Picking Wild Chokecherries

Have fun picking wild chokecherries! We went with two friends in Spokane WA to pick some wild chokecherries on a walking path near their house. There were four of us and after about an hour of picking together, we had filled a 5-gallon bucket.

Lots of washing, washing, washing. After cleaning, it measured out to 72 cups of berries and about 6 cups of stems and leaves. The picture is with all of them in the large stainless steel pressure cooker pot holding the washed berries

My recipe made three batches (20 cups each), which I had to split between two big pots on the stove. I tend to keep the maximum at 10 cups per pot. Otherwise, I get quite a mess when it all starts to boil and foam, overflowing all over the stovetop. You know how much of a mess that is to clean up. We are now two very stocked-up families in both choke cherry syrups for pancakes and jam.

Canners BEWARE

Canners Beware Chinese Lids

Avoid This Costly Error

Fellow canners beware of “Chinese” canning jar lids advertised as being “Mason Lids” on Amazon.

Chinese is a loser when compared to “Ball” lids. These two jars of cherries were processed in the same boiling water bath, the one on the left is a Chinese lid and the one on the right is an American “Ball” lid. In a boiling water bath, the Chinese lids expand — raising up like a balloon, then wrinkling and creasing as they cool. Chinese lids are sized to fit a standard American-made canning jar, but, are sadly much lighter weight and totally unreliable. If you choose to buy these lightweight “Chinese lids” you will very likely lose portions of your harvest. I ultimately had to repeat the water bath process with American lids, in order to seal the jars.

Faulty Lids

Our local farm supply store has not carried any canning jar lids this year so I have had to turn to online purchasing in order to get canning done this year. Here are links to what I bought on Amazon which I returned for a refund. Do yourself a favor and avoid these manufacturers like the plague.

AOZITA 100-Count, [WIDE Mouth] Canning Lids for Ball, Kerr Jars – Split-Type Metal Mason Jar Lids for Canning – Food Grade Material, 100% Fit & Airtight for Wide Mouth Jars

96 Pieces 70 mm Canning Lids Jar Lids Split-Type Lids Reusable Leak Proof Storage Solid Caps Metal Canning Jar Lids Compatible with Mason Jar for Pickling Canning Jar Lid Storage (Gold and Silver)

Unfortunately, I ordered the cheaper foreign-manufactured canning lids on Amazon which taught me this lesson. The lure of cost savings is not worth the amount of lost product and time it entailed. “Made in America” is what I am going to purchase from now on. We spend a lot of energy growing fruit, pitting and processing it to put into our pantry each year. Gardening and food preparation is some of the blessings in our lives. It is frustrating when a foreign manufacturer takes shortcuts, that destroy our work, making the job so much harder.

Beautiful Fruit Blossoms

Early Spring is the time to witness beautiful fruit blossoms which can tempt any artist into rendering their beauty. On top of that, the air is full of flower fragrances, especially with Inland Northwest lilac scents drifting across the land. It is a cornucopia of an eye and nose candy.

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macintosh apple blossoms

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pear in lower orchard

Our garden has apple, pear, peach and cherry and choke cherry trees all blossoming and setting on fruit. Hopefully, all the fruit will come through and provide a wonderful harvest.

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semi-sweet pie cherry lower orchard

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choke cherry blossoms

Combined with this extensive array are other garden wonders soon to come; blackberries, strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries. Then the huckleberries up in the mountains later on. Well…. hoping for lots of canning this year.

Pies By Pete

Peach & Cherry PieMen Bake Beautifully

Here are two pies by Pete sitting on the counter. Contrary to popular belief, men are some of the best bakers on the planet. It is kind of a family joke, as I carry in one of Pete’s pies to a party or gathering. I can’t tell you how many times someone assumes that I was the one who bakes any pies that we bring to a gathering. Nope, you couldn’t be more wrong, it is Pete who does the pie baking in our house.

Today’s dessert selection looks quite tempting, The hardest thing for me is to walk past them without touching them as they are cooling. I’d like to stick my finger in both of them to try, but I don’t think anyone would appreciate it. The one on the left is called fresh peach pie and it is a custard type filling with pieces of sliced peaches in it. The one on the right is a normal good old cherry pie. Yummm!

When I met Peter he invited me to his folk’s house for a Christmas gathering potluck. I had no idea that there were 9 children in the family with all their children. It was quite overwhelming to try and meet all of them and try to keep any of their names straight. I was a bundle of nerves till we all played cards and told jokes filling the whole house with laughter together. I sure miss those big family gatherings and playing 3-13 together.

Dorothy Woelk was the best pie baker in the Spring Valley Mennonite Church. Her pies had crust that simply melts in your mouth. Perfect every time and gone in a flash always. Her son learned how to do this magical feat from her. Thank you, Dorothy!

I’m so glad I married a pie baker!

Demo Old

fence top rail removal
fence top rail removal

Remove the Old

Demolition of the old fence begins with Pete taking down all of the top rails on the existing fence. Our demo construction experience “kicks in” as we prepare to build a new garden fence. All the new posts are painted and stacked to dry.¬† Now we decide what is good enough for reuse and what is not. We sort and stack supplies, then burn debris in the fire. Then, do it again. Next, we remove the wire staples followed by taking down and rolling-up old wire for reuse.

SW new fenceline
SW new fenceline

Ground Prep

The ground is graded after clearing the old fence away. This allowed easy and accurate measurement for South and Southwest corner posts locations. We stretch the blue bale twine line to use as a guide to help make the fence straight. Consequentially, by the end of the day, the first 5 fence posts are set on the southwest side of the garage.

Temporary Fence

Since this is not a one-day affair, we must construct temporary fencing each evening as we work. Why? Because Bambi is always a threat in our area. If you look at the middle of the dirt expanse in this picture you can see how we placed temporary fencing for this evening.

apple blossoms
apple blossoms

We have a total of 10 fruit trees in our orchard. It has taken years to get them all healthy and happy and they are beginning to bloom. It is so beautiful and fragrant. If we want any fruit this year we must not leave them out in the open for the deer to eat up. We hope that the weather doesn’t decide to freeze up and snow again before summer gets here. Just another thing that we are crossing our fingers for. Unfortunately, it is all over if those beautiful little flowers get frosted.

cherry blossoms
cherry blossoms

Cherry Tablecloth

Next in this needlework adventure, it was the colors. I decided to make the cherries a mixture of rainier pinks and bings in dark maroon and deep reds. The twisting vines and stems would be with a dark stem and lighter leaves around the border and in the interior vine design. There were four baskets, one on each corner, that I thought would look good in brown earth tones.

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Middle of the table, cherries and vine pattern

Getting out my box of embroidery floss I began choosing the pinks and cherry reds color along with foliage greens. For the baskets I chose browns, but after finishing the first one I chose to change the color of the baskets for each corner just for some variety in the piece.

brown cherry basket tablecloth
This basket of charries has the darker brown color stitched in.

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The corner baskets give a good weight to the corners when the tablecloth is placed.

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A corner basket of cherries with yellow highlights.

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Cherry basket at the corner of the tablecloth highlighted with a light brown.

Tomato Joy

Mr. and Mrs. Cherry were expecting a little bundle of tomato joy. They had gone to the hospital that morning and had been there many hours. They were both tired and getting a little concerned. It just seemed as though this child was taking forever to be born.

All of a sudden, Mabel’s contractions got harder and faster and the room got noisy. Everyone in the room rushed around, preparing for the new arrival. The little one finally arrived. Everyone smiled, feeling relieved. The doctor lifted the baby up, so the parents could see and said, “This is a surprise,

Congratulations! It is Triplets?

tomato triplet