Category Archives: Cooking

Garden Season Ends With Success

I’ve not had a lot of time to write posts this summer because I’ve been doing this:

Fresh tomatoes

Apples from July through October unless the weather changes drastically!

In years past I’ve not had much luck with green peppers but this year I’ve frozen 30 packs of peppers in small dices, strips and large chunks. They are like onions in our kitchen, we use them in everything!

Yellow onions grew and grew. We got a sack full of them and have them hanging in the smoke house until the weather starts to freeze. At that point I bring them in my laundry room (cool spot) to use all winter.

One crop failed miserably this summer and we’ve never had this happen before. We got one egg basket of white potatoes. Thankfully I canned all of those from last year so we won’t have to buy many!

We had some type of bug that bores through the roots of cucumbers and squash. Our cucumbers were used mainly for fresh eating and in salads this summer. I had plenty of pickles left over last summer and with the help of two very special friends we got18 pints of pickle relish and then they were gone.

Fresh peaches and first crop from our young trees. I canned 21 quarts!

The squash faired better than our cucumbers and I froze 12 packs of sliced put in the freezer. We ate fresh squash all summer.

Fresh raspberries gave us 12 quart bags full and the blackberry crop was non-existent due to the weather again.

Dicing green and banana peppers

Canned cabbage

Squirrel season came in two weeks ago and I’ve froze over 12 bags so far. We love squirrel and rabbit meat!

I froze over 40 bags of fresh corn and everyone that we’ve shared it with says it’s the sweetest corn they’ve ever eaten.

Green pepper strips

I’ve tried just about every apple in our orchards in the last two months to find the best for apple pies and fried pies but all of them are great for fresh applesauce every meal!!

While I was canning tomatoes I was also canning cabbage and freezing it. I canned 14 quarts and froze 24 quarts. We’ll use both in vegetable soup and cabbage is a great favorite side dish at our house with pinto beans, fried potatoes and cornbread!!

Our tomatoe crop wasn’t the best because of the rains coming in when they were ripening. They split, cracked and had hard black spots on the outside. I did manage to can 18 quarts of tomato juice. This winter when it’s cold outside I’ll make pizza sauce and spaghetti sauce from what we preserved this summer.

We raised some of the sweetest cantaloupes I’ve ever tasted this year and their my favorite of all the melons.

This wooden crate is full of all types of apples we have on the farm. They’re all somewhat tart and we will buy sweet apples from a nearby orchard to make our cider in the coming weeks.
We didn’t grow a lot of watermelons this year but got good return on the seed we planted.

The crate is filled to the brim with cider apples from our orchards. We think it holds about 15 bushel of apples.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of course we also had green beans this year but I didn’t can very many because we had a lot left over so about four canners (28 quarts) was enough to fill up the shelves.

You will never starve as long as there’s green beans on hand!!!

Left-hand side of the cellar shelves are overflowing!

Right-hand side of the cellar is catching the overflow! I normally store all of the empty jars on that side.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then to sum it all up we have these:

Canned white and yellow peaches

Frozen broccoli

Frozen corn off the cob

Yellow summer squash

New white potatoes-This was the most we got from the first plants!!

Onions drying for winter use.

Wonderful pickle relish that we use in pinto beans, on hotdogs, and in tuna or chicken salad. Hubby loves it on peanut butter sandwiches!!!

Our favorite pizza sauce of which I only made a few half pints and one pint. I’ll make more throughout the winter.

Two crates of sweet potatoes. One of the potatoes was the size of a football. We’ll have several meals from that monster!

Gorgeous canned peaches, I can’t wait to open the first jar!

 

Crocheted Dish Towels

Do you like the convenience of a dish towel hanging close by in the kitchen?  For years I’ve made my own hanging towels and they’re quick and easy and only take half a towel.

This one is hanging on the top drawer of my kitchen sink this morning.

I have lots of them and change them about every other day depending on how much they’ve been soiled.  Here’s how I make them:

I go to the Dollar Tree and pick out a full hand towel designed for the kitchen. They’re only a dollar and you get two towels out of each one.

Then I fold them in half and cut them in half.  Then I turn down the cut edge about a 1/2 inch and using a large darning needle threaded with a matching yarn, I blanket stitch the fold down.  The stitches are usually about 1/4 – 3/8 inch long, longer stitches will show more and not fill in the top of the towel quite enough.

Darning needle threaded with scrap yarn.

I use a beige or tan yarn most of the time because it matches everything and I have a lot of “almost empty” skeins of yarn.

