Archive for Travel

Strawberry Jam with Mom

We went to the Cape to visit my folks.

Mom had a big bunch of fresh local berries waiting…

cape cod strawberries
sun-ripened and hand-picked… fresh strawberries from cape cod

… and she showed me how she makes jam. Growing up, we did not spend much time in the kitchen with Mom. She is the first to say she is not a fabulous cook, and I learned by trial and error as I got older.

Mom’s talents lie in other areas — she’s a nurse and even at age 70 she still works a full week, lending her caring hands and heart to those in need.
Her patients love her, and I am so proud of her.

Back to jam — Mom’s recipe isn’t much more than following the instructions in the Certo package. Nonetheless, it was fun to help. It’s so much easier than I thought it would be — I have to try my own hand at it one of these days.

Strawberry Jam

4 c crushed strawberries and their juice (from about 2 quarts fresh berries)
7c sugar
1 package Certo fruit pectin


Wash, hull, and crush the berries with a potato masher. Place in a large heavy pan, add the sugar, stir well and bring to a rolling boil (a boil that does not cease when you stir). Add 1/2 tsp butter if desired to reduce foaming. Add Certo and stir continuously at rolling boil for one minute. Remove from the heat and skim any foam from the top.

Ladle into sterilized jars.

The instructions call for processing sealed jars in a canner for ten minutes.
Mom always refrigerates her jam, so she doesn’t process it.
She seals the jars the way her mother and father did, and she told me how:

Fill the sterilized jars very near to the top and tighten lids very well.
Then while still hot, tip the jars upside down and leave for five minutes.
Turn them back right side up and you should be able to hear the vacuum seal forming — it makes a popping noise.
She does this on a tray in case of leakage.

boiling the berry crush and sugar
berry crush and sugar at a rolling boil

adding pectin to the berry crush
adding the certo…

stirring it up
mom stirring it up!

homemade strawberry jam
homemade strawberry jam

It’s funny how you go along, not realising your parents are getting older, then one day it hits you.

I am fortunate in that I see my folks often — my kids even more so. They live fairly close and I guess I take that for granted. It was really special to spend an afternoon in my mother’s kitchen, learning something new from her.

I need to make the time to spend more days like that, and I intend to :)

welcoming hammock between two old cedar trees…. my folks’ yard

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Springtime in Northern Michigan

Spring comes slowly to the upper reaches of Michigan… it’s a beautiful time for leisurely walking and watching the world wake…

(click on the photos for larger view)

crocuses and trout lillies peek through last year’s leaves

fawns begin to lose their spots…

wondering eyes
…but their wondering eyes remain

fluffy ~ click to see all of him!
and a baby squirrel knows a good supper when he sees one!

ore boat passing sleepy town
further north, a huge ore boat glides past a sleepy little town ~ early morning on the shore of Lake Superior

beach glacier
a “beach glacier” holds hidden treasures…

lake superior agates
…buried all winter, they appear in early spring

graceful trumpeter swans in the warm spring sunshine ~ Seney National Wildlife Refuge

st. helena island
St. Helena Island floats serenely in Lake Michigan ~ view from Gros Cap

dreaming of summer and the next trip home…

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L is for Lake Superior ~ M is for Michigan!

Only in Michigan can you see…

a car ferry passing in the wake of an ore carrier ~ St. Clair River
photo by gkc

a lone merganser piercing the still water ~ early morning on Grand Traverse Bay

oqueoc falls
mist rising from the river as it rushes out of the woods ~ Ocqueoc Falls

rain clouds
a rain shower moving toward Lake Huron ~ across the Straits of Mackinac

stormy lake superior
a Lake Superior storm

I’m afraid I’ll miss out on “L” and “M”, Nupur, but I’ll be peeking in to see what you’re cooking up! Weather permitting, I am off to the lakes on Monday morning. Hope you all have a wonderful week!

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Pictured Rocks ~ A Magical Place

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is a magical place. Stretching over forty-plus miles along the southern shore of Lake Superior are sandstone cliffs, waterfalls, forests, rivers, beaches, and towering dunes. A couple of summers ago I was fortunate to visit and I tried to capture some of the beauty of the place. Photos don’t really do it justice though. You need to see it to believe it. If you go,
plan to stay at least a week. It’s a long way from the bridge, but worth every mile.
Much beauty awaits!


