Nature Walk

The air around our home at the moment permeates with a smell of wild roses and honeysuckle. They are blooming draped over trees and vines like blankets along our wooded paths.

We mow with our trusty tractor the 40 some acres behind our home into walking trails.

We have a dear neighbor that owns conservatory property next to ours of about 300 acres. He mows his trails and they intersect with ours and we both reap the benefits of beautiful horse and walking trails as they are avid riders, and myself an avid hiker.

My recent nature walk behind my house was extremely productive. I always think my nature walks are productive because anything that relieves stress like walking through our woods or just sitting and looking over the ponds is a plus.

Here is a picture of our larger pond behind our home, and that is my house in the background.

I am a bit of a softy about our fish. While we have fileted catfish and bluegill from our ponds, I don’t make a habit of it. I do look at the ponds as an investment that will be there if we ever run upon hard times.

But that is another post. On with my nature walk.

This walk was special because I ran upon several “fox grapes” ( also known as skunk grapes)forming in pine trees that were very reachable. Read more on fox grapes here.
I have often found my favorite grape in wooded nooks along the way, but often they are too high to reach. Nature has a way of protecting her bounty.

In my own mind nothing beats the taste of wild fox grapes, even though we do have some tame vines in our yard.

I will keep an eye on those wild jewels and try to grab them before habitat dwellers around our home beat me to it.

Come Late August/ Early September I hope to be trying this jelly and thumbprint cookies from wild grape jelly.

From Glen Arbor Sun

Wild Fox Grape Jelly
Proportions:1 Cup grape juice (see below)
¾ Cup sugar
1 Tb. lemon juice
Combine these ingredients in a large kettle. Bring mixture to a full rolling boil then turn down heat to maintain a full simmer. Cook until it reaches jelly stage 220 degrees Fahrenheit or when two or three drops at the edge of a spoon slides off in a sheet. Pour the grape jelly into previously sterilized glass jelly jars and seal immediately with melted paraffin.
This amount makes about two glasses.
Grape Juice From Fresh Grapes
Wash off the grapes and drain in a large colander. Pick off the grapes from the stems. Be sure to include several still under ripe ones. These will help the jelly to jell. If you are lucky enough to get a quart of grapes ad the same amount of water and place with two small green apples that have been quartered but not peeled in a large heavy kettle. Hopefully while gathering the grapes you also came cross an apple tree. These apple will help the juice to jell.
Bring the mixture to a full boil then simmer for 20-30 minutes or until the skins pp. Give the mixture a hearty stir and pour into a jelly bag (I use an old cotton pillow case). Hang the bag overnight so the juice can slowly drip into a large bowl. The Musk, pulp left in the bag can be used to make Grape butter and can also be the beginning of Balsamic Vinegar.
Thumbprint Cookies
Oven 350 degrees
Cream together:
½ C real butter
¼ C brown sugar
Add: 1 egg yolk (keep the egg white to use later)
½ tsp. Vanilla
Stir in: 1C flour
Pinch salt
Chopped nuts
Wild Fox Grape Jelly

Chill the dough for 30 minutes then roll into one-inch balls. Dip the balls into the slightly beaten egg white and roll in the finely chopped nuts. Using your thumb, make an indentation into the center of each cookie and then fill with one teaspoon of Wild Fox Grape Jelly. Bake 8 min. or until golden brown.


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