Category Archives: DIY

Easy Blackberry Syrup

Making your own syrup for pancakes, waffles, french toast or icecream is really easy! Here’s my recipe for Blackberry Syrup. I use juice that’s left over from making jelly and it’s super easy, just 2 (or 3) ingredients and about 10 minutes of your time.

Equal parts Blackberry Juice and Sugar – in my case, I had 3 cups of juice, so I used 3 cups of sugar

a Tablespoon or so of pectin (this is entirely optional. If you omit the pectin you get a nice thin syrup about the consistency of real maple syrup. Adding a little bit of pectin just makes your syrup a little thicker. I like mine thin, but with a little body so I add about 1 Tbs of pectin)

Bring all that to a boil over high heat and boil for 2 minutes. Skim off the foam (adding about 1 tsp butter to the pot at the beginning will virtually eliminate foaming), pour into jars and let cool.

Using 3 cups juice and 3 cups sugar yielded about 5 1/2 cups syrup.

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Filed under DIY, In the Kitchen, Using Wild Things

Blackberry Jelly

I love this time of year and I love blackberry hunting – gathering berries to make cobbler and jelly and wine.  So, be like me, and go out into the woods or take a drive through the country and pick a bunch of blackberries!

Wild blackberries – washed and picked over

Today I am making some jelly!

Fill your waterbath canner or very large pot with enough water to cover your jars by about 2 inches. Put in your clean, empty jars and bring to a boil. This takes quite a while and your canner will usually be boiling and your jars sterilized by the time you’re finished making the jelly. Put the rings and lids into a bowl or pot and pour boiling water over them.  Keep them hot till you need them – do not boil your lids, this will damage the seal.

Measure out about 4 cups of berries

Measure out about 4 cups berries

Put the berries in a large pot and crush – a potato masher works really well. Add 4.5 cups water and bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil gently for 20 minutes.

Cook the berries and water for 20 minutes. You’re making the juice that you will use to make the jelly.

Strain the juice into a large measuring cup. Press as much juice as possible from the pulp and seeds. You need 3.75 cups of juice. 4 cups of berries and 4.5 cups of water will give you exactly 3.75 cups of juice. I pour the juice through a fine sieve to make sure there are no seeds or pulp in the jelly.

Strain the pulp and press out as much juice as possible.

3.75 cups of juice

Measure out exactly 4.5 cups sugar

Have ready 1 box of pectin

Place juice and pectin in a large pot and bring to a boil over high heat *stirring constantly*

Put the juice and pectin in a large pot

Add the sugar all at once, return to a boil and boil for 20 minutes, again *stirring constantly*

Adding 1/2 teaspoon of butter to the pot will virtually eliminate this foaming and will help prevent boiling over

Remove from heat and skim off any foam.

Remove your jars quickly and carefully from the canner. Ladle in your jelly and fill jars to within 1/8 inch of the top. Work quickly so the jelly does not cool too much before you get it into the jars.

Ladle the jelly into the jars quickly, leaving 1/8 inch headspace

Wipe the rims and threads of your jars with a damp paper towel to ensure a good seal for your lid

Wipe the rims of the jars with a damp paper towel, even if they look clean, do not skip this step

Put on the lid

Put on the ring – do not tighten the rings too much or you will not get a proper seal

Put your filled jars into the canner and process for 20 minutes.

This recipe makes just over 6 half pints. The partial jar was not processed.

Make sure your canner is boiling when you put your jars in and maintain a constant, gentle rolling boil throughout the processing time

When the time is up, carefully remove your jars and put them in a draft free place on a towel. Do not touch, move, tilt or disturb them in any way for a full 24 hours.

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Filed under DIY, In the Kitchen, Step by Step, Using Wild Things

Granola (again)

Today is a dreary rainy day and I decided to spend it making granola (again). I’ve been playing around with different variations and I found one that we both love and I get asked to make it all the time. So I’m sharing it here today.