Tie off the end of the towel with a couple whip stitches and knot.  From here I make a single crochet using a Size F crochet hook in each blanket stitch across the towel.  At this point you can use any crochet stitch you want throughout the towel until  it’s about five to six inches wide.  I mix the crochet stitches on some and single crochet throughout, just depends on my mood and how fast I want to make up the towels.  At the end of each row, DO NOT chain and turn.  This is how you will decreast the rows to go into a point.  To decrease the row, pull the yarn through two or three stitches.  My instructions aren’t great but if you crochet at all you will know how to do this.  For more details just comment on this post.  When I get towards the end with about 6-9 stitches on the row, I add that turning stitch until I have a tab look at the end.   At the end of the last row you crochet make a chain of about 10-12 chain stitches and carry it back to the start of that row and pull through your first stitch several times to make it stay.

This is the point I spoke of earlier where you make the loop which will go over the drawer handle. Then you hook the loop over the button to keep the towel in place when you need it.

It’s really simple to make and great to have so you don’t have to go searching for the hand towel.

Fold that tab over and place your button in the middle of crochet work to meet the chain.  Your done! Not sure I would make a very good crochet instructor unless it was a one on one session!!

Imagine these hanging on your kitchen sink with red or green toppers or even chocolate or bright yellow.

I made these in February and saving them for gifts.

 

Recipe Pages Updated

Fall is in the air and cooler weather keeps me in the kitchen making comfort food.

Fall is in the air and cooler weather keeps me in the kitchen making comfort food.

I’ve added a few more goodies to my Recipe Page if anyone is interested. Hope you will enjoy them as much as we do! They include Pumpkin Pie Squares, Steamed Asparagus, Grilled Chicken Salad, and Pumpkin Cookies.

Recipe Page Updated

Pecan Cocoanut Praline Cookies 2015 Peanut butter cookies 2015I spent most of the morning organizing my recipe box and wanted to add some of the Christmas treats to the Recipe Page of my blog. Hope you enjoy some of the treats I make throughout the holiday season.

Cleaning the wood cookstove

Kitchen Cook/woodstove

Kitchen Cook/woodstove

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With the heat and humidity changes the cast iron rusts during the summer.  The following picture is how the stove looked when we moved in about 10 or 12 years ago.

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With some elbow grease, sandpaper and a wire brush it doesn’t take long to make it look like new.  We rarely use the oven in the winter when we cook but we do use the top of the stove a lot and we use it for heat.

The kitchen cook/woodstove in the fall of 2014.

The kitchen cook/woodstove in the fall of 2015.

Late fall I do a thorough top cleaning of the stove to make it look nicer and I use this product for polishing both of our woodstoves.  It doesn’t smell or put off any fumes when the stoves are first heated each fall/winter season.

Williams Stove polish goes a long way.  It's odorless and smokeless when the stove is heated.  Great product!!

Williams Stove polish goes a long way. It’s odorless and smokeless when the stove is heated. Great product!!

This is a seasonal product that I find at our local hardware store and not expensive.  I will warn you to use an old pair of rubber gloves when applying and when it's covered good, buff it until it shines.

This is a seasonal product that I find at our local hardware store and not expensive. I will warn you to use an old pair of rubber gloves when applying and when it’s covered good, buff it until it shines.

There are pipes in the back of the stove that run through the wall to the bathroom and circulates the water through the hot water tank.

The blue tank beside the chimney is our water holding tank and the water circulates through the pipes of the woodstove in the kitchen.

The blue tank beside the chimney is our water holding tank and the water circulates through the pipes of the woodstove in the kitchen.

This tank also serves as our heat source for the bathroom in the winter.  It’s nice and toasty when you get out of the shower.

Back to the stove!  I don’t clean the oven as it’s just too far gone to do a good job and I don’t think I would ever bake in it.  We do keep the heat box cleaned out good. Normally when I’m cleaning the stove hubby is cleaning the chimney before our fire season begins.  VERY IMPORTANT to clean that chimney every year.  We also clean it during the heating season because there’s nothing more frightening than a flue fire.    The stove is now being used on a regular basis until summer 2016 arrives!

Wood cookstove all cleaned up and ready to warm the kitchen and bathroom and more importantly to cook on!!

Wood cookstove all cleaned up and ready to warm the kitchen and bathroom and more importantly to cook on!!

Cavatini with a twist

I love to cook and Cavatini is one of my favorite dishes to fix and I think it’s because with just two people to feed this dish will last at least three nights for dinner and all I have to do is change the salad and bread to make it look like something different each night.  It’s a quick casserole that’s a toss up between pizza and spaghetti.

Cavatini ready to pop in the oven.

Cavatini ready to pop in the oven.

Normally this recipe consists of cooked rotini noodles, ground beef cooked with onions and green peppers, spices of your choice and spaghetti sauce.  Then you cover that with pepperoni and top with mozzarella cheese.

The last time I baked it I added to the cooked ground beef a whole, sliced kielbasa, lots of onions and lots of green peppers.  It was divine!!

