Monday, August 22, 2011

The End

Well, I guess it's time to say goodbye to summer. Goodbye to the suckiest summer ever in terms of weather, but one of the best summers EVER in terms of everything else.

Because this summer was all about the travel and the late night barbecues with friends. The popsicles, the campouts, the bountiful harvest (thanks to Lost Creek Organic Farm), late night salsa canning parties, adventures with the pressure cooker, and the playdates. And this summer we were all about the non-chaperoned playdate. You guys, we actually have friends who will take our kids for hours at a time in the name of playdates. Oh yes, it was a fun summer for playdates. A fun summer indeed.

I have a certain nostalgia for bikerides in the darkness on a warm summer evening after a few beers. Nothing says summer to me quite like that brief moment when you lose sight of the pavement and sail into the blackest of night, coasting along and hoping you remember your way as you blindly pedal forward.

And there were also swimming lessons. And a lot of time spent on the bleachers trying to keep Sawyer occupied while Jack learned to chicken-airplane-soldier.

He ran up to me excitedly after the first swim class to announce that there were bobbins! Just like on the sewing machine! Love that kid.

We continue to read a ton. Our shady back deck and cozy camping chairs make the perfect afternoon library, especially when a friend comes for dinner and brings a new book to add to our collection. I do wonder why I didn't start with the bigger kid books earlier.

We finished Runaway Ralph and now we're deep into Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. This has been my absolute favorite so far. I am loving the vivid imagery, the outlandish fantasy and the subversive morality. It surprises me how much Jack really understands. I feel like I've unlocked a little piece of his puzzle with this reading thing. Up next: Harry Potter. I know!!!

Also this summer I conquered the art of canning. Well, I at least overcame my fear of the pressure cooker and botulism and tainted canning lids to do up a big old batch of green beans with a friend. And after all of the washing and the trimming and the funneling and the pressure cooking I realized that we don't really like canned green beans much at all. Oh well, I still have my chest freezer and plenty more beans coming my way...

Do you ever wonder what to do with all of those cherry tomatoes?

I've been oven roasting ours and popping them into the freezer. Brent, who is the pickiest tomato eater of us all, declares that they are delicious. I'm hoping to use them in quiches and on pizzas this winter. I followed this easy recipe, in case you too have cherry tomatoes that need a destination.

If you stopped by my house this summer you probably walked away with a jar of blackberry jam. I'm not sure why it took me so long to come around to the idea of blackberry jam, but now that I've started making it I just can't seem to stop. It is so good. And easy. And with two blackberry pickers around to do the dirty work I've found myself making it on a daily basis. Oh yeah, it's that good.

Jack can do almost an entire batch by himself. He just needs help with the stove and the funnel. That's my boy!

Here is our very unscientific method for blackberry jam:

Pick a few cups of blackberries (5-6? It really doesn't matter)
Rinse the berries in a colander and then mash them in a saucepan.
Bring the pulverized berries to a low boil and stir in a bit of sugar (less is more! Maybe 1/2 cup?) and a couple of spoonfuls of pectin.
Stir in some water (say 1/2 cup?)
Let boil for a minute or so.
Pour into clean jars, top with a lid, and let them sit on the counter for a day.
Refrigerate, freeze, or give them away to lucky friends and family.

Also, blackberries really add some color to your smoothies. Observe:

And. AND! BLACKBERRY SYRUP! OMFG. You know how I feel about pancakes, so you can imagine that my enthusiasm for blackberry syrup is intense. Woah.

Anyway, my main reason for wanting to learn how to can was SALSA! Who doesn't love some garden salsa in the middle of January? Turns out- no shocker here- that canning is actually a lot easier than I thought it would be. We did two different batches of salsa and I recommend this one. But probably you won't be leaving my house with a jar of salsa when you come to visit. Those tomatoes are a pain in the ass to peel.

And now we are going to attempt to cram in every last summery detail possible before next Monday rears its ugly head and hi ho hi ho and all that cheery back to work crap.

Let's start with some nekkid boys in the sprinkler.

I feel better now. And anyway, I still have this week to pick blueberries and swim in the lake and gaze at the summer stars.

(Hi ho hi ho)

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