Friday, December 23, 2011

A Christmas Flop

Easter is our holiday to host. For the rest, we go to other family members homes. Being a good little girl, I call everyone to see what I can contribute to our meals.

My assignment for Christmas dinner this year is "a pie or two". I like that kind of assignment. It's specific enough that I'm not lost in my options (like if someone said dessert) but broad enough to play. Also, in most cases I can whip up a pie from stuff I have on hand.

My game plan was a persimmon pie (yay a chance to try the persimmon paste) and something more classic in case it turns out poorly or folks are leery of something new. I have canned apple filling, frozen zucchini filling and a couple cans of pumpkin left over from thanksgiving. Nick voted for pumpkin, so pumpkin it is.

Linda, neighbor and american persimmon guru, had tried the recipe before and swore it baked long enough to cook the tannins (which leave you feeling like you've eaten chalk) all the way out. Long story short... Not in my case and I was left with a pie and tart that were completely in edible. The goodish news is the chickens really enjoyed them.

Oh, and speaking of chickens, it appears that our 2nd Easter egger and a second Australorp are laying now. Sometimes well get 7 eggs in a day. Our Easter eggers both lay green eggs, but one lays blue-green eggs and the other lays yellow-green eggs. Crazy, no?

Friday, December 16, 2011

They've Arrived!

After much anticipation, and a few estimated delivery date delays, my counters were scheduled to arrive between 8 and noon yesterday.  At 10:30, I got a call saying they'd be there in 30 minutes.  At 10:55, I got a call saying their GPS said they were .5 miles from my house, but couldn't get under the railroad overpass on the road they were on.  Ugh, IKEA.  This is what you get for sending a semi-, when a pick-up would do.  I told them that I could give them directions around, but that it was by no means short.  As a matter of fact, it'd be 27 miles of detour.  They said their GPS thought it knew a better way.  Apparently it didn't, because they wound up calling back for my detour's directions.

Christmas from Scratch: Jar Candles

Most of my projects are pre-meditated, researched... thought out at lest to some degree.  Not this one.  Despite all the info available on the internet, i just did it... and it took over a month because of it.  Oops.

This time last year, I was given this box of barely-used, Christmas-colored pillar candles.  It'd been sitting in the basement of the church I grew up in for FOREVER (probably since we had our madrigals) and they were tired of looking at it.  How did I get it?  Because Mrs. Campbell decided if anyone could make use of it, I could.  

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Countertop Sealants

With our counters being delivered in 2 days, it was time to finally nail down what type of finish we're going to use .  Ikea sells it's own counter sealing oil (called Behandla), which would seem to be the obvious choice but different counters have different needs, even in the confines of my own small kitchen.  The "outer L", where the sink is and most dish drying happens, could benefit from some extra waterproofing.  The island, where most cutting and food-prep goes on, could benefit from a coating that penetrates so that even a knife gash in the wood would still be protected.

This article from Ikea Hackers, was INCREDIBLY useful.  Basically, it says that there are coating or drying barrier-like options and penetrating or non-drying potions.  Most of the barrier options are not food safe, but the one that is is waterlox.  It claims to be tung-oil based, but comes in a low-VOC formula (which means that the original formula isn't so low in VOCs).  My guess is it's a mix between an oil and a urethane.  It is the most water-proof of all the options and it's the one I've chosen for the "outer L".  It comes in both Original and Low-VOC, and original, satin and gloss sheens.  The original sheen is both a sealer and a finish, the satin and gloss sheens are just finishes, so you have to put a few coats of the original on no matter what.  Also, if you use the original sealer, you have to use the original finish. If you use the low-VOC sealer, you have to use a low-VOC finish.  This morning, my task is to order a quart of low-VOC original sealer/finish and a quart of low-VOC satin finish.

I chose the satin finish because, when the island piece is in-stock and finally ordered, I plan on coating it with mineral oil.  Mineral oil leaves a satin sheen and I'd like for the counters to have similar sheens.  All of the penetrating finishes (which you can cut on) are oils.  Tung oil, behandla oil, mineral oil, linseed oil.  There are ups and downs to each of them, but mineral oil is the least expensive, most easily gotten a hold of, and i know folks who have used it to great effect.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Oh Christmas Tree

Last year, I shared with ya'll why we get a real Christmas tree.  This year, I want to share with you some of our tree-oriented traditions and favorite ornaments.

