Saturday, July 28, 2012

More Organization Tips: The Office, The Daily Home Blessing and Yummy Market Fresh Sandwiches...

Our homes should be a blessing to our family... and whether we like it or not, we moms/wives/ladies can make it or break it!  We need to strive to create an environment that is welcoming, peaceful and cozy for all who enter.  A clean, well kept and organized home will make these elements much more easy to obtain.  As the ladies of the house, when things are out of order and chaotic, we too feel that and then in turn present that through our actions, attitudes and behavior... "if mom's happy, then everyone is happy," is too true a statement! In "Sink Reflections", by Marla Cilley, she talks about having a Home Blessing (another Buzz word).  What this basically refers to is our Mission Statement for our home as women, wives and mothers... it our goal for what we want our home to be... what we want it to reflect. I took this very seriously because I have high expectations!  One thing to remember in all this is that even though we have routines and schedules, we must be flexible... we are not drill sergeants, even though I have been accused of that, we are still mommy and need to teach and train with a tender hand so our little helpers want to help and get excited about the process as well.  If you have children you fully understand what I am talking about... I have had some really good plans drawn up, but when the baby is puking up a storm from a sudden flu bug... zone cleaning comes to a sudden halt... so be what the Lord has us to be first... woman, wife and mommy!  Enjoy yourself in your organizational quests, otherwise it won't last and it will be just another burden!

Here is my Daily Home Blessing...



DAILY HOME BLESSING

GOAL: To train our dear children in the Fruits of the Spirit and how to apply them to their daily life... not just our
dear children, but also myself.


  • Each day is assigned 1 to 2 fruits- 9 fruits of the Spirit in 7 days of the week.
  • That day at lunch we review the Bible verse, let them say one that they remember, how many; what book; etc.
  • Each one of us focus on one area to work on that day:  IE. Sat- Temperance/Self Control: Kyle work on self control with reading materials... devotions above hunting/sports; Ethan work on self control by doing a job even when he doesn't feel like doing it... and so on for each family member.
  • Give each other encouragement- work together.
  • Try to create a more peaceful, happy environment~ especially for when dear husband comes home from working.
  • BREAKDOWN: Sunday- Love; Monday- Joy & Peace; Tuesday- Long suffering & Gentleness; Wednesday- Goodness; Thursday- Faith; Friday- Meekness; Saturday- Temperance/Self Control.
"But the Fruit of the Spirit is love, joy ,peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance; against such, there is no law." Galatians 5:22, 23.


Next to my gardens I enjoy being in my office next best... that is probably because it is garden themed and very cottagy...  There are several elements in the office that need addressing so lets dig right in!


Zone Cleaning the Office: this is my weekly schedule unless otherwise noted.
*Dust ~around all ceiling lines and down corners of the room;
~inside wall pocket as well; dust shelf and all furniture- Book shelf, desk, all file cabinets, dresser, printer, computer and computer desk, white cabinet, all pictures/frames, knick knacks, lamps.
*Wash windows and ledges; take down curtains first week of month and wash
*Clean off all table top surfaces; organize all papers that need it; put all catch all stuff in proper places; file papers accordingly; clean up bulletin boards.
*Change garbage.
*Vacuum carpet.
Here are some tips on Storage and Organization that I use in my office... now please take into consideration I do all the paper and book work for our farm: meat/egg purchases; 50 member CSA; produce purchase; organization of what my growers will produce; my fields and gardens; seed saving & ordering; I am the Market Manager for our farms Winter Farmers Market and I have over 70 vendors and all the paperwork that goes with that, write three blogs, not to mention all my household stuff... and so on and so on... so I do a lot in my office. It does get out of hand at times... especially when 'other' people start putting things in my office and on my desk.
*Because I technically deal with five different elements within our farm and dozens of sub-categories within each element I need to keep things separated and very organized.  I have 3 file cabinets that help me with this.
~ One is for all Household Documents- such as tax papers, appliance manuals and warranties, large item receipts of purchase, bank statements, policies, and any other things that would fall into this category.
~One is strictly for our farm- one drawer for CSA and the other for market stuff/meat.
~The other holds catalogs, and any 'other' paperwork that I need space for.
*I use baskets to store a lot of stuff- they are cute & decorative and very functional.  I steer clear of round baskets- they take up more space then they provide.  I like shoe box size rectangle and square baskets.  They sit nicely on shelves and look very neat.  Books stand nicely in them and most containers fit as well. I have a five shelf bookshelf in my office that holds some office supplies; reams of paper, envelopes, files, etc.~ several baskets that hide containers of stapes, pens, rubber bands, paper clips, index cards and such. 
*This shelf also houses many of 'my' books- mostly the crafty ones, my cookbooks and several of my scrapbooks.
*On the top shelf I have a couple more baskets that hold all my rubber stamps and stamp pads... I don't do stamping very often and this is a good, out of the way place for me... not to mention the baby hasn't figured out they are there yet!
*I have a couple of those really cute storage boxes too: one holds my Cricut cartridges and small supplies and the other holds what ever scrap booking project I am currently on... which brings me to another point... my office is also my Craft Supply storage room... sigh!  I dream for a craft room along with a first floor laundry and a bathroom I can do cart wheels in too some day... just to be able to set up all my scrapbook and cricut supplies is a dream... no room and too many little hands for that these days.
*On the floor under the bottom shelf I have two more of those large rectangular laundry size baskets that hold back issues of my favorite magazines... Martha Stewart Living, Country Gardens and Organic Gardening in there.  I do a lot of referencing in these for blog ideas.
*I have a really neat old drop leaf table that is painted a light tealy green... this is my desk where I do my field plans, pay bills and keep my day planner. I have several family pictures, and other containers that hold pens, and misc. office supplies on it. 
*I have a Computer table/shelf that I picked up at a garage sale... really it isn't a desk at all... it's actually a long (6feet), narrow (2 feet) counter with a top and middle shelf... I love it!  I have my lamp, printer, and PC on the top shelf while I keep stackable file trays on the middle shelf with other totes that hold my Trade Publication magazines... Growing For Market and Farmer's Market Today, along with any other 'current' documentation that I am working on. Under the middle shelf.  On the floor under the middle shelf I keep my Cricut, a few other totes that hold my other favorite magazines... Countryside & Small Stock Journal, Mother Earth News, Acres USA, and of course Country Living... among a few others like Hobby Farm, Mary Jane's Farms, etc. I know the FlyLady says pitch those, but I truly do reference them all the time. They often give me inspiration for my blogs... they are a part of my work!
*I have several other pieces of furniture in my office that I store crafting supplies, current catalogs, receipts and more... but I don't think necessary to get into...
Some key tips that I like to use in my office is to keep current!  Don't hang onto years worth of catalogs... With my seed catalogs I keep the current year and one year back to compare.  With us being a farm, I get oodles & oodles of catalogs... If I don't shop them, I don't keep them!  Recycle them and do everyone a favor. 
*Paper work can be so troublesome!  My philosophy is pitch anything 3 three years or older. With exception of  tax & bank documents, large purchase receipts with warranties and any thing else you will REALLY NEED!
*I have two bulletin boards: one is above my PC desk and this has any current and due bills for the farm, CSA group name list & schedules, and of course some inspirational sayings, cards and photos... it has to be cute!
*I keep a wall calender right beside my office chair which is between my desk and PC counter, I only write 'family' appointments on this one. I keep my day planner on my desk as well as a full size desk calender on my desk top.  I use my day planner for everything; farm related, family and personal- it is my tell all!  The full size desk calender is where I keep my hired girls hours and any other farm related appointments. on.  They are all together and can be easily cross referenced.  Day planners are a girl's best friend!    

