In a Pickle!

Have you ever made something, but then could not eat it for a couple of months?

That was me!

Or, have you ever found yourself so busy with family and work that you had to put off working on something you love doing for a few months, until things slow down?

That was me!!

It seemed, there for a few months, my life and free time was, “in a pickle!”

I guess that is my way of explaining why I have not posted in 6 long months!

I missed all my readers!

I missed posting my recipes and talking about my back yard girls as I affectionately call my chickens.

I missed everything there was to do about staying connected with everyone through this webpage.

So, I think my life is slowly, slowing down, and I can finally get back on track with posting and chit-chatting with everyone now.

You might have wondered what I have been up to the last few months, and I will explain in the coming recipe post, as I try to get caught up.

Even though, I might not have posted a recipe, my kitchen has been busy and so has my camera!

I have a ton of things to share!!!

One thing I will share now to try to explain my absence is that my Mom “The Princess” first had a breast cancer scare and then had a heart attack along with pneumonia right before the holidays. My super strong mom is a fighter though and is slowly getting her strength back and is now able to get out of the house some and going back to church.

Prayers were answered!

So anywho, I thought what was more fitting to get back to posting and get my webpage out of being “in a pickle,” was to post about me canning sweet pickles.

So here goes!!

Sweet Cucumber Pickles!

When I first made my pickles and water bath canned them, my pickles floated. I thought maybe I had acquired magic powers to get pickles to float, only to find out that after a couple of weeks they settled down and went to the bottom. I was later to learn that the air trapped inside the cucumbers had to slowly release for the pickles to stay where they were suppose too.

By the time the pickles were ready to eat, they decided to quit showing off and sit still.

These little pickles are perfect to snack on and are the perfect size to put on little slider hamburgers.

Here is what you need to make these delicious little sweet pickles.

Pickling cucumbers, (not regular salad cucumbers that are bigger and longer) sugar, pickling salt, ice, vinegar (5%), celery seed, whole allspice and  mustard seed.

The first thing you need to do is cut the blossom end off the cucumber, (it can cause soft pickles) and then slice the cucumbers into slices. Mine are about 1/4 inch.

My sliced cucumbers filled up this big bowl.

Next, sprinkle the pickling salt over the cucumbers.

The next thing you do is cover the cucumbers with ice and put in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 hours. If the ice melts, add more ice. Now you can get all your jars, lids and rings out and set up for water bath canning….or you can take a nap, like me..LOL

Time to make the brine. Measure out the vinegar and pour it into a large sauce pan.

Add the sugar to the vinegar.

Add the celery seed to the vinegar and sugar mixture.

Next, add in the mustard seeds.

Now, add in the whole allspice. Bring the mixture to a boil.

Be sure and sterilize your jars before you fill them with cucumbers. I do a dip in boiling water with my jars before I fill them up.

Take you pickles out to the fridge. See how much they have shrunk….LOL…

Drain the pickles and remove any ice that is left.

Fill each jar with pickles to 1/2 inch from the top. Try to pack tightly as the pickles will shrink as they are processed.

Fill the jars with the hot brine leaving 1/2 inch head space. Remove the air bubbles. You can do this with a wooden skewer but running it down the inside side of the jars.

Wipe the rim of each jar with a wet paper towel to remove any syrup/brine and put on the lids and rims.

Water bath can or process the jars in boiling water for 10 minutes for pints or 15 minutes for quarts.

Now, here is one of my favorite parts….waiting to hear the pop of the lids after you take the jars out of the boiling water.

The hardest part of this recipe is waiting a few weeks (4 to 5) to allow the pickles to develop the ideal flavor.

As with any food that is canned, be sure to use a certified canning recipe and follow all the steps. Please refer to the Ball book of canning or  your local extension office  for complete instructions on water bath canning.

Here is the recipe.

This recipe is from Ohio Extension Office. They have a great video you can watch to assist you making these pickles. Here is the link. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vo5Yx6ADsTg

Ingredients!

