Monthly Archives: August 2009

Fresh Blueberry Pie

fresh blueberry pie A visit from my college roomie of years ago last weekend was a treat – especially when she pulled out a box full of 20 pounds of fresh Michigan blueberries!!

This Iowa farm girl had never seen that many blueberries in one place at one time before.

I almost hyperventilated!

We feasted on blueberries all week – fresh blueberry muffins, blueberries in our cereal and my favorite- blueberries over ice cream!

For a special treat, Dagmar discovered a recipe for Fresh Blueberry Pie in my recipe file that I had cut from a magazine years ago.

We enjoyed it for Sunday lunch – I’m so glad I kept it all these years! It was just sweet enough and the blueberry flavor really came through.

My pie ended up a little juicier than I wanted, but it tasted wonderful!

Fresh Blueberry Pie

3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup cold water
5 cups fresh blueberries (divided)
1 tablespoon butter or margarine
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 – 9 inch pastry shell (baked)

Combine sugar, cornstarch, salt and water in a saucepan over medium heat.  When the mixture is smooth, add 3 cups of blueberries. Bring to a boil. Cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thick and bubbly.

Remove from the heat and add the butter, lemon juice and remaining berries. Stir until the butter is melted.

Cool and pour into the pastry crust.

Refrigerate until serving.

Wonderful with a scoop of vanilla ice cream!

How to Can Green Beans

We did it!

For the first time in 3 years we outsmarted the bunnies, overcame the weeds, and even avoided the bugs – and we finally have green beans. LOTS of green beans.

I dusted off my pressure canner and started in.

First you need to pick the beans.  This is a good job for the young-uns.
Green Beans 002

Young, tender beans work the best. Make sure you get the entire stem end when you pick, then the plant will produce more beans.

(Unless of course you are up to your eyebrows in green beans – in which case – don’t worry about it!)

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Once the beans are harvested, it’s time to snap and sort them. This is another good job for the young’uns.  I put a towel or sheet down on the living room floor and let them watch a movie while they are snapping. It works so well – I actually have kids volunteer for this job!

We only snap the blossom end off – leaving the tail. It tastes great and saves time, so why take it off?

snapped green beans

When the beans are snapped and sorted (throw out any that have spots or marks, and any that are too big or too small), you need to wash them well.

Now you are ready to can.

Canning green beans

You will need clean canning jars (either pints or quarts), a jar funnel, a ladle, a jar lifter, salt, canning rings and your washed and snapped beans.

I should add here that it is important to only use real canning jars when pressure canning. Old mayo jars just aren’t strong enough to take the pressure.

canning flats

You will also need to put your canning flats in water and boil them slightly to soften the rubber.

All American canner

And of course – the most important piece of equipment is the canner. I love my All-American Pressure Cooker/Canner with the explosion proof top. After receiving a severe burn as a newlywed with a borrowed pressure canner, my husband bought me this canner and it has seen a lot of use!

Read your directions carefully before beginning. A pressure canner is a wonderful tool – but it can be dangerous!

I put mine on the stove with about a quart of water on the bottom.

Now we’re ready to fill those jars.

First I fill them with boiling water and let them sit for a minute to sterilize them.

Canning green beans

Then I pour the water out and use the canning funnel to fill the jars with beans. I add 1 teaspoon of salt to a quart jar or 1/2 teaspoon of salt for every pint.

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Then I carefully ladle in boiling water, stopping 1/2 inch from the top of the jar (that’s called the head space).

canning green beans

This next step is very important! Take a clean damp cloth and wipe the very top of the jar. If there is anything on the jar, even a small grain of salt, the flat may not seal. Then carefully place one of the softened flats on the top of the jar.

canning green beans

Then I place a ring on the jar and tighten slightly. This jar is ready for the canner!

canning green beans

Using my jar lifter, I put the jar carefully in the canner and repeat the process until my canner is full.

Green Beans 060 Once the canner is full it is very important that you carefully read the instructions for your canner.

You will need to carefully put the top on and seal it.

pressure gauge All American canner

Watch the pressure gauge carefully. The beans need to be at 10 pounds of pressure.

Once you reach the 10 pound mark, set your timer for 20 minutes if they are in pints and 25 minutes if they are in quarts. Adjust the heat under the canner to maintain the correct pressure.

Watch that valve very carefully! If too much pressure builds up – the canner can blow!

After the time is up, turn the burner off under the canner and let it cool. DO NOT TOUCH THE LID!

Wait until the pressure gauge reads 0 pounds of pressure. Then release the lid according to directions and carefully remove the jars using the jar lifter.

