Ground Cherry Preserves

Every winter I pour over the pages of various seed catalogs looking for something new or unique to plant. Last spring I planted Aunt Molly’s Ground Cherries.  I wasn’t absolutely sure what I would do with them, but I was game for trying out something different.

Many people love to eat them out of hand.  My family…. not so much.  That saddened me a bit, but after some researching I found that these little beauties make a wonderful jam.

I was not to be disappointed in the results.  It was amazing! 

This year my garden was a sham due to torrential rains during most of May and early June which are my prime planting months.


I had a surprise awaiting me.

The ground cherries reseeded themselves all over my garden.  Which brought sweet joy to my heart. God is good my friends and even in poor growing conditions He provided me these little bits of sunshine.

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This year so far I have made this jam which required pectin.  Some how I botched and it is more like syrup.  I’m thinking it would be wonderful on pancakes.  So all was not lost.

I also made this scrumptious coffee cake that only three of us thought was scrumptious.  I’m having a bit of trouble talking three of my guys into the charms of these beauties.  After it sat for four days it was even better.  So, I will definitely be making this again, but with a few alterations that may help my skeptics fall in love.

I am trying to get away from the use of commercial pectin, so I have been making a lot of preserves this summer. And so my second batch became preserves.  I love the color, the consistency, the seeds.  Yes, even the seeds.  Normally this many seeds would be a HUGE deterrent, but trust me they aren’t hard and do not get caught in your teeth.


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This is one of my very favorite jams/preserves.  Right up there with black raspberry and for me that is saying a whole lot.  I love it on toast, biscuits, or even on my PB & J.

It’s that good.

If you find ground cherries at the farmers market grab them up or consider planting them in your garden next year.  You won’t be sorry, I promise.

Ground Cherry Preserves

2 lbs. husked ground cherries

1 lb cane sugar or granulated sugar

1 oz. fresh squeezed lemon juice

In a dutch oven bring all ingredients to a low boil.   Using a potato masher mash the berries.  Cook until berries are soft.  Remove from heat. Place in glass bowl. Cover with parchment paper and top with a plate. Place the bowl in refrigerator over night. 

On the following day place preserves back into dutch oven.  Bring to a boil and cook until the preserves start to thicken.  Use a cold metal spoon to test for doneness of the preserves.

Place preserves into hot and sterilized half-pint canning jars.  Wipe down rims of the jars and top with sterilized lids and rings.

Process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.  Turn off heat and let set an additional 5 minutes. Remove from canner set on towel and let set undisturbed for 24 hours.

Remove ring wipe down the jar.  Label and store.

Yield 4-5 half-pints


Black Raspberry Jam without Pectin

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With this recipe you can make preserves or a jam.  I prefer less seeds in mine so I run my berries through a food mill to extract the juice and eliminate a good portion of the seeds.  The premise of this recipe is that you can use whatever berries you have.  If you only have one pound of berries then use 1/2 a pound of sugar and 1/2 ounce of lemon juice.

I like bigger batches so I try to get at least 4 pounds of juice each time I make this.

Black Raspberry Jam

4 lbs of washed and sorted berries (or 4 lbs extracted juice)

2 lbs of sugar (white or pure cane)

2 oz of freshly squeezed lemon juice

Bring ingredients to a boil.  Continue boiling.  Stir to prevent sticking and scorching.  Cook down until jam thickens and passes the spoon test.  Take a cold spoon dip into the jam hold it about 12 inches above the pot.  Tip it and if the jam is jelled it will side off the spoon in a glob rather than dripping.

Ladle into hot canning jars. Top with lids and rings.  Process in a hot water bath ten minutes.  Yield 4 pints + 1 half pint

Blueberry Baked Oatmeal

Blueberry Baked Oatmeal-w_thumb[9]

Blueberry Baked Oatmeal

(adapted slightly from Lynn’s Kitchen Adventures)

3c  quick cooking oats

1/2c  brown sugar

1 1/4c  milk

2 T butter, melted

2 eggs

2t baking powder

3/4t salt

2t vanilla

1c  vanilla yogurt (or 1 cup plain yogurt or sour cream)

1 1/2c-2c  blueberries

Mix everything together, except blueberries in a large bowl.  Gently fold in berries. Place in greased 9×13. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until center is just set.

Serve hot. 

Serve with pats of butter and a sprinkling of brown sugar.  And if your throwing caution to the wind, not counting calories, or are just up for some rich yumptiousness, douse it with a generous helping of half-n-half. You’ll thank me, truly you will (at least, that is, until you step on the scales:).

Pumpkin Pancakes~ Recipe


SycamoreLane Photography-Pumpkin Pancakes with Apple Cider Syrup


It’s cold here and gray.

Its on day like this that I want to bake… A LOT!

One of my favorite ingredients to use this time of year is pumpkin.

