Homegrown Cherries

Just a few months ago, I was celebrating the tiny bits of green that had appeared on my cherry trees.
In such a short period of time, we went from green to blossoms to cherries.

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We came home from vacation and our yummy cherries had turned into deep red,
dripping with sweetness, dribble juice all over you cherries.

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Beautiful cherries.

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We started picking.  Filling buckets and trays.

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But it didn’t even look like we’d picked.

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I’ve always enjoyed preserving fruit, making jams and sauces,
dehydrating and bottling.  But it’s never come from my own backyard.
I’m fortunate to live in an area where there are multiple orchards around me
and I can buy from the growers.  This time, to be harvesting from our own trees
is really a pleasure.

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I’ve been bottling cherries and making jam.
I’ve never had cherry jam before, but we’ve learned that it’s really tasty.
Freezer jam and cooked jam both.

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It’s a lot of work, but for me it’s work that brings a real feeling of satisfaction.
So much of what I do has to be redone several times a day.  But I love the feeling of lining up
the food I’ve preserved and knowing that because of my efforts my family will enjoy it in
months to come when the fresh food is no longer available.  And we’ve only harvested from one tree!
I still have another to take care of this week.

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I also find that working with fruit helps me slow down, relax, and notice more of the
simple joys of life.  I start looking at the lovely shades of color in the fruit, pondering life
in a day and time when work such as this meant survival.   Today I noticed the lovely color of the foam as I cooked some cherry jam.

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And how beautiful it was when it reached a full boil.

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I feel more grateful for the bounty that God has given us, marveling at the genius of a God who created trees that can bring us such delicious pleasure, and such blessings.  I am reminded that God’s economy is one of abundance.

Taking advantage of such abundance, expressing my appreciation for it by putting it to good use and sharing it with others, just feels right.  And that’s an awfully good feeling to carry around in your heart.

Jennifer

Red Doors

There are a lot of things I love about our yearly week at the beach.
Seeing my Grandpa would certainly top the list, along with taking pictures of my family playing.

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And it does my heart good to soak up  a lot of this.

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I love to watch the ocean.  It is continually changing, and I find that I learn many things about life while I watch the waves and allow my heart to be still.

I also love to look at the beach houses.  Many of them seem to have such personalities.  I love it.

This year my fascination was with doors.

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Let me be more accurate.  I loved many doors, but what I REALLY loved were the RED doors.

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Wow.  Red with blue trim.  Love it.

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This was taken from the car.  Not the best shot, but still a great door.

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This might have been my favorite, but the traffic wouldn’t allow me to cross the street and get a shot without the car.  Bummer.  I love the double doors and the blue awning.

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This one might be my favorite, too.  Red door, white trim, blue house.  Can’t get much better than that!
I love the windows on it.

There’s just something about red front doors.   Especially at the beach.
I might have to paint my own front door red.

Fourth of July Muffins

These muffins were a hit at our annual 4th of July breakfast.
Full of fresh blueberries and raspberries, they were the perfect muffin for a festive morning.
They are also a delicious way to enjoy the fruits of the berry season.

Start by mixing together 4 cups flour, 2 cups sugar, 2 teaspoons baking powder and 1 teaspoon salt.

Rinse 1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries and 1 1/2 cups fresh raspberries.

Add the berries to the flour mixture.  Gently toss until the berries are mixed in.

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In another bowl, crack 4 large eggs.

Beat them gently.

Add 2 cups sour cream to the egg mixture.

Mix together, then add 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla.

and 1 cup vegetable oil.

Mix well, until smooth and the oil is fully incorporated.

Pour egg mixture into the bowl of flour and berries.

Stir gently, until the dry ingredients are moistened.

You want to keep the berries intact, if possible, although the raspberries may come apart a bit.
The batter will be colorful and moist.

Fill 24 muffin cups with the batter and preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

In a small bowl, combine 1 cup sugar with 2 teaspoons cinnamon.

Mix well.  In a separate bowl, melt 1/4 cup butter.  Pour the melted butter over the cinnamon sugar mixture.

Mix together until it looks like this:

Gently spoon some of the sugar mixture over the top of each muffin.

This mixture will result in a slightly crisp topping, and some of it will cook down the sides of the muffins for a yummy, sticky candy-like taste.

Bake at 400 for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Remove from oven and let cool 5 minutes.  Remove from pans.

You can cool the muffins or serve them warm.  They are so tasty!

Very moist, and every bite has plenty of flavor thanks to the fresh berries.

They’ll be going, going, gone!

4th of July Muffins

4 cups flour
2 cups sugar
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
1 1/2 cups fresh raspberries
4 eggs
2 cups sour cream
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup vegetable oil

topping:
1 cup sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup butter

Combine flour, sugar, baking soda and salt.  Rinse berries and add to flour mixture.
Mix gently.  In separate bowl, lightly beat 4 eggs.  Add sour cream and mix well.
Add vanilla and oil, and mix well, making certain that oil is fully incorporated.
Pour egg mixture into dry mixture and gently mix until dry ingredients are moistened.
Scoop batter into 24 muffin cups, filling 2/3 full.

To make topping:  combine sugar and cinnamon in small bowl.  Melt butter and add to sugar.
Stir until crumbly.  Spoon sugar over muffins.

Bake at 400 for 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
Cool in pans for 5 minutes, then remove.  Serve and enjoy!

Hopeful Homemaker

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