August 30, 2010

True Confessions...

True confessions of a cookbook junkie! 

"Just ONE MORE cookbook! Wow, the
price is so good! I can't leave this one behind! I'll
never remember how they made this recipe!"

When we vacation, it is fun to come home with a few
recipes native to the area.
"The Amish Cookbook"
I found in the Farmer's Marketin Bird-In-Hand, PA.

"Extending The Table"
offers lots of recipes from all over
the globe! That was definitely unique and the price was right!
I found it in our favorite Bird-In-Hand Hardware Store
in the consignment section! ($5 couldn't go wrong!)

Ok, those first two cookbooks were the easiest to justify....
the third one is a "Taste of Home THREE IN ONE cookbook"!
I have to be truthful, I found it in a local store.

But it does have beautiful pictures, thick washable pages....
and YUMMY soup & slow cooker recipes!

(It WAS the last one on the shelf! Does that work?)

Was It REALLY Me....

Was it really me that was wondering if I'd EVER have red tomatoes this season!?  Well, I've just picked my second HUGE batch of tomatoes!! Ready to tackle diced, stewed tomatoes?
13 1/2 quarts of diced tomatoes... (not all in this picture)
Can you say chili, soup or fresh spaghetti sauce?? 

August 27, 2010

Water Challenge... (just thinking out loud)

We don't think too much about it here in America.
We don't think about how much we use or where it is coming from.
We don't think too much about the technology that it
takes to make it come out of our faucets.

How much do you depend on it?
How far are you willing to travel for it?
Walk for it?
Pay for it?

For the past 8 years we have driven to one of the local springs
with our jugs to get drinking water. We have water at home, but we opt
to get spring water for drinking! With six drivers in the
family, it hasn't been too bad.

But, when the well runs dry...
we obviously go through it much faster!

6 Adults
1 dog
3 cats

What would happen if we lived in AFRICA?
How far would we HAVE to walk?
How MUCH could be get at one time?
What would the water QUALITY be?

We have only been without water
in our well for 10 days!
In some places,
It has been a LIFE TIME!

Our church supports
an organization that has been able to drill a
number of wells in Africa!
Their motto is You & Action = Change

Watch this video and see if you agree!!

My challenge... How much does your water matter to you?
Try using ONLY the water that you carry into your
home for a weekend..... (including water to bathe, flush, drink,
do dishes by hand, cook, feed pets, etc.) Do this for at least 1 full day!

offering a gift of appreciation to Global Benefit for your water
so that someone else may have clean water too!

August 26, 2010

Meet Our Newest Additions to the Herd!

Most of you know that we have been raising meat rabbits for the past few years. They have been a lot of fun and some work too! As a reminder to my more squeamish readers, those with names are NOT going to freezer camp! :) And actually, we did sell quite a few of them as pets this year! The two we kept out of the last litter have their father's beautiful blue eyes....  so, I'm kind of hoping that this trait will pass forward into next year's litters! 

Above is Willy.... he is a sweet little buck! Both he and his

sister Lilly have Sinatra's pretty eyes! They are a mix  breed rabbit
but we know they have some Flemish Giant and Harlequin in them!
They are a cross of Sinatra X Sookie, both very gentle
 rabbits with wonderful personalities!

Here is the full herd!  (DOES)
 Top Left: Scarlet, Top Right: Clara (New Zealand White)
Bottom Left: Maxine Bottom Right: Lilly
Top Right: Sookie, Top Right: Hazel (two of our original does)
(both are crosses of Flemish Giant & Harlequin)
Bottom Left: Lucy and Bottom Right: Bella  (both pure Silver Fox)

Outside for the spring, summer & fall are our bucks!
To the Left is Charlie Brown  (pure bred Silver Fox)
He's kind of hard to see, but he is in there on the
right side of the cage!
and on the right is Silas (New Zealand White and
one of our original bucks!)
On the Right is Sinatra (Named for his pretty blue eyes
and is our other original buck!)
and on the left is Willy  (Sinatra X Sookie)

(And, before you ask... yes, the blue container under Silas
is to catch the droppings! We actually have containers under
each cage. Rabbits choose a corner in their cage to make
their bathroom spot and are very predictable after that!
It makes clean up MUCH easier!)

