Thursday, January 24, 2013

My girls

I was recently talking online with a fellow quilter that has a few chickens in New York, talking about how easily they become pets, and how great it is to be able to have some. They supply us with the best fresh eggs ever! I almost can't stand store bought eggs, the yolks are so pale in comparison to mine. My girls are very happy, we let them free range most of the time.  That is, after our dog grew up a little and learned that he wasn't supposed to chase and catch them! See previous post marked massacre!

Welsummers and Americauna

Americauna and Golden Lacewing

Anyway, I took a few pictures of the girls, I tend to buy the breeds based on feather color, I like the pretty ones, our eggs are a rainbow of colors, from white, pale brown, dark brown to greenish blue!! And that's the way, uh-hu uh-huh, I like it! Have a great day!
Welsummer- produces dark brown eggs

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

January blues

I get in such a slump after the holidays are over, I know it is related to the day length. Today however, was beautiful and sunny and 49 degrees with absolutely no wind.  We have a little greenhouse with a lemon, lime, and key lime trees in it. I picked the remaining lemons that were on it, and it smelled so good and was so warm,I even had to take my jacket off! This is the third and final bucket of lemons, now the poor tree can rest and start making more!! And I will need to get the juicer out! In October we juiced more than a gallon and a half of lime juice, this well be more than that. Yum!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Not sure what to say

I love reading blogs, and enjoy writing in this one, so to speak anyway, as I am not a great writer.  I can't even begin to think about where the time has gone since I last posted. I think about posting, but haven't taken any pictures, ones that I am happy with, that is. 

Here in the midwest, it was a very long, hot, very dry, summer.  Someone recently even said that August started in May! They were right. We had really hot days in May, April even. Maybe 15+ degrees above normal, of course not every day, but we did have them. I did wait until the second week in May to get the bulk of the garden planted, and glad I did, because we did have a couple of "late" frosts. I say that because they felt late, but, in fact, were probably seasonal.

I started out keeping track of everything that I canned, just for my own personal information. When I quit, I had canned: tomato paste, refrigerator pickles, whole tomatoes, pizza sauce, spaghetti sauce, hot sauce, tomato jam (condiment for burgers, sandwiches, cream cheese, etc), applesauce, ketchup, hot pickles, mustard pickles, seasoned tomato sauce, V-8 juice, Porubsky pickles(local pickle spiked with mustard oil), peach salsa, mango-peach salsa, salsa, tomatillo sauce, cowboy candy, jalapenos, cinnamon red-hot apples, roasted garlic mustard, and honey mustard. Whew!! OK, I guess I know where a lot of my time went.  Oh, forgot chicken and stock. Did that way back in May and almost forgot.  And I didn't even get into the blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and gooseberries that I froze. And green chile, can't forget that, I roasted and froze a bunch of that, too!

I want to talk about the mustard, I just did that so it is fresh in my mind, and, I took a few pictures. "smile"

I came across a recipe for beer mustard, I think it was in one of the big Cook's Illustrated cookbooks. I also found a recipe somewhere for Octoberfest Beer Mustard.  In doing a litte research, I read that you weren't supposed to cook your mustard seeds as indicated early in one recipe, it said that they could impart a bitter flavor. Well I wanted to can these, so, oh well, they would get "cooked" a little anyway!  For the Roasted Garlic Mustard, I  roasted two whole heads of garlic in the oven.  If you haven't done this before, it is very easy:  Cut the top off a whole head of garlic, being sure to expose most of the cloves, place it in a little pouch made of foil, and drizzle olive oil over the top, and close up the pouch.  I usually bake it at 250-300 degrees for an hour or more, ensuring that the cloves are slow cooked, and a little soft when done.  Then you can gently squeeze the bottom of the head, at the base of each clove and they should slip right out of the papery skin.  Try doing several of these at a time and put them in a freezer container to store in the freezer, taking out whenever you want garlic.  I love this and almost prefer it in my cooking. Sometimes fresh garlic puts such a bite into food, and when it is roasted, it mellows out the harsh pungency of it.  Try this when smoking meat, too. I put it on the smoker, still wrapped up, but let a little bit of the pouch be open at the top for the smoke to get into.  Mmmmmm, spread this on a little toasted french bread.....mmmm.

