Wednesday, June 26, 2013

I'm Done, I'm Done, I'm Done!!!!

Just a quick post to let you know that the cookbook is done!!  Well, mostly anyway.  I have shipped it off to the editor, will get it back next week and to the printer! I can hardly contain my excitement!  I have been putting in 8 hour days to finish up the last little bit - I'm evening dreaming recipes at night.  And now, I'm so close to actually holding a copy in my hands!  Today the book was assigned an ISBN number and the title page was finished - it should be smooth sailing from here on out.

Thank you all for bearing with me while I have undertaken this enormous task.  I can already see a second edition in my future, as there are more recipes that I want to share, but first things first.

I will be posting "Book Bomb" day information soon - I'll keep you updated!

I'm done, I'm done, I'm done!!!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Wildcrafting - Honeysuckle Jelly

As Maid Elizabeth and I embark on our daily morning hike we trudge up the hills and through the vales, pausing frequently to check on some natural edible or another.  The warmer weather has brought the bounty of June upon us, ladening the bushes in the lane with Dog Roses (Rosa Canina) and Honeysuckle.  Noticing that the Honeysuckle was heavy on the branch, the children (along with a friend) spent a bit of time harvesting the pink/orange flowers and carried them home for me to transform into jelly.

Bringing in the harvest
A few days were required to transform the delicate flowers into a sublime preserve, but the effort was small and the yield large.  Oh, the end result was divine - a sweet, almost honey tasting spread, perfect for scones, toast, even sandwiches.

I was amazed at how much jelly we made with just a few flowers.  The yield was really quite impressive!  I do think that we will reduce the amount of sugar we use with our next batch, but, other than that, the jelly was perfect!  If you have an abundance of wild honeysuckle, I encourage you to pick some today and enjoy the fresh taste of June all winter long.

Honeysuckle Jelly

8 C liquid
2 tsp. lemon juice
3 boxes of pectin (or 1 C bulk - each package contains 1/3 C of pectin)
10 C sugar

To make the liquid:  Pick blossom that are opened, but not old.  You'll need at least 2 to 3 quarts of flowers (I used 2 1/2 liters).  Pick through the flowers, removing leaves and stems and rinse.  In a large pot, place the flowers and enough water to cover well.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes.  Remove from the heat and cool.  Pour the flowers and water into a gallon jar and refrigerate for at least 24 hours - two days is even better.

To make the jelly:  Strain the flowers from the water (I used a colander).  Rinse the gallon jar and strain the water through 4 layers of cheese cloth into the clean jar (this removes the impurities and results in a lovely, clear jelly).

Measure the honeysuckle liquid into a large pot, add the lemon juice and pectin.  Stir well.  Bring to a full, rolling boil, stirring constantly.  Stir in the sugar.  Continue to stir, return to a rolling boil and boil for 1 minute (timed from the beginning of the rolling boil).

Remove the pot from the heat.  Skim foam from the top and ladle jelly into jars.  Wipe threads and rims carefully, then top with prepared lids and rings.  Process in a water bath for 10 minutes.

*I increased my batch by 1/2 and it yielded 9 1/2 pints, with a little liquid left-over.

Measuring the flowers

Into the pot with enough water to cover

What a color change after the flowers have been boiled!

Ready to go into the refrigerator

After 2 days of refrigeration, they are ready to be strained

And strained again through cheesecloth

Mixing in the lemon juice and pectin

Sterilizing the jars....

And the lids

Adding the sugar

Continuing to stir while bringing to a boil

Skimming the foam off the top

Filling jars with hot honeysuckle jelly

Oh, so beautiful!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Martha Stewart Meets Duck Dynasty

As most of you know, our family walks with our feet firmly planted in two worlds.  One world is beautiful, refined and full of "Good Things".  The other is, well, a little more unorthodox.  As I attempted to explain the complexities of our lifestyle to a new acquaintance, I came to the conclusion that we are the epitome of "Martha Stewart Meets Duck Dynasty".  How can that be, you ask?  Let me show you some examples.....

1.  Our Martha Stewart:  A daily indulgence in 4 o'clock tea, freshly brewed, served in fine china, accessorized with french linens.  It's a good thing.

2.  Our Duck Dynasty:  Spending the afternoon destroying a car in the backyard with every caliber weapon known to man.  Happy, Happy, Happy.

3.  Our Martha Stewart:  Enjoying fresh, homemade fettuccine, with Alfredo sauce made with our own homemade Parmesan cheese and homemade french bread, fresh from the oven, along with a glass of homemade wine.  It's a good thing.

4.  Our Duck Dynasty:  Returning the bowling ball that our neighbor (1/2 mile away) shot into our garden with his bowling ball cannon so that the kids can watch him shoot it again.  Happy, Happy, Happy.

