Yea – I’m boring.

It’s true.  I have nothing exciting to say but had the urge to write.


This week I start another school term.  It’s hard for me to believe that I have approximately one more year and then I’m done.  Does that make me a college senior?  I don’t know??  This term is “Business Plan Prep” and “Leadership”.  I think the Business Planning course sounds rather interesting but I don’t know about Leadership.  We shall see.

Still hanging onto the same cold that DH and I have had since before the New Year.  Quite annoying by now.  Antibiotics are on the menu but I’m still hacking and coughing like a 100 year old smoker.

Since I didn’t make it into work yesterday, I was able to catch up on some sleep and also do a little work on my business.  See labels and some research and I listed a few things in my Etsy shop.  Not a lot but it felt good to work on something that I’ve been neglecting for almost a year.  Yes, a year.  Shameful.

And let me mention… the weather today just sucks!  Yesterday it was hovering around 30-something.  Today, 1.  That’s it. 1 degree.  At least I have a little time to sit by the fire before I go to work.


Five Spice Plum Jam

This is a sweet and tart recipe that is really easy to make.  The Chinese 5-spice powder is totally optional but adds a little extra depth of flavor.



Find some plums.  I got a bunch from my in-laws’ trees.  Some were sweet and some were tart so  try to find some that are similar.  Dunk your plums in boiling water for about 1 minute (until the skins burst) then dip into cold water so they’re easy to peel.  I suppose this step is optional but I didn’t want the skins in my jam. 

You’ll need:

5 C. pitted plums (a mix of tart and sweet)

2 C. granulated sugar

2 C. brown sugar

1 C. water

1 tsp. Chinese 5-spice powder.  You can use more if you wish but the anise could overwhelm the flavor of the plums.

Combine your plums, sugars and water in a large saucepot.  Slowing bring to a boil, stirring while the sugar dissolves to prevent sticking.  Cook quickly at a boil for about 15 minutes and be sure to stir as mixture thickens to prevent sticking and scorching.  Add the 5-spice powder during the last 5 minutes of cooking.

Remove from heat.  You can either freeze or poor hot jam into 1/2 pint jars for canning.  If canning…. adjust 2-piece lids and process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.

Easiest Pizza Sauce

Yesterday I found a recipe for the best homemade pizza sauce I ever tried.  It was super easy to make and tasted like something I’d get in a restaurant.  (better yet….it was approved by hubby and the youngins!)  Of course, I tweaked it and this is what I came up with.


3 cloves garlic – minced

3 TB. extra virgin olive oil

1 can (28oz.) can of crushed tomatoes (the kind with basil, oregano already added)

2 can (14oz.) diced tomatoes (also the kind with basil, oregano etc. already added)

2 TB. brown sugar

1 TB. Italian seasoning

1 TB. Kosher salt

1/2 tsp.  Red pepper flakes

1/4C. cooking wine

dash of celery salt

1/4 tsp. cumin

Crush the two cans of *diced* tomatoes with a food mill (or puree in food processor).   Add all ingredients into a medium-large pot.  Cook over low/medium heat for approx 20 minutes. —  That’s it!

Use as your pizza sauce or spaghetti/lasagna sauce.  Makes enough for 4-  12″ pizzas.  If only making two pizzas…. freeze what you don’t use right away.

I’m probably going to make this recipe for freezing with my tomato harvest later in the summer.  Probably just add some extra basil, oregano, parsley, onions and thyme…. plus salt and pepper to make up for the already seasoned canned tomatoes used in the original recipe.

Apple Cranberry Pie Filling – freezing or canning recipe

Apple Cranberry Pie Filling for Canning or Freezing

4 C. sugar
1/2 C. quick cooking tapioca
2 TB. cinnamon
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. ground cloves
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 C. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
1 C. dried cranberries
approx 10 lbs of apples (peeled, cored and roughly chopped/sliced)

– In a medium bowl, combine 1 cup of the sugar, tapioca, lemon juice, vanilla, kosher salt, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice and cloves.  Set aside.
– Prepare your apples.  Any tart type will do.  I use some from an old tree in my yard….don’t know what variety they are but they’re pretty tart.  
-Put into large kettle with just enough water to keep the apples from burning – approximately 1 to 1.5 cups.
Add the rest of the sugar and bring to a steady simmer over medium heat.   Cook for approx 10 minutes.
– Mix in the cranberries and the lemon juice / tapioca mixture and bring back up to a gentle simmer.  Cook for approx 20-30 minutes or until the apples have softened a bit and the cranberries are plump.

Cool on stove if you wish to freeze.  Ladle into freezer bags or plastic containers and mark with date.

If canning, pour into clean hot jars and use spoon to dislodge air bubbles.  Adjust lids and process in water bath for 20 minutes.

Lazy Friday

Friday again and it’s been a lazy day for me.  I haven’t had the energy to do much but it’s mostly because my allergies have really been acting up today. 

Since it’s been one of those lazy days, the family and I decided to make a day of going into town, browsing a few shops and running some errands.  We also stopped at Mike’s parent’s house for a quick visit.  While there I dropped off a jar of my blackberry apple butter and we picked up about 3 gallons of fresh peaches.  (I was told that peaches cannot grow this side of Lk Michigan but my FIL Jim proved that theory wrong).  Those little beauties will be going into the freezer so we can enjoy them over the winter.  I see peach pie in our future. 

This week we also got a bunch of sweet corn so I got most of that ready for the freezer.  Fairly easy system and from what I read in my researching…they should keep pretty well with very little of that “freezer” taste.

My Freezer Corn Method

After I got all the corn shucked and washed, I threw it into a large pot of water that had about 1/3 C. of sugur added.  I lightly boiled (not a full rolling boil but a gentle boil) just about 5 minutes.  Basically I watch it until the color of the corn changes and boil for about 1 minute after it changes.  Not an exact science but it’s how I cook it for fresh eating too.  I hate tough corn!

Pretty huh?

After boiling I dunked it directly into a sink-full of VERY cold water to stop the cooking process.

Next I took my best, sharpest kitchen knife and sheared the cobs of their corn.  Having never done this before I’ll admit that the first one wasn’t the prettiest but it’s not difficult to get the hang of.

Yes…I also tasted it at this point and it was YUMMY!

After decobbing all the corn, I packed up about 1 pint into each baggie, squeezed out all the air and took it all to the freezer.  I am hoping that my method will be successful and we’ll have some really good corn to eat over the winter.  I guess I’ll share the true results in about January and let everyone know.

My Etsy shop has officially opened.  I have a couple of items listed and I’m listing new items almost every day.  Also…since I’ve changed my ‘business’ name from Rustic Diva Designs to Bramble Oak, I’ve decided (after the voices in my head had much debating) to close my ArtFire studio as I cannot change my user name.  I will probably open a new account on there at one point but for now, I’m concentrating on my website and Etsy shop.