Monday, July 28, 2014

Picking Patience

Ever since we were little we have both enjoyed picking fruit.  My family spent fall weekends working at the apple orchard that our good family friends owned around the corner from us in Stow, MA.  My husband worked at apple orchards and remembers picking apples during breaks during soccer games.  Both of our family's had big vegetable gardens growing up and our dad's loved to garden.   My mom loves flowers but the vegetable growing was left to our father's.  Both of them with green thumbs.

As a family one of our favorite traditions is picking fruit together.  Every time Rod's sister came up from North Carolina in the fall for the Bolton Fair we would go apple picking.  Ride the tractor with the driver balancing an apple on his head out to the orchards.  The bag is always bursting with apples.  Our bellies are too.  We love to eat the fresh apples and then come home and bake apple pies and apple crisps together.  We even freeze a few for the winter months so that we can enjoy the fresh taste of a homemade apple pie or crisp in the middle of winter.  So delicious! I always bring my camera along to capture a beautiful fall day.  Such fun fall memories, past and present.

When Summer comes it's time for more picking fun!  Strawberries are always in season right around Father's Day, Dance Recitals and the end of the school year.  It's such a busy time of year but we always manage to squeeze in strawberry picking too.  Not sure what we'd do without those sun-ripened strawberries or the delicious freezer jam we make from them.  Our kids only eat this delicious jam.  It's easy and homemade.  We grab a small jar from the freezer and bring it with us to the beach or the ski mountain along with peanut butter and a loaf of bread.  PB & J's on the go.   What a wonderful way to capture a taste of summer all year long!  This year we made Three Sister's Strawberry Jam and gave a jar to each of the girl's teachers along with a berry colander.  It was our way of saying thank you for such a sweet school year! 

Next is blueberries.  Perhaps our favorite to pick.  We go to a little place called Gianettes in Franklin MA.  Two brothers bought adjacent properties years ago and didn't know what to do with all the acreage in back of their houses. They decided to plant blueberry bushes and now they share them with the public.  It is a family business with grandparents checking people in, grandchildren handing you picking buckets and moms and dads ringing you out.  Love this place.  It's only open Fridays and Saturdays so the picking is always great.  Nothing better than reaching out and having a handful of blueberries just fall into your hand.  Big, blue, juicy.  So delicious and healthy!  We usually bring our DD blueberry ice coffees to keep cool while we pick.  And we pick.  And we pick.  We often go back a second time.  Believe it or not 16 plus pounds is usually not enough for us.  Last year we ran out of our supply in the freezer in February.  So sad!   This year we must pick more!  We came home and made fresh blueberry muffins and ate an entire bag by the next day.  The rest will be frozen for smoothies, Bing's pancakes, and blueberry crisp and muffins.

We have picked cherries in the past and when I was a kid we always picked peaches. Both delicious but we don't feel the need to pick those every year.    Right now Apples, strawberries and blueberries are our favorite.  Can't imagine our freezer not bursting with strawberries, blueberries and apple pies.  Delicious family memories to enjoy year round!

Here are a few of our favorite recipes to share:

Apple/Blueberry/Peach Crisp-Enjoy with your favorite fruit and some vanilla ice-cream on top
Preheat Oven to 375
Grease brownie or lasagna pan with butter
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup oats
3/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 stick of soft butter

Crumble over top of fresh washed fruit/Dice apples and peaches/leave blueberries whole
Pour 1/4 cup water over top of crumble
Bake and Enjoy!

Three Sisters Strawberry Jam- a.k.a. Strawberry Freezer Jam

  1. Mix crushed strawberries with sugar, and let stand for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, stir the pectin into the water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, and boil for 1 minute. Stir the boiling water into the strawberries. Allow to stand for 3 minutes before pouring into jars or other storage containers.  Can use jelly jars or save salsa, spaghetti sauce or other jars throughout year.  Boil jars and lids before using.  
  2. Place tops on the containers, and leave for 24 hours. Place into freezer, and store frozen until ready to use.

Bing's Pancakes-  Great with blueberries, strawberries, bananas and/or chocolate chips mixed in
1/2 cup milk
2 Tablespoons oil
1 egg
1 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 Tablespoons sugar

Mix together.  Add more milk to make batter thinner.

(We have these almost every weekend.  The girls and Rod have the recipe memorized.)

