Pumpkin Muffins and Crazy Cake Muffins

Posted by on Apr 23, 2016 in Blog | 0 comments

  We are on (or maybe I should say “I”, because no one else really cares how much sweetener goes in our homemade goodies as long as it tastes good) a mission to reduce an already reduced sugar intake in our home! I am pretty excited about it for two reasons: 1-Sugar feeds disease and illness. I already have enough to worry about, than to worry about any little sick bugs in our bodies getting fed on a continual basis until those little guys become monsters and take us down! 2- We use sweeteners such as raw local honey, sucanat, and honey granules. These aren’t cheap. there are reasons why some people just won’t clean their diet and pantry up- they are afraid of the cost. And, let’s be honest, overall it does cost more. You can reduce those costs by being a savvy shopper, making things homemade, stretching a whole organic chicken as far as that bad boy can stretch, but the costs in the long run ARE WORTH IT. Any thing worth obtaining will cost you something. Good health included.   So, I tweaked a couple of our muffin recipes and a few of you wanted them, so here goes… Oh! If you have never invested in a small mill (we have the Whisper Mill- it does not whisper, but I haven’t held that against him. He has been very faithful to us for 11 years and counting. Just wanted to warn you. First time I began to mill, I shrieked and got flour shot across the room. Trying to save you some cleaning.), you really should! Worth every penny and will allow you to grind your grain at home and have all those vitamins and nutrients in tack for you and your family. First, our very favorite pumpkin muffins. The original recipe called for 3 cups of sucanat (equivalent to 3 cups of sugar). What?! I knew that was entirely too much in the beginning and have successfully reduced it to 2 cups for years. Yesterday, I knocked it down to 1! Pumpkin Muffins: -3 1/2 cups freshly milled soft white wheat flour -1 teaspoon sea salt -2 teaspoons baking soda -1 tablespoon cinnamon -2 teaspoons nutmeg -1 can organic pureed pumpkin (the small can- maybe 14 oz?) -1 cup extra virgin olive oil (I know- sounds weird, but works) -4 eggs -2/3 cup water -1 cup sucanat or honey granules or 1/2 cup honey -8 packets of pure, organic stevia -1/2 cup mini choc. chips (optional- we use ghiradelli or enjoy life brand) Mix dry ingredients in a bowl. In the mixing bowl, mix all the wet ingredients including the sweeteners of choice. Slowly add in the dry and fold in chocolate chips at the end. Bake in greased or lined muffin pan at 350 degree oven for 18-22 minutes. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Crazy Cake Muffins 3 cups freshly milled soft white wheat flour 1  sucanat, honey granules, or 1/2 cup honey 6 packets of stevia 1/2 cup natural cocoa powder 2 teaspoons baking soda 1 teaspoon salt 1/3 cup pureed pumpkin 1/2 cup avocado oil or coconut oil 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar 2 teaspoons vanilla extract 2 cups water Heat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl. Make 1 large and 2 small craters in dry ingredients. Add oil to large crater and vinegar and vanilla separately to remaining small craters. Pour water into pan and mix until just a few streaks of flour remain. Pour into greased muffin pan.  Immediately put pan in oven. Bake until toothpick inserted in center...

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Jacob. “Everyday is a miracle.”

Posted by on Apr 19, 2016 in Blog | 9 comments

I have heard my husband say, “every day is a miracle” several times over the last week and a half.  It sinks in a little more each time.   Really. Every single day that God grants us- a day in the womb, outside the womb and beyond- until we breathe our last… is a miracle.   As a baby breathes inside his mother’s womb, our baby breathed his last on a day we will never know this side of heaven.   I had one of the best first trimesters I have ever experienced. There was very little nausea and almost no fatigue. I enjoyed everyday with my normal activities and embraced fully the future of our family with a new little one. I headed very smoothly into the second trimester.   On the days I would walk, I would enjoy thinking and dreaming of what the new addition would bring. All of the children were eager and the little ones wanted him or her to come right away!   Then one day my body began giving me signs of possible trouble. My countenance gave away what my spirit began to entertain…  hopes of a baby to love and raise may not be the plan of God.   Keith had not been home very long from an out of town trip before he was driving me to the ER. A couple hours later, though the technician did not say a word, we knew the ultrasound was showing us what we feared. No movement. No heartbeat.   From somewhere deep inside of me, a place you know is there, but it surprises you in the moment, tears arose and flowed down.  I wept the entire way back as they pushed me to my room. After they closed the door, my husband wept.  We began to mourn the loss of someone we already loved deeply.   Two days later, in our home, in the presence of only each other and God, we delivered a tiny baby boy. All the children were asleep. This was an answer to my prayer. A gift to Keith and I that we will never forget.  In the bitter moments of death, there was also a sweet presence of God.   Keith describes it as love. I describe it as courage. He wrapped us with His love and He replaced my fear with courage.   “Little Jacob, you were a treasure to us the little time I was able to carry you. I felt like I gave you my best and you gave us your best. What little you were able to offer, you did your part! You came into this world just as I had prayed. No need for a surgery. Just naturally and in the love of our home.  Your daddy and I were able to see you for just a bit! And we saw that you were a boy. I had prayed and asked God for another little boy to raise. I will not get to do that, Jacob, but your daddy and I will see you again one day.  Then we will share with you all the love that we and your siblings have for you.”   “For you formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb.” Ps. 139:13 “My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them.”...

