What can the history of medicine tell us about food allergy and other medical conditions? An awful lot. History is essentially about why things change over time. None of our ideas about health or medicine simply spring out of the ground. They evolve over time, adapting to various social, political, economic, technological, and cultural factors. If we want to know anything about the health issues that face us today and will face us in future, the very first thing we should do is turn to the history of such issues.
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When berry picking last weekend, our eyes were bigger than our stomachs. With our overstock of berries, I decided to make strawberry jam for the first time.
One problem. They don’t sell pectin by itself here in German grocery stores. It comes mixed with sugar, so none of my American cookbooks would help me much.
Another problem. The recipes on the back of the sugar/ pectin packages required a metric scale, which I didn’t feel like buying. Problem #3 since the pectin and sugar are mixed together in a proportion I couldn’t decipher, I couldn’t very well figure out how to control the sweetness factor, which is a big thing for me. Too much sugar drowns the flavor, I think.
And finally, I have no canner or Mason jars, no space to store them, and even if I did, they don’t sell them here. Or so I’ve heard.
So, I decided to wing it with my own made up version of freezer jam, tasting and hoping it would all turn out.
Luckily it seems to have worked. Sorry I can’t share a recipe, since I didn’t measure anything. It involved berries, sugar/pectin, lemon zest, and lemon juice.
In other news, I did a double-take when I encountered this under my computer desk:
Aaagh! Then I realized it was just a scrap from a current sewing project. It’s almost like I did it on purpose, right?
Tomorrow the European chapter of the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) is doing a cool bloggy thing. Members across Europe (including me) have signed up here, where we’ll be sharing sketches and scribbles all day. It’s called the Summer Solstice Scrawl Crawl. Check it out.
Also, check out this totally simple but genius craft (below) at Holly Ramer’s stitch/craft. Perfect for keeping the kids entertained while traveling this summer. Why didn’t I think of this?
Well, I'm back. It's been a very busy week with the end of school (summer vacation - here we come), registration for my homeschool co-op next fall, a broken down car to repair, my turn to sit at the gallery, a birthday (mine), unexpected doctor appointment...you get it. Also, I've been suffering from tennis elbow symptoms that have been around since before I started the mural, so a little break seemed like a good idea.
|My very own art critic |
I did head out to the garage this evening to add some details to the strawberries - softening the shading around the seeds, adding dark shadows under the leafy tops, etc. Also, I detailed some of the flowers a little more - mainly the centers, adding a little red/orange in.
I wasn't out for too long, though. I'm at the point where I'm going to be moving on to the next panel - the grapes and all of those leaves. It's going to require me to mix up a little more of some paint colors and, once I get going, it's one of those areas that I'll probably obsessively continue until I have them all done. So, tonight was not the night to go there. Maybe tomorrow.
|You have to look close to see strawberries...|
I'd say that I knocked a lot off of the to-do list today! The biggest hurdle was what used to be an undefined field beneath the cauliflower wave. Now, it has been planted and is full of strawberries ready to be picked (although no one will be able to see them unless they're up close).
|The field "before"|
|The field "after"|
Other things that were done were little touch-ups here and there, including the chef's shoes - he's now wearing creepers (a nod to my husband, Smitty).
Anything after this will be minimal changes - I'm thinkin' more contrast on the columns, maybe on some viney pieces as well...then it's varnish time!
Pajama Day! I love the thought. A day to stay inside, kick back, and coast. A day for breakfast in bed! Toast, eggs, coffee with cream and strawberries on the side with a good book or magazine to follow! Aaaahhhhh!!
As much as I love the idea, I rarely do it! The last Pajama Day I had was when I had the flu three years ago! ha! I suppose it is because I associate pajamas with the END of the day, with going to sleep. … and personally, I would rather be AWAKE!
Perhaps I will get in my pajamas just before dinner. Perhaps I will make eggs, toast, coffee with cream and strawberries on the side for dinner and cozy up with my good book for the evening. Yes, Pajama Night!!
Filed under: Just for fun
I tried a new recipe for jam the other day. I didn’t want to can any strawberry jam and didn’t want to make alot of it. It is not the big flavor in our house. I will wait for my raspberries to come in and make raspberry jam.
