There are folks all over asking, "Where has July gone?" I surely don't know. It has slipped past me, too. Maybe we all keep too busy or don't take the time to enjoy each day or just try to do too much. No matter how hard we try, we just can't seem to slow ourselves or the flying days down.
Are you taking full advantage of the local Farmers' Markets and the produce auction at Chesterhill, Ohio? That fresh produce is better than any in a store, unless they buy local products. Those tomatoes will taste better now than any you can get next December.
It is great to be able to put up our local veggies and fruit. That way, we know what is in it - no chemicals or other ingredients we can't pronounce or know what they are. Freezing is unbelievably easy and canning is enjoyable. Both are skills we should teach our children. Who knows what the future has in store for them and it is better to have them prepared to take care of theirselves and their families. Nothing tastes better on your homemade cheesecake than syrup made from fresh berries.
If you like thicker syrup than usually made with just fruit juice and sugar, try my new discovery. I use only the amount of sugar to get the taste I want, then use a product found in the pharmacy called "Thick It." It is designed for people who need to eat food they can't chew and don't want to eat baby food.
Read the directions carefully, but I found it extremely easy to use and it made my Red Raspberry Syrup Without Seeds just the consistency I wanted without a ton of sugar. I guess Arrowroot, cornstarch or flour would do the same thing, but this was recommended to me, so I tried it and really liked the results. One never gets too old to learn new tricks.
One of our five kittens has found a good home - only four more to go. They are so cute, but we have just too many cats. Their mama got her stitches out, so she won't put us in this spot again. We might live in the Animal House, but there is a limit to everything.
Our Koenitzer- Decker- Semon- Biehl family reunion is next Sunday. If you are a lost family member, please join us here on the hilltop for a potluck dinner and family talk. Years ago, Mom's family had the Nichols-Locke reunion on the second Sunday in August at the park in St. Marys. I want to trace the family tree, on both sides, but have put it off and now wished I had started on it sooner. If you have any connections to either, please get in touch with me. The search for the descendants of Phoebe Cunningham was started but needs to be finished, too. I have decided it is time (past time.) that I start doing the things I planned. The next generation won't care about it, but future ones may, especially if any good stories can be found. Try to tell your kids about family stories and they will go, "Yea, yea, I know - walked five miles to school, in snow six feet deep, and uphill both ways." I guess we were the same basic way and that is why we don't know much family history.
If you took any trips or enjoyed any of the Civil War celebrations this summer, do write an account of it for your family history. It helps bring back memories of happy (usually.) family times that you might want to recall as you get older.
It is still a few months before Christmas, but if you are going to make any of your gifts, now is the time to plan for it and get started. It is a whirlwind after school starts in the fall and too many times we think about good ideas and don't get started in time to finish them.
Homemade jams, jellies and sauces are great gifts and should be made as you do that "putting up" now. Church bazaars are a good place for you to share your talents for homemade items, too. Stewardship is a virtue.
We should always help those who need our help, but I have trouble with helping those who want to live off other people and won't try to help themselves. That has seemed to have gotten out of hand in this country and no one seems to have the backbone to correct it. When is election time?.
Our Florida family and friends have taken great pleasure in reminding us that we have had hotter temperatures in our valley than they have in south Florida. It has been hot here, and wet, too. That has made the blackberries big and juicy and ripe for picking though, so it is okay with me.
I do love to pick berries and when they are huge, it is like Christmas. Husband Norm thinks I am a little touched in the head. That's okay with me, too - it lets me get by with lots of things that might be frowned on otherwise. The power outages weren't so great, but one takes the bad with the good. Just remember our grandparents didn't enjoy electricity, TV, or cellphones and they lived very nice and happy lives, so we can get along without them for awhile and it won't hurt us one bit. Might help us to appreciate what we have. The Good Old Days are nice to think about and enjoy reading about, but the living of them was a lot harder work than we have now. I wonder what life will be like in another 50 or 100 years. It might be fun to just stick around and see. That would scare the family.
Keep the iced tea and lemonade pitchers full - it is still hot weather. That swing under the shade needs to be visited often, too, and the breezes need to be enjoyed. Enjoy each season as it comes and don't complain too much about it. All seasons have some rough weather, and we can't change the hot or cold outside, so just keep the inside to your liking if the outside is not so nice. Enjoy each day - it will not come again. Put up some of the fruits of summer to enjoy this winter or give as gifts. God Bless.
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FRESH BLACKBERRY PIE
One quart fresh blackberries, washed and drained
One and one-half cups sugar
One-eighth teaspoon salt
One-fourth teaspoon cinnamon
One-and-one-half tablespoons flour or pie tapioca
Pastry for a two-crust pie
One to two tablespoons butter
Mix blackberries with sugar, salt, cinnamon and flour or tapioca. Fill pastry lined pie pan. Dot with butter. Add top crust. Brush with egg wash, cream or milk and sprinkle lightly with sugar. Bake in preheated 400-degree oven for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350-degrees and bake for another 25 minutes longer.
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CREAMY PEACH PIE
Three-fourths cup sugar
One-fourth cup flour
One-fourth teaspoon salt
One-fourth teaspoon nutmeg
One-half teaspoon almond flavoring
Three cups peeled and sliced fresh peaches
One cup heavy cream
Nine-inch unbaked pie shell
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine dry ingredients. Add peaches and almond flavoring and toss. Spoon into pie shell. Pour heavy cream over top. Bake until firm, about 35-45 minutes. Cool well before serving.
If crust is turning too brown, make a foil collar to cover just the outside crust.
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Four cups peach pulp
Four cups sugar
One whole orange, ground rind and all
Cook slowly until thick. Pour into hot, sterilized jars and seal. (Adding a couple of peach pits to the marmalade as it cooks gives added flavor. Remove before putting in jars.
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Four cups (I quart) fresh blueberries
Two tablespoons tapioca
One-third cup sugar
One tablespoon lemon juice
One-half teaspoon lemon zest
Two-thirds cup brown sugar, firmly packed
Three-fourths cup quick-cooking rolled oats
One-half cup flour
One-half teaspoon cinnamon
One-eighth teaspoon salt
Six tablespoons butter
Cream, whipped cream or vanilla ice cream
Stir together blueberries, tapioca, sugar, lemon juice and zest. Place in greased 8-inch square pan. Combine brown sugar, rolled oats, flour, cinnamon and salt. Cut in butter. Sprinkle over blueberries. Bake in preheated 350-degree oven for 40 minutes. Serve with cream, whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, preferable while warm.
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MARINADE FOR BEEF KABOBS
One-half cup salad oil
One-fourth cup vinegar
One-fourth cup chopped onion
One teaspoon salt
Two teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
Two pounds lean beef such as round, cut into one-inch cubes
Combine all ingredients except meat and mix well. Put meat in a Ziploc bag and pour marinade over. Marinate one to three hours, turning bag occasionally. Place meat on skewers to grill and roast 10-15 minutes, turning at least once, or to preferred doneness.
If using wooden skewers, soak in water first; metal skewers are best. Don't mix meat and vegetables as they get done at different times. Best to grill on separate skewers.
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CHICKEN BARBEQUE SAUCE
(One of many)
One can tomato soup
One cup brown sugar
Three tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
Two tablespoons vinegar
One tablespoon prepared mustard
Mix well and brush on chicken when it is almost done.