On Bent Pins and Dull Needles – Basic sewing machine etiquette

If I had to choose an honorable Indian princess craft name, it would be either Sews-Over-Pins or Sews-with-Dull Needle. Today I am going with the latter, as it relates to the frustration I am currently having with my machine and myself– it just seems wussy and skips stitches. During recent sewing binges, I have had issues with it plowing through a normal amount of seam and gathers, not even denim. But rather than do what I know to be good needle etiquette I still kept sewing and sewing not changing, until now, just a small amount of public self-shaming and I have a brand new needle in (all the better to sew over pins with, my dear!). Hey, we all have things that we know aren’t the best, but keep on doing them anyway: walking and chewing gum, playing Candy Crush, wearing your contacts an extra week and eating out of the ice cream container.

Sewing machine needle etiquette

  • Change with every 8-16 hours of sewing time or sooner if your thread is getting fuzzy! (holy moly, I should be going through a barrel of these things)
  • Use the right needle for the type of thread: knit(ballpoint), denim (sturdy and sharp) etc
  • Don’t sew over pins to avoid nicks or bends. ( I will do my best but it just slows me down…I even include a picture of me committing the crime)
  • Use a new needle when sewing buttonholes
  • Don’t try to sharpen needles with sandpaper or tinfoil or any other creative ways
  • I keep a wine cork around to poke bent pins and dull needles into before I throw into trash.
  • Use the right brand of needle. Most machines can use the Schmetz just fine, but some Singers require that you use their brand (check the manual)
  • Check out the fabulous infographic from feathersflights.com. I l-o-v-e infographics…..

Sewing machine threading etiquette

  • Thread machine with pressor foot up, and floss it into the tension disks to avoid the dreaded “birds nest” or “bobbin barf”
  • Use quality thread and a spool cap larger than the spool to avoid breaking or shedding
  • Thread a sewing machine needle the same way it comes off the spool – otherwise it tangles. Thread has grain too you know (actually, I didn’t).
  • Play around with a twin needle sometime. Great for hemming, topstitching and wowing your friends with your parallel-o-ness

Other good tips

  • Periodically you need to clean out the feed dogs, take the throat plate off and clean out all dust, thread and lint. Give it a whirl – but look it up first.
  • Make sure you wind your bobbin according to your machine’s manual and that the thread is nice and tight.
  • Do take it into the shop every once and while to get it aligned and thoroughly cleaned etc. This also allows you to bust out your back up machine and take it for a whirl or tackle that pile of hand sewing.
  • Take some time to pursue the limitless number of Pinterest boards for sewing machine tips. Here’s is my ongoing curation: http://pinterest.com/mmcintyre/my-toolbox/
  • Hid your fabric scissors from family members. They are a sacred thing – non-negotiable.

When in doubt, change your needle and rethread your machine! Solves many common ailments and without taking your baby out of commission and into the shop. Besides a dull needle makes your machine work twice as hard and probably pushes you to push it even more. Now, go change your needle – I mean toss it!

Good to know info

The Bee People: Chapters 10 & 11

Chapter 10: Miss Apis and Her Sisters

Laden with pollen and nectar, Miss starts homeward. People used to think she flew in a straight line to the hive and so they called the shortest distance from one place to another in a “bee line”. But she does not fly in a straight line, – far from it.

Whoever has “made a bee line for home” – that is, a true bee line – must have followed a very indirect course indeed. When Miss Apis has filled her honeysac and is ready to go home, she first mounts up into the air, not straight up, but round and round in a spiral and when high enough she starts toward home – but not in a straight line. She makes a long curse to the right, and then to the left, to the right again, then to the left and so on. […]

When Miss Apis reaches home, she finds a large family. There are her sisters to begin with. She generally has many thousands of sisters just like herself and they are all named Apis Mellifica. That might be confusing if they called each other by name […] But, of course, they do not do that. […]

Having watched Miss Apis going from flower to flower in a sunshine, you may think that this pleasant duty is all there is in her life. But oh, how mistaken you are! Wait until you see her at home! There is as much work to be done in her house as in anybody’s and she does it too. She works very hard, and, in fact, with her sisters, does all the work. Nobody else in the family does any, and so she is called the worker bee. For you must know that she and her thousands of sisters, who are as like her as one pea is like another are not the only members of the family.

