Monday, October 31, 2011

Extracts and a Homemade Christmas!

Hello Blog World! Hope everyone is keeping their sweaters and flip flops near! Much like the weather in Texas should be we are switching between warm and cold weather. None the less the holiday season is vastly approaching starting with Halloween today. This is the perfect time to start thinking about some home made gift ideas for Christmas. One of the things that has started to interest me are home made extracts.

Here is a list below of somethings you can try!

Homemade Vanilla Extract
20 Vanilla Bean Pods
1.75 Liters of Vanilla or Rum
Good Sharp Knife

Split Vanilla Beans in half with knife stuff into liqour bottle. Let stand for 2 months shaking once a week. 
Here is a picture of the start of mine, only 3 days later it has a beautiful caramel color and a wonderfull smell of vanilla! I cant wait to see what it will look like in 2 months! All of this cost me around $20, if you think about it a 8 oz bottle of McCormick is $9.00. Package into nice glass jars with a homemade label! 
Here are some other extracts that I am going to be trying in the coming days! 

Mint Extract
1/4 - 1/2 Cup fresh Peppermint leaves
1- 2 Cups decent Vodka
1 glass jar with tight lid

Bruise mint leaves add vodka store in container for 30 days shaking every couple of days. When done strain out leaves. 

Almond Extract
1 cup Vodka
3 T. finely chopped Almond

Using a food processor or chopper, process the almonds until they are ground, but not so much that it becomes butter. Add the almond to a 1/2 pint jar and then add the vodka. Clean the rim and add the lids and rings. Store the jars in a dark cool place and shake the jar every day for six weeks.

After six weeks, strain the almonds through a fine mesh strainer or coffee filter and put the liquid back in the jar. The extract will last indefinitely.

Lemon Extract
1/2 cup vodka (see above)
1 large lemon cleaned and peeled with a vegetable peeler making sure you avoid the pith (white part)
Add the lemon peel to the vodka in a sterile glass jar with a lid
Place in a cool dark place (pantry) for 1-2 weeks and shake once daily.
It will be ready for use at this time, but unlike the vanilla extract you must remove the peel.

There are probably a load more out there, anyone have recipes or ideas for other things? Let me know! 

Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Canning and Veggies

Wow it has been a busy few weeks, with the Holidays approaching quickly, changes to diets have been put into place. Mid terms for school have been passed out, work is never ending and the harvests are coming to an end. I have taken a interest to canning lately, and have been working on several projects that you will see below. 

My Apple Pie Filling

Apple Pie Filling
Use cooking or baking type apples to make homemade, canned apple pie filling.

10 pounds tart apples - peeled, cored and sliced
5 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cup Clearjel
1 T. cinnamon
2-1/2 cups cold water (2 1/2 qts water if you omit apple juice)
5 cups apple juice
1 tsp. nutmeg
3/4 cup bottled lemon juice

Preparation -
For fresh apples, place 6 cups at a time into 1 gallon of boiling water and boil one minute when it comes back to a boil. Drain but keep fruit covered in a bowl.
In a stockpot, mix the sugar, Clearjel, cinnamon, nutmeg together. Add the water and apple juice, stir to mix well. Bring to a boil and cook until thick and bubbly, stirring frequently. Remove from heat. Add the lemon juice. Fold apples into mixture.
Pack the apples into hot, sterilized quart size canning jars, about 3/4 of the way. Fill the jars with the prepared hot syrup to fill to 1" headspace. Using a rubber or plastic spatula run through the contents of each jar to remove the air bubbles. Fill again to 1" headspace with syrup. Wipe the rims and place the hot lid/rings on the jars. Process in a water bath canner for 25 minutes at a full rolling boil. Wait 5 minutes, remove and place on dishtowel overnight undisturbed. The next day remove rings and clean jars and label with recipe name and date. Store in a cool, dry, and dark place.  This recipe will make 6 - 7 quarts.
How about some cowboy candy? This is dangerously hot and sweet at the same time. It tastes amazing served on crackers with some cottage cheese! 

Small Batch Cowboy Candy
(pickled jalapenos)
1 lb fresh jalapenos
2/3 cup cider vinegar
2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons mustard seed
1/4 teaspoon tumeric
1/4 teaspoon celery seed
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Slice jalapenos. Mix cider vinegar, sugar, tumeric, celery seed, garlic, and cayenne to boil. Reduce for 5 minutes to a simmer. Add jalapenos at the simmer for 5 minutes more. Load sterilized jars with jalapenos first and add liquid filling the jars leaving a 1/4 headspace. Process in a water bath for 15 minutes. Makes 2 pints

Also put up several bags of cauliflower, and broccoli!

Then this was the offering for this week in bountiful baskets!
A big thanks goes out to SB canning for sharing the canning recipes, they sure do taste really delicious! 


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Whats been happening?

Well I had another weekend full of food and goodness! Bountiful Baskets was pretty awesome this week, also the fact that we volunteered and made a difference was quite fun. We did extras by doing that but we met some great people and had a good time. Not to mention the fact that we also got a workout! 

Here is a picture of the Bountiful Basket we picked up today. Celery, Pineapple, Onions, Pears, Apples, Bananas, Romain Lettuce, Roma Tomatoes, Green Peppers, Cauliflower, Sweet Potatoes. Yet again all of this was for $15!

I had some pears laying around from the previous week that I needed to do something with. So I broke out the big ole' book of ball canning recipes and came up with a Peppery Pear Salsa. 
This is some of the best salsa I have ever had, and better yet I managed to can 6 pint jars of it! Although two of them are already gone! 