We are abounding with all the good stuff coming in from the fields and gardens... here are a few yummy recipe's to help you use it up!  Enjoy!

Heirloom Tomato Melt
1/4 cup shredded Colby jack cheese
1 everything bagel, split
2 slices of an Heirloom Tomato
2 Tbsp. fresh Parmesan Cheese, shredded

Sprinkle half the Colby jack cheese over each bagel half; top each half with a tomato slice; sprinkle half the Parmesan cheese onto each tomato; broil on low for about 4 to 6 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and golden.

Cornmeal Covered Green Tomato Sandwich1 1/2 to 2 cups finely ground cornmeal
1 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. season salt
2 large green Tomatoes, sliced about 1/4 inch thick
Shortening for frying
2-3 Tbsp. butter, softened
8 slices french bread, cut 1/2 inch thick if not already sliced
1. Combine the cornmeal and all the seasonings into a 1 gallon plastic bag; mix thoroughly.
2. Coat each tomato slice gently, one at a time in the bag of cornmeal mix; remove from bag.
3. Heat shortening in a large skillet over medium heat; fry tomatoes until golden on both sides; remove from skillet onto several layers of paper towel to absorb excess oil; pat dry.
4. Spread butter on one side of each bread slice; arrange 4 slices, butter side down in skillet; top with tomatoes and remaining bread, butter side up and fry each side until toasted golden on both sides.
Happy Day,
Jean



Friday, July 27, 2012

More on Organization: The Laundry and Back Entry, More on Control Journal and Yummy

I love to do laundry!  It is by far my favorite domestic task that I get to do.  I love every aspect of it from getting all the dirty stuff sorted out, although that is one of the boys jobs typically, switching loads, hanging the clean clothes out on the line and listening to it flap in the breeze... the fresh air scent that follows... I love folding and putting away.  It is so nice to see the stacks of clean pants, rows of shirts and dresses, neatly folded under garments and the feel of those soft, fuzzy towels... Laundry is just plain fun!  I dream of a first floor laundry with a fold out ironing board, and spacious storage... it is free to dream. Right now I have a basement laundry that is damp and wet when it rains and there are lots of spiders and even an occasion toad! Now remember, I live in Michigan... and for those of you who understand the "Michigan basement" concept you will understand what I am saying. Although I am happy for what I have... it could be worse!

I wanted to touch base a bit more on the Control Journal today.  As I mentioned in my first entry your control journal can be as complex or simple as you the designer want it to be... it can and will grow and change as your home changes, children grow and renovations are done.  Here is how my control journal is set up:
*I use a leather bound 1 1/2 inch 3-ring binder for my journal; it is filled with top loading plastic sleeves and side tabbed divider sheets. 
*My sections are in this order:  Zones, Daily Routines, Daily Home Blessing, Menu Plans & Grocery Lists, Tools, Personal, Activity Frequency List.  Here's what is in each section:
~Zones is one of the Flyladies buzz words and refers to each room of the house and gives a detailed breakdown of what needs to be done.  With this concept spring & fall cleaning can almost be eliminated.  You use a calender that each zone is tackled.
~Daily Routines holds my morning, daily, after school and evening routines~ as well as each day of the weeks schedule of routines that get done. (see below for a sample of one of my  daily routines)
~The Daily Home Blessing is another buzz word and can be compared best to a Mission Statement. I will share mine with you in an upcoming post.
~Menus & Grocery lists. I designed weekly menus to keep on the fridge each week. This helps in grocery shopping and meal prep every morning.  I designed two groups according to seasons: Spring & Summer have menus that are geared more toward the fresh produce we are growing and that is available to us; the other one is Fall & Winter which focus' on what we have canned, frozen and what we have in the root cellar along with what we are still growing the fall garden and winter hoop houses.


~My Tools section has an outline from a Flylady conference that a friend attended and shared with me. It is called, "Tips For Not Getting Sidetracked".   It is basically a breakdown of each chapter in the book and gives practical pointers to help you through the chapters.
~My Personal section holds things that give me inspiration.  I have several poems on mothering, being a help meet, cartoons, drawings from the children and cards from friends and loved ones.  Think of this section as your inspiration section.
~The Frequency of Activities section simply holds a list of how often I want to do particular things.
*Each section has a Title Page~ I have family photo's, pictures the children have made, poems, cards and other special things to me.
... as I said, your control journal is exactly that- yours.  Let it be a reflection of what you love, who you want to be, your faith and your passions!  
       
Now onto the Laundry and Back Entry tips! Be sure to keep watching, next time will be on my personal favorite, my Office!
Here is my Zone cleaning list for the Laundry Room, I simply copied the Flyladies with a few alterations because it is pretty basic.
Laundry Room cleaning is a weekly chore unless otherwise stated:
*Dust around the ceiling lines and down corners of walls; behind all appliances & furniture.
*I don't have any windows, but if you do, this should be the next step along with wiping down the window ledge; take curtains down monthly and wash- mini blinds same thing.
*Wipe down the tops &  sides of appliances; clean gunk from under the washer lid; I like to run my machines self cleaning cycle!  Be sure to check the dryers lint trap.
*Change garbage; fresh bag; gather up any other junk that got dumped out of pockets.
*Be sure to check you laundry supplies and add anything you need to buy onto your grocery list.
*Check behind & under appliances for any 'lost' items.
*Sweep the floor; mop.
Here are some helpful tips to keep things in their place in your laundry room.
*Hang a shelf above the washer & dryer where you can keep your detergents handy and available.  Put washer supplies over washer and dryer supplies over dryer. 
*Keep a waste basket right beside the dryer or even better between the two appliances where all trash, pocket liter, dryer lint can be easily pitched.
*Keep a recycle bin handy where you can put your clean plastic recyclable bottles in for garbage day.

My Back Entry can be a challenge, especially with living on a farm.  We have an attached garage to our back entry along with three entry doors~ one that comes in from the back yard, one from the garage and one from the driveway side of the house.  As you can imagine we have a lot of traffic coming in at this point of the house... an it looks like it despite how hard Taylor & I try to keep it clean & organized.  Over the years I have tried everything from dressers to baskets to store stuff in.  Again, please remember I have 8 people living in this house and six of them are males- who work & play very hard outside.  The amount of sand, dirt, mud, grit, manure, straw, hay, etc. that comes in is astronomical in my opinion!  So here is where we are at in the Back Entry today...
*On the one wall I have a full length wall mounted coat rack that has six hooks on it. Each hook has three prongs to hang stuff on... we still have stuff land on the floor!  On the other wall there is another coat rack that has four hooks.  The long rack is for all the guys and their work wear, hats and coats.  It gets pretty thick. They are supposed to line their boots up under the row of coats. 
Our back entry is not fancy by any means... although I have tried very hard to make it cute... it still is a back entry that gets too much traffic. 
*In the winter months we have a basket where hats, mitts and scarves get put in when dry. 
... other than this I can't say too much on the Back Entry... Some day when I don't have so many people tromping through I have big plans for a very cute entry way. Until then, I'll let my boys be boys, and try not to grump too much!
**check out my for dragonfly blog to see photo's of my dream back entries, laundry rooms and more!



