Coffee, Chaos and Christ

The misadventures of a Mother and business owner.


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Elderberry Jelly

I grew up in West Virginia on a dirt road that had a creek that ran next to it. Every year elderberry bushes would line the road between the creek and the road. I always got excited when the flowers started blooming because I knew that the berries were right around the corner. We would grab bunches of them to eat as we walked down the road.

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They used to grow wild everywhere. They are so good for you and I really enjoy the taste of them. When I bought my house about 5 years ago we planted a baby elderberry bush and it has since grown huge and provides a lot of berries. For the past two years I have had enough to actually make jelly. It is a lot of work but it turns out really good. This year I put the twins to work plucking berries and smashing them.

 

They much prefer the smashing part over the plucking part, it is a lot more fun. I use a vintage cone canning sieve and wood pestle. But you can use what works for you. You have to empty out the sieve a couple of times during the process because it gets full of skins and seeds and it makes it harder to smash them. I ended up feeding them to the chickens. They really liked the special treat.

 

Once all the berries are smashed I run the juice through a screen colander to get out any seeds that made it through the sieve. The juice is nice and clean and looks awesome. It is a lot of work to get that juice but it is very satisfying. And just think, you can get out your frustrations while smashing berries.

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I use the SURE-JELL recipe for my jelly and it has always worked well for me.

Prep Time: 45 min.            Total Time: 45 min.                 Servings: About 5 half pint jars

 

3 cups prepared juice (buy about 6 qt. or 3 lb.
fully ripe elderberries)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 box SURE-JELL Fruit Pectin
1/2 tsp. butter or margarine
4-1/2 cups sugar, measured into separate bowl

  • Bring boiling-water canner, half full with water, to simmer.
    Wash jars and screw bands in hot soapy water; rinse with warm
    water. Pour boiling water over flat lids in saucepan o
    the heat.
  • Let stand in hot water until ready to use. Drain well before
    filling.
  • Remove and discard large stems from elderberries. Crush fruit
    thoroughly; place in saucepan. Cook on medium heat until
    juice starts to flow, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to low,
    cover and simmer 15 min., stirring occasionally. Place 3 layers
    of damp cheesecloth or jelly bag in large bowl. Pour prepared
    fruit into cheesecloth. Tie cheesecloth closed; hang and let drip
    into bowl until dripping stops. Press gently. Measure exactly 3
    cups prepared juice into 6- or 8-qt. sauce pot. (If necessary, add
    up to 1/2 cup water for exact measure.) Stir in lemon juice.
    Stir pectin into juice in sauce pot. Add butter to reduce foaming.
    Bring mixture to full rolling boil (a boil that doesn’t stop
    bubbling when stirred) on high heat, stirring constantly. Stir in
    sugar. Return to full rolling boil and boil exactly 1 min., stirring
    constantly. Remove from heat. Skim o
    any foam with metal
    spoon.
  • Ladle immediately into prepared jars, filling to within 1/4 inch
    of tops. Wipe jar rims and threads. Cover with two-piece lids.
    Screw bands tightly. Place jars on elevated rack in canner.
    Lower rack into canner. (Water must cover jars by 1 to 2 inches.
    Add boiling water, if necessary.) Cover; bring water to gentle
    boil. Process 5 min. Remove jars and place upright on towel to
    cool completely. After jars cool, check seals by pressing
    middles of lids with finger. (If lids spring back, lids are not
    sealed and refrigeration is necessary.)

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I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I have. If you have any questions please let me know, I am happy to help. I would love for you to share your experience if you try it.

Isaiah 17:11 though on the day you set them out, you make them grow, and on the morning when you plant them, you bring them to bud, yet the harvest will be as nothing in the day of disease and incurable pain.

 

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Going big or go home!

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So we stepped out of our comfort zone a little bit and have ramped up our gardening game. We plowed approx 1/4 acre and have planted several different types of pumpkins, cantaloupe, butternut squash and corn. Over 1,000 pumpkin seeds! How unreal is that number? We are going to have tons of pumpkins if most of the plants flourish. So exciting! This is addition to the normal garden we have every year. We will be sitting up a roadside stand to sell the fruits of our labor this fall. They kids are involved and working to earn some money, which they are super excited about. The money part, but not the work part.

