I had full-blown berry fever. After picking several quarts of black raspberries (eating most and freezing some), I started wondering what other edibles may be scattered around my new property. I hoped these were currants, but after tasting one, I thought they must not be edible. A little research revealed these babies were a very popular staple of the pioneers and the Native Americans. They are chokecherries; probably named such because the taste will choke you, and the pits are toxic. However, when cooked down for jelly, or pitted and heavily sugared, chokecherries are supposed to be tasty! I had my doubts. But I was in foraging mode and felt like robbing the birds and teasing the mosquitoes with heavily deeted clothing. So off I went carrying a handy dandy berry bucket and gobbling up black raspberries on the way to the newly discovered chokecherries.
The bucket was half full, when I dumped it by mistake. Ugh. But lesson learned: bring scissors, and cut the entire cluster, that way if you do dump your cache, you can still pick up your losses.
The berries are found on bushes with bark that resembles a cherry tree; the fruit hanging in clusters like grapes. If you try one, be sure to spit out the poisonous pit. After loading up, I rinsed all the cherries and took them off the stems, ending up with about 4 cups. Next they went into a saucepan with a cup of water to be cooked down, mashing them with a potato masher after 15 or 20 minutes.
Then I drained them for the juice ending up with 1 1/3 cup, added 3 cups of sugar and began the boiling process. Instead of using pectin, I boiled this concoction for close to a half hour when it finally did its magic trick and thickened at 220 degrees F. I filled the prepared jars leaving ¼ inch headspace and processed in a hot water bath for ten minutes.
The jelly color is amazing, some of the prettiest jelly I’ve seen. Memories of breakfast buffets in Denmark flooded my mind, with their little crocks of jams and jellies and loads of breads and cheeses and bagels! Jellies are a fancy delicacy in the old world, made with all kinds of unusual fruits, but none better than chokecherries from my own back yard.
Season is FLYING BY! The berries are long gone, and we’re on to grapes and peaches! And the garden is loaded with tomatoes! I’ll TRY to keep up! But I miss those berries!
Brown paper packages, tied up with string…naw…too grown up. Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes? Sure! Warm woolen mittens? You bet! But the warm fuzzies that these glassy ornaments bring is a WAY favorite thing! I have seen photos of them on etsy, or pinterest and thought, Why yes! I must have them. And WHAT to my WONDERING EYES did APPEAR?
But lots of them everywhere! As basement finds, gifts, and thrift store loot! Oh Merry Christmas to ALL and to ALL a GOOD NIGHT!
This rickety old shed has too much potential to just house rakes and gardening gloves. I see wallpaper, curtains, shabby furniture, and an antique cookstove. Even a loft upstairs like the Ingalls sisters slept in while their parents talked about serious things beneath them. I have my work cut out for me however.
Notice the wood pile to the left of the window.
Apparently it had been there a while judging from the slant of the floor boards. My mind was racing. The place became an old abandoned cabin in the woods, and I was sweeping all the dust and cobwebs out to make it livable; putting on a pot of coffee and enjoying the rustic life.
The job was exciting. Just like when I was little and I would ask if I could have a space; in the attic at the cottage, or in a bedroom closet, or upstairs in the garage. It didn’t matter what it would become, just that it was all mine. And I could do whatever I wanted with it. We made dozens of forts when I was a kid. Nothing more than a place to take a bagged lunch, a place to bring friends, a place to plan things. The Cinderella play was dreamt up above the garage. Invitations were delivered to the entire elementary school, including the principal, and by the cars parked out front, it looked like that many showed up. My mother seemed a little overwhelmed. I probably hadn’t told her what we were up to. But she kept the popcorn and Kool-aid flowing. There was not enough seating in the driveway for all the patrons, but I am pretty sure the principal got one.
The shed hasn’t taken shape yet. For now, it’s just cleaner. But my wheels are turning, and in time, who knows what it will become.
I think this broom has been out here since the 50’s! I swear we had one of these when I was a kid. Till next time…
One more week and we move back to Amish country. Looking forward to saying goodbye to living in the burbs and moving out where the lakes, the wineries and the farms abound. Goodbye traffic and hello quiet! Living across from a cemetery, so the neighbors are the sleepy and quiet types.
I had almost forgotten about the white deer!
I have been given three daughters. They are my three exquisite gems that I was allowed to care for and polish. This weekend my youngest daughter turns 21. I will be spending time in her home with her fiancé in the guest bedroom she is busy preparing for me. She is excited that I am coming to visit. And I am so glad for that! Not all mothers and daughters get happy at the prospect of seeing each other. As I raised my daughters, I read of women complaining about their mothers; all the ways the mothers had crippled them, or hurt them, or messed them up. They were trying to overcome their mother’s damage so they could raise their daughters differently. I never felt any of that, as my mother was laid to rest when I was only twelve. So, my parenting may have suffered a bit for lack of having parents, but my daughters seem oblivious to this. They love me. And that fact is wonderful and amazing. They think of me when they try a new recipe, or pick out a motif for the guest bedroom. They are adventurous, and outgoing. They share with me the moments of humility when they discover that I was right about something. They miss me when they do their hair, as I miss them, for we used to all share the bathroom and get ready together if we had somewhere to go.
I used to wish we were Amish. I wanted my girls to meet a local boy, and move into a house down the street from me, and have lots of babies. I hoped we would walk to each other’s houses and bake together, or can vegetables that we grew together. Maybe that still can happen, (well, not the Amish part), but for now we are all spread around, and I am just brimming over with gratitude that at least two of them will be with me for the weekend! We’ll be missing you Natalee!! Enjoy the sun and surf for the rest of us!