Sunday, June 30, 2013

Let's Play in the Fabric

     Any one who knows me knows I love to sit in the middle of the floor surrounded by fabric. Today we are meeting in the sewing room to gather our fabrics for a summer picnic quilt and play with the layout. 

Saturday, June 29, 2013


John 1:1-14

King James Version (KJV)
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
The same was in the beginning with God.
All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.
The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe.
He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.
That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.
10 He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.
11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not.
12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Her Herbal Garden

        This summer finds our younger farm girl preparing for a new journey. With much of her time devoted to work and higher education, it is time to evaluate her part of the homestead chores. Several years ago she built an herbal garden in the front of our house; a place all her own.
         The garden reflects her personality; calm and soothing with bits of random chaos dotted with color and full of life. Basil makes its home between the strawberry runners; hibiscus and roses bring color and contrast. Dwarf fruit trees lend their fragrance in season beside berry canes that offer a striking presence. It takes careful planning to keep a garden running, and it took careful consideration to build it.
        Before building she considered:
   Time: Gardens don't grow themselves, they require time and work. At the time of her plans she was a home school student with time to work the garden. Currently she is a college student and swim instructor..this change in availability had to be considered when the garden was amended this spring.
   Size:  Dependent upon availability of space in the yard, the time to be invested...our tea garden is quite large..spanning the front of our house in a cottage style lay out that takes you from our front door to our first pasture fence.
Function: Is this culinary, medicinal, it meant for beauty? What beneficial insects/animals will be attracted or deterred? Her garden desire was to incorporate all aspects of the garden in a natural, yet welcoming fashion similar to the master gardener version. Bees and butterflies were wanted and were the many varieties of herbs available to grow here in our climate.
Future: Knowing she was a high school student, the future had to be considered. Did we want to take over care of the garden when she was no longer here to do it? In undertaking such a large garden plot, the future tenders needed to be considered.
   Our farm girl's herbal plot has been up and functional for several years now; a thing of beauty and refreshment providing fragrance and function. With her time between the rows becoming less and less, we are taking the time this weekend to lay some irrigation and a hearty coat of mulch to sustain and maintain it. She may not be seen strolling through the blossoms, yet, we are all grateful she took the initiative when she had the availability to design it and put it in place.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Myrtles Bloom

    Morning dawned hot and early today. My feet barely hit the floor before slipping into muck boots; milking awaits. Zaida stood munching as creamy, fresh milk flowed; my mind wandered over all the things I had to do before leaving today. It is a rare thing for me to be off the property, especially early in the morning. Today was one of those days.
    Coffee in hand, I hustle out the door fretting over my choice of clothing- is my hair neat- silly things. Changes hinge on this meeting; prayers are breathed to ease my uncertainty, but something a bit more concrete would be nice. Something in the corner of my eye catches my attention. Just behind the house, not far from the garden gate our myrtles stand just full of bloom.
     There near the tree line a simple gift of encouragement; a sign that everything will be okay, for what takes more faith than planting something. The striking image of those beautiful blossoms stayed with me throughout the morning, prodding me along.. offering encouragement. 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Is There Anything You Can't Do?

      Sitting at a table surrounded by wonderful ladies our conversations meandered over various topics: quilting, canning, raising home stead stock- things I do every day. Some recalled grandmothers who lived covered by aprons and surrounded by life and love. One lady suddenly exclaimed, "Is there anything you can't do?"
       Let me just say I was taken aback by her comment. Had I seemed boastful or unkind? Was something amiss in this conversation- had we left her out? Her further probing pressed me for an answer. How do you answer such a thing? With a deep breath I replied.
       Yes. There are a great many things I cannot do, and at one time I allowed those things to rule my life hindering my family and influencing my children. These ladies do not know me. Many of you do not know me. I am a person gripped with fear; paralyzing fear. The fear that ruins your relationships and burdens your loved ones. Not any more.
       Many years ago my heart was deeply grieved at the heaviness my fears must bring my family. I realized my children were growing up with someone who easily stopped living over fear; fear of drowning, of loss, of driving on the freeway. Fear of failure and judgement or the condemnation of others. This reality led me to intense Bible study and deep heavy prayers. This was not what He planned for me. It couldn't be.
       With God's help and much encouragement from my husband most of my fears have become minor anxieties. I can interact with others, teach a class, and even go to lunch with ladies without falling apart and throwing up. It became purposed in my heart to become a life long learner striving to find the things I do not know and learn all I could about them. Most of what I do in a day are things that brought me out of fear and remind me I can do things with God's grace and a little effort on my part.
       Fear never really left me. I still struggle; not to the extent I once did. So to answer the question, yes there are things I cannot do and when I run into them I make it my goal to learn how to do them.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

