Sunday, June 26, 2011

2nd Annual Strawberry Pickin' and Jelly Makin'

This year we continued on the tradition of picking strawberries and making jelly! Last year we went to the New Munich Strawberry Patch but this year due to the funky spring weather they were picked out and we had to find an alternative. We ended up going to the Cedar Pine Strawberry Farm near Upsala/Burtrum, MN. Mom and Suzette met Grant and I there to pick a few berries ;)

And by few berries I actually mean 82 POUNDS OF BERRIES!!! Haha! We felt like we didn't have enough last year so we kept picking and picking .... and picking. Little did we know how many we actually picked until we checked out. But, at $1.50/lb for fresh berries we figured it was a good deal anyways!

All of our 82lbs of berries ready to be prepped for jelly and freezing!


Before we got too serious with the jelly making we had to take a break for some delicious caramel rolls from Charlie's Cafe... apparently this is another tradition for the jelly making day :)

Uncle Darrell, Suzette and Grant.


Let the jelly making begin! Mom, Heather, Me and Suzette trying to remember what we did last year to make the jelly ;)


This year we tried a new recipe for the strawberry jelly that doesn't use any pectin and less sugar - we sort of OD'd on the sugar last year (but I mean, come on, 40lbs of sugar isn't that much, right?? Seriously how did we use that much sugar last year?!) - here's a pic of the recipe (middle one):


We doubled this recipe (4 quarts pureed strawberries and *correction* 10 cups sugar) and just made one batch of it like that. We poured it into jars right away to let them seal. Note to self - one batch of this makes 24 half pint/8oz jars. Last year we thought our jelly was a little too stiff so we wanted to try this without pectin and it did turn out thinner this time. Yum!

Mom washing more jars.


Heather stirring until it boils! We used Suzette's giant spaghetti pot after trying the first batch in a smaller 6qt pan that we discovered wasn't big enough :)


After making one doubled batch of strawberry jelly we made the rest of the batches strawberry-rhubarb since that seemed to be more popular from the jelly we made last year.

We sort of made up/modified a recipe for the strawberry rhubarb and it went like this (we doubled this for each batch we made):

Strawberry Rhubarb Jelly
Ingredients:
- 3.5 cups pureed strawberries
- 4.25 cups diced rhubarb
- 9 cups sugar (original recipe called for 10 but we cut back)
- 1 box sure gel/pectin (recipe called for 2 but we didn't want it so stiff)
- 2 Tbsp lemon juice (we didn't add this)
- 1/2 tsp butter (we forgot to add this - I think it's just to reduce the amount of foam that it makes which we just skimmed off before pouring it into jars)

Directions:
- Cook the rhubarb down (um make sure you turn the burner on when you do this - ha!)
- Put all fruit and pectin into a pot and stir
- Add one cup sugar at a time stirring constantly on medium heat
- Once sugar is dissolved, turn the heat up to med high (or higher when you get impatient) and bring to a rolling boil
- Stir for one minute at a boil

Wiping and putting lids on to let the jelly cool and the lids seal.


So, in all here's what we used:
- Three 10lb bags of sugar
- Seven boxes of sure gel
- 82lbs/9 boxes of strawberries (we froze a bunch of whole berries too - this wasn't all used for jelly)

And here's what we made:
1 batch (doubled) strawberry jelly (24 half pint/8oz jars)
3 batches (doubled) strawberry/rhubarb jelly
1 batch (not doubled) strawberry/rhubarb jelly where Mom substituted honey for half of the sugar

For a grand total of 68 jars of jelly in either half pint or pint jars!

And, for next year we decided we need these tools:
- A magnet lid grabber to get the hot lids out of the boiling water
- Another strawberry huller thingy or 2

Doji, Ella and the baby kitty hanging out during the jelly making.


While the jelly making was going on the boys decided to tackle another project. They got a big tractor out and pulled this tree over.

Grant, Jake and Uncle Darrell.