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He Is Lord

Posted by on Feb 19, 2016 in Marriage, Parenting | 4 comments

      When Keith and I found out we were having our ninth child, we were not too thrilled to say the least. Surrendering this area to the Lord has not always been easy. When we married, the idea was to have two or three children and wait until we were married for five years before trying for the first. It wasn’t but a few months into marriage that God began to work on our hearts. We felt we were supposed to trust Him with the size of our family. Which meant letting go of our plans and expectations. Easy to say and do at first. Then God just started pouring out the blessings. Quickly, I might add. And, that faith got tested. Time and time again. Fast forward to Keith and I discussing the fact that we were good with eight children. Life had gotten a little easier. We were dating by ourselves. Had a couple of trips by ourselves. I was more in shape physically than I had been in YEARS. I was dreaming of starting a little side thing that I thought might could help supplement our income. Something I enjoyed and was passionate about. I was finally sleeping through the night again!! When I found out I was expecting , it was almost a shock. Like, really? It took us a couple of days of internal struggle, but we remembered eight other children had been pleading with us to have another baby. They had even been praying that God would allow it. So, we decided that even if we were not happy about it, the least we could do is share with them that their prayers had been answered. They were ecstatic!! Little did any of us know, that several months later God was going to bless our socks off and grant us a baby that would change our lives forever- for the good. She is the delight of our home. She is the joy and sweetness we desperately need. She has brought us closer together and we have loved more than we thought possible of a human heart. Fast forward again and you have Keith and I taking a little walk in a neighborhood near where we live just a few days ago. He had been experiencing some tough days. A spiritual battle he had never felt before and could not describe. I hated seeing him like that. Though I had promised the Lord I would try hard not to let my mind and heart get like it did with the previous pregnancy and I was more prepared for the possibility of another one, I was having a hard time telling my man that his responsibility as a husband and father was about to grow once again. After of few minutes of talking I said, “Keith, I am not 100 percent sure, but I think I may be expecting.” I was kind of scared to look at him in the face. I didn’t want to witness the visible weight that would just mount upon him with those words. But that didn’t happen at all. What did happen is I heard him say these words, “He is Lord.” As a smile crossed my face, I looked over at him and said, “Yes, He is.” We may have grabbed hands at that point. I don’t remember. The conversation continued like this…. “I don’t want to respond with this blessing like we did with Mae Ellyn. I want to celebrate. Celebrate like we did when we found out we were having our first baby.” Me too....

