Saturday, August 6, 2011

It's Jelly Makin' Time in Tennessee!!

It's one of the first foods you learn how to make by yourself when you're a kid. A biscuit and jelly! Say you're just four years old and you feel like you are old enough, mature enough and responsible enough to learn to prepare your own food. But you're too little to fry an egg, you have no idea what a cup or a teaspoon is so you can't bake your own cake, and you don't know a bad pinto bean from a good pinto bean..... 

But you can do biscuits and jelly by yourself! Tear open the biscuit with your little hands and spoon in some jelly and you're good to go! And what's your favorite kind of jelly?

My aunt and uncle gave me a big box of concord grapes last week. The grapes came from their farm in Gruetli-Laager.

You can read about their old historic farm here: 

So the grapes I'm going to make jelly with have a little history to them. The original grapevines, planted over one hundred years ago by Swiss settlers, are still bearing fruit today.


Concord grapes are not good eating grapes! They are very sour and they'll make your mouth pucker!
First thing you need to do is pick the stems off your grapes (your husband will love doing this for you! He will also tell you of the tiny little spiders hiding in the grapes and grape leaves), then you wash them really, really good in cold water. Put them in a big pot, add a little bit of water, take your 'tater masher and mash the 'far' (as we say here in East Tennessee) out of them. 

Ohhhhhhh....your house is going to smell so good! Like a winery! Look at all the different colors...they are in different stages of ripe-ination (I just made that word up), so you have dark purple, light purple and green. 

Okay, even though I am truly an Appalachian woman and I try to be all organic and natural ....

I use my dishwasher to wash my canning jars. 

There. I was honest. I'm not trying to hide anything. 
After you strain the juice out of the grapes and everything in your house is stained purple, you let the juice sit in the refrigerator all night. The theory behind this is that the refrigeration keeps it from crystallizing. Well, I don't know if that's true or not. My theory is that extracting juice is the hardest part of making jelly and by the time you've finished with it you're so worn out you need a break and a good night's rest before actually making the jelly.

The next morning you get up really early, say 6:15, and you head right for the kitchen and get the grape juice from the fridge. Might as well get the butter too, while you're in there. And go to the pantry and pull out a bag, or two, or three, of sugar. Remember! Concord grapes are sour! It'll take a lot of sugar to pull this off!

Take your clean jars out of the dishwasher :-) and put them in a pan (put a little bit of water in the pan). Turn your oven on and put the pan of jars in the oven.

Do you know what would happen if you put hot jelly into cold jars?????

You'd better be organized at this point and have all your jelly-makin' utensils, towels, jar lids and everything else you need ready because once this stuff starts cooking things start happening pretty fast!

By the time 11:30a.m. rolls around you have 28 half-pints of homemade grape jelly!!!

And to celebrate you make a tiny pan of biscuits. By the way, I love my old biscuit pan. Hub's grandmother gave it to me when we were married. She'd cleaned out her cabinets and thought I might like it. And I did and I still do. That was 35 years ago and there's no telling how old it was when she gave it to me. This pan has baked many years of biscuits!

Break open your biscuit (just like you did when you were a little kid), add a little pat of butter and a spoon of fresh warm jelly. 

Oh, now doesn't that look good? See, by the time you're fifty-three, you've perfected biscuit and jelly making and you know the proper ratio of biscuit to jelly to butter.

Share the biscuits and jelly with someone you love. I shared with Hub, since he pulled out the stems and killed the little spiders that were hiding in the grapes.)

And then you write a blog about your entire jelly making experience because....well, because it's satisfying to your taste buds and to your spirit and you don't want to keep that sort of thing to yourself!

Thanks for reading my blog!

Please pray for the United States of America.
..and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.
2 Chronicles 7:14

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Livin' the Wild Life!

Living the wild life can mean one of two things. One definition would be constant partying, going to clubs until the wee hours of the morning and a endless stream of social activity.

No thanks. That's not for me.

Here's my definition of wild life.....

sitting in your sunflower patch......

when it's a thrillion and one degrees outside....

as still and quiet as a mouse......

with your camera aimed at the sunflowers....

hoping a bird or two will come along....

and eat from the sunflower heads....

or land on a zinnia.....

and ride it to the ground....

and if you're still and quiet enough a shiny, plump Mama Deer will appear in your backyard....

Yep, we are livin' the wild life!!!!!