Making peach jam sent me back in time.

I grew up on a produce farm in Michigan, and was the only daughter of five children. Many of the chores and duties we kids were responsible for were uniform across the board (everyone did them), and some of them were more specific. As the only girl child, I spent a lot of time helping and learning in my mother’s kitchen. 

I’m 50 years old now, and have been married close to 26 years. While I enjoy cooking and baking, I fell away from much of what I learned as a young lady. Perhaps it was laziness on my part, or convincing myself I didn’t have the time, or reluctance on my part to purchase the necessary equipment for canning. 

A few weeks ago I caught the jam making bug, and just had to try. It would be the first time I ever made jam all by myself. I did it every year with my mom until I was 18. My mother put up hundreds of jars each year: pickles and relishes of all kinds, peaches, many kinds of jams (primarily strawberry), tomatoes, tomato sauce, apple sauce, and I’m sure I’m forgetting some things. Not to mention we had two deep freezers, one dedicated to meat, and the other dedicated to fruits and vegetables.

I live in Illinois…..and a few weeks ago my best option for locally-obtained fruit was peaches, so off my husband went to Curtis Orchard & Pumpkin Patch in Champaign, Illinois….to fetch for me one 1/2 bushel of Red Haven peaches.

My friend, Lisa, had sent me an open bath canner, canning utensils, and a box of one dozen 1/2 pint jars as a surprise gift over a year ago, so it was time to wash and sterilize everything, and put this gift to working use. 

I searched online for jam recipes, but eventually settled on a peach jam recipe in my old 1970’s era cookbook. So keep in mind, that while I did help my mother for many years, I’m a novice at this and make no claim to expertise of any kind. I did photo document my experience and will share that here.

I spent an afternoon on a weekend making jam. The entire time, I could feel my mom in my mind, and I was flooded with memories, tastes and aromas from the past. My mom passed away in 2007. I’d like to think that she would have been proud of my attempt and pleased with the lucky results.


Betty Crocker Cookbook (circa 1970’s) – Peach Jam Recipe


1/2 bushel box of Red Haven Peaches from Curtis Orchard & Pumpkin Patch.


Canner out, stainless steel stockpot for cooking down the fruit.


Washed the peaches.friday65



Blanching. Put the peaches in the stock pot when the water was at a rolling boil. Once it resumed boiling the peaches were left in there for 3-5 minutes to loosen up the skins.friday67

Sink full of ice and water.friday68

Removing blanched peaches from the pot. friday69

Hot blanched peaches plunged into ice water, to stop the cooking process.friday70

Peel, cut and quartered the peaches.

Sterilizing jars and lids. (Note – do NOT “boil” the lids)

Don hates lumps and bumps and chunks in his jams….likes them smooth… after I cooked down the fruit/sugar…..I ran it through the blender to make it smooth….I did add more pectin than the original recipe called for because of this. After running it through the blender I put it back on the stove to cook down some more….added more sugar and pectin… taste… the original recipe called for a bit of lemon juice and it tasted too tart for me….so to reduce the unwanted tang, more sugar. So now I am totally off recipe and entering the experimentation zone, not the wisest thing to do when you have never done it before! 

Skimming off the foam.  


Filling the HOT jars, leaving about 1/4 head space, make sure the edges of the jars are wiped off (I used clean paper towels for this). 


I missed taking a couple of photos…..this is the jam AFTER PROCESSING.

Once you fill the hot jars with the hot jam, and clean off the edges, place your lid and ring on top, screw the ring down hand tight, place the jars in your canner when it boils….bring it back to a rolling boiling…..and that is when you start the processing time…..from when it RESUMES BOILING…..these 1/2 pint jars were processed for a total of 15 minutes. Then I removed them with jar tongs and placed them onto the towel, that you see here.

I waited a full 24 hours before I checked the seals (unscrew the ring and pick the jar up by the seal edges) – NO GIVE! Ta da! Good seals! Thanks mom!

It was a bit thin at first (first jar), but when we opened the second jar a week later, perfect set. HOORAY!

This, my friends, is what “Summer in a Jar” looks like!

I was left with quite a few peaches after making twelve 1/2 pints of jam, so over the course of the following week, I made two peach pies (one to keep and one to give away) and a peach cobbler. We also ate several fresh. 

I think mom would have been proud and pleased. I’m grateful she showed me how to get around in a kitchen. Making food for others has brought me much joy over the years. I’m also grateful that one afternoon a few weekends ago, I traveled back to a cherished and simpler time. I believe that all the love and memories were the most important ingredients in my peach jam. 



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Help us help them!

