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Monday, December 29, 2014

Canning Sweet Potatoes

My friend from Slogan Adventures stopped by the house the other day to show me some Norwex products, which I love, and to learn to can some sweet potatoes.  We did a little gossiping, she introduced me to kombucha, showed me how to clean my house with no chemicals, and I showed her how to can sweet potatoes.  What a sweet trade off!  

With the holidays coming up, what better food to can than sweet potatoes?  I mean, you could can pumpkin but yuck...sweet potato is way better. ;)  I do love everything pumpkin except pumpkin....weird huh?  Growing up in the south, the sweet potato is more common for fall baking so that it what I've stuck with.

When canning sweet potatoes you could go about it 2 different ways.  You can either boil them for about 5 or 6 minutes until their skins come off and then cut them into 1 inch cubes OR you can peel them and cut them into 1 inch cubes without boiling them.  Once you've got your taters cut up, raw pack them into jars.  Now, once again you can either cover them with salt and boiling water or you can cover them with a syrup.  I use an extra light syrup on mine which you can find in the Ball Blue Book of Canning.  I believe I used 1/4 cup of sugar to 5 cups of water.  Pour this over the potatoes to 1 inch headspace and pressure can quarts at 10 pounds of pressure for 1 hour and 25 minutes or pints for 1 hour.
Let rest on the counter for 18 to 24 hours.  

Don't let those peels go to the trash.  Make sure you compost or find some starving (ha) chickens to give them to!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Canning Turkey Broth

The evening after Thanksgiving dinner consumed, the boys were watching football on the tube & I went into my happy place to put dinner away and start on turkey stock.  Being in the kitchen, preferrably alone, is my happy place at its finest.  

I've been on this kick where I'm trying to eliminate trash as much as possible, so making stock with a Thanksgiving turkey is an easy way to do that.  I took my two crockpots and divided the turkey carcass into them.  I took the onion, garlic, and rosemary that cooked inside the turkey and added into the crockpot along with a couple of bay leaves and a palmful of peppercorns.  I filled them water and set on low.  I ended up cooking it for almost 24 hours then I turned them off to cool.I strained the stock and put them aside to cool so I could skim the fat off the top.  

Once the fat is skimmed, I brought the stock to a boil and got my pressure canner ready.  Stock or broth is canned at 10 pounds of pressure for 25 minutes for quarts or 20 minutes for pints.  I ended up with 5 quarts of gorgeous amber colored stock.  I tossed the cooked veggies to the chickens and the carcass was tossed in the trash.  Two uses out of one turkey is pretty good.

Do you have any tips on what else to do with a turkey carcass?   

Monday, December 15, 2014

A New Home, A New Start

A week after returning from our honeymoon in Lake Tahoe, we closed on our house.  September & October have been very busy months but they are ones that have been full of so much excitement.  This was a big decision to make for us because we travel every couple of years with Joe's company.  It saddens me to think that in 5 months we may have to travel to another part of the country and leave our "A Whole Acre" behind, but I know we will always return.  

We are so in love with the home we chose and I love the feeling that my -future- children will grow up on this lovely property to make countless memories.

What have you accomplished this year?  Any big changes you've made in your lives?  

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Building Post-Compost Tumbler

Thanksgiving was spent with my dad, stepmom, & Joe.  We had a wonderful time but Joe & I were antsy to start on a couple of outdoor projects since we had 65 degree weather for 2 days.  You can't ask for better temperatures in November.

Joe wanted (I needed him to do this pronto because I can't take chickens in my house anymore) to start on the chicken coop and I wanted to make my compost tumbler.  If you would like directions on this, please go to  and she can show you what to do.  I followed her directions to a "T" and it came out like a dream.

I plan on composting everything from scraps that the chickens won't eat, wood chips, mulched leaves, coffee grinds and filters, egg shells, and tea bags, just to name a few.  When composting, you shouldn't use dairy or meat or anything else that will spoil or mold.

Do you have plans to build a compost pile or tumbler?  What are your fail or success stories?

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The 5 New Ladies

Finally not out-numbered by men, our household has gained 5 new ladies.  3 Red Sex Links & 2 Buff Orphingtons.  They spend their days chirping, pillaging through their wood chips looking for new treasures, and making big messes for me to clean up on a daily basis.

They are indoor chickens as of now and living a life of luxury.  I'm not sure what made me think that getting chicken at the end of October would be a good idea...but I did...and I'm glad I did.  They are a joy to have in the house and the 2 dogs love them.

We got them on October 31st when they were 2 weeks old, just 4 days after officially moving into our home.  They spent all of  a week and a half in their beginner stock tank where they learned to jump out onto the floor on day 3 of having them.  Joe built them a 4' by 4' pin until we could get their coop built and so they could no longer jump out onto the floor.  They are loving their new space.

They have started receiving scraps, and have had their wings clipped.  (Post on that coming soon.)  Our dogs enjoy gazing at them through the fencing, somewhat irritated that they aren't able to herd them.  It will be entertaining to see them out and about when they are able to graze outside.  

Do you have chickens?  Have you ever had indoor chickens awaiting their turn to go outdoors?

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Lard and numb fingers

Yesterday I decided to pull the remaining 40 some odd pounds of leaf lard out of my freezer and render it down. Pro's?  I have 6 quart jars in addition to the other 6 I have left from the last go around. Con's?  It took 10 hours, a numb finger and a gorgeous day of gardening gone to waste. But by golly I've got enough cooking fat to last the rest of the year! I wasn't able to get through all of it so there's about 15 pounds in the freezer until I can get to it on another rainy day.

