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Canning Summer 2013



Canning season has begun! I spent time at my sister’s kitchen making jam, did a batch of pickled beets on my own, and had sis by to make more jams last week.

Here is the bounty from the first batch:

  • Peach w/Sleepytime tea jam (mint and chamomile);
  • Peach Plum conserve
  • Blueberry Plum jam

We had planned on doing strawberries, but due to over-watering the prior week because of an extended heat-wave, the strawberries weren’t great. Sis got some plums at Winco, and peaches from her backyard tree that were too gnarly for canning, but great for jam. She also had some frozen wild blueberries. Sis observed that the blueberries gave both this batch, and prior batches of jam, a velvety texture. 

My addition was putting an infusion of Sleepy Time tea. I’d use this type of infusion w/apple juice when canning pears last year, and liked the subtle taste it brought to the fruit. I just tasted the results in the jam, and it is fantastic. You can’t even really taste the sleepy time, but it brings out tones in the flavor of the peach that are marvelous!

The second batch of jam:

  • White Nectarine with lime and mint jam
  • White Nectarine with strawberry and basil jam
  • Plum Blackberry jam
  • Strawberry with balsamic vinegar jam

This was supposed to be apricots and strawberries, but we missed the first apricot season, but did I score on the fruit for this! I went to Farmers Market at Chavez Park and went to a couple of the strawberry vendors, asking for strawberries that were bruised, or didn’t look good, since I was making jam. One fellow had a HUGE shopping bag full that he sold me for $5! Another vendor with a large selection of stone fruits prepares bags of their “culled” fruit to sell, and had 5 pound bags of nectarines for $3. Sis and I decided to experiment with putting in fresh herbs. I went by the local Bel Air, and got some key limes, basil, and mint.

The Plum Blackberry was the only disappointment. It’s just missing something, but the two Nectarine jams were epic. The lime and mint one is out of this world, and features both Key lime peel, lime and Key lime juice. My strawberry balsamic came out just as good as last year. The dark tones of the vinegar adding depths to the strawberry that I love.Sis swears by her Strawberry jam, which relies on Meyer lemon juice.

I got a bounty of pluots (the yellow variety) from a neighbor, and rather than worry about canning as local temps reach into the high 90s, I chopped them up, and froze them for my next canning adventure.

River Adventure



We’re having that year. The year when not only many things are breaking down in our car and around our home, but doing so in a really expensive way. This and the dodgy car situation have eliminated travel outside the immediate vicinity. In addition, we had a prolonged heatwave of almost 10 days of 100+ temperatures - with one day over 110. We have a pool at our complex, but even an unheated pool takes on the temperature of a bathtub at these temperatures. 

While we don’t have the ocean nearby to help out, I do live in one of the finest river valleys in the state, and the confluence of the American and Sacramento Rivers are within a one-mile walk of my home. With the 14 year-old getting more mobile and independent with his bike, I’ve been looking for options that involve biking, and are cheaper than going to the local water-park.

With back pack chairs, and bike baskets. I’ve figured out how to get us to Discovery Park to soak in the American River. It is tricky there due to confluence and currents, and county rules are that all children under 14 wear a life vest. We all have life vests and wouldn’t go without them even though we aren’t mandated to use them.

In addition, for the Fourth of July weekend, we rented a raft and floated down from further east. When I picked up some extra $ from selling a Giants Bobble-head on eBay for my hubby, I decided to invest in a double tube so we could return to the river.

The advantage of renting with an outfitter is that they solve the problem of staging and getting back to your car, by providing shuttle-service. Because of DoT rules, they don’t offer this service to folks not renting their equipment. This means that I had to figure out the fox, goose, grain problem of getting the car back at the end of the trip three miles downstream. You can do it with two cars, but we’re a one-car family.

Fortunately, in addition to the river, we have the American River Parkway, a bike/horse/walk/jog trail that follows the lower portion of the river. This is a beloved (maybe too beloved) local resource, and makes this sort of ferry situation pretty do-able.

I used Google Maps, and some resources I was able to find online to come up with a list of launch and take-out points along the river. This article, California Creeks - Main Stem American, written by a kayaker was very helpful and gave me the idea of using a bike. SNR’s Guide to the American River while not as detailed, is accessible and fun. Here is the map I’ve come up with:

View River Rafting in a larger map

The traditional trip starts at Lower Sunrise, getting out at River Bend Park. This is a three-four hour float depending on your speed and stops made. Today I went from Rossmoor Bar to Riverbend with my husband. This was a two-hour float/paddle. I staged my bike at River Bend, and road back to the car at Rossmoor. It was an easy ride, the worst part was the heat but the trial has intermittent shade from the oaks, which sometimes form a canopy overhead. Even though I was pretty tired from paddling, the biking uses a different muscle set. Taking the bike trail was good because it helped me discover some more access points. I took a break halfway through at Hagan Community Park (City of Rancho Cordova) cooling off for a bit in the river.

Hagan Park entry would be a short float to River Bend (1 hour at most), but might make sense for a trip to Watt or Howe. In addition, most of the other access points are County Parks that charge up to $8 for parking, and  $3 for launching your raft, Hagan being a city run park does not. A note on the fees, you only pay when you actually park, not for dropping off or picking up. So today, I did not pay when dropping off my bike at River Bend, but I did a self-pay when I parked at Rossmoor (note parking is only $5 at this park currently). When I picked up my husband and raft at the end of the day, I told the ranger I was picking up a raft, and they will let you through without paying. 

My son will be back from camp tomorrow. I will take him next week, and we will go out either from Lower Sunrise, or Rossmoor. I would like to get to a beach on the opposite (north) bank at River Glen. It has fast moving current, but a shallow shelf of rock that I’ve seen folks lounging on. We missed it today passing to the south of the island that faces it. There is apparently a very small parking lot on the Carmichael side, and a path down between what are some pretty impressive cliffside homes. There are numerous stony/sand bar islands on the river, but the water-fowl tend to congregate in the stiller waters, and the addition of their waste makes it mucky and leads to a condition called “river rash” from swimming in the water.

Some tips, weekdays are better than weekends to avoid crowds, Starting earlier will keep you from maximum solar radiation exposure, and also help you avoid crowds. We got started at around 9:30 today, and 10:30 last time. Most of our companions were kayakers and family groups. The crowd can get a bit wilder later in the day. On a prior trip taken in the afternoon there was some calling out and asking girls to show their boobs ala Mardi Gras. There have been occasional “Rafting Gone Wild" events, but these have led to "rolling" alcohol bans being declared.

Many people love the idea of a beer on a super-hot day as they float down the river. While I’m no Carrie Nation, it’s not a great idea because even floating is physically demanding because when you do have to paddle, rafts are not really that maneuverable and require a lot of effort to steer. In addition, the hot sun can lead to dehydration, which alcohol will make worse, not better. Stick to water and Gatorade.While the only rapids on this part of the river are class II, it has a lot of what’s called “swift water” which is quite cold. Strong swimmers have gotten in trouble because of simple things like being drunk, or getting a muscle cramp. I suggest life vests, and not impairing your motor and cognitive-responses.

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