Browned ground beef, onions, green peppers and polska kielbasa.

Browned ground beef, onions, green peppers and polska kielbasa.

Meat mixture mixed up in casserole dish with cooked rotini and spaghetti sauce.

Meat mixture mixed up in casserole dish with cooked rotini and spaghetti sauce.

Top it all with pepperoni and then with mozzarella cheese.  Bake at 350* for 30 minutes and cheese is melted and golden.

Top it all with pepperoni and then with mozzarella cheese. Bake at 350* for 30 minutes and cheese is melted and golden.

This is such a quick and easy recipe and I’ll add it to my recipe page.  Hope you enjoy!  We serve it with a salad and garlic bread.

 

Have you ever eat a turtle

We have a pretty large pond in front of our house that is stocked with large mouth bass and bluegill fish.  We both love to fish and don’t fish from the pond a lot because we’re trying to let the pond stock itself and get the fish to a good frying size.

We’re constantly fighting off predators of the fish such as fish hawks, cranes and something my husband calls a “shikepoke” (6-8 inch tall black bird with webbed feet and long beak).  We also have to deal with huge mud turtles that come of the small stream that goes around the pond and down through the property.  Turtles can eat  up the fish pretty quick so we catch them and eat them.  Small ones are caught and released in larger creeks around the county.

Caught him in the pond in front of our home.

Caught him in the pond in front of our home.

They're mean and eat our fish every year.

They’re mean and eat our fish every year.

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He was eating our bass so now we're going to eat him.

He was eating our bass so now we’re going to eat him.

The meat is beautiful and really good.  We’re told there are seven different types of meat in a turtle including chicken, beef, pork, fish, and I’m not sure what the other meats are but we like it all.

Fresh turtle meat!  We fry it like chicken.  White meat, dark meat, really good.

Fresh turtle meat! We fry it like chicken. White meat, dark meat, really good.

When I cook it I first soak it in salt water overnight and then pressure cook it for about 30 -45 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure.  I then check to make sure it’s tender and if it is, I roll it in seasoned flour and fry it in butter.  It tastes just like fried chicken.

I also freeze it and when I do I place about five or six pieces in a Ziploc freezer bag, fill bag half full of water, press out the excess air and freeze.  I know it’ll keep at least 12 months frozen like this but we never have any last that long.  We also put the same amount in our food saver bags and vacuum seal and it keeps well like this too.

We try to always process and can or freeze everything we kill EXCEPT for coons and possums!!  NO THANK YOU!

Thanksgiving Desserts today

Thanksgiving is just two days away and we will have a wonderful house full this year.  Most will be here for the whole day and some will be coming for dessert.  I’ve been quite busy today making desserts for our Thanksgiving feast. Here’s a preview:

Pumpkin pies

Pumpkin pies

Custard pies

Custard pies

Pumpkin Roll and my personal favorite.

Pumpkin Roll and my personal favorite.

Hershey Bar Cake

Hershey Bar Cake

Applesauce Cake

Applesauce Cake

I’ve also made the following treats to have for the entire week:

Preacher Cookies

Preacher Cookies

Sand Tarts

Sand Tarts

Lemon Bars

Lemon Bars

I made six dozen peanut butter cookies and still hope to get some German Christmas Cookies made tomorrow and two other desserts called Mountain Mama Chocolate Slide and Dutch Apple Pie.  I’ll also prepare some of the appetizers and salads tomorrow.

BUT, what I’m most proud of is that I didn’t eat one bite of anything while I was cooking!!!

 

Successful Striper Fishing Trip

Friday night a week ago hubby accepted an invitation to go Striper Fishing with a friend of ours.  They left around 8:00 p.m. and headed for the lake and caught these beauties before the rain storm ran them off the lake.

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DSCN7157The biggest one weighed a little over ten pounds and the other two were just a little less.  Vince caught two and Eddie caught one but Vince had been fishing for them all summer and had enough in his freezer to them for the winter.

The next day Eddie took them to his “professional” fileter and this is what we got.

Pot full of striper filets!

Pot full of striper filets!

The first night i took 1/2 a filet, cut in 3″ squares and soaked them in salt water for about 30 minutes.  Then I poured a package of cornmeal muffin mix in a ziploc bag, poured about 1/4 cup of Old Bay seasoning in the muffin mix, sealed it and shook like crazy to mix it all really well.  Then I melted a stick of butter in a skillet and melted it to sizzling but not burning.  I poured the salted water off the filets and dropped each in the cornmeal mixture, zipped up the bag and shook to cover completed.  I let it set just for a second then shook again and popped them in the sizzling butter.  When golden brown on the bottom, I flipped the pieces and started sizzling again.  I tuned them about three times and then took out and placed on a paper towel covered platter. I served this with baked beans, coleslaw and a baked potato.  Best fish I’ve made in a long time.  The next day hubby fixed the same meal but instead of skillet he used the new deep fryer I bought him for Father’s Day and it was absolutely DIVINE!!!

