Thursday, October 27, 2011

State Fair Competition

So each year we make our entries and cross our fingers for a win! This year the dear daughter and I did pretty good! Getting us 5 ribbons in all.


1st place, Black Plum Jam
2nd place, Vanilla Pear Butter
2nd place, Blackberry Jam
2nd place, Sweet Pickled Peppers
Honorable Mention, Lemon Biscotti

Friday, October 21, 2011

Stock on Chilly Days!

I know I'm in the south, and after growing up in the north, I know it's not the least bit COLD yet. However, I can't stand chilly temps. 60 degrees is way too cold for poor little me. I refuse to turn the heat on and pay those bills so early though. No heat on in this house for at least another month (I will break and get propane for the gas fireplace for chilly nights, but that's going to be rare).

Since I cook, can and bake... I will use the stove since its dual purpose. I'll run it all day long as its creating bread, warming dinner or running a constant pressure canner. Today, I don't know why I'm layering on the clothes, but my body says it is not 65 in this house... the goosebumps on my arms say its more like 50 degrees in here! Well, I had to come up with something to warm it up in here before I start dinner.

So today the 12 quart stock pot is out and Veggie & Herb stock is boiling away. In a few hours I'm hoping to be storing away at least 8 quarts of this amazing smelling stock to use this Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday. Its amazing that making this stock makes the house smell wonderful, heats the house as well, plus makes some of the simplest best tasting addition to so many meals! I just don't understand why more people don't make their own stock? Have you ever bothered to compare store bought to homemade? Store bought = TASTELESS! :p

So here's my recipe (You are welcome to change it for what works for what you have on hand! Tips and tricks at the end of the recipe.)

-12 Quart Pot for these amounts-

2 lbs  Carrots
1 Stalk (the whole big heart) of Celery Leaves and all
4 Large Ripe Tomatoes
1 Large Onion
1/2 lb Broccoli Stalk
6 Bell Peppers
6 Cloves of Garlic whole
5-10 Sprigs of Thyme
Handful (~1/2 cup) Fresh basil
4 Sprigs (Branches) of Rosemary
1/2 Cup of Parsley
6 Fresh Sage leaves
2 Tbsp Kosher Salt (more or less to taste)
1 1/2 Tsp Black Pepper
8 Quarts of Water

Bring this to a high boil, and then simmer for 2-3 hours. Strain into a clean bowl and the ladel into sterilized Quart jars (or pints). Can in a 'PRESSURE CANNER' only. 10lb pressure for 35 minutes for the Quart size.

OR Freeze in tupperware!


1 - I save the tips and tops of carrots and celery we eat everyday. I put them in a freezer bag and stuff them away to make stock with so I don't pay for a full back of freeze veggies when I make stock. I also do this with chicken bones when we're done with dinner. I take the bones from finished chicken and pop them in a freezer bag until I have time to simmer stock all day.

2 - Use any fresh herbs you have hanging around in your garden. I throw in the stems and all as they lots of good flavor in the stems, especially parsley. So if you buy these and can't grow them, cut the leaves off you need for other meals and freeze the stems along with your veggie scraps to use in stocks later.

3 - Don't bother chopping your veggie neatly or even small. I give everything a real rough chop just so they fit in my stock pot. They'll get soft and release their flavors just fine.

4 - Taste...Taste... Taste... You want this to be a personal adventure in flavor. Taste as you go, make changes to your liking. Be the chef!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

My Better Half Has Opened His Online Shop!

So during the holiday last year, people noticed my woodworking husband was busy at work creating home & garden decor from reclaimed wood items. He would dig out wasted wood and material from bins outside construction sites and other waste producing places. He rescues this good material and turns it into something useful and beautiful, and in search of a new home!

If you have a place in your home or garden that needs a little something, you can find that little something here:

As the season progresses the store will fill again. There are several 'signs' in the works and more spoon coat racks. This year we'll be adding more to kitchen supplies as well!

Enjoy, and pass on the reclaimed love!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Halloween On a Shoestring Budget

Well the sister couldn't get the boys their choice of costume from Walmart this year. So, it happens! But super crafty Auntie jumps in to help, and I think we hit a homerun from recycled materials.

First nephew is going to be a Jester for the royal court of the house of cards! With Jester hat w/ bells and a card theme pull over. Even got him a little joker baton with streamers.

Second nephew is going to be a Deep Sea Scuba Diver. Managed to make shift a Dr. Pepper bottle into an air tank and found a swimming facemask we were about to put away from summer. Even found some old tubing to attack to the soda bottle so he has the ability to get the air from the tank, if he really needed it! :D

Pictures to follow!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Who's Your Best Layer?

I know we all have opinions on the best laying chicken breeds out there, and I sure don't have ANY of them in my flock! However, I have some girls that lay better then others. So I was wondering out of YOUR whole flock, who do you believe is your best layer? The one girl that out lays the rest?

Mine is my Japanese Bantam 'Poe'. When she's on a roll (and not molting like she is now) she can lay me 4-5 eggs a week. That is EXCELLENT for a bantam breed!

You can see my Japanese Birchen Bantams mixed in with my Red Cochin Bantams. My Cochins aren't laying yet. They are due any time now though!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A Breed to Try (1)...

Well, I know I have some readers who are hooked on the Chicken Bandwagon like we are. Finally, a pet who doesn't mess up your house, doesn't require daily walks and even gives you food for your family as a thank you! (Compare that to the 'surprise' my dog leaves on occasion... yuck!)

I wanted to give you some ideas of breeds to try if you think about getting into chickens. I hope to offer some good advice in the months to come to help you decide if chickens are right for you, so you can make an educated decision before the spring rush on hatcheries happens!

Today's breed is my choice for people looking for a good 'broody' (Mother hen):

Silkies- Little poof balls who are terrible at producing eggs for eating, but the perfect little hatchers and great moms.Silkies make an excellent pet quality bird, who does well in a family friendly enviroment. Think of these as a choice when you have little ones who will be around the chickens often. Even with that in mind, always provide adult supervision around animals. Warning: They go broody often, many times within a season!

Monday, October 10, 2011

New Design

Wanting to put a tough year behind me already, it inspired me to think about changes that would do me some good. The most important things in my life are my family, friends, business and beliefs. Since I share ALL those on my blog (my voice to the world, the handshake I can't do between the miles, the journal I keep memories down on)... I decided to find a positive change for my blog.

I want to see more people visiting, I want it to be more informative and I want it to be pleasing to the eye and to the soul.

Maybe from here I will find myself inspiring more people then ever!

So enjoy the new layout, please post suggestions on things would change, more things you want me to cover... your likes... your dislikes... I'm looking forward to hearing it all!

~Shannon Fogl~