Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A time to work...

So is my life right now... A blessing it is, too.
 I don't work outside of the home.  I don't bring home a paycheck. That is something our family decided a long time ago. If the time comes and there is no other choice, I have no problem with going to work... it's just the needs around here are many and they are demanding. 
Some see my not having a 'job' as a laziness thing. 
It's not that, I can promise you.
 Come to my house and stay with us for a few days... 
you will see that our days are full-to-overflowing with work. 

You see, with our decision for me to be at home with our family, I am the teacher. 
That may be history, art, math, reading, writing, grammar, science, gardening, putting food up for winter, homesteading, driving, processing meat birds, algebra, milking a cow/goat, mucking out the chicken coop/barn, writing a book report, cooking, how to shuck corn and can beets, cleaning, how to wash clothes, how to mend a shirt, how to grow a garden, how to use herbs in medicine...
 whatever the case may be. 
We are learning. 
Every. Single. Day.

We don't live the high life, our lives are simple.

In living this kind of lifestyle we decide what is important. We examine and decide what we can't do without and we see what is needless and we can live without. 
Sometimes we get our wants. 
Sometimes we scrape to make our needs.
But through every single bit of this life, we live with gratitude. 
We appreciate the food on our table. The work done with our hands. The rain sent down from heaven this morning. The rest of a Sunday afternoon. The time we have with one another.
 These things are blessings, and for them we are Grateful!

Our lives were made to work, so with that, we can look to the One who gave us life
 and be thankful for the work we have. 
You may punch a clock or run your own business and make your paycheck. That is your work. 
I am sure you are thankful for that...

Shannon works away from home, brings home a paycheck and we are very grateful for that.

My work is at home. I don't get a paycheck, but I do reap dividends. And those benefits are far greater to our family than the paycheck that could be had. 
Our pantry lined with food that we grew with our hands. Our children educated under our own roof. Learning beside them and teaching and training them in the ways of the Lord. 
Seeing them become fantastic men and women... Being the ones they come to talk to with a problem. These things, no money will buy and we never get a do-over, because like a vapor, they will be grown much sooner than we like, and there is no going back to spend that time over again. 
Those are our choices, and we are happy with them. 

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Writing for Season's at Home Magazine

A few months back, I was approached by a very sweet young lady about writing for Seasons at Home Magazine. She wanted to include some homesteading how-to's.
I eagerly accepted.
I've had a subscription to the magazine before and so I knew that they did a exquisite job putting their time and talent into each edition.

She requested that I do an article on one of the most basic canning projects, one that I have been doing pretty much all my life. Yay, that helps!

I love canning tomatoes!
The pictures from my Yes you CAN, Can Tomatoes are the ones I used for the article. I called up a friend of mine to make sure I could get the tomatoes, because even though the magazine was going to be released in the summer, it was still spring when I had to put it all together.  She was able to get me the tomatoes. I hauled out the trusty but hardly used tri-pod. Got my camera set up and went to work, capturing every step of the process. Then I got my creative spirit up and started writing. I wanted it informative, but also interesting to read. I am NOT the best at writing... so I just started trying to talk to a friend. It worked for me.
Taking part in this magazine was great fun, I hope to do it again soon!

Yesterday when the magazine was delivered to our mailbox, Eli excitedly read the article aloud for all of us to hear. You would have thought I had been a celebrity. The kids were thrilled for me. I was tickled for me, too.

If you are interested in Seasons at Home Magazine, visit their website. Not only is my article in there, but there are PLENTY more wonderful ideas and activities. Seasons at Home Magazine is truly a work of heart. That is evident in the lovely body of work they put together.


Monday, July 29, 2013

What can I do with all these tomatoes?

Tomatoes are coming in, friends. Daily we are gathering more and more, and I am sure you are too! I have been rearranging things in the kitchen and laundry area making better use of my space for food storage and it has been a blessing for sure!

So what does one do with an abundance of tomatoes???
Can them (that is my first pick!)
Make them into spaghetti sauce
Eat them on sandwiches, hamburgers, alongside your breakfast, lunch or dinner!
Make tomato juice
Use them in vegetable soup
Freeze them
Dehydrate them
Sun dry them
Make tomato paste
Tomato Sauce

One fantastic way of using your tomatoes is to make up some fresh Pico de Gallo (or salsa fresca=fresh salsa). It's easy, quick and delicious!
Serve it alongside your tacos, fajitas, or simply with some chips!
Picture from web

4 tomatoes (you can de-seed these to make it more chunky, if you leave the seeds in it may be a bit watery) chopped fine
1 onion, chopped fine
2-3 jalepenos chopped fine and de-seeded if you wish(remember, the heat is in the seeds)
Cilantro. As much or as little as you like, it can really add some heat so be careful!
lime juice, just a squeeze over the mixture
salt, to taste

Enjoy your tomatoes!