Chapter 11: The Brothers

There are the drones, their brothers. These fine gentlemen never gather honey or pollen, no do any work in the hive. In fact, they are scarcely able to feed themselves, and very much like to have their sisters feed them. They are handsome fellows, and somewhat larger than their little worker sisters. They have large round heads, with enormous compound eyes that meet on the top and crowd the other three eyes down in front, between them. They have more than twice as many facets in their eyes as the workers. Their antennae are long and very sensitive. They have large bodies covered with a coat of sot brown down, very pretty to look at, and their wings are large.

That they are so helpless, I am glad to say, is not their fault. Mr. Apis Mellifica has no honey-sac, so he could hardly be expected to go out and try to bring home honey. He could not get it even if he had a honey-sac in which to store it, because his tongue is so short and so weak. He can eat honey from the honey-comb in the hive, or from any easily obtained supply, but that is the best he can do.

So Mr. Drone Apis Mellifica leaves the sweet occupation of gathering nectar to his sister, Miss Worker Apis Mellifica. As for pollen, the drone has no baskets in which to carry it, so there is an end to that. And as for working in the hive, he is no better off for tools to work with than he is for a honey-sac, a serviceable tongue, and pollen baskets. In fact, there is nothing for him to do but to stay at home and be taken care of like a gentleman of leisure. This he does to perfection. He stands about with his hands in his pockets, so to speak, and lets his little brown sisters feed him, which they do by allowing him to put his tongue into their mouths […]

Occasionally a drone meets the young queen of another hive, also out to see the world. When this happens they mate, but she stays with him only a short time and then goes back to her won hive and leaves him.

The poor fellow as no sting at all, so he cannot defend himself, or avenge an insult. We may pick him up, if we can catch him, with no fear of being stung, and may say anything to him or about him that we please.

[…] In fact, all the bees in the hive work very hard, excepting the drones, and they generally form a very small proportion of the whole number. The drone is an idler because he is so made that it is impossible for him to work. But he is happy, and flies about in the sun, taking whatever good comes to him without finding fault.

Key Points

  • The chapter doesn’t mention that most of the drones get kicked out at the end of the summer to meet a certain fate
  • Female bees will literally work themselves to death, their wings will be shredded by the end of a harvesting phase.
  • The phrase “bee line” still implies that you move straight away (as a crow flies), despite its obvious inaccuracies. However, it is actually true, when a forager bee returns, does the waggle dance to describe the location of the jackpot, the other bees then fly directly to the location.

I share with you words and illustrations from the public domain M. Morely book – The Bee People. Published 1899; designed for third to fifth grade readers with goal to learn “how to observe” but plenty for adults to learn as well. Life lesson, bee truths and a gauge to see if we have made progress over the last century. If you find something interesting take 5 minutes and do some extra research. Bees are amazing creatures!

Excerpts –

Grilled Summer Salad with Basil, Pepitas, Pickled Fennel and Cojita


Nothing pairs better with summer and grilled meat, especially pork, than fruit. For this summer salad, we grilled up nectarines and plums, but you can do pineapples, peaches, mangos, apricots etc. Produce aisle is the limit. Pickled fennel is easy to make and stores up nicely. Pickled anything with charred meat is a hit in my mouth.

Grilled Nectarine, Plum Salad with Pickled Fennel, Cojita and Pepitas

  • Salad greens
  • Fruit for grilling
  • Basil leaves for garnish
  • Pickled Fennel (recipe)
  • Cojita cheese
  • Sugar snap peas
  • Pepitas (roasted salted pumpkin seeds)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Cut up the peas into one inch chunks, chop basil into threads and pickled fennel (I did cut into about 2 in strips) and add to greens. Drizzle with a good olive oil and toss it around. Plate as desired. Slice fruit in half, remove pits and grill flesh side down until charred. Slice and place on top of prepped greens. Sprinkle crumbled cojita, pepitas and salt and pepper as needed. Reduced balsamic would tasty too!

