Reduced Sugar Strawberry Fruit Spread

Reduced Sugar Strawberry Fruit Spread is here! And it’s good! I mean really good! And there are no natural or artificial sugar substitutes. The only ingredients are Hood Strawberries, organic cane sugar, pectin, water and calcium powder (used with pectin to thicken).

The Story – Drew’s Jam

My almost-adopted 5 year old nephew “Drew” (previously referred to as “A”) has a hard time processing sugar. Like almost every kid, Drew loves candy, jam, etc. Unfortunately, every time he eats sugar, he takes a lot more trips to what I call “Melt-down City” for the next 24 hours. So occasionally he is allowed to eat sugar or sugar-free candy, but he can’t enjoy Aunt Becky’s Special Jam very often. Not wanting to compromise on taste, I went about developing a jam that he could eat with every PB&J sandwich and Eggo waffle. After all, I spoil and I’m not Aunt Becky for nothing!

The Sugar

As I mentioned, one goal of making a reduced sugar product was to spoil my nephew Drew in a manner that I feel is adequate. I also wanted to provide a product that my brother-in-law Scott and many of my other customers could enjoy. Scott has diabetes and has to watch his blood sugar really carefully.

Most reduced sugar jams either contain a sugar substitute which often leaves a weird after-taste or uses another natural sweetner. Since both Drew and Scott have to limit sweets in general, a sugar substitute like honey or white grape juice or agave was not a option.

Organic cane sugar at 1/3 the amount of Aunt Beckys regular Hood Strawberry Fruit Spread combines with uber sweet little Hood strawberries to make a bright red, lovely fruit spread.

The Cause – Alliance for a Healthier Generation

When I’m not making jam or developing recipes or selling at a craft show or farmers’ market, I have a day job I love. I work for the Alliance for a Healthier Generation (the Alliance). The goal of the Alliance is to reduce childhood obesity. It’s a mission close to my heart. One dollar of every jar of Reduced Sugar Strawberry Fruit Spread will be donated to the Alliance. Check out the Alliance website at www.healthiergeneration.org if you want to learn more about the Alliance or  www.teamhealthiergeneration.org to participate in a Team Healthier Generation event.

The Name

This is the funny part. When trying to decide what to call my new flavor, I asked for input from several people.

My co-worker Brian suggested “Mountain Strawberry Chutney” because of the big chunks of strawberries. Although I didn’t think the name quite captures what I am going for, now I might make some strawberry chutney!

Another co-worker Nicole suggested “Simply Sweet Strawberry”. This was a good suggestion as well, but didn’t give me a name if I want to create more reduced sugar flavors.

My sister Rachel came up with a LOT of ideas including:

  • Kick diabetes in the teeth
  • Take THAT glycemic index! Blam! Pow!
  • Delicious descent into jam world
  • Give sugar the shaft
  • Becky we shrunk the sugar
  • Try it or I’ll give you a knuckle sandwich (ala Lucy from Charlie Brown)
  • Less sugar but without the disgusting after-taste
  • You don’t have to worry it down (a nod to my Grandma Pauline)
  • You can eat three times as much. Please do, we’ll make more
  • Smackerel of sugar (thanks Winnie the Pooh)
  • So good, you’ll betray your friends to the White Witch (deep reference to the Chronicles of Narnia)

The best name suggestion was from my 4 year old nephew Lincoln, “Batman’s favorite jam!”

You can try a sample this Saturday, April 4th from 9am till 1pm at the Cedar Hills Recreation Center.

Meyer Lemon Vanilla Marmalade

Meyer Lemon Vanilla Bean Marmalade is a new limited edition batch for Spring.

Meyer Lemons are especially sweet with a flavor much more delicate than other lemons. Madagascar vanilla beans are rich, dark and creamy with an overwhelming sweet, buttery aroma. Vanilla bean paste is added to sweet Meyer Lemons for a delightfully sweet creamy combination.

Flecks of vanilla bean paste float in the cream lemony goodness. Meyer Lemon Vanilla Marmalade is a special edition, limited batch of just 10 jars. Check out the Contact Events and Shop page for details about upcoming shows or visit Aunt Becky’s Etsy shop to get your jar.   

Peach Bourbon Jam Oops!