Friday, July 26, 2013

{this moment} 7.26.13

{this moment}
A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.
. . . . . . . . . .

linking up with soulemama today.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Picking up the needles again...

On occasion I get busy with other things and go without picking up my needles for a while. Then one morning I get inspired and I can't wait til the evening when I can sit down and stitch!

I had an idea to make a wash cloth pocket for my soaps after using one and losing it in the tub. I thought it would be handy to have a soap and cloth in one!

So I stitched up a nice little envelope and slipped my soap inside.

The little idea works wonderfully. 

When you need to wash the cloth, simply pull the soap out and wash! 
I have been told that soap sacks, have been around for a while, so my idea isn't an original one, but I like it and I plan on making up a good many of these. 
Paired with some homemade soap and you have a sweet little gift! 

If you are interested in one of these, give me a shout at 
heritageacreshomestead at gmail dot com

Have a fantastic day!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Crispy Nuts

One thing I am trying to do with our whole food lifestyle is to have good snacks around. Boiled eggs, cheese wedges, kombucha, and crispy nuts!

Crispy nuts are very simple and the 'recipe' comes from the book Nourishing Traditions. The reason you want to alter the raw almonds is that when you soak them, it makes them more digestible. Also, it makes them crispy, hence the name.. and they are yummy! 

Here's how

Crispy Nuts

4 cups raw almonds
1 tablespoon sea salt
Water enough to cover nuts
Mix salt in water and cover nuts. Let set for at least 7 hours. 
Drain and rinse with cool water
Lay flat on dehydrator.
Dehydrate 12-24 hours until dry and crispy.

Very simple. Very yummy!
Give them a try!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Old Fashioned Coffee Pudding

While visiting a blog that I like to peruse, I found this recipe. I am forever making too much coffee for us and we use it most of the time for iced coffee, but would really like something else for a change. Last week, I made this recipe and it was a hit... for those of us who enjoy the coffee flavor. My younger children insisted that I stick with chocolate or vanilla for them. 

Old Fashioned Coffee Pudding
    1/4 cup sugar
  4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  Pinch salt
   2 cups cold strong coffee
  2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
  1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1/2 cup heavy whipping cream, whipped until stiff
 Additional whipped cream, optional
  Shaved bittersweet chocolate, optional
In a large saucepan, combine the sugar, flour and salt. Stir in coffee until smooth. Cook and stir over medium-high heat until thickened and bubbly. Reduce heat to low; cook and stir 2 minutes longer.
Remove from the heat. Stir a small amount of hot filling into egg yolks; return all to the pan, stirring constantly. Bring to a gentle boil; cook and stir 2 minutes longer. Remove from the heat. Stir in vanilla. Cool. Fold in whipping cream. Chill. Garnish with additional whipped cream and chocolate if desired. Yield: 4 servings


Friday, July 19, 2013

Yes you CAN! Canning Tomatoes

Canning tomatoes was one of my first solo canning projects. It is fun and simple and having tomatoes on the shelf is such a great thing. You can use them in so many venues. Chili, spaghetti, stew, pizza sauce and the list goes on and on. 
Most people, at least most people I know that garden like we do, put up a good amount of tomatoes. In various forms. 
I like to put them up in quarters. That way, I can turn them into anything that I would like. 
If I need them big, I don't have to do anything, but if I need puree, a quick trip through the blender and I'm set. 

This is exactly what you need. Step by step, in case you are a little hesitant... 
You CAN do this! (pun intended, haha)

You need a few basics for this project. 
A hot water bath canner
Canning jars, flats and rims

Once you have all your supplies gathered. Get a good amount of water in your canner and get it HOT!
Also, put another small pan on the stove and get the water hot too. You want to blanch your tomatoes, It helps the skin slip right off. 
One more thing. Get a bowl with ice water. After dropping the tomatoes one by one in the hot water, you want to leave them only about 30 seconds or so and then plunge them into ice water. This will help them not to cook. You don't want cooked tomatoes during this, just the skins to come off easily. 
Here I have my canner bubbling away, ready for the jars.
I have my pot of hot water ready for blanching.
I have my bowl of ice water for cooling.