At the Kitchen Sink

    This morning found me at the kitchen sink; evening dehydrating racks needed attention. Temperatures are spiking here in the south which means many tender, leafy greens will be withering away. Fragrant herbs, hearty kale, and chewy chard fill my dehydrator daily. 
     Often leafy greens can be found hanging overhead to dry in their own time, at their own pace. Humidity this year would leave them gummy and prone to mold; that just won't do. 
      Dehydrator sheets hold beautiful leafy tastes and textures filling our home with delightful fragrance. 
     Once finished, some of the greens are left in tact to be used in soups and sautes. Others are run through a sieve for a fine, powdery texture perfect for smoothies. Today I blended mints, verbena, and lemon balm with spinach, kale, and chard to add in our daily green drinks; the outcome was delicious! 

Monday, June 24, 2013

Join Me

    Come join me in the sewing room for a special introduction. We are gathering supplies and looking into a new project. Join me, won't you?

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Look What Just Arrived!

    The past few days found me with a nasty sinus headache. Glum and groggy, my mood was less than pleasant- what do you know? A little brown box was delivered to my door with just the pick me up I needed. My craft swap partner had perfect timing this weekend!

    The wonderfully talented Dolly Sarrio of Dolly's Designs and Dolly is Cooking sent me beautiful hand made treasures. A creamy ruffle wreath came with soft gold ribbons- just right to welcome me in. Though I haven't hung it yet, it will be a welcome sight when I return to the house from a travel or trip.
    This pretty embroidery pillow stole my heart. I gazed at it for the longest time; it's such a perfect fit. Here in my old rocking chair it sits beckoning me to come stitch a while.
     Quilting being such a passion of mine, this little quilted heart is just right for my sewing room. The picture is a little blurry and just doesn't do it justice. A warming touch to a busy space. 
     Rounding out the treasures in m box, a pretty pink gingham apron. It arrived with a special little note sharing stories of home ec classes and pink ric-rack. A farmhouse kitchen can never have too many hand made aprons!
     Thank you, Dolly, for sharing your love of hand made treasures with me. I am blessed and privileged by your friendship and sincere love of crafting. A wonderful thank you also to Michelle, at Michelle's Little Piece of Heaven for hosting this event and gathering us all together to share and learn about each other. 

Saturday, June 22, 2013


Isaiah 55

King James Version (KJV)
55 Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.
Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness.
Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David.
Behold, I have given him for a witness to the people, a leader and commander to the people.
Behold, thou shalt call a nation that thou knowest not, and nations that knew not thee shall run unto thee because of the Lord thy God, and for the Holy One of Israel; for he hath glorified thee.
Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:
Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto theLord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
10 For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater:
11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.
12 For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
13 Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree: and it shall be to the Lord for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Stepping Away

friends on the mats
Driving through the gate and off the farm today; the men of the house are hitting the mats for some friendly competition. Here's to a safe day filled with good sportsmanship and good attitudes. See you next week. 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Today I...