Preheat your oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a large bowl mix together about 6 cups rolled oats, about 1/2 cup wheat germ (toasted or untoasted) and about a cup or so of chopped pecans. In a bowl or large measuring mix together about half a cup of pure maple syrup, 1/2 cup packed brown sugar and about 1/4 cup or so of vegetable oil. Make sure it’s all combined really well, pour it over the oats and stir it all together. Make sure all the oats and nuts are thoroughly coated. Spread this in a large shallow pan, like a jelly roll pan. Bake for about and hour and a half, stirring about every 30 minutes or so. Once it comes out of the oven, let it cool for a few minutes then add about a cup or so of dried cranberries (I use Craisins). Make sure the granola is completely cool before you put it into a container or a bag, or else steam will get trapped in there and made it soggy.

That’s it! This makes a wonderful granola with just a hint of sweet maple and has become our very favorite.

Enjoy!!

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Chicken Noodle Soup

We love roast chicken here. Add mashed potatoes, collard greens and biscuits and it’s a dinner we look forward to all week! Once the chicken is all eaten up, the remains become an even better dinner, Soup!

Take your chicken carcass and put it in a large pot. Take 3 or 4 carrots and a couple of stalks of celery and break them into large chunks and put them in the pot, you don’t have to peel them or cut the ends off…they’re flavoring your broth, just make sure they’re clean. Cut an onion in half and toss that in there. Add a bay leaf or two, a few whole garlic cloves (smashed) a few whole peppercorns, a bit of salt and then enough water to cover the chicken by an inch or two. Bring this to a boil, reduce the heat, cover the pot and just let it simmer all day or at least 3 or 4 hours. When I make soup it takes all day. I start the pot early in the day and near dinner time the pot has reduced and the broth is a lovely golden color.

When you’re done simmering and your ready to start your soup, turn off the heat and let the pot cool down for about an hour, it will still be plenty hot, you just don’t want to scald yourself. Get your biggest bowl or another pot and put a colander in it. Carefully pour your pot of broth and bones and vegetables into the colander. That lovely broth is the base for your soup! Pour your broth back into your pot and put it back on the stove and bring it up to a simmer. You can put all kinds of vegetables in your soup…I put carrots, potatoes and buttercup squash. You can put your favorite vegetables in yours, just make sure they’re all cut to about the same size for even cooking.

Pick through the stuff in the colander and get out all the meat you can and put it in a separate bowl. You’d be surprised just how much meat is left on there! I take all the vegetable chunks and give them to the chickens.

With your broth simmering and cooking your vegetables, now it’s time to make your noodles!

Beat together 2 eggs and about 2.5 cups flour along with about 1/2 cup broth. I use a stand mixer and just dump everything in there and let it mix it up for me. But by hand, you’d mix it up as best you could and then knead it until it was smooth. Aim for a fairly stiff, but moist dough. Not too sticky. You made need more or less flour depending on the humidity. But don’t add too much, you don’t want dry noodles. Take your dough and roll it out to about 1/8″ thick, sprinkle flour over it then slice it with a pizza cutter or knife into fairly thin (1/4″) strips and then cut the strips to about 2 or 3 inches long. I have a hand crank pasta machine that rolls my dough out flat and then cuts my noodles for me (great machine and not terribly expensive either! Get your own here)

Be careful with your noodles and treat them gently. Try to keep them as separate as possible. It’s easier if you flour before you cut. Make sure your pot is gently boiling, increase the temperature slightly, and drop your noodles in one at a time until they’re all in there. Let the pot come back up to a boil (if it stopped, raising the temperature usually allows uninterrupted boiling) reduce the heat back to about medium and let the noodles cook for about 5 minutes.

Add your chicken, heat through and you’re done! Awesome homemade chicken noodle soup 🙂

Enjoy!

My Chicken Noodle Soup

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Filed under Chickens, DIY, In the Kitchen, Noodles, Waste Not

Mom’s Apple Chunkies

When I was a kid my mom made these “cookies” called Apple Chunkies. These had a thin glaze on top and were cut and eaten warm and Mom cutting them and handing them out to us is one of my favorite memories. Today, I share that recipe with you and hope that it will create  good memories for you too.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and thoroughly grease a 9×13 pan. I use butter, but you can use shortening if you want. Sprays like Pam aren’t recommended because they just don’t coat the pan well enough.

Stir together 2 cups flour, 2 tsp baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Set aside.