8 pounds 3 to 4 inch pickling cucumbers

1/3 cup canning or pickling salt

4 1/2 cups sugar

3 1/2 cups vinegar (5%)

2 teaspoons celery seed

1 tablespoon whole allspice

2 tablespoons mustard seed

Directions:

Cut 1/4 inch off the blossom end of the cucumber and discard. This blossom end can lead to soft pickles. Cut cucumbers into 1/4 inch slices. Place in a bowl and sprinkle with 1/3 cup canning salt. Cover with ice and put into the refrigerator for 3 to 4 hours. This will help draw the moisture from the cucumbers.

Combine sugar, vinegar, celery seed, allspice and mustard seed into a large saucepan. Heat to boiling.

Drain the liquid from the cucumbers.

Pack the cucumbers into the jars and fill the jars leaving 1/2 inch head space at the top.

Fill the jars with the hot canning liquid. Filling the jars to  1/2 inch from the top.

Remove any air bubbles. (you can use a wooden skewer to do this but running it down the inside side of the jars)

Adjust the lids and rings.

Water bath process for 10 minutes for pints or 15 minutes for quarts.

After procession and cooling, store the jars for 4 to 5 weeks to allow pickles to develop the best flavor.

As with any canning, be sure to use approved recipes and follow all the proper canning steps to prevent spoilage.

Enjoy!

Becky

 

Whew….I am back!

This is my baby girl Tricia, and she got married last weekend.

It has been pretty busy around my house getting ready for her wedding and trying to can up some tomatoes I bought from the Amish.

Yes, the wedding was more important than my tomatoes but I got to keep my life real and canning tomatoes kept me too busy to think about my baby becoming a wife.

It all the excitement and trying to finish up decorating, I was able to take a few pictures I thought you might enjoy seeing. These were her bridesmaids bouquets made with fresh flowers.

This is how we decorated the tables. Tricia glass etched all the mason jars for gifts to give to her guest.

The cake was so yummy. It was tiered with strawberry, red velvet and vanilla flavors.

The is what the bottom of the cake looked like.

She has an outdoor wedding. Seating up the chairs took many helping hands.

My super dooper friend Roberta helped decorate all the vases. This vase is actually a antique pickle jar that belongs to my mom.

Here is a picture of my daughters bouquet. Tricia had a piece of jewelry from her other grandma put in the bouquet to remember her grandma by since she has gone on to heaven.

We had a candy bar too. Oldest daughter who does not cook provided this. It was a big hit!

So anywho, that is why I have been absent from posting for a few weeks, and I hope you understand!

But, I am back now and I have recipes already to go and get posted.

Stay tuned!

Becky

Here is a couple of prior post you may enjoy!

Fried Eggplant 

ooops I cannot find the picture. I will keep looking!

 

Deviled Eggs

 

 

 

Varmint in the Backyard!

For the last couple of week, some varmint has been getting into the shed in the backyard where I keep the chicken food and breaking in and eating it!

The doors would be pulled shut each night and in the morning one of the doors would be pulled forward making it go off the hinges.

After much deliberation and denial that I might have a real live raccoon (that could potentially break into the coop after the chickens) I decided it was time to get a trap and try to capture it.

Company reading the directions and trying to get the trap set up.

Oldest grand girl decides to take over.

She loaded the trap with strawberry marshmallows.

Then she put a trail of marshmallows to  the inside of the trap.

After we caught the raccoon we took it miles away to a conservation/wildlife area.

We are going to put the trap out a few more times to see if it has any friends.

But, for now the chickens are safe in their coop at night and I even wire the door at two places for extra security.

Bye for now….

From the Mother Hen

 

Happy Belated 4th of July

fourth of july

How was everyone’s Fourth?

I hope you able to relax with family and friends and eat some great food.

My sisters and I took Mom the Princess and Dad to spend the day at my Aunt Lily’s country home. She bought it a few months ago and has been renovating it with her daughter Lisa.

We had such a fun day!

aunt lily country home

Here is my Aunt Lily.

She sure knows how to put on a party!

