I was a busy bee the last couple of days.
First up – time to get ready for the holidays! I am a lover of fresh cut pine trees. The adventure of seeking out a tree, cutting it down yourself, and picking needles out of your socks for months are all part of the magic.
Mike and I used to trek out to Dittmer’s Tree Depot for our tree. The wagon ride back to the field of trees. The hot chocolate and popcorn while waiting for them to shake and bag your tree. We have a lot of good memories there but sadly 2011 was their last year so on the suggestion of a long time friend we tried Miller’s Happinest Tree Farm last Christmas. And we LOVED it!
So we hit the Happinest again this year.
The Happinest is no frills. No wagon rides. No hot chocolate or popcorn. But their trees are gorgeous and the Millers are great people so we took our own hot chocolate and found a fantastic canaan fir.
We came home and got the tree in the stand with some water and then headed outside to winterize the chicken coop. Remember, the coop is old. Like really, really old. A lot of the windows are pretty rickety and throughout the course of the summer and fall several of them fell out. We covered them with netting to keep the chickens in and the pests out but that wouldn’t do for the cold winter months.
We hit a hardware store and were dismayed at the sky high prices of plexiglass. Plan B – a gigantic roll of heavy duty plastic sheeting. We used a staple gun and sealed up all the windows in the coop and we also laid down some more bedding for the birds. We practice the deep litter method in the winter and it works well for us. Who the heck wants to shovel out a coop in the snow? Not this girl.
After the coop we headed over to the goats to mess around in the barn and take them up to the garden to finish off anything that was left.
Alobar can get into the treats. Not good.
Alobar & Edie finishing off the purple kale.
By now we were cold and hungry so we went inside for some dinner and tree trimming.
I am a big fan of antique bulbs and over the years I’ve collected quite a few from yard sales and antique shops. And Mike inherited some amazing bulbs that were his great-great grandmother’s – they are like 100 years old!
Monday we were back at it. Mike headed out to do some holiday shopping and I got to work on my mega market list.
First I did a Strawberry Rhubarb Jam.
This is one of those classic combinations and for good reason. The fruits just go so well together. I love this one.
Then I did a Black Raspberry & Wild Turkey Spread.
Black raspberries are a bit tart and I didn’t want to muck that up with a bunch of sugar so instead I did 4+ pounds of berries to 1 1/2 pounds of honey. The Wild Turkey warms it up just enough. Mmm…..
And finally White Peach & Red Raspberry Jam.
I love white peaches and this year both the white peaches and the red raspberries from Huffman Fruit Farm were exceptional. I froze a lot of peaches.
Have we talked about jam foam before? Well, if not – jam gets very foamy. Some suggest adding a little butter to combat the foam but I find if you skim a couple times and cook it long enough it goes away on its own. No butter – or anything else – is necessary.
The foam is totally edible but it doesn’t look that pretty in the jars so I keep it for myself. Sometimes if there is a lot I eat it with some yogurt or cottage cheese. Or if there’s just a few spoonfuls I eat it right from the bowl.
This one is also very tasty and I am a big fan. Two more fruits that compliment each other really well.
I’ll have all three of these – Strawberry Rhubarb Jam, Black Raspberry & Wild Turkey Spread, and White Peach and Red Raspberry Jam – for sale this Saturday at the Haymaker Farmers’ Market holiday market. Word on the street is that there will be almost 40 (!!) vendors so the United Methodist Church is most certainly where you want to be Saturday morning!
I’m also super excited to have been asked to participate in the Cascade Locks Park Mustill Store Holiday Open House this weekend as well. The Mustill Store (57 W North St. in Akron) will be open Saturday, December 14 from 11:00am-3:00pm and they will have a variety of unique, handcrafted items made by local artisans – perfect holiday gifts!
I’m planning on dropping off several jams including a couple jars of the Black Raspberry & Wild Turkey Spread and the White Peach & Red Raspberry Jam.
Support your local farmers, crafters, and artisan this holiday season friends. See you Saturday!