6.17.2009

Homemade Strawberry Jam

Every Spring (or early Summer) for the past 6 years, I have made homemade strawberry jam with Kevin's mom. Kevin grew up with homemade jam & after we got married I started making some for us. We each make a year's supply of jam & some additional ones to give away as gifts.
Homemade Strawberry Jam is a perfect gift for a teacher or a hostess gift!
It 's easy to make your own homemade jam.
And, it tastes so much better than store bought jam.

Our favorite kind of jam is strawberry, so that is the only kind I make!
The girls and I headed over to my in-laws house so Jill & I could make the jam. I put Kate down for a nap there, but Claire stayed up to watch us make jam. She was very intrigued, crawled around the kitchen and watched us the entire time!
One batch makes about 80 ounces of jam.
We used 12 oz jars & filled about 6-7 jars per batch.
(Today, we made 5 batches so that we each had a year supply of jam & some extra jars to give as gifts)
Homemade Strawberry Freezer Jam

Here is what you need (per batch):
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 cup light karo syrup
1 box pectin
4 cups of sugar
3 1/4 cups of pureed strawberries
**Note: Make sure you use ripe, freshly picked strawberries. We always get strawberries from Kevin's sister who lives in the Central Valley. Our strawberries came straight from the fields yesterday! The grocery store strawberries aren't as good to use because they don't have as much flavor. If you have a local fruit stand or farmer's market, get strawberries from them. Use grocery store strawberries as a last resort, they are usually not as sweet**
**Another Note: This recipe if for strawberry jam, if you prefer a different flavor of jam, the ratios of sugar & fruit will be different. Usually the package of pectin will tell you what measurements to use for other varieties of jam.**
Step 1:
Gather & Clean your jars.
For each batch, you need about 5 mason jars for canning. (Or, you can use old jam, hot fudge or other 6-8 oz glass jars. Just run them through the dishwasher & save them throughout the year)
Step 2:
Wash & trim the stems off the strawberries.

Step 3:
Puree the strawberries in a blender or food processor. I puree about 1 cup at a time. There should be some chunks, you don't want your strawberries too liquidy or your jam won't turn out right.
(You need 3 1/4 cups of pureed strawberries per batch)
Step 4:
Put pureed strawberries into a pot with 1/4 cup of lemon juice.
Step 5:
Gradually stir in 1 box of pectin into the strawberries & lemon juice.
Set aside for 30 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes to dissolve pectin thoroughly.
Step 6:
After 30 minutes, stir in 1 cup of karo syrup (this prevents crystallization during the freezer storage)
Step 7:
Put pot on stove & turn burner on LOW. Gradually stir in 4 cups of sugar, stirring continuously until sugar is dissolved and no longer grainy. (about 2-3 minutes). Don't let the mixture get too hot!
Step 8:
Pour into glass jars. Leave about 1/2 inch at the top for expansion during freezing.
Step 9:
After about 5 minutes, put lids on jars.
Step 10:
Every 3-4 hours, turn over the jars of jam so that all the fruit doesn't settle on the bottom. It will set after 24 hours, so put it in the freezer after it sets.
(Kate woke up just in time to help me organize my jars!)
Step 11:
Store jam in your freezer! It can stay in your freezer for 2 years!
When you are ready to use a jar of jam, defrost it in your fridge overnight & then keep refrigerated between uses. It can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 months. (We usually go through a jar a month since we eat a lot of PB&J sandwiches!)
Step 12:
If you want to give a jar of jam as a gift, you make it look "pretty" by adding some fabric, a ribbon & a little note card. Here is one that I have prettied up!
(since I can't sew, this is how I can use all the pretty fabric that I love)
This is a great hostess gift, teacher gift, or a "just because" gift!

Enjoy!

6.15.2009

Oh, Happy Day!

Guess what just arrived on my doorstep?

My NEW camera (the Canon 50D)!!!
**squeals**

It is my Birthday/Anniversary/4thofJuly/Labor Day/Thanksgiving/Christmas/"insert any holiday of 2009"/ Present!

