Thursday, August 28, 2014

Best Summer Blueberry-Cherry Cobbler





When it comes to a fruit pie, nothing beats the aesthetic appeal of a pretty pie pan and a fancy lattice crust.  I'm always a little proud of my lovelier pies, but they're a lot of work!  Besides the fruit prep there's all that mixing and chilling and rolling and cutting and weaving and crimping that goes into the crust-making, and that's before you even get to the baking!

But a cobbler?  No, the creation of a good fruit cobbler usually looks something like this:

Dump the fruit.  

Mix the batter.  


Dump the batter on the fruit.  


Bake it.  


And there you go.  Does homemade get any easier than that?

Now I will admit that in most cobblers you are sacrificing beauty for ease, but I can handle UGLY just fine so long as awesome flavor is intact!

And, trust me, there is LOADS of awesome flavor in this cobbler!

Originally, this recipe called for blueberries only.  I love all things blueberry, but one day it just so happened I only had about half the blueberries I needed to make this cobbler and about an equal number of fresh cherries.  Obviously it was time to bring two of my favorite flavors together into one cobbler.  And I was DELIGHTED with the results!

So here it is...





Best Summer Blueberry-Cherry Cobbler

1 1/2 cups, plus 3 T sugar
3 eggs
1 1/4 sticks melted butter, plus 2 T softened
1 cup milk
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp lemon zest
1 1/2 T baking powder
1/4 tsp cinnamon
2 cups fresh blueberries
2 cups fresh pitted cherries, halved or roughly chopped

Preheat your oven to 325°.  Grease the sides and bottom of a 9 x 13-inch pan with the 2 T. softened butter.  Sprinkle that evenly with the 3 T. sugar.

In a large bowl, whisk together the melted butter and sugar.  Add the eggs, whisking until light and fluffy.  Add milk and whisk until combined.  Add flour, lemon zest, baking powder, and cinnamon, whisking until smooth.

Spread the berries in the prepared pan.  Pour the batter over the berries and bake for 1 hour or until the top is golden brown and the center is set.  Unless you like mush, (and it's okay if you do!) allow cobbler to cool 15-20 minutes on a wire rack before serving.





*Now let me say here that fresh cherries are probably not the easiest fruit to cook with!  Cherries have pits, of course, and they have to be removed.  (I mean, surely you knew that, but just in case there's somebody out there who has never bitten into a fresh cherry...)  You can use the pitting method shown here, or just do what I do, slicing each cherry vertically from the core and in a circle, then twisting the halves apart and popping the seed out with a fingernail.  Personally, I can pit cherries that way as quickly as any other method I've tried.  For me the extra time and effort, (and even the unsightly red-stained fingers,) are well worth it.

**But if you're not up for cherry-pitting or cherries aren't your favorite, plenty of other fruits would pair well with the blueberries in this recipe.  Chopped peaches or apples would be my first choice, but strawberries, blackberries, or raspberries would be delicious as well.

***And, yes, technically you could use canned fruit if it was well-drained, but, good heavens, why would you want to?  Frozen would be better than canned, but trust me here and go with fresh fruit if there's any way in the world you can find it in your budget to do so.  You'll thank me for it later.  Really.

You know why I like cobblers?  They may not always be pretty, but they're oh-so-easy while tasting like they took some pretty impressive effort.  And this is, hands down, the most impressive cobbler I've ever made and maybe the best I've ever eaten.

So forget the pretty pie pan and save the fancy lattice crust work for the holidays.  Take advantage of fresh summer fruits while indulging your summer laziness -- whip up a simple cobbler today!











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Thursday, August 21, 2014

5 Homeschooling Survival Tips















I loved to play in the woods as a kid and pretend I was stranded in the wilderness alone, forced to live off
the land for survival.  I figured I'd find a nice, cozy cave for shelter and eat berries and leaves and fish I caught with my bare hands and cooked over a campfire started by rubbing two sticks together.  I'd live a life to make Daniel Boone proud!

Umm...right.  Truth be told, I would have starved to death.  Or died of exposure.  If I wasn't eaten by a bear first, that is.

Because, really, I don't know much about survival in the wilderness.  Read the accounts of real-life survivors like Boone and you'll find out even they had times when they nearly starved to death or went insane from the solitude.

But I've heard that if you know just a few basic survival tipsyou can survive stranded in the wilderness, at least long enough to give help more time to arrive.