Every year, we go out to a tree farm, and pick out a tree.  The first year we were married, we even brought a saw and cut it ourselves.  Since then, we've relied on the guy with a chainsaw and a quad.  Much easier.

Deck the Halls

There are a lot of awesome things about living in the country.  Parades of visitors isn't one of them.  As such, aside from the occasional neighbor, not many folks get to see our casa all decked out for the holidays.

Guess the bow doesn't do much to hide the ugly step-windowed door...

Thursday, December 1, 2011

More Frugal than Green

Nick's work Christmas party is this coming weekend,and I didn't have a thing to I had to go shopping, darn.  I tried on my new outfit and was feelin' all sexy in it... but my hair was lookin' really scraggly.  That's hasn't had so much asa trim for a year and a half (shame on me).

Sometimes blogger insists on sideways pictures.  You can only resist so much.  

When Green Doesn't Fit

From it's outset, this blog has always been about my journey to make a positive, healthy impact on my life.  Every time I switch a product or a way of doing thins, I carefully weigh it with what fits into our budget and lifestyle.  Sometimes, that leaves me with better, but still middle-of-the-road decisions.  I'm okay with that.  I never set out to be the ideal greenie, and I never will be.  I set out to make a change.  Sometimes, though, for better or worse, there is no middle road.

Monday, November 28, 2011

And so it begins

My poor, neglected kitchen.  When we finished the wood floors and rearranged closet space, the pantry door never had it's handle re-installed and the whole wall has been in primer for the last two years.  When we took out cabinets to make our bookcases and replaced them with shelving, they only ever got primer too.  There are swaths of all sorts of paint colors, many of which i discounted some time ago, all over the walls.  The counters don't match.  The shims under the ceiling fan are visible.  The walls are in need of some serious sanding.  I could really use a new oven.  The dishwasher doesn't coordinate.  The island stools are so bulky they have to be rearranged to fully open the door.  The screen door blocks half of the natural light potential in the room.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Pumpkin Pie: Theme & Variations

 I've been enjoying my holiday festivities to the detriment of this here blog lately, sorry. Last year, if you remember, I baked up an incredible storm! This year, our festivities were a little more spread out and my assignments a little easier. We ate with my dads family on Thursday and we were asked to bring wine and 2 pumpkin pies. Friday, we ate with my mother-in-law's family and I was asked to bring cookies. Today, we're ate with the in-laws and had (ugh) family pictures... I brought pierogi casserole.

For Thursday, my grandma had initially requested that I bring Brussels sprouts. I protested, not wanting to become the person who always has to bring the same thing every year. Bad idea. I was all but verbally stoned, and made to promise that I'd bring them for Christmas. Anyways, I wound up with the pumpkin pie assignment. For the sake of tradition and crowd pleasing, I wanted to stick with a classic pie, but for the sake of my ego and boredom, I wanted to jazz up my pies.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Christmas from Scratch: Record Bowls

The only thing better than being frugal and green, is being frugal, green, and on trend.  These little buggers are all of the above.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Recovering a Stew

Nick likes to eat hearty, beefy, filling things.  Man food.  The kind of food I only consent to making in the winter.  Usually I send his 2 favorites (shepherd's pie and Brunswick stew) to hunting camp with him.  Unfortunately, his new job has made it impossible to make it this year.   As such, I'm consoling him by making it for eating here.

Unfortunately, I found that my recipe card was missing and I hadn't given the recipe out to anyone else.  I got the recipe from an older woman at a church I worked at in Ohio.  I dawdled and dawdled, but finally decided to just call her for the recipe.  Unfortunately, when I googled her, I found she had passed in April 2010.  Ugh.  I had no option left but to try to remember the recipe.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Persimmon Paste?

Remember all those persimmons I picked before they were ripe?  Well, they never did ripen :(  But my neighbor Linda (who told me about the persimmons in the first place) picked more than she could deal with and she gave me the extras.  

She also lent me her food mill, which turned out to be a kinda bad idea.  The skins & seeds clogged it and it literally took a week for Nick to get it clean.  It turns out, the best way to extract the pulp is to put the fruit in a mesh laundry bag and twist 'till you can't twist anymore.  It took me a while to figure that one out tho and it made a mess in the mean time.  

