Saturday, April 5, 2008

We're Jamming with the Berries!

Yesterday, Joanna went strawberry picking with friends and brought home 12 quarts for a grand total of $6. But that presented me with a dilemma! I had to deal with all of these little red gems ASAP! The kids got busy washing and hulling, though I ended up doing a lot of that, too. I'll try to post some pictures later, but Thad has his camera at soccer this morning.

We froze a bunch of the strawberries and found this worked best when we laid them out in a single layer on a cookie sheet in the freezer and then put them in a freezer bag later. If you put them in the freezer bag right away they get more mushy and stick together. We also left a bunch to eat fresh with whipped cream. You can find a bunch of other ideas at

The rest of the strawberries -- including those that already had bruises -- I used for freezer jam. My grandpa and grandma often made this, and Lydia tried it last year while visiting my mom. While running other errands yesterday afternoon, I stopped at the grocery store and bought two boxes of pectin. Then I mashed up strawberries, mixed them with sugar and lemon juice, boiled the pectin with water, added it all together and stirred. Then I poured them into plastic containers with screw on lids and put them in the refrigerator to set. Later today I will put them in the freezer.

We ended up with 9 and 1/2 pints! The only glitch was that when I measured out the water for the pectin, I accidentally doubled the amount, and had to send Thad back to the store for more pectin to compensate for my error. Of course, I also had to mash more strawberries! While he was there, he kindly also bought me some more plastic containers, so I didn't have to deplete my existing day-to-day supply of them. He's my Knight-in-Shining-Armor!

Speaking of Thad, I'm thankful to have a husband who not only pays attention to little logistical details, but also to building our relationship. I should mention that he does dishes and laundry, and changes diapers, too! What a guy! The other day after we had met at the YMCA, I came out and found he had reparked the van in the shade for me. That is so like Thad! Yesterday, we needed to drop the van at the dealer for an oil change, and he suggested that I stop at Subway and pick us up a $5 prime rib sub with all of the fixings and then come pick him up at the car place and go for a quick picnic at Lake Lily. What a great idea! We always love to walk around the lake! It's one of our favorite places to hang out as a couple.

We also took the kids on a picnic last week at the park next to the YMCA to celebrate finishing their standardized testing week. The kids had a blast -- and I loved to see Thad laugh and play with them. Joanna put up some of the park pictures on her blog at and she will probably post some strawberry picking ones, too. She also has some great pics of a flowering tree in our neighborhood. I had taken two year old Melody out for a nature walk last week because I want her to appreciate beauty from a very young age -- and I was restless to get out of the house for a half hour or so! Melody and I stopped frequently to study the flowers. Along the way, I saw two beautiful trees with bright yellow trumpet shaped flowers. I didn't have the camera with me, but Joanna went back later and did a much better job of it than I ever could have. Then she took my camera back on another day and snapped even more. (Thanks Aunt Camille for that camera you gave me! Even though it is older than hers, Joanna loves the zoom on it! And I like having a camera to call my own, even if she borrows it once in a while!)

It's spring! Go enjoy the flowers and eat some strawberries!

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