You can walk an interpretive trail out to the top of the dunes. Along the way, you might spy some beautiful wildflowers.

lady’s slipper
lady’s slipper

You can stand atop the dunes, looking out over Lake Superior, and marvel at the distance of the crashing waves below — if you can see them through the fog!

long way down
a very foggy day atop the Grand Sable dunes, looking way down into Lake Superior

A little further west, you get some idea of the size and scope of the dunes.

looking east toward Grand Sable Bank and dunes



The best way to view the “pictures” of Pictured Rocks is from the water. You could kayak in the freezing waters of Superior, or for the more faint-hearted like me, boat tours are offered. Best time to go is first thing in the morning, when the sun lights up the spectacular colors. These pictures were taken in the afternoon.

pools of pure green run right up to rocky ledges rising straight out of the lake

Fascinating geological features abound…

proof of the amazing power of wind and water

“Mineral stains give color to the famous cliffs of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Red and orange colors are iron, black is manganese, white is limonite, and green is a trace of copper. There are no pictographs or petroglyphs on the Pictured Rocks cliffs (that we know of). ” — excerpted from Pictured Rocks for Kids copyright National Park Service.

pictured rocks mineral deposits
close up of mineral deposits

Ah yes, magical! :)

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Warm Weather Watch

It’s 50 degrees out, the sun is shining, and there’s light at the end of the tunnel!

light at the end of the tunnel
Garden of the Gods ~ Colorado Springs

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Recipe for a Spring Agate Hunt

Finding Spring Agates
click on photos to enlarge

A very simple recipe for a spring agate hunt on Lake Superior!

You need:

1 warmish spring day, after ice break-up on Lake Superior
1 kindred spirit
1 reliable automobile
1 full tank gasoline
1 good pair walking shoes
1 camera
1 Song Of The Lakes cd in the player
1 big lunch in picnic cooler


1. Wait for spring. Takes all winter.
When you notice things like this…

trout lillies
trout lillies

cherry blossom near opening

… then you know it’s time.

2. Get in the car. Start the engine.
Place SOTL cd in player and cue to track 1.
Press play. Drive north. Time varies.

I 75
keep driving north…

3. Continue north until you see…

mackinac bridge
mackinac bridge

… the Mackinac Bridge. If you’re lucky, you’ll see a laker passing beneath!

4. Go over the bridge. Continue north until you get to a deserted stretch of Lake Superior agate beach. Takes about 3 hours.

agate beach on Lake Superior

5. Walk on this beach. Wear the good walking shoes. You’ll be glad you did.
Search on the beach for agates. Takes all day.

millions of rocks in Lake Superior

6. Also search at the water’s edge. Bring gloves. The water is cold.
When you need a break from bending over, have a look in the trees.
If you’re lucky, you might see…

yellow-bellied sapsucker

… a sapsucker!

7. Continue searching. At the end of the day, you should have several treats to help you remember your spring agate hunt :)

spring agates

spring agate

spring agate

“February is a short month… then March is spring… ”

— Laura Ingalls Wilder

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Old Mission Point ~ Summertime Dreaming

Old Mission Peninsula divides Grand Traverse Bay into two arms, the East and the West. The scenic drive out M37 takes you over gently rolling hills, through farmland and vineyards, to the lighthouse at Old Mission Point.

west bay overlook
looking out over the West Arm of Grand Traverse Bay through a sea of grapevines

lighthouse at mission point
At the tip of the peninsula, Old Mission Light stands guard…

rocky shore at old mission point
over a rocky shore, looking out over water as blue as any in the Caribbean

this little guy was cleverly disguised among the leaves (click to enlarge and find him)

near the shore, a juvenile great blue heron stalks lunch

heron again
he was undisturbed by me and my camera coming closer…

curious heron
he was very inquisitive…


he even seemed to speak!

heron stretching
oops… that’s enough of that photo session…

and away he flew…

Ah, summertime in Michigan! :)

michigan sunset

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More Great Lakes Scenes

Summertime Michigan dreaming…

american redstart at taq falls
american redstart at Tahquamenon Falls State Park near Paradise ~ this little fellow should be the state bird of Michigan

mendota ship canal
the old Mendota Ship Canal near Bete Grise in the Keweenaw Peninsula

near eagle harbor
afternoon sunlight on Lake Superior shoreline near Eagle Harbor

eagle harbor light
Eagle Harbor Light flashing red

lake superior sunset
the incredible colors of a Lake Superior Sunset, near Eagle Harbor

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Great Lakes Scenes

Michigan on my mind…

classic laker on lake huron
classic laker on Lake Huron at sunrise

sunset snow squall
sunset snow squall at the Blue Water Bridge, Port Huron

autumn squall at cherry capital airport
autumn snow squall at Cherry Capital Airport

tranquility on grand traverse bay
summertime dreaming on the east arm of Grand Traverse Bay

keweenaw sunset spectacular
Keweenaw sunset spectacular near Eagle Harbor

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Pasties (Say Pass-Tees)

The Pasty Oven
The Pasty Oven’s whimsical sign, one of many lining US Rt. 2 in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (image property of The Pasty Oven)

If you’ve ever traveled to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, you have been to pasty country. Traditionally made in a lard crust with meat, potatoes, onions, carrots, and rutabagas (the big yellow turnips sometimes called “swedes” or “beggies”), pasties were brought to Michigan by Cornish immigrants who came to work the mines. In the morning the miner’s wife could wrap up a steaming hot pasty; it was easy to carry in a coat pocket. The pasty could later be retrieved and eaten, often still hot in its crust, as a convenient and hearty out-of-hand meal.