American persimmons aren't edible when raw.  It won't kill you or anything, but the tanins will mess your tongue up pretty thoroughly.  Everything I've read (and my neighbor Linda) said that if you cook them, they'll be edible.  

I was really surprised when i put the gelatinous pulp in a pot and it quickly became the consistency of thick mashed potatoes or paste.  It smelled great though, so i took a nibble and, while it was better than raw, it still did a number on my tongue.  

Honestly, I'm not sure what will happen if I put the stuff in a recipe.  Linda's been on vacation, so I can't ask her yet.  In the mean time, I have a pile of freezer jars full of paste that'll make ur tongue feel crazy.  Guess everything can't work out like you hope.  

Oh, and have a cute pic of the chickens, courtesy of instagram and my new iPhone.  

Saturday, October 29, 2011


The sun has yet to peek over the horizon, but my house is already full of activity.

We woke up to snow this morning (It really wouldn't be almost Halloween without it)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Mastering the Art of French Cooking: Souffle de Poisson

We have a freezer full of Spanish Mackerel and Nick asked me to do something different with it.  I asked Julia what I should do with it, and this is what I found.  I'd been reluctant to try it because I've always had such terrible luck with meringue and other whipped egg whites, but Nick wanted something different and not only have I never made a souffle for him or anyone else, but neither of us has ever been served one.

I'm gonna deviate from my usual strategy of giving you a working overview of the recipe, because the original was a (necessary) 8 pages.  Instead, I'll just skim over the steps.  If you want to make it, Go get the book already!

 Get a 6c souffle dish, butter it and sprinkle it with grated cheese.  

Sunday, October 16, 2011

This is What Happens When I Forget My Smartphone

Yesterday, I was talking to a neighbor who told me that there was a winesap apple tree at the park down the street, and that it still had some apples on it.

I know that I said I was done canning, but who listens to me anyways?  And winesap apples are great for canned pie filling.  So off to the park I tread.

I picked about a peck, which was all that was in reach.  I'll hafta come back another day to get the higher up ones.  On my way back, I walked by a tree absolutely overflowing with yellow-orange goodness.  I know from talking to that same neighbor that it's an American Persimmon tree and that you shouldn't eat them 'till you've cooked them. 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Christmas from Scratch: Hand Milled Soap

I know Christmas is still a little ways away, and I'm no fan of Walmarts putting out Christmas stuff before the Halloween  candy is gone but I figured it was high time to start the Christmas from Scratch series.  Making presents takes time, after all.

There are a few reasons to hand-mill soap.  Sometimes, It can save a batch of homemade soap with some imperfections in it.  Mostly though, you do it for nicer soaps.  There are materials you can put in hand-milled soap that you can't put in regular soap.  Also, compared to hot process soap, hand milled soap takes to molds much better.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

All Done

No More, no way no how.  I have filled up every jar in the house (sometimes multiple times) and bought a small fortune in more jars this year.  I am officially declaring full-blown canning season done.  That's not to say I won't still fill a jar or two here or there, but there's not a lot of harvest season left and there are even fewer jars left.

I now present to you, My Canning Cellar:

Playing Catch-Up By Way of Bullets

  •  Cacciatore has escaped 3x since last reported.  She's becoming quite the little escape artist.  

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Cacciatore Triumphant

The chicken tractor has needed pooper-scooped for almost a month now.  Before you go and accuse me of being negligent with my girls, I must point out that I have in fact been out there with shovel and newspaper 3 times... and each time it has proceeded to pour on me.  Today we finally got our beautiful day and it was time for some homestead chores.  They would have gone perfectly smoothly, if it weren't for my little Cacciatore.

Cacciatore has always been one of our braver chickens.  Not rough and tough brave, like General Tso but rather busy body brave.  She has to know what's going on, and she'll forgo her chickeny skiddishness if she has to to  get that info.  

Fall in a Jar, Pt. 2

We got home late Sunday night with our car full of fresh, unpasteurized cider in old liquor bottles.  We tossed everything in the basement fridge and went to bed.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Fall in a Jar, Pt. 1

If apples aren't the trademark of early fall then apple cider certainly is.  It smells incredible, it tastes incredible and when it's warm, it can fight off even the dampest of chills.  It's the official drink of haunted houses, hayrides and corn mazes everywhere.  Have I mentioned I like apple cider?

