Friday, May 29, 2015

Bring on the Busy Time of Year!

Table set up June 2014 at Farmer's Market
It is upon us...YES Farmer's Market Season!! After the long months of chilly weather and no fresh produce here in SE Ohio, it is finally time to meet and greet again.  I will attend the market held in Dover, It is each Wednesday, starting June 3, from 3 to 7.  A wonderful market filled with only home produced vendors.  Everything from delicious vegetables to homemade pies; grass fed beef to home canned bbq sauce; take and bake pizza crust to Biscotti!  And of course some home produced gourmet jams! ;) Even live music, home made ice cream, gourmet food trucks!  This market has it all! 

At whatever event I am attending, I love meeting the new people. Taking the time to discuss the flavors I have on the table, letting them sample and giving ideas on how to use.  Yes, I am a people person.  All the long hours in the kitchen, I find myself talking in my mind a lot.  I carry on quite lengthy conversations! LOL  It isn't easy being the one woman show but all it takes is one compliment from a "stranger".  The one that takes the second to acknowledge my hard work and to say "Hey, I really love your jam" or "My family loves to use your jam on (fill in the blank)".  Knowing that I provide a quality, delicious product for others to enjoy in their homes is an awesome feeling. 

I have a passion for creating jams and jellies.  I focus on jams because I prefer chunks of fruit smothering my crunchy peanut butter sandwiches.  Oh my goodness, in my minds eye I see now a freshly baked, butter biscuit with a nice piece of strawberry or a whole crushed blueberry intermingling with melting butter. OR ahh even better, blackberries spooned across the scoop of vanilla bean ice cream, reminding me of the joys of summer.  After a few days "off", I find myself looking forward to the feeling of accomplishment while hand crushing the berries, mixing in the sugar and pectin and cooking until just right to jar.  And then anxiously anticipating the "pings" of the lids, as they cool on the counter.
One of my favorites...Carrot Cake Jam
ready for the canner.
 So, if you are looking for an adventure, stop by your local farmer's market and meet great individuals that have a passion for what they are growing/raising/producing/selling.  You will be so glad you did.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Back to Jamming & a Bit of Baking!

After a one month "break/vacation/Holiday/sickness" time, the kitchen was calling me! I was actually looking forward to creating again. I went to the store room and pulled out the canner and kettle for the first time in 2015.  First jam of the year was Sweet Cherry Jam.  Sounded so good to hear the jars "ping" sealed, that I decided to make up some Apple Jelly.  So, yes, the kitchen is back to its old self...boxes, buckets, recipe books, measuring spoons and cups strewed about, but it feels "right".  Tomorrow brings a couple of other flavors, Carrot Cake and Winter Sunshine.

Since the ol creative juices were already flowing, I decided to create another simple, easy recipe. Apple Buttermilk Biscuits!  So easy but scrumptious.  A tube of big biscuits, apple jam (I used my Bits of Country Jam), glaze.  First, spray your muffin tin.  Pat the biscuits down a bit to become thinner. Place in the muffin cups.  Add a spoonful of apple jam or any good quality jam or preserves.  Bake for 15 minutes in a 350 degree oven.  Pop them out of the pan and onto a cool cookie sheet.  Glaze with cream cheese icing that has been thinned with a touch of water and warmed in the microwave. Enjoy!  Be creative! 

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

What a great 2014!

Happy New Years Eve!!
What an exciting, different year this has been for me.  I consider this my "first year" of my business, as it is the first year I have focused on it full time.  Last New Years Eve, as I sat unemployed by the "outside world",  I wondered "will this happen", "am I crazy", "just jump in and go girl".  And jump in is what I did!  I am still learning the ropes of being a small business woman, but I have come a long way in a short amount of time.

I know this is what I am meant to do. I have lost lots of days in my kitchen...missing the sunshine, the flowers blooming, family get togethers. BUT you have to sacrifice to make something your heart tells you to try and you have to give it your all or it isn't worth doing! And Lord knows, I have been trying my very best to get these little jars of mine out to the public! As much I would like to say I have been on vacation the last few weeks, I am about half of the time.  I have not made any jams BUT I am constantly thinking of the business...ways to improve marketing, to educate the public on creative ideas for using the jams, easy to put together recipes with an added zing.

In 2014, I have been approached my shops to carry my items.  I had craft shows and bazaars contact me to be at their shows.  The name Joyful Jars is becoming more known.  The quality and flavor of my products, thanks to my loyal "friend-supporters", is being spread around to their friends and families. I am selling in eight different stores with more locations on the horizon. I have the opportunity to expand my workplace as the need for more space and inventory space is necessary.  The opportunity to expand my line of products also.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Gardening Woes and Fast Times!

Well, it seems as if fall is fast approaching.  I have heard from a few gardeners that it seems like mid-September in their gardens.  Many of the plants are done producing and the late fall crops are coming on.  Those of us that can have been swamped getting the pantry ready for the winter. 
I never know from one day to the next if I will be working on fruit or vegetables in my kitchen. Because of my business, I don't manage to can for my pantry as many of my friends do, so when I do get to create something other than jams, I feel like that is a vacation!
I have dabbled in pie fillings: Gourmet Apple; Red Raspberry; Strawberry Rhubarb; Peach; Mixed Berry etc.  I have dabbled in pickles: 14 Day; Squash Bread and Butter; Cucumber Bread and Butter; working on a batch of 9 day Aristocrat.  I have dabbled in relishes: Yellow Squash; Zucchini; Zesty; Dill; Dixie.
I am ready to start making my friend, Cindy's, zucchini salsa!  OH she wasn't joking when she told me that would be my 'go to' salsa.  I love eating it right out of the kettle!  We use it in everything from tacos to taco bake, dips, etc.
It will also be a busy time in the jam world with fall bazaars, craft shows, etc coming up. I have scheduled time off but I don't know if will get here fast enough!

