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Notes from our Garden and Kitchen
















Everything is coming in so quickly now. Corn is harvested, tomatoes ripening, potatoes about ready to dig. The beans (planted late) are covered with flowers and tiny beans as well. Another week or so. 

The peas are done and the lettuce has bolted. Space is opening for fall plantings. Compost is added and the weeding... well, you know that never ends. 

The basil is doing exceedingly well considering each plant was nothing more than two tiny yellowing leaves that were planted in haste (in not so great soil). But oh, to see that row shine now. A garden star for sure. 

We haven't had any trouble with critters of the furry kind thanks to a six foot fence, but the insects have begun to make themselves at home so we are now out there two or three times a day to take care of that. 

And how about that crazy looking fence? (The one in the picture with the red barn.) When we made the last minute decision to expand our garden in late Spring, we were without enough fencing and decided to make do with what we could find right here. The solution? A dog kennel that was found on the property! It doesn't win any points for beauty, but the height was in keeping with our need to keep deer on the outside of the garden. And as it turns out, the fully operational swinging door is quite convenient for us gardener folk. 












Blueberries and zucchini have been near daily ingredients in the kitchen. Filling our bellies for today and filling the freezer for the upcoming months. I went to the grocery store for a few things yesterday and in doing so realized I hadn't been in nearly three weeks! Our garden and local pick your own places are keeping us well fed this summer. 

Meals have been simple. One night at dinner, the table held an assortment of corn on the cob, blueberries, popcorn, walnuts, and cherry tomatoes. Lovely, yes? (And so easy on the cook!)


I feel like I need to make a public service announcement, a very bold one at that... 

This is the best chocolate I've ever tasted!! (Adam agrees.) 

I have no idea where it can be purchased around the country, I imagine their website can help out with that. I brought this bar back from Kripalu, found in the refrigerator at the cafe (it is raw and highly perishable). The idea of lavender and peppermint intrigued me, and it turns out both work beautifully together in this chocolate. Neither are overpowering, more akin to the subtle aromatic sensation you get in the back of your nose when using flower essence remedies. Magical! 


I need to finish up this quick little post and get back to the kitchen as I am busy simmering and stirring these twenty pounds of peaches into a batch of Spiced Peach Butter, to then be canned. 

I do hope everything is abundant and summery in your garden and kitchen.  

Scout's World










He continues to settle in just fine, like he's always been here. And those ears... they were so floppy just a few weeks ago. Now we wait for the rest of his body to grow into them. Sweet little boy who is so good on his leash and loves hiking. He's fitting in quite nicely over here. 

Honey Blueberry Jam








But first, a bite of grilled pizza and some summer love. 

 I'll remember this summer as long as I live. 

The cutest puppy settling in with our family, the biggest garden we've had to date, the blissful quiet of country living, the growth and fun that comes from following the resident young adult's lead and saying 'yes' to her traveling heart. And, the more private behind the scenes battles and triumphs my loved ones are soldiering through at this time. So much life, this summer. 

Grilling pizza on the back deck. Stretching dough, adding basil, pouring iced tea. Entertaining the puppy, catching up on the day. 

Showing up for life. I see it all around me. 


Before heading out for a quick getaway with Emily and her best friend, I set out to make a big batch of blueberry jam. I suppose I could have tossed the berries into the freezer with the strawberries (June was just so busy, there was barely time for picking, let alone jam-making), and made this year's jam at a later date.

But the humidity we've been suffering through finally broke. It is still hot and summery, just without the unbearable stickiness. Perfect for canning up some jam. 


I should have been finishing my packing, putting the laundry away, watering the back garden, etc. You know those many tasks that need tending before heading out the door. Instead, my mind was on one thing only - honey blueberry jam. 


Before I could get started, seeing the blueberries on the counter reminded me I did not have any breakfast. Yogurt with honey and blueberries it is.  

I've been using Pomona's Pectin for about 4 years now and with it have made several types of low sugar jams, jellies, and sauces. Unlike most pectin, Pomona's can gel using less sugar, and will even gel using honey or fruit juice concentrate. 

From their website:

"Pomona's Universal Pectin is a sugar-free, preservative-free, low-methoxyl citrus pectin that is activated by calcium. Since it does not require sugar to jell, jams and jellies can be made with less, little, or no sugar."

