Saturday, August 24, 2013

Our Sauerkraut

There are hundreds of recipes out there for sauerkraut. But if you have never made it before, it's very intimidating. Especially if you let it sit for a week before you check it and find the dreaded MOLD on it. It's scary, your mom probably didn't teach you how to make it, but what else can you do with all of the cabbage your garden produced?? My recipe will be no better than anyone elses, but perhaps I can give you encouragement to just try it out.

I have made sauerkraut for about the last 5 years, it was my first fermented vegetable. Fermented veggies are all the rage, it seems, and it's a good thing! The more people who do it and experiment with it, the more we all can learn! I just fermented my very first zucchini pickles last Saturday and they are fan-freaking-tastic.

Our Sauerkraut:

One large head of cabbage, about 5 lbs.
3 Tbl of sea salt

Slice cabbage into nice small strips, use a mandolin or slice by hand.

As you chop you can add a tablespoon of salt as you fill up a large bowl. You should have added about 3T of salt by the time the bowl is full, mix up the cabbage, and "punch" it down a bit. You actually want to beat up your vegetable. You can let this sit for an hour or more or put it in your crock or jar right away.

I used a 1/2 gallon jar this year and it worked great. I have a giant wooden pestle from Brazil my friend brought back for me. There it's used to crush sugar cane in their drinks but here in Alaska, we use it for smashing cabbage. Use a wooden spoon if you don't have one or your fist works too, the name on Amazon for the tool I use appears to be a Bar Muddler. Smash your cabbage into the jar. You should have plenty of brine rise up above the cabbage, but if you don't make a salt brine with 4 cups of water to 3 Tbs salt. Heat to dissolve the salt then let it cool before you add it to your cabbage.

This year I made my own fermentation lock lid, it worked pretty well, but I really don't know that it's necessary. If you put it in a jar (put something under to catch the juice) check your kraut after it stops bubbling (abut 3 or 4 days). It should not have molded, try some, you'll like it. If you see moldy stuff, pick it off the top. Fill the jar up with more brine (keep some brine in the fridge) or just shove your kraut back down. Put the kraut in a cool place (I keep mine in my garage) and you can always stick it into the fridge, but it'll keep fermenting and getting better tasting if it's not too cold.

Here's my kraut "posing" for the picture. The fermentation lock was put into the top of a mason jar lid using a 1/2 inch punch and the grommet you can buy with the lock on amazon or at a wine making shop.

There are lots of other methods for fermenting your kraut, but this is what I had so I used it! I ordered myself a Harsch Crock, I'm so excited for it to get here! I have a ton of cabbage this year!

I have cabbage, hear me roar!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Watermelon-Lime Jam

Ever forgot about a watermelon? What a bummer. I decided to turn my forgotten melon (that was past it's yummy prime) into 16 jars of jelly. I highly recommend not waiting 'till after the prime, because even with the addition of the lime that "past prime" taste comes through just a tad, but it's still good. Watermelon is a large, cheap fruit, even in Alaska, and has a very summery taste, so I'm happy to add this jam/jelly recipe to my collection of "must make" every year.

Watermelon-Lime Jam yields 8 pints
12 c watermelon pulp
~Blend the pulp for jam (stick blender time) or strain through cheese cloth or a pillowcase if you want to make jelly with no watermelon seeds. I don't mind little white seeds, so we went with jam. Less work.~
Put your blended watermelon in a pot then add:
2 c lime juice (I used bottled)
15 tsp calcium water (5Tbl)
~Heat to a boil.~
While heating watermelon mix in a bowl:
3 c sugar
12 tsp Pomona Pectin (4Tbl)
~After watermelon boils add sugar and pectin mix. Stir vigoursly for one to two minutes until all dissolved. Return to a boil and remove from heat.

Ladle into hot jars. Adjust 2 piece lids and process in a water-bath canner for 10 minutes.

*Recipe note: When I made mine, I didn't get enough of a jell in my jam, so I increased the recipe I'm posting here, I realized I had not accounted for the extra 2 cups of lime juice, so I think this recipe should work just right.*

Two half pints of watermelon-lime jam.