Which reminds me to sign up for the MSU extension food preservation workshops today. It has been a long time since I tried canning. I usually freeze or store. Last year, I tried to can refrigerator pickles (six month life in fridge) and ALL of those failed. Fizzing bubbles in the cans and bad smell. Canning makes me nervous, but I want to tackle it.
This homemade organic strawberry jam is so delicious I have begun inventing excuses to have some. It tastes like jam used to taste when I was a child in the 1970’s. We usually don’t eat jam that has sugar in it, so I lessened the amount of sugar the recipe called for and then further lessened it when I made a second batch. The recipe takes about an hour from start to finish and produces about one cup of strawberry jam that will sit in the fridge for two weeks. This is a good way to use imperfect strawberries. Slice off the imperfections and tops into a container for the chickens and rabbits and slice the good parts into your measuring cup.
From The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook:
4 cups sliced thin strawberries
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice (yes, I squeezed a fresh lemon)
3/4 cup sugar (but I reduced this down to less than 1/2)
Put these ingredients in a stainless steel skillet for faster cooking or a pot for slower cooking. On medium heat, stir nearly continuously and keep on a simmer. When strawberries have cooked down to about half their original amount and the concoction looks syrupy and is thickening, take a small spoonful out and put into a bowl that sits on top of ice water in another bowl. If after 30 seconds, the jam doesn’t run when you tip the bowl, the jam is finished. Keep cooking if it is too runny. I cooked my jam much longer than the recipe called for, as I’m not interested in runny jam.
I made a couple of extra batches of this jam out of another bucket of strawberries I just picked for Father’s Day presents.
When my parents were here for a visit, Mom left us some of her homemade freezer jam. It was so delicious that when we got down to the bottom of the jar I had to do something quick, (lest we have mutiny on our hands!) so I made a dozen jars of strawberry freezer jam. As long as I can remember, my mom, my grandmother, and great aunt, have been making homemade freezer jam from the fruits of their gardens, so I'm carrying the torch. The batch I made was so yummy too, and as you can see, I made it just in time for my birthday. "Why not treat myself?" I said. :)
It's been fun giving away more than we've eaten so far, but don't you think sharing things that make you happy, give you more happiness in return? I do. Have a great weekend!
It's been gorgeous spring weather the last few days, perfect for drawing luscious strawberries while the sun streams in through the windows. Work has been slow .. I keep taking time off to wander around in the garden, pottering about with plants, or just taking pleasure in being outdoors.
I don't normally post photos here, but thought I'd show off a couple of my front garden for a change:
If anyone has any idea of what the tree full of pink blossoms is please let me know ...
On a final happy note, I received a Today's Best Award for the following letterhead from zazzle! Cheers :)
Strawberries Falling cards & gifts at Floating Lemons at Zazzle
It can't really be strawberry week without checking out fun strawberries on Etsy. These are some of my favs...
Strawberries in a Bowl 8x10 Art Print by: Freshline $16 Strawberry Bobby Pin Set of 3 by: urbanhula $4Strawberry Hobo -- Reversible -- LG --- 3 Pockets by: retrofied $58 Embroidered Zipper Pouch by: SeaPinks $15Reusable Sandwich/Snack Bag by RickRackQueen $10
Yes, you read that correctly, extract DNA from a strawberry. The best part is that you don't need anything fancy to do it, you probably have everything at home! We did this at the Pacific Science Center on a "Meet a Real Scientist Day."
2 plastic cups
wooden stick (like a bamboo skewer, or Popsicle stick)
rubbing alcohol (cold)
To keep the strands of DNA intact throughout the isolation, you need to handle everything gently (after the smashing of the strawberry). If you do this, you will be rewarded at the end with long. gooey strings of DNA.
1. Place on strawberry in a baggie, seal the baggie and squish the strawberry until it is the consistency of a smoothie (small chunks are OK)
2. Add an equal volume of water (just guess, it doesn't have to be exact).
3. Add 2 small squirts of shampoo and about a teaspoon of salt. Mix this up GENTLY by tilting the baggie back and forth (no more smushing)
4. Strain the mixture through 2 layers of cheesecloth into a plastic cup. Allow the liquid to drip through. After most of the liquid has dripped through, you may gently squeeze the cheesecloth to get more liquid out.
A fun round-up of yummy recipes on the Crafty Crow
, I love the ladybugs.