So does a homeschooling analogy here seem a little extreme?  Maybe so, but I couldn't resist.  Hey, homeschooling isn't easy!  It requires a huge commitment of time and effort and devotion.  It's breaking away from societal norms and cultural comforts.  For some it can even mean loneliness and isolation, in an emotional rather than physical sense, when the decision to homeschool is met by family and friends with criticism and ridicule.

Homeschooling is tough, but even at its toughest I'm convinced that we can make it simply by remembering some basic survival tips.

These are the five I consider most essential:

Bathe Your Homeschool in Prayer

Listen, I am well-aware there is a growing number of secular homeschoolers out there who seem to homeschool quite effectively without uttering a single prayer.  Their academic successes seem to indicate that if we, (as the moms,) are smart enough, organized enough, and strict enough, we can meet with success in our homeschool without ever bothering to pray.

But I am a Christian and as a believer in Christ, my concept of homeschooling success can, (and OUGHT to,) look very different from the secular world's.  While I strive for academic success and I hope to produce an independent thinker and learner, my primary goal is to lead my children to Christ.

I can't do that without regular prayer specifically for my homeschool.  I can admit it:  I don't have the wisdom, insight, moral character, or even the physical or mental ability to be all my children need me to be.  I am desperately in need of a Savior who can give me the direction and the patience and the strength I need for each and every day.

Educate Yourself Regularly

In the beginning, all I knew of homeschooling was two curriculum companies, neither of which I cared for very much.  But then as I started doing my research, I began to learn there was a great big wonderful world of homeschooling beyond my very limited knowledge of it.  There were books and resources and support networks galore to give me ideas and encouragement.

And yet I am surprised sometimes at the number of homeschooling moms I meet who know virtually nothing about homeschooling materials and techniques outside of whatever curriculum they've used for years.  If a person is perfectly happy with what they're using, then it's not a problem.  But I must confess to having met a few moms who seemed miserable in their homeschooling process, but the very suggestion of changing curriculum or approach is either met with offense or with a blank stare.

For most if not all homeschoolers, there are going to be problems at some point along the way.  It can be a reluctant, struggling, or gifted learner that has you bewildered or a scheduling or planning issue that leaves you frustrated and discouraged.  We can draw so much from the wisdom and experience of others, which is why I read homeschooling books, websites, and blogs like crazy and visit homeschool conventions as often as I can.

We tell our kids their learning should never stop.  Shouldn't that be true of us as well?

Stop Making Comparisons

Honestly, falling into the "comparison trap" may be one of the quickest routes to homeschooling failure.  We panic when the co-op director's daughter rattles off The Raven word-for-word when our own child is struggling desperately just to memorize the Preamble to the Constitution.  We view with envy a friend's beautiful dining room-turned-formal homeschool classroom and feel like a failure because we have nowhere to homeschool but a rickety kitchen table.  We read after a homeschooling blogger who seems to have it all together, (but who really just knows how and when to take the right pictures and wisely chooses not to write about the more disastrous days...not that I would know this from experience or anything...eh-hmm...) and beat ourselves up for not being more organized and inspired and more intentional in our efforts.

Sometimes we even do the comparing within our own family, which is just as awful, and maybe even more so!  We're distraught because child #1 was reading at age 4 and child #3 barely knows letter sounds at age 6!  One child is sweet and compliant and eager to learn while another wiggles and squirms and whines and acts like a page of math problems is cruel and unusual punishment.

Listen, our students, curricula, classrooms, and schedules do not have to look like anyone else's and expecting them to do so will likely end in despair quicker than you can say adult peer pressure.  Let the comparisons go and learn to appreciate the differences in your children and then enjoy the freedom of conducting your homeschool in a way that works best for your family.

Readjust Your Expectations for Yourself  
(Even in areas outside of your homeschool)

Nobody is harder on your average homeschooling mom than the average homeschooling mom is on herself!  As mothers we are born multi-taskers, fully expecting ourselves to DO ALL THINGS and DO THEM ALL WELL.

But homeschooling requires a lot of time and energy and effort, consequently meaning other things will have to take a backseat if it's to be done properly.  Sometimes priorities have to be reshuffled and we have to accept that we can't do things as we once did them.  That means the house may not be up to our usual standard of excellence and the responsibility of the laundry may have to be passed on to a responsible child because we just can't get it all done.