Taste test time: Watermelon lime tastes like summer. Not so intense like the raspberry rhubarb next to it. Nice and sweet and light with just a tad of kick from the lime. Would be perfect on an English muffin. As you can see it's a light pink and you can see how the spoon sunk down into my jar because I didn't use enough calcium or pectin, so I increased the amount for the recipe listed above.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Zucchini Madness, what to do with 30 beautiful squash?

On Thursday my 9 year old asked me what ironic meant. I tried my best to explain.

On Thursday my 15-year-old's "outside job" was to tend the garden, inspect it, throw out rotten zucchini, thin the carrots, pick me a cabbage and any zucchini that were ready. She brought in about 6 medium to large specimens. I was surprised because the week before my 11-year-old son told me there were no more zucchini to be found. You can tell I don't get out to do many garden inspections.

On Friday my girlfriend who helps at a local farm brought me the market leftovers (I was hoping for broccoli, this is how I have filled my freezer the last two years) but, to my suprise, she brought around 20 medium to large zucchini!

My 9-year-old asked me if that was ironic. I agreed, indeed, that was pretty ironic.

I will NEVER complain, however, about free food! I will adore it, love it, share it and have nightmares dreams about it.

Blogging has helped me get my booty organized in the past, so it's hopefully going to rescue me today. I will blog about how I plan to preserve and cook my abundance and hopefully in the future I can refer back for my own benefit. I always know where the computer is located but I can't always find "that" recipe that I need or can't even remember that I made and loved... I'll be posting things that I am doing and also adding in my friend's ideas they are giving me on facebook today.

My beautiful model with our stack. In this picture the 3 largest have been sliced or grated.

1st thing to do:

Slice it up and dehydrate some.

This is my first year using my dehydrator. I have dehydrated turnips before in my oven, but heaven knows why because we never did like those darn things and I don't know why I thought I'd use the dried up little bits of them in the future. My sister has inspired me with her mad dehydrating skilz this year and I'm ready to try it out!

2 sliced up, 28 to go...

Ready for the dehydrator. It's very warm today so I'll let them soak up the sun for a while first.
Day later update: Here's a very large zucchini shriveled down to a pint jar ready for minestrone soup this winter.

 2nd thing to do:

Skillet Fried Zucchini (fast and easy!)
Cut slices of zucchini thinly. 
Heat generous amount of oil, butter or margarine in a large non stick pan.
Put a teaspoon of minced garlic in the pan, heat it up.
Lay in zucchini slices so they are all in contact with oil.
Liberally salt and pepper zucchini.
After the bottom is nicely seared, flip all slices, cook on the other side only one to two minutes more and serve immediately.
We had rice on the side for dinner. I made about 5 or 6 pans of these and we ALL gobbled them up, they aren't even zucchini lovers but they loved it this way.  

We used some of the massive slices for this recipe from before...28 still to go...

3rd thing to do:

Give some to friends. Most people aren't overwhelmed by three zucchini, but be sure they want them before you give it to them. If they don't have a garden they will typically be thrilled. I left a bag with my goddaughter and karaoke partner last night, I am giving my cousin three today and have three saved for my mom. There should also be a food pantry near you, so remember them as well.  

I have now allotted 12 for other people, that leaves me with 16 to go!

4th thing to do:

Shred some up to make grandma's zucchini bread recipe, this has always been my absolute must with any zucchini. I make this every year even if I have to buy zucchini to do it. The recipe is EXTREMELY moist and is more like a really really good sweet muffin. We all love this.

Zucchini Bread by Grandma Beryl Johnson taken from Algoma Christian School, Kent, MI cookbook, no date printed. Looks like a late 70s early 80s production. (vegan adaptation by me)
3 eggs     (or 3/4 c apple sauce or banana mash)
1 c oil     (or 3/4 c oil and 1/4 c water)
2 c sugar  (or 1 1/2 c)
3 c flour  (I typically do half whole wheat flour)
2 c grated zucchini
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp soda
(1 tsp salt, not sure why salt wasn't in grandma's recipe, but it needs it)
3 tsp cinnamon
3 tsp vanilla
1 c chopped nuts (not for us, but you do as you please)

Beat eggs, add oil slowly while beating. Fold in zucchini, vanilla, then sugar. Fold in dry ingredients. Bake in 2 loaf pans (greased and floured). Bake at 350 for 1 hr.