   
More Market Fresh Canning Recipe's! These recipe's have been used and adapted from "Lovingly Seasoned Eats & Treats" cookbook.

Pear or Peach Honey Spread
6 pears or peaches, peeled & seeded
1 orange, peeled and seeded
1 lemon, peeled and seeded
2 tart apples, peeled and seeded
3 cups sugar

Grind all fruit together; add sugar. Simmer over medium heat until thick. Pour into containers.  Invert on counter for 24 hours to ensure seal was made.  If any didn't seal, you can water bath for 10 minutes or store in fridge for up to 2 weeks for immediate use.

Believe it or not, here is a pickle recipe!
Dustin's 5-Day Dills
4 cups water
1 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup sea salt
2 Tbsp. pickling spice
1 tsp. alum
Fresh dill

1. Place fresh dill in bottom of a 1 gallon glass jar or crock; put all ingredients in jar or crock; fill jar with clean, sliced cucumbers.
2. Add more dill to top of jar; let set in a sunny spot for 5 days.
Ready to eat. Refrigerate after the 5 days.

Happy Day,
Jean
www.fordragonfliesandme.blogspot.com
www.wreninthewillow.blogspot.com
www.farmgirlwisdom.blogspot.com

More Organizational Tips: More on P.M.S, Root Cellars, Freezers and Canning Room, Yummy Bar-B-Que Brush On Butters and Canning Recipes!

"Disorganization..... is merely the sign of a very healthy individual trying to do more in a shorter period of time than those lazy obsessively tidy types who can think of nothing better to do than  straighten objects in drawers and stuff like that which only feeds their own egos and makes them think that they are better than those of us who are truly gifted."  Author Unknown... although it could be Neil!


Obviously this above mentioned quote is a joke... just in case you were wondering!  As many of you know from reading my blogs, I love canning! When I decided to write my cookbook, "Lovingly Seasoned Eats & Treats", my main objective was not only to have all my favorite recipes in one book, but also to have a large canning section that wasn't filled will all pickle recipes.  Now don't get me wrong, I have nothing against pickles, even though I don't much care for them... I just wanted interesting canning recipes... like Chocolate Syrup, Pesto, Marinara Sauce and stuff like that! I have a lovely canning room and Neil made us a root cellar in our basement that I am thrilled to have... and equally thrilled to fill every year!

P.M.S. is looked at in such a negative light... which I fully understand~ been there, done that kind of thing! Anyway several years back, even before I discovered Sink Reflections, my best friend and I were always looking for ways to organize and structure our homes and lives.  One day on the phone we came up with the P.M.S. Plan!  Prioritize, Minimize and Simplify our lives.  Now, my friend loves to make lists as much as I do... she is now a mother of six with bundle number seven on the way, Lord willing!  At the time of our P.M.S. she only had one child and I had three... life was a bit simplier in those days... but she is one of those ladies that likes to make really long lists and is filled with an exuberant amount of energy... she even chases ground hogs with brooms... at least back then she did.  As I am ten years older than her, her lists at times seemed unreasonable... she put too much work on her back... so was birthed our P.M.S. plan.  The motive was to help both of us look at what we wanted to accomplish in a day or week and then prioritize that list in level of importance; then look at the list and minimize it down to the most important and then simplify it down to what was really practical for our days.  After the list was P.M.S.'ed anything extra that was accomplished was just a bonus.  I have used the P.M.S. way for many things, especially when creating my routine's.  

       

*Each spring we do an inventory of canned goods on the shelves as well as in the root cellar and freezer.  This way I know what we need to preserve that season and what I have plenty of.  I write this list in my Canning Journal... it is actually the first page to start each new season.
*After my inventory is complete I make a list of what items I need to can/freeze and the quantity I want to do. This is the second page in my journal for the current canning season. As each things get put on the can shelves, root cellar and freezer I have the sheer joy of crossing that item off my list!  A job well done!
*As mentioned above I keep a Canning Journal... of course! Every year I date the top of the first page with the year. I include the date of item canned, what was canned, the quantity and the size of the jars used.  If I purchased the ingredient, for ie. Blueberries for blueberry pie filling~ I will write down where I got the blueberries, if I picked or not, how much I paid per pound, how many pounds.  I also make notes of which children or friends helped.  I love making memories in my journals! 
*During the canning season, we often have to move jars and reorganize if there is not enough room left for a particular item.  I always keep similar items together. This makes it much easier for the children when I ask them to go and fetch me something.  For example, I keep all my tomato based products together; Spaghetti and Marinara sauces, Bar-B-Que sauces, ketchup, salsa, pizza sauce and V-8 Juice. The only exception to the rule here is Tomato soup~ that goes with the soups I can. I can apple, peach, blueberry and cherry pie fillings... these all stay together; Fruits, juices, jams and condiments are beside each other; potatoes, carrots, beans, beets are together as veggies; meats are right beside the veggies, then broth and soups, and so on.
*I follow the same rule for the root cellar and freezers.  I have several freezers: two hold frozen veggies and fruit, any freezer jams, and two hold meat items.  I try to keep all beef, pork, venison and chicken together... again this makes it easier for the children.
*Each spring the freezers need to be cleaned out and purged.  It never fails that things always seem to fall to the bottom and then the question, "where did that come from?" is asked.  Be sure to always date and itemize all items put into the freezer~ this way there is no question as to what & when! 
*The root cellar needs to be kept clean and organized through the winter.  Unlike the jars and freezers, the items in the root cellar will spoil much more quickly. Certain items should not be strored togethe such as apples and onions or potatoes.  My main goal is to always use the items that are ripening or not holding so well first and to be sure to purge and spoiled items. The old saying of one rotten apple will spoil the whole basket is true! 
  A great resource for root cellars is "Root Cellaring" by, Mike and Nancy Bubel, published by Storey Publishing,
www.storey.com  I will be going into a lot more on root cellaring this fall when the crops come in, so stay tuned!


         

'Tis Grilling Season... here are some BBQ Brush On Butter Recipes along with a few more canning ones from my cookbook! Enjoy friends!

To 1 stick of salted softened butter add one of the following and mix thouroughly.  Let set in fridge for at least 3 hours so flavors blend through! NOTE: The herbs are all dried. 

Cajun Style Poultry Brush On!
1/2 tsp. oregano, crushed
1/8 tsp. thyme, crushed
1/4 tsp. cumin, ground
dash of red pepper
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1/8 tsp. pepper

Lemon Basil Fish or Veggie Brush On!

