My kids eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch almost every day. I had a pediatrician tell me several years back that daily PB&Js are just fine. At the time, I wasn't necessarily looking for affirmation, and I'm usually one to question any outside guidance regarding my kids, but considering how much easier this particular indulgence makes my life, I accepted the advice blindly and haven't looked back. So, that's how we've rolled for a while now but I have tried to keep our PB&Js a bit more on the healthy side, even more so lately with homemade bread and jam.
Enter Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day. If you have any interest whatsoever in trying bread making, but are intimidated by the process, I highly suggest that you check it out. The basic idea is that you mix up the bread (no kneading!), let it rise, then stick it in the fridge until baking day. When it's time to bake, take a hunk off the dough, shape it into a loaf, let it rest, bake it. Hands on time is literally about 5 minutes for the mixing and 5 more on baking day. Depending on the recipe you choose, you'll get 2 to 4 loaves out of every batch. The recipe I use for sandwiches is the Soft Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread, but I also like the whole wheat bread made with olive oil, both for loaves and for pizza dough. Seriously, folks, this is bread making at its simplest.
Then there's the jam. I have planned for years to learn canning so that I can line my pantry shelves with jars of homemade soup, homegrown (or at least locally grown) veggies and my own jams and jellies that actually taste like the fruit for which they are named. (The grandmothers were pro canners and food preservers.) This will be the summer. I am committing.
My first attempt: Ponchatoula Strawberry freezer jam made from berries that we picked at a local organic farm. Freezer jam is the gateway to true canning and preserving. So easy, so delicious, so addictive. And so fun when you can pick the berries yourself!
Here's the basic recipe, adapted from the one on the back of the Ball Freezer Jam Pectin box:
1 packet freezer jam pectin
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 cups crushed strawberries (I skipped the crushing and used my food processor)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
clean jars & lids
Mix the sugar and pectin thoroughly in a large bowl. Add your crushed or otherwise processed strawberries and lemon juice to the pectin mixture and stir for about 3 minutes. Pour the strawberry mixture into clean jars, leaving about 1/2 inch head space, and close the lids. Let the jars stand for 30 minutes or so until the jam thickens, then stick one in the fridge and the rest in the freezer.
On a separate note, I have been crafting some over the past few months, little bits here and there. Getting around to blogging about my projects hasn't happened though, obviously. Living before blogging, right? I'll try to get a few things posted soon.
For now, I'll leave you with a gratuitous baby picture.