Wednesday, August 14, 2013

my family

I have a love-hate relationship with family pictures...probably more on the hate side when a certain two year old, will under no circumstances sit and smile for a family picture, not for lack of trying with suckers, trickery and other bribes.  Or when a certain four year old has a number one and two accident in his undies out in the middle of a nature reserve.  Or when it's only 9:00 a.m. and the temp and humidity level are quickly rising, causing this mama to sweat like crazy! Despite the obvious challenges of trying to get our happy little family on film being happy, capturing our family every year is super important to me and I get so giddy when I finally get to see the finished product and know it was all worth it:)

This year, we had the super talented, Lindsay May, of Lindsay May Photography, take our pictures, which was so awesome, because we've known her for a long time.  We took them at Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary, an old train depot, and beautiful area to explore!

As usual, I am having a difficult time picking favorites, so I pretty much put them all on here:)

I also made Hakan's grey anchor tie, which I hope to have listed in my etsy shop soon.



These two are always scheming together.


Derek's mini me...seriously, in almost every way.

Goodness, they're handsome, can't even handle it!




"Look what's in mommy's hand?!?"

Nothing!  And Adeline runs away, didn't work.

LOVE this girl!

Notice the sucker in Adeline's mouth...

Notice the sucker is all gone, not a happy Adeline.

Lindsay pretty much captured us perfectly, thank you!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Strawberry Rhubarb Vanilla Bean Jam

I made and canned jam for the first time ever and it actually turned out!  I used the strawberries we picked ourselves.  The two most important things I learned, one, it's not nearly as hard as I thought it was going to be and fun.  Two, you NEED the rubber tongs to take the jars out of boiling water and using a silicone oven mitt only works for a couple seconds.

I adapted a recipe from a book I got Derek for Christmas, Food in Jars by Marisa McClellan.  It was a little gutsy to change a recipe never having made jam before...but I wanted it to have rhubarb and less sugar, so I gave it a go.  By no means am I a food blogger, so I apologize for this disorganized post and our messy kitchen:)

Strawberry Rhubarb Vanilla Bean Jam

large stock pot
medium pot
measuring cups
wide-mouth funnel
jar lifter
microplane zester
candy thermometer
splatter shield
immersion blender
8 half pint jars and matching lids (or 4 pint jars)

8 cups hulled and chopped ripe strawberries (about 2 dry quarts/1.4 kg)
4 cups chopped rhubarb
4 cups granulated sugar, divided
2 vanilla beans, split and scraped
Zest and juice of 2 lemons
1/2 a package of Pomona's Universal Pectin

First, I put my 8 half pint (4 pint) jars in boiling water and my lids in simmering water.

Then, in a nonreactive bowl, I combined the chopped strawberries and rhubarb with 1 cup of the sugar and the vanilla bean seeds and pods.  Refrigerate overnight to get some good liquid out of the fruit.

Next, pour the strawberry mixture in a nonreactive pot.  Add the remaining 3 cups of sugar, lemon zest and juice, stir to combine.  Bring to a boil over high heat (it will foam and bubble, super messy) it helped to cover it with a spatter shield.  Cook on high heat for 15-20 minutes, stirring regularly, until it takes on a thick consistency.

The next steps were kind of quick so I didn't really get pictures.  
Remove the vanilla bean pods from the mixture and use your immersion blender and puree some of the fruit.  Add the pectin to the fruit mixture and bring to a rolling boil.  Insert your candy thermometer into the jam and attach it to the side of the pot...I dropped mine in, oops.  Let the jam boil vigorously until it reaches 220 degrees F.

Once the jam reaches 220 degrees F and remains at that temp for 2 minutes, remove the pot from the heat and ladle the jam into the prepared jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace.  Wipe the rims, apply the lids and rings, not too tight, just with the tips of your fingers, and put back into the boiling water for 10 minutes, remove and listen for the sweet popping sound of the lids sealing, love it!!

After 24 hours, remove the ring and check to make sure the seal is tight.

I wanted to add a little personal touch, so I cut some fabric squares and labeled it with some twine and tags I have.  So cute and fun!  I've already given some to both our mom's and they loved it!  Absolutely delicious!  How cute are those short and chubby jars?!

I can't wait to try canning other fruits and veggies!

Do you have a favorite canning recipe?