1/2 tsp. lemon peel, finely shredded
1/2 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. lime juice
1/4 tsp. basil, crushed
1/4 tsp. sea salt

Parmesan Butter Brush On!~ great to brush on veggies or even use in pasta or spread onto bread to make garlic toast!
1 Tbsp. fresh parmesan cheese, grated
1 small clove garlic, minced
2 tsp. parsley, crushed
1/4 tsp. sea salt

Garlic Butter Brush On~ great to brush on veggies or to make garlic toast
1 small garlic clove, minced
1/4 tsp. sea salt

Chive~Tarragon Brush On~
great on red meat and veggies!
2 Tbsp. chives, finely chopped
1/2 tsp. dried tarragon, crushed
2 Tbsp. parsley, snipped

Canning Recipes taken from, "Lovingly Seasoned Eats & Treats". We all love condiments but don't know how to make them!  Here are two great condiments that most people enjoy!

            Chocolate Syrup, by Jean Smith

1 cup Dutch cocoa powder
3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
2 cup hot water
1 Tbsp. vanilla

SPECIAL NOTE: These measurements are to make 1 quart.  Adjust measurements for how many pints or quarts you want to make.
1. Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl; pour 1 cup hot water into pot and add dry ingredients until thouroughly mixed; add remaining water; mix thouroughly until smooth.
2. Bring mixture to a boil; boil for 2 to 4 minutes, until sugar is dissovved, stirring constantly.
3. Revove from heat; add vanilla.
4. Fill pint jars, leaving 1/2 inch head space.
5. How water bath for 15 minutes.
NOTE: This foams up a lot while boiling. Stirring is crucial. You can take the pot off heat to let it go down a bit, always stirring, if it seems like it is going to overflow.

Ketchup
2 galons tomato juice
7 Tbsp. salt
2 small onions
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. cloves, ground
3 cups white vinegar
4 cups sugar
1 1/2 cup Permaflo (thickener)

1. Put 1 1/2 cups tomato juice and  peeled and quartered onions in blender; run blender until onions are well blended; pour into learge kettle with remaining juice; cook until juice boils down 1/3.
2. Add vinegar and boil again; bring to a gentle, rolling boil.
3. In a bowl combine remaining ingredients and blend thouroughly; very slowly stir the spice mixture into boiling liquid- if you dump it in, it will clump!
4. Boil for 1/2 hour, stirring occasionally so it does not stick.
5. Put boiling mixture into jars, placing lid and ring on each jar as you fill it.
6. Water bath for 15 minutes for pints, 25 minutes for quarts.

Happy Day,
Jean

www.fordragonfliesandme.blogspot.com
www.wreninthewillow.blogspot.com
www.farmgirlwisdom.blogspot.com




         

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

More on Organization: Creating Routines with P.M.S.- Prioritize, Minimize and Simplify , The Kitchen & Pantry and More Market Fresh Canning Recipe's!

Oh what a happy mom am I when the boys rooms are clean, the fridge is shining with no 'science experiments' going on it, the appliances are shining and the windows let in all the bright sunshine because the little paddy prints have been washed off... at least for fifteen minutes... so look fast!  After all I do have a just turned two year old that loves to stand on the kitchen chairs (... and the table...) and look at the out of doors... cry when everyone else is going 'bye-bye', and stand and wave at the dumpster guy pulling in the lane... yes windows are nice, but they don't stay clean at our house for very long. The boys say why bother... I tell them can you imagine if we didn't- think layers boys!  Well, the kitchen is the gathering place in most homes and it is at ours as well... It is where little boys get to lick the beaters and get a spoonful of homemade chocolate pudding... where soap bubble beards are made and wet towel 'thwacks' happen... yes the kitchen is the heart of the home... after all it's where we nurish those we love... I will go into some more details of how I keep the kitchen and pantry tidy and organized.  Today I thought it would be fun to throw in a couple canning recipes for some of the good stuff that you are getting in your CSA shares and across our market table... an possibly out of your very own gardens!  

Today we'll focus on the Kitchen and Pantry... read on next time for root cellar and canning room tips!  In 'Sink Reflection's', by Marla Cilley I've learned much on keeping notes on what needs to be done through the use of my Control Journal.  She also discusses much on the concept of starting and maintaining 'Routine's'.  I have read that if you do anything consistantly for thirty days, it will become a habit or a routine~ that works with both good & bad stuff, so be careful!  I can testify that this is true... as I mentioned in the previous blog post, 'Walk Through' has become second nature in my life and that of my children's. We have incorporated this aspect into our daily lives and now it is a 'normal' thing and no one looks at me with that, 'What are you talking about?' look!  It really is wonderful! When we write down the daily routines that we want to live by, we can visually look at these lists and see what needs to be done. It's kinda like typing... for those of you who know how. I don't think about where the key I need is, because as soon as I do, a mistake will inevidibly happen... I cannot even tell you right off the top of my head what letter belongs under which finger... I have to actually stop and think about how to spell a word and then I can see it in my mind... you typers know what I am saying... it's also like walking... you don't think each step, you'd probably trip, you just know how to walk.  Well that's how our daily routines can and will become a part of our lives... if we are consistant with them that is!  So today lets look at creating routines! 

Creating and Maintaining Routines...
Here are a few tips from me & Marla!
*Think about yourself first... when you get up in the morning, brush your teeth, take a quick shower and be sure to put on some lovely organic face cream to make you feel fresh,  have a cup of tea or coffee and do a morning devotion to start your day out right!  If mom's happy, everyone is happy!
*P.M.S.~ This is not going to be what you think... read on!  When you start your routine list, start small so you aren't overwhelmed and don't get a sense of failure if you don't get all the jobs done!  I call this the positive way to look at P.M.S.- Prioritize, Minimize and Simplify your life!  What I would recommend is writing a list of all the accomplishments you want to do, then P.M.S. your list!  From this list create your routine~ Marla recomends a morning, daily and evening routine.  Have a routine for each part of the day and for each day of the week.  I love day planners, A.K.A. Control Journals! 
*Baby steps is another one of Marla's buzz words... she highly recomends starting small in your routine lists... I think my P.M.S. system works great along with her concept of baby steps.
Here is a sample of my Morning routine as it is written in my Control Journal...
   


MORNING ROUTINE


"She riseth while it is yet night and giveth meat to her household..." Proverbs 31:15a

Week A:

  • 5:50am~ Rise & Shine with smile & praise in my heart! Start coffee if Neil hasn't already.
  • Swish toilet & sink; get a load of laundry together to throw in.
  • Brush my teeth; get a quick shower; put lotions on; get dressed.
  • Have some quiet time with the Lord and a warm cup of coffee...
  • Check my email's; read daily devotions; send any responses that need done; do blogs.
  • 6:45am~ start waking the rest of the clan up... get breakfast going.
  • Throw load of laundry in.
  • 7:30am~ everyone at table for breakfast
  • 8:00am~ Assign everyone their tasks for the day; children start morning chores
  • clearing off table; wash breakfast dishes; switch laundry loads.
  • 9:00am~ Think about my day; make list's for jobs to be done; check my day planner
  • Check menu~ take anything that has to thaw out of the freezer; make sure we have all ingredients for the menu.
  • Everyone is on their way...
I also have routines for each day of the week written down in it so the children can see what needs to be done.  I use to keep the journal open on the counter during the day so everyone could see it freely, although over the years I have drifted from this simply because they really have become habits.  
 More on Room by Room Organization...
... so moving on here are tips from my home to yours!
*Here is my Kitchen routine as I have it in my journal.  This is to be done on a weekly basis unless otherwise noted.
~Wash down: *Counter Backsplash, fronts of cupboards, spot wash walls. Wash down counters & stove after every use
                     *Wash windows   
                     *put clean foil on stove burner plates; clean out fridge
                     *wash floors- Saturday; spot clean through the week
                     *sweep floor after each meal daily
                     *dust all around ceiling lines and through room
                     *wash floor carpets
~Monthly~ take down curtains and wash; pull fridge & stove out and clean; wash down ceiling fan; wash walls
~Seasonally~ Spring and Fall: wash walls and ceiling; empty out cupboards and wash; take all knick knacks off top of cupboards and wash; dust top of cupboards and wash; touch up any spots with paint.
   

