"Life is not measured by the number of breaths you take but by the moments that take your breath away?"

Author: Unknown

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Fabulous, Moist Banana bread

         I have a recipe for banana bread that i have used for years. It makes a wonderfully dense,moist loaf. I recently tried another I found online and the whole family was very disappointed. It was lighter, more bread or cake like. Not my usual rich loaf. Then yesterday i found THIS recipe by Patricia at ButterYum blog. It looked very good. More like my loaves. I liked her idea of a crumbly topping. I have used this similar recipe for my french apple pie, but never thought of it for the banana bread. She also adds sour cream. My recipe called for milk. So I adapted my recipe to include those ingredients. It turned out fabulous. My original loaf was very good, but Patricia's  additions made it so much more delightful.  here is my new, one and only banana bread recipe.

                                                           Banana  Bread

1/2  cup milk
6 very ripe bananas
5 cups flour
1 cup granulated white sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
7 tsp baking powder
2 tsp salt
10 tbs butter
2 eggs
2 and 1/2  tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground clove
1/2 tsp ground allspice
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3  cup sour cream
1 cup raisins
1 cup chopped walnuts or almonds

Courtesy of butterYum
6 tb melted butter
2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup flour
1 cup brown sugar
pinch of salt

Combine all ingredients except nuts and raisins, for bread with a blender. then fold in nuts and raisins. Spray bottom of pans.Fill your loaf pans about 3/4 full. Mix crumbly topping, and sprinkle on top of batter. Bake loafs at 350 degrees for 65-70 minutes or till a knife inserted in center comes out clean. With this recipe and the size of my pans, I got 2 nice size loaves and 2 mini loaves.

I enjoyed mine warm smeared with a little country crock margarine.

Homemade Blackberry Jam

          I just made my first Blackberry jam. I started it yesterday and just finished it this morning. My son brought me in a small amount of berries, longing for jelly made from these precious jewels. So how could i resist. I believe the recipe came from the book " Blue Ribbon Preserves". I checked it out of the library and took some extensive notes on things I wanted to try. I only had enough berries to make 2 half pint jelly jars, so had to convert the recipe. So I whipped up 2 jars of Simple Grape Jelly from some Grape juice I had. I hated to run the water bath for just 2 jars,lol.

                                                                   Blackberry Jelly
To make blackberry juice:
3 quarts berries
1/2 cup water
jelly ingredients:
5 cups juice
7 and 1/2 cups sugar
2 (3 oz) pouches liquid pectin

To extract juice, gently rinse berries in cool water in colander and drain. Put berries in 8 qt pot, Combine berries and water over medium low heat. bring to 180 degrees, and heat 5 minutes. DO NOT BOIL!
recipe called for placing berries in a fine meshed sieve. i didnt have one, so i lined my colander with coffee filters and placed this over a bowl. I then poured the berries into this and covered the top with some saran wrap and placed in the fridge to strain over night. You are supposed to do this slow gentle drain, rather than squeezing them. it stated forcing the juice thro would make a cloudy jelly.
      The next day discard the pulp and seeds left in the sieve or colander.This amount of berries is supposed to make approx 5 cups of juice.To make jelly, Place berry juice into 8 qt pot and heat till warm. Add sugar and heat. Stir continuously till sugar dissolved. Increase to medium high heat and bring to a full rolling boil.. Stir in pectin. Return to a full rolling boil. Stir constantly for 1 minute. remove from heat, Quickly skim foam, and ladle into sterilized jars. Clean rims, and apply hot lids and rings. Hand tighten.  Process in boiling water bath with water covering tops of jars for 10 min. I used 15 for my altitude.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Almond Peach Jam...Sunshine on a Spoon

            I made peach jam for the first time today. I still had some left over South Carolina peaches still left that no one had eaten yet. I added some almond extract, and this stuff tastes fabulous! Even my 23 yr old daughter, who said she didn't like peach jam, liked it... really well!
            So I peeled, pitted and mashed them. I came up with about 3.5 cups, which was about 1/2 a cup short for my 4 cup recipe. So I added a 1/2 cup of orange juice. The jam set up beautifully, and so crystal clear and gorgeous. There are a few dark reddish/black flecks here and there. Don't start gagging. They aren't bugs,lol. ( I notice the dark flecks aren't visible in this jar.) It's just that I had cooked some blackberries for jelly just before this, and didn't bother to rinse my masher off completely. The addition of the almond extract, it a wonderful compliment.

