Friday, June 21, 2013

First Day of Summer 2013

Today is the first day of Summer.  

Summertime in the US is usually considered the months of June, July and August.  

All of the children are out of school for Summer vacation, families go on vacations together, gardens are growing,  everything around us is lush and green.  The lightening-bugs are back, along with the hummingbirds.

It is time for picnics, boating, fishing, building castles in the sand at the beach, swinging in a hammock in the backyard.  It is a time for good books to read, slip-n-slides, and swimming at the pool....and the list goes on.   Wonderful, wonderful summertime is here for all to enjoy.

I did not plant a garden this Spring because I knew we would be coming and going so much in the Summer that I probably would  not have much time to work in the garden.  

Zinnias growing in the garden.

While I was down picking blueberries I decided to walk on over to the garden area just in case anything happened to be coming up from last Summer.  

What a complete surprise it was to see almost half of the garden growing in pretty pink Zinnias. I planted Zinnias in the garden between the vegetables last Spring because I thought they would be so pretty to look at while working in the garden and they were very pretty.

I had all different colored Zinnias growing last year, but for some reason the Zinnias growing in the garden now were all pink.

I guess they just decided to re-seed themselves and grow all on their own.

The Good Lord knows how very much I love this color pink.  I know it was his idea to re-seed them and  I thank him so much for planting these beautiful Zinnias for me ... how completely delightful and what a nice surprise!

Summer vacation begins for us tomorrow as we leave to go north to the mountains of North Carolina.   While we are there several members of our family will be visiting.  We are so looking forward to seeing some of the grandchildren who do not live here in Tallahassee ... Then, later on, some of the grandchildren who do live here in town will come join us.

While we are gone, I look forward to trying to capture some of the beauty all around us with my camera.  And, for sure, if any of the pictures turn out,  I will be sharing them.

Do be safe in your Summertime activities and travels.  Have a wonderful beginning of Summer wherever you may be.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Making Blueberry Jam

This coming Friday, the 21st of June,  is the first official day of Summer.   Summertime, the month of June, and blueberries all go together.  By the time June rolls around we know it is time to go down to the blueberry patch to pick blueberries.  Here in Tallahassee they begin to ripen the first week in June and continue until about the second week of July.

Every other day I walk down and pick all the blueberries that have ripened, wash them really well,  put them in freezer bags, and wait until I get enough to make jam. 

Blueberry Patch

There is something so peaceful about picking blueberries. I am always surprised the birds have not gotten them before we do.  Around here it is usually a good idea to wait to early evening when the sun has gone down a little and the temperatures have dropped slightly.

If some pink berries are picked,  I just leave them out on the counter over night,  
and they ripen and turn blue.

The complete Blueberry Jam Recipe will follow at the end of this post.

If I don't get around to making the jam right away, the blueberries freeze very well for a couple of months.

You can see the frost on the blueberries in the below photo. They just came out of the freezer.  If you run water over them they will defrost quickly and be ready to go in the blender.

In the below photo is everything you will need for making blueberry jam, except for the large pot for heating the jars and lids and another large pot for cooking the jelly.  There are blueberries, sugar, Fruit Pectin,  jelly jars which include the lids, caps and labels, lemons and a blender.

You  are probably already familiar with Fruit Pectin, the ingredient that turns the berry juice into jam.
It is really the magic potion for jelly and jam making.  Enclosed in the Fruit Pectin package are complete jelly making instructions plus several jelly/jam recipes.

Wash and rinse the jelly/jam jars,  plus the lids and caps,  in hot soapy water.  
Rinse everything really well!

The below recipe will tell you how much berry juice you will need.  I put the whole berries in the blender and blend them very well.  The mixture will be very thick.  It is easier to blend the berries in segments with the blender being about half full.  Put the blended juice in a large bowl ... that way it will be easy to measure out for your recipe.  Also, the blended juice is very freezable.

At this point you will need a very large pot for cooking the jelly.  (I was busy making the jelly and totally forgot to take a picture of the jelly cooking.)  Measure out the Blueberry juice, lemon juice, sugar and mix well.  Bring to  a full rolling boil and cook for just 1 minute stirring constantly.  Remove from heat and immediately stir in the Fruit Pectin.  Skim off foam, stir and skim off foam again.  Ladle into hot, sterilized jars and seal.

For some reason you cannot double the recipe.  So I just did the process a couple of times.
This recipe makes about 8 jars of jam.

The jelly jar package comes with write-in labels as in the below photo.  They are very pretty and I sometimes do use them.  Then, other times I like to make my own labels especially if I plan to give the jam as gifts.

While I was at Walmart the other day I picked up some of these Avery Oval Labels,  which are fun to use.  You can follow the directions and design your own labels. 

Many years ago our children gave our home the name, "Hidden Hollow."  So, that is the name I put on the jam labels.   

As you can see, after designing and then printing the labels on the printer,
 the labels peel up for easy use.

The labels are very easy to design on your computer and then print on the printer.

Well, after all that I am ready for a peanut butter and jelly (jam) sandwich!

Let's open a jar and see if we actually do have jam.

 Looks like the jam turned out nicely.  
I made a snack of peanut butter and jelly toast,  and it was really good!

