Loquat Jam and Loquat Crumble Pie

Spending some one-on-one time with Petra last Tuesday was a priority for me. The plan: a nature walk through our yard and some journaling. The result: nothing in our yard is blooming! However, we had quite the discovery. Our loquat tree in our backyard is loaded with a bounty of ripe and juicy loquats. And this presented the perfect opportunity. Here I was with a free afternoon, just two children by my side (rather than the normal four), and a tree full of ripe fruit. It was time to tackle something I’ve been wanting to do more of; and that is cooking some Floridian dishes.

After taking a few moments to attempt to study and draw the loquats – which Petra had zero interest in…and also having her write a few words to describe the picture… we moved on to the picking.

So the three of us picked some loquats, cleaned them, and diced them up to make both jam and a loquat cobbler. And of course also ate them raw! I ended up using two different jam recipes over the course of the last week. They are both very good.
First, I used this loquat jam recipe.

Loquat Jam

  • Wash, remove seeds, and blossom ends from whole ripe fruit. Run through food chopper and measure pulp. Barely cover with cold water. Cook until tender and deep red.
  • Add 3/4 cup sugar to 1 cup of loquat pulp. Cook until thick, stirring constantly. Pour into hot sterilized jars and seal with sterilized lids. It is best to cook small batches of no more than 5 cups of fruit pulp in one kettle.

Very simple, very easy.

Then a few days later we did some more picking, and even grabbed some off our neighbors tree. Her variety was much, much larger.

Second I tackled this very easy recipe from the Kagonof Kitchen.  I loved the look of this one. The jam stayed a beautiful yellow and orange color. However, after tasting them both I will tell you can definitely taste the lemon juice in this one. But they are both very good and easy to enjoy.

I also loved this loquat crumble pie recipe.  Adding cinnamon and clove to loquats really adds to the flavor (and would have also been really good in the jam). This recipe was very good and very sweet. The children helped me make it and all of us enjoyed.  Some vanilla ice cream would have made it perfect.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Best Baby and Preschooler Books

After fostering 10 children — 9 of which have been 5 years old and younger, and all coming from a variety of homes and different environments — I have read of ton of children’s book. I have scoured every list on the internet; I have looked high and low for the best. And here are my favorites. The ones I think work best with most children; the one that share a message I want my children to learn; the ones that I know they will ask for over and over. These are the books that I think should be on every child’s shelf ages 4 and younger.

Good Night Moon, by Margaret Wise Brown
Polar Bear, Polar Bear, by Bill Martin
Green Eggs and Ham, By Dr. Seuss
Curious George, by H. A. Rey
The World Treasury of Children’s Literature, Book I, Selected and with commentary by Clifton Fadiman (which has a ton of great stories, including Curious George and Good Night Moon – but I would recommend you have an individual book for both of these classics)
Hush! A Thai Lulluby, by Minfong Ho
Tales of Peter Rabbit and His Friends, With Thirteen Beatrix Potter Stories (Chatham River Press); Peter Rabbit and Benjamin Bunny are my favorites
Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak
Miss Suzy, by Miriam Young (my favorite as a child, a now adored by my children)
I Saw the Sea Come In, by Alvin Tresselt
Hop-Skip-Jump-a-roo Zoo, by Jane Belk Moncure, the most interactive book for children that I have seen
Richard Scarry’s Books – Best Picture Dictionary Ever, Best Word Book Ever, Early Words
How Do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food, by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague
Goodnight Gorilla, by Peggy Rathmann
Touch the Art: Feed Matisse’s Fish, by Julie Appel
Mother Goose, by Gyo Fujikawa
My Little Animal Book, priddy book
Momma, Will You?, by Dori Chaconas
I Took the Moon for a Walk, by Carolyn Curtis
A Visitor for Bear, by Bonnie Becker

Favorite Christian Books for this age:
Big Thoughts for Little People, by Kenneth N. Taylor
The Toddler’s Bible, by V. Gilbert Beers
Designed by God so I must be Special, by Character Builders for Kids
The Jesus Storybook Bible, by Sally Lloyd-Jones
Leading Little Ones to God, by Miriam M. Schoolland

And while its not my favorite, if you have a baby that either 1) is not interested in sitting still and reading a book; or 2) only wants to eat the book …I would recommend a cloth book with some interactive parts – something like Fluffy Chick and friends, by priddy books, seems to work best.

February 2012 – Jasper Rides

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This has been a crazy hard and difficult month. There were certainly numerous trials and tribulations – we’ve had some rather mundane trials – a broken dishwasher, our heat stopped working, etc. But our faith stays strong; we’ve seen both hardships and blessings.

By far the biggest event was that the first of the month found us tending to our 2 week old foster care daughter in ICU. She had stopped breathing in my arms. We praise God that she was in my arms when it happened. Thomas was able to quickly resuscitate her, while I called the ambulance. She crashed two more times that afternoon, and scared even the EMTs. But she came through shining. In total we were in the hospital about 7 days, and managing that, along with my work schedule, and the three other children – we were busy, stressed and tired.

But many other blessings came along. We had folks help us at the hospital, and many families brought us meals over the next two weeks.

She is now a healthy, young infant, and so sweet. I’m completely mesmerized when she smiles at me.

After spending on average 70-80 hours at week for the last couple months, I do what I can on the weekends to get outdoors and spend time with the family.

Last weekend we brought Jasper’s new pedal bike to the park with us and taught him to ride it. He learned so quickly. After more than a year on the balance bike, it was just a matter of 1) having him tall enough to reach the ground and the pedals, and 2) teaching him to pedal. The first 15 minutes Thomas help him along by pushing him to get started. But right after that, he told him he could push off by himself and then start pedaling. Jasper did incredible. We were so proud of him. He spent 2 hours riding his bike. When we got home he crashed. He wouldn’t even eat – he just wanted to go to bed.

We also had quite a bit of fun watching Jasper hit the ball at the ballpark. He nailed one about 30 ft out.

And everyone is in love with the baby. All three of the bigger children think she is the best thing that ever happened. They each want to take turns holding her and loving on her.