The cold weather, moody skies, and bare trees just signal to me that we should eat  more pumpkin!  One of our favorite recipes that uses pumpkin is Pumpkin pancakes.  They are a favorite around here.  So much so that I had to triple the recipe.  The following recipe is enough for my family of six (3 teenage boys) to have some leftovers, including some for my parents (my mom loves these). You could even put them in the freezer and pull them out for breakfast on another day.


Pumpkin Pancakes (original recipe from Gooseberry Patch Cookbook)

3 cups all purpose flour

6 Tablespoons sugar

6 teaspoons baking powder

1  1/2 teaspoons salt

1  1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

6 eggs

3 cups milk

1  1/2 cups cooked or canned pumpkin

6 Tablespoons canola oil


Combine dry ingredients in a bowl.  In another bowl, whisk eggs, milk, pumpkin, and oil together.  Add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and whisk until almost smooth.  Pour batter onto a lightly greased griddle.  Cook till pancakes are golden brown, turning to cook second sides when pancakes have bubbly surfaces and slightly dry edges.  Makes 24-30 standard sized pancakes.


Apple Cider Syrup (recipe from Gooseberry Patch Cookbook)

3/4  cup apple cider or juice

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup corn syrup

2 Tablespoons butter

1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

Combine all ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer uncovered 45 minutes- I hour or until to desired thickness (this is a thin syrup more the consistency of real maple syrup). Let stand 10-15 minutes before serving.


The last time I made the Apple Cider Syrup I doubled the recipe and used the leftovers to make granola.  I used the syrup to replace the water and sugar in my recipe.  It was really good.

Tomato Juice Cocktail

Tomato Juice Cocktail


10 quarts of tomatoes washed cored and cut into quarters

4 green peppers seeded and cut into chunks

2 carrots cut into chunks

4 small celery stalks cut into chunks

2 medium onions cut into chunks

Place tomatoes into a heavy duty stock pot, cook on high.  Place the remaining vegetables in the blender with 1 cup of water and puree.  Add pureed vegetables to the tomatoes.  Add 3 cups of water to the tomatoes and vegetables . Bring mixture to a boil and cook until tomatoes are soft.  Run the softened tomatoes and vegetables through a food mill.  Discard skin and seeds. 

Place juice back in the stock pot.


2 Tablespoons + 2 teaspoons canning salt

3 teaspoons season salt

1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder

Bring juice to a boil and boil for 10 minutes.

Place 2 Tablespoons of lemon juice in each quart jar (This helps insure correct acidity).  1 Tablespoon for pint jars.  Pour hot juice into hot canning jars.  Place in hot water bath.  Process quarts for 45 minutes; pints 40 minutes.  (Start counting your processing time after the water in the canner has returned to a boil.)

Bread and Butter Pickles


Bread and Butter Pickles


16 cups of sliced (unpeeled) cucumbers

8 small onions sliced into rings

Place onions and cucumbers in a large bowl sprinkle with 1/2 cup canning salt.  Cover with ice cubes and let set 3 hours.

In a stock pot combine:

5 cups sugar

1/2 teaspoon celery seed

2 teaspoons mustard seed

1 1/2 teaspoons tumeric

1 teaspoon ground cloves

5 cups apple cider vinegar

Bring the brine to a boil.  Drain and rinse the cucumbers and onions.  Add the cucumbers and onions to the brine and bring back to a boil.  Fill hot jars with cucumbers, onions, and brine.  Leave 1/4 inch head space. Process in a hot water bath 10 minutes.  (Start your count time after the water in the canner has returned to a boil.)

Yield: 6-7 pints

Pumpkin French Toast Casserole



Pumpkin French Toast Casserole-w-SycamoreLane Photography


Pumpkin French Toast Casserole

(original recipe here.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9×13 inch pan.

8 eggs

1 t  vanilla

2 t  cinnamon

1/2 t  cloves

1/4 t  nutmeg

1/4 t  ginger

2 T  white sugar

1/4 c  milk

1- 15oz can pumpkin puree

~Mix all the above ingredients into a large mixing bowl.

~Cut up a 2 lb loaf of French bread into 1/2 inch cubes.

(I have an old standby recipe that I use for my French bread and so I always make it fresh. But, you could also use store bought or even a loaf of Texas toast bread.)

~Place the bread into the pumpkin mixture and toss until the bread is well coated.

~Pour into prepared baking pan.

~Mix together the following in a small bowl, until crumbs form.

1/3 c  brown sugar

1/2 t  cinnamon

2 T  flour

1 1/2 T  butter, softened butter.

~Sprinkle over the top of the bread.

Bake 30-40 min or until golden brown and knife inserted comes out clean.


This was a huge hit with all my guys. I served it with big mugs full of fruit smoothies.  The combination of the pumpkin and spices was perfect! It wasn’t icky sweet like some french toast casseroles can be.  There was very little left. My boys kept going back for more and if my youngest son, who has been sick, had joined us for dinner I’m sure they would not have been a single crumb left.  It’s that good!