Friday, December 7, 2012

Natural Elements of Home

We enjoy our outdoor laundry room...
Dashing back and forth, with warm, fresh clothes in hand--
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Hearing the familiar sounds of family conversation and laughter...
'tis the everyday comforts of home.
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The warm tones and textures of well-loved baskets.
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In the kitchen, preparations begin for a hearty stew for dinner...
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Near the woods, my mother gathers wild pear leaves.
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 We couldn't forget about the pinecones!
They're for the wreath we'll make soon.
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I walked with my mother as we gathered up decorations, and glanced back at the cottage-- it's view surrounded by the beautiful colors and plants of the season.
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Soon enough, the basket was full to overflowing with berries, leaves, & branches.
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On the front porch, cheerful blossoms greet us at the door.
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This week I had prepared a 19th century gingerbread recipe,
and so my sister took out the batter today, and began to bake!
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Many of these cookies we'll be giving to relatives as we go visiting soon.
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Taking an afternoon break on the porch.
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The dining room table is filled with fragrant pine needles and greenery-- waiting to be arranged and displayed around the hearth and home :)
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I'm so thankful for the beauty of this season, 
All praises go to our Creator--the true artist.
 
 
 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

A glimpse into everyday life.

 
The months have passed by rapidly, my dear friends!
As I've observed the neighboring fields grow white with cotton ready to harvest, and wild grass growing higher by the day, I realize that I've gone an entire season without journaling!
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I do appreciate your patience--please know that I've missed sharing my thoughts with you ;)
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The pear trees did well this year! It's always a delight to go into the orchard to harvest a few.
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 We had an abundance of late cucumbers, so I made about a dozen pints of sweet pickles. I'm so excited about them--So if you happen to stop by the cottage, I'll be sure to give you a jar of course :)
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The cottage has been under-construction!
For the past few weeks, we've been taking down our old walls in order to create an open space. What a joy it has been to see it slowly change..Now we'll have more room for guests!
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Lately, I've had wonderful opportunities to help out at several state parks.
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I enjoy spending time in the old cabins--demonstrating open hearth cooking, bringing to life the abandoned garden, or just sharing about rural 19th century living---ah, I love it!
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The hedge of blueberry bushes.
The leaves are vibrant with a bright showing of crimson, browns, and golds..
They seem to exclaim, "Tis Autumn, tis Autumn!"
And I couldn't agree more.
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Inside the garden gate..
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The leafy greens are still young, but make a fantastic side dish--especially when it's sauteed with homegrown garlic. It's nice to pick collards right before supper--lovely flavor!
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 I recently traveled up to the mountains to go Apple picking!
What a delight to learn about the different fruit varieties.. 
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Walking down the well-traveled paths,
you could almost get lost in the seemingly endless rows of fruit trees. 
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 My dear friend brought her darling baby to the grove..
It was so sweet to watch the little one reach for the apples with such wonder!
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Before we left the orchard, I met the owner of this year 1930 automobile.
We had traveled behind it for a good distance, so it was fascinating to learn more about it!
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 The sounds of crunching leaves under my worn boots.
The warmth of the afternoon sun.
The occasional pecan being thrown at me by a squirrel. :)
I love the autumn season.
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In the living room, my brother finishes up school lessons
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 Down at the neighboring farm..
I'm greeted at the gate by a curious friend.
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"A true home should be the container for reviving real hospitality...."
--John Seymour, author of The Self Sufficient Life and how to live it
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Thanksgiving Day
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 I gathered the last remaining rose blossoms to make homemade rosewater--
a needed ingredient for old-fashioned Turkish delight candies!
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 The heirloom dishes are carefully taken out,
 and hand washed before setting the picnic table for the afternoon meal.
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As we work in the kitchen, the record player cheerfully fills the room w/ big band music,
While the air is fragranced with cinnamon and mulled spices.
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My brother begins to make his 'famous' Apple pie..
It's become a tradition to bake it in our cast-iron skillet!
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Thanksgiving Supper Menu:
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Wild greens Salad w/ pecans, cranberries and raspberry vinaigrette
Greenbean Casserole w/ portobello mushrooms
Mashed Potatoes with Turkey gravy
Fresh creamed corn
Traditional baked macaroni and cheese
Slow cooked Lemon Pepper Turkey (stuffed with fresh lemons)
Homemade spiced Cranberry sauce w/ pears and apples
Apple-glazed baked ham
Banana Bread
3 layer Spiced Cake w/ Pumpkin Buttercream frosting
Southern Apple Pie
'Three Kings' homemade bread
Sweet Tea
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Perfect weather for a Picnic.
We set up our table underneath the shade of the old pecan tree,
*~*
And enjoyed pleasant conversation...
Soon enough, the apple pie was brought to the table.
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 My dear sister prepared a fantastic cake!!
 Holiday Spice Cake with Pumpkin Buttercream Frosting
 
