Saturday, September 6, 2014

Making Nectarine Jam in Less Than an Hour

Making Nectarine Jam in Less Than an Hour

I have to confess something: I like jam—any kind of jam although frozen raspberry jam is probably my most favorite. For years, I watched my mother make all sorts of jams and jellies. We grew raspberries and strawberries. When I was younger, we trundled to Emmett, Idaho, to Mr. Fresh’s orchards and picked Bing cherries, peaches, and apples. When we lived in north-central Idaho in Lewiston, we went with our friends the Rindlisbachers and picked blackberries along an old abandoned railroad tracks. Last year in Pleasant Grove, we were able to glean peaches; now, in Springville, our neighbor gave us nectarines.

Nectarine jam
Yes, I have learned to make jam. Well, actually, I have learned to read the recipe that the pectin companies like Sure Jell stuff inside of their pectin boxes. And I have discovered that you had better pay attention to the details. Jam can be finicky.

Last evening and today, I made nectarine jam. I was visiting with one of our friends in the Dominican Republic, and she wanted to know how to make jam; so, I thought I would write up a play by play of how I made the nectarine jam. I figure if Darrel Hammon can make jam, pretty much anybody in the world can make it. Seriously! It’s all about ready the recipe to the T.

So here we go.

First, find some fruit. Buy it. Ask your neighbors nicely and watch for giveaways on your email. That’s how Joanne found out about the nectarines.

Food processor and nectarines
 Second, be sure you have the right jars. I like to put jam in little jars. Often we give them away at Christmas. The main reason is that if you have lots of different kinds of jams, it won’t take you long to finish off one and then start on a new flavor.

Third, wash the jars. It’s best to run them through the dish washer, but you can wash them in sudsy hot water, too.

Then, fill them full of hot water and set them aside. You want to keep them a bit warm so when you put in the hot jam, your bottles won’t crack or break.

Get out your food processor or chopper and the rest of the kitchen tools you are going to need like a knife, a cup, bowls, spatulas, etc. You want to be ready because when the jam is ready to go, you don’t want to be looking for a utensil. Trust me on this one. When you are in a hurry to find something, it can’t be found.

Sure Jell
Wash the nectarines carefully. You never know what might have crawled over it. Besides, you probably don’t want to know what’s crawled, licked, or performed any sort of “thing” on it. Most recipes don’t want you to peel the fruit. Just put out of your mind any potential challenge you might conjure up.

the other pot with water
Before I begin cutting up the nectarines, I have already placed another pot on the stove about half full of water and begin heating it to boiling. This is where you are going to do about a ten-minute water bath shortly.
Cutting the fruit
I also put the lids in a small pan with water that covers the lids. I put this on a very, very low heat.
pan with lids
Then, cut up the nectarines, take out the pits, and place the cut-up nectarines in the food processor. I usually cut out bruised spots and any anomaly that I see on the skin.

Once the nectarines are cut up and placed in the food processor, put on the food processor lid, and let it rip. Now, I like a few chunks of the nectarines in my jam; so, I don’t purée the stuff.

Food processor full of nectarines
I then measure out five cups of fruit and put them in a larger kettle where I will mix in the pectin and the lemon juice.

Nectarines, Pectin, and lemon juice mixture
Once the fruit, Sure Jell pectin, and lemon juice are mixed, you stir until it comes to a hard boil. Initially, I had no idea what “rolling boil” met. It means that when you are stirring, you cannot break the boiling. In essence, you stir and it continues to boil.

Nectarines, Pectin, and lemon juice mixture boiling

Once it comes to a rolling boil, you mix in seven cups of sugar—yes, seven (7) cups! I also wondered why I like jam and jelly. Once I discovered that you usually add more cups of sugar than cups of nectarines, then it made perfect sense. I am really making nectarine-flavored sugar. But try to put that out of your minds. Think: fresh nectarines with a touch of sugar. Besides, when you mix seven cups of sugar with five cups of nectarines and 1/4 cup of lemon juice, you can’t even see the sugar. I think the sugar disappears, never to be seen again. At least, that’s how I see it.

Seven (7) cups of sugar
Okay. Once the sugar disappears into the nectarine mixture, stir until it comes to a rolling boil. At the rolling boil stage, boil and stir for exactly one minute. That’s 60 seconds exactly. Then, turn off the heat and begin ladling the nectarine mixture into your jars sans the water, which you have poured out.

