Thursday, July 2, 2009

Summer Jam Making in California

My school district is closed for the month of July. That means I get one month off (without pay, of course--lest you turn too green). Craig is taking time off until July 13th. We're not going anywhere exotic. I'm still basking in the memories of our wonderful and romantic week in Kauai, eight months ago.

For the most part, I am going to enjoy R&R at our own Bed & Breakfast, in the Salinas Valley of California. Our home, is about 25 miles inland from the Monterey Peninsula-- just a hop, skip and a jump to tourist destinations such as John Steinbeck's Cannery Row, the famous Pebble Beach and it's world class golf courses, Carmel (where Clint Eastwood was once mayor and where I grew up and went to school). I, sometimes, drive 5 minutes to Asilomar Beach to enjoy lunch while watching the waves and listening to the sounds of seabirds and watching tourists snap photos.

Monterey Bay has been my home for the majority of my life (except for being born in Hawaii and my father being stationed in Germany when I was in kindergarten), and I love it here. Why would we want to go anywhere else? We might not live in an East Hampton home, with gardens and a separate kitchen (like Ina Garten)...

... but, we love our humble home.

...and the surrounding country side. We do feel like we are living in the 'burbs.

I can lovingly set our table for breakfast, made with farm-fresh eggs from just down the road:

...and look at the bigger homes, right from the hill in our own backyard.

We have our own semi-private subdivision pool and jacuzzi, where we can swim everyday... just 2 minutes away from our house. If we get there by 9am, we have the whole place to ourselves.

The summer temperatures are helping our 20 plus container tomatoes grow...

I spotted the first three red tomatoes...

(I can already taste the bruschetta), where we can dine al fresco in total privacy (while our neighbors are working)...

I can stop and smell the roses (thanks to my hubby's green thumb)...

We plan to take a few day trips-- to Paso Robles (two hours south of here) to visit my horse on the ranch where she lives...and admire all the beautiful vineyards along the way:

...the drive another half hour to Cambria (near Hearst Castle). Maybe spend a night there.

...and then drive north on Highway One to stop at Nepenthe's in Big Sur, CA...

We love to look at the beautiful Big Sur coast while, noshing on Nepenthe's famous Ambrosia Burgers and fries...
(These are the juiciest and tastiest burgers. You have to order this, if you are ever in the area!) ...and then drive home, just 45 minutes away.

I hope that, another day, we can to take a trip north, to Half Moon Bay...

... and to find one of the many unique little restaurants along the way.

I have already spent two leisurely mornings on my newest obsession...

Making homemade jam! I've been vacation jammin'!

This is my favorite... apricot-pineapple. I have just the right ratio of sweet apricots and pineapple. I ate two pieces of toast with it, this morning-- and it was good!

I've made, strawberry, apricot-pineapple, olallieberry and strawberry balsamic-- pay attention. There will be an announcement, soon...

Coming soon-- peach jam, raspberry jam, red bell pepper jam (a Southern speciality and it's fabulous with cream cheese on crackers...whoa!) and my first bread & butter pickles. Humbly said, my jams are so good and much easier than I ever imagined jam making could be. I've got the whole system of making a batch down to 90 minutes, from start to finish. I have always wanted to learn how to make jam, and I'm wondering what took me so long to do it.

My birthday is in less than three weeks, and I want to share it with you. I've seen blog "giveaways" but I rarely enter them. Why? I'm so glad you asked. It's because I never win anything! This time, I'm going to give something away that I hope you enjoy as much as I do.

I'm giving away jam... just kiddin' on the commercial jam that is no longer welcome in my home.

I want for you to know how delicious and easy homemade jam, too. Making your own homemade jams, preserves, chutneys and so much more is what I am giving away. That's why I'm going to buy the lucky winner a "Canning Kit" from Click to my blog posting to see how I made jam, and what is in the kit. Go ahead, click here. I'll wait for you. If you don't come back, then you won't know how to enter.

Yes, I'm going to buy you a brand new canning kit, with the Ball cookbook (super easy), jars and utensils. Plus, I'm going to give you two of my half-pint size of two flavors of my jam.
Are you ready to make jam? They make great Christmas gifts. Hi family! I know you read my blog. Yes, you're getting some of this too. In December. If you want it sooner, then you have to enter. No cheating. I'm using random numbers chooser, okay?

But, wait...there's more (I've watched too many infomercials). I want more people to have a chance of winning something. I want to pick two more winners. My second place winner gets two half pint sized jams & my third place winners will get to choose one of my half-pint jams to enjoy. (Psssssst, I recommend picking olallieberry. It's delicious and these only grow in select areas) Though, I personally love the apricot-pineapple.

How do you enter? Easy. Leave a comment, on this very posting, and tell me two things-- what's your favorite way that you would enjoy eating homemade jam? On biscuits? Toast? Or do you have a special recipe that might inspire me to make? That's one thing. The second thing? What flavor jam do you want?