In my own life I've even had to lay aside opportunities for ministry so I could focus on my own children and our homeschool.  I haven't done so lightly or without occasional periods of nagging guilt, but the more I've read and studied the scriptures, the more I am convinced that I am neglecting my most vital, Biblically-commanded opportunity for ministry if I am not focused FIRST on my own family.  Not everyone is likely to agree with me here, but I have come to believe that if my work for God leaves me so stressed, grouchy, depressed, and/or so strapped for time that I don't have a sweet spirit or loving attention left to offer my husband and children, then I am directly disobeying scripture in trying to do it.  Period.

It's a lesson I'm still learning.  But I know sometimes we have to accept our limitations and realize there will be time for all the other stuff later.  I have my children for a remarkably short window of time.  They have to be my focus while I have them in my care.

Relax!

If we are spending our homeschooling days and months a bundle of stress and worry, there's really no way our homeschool can survive.  Sometimes a change in schedule, approach, or curriculum can be helpful, but more often a change in attitude will make all the difference.

Learn to relax about it all, moms.  It's not the end of the world if you make a bad curriculum choice.  Being less organized than you'd like to be won't ruin your children.  Some gaps in their education are completely normal and would happen if they were enrolled at the finest, most expensive private school in the nation!

So algebra scares you to death.  Math isn't exactly my strong point either, but I like Voddie Bauchum's take on it.  He says all you need to do is stay one week ahead of your children and if you can manage that, you can teach your kids math.  Yes, that means you may have to do some learning on your own, but don't forget about some of the amazing resources available out there to help you.  In our modern world of Google, YouTube and Khan Academy, all the help you need can be a few keyboard clicks away.

Don't sweat it.  It'll be okay, mom.  You're doing what's best for your child and God can give you the grace to do it well.

---------------------------------------------------

So how are you surviving, (and thriving!) in your homeschool?  What tips could you offer other homeschooling moms?  


 





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Thursday, August 14, 2014

A Gift from God and My Neighbor's Trash (DIY Mod Podge and Scrapbook Paper Bookshelf)




A beautiful bookcase is not essential to a successful homeschool.

But, boy, does it help make the teacher happy!

Homeschooling involves lots of stuff.  And corralling all that stuff -- books and papers, visual aids and school supplies, is not easy.  Doing so in an attractive way can sometimes seem downright impossible!

Since we began homeschooling I have searched high and low for some kind of cabinet or bookshelf to contain our homeschooling materials.  I had to have tall shelves for binders and larger books.  And I was persnickety about the overall size as well; couldn't be too wide, couldn't be too tall, so I could fit it in my already-too-small eat-in kitchen where we do most of our homeschooling.

Stackable plastic bins have been sufficing for a couple of years now and though they've served their purpose well, I never, EVER liked them, though I have learned to embrace the homeschool mess and accept that my decorating style is not shabby chic, French provincial, or American country:  It's homeschool modern!

But God knew how I wanted a pretty place to put our homeschooling things!  And so, long after I'd given up looking for something, my husband spotted THIS in a neighbor's trash.




Yep.  In the trash.  And while I stared blankly for just a moment thinking only of all the time and labor necessary to transform this piece into something usable in our house, it was my dear husband who immediately piped up and reminded me I had always wanted a bookshelf for my homeschooling duds.

Instant epiphany!

Sometimes a little nudge from a smart man can do much to jog your inspiration. ;)

Aside from a few dents and bangs, especially on one corner, this bookshelf was actually in very good shape.  I LOVED the fact it had tall, adjustable shelves.  And though it wasn't high quality furniture, it looked nice and was plenty sturdy for what I needed it for.  All I had to do then was decide what color I wanted it to be.

I considered light blue and thought about pale yellow, but decided to go with distressed white because, well, I love white furniture.  (Check out last summer's kitchen table makeover.)  And I'm happy with my choice, though the dear husband caused me some agony by saying one day in passing, "Hmm.  Ya should 'a painted it green," only after I was already 98% done with the project.  (Sometimes his inspiration-jogging runs on a delay.)  Why I had never considered green, I don't really know.  I think I might've liked it very much, but oh well.  I also love my bookshelf as it is.

I gave it a good cleaning and then a light sanding.  Nothing major there.  I was just trying to scuff up the surface so the paint would adhere well.  I cleaned it again to remove any dust and then it was time for the painting to begin.

With brush paint I would have had a world of options when it came to color and I probably could have saved some money as well.  Some day I may invest in a sprayer, but until then I prefer using canned spray paint for these projects when at all possible.  It just makes the whole painting process much faster and easier than brush painting, not to mention the time and trouble it saves on cleanup.