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Spilled Coffee And All

Posted by on Jan 14, 2016 in Blog, Parenting | 9 comments

If my grocery shopping takes place when much is going on at the house with Keith busy working, school going on, chores, cooking, etc… and I know someone must go with me, (Keith likes for me to have atleast one person with me and because of a couple of yucky situations where I went against those wishes and was alone, I now comply wholeheartedly) I must pick who it will be wisely. Actually, I love having someone with me. It gives us one on one time that I treasure. So, house is busy and who do you think I would need to take with me to keep things at home as peaceful as possible. Did you guess the boys? Oh yes, those boys. They are the lucky ones. Everything at Costco is cool and needs their attention and mine. “Mama, mama, look at this.” “This exercise machine is so awesome!” “Mama, do you see this carpet? Feel it, mama.” “Mama, can we have ’em?” as he brings over an extra large container of extra large croissants. “Mama, can I go to the sample lady?” “Mama, we love these chips. Let’s get ’em”. “Mama, can I look at the books?” “Mama, I need some exercise pants.” “Mama, can we get a new movie? It’s just Old Yeller, Mama.” “The one we had was the fat video. The dvd doesn’t play those.” “Mama, mama, mama…” I think you get my drift. And, no, I am not exaggerating. We head to Trader Joes and they both want the buggies. Then it becomes a competition. Oh, there is the sample coffee. We each need a cup, right?! What would any good mom do? Get each of us a sample cup. I make them. They insist to make them. I insist I will make them. I win. Everything poured, stirred, wiped away….. looking clean. Let’s get this grocery shopping done. Next thing I know, in a matter of a split second, coffee spilled on hoodie and all over floor. My words as I turn and see what has happened? “Oh, Steeeeeephen….. Why did you….” (Why did you do that, is what I was going to say, which makes no sense. I mean, like he waited until I turned around and gleefully poured his coffee all over himself and the floor just to get delight out of my exasperation.) Before I could finish my question, this sweet lady who is stirring her coffee says, “Oh honey, I have done that too.” Great. Now I feel like a loser. I grab napkins and we start cleaning. All the while she tells me, “I wish my boys were that little again. I would do anything to clean up their spilled coffee. I miss them so much. They grow up, and most boys aren’t mama’s boys anymore. They give their heart to another. Enjoy them while you can. Spilled coffee and all.” Tears. Yes, tears. It doesn’t take much when you start talking like that, and everything gets put in proper perspective. We cleaned the mess. I told her thank you as we all smiled. And, I pulled those little rascals in close and tight. Gave one back his buggy, and we happily finished our shopping. Man, if I could have a sweet, little lady lightly tapping on my shoulder when I start to lose my temper or say something hurtful, it would be so helpful! What I do have, is the sweet Holy Spirit that will use whatever He wishes to get our attention. My little boys are not going to be little much longer. Right now...

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When Men Win, so does everyone else.

Posted by on Dec 1, 2015 in Blog, Marriage, Parenting, Prayer & Revival | 0 comments

Title sound a bit male chauvinistic? Maybe. But, it won’t when you understand what I mean. Let’s define before I begin. Male Chauvinism- noun- male prejudice against women; the belief that men are superior in terms of ability, intelligence, etc. Here is another one: a male who patronizes, disparages, or otherwise denigrates females in the belief that they are inferior to males and thus deserving of less than equal treatment or benefit. So, basically the belief that men are superior to women. When teaching on marriage and the roles of husband and wife, we ALWAYS communicate that biblically speaking from God’s perspective the male and female are EQUALLY important and valuable. One is not better than the other. One is not superior to the other. But….. But, there are distinct roles for each. And, this is where the culture and even Christian culture will potentially begin to shut down on us. Eyes close. Ears stop up. But, little did they know, that we pray specifically before we minister or teach that the God of the universe would open the blinded eyes and unstop the deafened ears. You know why? Because it is so important that we begin to understand what God has to say to us and begin to implement it in our lives. Doing things our way and the world’s way is getting us nowhere fast. As a matter of fact, so many families are hurting, so many families are being torn apart, and we are drifting….. drifting away from wholesome, godly families and it is impacting our society in a devastating way. So, what if God reaches the heart of the one that is called to lead his family by loving them like Christ loves the church? Sacrificially. In complete abandon. Whole heartedly. Loving by serving. Standing up for them. Loyal to them. Men of integrity. Men who take responsiblilty. Men who remain faithful to their covenant partner. Men who have vision for the generation behind them. Men who handle business and finances honorably. Men who see women as a treasure and not an object. Men who keep eyes and heart pure. Men who are DESPERATE for God to work all of this in their lives, so they are in complete surrender to the One who can do just that. You know what you get? Women and Children who are amazingly benefited to the glory of God. Women with purpose. Children with a future. Do I believe this? You bet. With all of my heart. Real Momentum is in existence because of a holy call of God, but it continues to function through generous people like you. Would you consider giving on this #GivingTuesday or by Dec. 31st to a ministry that can potentially be used to see hearts, homes, cities, countries, and the world turn back to God because one man makes that decision for himself. One man, then two men, then 20 men, then 100’s of men. Think of the women and children that would touch…. Watch more of how Real Momentum started and why: To #HelpMenWin, go here and...

