Saturday, August 23, 2014

It was a dark and stormy night...

We have had two hail storms in the past two days.  The picture above is from yesterday's storm. 

Below is the school yard today, still covered with hail from yesterday's storm.  Sadly the gardens are shredded.  What made it through Thursdays storm was trashed in Friday's...

Monday, August 18, 2014

Above and Beyond: The Birth of the Israeli Air Force

What a blessing.
This brought tears to my eyes. These men were heroes.

Sample Reel for 'Above and Beyond: The Birth of the Israeli Air Force' - Playmount Productions from Katahdin Productions on Vimeo.

Genesis 12:3New Living Translation (NLT)

I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you.”

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Food Saver

One of my dear friends called tonight and asked me about  my food saver.   I'm posting pictures for her of mine as well as some demos from youtube on using the Food Saver.

We use this for of course freezing meat, in the bags, which works wonderfully. 

 I also use mine for vacuum sealing jars of my dehydrated foods.  It extends the shelf life by years.  This is only for items that would normally be on the shelf.  You can use it for refrigerator items and it will extend the life in the fride too.  The big craze is salad in a jar.

I purchased my jar lid attachments from Amazon.  Below is another example of how to use the jar lid attachment.

These attachment are GREAT!!  The super thing is you use the lid again and again.  A real money saver.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Judging at the Fair

I was asked to be a judge at the county fair this year for home preserves.  But since I have never judged before I requested to come as a helper this year so I could see how everything works.

Oh it was wonderful!
The beautiful canned goods, baked goods, and dehydrated goods.  We judged adult class and then children's class.  Let me tell you there are some wonderful up and coming preservers and bakers out their.

There are many criteria areas judged for canned goods, these are just a few:
head space
labeling (what is it, date processed, etc.)
processing time - was the correct time for our altitude used
And many more but it was great fun and it was wonderful to see all the beautiful produce put by.

One young person entered dried apricots.  They were the very best non commercial I have ever seen.  Once the fair is over I'd like to ask them what their secret was, mine have never turned out so lovely.
Happy fair time.
a little bird

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Penny In Yo Pants

(8/11/14 addendum: this doesn't work with all skirts...  I'm sure the material makes a difference.  Knit fabric or light fabric is the best.  Many of my summer skirts hit just below the knee which is modest and cool for the summer weather.  But when you put a penny and rubber band in the mix it hikes that skirt to 3 or 4 inches above the knee...  just a word to the wise.  So for that length skirt I will go back to my garter style elastic to hold my skirt in place.)
I bike to and from work most days and I love skirts and wear them almost every day. I have an elastic band that I slide up garter style to slip over one edge of my skirt to keep it from flying up and exposing a bit too much...but Eva at Opulent Poppy just shared a GREAT idea!

You place the penny on the back side of your skirt and rubber band around the penny on the front side turning your skirt into pants (well almost).  This is perfect!
Thanks again Eva for sharing this great idea.

Monday, August 4, 2014

The finished jam.

Yesterday was 103 degrees so I decided to take advantage of the heat and finish drying the oven fruit leather outside.  I cover with lightweight material so the air can get in and out but not bugs.  
This is actually a shear curtain panel, it works great.

This is the leather from the dehydrator.  
I cut them into serving sizes leaving the parchment right on them for storage.

They are all in a large plastic tub for conditioning.

Post-Drying Treatment

Conditioning. When drying is complete, some pieces will be moister than others due to their size and placement during drying. Conditioning is a process used to evenly distribute the minimal residual moisture throughout all pieces. This reduces the chance of spoilage, especially from mold. To condition, place cooled, dried fruit loosely in large plastic or glass containers, about two-thirds full. Lightly cover and store in a warm, dry, well-ventilated place for four to 10 days. Stir or shake containers daily to separate pieces. If beads of moisture form inside, return food to drying trays for further drying, then repeat the conditioning step.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Apricots, Wheat Crackers and Basil...

My mom checks this blog often.   And she likes to see some updates.  Which I'm not always great at
So Mom this is what I've been up to today.

