Great Depression Recipes: Blackberry Cordial


Back in before my homesteading days, back in the day dreaming phase, I used to reread Anne of Green Gables. Just the book and I relaxed on a blanket, down by the creek in the shade of some ancient tree or another.

Also a fan of the Wonder Works movie, I remember being mortified by the raspberry cordial incident with Anne’s kindred spirit Dianna Barry. Anne not being familiar with raspberry cordial, accidentally serves Dianna Currant Wine or some such beverage. Dianna gets magnificently drunk and Anne is blamed.

All I can remember thinking is, “that would happen to me”

Anyway, on with our recipe. Try this recipe for blackberry cordial. Then enjoy experiencing the Anne of Green Gables series as an adult. No better way to spend a summer day.
Blackberry Cordial

Ingredients:

1 Quart of blackberry juice ( Crush however many blackberries you need to yield one quart of juice.

1 pound of sugar

1 teaspoon of ground cloves

2 teaspoons nutmeg

2 teaspoons cinnamon

2 teaspoons allspice

1 pint of brandy

Procedure:

1. Crush enough blackberries to yield one quart (4 cups of juice)

2. Combine the berry juice with the sugar in a non reactive ( non aluminum ) saucepan.

3. Tie the spices in a cheesecloth and add the bag to the pan.

4. Bring to a gentle boil and keep gentle boil for 15 minutes.

5. Skim and cover the mixture until it cools.

6. After it is completely cooled, add the brandy.

7. Bottle and seal.

My notes claim it will keep for years. However, there is no mention of waterbath or processing time. So if you have ever made this or know anyone who has, please let us know.

Does it even need to be processed?

Will just cranking the lid on the mason jar be enough?

Please let me know so I can add the details.

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Blubarb Jam –Easy Beginner Rhubarb Blueberry Jam


I used to wonder who these people were that managed to have rhubarb at the same time as blueberries. Well, it turns out that if you don’t consume the whole rhubarb patch as Rhubarb Crunch, there will be enough for Blubarb Jam.

Okay, so it took a couple of years of plant dividing to get enough rhubarb, but –oh– I think it was well worth it.

Blubarb Jam

Ingredients:

3 cups rhubarb, finely chopped

3 cups blueberries

6 cups sugar

1/4 cup lemon juice

Procedure:

1. Chop you rhubarb very finely with a super sharp knife to eliminate that horrid, stringy rhubarb texture.

This is a good idea to keep the non rhubarb fans quiet. Generally, if guests aren’t yanking the equivalent of bitter celery strings out of their jam, they will find it delicious. It’s all about the texture with rhubarb.

2. Mash the bluberries, then measure out your 3 cups.

This is an excellent activity for a little kid. Tarp the floor. Smock the kid. Hand him a potato masher, a pie plate of blueberries and set him loose. There is no wrong way to mash them. If some of the blueberries stay whole, that’s okay too, because it adds texture to the finished product.

3. Dump all the ingredients, except the sugar in a large pot.

Make sure to use a non-reactive ( non-aluminum) pot about three times the volume of the jam. Big Pot.

4. Start by adding 4 cups of sugar.

As you heat the mixture over medium heat, stirring all the while….

When the sugar is dissolved, use a clean teaspoon to test the sweetness. I keep a huge stack of clean teaspoons by the pot, taste and pitch in the sink for cleaning so that I don’t contaminate my jam.

Be careful. The mixture can be extremely hot!

Now, is it too tart?

Add more sugar a little at a time, stirring, dissolving and clean spoon tasting as you go.

Keep track of how much sugar you add, because this is the recipe for your family and you will want to be able to reproduce the jam again without all the silly tastings.

Your next batch you will just dump the whole amount of adjusted sugar in right at the start.

5. Bring to a boil.

Be careful it doesn’t boil over. Again, big pot!

6. Reduce the heat to keep the mixture at a gentle boil.

Occasionally, pull your mixing spoon through just to be certain you ar not burning the bottom.