Well, this year we got an extra special treat cuz some college friends who recently moved back to the area so he could attend seminary have a cider press and invited us to make a day of it.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Farmers Market Challenge: Week 4

I went to the farmers market with $10 and I bought...

$1 - A head of garlic from Beth the hydroponic lady (cuz I like her)

$3 - A "Magical Michael" Basil Plant
$6 - 2 Bunches of Indian corn

Monday, September 26, 2011

I Am Despicably Unobservant

In my defense, I was simultaneously making these incredible cookies and watching Two For The Money.  However, in the mean time my front yard looked like this:

Mustard Watermelon Rind Pork Loin

This one goes out to all those doubters who said Pickled Watermelon Rind was useless!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Farmers Market Challenge: Week 3D

Final installment this week, and I PROMISE next week won't be ANYWHERE near as long-winded.

I Bought that basket of apples, intending to make applesauce with them.  *Sidenote, Am I the only one that gets disappointed each time they dump the contents of a basket into a plastic bag instead of handing you the basket with the fruit, no matter how many times it happens?*  Anyways, they did indeed become applesauce (3 quarts and a pint of it).  But just like last week, I was stuck with a bowl full of peels and cores.  I still had last week's saved in the fridgs 'cuz I had hoped Nick would boil them down and make wine of them (he's done that with pears before) but I had no such luck.

Farmers Market Challenge: Week 3C, this 3 part series is now a 4 part series...but we're 3/4 there!

Canning tomatoes is one of those extreme controversies in the canning world.  Forever, conventional wisdom stated that tomatoes were acidic enough to be canned on their own without added acid.  Maybe that was true at the time, maybe it wasn't but a lot of people bought into it and very few of them died.  A recent article I read actually said that the prevalence of heirloom tomatoes in the 70s introduced a lot of less acidic tomatoes into our diets and gardens and todays tomatoes are actually less acidic than those of days gone by.  Whatever the case may be, the USDA recommends adding 2 tbsp lemon juice or vinegar or 1/2 tsp citric acid to each pint of canned tomato product (half that for pints).

I can't say I follow those guidelines to a T, but I come close and I'm comfortable with my canned tomato products.  The USDA link above has all of their tomato guidelines tho, if you've got any questions.

Farmers Market Challenge: Week 3B

Last week, my friend Jennifer sent me to see if I could pick up a few things for her at the farmers market.  Her schedule just had too many things in it and the farmers market had to go.  She wanted a head of french garlic, an heirloom tomato and a basket of romas all from "The Hydroponics Lady".

I arrived at the farmers market 15 minutes before closing time and was instantly flustered.  I had a big list of my own plus Jennifer's list and the vendors were starting to pack up already!  Guess that's what I get for always going at the end of the day.  I set out looking for the hydroponics lady.  Found her pretty quickly, asked for a head of French garlic, an heirloom tomato (she was out), some romas and 2 jalapenos for my salsa and grabbed everything else from one of the big stands and was on my way to the local high school to eat my dinner in the car before yoga.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Farmers Market Challenge: Week 3A

This week's FMC will be brought to you in three parts because I actually got a chance to hang out and take pictures and talk to folks this week.

First Thing's First:

I went to the farmers market with $27 (notice how the number keeps going up?  I swear it's not intentional) and I bought:

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


I was chatting with a regular patron in the library yesterday afternoon.  She also keeps chickens and commented that she was stockpiling her eggs in anticipation of her girls moulting.

... I knew they did that, but I kinda forgot.  Oops.  Would I hafta start buying eggs again for a while?

*Research Time*

Apparently, Chickens stop laying and then loose all their feathers before resuming their egg laying again.  This happens every year. Usually in the fall, but it is technically a response to extended egg laying or other stress on the chickens nutritional needs.  As such, young hens who just started laying usually don't moult their first fall (whew!) because the egg laying has yet to take its toll on their bodies and because chicks moult 3x in their first 6 months.

So, I'm in the clear this fall.  I've learned something new, and HOPEFULLY, I'll remember in time to do some stockpiling of my own come next fall.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Consistency Confusion

I'm (already) scheming for next year's county fair.  What can I say? I got a taste of ribbons and I can't get enough.