When the painting was complete, I had a gorgeous white bookshelf and I loved it, but it needed....something.  Now I love that pop of color when people paint the interior of a bookshelf a contrasting hue, but here's where I got the idea to add a print to the interior instead.  You can do this with fabric or wrapping paper, even maps or old newspapers!

I decided to go check out the choices at the scrapbook paper section of Hobby Lobby, my favorite store in all the world.




Talk about sensory overload!  Oh, how I love this place...

I walked around with a stack of plaids and paisleys and toiles before finally deciding on this weathered stripe.




I loved the colors, and though perfection isn't necessary in a mostly hidden portion of a bookshelf, I also knew straight lines would be easy to match up.  (If you're a perfectionist, prints that don't match up perfectly might drive you crazy.  Keep that in mind if you decide to try this project on your own.  You might feel safer going with a stripe, plaid, or very simple print.)

This bookshelf was easy to work with because I could remove the shelving completely, but I still had to measure and cut pieces to fit the sides and to match up perfectly in the back.

A paper trimmer is one of my most valuable homeschooling supplies.  It made this part of the project a breeze.  

Now here's where I pulled out the Mod Podge.  Using a foam brush I coated the back of the scrapbook paper with a thin layer of the Mod Podge.



I had to work quickly because it begins to dry immediately and the tackier it is, the harder it is to place it.  Once a coat was applied, I quickly and carefully put it in place, smoothing it flat and pressing out air bubbles with a straight edge.  (In this case, with a Dr. Seuss book, which just happened to be the perfect size.)  I had to be careful it was exactly where I wanted it because once it's in place, moving it is hard, if not impossible!



I continued adding the paper, overlapping the pieces just slightly to help hide the edges.  I liked working with the scrapbook paper because the pieces are relatively small and I could work in sections.  It slowly began taking shape...



Once the entire inside was covered in paper, I used a wider brush to coat it with a couple more layers of Mod Podge as a protective seal.  When I was finished, this is what it looked like:




So technically, except for putting the shelves back in, I was done.  But I had never done the distressing!

This is always my favorite part.  I just took a sanding block and went to work scuffing things up here and there, especially around the edges.  Usually I distress more than I did here, but I decided I wanted this piece just lightly distressed.  No doubt it will get lots more natural distressing with time.



While I usually add a polyurethane top coat to protect my finish, I really didn't think it was necessary this time around.  I figured more dents and bangs would likely only add to its character!

So here was my finished product:




Though we haven't started school just yet, I've already put my bookshelf to use.  I'm delighted to have gone from this:


To this:



...Though, honestly, my bookshelf doesn't look nearly as amazing in my pictures as it does in my kitchen!  

This was really a fairly easy project and very inexpensive, especially considering I got my bookshelf for FREE!  I already had the Mod Podge on hand, so my only real expenses were for spray paint and scrapbook paper.  Altogether, I did this for about $20.  I LOVE my new bookshelf and I can't hardly wait to start school and use it on a regular basis.  

This wasn't my first time trash-picking, by the way.  Sometimes you can find some pretty amazing things in the garbage.  You never know the potential in something old and forgotten until you look for it.  And you never, ever know what blessings might be lying in a pile of trash!


 






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Thursday, August 7, 2014

It Is Well With My Soul




I know a lot of people would differ with me on this point, but, to my mind at least, most modern Christian songs can't even begin to compare to the old hymns.

Granted, I love language.  I read wordy books and enjoy flowery descriptions more than your average person, so I guess it's only natural I would be drawn to some of the old hymns with their beautiful language.

But when you read them, (because I enjoy reading some of them as much as singing them,) they say so much. I like pretty melodies and I can appreciate a catchy tune, but I value most a song written with more concern for the depth of its message than for the drive of its beat, the perfection of its instrumentals, or even the tightness of its harmony.  

Now don't get me wrong.  Those qualities can be an asset to worship.  On their own, however, they're a sorry substitute for a song conveying scriptural truth.  In the past, songs were used as a teaching tool as much or maybe even more than they were used for worship or for encouragement.  A lot of the old hymns are chock-full of doctrine and when you read over Colossians 1: 15-20 or Philippians 2: 6-11, which scholars believe were probably quotations of early church hymns, it seems we should follow in that pattern far more often than we do.

Some hymns are especially powerful.  And moving.  And timeless.  This one awes me every time I hear it.