Stirring and boiling
After you fill each jar, wipe their mouths clean, carefully dabbing a clean cloth around the edges. Then, lift out one of the lids with your knife from the very hot water, place gentle on the top, and screw a ring band around it. Once you have tightened it—not too tight—place it in the wire container that is sitting in the pot of water that you already prepared earlier. It should be almost ready to boil by now.

Putting on the lids
Once you have the bottles in the wire container, lower them into the water. You should have about 2-3 inches over the top. Bring the water to a soft boil.

Putting the jars in the wire container to be lowered into the water
At a soft boil, set your timer for ten minutes. You can read a book or begin cleaning up. The biggest downside to this jam-making business—or any cooking gig for that matter—is the clean up. I’m always amazed how many bowls, utensils, and other things you use to cook with. I don’t like it, but I know it’s part of the job. Besides, it’s always nice when Joanne sees her kitchen clean again after jam making and comments how clean it is. There is little worse than seeing the look in your wife’s eyes when she sees her kitchen in a state not normally known when she is around. 

Cleaning up: the right thing to do
Once the ten minutes are up, turn off the heat, and begin taking out the bottles, one at a time with your handy-dandy bottle taker outer (I have no idea what it is called). 

The taker outer
Place them gentle on a cooler tray, which also doubles as cookie cooler. I think Joanne calls them “cooling racks.”

Placing each jar on the cooling rack
Once all of the bottles are out, stand back, and listen to them “pop.” That means they are sealing and you have done it correctly. Plus, I like to look a little close to see how pretty they turned out. My nectarine jam turned out beautifully today.

Almost done!
I usually let them set out for a few days. Then, I clean them, print the date on the top of the lid with a permanent marker, and put them away in our storage downstairs.

There you have it. Nectarine jam in less than one hour!


Sunday, August 10, 2014

Flowers and Life

Flowers and Life
Darrel L. Hammon

For me--and I hope for you--flowers tend to soften the blow of challenges in life. I enjoy going out in early morning and looking at flowers. My father grew many different kinds of flowers, but he and my mother loved peonies best. While I have attempted to grow peonies, they have not flourished like they flourished at our home in Menan, Idaho. So, I look at my neighbors' flowers or my other family members' gardens.

Here are some flower pictures that soothe me and remind me that God's hand is in everything. Put on your most soothing music and enjoy a few of flower pictures I love.

Bleeding Hearts are incredible dainty flowers. My bother Dennis can really take good pictures of these flowers.

Calla Lilies--gorgeous, dainty.

More lilies.

Joanne's favorites--daisies. These are triplets

Yellowish orange sun flower. I took this at my sister Delaina's house in Rigby, Idaho.

Yellow sunflowers early in the a.m. They are searching for the sun's rays.

A cluster of red sunflowers

One of my personal favorites--Hydrangea. We had lots of these in Lewiston, Idaho.

Hollyhocks--What is a garden without Hollyhocks!

Another yellow sunflower
Petite roses at Anna Rose's house in Pleasant Grove, Utah.

Yellow Lilly
Clematis--Let one of these climb on a trellis in your front or back yard. They are gorgeous and add to the decor of your garden.
These are just a few I wanted to share. More to come as summer progresses.

Now, I expect all of you to look at your flower gardens differently and create a blog about your experiences with God's creations: flowers.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Wilma Boltz: A Woman of Legacy

Wilma Jean Anderson Boltz

Wilma Jean Andersen Boltz was born January 1, 1925 to Seren David Andersen and Artemissia Hall in Annis, Idaho. She died on July 12, 2014 in Bountiful, Utah, surrounded by family members. She was always a first: born on the first day of the year, first daughter, and first granddaughter on the Hall side.

She was one of the top students at Midway High School where she graduated. After graduation, she went to Bakersfield, California, with her friends to work during World War II because they made $1.00 per hour instead of 60 cents an hour in Idaho for doing the same work. She talked about how they had to sacrifice for the war effort by rationing nylons, sugar, and other commodities.

After some time, she returned to Idaho Falls, Idaho, where she met her future husband Luke John Boltz. They eloped to Elko, Nevada, and were married on February 2, 1947. From that marriage came four children: Lou Jean Hales (Lonnie), Hinckley, Utah; Kevin Boltz (Helen), Mesa, Arizona; Joanne Hammon (Darrel), Springville, Utah; and John Boltz (LaWane), Bountiful, Utah. She had 17 grandchildren and 32 great-grandchildren. They lived Idaho Falls, Idaho, mostly on 620 9th Street, a home they built together. Luke died suddenly just before Christmas 1979 and left her a widow, and she never remarried.