Actually, I'm just so pumped about banana butter and it's possibilities.  Spiced Banana Butter?  Walnut Banana Butter?  Bananas Foster Butter?  But the thing is, I quickly find myself bogged down in consistency matters.  First, what banana butter (and the variations I'm considering) aren't:

Sunday, September 18, 2011


We got our first green egg on Monday.  We didn't really expect a second on Tuesday or Even Wednesday.  There's no use rushing a new layer.  But when there was no egg on Thursday or Friday, I was starting to get concerned.  Chickens can get "egg constipated" and it's something I was hoping to never have to deal with.  Then on Saturday, she brought forth EGGZILLA!!!!

Run for your lives!!!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Mastering the Art of French Cooking: Beurre au Citron... on Broiled Spanish Mackerel

I'm not a huge fan of fish.  As a matter of fact, as far as I've been concerned, if it isn't beer battered and fried maybe it shouldn't be eaten at all.  Now, admittedly, today's recipe prolly is just as fattening (thank you, Julia) but my hope was that at least it'd help broaden my palette.  At least Beurre au Citron only calls for 1 stick of Butter, Beurre Blanc calls for 4!  You heard me, a whole pound of butter.

Farmers Market Challenge: Week 2

I went to the Farmers Market with $20, and I bought...

Umm, I guess I went to the farmers market with $30 and picked up $5 worth of stuff for a friend and forgot I had that other $5... (oops)

I went to the Farmers Market with $25, and I bought...

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Green Eggs!

I'm starting to notice that there's a pattern to first eggs.  They're small, thin shelled, a little funny shaped...and NOT LAID IN THE NESTING BOXES...aka: covered in poo.  The good news is that can be wiped off.  

I'm excited to report that, while we still have 5 girls who aren't laying yet, we now have 3 hens laying... AND I'm pretty sure it's one of each breed.  Today we got out first green egg!

It really is green, the colors just hard to capture. 

Goats Milk Soap... Fail

I realized this week that I haven't made soap since last December.  I had made so much soap last fall that it was hardly a hardship, but it's getting time to start thinking about Christmas presents.  I really wanted to try fancy, luxurious soaps...with nice moulds.  No more little miss countryfied soaper.  And what is the most classic luxury soap I could think of? Goats milk with Oatmeal and Honey.

Farmers Market Challenge: Week 1

The farmers market here is on Thursday afternoons from 3-6.  Last year, I went every-other Thursday.  This summer, I worked every Thursday, so no farmers market for me :(  But now that the school year has started, my Thursdays are my own again and I actually Have a 6:30 yoga class right down the street from the farmers market (how convenient).  My plan/challenge to myself (and you can take it up too, if you like) is to head to my farmers market every week my schedule allows through the end of the season (our market goes through October) armed with $20 and see where it gets me.

Last week, I went to the farmers market with $20 and bought:

Handmade Basil Linguini: $4

3 Beautiful Eggplants: $2
(sorry no more pics of the items straight from the market...thats what happens when u don't think of a post 'til after you've already done the work)
2 Big Baskets of Tomatoes: $9
8 Green & Yellow Bell Peppers: $4
Half a basket of Jalapenos: $1

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Preserve Swap Reminder

Don't forget about the preserve swap deadline on September 15th.  just email me at if you want to participate.

And don't give me any of that "I didn't make much variety" or "I don't think anyone will like what I made" crap.  I had a friend last week tell me she was leerie to participate cuz all she made was Strawberry Jam and I'm allergic to strawberries.  A. Unless only one person signs up, I won't necessarily be the person you're swapping with and B. Nick eats most of the jelly in this house and he'd consider it quite the delicacy cuz not only don't I make it, but cuz I can't make it.  Moral of the story: give your work more credit and quit doubting!

Vacationing the LFS way

Wow, sorry for the significant gap.  It's crazy how much life gets backed up when u take a break from it for a while.