We shredded up our largest and most deformed zucchini and it yielded 8 cups shredded. Looks like I'll be quadrupling this batch today...if only I had sugar. This bread freezes very nicely. I bake in smaller loaf pans than it suggests, then cool it, then wrap in saran wrap then put in bags with labels. It's a great breakfast bread and it gets gobbled up at coffee hour on Sunday. Don't "save it" like I have done in the past, try to eat it with in about 3 months or the taste changes from the long freezer time.

1 large zuc grated, 15 to go...

5th thing to do:

Ask friends, here's what some of them suggested, they all sound wonderful!

Zucchini Lasagna: Cut in lengthwise slices and replace the noodles with zucchini.Yum!
Slice sourdough bread top with: sliced tomatoes, grated zucchini, basil, season, cheese then broil. Double yum!
Grate into anything: lasagna, spaghetti, hamburgers, meatloaf, white sauce or red sauce. Great tip.
Zucchini relish: I would make this, however, I made about 3 dozen pints 3 years ago, and we're good to go! (it is very good)
Deep fried zucchini: yes please!
Zucchini and potato patties (I'm thinking fried, fritter like, yum!)
Grate it and freeze it. If I do this I put 2 cups shredded into each bag. I don't love that the water separates out from the zucchini, but in bread you don't notice. 
Slice it, blanch it, freeze it. My cousin does this and has a great casserole recipe she cooks it in. I bet this helps the water stay inside the squash, I have not tried this myself.

Another cousin sent me this recipe, looks delicious and so easy...also uses dill, my favorite herb, and I grow it in the garden every year:

Herbed Zucchini Soup 
3 C reduced-sodium chicken broth (or homemade! Yes please!)
1 1/2 lbs. zucchini (about 3 med.), cut into 1-inch pieces
1 T chopped fresh dill (or tarragon) or 1 tsp. dried
3/4 C shredded cheddar cheese (3 oz.)
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
Place broth, zucchini and dill (or tarragon) in medium saucepan; bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to a simmer and cook, uncovered, until the zucchini is tender. Puree in a blender (or use a stick blender, I love mine for this) until smooth. Return the soup to the pan and heat over medium high, slowly stirring in cheese until it is incorporated. Remove from heat and season with s/p. Serve hot or chilled.

Ideas don't count...15 to go...

6th thing to do:

Eat lunch.

Zucchini Boats aka Zucchini Pizza!

I got the idea for this "zucchini pizza or zucchini boats" from Grad Gastronomy.
For mine I cut a nice straight zucchini in half, scooped out some seeds.
Slathered the top and bottom with olive oil.
Sprinkled with salt.
Filled the void in one of them with cheddar cheese (no mozz cheese in the house).
Then we picked out our meats: one chose pepperoni, another one chose goat hot dogs and I chose salami, hubby chose no meat.
Topped with tomato slices.
Top with salt, pepper, garlic powder and basil.
Now it's in the oven @ 350 for 20 minutes, then I'll add more cheese and broil it. Can't wait....

Finished product. So good! I tried the pepperoni and goat dog sections and they were great too!
One large zuc in my belly, 14 to go...

7th thing to do:

Get ideas from Alaska from Scratch. She even posted her own favorite list for National Zucchini Day.

This is a great food blog and I especially love it because she uses so many foods we can grow, harvest, forage and hunt here in Alaska. She also takes the most adorable pictures, is a pastors wife and a SAHM who has done a fabulous job with her new foodie blogger profession! Here's a short list of the recipes I still want to try. 
Baked Zucchini Fries 
Chocolate Zucchini Cake
Blueberry Zucchini Muffins
Grilled Zucchini Lasagna
Zucchini Cakes

Pictures she took of her zucchini treats, yum!
Still 14 to go...

8th thing to do:

Rub down with olive oil for counter storage. 

I have a great book called Preserving Food without Freezing or Canning. I can't find it at the moment...grr. However, I do remember it saying that if you rub a nice zucchini with olive oil and leave it out on the counter (to keep an eye on it) it will actually keep for a long time this way. I have done this with two and will see how it goes. I'll also pick two and not rub them (I'll pick nice, blemish free ones) and compare them. I'll probably forget to update this blog, so please ask me after a few weeks how this went. I will do my best not to let these go to waste, but I also really want to see for myself if this method works. If so, it may be the answer to the overwhelming feeling 30 zucchini can give.

