Monday, June 9, 2014

The Burlap Saga Continues

When I was in college I was given the task of decorating a table with a theme and a budget for making it happen.  My theme was Thanksgiving.  My budget was $10.  I bought burlap, a basket type cornucopia and I don't remember what else.  Long after the activity was completed I still had burlap and a basket. (and I see that basket's twin sisters every time I go into a thrift store -  and you have too!)

Loved the burlap. Mine was the only table with a natural fiber cover, or any fiber for that matter as the rest were all done in paper. It wasn't the showiest, or the flashiest, but it was real.  Burlap wasn't particularly fashionable at the time, but I was a farm girl and didn't care.

You can imagine my amusement a few years ago when burlap became the hot decorating item.  So hot that my fashion savvy daughter chose it as a major component for decorating her wedding.  (See previous blog posts  for photos!)

The wedding came, was sweet, and went, and so did she.  North in the same general region I went to college, and the happy couple is now settled into their first "house" home.  So you can imagine my sweet amusement a few days ago when she proudly sent photos of a recent diy project.  Maybe you can spot it.

I don't know about you, but I like those curtains!  And I like the  minimalistic, vintage, bookish style these two call home. 

So that's how burlap has played out so far in the next generation for our family.  It will be fun to see in the coming years where other favorite things show up and how they are incorporated.

For some great ideas using burlap visit my Pinterest board on that topic.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Soup's On! Lentil Soup - Made My Way

I made my husband a very happy man a couple of years back when I started experimenting with "soup in a jar" recipes.  The inspiration came from my awesome friend Connie and her Aunt Viki when I learned that they had canned dried beans start to finish in the canning jar.   I felt cheated I had not known this wonderful method all my life.  They were kind enough to share it with me.

That was my first big break.

The second big break came soon after.  I found myself at a popular Italian restaurant with some friends.  Not being very hungry I felt adventurous and ordered the lentil soup.  It was divine.

The last big break, which I can only credit to God seeing all the good it has led to, happened at our area's bent and dent grocer.  The hubs and I like to get down there twice a year or so to scope out the bargains and load up on a few favorite things.  I hit the jackpot . . . a 24# case of (yep!) dried lentils for $6.99.

Lentils!  Healthful, wholesome, hearty lentils!! I started having ecstatic visions of soup as soon as I saw it!  The hubs thought I was nuts!

In the meantime I had canned some navy beans using Connie and Viki's method.  It worked beautifully, but I have to tell you, I've barely used those beans.  They're good, they're beautiful, but really, they're boring.  Then it crossed my mind that if I used less beans and added other things . . .  you see where this is going.

And thus dried bean soup made in the jar was born!  The lentils started it and I've added several more bean soups to the menu since then.  The hubs is happy - he gets tasty CHOICES when he has to heat his own lunch.  My mom is happy because she's a canning nut and loves these soups.  My aunt Sue for the same reason.  I'm happy as it provides budget and health friendly meals for us.

For the record, most of my soup recipes are condensed.  Like Campbells, you have to add water or milk to it.  As I type I've got my first attempt at a potato soup (Knockoff Zuppa Tuscano like Olive Garden's) using the same methodology in the canner.  It will require the addition of milk upon opening it. I could change it and add less bulk and more water, but really don't see any good reason to.

Also for the record, while canning beans start to finish in a canner is not a Ball Blue Book method, it IS approved by the extension service in Ohio or Wisconsin or somewhere.  It's been so long since I ran across that I forgot which state. Regardless, the beans still get the standard 90 minutes at 10 lb pressure and as long as you observe standard food safety protocol (sterilized equipment, clean hands, high quality ingredients, etc) you're good to go.


