Life on Regal-Hill: August 5, 2009

Here at Regal-Hill I am busy taking care of produce from the garden and cutting more flowers to arrange as bouquets for the house. Of course, the weeds continue to grow as well in both the garden and the flower beds.
I have added peas and green beans to the lettuce, onions, broccoli and beet greens. So far I have only frozen some peas, but we have had broccoli several times and beet greens once. There hasn’t been an abundance of vegetables to the point of making it worthwhile to freeze many vegetables yet. Besides, they taste so fresh and sweet coming right from the garden to the kitchen where they are prepared, the stove where they are cooked and to the table where they are eaten. However, I hope there will be more to freeze since peas and green beans are often on our menus.
The zucchini has finally begun to blossom and one blossom actually shows a tiny zucchini on the end of it. Hopefully there will be more so we can enjoy it in many recipes from main dishes to desserts.
Some of the flowers that normally don’t blossom for another month are already beginning to blossom like gladioli, phlox and even the zinnias and bachelor buttons are beginning to get buds on them. I continue to cut roses and the white hydrangea. I still can’t always get the hydrangea blossoms to soak up water properly so they don’t wilt. Of the last bouquet, three blossoms were used and two of the three seemed to be all right, only one wilted. This was after I followed an article in the July 2009 Good Housekeeping Magazine.
Whenever it isn’t raining and there is time, I try to weed the flowerbeds and garden so they look better and hopefully do better. Since this is all part of gardening and I love to garden, so I shall not complain.
It is getting to that time of year when we start to preserve produce to enjoy later. Back in May I used some fresh rhubarb in pies but I also made batches of strawberry rhubarb jam. Last week I made currant jelly.
Currant Jelly brings back memories of when I was four years old and had the measles. My aunt brought me some currant jelly that mom put on toast for me to enjoy. I thought it tasted so good. In fact I can still remember it. I don’t know how much it helped me to get better, but I do remember how good it tasted.
Now I know how much work goes into making the jelly. I complained that it was too much work even though George picked the currants, Allegra helped me sort through the currants to remove the leaves, stems and such and then making the juice. Actually making the jelly was easy.
Hopefully in another month the elderberries will be ready to make into jelly as well. I made some last year and there is one jar left. That is also very good, but messy when it comes to making the juice, and if it gets spattered around the kitchen.
I couldn’t find a recipe for currant jelly so I came up with my own that I will share with you now. A neighbor gave the strawberry rhubarb jam recipe to me. Since neither is naturally sweet, be sure you have plenty of sugar on hand when you go to make them.

Strawberry Rhubarb Jam
5 cups rhubarb, cut thin
3 cups sugar
1 3-oz. pkg. wild strawberry Jell-O
Put cut rhubarb in medium bowl, cover with 3 cups sugar.
Let stand overnight. Do not stir. In morning, mix together. Put in medium saucepan, and bring to a boil. Cook 10 minutes. Add 1 3-oz. pkg. wild strawberry jell. Stir until dissolved. Remove from heat and put in sterilized jars. Refrigerate or if canned as below, put in a cool place.
Makes: 4 1/2 pints

Currant Jelly
4 cups currant juice, prepared from currants put through the food processor and simmered until soft. Strain through cheesecloth or jelly strainer bags.
3-1/2 cups sugar
1 pkg. Sure Jell
Heat currant juice to boiling, add sugar and stir until sugar is dissolved, stirring constantly. When the boil cannot be stirred down, boil for one minute. Add Sure Jell and continue stirring until dissolved.
Put into sterilized jars, wipe edge of jar and apply lid and band. Screw on band as tight as you can. Place on a double thickness of dish towel to cool.
Listen for lids to pop as they cool. The pop tells you the lid is sealed. When completely cooled, remove band and lift to make sure lid is tight. Label, date and store in a cool place. If it hasn’t sealed, store in refrigerator and use as soon as you can.
Yield: 4-5 1/2 pints