*One week later update on the banister squash: I found the book, it did say to do this, it also said to rub again when you see mold appear. Today my daughter discovered extensive mold on the bottom of the oiled one in front. I discovered more mold on the second olive oil rubbed one. The olive oil ones also sort of morphed a bit and their color went to a deep green while the two in back stayed virtually the same spotty green. The ones in back (with no oil) also did not mold, but I chickened out today and put them into the fridge as the 3 in the fridge that were allotted for my mom are still just fine. 
I decided to put my zucchini on the banister as I walk past this daily and will be able to see it easily from different sides. The "control" is in the back and not touching each other (not oiled) the oiled zuccs are in the front also not touching.

4 more down 10 to go...

9th thing to do:

Pickle / Ferment some Zucchini into pickles.

I'm a noob to fermenting/pickling so I referred a lot to these sites today to talk me through this:
Learning and Yearning
Cultures of Health
Marks Daily Apple

I decided to go with dill pickles since those are my favorite vinegar pickle. Here's the recipe I came up with after reading these blogs 3x each...

Fermented Zucchini Dill Pickles

Prepare brine:
2 quarts filtered water (non chlorinated)
5 T sea salt

Prepare jars, I'm using 4 quart jars. Into each jar place:

1 heaping tsp minced garlic
1 tsp black pepper corns
3 sprigs dill weed
2 tannin containing leaves (in 2 jars I'll use strawberry and in the other 2 I'll use raspberry, this is what I have on my property, I don't have oak or grape or any of the others I read about)

Ingredients ready to go. Strawberry leaves on yellow plate, raspberry leaves on blue plate. Dill from the farmers market, but I have more growing in my garden. Ended up using another zucchini. I fit one zucchini per quart jar.
Tightly pack jars with spears or rounds of zucchini. I did spears except for in my flip-top jar I did rounds. I also added rounds to the top of each jar for the "weight".
Ready to add the salt brine. On top of each pile of pickles I added another sprig of dill and another set of leaves, then the final "weight" zucchini for the top.

Chose to try two different fermenting "lid" methods. I have a bunch of jars, so I decided to try jar weights on two of them and regular lids on the other two. I didn't tighten them down so they can bubble and ooze out into the pan below. I'll check them in three days, skim any scum and re-add brine to re-fill them.

*Note 5 days later: I ended up closing my flip top lid all the way tight only 2 days after I posted this. I realized they way they are made is to allow air to exit the seal while canning them and not allow air back in. Those pickles looked the best. The two of the top round pickles holding down the zuccs in the other jars looked the worst (a bit moldy) when the brine had overflowed then gone back down. I threw away the moldy top rounds and ate a pickle from under the brine (very good) and added more brine to all 4 jars and put them into my cool garage that stays around 45 or 50 degrees Fahrenheit. From what I have read they will slowly continue to ferment. I'll check them again in a week and add more brine if needed.
5 days later, two of the top rounds were kinda moldy. Definitely check them and add more brine at the 3 day mark. If the brine isn't covering them they will mold.

Used up four on the pickles, 6 to go...

10th thing to do:

Go to church.

Yes, it's time for me to go to church and I think I'm done for the day. I'll throw the remaining 6 into the fridge and I'll try to make lasagna this week with them. I'll may also try this zucchini spread, it looks very good. Until next year when zucchini's slam you in the face.

Stuck the last 6 into the fridge...we're done for today!

*After church tonight my neighbor wanted to trade for some canned salmon. OK! Now we're down to 3! I'll have to choose wisely over the next few days how I use them.

*Week later update: Used 2 for the zucchini lasagna but I skipped the grilling part...not a great idea as zucchini add a LOT of water to your pan and it was soupy lasagna, however, it was very very good! Also made a batch of the zucchini chocolate cake. Will add the rest of the moldy zucc that I rescued from the banister to the Fabulous Borcht I'll be making for company tomorrow.  

Ok, seriously. This is never ending. I have to update this now a week and a half later 8/29/2013.