There are as many recipes for pasties as there are for apple pie. If I am going to indulge in all that crust, I eschew the modern pizza and chicken versions for the real thing. These days I am eating less and less meat, but this recipe is for a traditional pasty with beef and root vegetables. For a vegetarian version, the meat can be omitted — add a little more butter for moisture but please, don’t skip the beggies!

You may use your favorite pie crust recipe, but do try the wonderful version below. Perfected by a talented Michigander, it is easy to handle and still turns out flaky.

Vegetables may be used in whatever proportion is desired. I prefer lots of carrots and rutabaga and fewer potatoes.

For a true UP experience, mail-order some Tovio and Eino’s Pasty Sauce, a special catsup-like sauce with a kick.

More about pasties here and here.

enough for one hungry miner, or two to three regular folks
(3 pasties)
with special thanks to gkc

All measures are approximate.

For the crust:

2 – 2 1/2 c unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 c shortening (crisco or canola oil — butter is not recommended)
3-4 TB milk, just enough to bind

For the filling:

1/2 – 1 lb best quality lean, tender sirloin, amount according to taste
1 medium rutabaga
1 medium onion
2-3 large carrots
1-2 large waxy potatoes such as red or new potatoes
(for vegetarian version, increase amount of vegetables as required)

salt and freshly-ground pepper

Eggwash for baking:

1 whole egg or egg white mixed with 2-3 TB water


In a large bowl, mix flour and salt. Work in the shortening with fingertips until mixture resembles crumbs. Add milk, 1 TB at a time, until the dough is moist enough to form into a ball. Cover the ball of dough to prevent drying, and let it rest while you prepare the filling.

dough for the crusts
dough for pasty crusts — batch on top right is made with oil, the others with vegetable shortening

Cut the sirloin into small cubes, about 1/4 inch square. Peel the vegetables and cut into uniform cubes, also about 1/4 inch. Toss all filling ingredients together in a large bowl with salt and freshly-ground pepper to taste.

pasty filling
pasty filling

In a small bowl, mix the egg or egg white with water and set aside.

To assemble:

Preheat oven to 350 F.

The crust can be rolled thick or thin, but we don’t want paper thin. The crust must hold all the filling without tearing.

Divide dough ball in half. Roll out one half into a large circle of desired thickness. Invert a 9-inch plate over the center and cut around with a sharp knife or pizza cutter to make a neat circle. Carefully roll up the circle of crust and set it aside. Reserve dough scraps. Roll out the other half, cut and roll up in the same fashion. Set that crust aside as well. Combine the scraps to make one more circle of crust.

On a large ungreased baking sheet, unroll the first circle. Mound approx.
1 1/2 cups of filling about one inch from the right edge. Add a pat of butter on top of the filling. Brush the right side of the circle with a little plain water. Carefully fold the left side of the circle over the top of the filling, bringing the edge down to meet the right side. Tuck in any loose filling with your fingers. Starting at the bottom of the half-circle, roll up the edges of the crust and crimp to seal. Repeat with the remaining two crusts.

assembling pasties
assembling pasties

Brush the tops and sides of the pasties with eggwash. Prick several times with a fork, or cut slits with a knife to release steam.

Bake about one hour *** (note corrected baking time), until crusts are browned and steam rises. If you are unsure, run a knife into the crust — if the vegetables feel tender, the pasties are done.

pasties cooling
pasties fresh from the oven!

Carefully remove to wire rack to cool. Pasties may be served hot or room temperature, with knife and fork, or out of hand. Some folks even like to eat them cold. If you spend an afternoon making lots of pasties, they may be refrigerated or frozen for reheating later.

pasty supper
pasty supper on a snowy autumn afternoon, complete with sauce, pickles, and birdfeeder for entertainment

This (vegetarian version — thanks Asha!) is my completely unconventional entry for Special Edition Jihva — Diwali Treats, hosted by Vee of Past, Present, and Me. I hope she will accept my entry. Of course this is not tradtional Diwali, or even Indian food, but it does represent a new autumn tradition for me — one I intend to keep and cherish. And from what I read, Diwali is all about tradition :)

Wishing everyone a happy holiday celebration — whatever and wherever it may be.

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