What grilling success stories do you have?

The entire fruit is already present in the seed. Tertullian

Setting a Paper Table: Easy ideas to express your theme using place cards


During a recent surf and turf dinner party, I covered the table with brown kraft paper (love!) with ribbon runners. This lead to some fun and easy place card ideas for your next brown paper table party. The combinations are endless and there will be something for every occasion and holiday. Brown paper is clean, a tad rustic, inviting, very accessible and makes for easy clean up. White butcher paper would be an option with all the same benefits as brown paper (think candle lit Italian restaurant).

These place card ideas could be used on almost any set table or even as gift tags and are a great way to upcycle paper items. Use them to help people chose a chair, label dishes or include messages.


  • Doilies
  • Old yearbooks – yours or treasures found at thrift shops. I keep the best pages filed by theme in a binder (domestic (think 1950s home ec), mug shots, clubs, social etc)
  • Photos matching the guest of honor, event or theme.
  • Old cards – I save almost all my cards (invites, thank you, holiday) to either repurpose into new cards or convert into tags
  • Pretty paper
  • Children’s books (imagine Dr. Suess party possibilities)
  • Post cards
  • Old encyclopedia, thesaurus or dictionary (buy one to always have on hand) – cut out around a fitting key word
  • Index cards – found some awesome colored one!
  • Fabric
  • Coloring book pages
  • The funnies or some other page with secret message (job ads for new grad?)
  • Wrapping paper
  • Milk cartons
  • Wood things (tags, sliced branches)
  • It just doesn’t stop…..
  • Or stamp right onto the brown paper

Really no rules. Go for the traditional tent style by cutting a square or rectangle and folding it in half or use a paper punch to create unlimited shapes. I highly recommend using a coupon and buying a large circle tool.

When the fun is all done, if not too dirty you could set loose some kiddos with markers, crayons, glitter, whatever and make one of kind wrapping paper or put the whole thing through the paper shredder for filling the bottom of gift baskets. Or if too dirty, compost or recycle!

Have fun and share pictures of your interpretations!

Squash Sauté with Basil and Feta Flare

There is something about mini “things” that is appealing yet mysterious and fulfilling still delicate all in a big way. Like short quotes with big lessons…..

If you take care of the small things,
the big things take care of themselves.
You can gain more control over your life by
paying closer attention to the little things.”
~ Emily Dickinson

And, of course, a quick and easy vegetable dish, inspired by a recipe on the back of a bag of mini squash!

Squash sauté with basil and feta flare


  • 2T Extra virgin olive oil (a little more than you “normally might” per the hubs)
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups mini squash or chopped full size squashes
  • 1 cup mushrooms, whole or roughly chopped
  • ½ cup (or so) halved cherry tomatoes
  • 2 T thin sliced shallots
  • 2 T chopped fresh basil
  • 3 T crumble feta or other cheese
  • Salt and pepper

Heat about 2 tablespoons olive oil for about 30 seconds on medium heat. Add shallots and garlic, cook about 30 seconds. Add chopped squash and mushrooms and cook about five minutes on medium high heat. Add in tomatoes cook and stir about 1 minute. Lightly salt and pepper – remember the cheese might add to the salt. Remove from heat, add feta and basil. Voila! Flare and flavor!

The mini squash will take a little longer than normal to sauté but only by a minute or so. You could do this in the wok, add snow peas, use only squash etc.

“If you cannot do great things, do small things in a great way.” – Napoleon Hill

Another related quote and might words of motherly wisdom status post tween boyfriend breakup: “A girl needs a boyfriend, like a fish needs a bicycle.”