She was a homemaker for twenty years before she returned to work. She began working at a dry cleaner and retired as a unit clerk at Intermountain Healthcare in Idaho Falls. While she was working, she had her hip replaced. She didn’t learn to drive until Lou Jean, her chauffeur, went off to college. With her license in hand, she wondered how she ever let her children drive her around.

Wilma was multi-talented. While the girls were growing up, she made all of their clothes. Plus, she loved to crochet, write stories, do genealogy, do counted cross-stitch and crafts, and oil paint. Once she purchased her first computer, she became a computer whiz, wowing her grandchildren by being on Facebook, sharing pictures, sending emails to her grandchildren, and doing genealogy. She even bought a second computer because her first one wore out and she wanted a faster one with a bigger screen.

Wilma was active in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at the time of her death. She served as a visiting teacher, primary secretary, and Cub Scout leader. Once she retired, she served several missions in the Family History Center in Idaho Falls. She also served in the Youth Center in the Idaho Falls Temple.

She lived for some time with Kevin and Helen, five years with Joanne and Darrel, periodic stints with Lou Jean and Lonnie, and the last three years with John and LaWane. She had incredible friendships with all of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, truly a blessing in her life.

Her parents, her husband, all three brothers—David, Hugh, and Demar Andersen—preceded her in death.

Funeral services will be held in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints North Canyon 7th Ward, 3350 S. 100 E. in Bountiful on Thursday, July 17, 2014 at 11:00 a.m. A viewing will be held prior to the services, from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. A graveside service will be held on Friday, July 18, 2014 at 1:00 p.m. at the Annis-Little Butte Cemetery in Annis, Idaho, where she will be interred.

Funeral arrangements will be under the joint direction of Eckersell Funeral Home, Rigby, Idaho; and Russon Brothers, Bountiful, Utah. 

The family would like to thank Dignity Home Health, especially Jenna and Liz, for their excellent care of Wilma.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Psalm of Darrel: A Breath to Praise the Lord

I taught the Gospel Doctrine class today. Our lesson was Lesson 25: "Let Every Thing That Hath Breath Praise the Lord." It was a beautiful lesson about Psalms in the New Testament and their many teachings gratitude, love, mercy, forgiveness, blessings, prophecies of the life and mission of Jesus Christ, scripture, temples, the creation. 

As part of the lesson, I had everyone try their hand at writing a Psalm. I wrote mine last night as I was finishing my lesson preparations and then presented it to the class today. I urged class members to finish their Psalm and post it on their blog or share it with someone. 

So, today, I post the Pslam of Darrel because I have "breath to praise the Lord."

Psalm of Darrel

Oh, my Father who art in Heaven,
Thou who dwells in my heart,
Thou who diligently watches over me each day!
My heart swells when I breathe Thy name,
when it touches my lips, when it rests of upon my mind.
I sing praises to thy Holy name.
My soul delights when I read Thy holy words
And the words of Thy Holy Son whose atonement
breaks me free from my hapless and lonely sphere.

When I behold the majesty of the mountains, I praise Thee.
When I watch the plants and flowers grow in my garden, I praise Thee.
When I am with Thy choice daughter,
my bride of almost 35 years, I praise Thee.
When I hold my grandchildren in my arms, I praise Thee.
My heart shouts glorious praises each day for all that I have
for I recognize it all comes from Thee.

But my heart groans because of my weaknesses;
yet, I know and feel of Thy pure love for me
despite my many frailties made human because of my choices.
I kneel night and day, humbled because of my knowledge of Thee.
Often my weaknesses seep into my mind, cloud my vision of what may be.
Ashamed, I pray harder, hoping Thou will come to me
like the still yet piercing small voice that came to those in Bountiful.

Then, Thy consuming love envelopes me,
holds me closer than I can ever feel.
Thy closeness chases away my thoughts of weakness.
For those brief moments, I succumb to Thy will,
and pray that I may have more brief moments to feel
thy glorious spirit spilling over me like rain waters of spring.
For those brief moments, I feel encased in Thy Holy Love,
Thy holy thoughts, penetrating me to the core of my soul.
For those brief moments, I feel I am home,
knowing what I must do to return to Thee,
contemplating ways to overcome my weaknesses,
staying quietly by my bedside,
drinking deeply of Thy Holy Spirit,
knowing  ever more clearly of my path,
praying for clear visions of what I am to do.
promising, once again, “Thy will be done.”
And by day, I wax bold in my convictions,
thankful that angels surround me, buoy me up.