1. I'm dreaming of a little writing cottage in the woods, where there are no toys, and there is no noise. Of course, then I would miss, "I'm having a secret club and you're in it. Let's build a secret clubhouse!" (you'll have to imagine the wide-eyed excited expression on the Little Guy's face). Then he insisted I create it in a dome shape using metal, which was not exactly in my realm of expertise.
2. Strawberry picking. Warm, juicy, sweet:
By: Emily Smith Pearce,
Blog: Emily Smith Pearce
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It’s that time of year again, when little huts like this pop up all over the Hannover. I love the way seasonal produce is so easy to find. No trouble locating this vendor. Often an erdbeer-hof also offers spargel (asparagus, usually white) since it’s in season as well.
Along with strawberry season comes the annual Waldorf school bazaar. This time I was a contributor to the crafts table, and a salesperson, too. I was pretty proud of myself for handling a few simple transactions, considering that I had to speak and count in German plus make change in Euros. Simple things, but put all together it was a little challenging. Sorry the picture is a little backlit. It was hastily taken with the cell phone, as a lot of these were, since it doesn’t seem to be the norm to snap a bunch of pictures at Waldorf events. I wanted you to see a bit of the arrangement, though. I can’t take any credit for it, but it makes me want to buy the entire menagerie every time I see it.
That crazy blue thing in the upper left of the picture will be explained later.
Below are some of what I made, in addition to the little Waldorf men I blogged about earlier.
Hot sellers, these little bunnies.
They are made of felt, blanket stitched and stuffed with actual wool, with needle-felted tails. I had never needle-felted before and always sort of regarded it as a craft that must take a lot of training to do properly. It’s really easy, though, at least to do bunny tails. I was shocked. It almost seems like magic. Below are some more felt animals and figures, not made by me.
And here is my needle-felted doll, my first needle-felt project. The blue thing hanging from the top in the earlier picture is also a felt doll.
Here’s a little of my delicious Waldorf lunch from the bazaar. No Waldorf salad. Ha! There were bratwurst, too, but the salads were really the star of the show.
And here, an only slightly-related photograph, of
This is what I picked out of my organic berry patch today. Sarah, 11, helped only until her legs got sore. Berry picking is hard work. This is my second bucket and it is only June 13th. I am predicting I will need to pick at least two more times.
Today, I will wash through them all. The ones with defects, I cut off their tops and the defects and put these in a container. I then slice the remainder of the berry into a 2 cup size bowl and add maybe a 1/4 cup sugar. This will be topping for shortcake and angel food cake, and some of us just eat it out of a dish.
The container of berry tops and bad parts will be shared between the rabbit and the chickens.
A small portion of the rest will go in another container for fresh eating.
Cookie Loves Eating Strawberries
I will freeze the remainder. First, I pull the tops off — not cut them off — then I set them in a single layer on cookie sheets that I’d covered with wax paper. These cookie sheets will be placed in my freezer. In a couple of days, I will then bag the frozen strawberries into freezer plastic bags. Frozen strawberries are used in my house in fruit smoothies, strawberry margaritas and as snacks. All of my kids have always eaten frozen berries as a snack.
My strawberry patch is about 20 feet long by 10 feet wide. It is a raised bed made from recycled railroad ties (recycled in that they were pulled off other people’s yards) and we filled the strawberry side of the bed with sandy soil. My berries are both June-bearing and everbearing and I planted many varieties. I probably have about 150 plants. The spray I generally use for pests is Neem oil or other organic pest sprays and I fertilize my berries using the all natural Spray-n-grow products.
Strawberry and Blue/Black Berry Raised Bed
The strawberry patch is combined with our blueberries and blackberries and it is fenced with also 2′ of chicken wire running along the bottom. Steel hoops were placed over the top and the entire area was covered in a netting that in its former life was used in a pond to keep the leaves out in fall. The netting has holes large enough to allow the bees in and out, but small enough to keep the birds out.
We did run a water line out to the patch, the spigot can be seen in the left front corner. I do water my berries once weekly, if it did not rain enough. It is especially important to keep well-watered new strawberry plants their first summer.
Strawberries are very easy to grow. This year, I grew Borage from seed and placed several of these plants in the strawberry patch to help repel pests. But pests have not really been a problem in the berry patch.
I am making strawberry shortcake tonight — with homemade whipped cream!