What is your favorite quote about the “small things”? Need a quote: here is a Pinterest search on said topic.

The Bee People: Chapters 8 & 9

Miss Apis can hear and she can smell, though just how she hears, since she has no ears and just how she smells since she has no nose, puzzled people for a long time. The truth is she is able to do these things because of her antennae, which, you remember, are the two feelers that stand out from her face. These antennae or feelers are jointed, having one long joint next the face and a number of short joints forming a very movable tip. The long joint serves especially as an arm to move the many jointed end about.

If Miss Apis’s eyes seem to us wonderful, what shall we think of her antennae. For though she has no ears, she has thousands of what we might call “hearing spots” on the short joints of her antennae. She also has thousands of “smell hollows” on these remarkable antennae joints […] The antennae are also covered with short, sensitive hairs which make them very good feelers, able to tell Miss Apis what kind of substance she is touching […]

So you see these antennae are very important and valuable. But you have not yet heard all. When bees have anything to say to each other they say it by means of their antennae. Just how this is done I cannot say, as I do not know. But they manage it somehow.

When two bees meet they cross antennae in a friendly way, instead of shaking hands and asking after each other’s health; that is, if they are friends, they do. If they are not members of the same family, I am sorry to say they fight. Two sisters, however, never fight.

Miss Apis’s very life depends upon her antennae. By means of them she hears, smells, discovers the nature of the objects about her and communicates with her fellow bees […] If anything happens to them, if they get broken off or badly injured, poor little Miss Apis behaves very much like a rudderless boat at sea. She does not seem to know how to get anywhere, but moves about in an aimless sort of way. She does not eat or do her work and in a short time she dies […]

As you can imagine, it was a long time before people understood the uses of Miss Apis’s antennae, but about two hundred years ago Mr. Francis Huber, a Swiss gentlemen who loved bees, found out part of the secret. He discovered that a honey-bee smells and feels with her antennae. All who love bees ought to know and love Huber, for he spent many, many years studying the bees and finding out wonderful things about them. I think you will like hear his story.

When only a boy he was very fond of nature and very fond of study. He read so constantly that he ruined his eyes and when still a young man became blind. This did not stop his work, however, for he had two friends who were eyes for him. One was a young lady who he was engaged to be married. When he became blind, her friends tried to persuade her to leave him, but she would not.

She insisted upon marrying him and taking care of him. Huber and his wife lived in happiness for a great many years and Huber said that he did not realize he was blind until his wife died. Huber’s other friend was a man named Francis Burnens. Huber would tell Burnens just how to perform an experiment […] and then tell Huber all about it. In this way, Burnens did the seeing and Huber the thinking. […] I believe he drenched the bees with water so they would not sting, and then examined them one by one. It was owing to the careful work of Burnens that Huber was able to make a number of important discoveries. A good many of the interesting facts we know today about bees we owe to blind Huber. He invented a hive which opened like the leaves of a book, so that he could at any time see what was going on inside […] people today sometimes use narrow hives with glass sides, so that everything the bees do can be watched […] Bees do not willingly work in a light place and they do not seem to enjoy being watched, so often they smear the sides of the glass hive with bee glue, which prevents curious eyes from looking in. […]

[…] If you really want to know whether Miss Apis is willing to sting if she gets the chance, pick her up some day when she is getting nectar from a flower. You will learn several things. First, that the best thing you can do under the circumstances is to let her go as soon as possible and pursue some other path to knowledge. But if you are a philosopher, you will not fail to observe what a very convenient position her sting occupies, as convenient for its purpose as the pollen baskets are for theirs. She twists her jointed abdomen about so that you will have hard work to take hold of her where she cannot plunge her sting into you.

The entrance of this little sting gives rise to sensations out of all proportion to its size. A sting so small that you can hardly see it produces a pain so large that you do not seem to have room for any other feeling. Presently, the spot […] begins to swell until it may become several times as large as Miss Apis herself. That, you know, is because she takes good care to pump poison into the wound. This poison of hers is a reliable, warranted-never-to-fail irritant.