My big question–when you going striper fishing again??  🙂

We froze the rest of the filets for future dinners and Heather got a few on Tuesday when she came to visit.

 

 

Recipe box and cookbooks

2nd recipe box made from barn wood

2nd recipe box made from barn wood

My handmade (by hubby) recipe box is filling up.  I’ve been doing lots of purging in my home for the last year and one of the things that’s going is cookbooks!!  I love cookbooks but they take up so much room.  I’m going through all of my cookbooks and putting my favorite recipes and recipes that I think will be good on 4×6 index cards.  I’ve already gone through about 20-25 cookbooks but have about three times that to go through.  I also inherited from my mother-in-law boxes full of Taste of Home and All-Recipe magazines which I’m currently going through.  As I go through the magazines, I tab what I want to save and after I have 5-10 magazines tabbed I write down the recipe and pass the magazine on to my daughter, who passes it on to a friend and it goes and goes and goes.  I’m doing the same thing with the cookbooks.  We all enjoy the peaceful time going through them and getting new ideas for family meals.  I’m keeping a couple of the cookbooks given to me by my mother and special friends but now my kitchen shelves will have space for the “old treasures” I’ve collected for so many years.

This cookbook was my Mom's and bought when I was very young.  I still use lots of the recipes.

This cookbook was my Mom’s and bought when I was very young. I still use lots of the recipes.

This cookbook I purchased while working with the Craig County Farm Bureau Women's Committee.  It's out of print the last I checked but love giving it as a gift.  Wonderful cooks in Virginia.

This cookbook I purchased while working with the Craig County Farm Bureau Women’s Committee. It’s out of print the last I checked but love giving it as a gift. Wonderful cooks in Virginia.

A girlfriend that used to live in Georgia presented this to me many years ago and it's my "go to book" when looking for something new and different.  It has NEVER_FAIL recipes.

A girlfriend that used to live in Georgia presented this to me many years ago and it’s my “go to book” when looking for something new and different. It has NEVER_FAIL recipes.

 

These two cookbooks I use for canning and for “old-time” recipes.

Recipes from early 1900's.

Recipes from early 1900’s.

For those canning instructions that aren't used every year.

For those canning instructions that aren’t used every year.

Now I’m trying to decide is I need a larger recipe box from hubby or another one the same size.  I love the barnwood construction and works great in my very country kitchen.

A very comfortable and easy to use room in the house.

A very comfortable and easy to use room in the house.

Handmade table by Uncle Holl.

Handmade table by Uncle Holl.

Wood cook stove used mainly in the winter months.

Wood cook stove used mainly in the winter months.

White and bright

White and bright

I have a 18″ high stack of Taste of Home and All-Recipe magazines beside my chair in the living room awaiting my transfer of recipes to cards.  I have 9 cookbooks with tabbed pages to do the same thing with.  I’ll have plenty to keep me busy at night while watching TV with hubby.

Mother’s Day Lunch

We truly had a wonderful day with my kids and our friends and it seemed to fly by but I guess that’s because we were having fun!!  The day was full of stories, laughter, getting to know each other and friendship.

For lunch, I fixed a vegie tray, fruit bowl and a small cheese tray.  I made homemade chicken salad, teriyaki chicken wings, and fried morels for the main course.  Of course, the day wouldn’t have been right with a big batch of homemade dinner rolls and loaf of homemade bread.  I made a cocoanut dream cake which was my first attempt at the recipe and it was so moist and good but I dread what it may do to my weight-loss.  I made a cherry crunch tart, also a new recipe, but I wasn’t real thrilled with it so that recipe is coming out of the box!!

Cocoanut dream cake for Mother's Day 2014.

Cocoanut dream cake for Mother’s Day 2014.

 

One of my guests brought some homemade cheese pastries that were so good and we had tea, lemonade and a new drink I’m using, called marguerita ade.  It is so sweet-tart and really quenches your thirst on a hot day!

Family, friends, and fabulous food, what more could you ask for.

New Recipes On Cooking Page

Recipe box and cookinI've added more recipeg up a storm!

Recipe box and cooking up a storm!

I’ve added a couple more recipes to my cooking page.  Hope you try them and enjoy them as much as we do!

Cooking mode on Sunday

I woke up Sunday morning to cook up a storm.  I usually do this when a big storm is coming in but on Sunday I was just in the mood.  First I put a deer roast in the crockpot with some seasonings, onions and celery.  Within an hour the house smelled sooooooo gooooood!!!!