                                                            Almond-Peach Jam

4 cups peeled, pitted, and crushed yellow peaches ( I added 1/2 OJ to 3.5 c fruit)
1/4 cup strained fresh lemon juice
7 and 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 tsp butter
1 (3 oz) pouch liquid pectin
1 tsp Almond extract

     Cut fruits, in half, remove the pit, and the tough reddish area that surrounds the pit. Drop these into an 8 qt pan with the lemon juice to prevent darkening. Crush these with a potato masher.

Stir in half of the sugar. Cover pan, and let sit 20 minutes. In the mean time, place your jelly jars in a pot of water to sterilize.
     Remove cover and stir in remaining sugar. and butter. Over medium-low heat, stir till sugar is dissolved. Then increase heat to medium-high, and bring to a full rolling boil. Remove pan from heat and skim away any foam.
     Return pan to heat and bring back to a full rolling boil. Stir in pectin, and reheat to full rolling boil. Stirring constantly so it doesn't burn. Boil one minute. Remove from heat and skim foam again. Add 1 tsp of almond extract.
     Cool 5 minutes, stirring every minute. Remove your jars from the pot and set out on a towel. Place your lids into the boiling water and leave till ready. Fill  your jars using a funnel. Clean the rims of your jars and place hot lids on. Hand tighten rings on jars, and place jars in your boiling water bath, with water cover the tops. Process for 10 minutes (depending on your altitude) at 200 degrees. Remove jars and set on towel undisturbed for 24 hours. Then remove rings, label, and store. This makes 8 half pint jelly jars. I think I had about 1/8 cup left over that I placed in a container in the fridge.
     The basis for this recipe, I believe came from the book, "Blue Ribbon Preserves" which I checked out from the library.
     This stuff is fantastic. I love it on toast, but I have also used store bought peach jam in my sweet and sour chicken. Now I can use my own.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Glorious South Carolina Peaches!

       We got back from South Carolina with all my precious cargo. Three grand daughters returned to their parents ( with a big sigh of relief, lol ), and my two half bushel baskets of beautiful, mouth watering South Carolina peaches. i can't sing their praises enough. These are a heavenly delight to the taste buds. Their sweet, juicy flesh is like a ray of sunshine. I dont think there is a fruit anywhere that can compare. We bought them fresh to eat there while camping last yr. This year I have the canning bug, and couldn't pass them up. Even at $22 for half bushel. These are huge peaches, some over 10" in diameter. There are a few slightly bruised ones , but with a 12 hour drive home with our fifth wheel in tow. Thats not too bad. I almost hate to can them, since we enjoy eating them fresh so much, but they wont last forever.

Out of the first half bushel, I got 12 quart jars. But lost one when the jar broke as I lowered into the hot water bath for processing.
Yea, I know they are not supposed to be floating. 
Canned Peaches
Peel, pit, and remove fibrous red areas surrounding pit. 
Slice in half or fourths. Place slices in bowl with juice of half a lemon to coat. This keeps peaches from browning as you prepare them. 
Prepare a syrup. I prefer a light syrup which is 2 cups of white granulated sugar per 6 cups of water. Place this in a pot to simmer until sugar dissolves then bring to a boil. 
Place canning caps into boiling water to hold till ready. 
After placing peaches in a sterilized quart jar, packing them firmly, pour hot syrup over peaches. be sure to leave 1/2" head space. 
Dry off rims of jars. 
Place caps over and hand tighten ring. 
Place jars in boiling water bath with enough water to cover jars. Process for 25 minutes for pints and 30 minutes for quarts.
When done, remove jars from water and set out on towel. Leave untouched for 24 hours, then remove rings and store. Double check your seals to be sure all lids are depressed.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Homeward Bound!