Helpful Organizational tips for the kitchen... *I keep all my spices and herbs in half pint, pint and quart size mason jars.  I don't like to use plastic with anything more than I have too!
*In the fridge, I always keep the older products up front so they are used first.  I do use Tupperware Fridge Smart containers in my fridge. They stack neatly and they really do keep things fresher longer.  I use them for my lunch meat, cheeses and even leftovers. They are not just for fruit & veggies. 
*I also prefer to use cling wrap over foil to cover things in the fridge~ it is easier to see what's in the bowl. 
*I keep all my baking supplies: measuring items, spices, herbs, flour, baking pans & sheets on the same side of the kitchen in neighboring cupboards so I don't have to run all over the kitchen for items.
*Use plastic totes to keep loose items like cookie cutters and other items that you don't use every day in and then they stack neatly in the cupboard as well.
*I use baskets in my utensil drawers~ I like the way it looks better than the regular plastic utensil dividers.  I am all about cute~ especially if I can use baskets!
*If you do a lot of baking like we do, keep your 25# and 50# bags of sugar, oatmeal and flours in plastic totes with air tight lids.  This will keep it fresh and keep the bugs out!

I am very fortunate to have a nice size pantry right off my kitchen along with a closet in my kitchen to keep my big totes of flour, sugar & oatmeal in. I love my pantry and I get lots of compliments on how orderly and how cute it is!  Here is what I do to keep it organized...
*I have two floor shelves  and two wall shelves in my pantry. 
~On the one shelf I have four medium sized plastic totes that hold pasta, rice, crackers, small bags of flour and other grains. 
I have two larger totes that hold chips, cereals and other larger bagged items.  I made cute tag's with stickers that spelled out the words of what is in each tote and then I laminated them.  I then hot glue gunned them onto each tote.  I also have two wooden peck baskets on the top shelf that; one hold potatoes & onions while the other holds coffee & tea.  On another shelf I have two baskets which hold linen place mats & napkins & extra table clothes and also a stack of other extra baskets for serving.  Each of these basket has a tag like the totes but they are tied on with a piece of raffia! 
~The other floor shelf is much sturdier and holds all my canned goods~ that is my jars of goodness I preserve.  I keep a few of the basics on this shelf so we don't always have to be running to the canning room in the basement for stuff.  I also keep my larger mason jars of dry mixes, baking soda & powder, thickening agents, cocoa, along with baking supplies like Chocolate chips, walnuts and coconut on this shelf.  I used sticker labels on each jar to write what the contents are.  I have three baskets on one of the sheves that hold bread, fruit and veggies that don't need refridgeration in.  On the top shelf I have three 'fish bowl' style jars that hold cookies, sugar and treats in. 
~One of the wall mounted shelves has three large 'laundry' size rectangular baskets; these hold extra plastic containers, party ware and miscellaneous canning equipment~ apple peeler corer, green bean frencher and such.
The other shelf has another three baskets that hold packages of jello and pectin, canning supplies and anything else that I need to put in them. 
... I love my pantry and the extra storage that it offers me.  If you have a small closet in or near your kitchen you can easily transform it into a pantry simply by adding some shelves and a little creative ingenuity!


Yummy Market Fresh Recipes...
Dilly Beans

2 pounds fresh, tender green or yellow wax beans~ make it interesting, use both
cayenne pepper
4 whole cloves fresh garlic, peeled
4 heads fresh dill or 2 tsp. dill weed
2 tsp. mustard seed
2 1/2 cups white vinegar
2 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup sea salt
*wide mouth canning jars work best for this.

1. Wash beans in cold water; drain on towel; trim off the stem and tail ends, otherwise leave beans whole.
2. In clean jars put one clove garlic, 1 dill head or 1/2 tsp. dill weed and 1/2 tsp. mustard seed; pack the beans in lengthwise into wide mouth jars- they should look like they are standing up.  Trim any that are too long; Add one dash cayenne pepper to each jar.
3. Combine water in vinegar and salt in a saucepan; bring to a boil.  Pour this over the beans, filling to within 1/2 inch of the top. Seal immediately.
4. Process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.
*Wait at least two to three weeks before serving so the flavors have time to blend! 

Zucchini Relish
This relish is not only beautiful but no one will ever relize it isn't cucumbers... no matter what they say!
5 cups shredded zucchini
5 cups shredded yellow summer squash
2 cups red onion, diced
2 cups yellow onion, diced
4 Tbsp. sea salt
2 cups sugar (may add up to 1 cup more if you like it sweeter)
1 tsp. turmeric
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. dry mustard
1/2 tsp. mustard seed
1 each: red, green and orange sweet bell peppers, diced

1. In a large bowl, add both squashes and onions; blend well; add salt. Refriderate overnight.
2. Drain.  Run water through the ingredients several times; drain again.
3. Put ingredients into a large kettle; add vinegar, sugar, turmeric, pepper, dry mustard and mustard seed.
4. Add chopped peppers and add to squash mixture; stir gently until well mixed.
5. Bring mixture to a boil and cook for 3 minutes. Laddle into pint jars leaving 1/2 inch head space; be sure to wipe rims of jars to ensure sealing.
6. Process in boiling water bath for 15 minutes.

Happy Day,
Jean




Organizational Tips and Recipes for Herb Salts And Dry Mixes!



I love reading anything on organization! I am a firm believer of everything has a place and everything in it's place.  In my home I up against seven other individuals. Now when I say 'up against' I don't mean that in necessarily a bad way for the most part... I just mean not all members of my household have the same instinct as I do... so I work hard at trying to instill this quality, especially in my children... unfortunately it's too late for my other half(can't teach an old dog new tricks, LOL)!  He was not taught this art in anyway shape or form... he does try to some degree, but it's not his nature. Anyway, some of my children have grabbed hold onto it and some, shall I say are a work in progress! A few things that drive me crazy are when the kitchen cupboard doors are left open... I just cannot understand why they don't close as easily as they opened... sigh! ... or why the dirty clothes land beside the hamper, but not in... sigh!  Well, as my one dear friend always tells me... 'Line upon line... precept upon precept!' So I trudge on!  Really I don't mind it all too much because I do love to get things organized and re-do stuff. Anytime I am in the check out line and there appears a new organizing or storage magazine, they just seem to find there way into my cart! Praise the Lord for constant inspiration!  Last week I spent the morning 'gutting' out and cleaning the boys room... unbelievable is all I can say!  I do this about four times a year and it never ceases to amaze me what accumulates in that room!  Anyway, Ryan helped me and we got the job done... again!  He say's to me, "I just love when you clean our room and it looks so nice!"  I just looked at him and said, "Why don't you keep it this way?"... of course it was the other brothers fault... sigh!  I am going to touch on room by room organization tips over the next few blogs.  A lot of the info will be taken and adapted from my favorite book, "Sink Reflections", by Marla Cilley- The FlyLady.  So here are some great tips that I believe can work in any home that has these little blessings (A.K.A. children)or not, along with references on some books that I have repeatedly referenced over the years... and of course some recipes!  Have a great day friends!