    This week passed me by way too quickly; not even a dent was made in my list. The arrival of intense heat and humidity have a few in my house battling sinus woes; that slows everything down. Work doesn't stop for weather or weariness, so this week I have to pick myself up and get it done.
     Today I am:
weaning baby goats (if you have ever separated kids from their mamas, you feel my pain)
dealing with a sick goat (someone broke into the feed area and did herself in)
groaning over a production drop (doe in heat, and, well, it's hot)
mulching and irrigating (oh, but when it's done- hurrah) 
canning (like the kitchen needed to be hotter)
piecing a new quilt (when I have a spare moment to sit)
     Oh, the list goes on and on. Laundry is never ending, as are the dishes, not to mention the house could use my attention. Who dusts when their are gardens to play in? Needless to say, a good night's sleep, some hearty breakfast and a couple cups of coffee..maybe then I can tackle the list. Maybe. 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Epic Fail, I Think...

Is that not the most unappealing thing? 

  The summer milk supply is plentiful; taking up quite a bit of space in the fridge. Cheese is made daily, yet, we just aren't eating it as fast as I thought we might. In an effort to decrease fridge space and not add any more to the already loaded freezer, my creative mind decided to look into canning fresh milk.
   Let me just say there is not a whole lot of information about canning fresh milk. People freeze it- with mixed reviews. Some sell it- the legality of that is always in question. A sparse few can it- I can see why. Over all, my research show no FDA or other such standard/recommendation for canning milk. County extension agents frown upon it claiming no clear evidence of it's safety or shelf life. 
   So, I lost my mind, bit the bullet, and just gave it a go (after reading three homesteaders' advice and reading a goat dairy booklet). Twenty-five minute in a pressure canner at ten pounds pressure. The results are somewhat repulsive. Separated and somewhat caramelized, the milk has an unappealing scent and is just yucky. Shaking, stirring-even blending the milk would not bring the levels of separation back together. I had intended to try cooking with it; now I'm just not sure. I mean, just look at it.
    People, I believe we have a fail. An epic fail. The dog refused it (she eats everything). The chickens are unsure of it- they looked at me as if I were nuts. My question to you is, have you ever canned your milk? Would you? And, how would you use it? Share your story- I'm itching to hear from you.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

In the Kitchen With the Farm Boy: Spanish Rice

    My family is growing up. Some are moving on. One is still at home. As the days find the farm boy and I alone together, our cooking changes as well. More and more we find ourselves cooking side by side making dishes we might not have made before. As his indoor cooking skills grow and develop, new tastes are rising to the surface. 
     Today a light rain drizzles outside my window as the farm boy cooks Spanish Rice...his way. Now, there are many variations and methods to making this particular dish..and our boy has his own. Being of the male persuasion, he likes to use as few dishes as this is a one dish version. He also prefers the dish to be complete...combining all components in one place...starches, veggies, meats, and such. So, without further introduction....

Farm boy's Spanish Rice

1 bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 16oz can diced tomatoes
2 cups broth (chicken or beef)
2 cups whole brown rice (not instant)
olive oil
roast beef, already cooked and chopped
creole seasoning to taste

Drizzle some oil in the bottom of a pan and warm it. Saute your pepper, onion and garlic till tender. Add the dry rice and "toast" it until it is translucent. Add your diced tomatoes (juice and all) and your broth (I used beef). Add the roast, season with creole seasoning to your taste, and stir well to incorporate all the ingredients. Cover your stockpot and cook until the rice has absorbed the liquid (approximately 20 minutes). Serve.
Our rice was served with a side of sauteed summer squash, however, a green beans or a fresh salad would also go well. For dessert we had fresh peaches with a drizzle of yogurt and honey.

Note. You could use any meat or leave it out completely. We used roast because it was already cooked and ready. Typically ground beef is seen in this dish, however, chopped chicken would be nice. If you want to add fire to your dish, chop some jalapeno into the veggies before you saute them, or add Tabasco sauce when served. 

    Here comes the honest truth. I absolutely despise Spanish Rice. My family made it when I was at home and you couldn't pay me to eat it. Hunks of stewed tomato, mushrooms, enough bell peppers to gag a rabbit- it wasn't my thing. Farm boy's version? It didn't make me gag. I did eat it. Was it a favorite- no, sorry, but Spanish rice will just never be my favorite dish. No worries. That boy will have this devoured by noon tomorrow I'm sure of it. 