I don't know how my grandmother did the canning and had seven children running through the house! I am plum wore out!! LOL 
Enjoy the days ahead everyone.  Be safe and smile. :)

Monday, June 23, 2014

Black Raspberries and Memory Lane

I don't know about your neck of the woods, but I have a hard time finding nice black raspberries around here.  A handful of customers ask me for that flavor and I reply "Sorry. They are so hard to find and when you do, they are so expensive." 
Well the local paper had an advertisement for them the other evening, so I placed a call and  my order. Ten whole pints!  LOL Yes, pricey but I thought "one time deal", I will go ahead and make the purchase. 
View from today.
So today after my errands in town, I began my journey to find the Hilltop Black Raspberry Farm. It was a nice morning for a drive and I let my mind enjoy the somewhat new territory I was traveling. Familiar in the way of it was still near my hometowns, but different as I had not been on certain parts of the roads I was driving. As I turned down road after road, my final turn was onto a small gravel road/lane.  Signs posted told me I was going the correct way. Uneasy on the size of the lane, all I could think was "I hope I don't meet a milk truck or a fast moving mail carrier" because the road was literally the size of a lane.
My ten pints of black raspberries.
But once I made it up the "washboard" hill, there it was!  A beautiful fruit and vegetable farm.  All the produce fields were nicely fenced and laid with black weed cloth.  The only thing you saw were the beautiful plants reaching for the sun. Once, I parked the car, a nice lady was walking out of the berry patch with her baskets full.  Now, you can't get any fresher berries than that! We spoke of the breeze, the sun and the beautiful berries! 
Once home I brought in the groceries and put them away.  Then the fun!!
I washed my berries. Made jam and processed 15 jelly jars. Yes, not much but when making jam or jelly, you usually don't get a whole lot.
But the BEST part of the whole day?  Saving that one bowl of berries for me.  Adding a touch of sugar. Smiling and tearing up the entire time thinking of my childhood on the farm.  My Uncle Cozy would go berry picking but he would never tell me. He always wanted to surprise me and if he didn't find any, then I wouldn't be disappointed. 
Today, with that first bite of fresh black raspberries and sugar, I saw him walking over the hills in the pasture field with the old berry buckets, one in each hand.   Just as fresh was the memory as if I was standing in my grandparents kitchen, looking out the window at him.  I couldn't wait to have my grandma wash them for us.  So many of us on the farm, and of course you had to share, one bowl was all we would enjoy.  I remember seeing my grandpa pour our fresh cows milk over his and thinking that was a waste!  LOL 
Oh my the years have come and gone but that memory...that first taste of those berries today, with a touch of sugar...took me back to my childhood. I sat in my chair and enjoyed every single one of them and felt the love of my family, in the middle of June, in the farmhouse almost 40 years ago.

My berries today.

And the money I paid for those berries? Yes, I would pay again tomorrow for that same feeling I felt today.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Busy Busy Busy

Remember that line from Frosty the Snowman?  The magician had to get working on good deeds for Santa to bring him gifts.  He was going to be "busy, busy, busy."  Well, that is how it feels around here. I think I have a schedule and it flies out the door everyday! 

I really do try my best but when someone calls with a good price on produce, or you have to run to town for a child pick up or a loaf of bread, how can a "work" schedule be realistic when you work at home and are the wife, mother, cook, cleaner, etc.

This past week was enjoyable.  The weather, after the rain on Wednesday, has been nice and sunny with very low humidity. Very enjoyable!  Speaking of Wednesday, that was the opening day of the Tuscarawas Valley Farmers Market in Dover, Ohio.  VERY VERY nice!  I was amazed at the beautiful produce, delicious looking baked goods and the friendly people. I can't wait to try some of the pizza cooked in a wood burning outdoor oven, fresh made on site doughnuts and etc. I will be there every Wednesday thru October. Stop out and see me and the other wonderful vendors there. 

Remember when you buy local, organic, small business--you are helping us provide for our family not helping some 'fatcat' get a 20 million dollar bonus!  So shop local!  It's so good!

Until next time my friends!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014


Last week I had the pleasure of spending time with my 85 year old Grandma, my Mom and my Aunt.  We went to Port Orange, Florida. It was a wonderful, relaxing, fun time. We live close but the four of us haven't been on a vacation like that EVER!
The weather was nice. A few showers here and there on two days but they cleared off quickly and the sun was back out. Lots of things planned to see and do.  Each day, something fun!
While in Port Orange, I wanted to stop at the local farmers market to meet a canning friend of mine. Well, it was a good thing and a bad thing. Good thing: I LOVED meeting Jennifer and exchanging jams.  BAD thing: all the beautiful produce and the low, low prices and I live in Ohio!!!  Seedless watermelon, no smaller than a nice sized bowling ball 50 CENTS and 75 cents. Cantaloupes $1. Baskets of peppers, potatoes, zucchini, etc for $1 at one stand. I was like a kid in a candy store with cavities, meaning no canner, no jars, no way to transport all this glorious produce home 5 days later to Ohio. The markets I have been to have no way compared to this one.  So many vendors. So many different kinds of produce and fruits. Every piece calling my name! LOL
So, my mind is racing as to what would be the "perfect" time next year to load up my car with my canner, jars, etc and head to my aunt's house.  I would arrive on Tuesday. Go to the market on Wednesday.  And dive into a canning frenzy!  This is "normal" to think this way, is it not? It sounds perfectly sane in my mind!  

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