Condensed Lentil Soup
based on Carraba recipe

For Each Sterilized Quart Mason Jar add:

slightly heaped 1/2 cup DRY lentils
¼ to 1/3 link (chopped) uncooked hot Italian sausage (sausage is more for taste than bulk)
(note, 1 lb sausage makes 14 jars using just a bit more than 1 oz per jar)
1 cube Knorr chipotle seasoning
1 tsp dry minced onion or ¼ cup fresh chopped onion
1 stalk chopped celery (1/4- 1/3 cup)
1 chopped or sliced carrot (1/4- 1/3 cup)
small pinch of savory
small pinch of marjoram
1/2 tsp salt
chicken broth- fill to within 1" from top. 
   If broth is not available use two Knorr chicken cubes and omit salt

Fill jar with water leaving 1 inch head space.
Clean rims
Seal with sterilized rings and flats. Process 90 minutes at 10 lb pressure.

To serve add 1-2 c water as desired, heat and serve.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day Rhubarb Craziness

Yes, I know it has been a looooooong time since this poor blog received any attention, and to just get it out there and over with  - ITS MY FAULT.  Feel free to stalk us on facebook, twitter, instagram, etsy, etc if you want to look further at what's gone on for 2+ years.  Suffice to say life has been quite full!

But I'm still me and I still like to do creative stuff when I can and share it when I think it's worth sharing -  so here you go.

One of the things that has happened in 2+ years is that the hubs has perfected the art of growing RHUBARB in southeast Alabama.  You heard me right.  What we were told wouldn't grow here is growing in abundance a few steps from my back door.  Lots and lots of it!  And besides listing it for farmer's market sales I get to make pies, crisps, jams and today . . .  (drum roll please)  COOKIES.

I found this amazing recipe over at Little Dairy on the Prairie.  And with a 5 gallon bucket of the stuff begging to be dealt with this afternoon I figured "why not?"  It gave me the opportunity to:
   1. Use rhubarb in a new ay
   2. Try chopping rhubarb in the Ninja  (a most awesome birthday present from the hubs)
   3.  Try mixing dough in the Ninja
   4.  Spoil the hubs a little.
   5.  Get this baking bug out of my system

So here are the results:

LOVE using the Ninja -  it made so much work go faster and easier.  LOVE the cookies.  You'd never know there's a full 2 cups of rhubarb in the recipe, or any at all for that matter.  Rhubarb blends well with anything you put it with and in this venue add both fiber (Bonus!)  and moistness.  I did make some changes to suit our own preferences and if I make them again will do some things differently as well:  use semi-sweet chips instead of Toll House, use less and/or different sweetener, and whole wheat flour.  If my Bonnie is coming I'll switch it up even more to make it dairy and gluten free.

Here's the recipe with my Hortonized changes in italics:

  • 2 cups rhubarb, diced   (I diced them REAL fine in the Ninja bowl)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups sugar, divided    (Brown Sugar.  Wish I had used less)
  • 1 cup real butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3½ cups flour
  • 2½ cups quick cooking oats   (Was out.  Used Old Fashioned Oats)
  • 2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1½ teaspoons cinnamon  (thought that was a lot so only used 1 tsp)
  • 3 cups chocolate chips  (Chocolate attack!  Used half this amount)
  • 1 cup raisins (optional)   (1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 cup cranberries
  • 1/2 cup sour dehydrated cherries (to take the edge off the sweet Toll House chips and what I thought was too much sugar)
  • 3/4 cup mixed pecans and walnuts
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Cream eggs, butter, 1½ cups sugar and vanilla extract until fluffy. About 2 minutes.  In Ninja
  3. Add diced rhubarb and ½ cup sugar in blender. Blend until pureed. Pour into creamed ingredients. Mix together.  Forget that, I just added the sugar and rhubarb to the stuff in the  Ninja bowl.  Worked beautifully.
  4. Sift flour, salt, soda and cinnamon into creamed mixture. Add quick oats. Mix until incorporated. Add chocolate chips and raisins. Mix together.  I did this backward.  I mixed the dry stuff and poured the rhubarb/butter/sugar stuff into it and folded it all together, then added the chips, fruit and nuts.
  5. Bake for 8 minutes.  Mine were nowhere near done at 8 minutes.  Using stone may have had something to do with that but it typically took 11-12 minutes.