There was also some bike riding that took place.


And we went on a horse ride!


We had a fun day!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Dad's Birthday and Father's Day at Little Birch

To celebrate Dad's birthday and Father's Day we hung out at Little Birch with the rest of the family!

Heather, Ella, Mom, Dad, Me and Grant


Time for some cake!


And then a little teeball/golf action outside! Mom, Me, Ella, Dad, Grant and Chris.


A stroll on the dock - Ella and Dad/Grampa.


Ella likes when you blow bubbles ;)


It was a fun time at the lake!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Around the Yard

Taking another trip around the yard to find fun things growing :)

Strawberry!


Some kind of pretty flower.




Grant going through the gardens with the tiller to level them out after they were plowed. Waiting for next year to plant since it got a little late this year.


Apples!


We planted some new little spruce trees around the yard. How cute!


Tilling the back garden.


Mmmm raspberries are growing!


Yay it's nice to have no weeds in the garden :) and that random patch on the right is the raspberry patch!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Plowing Our Gardens!

So the inside of our new house is sort of in order ... but our yard ... not so much. It needs work. There are random flowers growing randomly everywhere. There are bushes growing out of control. Flowers growing in bushes. LOTS and LOTS of weeds growing in the gardens. Dead plants from last year still covering the garden. Weeds overgrowing in the dog kennel. And many more things that need tidying.
Soooo the Wiebers ever-so-nicely said they would come over and plow up our garden to help us get started! I had tried to tackle a little corner of the garden and start pulling weeds by hand but dude, there were just so many. And we had borrowed a friends' tiller but it couldn't even bust through the weeds and dead plants and rock hard ground. So, we took the Wiebers up on the offer of plowing with a tractor and two-bottom plow!

Oliver, Grant and Kory unloading the equipment.


See that jungle Grant's walking through? Yeah that's the garden and those are weeds.


Kory flattening out the funky hills that were in the back of the garden. They were big half circles - no one could figure out what they were for. Indian burial ground was the best guess.




It's looking more level and less weedy!


Now it's time for the plow.


Yay! I see nice black garden dirt :)




My goddaughter Massey enjoying the action :)


Avery and Oliver playin in the yard (doesn't Sandy have the cutest kiddos?)!


I don't think this garden had been dug up for a LONG time.


Sandy and kids. You can see the back garden in this pic already dug up.


After they were done digging around in the gardens the boys tackled a few other projects. That's Grant up in the tree with Kory driving the skidloader.


Massey and Me!


Woo hoo!!!! A weed-free garden! That's a patch of raspberries towards the middle that we salvaged. We're not going to plant this year cuz it's a little late but we'll keep it weeded the rest of the summer and plant next spring!


Thanks so much for all your help, Sandy, Kory and kids!!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Jake's Grad Party

Jake's high school graduation was Friday night and his grad party was the next afternoon. Grant and I headed to the Hinnenkamps after volunteering at the Stearns County Breakfast on the Farm which was at Schefers this year (practically our neighbors).

Suzette visiting.


The high school grad and his cake ;)


Cards and pics.


Suzette with some family members.


Some of the Hinnenkamp crew. Danna, Mom, Grant, Gramma Rosie, Olivia, Vicki and Renee.


Ella playing with the baby kitties!


Dad visiting.


The crowd.


Rick getting ready to launch some bowling balls out of that cannon on the right.


Marla and I chatting.


The bowling ball fetchers: Steve, Danna and Grant.


Ahhh ... a father and son moment ;) Grant and Gary.


Ella heading back to the barn to see the cows and kitties. That's one of Jake's coats from when he was a lil boy ;)


Ella and Me ... Mom and Dad were babysitting for the weekend so she was chillin' with all of us. I tried to get some closeups of her face because she was covered in dirt but they didn't turn out :) I figured her parents might want to see how dirty she was ... or maybe it's best they don't!


Self portrait!


Congrats again, Jake!
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