Monday, June 17, 2013

Southern Summer Peaches

    This week found me standing over the sink; a box of peaches to clean. While not a favorite thing to do, southern summer peaches are absolutely delicious and well worth the work (not to mention, my husband is a big fan). Southern peaches and I have a history together. Unlike most of my memories, this one isn't from the prairie.

     My father's parents started in Indianan but spent a time on the prairie- where my parents met. Their journey brought them further south to the state of Texas which is where I remember them from. Distance and differences kept us from knowing each other as well, but when my father brought the family south we spent Friday evenings at their home where hand made pizza and Monopoly rivalry began.
      It was on those weekend evenings that southern peaches were introduced to me, for my grandparents had a love for them. Every summer eager anticipation came as farm peach trucks from just north of us were found along roadsides selling boxes of juicy southern peaches. Standing over boiling pots and large bowls, we dipped the peaches in hot water to soften the skins before peeling and slicing them. The end treat for all this hard work was a batch of fresh home made ice cream containing bits of tasty peach. How did she do it? Simply adding a package of peach gelatin and some chopped peaches to a basic vanilla ice cream recipe. How easy is that?
      While I have made peach ice cream a few times over the years, my family isn't much of a fan. They prefer vanilla with their peaches on top, or their ice cream on top of peach cobbler. No matter how long it has been or how far I get, the sight of southern peach farm trucks always sends me back to steamy kitchens, the chatter of cousins, and the sweet satisfaction of a heaping bowl of home made peach ice cream.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Before We Begin

    Before we begin our quilt piecing journey there is a task that needs addressed. Join me in the sewing room for a quick tutorial for cleaning our machines.


Proverbs 2

King James Version (KJV)
My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee;
So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding;
Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding;
If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures;
Then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God.
For the Lord giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.
He layeth up sound wisdom for the righteous: he is a buckler to them that walk uprightly.
He keepeth the paths of judgment, and preserveth the way of his saints.
Then shalt thou understand righteousness, and judgment, and equity; yea, every good path.
10 When wisdom entereth into thine heart, and knowledge is pleasant unto thy soul;
11 Discretion shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee:
12 To deliver thee from the way of the evil man, from the man that speaketh froward things;
13 Who leave the paths of uprightness, to walk in the ways of darkness;
14 Who rejoice to do evil, and delight in the frowardness of the wicked;
15 Whose ways are crooked, and they froward in their paths:
16 To deliver thee from the strange woman, even from the stranger which flattereth with her words;
17 Which forsaketh the guide of her youth, and forgetteth the covenant of her God.
18 For her house inclineth unto death, and her paths unto the dead.
19 None that go unto her return again, neither take they hold of the paths of life.
20 That thou mayest walk in the way of good men, and keep the paths of the righteous.
21 For the upright shall dwell in the land, and the perfect shall remain in it.
22 But the wicked shall be cut off from the earth, and the transgressors shall be rooted out of it.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Weekend Picking

   This weekend finds us hidden between the rows; corn rows. Spring's planting brought a bountiful summer harvest as tall stocks tip under the weight of hearty ears. Father's day will find tasty burgers and spicy-seasoned chicken searing on the weekend grill, but what about the sides? Fresh ears of corn, of course!

    How we do it Farmhouse Cooking Style:
       Take fresh-shucked ears of corn (enough for your family)- some foil, butter, seasoning (I used Cajun spice), and a hot grill. Place one ear of corn on an adequate size piece of foil with a dot of butter and enough seasoning to coat the ear. Wrap it up nice and tight and place it on a hot grill for about thirty minutes- turning once to cook evenly.
         ** If you like a bit of char on the corn, unwrap them after cooking and place them directly on the grill until adequately charred. Serve it nice and hot!

