Thursday, January 30, 2014


To all my loyal readers, everyone that pops in on occasion, and those of you here for the first time...

I have been without internet for months and it is proving much harder to keep up with everything when I have to find time to travel to the library.  I, from this point on, am going to make a greater effort to keep this blog running.  I will be writing posts from home and I will get to the library at least once a week to share them with everyone.  

So much has happened over the winter and I can not wait to share what I have learned with all of you.  Some good and some bad but none the less, they were all learning experiences and I hope that sharing them will help at least one of you get through a difficult situation or find a way to make your home a better place.  

I pray everyone has had a wonderful winter and I am crossing my fingers for an early spring.  I am ready for snow plow season to be over and for gardening to begin!!

Blessed Be

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Pumpkin Puree

The second, and long awaited, installment of my Pumpkins Aplenty series...

One of the easiest things to do with a Sugar Pumpkin (The little ones used for pies) is to puree.  A fresh, whole pumpkin will last for about 6 months in a cool dry place.  But if you are like me, a cool dry place is still on the wish list.  Frozen pumpkin puree will be good for much longer and you can enjoy the flavors of home grown pumpkin year round!

My first attempt at pumpkin puree did not go as planned.  I was hoping to cut the pumpkin into chunks so they would roast faster.  Trying to cut a raw pumpkin proved too much for me and my little knives.  Instead, I found that roasting the whole pumpkin was much easier.  

Preheat the oven to 350

Place whole pumpkins on parchment lined cookie sheets (In case of leakage which is unlikely but its good to be prepared)

Roast for 1-2 hours depending on size (The pumpkins will be ready when you can easily insert and remove a knife from the skin)

Let cool until they are easy to handle

Cut in half, remove seeds and set aside for roasting later

At this point, the meat should easily scoop away from the skin. 

Remove all the meat and puree in a food processor or blender.
Refrigerate for use in the very near future or freeze for year round enjoyment!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Holidays without Hubby

Or wifey…or whichever loved one happens to be out of town at the holidays.

Being part of a military family means that, inevitably, your soldier/sailor/marine/airman will miss holidays and you may not be able to spend them with the people you traditionally get to see.  This does not mean that the holidays have to be a sad, lonely time of year. 

You may not be able to carry on every tradition your family is used to, but it is important to keep up with as many as possible especially if you have young children.  When mom or dad is away, little ones need familiarity to stay strong.  Trim the tree on the same day each year.  When we were kids we always trimmed the tree on my father’s birthday no matter what.  It was a big deal for my sisters and me.  Use the same decorations if you can.  It brings a bit of *home* with you on each move.  In the military, we are always moving so it’s hard to establish a *home*.  But with little things like common decorations, you can add some much needed nostalgia to the holidays.  My son and I always go to my mother’s for the holidays, we are lucky enough to be able to stay close to family, but I still set up daddy’s little Christmas tree every year and we cover it in tiny little ornaments (it’s only about 2 feet tall and sits on the kitchen counter).  This way, even when my husband isn’t home for the holidays, we have a little bit of him shining through the house every night. 

This time of year is perfect for Skype, Facetime, or any other live video chat.  Have your loved one there when you carve the turkey, light the tree/menorah, or sing Christmas carols.  This day in age, it is so easy to spend time together even when you can’t physically be together.  Phone calls are great but seeing their faces when gifts are opened or when daddy sings their favorite song is priceless.

If you are being left to your own devices this year (no kids, no parents) make sure you don’t spend them alone.  I spent one Easter pregnant and alone in NC and I bought myself dinner at IHOP.  I do not suggest that for anyone…it was not an enjoyable evening.  Hopefully you have been at your current duty station long enough to make at least one friend but even if you haven’t, the military community is extremely friendly.  One of the other families may invite you over for dinner, there may be a command sponsored event, or even a local community dinner.  Heck, invite everyone over to your place if you are feeling spunky!  Just don’t sit at home with your frozen turkey dinner and boxed wine (not that there is anything wrong with boxed wine on any other occasion). 