To get a closer look, check them out at:

August 22, 2010


Of all times for my Foley Food Mill to be misplaced this wasn't the weekend to have that happen! Not after picking a bushel of fresh tomatoes from the garden! Pete checked all over for it too and then we decided it was important enough to replace it! I called 4 stores before I found one and THEY HAD TWO SIZES IN STOCK!! I'm thrilled! I didn't know they had different sizes so naturally, I ask them to hold the larger one!
What is so special about a FOLEY Food Mill? Well, I've only ever used a Foley, so I can't speak of any other brand! This brand has been around forever! At least long enough that I've had one since I've been married (27 years) and my mother in law's is older then that!! They work very well!!
Now I can start my weekend projects! PhEw, that was close....
It is Saturday and my project for the day is to turn a bushel of tomatoes into sauce! Lots of fun! First I diced up 1/2 a large Vidalia onion per large stock pot and added 2 teaspoons of diced garlic and sauteed them in a little bit of olive oil until the onions were transparent. After the onions were done I filled the pot with quartered fresh tomatoes and stirred them and let them start to simmer.
You can see that the tomatoes and onions are well softened... now it is time to put them through the mill. Sad news, I totally spaced out taking pictures of that in use! RRRGGH... well, the way to use it is to put the mill over another large pan or bowl and put the tomatoes in the mill. Turn the crank and the juices go through and the skins and onions stay in the mill pan to be dumped out. This process allows the sauce to be seedless & skinless. It is also a perfect tool to use when making applesauce! (That isn't too far off either!)
Now the sauce is ready to be reduced by simmering in the stock pots... I added some fresh basil and let it simmer down to about half of its volume. I poured it into pint jars, put the lids on and boiled them in the water bath for 35 minutes!! I ended up with 12 pints of tomato sauce to be used in lots of yummy ways this winter! The cutting up & cooking down took most of Saturday.. I wasn't pushed for time, so I enjoyed the process and didn't hurry! Now, on to my next project!
Sunday is corn day!  Pete and I got right down to business as soon as we got home from church. He & Travis  picked LOTS of corn and shucked it all outside. Inside, I got the canners ready, started heating the water in both of them as well as sterilizing jars & lids,
getting the cutting boards etc. all set up!
They were FAST!! They lost count of the number of ears of corn, but it was over 200 of them!
We cold packed them...  raw corn on the cob being cut off, filled quart jars, added 1 teaspoon of canning salt and filled them with boiling water. THEN, they were put into the canners....
 7 quarts to a batch in each of the canners.
Like I said, LOTS of corn!! The pigs will be getting the cobs and the husks!
One canner.... already filled, now to heat it up to 10 pounds of pressure for 1 hour and 25 minutes!
The first batch is finished....  two more to go!
In all, we got 21 quarts of corn finished!!
We are a little over half way through the corn in the garden!

Now on to dinner!
Hard telling how many mouths will be home for dinner now a day! I started out making
 pizza thinking that 4 out of 6 would be home... but, we ended up with just 3 of us.
I got to thinking, why make up 3 large pizzas and have all the left overs? Why not freeze the
extra dough? Hmmm, why not freeze the extra sauce and cheese etc.
So, this is my answer to extra pizza dough!
Now, some night when there is only 2 of us home... dinner will be SUPER EASY to prepare!
                                     All in separate bags... and then in the freezer in one bag!
                         Did I mention this pizza dough recipe is one that my mom got off the
                           back of a Gold Medal flour bag when I was a kid?! Yup, she still has
                           it.... and naturally, like any good daughter would do, I copied it
                          and have been using it for years!! It is truly the best recipe I've found!

                                                              Tomorrow's project??
Dill pickles,
Sweet Lime Pickles, 
Bread & Butter pickles....
and maybe some relish!

Not to worry...
this IS a more then one day project!

August 17, 2010

My All Time FAVORITE Sandwich....

This is the day I wait for EVERY summer....  the first picking of
red tomatoes! We got back from vacation last night, so today I went out
and investigated in the garden. (Ok, so truthfully,
I ONLY looked at the tomato plants!)

As soon as I saw them....
I knew today would be the day.... 
 open faced broiled
tomato sandwich day!! 
Two slices of multi grain bread with a bit of mayonnaise
spread on them.....
Then, sliced tomatoes to cover the bread topped
with thin slices of cheddar cheese.  Next, put them
on a cookie sheet and broil them till the cheese just
starts to turn brown and bubbly!
Last step....  cool a little and eat!!


If you can't get your hand on fresh grown tomatoes,
you can use the vine ripened ones from the grocery store... not
quite as good, but a fair substitute for that cold winter day when
the cravings just won't let up! :) Try it... you'll love it!