   I am often asked how we preserve the corn we grow here- it's simple. Take a fresh ear of corn, still in the husks, and cut the tip and base to make the corn less 'sharp' on the ends. Generally, I use gallon size zip bags- five ears to one bag. Now days I use a food sealer to air-lock the corn before freezing. No blanching, shucking or par-boiling - just in the husk, as is. We have kept corn for up to a year in the deep freeze with great success.
   Another question I get- boil before grilling? No, I don't- when using the foil method. If you want to skip the foil wrapping, then go ahead and get a head start on the cooking process before giving your corn the char. Personally, I do not want to heat up the kitchen with boiling water, so, the foil first method works for me.

   Now, back to the harvest. Wishing you and your family a safe and blessed Father's day weekend!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

About My Hair...

  People often ask me about my hair, or more specifically, the length of it. Some have assumed my hair is very long due to religious reasons, others are determined there must be a strange and interesting purpose for it. Let me share with you the story of my very long hair.
   I have always had long hair (at least shoulder length). My father was quite partial to long hair on his girls. During my years in military service I managed to keep my hair long (middle of my back) wearing it in a tucked-in French braid every single day. When I married, my husband loved my long hair. Only a few times did I ever branch out to a shorter-than-shoulder-length cut, but it didn't last.
   About thirteen years ago, my mother was diagnosed with advanced lupus, treatment being a mild form of chemotherapy. Concern over her condition also held a concern for hair loss. Our hair colors were similar enough that I decided if she lost her hair, mine would be cut to make a wig for her. At the time, my hair was lower back length. My promise was to not cut my hair- then if she needed it, there would be plenty for the both of us.
   Time passed and the treatments subsided; my mother never lost her hair. I had still not cut mine. My husband became rather attached to the very long hair I was wearing- we decided to keep it. As our tradition has been, my hair is most often seen braided or pinned up on my head..keeping the true length somewhat a mystery. This private thing, special to him alone, has become a sweet secret between the two of us.
   Each time my hair gets well past the sitting-on-it stage, I cut it. Keeping near the mid to lower back length, we share it with programs that make wigs for children undergoing chemotherapy. It seems the time for this is nearing once again.
   I do not find my very long hair inconvenient or hard to manage; it is not heavy. So for the many people who stop me here and there, I have taken the time to share the simple story of my hair.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Daydreaming of...

Garlic Rosemary sauce ready for canning.

     During my Master Gardener Internship today I worked picking, weighing, and fussing over the rows and rows of massive tomato plants. Every variety we could cram into a test plot is bursting with hearty tomatoes (mostly green, but getting there). All that tomato pampering sent me dreaming of hearty home made tomato sauce roasted down with plenty of garlic; oh the craving.  
     We love homegrown tomatoes! It is no secret that I have a tendency to grow rows and rows of various tomato varieties year after year...but, I have my reasons. Aside from the delicious fresh tomatoes eaten straight off the vine or as a compliment to sandwiches and salads, tomato sauce is a staple we can't live without.

here: tomatoes spice or garlic
   From my own testing I can honestly say, every recipe I have for stewing or saucing tomatoes has worked fine cooking in the oven instead of the stove top (also does well in crock pot, but that's another post). My cooking style is extremely flexible and very "on hand demand"- yes, this drives some of my friends and family nuts, works great for me.

garlic and chilies added

oven version
for every 20 tomatoes
6 cloves garlic
olive oil
herbs (optional)

Cooking three variations at one whack.

   So here's the process. For every 20 tomatoes use: 6 garlic cloves and a 9x13 dish. Turn the oven on 375 and wash the tomatoes. Core the tomatoes and basically tear them into pieces (skin on, seeds in, you can rough chop them if it makes more sense) and place them in the dish. Clean and chop the garlic (mine is small/chunky) adding it to the tomatoes. Drizzle olive oil over the whole thing. Salt it good.
   Sometimes I stop here, stir it up and cook it - leaving herbs to be added when I use the sauce; not always. My herbs are generally fresh from the garden: rosemary, oregano, thyme- one or all or mix (remember, flexible). As you can see, sometimes, I make various mixtures all at the same time. Pictured here is one pan just garlic, one pan garlic/rosemary and one pan is garlic/chilies (oh, so good).
   The baking is 375 for about 30 minutes. From here I can put it straight into jars as roasted (stewed) tomatoes, or run it through a food mill to make a nice tomato sauce. I often freeze or pressure can it for later use. Excellent on pizzas, pasta, chicken, veggies or in soups. 
   Now, what I love about my flexi-recipe is it adjusts to "on hand". If I have ten tomatoes, adjust to three garlic. Drizzle with oil and salt/sugar. Cook. Five tomatoes..yep, just adjust. When the garden goes crazy and I harvest a bucket guessed it..just adjust! I can make one batch or several. A 9x13 or a big old roaster pan full. I can add garlic or herbs or work a straight tomato...See the joy here?