Scared of it not working, and thus sacrificing precious summer fruit and expensive honey, I never did have the confidence to give it a go. But this year was the year to try out jam making with honey. Why was I so worried? Hasn't this method been tested a thousand times by Pomona? Of course it has!

With the clock ticking and a car that needed to be packed, I set out to make 15 jars of Honey Blueberry Jam. It turned out to be so very good, and the consistency is perfectly jam-like!








This recipe made a little more than could fit into my 15 half pint jars for canning, so the extra 2 1/2 pints were jarred up for the freezer. Next time I'll plan ahead better to have enough jars ready for canning. 

This recipe will make 20 half pints. If you'd like to make less or more, adust accordingly. 


Honey Blueberry Jam 

  • 16 cups mashed blueberries (pulse them through the food processor until fine but not pureed)
  • 1 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 3 1/2 cups local honey (you can use more or less honey to your liking, I actually started with 3 cups and added a bit more as this variety of berries were a little tart)
  • 8 teaspoons Pomona's Pectin powder
  • 8 teaspoons calcium water (made using calcium powder that comes with Pomona's Pectin, instructions included in package)


  1. In very hot water, wash and rinse 20 half pint canning jars. This can be done by hand or in the dishwasher. Do this right before ready to use so jars are still hot.
  2. Add lids and rings to a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a strong simmer but do not boil. Keep lids and rings in hot water as you prepare jam.
  3. In a very large pot combine mashed blueberries, lemon juice, and calcium water. Bring to a boil. Stirring often to prevent fruit from sticking to the pan. 
  4. Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, combine honey and pectin. Mix well. A small whisk works really well.
  5. Add honey/pectin mixture to the boiling fruit. Continue to stir and boil for 2 minutes or so, until jam begins to thicken. Skim off any foam that forms on the surface of jam.  
  6. Jam thickens upon cooling, so to best test your jam's doneness, put a teaspoonful on a saucer and refrigerate for a few minutes. Check for “jam” consistency. Cook another minute or so  if not thick enough.
  7. Using a wide mouth funnel and small measuring cup as a scoop, fill hot/clean jars leaving 1/4" head space at the top. Place lids on the top and screw on bands, not too tightly.
  8. Process jars in boiling water for 10 minutes. (Add one minute more for every 1,000 feet of elevation.)
  9. Using a jar lifter, remove from water once processed. Allow to sit in one spot and cool completely. 
  10. Add to your pantry!

Print Recipe -  Honey Blueberry Jam


Now, I need to think about taking those strawberries from the freezer to make jam before the peaches start to ripen. My favorite!

Blueberry Glace Pie (and other thoughts)


Two Fridays ago I recorded a podcast with Erin to be aired later in July. Details to come when it's ready. I'll also share a little more about what it was like to be interviewed live. Mostly it was comfortable and easy, Erin is quite gifted at holding the space that way (loved our pre-recording centering).

But... most of how I communicate online is through tapping my way across these keys in front of me, deleting and editing quite abundantly along the way. I get a lot of second chances on this little blog of mine. Real time conversation doesn't afford that - oh, what an exercise in self-compassion and letting go!

It is what it is, and as it should be.

There were some things I wish I spoke more clearly on, some topics I should have expanded on, and some questions I'm sure I did not answer clearly enough. Erin is one gracious lady and (for anyone who enjoys blogging) Behind The Blog is one of the most interesting podcast topics I've come across in a long time. 


In our interview (not to give too much away), we talked a little about how my style of blogging has changed over the last nine months. How I've drawn inward a bit more, written less, and in general have used this blog as more of a daybook than a place for deeper musings. I mentioned to Erin that it felt "more sustainable" as other areas of my life (both professional and homeschooling a high schooler) have increased their demand of my time. (That is not to complain, just a matter of looking honestly at the hours in my day.)

I also felt the need to withdraw a little from putting myself out there, to focus my energy on observing more than contributing. It was a much needed respite, but the last few days I've noticed a little tug. Fingers are asking to type more, my mind and heart both looking to open up and go deeper again. Unsure exactly of what that will look like as the weeks and months move on, but today, that is where I am and it feels pretty good to be here.

I'll be away on a solo trip next week, setting out on a personal retreat. (A gift to myself, 40 is approaching...) I look forward to pondering many things during those quiet, reflective days. 