Crockpot ON!

Crockpot ON!

Venison roast with onions and celery.

Venison roast with onions and celery.

 

Then I decided to make “Beer Butt Chicken” without the beer and used Dr. Pepper instead.  I oil the whole chicken, covered it a spice mix called “Kickin Chickin”, and stuffed the body cavity with pineapple tidbits.

Beer Butt Chicken with a twist.

Beer Butt Chicken with a twist.

So yummy!!  I covered it with aluminum foil for the first 90 minutes and then removed the foil to let it turn golden brown and the juices were sealed in.

So yummy!! I covered it with aluminum foil for the first 90 minutes and then removed the foil to let it turn golden brown and the juices were sealed in.

While that was cooking I whipped up a lettuce and pea salad, my favorite!

Lettuce, celery, and onions layered

Lettuce, celery, and onions layered

Top with drained peas, mayo, shredded Colby cheese and real bacon bits.  Yum!  Let set overnight.

Top with drained peas, mayo, shredded Colby cheese and real bacon bits. Yum! Let set overnight.

I made a jello/cottage cheese salad, hubby’s favorite.

Start with lime jello dissolved with one cup of water.  Let cool.  Add crushed pineapple, chopped pecans, cottage cheese and you got a great  fruit salad.

Start with lime jello dissolved with one cup of water. Let cool. Add crushed pineapple, chopped pecans, cottage cheese and you got a great fruit salad.

I made a bowl of creamed macaroni for hubby and a bowl of mac & cheese for me.

Creamed macaroni and mac & cheese!

Creamed macaroni and mac & cheese!

And last but not least I made a Triple Berry Cobbler.

Blackberries, blueberrie and raspberries glazed with some sugar and dumped into the quickest cobbler recipe you'll ever use!!  TOO DIE FOR!!

Blackberries, blueberrie and raspberries glazed with some sugar and dumped into the quickest cobbler recipe you’ll ever use!! TOO DIE FOR!!

We will add some green beans, broccoli, veggie of the week and eat on this most of the week!

 

My Recipe Box

I love to cook and have collected cookbooks from all over the place and from everyone.  Finding the storage for all of them has become a challenge.  Hubby made me an adorable recipe box from some barnwood and I’ve started taking my favorite recipes from all of my cookbooks and giving the books to my daughter, granddaughter and friends.

This is the first box he made me but all of the recipes I have won't fit in it.

This is the first box he made me but all of the recipes I have won’t fit in it.  It’s a 7 x 7 inch box.

The recipes I have won’t even begin to fit in this little treasure so he made me this one.

2nd recipe box made from barn wood

2nd recipe box made from barn wood

It just barely fits on top of the pie safe.

It just barely fits on top of the pie safe.

My newest one is 7 x 16 inches long and it's almost full.

My newest one is 7 x 16 inches long and it’s almost full.

I’ve only went through about half of my cookbooks and I’m only putting my favorite, tried and true recipes in this box.  As you can tell from the following picture it’s going to be a work in progress for some time.  The wooden box at the end of the books on this shelf are recipes that hubby’s aunt had.  I have a couple cookbooks I won’t give away because they belonged to my Mom and I would love to have a cookbook that my grandmother’s used but I seriously think all of their recipes were in their head and hearts.

My cookbooks are many and I've a long way to go transferring all the recipes from the cookbooks on top of the shelf and that's not all of them.

My cookbooks are many and I’ve a long way to go transferring all the recipes from the cookbooks on top of the shelf and that’s not all of them.

I also have a stack of written recipes I’ve collected over the years that have never been in a book.  The more I think about this, I’m wondering if I shouldn’t write my own cookbook and maybe name it “Country Girl Cooks” or something simple like that!!  That might be quite fun but very time-consuming.  My recipe cards are all hand-written and in print not cursive writing.

The recipe cards are on 4x6 index cards and handwritten.

The recipe cards are on 4×6 index cards and handwritten.

I have about three inches left in the box and it's going to be a tight squeeze.

I have about three inches left in the box and it’s going to be a tight squeeze.

I guess I could make enough room on top of the pie safe for another one.  Hubby is getting really creative on the project ideas I come up with.  My recipes come from friends, family, family cookbooks, old cookbooks and concoctions I come up with myself.  I do love to cook!

 

New recipes waiting

I just added a new recipe to my Recipe section.  Check it out and then let me know if you like it!!

Beer Butt Chicken

Beer Butt Chicken

What a garden shouldn’t look like

I love to work in the garden early in the morning or late in the evening after the sun has gone behind the mountain.  Hubby does most of the gardening in the last three years and I’ve help do the harvesting and putting away for winter stores.  This year doesn’t seem to be much of a gardening year.  I noted in an earlier post that we had gotten unusual amounts of rain for our area and cooler temps and that we hadn’t been able to get our hay harvest complete.  Well, we haven’t had much luck gardening either.  This is what a garden is NOT supposed to look like.