(We are asking nothing for ourselves! We would appreciate that this be shared widely. Thank you!)
We are going to adopt Halona. She is currently part of a feral cat colony in Danville, Illinois. For two years my friend Deb has been feeding approximately 20-30 cats that were abandoned by their former owner, and she has been trying to vet. and rehome them as she was able to. Deb could use some help with food for the cats.
Her PAYPAL (email) is:
WALMART GIFT CARDS would also be appreciated.
Hospice Hearts will be assisting Deb with vetting and rehoming for these cats. Hospice Hearts can always use help and donations toward vetting!
You can learn more about HOSPICE HEARTS here:
(Hospice Hearts is an all-volunteer, foster-based animal rescue based in Champaign-Urbana serving elderly cats and dogs whose owners are no longer able to care for them due to nursing home admission, serious illness, or death. Hospice Hearts is a registered NON-PROFIT.)
We believe in, and support, Hospice Hearts with all our hearts! We will be making a donation to them ourselves, in Halona’s name, for them to use as most needed. We will also send a donation to help Deb in her endeavors. She has done more for these cats than most people would have. We admire that. We don’t have much but what we do have, we give freely, with good intentions and high hopes.
We hope some of our friends can help too.
We understand times are hard.
One dollar helps. Sharing helps.
If anyone has questions or concerns, please message me.
We will post updates as we get them about Halona. Arrangements are being made for her vetting. Once she is fully vetted, she will come to us. I promise to keep everyone updated on her.
September 11, 2016
From: Don & Maria Appleby
Champaign, Illinois


Monday, September 12, 2016

I just sent $20 to Deb Nelson-Anderson Saunders ( via PAYPAL to help with food for the ferals! PAYPAL TRANS. #414637589D9529518
I just sent $20 to Hospice Hearts via PAYPAL as a partial adoption fee for HALONA! (more will be sent in the coming weeks). PAYPAL TRANS. #14D697522T571931B


I have been informed that the cats and kittens will be sterilized on Monday, October 3rd, and ready for delivery to their respective homes later that evening, including HALONA to us! The University of Illinois Shelter Medicine Program (MOBILE SURGICAL UNIT) is doing the spay/neuters, exams, treatments, and vaccinations! 


If you would like to make a donation to the University of Illinois for their veterinary programs, please visit their donation page here: THANKS!

September 15, 2016

A total of $130 has been raised so far, and has been split between Hospice Hearts and Deb! HOORAY! THANK YOU!










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HOMER, IL. – Three pets missing after family home destroyed by a tornado.

Last night (Friday 9/9/16) the Baird Family home in Homer, Illinois was destroyed by a tornado. Their three beloved pets are missing. Please contact WCIA 3 NEWS if you find them!

WCIA NEWS can be reached on Facebook, Twitter, or at

You can read a local news article about the tornado and the destruction of the home here:






Update from Emily Braun WCIA added 4 new photos.


UPDATE: Syeira has been found. She was trapped in the Homer house destroyed last night. She is now reunited with her family and enjoying a lot of love and attention.

No word on cats yet.



September 12, 2016

On Channel 4 WCIA news tonight, they announced that one cat has been found. I checked some threads on Facebook about this, and saw a few posts from an individual that went out to help search the rubble of the home, this man said it was TUCKER who was found. I can’t confirm for a fact which cat was found, but can pass on with confidence that one cat was found. WCIA news rocks!


September 14, 2016



Emily Braun WCIA One of the cats, Tucker was rescued today!




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Local rescue HOSPICE HEARTS needs help!

Hospice Hearts in Urbana, Illinois needs your help for the cats and dogs in their foster care program! Financial assistance in any form is desperately needed at this time. Your donation is greatly needed and much appreciated, and welcomed via GoFundMe, Paypal, or by (USPS) mail. Thank you!
Hospice Hearts
c/o Good Friends Animal Hospital
908 East Main Street
Urbana, Illinois 61802
Hospice Hearts is a registered non-profit in Illinois 501(c)(3) #47-5247265







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Rat terrier/chihuahua mix (brown/black and white) named PHOEBE missing from her back yard on Cambridge Drive, Champaign, IL. on 8-1-2016. She is only about 10 months old and very skittish! She is wearing a black muzzle. If found or sighted, please call TINA at 217-418-7332. Please share widely, thank you!




Thank you everyone who shared her “lost poster” for the past two days!




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Her life was a gift.


Thank you for sharing your beautiful life with us sweet girl.


1/19/2006 – 6/29/2016

Loved every single second of her beautiful life.