   Let me note: it takes 35 pounds of tomatoes for 6 quarts of sauce. When I use that many tomatoes, a roasting pan works just right for all of the tomatoes at one whack. Also, when I can tomatoes or tomato sauce, I add a splash of balsamic vinegar to each jar of sauce right before placing the lids on: 2 tablespoons for each quart or 1 tablespoon for each pint. This helps add acidity giving a longer shelf life.

    I don't know about you, but I am really ready for some abundant tomato harvests!


Tuesday, June 11, 2013

I'm Taking on Bread and Butters..Are You?

   The crisp freshness of garden fresh cucumbers married with the tang and zing of sugar and mustard seed bring to life the wonder of bread and butter pickles. My experience shows when it comes to bread and butters you either absolutely love them or absolutely hate them; no middle ground exists.
   Growing up with large family gardens, bread and butters were part of our regular canning routine. Regular family cookouts brought these beautiful treats out of the pantry and onto the table. Grandpa and I loved them tucked in a burger right between the bread and the chips- delightful! Today my kids have grown up with bread and butters on their burgers, sandwiches, and straight from the jar.
   With wild southern seasons, cucumber harvests can be feast or famine. In the past, extreme drought left us with very little to work with...which stired the creative juices (smile with me). Out of that terrible year of garden disaster came the flex-recipe version for bread and butter pickles.

Farmhouse Bread & Butters (Flex-Recipe)

For every 6 cucumbers:
1 medium onion, sliced thin
1 red cayenne pepper, thinly sliced (optional)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup vinegar
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
2 teaspoon mustard seed
pinch of ginger
1/4 teaspoon celery seed

 Once the cucumbers are thinly sliced, toss them with the onion and salt in a bow. and allow them to stand at room temp while mixing the liquid.
In a saucepan, stir together the remaining ingredients and bring them to a boil. Remove from heat. Drain any liquid off the cucumber mixture; add to the sauce and give it a good stir.
Place the mixture into a quart jar and chill. They are tasty after only a few hours and will keep nicely for several weeks.

   Sometimes the year's cucumber harvest is much more substantial; demanding the traditional canning version to be called into action.

Farmhouse Bread & Butters (full version)

24 medium cucumbers, thin sliced
10 medium onions, thin sliced
4 cayenne peppers, thin sliced
1 tablespoon salt
1 qt. vinegar
2 cups brown sugar
1 teaspoon celery seed
4 tablespoon mustard seed
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon turmeric

Toss the cucumbers, onions and peppers with the salt to set while making the vinegar sauce.
Bring remaining ingredients to a boil; remove from heat. 
Rinse cucumber mixture before stirring into the vinegar sauce.
Pack into sterilized jars and process to seal.

   A few notes:
   I use hot peppers and often a clove of garlic or two to add a little extra zip to the pickles.
   If mustard seed is not found in my pantry on pickling day, I use mustard instead.
   Brown sugar is my choice, but white works just as well.
   I choose to water bath process my jars 10 minutes.

   My pantry shelves are always well stocked with tasty, tangy bread and butters for the summer's cookouts...the question is...
      are you a bread and butter fan? or a bread and butter foe?

Monday, June 10, 2013

You Don't See That Every Day...