Anybody see any beans in this mess?

Anybody see any beans in this mess?  Weeds will grow with plenty of rain and no sunshine!

Corn that should be four or five feet tall is bearly a foot tall.

Corn that should be four or five feet tall is barely  a foot tall.

Eggplant is beautiful but the weeds are starting to choke them out.

Eggplant is beautiful but the weeds are starting to choke them out.

Easy to find the mole beans!

Easy to find the mole beans!

Hubby decided it will be best to salvage the onions and potatoes.  We started pulling onions because some are rotting in the ground.  He pulled one row and I laid them out to dry and we’ll pray they dry good and keep over the winter.

This is the best onion crop we've had in a long time.

This is the best onion crop we’ve had in a long time.

These all came from one row in the garden and most of them are white onions.

These all came from one row in the garden and most of them are white onions.

Most of them are nice 3-4 inch heads.

Most of them are nice 3-4 inch heads.

The end of the row had a few red onions.  The other row we haven't pulled is yellow and red onions.

The end of the row had a few red onions. The other row we haven’t pulled is yellow and red onions.

Hubby dug a two hills of potatoes to check on their growth and to make sure they weren’t rotting too.  They’re  much nicer than last years crop and they’re Yukon Gold potatoes.

New potatoes from the garden.

New potatoes from the garden.

We’re not terribly concerned about our lack of a garden this year though we love to be fixing fresh vegies straight out of the garden but we have so much canned goods in the cellar from last year that is still so good.    We definitely won’t go hungry this winter.

More new recipes

I’ve just posted a new recipe on my pages.  Hope you enjoy!  The mornings start great with French toast and then a great side to any lunch or dinner is deviled eggs.  Check it out!

2013 Maple Syrup Season Completed

It took three days of work for my husband and a very special friend and our kids and the maple syrup is cooked off and ready to sell.  From 235 gallons cooked down to 59 pints of golden maple syrup.  

Hubby collected the sap three days and stored the tank in the garage to keep it chilled.  He and our friend from Giles county worked on it from 10:30 Friday morning until 12:30 that night and started again at 6:30 on Saturday morning.

 Several of the neighbors came to visit and watch the creation and some friends from Blacksburg came on Saturday afternoon but not in time to watch the procedure.  They were fascinated with the results and the education they received about Mother Nature and maple syrup.  

I’ve decided to complete this post with the pictures I have of the event which my daughter took.  I was under the weather and banned to the house and a very special friend stayed in with me so we could catch up while I filtered the syrup and canned it.  All in all, everyone had a good time and there were lots of smiles throughout the day!

Tap buckets are running over 03162013

Final pan boiling down 03162013

Golden maple syrup 03162013

Eddie and Jared in a maple syrup fog 03162013

Shawn skimming the foam from the sap_syrup03162013

Marion Ross joins the maple syrup festivities 03162013

Preparing to take off a batch 03162013

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Favorite recipes for Thanksgiving dinner

Macaroni & Cheese

Macaroni & Cheese

As promised quite some time ago, here’s a few of my favorite Thanksgiving dishes!  They’re not any particular order and I’m pretty sure if you click on the recipe card it will enlarge for you.  Here we go:

 

Hubby's favorite fruit salad

Hubby’s favorite fruit salad

 

Baked Beans

Baked Beans

 

Broccoli Casserole

Broccoli Casserole

No dinner is complete without the main dish of turkey or ham and of course, my homemade bread.  Recipes for that and more to follow in a later post.

Let me know if you have any questions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stores for the winter still in progress

It seems we never finish storing and preparing for winter.  This weekend hubby bought 75# of pork which consisted of three hams and 20# of  jowls.  One of the hams is currently in the smokehouse taking salt, seasoning and brown sugar.  We should be able to enjoy it sometime in March or April.  The rest was made into sausage.

You may ask why we didn’t raise our own hogs and the main reason is the price of corn.  When we figured out the time it takes to raise a couple hogs, feed them sacks and sacks of corn and grains, and then the waste that goes with the processing, we determined it’s much cheaper and efficient to buy from pork sellers.  The cost of the hams was $1.35 per pound and the jowls were $1.00 per pound.  It took us about 12 hours of processing which including some freezing and some canning.

Here’s the process we used to can the sausage:

Fresh ham for sausage

Fresh ham for sausage

First he removes the skin from the ham.

First he removes the skin from the ham.

The skinned hide will be hung outside for the birds.  This is the true version of suet.

The skinned hide will be hung outside for the birds. This is the true version of suet.  The birds love it and it puts some meat on their bones to withstand the winter.

