Low Sugar/Sweetner Blueberry Jam Experiments--2 New Recipes

Last year Hazel and I were on a jam making kick. We made strawberry jam with my mother and then went blueberry and peach picking and made jams from our fresh picked fruit. This year we experimented with a pectin free raspberry jam (made with frozen raspberries). We went blueberry picking this weekend and we tried two different kinds of blueberry jam recipes. We picked about three quarts of blueberries before Hazel got bored at Smolak Farms. (Then we went and found our friends who had given up earlier and looked at the animals some more, had lunch and went for a hayride.)
The first recipe we tried came on the back of a Bob's Red Mill chia seed package. This recipe is for Blueberry Chia Jam. Since the chia seeds work as a thickener, you do not need pectin. The benefits of this recipe being less sugar/sweetener and of course the health benefits of chia seeds themselves. Chia seeds are high in Omega 3 fatty acids, high in fiber, pretty high in calcium and very low in cholesterol and sodium. I actually add a tablespoon of chia seeds to my smoothie each morning.

I made this recipe on my own since Hazel did not want to help at the time I wanted to get it made. It called for three cups of fresh blueberries, 1/4 cup of agave nectar, 1/4 cup of chia seeds and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. The recipe made two jars. The recipe on the package said to keep the jam in the refrigerator and did not mention boiling it and sealing the jars. I however found a similar recipe on line which stated you could boil and seal them, so I did. Otherwise the jam would last only a week and I knew we would not eat it that quickly.  The recipe was very easy. You mixed the blueberries and the agave nectar in a pan until the blueberries softened and began to pop (about five minutes). Then you add the chia seeds and cook and stir until it thickens (about fifteen minutes). The directions said to let it cool and then add the vanilla. I added the vanilla before the chia seeds so I could do the boiling process right after it thickened. I made two jars. One which I will be giving to my mother to try.
The next jam we made using a new pectin that I got at a health food store. It is Pomona's Universal Pectin.

Following the recipe inside we needed four cups of mashed blueberries. Hazel helped with the mashing, but got tired of it quickly. With this pectin you have two packages inside. One is Pectin and the other is Calcium which you need to make into calcium water. For this recipe we used the four cups of mashed blueberries, 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, 1/2 cup honey and then two teaspoons of the pectin and 2 teaspoons of the calcium water. You mix the calcium water with the fruit and lemon juice. You mix the pectin with the honey. You boil the fruit mixture and then add the pectin mixture to it and boil it for another couple of minutes. Then you put it into the jars and seal them with a boil bath for ten minutes. This recipe made six and a half jars. Hazel and I tried both and liked both recipes. Now we may go back to the farm to go peach picking and possibly raspberry picking and make some more jam.

Fairy Tales in Different Cultures--Snow White

This week we are going to take a break from Cinderella and introduce Snow White. Snow White is a German tale and was first published by the Grimm Brothers in 1812. The original Snow White did not involve a stepmother, but was actually her mother who became jealous of her beauty. This was changed to a stepmother in the next edition and it is believed this change happened to tone the story down for children. In the initial story the mother also took Snow White into the woods herself and abandoned her, but this was changed to a servant by the first published edition. In 1912 the dwarfs were given names for a Broadway Show and then in 1937 Disney changed their names for the film. (Source)

Margarete von Waldeck (Source)

An interesting side to this story is an article written by a German scholar, Eckhard Sande, in 1994. His article titled (translated) Snow White: Is It a Fairy Tale, stated that there are many similarities in the story of Snow White and the life of Margarete von Waldeck, a German countess who was the mistress of a Spanish prince during the 1500's. She suffered an early death that some believed could have been due to poison. Her stepmother who had sent her away and the King of Spain were not happy with their children's relationship. Whether this is the source of the story, no one knows, but it is interesting to see the similarities. (Source)

Now onto our story. For the text of this story you can click here. Now last month we had the pleasure of seeing this story performed live as a musical. Although a few of the differences from the Disney version scared Hazel, she really did enjoy seeing it. I should also add that Hazel has not seen the Disney movie. This was the first movie I saw and my mother was rather upset with my father for taking me as I had nightmares for several weeks afterwards. I believe I was five when I saw it. Having watched it as an adult, I now know why I had nightmares. There are some scenes that they did rather scary for a young child.