Don't you just love the wisdom of our elders? Seriously, look at this woman parked comfortably in her chair, picking blueberries to her heart's content. Someday I will bring a chair and give this method a go. So wise and adorable. (Although hopefully our own bushes will produce enough beginning next year that I won't need to go anywhere else!)


For now, I've got my usual set up, similar to what most of you use. Boy it was hot out there the last few days. I managed to recruit help from the family and 25 pounds have been picked so far. A great amount, but not quite enough for a full year's storage. Another outing or two will take place I'm sure. 

Many of our blueberries wind up in the freezer for oatmeal, baking, and smoothies. A large amount will be turned to jam this afternoon, and there was the annual making of Blueberry Glace Pie. 


The only baking required is for the graham cracker crust, but I think it would be incredibly good with a raw nut crust as another option. 


The 'gel' that holds the pie together is a simple mixture of orange juice, sugar, a small amount of berries, cornstarch and water. After a quick stove top cooking and thickening, it is pressed through a fine mesh strainer and you simply combine a whole bunch more fresh berries with the gel and pour it into the prepared piecrust. The only time consuming part is the required refrigeration needed for the pie to set up - several hours. 




But oh my it is worth the wait. This is one of the most delicious things I've ever tasted, I look forward to making it every year. I used to work in a restaurant and would bring several in for the staff each summer, never was there a disappointed co-worker.  

I've always made this pie as my recipe reads (below), but I would like to try swapping the sugar for honey. I'll play around with that and do hope for some success. I know I'll need to reduce the liquid when adding honey, but I don't want to miss any of the subtle yet important orange flavor from the juice. Orange juice concentrate perhaps?


So, today I bring you this...


Blueberry Glace Pie

  • 5 cups fresh blueberries
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3/4 cup orange juice
  • 3/4 cup sugar 
  • 3 slightly rounded tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 9 inch graham cracker pie shell, I use the recipe from Homemade Pantry or Silver Palate, both are perfect.

Simmer 1 cup berries with orange juice and sugar for about 4 minutes, berries will burst. Mix water in a small bowl with cornstarch. Add mixed cornstarch to the pot, simmer a few minutes longer until thickened. Press mixture through a fine strainer into a bowl, add remaining berries and mix gently. Pour into pie shell, chill for at least 4 hours. Top with whipped cream or homemade vanilla ice cream. 


Print Recipe - Blueberry Glace Pie



Thank you for indulging me past 300 words today. It felt good. xo

5 :: July




Emily and I stayed home for a few days while Adam took a trip to visit his parents. I had grand plans to check a few things off my homemaking/home-improvent list (oh, that slipcover!!), but I immediately realized none of that was going to happen. We have a puppy! It's sort of like those newborn baby days when the breakfast dishes are still in the sink at 5pm and looking back on the day you really don't see a spare 15 minutes that could have been used to wash them. But how cute and lovable those busy moments are... so we just make peace and roll with it. 








Aside from delayed and deemed unimportant chores, I am certain it's going to be months before my floors are truly clean again. We are in and out so much all day long, between the garden and this little guy. I shouldn't even bother putting the vacuum away. Probably best to just leave it out for a quick run when there is a spare 30 seconds. Thankfully, he's enamored with the vacuum so we can turn that task into a game. Also someday in the future? Items will return to our lower shelves. For now, out of sight, out of mind. 




I wanted to mention that I've added an instagram gallery to the sidebar over on the right (click through if you're reading in rss). You can follow me on instagram if you'd like, I do find myself snapping a few pics most days and I don't post them here. To follow along, my user name is heatherbru.




Our blueberries are ripening! This year I do believe it will be at the pace of one handful at a time, but goodness they are sweet and wonderful. Next year I have a feeling there will be a more proper harvest. 


There is something about a guy coming home from work with your favorite beer in one hand and a roadside bouquet in the other. A perfect summertime moment. Oh, to bottle such things and cherish them forever. 




These summer days - they are full of light and quiet. They remind me of all that is slow, peaceful and possible in the world. It's all right there in front of me. My job is to become still enough, open-hearted enough, to catch every drop of it with my whole being. 


The one fact that I would cry from every housetop is this: the Good Life is waiting for us - here and now. 

~ B.F. Skinner