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Fun lunch Friday- Pasta dogs and bananas

We had this lunch on tuesday and the kids loved it.  Their friends could not figure out how I did it.  Here is how:

If you can, buy nitrite free hotdogs at your healthy store.  Whole foods has a few options.  First, get a pot of water on the stove to boil. Slice your hotdogs and then take your thick sphaghetti and while holding the bunch in your hand just snap it in half.

 Push a few strands of pasta into each hotdog piece (I did four per each piece).

 When you have them all done pop them into your water.  I don’t salt my water because the hotdogs are already salty but if you like you can add a little salt to your water. When they are ready and your pasta is al dente, use a slotted spoon to remove them from the water.  You could just use a strainer but I did not want to break my pasta by mistake.

I then took a flower cookie cutter, sliced a banana for each kid and cut each slice into a flower shape.  I ate all the extra little pieces : )

and there you go!  A fun and quick lunch which your kids will love.
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Preserving the Harvest- Blackberry Jam and Syrup

Today my job was preserving the 10 quarts of blackberries that we harvested/picked/gleaned in my last post.

I am making several yummies with our blackberries but I will cover the two I am making today.

Canning food is a science.  One that I have not learned enough about.  I do not own a pressure canner or even a water canner, instead I just use a huge stock pot which I already use for other things (like cooking for my gigantic family).  I wash and sterilize my jars and new lids and then put the filled jar into the boiling water pot for 10 minutes after I am done so they seal.  I know I probably am doing everything wrong but at the rate that we eat our food, it is not around long enough to go bad anyway.  OK onto the good stuff.

Blackberry Syrup-  This we use for everything from flavoring milk kefir and yogurt to ice cream topping and pancakes.

6 cups of berries
6 cups of water
4 cups organic cane sugar

This is not really a recipe (well I guess it is)  I just kind of throw it together but these are the measurements that I used.

Put ingredients in a pot, stir until all the sugar has dissolved and then with a potato masher, mash the berries in the pot.  Let it boil down to the consistency you want it to be.  If you want it sweeter or thicker you could increase the sugar by up to 2 more cups.

Pour through a metal sieve (do not throw away mashed pulp)  pour the syrup into your hot sterilized jars,  put your lids and bands on tight and put back into the pot of boiling water for 10 minutes. Make sure the jars are covered by at least 1-2 inches of water.  I have a tool which pulls the jars in and out of the water and another which is a wand with a magnetic end to get the lids out of the pot without burning yourself.  I bought them from Ball and if you want to do any amount of canning at least treat yourself to these 2 items.

Next with some of the blackberries I made a jam which needs no pectin to thicken.

8 cups of blackberries
8 cups of sugar
2 tsp of lemon juice

Mash your berries in a bowl.  Put them into the pot and pour your sugar on top.  Add the lemon and mix.  Bring to a boil for a few minutes and then let it cook on medium heat for another 15-20 minutes.  Again pour into your sterilized jars and can as in last recipe.

Lastly,  take the mashed pulp you had left over from the blackberry syrup and put it away covered in the fridge until tomorrow when we are going to make fruit roll ups from it.  You didn’t think that lovely yummy sweetened berry mush was going to my chickens did you?

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