Strawberry? Strawberry Balsamic? Olallieberry or Apricot-Pineapple? If you still don't know what an olallieberry is, I've been posting about them like crazy! Just scan through my blog...oh heck, just click here:

Here's the fine print/rules:
  • I am going to pick a winner on July 9th.
  • I will announce the winners on Monday, July 13th, because my husband goes back to work and I'm home alone again.
  • I can only ship within the United States, please.
  • One entry per person.
  • You must be 18 years or older (I don't know why, but it sounds good).
  • Should my husband hide the olallieberry jam (he's highly territorial over it), I reserve the right to substitute flavors. I just made 14 more half pints, so I hope he's happy!
  • Don't tell my husband I spent my allowance on prizes. It's my birthday and I want to share it.
  • Once I pick the winner of the canning kit, get ready. I'm going to have it shipped directly to you, which took only a few days.
  • You must have an email address, please. How can I notify you.
Making jam and giving it away feels like I'm sending you a piece of California where I live. My secret ingredient is "love". That's how I cook for my friends-- and that includes you!

Good luck! In the meantime, I've got my bubble wrap and a Priority Mail Box waiting to ship your jam. I so hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

I'll be a little scarce for most of this week. As you can see, I have a lot of beautiful California sights to enjoy. I have some baking to do, and recipes to post. But, right now-- it's time to relax with my sweetheart and unwind.

On to vacation, with love--

Pin It


Monica H said...

I love this post!

My hubby and I are taking a mini vacation next week too. We going to a B&B for a few relaxing nights. I'm so looking forward to it!

I'm also in love with this giveaway, because it's something you've made. If I were to win, I think I'd want to try the olallieberry simply because I've never tred them before.

I also have to tell you, I made strawberry jam, but it was purely by accident. I was making a topping for cheesecake and it turned into jam. It was delicious! I'll post the recipe soon.

Have a great time!

Frieda said...

Happy Birthday! So sweet of you to share the love...I've never tried olallieberry and the strawberry balsamic sounds divine...I have never made jam before, and thanks to you, I can learn how!

I make a lot of homemade bread and I think that jam is the PERFECT compliment! I love your idea of giving away jam as Christmas gifts...would be a definite bonus with a loaf of warm, homemade bread!

Cheryl said...

You are too cute we should swap houses! We are in Portland, well a suburb of! I make only strawberry jam with the famous oregon berries! I would want the Strawberry Balsamic, because that sounds soo good

Debinhawaii said...

First off--I want a "stay-cation" at your house! ;-) Great post--the pictures are gorgeous. Happy Birthday--such a nice giveaway too. I am impressed with your jam making skills. I have made curds and butters but not jam yet.

I love jam on a crumpet, which have all the holes to soak in into and are ever so much more fun than English Muffins. If I had to pick a jam it would be the olallieberry because of the name and I have never tried it. (Although the apricot-pineapple would be tough to pass up!)

Enjoy the stay-cation!

Donna-FFW said...

What an ultra fantastic post Debby! First , you look gorgeous in your picture. Your home and surroundings are just absolutely beautiful. I thoroughly enjoyed reading all about it. Makes me want to come stay with you for a while.

And what a TERRIFIC giveaway. I am so so so hoping to win. I would have to pick strawberry because my children love it. What else would I use it for? I have a recipe for a cream cheese coffee cake with crumble topping that calls for fresh preserves, so I would use it for that, PLUS toast, and of course Id have to try it with a plain ole pbj sandwich.

Thank you so much for the chance!!

Stacey Snacks said...

Enjoy your "staycation".
Your photos are lovely.
Maybe I can come to Calif and stay at your bed and breakfast?
Will you serve me toast and jam?

California weather looks so amazing. NYC is a pit in the summer, smelly and too hot. But I love it anyway!

Natashya said...

What a great post, I love the photos. So happy you are enjoying making your own jam.
(I am in Canada, you can leave me out of the draw.. sniff.. ;-)

Simple Simon said...

What a lovely post and thanks so much for sharing your home with your readers. I'm a little jealous because I live in the Pacific NW (just south of Portland) and we are just now getting a few green tomatoes on the vine.

If I were to be one of your lucky winners I would love to try your Olallieberry jam which I would serve on a homemade crumpet with butter served along side a wonderful cup of tea. Thanks!

Maris said...

I want to come and take a stay-cation at your house! This all looks so beautiful, especially your scenery.

Proud Italian Cook said...

With views surrounding you like that, no need to go away, I would stare at the ocean all day! I love the red tomatoes popping out of your garden I can't wait till mine turn red! Have a great staycation Deb

Frances said...

Hi, Debby! I just found your blog through Annie Jones at and I LOVE it!

Your pics are beautiful and I already printed out your recipe for pineapple apricot jam. I cannot wait to make it!

I grew up with a mom that made all our jam and when I moved out, I started making my own. My entire extended family is spoiled and will no longer eat store bought jams. My side of the family, my in-laws and all my friends only want jams for Christmas. And I love it, as I LOVE making jams.

I have made strawberry, blackberry, blueberry, peach, strawberry-peach, fig and mixed berry. I have also made jellies, but the jams are more popular. LOL! This year I have a request to add raspberry, so will be making that and now will be adding any delish recipes I find on your blog.

If I win your giveaway, I would love to try the olalliaberry, since I have never even heard of those berries before! And my parents grew up "in the country" so I thought I had heard of every kind of berry! LOL!

Thanks for the great giveaway! Happy Birthday! And I am now an avid follower!


Phoo-D said...

Happy belated birthday! It looks like you have many marvelous options for fun times near home during your vacation. You have my curiosity in full swing with your talk of Olallieberry jam. I'd love to try that one!

Kate said...

Well, I am pretty basic. I like jam on an English Muffin. Not fancy but always tasty! I love Olallieberry! I have had the pleasure of spending many summer vacations in Oregon. I fondly recall the Olalliberry!