7. Test for sheeting.

As the mixture thickens, lift some out of the pot and let it drizzle back in. You are watching for those drips to thicken and pull toward one another.

8. Remove from heat and skim the foam.

9. Pour into sterilized canning jars and process for 20 minutes.

For more info. on the final steps or beginning canning check out these articles:

How To Make Jam — A Beginner Tutorial

How To Make Jam — The Canning Supplies

How To Make Jam — The Easy Canning Process

Strawberry-Rhubarb Jam — without added pectin

How to Raw Pack Fruit With Simple Syrup

or poke around in the cooking basics category to your right

or try the search bar.

Happy Jamming.

More blueberry recipes are on their way. Feel free to e-mail me your favorite blueberry recipe, so we can share it here.

Please let us know how your blubarb jam comes out. Questions, concerns or horrible, but delicious mishaps are always welcome.


How To Make Strawberry Lemonade — Summer Entertaining


Thanks for dropping by. Grab an old apron from the linen closet and join me in the kitchen. Today we will be making and canning a big batch of my favorite summer party beverage.

This nifty Great Depression recipe came from that mysterious old recipe box I found at a church bazarre.

This sweet lemonade is great for summer entertaining because it mixes so delightfully with lemon-lime soda, iced tea — or any other thing you can dream up to make a party punch.

Strawberry Lemonade Concentrate

( or Strawberry Lemonade for the sugar tooth )

Ingredients:

4 quarts of strawberries

4 cups (1 quart) of lemon juice (fresh or from a jar like “ReaLemon”)

3 quarts water

5 cups granulated sugar ( or try some brown sugar for an interesting twist )

Procedure:

1. Hull and pureé the strawberries.

2. Mix all the ingredients together in a stock pot.

3. Heat to 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

Do not boil. Stir until all the sugar is dissolved to remove the gritty texture. This is a quick, short step, if I remember correctly. Although I could be wrong and I won’t know for sure until the strawberries are ripe…

Anyway,

4. Remove from heat. Stir and Skim off any foam.

5. Laddle into 5-7 quart jars or 10 -14 pint jars

Oh, you get the picture.

6. Place in boiling water bath for 20 minutes.

Be sure there is at least an inch of water above the canning jars.

Altitude adjustment: Add 1 minute more in the water bath for each 1000 feet you are above sea level.

7. After you remove the jars to cool, listen for that wonderful popping sound of your jars sealing.

Now, you have a lovely strawberry lemonade concentrate for any time of year.

Serve chilled. Due to the richness of this recipe, I suggest you cut the lemonade with water or perhaps a lemon-lime soda

For example:

1 quart of Strawberry Lemonade concentrate + 1 quart of water

or

1 quart of Strawberry Lemonade concentrate + 1 quart of lemon-lime soda

or

1 quart of concentrate + you favorite sun tea.

Other beginner canning tutorials:

How To Make Jam — A Beginner Tutorial

How To Make Jam — The Canning Supplies

How To Make Jam — The Easy Canning Process

Strawberry-Rhubarb Jam — without added pectin

How to Raw Pack Fruit With Simple Syrup

What is your favorite summer-time beverage recipe?

How To Raw ( Uncooked) Pack Fruit In Simple Syrup — Another Tutorial


If you want to preserve fruits, without sacrificing the fresh fruit flavor. Raw packing with simple sugar syrup is the way to go.

The most common or the favorites to pack this way seem to be plums, pears, and peaches. Later in the season I will discuss these, but this evening we will discuss the littler fruit coming into season.

Following all the rules about sterilizing and processing (click here for that,) you seal in that fresh flavor with out loosing the fruits’ lovely texture.

Here’s what to do.

1. Fill the canning jar just up to the neck with the rinsed and drained fruit.

2. Fill the canning jar just up to the neck with a simple syrup (recipe follows)

3. Cover.

4. Process.

Blueberries, Cranberries, Currants, Gooseberries, Elderberries (presumably mulberries, Jen) — in pints 15 minutes; in quarts 20 minutes

Altitude adjustments — don’t forget to add 1 minutes to the processing time for every 1000 ft above sea level that you are.