5.  Our Martha Stewart:  Making sure we keep up with our weekly silver polishing routine.  It's a good thing.

6.  Our Duck Dynasty:  Quickly butchering 3 deer at once so we can get them off the kitchen table in order to set it for dinner.  Happy, Happy, Happy.

7.  Our Martha Stewart:  Writing a chapter in my cookbook called "Appetizers, Beverages & Tea Time Indulgences".  It's a good thing.

8.  Our Duck Dynasty:  Writing recipes in my cookbook for "Animal Rennet from a suckling ruminant animal - kid, calve, lamb" and "Witchety Grubs".  Happy, Happy, Happy.

9.  Our Martha Stewart:  Bringing out Great Grandmothers "Breakfast China" every spring (I call it our "Summer China") and her "Luncheon China" every fall (I call it our "Winter China).  It's a good thing.

10.  Our Duck Dynasty:  Requiring butchering, rendering, hunting, canning and stalking in our children's core curriculum.  Happy, Happy, Happy.

This list could go on and on - this is just a sampling.  As you can see, we love "Good Things" and we are Happy, Happy, Happy.  Here's to the refined and rustic and all of you!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

There but by the Grace of God

For years, I put off writing a blog.  The only blogs I had ever read had been the ramblings of perfect people.  They had made all of the right decisions, lived according to the highest standards and were reaping the immeasurable benefits of their perfectly conducted lives.  They had perfect marriages, perfect children and perfect homes.

I found, skimming through blog after blog, that my imperfect life didn't measure up.  I discovered that although I had made the best decisions I could, I had not been the wife I was supposed to be, we hadn't managed our finances the way we should have, or even built our shouse correctly.....the list of things that I/we had done wrong went on and on and on.

Depression set in.  When I looked around I didn't see a whole world of perfect people, but I sure read about them online.  And then I got to thinking.  I would write a blog.  I would write the truth about a family that wasn't perfect.  About a family that was a work in progress.  I would write about the difficulties of being a Godly wife, a good mother and a modern pioneer woman.  I would offer real-life solutions to difficult, sometimes impossible, circumstances.  I would tell people that even when life didn't go as planned there was always a way through the storm and onto solid ground.  I would write a blog about the fact that good things were worth working for and that character really did matter.

Here's the deal.  We are not perfect.  We try - we fail - and we get back up again.  If you want someone to walk through the muck of life with you - we are here.  If you screw things up, welcome.  If you don't have the finances to have the "perfect" life, you are in the right place.  If your marriage isn't perfect and your children are works in progress, we are happy to share some of the things we have learned.

Our family is here by the grace of God.  And we are here for all of you less than perfect people.  We can't offer much, but we can offer encouragement, support and hope.  We may be a little rough around the edges, but our foundation is firm and true.  We have built our shouse on the Rock.  There but by the grace of God....

Sunday, June 9, 2013

I Don't Want Safety - I Want Freedom

Our government is trying to pull a fast one.  They are trying to convince us that their most pressing mandate is to provide the American citizens with the greatest measure of safety possible.  Forget the freedoms mandated by our founding fathers and entrusted to us in the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights - SAFETY is the guiding principle of our new Keepers.  Our Keepers are not alone in their carefully conceived deception - they have entreated willing accomplices in the media and the marbled halls of  academia to perpetuate the lie that safety can be bought for the piddling sum of freedom.

Safety and Freedom are incongruent concepts.  Safety is an illusion, a passing ideal.  It is  the calling card of every power-hungry tyrant in the history of our world.  It is the stock-in-trade of every tin-pot dictator.  The promise of safety is the destroyer of freedom in every first-world nation on this earth.  Safety is a deception sold to a gullible people.  Freedom, on the other hand, was established in the hearts of men by their Creator. We crave it.  We fight for it.  We were born for it.  True men understand the eternal value of freedom and will guard and protect it no matter the cost.  They understand that safety cannot be bought, but found in the strong towers of God alone.  They know that freedom is born in our very heart and cannot be traded for a mere illusion.

I don't want whatever safety our government thinks they can offer us - I want only the freedom that is our birthright.

They can takes our lives....but they can never take our FREEDOM!

Friday, June 7, 2013

If You Can't Say Anything Nice....

Don't say anything at all.  I thought our mothers taught us these principles as children.  Apparently I was wrong.

Recently, an anonymous commented has been lambasting me and our lifestyle, indicating that we were harming our children by living an unwise lifestyle.  They attributed all of our perceived difficulties to poor decision making and self-inflicted hardships.

I am done accepting such ill-mannered critiques.  I have patiently endured unkind remarks for years, knowing the commenter was angry or misunderstood my intent.  No more.  If you don't have anything nice to say - don't say anything at all!

I have often marveled at the drivel some people pass off as acceptable under the guise of "speaking the truth", when in fact they are being rude.  I have decided that in the future, if an anonymous commenter says something I wouldn't allow my children or myself to say, I will no longer publish it on my blog.  If you don't like what I have to say - please don't read what I write.

Enough said.