Ok, now onto the Brothers Grimm version. A queen sat doing her needlepoint and pricked her finger. A drop of blood fell into the falling snow out the window that was framed with ebony. She liked the color combination and made a wish to have a daughter with skin as white as the snow, lips as red as blood and hair as black as ebony. Soon she had her daughter and named her Snow White. The mother died shortly after this.

The king remarried a year later. The stepmother had a magic mirror which she stood in front of each morning asking "Mirror, mirror on the wall, who in this land is the fairest of all?"
File:Snow White Mirror 3.png

The mirror would answer, "You, my queen, are the fairest of all." This would satisfy the queen since she knew the mirror could only speak the truth. Snow White grew up and grew more beautiful every day. At age seven she was as beautiful as the light of day. One day the mirror answered that Snow White was more fair than the queen. The queen filled with jealousy. She summoned a huntsman and ordered him to take the princess to the woods and to kill her. As proof of her death, the queen demanded he bring back Snow White's lungs and liver. The huntsman obeyed, but Snow White pleaded with him for her life. He let her live thinking wild animals would kill her anyway. He killed a wild boar and brought its liver and lungs to the queen. She had the cook boil them in salt, and she ate them.
File:Snow White Mercy.png

The young princess was scared in the woods alone and did not know what to do. She began to run. She ran through the woods. The wild animals did not harm her. She ran as far as she could and then as evening was falling she found a small house to rest. Inside the house there was a table neatly set with seven places and seven beds neatly made. The house was clean and neat. Because she was hungry and thirsty she ate a few small bites of vegetables and bread from each plate and drank a drop of wine from each mug. Then she tried each of the seven beds. She had issues with each one--too long, too short, etc.--until the seventh one which was just right. There she fell asleep.

After dark the masters or the house came home. They were seven dwarfs. They noticed right away that someone had been eating their food and sitting in their chairs. Then the noticed their beds and the seventh reported that someone was in his. The dwarfs looked at the child and were excited to have such a beautiful visitor. They let her sleep in the bed through the night. The seventh dwarf shared beds with his brothers. Sleeping an hour in each one throughout the night.

The next morning Snow White woke up and was a bit frightened by the dwarfs, but they were very friendly with her. She told them about how her stepmother tried to kill her. They told her if she would cook, clean, sew, knit for them she could stay and have whatever she wanted. She happily agreed. When the dwarfs went to dig for gold in the mines, they warned her not to let anyone in.
File:Snow White Ribbon.png

One morning the queen asked her mirror about who was the fairest and the mirror told her it was Snow White and told her where Snow White was. The queen dressed as an old peddler woman and went to visit Snow White. She sold a beautiful silk bodice lace to Snow White and offered to lace her up properly. Snow White thought for sure she could trust this woman and let her in. The queen pulled the lace so hard, Snow White could not breathe. That evening the dwarfs came home and found Snow White lying on the floor lifeless. They noticed the lace was too tight and loosened it. Snow White slowly began to breathe an life returned to her. When the dwarfs heard what happened, they told Snow White the peddler woman must have been the godless queen. They warned her again not to let anyone in.
File:Snow White Poisoned Haircomb.png

The queen asked the mirror and again it told her Snow White was fairer. She was angry to hear Snow White was alive still. She dressed as a different peddler woman and this time sold Snow White a hair comb. The queen put the poisoned comb barely in Snow White's hair before she fell to the ground. The dwarfs came home and found Snow White on the floor again. They examined her and found the comb. When they removed it, she came back to life.

