Saturday, June 27, 2009

Homemade Blackberry Jam!

As mentioned previously, this is the last weekend of Webb Ranch's U-Pick berry season. Picking your own berries for the season is a great way to get delicious, local, organic fruit for less than you'd pay for regular. It's also a great way to entertain your kids for the afternoon! I swore I was going to get to the ranch on the first weekend of the season, but life got in the way. The price I paid was that there were no more loganberries or raspberries left by the time I made it, so we focused on picking Butte Blackberries. After several hours we had collected about 5 pounds of berries. As his reward for being patient, I promised my son a pony ride (one of several fun kid activities at the ranch). One pony ride late and we were headed back home.

For $15 I got 5 pounds of blackberries. As soon as I got home I washed the berries and froze two pounds for later use in smoothies and such (another great use for frozen berries...a healthy replacement for syrup! simply put a small bowl in the microwave, warm up, stir, add sugar to taste and serve on french toast or pancakes. Yum!). I kept about 1/2 pound of berries out for eating fresh and planned on using the other 2 1/2 pounds to make 7 jars of jam, which will be cover our family's jam needs for the year, as well as gifts to friends.

Here's the recipe:

2 1/2 pounds blackberries, washer (substitute blueberries or raspberries if desired)
2 cups water
4 pounds unrefined sugar (cheaper from the bulk bin)

Simmer fruit and water for 30 minutes. Add sugar and stir until dissolved. Boil rapidly for 15-20 minutes.

Put the jam in sterilized jelly jars, which have the proper lids to seal down. Make sure the tops of the jars are cleaned of any jelly so as not to affect the seal of the jar. Jars can remain un-refrigerated until opened.

Monday, June 22, 2009

U-Pick Berries @ Webb Ranch

Looking for something fun to do this weekend? Webb Ranch U-Pick is a summer tradition in our family. Butte Blackberries, Ollalieberries, Loganberries and Raspberries...all for only $3/pound + a $3 entrance fee )free for anyone 65+). To give you an idea of the cost savings...a small square of organic berries at the Farmer's Market or Whole Foods would cost you about $4-5. A three pack could cost you $12-15. That same three pack would cost you between $4-5 at the Webb Ranch U-Pick.

We get enough to:
* eat em fresh!
* freeze em for smoothies
* make 8 jars of jelly for our use for the year, and gifts.

This is the last weekend for Webb Ranch's U-Pick season. So get there by June 28 or wait until next season! Some tips for your trip:

* Wear comfortable shoes, no sandals (berries have thorns!)
* Bring gardening gloves (see note above!)
* Bring a tupperware to collect berries
* Go early in the morning for lesser crowds and cooler weather
* Bring a hat and wear sunscreen
* Bring cash to pay

Learn more at the Webb Ranch website.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Wanna get in trouble?

I learned about the Kate Spade Sample Sale from my Go To Gals. The link says the sale is over (as of 6/19) but as of 6/20 the sale has not only been extended but the already discounted items are now on sale an additional 30% off (yesterday they were 20% off). Will be interesting to see how far this sale could be pushed. If they hit 50% off I am getting this sweet little clutch. For now I am calling their bluff...

: OK, so I didn't call their bluff. There was a tote that was such a steal I couldn't help but make the purchase. And I was so glad they did, because at midnight ET they did in fact end the sale.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Silicon Valley Recessionista

Another blog?!? Sure, why not. And why? Well, mainly because it's nice to have some place to write. I've always been a diarist but these days it's harder to get pen to paper, and I am on the computer far too often. So...another blog.

Why Silicon Valley Recessionista? Let's just say I've been a good little trooper through this recession. I try not to complain about the fact that I live in one of the most expensive places in our country...and own a home...that I purchased at the high end of the market. I deal with every well-publicized layoff at the company I work by keeping my head down, focused, and assuming that making yourself invaluable is the best shot you've got.

I'm a practical, half-glass-full kind of gal who's becoming increasingly creative at living the good life for less.

What I will write about: food, gardening, shopping, being a mother and wife, what to do for fun in Silicon Valley when you're on a budget, and more...

And so, with that, I give you Silicon Valley Recessionista.