Saturday, September 12, 2009

Grape Jelly

I have a grape arbor in my front yard. More truthfully, I have one lone Concord grape vine that tangles around my split rail fence out by the sidewalk. Except for some heavy pruning in early spring, which means I cut it back so there is only a couple feet of vine remaining, I do nothing with it. Absolutely nothing. No watering, no fertilizing, no spraying. I just watch it grow, and it grows and grows and seems to grow more each year. It’s probably 20 years old now, no longer a teenager and coming into its own.

This week I picked about a half bushel of beautiful deep purple, plump grapes, many with just a blush of gray on them to set off the purple.

And Ruth made jelly, and more jelly, and still more jelly—six batches in all for a total of 42 jars of tasty, downright pretty jelly. Christmas presents, birthday presents—get on Ruth’s good side and she might give you a jar. But then again, she may not. Much of it is already spoken for. Sue, Paul and the boys want some. Steve and Natasha already have their order in. Jeff, Sandy and their family claim nothing is better on toast.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: There is something about the taste of what’s made in your own kitchen that surpasses anything you buy in a store, no matter how fancy the store, or how plain your kitchen.

NEW NOVEL, BLUE SHADOWS FARM, NOW AVAILABLE: Check my website for further information. Check my schedule below for book signings and presentations.

DESCRIPTION: Follow the Starkweather family through three generations as they try to make a living on a farm near Link Lake, Ames County, Wisconsin. Through the story of the Starkweather family’s changing fortunes, and each family’s very different relationship to the land, BLUE SHADOWS FARM is in some ways the narrative of all farmers and the increasingly difficult challenges they face as committed stewards of the land.


Sept. 16, 12 Noon. UW Oshkosh Learning in Retirement. LaSure’s Banquet Hall, Oshkosh. Life after Academe

Sept. 17, 11:45-12:30. Larry Meiller Show. Wisconsin Public Radio. Blue Shadows Farm

Sept. 19, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Morgan Horse Field Day, Schuster Farm, Deerfield, WI. (Book signing and Presentation on history of farming with horses)

Sept. 21, 7:00 p.m. Sequoya Library, Madison. Ames County Novels presentation

Oct. 1, 7:00 p.m. Chippewa Falls Library, Blue Shadows Farm

Oct. 4, 1:30 p.m. Monona Historical Society, Monona, Iowa, The Lighter Side of Country Living, including Blue Shadows Farm

Oct. 15, 7:00 p.m. Reader’s Loft, Green Bay, Blue Shadows Farm

Oct. 17, (9 to 4) Writing From Your Life Workshop. The Clearing, Ellison Bay, WI. (Still room for additional participants. Contact

Oct. 20, 7:00 p.m. Barnes and Noble, Madison West. Official Book Launch, Blue Shadows Farm

Oct. 24, 1:00 p.m. Wild Rose Library. Book Launch, Central Wisconsin, Blue Shadows Farm

Oct. 28, 6:30 p.m. Elkhorn Library. Blue Shadows Farm

Nov 6-8: National Farm Toy Show, Dyersville, Iowa. Book signing: Blue Shadows Farm and other titles


Jeanne Engle said...

I couldn't agree more with the Old Timer's comment. I'll bet Ruth's grape jelly is super delicious. And no, I'm not angling for a jar - I don't particularly care for grape!

Bill said...

A day with a comment by the Old Timer is a brighter, better day. Especially one that gives me the taste of homemade jelly from a good producer of grapes that manages to go on without care and cultivation.