Again the queen asked the mirror and again it replied Snow White was the fairest. The queen went into her secret room and made a poisoned, poisoned apple. She tricked Snow White into trying the apple by cutting it and sharing it with her. Only half the apple was poisoned. Snow White fell to the ground with one bite. When the dwarfs returned home they found her dead on the floor. They could not bury her in the black dirt, so they made her a glass coffin and put her on display so they could always see her beauty.

File:Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs 1.png
Now a prince was riding through the woods and came upon the beautiful girl in the glass coffin. He tried to buy the coffin from the dwarfs, but they would not sell it. Then he asked them to give it to him since he felt he could not live without seeing Snow White each day. The dwarfs took pity on him and let him take the coffin. The prince had his servants carry the coffin on their shoulders. One of them stumbled and that dislodged the poisonous apple from Snow White's throat. Snow White soon woke up and opened the coffin. The prince asked her to come to his father's castle and marry him. Snow White did. They invited the stepmother queen. 

The queen asked her mirror who the fairest was and the mirror told her the bride was far fairer than her. She did not know what to do, but decided on going to see this beauty. She recognized Snow White immediately. They brought a pair of iron shoes that had been sitting in the hot coals of the fire to the queen and forced her to dance in them until she fell down dead.

Next week I will share another version of Snow White. I hope you will join us!

Watermelon Books & Activities

Now watermelon says summer to me. I love watermelon and so does Hazel. It is one of the few fruits Steve will eat once in awhile. My grandmother, Hazel, ate watermelon every day in the summer. August 3 is National Watermelon Day. So to celebrate we have been reading some watermelon stories, did some watermelon activities and of course ate watermelon. We planned to make a watermelon craft, but ran out of time today.

Our first book is Watermelon Wishes by Lisa Moser. This is a wonderful story about a boy, Charlie, and his Grandpap. They plant some watermelon seeds. Charlie tells his grandfather that he hopes they will grow a wishing watermelon. All summer the grandfather tries to guess what Charlie's wish is while they are off doing fun summer activities. When the watermelons are finally ready to pick, Charlie chooses the wishing watermelon and finally reveals his wish. It is a touching story about a special relationship.

The next book is Fruits of India by Jill Hartley. This is a board book that shows pictures of different common fruit found in India. On the last page they identify all the fruit in English. The covers are including as part of the book. It is a simple book, but it was neat to see fruits we did not know.

The Watermelon Seed by Greg Pizzoli is a humorous story of a crocodile who loves watermelon and one day swallows a seed. It is very cute and all of the fears of what might happen if you swallow a watermelon seed goes through the crocodile's mind. He is scared enough to almost swear off watermelon. 

Watermelon Day by Kathi Appelt is a wonderful story about a girl who lives on a farm. She helps her father with the watermelon patch. Every day she asks him if it is a watermelon day. On watermelon days they have relatives visit and there are games of softball, relay races, apple bobbing, Mama's peach ice cream, and Uncle Ike playing his banjo and then of course ice cold watermelon (they choose the biggest one that morning and put it into the cold lake to get it cold). These are her favorite days in the summer and she is anxious all summer for their to be one. Finally the day arrives and all she can think about is the ice cold watermelon. It is another wonderful story about family times and fond summer memories.

Finally we are sharing One Watermelon Seed by Celia Barker Lottridge. Now this story is about a sister and brother who are planting their garden. It is a counting book and the only mention of watermelon is the one watermelon seed and picking ten watermelons. All the seeds and plants that they plant go through the numbers one to ten. Then they harvest by tens. The final thing they harvest is the corn which is popcorn so in the winter they turn the corn into hundreds and thousands of pieces of popcorn. It is a fun book that helps teach counting.

Another fun book that involves someone planting watermelon seeds is Wonder Bear by Tao Nyeu. Although the watermelon is minor roll in the story. I posted about it here.

