...Growing, Building, Cooking, Preserving, Crafting...

2006 began our urban homestead when I broke ground on a garden, which now includes perennial fruits, flowers, & many vegetable varieties. We dream of solar panels, keeping bees and hens. Until then we'll continue growing and preserving our own fruits and vegetables, building what we can for our home, cooking from scratch, and crafting most days.


Foraging and Rummaging

The Elkhorn Antique Flea Market yesterday was amazing, as expected.  It may have been the most fun trip we've taken there yet...and the season is just beginning.  I had a list of several things to look for, but was really zoning in on just one or two pieces.  If one tries to "see it all," it gets exhausting and overwhelming very quickly.  The kids were super troopers all day, bumping along in the wagon, and we went home with a truckload of cool old stuff.  My favorite find was a small red wooden bench that I placed in our vestibule.  Over the last couple of years I've been trying to make the most of our small house so this creates an additional useable "room" in our home.  I'd been wanting to outfit the entryway a bit to make a comfy spot for reading or knitting.  Our friend applied some warm-colored coats of paint to this area last summer and with a small lamp, rug, and pillows it's a glowing little corner for winding down in the evening with a book or watching a rain storm through the screen door.  (See bench at lower left in picture.)

To back up just a bit, Vera and I went on an urban foraging hike at Riverside Park via the Urban Ecology Center on Saturday.  I've done a bit of wild foraging, but was hoping to gain a little more knowledge and expand my repertoire this season.  The trek culminated with the group gathering violets and returning to the center to make a batch of beautiful violet jam.  Delicious! (P.S.  The photos are actually from last year's batch that I made at home.)

Violet Jam
Recipe courtesy of Matt Flower, Urban Ecology Center forager
Makes about 2 1/2 pints

1 c. violet blossoms, packed full
1 1/2 c. water, divided
2 T. lemon juice (or juice of 1 lemon)
2 1/2 c. sugar
1 package pectin
three-piece canning jars

Sterilize jars by putting them in boiling water for 10-15 min.  Place the blossoms, 3/4 c. water, and lemon juice in a blender and blend until it's a smooth paste.  Slowly add the sugar until blended.  Combine 3/4 c. water and 1 pkg. pectin in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil and boil hard for one minute.  Add to the paste in blender.  Blend for an additional minute.  Pour into sterilized jars and cover with dome lid and screwbands.  Refrigerate (will last about 3 weeks) or freeze for a winter treat (be sure to leave 1/4-1/2 inch headspace if planning to freeze.)

Variations: Substitute violet blossoms with multiflora rose petals, white and yellow clover flowers, purple loosestrife flowers, bouncing bet flowers, autumn olive flowers, honeysuckle flowers.

Adding herbs such as lemon balm can also impart unique flavors.

Note:  This makes a gorgeous Mother's Day gift (think ahead for next year.)

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