And thus it is; and thus it ever will be
when I obey and listen to Thy Holy word.
May Thy Holy Spirit engulf me like the fires
of everlasting peace and comfort
for I now know whose I am—for I am Thine.
Amen and Amen.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Essentials of fatherhood: What my father taught me

Essentials of fatherhood: What my father taught me 
Darrel L. Hammon

My father: the Dean Hammon and eight children

Becoming and being a father can be both a scary and wonderful thing. Unfortunately, there is no undergraduate or graduate program in fatherhood. Fatherhood is a learned art — often on the job after the children come. Some of us have had exceptional fathers. Others do not care to talk about theirs. Still others say their fathers taught them a few things, not necessarily through what they said but by their actions.

My father was one of those whose grounding emerged from being the youngest of 12 siblings. When my father was 11-years-old, his father passed away. Thankfully, he had plenty of grown-up brothers and sisters to help him toe the line although the line sometimes blurred. He entered the military at an early age and learned hard things on ships and being stationed in Japan.

My father was not the type for sit-down conversations and flowery dissertations. Rather, he taught us through a variety of methods, probably gleaned from several sources, including his older brothers and my mother. But taught he did.

Here are five fatherhood essentials my father taught me through his example:

Fatherhood is being a leader through example. My father spent time in the Army as a drill sergeant and often we felt we were part of his platoon. He liked to see things accomplished and done correctly. Consequently, he often showed us once how something was supposed to be done and expected us to learn quickly and carry on after he was gone. Granted, he did check up on us periodically to make sure we had completed the task. Often, he had to re-show us how it was to be done, but he did not hover over us.

Fatherhood is helping others and teaching your children to do the same. Some time ago, my wife and I were reminiscing about our fathers. Both of our fathers have passed away. What impressed us both about each of our fathers was the fact that they would help anyone with anything.

Joanne's father would be the first one out on a snowy day and shovel all the walks and driveways down the street. Although he had to drive almost 40 miles to work each morning, he always took time to get up early and do what the neighbors needed done.

My dad and my sisters
My father taught me the same thing. I remember getting up early and going with him to shovel the walks of the widows and older people in our neighborhood or working in their yards and pulling weeds. On his days off, my father would go and help others with their roofs and fences. He did not ever expect to be paid, and he taught us that helping others was just part of the service we performed as good neighbors.

Fatherhood means spending time with your children. What a revelation this is! Whatever event that happened in my life, my father tried to attend even though he worked shift work most of his life. I suspect there were times when he did not have much sleep before he left to go to work. The former drill sergeant who I thought was the tough guy was really a marshmallow underneath. He teared easily when he talked about the achievements of his family. I remember when I received my doctorate from the University of Idaho, my mother and father journeyed almost 600 miles so they could be with me and share in my success.

Fatherhood means teaching children how to work. One of the challenges I have heard numerous leaders lament is the lack of work ethic in recent college graduates and young people. My father would probably cringe if he heard that. He believed in a strong work ethic — true hard work.

One thing I learned early was never complain because my dad would always find more work for us to do. He specifically built a home in the country so we could have animals — cows, chickens, horses, pigs and sometimes lambs. Plus, we had a big garden, which became one of my responsibilities in the summer. From these many projects and chores, I learned to rise early, work hard and be responsible. I still rise early, even though I do not have outside chores to do. I still have a garden and I love rising early and working in it.

Fatherhood is being happy. My father loved to tell jokes, and his laugh was contagious. I remember going to one of the Call Me Trinity movies with him and some of my friends, and I thought my friends and I were going to die laughing not at the funny scenes in the movie, but at my dad laughing at the funny scenes.

One of things my dad loved to do was yodel. He said he learned to yodel while tending sheep in the high mountain meadows. One of the treasures we have as a family is a short recording of Dad yodeling. My siblings and I have compiled “Deanisms,” and our children now often pan when we use one, “Sounds like he is turning into Grandpa Hammon.” So be it!