Product DetailsThe two activities we are sharing are not my own. The first is one that we got from a story time at the library. It went with a Donald Crews book, Ten Black Dots. We will share some other activities with this book for the Virtual Book Club for Kids later in the month. (Donald Crews is our author this month.) For this activity the kids colored a half of a paper plate green to be the rind of the watermelon. Then they glued on a piece of red construction paper that was cut to fit inside the rind. Next they counted out ten black seeds/beans. The game is to play with a friend. The friend chooses a number between one and ten and the child needs to put that number of seeds onto his/her slice.

Our next activity came from Making Learning Fun. It is Roll-a-Watermelon. I cut the rind from green construction paper and the slice from red  paper and then the four seeds from black. 
There are many more watermelon ideas at Making Learning Fun as well including math and literacy ones. Plus there are the great ones that have been shared at Sharing Saturday recently.
From Little Bins for Little Hands--Click picture to see post
How did you celebrate National Watermelon Day? Hazel and I also checked on our watermelon plants in our garden and saw some baby watermelons. Plus we wanted to make a watermelon dress for one of her dolls, but we went blueberry picking today with friends and that took much of the day. So she is hoping we can celebrate National Watermelon Day again tomorrow or some time this week.

Sharing Saturday 13-30

Thank you to everyone who shared with us last week! If you have not had a chance to check them all out, you really should. I will share here a few of my favorites and the most clicked to help inspire you!! I hope you will take the time to check them out as well as visit some of the new shared posts this week.

Flamingo Friday--Flamingos' Coloring

Welcome to our second Flamingo Friday!! We have been enjoying learning more about flamingos and hope you are too! Today we are sharing a non-fiction book with you and something we learned from it.

We have been reading several flamingo books. We will share each one with you eventually. If you missed the first one which was the wordless Flora and the Flamingo, you can check it out here. Today we are going to share Wild Flamingos by Bruce McMillan.
Now before I begin with what we did with this book, I would like to point out the wonderful picture on the cover. I love it because you can see the black flying feathers of the flamingo. Did you know they had black feathers?

File:Bonaire in its region.svg

This book focuses on flamingos on the Caribbean island of Bonaire. The species of flamingo are the Greater Flamingos which are the largest of the flamingos. Their average height is five to five and a half feet tall. Their average weight is eight pounds for the males (who are taller) and six and a half for the females. Their populations is estimated to be half of the number there was before Europeans first came to the Americas. Bonaire protects the flamingos and their breeding ground. There is concern about the development of their feeding area in Venezuela though. The book goes through the lives of a flamingo from birth until adulthood and returning to nest again.

Now many people know that flamingos get their color from the food they eat. They eat small shellfish and immature brine flies at both the free-swimming larvae and intermediate chrysalid stages. All of these animals eat aquatic plants and bacteria that contain the same chemicals that make carrots orange. So for a simple craft we decided to paint with carrots. We experimented with a few different methods. First we took a carrot and tried to use it as a paintbrush. I gave Hazel pictures to color that I printed out. The first one came from Lucy Learns.
This method worked all right, but was not great. Here is our end result:
Our other method involved grating the carrot and then placing the pieces on the picture and hammering them into the picture.

We put a piece of paper on the bottom and top. I think we actually flipped it so the picture was on top. Immediately afterward the picture looked like this:
This coloring page came from The Color. Then after it dried a bit, I picked off some of the carrot flakes and we got this:
We also bought a can of carrots to try to paint with, but we haven't had time yet. 

Feedtogether tj

The other interesting thing I learned about flamingos is how they eat. The flamingos always eat with their heads upside down. Their top jaw is hinged and moves like our lower jaws. They filter-feed and are able to separate the food from water and mud. Their bills are lined with hair like teeth that filter the food. Sometimes you will see a flamingo move its feet and bill around before eating. This is to stir up the mud a bit and get the food in the water since it is easier to filter water than mud. 

Greater Flamingoes (Phoenicopterus roseus) feeding W IMG 9577

So that is our lesson flamingos this Flamingo Friday!! I hope you enjoyed it!! And definitely check out Wild Flamingos by Bruce McMillan for more about the Greater Flamingos in Bonaire!