What about the syrup?

Well, there are 3 basic kinds, light, medium and heavy syrup.

The syrup recipe you use depends on the sweetness of the fruit. Jen and her super sweet mulberries will probably want a light syrup, while cranberries might call for a richer, more sugary syrup.

Note: feel free to substitute honey for half the sugar in any of the following, if your a honey fan, that is.

Yield: 5 cups (each quart of fruit may take somewhere in the neighborhood of 1 to 2 cups of syrup.

Light Syrup (Simple Syrup)

2 cups sugar ( or 1 cup sugar + 1 cup honey, for example )

4 cups water

Medium Syrup

2 & 3/4 cup sugar ( gee, I wish I knew how to do the little fraction do-hickey on this computer)

3 & 1/2 cups water

Heavy Syrup

3 & 1/2 cups sugar

3 cups water

Procedure:

1. Mix the sugar and water in a pan and let it soak for about 10 minutes without heat.

2. Over low heat, stir the mixture until the sugar dissolves.

3. Increase the heat to bring the mixture to a boil. Just briefly to get rid of the gritty texture.

4. Lower the heat and keep warm until you are ready to use it.

Other in the beginning canning series:

How To Make Jam — A Beginner Tutorial

How To Make Jam — The Canning Supplies

How To Make Jam — The Easy Canning Process

Strawberry-Rhubarb Jam — without added pectin

Strawberry Lemonade

How To Make Jam — The Canning Supplies


Well, hello there. I’m so glad you could join me today. Grab a cup of coffee and join me in the kitchen as we discuss the canning supplies nescessary for processing your fresh, delicious jams

Because fruits are high in acid they can safely canned for long term storage using the water bath method.

Here’s what you’ll need:

canning jars (reusable )

dome lids (the flat part of the lid — not reuseable)

bands (the screw on part of the lid — is reusable)

a deep sauce or stock pot ( non aluminum/ non reactive ) depending on the batch size — by the time I am using a recipe with 4 cups of crushed fruit or more, I use the stock pot.

Another large stock pot ( for the boiling water bath) — you want a pot big enough to hold all the jars of a single batch without the jars being jammed in. Plus, enough room to cover the jar with about an inch or two of boiling water.

With the stock pot water bath method, you will need something to keep the jars from touching the bottom of the pot. I have found that lining the bottom of the pot with band lids, laying/lying (?) flat works beautifully for this

If you actually have a canner, make sure to use the rack provided.

A canning set — inexpensive and you’ll have it for life — includes funnel, jar wrench, lid lifter, tongs and jar lifter.

Yes, you can do the whole process with just tongs, but, oh my ,how those other things help. I don’t think I could do anywhere near my current volume without the jar lifter, funnel or jar wrench. With just tongs you are far more likely to drop your beautifully canned goodies or worse burn the tar out of yourself.

Get everything well cleaned in hot sudsy water and then we will discuss the process itself. It’s very easy. Organization and cleanliness are the key.

So get scrubbing and meet me back here in a bit and we’ll can.

Any canners out there, did I forget anything. Please feel free to add you hints and tips.

Here are the other articles in this series, in case you missed them:

How To Make Jam — A Beginner Tutorial

How To Make Jam — The Easy Canning Process

Blubarb Jam — Blueberry Rhubarb Jam without added pecti

Strawberry-Rhubarb Jam — without added pectin

How to Raw Pack Fruit With Simple Syrup

Neighborhood Questions — Harvesting Mulberries and Rhubarb Jam


Grab a glass of Strawberry Lemonade from the frig and join your neighbors at the picnic table.

Today Jen Neff has posed our topic of discussion.

Please share any thoughts, experiences, rumors and here say on the following question:

I have a big old mulberry tree & the birds are having a hey day over it already. Are you familiar with mulberries (some people are not)? Well, they are very sweet, so I assume that I will probably be able to half the sugar content for the jelly… I don’t know. My big problem is harvesting them. It is a BIG tree. So, one year I put down like 6 full size sheets all around the tree & they drop down onto the sheet throughout the day & I went out to get them that night. I could just do that again, but I’m wondering in all of your expertise if you have any advise for me about collecting those berries. As I said, it is an OLD tree & I don’t want to be banging around the branches because they could just go flying off if I’m not careful… What do you think about making a rhubarb jam or jelly? ever heard of such a thing (without anything else added like strawberries?)

