Thursday, June 20, 2013

Peter (and us!) in Blueberry Land

Today was one of those amazing summer days that you hope to never forget.  Hubby and I woke up early and made breakfast to go and a picnic lunch.  We had the kids' clothes sitting out and we were dressed, full of coffee, and ready to go before they were up.  When they came downstairs we quickly dressed them and told them we were going on an adventure!
We drove to College Run Farms in Surry to pick blueberries.  It's close to an hour drive, so for entertainment I brought along a "clue" to what our adventure would be.  Months ago I purchased "Peter in Blueberry Land" by Elsa Beskow and earlier this week I made a few peg dolls and blueberry bushes to go with the story.  The kids always get so into the stories when they have characters to hold while I read.  Plus it gives them something to relive the tale with in the play later.  Once breakfast was finished and they were getting restless, I broke out the book and characters and that entertained them the rest of the way.  Well, that and all the fields of corn.  Mannchen loves corn and he told us he couldn't wait to eat all the corn we passed.
Peter, two blueberry boys, and two blueberry bushes.
 When we got there the kids had it figured out and were so excited to pick blueberries!  Töchterchen's picking style closely resembles that of Sal in "Blueberries for Sal" (oops!...should have grabbed that book for the ride also).  Mannchen is an excellent picker and he was my picking buddy for the morning.  Hubby had to float back and forth between picking and playing with Töchterchen...which eventually turned into buying her homemade ice cream (at 9:30am, no less) to keep her occupied while we finished up.

She loved running down the rows of the blueberry patch.

On the way home we drove took the ferry and stopped at Jamestown Beach for a picnic.  It was a great, quiet little beach on the river.  We wish we had known about it before so we could have brought bathing suits.  We are planning to go back again soon.

After that we took a drive around Jamestown Island (need to go back again soon to walk around the archeological site) and took the Colonial Parkway part of the way home.  It's wonderful how rich this area is with history.  Now that we are finally getting to the point when day trips are more manageable, we're about to move.  We are hoping to pack in as much "sight-seeing" as we can in the next month.

On Jamestown Island we stopped to walk out to Black Point - the first part of the island seen by the European settlers.  There was a sign that we may be able to see Bald Eagles and their nests.  We didn't see any at Black Point, but we did see one while driving on the parkway (thanks to Mannchen's sharp eyesight).
Töchterchen was starting to drag from the busy day.

But sand and water perked her back up.

Throwing rocks into the cove.

Photo courtesy of Mannchen.

Melts my heart everytime. 

 No eagles, but we did see this beautiful wood pecker.  The coloring on his head was magnificent.

 Then it was naps in the car and back home to enjoy the fruits of our labor!

All together we picked five quarts...but only four made it home.  We ate one in the car and during our picnic lunch.

MMmmm, fresh blueberries!
We used two quarts to make jam. (Recipe below)

And a few to make a snack of blueberry banana muffins.  (Recipe below)
Happy blueberry reading, picking, and eating!

Blueberry Jam
8 cups fresh blueberries
1/4 cp lemon juice
9 tbsp. pectin (low or no-sugar)
1 1/2 - 3 cps sugar
Wash berries and place in a large pot with lemon juice.  Cook down some and mash with a potato masher.  Add pectin and bring to a boil, stirring/mashing constantly.  Once boiling, add sugar and return to boil.  Cook for one minute.  Pour into prepared canning jars.  Top with lids and process jars for long-term storage (or make less and store in the fridge).  Makes six 8 oz. jars.
Note - I used only 1 1/2 cps of sugar because we don't like sweet jam.  It is not very sweet and you really taste the fruit.  If you like a sweeter jam, definitely add more.
Blueberry Banana Buttermilk Muffins
1 cp flour
1/2 cp wheat flour
1/4 cp oat flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cp buttermilk
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp. coconut oil, melted
2 medium bananas, mashed
1 cp blueberries
Mix dry ingredients in a medium bowl.  In a 2 cup liquid measuring cup mix buttermilk, egg, and vanilla.  Add to dry ingredients along with coconut oil and bananas.  Stir until just combined and gently fold in blueberries.  Pour into greased cupcake pan - coconut oil is great for this.  (Do not use muffin liners, they will stick.)
Bake at 375 for 14-16 minutes. 
Linking up this week with The Magic OnionsCrafty Moms Share, and Natural Suburbia.