    ...or do you? The garden was way too wet for working, yet the cloud covered day seemed perfect for outdoor activity. Days like that lure me into the greenhouse where cleaning and clearing is much needed. While clearing debris, dirt, and other unruly things I found my garden tote.
    That 'ah-ha' moment when you realize you have been doing Master Gardener Internship lugging tools in a rubber basket thing when you have a perfectly good 'real' garden tote; yep, I had one. Well, a short lived one. As my hand reached for the handles the farm boy called my attention to a little tiny nest with little tiny eggs and a little tiny mama bird. Leaves and pine straw, feathers and down are craftily woven by a devoted mama bird to fashion a cozy home for her coming babes. Four cream colored eggs sport rusty speckles; they couldn't be any bigger than a fingernail.
      So it is the tote remains there in the greenhouse on the little shelf home to the nuthatch and her brood-to-be. What a precious sight, her nestled there patiently waiting the arrival of hungry little ones. You don't see that every day, or do you? 

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Look at the Larger Set Up

  After many years of small space sewing my patience paid off allowing me a larger, more permanent set up. The room which once held my home classroom now contains fabric and notions rather than desks and curriculum. Let me first say any space, any machine, any location can be used for piecing and quilting a quilt; yes, any. Last week we looked at the smaller spaces I used for quilting; this week let's meet in the sewing room as we take a look at the larger set up.

Saturday, June 8, 2013



Psalm 100

King James Version (KJV)
100 Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.
Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing.
Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.
For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Time to Head into The Field

As summer begins, blueberry season starts its brief time here in the south. This year finds us a bit late in our berry picking adventure. Plump juicy bubbles of blue goodness dangle temptingly from tall sprawly bushes. Blueberries are not native to our region, but years of testing and trying have brought the blueberry to our deep south. 
We have been picking our fresh blueberries since the kids were just tots, toting picnic lunches and wagons through the rows year after year. Often my farm boy rode on my shoulders gathering berries from overhead; his sisters at my feet gathering from below. 
He now carries his own bucket and, being much taller than I, he challenges me to pick a load faster than he does.
His sisters are no longer at my feet. They carried their own load for several years. For the first time our girls didn't join us; work called one away; one is married and on her happens when they grow.
As a special treat, my husband came along for his third berry picking trip. Nice to have a few strong arms to help haul those heavy buckets:)
Pound after pound, year after year, no manner how many or few of us, our family heads into the fields..fields filled with history..fields where my family built memories..with blueberries.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

After the Storm

    Another round of heavy storms moved over the homestead today bringing heavy down pours and powerful winds. After the storm a green hue fell over us like a veil. Birds sang, rejoicing at the cooling calm. Goats ventured from their stalls to nibble fallen leaves and branches. Hens were timid exploring the soppy terrain. 
   After the storm I stood at the window to marvel at the colors, sounds and softness of breeze in the air..such a relief from the intense sun and heat. Again, we are grateful for safety amidst the flurry and praying for those in the midst of much devastation.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Food from my Prairie: Pickled Eggs

   On a farm, fresh eggs are a harvest that ebbs and flows; sometimes a feast, sometimes a famine. Preventing spoilage is a constant challenge. Often clean fresh eggs are simply refrigerated in cartons which are flipped over every few days to delay spoilage; this is not a long term solution. My prairie grandmothers used a basic pickling brine as a method of storing eggs.
   Strong believers in the 'waste not' movement, they used any left over pickling juices for their hard boiled eggs; a favorite was the bright pink brine from spicy pickled beets. Recipe found here. The eggs were cooled and peeled before being placed in the beet brine and allowed to 'work' for several days before eating.
   In and amidst the daily doings of life, extra brine was not always available; therein a recipe was required. A basic pickle brine recipe filled the gap. Being flexible cooks like me, this recipe is set for a dozen hard boiled eggs, but can be easily doubled or divided for your needs.

Pickled Eggs
Boil together:
2 c. white vinegar
1 c. water
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon pickling spice
1/2 teaspoon each:
celery seed
minced garlic

For canning: place three to four eggs in pint canning jar. cover well with brine, process 10 minutes in basic water bath canner. 
Or: place all twelve eggs in large canning jar (gallon size), cover with brine, refrigerate. Let 'work' a few days before serving.