 I cut the third cutting of my basil.  It's really doing well.  It actually came back from last year volunteer.  So that had a good bath, a spin in the salad spinner and then into the dehydrator.  It took a few hours to dry.  Last cutting I hung it in the open air to dry but this time I was in more of a hurry I guess???

It dried down beautifully.

After vacuum sealing all of my latest dried items: mint chamomile, basil I decided to make some  wheat crackers.

I made a big pot of bean soup so crackers sounded  good.

My recipe:
3/4 cup warm water
1 package yeast (2.5 teaspoons)
1 teaspoon honey
let this set a few minutes for the yeast to dissolve then add,
flour freshly ground from 1.5 cups wheat berries  (Vita Mix dry blade)
and freshly ground pepper

I let this rise for an hour or so.
While this was rising I got a call from a friend who wondered if I wanted apricots.  They have an orchard and  have so many they will rot before she can get them all processed.  
I ran quickly out to her place for some lovely very ripe apricots.
Came back home to finish the crackers.  I cut the dough into 16 pieces rolled them out thin and then put them on a hot griddle, not oiled.
Cooked them for a minute or two on each side.  They really are tasty.
After a bit of lunch, bean soup that I had put in the crock pot this morning it was time for apricots.
Two batches of jam. and six trays of fruit leather.

I used parchment paper in my dehydrator for liners.  I  can cut and roll it on the same paper once it's dry.

I ran the apricots with some lemon juice in my blender to puree and then onto the parchment.

I am drying two cookie sheets of fruit leather in my oven.  I added some coconut to the top of this one.

Apricot Jam
2 quarts crushed apricots
6 cups sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice
That's  it.  Bring it to a boil stirring often so it doesn't scorch.  Boil until it thickens, about 25 minutes.
Put in your clean warm jars and process according to your altitude.  

So there you have it.   That's my day.  I have washed the kitchen floor, the counters are wiped off and dishes done.  And I'm done too.  Time to have a bit of dinner and then I think a movie is in order.
Love you mom.
your little bird

Saturday, July 26, 2014

DIY Cough - Throat Drops

I have been meaning to do this for months.  Last fall we bought some herbal cough drops and they were very nice. (Swiss Alps yodeling man) I also have a friend that buys the essential oils cough drops they were wonderful but very pricey ($.60 per drop). Or at least  I thought that was a lot to pay for a cough drop.  So ever since then I thought certainly I could make these myself.   So today was the day.

The first thing I did was to steep some STRONG herbal tea.  I used chamomile, rose hips, peppermint, and orange rind.

After steeping I stained through a coffee filter because I wanted it completely clear.

Cough drop recipe:
1 cup of herbal tea
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup honey
1 tablespoon butter

Bring to a boil to a hard crack, 300 degrees
When your syrup is at 300 degrees remove it from the heat and let it cool just a bit. 

Then add  1.5 tablespoons lemon juice.
Be very careful - it splatters!

At this point these are very good herbal drops.  You can stop right here if you want to.
(Swiss Alps yodeling man type)

But I wanted to duplicate the pricey essential oil drops so I added some LorAnn's oil.
I used Anise, Spearmint, and Cloves.
I have to say these are wonderful!
I really do think they are every bit as good as the $$ drops.  

Since I haven't yet purchased molds I needed to make my own.  

Below is powdered sugar in a cookie sheet pressed firmly with a second pan.

I used the end of a whisk to make indentations in the sugar.  It was a good size for the drops.

When the drops were hard I sifted them out of my powdered sugar so it wasn't a waste of all this sugar.

These are the finished drops.
I think these are worth investing in some good silicone molds.  I think that would be a lot less work and clean up.  But I really wanted to try this before spending the money for the molds.

Store in an airtight container.

a little bird

Lovely Dishes

My dear friend had a yard sale.  She decided to sell her china - I tried to talk her out of it but she said she never used them so she was getting rid of them.

I think they are just lovely so I bought them.  Now she can enjoy her china when ever she comes here because I  will use them.

She is right we do need to use our lovely things often.  Otherwise its just  stuff that takes up space.

So dear Karen I will use and enjoy your dishes often. And I look forward to your next visit so we can have tea in these lovely cups.
a little bird 

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