Sunday my family came over and I made the aforementioned Borscht (it was amazing, it really lives up to it's name). I added a zucchini to it, a new twist, but it was quite good and fit right in. There were NO leftovers *boo hoo*. After our company left I ventured into the garden. I discovered some very large zucchini and commanded my children bring me: my mud boots (I was still in church clothing), a large knife, plastic grocery bags and my jacket. There was work to be done! I worked 'till dark (about 10pm these days) and heard there could be a frost coming so we covered 3 of the plants that had the most babies with a tarp to keep the frost off. There were about 25-35 lbs of zucchini in the tub and some blossoms. We also harvested the rest of the spinach, a lot of broccoli, and 2 grocery bags of mustard greens.

Zucchini the next day.
Monday 8/26/13

We made another double batch of zucchini lasagna. I again added a ton of greens to the sausage, so delicious!

Tuesday 8/27/13

My girlfriend gave me a "recipe" for squash casserole. It was more like she printed a recipe then marked all over it the way she likes to make it...I muddled my way through it and...I had four I'M NOT TELLING helpings and still didn't really want to stop eating. (can you say glutton?)

Amazing Squash Casserole

1 sticks butter
1 c sour cream
1 can cream of mushroom soup (I'm sure any kind would do)
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped (or grated)
1 quart chopped squash (I'm totally guessing here. I chopped about 6 cups worth I think.)
1 lb shredded chicken (this is totally optional, I wanted chicken in mine)
1 TB ranch dressing mix (or one packet)
1 cup cheddar cheese (if desired, I forgot to add it, you could do this instead of chicken)
salt n pepper
1 package Ritz crackers

Heat dutch oven, melt butter. Add onion and carrot, cook 5 minutes. Add squash, salt and pepper. Mix in ranch dressing mix, sour cream, cream of whatever, chicken if desired, cheese if desired, mix it all together.

Smash up the Ritz and sprinkle over the top. I added squash blossoms cut in half to the top as well since I didn't feel like stuffing them. It made it pretty. Bake @ 375 for 30 minutes. I DOUBLED this recipe for our family of 8. There was about 1 cup left over.

The notes on the recipe I based this off of said you can divide this and freeze for later. Great idea! I think I'll make a quad batch on Monday!

Wednesday 8/28/13

Beer battered zucchini...YUM! I was not happy with the recipe I used (I think I used the wrong flour), so I won't post it. But you add enough salt to that stuff and it's awesome! We used up one large one that way. You could try this one, it's very simple, and easy. You can't (usually) go wrong with a beer batter (ok, so don't use corn flour, stick to all purpose and you should be good). You can add dill or paprika to that mix as well and give it more flavor. Also sprinkle with salt when they come out of the oil!!!

Thursday 8/29/13

Double batch of zucchini bread! About half one of the big ones grated made up 4 cups.

Spaghetti for dinner. Yum! It was really good spaghetti too. That took the other half of that squash.


Ok, so I was researching what I would make tomorrow and came across this blog Closet Cooking and her 25 Zucchini Recipes. I think we're soul mates... She makes a lot of Greek and a lot of Mexican dishes! She made roasted zucchini salsa...I have always wanted to do that!!! I will be reading for a few hours now...I gotta go.

This was tonight when I thought I'd better double check and found these four bad boys and a little pip squeak in my pocket (along with some peas and broccoli). I also sold a goat baby today, yippie!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Jammin along.

This weekend something wonderful happened. All of my six beautiful, lovely, and bright children were all snatched up by something or someone.

Teenagers went to Teen Church camp on Wednesday, Friday my mom called and wanted to come get my three little girls and Friday night my third child was invited for an overnight.

We went out on a date on Friday night, skipped going out to a movie and watched some "mama & papa shows" in the LIVINGROOM. (this is a big deal clearly)

Saturday I wasn't sure what to do with myself. I knew that sleeping in was a must, that was accomplished. Noon, baby. I should win awards for this sort of thing. Then I decided to look for some HGTV style shows on Netflix in my LIVINGROOM since there were no cartoons in sight. It took me about 10 minutes to figure out how the tv and Wii worked together, how to get Netflix on, then how to even find a show I was the least bit interested in. I settled for a cupcake show then a show called "Clean House" that was pretty painful to watch. I decided that watching tv was not nearly as exciting as it used to be and wondered how I could sit for hours on end doing NOTHING. So I got up and got on facebook.