[…] if she ever does use it on you, do not get angry, but pull it out, then put some mud on the place […] Mud is a very good remedy, and like Miss Apis, is generally at hand. […] For poor little Miss Apis […] pays a terrible penalty for losing her temper and stinging people […] When Miss Apis recklessly plungers ten pairs of barbs into the touch skin on your finger, she cannot pull them out again; and in her efforts to do so, out comes sting, poison-bag and all, and off she goes, hurt much worse than you are, for she will surely die as a result of her loss […] In her fright and anger, Miss Apis does not stop to consider what will happen if she stings you, but stings first and things afterwards.

Key Points:

  • Think before you act
  • To remove a stinger, scrape it out with a credit card. Goal is to not squeeze the venom sac and inject more….
  • Other great remedies: meat tenderizer, backing soda, ice
  • Remember that the bees don’t want to sting you but will if they feel threatened
  • May you all find a love like Mr. and Mrs. Huber
  • You cannot go blind by reading too much

I share with you words and illustrations from the public domain M. Morely book – The Bee People. Published 1899; designed for third to fifth grade readers with goal to learn “how to observe” but plenty for adults to learn as well. Life lesson, bee truths and a gauge to see if we have made progress over the last century. If you find something interesting take 5 minutes and do some extra research. Bees are amazing creatures!

Excerpts –

Honey Toast Treasure Box

Who wouldn’t want one of those!! Wait. What is that? I am still not sure (they weren’t available) but was so drawn to the gelatinous refined flour and sugar menu of Hard Wok Café that I must share these consumptions. I won’t say I didn’t like it but it really isn’t a place for a meal nor substantial vegetables. Hard Wok is located on the corner of 12th and Jackson, which in and of itself it enough excitement, you don’t need a toast treasure box. The food is Taiwanese happy hour style and features a lot of white flour, sweetened condensed milk (SCM), ketchup impersonators, a pink sauce and uninformative menu translations (cylinder shaped sticky rice). The menu is weighted primarily towards “sweets” (insert my Asian dessert rant) and bubble tea like drinks, to sit and sip the hours away.

What did we dine upon? Crispy golden roll serve with condense milk (fried white bread with sweetened condensed milk dipping sauce), oyster pancake (mystery pink goo, egg, spinach), pickled cabbage, cylinder shape sticky rice (with ketchup-ish sauce), steam mini bun (dumplings, like din tai fung) and spiced meat sauce over rice (pork, not spicy).

So in the spirit of learning from everything around me – I think I will try an at home version of the oyster pancake using the Vietnamese Bahn Xao mix as it has potential, attempt to carve the masterpiece honey toast box (watch out wonder bread!) and try my hand at homemade ketchup. My MIL makes a tasty pork and rice dish so I am good there but I don’t think I can stomach straight up dipping in SCM.

Give the Hard Wok a try, just go for the nibbles, Asian tabloids and good company (BYO).

呼! (cheers… I think)

Celebrating Summer – Simple Dinner Party Ideas

The beauty of summer is in the foods: flavors, colors and variety. We recently hosted a celebration dinner featuring a lot of our favorites: surf & turf, brown paper, bees, home canning, watermelon, tomatoes, curry corn bread muffins, wine …

Watermelon Coolers with Basil

  • Fresh watermelon
  • Fresh basil
  • Vodka if you are into that sort of think
  • Lime for garnish (read: really optional)
  • Jalapeño for kick (really optional)
  • Ice

If you have a juicer this is pretty simple. If you don’t have a juicer this is pretty simple, just an extra step if you don’t want pulp or to cut off the rind. I will share the blender version.