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Homemade Whole Grain Pitas

Posted by on Dec 1, 2015 in Blog, Cooking Tips & Recipes | 0 comments

These have quickly become a family favorite. They are light, airy, and delicious. They are versatile. You can use them to dip into olive oil and vinegar. You can slice them through and make a sandwich. You can slightly open them and stuff them full of goodies. You can top them with sauce, cheese, and other toppings to make small pizzas. You can even cut them into fours and bake again to make pita chips! I am loving using the combination of hard white wheat and kamut. If you haven’t started milling your own grains yet, now is a great time. A mill will cost you a little over $200 and it can be a wonderful Christmas present. Our mill was purchased almost 11 years ago and is still going strong. I would say that was money well spent. The nutrients from milled grain will diminish significantly within a 72 hour period. But, when you have a mill in your home and you can grind your own flour and immediately use it, then the nutrients are all intact. It can seem intimidating, but I like to tell people that the only thing extra that I am doing is milling my grain. It is just one extra step in comparison to dipping the flour out of the bag that came from the grocery store. I am not an amazing baker or a super smart and savy woman. It is really just easy and simple. Perfect for a simple-minded woman such as myself! But never fear, you can use whatever flour you have on hand until you can start milling you own! Let me know how your pita baking goes. I am sure once you get the hang of it, you will LOVE it! Homemade Whole Wheat and Kamut Pitas 2 ¼ active dry yeast 1 cup warm water 2 tablespoons honey 2 ½-3 cups mixed whole wheat and kamut flour (or any flour you have) 3 tablespoons olive oil 1 teaspoon sea salt Combine the yeast, water, and honey in the bowl in a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment. Let the mixture sit for 5 to 10 minutes, until the yeast becomes active and frothy. Stir in 2 cups of the flour, the olive oil, and salt. Start the mixer on the lowest speed and add 1/2 more cup of flour. Knead for 5 minutes, adding extra flour, 1 to 2 cups tablespoons at a time, as needed. The dough should pull away from the sides of the mixer and slightly sticky but easy to handle. Shape into a ball, place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a damp towel, place in a warm draft-free area. Let rise for 1-½ hours. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees with a pizza stone on the lowest rack. Divide the dough into 8 to 10 pieces. On a floured surface, roll each piece into a ¼-inch (6 mm) thick circle (I use a tiny rolling pin to accomplish this), covering with a damp towel after rolling each piece. ****It is important to keep the dough even all around to make for successful puffing. Let them sit a few minutes under the damp cloth. Be gentle when moving them to pizza stone. Place 4 pita rounds on the pizza stone at a time and bake for 4 to 5 minutes. The bread should puff up and be slightly golden. Remove and place on cooling rack. Repeat with the remaining pita rounds. Once the pitas have cooled, freeze in an airtight container. Thaw as needed. SO. MUCH. FUN. Enjoy, Nichole    ...

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Five Reasons I Lift Weights

Posted by on Nov 3, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

This past September marked 2 years that I began picking the weights back up and incorporating them in my workout routine. I had lifted weights regularly my senior year in high school, but after that it was only occassionally when I had my “spurts” at the gym. I personally love working out and exercising at home over the gym, so my opportunity to use weights were limited. Until I learned that it really wasn’t as limited as I thought. All I needed was a couple of heavy dumbbells and my own body weight. I began to research ways to exercise to get good results in a short amount of time. As a mom of 8 at the time, I needed 15-30 minute workouts. I did not have, nor did I want to give, an hour of my time during the day to exercise. After a couple of months of studying and reading, I was super excited to begin something new and it has changed me physically for the better. It has been a great catalyst to making me stronger and more energetic. That is exactly what I needed. Here are just 5 reasons why I believe lifting weights is a must: 1-Slows Down Muscle Loss Without weight training your muscles will atrophy and lose mass. From the age 30-80, if there is no plan to counter-act this, a person will lose 15% of muscle mass. Overtime without realizing it, you will begin to lose strength and ability to do the things that you once could. Your bones become fragile and injuries can put you on the sideline for months. 2- Increases Your Strength I needed the strength weights would allow me to gain. Running after and lifting children all through the day, carrying large loads of laundry and big bags of groceries, has been much easier than ever. No more achey back either. As my core strengthened, the pains in my back diminished. As I grow older, I want to do my best to remain active and strong. I would like to be a grandmother that can still roughhouse and run around in the yard with my grandchildren. We must have that vision as well. When “life” calls you to use your muscles, you will be able to respond with a “yes”! 3-Increases Your Metabolism As you increase your strength and add muscle, your body will naturally begin to burn more calories than it did before. Strength training allows your body to burn calories for up to 72 hours after your workout. If you are coupling strength with a good diet, fat will begin to melt off. This “afterburn” phenomenon is beneficial to burn calories even while we are resting because we have gained muscle strength! Fat cannot do that. It is a win, win! You have heard people talk about how hard it is to lose weight after they turned 30 or 40… one reason is because they have lost their muscle mass that had been burning calories for them in years past! 4-Great Results In Short Amount of Time I can complete a full body strength training session in 30 minutes. These 30 minute work-outs done 2-3 times a week have given results that I did not think were possible in that short amount of time. This comes from a mindset that I must go out and run 5-8 miles a day 5-6 days a week to accomplish my goals. Though getting out and doing that is fun every now and then, it is not my go to for exercise anymore. Not many people have time for...

