Service berries: pick 'em now, and make yourself some jelly. I've never eaten service berry jelly until this week. Yum stuff.
Over the past five years, some bushes have sprung up around our dog kennel and gradually have almost taken over. The dogs have plenty of summer shade, and the birds have been enjoying the berries each year.
This year, though, seems to be a banner service-berry year, with limbs loaded down with huge clumps of the berries, almost like grapes.
I've also discovered how easy they are to pick when they're in those clumps. Just stroke the limb and pull 'em off. Dozens of berries will drop into the bucket, and it's full in no time.
I decided to try a test batch the other day, so I looked on the Internet for a recipe. Again, the process is easy to do and easy to remember: three-quarters cup of sugar for each cup of juice.
This recipe calls for boiling the juice and sugar first and then putting in the pectin for another one-minute boil. I also threw in a squirt or two of lemon juice.
As soon as the sugar and pectin had hit the kettle, I skimmed off a spoonful. After that first taste, I decided to pick more berries.
The jelly is very good, a little tart but just right tart.
My only problem on that first batch was underestimating the amount of pectin. When it didn't set up overnight, I simply dumped the jars of jelly back into the kettle and added the remainder of the pectin packet.
Bill tried some this morning on a bagel and agrees that it's good stuff.
I bring it up on this morning's post only because the berries are about to run their course and since they're so accessible along roadways, etc. , it's a good idea to grab them soon and throw them in the freezer for when it's a good time to make jelly.
This is the first of two fun weekends of family stuff. With my brother and his wife and granddaughters coming this afternoon, we know that Mother will have her share of fun.
And, my sisters and I will enjoy getting ready for tomorrow's Bonner County Fair horse show.
Lily will get some primping today and a nice bath in the morning. With our classes in the afternoon, we won't have to leave home with horses at the break of dawn, which is commonly the case.
Next weekend is the big 9-0h for my mother, so the family fun will continue for her. What an achievement for her and for us who have been fortunate to share the last several decades of her life's journey with her.
For the most part, she and we have many wonderful reasons to celebrate.
This past week, Barbara and Laurie had a new covered deck added to their house. After dining at the Blue Heron Restaurant last night, Bill, Willie, Debbie and I stopped by to check it out.
Their new outdoor furniture had been put into place, so we all enjoyed lounging and yakking for about an hour.
Barbara had just returned from a yearbook workshop at Gonzaga University. She took six students with her, and they figured out the overall plan for their 2012 yearbook.
She shared all the details and visuals with us.
Her group this year is especially fun because I worked closely with two of the students' parents when they were high school age AND they've remained good friends ever since.
Hard to believe that their kids are this old, and it's great to have our family still working with them in the educational setting.
I love having to write that there are peas and beans to pick so I'd better get moving. Each day with this sunshine is so exhilarating, and knowing there are garden goodies out there make these summer days all the better.
I must report, however, that this year my green beans have earned a new moniker, thanks to the nocturnal thieving visitors.
Crew-cut beans, I call 'em. Those busy, pilfering teeth have manicured the bean patch almost to perfection. Tops are all snipped off and even.
There is a positive side to that, though. The deer don't seem to like the actual beans, so the clear-cut or crew-cut---whatever you want to call it---gives me a much better view of where the actual fruits of the plant happen to be when it's time to pick.
I can't say so much for the broccoli, though. Snipping off the tops is much more detrimental in that case. So far, I've been able to harvest only one freezer bag of broccoli, thanks to the outside competition.
I'm also wondering, why---if deer love lettuce and chard and beans so much---why they don't like celery or parsley.
Of course, I mustn't speak too soon. Could be they're like some people who eat only one item at a time on their plate before taking a bite from the next.
So, I'll keep my mouth shut and pray that most of the remaining garden will be left for Love family consumption.