Melt 1 stick of butter in a large saucepan. Once it’s melted, remove from heat and stir in 1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar. Let this cool slightly. While it’s cooling, coarsely chop 2 medium or 1 large apple. You can peel them if you want to, but I like to leave the peel on. To your slightly cooled sugar mixture, beat in 2 eggs, one at a time, making sure one is completely incorporated before adding the next. To this add 1/2 teaspoon each Cinnamon and Nutmeg. Stir in your chopped apple and then stir in the flour mixture. The resulting batter will be a lovely caramel color and fairly stiff.

Pour batter into your greased pan and bake for 30 minutes.

Make a glaze with confectioner’s sugar and milk (just put some powdered sugar in a glass measuring cup and add milk a tablespoon at a time until you have a creamy, pourable consistency. You’ll need between 1/2 and 1 cup of glaze depending on how glazey you want it) and pour over the pan as soon as it comes out of the oven and spread it evenly. Let it cool for a few minutes and then cut into bars. These are best when warm but are also very good the next day, if they last that long 🙂

Enjoy!

 

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Filed under DIY, In the Kitchen

Granola

The chicks are all doing well and already seem bigger today than they were yesterday! My camera finally died, so there will be no more pictorial step-by-steps…I will still do some instructional things and try to be as descriptive as possible 🙂

Yesterday I made granola. Homemade cereal is one of the greatest things you can make for yourself. It is far healthier than anything you can buy in the store. You know exactly what’s in it and where it came from and you control the level of sweetness and all the ingredients. It’s also very simple to make and for pennies you can make far more than you could buy in the store.  If you grow and dry your own fruit, the cost is even less. Raise your own bees and it becomes cheaper still. I grew up  eating homemade granola as breakfast cereal, as a topping for yogurt or ice cream and even pressed into granola bars or incorporated into cookie dough or bread dough. Really, you are only limited by your imagination.

I do not have a formal recipe for my granola. I usually use what I have on hand, occasionally I will buy things specifically for it. In this particular batch I used rolled oats, flax meal, toasted wheat germ, slivered almonds, crushed dried apples (that I dehydrated), crushed dried bananas (that I dehydrated), chopped dates and golden raisins. When I make mine, I mix the oats, flax, wheat germ and almonds together so everything is incorporated fairly evenly. I used about 4-5 cups of oats and about a cup each of the wheat germ, flax meal and almonds. Then I pour honey over it and mix it up. I keep adding honey until everything is evenly coated. It usually will take less than you think. I would say for my batch I used a total of maybe 1 cup of honey (maybe). I also add a bit of oil to mine. You do not have to add oil, but I find it helps distribute the honey and keeps it from sticking to the pan…you only need a very little, say 1/4 cup, of any flavorless oil. I use canola. Notice at this point I have not added any fruit. You do not want your fruit to become overly hard during the baking process. So I cook my granola, let it cool, then add my fruit. I bake it in a shallow pan at 250 degrees for about an hour and a half, stirring every 15-20 mins so it all browns evenly. Once it’s a nice golden color, the nuts are nicely toasted and it’s mostly dry throughout, remove it from the oven and let it cool…I pour mine into a bowl and will toss it every few minutes. If you don’t toss it or stir it up, steam will build up and make it soggy. Once it’s cool add the fruits and bag it up. I added about 2 handfuls of each of the different fruits and my batch filled a gallon size zip top bag to the very top.

You can really customize the granola to taste however you want…Make an Apple Cinnamon granola by adding a couple of tablespoons of cinnamon and only using apples…Or make a Maple Granola by using maple syrup instead of honey. Or use brown sugar instead of honey (mix it with the oil and pour over). Use dried blueberries or cranberries or strawberries. Pecans instead of almonds. Your choices are limitless 🙂

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Filed under DIY, In the Kitchen, Step by Step

New Arrivals

Got a call this morning at 5:30am from the Post Office letting me know our babies had arrived!! So I bundled up and raced down there and came home with this:

Chicks!

So I plugged in the heat lamp and filled their waterer and put some food in a pie plate and as each one came out of the box they got their beak dipped in water…they are very thirsty when they first arrive and I’ve found dipping their beak gets them a drink and teaches them where the water is.

So thirsty!

Pretty soon they were scurrying around and exploring the pen

Exploring their new home

The black on is our “Mystery Chick”. We always get our chicks from McMurray Hatchery and with every order of birds they send a free mystery chick. We always hope for a hen but usually they are roosters…

Our Mystery Chick

These birds are meat birds and will go from chick to freezer in 8-10 weeks.

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