Archive for July, 2014

Stealing Away to Visit the County Fair

Author: Meera, July 5, 2014

My daughter dropped by for a girl’s day out at the county fair. Summer chores are endless so taking a day off riddled me with guilt–and guilty pleasure.


We strolled under ancient, white bark sycamore trees that towered 50 to 100 feet above us. The first thing we saw as we entered the arched fair-grounds gate were goat pens. The cute little milking goats drew us over, but the odor of mounds of fresh horse manure turned us away. We kept on walking.


We moseyed over to see the sheep with their docked tails (apparently sheep like to chew on the tails of other sheep, so docking the tails eliminates pain and suffering and is more hygienic). We thought the baby goats were adorable. We marveled at how the pigs appeared so pink, healthy and robust. We couldn’t help but stare at the massive bellies and large bags of the dairy cows.


Embarking on the path to the exhibit halls, we relished how cool it was inside, a veritable respite from the heat. We strolled down aisles of quilts, art by high school students, and displays of jewelry. Then it was time to check out the jams. The entries of strawberry dominated the competition, but some included jam made with fig, plum, or rhubarb.


During the dessert competition, pies, brownies, and cakes beckoned us to peer into the glass display shelves. My daughter lamented that she wished they were for sale, reminding us it was time to eat.


We passed on the roasted corn on the cob and cotton candy, choosing simple tacos and Pennsylvania Dutch-style funnel cakes. I washed my meal down with the hibiscus-flavored drink sitting next to a dispenser of white horchata while my daughter stuck with water.


Before we left the exhibit halls and animals, I wanted to see the chickens. That competition must have happened on a different day, so I wandered over to the peacock pens next to the pigeons, finches, and parakeets. The peacocks were lovely but there were no peahens.


We checked out the bunny cages (I didn’t know there were so many kinds of rabbits) and decided against even looking at the reptiles (I tend to dream about them once I see them–and snake dreams aren’t usually pleasant).


All that walking and sensory stimuli wore me out. By the time we arrived home in the late afternoon, I needed a nap. I thought a day off was supposed to rejuvenate you. Instead, mine had done me in, but the trip to the fair gave me gobs of ideas for my cozy mystery series.




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Easy Strawberry-Rhubarb Jam

Author: Meera, July 2, 2014




rhubarb takes up a lot of space because of its big leaves

Rhubarb takes up a lot of garden because of its big leaves but the canes pair well with strawberries



Rhubarb and strawberries just seem to go together. Their flavors blend nicely, whether in a compote, trifle, pie, or jam. The following is a simple recipe for strawberry-rhubarb jam and uses the boiling hot water bath to preserve the jars of jam.


Make extra to tuck into holiday gift baskets or for gift-giving throughout the year.



Luscious strawberries, big, red, and ripe means it's time for strawberry jam

Luscious strawberries are easily made into  jam




2 cups strawberries (washed, hulled, and crushed)

2 cups rhubarb (roughly four stalks, chopped)

1/4 cup lemon juice

6 Tablespoons Classic Pectin

5 1/2 cups sugar




Combine the first four ingredients (strawberries, rhubarb, lemon juice, pectin) in a large pot.

Bring to a boil.

Add the sugar, stirring to blend completely.

Return the mixture to a roiling boil.

Time for one minute, stirring constantly.

Remove the pot from heat.

Skim away the foam.

Ladle the jam into hot, clean jars, leaving 1/4 inch head space.

Apply and tighten the two-piece ring/lid caps.

Place jars into the boiling water bath canner.

Process for 10 minutes.


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