Fathers are natural leaders and examples. Mine was no different. Often, though, his teachings never came from a direct conversation. Rather, they came through working with him and watching him help others as if it were just part of his normal, everyday life. I can only hope I can continue teaching my children and grandchildren by being a good example.

My father with my two daughters in 2004 in Quartzsite, Arizona.

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Sunday, May 25, 2014

Utah Valley University Auto Expo & Swap Meet

Utah Valley University Auto Expo & Swap Meet
Darrel L. Hammon

            On Saturday, May 17, 2014, I attended the Utah Valley University Auto Expo & Swap Meet held out at Thanksgiving Point’s Electric Park. Now, I have been to a few small car shows, but this one was extraordinary. 

              According to the literature, “The Utah Valley University Auto Expo & Swap Meet is one of the largest car shows in Utah.” It was truly amazing. One of the benefits of the Expo was to help fund scholarships for the UVU automotive students.

             I arrived around 1:30 p.m., and it was going strong. I started my descent into the Expo by walking through the swap meet. From fenders to wheels to engines to car bodies to windshields to muffler tail pipes to a whole host of varied car parts, I had no idea what they were, the place was absolutely packed.

             Once inside the actual Auto Expo, I was literally “gaga” over the number and variety of cars. Honestly, I hadn’t heard of some of them before. The brochure said approximately 700 cars had been scheduled to show off their stuff. I suspect there were even more than that.

            I walked slowly though many rows of cars, slowly taking in the amazing cars and gawking at the many colors—bright reds, oranges, greens, deep blacks and purples, a few yellow ones here and there--shapes, years, and varieties. 

Most of the owners  stayed close to their cars, either relaxing beneath canopies or taking in the sun in captain chairs. All were friendly and waved as you walked by. Many, though, busily told their stories to people who had stopped to admire the brightly painted cars.

            Soon, I moseyed over UVU’s V.I.P. tent where I grabbed a delicious dessert prepared by the UVU Culinary Arts students. A couple was sitting in the back of the pavilion. I walked back and asked if I could sit with them. They welcomed me with open arms and introduced themselves as Erik and Judy Jensen from West Jordan although they were originally from New Jersey. They were wonderful!

            Within just a few minutes, they unfolded their incredible story to me. They were high school sweethearts, married, and then lived in New Jersey. Not too long after they were married, they decided they were going to take a trip to across country. They saved their money, took a leave of absence from their work, and headed west on a five-week trip. They wanted to see everything, which they almost did. 

They confessed to me that when they arrived in the west, took in Utah, Yellowstone Park, and Jackson Hole, they absolutely fell in love. They decided then and there, they were returning. They spent the entire trip back to New Jersey, planning on how they were going to pack up and move to Utah. Unfortunately, they couldn’t just pick up and leave. They had obligations and needed the necessary cash to make the giant move across country.It took them just a few years to gather up the money to move out west. Erik came first and obtained a job. He asked the company to give him a week so he could go back to get his family. Once he had his family, he would return to work. He did just that: He drove back to New Jersey, picked up his belongings and his family, and drove back to Utah. When he arrived, he discovered the company had given the job to someone else, thinking he really wasn’t going to return from the east. That didn’t deter the Jensen family. They both found new jobs and didn’t look back although their family thought they were crazy to move out to Utah. Erik told me that they would never live in the east again. They just love this part of the world.
            I literally could have talked to them all day and listened to their many stories. They make it a point to see the country. I suspect they know more about Utah and its many wonders than most Utah natives. I encouraged them to write a blog about all of their excursions

            I asked them if I could see their car. Of course, like all car owners, they wanted to show off their “baby.” They walked with me to where they parked their 2007 Shelby, an absolutely gorgeous black beast.

Even Carroll Shelby, the owner and designer of the Shelby, signed Judy’s driver’s side visor. “No one touches that,” said Judy as she gingerly showed me the visor and then carefully put it back in place.

                Soon, though, it was time for me to say goodbye to Erik and Judy. Thank you, Erik and Judy, for taking time to talk to me and tell me your story. You have lots of stories to tell, and I look forward to hearing more. 

I then walked around the Expo and admired many more of the over 700 cars present. 

I even saw Batman and the Batmobile.

            Some even climbed trees to get a closer view.

           Overall, it was a wonderful show! I salute all those who had anything to do with the Utah Valley University Auto Expo & Swap Meet, especially the UVU Career and Technical crowd. Job well done!