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Monday, May 28, 2012

Hidden Hollow

When the Ponderosa princesses were little girls one of their favorite places to go was Hidden Hollow in Cookeville.
Tracie went there so often with her Pa and Granny that Mr. Lee who owned Hidden Hollow knew her name.  We returned to Hidden Hollow recently for a graduation party for Parker.  It has changed.  Age has not been kind to the park and it seems to have been neglected, but Parker didn't know that and we had a great time there.

Tater Bugs

We are always at war with the varmits here on the Ponderosa!  The current enemy is "tater" bugs.  The weapon of choice is sevin dust.

What's blooming on the Ponderosa

This week the Ponderosa is filled with day lily and squash blossoms!


This month we have had a huge strawberry harvest here on the Ponderosa!  I've filled our freezer with  jam, strawberry lemonade and bags of whole berries. I also made strawberry honey butter. We also gave away as many as we kept!  This year because of the unusual weather the berries ripened three weeks early.  We had all we needed but many berries were lost when it rained for two days and caused them to rot. I really enjoyed them while they lasted!
I flash freeze the best whole berries on a cookie sheet, them place them in freezer bags!

Strawberry Honey Butter

1 pint strawberries, hulled
3 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, or to taste
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened

In a food processor purée the strawberries and force the purée through a fine sieve into a saucepan. Add the honey and the lemon juice and boil the mixture, stirring, for 3 minutes, or until it is thickened. Let the strawberry mixture cool to room temperature. In a bowl cream together the butter and the strawberry mixture. Let the butter stand, covered, in a cool place for 1 hour to allow the flavors to develop.

Strawberry Lemonade Concentrate

Makes 6-8 pints or 3 quarts of canned concentrate

6 cups strawberries, cleaned and hulled
4 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice
6 cups sugar

In a food processor, blender or bullet puree strawberries in batches. 

Transfer strawberry puree to a stainless steel saucepan over medium-high heat. DO NOT BOIL. Add lemon juice and sugar and stir to combine.

Using a thermometer heat to 190 degrees Fahrenheit, stirring occasionally. Because this recipe has sugar it will get to temperature rather quickly so keep your eye on the thermometer. Remove from heat.

Ladle mixture into jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Wipe rim, add hot lids and tighten rings just finger tight. Process in water bath canner at a boil for 15 minutes.

To reconstitute, mix one part concentrate with one part water, tonic water or ginger ale. Adjust concentrate to suit your taste. 

**If you do not want to process this concentrate in canning jars, freeze the concentrate in 1 to 2 cup portions.

Strawberry Freezer Jam--Uncooked
2 cups crushed strawberries
4 cups sugar
1 package powdered pectin
1 cup water
 Sort, wash and drain berries.  Remove caps and crush. 
Mix sugar and berries in a large bowl: let stand for 20 minutes.  Stir occasionally.
Dissolve pectin in water and bring to rolling boil for one minute.  Add hot solution to berry and sugar mixture.  Stir until thoroughly mixed.
Pour jam into freezer containers or jars to 1/2 inch of top of container.  Cover and let stand at room temperature for 24 hours.  Store in refrigerator or freezer. 
Yield:  5-6 half pint jars
Uncooked jam may be held in the refrigerator for 3 weeks and in the freezer for a year.

Parker's Pre-School Graduation

On May 11, my favorite five year old had a big day!  He graduated from pre-school.  He was looking handsome and did all his singing and reciting so well it made us all proud!  The graduation took place at his church and afterward his mom and dad hosted a gathering for his family and friends at their home.  We are so very proud of him. 

Special Birthday

On April 20th my dad celebrated his 80th birthday.  We took the day and went on a birthday trip.  Early that morning we headed for Russell Springs, KY where our first stop was the Mighty Dollar where everything is a dollar!  We told him he could buy anything he wanted for his birthday, but he couldn't find anything he needed.  Then we headed for The Bread of Life, a restaurant near Liberty, KY.  They have a buffet and we were pleased to find out it was catfish day!  After a great lunch we drove around in the Amish community nearby and visited one of their stores.  On the way home we visited Mill Springs KY the site of a civil war battle and and a working mill.  It was a great day with perfect weather!

Later in the month on April 29 we had a big birthday celebration on the Ponderosa.  Family and close friends joined us to celebrate Dad's birthday.  Again we had perfect weather and a great time.  There was good food, lots of laughs, some little cousins who enjoyed each other's company and of course birthday cake and presents!