Friday, May 29, 2015

Cameo

My heart is full to bursting this morning as I realize my baby is not a baby anymore... 
My beautiful girl not only turns 18 today, but she also is officially graduated. 
Oh my heart. 
God in His infinite wisdom gave me this wonderful, beautiful, precious flower to love and care for. To teach, train, nurture and grow... And here she is at 18 years.

I love you so much, Cameo. I could NOT be any more proud of you. 
You are one of the kindest souls. 

You are very much like your Daddy, quick to see the good in people. 
You have good instincts. 

People are drawn to you. You have a joy for life, I like to think you got that from me. ;)

You're a hard, diligent worker. 
You are smart... You think through problems and can figure out good solutions.
Don't worry about hating math. ;)

You are funny. You make me laugh... all. the. time. 

You're adventurous. Always eager to give something a shot. (Another Moma trait, ha ha)

You are a shining light for the Lord. Lead by example, my love. There is a world needing to see your light for Him!

You're smile brightens any room. It has since you were a baby.
Cameo, I love you so, so much. I think you are one of the most wonderful young women I've ever had the privilege of knowing and I am SO incredibly blessed to be your Moma. To be able to watch you grow all these years and to see where you go from here. 

I am here for you... 
Supporting you, loving you and encouraging you...

For always, 
Your Devoted and Loving Moma



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Thursday, May 28, 2015

Strawberry Yogurt Pops

We all know that on a hot day, nothing is more satisfying than something nice and cool. We also know that if you reach for those popsicles from the store... you are getting nothing but colored sugar water.  Not a good thing. So in the spirit of Alton Brown (by and far one of my FAVORITE chefs!) 
Why buy something when we can make it better??? 
Here we go.

If you remember, last year, I bought these popsicle pop molds
I've used them SO many times, and the only problem is... I need another set. 6 is hardly enough for our crew. That's a good thing!


2 cups mashed strawberries, we like a little bit of chunk in ours, but you could puree if you don't
1 cup yogurt
1/3 cup honey
2 tsp vanilla
(Also...  you could mix more fruit into this easily or substitute another fruit entirely! 
It's all up to you!)

Mix well and fill your molds. 
This made more than our six molds could hold, so I put the leftovers in tiny pyrex bowls for my husbands lunchbox. Single serve homemade strawberry yogurt? Yes, please!
For your pops, place in the freezer and chill till frozen through. 

Grab em and enjoy when that summer sun starts beatin down on you!
Enjoy!



Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Creativity in the Kitchen

When trying to eat healthy and maintain a tight budget, you have to get creative in the kitchen. You also have to put some forethought into your week. Look at your life and activities and think about what your plans are for the week. 
Will you be having any expected company that week? 
Will there be any late nights away from home... 
Think about what you have available in your fresh items, what you have that you can pull out of the freezer or the pantry shelf. What can you make out of something else? These things will make your food dollar go MUCH farther and really help make sure that there are plenty of good choices for food available so you don't want to get that $5 pizza, again. ;)

Here are some examples of what I have been prepping this week to help us out.

I had one gallon of milk left from our weekly milk run. I turned that gallon into 4 quarts of yogurt. With those 4 quarts of yogurt, I have made or can make this week... fruit and yogurt popsicles, granola w/yogurt, smoothies, I can add it to chicken salad, ranch dressing for veggie dipping or salads, etc. Taking that one gallon of milk and making it into yogurt opened up a wide array of other possibilities for us. 

Another thing while cleaning through my freezer, I found some beef bones. I roasted the bones in the oven and made a beef bone broth afterwards. We all know how wonderful bone broth is for you! Last night with the broth, I flavored some beef patties and made a gravy to pour on top. Who said you just have to drink the broth? You can get that broth goodness into your family in other ways too! Use the broth to cook your rice! Or in some soup! Those are EXCELLENT ways to get creative in the kitchen!

I also roasted a chicken early this week. With the chicken I deboned, I used the meat for chicken casserole for one meal and with the extras I made chicken salad! After deboning, same thing... I used the bones and made some chicken broth. I then canned the broth that I rendered. 

Keeping my sourdough going is another important factor in my kitchen. I feed it regularly and use it several times a week. I've made about 6 batches of Sourdough Banana Bread with some overripe bananas this week. Some for a church outing and some to have for some friends coming to visit and some for my husband to take along to work. I hope to make a couple of loaves of bread towards the end of the week for the weekend. 