Well, now that I have that in mind, I want to finish with the mustard.  Soak a cup of yellow and a cup of brown mustard seeds in a mixture of 1 cup beer, I used a local beer, from Free State Brewery in Lawrence, KS, and 2 cups cider vinegar.  At the end, it was pretty thick, that is why you see malt vinegar in the picture, I added 1/2 cup, this is purely optional. 

 Let this soak for a minimum of 3-4 hours, the times varied according to which recipe I was reading, so I soaked all of my batches for a minimum of 8 hours, one even for 24, it was just based on how much time I had.

After the soak, add 2 Tbsp and 2 tsp. brown sugar and 1 Tbsp. salt. This is where I put in the roasted garlic,  I used 1 whole head, which was about 14 cloves, and an additional 5 cloves, so 20 cloves(ish) of roasted garlic, if you choose to use fresh, I would cut this in half.  In small batches, run through a food processor or blender until creamy, if you want more whole seeds, don't run as much, if you want creamier, run it more. I like mine a good mix of the crunch of the seeds and creaminess.

At this point, I went on and put mine through the water bath canner so that I didn't have to store it all in the refrigerator. Now, we need to have a bonfire and roast some brats!
I tried substituting honey for the brown sugar, I even upped the amount, but the cider vinegar and the beer make it a little too strong, it still overpowers the honey. Now I have a batch going without beer, substituting water instead, and using white wine vinegar for the cider vinegar. I'll let you know if it turns out better!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

May madness

First picking
Every year, I forget how much time is devoted to gardening and canning, and family life! I was in Kansas City for the week of the 15th of May for some continuing education for my quilting life. Before I left, we attended 3 graduation receptions and canned meat from 7 chickens (the day before and day I left). Attended classes Monday through Thursday, came home Friday, canned from 15 more hens on Saturday and Sunday, attended another graduation reception, worked Monday and Tuesday, and Wed, Thursday and Friday cleaned house for company for my nephew's wedding on Saturday!!! Whew. But what fun, I was so proud of my neices and nephew, they are such lovely adults, they were good kids,too! I fought tears all day of the wedding. Had a great visit from a favorite aunt, though I think I should say that they are all favorites!! And now, I am finally back in to the swing of quilting away. Oh, the blueberries and raspberries are getting ripe, too!!
Chicken stock, bonus from canning meat!

One little patch of blackberries..loaded

The kiddos.

Thursday, May 10, 2012


Where in the world does the time go? Perhaps the days go faster because of the electronic world...we multi-task all the day long. What do you think? I have absolutely no idea.  For several years, older people than myself have said, " the older you get, the faster time goes".....It really, really does, but where exactly does it go?

Both our boys are in college this year, so that should allow us more free time, not less.  But, as I told my hubby, we are choosing to do those other things that we didn't before.  Where as before we might go to a cross country meet, a football game, a wrestling tournament, we are choosing to: re-roof our house, by ourselves, do more quilting for others, and even those not in the que,  spontaneously have/go to neighbors' houses for dinner; we are choosing to stay busier than ever!   I can't believe that we even get the laundry done for the week, some weeks!    After this weekend, one son will be home to work for the summer, one son will have been home to visit and load more stuff up.  I hope to say that I've been able to help and encourage to spread their wings. I love them both.  With the time going as fast as it does, I hope that we've been able to help them both. 

Next week I will be in Overland Park, KS for the Machine Quilters' Showcase show and classes.  I am also taking my personal sewing machine to get a couple of small projects completed before I have to come home to my "other" job.  I love it, but I just don't get to do anything for myself anymore, so I will take every advantage that I can!  I want to make another large tote bag using this pattern. I just completed one for AE for her sister for a birthday gift:

Hopefully she liked it as much as I did!  It means I want to make another one!

Today was spent in finishing up a quilt for a day care fundraiser, mowing and preparing a few meals for the guys while I am gone.
Stay tuned for pics from the quilt show!

Sunday, May 6, 2012


Recently my family got together to roast some hot dogs over a bonfire, but the highlight was my nephew, George, and great-niece Ava, playing with bubbles!