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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Making Honeysuckle Jelly - it's EASY!

The nectar from honeysuckle flowers smells divine - in our area, they are blooming in the wild right now, and they're everywhere! Nothing says springtime like a jar of sweet, floral-y jelly. This makes a beautiful, bright-yellow to gold colored jar, that is wonderful on toast, biscuits or scones! HONEYSUCKLE JELLY (Yield: 7 half-pints) >>>INGREDIENTS: *4 cups honeysuckle flowers *4 cups boiling water *1/4 c. lemon juice *4 cups sugar *1 package liquid pectin >>>DIRECTIONS: First you need to make an infusion to draw the flavor out of the flowers. Prepare the flowers by removing the tiny green tip at the base of the petals. Next, bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a large saucepan, turn the heat off, then add the honeysuckle flowers you’ve gathered and allow them to steep for about 45 min., stirring occasionally. Strain the flowers from the liquid. You need two cups of the infusion for this recipe. In the same saucepan, stir together 2 cups flower infusion, the lemon juice, and the sugar - bring it to a hard boil that won’t stir down. Add the pectin and boil for 2 minutes, reduce the heat if necessary to avoid boiling over. Ladle the jelly into hot, sterilized jars, and screw on the lids. Allow it to cool for 24 hours, then test the lids to make sure the jars are properly sealed. Store in the refrigerator after opening. If you won't be using it right away, you can process the jelly in a water bath canner. ********************************************************************************************************************************************* "He with cowslips pale, Primrose, and purple lychnis, decked the green Before my threshold, and my shelving walls With honeysuckle covered." ~Mark Akenside

Friday, May 17, 2013

On your mark, get set, GARDEN!

Friday Felicitations! We are anxiously awaiting the time we can transplant into the garden. Seeds are on standby. Go for tilling! The unseasonably cold spring has kept us tapping our green thumbs with impatience. Soon! Soon! Soon! We'll have to wait until Monday though, according to the moon phase guide. By the way, here's the Farmer's Almanac (moon phase) planting guide for May: ---MOON PHASE Planting Guide (from Farmers' Almanac)--- May 2013 16th-19th A Barren Period. Good For Killing Plant Pests, Cultivating, Or Taking A Short Vacation. 20th-21st Excellent Time For Planting Corn, Beans, Peppers, And Other Aboveground Crops. Favorable For Sowing Hay, Fodder Crops, And Grains. Plant Flowers. 22nd-24th Excellent For Planting Aboveground Crops, Starting Seedbeds And Planting Leafy Vegetables. 25th-26th Do No Planting. 27th-28th Plant Late Beets, Potatoes, Onions, Carrots, And Other Root Crops. 29th-31st Kill Plant Pests On These Barren Days. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ My Grandpa used this guide, and so do I! So, while we wait, we've fenced in and tilled the new garden area: (You can see our neighbors' visiting peacocks in the background!) AND....started a few "Stacked Stone" projects, like new beds and foundation facing. Here's a work in progress, a small cistern under the downspout for the chickens to use when they get thirsty: ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ *** I start with a layer of brick to make a level surface, and then add stone on top. First I take the wheelbarrow down to the stream bed, load it up with flat shale rock (we have A LOT of it!) and then cart it to the project area. I can feel my biceps building! ON MONDAY, there will be a FRENZIED FURY OF PLANTING up in here! How are your garden plans shaping up? ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ "A garden requires patient labor and attention. Plants do not grow merely to satisfy ambitions or to fulfill good intentions. They thrive because someone expended effort on them." ~Liberty Hyde Bailey