Watching our Raspberries grow has been one of the coolest parts of living here. All props go to the previous tenants who actually GREW them, we have just maintained them. When we first moved in we werent even sure what they were, they just looked like sticks. Today they are wild and crazy berry producing MACHINES!

This is after my brother CANED them. Thank god he did or we would have a mess!

I have tried to be really good about picking them so they don’t get rain-rot or spoil. We are really lucky too in that these berries are big fat juicy ones, not like those silly little wild ones. I would say I have probably picked close to 3 gallons of raspberries so far. Some I just froze in ziplock bags (for smoothies and such) some I gave away to people, and a LOT have been made into freezer Jam. Last week I brought Leo, the two year old I babysit, over to the house and showed him how to pick them too.

It’s definately hard to figure what to do with so many berries. Many will in fact rot and go to the birds, but we feel we are taking full advantage of them, so its ok. I have made 3 batches of freezer Jam so far, about 15 8 oz containers and 3 16 oz containers. I looked around a bit for a recipe, but in the end just went with the Ball Freezer recipe. Yes its a fair amount of sugar, but when I was reading about it, it sounds like the sugar is really needed to preserve the berries. I’m also not sure what the difference is between cooked jam and freezer jam, but freezer jam is WAY easier, and it lasts a full year, so that works for me! Ball also puts out a cute line of freezer containers that stack which I really like better than Tupperware. Ball also has an awesome website with a fruit calculator and lots of recipes that you should check out. And there colors are lime green…whats not to love.Oh and a few people have asked if I de-seed my jam. To me this is a ridiculous request, and if you don’t like seeds, don’t make raspberry jam.



An Old Fashion Kitchen

I would consider myself a pretty average cook. I can follow a recipe when baking. I can “wing it” when making up a meal. I understand spices and flavors. I would say I have even gotten down that whole “cooking timing” thing. However there are a few things I would not say I was very comfortable with in the kitchen. Things that had I grown up with a pilgrim of a mother I may have learned, but alas, my momma worked for a living.  I also didn’t really have extended family (little old grandparents) interested in teaching me the proper ways around a kitchen.

Most of what I learned was self-taught. Not that my mom didn’t cook for us almost every night, she did. But teaching us HOW to cook wasn’t really on anyone’s list of To Do’s growing up. Kind of a bummer.

Now as an adult with my tiny family, with dreams of adding onto it, there are some very traditional skills I am desperate to learn. I know that the internet and youtube are full of How To’s for anything I might desire to learn, but there’s something to say about actually being in a kitchen with someone….hands on.

So here are a few things I’m DYING to learn:

1. Canning/preserving (including pickling and drying for fruit, meats and Veggies)

2. Jam Making

3. Bread and other dough making

4. Baking from scratch

5. Processing Dairy (making Cheese and yogurt, and even making Nut Milk and Cheese)

6. Curing Meats

7. Home Butchering (I know it sounds gross, but I think it’s a skill people should know. I’m mostly talking Fowl)

8. Kitchen Medicine

Learning these skills are not necessarily so that I can use them every day or even every month. But in a world of over processed and under appreciated, I think knowing how to do these things would make me a very valuable person if there ever was a need. I’d love to feel like I could make an entire meal with my hand with raw ingredients. If there was ever a natural disaster that I would be able to survive using my own skills. It also could mean saving my family money and feeding them healthier safer foods.

I’ve done a small amount of research and haven’t really been able to find classes in the area on this. Most of the “cooking classes” I have found are things like “10 minute Tapas” and “Christmas cookies” which I’m sorry, those are not SKILLS those are just dumb people spending $60 to decorate some cookies for 2 hours. Online I found this website that had practically EVERYTHING I want to learn in class from, too bad its in Oakland.

It’s almost like I need to find a good “country mom” who is willing to show me how to do these things for a bit of money. That’s the other thing, I don’t think someone should have to pay $65 to learn how to bake bread. We are all people and I think learning these techniques should be affordable. Hmm…maybe thats a job opportunity?

There is also this Web Site called URBAN HOMESTEAD which has an awesome slogan:

“pioneering a journey towards self sufficiency, one step at a time”

Ummm yes please! Again located in California. They are a farm in Pasadena that is on a similar mission to get back to nature and “old school” ways to be more self-sufficient and more hands on with their life, food, and land.

But here in good old Bellingham, there doesn’t seem to be a whole heck of a lot of options for learning this stuff. I’m going to keep my eyes peeled still, and until then I will just have to try to self teach. Let me know if you know of anything!