We headed down to Emerald Isle on Aug. 27, just as Irene was Hitting the Island.  No, we didn't drive straight into a hurricane, we kept a respectable distance... but we DID drive 12 hours from home hoping in good faith that our beach house would still be standing and suitable for human habitation.  We hung out in Myrtle Beach (us poor babies, I know) while the storm passed and by Sunday the Island was open and our place (thankfully) was too.  I'm not exaggerating when I say it's the nicest place any of us had ever stayed (there were 9 of us, so it was huge!).  The first couple days, we had to drive through 6in of water on the road near our unit (good thing we all had SUVs), there were plenty of downed trees and closed businesses but thankfully Irene wasn't quite as strong as originally anticipated and most of her impact on our vacay, slight delay aside, was positive... blue skies, empty beaches, lots of cool shells washing up.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Food Processor Salsa

Food Processors are incredible.  I'm not sure how any kitchen survives without one... and mine didn't even have one 'til a year and a half ago.  Today I'm combining two faves, Food Processors and...wait for it... Pinterest.

We finally got enough tomatoes and sweet banana peppers from our garden to make salsa and this recipe seemed WAY easier than the slaving I remember as a teen when my dad had a garden.  I didn't bother removing the skin or seeds from the tomatoes and used way fewer jalapenos, but I really love the proportions and it was so easy to make.  My biggest complaint is I only got 5 1/2 pints out of it, and it irks me that I always wind up with half jars of everything I make in the fridge.  

Oh, and I got a chance to use some of the stash of antique canning jars a friend gave me.  <3

Oktoberfest Mustard

I really need to quit being such a picky eater, or I'm never gonna be able to taste test the stuff I make.  This one was a particular request of the hubbs.  German-style beer mustard.

Monday, August 22, 2011


Our poor garden only produced two (rather puny) cabbages, bless it.  Thankfully they were both ready at the same time and equally thankfully, right before we leave town.

To Dye For

(ah hah ha) corny, I know

With our beach week quickly approaching, we've been doing an awful lot of packing and stuff-gathering.  Amongst those items is my beach cover-up.  It's seen better days.  It was a hand-me-down from my mum and It's been to numerous camps with me and is a little dingy and even had a few rust spots.  The thing is though, structurally there was nothing wrong with it.  My bath robe had a similar story, but i've even singed it's sleeves once or twice while making Sunday morning breakfast.

Sorry 'bout the particularly mangy look, they'd just come out of the washer.  

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Poor Nick Can't Keep a Secret From Me..

... and he never has been able to.  Even as far back as our first Christmas, he couldn't keep what he had gotten me a secret.  I must admit, I think his transparentness is completely adorable.  Is there any better sign of a completely whipped devoted and honest man?

This evening, I was putting away china.  We'd had dinner guests this weekend and I never pass up a chance to haul out the good stuff.  After all, why have it if you don't use it?  I noticed there were only 3 regular dinner plates in the dining room and went looking for the fourth.  This is what I found in a less-used corner of the kitchen:

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Preserve Swap

Every canner has only two hands, 24 hours in a day, a certain set of talents, recipe knowledge, equipment and produce availability  That being said, I feel like I never have the variety in my canning cellar I'd like to have.  I'm willing to bet you have the same problem.  That is why I'm proud to announce the First Annual Living From Scratch Preserve Swap!


Our tomatoes are having the best year they've ever had despite a little more neglect than i'd personally like to own up to.  We never got around to buying cages and they were in some serious need of both weeding and staking.  Nick fed the weeds to the chickens, he called it a salad.  They loved them tho!

Aren't they gonna be tasty when they ripen?

Banana Butter... Who Knew?

About a month ago, my dad gave me a book called "Preserving the Fruits of the Earth".  He got it from his grandma (my great-grandma).  The Sub-Title is "How to "Put Up" almost every food grown in the United States in almost every way".  It's not kidding.  Its hard to believe only 230+ pages could contain all that info, but it figures it out.  There are multiple preserving methods and recipes for every american plant, fish and animal you can think of.  Some of its more exotic entries are Buffalo Berry Jelly, Pickled Eel, Candied Kumquats and how to clean and can snapping turtle meat.

Amongst all that craziness, I uncovered a recipe for banana butter.  I've never heard of such a thing, but it sounded wonderful AND bananas are cheap.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Victory Garden

For those of ya'll who know me, it's no secret that I'm not a big fan of war or the modern american understanding of patriotism.  Knowing that, you'd prolly be surprised about my new obsession.

I was stumbling 'round pinterest looking for ideas for the canning cellar that i'm cooking up when I came across these:

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Julia was Right

...when she said fresh eggs poach much more easily.