Here’s what I’ve heard:

Put sheets underneath.  Shove a garden rake up into the branches and shake, shake, shake.  Just a rumor though.

CLick here for more rhubarb info than you could ever possibly deal with

Now what other thoughts do you guys have for Jen?

And who has some good rhubarb recipes to share?

Electronics Activities For the Young Mad Scientist


Well, hello there. Grab some Strawberry Lemonade from the pitcher in the fridge and join me in the basement lab/Bat Cave of my young mad scientist.

Every mad scientist should have an alias... or so I am told.

Every mad scientist should have an alias... or so I am told.

Today, we will share our favorite activities to keep the curious mind of a budding electrical engineer busy in his lab and well away from the disassembly of your kitchen appliances.

We’ll discuss the ElectroWizard series, Snap Circuits, and homemade wiring boxes.

And don’t worry about cost, I will mention a great free internet option, too.

ElectroWizard series:

I first found these little kits at Marshall’s or TJ Max or some buyout place like that after Xmas — and therefore on sale.

ElectroWizard is published (assembled, whatever) by Norman & Globus, Inc. Full price it may run around … oh maybe the $10-$15 range.

Anyway, my son first started building circuits when he was three using these nifty sets. Of course, the packaging recommends it for ages 8 and up, but that is just a suggestion. Certainly by age six, kids can easily manipulate the smaller parts and do more without your reading.

I’m a “I’ll read the direction, but you have to figure it out yourself” kind of mom.

The wires are prestripped and simply clamp into things like light bulbs or are held to a battery with a rubber band. Very simple.

The book that comes with the set includes easy picture and word directions.

The favorite of the mad scientist above is ElectroWizard: Invetions — Build, Build, Build by Penny Norman.

This particular set includes projects like motors, generators, telegraphs , relays,and even a radio. The kit includes everything you need, which pretty much comes down magnet wire, paperclips and rubber bands.

This just might be how MacGyver got his start.

Snap Circuits

Oh, where have you been all my life?!

I love this set. Buy the biggest set you can possibly afford. This thing will entertain your kid for years.

Everything literally snaps together. Very cool.

Recommended for ages 8 to 108, even you will find experiments to play with.

There are simple circuits, motors, generators, resistors, capacitors, lights, sounds…oh just everything you could want… including a solar panel.

My favorite part is that each componant has the actual schematic representaion on it. So when high school physics rolls around, this stuff will be old hat.

My favorite is the biggest, baddest set of them all. Model SC-750 with computer interface. With 750 experiments, you are gauranteed to have something for every dad blasted year of the science fair, plus Junior Academy of Science.

Click here for more info on Snap Circuits

Homemade wiring boxes:

The wiring box is an affordable way for your mad scientist to learn just what goes on behind the walls of your home.

By about 6 or 7 years old, every mad scientist aught to have his own wiring box. It is a simple rectangle made out of a 2 by 4 and wired with a plug. Using the regular stuff found in a home, like wall sockets, light sockets and switches, plus a little wire, your mad scientist will be on his way. The best part is you just plug it in to test wiring configurations. Safe and easy.

Everything you need can be found at your local hardware store and your usually your local high school shop teacher can talk you through the construction, if you are not familiar with this stuff.

Hit the library for a book on home wiring and your off.

This might be a nice time for a little safety talk and instruction on the use of basic tools, while your at it.

Free internet fun for the budding electrical engineer:

The University of Colorado at Boulder has a great simulation site. For the 4 or 5 years since I have found this gem, it has constantly grown better. More goodies to play with.

The circuits have always been a favorite at this house. It even simulates the fire my husband would cause if we ever allowed him at the wiring. Grand fun!