A watched pot never boils…but it’s still important to watch a boiling pot. After a couple of months of making marmalade, my jam-making is a little rusty. I tried to whip up a huge batch of Peach Bourbon Jam last Saturday. First, I ran out of Bourbon. Then, my greedy heart filled my big jam pot with the last of the peaches I picked from last summer. So I transferred some of the jam to a second smaller pot. After simmering the alcohol off of the missing bourbon, I added it to both pots.

It was at this point that I made a fatal mistake (fatal to jam that is). I walked away from the stove. It was only for a couple of minutes, I swear. When I came back I expressed an expletive and stirred both pots quickly. It was no use. The batch in the large pot burned. I mean burned with the smell of scorched sugar that is unforgettable if you’ve ever tried to make a failed batch of toffee. (It’s possible I have burned a batch or two of toffee as well.) The only shining moment is that the small batch was saved.

Sadly, I only have 11 jars. Only 11 jars until August-ish of 2015! August! That’s way too long to wait for more. Alas, I have no other options. There’s no way to make the peaches grow and ripen any faster. And any peaches I could purchase from a wholesaler just won’t taste the same as the big juicy peaches I picked from a local Oregon orchard last summer.

Two of the jars are reserved for a special customer who says my Peach Bourbon Jam is “the best jam he’s ever had”. One jar is reserved for me. Because I need to make salmon baked with a Peach Bourbon Jam glaze once more between now and August. That leaves only 8 jars. So if the Peach Bourbon Jam is your favorite, don’t wait until April or May. Get it now. Get it quick.

Gracie is 10!

Gracie is 10! Double digits! Yes, she feels older. Yes, she is still the same sweet, beautiful, smart, creative and amazing girl. Yes, I am biased because I am her auntie. No, I am not wrong. For real-sies.

(Me and Gracie wearing the halves of our “Best Aunt” necklaces that she made me out of a sea shell.)

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I love my nieces and nephews so much! Anna is creative and thoughtful and has a lovely singing voice. Lily is like sunshine, especially at 5:20am. My nephew “A” is funny and pretty sure he will actually grow up to be a super-hero. Lincoln is way too smart for his own good (and his parents), sensitive and creates a vacuum of noise around him. Baby Wyatt is smiley and sweet. Baby “S” is plooshy and social and happy. I could go on and on and on.

Now of course I love all my nieces and nephews, but Gracie I get. She and I are a lot alike. So much so, in fact, that my sister Heather suggested I start paying her for child support since Gracie is often more like me than anyone in our family. We both like our sandwiches cut into triangles, aka “boats”. We both are a little loud. We both love candy and, let’s face it, almost all food. Gracie has a much more beautiful singing voice than I can ever hope for. She also has her mom’s honey brown hair where mine is much darker. But we do look quite a lot alike. For example, this is comparable pictures of each of us around age 4.

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Gracie is neat and keeps her room fairly clean, like me. She definitely inherited her overwhelming love of stuffed animal from her mom. When she decided she didn’t want to read anymore (in the second grade), I bequeathed her my Lisbet and the Fire Kittens book my Grandma gave me in the second grade. She won an award at the end of the year for being of the highest volume readers in her class. Heather feels very strongly that the award really belongs to her for making that kid read every day.

Since I didn’t get to see her on the auspicious day she turned 10, this post is my happy birthday to her. Well, sort of. There was also the box from Amazon that arrived a couple of days ago with the Wonder Woman pop figurine and the Wreck this Journal she requested. I’ll be honest, I spoil so that wasn’t it. But you get the idea.

Happy 10th birthday to my Gracie! I love you squirrel!

The Best Laid Plans…

The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry (John Steinbeck). I had big plans for new recipes and marmalade and reduced sugar jam in January and February.

Then life happened.

First up, my annual work trip to Little Rock, AR to meet with my awesome co-workers for a few days. It was a little bitter sweet because my friend Leslie was missing this year. She’s now working at a non-profit in her local community, which is good. But I still missed her.

The Amaryllis bulb I potted up in November bloomed.

Then the flu happened. I’m talking bronchitis plus a fever of 101 for three days straight. It was very inconvenient and a terrible waste of paid time off that could have been used doing almost anything else more fun. Also, I wasn’t able to finish the batch of orange marmalade I prepped.

But then good news, my short and sweet Iris bulbs bloomed. Flowers make me so happy!

After the flu, on my hunt for a recipe to compliment my Pomelo Marmalade, I made cinnamon rolls. Unfortunately, I did not calculate the temperature of the milk which caused the yeast to rise incorrectly. So dense and flat cinnamon rolls came out of the oven. Sigh.