It eventually gets to a point where the tears running down your face feel like acid sloughing off your skin…..and the pain in your chest becomes a desperately aching void…..and you realize that today changed your whole reality. I allowed myself to fall in love with a perfectly loving creature, whose only fault was a very short life….and I sit here mired in the pain of loss. But I don’t wonder if it was worth it. This exquisite hurt is but small homage to every single moment she loved me, with unparalleled and undeserved devotion.


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A huge community is helping my brother.

Earlier this week, my brother Bernie was seriously injured in a farming accident. The radiator on the tractor he had been cultivating with, exploded. He received 2nd and 3rd degree burns on his face, arms, back and chest. By the grace of God there were no inhalation burns and his eyesight was spared. After a stay in ICU at Munson Medical in Traverse City, Bernie was released to go home, and is under the care and medical supervision of a plastic surgeon who specializes in post-burn treatment. I am thankful for all the first-responders, techs, nurses and doctors (along with their admit support teams) that helped my brother.

So back to Ware Farm in Bear Lake, Michigan does my brother go…..with strict orders not to work and stay indoors…..out of the sun and out of the dirt. Can you imagine how difficult that is for an organic farmer?


I’m in Illinois. I also am unable to travel at this time due to my own health issues. So via phone calls home, and social media, I listen and watch. Helpless to do anything, but marveling at what unfolds over the course of a week.

I hear the deep love and concern my 93 year old Dad has for his son. Dad still helps on the farm, a place he started so many decades ago. Hauls strawberries where they need to go, and a myriad of other things, fixing stuff, helping irrigate. A wealth of farming wisdom in that hatted grey head of his.

I see the love and dedication of Bernie’s beautiful, hard-working, keenly intelligent wife, Sandee. She is Bernie’s heart and soul, and she is the laughing eyed, smiling center of the farm.


I know that Sandee’s folks who live at the end of the same rural dirt road Ware Farm is on, are ever present, as they have always been, but it still needs mentioning….they are there, doing what they always do, helping and loving Bernie and Sandee.

I read the group texts we receive on my husband’s little flip-phone, updates sent by my brother Chris, to everyone who has a cell phone. Keeping us all current on news.

I see the GoFundMe fundraiser set up by a dear family friend of Bernie and Sandee’s. I see the donations, many names I know. Family. Friends. Folks I have come to know via social media. Even friends of mine that have no connection to Bernie at all, except me. Many anonymous givers, who gave with no names, quietly supporting Bernie & Sandee. Thank you Chloe G. for setting up this fundraiser. You’re a superstar!


I read the messages and comments left for Bernie and Sandee on their Facebook page. So much love, kindness, and care.

I’ve been told that a lot of folks are pitching in at the farm. I don’t need to remind anyone that on an organic farm (fruits – veggies – salad greens – herbs – flowers – shiitake mushrooms) you’re not signing up for an easy job either. This is down and dirty, sometimes back-breaking, tedious stuff…..and for the folks that are rolling up their sleeves and diving in with their work boots on….I salute you. I am grateful to you.


So where does all this love spring from? It started with Bernie and Sandee. By treating people kindly. By being honest. By being true. By sticking to what they believe in, even when others may disapprove. By having the capability of disagreeing with others, or policies……even strongly opposing…..but yet not personalizing the issues. By teaching others that all things are connected….that what we eat, what we drink, how we treat others, how we treat the Earth and all it’s creatures, all that is connected and all that matters. By reminding people that in the end, the only thing we leave behind, is love. That’s the only thing that is constant, that reaches beyond death, and is already present at birth. Love is our only true legacy.


Bernie has also had the great fortune to have an interesting life. Grew up on a working farm. College educated. Well-traveled. He was a teacher for a long time, and anyone who has had a good teacher make an impact in their young life, already knows how kids lives were impacted by him. He snorkeled with sharks and went hang-gliding in the Andes Mountains. He met indigenous peoples in South America, deep in the jungles. His path to becoming an organic farmer was long and winding….and every step he took brought him to where he is today.

The news at this point regarding Bernie’s burns is cautiously optimistic. He needs to follow the doctor’s orders regarding his care to a “T”…….his pain is well-managed (he says)….and when I spoke to him on the phone….his words and tone were hopeful.

I hope when Bernie and Sandee see a world of folks reaching out and reaching in, to help with the fundraiser for medical bills and loss of income/work, that they will feel loved. I already know, knowing them, that they will be profoundly grateful.

If you would like to help my brother Bernie and his wife  Sandee, here is the link to the GoFundMe fundraiser:

Bernie Ware is Healing the Burn


Most of all, I ask for love, healing thoughts and prayers. Thank you.



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