Of course, I first broke them into separate dishes to investigate and check for blood spots.  Apparently thin shells, no yolks and blood spots are all more common in the small first eggs.  Our chickens have been on layer feed probably a little longer than they should have been, so the shell was anything but thin.  Thankfully both of our tiny eggs had tiny little yolks to match and were blood-spot free.

Aren't those yolks yellow?

Saturday, August 13, 2011


I'm just speechlessly ecstatic.  I'm so proud of my girls.  I don't know which laid today, so im just gonna be proud of all of them!

Washington County Fair

The last few years, ever since moving to a county that takes their Ag. Fair seriously, I've been telling myself I was gonna enter some goodies.  Didn't matter what, I just thought it'd be a cool thing to do.  Last year, I even had some stuff together, but was quickly discouraged by not knowing the ropes.  This year, I stumbled through the ropes and regs and actually entered some stuff, and Nick did too.  Yesterday, I dropped our goodies off and the judging was last night.  The results are in and I'm so excited to share!

Thursday, August 11, 2011


Well, it's still got some ice on it, but 24 hours in the fridge has at least thawed our capicola enough to investigate a little

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Questions, Questions

Well folks, i've been meaning to freshen up around here for some time.  What do you think about the new look?

This afternoon, I decided to pull out a LARGE slab of bear that has been making me nervous.  It's huge, crusted in ice, and labled "Capicola Ham".  Like the lunchmeat?  Do you think it's already cooked, or will i need to cook it?  If it needs cooked, how on earth does one go about that? How does one slice their own lunch meat?  Is there any other way to eat bear capicola, besides between bread?  The internet has apparently never even heard of bear capicola and can't answer any of my questions.  Oh internet, how rarely you fail me so!  Get ready for an adventure! know, in a few days when it's all defrosted.

Preparations are well under way for our yearly corn roast so stay tuned to hear more about that too.

Monday, August 8, 2011


No, Pennsylvania hasn't had a freak summer snow storm (actually, it's been quite miserable here), I've just been taking inventory of our freezer stock.  Of course, tomatoes aren't in and the corn is only about halfway in, but it's getting a little full in there so I figured it was time to take inventory.

On a tangential note, we've started to pick our corn (unfortunately, too soon for our corn roast next weekend.  Looks like we're gonna hafta buy some).  The method for freezing corn is simple: Husk it, blanch it, cut it off the cob, cool and freeze.  Unfortunately, I ran out of vaccuum bags just as the corn started coming in.  I sent Nick to the store for more.  After much frustration on both our parts, he came home with freezer quality quart-sized ziplocs and a straw (what a stinker!).

Banana Ice Cream

... I know, everyone on the planet has blogged this stuff, but it's so yum I just can't help myself. 

A couple of weeks ago, I had an entire bunch of bananas about to go bad.  I had forgotten about them.  Just before they went bad, I remembered about them , peeled them, chopped them into pieces and tossed them in the freezer.  Then I forgot about them again.  Tonight I remembered about them and boy, am I glad I did!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Sweet & Spicy Thai Sauce

Lately, the hubbs has been taking sandwiches for lunch while the refrigerator pickles are still crispy, but his primary lunch during the year is rice, "chinese sauce" & veggies with a side of fruit.  Chinese sauce is usually a purchased thing.  Aside from mixing marmalade with soy sauce, I'm at a complete lost when it comes to all eastern food.  Nick dug this little jewel out of Ball's Complete Home Canning Guide to save me from having to buy chinese sauce for a while.  Oh, and he's a fan of spicy stuff.  Good thing, this is definitely spicy.  

Friday, August 5, 2011

Bread & Butter Pickles

... because we're still getting cucumbers in, though thankfully they are slowing (just in time for corn and tomatoes to pick up!)