Room by Room Organization Tips.... Today we will focus on the Bed & Bath rooms... read on next time for Kitchen and Pantry!  Most of the info will be adapted from Sink Reflections.  The 'FlyLady" as she likes to be referred to (she is a fly fishing instructor as well as an organizational wizard), has several "buzz" words that she refers to often in the book. I will briefly discuss a few here so when I use them you won't be wondering what in the world I am talking about. The ones I took hold of primarily were~ Walk Through's, Hot Spots, as well as her 'Control Journal'.  I will first discuss the Control Journal... I am sure you are surprised by that!
I have followed this book to a tee and it really works... even with less than willing housemates! 

*The Control Journal... in basic terms allows you to write down just what you want done in each room of the house, list's your schedules, can be a day planner, can hold inspirational pieces or anything else you want to keep in it.  It can be as basic or complex as you the designer want it to be.  I of course like it right down to the nitty gritty of things.  Marla explains how to take your notebook/journal and walk through or sit in each room and write down everything you 'see' that needs to be done as well as the frequency you want the tasks done. You can keep the tasks in a calender format~ for example, some chores get done seasonally- Spring & Fall cleaning- wash walls & ceilings; monthly- washing the curtains; weekly- strip & wash the bedding;  several times in a week- laundry;
daily- vacuuming the carpets, taking out the trash; several times in a day- washing dishes or sweeping the floors and so on.  You can make it as detailed or not as you desire.  I found it very helpful for the children to be very detailed... this helped them to completely understand their jobs and what was expected of them.
I loved this aspect of her program because I love to journal and see what is happening!  The journal can give specific details as to what happens in each room.  For instance when cleaning the living room~ dust from the top down~ around ceiling line, pictures on walls, book shelf, lamp shades, finally the furniture, wash windows and dust ledges, pick up under furniture, and finally vacuum. Presto room done! 

*The Walk Through... I use this term every single day!  When I ask one of the children to do a walk through they fully understand that I mean they need to go through the room and pick up everything that is out of place, put it in it's proper place and then vacuum.  This term has become second nature to all of them and it works well even with little ones.

*Hot Spot
is another buzz word that Marla discusses... we all have them whether we want to admit it or not.  In layman's terms these are those spots in our homes that when someone walks in what ever they have in their hands instantly gets dropped on/in that spot.  For us it's the bar top counter and on the counter right beside the fridge.  For my darling daughter it is MY DESK!  Anything and everything that is paper gets dumped onto my desk! I understand her motivation... she doesn't know what I want to keep and what I want to pitch... so it goes on mom's desk and mom can keep or pitch... so I guess that is OK. Anyway, every home has them... and Marla gives great tips on how to get rid of them... although I have to say ours don't get as bad as they use to, but we still have them!
... so moving on, here are tips from my home to yours!
*Bedroom...  There are a few tricks that I use in all the bedrooms of my home...
~Plastic totes- in one of our boys room they have a built in wall closet, so I don't really need a dresser for them.  Although to keep things neat & tidy each boy has two totes: one for socks & underwear and one for their church socks, shoes & belt.  On the bottom of the closet they have a little shelf that holds their pants and jammies.  All their shirts and suits are hung on hangers.  When they work with the program, it is very neat & orderly.  Because they don't have a dresser in their room I keep all their bedding in another dresser. 
~Books, toys and stuff are kept on shelves and in a desk.  The boys have a desk in their room where they can keep pen's, crayons, scissors and the likes.  I like to use small pencil boxes for these items so they don't get all over the place.  The boys books and magazines are kept on a shelf for easy access.  They have two drawers on the bottom of their closet where toys are kept along with ball cloves and cleats.
~Off Season  and Grow-Into Clothing are kept in plastic totes under the bed as well as on the shelf above their closet.  This way dust and bugs don't have access and things can be kept in order of size and season.  I like to use clear totes that I can easily see into; I keep a note inside the tote as to the sizes so I don't have to unfold and guess as I am looking for the next size of clothing.  This also makes it easier so I don't have to drag out all of them and go through each one.  If you don't like clear totes then list the items on a label and then using clear packing tape cover the whole label so it doesn't get torn off or fade; put one on the top and two sides of the tote.  IF you have other children that will grow into those clothes be sure to mark accordingly who will use next.
~Knick-knacks and Collectables are kept on a small wall shelf and on top of their desk where they can be easily viewed and kept out of reach of the little boys! 
~For bedding I learned a really clever idea from a friend of mine for keeping sheets & matching pillowcases all together.  Simply fold your flat sheet in half lengthwise and then again and again until it is long and narrow... about 18" wide; next fold the fitted sheet to be a square that will lay on the top sheet without hanging over- place at the one end of folded flat sheet; fold your pillow cases and lay on top of fitted sheet; next roll the fitted sheet and pillow cases up into the flat sheet until you have a nice, neat square... no more searching for matching bedding!  I keep all the bedding in my armoire in our bedroom.


*Bathroom... 
The bathroom can be a challenge or a delight... in my opinion what makes the difference is if it a small room with no storage or one that you can do cart wheels in (my personal dream bath...) anyway, I have a smallish bath with no storage other than under the small vanity and one small wall medicine cabinet.  On one of my shopping sprees I found a large floor plant stand at an antique shop and knew exactly what I would do with it... It is now mounted on the one available wall in the bathroom beside the tub and that is where I keep our towels.  I don't like things to look cluttered, despite what Taylor says, and it has to be cute & neat... so I roll the towels and then put them on the two shelves. On the outside shelves I keep small baskets where extra bottles of shampoo, soap and such can be stored; I fold the smaller hand and wash towels and put those there as well. 
~Smaller toiletries, lotions, contact stuff, extra toothpaste,  and such are kept in the small medicine cabinet on the wall.  I try to keep Neil's stuff on one, mine on another and other stuff on the third. 
~In the cabinet under the vanity I keep the cleaners in a plastic bucket, roll of paper towel and extra larger toiletries.  There is a space between the vanity and the wall where I keep a basket that holds the extra toilet paper.
~No bathroom would be complete without reading material so that gets put in another basket that sits beside the toilet.

... these are just a few tips that I use in my home, but be sure to go to the FlyLady's web site at www.flylady.net to see more great tips!