I've been reading up on the all the different cooking oils and why which ones are good and why which ones are bad. Man! There is so much information out there it's unbelievable.  I had read about canola oil and its bad effects several months ago and decided to pull up some links on Google to see what other research I could pull up. It really and truly is disgusting what we put in out bodies. 

Now let's go to lard. For the longest time it got a bad rap for being fattening and all this crazy mess. Well...lets see here. Lard comes from pig fat. Not from a toxic genetically modified plant.  Not from a chemical factory. But from pig fat. And you cook it down! That's it! It's got less the amount of cholesterol than that of butter and guess what? It is full of monounsaturated fats which are...wait for it! GOOD FOR YOU AND YOUR HEART!

Just go here to read some information for yourself:

I've made the switch from vegetable oil, Crisco, and canola oil. Will you?

What oils do you cook with? Do you read the labels on your items before you buy them to we what's going into your body?

Rant for the day over. Thanks for stopping by, yall!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Recent Days

Here's a little peek into what I've been up to lately.  A few weeks ago I called the butcher shop I dealt with last year to see if they had any pig fat I could pick up.  A week later I was hauling home 74 pounds of leaf lard home to render.  Just a heads up for anybody wanting to do this...don't get 74 pounds.  Period.  Ya know, maybe you could start with like 10 pounds or 15 pounds but don't get 74.  Wish me luck cause I'll still be doing this by next year...haha.  

This is the finished product after making it through about half or the lard. 7 quarts and 5 pints.  I am using this to replace all of the Crisco and canola oil in our house.  Once you render it, it has this gorgeous solid white color that is so rewarding.  My favorite way to use it is in pie crust, but I've also fried chicken fried steaks in it.  The possibiliies are endless!

I made this pallet thing around 3 years ago when we were living in Rhode Island.  It was unfinished and has been holding my wine glasses in my kitchen for the past year and a half or so.  I finally got it down the other day and sanded and stained it because I saw this awesome pin of a pallet cookbook and iron skillet holder.  Long story's my copy of that pin.  Thanks whoever you are!  I'll try and find her site and tag it so you guys can follow her or him.  

That's really about it guys.  Other than trying to plan this darn wedding, I've just been crafting & cooking & being a good house-fiance!

Hope all is well in y'alls neck of the woods!  Til next time...........

Skillet Pot Pie

I found this recipe the other day over at OneHundredDollarsAMonth  & made it that very night.  It's one of those recipes that you see and you say to yourself "I have everything I need and it looks impossible to screw up".  Those are my kind of recipes and they always turn out the best.  

Do you ever notice how things like that happen?  I feel like if I spend hours looking over a recipe and try my best to make it perfect, it's a fail.  But spur of the moment recipes like this?  Piece. of. cake.  It's very versatile and you can add or take out whatever you like or don't like.  ( this is really off topic but that last little reminded me of a scene out of Fried Green Tomatoes...yes I can recite the. entire. movie. Don't knock me!)

Onto the pie:

Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees, pop the skillet in while it's heating up.  Take it out after a bit and melt 1/3 cup butter.  Once that's melted and starting to bubble, whisk in 1/4 cup flour.  Slowly incorporate the chicken broth and salt & pepper & other spices until it starts to thicken.  Add in your chicken and veggies and give it a stir.  Top with a homemade pie crust and brush with a yummy egg wash.  Bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown.

Finished product!
Skillet Pot Pie:
1/3 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
1 cup chicken broth
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp garlic powder
salt & pepper
1 can mixed veggies
2 cups chicken breasts, cooked & shredded
9" pie crust


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Cheesin' on Tuesday

As I was cleaning out the fridge today, I spotted some broccoli I bought the other day and a little light bulb went off in my head. Joe LOVES broccoli cheese soup...and I don't.  Well I didn't think I did.  Until today!!

I was hoping and praying I would find a broccoli cheese soup in one of the Pioneer Woman Cookbook's I received for Christmas & I struck gold when I found an awesome recipe in her new Holiday Cookbook.  

Her recipes are so easy to follow and the pictures she shows during the process make any recipe foolproof.  I love you Pioneer Woman!  Now, let's get down to business.

1/2 stick butter
1/2 onion, diced
1/4 cup flour
3 cups heavy cream
salt & pepper to taste
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
broccoli heads, cut into florets
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 cups sharp cheddar, shredded

Turn your dutch oven on medium high heat and throw in 1/2 stick of butter to melt.  Toss the diced onion in and let it cook for 3 to 4 minites, stirring occasionally.  Whisk in 1/4 cup of all purpose flour and whisk constantly for about 2 minutes.  Add in your heavy cream and stir until thoroughly combined.  Add salt and pepper to taste and the nutmeg and then the broccoli, then stir to combine.  Pop the lid on it, turn the heat to low and let it simmer for about 25 minutes.  When that's done cooking, add in the 1/4 cup of chicken broth and cheese and stir.  Make sure you taste to see what seasonings need to be added.  I love black pepper so I added more of that.

I am officially a broccoli cheese soup convert.  It will probably be on our weekly menu until spring hits.  Enjoy!

Hopefully tomorrow I will be able to pick up the 40 pounds of pig fat I've been waiting on since last week...more on that later.  ;)

Do y'all have any favorite broccoli cheese soups?  Are you a non broccoli cheese soup lover like I was?!