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Modest Swimwear: Is There Such A Thing?

Posted by on Jul 21, 2015 in Devotional Thoughts, Marriage, Parenting | 9 comments

Diverse and somewhat confusing. Even in the Christian community. The subject of modesty. This post really comes out of a particular post that my husband sent for me to read yesterday. It only touches a smidgen of the whole concept. Modesty is not just outward, but so much more the inward attitude of the heart. Hovever, our outward decisions will be influenced by the inward heart. As summertime is nearing its end this seems to be at imperfect timing. But here we go. I have read and even listened to some interesting thoughts and opinions on the matter of bikini versus no bikini. What is a Christian woman to do? Many of these writings or videos, I feel have been very helpful. Though, if you take the time to read much of the comment section, one may wonder. Putting the varied, divisive, and sometimes confusing comments aside, I believe the door has been opened for much needed conversation. I am not here to reinvent the wheel of great material and biblical insight, but I do want to ask you to go a little farther with me. In light of the great subject and encouraging challenges to rethink modesty with swimwear in particular,  I do want to offer a further challenge to many who are opting to go more modest at the beach, at the pool, at the lake, or at the water park. Whatever place you find yourself – in just a moment. For those of you who know me,  I am a mother of seven girls. I am also a mother of two boys. This matters greatly to me because of them. But, before becoming a mother, I was (still am) a woman. A female who has worn bikini’s in the past. A woman who has felt validated when I received a second or long glance, whistle, or flirtatious remark. In my teenage years, particularly. Not only with my swimsuit but other items of clothing as well.  Then, because I desired to renew my mind and not be conformed to this world, I had to fight that attitude of heart for many years after being married. It is hard to break old habits of the mind and heart. Hard, but worth it. So began my journey to seeking the Lord in the area of modesty. I am not the expert. I believe that a woman who is seeking hard after the heart of God will tell me that at some point in her life she has been faced with questions and decisions that she must make in this particular area. Because as God cultivates a modest heart, it will inevitably affect the outward appearance. This doesn’t happen by itself. It takes humility, resolve, and commitment. For us, with swimwear, it meant no more bikini’s. Not even for my little girls. It did not just stop with incorporating a whole piece and all of a sudden feeling as if we were “modest”.  As we made the decision to say goodbye to the bikini, we also had to ask some hard questions and evaluate the idea of the one piece. Because, though we may be moving in a healthy direction, is the one-piece as modest as we portray it to be?  The bottom part of the one piece is no-doubt still showing much of our derriere. Coming up out of the water, the need to readjust that area happens more times than I care to count. Really, it is showing the equivalent of our panties in that area. That step simply was not enough for us. May I just insert this...

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Does Praying For Our Children Really Make A Difference?