I hope everyone has a lovely holiday season and that you all get to spend as much time with your friends and family as possible!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Pumpkins Aplenty

I just finished my series on Apples and various recipes using them.  Now I will start on a short Pumpkin series.  Many people forget about pumpkins outside of carving fun faces into them for display on the front porch.  Even those large pumpkins used for carving can add a little to your pantry.  This first installment in my Pumpkins Aplenty series will be a handful of ideas on how to spice up those seeds scooped out of that great jack-o-lantern shell.  I will follow up with the best way I have found to make pumpkin puree, and then a few great ways to use that yummy ingredient.  Enjoy!!

Pumpkin Seeds:

After you scoop all the *guts* out of your jack-o-lantern shell you will have a gooey, orange pile of string and seeds.  With a little patience, that pile can turn into a yummy snack for the whole family!  Separate the seeds from the string and place them in a colander.  Be sure to rinse them extremely well to get the seeds as clean as you can. 

I have found that for the crunchiest seeds without burning, it is best to boil the seeds for 10 minutes in water with a teaspoon of salt.  Drain the seeds and let them dry.  (You can pat the seeds dry with a paper towel but they will stick so make sure you brush them off the paper towel so as not to accidently throw any seeds in the garbage)

Spread your seeds, in a thin layer, on a baking sheet.  Make sure none are overlapping.

Drizzle with olive oil.

Sprinkle with sea salt (For basic roasted pumpkin seeds.  If you are seasoning them with other spices, you will do that here)

Bake at 325 for 10 minutes.  Stir, and bake for another 10 minutes.  (Be sure to keep an eye on your seeds because they can burn very easily)

As much as I love a basic roasted pumpkin seed, sometimes it’s fun to add other flavors.  Here are a few of my favorites… 

(Sprinkle spices on after Olive Oil and befor roasting)  Measurements are for one cookie sheet of pumpkin seeds. 

~ 1tsp Cinnamon,  ¼ tsp Nutmeg, 2tbs Maple Syrup.  These seeds end up with a fantastic Autumn flavor!

~ ½cup Sugar, ½ tsp Cayenne Pepper, ½ tsp Sea Salt.  This is a great Sweet and Spicy treat.

~ 2tsp Curry Powder, ½ tsp Sea Salt.  If you like spicy snacks, this is the treat for you.

~ ½ tsp Chili Powder, ½ tsp Ground Cumin, ¼ tsp Cayenne Pepper.  After roasting, drizzle with the juice of half a lime.  The lime adds great flavor and cuts a bit of the heat from all those spices.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Apple Butter

In this final (for now) installment of my Apples Everywhere series, I will be sharing my Apple Butter recipe.  It took me a while to finaly get this one cooking since I have been busy nursing my Quarter Horse back to health after she scratched herself in the eye.  Anywho, this recipe is very similar to the Apple Sauce but you have to simmer much longer to get a good consistency.  I hope you enjoy!

((I will add a photo tomorrow.
I forgot to take one last night and didn't realize until I was already on my way to the library))

Core and cut about 4 pounds of apples.  Using different varieties in one batch will add flavor.

Combine apples and 3 cups cider or juice in a large pot.  Bring to a boil and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes.

If you did not peel your apples, at this point you will want to run everything through a food mill or sieve.  If you peeled your apples (I always peel mine) mash them into a smooth pulp.  I like to use my immersion blender for this to make sure I get all the big chunks out.

Stir in honey, lemon juice, and cinnamon. 

Bring to a boil and simmer, uncovered, for 1.5-2 hours.  Continue to cook until the butter is at your desired consistency.  A good reference is to cook until the mixture is thick and mound on the back of a spoon.

Ladle into hot, sterilized jars, place lids and rings, and process in a boiling water canner for 5 minutes (for half pints).  Larger jars will need a longer processing time.