Thank YOU Kevin (and my parents & In-laws)!!!! You Rock!!!

The battery is charging as I type.
Get ready for MASSIVE picture overloads in the next few days & weeks.
This Mama-razzi is going to go even more picture crazy this summer!

And, my carpet is getting steam cleaned at the moment while the girls are with my mom.
My carpet is the bain of my existence.
I hate.our.carpet. Worst. carpet.ever.
I am so happy it is getting professionally cleaned.

What a great first day of summer!

6.12.2009

School's Out for Summer!

{Sing with me!}
School's out for Summer! School's out Forever!

Well, maybe not
forever, but for 72 glorious days!

We have a lot of fun things planned this summer...
play dates
park dates
music class
farmer's market
swimming
drinking wine in the backyard on warm summer nights
BBQ's (lots of them, we are going to 3 this weekend!)
pebble beach & carmel
two trips to Tahoe
visiting Great Grammy
seeing Wicked
Claire's dedication
hanging out with friends
wine tasting
walks downtown for coffee
and...
potty training (wish me luck, any tips?)

phew...I'm getting tired just thinking about it. I might just have to lounge around in my pj's on many some of these summer days.

Most of all, I am excited I get to spend my days with these 2 cuties:


I leave you with one of my favorite sayings.....

Top 3 Reasons to be a Teacher :
1. June
2. July
3. August

And, to those who are wondering, I look forward to summer SO much more as a teacher than I did when I was a student!
Horray for Summer!

6.10.2009

10 on 10 :: June 2009

10 on 10 : Take a photo once an hour for ten consecutive hours on the tenth of each month. Document a snapshot of your life and find beauty among the ordinary things of your day.


Wow, today was a super busy day, so my 10 on 10 is all over the place!

Calendar on my desk at school:

This plant will not be watered until the end of August, it has miraculously survived the past 5 summers I have left it in my classroom without getting watered during summer break.
Reading books before naptime:

Hydrangeas in my front yard:
Bo Bo the Wonder Dog:
We brought dinner to the Dowd's. Big sister Beka & 5 day old baby Kira:
Kate and Grandpa Jimmy at Torrey's Graduation Party:
Great way to end a busy day. One of my favorite summer shows
(besides The Bachelorette & Top Chef Masters)
Join in the fun for 10 on 10 in July!

6.06.2009

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes

These are some of my favorite cupcakes

Is your mouth watering yet?

Last night I made some as a house warming present for my younger sister.
She moved into a condo with her friend & co-worker Lauren.

Don't you want to make some? They are so easy to make!
Here's how!

You need a box of chocolate cake mix & mix according to the directions on the box.
I buy whatever is on sale!
You need a package of pre-made chocolate chip cookie dough.
Fill 24 cupcake liners about half full with batter & use 1 cookie dough chunk per cupcake.Bird's eye view:
Bake at 350 for 15-18 minutes.
(Depending on how your oven cooks)

This is what they will look like when they come out.

When the cupcakes are baking, make your frosting.
(Or, you can use store bought frosting in a can, but I hate that stuff!!)
 

I always make 5 minute Buttercream Frosting. 

For these cupcakes, I like vanilla buttercream or coffee buttercream frosting.

 
It is super easy to make. This is what you need:
1 box of powdered sugar
1/4 c milk
1 stick of butter at room temperature
1 tsp of vanilla
Mix with a mixer & then I put it in a ziplock bag, cut a hole in the corner & squeeze the bag to frost my cupcakes.
This is a great frosting & really versatile. You can add cocoa powder to make chocolate frosting. Sometimes I had cream cheese to thicken it up more.
 

My favorite frosting for these is to add a spoonful of Vanilla Coffee or Cappuchinno Instant Coffee to make a Coffee flavored buttercream. Delicious!

After the cupcakes have cooled, frost!
Yum.
They are SO good & SO easy to make!
The middle is the best part!
Kate had fun making eating them & I hope you will too!Enjoy!

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