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The crazy thing is, we just planted these seeds this week and we already have pumpkin plants popping through the dirt. So exciting and validating to see those little green plants when you have spent so much time and sweat getting everything perfect for them. Now we just need some rain so that we can give our well a little bit of a break.

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I think it is important to teach our children about hard work, that you have to work for the things that you want in life. Nothing is just given to you. These lessons are important so that our kids grow up to be responsible adults.

Genesis 1:29

And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food.

 


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Mama’s Asparagus Casserole

Nothing makes you feel more at home then Mama’s cooking. This is one of many favorite dishes that I had growing up, I hope you enjoy it as much as we do. I will be sharing lots of my favorite recipes so make sure you keep coming back for more.

 

Asparagus Casserole

 

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Honeysuckle is in bloom!

Honeysuckle in bloom

Honeysuckle in bloom

Honeysuckle is in bloom so that means it is once again time to make honeysuckle jelly. Time consuming process but oh so good. The flowers themselves are quite beautiful and the smell is one of my favorites. It brings back memories of childhood, standing around sucking the nectar out of the flowers. I wish the blooms lasted longer, but this jelly allows to enjoy it all year-long.

The original recipe that I followed says that it should yield 7 half pints of jelly but I have never gotten that many. The batch I made today yielded 4.5 half pints. I will just refrigerate the half pint that was not full to use right away.

The most time-consuming part of the process is picking the flowers and removing the small green base from the flowers, once that is done it is rather easy. It is a quick process once the infusion is ready.

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do. This is a jelly that you don’t see everyday, I find it tastes a lot like honey, it is one that will surely please.

Honeysuckle Jelly Recipe

 

 

 

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Are we turning into urban farmers?

Most of our friends think we are a little nuts, lol, but that is ok. Nothing tastes better than fresh eggs for breakfast, and they are so much better for you. We have 4 full-grown hens that we bought at the NC State Fair last year. Two La Fleche and two Minorca, they are all black with the prettiest feathers. I need to get some good pics of them so that I can post them. About two months ago we bought 6 new chicks and three ducklings. The chicks are a mix of White Leghorn and Rhode Island Red so they should be good layers. The ducks are  Rouen ducks, and well, we bought those because they were so stinkin cute. They are bred for meat but we are just keeping them for pets.

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Yesterday we had to go to Tractor Supply for more chicken feed and of course we couldn’t walk out of there with out some cute little babies, lol. Talk about obsessed, they are just so adorable to me that I have to bring them home. We bought 4 Batam’s and two more ducks. Maybe one day soon we will actually get the chicken coop completed. I think hubby is going to stop taking me a long to the farm supply store, lol.

 

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I am sure there will be many more photos to come. I just love these ladies and gents and they are so fun to photograph.


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Who Knew Figs Were So Good?!?!

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Who knew figs were so good? They are nothing like I imagined. Growing up as a child I ate Fig Newtons, that was my only previous experience. I loved them, they are so good. When we bought our new house and found out that there was a fig tree in the backyard it was pretty exciting.

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This summer we went a bit crazzzy with the jam and jelly making. Strawberry jam, honeysuckle jelly, pear jam, blackberry jam and of course we couldn’t leave the figs out. I must say it is my favorite make from this year. It has such range and can be used with some many different things. It would be amazing with pork and it is awesome on a pb&j. It was also the easiest jam that I made this year, with was a nice surprise. It is a truly beautiful fruit as well. Can you tell I am in love? I hope to branch out and do more with them next season, but I am thrilled to be able to still enjoy them over the fall and winter months.

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This is the recipe that I used. I have become a canning diva! LOL

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I must be honest, mine didn’t take as long. Once the figs were washed and the stems removed they were really soft so I just threw them all in the blender at the same time. You can experiment and see what works best for you.

I hope to share more of my canning experiences with you as well. It has been an amazing learning experience and so much fun!