Category Archives: In the Kitchen

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.


Leave a comment

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.

Leave a comment

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

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

The recipe I use for pineapple upside down cake came from my grandmother and she could not remember where she had gotten it. It is made in a 9 inch cast iron skillet and only has a few ingredients. I’ve made it for years and it’s always a favorite. Today, I share it with you!

To start, preheat your oven to 350*.

Melt 1/2 stick of butter in a 9" cast iron skillet over medium heat

Add 1 packed cup of brown sugar

Once the brown sugar has melted, spread it out evenly in the pan and turn off the heat.

Sprinkle pineapple tidbits all over the brown sugar. You can use rings if you prefer, but I like my pineapple upside down cakes to be really pineappley.

In a small bowl combine 1 cup flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Set aside.

Beat 3 egg yolks until they are thick and lemon colored. Using a stand mixer is easiest, but it's totally doable with a hand mixer.

With the mixer running add 1 packed cup brown sugar.

Add the flour mixture

Then add 5 Tablespoons of pineapple juice

Scrape your batter into another bowl, wash your bowl and your whisk in hot soapy water, rinse in hot water and then in cold water and dry thoroughly. If you are using a hand mixer, wash your beaters the same way and get a medium size bowl and make sure it is very clean.

Beat 3 egg whites till stiff

Keep beating

There we go

Fold the beaten egg whites into the batter

Fold gently, the egg whites keep your cake light

Be thorough and make sure all the egg white is completely incorporated

Pour the batter onto the brown sugar and pineapple in the pan

smooth out the batter, make sure it's even

Bake for 45 minutes

When it's done, take it out and let it cool for 30 minutes.

After cooling for 30 minutes, put your serving plate upside down on top of the pan

And flip it over. Just let it sit there like that for a minute or two. Slowly lift up your pan, and...


Hope you enjoy it as much as I do!!

Leave a comment

Filed under In the Kitchen, Step by Step

Venison Roast

A few days ago my husband’s uncle shot a deer and gave it to us. We skinned it and quartered it. Some of the meat I ground up and the rest I made into roasts. This is one of the roasts. If you have such a cut of meat or any large muscle that is roast material, take it out of the fridge and salt it liberally about an hour before you’re ready to roast it. The salt does two things, it first draws liquid up out of the meat, that liquid melts the salt and then the meat reabsorbs the salty liquid and it flavors and tenderizes the meat. The trick to this is to salt the meat and let it rest, at room temperature, for an entire hour until the salt is completely dissolved. You can read more about this technique here.

Please note that all my pictures are taken with a cell phone and it’s not a smart phone, so the resolution is a bit crappy (sorry).

This is a ham. I've separated the leg at the joint. It's been liberally sprinkled with salt and has been sitting for about 20 minutes.

Next, I sliced up a bunch of onions and some carrots and went and snipped some rosemary from the garden and put all this into my roasting pan.

Veggies in the roasting pan.

Once my roast was done resting, I put it in the roasting pan on top of the veggies and then laid some rosemary on top.

Roast in the pan with rosemary

The I covered the entire roast with bacon. Laying first one way and then the other to make sure that it stayed on during cooking.

Because venison is so lean, the bacon adds fat to keep the meat moist and imparts a nice smokey flavor.

The into the oven it went! For about 3 hours at 300*F. You want to reach an internal temperature of about 140. Once you reach that temperature, take it out, tent it with foil and just leave it alone for about an hour. The temperature will continue to rise to about 160-165 and you will end up with a medium rare cut of meat that is perfectly juicy.

Now we had already started digging in before I remembered I was supposed to take pictures of the roast when it came out of the oven.

I had already removed the bacon and cut several slices. I serve the bacon alongside the meat.

Some slices and the bacon

So that’s my roast deer! The flavor was absolutely wonderful with rosemary undertones. The meat was tender and juicy and just that perfect medium rare.

Hope one day you can get your own and try it!




Filed under Game, In the Kitchen, 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.


Leave a comment

Filed under DIY, In the Kitchen

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 🙂


My Chicken Noodle Soup

Leave a comment

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

Persimmon Cookies

Still without a camera, but still doing stuff and making things. I found some wild persimmon trees while walking one day, so I went home got a bucket and walked back and got all I could reach (which wasn’t much). After washing and pressing through a sieve I had just under a cup of persimmon purée. I’ve never worked with persimmons before, so I didn’t really know what to do with the purée…I’ve eaten plenty of persimmon pudding in my time, but I wanted something different. So I thought about cookies. I do a lot of baking kind of on a whim and “invent” recipes…So I creamed some butter and sugar and an egg and added the purée and then added flour with some nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves. The resulting dough was a very sticky, like a really thick batter. But I greased my cookie sheet and dropped the dough by sticky  teaspoonful onto it.  They pretty much kept their shaped throughout cooking and had a very airy texture. As soon as they came out of the oven I rolled them in powdered sugar and then set them on the cooling rack. I tasted one fresh and it was divine! Prominent persimmon flavor with the earthy spiciness of the cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. Once cool the cookies remained soft and chewy and wonderful. My husband ate at least a dozen before I took them away from him. I immediately knew I had to try to remember what I had done and write it down for future batches. So here, as best I can remember, is my recipe for Persimmon Cookies:

1 scant cup Persimmon Puree

1 1/2 cups Brown Sugar

1/2 cup Lard (Butter is perfectly fine too, I just didn’t have any at the time)

2 tablespoons Milk

1 Egg

2 cups flour (I used self-rising because that’s what I had – add 1 tsp baking powder if using regular flour)

1/2 tsp Salt

1/2 tsp Cinnamon

1/2 tsp Nutmeg (I grate mine fresh and didn’t really measure but it looked like about 1/2 tsp)

1/4 tsp Cloves

A couple handfuls of Chopped Pecans

Powdered Sugar (for rolling)

Greasing the cookie sheet is a fairly important step…I lightly greased mine each time and didn’t have any stick so I couldn’t get them off, but because they’re so very soft when they come out of the oven, they’re easy to get up with the spatula. Roll them in the powdered sugar while they’re still hot. I baked mine at 350 degrees for 12 minutes.


Leave a comment

Filed under In the Kitchen, Using Wild Things