It takes some work and thought, but really makes a difference! 
I hope that helps out a little bit and you enjoy working 
towards making your kitchen a more creative place!


Friday, May 1, 2015

Quick Sourdough Pancakes

I know if you have followed my blog for any amount of time, you know my love for pancakes. I love pancakes in all shapes, forms, sizes, and usually all recipes. It's a deep love. 
I try to always start my pancakes the night before with my sourdough so it really gets the MOST benefits possible from the souring process. Well, sometimes that doesn't happen. Sometimes, I drop the ball and forget to start the sponge.
Rats...
BUT!
All is not lost!
It may not be the PERFECT sourdough pancakes, but the recipe I am going to share with you today is a GOOD recipe and you can still use your sourdough and get some good from it, even if it isn't all the benefits from the souring overnight process. 

Quick Sourdough Pancakes

1 cup sourdough
1 cup flour
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup oil
2 eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 Tbsp sucanat/cane juice crystals/sugar

Mix and fry.
Makes approximately 15 pancakes... give or take. 

Enjoy!!!
AND, Happy May 1st!
xoxo


Thursday, April 30, 2015

Strawberry Jam Time

It's strawberry time again here in the southeast and that is one of my most favorite times! These red, juicy, jewels are a treat that just can't be beat!
My kids have really been eating them up, but they also have been asking for their favorite jam too. Strawberry jam! It's the most requested when I make it up each year and always the first that is emptied off the canning pantry shelves. I know you can find strawberries at almost any time of year now, but please be careful... Strawberries are highly sprayed in commercial farms. I know we have to do the best we can and we can't always afford organic... but if you can, find someone that you know how they grow their food, or for that matter, grow it yourself if you can! Even if you can't grow it all, and most of us can't, grow some! It gives such satisfaction seeing a meal on your table that comes from your garden or homestead. What a blessing!

I am going to show you how I make my most favorite strawberry jam. I've made many variations of strawberry jam before. Strawberry honey jam, strawberry rhubarb jam, just straight up regular strawberry jam.... 
But this one is strawberry jam with Pomona pectin.
By using Pomona pectin, you can substantially lower the amount of sugar you use! Because I know we have all been there when pulling out everything to make jam, we see the instructions telling us to use massive amounts of sugar. It's gut-wrenching to think we have to use that much. I've got your solution and I'm telling you, it's really good jam! No joke! 
Here's how I do it.

Wash your strawberries and cut them up into slices.

For one batch of this jam, you need 4 cups of mashed berries. 4 cups of mashed berries are about 8 cups of sliced berries. I just use a potato masher. I don't want them pureed, I like chunks.

With Pomona, you have an extra simple step... You make calcium water.
All you do is take a 1/2 cup cold water and add 1/2 tsp calcium to the water (It comes in your pomona pack) and shake. Store in a small jar, label it, and keep it in the fridge... you will have more for the next time you want to jam.
For our jam today, all you need is 2 tsp of calcium water.
Add this to your mashed berries. This is an important step, so don't forget it. The calcium water helps to activate your pectin powder. 
Take your measured 4 cups of mashed berries and your 2 tsp of calcium water and add it to your stockpot. 
Begin to let your berries cook down slightly until they come to a boil.
In the meantime get out your pectin.
I buy mine from Azure Standard. I buy it in bulk because pretty much that is ALL I use. I love it! If you have some likeminded friends who love natural food and buy in bulk, see about getting an Azure drop in your hometown! It's a great place to order from. 
You are going to need 1 cup of sugar, I'm using evaporated cane juice crystals.
And to that sugar, you need 2 tsp of pectin. 
Mix them both together. 


Once your berries are beginning to boil, drop in your sugar/pectin mixture. Stir till combined and then bring back up to a rolling boil. Boil the mixture for 1 minute!
Have your clean jars ready and your lids and bands in simmering water. 
Once you have boiled your jam for 1 minute, pour up into jars.
One batch made about 2.5 pints of jam or 5 half-pints.
Clean your rims, add lids and bands and put in your hot water bath canner for 10 minutes.
Once finished, transfer to a safe place to allow your jars to cool COMPLETELY. Approx 24 hours. This will help your jam to set up. 
Yum. Yum. Yum... 
You won't regret the time and effort for this delicious treat.