References:
"Sink Reflections", by Marla Cilley- The FlyLady, Published by Bantam Books, 2002  www.flylady.net
"Sidetracked Home Executives", by Pam Young and Peggy Jones, Published by Time Warner Books, 1977
"The 15 Minute Organizer", by Emilie Barnes, Published by Harvest House Publishers


Try these great mixes for grilling!
Summer in her beautiful bounty is giving us lots of wonderful things.  In previous blog's I have explained how to dry and use herbs that you have grown or bought... Here are some yummy mixes, salts and salt-less recipes!  Enjoy...

Garden Herb Dry Mix

*This dry mix is great sprinkled on burger patties before grilling and really adds something special to ground beef when fried!

1/2 cup parsley, dried & crumbled
1 cup Chervil, dried & crumbled
1/2 cup chives, dried & crumbled
1/2 cup tarragon, dried & crumbled
2 Tbsp. sea salt
Combine all in bowl and store in an airtight container; shake before using, contents will probably settle.

Herb Salt's
If you are trying to watch your salt intake, here a some great salt substitutes that the whole family will enjoy and not miss the salt!

5 tsp. onion powder
1 Tbsp. garlic powder
1 Tbsp. paprika
1 tsp. thyme
1/2 tsp. celery salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
Combine all and store in an airtight container.  Great on fish & chicken!

1 Tbsp. garlic powder
5 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. parsley
1 tsp. basil
1 tsp. oregano
1/4 tsp. pepper
Combine all and store in an airtight container.  Great in ground beef when making goulash!

... if your not watching your salt intake...
Basic Herb Salt
1 cup sea salt
1 Tbsp. pepper
2 Tbsp. rosemary
2 Tbsp. thyme
1/4 cup parsley
2 Tbsp. tarragon
2 Tbsp. dill week
2 Tbsp. paprika
1/4 cup basil
Blend together in a food processor; store in an airtight container.  Great for grilling or putting on pork or beef roasts!

Happy Day,
Jean

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Organic Life: How To Get There and More Market Fresh Recipe's!

What does Organic mean to you?  I think everyone reading this would have somewhat of a different answer.  Personally,  I want 'organic' to be the way I breath, eat and sleep... it's the life style I want for myself and my family... it's a personal choice... you can't make someone 'believe' it if they don't want to or they don't care.  An organic life style isn't easy by any definition of the word... especially if you live in the city! No offense there my city dwelling friends! I have come to understand your back yard isn't even your own to grow your food if that is what you want to do... that is unless you get 'their' permission.  This is incredulous to me... as many of you who know me personally and have leaned over my market table where we have vented together on these issues!  So many of you ask me for advice on chickens, gardening and canning... I wish so badly I could do more than just give you 'tips'... but that is where it's at I guess.  So today I am going to give some reference materials along with more 'tips' on how to get a piece of the organic life for yourselves... and of course some more yummy market fresh recipes!  Enjoy friends!

What are most organic minded people searching for in their quest for this life style that is sure to better for them?  How do they change their eating, their basic hygiene habits and all the 'normal' stuff they have done for years?  Well in today's world of the educated consumer and the ready to make a dollar industry, the choices are by far greater than when I started this journey.  Just about every grocery & big box store carries an organic line of everything imaginable.  But this is only the basics right?  What about going deeper... like the know where the stuff comes from... who processed it... who raised it... getting it from the hand that washed that beautiful brown, farm fresh egg... that's what the search is really about... the knowing!  ...and it's important, no matter what 'they' try to tell you! There is this instinct within you that just want's to raise some of your own food in your very own garden, preserve what you've grown... canning some of your own pickles and making your own strawberry jam... bake some bread like grandma use too... have a few chickens, gather those eggs, wash them with your own two hands and then fry em' up. There are so many roads to this life. I love reading about people who left the rat race and said enough is enough... they go out to reclaim what they know was a part of their ancestory... the simple life... where you can hear the crickets chirping and see the milky way up in the starlit night, where the 'light' pollution doesn't distort it all... dirt roads and pasture fields all around... not screaming sirens and blaring 'booming' radio's... the good life!  I can preach all this stuff because we did it... almost sixteen years ago... It wasn't and still isn't easy... there have been many bumps in the road and I realize that not everyone can do this... but I have never regretted it and I will never go back! 
           
Here are some idea's to grow by...  * Growing your own food is probably the first attempt that most folks make... after all grandma & grandpa always had a garden!  I remember being a child sitting in the middle of the long pea rows eating those beautiful and oh so yummy peas right out of the pod.  Grabbing hold of that carrot top and washing it under the spicket and crunch!  Garden fresh goodness at it's best!  You will never know more satisfaction in your life than planting a seed or a seedling, nurturing it and then eating from the works of your very own hands... your own sweat and sore back... you will savor every mouthful to the fullest and you will make sure everyone cleans their plate!
           
*Canning is typically the next step... I think for reason of necessity because you got a lot out of that garden and now what do you do with it.... along with the sheer desire to preserve some of that goodness that you grew!  There is much to be learned in this field but once you have your main supplies and a couple sessions under your belt, you will quickly become an old pro and look forward to the harvest!
*Finding your local Farmer's Market... some folks can't or simply don't have the space for a garden, much less a chicken coop!  The next best thing is definitely going to your local market and supporting the farmers that work so hard to bring you all those beautiful piles of healthy food every week!  Knowing where your goods come from seems to be by far the most important element in this journey... As all our market friends know, I love to talk... especially about gardening and canning!  Be sure to talk to your farmers and producers... we are all usually pretty excited about chatting about what we do... after all it's our passions that have brought us to you at the market!   
*Energy saving seems to be right up there in the importance level... wouldn't it be wonderful if we could all go solar or wind powered?  But again, reality needs to set in and that is not a possibility for most either.  Although when you shop local and directly from the farmer/producer you are saving!  You are saving fuel from the transportation of trucking in food from all across the country and the world.  Try using bio-degradable home products and recycling... these all help... every little bit counts! 
*Plastic is a big no-no to most as well... we love when our market friends come with their recyclable grocery bags and we try to encourage all to use them. We also encourage our customers to bring us their clean, empty plastic clam shell containers- we re-use them each week for the produce that goes into our CSA shares!  If you are at the market and you see one of the farmers selling eggs, most will gladly take your clean, gently used old egg cartons and reuse them each week as well.


*Body, Baby & Home care  products aren't such a challenge any longer either... again, most stores carry organic lines and thankfully there are many on-line catalogs that supply a wide variety of products.  I do believe that this area is equally as important as the food we eat!  The harsh chemicals that we slather all over our bodies goes into the blood stream and I believe will eventually effect us in a very negative way!
*We even have the availability of organic clothing and other fiber products... again you can go to many farmers markets and find fiber producers.  They are often found by lamb, llama or the like farmers... these farmers then have the ability to produce wool, batting, etc. for you.



*You can incorporate these practices right down to gift giving. I know I have been guilty of not wanting to spend that extra couple bucks on so-and-so when they don't even care about any of this 'stuff'!  But you know what?  It just might be the seed that needs to be planted in a friends life... if you start the ball rolling with an organic and Eco-friendly gift they may do some deeper research or really like the product and then..

Here is a list of some really good books, magazines and sites that will help you on your way!