After getting over the flu, I celebrated Valentine’s day with delicate French pastries and wine tasting with my new boyfriend John.

It’s possible, just the tiniest bit, that I may have overdone it. The past week, I’ve been trying to catch up on my life from being sick. Honestly, I’ve also been having a super good time catching up on the fun stuff I missed out on.

I feel like this blog post is a series of random events and excuses for not doing much of anything related to jam the past few weeks. Also, I don’t know how to make it end. Maybe my mojo is off. So I’ll end it with the best, most awesome text ever from by 4 year old nephew Lincoln. As an intro, Lincoln has an imaginary sister. Because he doesn’t do things half way, his imaginary sister is Katy Perry. Now that you have the background, the text will make more sense.

Lincoln: “Hey Becky baby should come to my house sometime….my sister Katy Perry is not like my sister. Katy Perry doesn’t really like anyone in this world except me.” And that is all my friends. I promise to up my game for the next post.

Pomelo Marmalade

It’s marmalade season! In addition to Meyer lemon and navel orange, I’m adding Pomelo marmalade to the mix. Pomelos are enormous! And I am not exaggerating! Okay, I get it, too many exclamation points. But seriously, they are ginormous! Here’s a picture of a Pomelo cut in half next to a naval orange.

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Aunt Becky’s Pomelos are grown at Pearson’s Ranch in California. You can even order your own if you want.

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Pomelos are the largest fruit in the citrus family and ancient ancestors to the common grapefruit. Pomelos are sweet with little to no bitterness. A fresh segment has the flavor of a grapefruit with the sweetness of an orange.
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It has been a while since my last post. One of the projects that I completed was hanging up a new light over the sink in my kitchen. I like the look of these glass lights with the halogen bulbs.
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The new light really shows off the lovely pinky-orange of the Pomelo Marmalade.

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Pomelos are given during the Chinese New Year as a symbol of good fortune and prosperity. Pomelo marmalade would be an excellent substitution to the fresh fruit for Chinese New Year or a delicious addition to your marmalade loves.

If You Give A Girl…

If you give a girl a Harry Potter t-shirt that says “Muggle-born” for Christmas, she’s gonna wanna make a sign with a Harry Potter reference and a nerdy, yet awesome, joke.

 

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Once she makes a sign for her laundry area, she’ll want to sew a new cover for her ironing board.

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When the ironing board cover is done, she’ll want a little flap for her hose connectors.

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After her pretty fabric square is installed, the girl will notice the floor doesn’t match very well. Since the laundry area is so close, she’ll notice that the floor in her powder room doesn’t match either. So she’ll decide to paint both floors at once. That’s right! Paint!

She’ll make a trip to the craft store for supplies. The girl will weave her way around a small, very articulate, little girl picking out craft paint colors to find the perfect stencil. It will be the stencil she was looking for! The girl will laugh at her Star Wars! reference.

After the craft store, the girl will go to the home improvement store for paint to go with her new stencil. She’ll select a dove gray paint for the floor and a snow white paint for the stencil. For the time being, she’ll buy the products the guy at the home improvement store suggests.

The girl will decide to do things right. First she’ll apply a deglosser/sander. She’ll wear safety goggles and gloves because she’s a teensy bit prone to accidents.

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Then she’ll prime both floors. At this point, she will be feeling nervous about the end result.

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Then she’ll paint two coats of flat gray paint. She’ll feel very nervous.

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The girl will use her fancy stencil and brushes to stencil the flower pattern using the white paint. She’ll be excited about the look but not sure about the finished product.

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Then the girl will go to the locally owned hardware store next to the sketchy comic book store. This time, she’ll pick out a water based sealant made especially for floors that dries “crystal clear”.

The girl will read the instructions and use a basic foam roller to apply the polyurethane. (She’ll have to look up how to spell the word polyurethane.) The girl will plan another trip to the home improvement store to return the fancy brush and the oil based polyurethane another day.

The girl will apply four coats of polyurethane to the floors. After each coat dries, she’ll add the next coat.

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The girl remembers the trick her Uncle Randy taught her for painting. She’ll wrap her wet foam applicator in a plastic bag and place it in the fridge to stay wet between coats.

When the floors are dry, the girl will try hard to wait to use them. She will fail. It won’t matter. She’ll replace her washer and dryer without scratching her new floor.

The girl will hang up her sign and her lovely ironing board with its new cover.

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After all that crafting and painting, the girl will watch a Harry Potter movie to rest and relax.