You probably know the story of Horatio Spafford, the man who lost a son to illness, his investments to the Great Chicago fire, and his four daughters to a shipwreck in the Atlantic, all within four years' time.  At a time of horrific grief he penned the words to this song, which present a message of such hope and faith that it's hard for me to believe they came as the result of anything less than a supernatural gift of peace that passes all understanding.

You may or may not know the rest of the story about Spafford.  He would eventually lose a sixth child after the writing of this song and may have even, by some accounts at least, been rejected by his fellow-believers for this obvious "judgment of God" upon him.  (There are always plenty of "Job's comforters" around, aren't there?)  Regardless, Spafford wound up dying in Jerusalem thinking he was some type of messiah.

That's hardly the happy ending we look for in stories like this, but then again, the Bible never hid the less-flattering aspects of believers' lives, even when doing so might have seemed to give credence to the faith, so I don't think there's any sense in trying to candy-coat the lives of our favorite hymn writers.

And I really don't think it retracts from the message of this song.  In horrid circumstances Mr. Spafford found comfort in the promises of God in His Word and the assurance that we, too, can have; that no matter what we face in life, it can be well with our souls.  And with that confidence comes an incredible measure of strength and peace, even when life seems very, very dark.


It Is Well With My Soul
Horatio G. Spafford

When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.


Refrain:
It is well, (it is well),
With my soul, (with my soul)
It is well, it is well, with my soul.


Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.


My sin — oh, the bliss of this glorious thought! —
My sin — not in part but the whole, —
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!


For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life,
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.


But Lord, 'tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul.


And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul!


Let's be honest:  Life is hard sometimes.  Very hard.  And while we know God works things for good because the Bible says so, we're also finite creatures without the natural ability to view things from His eternal perspective.  It's a handicap that breeds discouragement.

But that's why I like this song.  It looks beyond the present circumstances to the eternal truth that assures us that even when life seems completely out of control, the most important thing can be secure and steady and unchanging.  What hope and joy there is in that promise!

It's not always easy to see it.  We forget it all too easily.  But no matter what, if my soul is right with God, really ALL IS WELL.  And what amazing comfort I find in that truth.

Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.
 2 Corinthians 9:15


 





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Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Ready-to-Get-Back-to-Homeschooling Phenomenon



Sometimes I see the appeal in year-round homeschooling -- keeping information fresh in kids' minds, being able to take more breaks more often, etc., -- but I simply haven't been able to talk myself into sacrificing any portion of my summer, even for breaks that would no doubt be very welcome throughout the school year.

It's just that I ADORE SUMMER BREAK.

I love warm days that are long and unscheduled and (mostly) carefree.  I love sleeping in, at least a little.  I love going barefoot and taking trips to the park on a whim.  I love having the time to tackle projects I don't dare begin when we're schooling and I love that empowered and accomplished feeling I have when they're completed.  

Listen, homeschooling is tough.  Nothing in my life feels more right or more important or more fulfilling than homeschooling my kids, but, no question, it's also one of the most difficult and exhausting things I've ever tried to do.  It requires a level of trust in God and commitment to others, (in this case, my children,) that nothing else I do demands.  And of course such an intense dedication of willpower and brainpower will take its toll after a few months.

I start longing for summer.  About mid-April, milking every ounce of inspiration I can from the post-homeschool convention boost and counting days on a calendar like a kid awaiting Christmas, I see the finish line in view and hobble my way toward it.  Almost...there.  Just a little....further.  If...I can...just.....make it...... 

Then school is finished and that next day feels SO GOOD.  I can sleep until 8:30 if I really want.  (Well, sometimes I can.)  I can gets tons of laundry done.  (Washed, if not folded.)  I can get a room painted.  Or a dishwasher fixed.  A closet cleaned out.  A redecorating project completed.  I can go grocery shopping in the middle of the day or go to the park with my kids in tow and David Copperfield under my arm.  (The book, not the magician.)  

I feel so liberated!  So free!  Structure is abandoned.  Schedules are taboo.  It's summer!  Ah, GLORIOUS SUMMER!   And I enjoy it so much I wonder if I can ever be happy returning to the structured life again. 

And that lasts until maybe mid-July.  Maybe.  

Then something begins to happen.  It starts with this mournful little feeling that the kids and I are going our separate directions too much, that I kind of miss the nice, orderly way we used to start our mornings together.

Suddenly I have a renewed interest in the books I've already purchased for the coming school year.  I might pick one up and flip through it.  Which reminds me of the book I meant to buy and never did.  Then I'm scouring Amazon.  And Rainbow Resources.  And eBay.  And Rainbow Resources again.