3 cups flour, 2 cups sugar, 1 cup Buttermilk, 4 eggs, 2 sticks of softened butter, 2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp each : Baking soda, Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Ginger
1/2 tsp each: ground cloves and sea salt.
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Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease and flour 3 (8 inch round) cake pans
In a small bowl, combine dry ingredients. Cream butter, sugar and salt...then add in eggs.
Beat in dry ingredients with buttermilk, alternating one at a time, ending with dry.
When batter is smooth, divide it among the 3 pans and bake about 25 mins (or until golden).
Let cool completely before removing from pans...then frost with your favorite icing! Enjoy :)
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"...Preserve everything in a pure, still heart, and let there be for every pulse a thanksgiving,
and for every breath a song." --K.V. Gesner
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After our meal, my sister and I sang the hymn: 'For the Beauty of the Earth.'
What a delight it was to lift our voices in humble gratitude of life's many blessings.
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At the end of the day, I put together a simple meat stock (Nothing goes to waste, right?) Nicely seasoned with herbs, fresh garlic, onions and celery. This will make quite a few quarts of flavorful broth, perfect for winter stews!
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Hope you all have a blessed weekend!

 

Monday, June 25, 2012

Preserving the Harvest

For the past week, I've been kept busy in the kitchen canning our fresh fruit!
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A homemade quick bread is easily made for the occasion, so that we can sample our fresh Blueberry/Strawberry jam. This goes quite well with afternoon tea.
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Fruit and veggie scraps are often brought out to the Chickens. The younger chickens should begin laying soon!
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Homemade Relish
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3.5 lbs of cucumbers, 2 cups green peppers, 3.5 cups sweet onions...
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1 red bell pepper, 2.5 cups diced carrots..
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Everything minced fine, and combined in a large bowl. Feel free to keep the cucumber skin on.
I wont mention it took me 5 hrs to chop all this by hand...nope, won't mention it! hehe
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Now for the spices!!
2 TBsp pickling spice, 2 tsp each of: celery seed, dill weed, & dry mustard powder.
1 tsp turmeric and 1/2 tsp garlic powder.
In a large stock pot, combine minced veggies, spices, 4 cups sugar & 3 cups apple cider vinegar. Bring to a boil, and simmer until carrots are soft.
Ladle into jars, & process for 15 mins. Makes 6-7 pints.
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The relish turned out excellent and very flavorful! I hope you'll try this recipe :)
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One morning we all traveled to our nearby small town to shop at the open-air market. Our friends sell organic veggies that they'd hand-picked that same morning.
We're going to start shopping here for any surplus food we may need--I so enjoy supporting our local growers!
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In the garden, it's not uncommon to see a roll of twine atop one of the wooden stakes, with a worn pair of garden scissors hanging nearby. This has been so helpful & convenient as we often tie up heavy tomato vines.
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In the early evening, while the Summer sun was beginning to set--we headed over to our neighbors homestead. With a pasture of over 50 acres, it's a beautiful sight.
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We called in the herd of goats (which numbered over forty) and it's so much fun to watch them approach the gate. The horses and cattle follow soon after.
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To help out our neighbor, my dad offered to build a new structure for the chickens, and it's coming along very well. My brother often works alongside my dad with this project.
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While they worked on the chicken house, my sister and I walked through the pasture with our shovels and wagon in tow. We gathered up manure for the garden, which will be a huge help for our soil!
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Often our meals are eaten out-of-doors, as we gather around the picnic table decorated by fresh picked flowers.
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I find that preserving the harvest helps you to appreciate all the hard work that goes into every jar--and that feeling of accomplishment has been a blessing.