We had a ton of food, and cousins and a dog there.

We had some BBQ.

We had desserts! The two big pies in the middle were made by my Aunt Corene. She is famous for her pies, and of course they were eaten first.

We had a home made slip and slide with bubbles. This is my great nephew Boston enjoying the water!

Aunt Lily has chickens and a rooster!

Pet cows. Ha! There were suppose to be freezer meat but now they are pets with names.

And of course every old country farm house has a cemetery next to it. Funny thing is, it is a family tradition. My Grandma and Grandpa Wright had a cemetery next to their house. It was where all of us cousins would go play in when we were visiting.

It was a wonderful day in the country with many aunts, uncles and cousins.

You just can’t buy those kind of memories!

Becky

Oh..,I made a few pies myself….though not as tasty as my Aunt Corenes.

I made two strawberry rhubarb pies and a gooseberry.

I will get the recipes posted soon : )

Becky

 

Corn From My Freezer

I have been hording my frozen corn all winter.

Kinda funny, right?

I mean, the reason why we freeze or can food in the summer is so we can eat it all winter.

I think that is right, right?

So, why am I hording it?

Maybe, I have a problem with sharing.

Maybe, I was saving it to eat on a snow day from school….which we did not get any…well, maybe we got one. (but I did not feel like sharing that day).

But, I think the real reason I have turned into a corn hoarder is…

drumroll…….

Cause it taste so good!

And ya know, cooks in the kitchen want that taste to last the whole year.

Two more months till fresh sweet corn from the Amish.

I better count my supply to make sure it last until then.

Making Cheesy Corn Chowder, find the recipe HERE.

Grand girls and great nephew playing in the corn bind when we went to the corn maze last year.

Sweet Freezer Corn recipe HERE.

I am giving the recipe I used, but I tried a new one last summer and I will get that one posted soon so you can compare the two and see which one  you like better.

I guess I better get out of here and go teach summer school!

Becky

 

 

 

Grilled Fruit Couscous Salad

I have been buying small little boxes of couscous at Aldi’s every few times that I go there to shop.

The funny thing is, is that I had never used any of it.

I think I must like buying it because of the cool name. Couscous Couscous…..

Or maybe it is the interesting shape of the tiny little pastas that have me intrigued.

Maybe, I just like buying groceries. Ha!

Needless to say, I was glad I had some in my pantry when I came across this recipe for Grilled Fruit Couscous Salad!

I love about anything grilled on a grill. I used my indoor grill to grill the fruit, and I am kinda glad I did because I did not have to worry about the fruit falling through the grates on my outdoor gas grill.  I cut my fruit in fourths and grilled it, but if  you were to do it outside you just grill the fruit that was cut in half. This would prevent the fruit from slipping. So really, indoor or outdoor, it does not matter which one. Just be careful no to let the fruit stick on the grill.

I also loved the ingredients in the salad dressing…olive oil, lime juice, spices and sweetened with honey. YUM!

Fresh cilantro and parsley too.

AND topped with those roasted and salted pumpkin seeds called pepitas. I love those things! They added that bit of tasty crunch to the salad.

I hope you will give this recipe a try!

Here is what you will need : )

Chicken broth, couscous, olive oil, pepper, salt, honey, lime, nectarines and plums (I forgot to put the plums in the picture), fresh cilantro and parsley and the pepitas. I found these in the health food section of my grocery store. I have also bought them in bulk at my local Amish store. (Also I did not add an green onion to the salad, even though I love onions, because Company does not like onions.)

First t hing I did was quarter my fruit.

I drizzled olive oil on the fruit to keep it from sticking to the grill.

Then I put them on my indoor grill (feel free to use your outdoor grill) and I grilled both sides of them.

This is what they looked like grill. I love grill marks!

Then in a medium sauce pan I poured in my chicken stock and brought it to a boil. The chicken stock seasons the couscous, so be sure and taste your stock and make sure you do not need to season it up a bit.

When the broth is boiling add in the couscous. Take the couscous off the heat and let it stand for 5 minutes and then fluff with a fork.

