First Batch of Jam in Nearly 2 Years!!!

Hey Everyone!

Over the course of the past couple of weeks, the raspberries have been coming on. I wasn’t getting my hopes up after last year.

Last year, I don’t think we ever got a full pint in any one picking, and I am pretty thorough (I have the scratches on my arms and legs to prove it). So, I wasn’t holding my breath on this year being any better.

So far, I have been mildly surprised, and happy at what I an seeing. Unless some freak weird thing happens, and we get no more raspberries, I should get a few more batches of Jam this year.

Two years ago I was able to make eight batches of jam with the amount of raspberries our bushes produced, the year before that we got several batches of jam as well.

While ai am not holding out to get eight batches like I did two summers ago, if I could get four to six batches this summer, I would be happy.

At this rate, besides a bit of water every so often, the berries are free, as we have had the bushes long enough that they have more than paid for themselves in fruit. In making jam, the only things we actually have to buy are: pectin, lemon juice (if we need more), sugar and corn syrup. In comparison to the cost of fruit, the other ingredients for jam are super cheap. The time and energy to pick berries and make jam is more than worth it, because the final product is better and I have the piece of mind knowing where the berries came from, who picked them, and the conditions they were in until jam could be made.

It’s Finally Turning into Fall!

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This past weekend was Labor Day Weekend. During the course of which I spent with my parents. Saturday we had gone out to Sauvie Island, and had gone to Kruger Farm, since my mom wanted to can pickled beets.

We had picked up 20 pounds of beets as well as a few other things while we are there. I am always amazing and how much less produce costs at farm stores and farmers markets than it does in the normal grocery stores.

This weekend we had also done some cooking and baking. I had made two pumpkin pies, one was the regular kind with evaporated milk and the other I made dairy free with coconut milk.

This is my dairy free pie before I baked it:

Yesterday, being Labor Day, my mom and I canned the beets. We got 9 quarts and 2 pints of pickled beets.

Today I spent some time out in the garden, picking raspberries, tomatoes and starting to trim back the raspberry bushes for the winter. I got just over a pint of raspberries and I got three pints of tomatoes. Our tomatoes have really been taking off.

I also saw this perfect spider web while I was out picking raspberries.

I am not a huge fan of spiders but I thought the web was amazing. I don’t see complete ones like this very often.

Most of the past week or so has been cooler, though we are having a little bit of a heat wave over the course of yesterday, and today. The next couple days is supposed to be hot for us. I am ready for fall to be here in full force. We are in the transition of late summer / early autumn when it still can get hot, but the days are generally cooling off, the nights are getting cooler, the days are getting shorter. Sunset is now before 7:45 pm! Late August is when we usually start seeing a dramatic drop off and difference of the days getting shorter.

Last Batch of Jam for the Summer!

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We have (hopefully) had our last 90 degree day of the year.

The next 10 days at least are looking much cooler, with a slight potential for some more hot weather, but I am hoping we have seen the end of the hot weather.

Today I picked two pints of raspberries to add to the two pints I picked Tuesday. I also picked a pint of tomatoes.

This afternoon I also made a batch of raspberry jam. This is my eighth batch for this summer.

Today was a good 20 degrees cooler than it was yesterday, and most of the day was nearly 30 degrees cooler.

I also went to a job interview a couple days. I am still waiting to hear back. If I don’t hear back tomorrow than I know I didn’t get it.

Gardening with Unhealthy Air Quality

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I had picked raspberries Monday, and had put them in the refrigerator to hold them over a couple days until I got another couple of pints.

That was before the air quality because unhealthy.

I didn’t Garden yesterday since the air quality was peaked at 170 and I felt awful. I started back on my allergy meds.

I too another dose of allergy meds this morning since I am feeling a little better today, put on my respirator mask and went out and picked raspberries since I had skipped a day.

This was the combined fruit from Monday and today. That is roughly four pints of berries.

This afternoon I made my sixth batch of raspberry jam for the summer. All of the berries that I used came from the backyard. Just for jam, and not counting the pints we have enjoyed eating, I have used two flats worth of raspberries for Jam. We have still had to buy the pectin, sugar, Karo Syrup, and lemon juice, but that is a drop in the bucket compared to what berries cost, even going to the farm stand.

The air quality today is ever so slightly better than yesterday (mid 160’s compared to 170), but it was still at unhealthy levels.

Summer Baking: Making Zucchini Bread from Free Zucchini

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My mom had gotten a large zucchini for free from someone she works with. She was not sure what to do with it, so I made three loaves of zucchini bread.

I hate wasting good food just because you don’t want to eat it. I always try to remember that there are children in this country who go hungry. So when you have food that is still good, you use it and eat it. While zucchini on its own is not one of my favorite foods, if you grate it up and make zucchini bread, then it is amazing.

