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Apples are available

This post is primarily for people who live near Greenville, SC. For some time now we have been hearing on the news that the apple crop in the western North Carolina mountains has been devastated by the spring temperatures and summer hail storms. Rob and I drove up this past weekend and went to two different farms and found out that there are many varieties of apples available. We were told that some farmers lost nearly all their apple crop, some lost certain varieties, and some fared pretty well in spite of many challenges from the weather. So, if you enjoy driving up into the mountains each fall don't hesitate to go. You may pay a bit more this year, but our local apple farmers will appreciate your business.


Our trip to Michigan this summer

We spent a little over a week in Michigan this summer visiting friends and family. Of course, we thoroughly enjoyed spending time with our daughter, Megan, her husband, Jim, and our two adorable grandchildren, Drew and Maddie. We enjoyed playing with the children and were able to babysit one evening so Meg and Jim could go out for their anniversary.

Here's a picture of Maddie from that week:

Megan is quite the bargain hunter and she took us to some of her favorite places where we, too, were able to score a few bargains. Our best deal was at a Sears outlet where we were able to purchase four pairs of pants for a total of $8.00. I had a birthday while we were there and Megan prepared a special meal to help me celebrate.

In the middle of our visit we drove up to visit some friends who spend part of the year here in Greenville and part of the year up in Cheboygan. The drive up took several hours and along the way we stopped for lunch at a place we remembered from when we lived in Michigan years ago. It's one of the few places I know of where you can get sliced olives on your burger. You can also get a cherry coke if you'd like. ๐Ÿ™‚

When we were about half an hour from our destination we decided to stop for a bathroom/coffee break in Grayling and were very surprised to see two of Rob's fellow teachers from school. Erin's family has a summer home in the area and Julie and her daughter had just flown up that day to visit for a few days.

Years ago when Rob first taught up in Michigan he boarded with an older couple named Bruce and Lillie. They had a small cottage on a lake up near Cheboygan and before they retired they built a lovely home on the same property. When we were married they let us use their home for our honeymoon. We visited them several times over the years while our children were still living at home. One year while we were up visiting they had rented out the cottage to a family with two boys about the age of our children. That's when we became acquainted with Fred and Cheryl.

They were both educators who lived further south in Michigan. They loved the Cheboygan area and have built a lovely home up there on the other side of the lake from where we met. They are both retired now and have begun living here in Greenville for part of the year and up on the lake in the summers. They have been inviting us to come up and visit them for several summers and we were finally able to take them up on their offer this year.

They have worked on their home little by little over the years and Cheryl has decorated many of the rooms with a theme. Since she was a teacher for many years her kitchen has an apple theme. The bedroom we stayed in had a woodland theme with bears.

Fortunately we did not see any actual bears on the property, but we did see a deer swimming across the lake one evening.

Rob and Fred paddled across the lake one afternoon on inner tubes; Cheryl and I opted out.

While we were visiting Fred and Cheryl we were able to see our friend Lille who now resides in an assisted living facility and to have dinner one evening with Bruce and his son Jim who now pastors a church in the area. The church recently built a new sanctuary and had had a week of sports camp the week before we were there. We could tell that Jim really has a heart for the people of his church and we were blessed by the services we were able to attend on the Sunday we were there.

This is Lillie:

Here's Bruce:

This is the new sanctuary in their church:

We had a wonderful visit with Fred and Cheryl and were thankful we were able to visit with them. We drove back down to Megan and Jim's and spent a few more days with them and then Meg and the children returned home with us and spent a few days here visiting with friends and family. Unfortunately Jim had to stay home and keep things going at the golf course. We did get to see him again when he met us in Indiana to retrieve his family.

Here's a picture of our three grandchildren together:

So, that's how we spent our summer vacation. Travel can be tiring but it is a great blessing to spend time with family and friends who so willingly open their homes to us. We are thankful that the Lord allowed us to make this trip and have many wonderful memories as we start another school year this week.


In a pickle or a jam

I've been keeping busy lately in the kitchen. I've filled nearly every jar with something, so I guess it's about time to quit. ๐Ÿ™‚ Rob has reminded me that he thinks I've been having a lot of fun, and it's true. I have canned some of the tomatoes plain and also made some Tomato Jam and some Roasted Tomatoes. I found the recipe for the Tomato Jam over on Elizabeth's blog and was fascinated by the idea. I just made one batch, so far, and have it in the refrigerator. It is quite tangy and delicious. I found many directions online for making Oven Roasted Roma Tomatoes. I made a couple trays worth and have a few in the refrigerator and put the rest in a quart jar in the freezer.

Our fig tree has been producing a lot of figs this year and for some reason the birds are not bothering them too much. (It might be the three rubber snakes Rob put in the tree, although the first day he put them out near the berries he looked out the window to see a bird sitting on one and eating berries through the netting!) I've made several batches of this Spicy Orange Fig Jam which I posted about here.

We aren't big pickle eaters but I wanted to try a couple of recipes for refrigerator pickles. I tried this recipe for Tupperware Pickles. They were very good and I will be making these again.

I also tried a recipe for some refrigerator dill pickles which tasted good but aren't as crisp as I would like. It might have been the cucumbers which I used. They were about halfway between a pickling cucumber and a regular cucumber.

Anyway, that's what's been going on here in our kitchen lately.

An old favorite

Our church recently held an old fashioned "barn-raising" type activity to build a new mission house right on the church property. If you would like to see pictures the church has a Facebook page which they update frequently to show the progress on the house. The newest pictures seem to be at the bottom. The men of the church volunteered to help with the building process and the ladies helped prepare the food. A large number of desserts were requested and this cookie recipe was perfect since it makes a large number of really good cookies. Of course, as one of our relatives used to say, you could always cut the recipe in half so it would make less.

Mrs. Field's Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup margarine or butter
1 cup shortening (I used butter flavored Crisco)
2 cups sugar
2 cups brown sugar
2 tsps. vanilla
4 eggs
5 cups oatmeal (blend in blender or food processor to make oat flour)
4 cups flour
2 tsps. baking powder
2 tsps. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 cups chocolate chips

In mixer cream margarine or butter, shortening, and sugars. Add vanilla and eggs. Blend oatmeal to make oat flour. Put oat flour in a very large bowl along with the other dry ingredients. Add the creamed mixture to the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. You may need to use your hands. Mix in the chocolate chips. Use a cookie scoop to form cookies and place on cookie sheets. Bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 mins. If using small scoop this will make about eight dozen delicious cookies.

When life gives you tomatoes, corn, and zucchini…

You could make this easy recipe:

Zucchini, Tomato, and Corn Salad

1 medium zucchini (cut into small cubes or julienned--I used my julienne peeler)
1 cup cooked corn (simmer 3 mins, cool and drain or use canned or leftover)
1 medium tomato, diced
1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
dash pepper
1/2 tsp sugar
Italian salad dressing or vinegarette--just enough to moisten vegetables

Combine prepared zucchini, corn, tomatoes, seasonings, and Italian dressing. Serves 2-3.

I tried another new salad this week that uses corn, tomatoes, and green peppers.

It was this delicious Cornbread Salad from the Southern Plate website. I cut down the recipe a bit since it was just two of us and for the dressing I used mayonnaise, a small amount of dry Ranch Dressing mix, and some buttermilk. I also scaled back on the bacon. We ate it with this Balsamic Glazed Chicken that Rob grilled. We thought both recipes were very good and worth repeating. ๐Ÿ™‚

Do you have a favorite corn, tomato, or zucchini recipe?