Now, lets make the dressing. In a medium bowl pour in the olive oil.

Add in some pepper.

Add in some salt. I used sea salt.

Add in some fresh lime juice.

My favorite part….the honey.

Mix together. This can also be done in a small blender. Give your dressing a quick taste and add more honey or seasonings to suit your taste.

Cut your fresh parsley and cilantro, be sure and take out the stems of the cilantro.

Put the cooked couscous in a large serving bowl.

Add in your grilled fruit.

Top with your fresh herbs and if  you are using a chopped green onion, now is the time to add that in too.

Drizzle with the dress and gently toss.

Top with the roasted pepitas (roasted and salted pumpkin seeds).

I decorated the salad with my squeezed lime and large parsley leaf.

Do you wish you had a fork??

I was glad I had a fork and a large bowl!

Enjoy!

Becky

Here is the recipe:

Adapted from Better Homes and Garden

Ingredients:

2 fresh plums, pitted and halved

2 fresh nectarines, pitted and halved

1/4 cup olive oil and 1 tablespoon to coat the fruit before grilling

1 1/2 cup chicken broth or you may use vegetable broth

1 cup couscous

2 scallions or green onions diced small

3 tablespoons lime juice (I used the juice from one lime)

2 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons snipped fresh cilantro

1 tablespoon snipped fresh parsley

Garnish with salad toppings or I used roasted salted pumpkin seeds called pepitas. I buy them in the bulk health food section.

Directions:

Brush the fruit with olive oil. I cut mine in quarters and then put olive oil on them. I used my indoor grill and grilled both sides of the fruit unit I got nice grill marks. If you are using an outdoor charcoal or gas grill leave the fruit in half then quarter. In a medium saucepan bring the broth to a boil. Add in the couscous and remove from the heat. Cover and let stand for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

Mix the dressing together in a small bowl. Whisk together the olive oil, lime juice, honey, 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper.

In a large serving bowl, put in the couscous and then the fruit. Drizzle with the dressing and then cilantro and parsley. Toss together.

Garnish the salad with  your favorite salad topping or with roasted salted pumpkin seeds call pepitas.

Here are some other post you may enjoy! ; )

     

Freezing Fresh Corn                                                                Sausage Stuffed Acorn Squash

 

Eggciting News! Counting Eggs for May

This is my highest number of eggs for one month since I started this backyard chicken adventure a little over a year ago.

As you know I have raised these girls since they were one day old.

Many poopy butts and days of changing dirty water and I still love having backyard chickens.

When I stick my head in the coop where the girls sleep and lay eggs, it smells like the barns on my grandparents farms. The warm straw and earthy wood smell reminds me of younger days and long ago memories when my grandparents were still here on earth.

It warms my heart!

The only pictures I have of my siblings and I playing with the chickens with their baby chicks and hunting eggs, are the ones from my memory.

They are good memories!

Funny how chickens and eggs can make you happy!

Until  you have to clean the coop! HA!

Becky

Other Post you may enjoy reading:

A Meal Fit for a Chicken

Mark Your Calendar a Chicken Laid an Egg

 

 

Bow Tie Pasta Salad

I am obsessed with this salad.

Just ask my good friend Jeanetta!

Jeanetta would bring this salad to school for teachers luncheons and I would practically follow her around to see where she sat her salad down at.

Then, I would politely (well sorta) position myself to be first in line to make sure I got some of her famous salad.

I don’t know if she finally felt sorry for me or was tired of me stalking her salad, that she finally gave me the recipe.

Yippe!

I just love how all these simple everyday ingredients come together to make this yummy summer (or anytime) salad.

It has all those things in a salad that I love!

Pasta….come on who does not love pasta???

Tomatoes…..ok…not every body loves tomatoes…but then the same ones that don’t eat tomatoes…eat ketchup…..mmmm you got to wonder about them. Yes, I am talking about my super hero son who does not eat tomatoes!

Fresh spinach….fine, not everyone loves spinach, not sure why….I must be kin to Popeye cause I love spinach; cooked or fresh!