As I have gotten older, reducing the amount of waste I create, and using food to create something that tastes good. Part of this is Lifestyle choices, and wanting to live a simpler life, as well as the fact that I have known how much food costs from a young age and am not oblivious to the struggle to keep enough food around. I am more grateful for what I have.

Today I picked about a pint of raspberries, which is a bit more than I have picked each day for the past few days. I am hoping that this is a sign that the second crop of the season is coming on and that I will be able to get more jam made this summer.

She Changed Her Mind

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I was really craving brownies today, so I made gluten free vegan cherry brownies today. The recipe I used called for the squares of bakers chocolate, but I had cocoa powder, so I googled how to use cocoa powder instead of the bakers chocolate. I figured it out, it called for a tablespoon of butter, oil or crisp shortening per three tablespoons of cocoa powder. I used applesauce instead. I used gluten free egg replacer instead of eggs. While I really wanted brownies I wanted to make them a bit healthier, which is counter intuitive anyway but it is what it is. I had added maraschino cherries, and man the brownies turned out so good.

The past three days have been cooler than the past couple of weeks. With the cloudy mornings and warm but not super hot afternoons have felt more like the end of summer early part of fall.

Between the cooler temps the past three days (it will be heating up again in the next couple of days), rewatching Grimm, Knitting, Baking, and generally wanting to go do stuff, I am ready for Fall to be here.

It has gotten me into the mood for autumn decorating and decorating for Christmas when the time comes. It is also making me want a home of my own to decorate.

As much as I would love to live in Alaska or the country, there is a part of of me that wants to stay living here in the city and have a home of my own here. There are so many things I would miss if I moved too far away, like Trader Joe’s, Bob’s Red Mill, Costco, New Seasons, Market of Choice, even Whole Foods. I would also miss all the craft stores and book stores like Powell’s.

Urban Gardens

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The past few months I have been becoming more and more obsessed with gardening, and urban gardening. I would love to have a home and yard of my own that I could turn into a garden. I want to be able to grow more of my own produce. That being said I have no real desire to turn full on crunchy.

One of the great things about living in Portland is all the nurseries around as well as stores that carry canning and preserving supplies, and all the farmers markets we have.

While I was out and about scoping out neighborhoods I kind of like, I ended up in the area where I worked a few years back. Just down the street from the gluten free vegan bakery that is near where I used to work, there is this little garden center place that is so cute.

As much as this city can be annoying, and I am not a fan of all the traffic or how expensive it is getting, there are many good points about it, like all the Homemaking resources we have nearby.

I love that whatever I couldn’t/ didn’t grow, are available within a couple hours drive.

They Got Too Heavy!!!

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This morning I only got about 3/4 of a pint of raspberries. This caused me to do some research. I know that our bushes are of the ever bearing type of heirloom red raspberries. My research indicates that there are two seasons of crops each year, one in July (that we are coming off of), and one later on in the summer, like August / September. Beings that the bushes still have buds on them and flowers I am hoping that if I just wait it out that I will be able to get more batches of jam.

I knew it was only a matter of time, even with having staked the tomato plants, that they would start to topple over.

I had been watering the garden a bit and over they went. I don’t want to chop the vines off yet since they have flowers on them.

The vines that toppled over are part of the biggest grouping of tomatoes that are staked, so I am not surprised. I am just hoping to get tomatoes off the plants this year.

Finally starting to see Tomatoes.

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I had skipped checking the garden yesterday since it was so hot. It had gotten to at least 100 degrees yesterday. It was too hot for me to go out.

I got up early enough this morning to go out, since it was still in the low to mid 70’s and not in full sun yet.

Today I got two pints of raspberries.

I was also checking the tomato plants, as we haven’t gotten any yet this season. I have been seeing a lot of flowers over the past few weeks. Today I finally started seeing actual tomatoes. They are still tiny and green, but they signs of what is to come. They seem to be a little late coming on this year.

I am hoping that the heat helps them grow and ripen. I am glad that I got the plants staked when I did as they more than doubled in height in a couple of weeks, and would have toppled over by now.

I also trimmed back the raspberries so that they are easier to tend, and get more sun. When they grow up rather than producing berries than that height needs to go.

Productive Day Homemaking

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Yesterday was busy, even though I didn’t go anywhere.

I had gone out earlier in the morning to garden and make sure I came in before it got too hot.

Once I came in, I made food for myself then got to work, making gluten free vegan banana nut muffins for myself, regular banana bread for those I live with, as well as a batch of raspberry jam. I also finished up a dishcloth I was working on as well as helped install a new light fixture in the dining area.

All of that was done by about a quarter to three.

I spent the rest of the afternoon chilling out, enjoying the air conditioning, since it had gotten up over 90 again today.