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Guest Book -First installment

I have always loved guest books.  I am the one that sits down and reads other people's guest books cover to cover.  Part of what makes a home special to me is the people that have stayed in it and the experiences they have had there.  Sometimes the book provides ideas for restaurants, hikes, or day trips.  Other times reflections on favorite things to see and do.  I started our own guest book when we bought Duck Head.  The original guest book is on the book shelf in the living room for people to peruse if they would like.  I wanted a clean slate.  A fresh start for our own story of DuckHead to be recorded.  I can't wait to see how the story unfolds...

New England in a week!

What a busy fun week we just had!  Monday we were at the Breezy Waterslides in Douglas Massachusetts with friends and their families from our hometown.  Love this place!  Such a gorgeous location to hang all day while the kids are entertained by the slides and lake.  I read my book and wrote a recommendation for a good friend.  Then sat and talked with friends while the girls went on slide after slide with friends.  Can't imagine a better place to spend a summer's day!  

Tuesday found us in RI visiting with some of our favorite friends and heading to another set of waterslides.  Then we hopped in the car together and drove "convertible style" (all the windows down, sunroof open and music blaring) to Connecticut to go to Buttonwood farm for their Sunflowers for Wishes benefit for Make a Wish Foundation.  What could be better than a day spent with good friends amongst sunflowers and all for a good cause?  

Wednesday found us heading back to NH for our bonus days after our 3 week renter left early and before our 4 one week renters arrive.   We spent the day enjoying Tequila Day and getting ready for the same RI friends to join us for their first time at DuckHead on Thursday!  Love friends that can be spontaneous and join us at a moment's notice!

They came with their paddle board and black lab Cooper (Sadie's husband) in tow.  We had a great couple days together at the lake.  We got to see Chad's energy and enthusiasm for lake living.  He grew up on Lake Winnepesauke and was in his element trying out every toy on the lake.  We joked that he was doing his own triathlon on Crescent Lake although his included swimming across the lake,  paddle boarding around the entire lake, kayaking, canoeing, floating,and ball throwing.  All repeated many times.  The dogs were in heaven and so were the girls.  We spent two late nights laughing around the campfire.  The first night was a little smokey but the second night was perfect.   My friend Kirsten kept stopping to say "I know I've said this before but I LOVE your cottage!"  It was so fun to have a family that loves being outdoors as much as we do.  We literally went outside on Friday at around 8:30 with the dogs and didn't come back in till it was time to make supper.  Kirsten's kept saying the cottage provided all the best parts of camping: nature, being outdoors, boating, swimming, not showering,  while staying in a cottage with the luxury of having beds and bathrooms and running water!

Spent the day trying out all the toys!

The girls made lunch and called their operation "Five Girls Grill".  They waited on us from start to finish.  Created menus by looking at what was available in the fridge and pantry.  Even had sides. Took orders.  Served drinks.   Even cleaned up the dishes and had a bell we could ring when we were finished so they could bus our dishes and bring dessert.  Grownups were NOT allowed indoors.   They were beaming from ear to ear the entire time.  Two sleepovers and a couple days spent with some of their besties.  I think they were trying to say "Thank you!"  We were all sitting around very relaxed and drinking beers at lunchtime and thinking we could get used to this.  So nice to have our kids at ages where we are not always waiting on them!

Borrowing her hubbies new bed and showing him how to use it!
We all wanted to take a nap but I think Sadie was the only one
who actually did. 
Dinner with friends!

After dinner yoga on the paddle board and dock. 
A paddle out to the middle of the lake to enjoy the sunset!
Toasting a gorgeous sunset!  Happy 17th Anniversary friends!
Remember to turn the lens away from the sunset!
Paddling back to the cottage for another night of
gathering around the fire and s'mores!
So fun to enjoy coffee with friends and this view.  To catch up and finish conversations.  For Chad and Rod to see each other for the first time in years.  I repeat, they have so much in common!  Thanks for the visit friends!!  

Tonight the girls and I are home while Rod goes to Men's Night on the lake with his brother.  Hope they have fun!  Just don't go too late.  If you do you might miss it.  Tomorrow will be spent at home doing laundry and catching up around here.  Monday we head to Maine if my sister-in-law feels better for a few days with Grandma and Aunties and kids enjoying Peaks Island.  If we had just driven 20 minutes west of the cottage to Vermont for dinner the other night we would have hit all 6 New England States in one week!  I think 5 is enough!  Our dogs would all agree!

Nola and Sadie barely moved on the car ride home and
have looked something like this since we arrived.  
Cooper was way too excited to sleep at the lake!
Too many balls to fetch and smells to enjoy.
This was a picture taken of him when he arrived home
after a 4 hour car ride spent mostly sleeping.  Have a
feeling he'll be konked out like this
for the next few days!