Part of me can't believe that it's July already. Midsummer almost for us. We celebrate our season's change that the beginning of the month. It simplifies my planning and is easier for the children to grasp at their ages. So all of June was summer for us, making July smack dab the middle of summer.
These middle season months are fun for us. They really embody the season. The transition is over and all the truisms of summer are present in July. And let me tell you, here in Virginia it feels like summer. Hot, humid, bug-filled summer. But with that are also so many things we love.
The kids are getting used to sweating again. Late afternoons lightning shows. Firefly catching. Ice cream eating. Swimming, swimming, and more swimming. Oh, I do love summer.
Most of all I love the fruit! Deirdre tracks, and has tracked, our summer procession by what fruit is coming into season. Here in Virginia it's, strawberries, cherries, blackberries, peaches, plums, blueberries, raspberries, pears, and to begin autumn- Apples!
So for our circle time this July our theme will be U-Pick! Our main book will be Peter in Blueberry Land!
We will read it the whole month and do various puppet plays (just like we did with Curious Fish last month here- we do this every month throughout the year with one linchpin seasonal book and verse.) Then each week I will cycle in other books for just that week like Jamberry,
and Blackberry Mouse.
We will keep our summer verse that we have here until September, since that way the kids will learn it well and have a good seasonal continuity.
We also in lieu of doing extra crafts this month will spend more time berry picking, canning, freezing, and baking. Oh the baking I do in the summer! I miss canning as well. We were pretty low on preserves until strawberry season. As for cherry season, I just baked 2 pies and then froze the rest- and well let's be honest we *ahem* I ate my weight in cherries! No wonder that season is so quick here!
So dear friends I am going to leave you with two recipes, one for my blueberry preserves that I make and the other for blueberry cream pie. I sub in other berries in the pie too and that seems to work just fine as long as you keep it to only 3 cups of berries. No one likes a messy oven from a pie overflowing!
So what are you all planning this month? Do you like picking berries? What kind of stories do you read to your kids in the summer?
Love and Light,
Also Our $75 Nova Natural giveaway is still going on until 7/19!
Don't forget to enter!
Adapted from Against All Grain
(fills one 8 ounce jar)
3 cups blueberries (thawed or fresh)
3/4 cup local honey (you can use more or less depending on how tart your berries are)
3 tablespoons lemon juice
Place the blueberries in a medium sized sauce pan and use a food mill to mash them
Add the honey, lemon juice, and lemon zest, then bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir frequently while the mixture boils for 15-20 minutes and it starts to thicken. The best way to test if it’s done is to put a spoonful in the freezer for 5 minutes. If it won’t easily pour off of the spoon when you remove it from the freezer, then it’s done.
Skim off any foam, then ladle the jam into a sterilized jar. Then you can either can and seal them or store them tightly covered in the fridge for a couple of weeks or freezer. If you freeze them then leave extra head room in the jars. They expand when you freeze them!
Blueberry Cream Pie
Adapted from Gingerbread Bagels
Pie Crust (from America’s Test Kitchen)
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling out the dough
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons vegetable shortening, cut into 1/4-inch
pieces and chilled
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
4-6 tablespoons ice water
1 large egg mixed with 1 Tablespoon water (for egg wash)
3 cups blueberries
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup all purpose flour
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream or yogurt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 Tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 cup rolled oats
2 Tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup plus 2 1/2 Tablespoons all purpose flour
Process flour, sugar, and salt in food processor until combined. Add chilled shortening and pulse until coarsely ground. Add chilled butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Transfer to large bowl.
Sprinkle 4 tablespoons water over flour mixture. Using rubber spatula, stir mixture until dough forms. If dough remains crumbly, add remaining 1 tablespoon water. Form dough into 4-inch disk, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 2 days. (Dough can be frozen, wrapped tightly in plastic and aluminum foil, for up to 2 months. Thaw completely at room temperature before using.)
Let chilled dough soften slightly at room temperature, about 10 minutes. Working on lightly floured work surface, roll dough into 12-inch circle. Transfer dough to pie plate. Trim, fold, and crimp edges. Cover lightly with plastic wrap and place in the freezer for 30 minutes.
While crust is firming up, work on the filling. In a bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, mix together the sugar and flour. Add in the sour cream, eggs and vanilla extract and mix until combined. Take the pie out of the freezer and put the blueberries on the bottom of the crust. Pour the filling over the blueberries and spread it out.
Now make the crumb topping. Mix together the sugar, brown sugar, ground cinnamon and ground nutmeg. Pour the melted unsalted butter into the bowl and mix everything together. Add in the flour and mix until the ingredients form a crumble topping. Crumble the crumb topping over the pie.
Bale pie for 30-40 minutes at 400. Place in refrigerator to cool for 30 minutes after it's done baking until set.