 

Hubby slices the meat off of the ham in slender strips to send through the grinder.

Hubby slices the meat off of the ham in slender strips to send through the grinder.

 

Grinding equipment is sterilized prior to grinding.

Grinding equipment is sterilized prior to grinding.

 

Wide mouth quart jars are also sterilized and dried prior to making the sausage into patties.

Wide mouth quart jars are also sterilized and dried prior to making the sausage into patties.

 

The strips of pork are now ready for the seasoning.

The strips of pork are now ready for the seasoning.

 

Old Plantation seasoning is what we use and one pack will season 25 pounds of ground meat.  It is thoroughly mixed through all the meat.

Old Plantation seasoning is what we use and one pack will season 25 pounds of ground meat. It is thoroughly mixed through all the meat.

 

The grinding begins.  We run it through using a course blade the first time and then using a finer blade the second time.

The grinding begins. We run it through using a course blade the first time and then using a finer blade the second time.

 

Isn't it beautiful!!  It's now ready to be made into patties and packed into the wide mouth jars.

Isn’t it beautiful!! It’s now ready to be made into patties and packed into the wide mouth jars.

 

Seven wide mouth quart jars ready for lids and placing in the pressure canner.

Seven wide mouth quart jars ready for lids and placing in the pressure canner.

 

Pressure canner filled with water, jars of meat and sealed ready for heating. I cook it for 90 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure.

Pressure canner filled with water, jars of meat and sealed ready for heating. I cook it for 90 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure.

 

After the canner cools down the jars are placed on the table out of way of ALL drafts and covered with a heavy towel until they cool completely before taking them to the cellar.

After the canner cools down the jars are placed on the table out of way of ALL drafts and covered with a heavy towel until they cool completely before taking them to the cellar.

 

While they cooked we tried some for supper and it was wonderful.  Pancakes and sausage are on the menu for breakfast.

Fresh cooked sausage patties ready for a big fat biscuit.

Fresh cooked sausage patties ready for a big fat biscuit.

We canned 28 quarts of sausage and froze the remainder in bags much like you see in the grocers.  We’ll use this first instead of the canned because we found that frozen sausage keeps really well in vacumned sealed bags but they are expensive.  Since we only had about 15 pounds left over we decided to use the bags pictured in the following photo.  These bags just don’t keep the meat from freezer burn as well.  We have a tape machine that seals the bags but they’re not airtight.

Grinding the sausage straight into the bags, twist them up and slide through the tape machine to seal.

Grinding the sausage straight into the bags, twist them up and slide through the tape machine to seal.

All done!!

One more recipe before I crash but more to come later!

Magic Cookie Bars

1/2 c. butter, soft

1 1/2 c. graham cracker crumbs

1 can sweetened condensed milk

1 c. chocolate chips

1 c. butterscotch chips

1 c. peanut butter chips

1 1/3 c. flaked cocoanut

1 c. chopped pecans (or your choice, cashew or peanuts are good too)

In a 13 x 9 x 2 baking dish, melt margarine in oven.  Sprinkle crumbs over margarine and press into pan.  Pour milk over crust.  Top evenly with remaining ingredients in layers.  Press down and let set for a few hours before cutting into small squares (too rich for large squares)!  Give me a glass of cold milk and I can hardly stop myself from eating the whole pan!!

Magic Cookie bars uncut

Magic Cookie bars uncut

Magic Cookie Bars cut and ready to eat.

Magic Cookie Bars cut and ready to eat.

 

Miracle Cookies

These are quick and you’ll think what kind of mess have I made but trust me, they’re the quickest peanut butter cookies you’ll ever make and they’re gluten free!!

Miracle Cookies

1 cup Peanut Butter

1 cup sugar

2 Tablespoons warm water

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine peanut butter and sugar and mix well.  Stir in beaten egg, water and vanilla.
Drop by teaspoon (for small ones) or tablespoon (for large ones) on greased cookie sheet.  Mine looked like little mounds of soft icing and that’s when I was sure I had a mess!   Bake at 350* for no more than 10 minutes (small), 12 minutes (large).  Cool before removing from cookie sheet and place in airtight cookie keeper.  I’ll bet they won’t last long!!  I has about a 1/2 inch between each spoonful before baking.  You should have about an inch between the large ones because they will spread out.  They’re a light thin cookie but soooooo good!

Miracle Peanut Butter Cookies

Miracle Peanut Butter Cookies

They’re quick and easy and soooooo good!!

Taking a break tonight and. . .

thought I would share a recipe from the weekend with the granddaughter.

