for an extra depth of flavor; although, this could be entirely optional.

The violet jelly is quickly ladled into sterilized jars and sealed with lids and rings. It is then processed for five-minutes in boiling water bath.

This recipe results in nearly five half-pint jars of beautiful rose-colored jelly.

But how does it taste?

refreshing violets

Now, my dear friends, would you want to know what was that most amazing jelly you just savored along side a sliver of triple cream Brie, fresh-picked raspberries and a still-warm baguette? Or that you just had as accompaniment to your tea and scones? Would you try it if you knew what it was in advance?

You will be absolutely befuddled with the simple brightness and amazing delicateness of the jelly– you will never guess it is the low-growing, sweet violet providing such refreshment!

Oh, yes! My dear sweetie is still swooning over his sampling of the spring nectar from the unassuming violet–you will, too! But, I might not tell you what it is until you are done raving about it and begging me for a jar of the amazing jelly to take home!

Violet Jelly

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Savoring Violets {la partie une

The splendor of the rose and the whiteness of the lily

do not rob the little violet of it’s scent nor the daisy of its simple charm.

 If every tiny flower wanted to be a rose,

spring would lose its loveliness.

                         ~Therese of Lisieux

 

violets underfoot

It is a spectacular morning at Rose Cottage…hundreds and hundreds of sweet little violets have burst into bloom in the northeast corner near the emerging lady fern. It is as if the violets have put on their very finest for the spring dance!

 

Field of Freckles1

 

Especially breathtaking are the lovely “Freckles” violet. Just look at the soft lavender freckles over their little faces. I want to gather them all and arrange them in tiny vases throughout Rose Cottage. Alas, they are too delicate to last very long once picked–I simply enjoy them growing with wild abandon under the spruce trees, amongst the fern,  beneath the bridal wreath and tucked between the flagstone. Some call them weeds–I prefer sweet violets. Often, the simplier things in life–like enjoying a small, obscure woodland flower–can refresh our soul and change how the world looks. Sometimes, it is all a matter of perspective, isn’t it? 

 

Field of Freckles and Heidi

 

There are so many violets it is impossible to not crush them underfoot–but they are forgiving. I bend down for a closer look and inhale their delicate fragrance.

 Freckles close 4

 

Even the common violet is so beautiful in the early morning sunlight, and the soft fragrance fills the cool morning air.

 

Violet Common

 

gathering violets  

Each year, I plan on making violet jelly, but have never carried out the age-old idea of preserving the little delicate blossoms. Today is different–it is a perfect morning in May for gathering violets for the jelly. The dew is evaporated and the petals are fully opened. Time to use the sweet, simple gift offered so generously this spring. But first, I catch a glimpse of the red violets–not wanting to be outdone by Freckles.

 

Red Violet

 

I find the old, shallow wooden trug in the garden house next to the cottage garden. The shallowness of the basket makes it perfect for gathering the tender purple blossoms. In less than an hour, a generous amount of the sweet violets are gathered in the English trug. A few Freckles have slipped in the basket, too.

 

violets and garden trug

 

Next, the stems are removed from the blossoms. Stems may cause the infusion to be bitter.

 

Violets in frog close2

 

The wind blowing from the southwest is challenging, and a few blue violets are lost to the occasional surprise wind gust. Unexpected “wind gusts” can make our lives difficult, too-especially when we least expect it. But, I persist and keep on with the project. This year, I am going to make jelly!

 

glass basket and violets

 

making a tisane {steeping the blossoms

Though, not technically a tisane, the next step is to steep the blossoms to make an infusion. Four cups of loosely packed violet blossoms fill a quart canning jar.

 

violets and quart jar

 

Then, boiling water from the tea kettle is poured over the violets–about three cups of water. Look how quickly the infusion changes into a lovely “Monet-esque” piece of art–“priceless!” Within a few magical seconds, the tisane turns into a dark turquoise. Who would have thought the simple violet could hold such beauty and create such surprising “magic?” Beauty shows up when I least expect it.

 

Monet in a Jar

 

The quart jar is covered with a lid and stashed away in the refrigerator for 24 hours to draw out all the lovely sweetness and color of the violets.

 

Tomorrow, the jelly making will continue…

 

Would you like an espresso or a little cup of tea while we chat about your morning? The tea or coffee is waiting for you. We can sit next to the violets if you would like…

 

demitasse and violet

 

savoring violets (part II) –more about using these delicate culinary flowers in jelly tomorrow…

 If you are thinking more about creating beauty in your life, be sure to stop by  The Inspired Room .

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