Sunday, November 12, 2017

Long Time, No Blog

Three years ago I was hit with some health challenges and to make a long story short, I now use a wheelchair to get around. As a result I am no longer able to do the gardening that I loved so much and my hubby is far too busy to take it over on such a large scale. The compromise is a very small vegetable garden in the front of the house, just off the walkway so that I can handle the daily watering and harvesting. We have red bell peppers and tomatoes, lavender to attract bees and a rosemary so that I can bake Monti's Roman Bread when I get the urge. HuzBen also keeps potted herbs like parsley on the back patio. I'd be lying if I said I didn't miss my sprawling gardens of fresh organic veggies, but things aren't so bad. I've learned to shop organic and I am canning a preserving much more than before.

Thankfully, one thing we did not change is that we still have our hens. We are down to four; Sprite the Americauna, two naked necks we acquired when the were getting picked on in a friend's backyard flock, and we still have Mabel the black Minorca who I believe is eight years old now. She was in our very first batch of hens. And she is still laying 4-5 eggs a week. Gotta love it!

So that's my update. It's been a long three years going from unable to do most anything to getting back into the kitchen again and frankly, back into life again. Hopefully soon I'll be posting more about my cooking and canning adventures and who knows what else. Blessings to all who never stopped visiting my blog. :) Our Mabel

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

In the hen house

A fabulous find in one of the coops today. One of the older hens who has not laid an egg in ages is apparently producing again. Out of 7 hens we now have 6 who are laying eggs. Looks like the old ladies are trying to keep up with the youngsters. In human terms, this is like Helen Mirren giving birth.

In the greenhouse

A beautiful pink strawberry blossom. As soon as I get another 6 pack of these I'll be planting the strawberry jar. Until then it's hanging out in the open greenhouse.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Say hello to my little friend - the Progressive International Canning Scoop

Long day yesterday- I made 6 quarts of apple pie filling. The Backyard Farmer is spoiling me by offering delivery in my area. They brought me a big box of Fuji and Granny Smith apples last week along with some beautiful heirloom tomatoes and a bag for feed for the hens. Gotta love it.

I'm trying out a new recipe this year. It was quite tasty before it hit the jars so it should be pretty good in recipes. I found it here along with some good basic canning tips and a recipe for pie crust made without shortening (butter only).

Before I head of to work, I must tell you all about the. . .

Best. Canning. Tool. Ever.

Okay, so maybe I do like my jar lifter just as much for safety purposes, but this little beauty comes in a close second. I can't remember if I saw the Progressive International Canning Scoop on a blog or if it was an Amazon* suggestion but I am so glad I bought it. All the reviews for this were excellent. The shape is perfect for ladling fruit into your jars, but it's pointed enough at the end to be able to get out every last drop of liquid. It has a generous size bowl and a hook so you can hang it on the edge of your pot. It won't stain or rust. I love it! I used it to can apple pie filling yesterday and it made much less of a mess than my old ladle. Making jam will be so much easier with this in my canning arsenal.

*And yes, I am an Amazon Associate so if you go to Amazon thru a link on my blog to make your purchase, I do get a tiny fee. That doesn't raise your price at all, but it helps me with the occasional Amazon gift certificate. And I thank you for that!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Cute Crafty Seed Packets

Look at what I found on my desk today when I came to work!
My coworker Tracy had promised me some seeds but I never thought I'd get them in such  adorable little envelopes. She crafted these from leftover scrapbook paper. What a fun idea!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Canning Strawberry Lemonade Concentrate

A long night of canning - 5 quarts of pickles and 4 quarts of Strawberry Lemonade Concentrate

It was love at first sip for me and strawberry lemonade. Summer in the valley brings great prices on flats of strawberries at Superstition Ranch Market, and winter means friends are begging me to take lemons off their hands. What could be better than an inexpensive drink chock full of Vitamin C?

At any given time our freezer is overflowing with pureed strawberries, lemon juice, or my strawberry lemonade base. It got to the point that an entire shelf was dedicated to my favorite beverage. Since a second freezer is not possible, I needed a better way to store my strawberry lemonade concentrate. A search turned up this recipe from Ball, the canning company. I had all the ingredients on hand and I canned up a batch when I last made pickles. Other bloggers had success with quarts instead of pints and that's the way I went with the project. I did add about 7 minutes to the water bath processing time. Finally- more room in the freezer!