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I absolutely love to preserve foods! Do I love them mess? No, but it is so worth it in the dead of winter when the temperatures are below zero. I stayed home with our girls for a few years when they were little and I did a ton of canning during that season of life. I remember timing things out perfectly so that I could handle the blazing hot jars during nap time so that I didn't have to worry about them getting burnt.

My mom taught me how to can, as a first-year 4-H'er in 4th grade I took strawberry jam to the fair. 🙂 Ellie and I talked her into helping with almond peach jam and peaches this year. This was mainly because Ellie did not believe me that Grandma knew how to can and definitely didn't believe that she taught me everything I know. (While canning peaches that day my mom said she quit canning when she experienced a year when every jar didn't seal. She had gotten a bad batch of seals and even wrote the company about her frustration. It sounded like many people had the same experience that year. ) I can't imagine putting all of that hard work into your bounty to find that nothing sealed. I now realize why she threw in the towel. 🙂

I love making almond peach jam as it is a favorite with many of our family members and friends! It is adapted from the Sure-Jell recipe insert. I bought a lug of peaches from our local Mennonite store and then ended up buying another box at Fareway. It's very simple to make and is a great recipe to gather your kids to help with since there are lots of steps with the peeling, etc. I hope you enjoy making this recipe as much as we do!

Almond Peach Jam

I absolutely love making this sweet jam. I tend to give it away to family and friends at Christmas! This recipe is adapted from the surejell box insert.
Servings: 7 jelly jars

Equipment

  • Hot water canner
  • Jars, seals, rings

Ingredients

  • 4 cups Chopped Peaches
  • 1 box Sure-jell
  • 5 ½ cups Sugar
  • Lemon Juice
  • 1 tsp Butter
  • 1 tbsp Almond flavoring

Instructions

  • Use a pot of boiling water to blanch peaches. Blanching is dipping the peaches into the boiling water for about 30 seconds then transfer to cold water. This will make the peaches very easy to peel.
  • Bring boiling-water canner, half-full with water, to simmer. Wash jars and screw bands in hot soapy water; rinse with warm water. Pour boiling water over flat lids in saucepan off the heat. Let stand in hot water until ready to use. Drain well before filling.

  • Peel and pit peaches. Sprinkle with lemon juice while cutting to prevent browning. Finely chop fruit. Measure exactly 4 cups prepared fruit into 6- or 8-quart saucepot. Stir in box of sure jell. Add butter to reduce foaming. Bring to full rolling boil (a boil that doesn't stop bubbling when stirred) on high heat, stirring constantly.

  • Stir in sugar. Return to full rolling boil and boil exactly 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim off any foam with metal spoon. Add almond flavoring and stir.

  • Ladle immediately into prepared jars, filling to within 1/4 inch of tops. Wipe jar rims and threads. Cover with 2-piece lids. Screw bands tightly. Place jars in canner. (Water must cover jars by 1 to 2 inches. Add boiling water, if necessary.) Cover; bring water to gentle boil. Process 10 minutes. Remove jars and place upright on towel to cool completely. After jars cool, check seals by pressing middle of lid with finger. (If lid springs back, lid is not sealed and refrigeration is necessary.)

They watch everything we do…

Our children watch everything we do, the good, the bad, and the ugly.  I know this, we all know this, but as we are in the thick of county fair season I have been reminded of it once again.

Red Ribbons

I am not proud of the next few sentences I am going to type, but I am an open book and always share because I know my storms and trials may help others.  Our family started off last week with static judging at the county fair.  Both girls had projects, Ellie for Clover Kids, and Grace for 4-H.  They had both worked really hard, just like all of the kids do to prepare for the county fair.  Grace confidently marched to get in line to get judged on her quilt that she had made. As she walked away from me I couldn’t help but think about the pep she had in her step as she walked away.  I watched as she talked with the judge, shared about her project, and pointed to her goal page and pictures that she had compiled. 

I must have been looking away as it ended because when I looked up Grace was walking towards me WITHOUT that pep in her step.  As any mom would do I said, “What’s the matter?”  Her response, “I got red and she said I could have done better.”  My horrible response that I wish I could take back (imagine my tone), “You, got a red?!?!” Then when I saw the tears welling up in her eyes I just threw her next project at her and told her to get in line with her scotcheroos and cookies.

Being the worrywart that I am I have replayed my reaction a million times in my head.  Do I wish I would have responded differently? Absolutely!  Did she/I learn something from it? Absolutely! I was truly just shocked, not mad.  I knew how hard she had worked on that quilt, but in the end, how hard a parent thinks their child worked on a project doesn’t impact the color of ribbon that is given by the JUDGE.  They are the judge for a reason.  Once I was able to gather my thoughts I was able to respond totally different when she walked back towards me with 2 blues and consideration to the state fair and we talked about what she might have done to improve her quilt to make it a blue ribbon quilt. Had I not done that and took a different approach to the red ribbon the entire day could have gone a different direction.  When we laid our heads down that night I told her to never let the red ribbon take away from the 4 blue ribbons and consideration for the state fair that she had received, but use it to encourage her to try again next year.

So why am I telling all of you this story?  Over the next few weeks of county fair season your children, grandchildren, neighbor children, or club members are going to be watching YOU.  They are watching how you react, interact with others, volunteer, and how you handle THEIR wins and losses. 

These children are the future volunteers at our county fairs and in our communities and they are making memories that will last a lifetime.  They will follow in our footsteps and lead another generation of 4-H and FFA members.  I encourage all of us to truly think about the comments that we make about that hog that wins that we think was too fat, that red ribbon that we think should have been a purple, or giving of your time to clean a neighbors pen or sweep all of the aisles (just because) even if it isn’t your kids' aisle.

Remember they watch everything we do…

What are some of your favorite county fair memories or experiences?

From the gravel road,

Jen

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