Posted by on May 29, 2015 in Blog, Parenting, Prayer & Revival | 1 comment

  I have been posting different topics of prayer for a little over 2 weeks now. Mostly virtues that we as parents would desire to see in our children’s lives. I wanted to offer all of us a word of encouragement midway through. I hope that we will be challenged and motivated to keep pressing on. Let me begin by asking a few questions: Are we as parents taking seriously this subject of prayer? If we are, to God be the glory!! If we are not, why not? Do we believe there is really power in prayer? Do we believe that God is hearing our prayers? Are we weary in praying? Does praying seem ineffective? Does God really care? Keith and I have felt strongly over the last few years as our oldest children have advanced to the “teenage” years, that ultimately we cannot control our children’s decision to follow Christ or not. That burden weighed on me for a long time (still does sometimes), as if I could somehow make them walk through that “narrow gate” that leads to life and not choose the path of destruction. (Matthew 7:14) Instead of acting negatively out of that burden, I can make better decisions to take that weight to Christ. Now, this doesn’t mean that we cannot cultivate an atmosphere that is positive and points them to the things of God, but it will be their choice in the end. So here we have two imperfect parents with imperfect children, all desperate for a work of God in their lives. When you realize your desperate need for God, it doesn’t take long to admit the importance of taking prayer more seriously than ever before. A Few Points on Praying For Our Children: 1. Pray Often About Your Children In 1 Thessalonians 5:18, God tells us to pray without ceasing. This means we are in a constant state of conversation about all things as we go through our day. The connection with God does not lose its power and significance when we get up from our quiet time with Him. No, He walks with us through our day. May we talk with Him often. *Read Luke 18:1-8 Parents, don’t lose hope. Don’t give up. Keep on praying. Day and Night. “The effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” James 5:16 2. Pray Specifically About Your Children Though I cannot say anything is necessarily wrong with praying generic prayers (God bless so and so), I do believe our children deserve better and God commanded better from us. May our prayers go from vague, broad, and faithless to biblical, specific, and bold. Our prayers can accomplish this when we begin to couple our prayer request (salvation, love, joy, perserverance, future spouse, direction, struggles, friendships, etc..) with the Word of God. The different days of prayer that I have been posting on Facebook and Instagram serve as a guide for you to begin to pray specifically. Luke 11:1-13 3. Pray Openly With Your Children Allow many opportunities for your children to hear you pray for them and over them. At breakfast, on the way to school, during family worship time, and/or as you tuck them into bed. Praying like this allows them to see a mama and daddy in pursuit of God. They witness a faith that believes that God does hear our prayers, that God does care about each and every need and desire, and that in His timing and His way, He answers prayer. Praying openly allows them to hear our hearts. They realize that prayer is simply talking to...

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Fresh Homemade Strawberry Jam

Posted by on May 26, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

                This tastes too good. Really. You may not even want to go here- -but, your children will adore you if you do! Fresh Homemade Strawberry Jam Yield: 7 pints Ingredients: 26 cups of fresh strawberries with stems trimmed off 5 cups of sugar (we used honey granules and you could use honey) 1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice zest from the lemons (to me….this is what takes it to another level of goodness) 10 packets of stevia (optional) Equipment: Canning jars and lids Canning jar lifter Wide mouth funnel (steady hands may not need this, but it is helpful) Big pot Ladle Before I instruct you in the strawberry making process, prepare your jars for sterilization. You can do this by placing jars and lids in simmering water, but because my stovetop was full with pots of strawberries, I chose to sterilize them in the oven. After you have washed jars and lids in warm, soapy water, and rinsed them, place them open sides up on a large baking sheet and place in a 175 degree oven for 25 minutes. Lids can be placed in the same manner in the same pan or a different pan. I kept mine in the oven until I was ready to use. Be careful to use pot holders or some other item to keep from burning hands when you are ready to ladel hot jam into hot jars. Also, you may want to get your large pot filled with enough water that will cover your jars with atleast an inch of water above the jar. Begin heating it up as it will take a while to get the water to boiling point. Ok…. jars are sterilizing and pot of water is heating up. Now, lets get jammin’. You can place strawberries in pot whole and mash as they heat for a chunky jam or you can puree them in the blender before pouring them in the pot. This is our third year making strawberry jam. The first year, all of my effort seemed wasted when the children didn’t care for the chunkiness of the strawberries. I did not repeat making it the next year. But, the year after that, I decided to give it a try again and  I pureed the strawberries.   The children’s verdict? They loved it!!- Winner! As the strawberries begin to warm on a medium-high heat, add the sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Bring to a slow boil. Be sure to skim off foam as you go. Most of the foam will develop in the beginning and taper off as you go. Stir often. You don’t want your mixture sticking to the bottom of pot. This slow boil process will take a while. I cannot give you an exact time it will take to get to right consistency, but I can make an estimated suggestion. Mine took 40-45 minutes. You can test the jam around 30 minutes and then every few minutes after that until it gets like you want it. Place a small plate in the fridge. When you are ready to test, take out the cold plate, spoon a little jam onto plate, wait a minute and taste. If it is runny like syrup, it is not ready. If it gels, the cooking time is complete! This is optional, but because I decreased the amount of sugar the original recipe recommended, I sprinkled 10 packets of stevia in the mixture before placing into jars. This brought it back to the level of sweetness. , Take out jars and...

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