15 to 18 Pickling Cucumbers
2 to 3 Medium Onions
1/2 c. Pickling Salt
3 c. Sugar
2 c. White Vinegar
2 c. Cider Vinegar
2 tsp. Mustard Seeds
1 tsp. Celery Seeds
1 tsp. Ground Turmeric

Thursday, August 4, 2011

I'm in Love... with a Pie Crust

(Don't worry Nick, I'll always love you more)

I've made my fair share of pie crusts in my time.  I've *gasp* bought crusts, I've used my mom's recipe, my grandma's recipe, Julia Child's recipe, the recipe that came with my bread machine.  All but the latter, while each very nice, call for varying amounts of shortening (sometimes with butter).  The only time I ever have shortening is when i'm planning on soaping with it, and I haven't soaped in some time.  I have too much soap backed up to be making more.  The only fat in my bread machine recipe is canola oil.  I always have it on hand, and it makes a perfectly functional pie dough...but it's highly mediocre and lacks flakiness.  The new recipe calls for butter exclusively (hey, I didn't say it was healthy... it's a pie crust!).  I always have it on hand and the crust it produces is sufficiently flaky, quite flavorful and smells like shortbread as it bakes.  I think I might keep it.  It isn't perfectly easy to roll straight out of the fridge, it needs a little kneading or it cracks, but it still does need to be refrigerated before rolling.

The recipe says it's enough for 1 crust, but I was able to make two 9 in. crusts with it.  That being said, i had to work to get 2 out of it, and anything bigger than 9 in. would definitely have required doubling the recipe.

1 1/4 c. Flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 c. Butter, chilled and sliced into pats
1/4 c. Ice Water

Put everything but the water into the food processor and spin 'til it looks like flour.  Then add the water 'til it forms a ball.  Refrigerate 4 hrs to overnight before rolling.

Make a Pie.  Eat It.  Love It.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Zucchini Pie

Last Summer, while sharing my Zucchini Diaries, I shared a recipe that is a favorite, but I never got around to making.  This week, in addition to needing something scrumptious to serve to some dinner guests, I decided this would be a creative new way to preserve some of our zucchini.  Production is slowing so it's my last few chances to get creative with it.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Pinterest Challenge: Summer Edition

Ok, so if you haven't been on pinterest, you have no idea how much awesomness you are missing.  (If you'd like to find out, let me know and I'll send you an invite)  Pinterest is the social media version of keeping magazine clippings of inspirations in a binder.  It's inspired me to do a couple of things around the house and hopefully will inspire many more.  Sherry of Young House Love and a couple other DIY bloggers have laid down the challenge to not just let pinterest be eye candy, but to get up and do something.  Here is my response to the pinterest challenge:

Friday, July 29, 2011

Kiddos & Sweet Cucumber Relish

I must admit, VBS has occupied a ton of my time this week.  Thankfully, our director gave me an awesomely me assignment.  I got to teach "discovery time" in our food themed VBS, aka: Faith & Food Science.  We made butter, salad dressing, even ice cream.

Today was the first day since Monday that I didn't have to work or have a drs appt during the day on top of VBS.  It was time to get some things done: Groceries, Shredding Zucchini, Prepping for Ice Cream in VBS, finding a new vet for the dog.... and Cucumber Relish.  Sorry, no Eye Candy.  I just didn't get around to it.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Zesty Zucchini Pickles know, for when freezing and pies and breads and casseroles just aren't enough to use up all of that zucchini.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Sweet & Spicy Dill Pickles for the Long Haul

Sorry I've been such a crappy blogger lately.  Canning has kinda consumed my life to the point where I didn't even have time to blog about it.  Fortunately (or unfortunately), this hella heat wave has slowed the garden a little and left me even less inclined to can, so I have time to share!

My dad and hubbs really love my Sweet & Spicy Dill Refrigerator Pickles, they're so crunchy and wonderful. Unfortunately, come September there aren't anymore.  For one, they get eaten up, but also they have a much shorter shelf life, and all of that is spent taking up space in my fridge.  I've done some experimenting and think I've found a reasonable long-term, canned alternative.  They'll never be as crispy as the refrigerator ones, but that's the nature of the beast.  Also, be warned: It's a 3 day process.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Mastering the Art of French Cooking: Concombres aux Champignons et a la Creme

aka: Baked Cucumbers in a Mushroom Cream Sauce

Baked Cucumbers?  Yup... that was my first thought when I read it too.  However, I am swimming in cucumbers (among other veggies) and getting a little sick of canning/freezing everything... AND it's been a while since I mastered any new French Cooking.  

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Preserving: Cinnamon Watermelon Rind Pickles

You can go ahead and call me crazy or beyond frugal or just plain excited about my canning resolution, but when my mother-in-law was cutting melon off the rind this weekend, I just couldn't let her compost the rinds.