  • Cut up your watermelon into big chunks. I leave most of the rind on, which I am sure is killing my blender blades (no almighty Vitamix here…. Yet) when I filter it, but if you plan to leave the pulp, which is still darn good, I would cut the green part off.
  • Throw it into the blender and puree it really good. Toss in some basil leaves. You could use mint too. I used about 4 leaves, to taste. At this point you could put in a few slices of jalapeño if you want or wait till the end. I had the best of intentions to add but mine where moldy. Oh well.
  • Strain into a pitcher. I tried a few different methods and my metal strainer with a funnel worked the best.
  • You will need to likely scrape and move around the pulp in the strainer so that it doesn’t get plugged. Remember though, gravity is your friend.
  • I put the pulp into a bowl lined with cheese cloth, which at the end, I gathered up and squeezed to get even more juice out. You can toss it back into the blender to see if it will liquefy up more. (the repeat)
  • Chill, serve over ice with some basil ribbons and lime slice. I think an orange would be delightful too. Add vodka if you like. I enjoy hanging out with my friend Gray Goose.
  • Enjoy! A medium watermelon or two of those small ones made enough for 8 people to have the refreshing cocktail.

Deconstructed Caprese Salad with Uber Fresh Tomatoes from My Neighbor

Filet Mignon Skewers with Fresh Veggie Skewers (Turf) & Steamed King Crab Legs (Surf)

We LOVE the simple crab dipping sauce of salt, pepper and fresh squeezed lime juice! Look at the steam rolling off those lovely legs….

For dessert we dined on Asian pears poached in wine sauce with vanilla ice cream. Sadly no pictures, as it was melting! I canned the pears last fall. They are easy, unbelievably tasty, with good texture and the wine when reduced is great on top of a good vanilla. Here is my post with details and recipe.

Preserving the Blueberry Days of Summer


Blueberries – By Robert Frost (excerpt)

Blueberries as big as the end of your thumb. Real sky-blue, and heavy and ready to drum. In the cavernous pail of the first one to come! And all ripe together, not some of them green. And some of them ripe! You ought to have seen.

My home bushes are seven chickens away from producing a crop (we are working on keeping leaves on) but I love blueberries by the cupful and feel a small twang of guilt buying them so cheap at Costco (but not enough to stop me in the off season).

Solution? ByBee you-pick blueberry farm in North Bend nestled up against Mount Si.

In a total of three hours I picked 20 pounds of blueberries: Blueray and Bluecrop – each with their own flavor profiles.

There is something soothing and centering about picking berries. It was a pleasantly overcast day and despite picking alone for most of the time (I was late to the party) there is plenty of entertainment. Did you know that blueberry bushes for sound proof booths? Of course not, because they don’t – but some people sure think they do. Oh the conversations I overheard!

There are many ways to enjoy and save the joy that is blueberries. If I had a nickel for everytime I heard “blueberry” uttered at ByBee…..

  • In your belly! (right off the bush too!)
  • By the fistful!
  • On top of yogurt, cereal, salads
  • Baking: bread, muffins, pancakes, scones, pies
  • Freezin’ for later
  • Dry, leather
  • Jams, jellies
  • Preserves, syrups
  • Pickles, vinegar
  • On your face! (oh, yes I did!)


Indication: for when you just aren’t sure what to do but you know the possibilities are endless.

Process: Wash gently, let dry out on paper towel and then place in a single layer on a cookie sheet with wax paper (not 100% necessary). Stick in your freezer (keep level!) overnight. Once frozen, bag up and put back in freezer. I apparently have only one cookie sheet with a rim, and used muffin tins to up my productivity. It worked out just peachy and they stacked quite nicely!

Small Batch Blueberry Jam (adapted from L. Ziedrich’s Joys of Jams, Jellies and Other Sweet Preserves)

LZ’s recipe is for huckleberries but the premise is the same: small batch, big flavor. Sometimes it is nice to not make gigantic loads of jam, especially if canning late night … Jams are also a good way to use up some of the more green fruit. Makes 1 ½ pints.

  • 1/12 pounds blueberries
  • 2 ½ cups sugar ( I have made with less, just know it might not be as thick – call it a “spread” then!)