"A Slice of Organic Life", Editor-in-Chief Sheherazade Goldsmith, Foreword by Alice Waters; Published by DK, discover more at
www.dk.com
Organic Gardening Magazine, www.organicgardening.com
Countryside  & Small Stock  Journal, www.courntrysidemag.com 
Edible WOW Magazine, www.ediblewow.com
Taproot Magazine,
www.taprootmag.com
Mary Janes Farm Magazine, www.maryjanesfarm.org
Hobby Farm Magazine, www.hobbyfarm.com
Acres USA Magazine
Local Harvest,
www.localharvest.org
Local Dirt, www.localdirt.com
ATTRA, www.attra.ncal.org
Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Catalog, www.rareseed.com
Fedco Seed Company, www.fedco.com
Vitacost catalog- body/home care products, www.vitacost.com

More Yummy Market Fresh Recipes!
It's summer and the bounty is on... lets cook!

Oven Dried Tomatoes
Tomatoes... as many as you like or have room to do.
Sea Salt
olive Oil
Fresh Thyme
Fresh Garlic, minced

1. Coat cookie sheet lightly with olive oil; preheat oven to 200 degrees.
2. Slice tomatoes about 1/2 inch thick; single layer them on coated cookie sheet; sprinkle with salt and fresh thyme leaves; sprinkle minced garlic over top- amount of garlic is a personal choice.  Experiment until you get the desired flavor you would like.
3. Bake for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours, checking every fifteen minutes to make sure they don't dry out. 
4. Store in freezer bag for up to 3 months or in refrigerator in sealed container for about a week.

Summer Time Salsa
10 Roma type tomatoes, chopped
1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup red onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. sea salt
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tbsp. lemon juice
tortilla chips

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl; mix thoroughly; chill in fridge for at least 2 hours to let flavors blend.
Serve with chips

Bacon Stuffed Cherry Tomatoes
1 lb. Garden Gate Bacon... of course
1 pint cherry tomatoes~ larger types if possible, from Garden Gate
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup red onion, finely chopped
2 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

1. Set aside prepared bacon on paper towels to drain off excess fat.
2. Cut a thin slice off the top of each cherry tomato- discard tops.
3. Use the small scoop of a melon baller to hollow out tomato; discard pulp.
4. Combine remaining ingredients in a bowl and blend well; spoon mixture into hollowed out tomatoes. Refrigerated until chilled and serve.

Happy Day,
Jean



           

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Canning Tips, To-Do List Tags & How to Can Yummy Sweet & Sour pickles and Mexican Style Salsa!

Read on to get the recipe for my Yummy pickles...
Heirloom Tomatoes... basil, garlic... oh my!  Summer goodness just keeps flowing into our kitchens from the gardens.  We are busy starting to put our food up for the coming cold months and how wonderful it is to watch those can shelves fill up with all that good stuff. Today we are going to busy making salsa and sweet & sour pickles.  Every time we add to the shelves, I just stand back and cannot help but be so thankful for all we have.  Life is good!  Today I am going to give some helpful canning tips that I compiled several years back for my cookbook, "Lovingly Seasoned Eats & Treats" along with my salsa & pickle recipe... and of course a cute crafty idea  too!  Have a wonderful day!

       




"Tips for Relaxed and Enjoyable Canning", by Jean Smith, taken from Lovingly Seasoned Eats & Treats, pg. 389
*Always figure out approximately how many jars you will be needing.  Have them washed and ready to fill.
*Count out your lids and rings and have them ready.
*Keep a sink of hot, soapy water so you can wash as you go instead of having a pile of dirty dishes after you're done canning and tired, and don't feel like washing them!
*Have syrups, brine's, etc., made before you start into the fruit or veggies.
*Put salt in a bowl with measuring spoon.
*Make sure you have all needed ingredients AND enough of them BEFORE you start a project.
*If it's a 'first time' recipe, make a single serving to test if you and your family like it.
Make simple meals- use paper plates- don't try to do it all in one day.
*Include the children- they can be more helpful than we often can even imagine.
*If in Doubt about anything- call an experienced canner!
*Try new recipes- make the season fun!

*Time Saver fro Pressure Canning- use 15 pounds pressure instead of 10 and cut your processing time in half!

*Sugar Syrups for Canning or Freezing Fruit:

~Light Syrup:  2 cups sugar and 4 cups water
~Medium Syrup:  3 cups sugar and 4 cups water
~Heavy Syrup: 4 cups sugar and 4 cups water
Method:  Heat sugar and water until sugar is dissolved.  for canning, keep syrup hot until used, but don't boil down.  for freezing, refrigerate until ice cold.
to help maintain quality of canned fruits, use Fruit Fresh: 1/4 tsp. dissolved in 1/4 cup cold water, added to each quart of fruit.
*Use hot water bath for fruits, tomatoes, pickles, jams and jellies.  Use a pressure canner for meats, fish, chicken and other vegetables.

Tips for Canning Fruit, by Laurel Martin, taken from Lovingly Seasoned Eats & Treats, pg. 389
*Peaches: add 1/2 cup sugar to each quart. Bring water to rolling boil and turn off heat.  Time: Hard peaches for 15 minutes and soft peaches for 10 minutes.  Then remove from water bath.
*Pears: Add 1/2 cup sugar to each quart and 1/4 cup orange juice to each quart.  Bring water bath to rolling boil. Turn off heat and time 5 minutes.  remove from water bath.  The orange juice gives the pears a delicious looking color. 

There are tons more tips & ideas, along with almost 1000 recipe's, 100 in the canning section alone in the cookbook.  I always have them at market for anyone interested!

To-Do-List Tag's
Keep priorities in sight when planning your next trip by tying a to-do list onto luggage. We printed our list on card stock and used a metal eyelet to reinforce the hole through which a ribbon is passed. To be able to reuse the card for future jaunts, simply laminate it and check the things you've done with a dry-erase marker. Wipe off check marks and remove the tag when you head out on vacation.  (to see a photo, go to the website).

Here is my personal recipe for Mexican Style Salsa... It is excellent fresh as well as canned!

26 large tomatoes, cored and chopped into small bite size chunks
10 medium onions, chopped (you can peel them if you want to, I don't bother)
7 Tbsp. dried cilantro or 1 cup fresh, chopped
20 fresh cloves garlic, minced- about 7 Tbsp.
1 1/4 cup lemon juice
7 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cups chopped Jalapeno peppers
3 1/2 Tbsp. oregano
Salt

1.  In a large bowl: chop all tomatoes, onions and peppers; mince garlic; add rest of ingredients except salt.
2.  Fill pint jars leaving 1 inch head space; add 1 tsp. salt to each jar.
Process in a hot water bath for 30 minutes.  Yields about 16 pints.


Sweet and Sour Pickles...
Bring to Boil: Brine~ 1 Quart White Vinegar, 2 quart water, 3 cups sugar, 2 Tbsp. pickling spices, 2-3 tsp. alum.
Prepare~ Wash cukes, removing ends and any bad spots.  Slice lengthwise and put in large bowl, sprinkle Kosher salt over each layer.  Mix with hands; let set 3 hours or overnight.
Pack cukes in clean jars, add 1 sprig dill to each jar.  Pour brine over till covered, leaving 1 inch head space.  Make more if needed.
Process in hot water bath for 5 minutes.

Happy Day,
Jean