A little bit of red onion…I have to sneak them in cause Company hates onions….what he does not taste does not kill him…hehe..

AND last but not least the dressing seasoned with oriental  ramen noodle seasoning packets.

YUM!

Anywho, with summertime approaching and all the backyard BBQing starting, you might need a simple, party pleasing, great tasting, easy to make pasta salad!

Here is what you need!

For the dressing, sugar, vegetable oil, vinegar and 2 packets of oriental ramen nooodle seasoning packets. For the salad, bow tie pasta, tomatoes (I usually use cherry tomatoes cut in half) sweet red onion (I had to use yellow cause I was out of red) and fresh spinach.

Let’s make the dressing first. In a little blender or a big blender, pour in your oil.

Now, add in  your vinegar.

Toss in your sugar.

Now add in the secret ingredient of two packets of oriental flavor ramen noodle seasoning packets.

Just sprinkle them in.

Using  your blender, blend the dressing until it is smooth and thick. The oil and vinegar should totally be emulsified.

Now chop up your tomato, or if you are using cherry tomatoes, cut the cherry tomatoes in half. Also finely chop up a half of a red onion.

Start some salted water to boil and boil bow tie pasta following the directions on the box.

When finished cooking, run cold water over the pasta to cool.

Now it is time to assemble the salad.

In a large bowl put in the cooked and cooled pasta. Add in the tomatoes.

Add in the diced onions and the spinach.

Toss and the salad ingredients together.

Now drizzle on the amount of dressing that you like.

All you need now is a fork!

Here is the recipe:

Courtesy of my friend Jeanetta!

Bow Tie Pasta Salad

Ingredients:

1- 16 ounce box bow tie pasta

2 to 3 cups of fresh baby spinach

2 cups cherry tomatoes sliced in half

1/2 sweet red onion diced

3/4 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup vinegar

1/2 cup sugar

2 seasoning packets from oriental flavor ramen noodle packages.

Directions:

Slice the cherry tomatoes in half. Dice the red onion.

Cook pasta according to the package directions. Drain and let cool.

In a blender, blend together the vegetable oil, vinegar and sugar. Add in the oriental flavoring packets. Blend until fully emulsified.

In a large bowl combine the cooked pasta, tomatoes and onions. Toss together .

Right before serving, add in 2 cups of spinach leaves. Toss.

Drizzle with dressing in the amount that you like. Toss and serve.

Enjoy!

Becky

Here is a couple of other post you may enjoy reading:

     

St. Louis Style Oven BBQ Ribs                                                Grilled Steak Burgers

 

Old Fashion Red Velvet Cake

I love to bake layer cakes.

The taller the better.

Lots of layers of cake.

Not sure exactly why, but I am pretty sure it has to do with all the icing in between each layer.

It has to be the icing!

Icing makes me happy!

But cake makes me happy too.

Ok…so maybe it is cake and icing that makes me happy.

One thing I know for sure is that this cake makes my happy. : )

When my baby girl, who will be getting married in a few short months, was trying to pick out flavors of cake to taste test for her wedding cake, Red Velvet Cake was on the list. It is a classic flavor and the red color looks so delish with the white icing. When we got to taste of the cake and the flavor was somewhat lacking( and even the cake decorated said she was not a fan of her red velvet cake)  All of her other cakes were great and we did choose this decorator for the her wedding cake, but it got me thinking about the Red Velvet Cakes I was used to eating years ago.

Moist, slightly chocolate flavored, icing not too sweet, four layers, deep red color…..these are some of the mandatory things I was looking for in a recipe.

I looked around in several of my cookbooks, my cut out newspaper recipes and finally found a couple of recipes that seems to most resemble the one I was looking for.

I ended up using two different recipes. One for the cake and another for the icing.

The icing has flour in it but not cooked in a paste like other cooked flour icings. I loved it! My son, liked the icing and loved the cake but would like a traditional cream cheese icing.

I love cream cheese icing too!