Mash the berries with a potato masher or hand blender. Pour into a preserving pan over medium heat. Add the sugar and stir stir stir, until dissolved. Raise the heat a tad and bring mixture to boil, stirring almost consistently. The goal: a drop of jam mounds on a chilled dish. Ladle jam into prepped jars, add lids and process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.

Blueberry Vinegar

This is insanely simple but an amazing dress-up option for salads, pastas and even sophisticated drinks. Most any ripe berry will do!

  • 1 cup ripe blueberries
  • 1 quart red wine vinegar
  • Sugar to taste (I omitted it and will add later, perhaps just before applying liberally to its final destination)

Place the berries in a sterilized glass jar or bottle. Warm up the vinegar (not boil) or add just pour it straight into the jar covering the fruit. Put on the lid (plastic best – I used plastic cling wrap and rubber band) and let it sit quietly in a cool darkish place for 3-4 weeks. When its timeout is up, strain out the fruit with sieve or cheesecloth and use as desired.

Pickled Blueberries (from rosemarried.com)

  • 1/2 cup white vinegar & 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup agave syrup (or 1/4 cup honey)
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt (don’t want that icky iodine taste!)
  • 1 lb blueberries
  • 1/4 of a red onion, sliced thin
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon whole dried allspice berries, 3 inches whole cinnamon stick and 1 tsp whole cloves
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns

Prepare your jars and lids. In a small pot, mix together the vinegars, agave, salt, and spices. Heat over medium heat for 5-10 minutes, or until the salt is dissolved. Remove from heat. Pack each jar with blueberries and red onion slices. Pour the warm vinegar mixture over the blueberries. Use a spoon to distribute the spices evenly into each jar. Cap each jar and allow the jars to cool to room temperature before moving them to the fridge. The blueberries should keep in the fridge for 30 days. If you want to seal the jars, leave ½ inch of headspace and process in hot water bath for 15 minutes.

Blueberries in Lavender Vanilla Simple Syrup (from zoebakes.com)

This is basically a coldpack fruit recipe. You could hot pack the fruit too, but I am not sure the berries would have made it. Here is a site with more information of hot vs. cold pack methods.

  • Fruit or berries can be used for this recipe. The amount will be determined by the size and quantity of your jars.
  • Simple Syrup – equal parts water and sugar, amount will also be determined by quantity and size of jars.
  • Vanilla Bean, scraped (use 1 bean per quart of simple syrup) – I used 1 tablespoon of vanilla bean paste
  • Lavender tea or sprigs

Prepare your jars and lids. Make the simple syrup by mixing equal parts sugar and water. I started with 4 cups each. Heat over medium heat and stir to dissolve. Add the vanilla bean paste. I have an abundance of lavender in my front yard so, to make it “clean” enough for cooking, I decided to make a tea with boiling water. I think the greatest risk here is dirt and clostridium (yes, that is a BIG risk, but there is an antidote now! Living on the edge!) To make the concentrated tea I boiled a cup of water, added the lavender flowers to the tea pocket and let is steep a long time. At this point I added about a tablespoon to the syrup and tasted. I didn’t want it to go overboard but adjusted it to my taste by adding more. Pack the fruit into the jars – I mean PACK it in (like House of Pain – Get up, pack it in, let me begin!) It is quite amazing how much will cram in the jar. I had to redo a few jars as there ended up being so much space. Ladle in the syrup, remove the air bubbles. Put on the lids and gentle agitate it by turning it end for end to help get the syrup into all the crevices. Process in a hot water bath for 25 minutes or so based on size of jar. Please look up the processing time for your product in the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving or other reputable USDA sites, since it does vary.

I froze the remainder of my simple syrup for either future canning, adding to a cocktail or perhaps a drizzle on a lemon poppy seed bread (yum!!)

What is your favorite blueberry recipe? I would love to give them a try!

Great sites to check out:

“Though we’re apart, you’re part of me still. For you were my thrill on Blueberry Hill” – Fats Domino