August 16, 2010

August Can Jam..... Dilly Tomatoes!

This recipe is one of my mom's doings when I was a kid, mom pickled almost anything, or so it seemed! :) One year she canned some of the cherry tomatoes, which ended up being a hit in our house! I always thought the tomato pickles and dilly beans and odds and ends of vegetable pickles were all her idea. Surprise... now years later, I'm finding recipes of some of these things in books!! It still could be that she made them with her own inspiration, who knows? But, one thing is for sure, the smell of vinegar throughout the house will always bring back fond childhood memories!

As much as I wanted to make tomato sauce, the Can Jam deadline is fast approaching and no matter how much I go out and encourage these plants to turn their fruits red, they are holding on tight to their own time table, so.... I have to settle second best. Not to worry.... I will make tomato sauce and can some stewed tomatoes IN SEPTEMBER!  :) 
Dilled Tomatoes

Green tomatoes (cherry or grape works best)
Grape leaves (1 per jar)
Head of Dill   (1 per jar) **or 2 tsp. dill seeds**
garlic clove   (OPTIONAL: 1 per jar)
1/2 tsp. of alum per pint  (1 tsp. per quart)

(Enough for 7 Quarts)
10 Cups water
5 Cups cider vinegar (5% acidity)
1 Cup canning salt

Wash the tomatoes, dill & grape leaves then put 1 leaf & the dill head and/or feathery leaves
in the bottom of your jars. Add the garlic if you want it... I've done some with and some without!
Now, fill the jars with the tomatoes up to the neck and add the alum. Pour the HOT brine over the top covering the tomatoes but leaving head space in the jars. Remove air bubbles. Cover with jars with lids and water bath for 15 minutes.

I noticed that some of my garlic turned a funny, blue-green color. My first impression was that it is a similar color to a penny when it turns color. Kinda odd... so, I did a little bit of research and this is what I discovered  towards the bottom of the page in the comment section...  "Garlic will react with a small amount of copper and turn colour, but still safe to eat. Trace amount of copper in your water supply or from utensils is sufficient to cause this colour change."

I do not remember any of the garlic in my mom's pickles turning a funny color... my brother, cousins and I ALWAYS would argue over whose turn it was to eat the garlics!! I know I would have remembered it if was a weird color! I also know that she & I have the same 'Revere Ware' pots & pans that we both have used for years, and I use wooden spoons to stir with. SO, still not sure, unless it is a trace mineral in my water supply. This is one of life's mysteries that I may never have an answer for.... I think I can live with that!

Until next time, Happy & Safe Canning!

I made these the first week of August, before we went on vacation so that I could post this as soon as we got back and NOT miss the deadline! We got back tonight... and now I have some red tomatoes!! I am sooo excited to get started on sauce... it may still be a couple of weeks until I have enough red ones to can, but I can see the promise of it happening!!

August 5, 2010


FINALLY, I got the courage up to try a new recipe! My son has been pestering me to get the pesto made or dry the basil leaves because he really likes the fresh basil! I poured over various cookbooks & online recipe sites for just the right recipe. But, basically, the recipes are all very similar.... so perhaps it was procrastination that caused me to wait so long before attempting this VERY EASY task!!
Basic ingredients: fresh basil leaves, Parmesan cheese, garlic & olive oil!
Fresh picked basil.... aromatic and delicious! But now what? Admittedly, I waited longer then I should have before I picked these, but all is not lost! :) After picking off all the leaves, tossing the stems & flowers,       I washed them in cool water.
I added the basil by the handfuls to my food processor and layered the ingredients....
The ratio that I used is: 1 Cup Basil, 1 garlic clove (or 1 tsp. minced garlic) 4 tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese to 1/4 Cup of olive oil.
(Taken from my cookbook 'Saving the Seasons' )
I layered the ingredients, put the lid on, turned on the processor
and the machine did the rest of the work!
After it was all chopped and blended I added
more and hit the go button!
Here is the end result and yum, does it smell good! I put it by spoonfuls into
ice cube trays to freeze and then into freezer containers!
Now it is all ready for me to use for added flavor in soups or spaghetti sauce
or for one of our favorites; "Pesto Chicken"!!

NOTE: I didn't add any pine nuts, walnuts or almonds. The recipe has them as an optional ingredient added in a 1/3 cup ratio. But I'm opting to add slivered almond to my recipes as I make them!!