Summer Weekending

The adventure with black raspberries yielded us not only a ton of yummy goodness to eat straight from the basket, but also some new summer treats to indulge in. There is a unique taste to black raspberries that I fell in love with yesterday, an earthy flavor that is distinct from any other berry out there. The boys were intent in turning the fruit into popsicles, I was excited for the first jam of the season (how is that possible?), and I was pretty sure that Landon wanted nothing more than his first ice cream cone.

The nice thing about picking a lot of berries? We all got exactly what we wanted.

The ice pops were the first recipe we came up with, and they were also the first gone from the fridge. Avocado, raw chocolate, yogurt and berries combined for a thick treat that was perfect as the warmest weather of the afternoon descended. I have to admit that I have not made a ton of popsicles this year, but I do enjoy the smiles that they bring my kiddos. A sprinkler and a good ice pop seem to make every hot day more bearable, and certainly encompass what I hope they remember from the lazy days of the season.

I have been using avocado more and more in recipes these days, thanks to Heather’s e-courses. I am finding that although the boys do not enjoy them straight up, avocados are the perfect sweet treat to thicken up many a recipe. I also love the fact that their taste is almost unrecognizable when mixed with other ingredients, making them a healthy and appealing alternative.

These are a very thick pop, and a perfect mid-day pick me up snack for child and adult alike. You can substitute almost any fruit in place of the black raspberries, and simply enjoy whatever is in season.

Black Raspberry, Raw Chocolate and Yogurt Popsicles

Print Recipe

1 cup plain coconut milk yogurt (almond, greek or plain yogurt can be used as well)
1 cup black raspberries
1 tbsp honey
1 avocado
2 tbsp. raw cocoa powder

Place all of your ingredients into a high powered blender or food processor, and process until smooth. Pour into ice pop molds, leaving a 1/2″ of space to the rim. Freeze for at least 4 hours, or overnight.

When one goes berry picking, the first inclination is always to make jam. I love jam. I am one of those crazy people who would eat it by the spoonful if allowed. I am also, however, one who hates store bought jam of any kind. I mark my calendar for the few short weeks that certain berries and fruits are available here in the Rockies, and I savor the hours spent putting by rustic fruits for the coming cold months ahead. One of the best parts about making jam is finding unique flavors to spice things up a bit, and give a classic recipe a new twist.

This year it was basil. I am going to be dead honest here, Joel and I are the only ones to taste this recipe, so if you make it, please let me know what you think. The combination of raspberries, basil, and orange zest was light and perfect for a plain piece of toast or some gluten free flat bread with brie. A small amount of herbs in jam can go a long way, and can help to bring a savory aspect to the inherent sweetness of jams.

Black Raspberry and Basil Jam

Print Recipe

4 cups of black raspberries, rinsed and dried.
3/4 cups honey
Zest of one orange
2 tbsp fresh orange juice
2 tsp pectin (optional)
3 tbsp. basil, chopped fine

Place your berries in a pot (preferably one that is non-reactive). Mash the berries gently with a potato masher, or the back of a spoon. I like a chunkier jam, but you can always mash them all the way down if you prefer).
Add the honey, orange zest, and orange juice and allow to come to boil over medium heat. Once the jam has cooked to a boil that can not be stirred down, you can add pectin if you choose. This was my first time using pectin for jam, and I liked the results. However, I rarely find it to be necessary, and it can easily be omitted. Cook for another 5 minutes, then turn heat off, and stir in the basil. Can according to your preferred method.

I am not a huge ice cream lover, I wasn’t growing up, and I have never acquired much of a taste for it. My boys, however, take right after their father, and they would sell me out for a good cup of peanut butter and chocolate swirl.

Of course, being both gluten and (mainly) dairy free doesn’t always lend itself to finding the best ice cream in the stores. A few years back I bought an ice cream maker for a cookbook I was working on, and in recent months I have brought it out with more frequency. I wasn’t sure where to start with alternatives to milk and cream, but I came across a recipe that I fell in love with for the boys that uses almost no sweetener (I omit it completely), and that has the addition of bananas to thicken it up. The only ingredient that I added was 1 cup of black raspberries, and Landon got the chance to taste test his very first ice cream cone.  Jacob and I stumbled upon GF sugar cones for the first time last week, and you would have thought that we had found the Ancient Mysteries. To say we were excited was a drastic understatement.

The berries have now been eaten, jammed, frozen, stirred, mashed and enjoyed. This is going to be a very good summer indeed.


Just down the street from us is an open space that follows the path of the creek. There is one small space where they let you go down and sit by the water, and it is a favorite of the boys and their friends.It is this magical place where I swear the sun always shines golden, the trees seem to always rustle in a soft breeze, and the water is warm and perfect.

Recently my friend Annika and I took our four boys down and let them tie their rafts to the trees for some warm weather relaxation. Watermelon, bubbles, stick boat making (and racing), and a fun nature treasure hunt ensued.

I am hoping that we find most of our days like this: sticky, warm, exhausted, but refreshed at the time spent in the sunshine. Wishing you all a wonderful start to your summer!

Nature Treasure Hunt

Create a nature hunt list to hand out to each child.


:: Something round

:: Something alive

:: A place where an animal would live

:: Animal tracks (and guess which creature they belong to)

:: Something that is a spiral shape

:: Three different types of leaves

:: Something scary

:: An animal’s habitat

:: Something old

The nature hunt can be done two ways: Either by collecting the items as you go, or taking photos of each of the items using a Polaroid or camera phone. You can find lots more fun ideas for Nature Treasure Hunts on this Pinterest board, and check back here in a few days for a pattern for our exploration bag.

Watermelon, Mint and Lemon Sorbet

* This recipe requires an ice cream or sorbet maker.

8 cups of cubed watermelon (seeds and rind removed)

2 tbsp of fresh lemon juice

The zest of one lemon

2 tbsp fresh mint, chopped

1/4-1/2 cup agave nectar

Place your watermelon and mint into the bowl of a food processor, and puree. Add the lemon juice, and simple syrup and stir well. Place into the bowl of an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s directions.

* The day of the party, place the bowl of frozen sorbet into a cooler packed with ice to transport and store. Serve in a glass bowl with a spring of mint on top.

Making Stick Boats

Gather your sticks together. If using gathered materials, the boat will have a fun and rustic feel to it. If using precut twigs, the boats will have a clean line and perfect proportions.

:: Using your glue gun,  glue the smaller sticks across the larger pontoon sticks to form a deck

:: Find a fun stick to use as the mast, and glue the fabric sail to it. On the very top of the mast, place one small bead of glue and attach as many pieces of embroidery thread as you would like.

:: To adhere the mast to the deck, simply place a bead of glue on the bottom of the mast, and attach on either the right or left center of the deck.

:: Your boat is now ready to race!

We hope that this first day of summer is all that you wish it to be.