The other day, Nathan brought home two bushels of very ripe and rapidly deteriorating nectarines. He got them practically for free, so I certainly couldn't complain. He was afraid that I would, because it meant a lot of work needing to be done right now. I might have been upset if he had spent $40, but at this price, I was fine with it. (See? It's all relative, isn't it?)
They were too far gone for canning, which is really fine with me since I really didn't feel like canning. Just the thought is exhausting. So he helped me freeze some and dry some, and I sorted out the few unbruised fruits and put them directly into the fridge for fresh eating and baking. I also gave away as many as I could to a couple of families I know with lots of kids who didn't mind eating piles of them, bruised or not. Evan ate so many (well, it doesn't really take much for a barely-20-pound little squirt) that today has been nothing but butt-scalding diarrhea all day. His little bum is so raw and he just screams through diaper-changes. Every time he so much as looks at a nectarine and says "Geeth! Geeth! Geeeeeth!" (translation: Please! Please! Pleeeeease!) I say "Don't even think about it, kid. Nope. No. Way."
This morning, there was still one half-bushel basket waiting for attention, so Jonah and I got on it right after our morning chores.
Jonah helped me to wash and cut the pits out of the nectarines, and then while I pureed them in the food processor, he kept track of the number of cups of puree that went into the pot for jam.
This is where homeschool really gets good, I'm tellin' ya. The fun stuff! And the best part is that I can engage in some Ultimate Multitasking-- combine work that needs doing with school that needs teaching! We were gone all day yesterday and didn't get any schoolwork done, so today, Jonah was going through withdrawl and begging to do school. However, as much as he enjoys doing special projects with me, he doesn't seem to accept them as a substitute for "real school." "But after this," he says, "can we do our other school? I want to do my regular school."
Sheesh. How did this kid get so regimented?
I mean, really, how can this not be the most fun "school" ever?
Every time I filled the four-cup measuring cup, he would add 4 to his tally and use the wonderful Math-U-See blocks (which I got for a fabulous deal on Homeschool Classifieds!) to help him figure it out.
We ended up with an even 40 cups of puree, and by the time I added the other ingredients (with very little sugar since the fruit was so ripe and sweet already), my big pot was filled to the brim.
"Please don't boil over! Please don't boil over! Please don't..."
By the way, I just have to tell you how much I love my big pot. I just heart it. It's a three-gallon pot and came with a big, deep colander insert, and a smaller steamer basket and a glass lid. It has a very thick, double-clad bottom. It got it at TJMaxx for $30 several years ago (the original price sticker said $80). Can you believe that I hesitated before buying it? I can't believe it now. What was I thinking? What if I had walked out of the store without this pot? Where would I be today? Lonely, sad, and desolate with my life crumbling in ruinous decay, that's where. I have no doubt about it. I use this pot all. the. time. Cheese, yogurt, stock, jam, tomato sauce, steaming, blanching, canning, freezing, and yes, even soup. This pot gets some action pretty much every day this time of year. In fact, sometimes I have to plan my day's projects according to the availability of my big pot. I almost need two.
Okay. Anyway. Now that I've shared that...
Eh-hem. So. 26 pints of nectarine jam and one boy schooled in some practical math are what I got out of the morning's work. Pretty good, I'd say.
Oh, and this jam is maaaarvelous mixed into a bowlful of that rich, creamy yogurt. (Yeah, that's right... I take out the bad sugar and add back in more... bad... sugar. Oh well. Life is short and sugar is sweet, my friends.)
When Jonah was done with his part of the work he said, "Now can we do real school?"