And what was that book I wanted to use for read aloud?  I remember and jot it down.  And I jot down others.  And I make another note.  And another.  All about homeschooling.

Then I notice my school supplies.  Do I have enough glue sticks?  Cap erasers?  I need some 1st grade tablets.  I jot another note.  Maybe things need to be reorganized a little.  I move stuff around.  I shuffle flashcards and stack math manipulatives.  And I realize I'm enjoying this.  Which surely makes me a total nerd.



And then I look at my house.  Wow, what a mess!  Has it been truly clean at all this summer?  I realize how spotty I've been about making the kids do their chores.  And how spotty I've been about doing them myself!

And I look at books again.  And the one I ordered comes in the mail and I like it.  A lot.  And I can't wait to use it.

And I decide I'm a little sick of sleeping in.  I miss that early morning, up-before-the-kids time.  I find myself wanting my schedule back.  I realize I miss my...gulp...STRUCTURE.

It doesn't happen overnight; there are a few weeks of recovery time necessary in-between, but I never cease to be amazed how the very practice that has me so expended and exhausted in late spring is the same thing that excites and motivates me in late summer.  The strength that was depleted is renewed.  The inspiration that was drained revives.  The peace and the purpose return and I find myself looking at another school year, not with the dread I might have felt in late May, but with all the excitement and enthusiasm of a new beginning and a new day set in late August.

I call it the "Ready to Get Back to Homeschooling Phenomenon."  It's a colossal change of heart.  A burst of hope.  A special gift of grace.

Without it, I couldn't do this.

But with it, I can tell you I'm ready, and EXCITED, to get back to homeschooling.  



 





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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Blueberry Bread Made with Coconut Oil


I LOVE blueberries and it always puts a smile on my face when summer rolls around and I can finally buy blueberries that are: A) affordable, since, around here, blueberries are INSANELY priced in the out-of-season months, and B) flavorful, like a blueberry should be instead of tasting like the plastic fruit that used to sit on the buffet table in my grandmother's kitchen.

While my preferred method of enjoying blueberries is popping them straight in my mouth, I have a tendency to go crazy when I find them on sale and then I bring home way more than I could possibly eat in a few days time.  I freeze some, of course, but I find myself wanting to make something fresh and wonderful with all those gorgeous berries.

So.....just the other day I remembered an old strawberry bread recipe I used to pull out fairly often.  Why not try it with blueberries, I thought.  And, better yet, why not try to remove some of the calories and cholesterol at the same time?

This is what I came up with, and my family was pretty impressed!  Not to mention it is so easy to fix.




  • 1 1/2 cups mashed fresh blueberries
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar 
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp. organic coconut oil
  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup stevia
  • 2/3 cup sugar

Stir together the mashed blueberries and the 2 Tbsp. sugar in a large bowl.  (You can use a thawed 10 oz. package of sweetened frozen blueberries here if you like, but nothing beats the fresh.  And don't forget to omit the 2 Tbsp. sugar if you're using pre-sweetened berries.)  Stir the eggs and coconut oil into the berries.  In a separate bowl, mix all the dry ingredients well and add to the berry mixture about 1 cup at a time, mixing well after each addition of dry ingredients.  Pour into a well-greased and lightly floured 9 x 15-inch loaf pan and bake for 1 hour at 350°.  OR do what I did this time around and pour into FOUR well-greased and lightly floured mini-loaf pans and bake 25-35 minutes, or until the top is browned and toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean.  Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes before removing from the pan.  Allow to cool another 20 minutes before slicing.  Then ENJOY!

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*The coconut oil adds a distinctive and delicious flavor to this bread, not to mention it's a cholesterol-free fat. I think it compliments the blueberries very well.  And while I did replace 1/3 of the original sugar in this recipe with stevia, I wouldn't try replacing much more than that.  Real sugar helps retain moisture.  Without it you may have a SWEET bread, but it'll also be a VERY DRY one!

**Oh, and don't let the ugly grayish color of the batter scare you!  It just means all that blueberry goodness will be distributed evenly through your bread.  As you can see in the picture below, it bakes into a nice brown.



So if your fridge is packed with more blueberries than you know what to do with, I'm offering you a possible solution.  Whip up some blueberry bread!

As for myself, I'm being careful to avoid my local grocery store when they're offering a fabulous deal on blueberries.  I just can't handle it.  Of course, the last time I was at the store, sweet cherries were on sale instead.

Rats!  Why do they always do this to me?  Now...what to do with all these cherries...?



 






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