Take your tomato and cut an X across the top. This will help you get a start on the peeling of the skin once you finish blanching. 

Tomatoes go into the hot water, do only one or two at a time, unless you have helpers in the kitchen. 
Once you see the skin starting to pull away slightly dip them out and put into ice bath. Like I said, it should only take about 30 seconds or so, but depending on the temperature of your water, it can vary one way to another. 

Once slightly cooled in the ice bath you can remove and peel. 

The skin should slide off easily, core the tomato also during this time.

After you peel and core the tomato, cut it into quarters and drop into a bowl.

After all your tomatoes are blanched, peeled, cored and quartered... it's time to pack your jars. 
You may have some juice in the bottom of your bowl. Add that to yours jars as well. 
Pack your jars full, but don't compact them. 

Add a teaspoon of salt to the top of the jar. 
Now pour HOT water into your jars and attach your flat and ring. 

Lower ready jars into your canner and process for approximately 20 minutes. If you go for TOO long, you will cook the tomatoes into nothing. I like a bit of firmness left in my tomato. So I only process long enough to get a good seal and slightly cooked tomatoes. 

Once you are finished, put canned tomatoes on a towel and leave until they are completely cooled. 
Usually a good 10 hours. During that time, you should get a seal on your jars.

Now line your shelves with the bounty. The beautiful red ripeness of summer in a jar. 

You CAN can tomatoes! I hope you enjoy and let me know once you have canned your own. I would love to hear from you.



Thursday, July 18, 2013

Heritage Recipe: Shaker Pickles

(This picture depicts two different stages in the pickle process. The one on the left is already in the sugaring stage. The one on the right, is in the vinegar stage)

For years my family has been making this recipe for pickles. 
They are a yummy sweet pickle that is crazy easy, it just takes a month. haha
Both of my Nannie's who are now gone from us, made these pickles. My Mom always makes these pickles and now we make them. 

They are a sweet pickle. My favorite way to use them is in chicken salad. Another good way is potato salad. Have them as a side dish, along with a big bowl of pinto beans. Yum!

Here's how to make our recipe:

Shaker Pickles 

1. Fill gallon jar with sliced cucumbers. Pour 1 cup canning salt over cukes and then fill jar with cold water. Shake well and let stand 4 days on counter. Shake daily. (Do not seal, just cover)

2. Drain well, rinse for 3 washings, add 2 tablespoons alum and enough water to cover. Let stand for 24 hours. 

3. Drain and rinse for 3 washings. Cover with cider vinegar and let stand for 10 days shaking daily. 

4. Drain and pour vinegar out. 

5. A:Mix 2 tablespoons pickling spice, 2 cups sugar over pickles and shake to dissolve.
       B:Next day add 2 cups sugar and shake til dissolved
           C: Next day after add 1 1/2 cups sugar and shake til dissolved.
(I've cut this recipe down from my grandmothers recipe 
that was almost 9 cups sugar total on the last 3 days). 

5. You're done!

6. Enjoy

I had to add the You're done as Step 5 & 6. That was what my Nannie's handwritten recipe said.
Isn't it the cutest? It makes me smile.

I hope you give them a try and the recipe makes it through your generations like it has ours!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013


When some of my friends were visiting last week, we opened up quite a few jars of my pickled treasures lining my canning pantry shelves.
We all enjoyed the puckering pickled tastes and everyone wanted to know how I did it. Honestly... I don't remember. Yeah, I'm like that.
That is why I have this blog. To help me remember things I used to know that are lost in the recesses of my crazy mind. To remind me of things that I once knew, and still know albeit buried under who-knows-what in my brain.
Anyways, I know kinda what I did, and this is what I will be doing again this year.

For pickled okra:

Heat vinegar on stove til VERY hot. 
Fill clean jars with okra until full, but not overflowing
Add a couple of cloves of garlic
Add a few hot peppers, if you like
Add 2-3 tsp of dill

Now, to the vinegar, you can add a bit of sugar. It's all up to you!
I do add my sugar in with the vinegar so it dissolves. 

Add some sugar to one batch. 
Don't add it to another. Label and try it out later, see which one you like the best. 
I am pretty sure I did add a bit of sugar. 
I'm thinking a couple tablespoons per jar. 

Pour HOT vinegar into your jars
Attach flats and rims.
Leave to seal on it's own from the hot vinegar or
process in hot water bath for 5 minutes to seal.

(This is just how *I* do it! I am not a professional, I am a simple homesteader that likes her okra pickles a bit firm so I don't want to process them long!)