   These flavorful eggs were served by my grandmothers with cold meats and crackers, but they are wonderful as an egg salad, sliced on a salad, or placed in a sandwich. 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Eating in the Green: Cucumber

     For many of us, fresh cucumbers bring to mind tangy pickles or briny cold salads. In our kitchen cucumbers are a versatile morsel eager to take on a variety of flavors and tasty treats. Yearly our canning shelves find a place for mouth watering bread and butter pickles as well as a few spicy dills. Satisfaction fills my heart when I see them waiting there to grace a sandwich or relish tray, but there's no need to stop at pickles.
    Cucumbers add crispy crunch to a tray of tomato and basil drizzled with fresh olive oil and a pinch of salt, or slipped inside the pocket of a stuffed pita sandwich. I love to stir dill into fresh Chevre to dollop atop cucumber slices for a cooling afternoon snack, but the farm boy has another plan for crispy cukes. Last year he worked through a salad recipe phase that brought us a wonderful 'Greek-style" creation. Based on a salad he read in an old magazine, he added roasted chickpeas to fresh greens..tossed some toasted pita wedges in and worked up a zippy, creamy dressing for a great 'end of a hot day' salad.

 Cucumber and Roasted Chickpea Salad

1 15.5-ounce can chickpeas, well rinsed
4 cloves of garlic
2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
1 medium-sized cucumber
3 tablespoons yogurt
juice of one lemon, about 2 tablespoons
3 tablespoons fresh dill, finely chopped
salt and pepper to taste
greens (leaf lettuce or spring mix)
whole wheat pita bread
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place chickpeas in a shallow roasting dish and cover with olive oil. Place unpeeled garlic cloves at edge of pan. Roast for 30 minutes, or until golden brown, stirring occasionally.
  2. Slice cucumber.
  3. Whisk remaining teaspoon of oil with peeled roasted garlic and lemon juice. Stir in yogurt adding salt and pepper to taste. Toss with cucumbers.
  4. When chickpeas are cool, add to cucumbers.
  5. Place a hearty amount of greens onto four plates; top with cucumber-chickpea mixture. Serve with toasted whole wheat pita wedges.
    This salad has become a staple in our summer meal plan paring well with seared steak, grilled fish or a little roasted chicken. Frozen berries with honey-sweet yogurt as a finishing tough and the farm boy has done it again. Have I mentioned that boy can cook?
     As we seek to use the fresh produce available to us, let us not forget to be creative..have fun in the kitchen..and never hinder the valiant efforts of an ambitious never know what they may stir up!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Such a Simple Thing

    I have a fascination with sunflowers..and no idea why. Every year my garden is graced with row upon row of these majestic beauties. As the season progresses, I look for their mighty heads peaking over the top of all the other plants; even the corn cannot surpass them. Joy comes as their petals unfurl revealing massive seed heads bursting with life.
    In addition to their beauty, another gift is found. Hearty seeds nourish the wild birds visiting our home. They flit and flutter about the flower nibbling at their wares. Once their season ends, heavy seed heads make their way to the hen house offering treats to the hard working flock. The stalks end up in our donkey's pasture; Doc loves the woody green fibers.
    With the arrival of summer's blaring heat comes the beauty and wonder of the mighty sunflower.. bringer of birds and bees, of beauty and blessing...of my feeble fascination with such a simple thing.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Hop Over..

    Today we are in the sewing room discussing small space set up. Over the years my sewing space has ranged from a tiny corner of the playroom to a room all itself. Join me there for a look as my small space set up and the tools I keep there for easy piecing projects.

Saturday, June 1, 2013


Proverbs 13: 1-3
13 A wise son heareth his father's instruction: but a scorner heareth not rebuke.
A man shall eat good by the fruit of his mouth: but the soul of the transgressors shall eat violence.
He that keepeth his mouth keepeth his life: but he that openeth wide his lips shall have destruction