SIMPLE CHOCOLATE TREAT

12 oz chocolate chips

12 oz butterscotch chips

2 T. peanut butter

2 c. chopped pecans or walnuts

Melt chips in double boiler, stirring often.  This will seem dry and clumpy.  Add the peanut butter and stir well.  The peanut butter heated in the chips makes it real creamy and soon very workable.   Stir well and add nuts and mix well.  Drop by teaspoon full on wax or parchment paper.  Cool until chips set up again.  Really good.

Variation:

Use peanut butter chips in place of butterscotch chips.

Use pretzels broken up, peanuts, cashews, anything salty in place of the pecans or walnuts.

These variations make for quick batches and it looks like you’ve slaved over them!  🙂

Chocolate peanut pretzel candy

Chocolate peanut pretzel candy

Cooking with the granddaughter!!

Saturday afternoon found me in the kitchen with my special young’un!!  First we went to the local IGA and picked up some baking supplies and junk food to hold for the day.  I’ve never seen any kid hold as much as she can and she’s a beanpole!!

When we got back home I boxed up some of the goodies I had prepared the night before and that morning and then I put her to work making Lemon Crunchies.  This was the first time I had made them but hey are so yummy and Victoria enjoyed them baked as much as she did in the dough stage.  They have just a hint of lemon and must be watched carefully so as not to overcook.

Lemon Crunchies

Lemon Crunchies

While Victoria was putting these together I made some Chocolate Peanut Pretzel Clusters and some Preacher cookies.  The Clusters are very easy to whip up and you get the sweet and salty kick!

Chocolate peanut pretzel candy

Chocolate peanut pretzel candy

 

Delicious preacher cookies

Delicious preacher cookies

 

Victoria’s attention was held very long by the sweets we were trying to prepare.  Her attention was taken by a new coon dog that PaPa had on loan.  She was a pretty dog, Plott/Black & Tan cross, 8-months old and scared of her own shadow.  Victoria was convinced she was a dog whisperer and could calm Miss Katie down and PaPa would have a wonderful new pup to train.  Well, dog whisperer she wasn’t and she was very disappointed.  Katie went back to her previous home today and Victoria  and PaPa are searching for a new trainee!!

Back to the cooking/baking!!  Here’s few of the other Christmas goodies I’ve prepared so far but have a lot more to do:

Miracle Peanut Butter Cookies

Miracle Peanut Butter Cookies

 

Magic Cookie Bars cut and ready to eat.

Magic Cookie Bars cut and ready to eat.

 

Cocoanut Joys

Cocoanut Joys

 

Gingerbread dusted with Confectioner's sugar

Gingerbread dusted with Confectioner’s sugar

 

Cheater's Quickie-Pretzel, rollo candy, topped with a pecan half.

Cheater’s Quickie-Pretzel, rollo candy, topped with a pecan half.

 

 

That’s all for now but hope to make two recipes a night through this week.  Enough sugar to get me though the holiday rush!!  🙂  Recipes to follow during my Christmas break from work and hope to add those Thanksgiving dishes I didn’t get posted when I was “computer-down”.    Here’s my beautiful granddaughter to sweeten the post!!

Victoria - Summer 2012

Victoria – Summer 2012

 

New breed of farmer!

New breed of farmer!

 

Baking mode

I still am not able to get out and help with the firewood yet or hunt because of my pinched nerve but I was able to bake yesterday!  This probably isn’t good because I’m eating as much as I’m baking and not getting the exercise I need.  Here’s a few of the items that kept me busy.

 

Rollo, pecan, pretzel - so easy!

Rollo, pecan, pretzel – so easy!

This recipe is pretzels, rollo candies, and pecans.   On a cookie sheet covered with aluminum foil, cover with pretzels in one layer.  Unwrap the Rollo candies (chocolate and caramel centers) and place one on top of each pretzel.  Place in 350* oven for about three minutes ( candies will get glossy).  DON’T leave in until they melt–mess!!  Take out of oven and press pecan half in center of chocolate and press down.  Cover all with with a pecan half!  Let cool!  I’m not very patient so I place them in the freezer for about five or 10 minutes to let the chocolate set.  YUMMY!!  Salty/sweet, my favorite!

pound cake ready for the oven

pound cake ready for the oven

 

My favorite pound cake recipe.

My favorite pound cake recipe.

Then while this was baking I mixed up a batch of peanut butter cookies and they are so good.  I love them with a tall glass of milk!!

Mixing up the best peanut butter cookies.

Mixing up the best peanut butter cookies.

 

Ready for the oven!

Ready for the oven!

 

They're so good!

They’re so good!

Classic peanut butter cookie recipe

Classic peanut butter cookie recipe

I think if you click on the pictures, they’ll enlarge full page so you can read the ingredients.

Cooler weather always brings out the baker in me.

I’ll post more of my Thanksgiving dinner recipes before Thanksgiving!  Enjoy!