      Here I am sitting at the playground at Lakewood campground while my 3 grand-daughters play. We are rolling out in the morning. The fifth wheel camper is pretty much picked up from our 10 days of destruction and about ready to go. My bushel of sweet, juicy peaches are in their little baskets waiting to be canned on my return. minus a few we have been enjoying. We are leaving for home early in the morning. The weather has been beautiful, although a little windy today, making the waves a little too strong to enjoy, but to be honest, I am ready to go home and see how my little garden is faring while we have been away.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Relaxing at the Beach

    Our electric finally came back on July 9, and I spent the 10 cleaning house and washing clothes up for our trip. On July 11th we pulled out with the fifth wheel heading for Myrtle Beach, SC. Picking up the 3 grand daughters on the way. No parents, just us and the girls. We were married 34 yrs on July 1st, so all our kids are grown. Now we can spoil the grand kids,lol. We are going to be here for 10 days. hopefully we can keep these girls pacing our activities,lol.
The 3 girls and grandpa.

Feeding the local goats.
Bicycle ride along the beach front with grandpa leading the pack, and grandma watching the rear.

The swan checking out the goats, and trying to get in on the bread toss,lol.
We also went to Ripley's Aquarium. The highlights were seeing the huge sharks swimming over head, and posing with the mermaids.

Monday, July 09, 2012

Hallelujah!! We Have Power!

     Hallelujah........... Hallelujah...............Hallelujah........! 
Oh , sorry about that. My excitement got away with me. We have been without electric and running water in an all electric home for almost 10 days. In 90 to 100 degree weather. We finally got our power back on this evening. Now comes the clean up. Shoot! Now I'm not so excited.

Where's Rosie when you really need her?

Friday, July 06, 2012

Update On The Storm Damage

       Well, we have been a full 6 nights without electric or running water. We hear it should be back on by Saturday. I sure hope so. The days have been horribly hot, and its even worse at night trying to sleep. Thank goodness for the insurance to cover food losses,etc. Luckily we didnt have much physical damage. We have gone without electric before in winter,  but never for more than a day or two. This has gotten me to thinking even more on alternate forms of power, such as solar. We have plenty of sun, lol.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Homemade Banana Cream Pie

   I feel like I have died and gone to heaven. I just ate my first piece of Banana Cream Pie made with real homemade filling.Not my traditional boxed pudding. It was fantastic. I found this recipe while searching for info on menu making, and landed on  Colleens Recipes. You can find her site and this recipe her  site HERE. I am sure I will be trying a lot more of her recipes.

Storm Damage

    We  live in West Virginia, and were hit by the severe storm on Friday. Thank God, it was only high winds, and not a lot of damage done in our area.  That storm hit like a freight train.  You could hear the winds howling, and all I could think about was people saying tornadoes sound like freight trains. The wind was blowing so hard it was bowing trees almost to the ground. Some wouldnt give though, and snapped in half, like one of our neighbors ornamental trees. We also had hard rains but they soon subsided to a nice soft rain after the winds died down. I understand there were some tornadoes that touched down in areas around us. One about 45 min to our west, and another about 20 min to our west. We spent Friday cleaning up the  broken branches out of our backyard. The neighbors trampoline from 3 houses away was blown just beyond the fence behind the backyard. After losing ours to the trees 2 yrs in a row, it finally made peace with the garbage man.
      We have been out of electric since it hit Friday. Right now i have enough generator power to have a few moments on the laptop. We are trying to be conservative with the gasoline for it, as lines in stations are 30 cars long in some stations. We run the generator to run the fridge and freezer for about an hour then shut it off for awhile. With some running out. We spent an hour in line Saturday for enough gas for the motorcycle so we could go to a restaurant. We have an all electric home, so we are even out of water.
   But i had a bright idea hit me yesterday to fix some of the water problem. We have another water well on the property that hasnt been hooked up to the house. So we went to Tractor Supply today and bought an old fashioned hand pump, so we could at least pump some water as we need it to flush toilets, bath etc. Thats the problem when your all electric. and well water. If there is no electric then the water pump wnt run either.  It works like a charm tho, if you dont mind hauling buckets of water 50 feet to the house  :)