For picking garlic or peppers or green tomatoes or anything else, I go by the same practice as above. Sometimes altering how much pepper or dill or adding another spice you might like. It is a VERY simple process with a grand outcome. If you are a first time canner, this is a great way to begin!
Please feel free to ask me any questions in the comments or you can email me at 
heritageacreshomestead at  gmail dot com


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Chicken Coop Clean-up

We have been overdue in a big job. Last week, we conquered that job. 
Shannon brought home a huge truck bed of wood shavings. 

The kids got a big kick of how it didn't fall out when we lowered the tailgate. 
We are easily amused. haha

I will spare you the pictures of how the before looked. Let me just say, we loaded up the compost bed. 
Then we started laying down some deep litter. 

The ladies weren't sure what to think. They would walk in and then they walked back out. haha.
I don't think they remember having this nice of a coop.
Everything was fresh and tidy.
What? Clean nesting boxes too? 
Is this heaven? haha 

I love accomplishing a big task. Thankfully we had some excellent helpers. It was a good day.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Dewberry Jam

Over the weekend my children and 2 of my nieces that were staying with us went out and picked me some of the remaining dewberries. 
Remember Dewberries are very much like blackberries. They taste a lot like blackberries, but rather than grow up vines, they stay fairly low on the ground and spread out low, and the berries are a bit smaller. We have a good bit growing around on our property, but have missed the blooming a bit this year. 

When they brought me such a nice basket, I knew I wanted to put up at least a little bit of jam. 
I've made a switch over to a low sugar alternative when making jam and this is how I did it.

4 cups of mashed dewberries/blackberries
1/2 cup-2 cups sugar (with Pomona pectin you can use whatever amount between those numbers)
2 tsp calcium water (helps with gelling, comes with Pomona)
Bring to boil
2 tsp pectin

Turn off heat. 
You can see the fruit begin to gel pretty quickly. 

Ladle into hot jars, fasten with lids and process 15 minutes in hot water bath canner

A little bit of chatter here...
I am fond of using the Pomona pectin because it has an indefinite shelf life!
It will help your jellies gel without TONS of sugar
You have the option of using honey
You can get 20 cups of jam with one package
It is cheaper than Certo
I'm using less sugar, so even though I am using more expensive organic sugar, I am still paying less than before!

I am not being sponsored by Pomona pectin... I am just a satisfied customer. 
But! You can click on the link and order it from amazon and I am an affiliate with them. 

Friday, July 12, 2013

Whole Wheat Pizza Crust

Yesterday we had a beautiful day. Friends came over to can some green beans. We had an excellent time. We all came together with shared food and enjoyed a beautiful feast of fresh watermelon, peach cobbler, egg salad, sun-gold tomatoes, cucumbers, kale, lacto-fermented carrots, and all sorts of pickled goodness! Pickled beets, cucumbers, garlic, okra, green tomatoes. YUM! It was a wonderful spread. 
I decided that morning I would make a pizza. Not even realizing what all we had to share. So great to have likeminded friends. It is a treat.

So I whipped up our favorite homemade pizza.
Here's how to make the crust:

2 1/2 cup flour (I used 1 1/2 cup wheat & 1 cup white)
1 cup warm water
1 Tablespoon sugar
2 Tablespoon coconut oil or lard
1 Tablespoon yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix flour, sugar, yeast and salt. Add water and oil.  Mix well.
Knead 5 minutes 
Roll out into pizza crust, making it as thin or thick as you wish.
Bake at 400* for 10 minutes
(Makes 1 large crust)



Thursday, July 11, 2013

Our Growing Garden Update:: 7.11.13

Our garden is growing beautifully! There are still TONS of weeds I need to do battle with, but we have had an extraordinary amount of rain and I just simply have not been able to go out and contend with. 
One of my favorite beds in the whole garden is my sunflower bed. I made one raised bed specifically for sunflowers, specifically for my enjoyment... but in turn, the bees are very happy as well. 
Our sugar pie pumpkins are growing nicely. I hope to have a nice harvest from them in a month or two!
Here's a bit of a end view. Look at those green beans!!! Squeal!
This isn't our garden, but our goat pasture. Look how overgrown it is! So sad. I just haven't been able to find a goat comparable to Mamie. I hope to find one soon. It is so sad and empty. 

The happy part in this picture is that last year when I tossed the old dead sunflower stalks and heads into the pasture for the goats, some seeds obviously were planted, serendipitously!!
Yay! More sunflower love! 

I hope your garden is growing too!