Friday, July 27, 2012

Here are some photos from our Idaho City Excursion - Our summer of Field Trips has been a lot of fun!

I'm sure if you do some research, you'll find some things to do around your area that don't cost anything besides the gas to get there. 

We borrowed my parents old 15 passenger van - it's the one we had when I was growing up so my family of nine siblings could all go places together. We stuffed it full of friends and then caravaned (Is that even a word?) with a couple of other families. The kids now refer to the van as the "fun mobile."

Idaho City is just over an hour away from Boise. It used to be Idaho's largest town - back in the gold rush days it boasted a population of around 15,000! Now there are about 500 full-time residents. 

We stopped by the old jail.

The kids all decided it would be really easy to escape from since there was a large gap between the ground and the building. The building has been moved a few times and now does not sit on a true foundation.

All the old buildings have signs like the one you see in the background here describing their original function. It does not take long to do a self-guided walking tour.

Here is the old Catholic church. It was rebuilt after being destroyed by a fire that wiped out the town. It actually still functions as a church with Mass happening each week.

We lucked out the day we were there because of a reunion of a Smoke Jumpers group that had used Idaho City as their home base 30 years ago all the buildings were opened for tours. Here is a photo of the inside of the church restored as close as possible to its original condition.

This is a shot looking into one of the historic homes. If you look closely, you can see the back room with the pink wallpaper. That's it for this house - just these two rooms. It really puts my large home into perspective - why do I complain about lack of space? Somehow over the generations we have grown to expect far more than is truly needed.

Here is City Hall. It is housed in the original school building. They actually still have the blackboards hanging on the walls inside.

We had a great time learning about Idaho history!

If you go, there is a visitor's center right off the highway as you enter town. They can share with you a copy of the walking tour information. There is a small park in town with picnic tables as well as some others near the visitor's center. There is also a couple of great little places to get an ice cream cone or some lunch. The kids had fun playing in an old time toy store that recently opened where they have a play corner specifically set up for kids to try out the old fashioned toys.  There are quite a few campgrounds in the area so you can stay over night if you'd like. It will be time well spent what ever you do as you build memories together.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Washing and Freezing Berries

The long wait is over - the raspberries are ready! My parents are the ones with the large patch that we all help maintain. From the time that we prune them all down in early Spring the kids are always asking, "When will we get to pick raspberries?" The variety my parents have are not everbearers. They only produce for about 3 weeks of the summer, beginning near the 4th of July and continuing through the month. We have to pick about every 2 days.
 I have 6 siblings who live in town so we each take a different day to help Grandpa pick the patch. My dad is a hard worker. He can't stand to see someone else working without jumping in to help so he is in the patch every couple of days all month long! He considers it his precious time with his grand kids. The last time we picked, we got 15 pints! With the price of raspberries in our area that is about $45 worth! Knowing they get 10-12 of those pickings during the peak of the season makes it well worth the work.

When I wash the berries, I've learned to put one cup or so in a bowl with some cool water. You could use your sink, but my back starts to hurt leaning over so long and the bowl on my counter is a better height for me. Swish the berries around in the water and remove any weeds or debris. I also sort the berries by pulling out the ones that are not quite as red. I set these aside and allow them to ripen another day or two on the counter. We usually end up just eating these fresh - they are just too tempting! I've learned to set one of the berry cups in the sink to put my washed berries in to drain a bit. (You can see it just barely in the right side of the picture above.) Change your water as needed.
Once washed you can place in a single layer on a baking sheet and freeze or put in a food processor to puree. Once frozen, move the berries to a ziplock bag for longer storage. I use frozen berries in yogurt smoothies all year long. Sometimes I collect them until I have enough to make jam if it happens to be a smaller picking.

This time, I opted to puree them and then freeze the puree until I have time to make jam - the puree is already pre-measured so jam making will go quickly another day.

This method of washing and freezing berries works with all berries. Our blackberry patch that we started last year is off to a good start, but we are only getting a handful or so a day so we are collecting them in the freezer for later.