Anywho, pick your favorite type of icing, but make this cake.

It will make you (and me) happy!

Here is what you will need to make this perfect Red Velvet Cake.

You will need cake flour, sugar, buttermilk, salt, baking powder, eggs, cocoa powder, baking soda, vinegar, vanilla, red food coloring (I used some red velvet cake food coloring I found at a Amish store and vegetable shortening.

First thing you need to do is dissolve the baking soda in the vinegar.

It will look like a little volcano of bubbles for a bit.

Now on to the stand mixer. In a mixer cream together the sugar.

Here is a picture of me adding the sugar. Cream the shortening and sugar together until light and fluffy.

Now, add in the eggs, one at a time, beating after each one.

In a small bowl add in the cocoa powder.

Add in half the amount of red food coloring.

Mix the two together to remove all the lumps.

Add the cocoa mixture to the creamed sugar mixture.

Now add in the rest of the red food color and mix all together.

Alternately add in the flour, salt and baking powder with the buttermilk.

Here is a picture of me adding the buttermilk.

Now it is time to add in the vanilla.

Lastly, add in the baking soda and vinegar mixture and mix in.

Look at the beautiful red batter.

Pour the batter, in equals amount into prepared 8 inch cake pans. I ALWAYS line my cake pans with parchment paper before pouring in the batter. Place the cake pans in the oven and bake for around 30 minutes at 350 degrees. When done take the cakes out and cool for 10 minutes then put on a cooling rack. When cool, cut the cakes in half horizontally to make four layers.

Now, onto the icing!

For the icing you will need vegetable shortening, butter, flour, sugar and vanilla.

Measure out the butter, vegetable shortening and the sugar.

With a mixer, cream together the sugar, butter and vegetable shortening.

Cream until light and fluffy. Add in the flour, one tablespoon at a time.

Add in the milk. Keep mixing to incorporate the milk in. The icing will start to get real creamy.

Add in the vanilla.

There you go! Look how pretty the icing is!

Here is a picture of the cakes cut in half horizontally. I saved all the crumbs from cutting the cake to decorate the top of the cake.

Spread 1/4 of the icing on top of the bottom layer. Continue to add another layer of cake and ice the top of the layer until you get to the top.

Here is the finished cake topped with all the extra crumbs.

Are you ready to make cake???

Alrighty!

Here is the recipe:

Adapted from Iowa State Fair Prize Winning Cook Book

Red Velvet Cake

Ingredients:

1/2 cup shortening

1 1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs

2 ounces red food coloring (I used red velvet food coloring I bought at the Amish store, it worked great)

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 teaspoons cocoa

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup buttermilk

2 1/2 cup cake flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon vinegar

Directions:

Mix the vinegar and soda together in a small bowl. Let stand. Cream the shortening and sugar together till light and fluffy. Add in the eggs. Make a paste of the cocoa and a small amount of the red food coloring. Add the cocoa paste to the cramed mixture. Add the remainder of the food coloring. Alternately, add in the buttermilk, salt, baking powder and flour. Add in the vanilla and the vinegar/soda mixture.. Mix all ingredients together and pour into 2 – 8 inch pan. (I lined mine with parchment paper).

Bake for around 30 minutes at 350 degree.

Cool. Split layers in half, making 4 layers. Spread the frosting between layers and top of cake only.

Keep in the refrigerator.

Frosting Recipe:

Ingredients:

3/4 cup margarine (I used butter)

3/4 cup shortening

1 1/2 cup sugar

4 1/2 tablespoons flour

1 cup milk plus 3 tablespoons (room temperature)

1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla (I have also used vanilla paste)

Directions:

Cream margarine, shortening and sugar together till light and fluffy. Add in the flour, one tablespoon at a time. Add in the milk and vanilla. Beat the frosting well. On my stand mixer I let it mix for several minutes until the frosting got real creamy.

Here is just a little close up picture of all the yummy layers!

Enjoy!

Becky

Here is a few other post you may enjoy!

Strawberry Cake

Oven BBQ Brisket

 

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