Thursday, May 31, 2012

Canning Peaches

Today, I decided to try my hand at canning peaches.  I had bought a bag from Cooley Farms last week and didn't want them to go to waste.  So, I pulled out the Ball Canning book and surfed the web to figure out how to go about the process. 

A few peaches cooling in cold water waiting to be peeled.

Peeled peaches waiting to be sliced.
Peaches sliced and in the syrup bath.

Canning jars washed and ready.
Water bath ready.
Hot peaches and syrup ladled into the jar. 
Finished product.
The process was quite simple.  I put the peaches into a hot water bath for a few minutes and then placed them into a cold water bath.  This made it easy to peel the skin off the peach.  Slicing and pitting the peach took a little more time.  Especially when three hungry children walked into the kitchen wanting lunch!  I made a light syrup mix using 5 1/4 cups of water and 2 1/4 cups of sugar.  Once the sugar was dissolved, I added the sliced peaches and brought them to a boil.  I then ladled the peaches into wide-mouthed pint jars, removed air bubbles, wiped the rim, and placed the hot lid on top.  I secured the band and placed the jar into the boiling water canner.  Once all jars were placed in the canner and the water was boiling rapidly, I timed the jars for twenty minutes.  Within minutes out of the water, the lids on the jars pinged as they sealed.

I had a few peaches that didn't fit into the jars, so we taste tested the mix.  I received two thumbs up from all three children.  The boys wanted more and more.  I tried the peaches and they were pretty good and I don't particularly like peaches.  I may just change my mind about peaches! 

Fun in the Sun!

Our pool has become the center of our summer activities.  The children get up in the morning ready to hit the water.  Right now the morning temps keep them out of the pool until afternoon.  However, when the afternoon rolls around, the suits get put on and the sunscreen applied.  We always seem to have one extra child around for the afternoon swim.  Some days we have two or three extra!  Good friends, cool water, summer bliss!

Little Man and K-man hiding from the camera.

Little Man waving while the others play.

K-man, Egee, and Agee posing for the camera.

Pretending to be mermaids and mermen.


Little Man showing how he can swim.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Yummy Roast Supper

I just love my slow cooker.  Dinner time is not a hassle of what to fix, when to eat, lots of pots and pans to clean, it is just a one stop meal of good food.  Fixing a meal in the morning, while my brain is still fresh is effortless.  Needless to say, today's meal was inspired by the carrots I plucked from the garden this morning.  We are not avid carrot eaters.  The only meal I fix that involves carrots is a roast.  Luckily, I had a roast in the freezer.  Perfect!

Carrots from the garden.

Carrots, onions, and red potatoes seasoned with garlic powder and salt.

Roast on top and mushroom gravy mix poured over the meat.
Everything in the pot and slow cooking for nine hours on low. 

Supper was a hit.  I forgot to take a picture of the competed meal, but below is what remains.  Enough for lunch tomorrow or I will dice up the veggies and meat to create stew.

The Garden

The garden is doing great!  I thought I had lost five tomato plants and four pepper plants to the frost in April, but they have all bounced back.  Here are some random pics of how the garden is doing.

Green beans have grown taller and producing beans.

Tomato and pepper plants.

Jalapeno peppers

Roma tomatoes

Peas are growing over their trellis.

More green beans and the broccoli

Flowers on the green bean plants.

Zucchini plants

Zucchini blossom

Baby zucchini

Baby bell peppers

Bell pepper

Yellow squash

Yellow squash plants

Red nasturtiums

Orange nasturtiums


Honey suckle

Another tomato and pepper bed

Butterfly bush

Pole bean growing up the fence.

Another pole bean

Volunteer pumpkin from last year's jack o' lantern remains.

Red Belt

Little Man passed his Youth Red Belt test yesterday.  He started the test last Thursday and only had five jacket grab techniques to finish during Tuesday night's class.  Egee helped her little brother out, by being his uke for the test.  He is lucky to have such a good big sister.  One day, hopefully, he will realize just how lucky he is! 

Little man moving his name on the nafudakake (name/rank board).

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Lightening bugs!

Oh, the simple joys of summer time.  Lightening bugs or fire flies have arrived.  The children love to chase and catch the glowing little insects.  I believe that it must be a right of passage.  Every child should experience the early evening hours, when the sun has set and the twinkle of little lights appear.  The thrill of the hunt.  The squeal of excitement, as one little bug is caught and tickles the hand.

We were having dinner at the in-laws and upon leaving the children noticed their yard full of lightening bugs.  I have not seen that many in quite a long time.  We have several at the house, but their yard looked as though someone set out dozens of strands of twinkling Christmas lights.  You didn't have to chase them!  They were so thick, that all one had to do was hold out a hand.  The kids were ecstatic!

Egee is on the prowl.

Little Man looking at the ones high in the tree.

The bugs were everywhere!  Unfortunately, the camera didn't capture their light.

He caught one!

Egee with her bugs! 

Friday, May 25, 2012

Potato Bugs!

Gardening is an ever changing challenge.  Once, I figure out how to rid one pest from the garden, another pest seems to show up!  Last year, I battled squash bugs.  I have done extensive research on how to deter the pesky things and felt that this year I wouldn't have problems.  I did not expect potato beetles.  There were no potato beetles last year in my experimental bed.  So where did these come from?

I was out in the garden the other day and saw what I thought was lady bugs.  I wasn't looking for anything on the potatoes.  I was busy looking at my zucchini and yellow squash leaves for signs of squash bugs.  The next day, I went back out to check and noticed my potatoes were looking strange.  I inspected closer and saw tons of these little reddish brown bugs ranging in size from a bit bigger than a flea to the size of Japanese beetle.  They were munching voraciously on the leaves of my potatoes!

This little guy has ate half this leaf!

I quickly Google 'how to get rid of potato bugs' and found out that unless I use chemicals (which I do not), I would have to hand pick the little buggers.  So I filled a bucket with water and vinegar, and set out to rid these pest from my potato plants.

Little Man became intrigued with the bugs.  So, he joined in the 'fun' of hunting, picking, and drowning the pests.

All the bugs we have picked and drowned.

This is going to be on ongoing process for the next few weeks.  But, maybe we have caught the problem early enough to save our potatoes.

Damaged leaves

Potatoes that haven't been ravaged.