After a good hour or two on facebook I realized I could can up some jam, after all, canning is typically a late night activity after kids have mostly gone to bed so I can use half a brain for all the technical difficulties that I encounter. No kids = easy canning!

I wanted to pick blueberries on Friday but that didn't work out, so I started looking for rhubarb and raspberries in my freezer. I ended up finding many tiny bags and boxes of currants, blueberries, raspberries, more blueberries and really old freezer burned salmon (that went to the chickens...please, salmon jam?). I eked out 3 cups of pulp berry mash and 3 more cups of juice, then re-cooked the pits and skins to get another 2 cups of juice (totally cheating, I know, but the results were amazing).

After gathering an even 8 cups of mash/juice I created my recipe using the guidelines for making your own recipe that come with Pomona's Universal Pectin. I have learned the hard way to follow their guidelines and not to skimp on the calcium water. This pectin is not a sugar triggered pectin so you can use ANY sweetener in your jam/jelly, you simply have to add calcium water to your mash to be sure the pectin triggers. It makes for better set up, better tasting (you can taste your fruit and not just sugar) and much more economical as you only use 3/4 of a teaspoon per cup of mash. Oh, and you can always double, triple, quadruple or even octuple your recipe.

Ok, ok, so enough about my life, onto the recipes...

Wait! One more thing! I don't remember if I have talked about all of my fence drama or not, this project I started 5 years ago? Anyway, hubby approved to HIRE a PROFESSIONAL fence builder to finish it for me! He got all the wood parts done on Saturday and now it's ready for us to paint. Then he'll come back and put on the fencing for our goats and chickens to have a big pasture to roam and eat on!!! Very exciting!

Back yard, board fence almost finished! Paint next, then woven wire stapeled to it. Should work for any creature that suits our fancy in the future!

Mixed Berry Blast Jam yield about 12 half pints, adjust recipe as needed, reduce or increase all ingredients the same ratio.

8 cups of berry mash, we used currants and non stemed blueberries for juice in one pot and a jam mash of cleaned blueberries, raspberries and a few leftover store bought blueberries in another pot.
1/4 c lemon juice (this is used in low acid jams, blueberries are low acid) for measuring purposes 1/4c also equals 4 T.
3 T calcium water (I rounded up from 8 teaspoons for ease)
-bring these three things to a boil, while cooking prepare:
3 c sugar
2 T Pomona pectin
-whisk pectin into sugar

After mash boils add sugar and pectin, stir vigorously for one to two minutes while it all dissolves. Bring mash back up to a boil then turn off heat. Fill sterile jars with mix, add two piece lids and water bath can for 10 minutes.

*Review on finished product: This jam set up almost immediately, even before it was cool. The taste was fantastic, when you use less sugar you can really taste your berries. Very thick and sturdy, delicious jam.

Mixed Berry Blast

RhubyRazz Jam yield about 16 half pints, adjust recipe as needed, reduce or increase all ingredients the same ratio.

8 cups of mashed rhubarb (I actually used 16 frozen cups of rhubarb to make 8 mashed cups)
4 cups of mashed raspberries (measured after cooking the rest of my four year old raspberries)
*no lemon juice needed because of high acid content
12 teaspoons of calcium water = 4 T
-bring these to a boil, while cooking prepare:
5 c sugar
8 tsp Pomona pectin
-whisk pectin into sugar

After mash boils add sugar and pectin, stir vigorously for one to two minutes while it all dissolves. Bring mash back up to a boil then turn off heat. Fill sterile jars with mix, add two piece lids and water bath can for 10 minutes.

*Review on finished product: This jam still has that tart kick that I love about rhubarb and raspberries. With only 5 cups of sugar it's a great balance of sweet and tart. It jelled well and does not appear like "regular" jam but rhubarb jam is always a bit different because of it's consistency. Most pectins won't set up rhubarb for some reason, but Pomona does a great job.

RhubyRazz Jam

*Note about low sugar jam and jelly. THEY WILL MOLD! Yes, it's true. If you have a house like mine and a kid can't find the jam that's opened they just open a new one, so I have (sadly) found jam pushed to the back of the fridge with mold inside. So it won't keep as long in the fridge as higher sugar jams, so I started using smaller jars (I used to use pint and 1 1/2 pint jars). This year a friend gave me 2 more dozen 1/2 pint jars perfect for jam.
Taste testing my RhubyRazz compared to what I did today straight after church....Watermelon Lime jam. I'll have to post on that later, hubby want's me to quit blogging...sheesh.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Glamping, being tourists and having some fun.

