See Keukenhof Gardens in Virtual Tour

One of the most beautiful places in the world is Keukenhof, considered to be Europe’s gardens. Check out this great link from the Daily Mail that talks about a virtual tour by drone of the gardens put together by photographer Albert Dros. Scroll through the brief article and you will see the videos to click on and view the wonderful outdoor spectacle that is Keukenhof. The park is closed for the first time in 71 years but still can be seen through this virtual tour.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/escape/article-8272887/See-flowers-Keukenhof-garden-Holland-virtually-thanks-photographer-Albert-Dros.html

I learned about this oddly enough by researching the Dutch origins of the Snickerdoodle cookie. I’m smiling right now just thinking about how the internet leads you off on various other paths so easily. Yes, I’m making an old family recipe book. It is just a short collection of favorite family recipes that I am planning to give to my mother-in-law for Mother’s Day which is fast approaching.

My family name on one side is Schippers which in Dutch means “son of a skipper” or “son of a shipowner.” My family moved to western Kansas in the Midwest United States in the late 1800s from the Volga River region of Russia. They were German-Dutch farmers that lived in Russia under the authorization of Catherine the Great. With all the turmoil of the late 1800s and early 1900s, they re-settled in America.

Snickerdoodles were a popular recipe among Dutch-German immigrants along with other things like Smargs and Beirocks. Here is some origin information about this sweet cinnamon sugar cookie. This is a great article:

https://www.myrecipes.com/cooking-method/baking-recipes/snickerdoodles-history

And here is our family recipe for the cinnamon sugar cookie. It’s a pretty good one:

(Google Images.)

Snickerdoodles

1 and ½ cup flour

½ teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cream of tartar

Pinch of salt

½ cup vegetable shortening

¾ cup granulated sugar

1 egg

1 tablespoon milk

4 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

Combine flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt.  Set aside.  In another bowl, cream shortening and sugar.  Beat in the egg and the milk.  Stir in the dry ingredients.  Cover dough and chill for ½ to 1 hour.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.  Combine 3 tablespoons of the sugar and the cinnamon in a small bowl.  Set aside.  Roll the dough into small walnut sized balls.  Roll the balls in the cinnamon sugar mixture and place on a cookie sheet about 2 inches apart.  Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until very lightly colored.  Transfer to wire racks to cool. 

Strawberry Fields Forever

It is strawberry picking season soon.

According to a recent study cited by Whole Foods Market, strawberries rank 27th as the best American food due to overall antioxidant capacity measured against food quantity.  They also ranked as the 4th best fruit behind blackberries, cranberries, and raspberries.  Strawberries are very high in Vitamin C and also contain Calcium, Iron, Vitamin B-6, and Magnesium.

Strawberries require full sun, loamy soil, and slightly acidic to neutral PH level to grow.  Strawberries right off the vine will taste different and usually better than supermarket strawberries.  Why is that?  According to http://www.almanac.com, “supermarket berries tend to be tart with grainy texture;  this is because the natural sugar in the berries begins converting to starch as soon as it is plucked from the plant.”

Strawberries require 6-10 hours of sunlight to ripen and the plants should be well drained.  Raised beds are particularly good for strawberries like the one shown.

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This patch started out with just one plant in the right corner and quickly spread when the owner would bury the runners.  These are also Junebearer strawberry plants that are recommended for novice strawberry plant growers.

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You can make strawberry jam without a pressure cooker using instead a strawberry freezer jam recipe. Once the jam is ready, you just place it direct in containers in the freezer. Just look up strawberry freezer jam recipe on sites like Allrecipes.com.