Blueberry Jam Recipe
I found this recipe several years ago at

4 1/2 cups crushed (in the blender) blueberries
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
7 cups sugar 
2 pouches liquid Pectin
  • Clean the berries carefully removing any leaves or stems. Clean berries with running water.
  • Crush berries and measure 4 1/2 cups crushed fruit.
  • Put berries into a large heavy pot.  Add lemon juice and sugar; mix well.  
  • Place over high heat, stirring, and bring to a full rolling boil.
  • Boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
  • Remove from heat; stir in Pectin at once.
  • Skim off foam, stir and skim off foam again.
  • Ladle into hot, sterilized jars and seal. 
  • If desired, process for 10 minutes in boiling water bath. (Recommended.)
  • Makes about 7 pints.

The blueberries in the grocery store are a good bargain at this time of year.  So, if you don't have a blueberry patch, you can pick-up some blueberries at the grocery store and make jam if you would like.  If you make this jam recipe I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

Wishing you a very happy day with many blessings wherever you may be.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Delicious Caramel Corn

One of our favorite family treats are popcorn balls and caramel corn.  One of my grandsons, Dillon especially loves popcorn balls.  Then every once in awhile I will also make caramel corn for everyone.  The recipe I use is the very last recipe in the below cookbook.

Many years ago I came across this local cookbook called "Bobwhite Quail & Buttermilk Biscuits."  I probably purchased it in one of our local gift shops.  

It is a recipe collection of recipes used to entertain at one of the South's most historically famous plantations  located about 16 miles from the heart of downtown Tallahassee.  This recipe collection was written by a former cook of Horseshoe Plantation.  The plantation is now privately owned but as far as I  know it is still a hunting plantation.

Complete recipe will follow just in case you would like to make this recipe.

       My daughter Debi who is very health conscious suggested I use the "Newman's Own" popcorn. 
  The rest of the ingredients you will need:


 Pop the popcorn and place in a very large oven proof pan. 
I doubled the recipe and that is why there is so much popcorn here.

 Add the amount of pecans you would like.

      When all of the ingredients are cooked you are ready to pour the syrup over the popped popcorn.

Stir and stir until all of the popcorn is well coated with the syrup.  Bake in 300 degree oven for 30 minutes stirring the popcorn after 15 minutes to make sure all popcorn is completely coated.

Caramel Corn
3 quarts popped popcorn - 1/3 cup raw popcorn  (I use microwave popcorn)
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup margarine - I used butter
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup light Karo syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda - I left this out
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

  • Combine popcorn and pecans in a lightly greased 15x10 inch jelly roll pan.  Mix and set aside.
  • Melt butter over low heat in medium saucepan.
  • Add brown sugar, Karo syrup and salt.
  • Bring to a rolling boil and boil for 5 minutes without stirring.
  • Remove from heat.
  • Stir in vanilla and baking soda.
  • Pour syrup over popcorn, stirring well till evenly coated.
  • Bake in 300 degree oven for 30 minutes, stirring after 15 minutes.
  • Note:  It will be sticky when first removed from the oven, but it hardens quickly.
  • Cool and store in zip-lock bags.
I often double this recipe using three popped bags of microwave popcorn and then double the rest of the ingredients. 

If you decide to make this recipe I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.  
Wishing you a happy Monday with many blessings wherever you may be.


Saturday, June 15, 2013

Daylilies At Hidden Hollow

This year,  the third Sunday in June is a very special day across our beautiful nation and in many other countries around the world.  It is a day set aside to honor fathers, let them know how much they mean to us,  and how special their influence is in our families. 

My Daddy has been gone for over thirty years now, and I still miss him so.  I miss our conversations, our laughter together, his wisdom and the complete unconditional love which always surrounded me in his presence.

I would like to dedicate this post today to my sweet husband who has been a wonderful father figure and who has provided stability, love and direction to our children as they have grown into their own lives. 

One of the traditional Father's Day gifts to my husband each year has been Daylilies.  He loves them and has planted many beautiful Daylilies all around our yard.  The following photos are some of his favorites.

Daylilies are very hardy and grow very well in our yard.  They do not require much care at all.

So many of the Daylily photos have water droplets on the petals because temperatures have gotten much warmer in the month of June and the water sprinklers are on so often.

 I wonder if this little guy in the below photo is stopping by to get a drink of water.

My favorite Daylilies are the blossoms with the ruffled edges.

Our Daylily plants always die back in the winter and we hardly notice them.  When Spring arrives the plants come alive and beautiful long, healthy, green stems spring up followed by the beautiful blossoms.

The Daylily is often called the perfect perennial due to it's beautiful bright colors, ability to tolerate drought and the fact that they require little care.

Unfortunately these beautiful flower blossoms only last about 24 hours.  They open in the early morning hours and wither away during the following night. That must be the reason why they are called Daylilies.  And, of course they do not last long in a flower arrangement.

Daylilies thrive in full sun, although certain Daylilies require partial-shade, depending on their color.  Lighter shades require the sun to bring out their color.  Darker Daylilies, such as the reds and purples need shade because their darker colors absorb heat.

Amazingly the plant hardiness zones for Daylilies is 1 through 11.  I would think that means just about anyone anywhere could grow beautiful Daylilies.

I hope you enjoyed our  walk through the yard looking at the different Daylilies all in bloom during this beautiful month of June.  Since they are my husband's favorite flower,  I'm so glad they are blooming on his  special Father's Day.

I hope you are enjoying some of your favorite things on this special day as well, and wish you a wonderful Father's Day celebration with your family wherever you may be.