Last fall my husband visited friends of ours in PA and convinced them to fly up their son for a couple weeks to spend some time here. Joey is 14 this summer and our godson. We had a blast! We played "tourist" and did some mini adventures. I took pics of most things and for some reason didn't take one photo at the Matanuska Glacier where I took the kids one day. Stupid!

Here's a photo of where we were hiking, taken by someone at "Over Yonderlust". We were able to walk out onto the glacier on this section. There aren't many glaciers that you can access and actually walk on. It was a little creepy but very cool. Take a jacket even if it's 80 degrees in the parking lot...
We climbed "the Butte" in Palmer. That's the Knik glacier behind the kids. It was a fantastic hike and so warm.
Hubby agreed to take two days off of work so we could go "camping" and yes that's in quotation marks because "real" Alaskan's don't go in campers and motorhomes. Someone called it glamping but I refuse to use that word... I managed to find a lady with a motorhome with 9 seatbelts in town to rent from. We didn't have room for us all in our van to go anywhere, so this was our one family trip. We headed down to Seward for 2 nights.
Here is a shot in the motor-home.
Little miss "fluffernutter" having some quiet time with the books she brought in her neat and tidy suitcase.
The handsome men-folk and bonus baby.
Very nice camping spot on the end and with the tent spot we got a bona-fied firepit.
We were fortunate enough to have my sister and her hubby decide to join us last minute. They have 4 boys. Despite the fender crusher bender on the way down and the 2-year-old who was potty training and the colicy baby, they had a great time too.

Time for another change of clothes!
We had our fair share of hiccups as well:

The day we got to the campground we turned on the water pump in the motorhome. Unbeknownst to me someone had tried using the sink in the bathroom and left the water faucet on and the sink plugged. My 5-year-old nephew said to me, "your motorhome is leaking" and pointed under the rig. Then Joey stepped into the hallway and his socks were immediately drenched. The whole motorhome was carpeted, including the bathroom, argh. We had to keep drying it out the whole time we were there, fortunately we brought lots of towels!

We also had another big and nasty "incident" but I think I have filled my blogging-about-poop-quota for the year already, so I'll spare you.You should say, "thank you" now. I'm serious.

We stayed at "Stony Creek Campground" and by stony creek, they weren't kidding. Very silty glacier creek with a cell tower was what it was, but the kids thoroughly enjoyed themselves, that's what counts.
The cell reception there was amazing and they even had Wi-Fi...I could have done with out those, we could have even hooked up to cable!!! What? We jokingly took many photos of each other facebooking on our phones around the campfire and uploaded them to facebook where we were fiercely ridiculed as we should have been...

Not right camping.
While in Seward we visited the Alaska Sealife Center.

And my girlfriend showed us all her's and her dad's fishing boat.
On the way home we stopped at the Wildlife Conservation Center. We saw brown and black bears, wood bison, muskox, eagle, porcupine, owl, arctic fox, moose, caribou, white tailed deer, elk and many other cool creatures you find in Alaska. It's a really fantastic park and if you're headed down to the Keani Pinnunsula, I highly recommend it. The prices are affordable and you can drive around there if you don't feel like walking.

Farmer feeding his woodland bison which were thought to be extinct.That is the coolest job.
Hugo the bear, she can even do some tricks.

They have an amazing walk way right up near the black bears. So cool.
After we got home I took the kids up to Independence Mine located in beautiful Hatcher Pass. It was another amazing and warm day and they have added many paths I didn't know were up there. They have a nice little free museum, pictures, and they have been cleaning up the old fallen buildings and restoring some of them.

View of half of the restored and fallen buildings below us.
Behind us is the small train track they used to cart the ore out of the mine.
We stopped at the Little Su River for a photo op of everyone. Sus is simply trying to keep her eyes open, the sun was bright. :-/
We had so much fun with Joey and last night I took him to the airport where I escorted him through security to his gate and I got to get a pat down on the way there...grr. We were so happy that we got to play tourist and be forced to get out and see more of this amazing place. It's so easy to get caught up in the needs of the home, especially for me, and I forget to go out and play.