November 2, 2009

Winter comes to the UP!

Hi Everyone!

Well, winter has officially arrived here in Michigan's beautiful UP. The autumn was much too short for me as the days were filled with Farmers' Markets, harvesting and preparing for the winter months to come. We have had several small snows already this year. Fortunatley, my husband, Michael managed to get a picture of our local "Pterodactyl" on one of my "natural planters" before the frost killed all my flowers! Here he is!

The Piliated Woodpeckers frequent the woods up here and are always exciting when they show up. It's hard to tell from the picture, but these birds are almost 2 feet long from beak to tail!

As you can see, I use old tree stumps as natural planters in the landscape. Just have your hubby hollow out the inside for you with a drill or a chisel. Then plant with your favorite annuals or perennials. It makes a wonderful planter and looks great, especially in a wooded setting. Vines are also attractive trailing down the sides. It's a perfect way to make use of unsightly stumps on the property.

This week I have a special recipe to share with all of you.

I used up the Pineapple sage in my garden right before the frost to make Jelly for the local market and for gift baskets for family and friends. It's very easy to do and a wonderful way for you to save your herbs.

You can use any of your favorite herbs in this recipe. Try some lemon balm, or any of the mints to make mint jelly. Sage, thyme, rosemary - any herb will work. You may want to vary the juice you use to vary the taste. Experiment and see what you can come up with! But rest in the knowledge that once again, you are getting all the medicinal benefits of those wonderful herbs. And it's delicious to boot!

  • Combine 1 1/2 cups of fresh pineapple sage leaves with 3 1/4 cups apple cider or apple juice. I packed the leaves and chopped them up before putting them in the juice

  • Bring to a boil. Let steep for 30 minutes. Strain off the herbs.
  • Add one packet of powdered no sugar pectin and 1/2 tsp butter.
  • Bring to a boil.
  • Add 4 cups sugar all at once or 1 1/2 cups honey
  • Bring to a boil again and boil hard for one minute.
  • I always test by taking a little in a spoon and putting it in the fridge to see if it jells. If it does, you're good. If it's still runny, cook it a little longer.
  • Pack in jars which you've already sterilized and seal. Then send to friends and family!!!
That's it! Easy, right? This jelly is wonderful for oriental chicken, as a glaze on a pork roast or ham or just with butter on an English muffin!

Hope all of you are prepped for the Flu Season. If you've been following the blog, you already know what to do. If not, check the archives and go to the website to get products for your family to help you through the cold and flu season.

Until next time, BE WELL!!! (Valere!)