Click here for the outstanding PhET Circuit Construction Sim

Take time to poke around their site for other science simulation treasures.

One final note: Make sure you pitch your mad scientist out into the sunshine for some physical activity every now and then.

So, how are you going to stimulate your mad scientist this Summer?


Young Mad Scientists: How You Can Tell If Your Kid Is One


Tomorrow, I will share some summer ideas for the mini mad scientist. Today, let’s determine if you have one in your home.

You kid might be a mad scientist if:

1. She has disassembled all your appliances in the name of scientific discovery.

2. He knows one fact about sunflowers. Not that they have edible seeds, but that the seeds spiral out in a Fibonocchi sequence (0,1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21,34,55, etc.)

3. She responds to every insane mess she created, especially those requiring a call to the plummer with, “But I needed to know what would happen.”

4. He builds Lego towers with color patterns that must be “just so.”

5. She builds ridiculously complex routes out of her train set.

6. When he helps you cook, he is most fascinated by the math involved and any good chemical reactions, like yeast.

7. She can create anything out of simple office supplies.

8. He knows there is more than one good design for a paper airplane or homemade kite.

9. She can rewire your house.

10. He finds the one Ivy league physics professor lingering by the new exhibit at the science center and they build carbon nanotubes models out of tinker toys together. Afterwards, you realize that was probably the faculty member you should have asked about summer camps and scholarships. Oops.

Any one of the above generally means there’s a scientific mind at work in your home. Tomorrow, I will help you find ways to keep them entertained and stimulated this Summer.

‘Cause if you don’t help them find ways to explore the world around them, they will without fail create chaos in the name of science. So let’s give the little evil genius a little guidance and keep our sanity at the same time.

Neighbor Nancy’s Neighborhood in Watercolor


Somewhere along the way, between childhood and adulthood lived on the same property, neighbors have moved in. Many of whom are artists. On the 1.5 miles that make up my country road there live 4 artists — that I know of.

It’s kind of funny as I struggle to take mediocre pictures of my goings on as these folks create true beauty.

My mom just sent me a link.

The Bensonworks Art Studio.

Joanne Benson ( to whom I have probably waved a million times without even realizing it ) has done a lovely “Benton Road and Around the Block” series. This is my neighborhood.

So many of you have asked, so there it is in watercolor.

Make sure you look for “Shed in Late Day Winter Light” as it is a lovely watercolor of the playhouse from my Snow Day Secrets post

Maybe someday, she’ll even paint me in my apron and sun hat feeding my chickens. Don’t laugh. A country girl can dream, can’t she?!

Thank you, Joanne. It is wonderful to see it all captured so charmingly.

Candied Violets — So Easy A Child Can Do It


Well, happy Friday, everyone!  My son has a project for you.

This time each year my lawn is full of violets.

Shaw, age 6, making his candied violets.

Shaw, age 6, explaining how to make candied violets.

Here’s a nice beginner cooking project that brings Spring to the kitchen. Shaw will show you how to make candied violets and how he adds them to his favorite dessert, ice cream.

Let’s begin:

1. Pick a nice sized bunch of violets from a chemical-free lawn.

2. Gently rinse them in a colander and allow to drain.

3. With the help of an adult, separate two egg whites.

4. Beat the egg whites with a wire whisk, until just frothy.

5. By holding the stem, dip each flower in the frothy egg whites. Make sure the flower is completely covered with egg white.

6. Lay the eggy flower in a little bowl of sugar. Spoon sugar from around the violet to cover it.

7. Gently shake the excess sugar from the flower.

8. Dry on a sheet of waxed paper.

French Vanilla Ice Cream with Candied Violets and pictorial instructions, of course.

French Vanilla Ice Cream with Candied Violets and pictorial instructions, of course.

Now, decorate your cup cakes or add them to your ice cream. Surprise your friends by showing them how to eat a little bit of Spring.

What ways can you think of to add violets to your food?

This week’s “Neighborly Advice” will include more advanced violet recipes for more formal use.

Join us for the fun. Let’s get picking!