When she watches the Harry Potter movie, she’ll want to wear her “Muggle-Born” t-shirt.

When she wears her t-shirt, the girl will want to start a project…

Space Lift

Happy New Year! When the clock strikes midnight on December 31st, the urge to clean, organize and redo is overwhelming. Often time the post-holiday blues hit as well. For me, these two conflicting feelings work together. Cleaning and revamping makes me happy and the physical exertion helps me not feel quite so depressed.

Up first up was my “Jam” room. Aunt Becky’s utilizes my somewhat funny shaped room off the dining room. I think it was originally part of the garage. At some point, a previous home owner added a laundry room on one end and a small powder room at the other end. My first project upon move in was to replace the hollow core door with a fireproof door and install a decent lock. Then I painted the walls a purple/lavender color like hydrangeas. I’ve been quite happy with the color and focused on other areas of the house and garden.

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As you may have guessed, purple/lavender, even the lovely color of hydrangeas. does not match Aunt Becky’s color scheme. I’ve been itching to paint. I chose a fairly standard flat white for the ceilings. Boy, painting ceilings is unpleasant. But the clean crisp white without any soot stains looks beautiful.

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I painted “Blue Bird” on the walls. It’s always nerve wracking in the middle of a color transformation.

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In the end I love it. If I’m feeling grouchy, I think it has a slight toothpaste tinge. But mostly I love that it matches my overall decor. Plus I moved my seashells and related art to compliment the color.

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The laundry area and powder room are in process. I’m currently waiting for the paint to dry on the linoleum floor. Hopefully Pinterest didn’t steer me wrong. Ha ha ha

Be on the lookout for a new line of reduced sugar jam from Aunt Becky; Hood Strawberry and Grape Jelly will be the first two flavors offered. With a freshly painted room, the creative jam ideas will start to flow as well.

 

 

 

Everyone Makes Mistakes

Everyone makes mistakes. If you purchased or received a jar of Spiced Currant and Cherry Sauce as a gift this holiday season and it says it expires in 2014, the correct expiration year is 2015. You’re welcome to contact me directly if you’re still not sure or want to confirm. I apologize for the confusion.

I made another mistake this week while feeding baby S in the middle of the night. Since he’s not adopted yet. I can only share a picture of his sweet baby hand. I’ll describe him so you get a bit of a mental image. He’s 5 months old with beautiful nut brown skin and brown eyes. He has fat baby legs and little feet. He is a very happy baby. Baby S is also a very easy baby. He smiles a lot and his laugh sounds like a dove coo. His fat rosy cheeks and sunny disposition draw you in. Then he spits up on you and laughs about it.

Baby S

I promised to take over feedings one night so Heather and Matt could get a full night sleep in. My instructions were to feed him 3 times when he woke up and cried. Heather made up two bottles in advance and I just needed to make up the last bottle. Since he has frequent tummy problems, he gets a combo of formula and oatmeal cereal which helps keep down the food. Because of the oatmeal, the nipple on his bottle has an extra large opening. This causes him to suck down his bottle at an alarming speed. He barely breathes and just chugs it. It’s quite sweet and funny. All he needs then is a quick diaper change and about 2 minutes of soothing and rocking and he goes right back to sleep. For you non baby people, Baby S is incredibly easy.

The night in question, I fed him at 1:30. He woke up again at 5:45 and I fed him again. The next time I heard him cry, I woke up and put a bottle into his mouth. He chugged down about 3/4 then kind of played with it. I checked his diaper and it was mostly dry. That’s when it occurred to me to look at the time. It was only 6:45. I stuffed two full bottles (5 oz each) into that kid in an hour’s time. Again for the non baby people, that’s like eating a full lunch and dinner within an hour of each other.

Heather laughed when I told her about the bottles. She was a little put out that he slept so good for me, but figured he knew it was amateur hour. Baby S went a little longer than usual before he was hungry again.

Aunt Becky’s in the Last Minute Shopping Guide

Aunt Becky’s is privileged to be part of the Last Minute Shopping Guide. Check out idea 48. December 21st is the last day for local delivery and online Etsy orders for guaranteed Christmas gifts.

Starting December 21st, I will be taking a much needed vacation from all things jam and focusing instead on all things about being Aunt Becky. I get to see all of my nieces and nephews this week and I could not be more excited! First, we’ll make Christmas cookies! Then we’ll wrap presents and color. Then we’ll snuggle!

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