I also tried to can some grape juice concentrate! It worked, everything sealed right up! Now the hardest part is to wait three weeks before I can even think about trying it! 

On a final note I wanted to pass on a project to my foodie friends out there in the North Ft Worth Area! We will be hosting for the first time ever a Food Swap! Do you know what a food swap is? Check it out over on the other blog and be sure to become a follower of it! The first event is going to be on October 28th at my house. The whole idea of the food swap is everything is homemade, home grown, or foraged for. Anything that fits into that category can be brought to be traded for other things. 


Friday, October 7, 2011

Welcome To my Kitchen

So my kitchen is one of the biggest rooms in my entire house that needed to be redone. We are slowly tackling projects, but there is a lot that truly needs to be done. I just wanted to share some progress pictures as well as get some opinions about the kitchen as well. 

Here are some before pictures of the kitchen when we had just moved into the house. You can probably understand why it needed some help. 

Before we moved in, the kitchen wasn't exactly the selling point of this house. 

These two pictures are us moving in and making do. Thats all we could do at first, about 6 months later I was done with "making due" and began the process. I am not going to bother you with the during pictures of the mess. Just proceed below to see some "after but not finished" pictures of the kitchen.

 I have a think for the copper jello molds, can you tell? This color was on a Sherwin Williams color pallets for 1950's homes. Needless to say I fell in love with the color, especially in a room that needed to be brightened up.

This is my 1950's dinette table that we do use every day. That ugly hutch is still there we plan on ripping it off of the wall and then finishing the wall like the rest of the kitchen.

We have started to get ready to paint the cabinets. We took the doors off, I personally like the look of more open kitchens, and with only 1 window I feel like i need to bring some brightness to the kitchen. We are talking about finishing the back of the cabinets with bead board instead of the ugly plywood. Opinions?

This is the start of my vintage collection of dishes. Some of these piece came from my grandmother. Others have started to come from auctions and thrift stores. Eventually my cabinets will be filled with vintage goodness and look great! I can see it but can you?

This is a odd cabinet kind of stuck to the left side of the sink, I have not really decided what I want to do with it yet, or what it will be filled with. So for now it is what it is.

This is one of my more organized cabinets. With my vintage dinnerware stuck in there. I really hate the backs of my cabinets, I hope the bead board works. Anyone out there have any bits of inspiration they want to throw my way? 

So what do you think about my kitchen? Its a work in progress, I have a few things left to do. I want to do the floor over in a checkerboard pattern. There is that ugly hutch behind the dinning room table that MUST go. The cabinets need painted, and bead boarded in the back. Finally I want to finish it off with crown molding around the room. Do you think I am on my way? 

Happy Hunting

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Tea Cup Thursday

So I bring to you another Tea Cup Thursday with some more midcentury! Instead of finding pictures online you actually get my pictures! As I get more of my Salem Biscayne pattern in i get more excited. I am also going to show you a pattern that was given to me from my grandma.

This is a Tea Cup set given to my from my Grandmother who found it at a Thrift Store years ago. There are no markings, but they match my kitchen and hold a dear place in my heart.

Now to show off a few of my Salem biscayne pieces and to show you how well these pieces fit with the tea cups i recieved from my grandmother.

Please excuse the ugly cabinets. We are currently in the middle of a redo. Here you see several pices. Sugar, Creamer, Gravy Boat, and Salt and Pepper Shakers.

A picture of everything sitting on the counter. My Biscayne Tea Pot and Glasses

I scored this thing on ebay for $9.99. The person who had it didnt even know what they had. There are similar ones selling for $65 I couldnt bring myself to buy a tea pot for that much.

These amazing glasses are super hard to find. Originally made from Fireking for the salem china company to match the pattern.

This is a stack of Lunch plates, another ebay score. I cant wait to get my big packages in with the FULL SET I found on craigslist in Vermont, yes ladies and gents there is a 70+ piece set being mailed to me. I am amazed and blessed to have found such a great person to be willing enough to do that for me.

Happy Hunting!

Monday, October 3, 2011

What a Great Weekend

Happy Monday to Everyone! Most importantly Happy October. It seems it snuck up on us over the weekend.

What an eventful weekend it was between garage selling, thrift stores and foster duties for the rescue group it seems like there was hardly any time on Sunday to do some cooking and finish up some school work.

On Saturday we had a very successful yard sale, but also picked up our bountiful basket order. Which was huge, I spent $100 but man what a share we got this time. This order consisted of 2 conventional baskets, asian themed pack, 5 loaves of nine grain bread, fall harvest pack, and a 24 pound box of peaches that i am going to freeze for future use. 

 This is just the two conventional baskets, loaves of bread and the Asian pack from this week. It is insane the amount of fruits and veggies we got. The pears are amazing, tons of bananas, bell peppers corn, cantaloupe, and tomato's which I used to make homemade pasta sauce Sunday.
 This is the massive box of peaches, I used these to make some peach cobbler yesterday which ended up being Peaches and Dumplings instead. Oh so good with some Blue Bell home made vanilla icecream! 

This is the fall pack we received, I was very happy with the amount of money I spent on it. There were pumpkins, squash and Indian corn. Now to find some where to decorate with it!

Sunday I spent cooking and doing homework. I managed to make spaghetti sauce, ranch dressing, peach cobbler, and creamed corn. I cooked all of this using fresh ingridients that were in our bountiful baskets.  It is rewarding to have a house smelling so good by the time you are done cooking. I love cooking, but in Texas our houses get way to warm, so fall is the time for us to break out our magic chef hats. 

I leave you with the cooking pictures from over the weekend. I hope everyone is enjoying fall!