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I let them cool on a clean towel out of the way on my counter for at 24 hours without moving them.

To store, I just remove the ring, wipe down the jars and date them. Then they are carefully carried down to the cool, dry pantry were they will be appreciated and enjoyed all winter long!

Chocolate Pie

Chocolate Pie At the latest Farmer’s Market there was a new vendor – a 14 year old girl who was selling pie by the slice.

When I heard she had chocolate pie – I immediately found some money and sent Dagmar over to buy one.

Then I started to worry – what if I just spent that money for a store bought crust and Jello- pudding filling?

No worries.

That pie was fabulous! The crust was light and flaky and definitely  homemade!

But the filling was the star of the show – it was rich, creamy and delicious.

Of course I asked the young lady for the recipe. She just smiled sweetly and said she was so glad we liked it.

But she didn’t share the recipe.

I was bummed.

The memory of that pie still lingers in my mind.  It was fabulous. Unbelievable. Delectable.

I had to find a recipe to match it. I scoured my recipe files and cookbooks and made a pile of all my chocolate pie recipes.

I intend to try them – one at a time – until I find the perfect one.

I began over the weekend.

Obviously – by the picture – the first recipe didn’t work so well. The filling never did set up and seeped right through a crack in the crust leaving a mess on the bottom of the pie.

But it did taste great!

Chocolate Pie #1

1 -9 inch baked pie shell
2 cups of chocolate chips (I used milk chocolate – but I think I would prefer semisweet)
1/3 cup of powdered sugar
1 cup of milk
1/4 cup of butter
1 tsp almond flavoring
1/2 cup almonds

Place chocolate chips and powdered sugar in your blender, process until it is coarsely chopped.

In a saucepan, place the milk and butter. Bring to a boil. Pour into the blender and process until smooth and creamy. Add almond flavoring.

Pour it into a pie shell and refrigerate. Serve with cool whip and almonds.

In a perfect world it would set up beautifully – in my world it remained a runny mess.

But it did taste good!

And so the search continues….

Hey Moms – Need Some “Alone Time”?

As a mom of five, I know very well the need we moms have to be alone.

We love our children,  but to be continually needed by someone and always on call is tiring.

Sometimes we’re looking to get away for a few minutes, to sit in silence, to rest our minds.

Sound impossible? If you have young children – it is. They are hard wired to need you. They want to be with you – all the time.

You don’t dare close the door when you go to the bathroom because it’s just asking for a catastrophe to happen!

But – if you have older children – it’s actually easier than you think.

After years of trial and error, I have discovered 10 foolproof statements that are sure to get you some privacy.

All you need to do is announce any one of these and the room will clear instantly as your older children will disappear like leaves in the wind.

1. “I’m looking for someone to wash dishes”

2. “The bathroom needs to be cleaned”

3. “I’m heading out to the garden to weed”

4. “I’m heading out to the garden to pick green beans, or tomatoes, or peppers, or anything”

5. “There’s laundry waiting to hung on the clothes line”

6. “There’s laundry to be folded”

7. “I think we should start cleaning the basement after lunch”

8. “The garbage needs to be taken out”

9.  “I need help canning tomatoes (or apples or green beans)”

10. “Dad said we were butchering chickens this afternoon”

Try one and see for yourself!

Swedish Choklad

Swedish Chocolate You know who your real friends are when they bring you chocolate!

My sweet friend Pat, knowing both my love for chocolate and my husband’s Scandinavian ancestors, brought me some real Swedish chocolate!

King size no less!

I was a little uncertain where to begin eating them – since I’m not so good with reading Swedish.

But my powers of deduction proved to be fairly adequate as the kids and I enjoyed an international chocolate tasting.

Not Choklad – is a deliciously smooth milk chocolate full of hazelnuts. I’m so glad this is a King size because it is definitely my favorite. It was also Matt’s favorite, but I”m not planning to share.

Mjolk Choklad  – is a creamy pure milk chocolate that left both Dagmar and Buddy swooning.

KEX Choklad – is layers of wafer thin cookie covered in chocolate. Pedro, who is not my chocolate lover, really loved this one. He compared it to a Kit Kat bar – only better.

Actually the kids cleaned up every bit of the chocolate I laid out on the cutting board – even licked up the crumbs. They also discovered the English sub titles on each of the bars – the ones Mom missed.

I think I can safely say that Swedish choklad was a huge hit at our house.

It has definitely earned the Chocolate Lady Seal of Approval!

God bless you, dear Pat!