Monday, December 31, 2012

Black-Eyed Peas for New Years

The tradition of eating black-eyed peas for good luck on New Years can originally be linked to the Jewish New Year, Rosh-Hashana, which called for eating the legumes because they were marked with the Jewish symbol of good luck.

In addition, the practice of eating black-eyed peas for luck is generally believed to date back to the Civil War. At first planted as food for livestock, and later a food staple for slaves in the South, the fields of black-eyed peas were ignored as Sherman’s troops destroyed or stole other crops, thereby giving the humble, but nourishing, black-eyed pea an important role as a major food source for surviving Confederates.

Besides all this, they're very yummy! And good for you!


Here's my easy-black-eyed-peasy recipe for New Year's good luck. I made these today, but like all bean dishes, they're best on the second or third day. We'll be eating these tomorrow with some corn bread, which is a good luck symbol for gold on New Year (to be eaten with the lucky legumes).

If you don't have time to do these in a crock-pot, no worries. Just cook them on a simmer on your stovetop until they are nice and tender (bring to boil first, then reduce to simmer)

Happy New Year!

Easy Black-Eyed Peasy

1 pound dried black-eyed peas, rinsed
1 ham bone (or 1 1/2 cups cooked, chopped ham)
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 packet of Goya Ham Seasoning
1 tablespoon pepper
1/2 tablespoon hot sauce
1/2 tablespoon olive oil

Place all ingredients in a crock-pot and cook on low for 7-8 hours, or until tender. Remove ham bone and pick off all meat; return ham meat to crock-pot. Serve hot with cornbread or stewed greens (or both!).

Friday, December 21, 2012

Meowy Christmas Everyone!

This is Lucy, a.k.a "Miss Thang" who will do just about anything for a treat.

Wishing all of you a happy, healthy, and safe holiday filled with love...and maybe some cheese.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Salsa Before Sandy

I managed to finish processing 14 pints of Annie's Salsa before Sandy blew through and messed up the power. 

Hey, didn't we move up here to get away from crap like this???!!


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Friday, October 05, 2012

Caramel Apple Butter

This is an annual treat that I, hubby, and all my friends and family wait for. Caramel Apple Butter.

Could there be a more beautiful set of words? I think not!

Now, let me caveat to say this is NOT a USDA, Ball, Kerr or otherwise “approved” recipe, so use your own freedom of will to decide if you want to make this recipe for yourself or not. It’s controversial because Kraft caramels are added to the puree and melted down, so that’s that. I can say; however, I’ve made this recipe and canned it safely for several years and it’s a delicious treat.

With that said, let’s start canning! This recipe will make about 12 pints, so if you would like less, just halve the recipe for 6 pints or 12 half pints.

Start with a half bushel of apples (this came out to 14 lbs for my half bushel)


Peel and core the apples. Hopefully you have one of these nifty apple peelers! Add the peeled apples to a very large (or two) stockpot. Add about 2-3 inches of water or apple cider to the pot, bring to a boil, put a lid on the pot and simmer for about 30 minutes or until the apples are fork tender. Stir the apples about every 10 minutes to ensure even cooking.


Take the cooked apples with the water/juice and puree using a stick blender, food processor or blender.


Add apple puree to a large roasting pan. Traditionally, apple butter making is done on the stovetop, but who wants to dodge all those bubbling spurts of hot, molten apple butter blobs? Not me! I put my apple butter in a roasting pan and cook it in the oven, or in this case, I use my 18 quart Nesco roaster, which is a small, convenient oven in itself!

Add 2 cups of sugar for every 7 cups of apple puree (or to taste if you like it sweeter). In my case, I used 6 cups of white sugar.


Add 1 teaspoon of ground ginger, ½ teaspoon of ground cloves, and 1 tablespoon of ground cinnamon to the puree. Cook the apple butter, with a lid propped on the roasting pan to allow for evaporation, at 300-350 degrees; stirring every 15-20 minutes to prevent burning.



Cook anywhere from 3-4 hours (or more or less) to where the apple butter will mound nicely on a spoon. 30 minutes before it is done, add 50 Kraft caramels to the mixture and keep stirring until melted and bubbly. If you are halving the recipe, add 25 Kraft caramels.


Ladle the hot apple butter mixture into prepared jars, leaving ½ inch headspace, and process for 10 minutes in a BWB.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Ugly Couch: Before and After

I have a confession to make, I love ugly furniture. Not just ANY kind of ugly furniture...it has to be furniture with potential to be beautiful. Lately, I've been following Emliy Henderson A LOT and she has inspired me to buy this ugly, neglected, chintz Duncan Phyfe nightmare:


I found it on Craigslist for $150. It weighed a ton (mahogany), it smelled, it was torn up in the back corners from someone's cat using it as a scratching post, and the frame was wobbly. I had a vision. I knew it had the potential to be something exceedingly wonderful.


After 5 weeks and $2K, we picked it up from the upholsterers last Friday. It is now drop-dead GORGEOUS! The material I selected is a light camel colored linen that really shows off all of her sexy curves. I know $2K is a lot of money, but it was worth every red cent. They basically had to redesign the sofa into a new style, and I dropped off little more than a pile of wood for them to work with.


I probably would have spent $2K for a nice, brand new sofa from a furniture store, but instead, I spent $2K on a sofa that would now sell for twice as much as that in an antique store and will outlast ANY brand new sofa that I could buy. Not to mention, I have something that is totally original from anything else I would have ever found in a store. Go me!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Happy Fall, Ya'll!

This is what I wrote to my friend Mary at Two Sisters. I thought I'd share:

This is my FAVORITE time of year! The light in the sky changes and the trees start their own seasonal change. The crows are barking in the back yard; you can smell damp earth and burning leaves in the air.

"Dried apples swinging in empty doorways.” God, I love Ray Bradbury!

It starts as a slight fading of color at first; the trees are not as bright green as they were a few months ago. Suddenly, you see that ONE bright red, orange, or yellow tree amongst all the dull and light green, and then it’s just a matter of time before the rest catch up in a glory of color.


We had a cold front come in over the last couple of days and this morning it was actually chilly. We slept with the windows open last night and heard owls hooting all around us in the woods. I told hubby that there was no way in hell we were spending very much time inside this weekend. We have a five foot tall mound of chipped tree mulch to deal with that’s sitting right where we want to have a garage shed installed, so I think we’ll take a bite out of that on Saturday. We had 13 trees taken down and mulched and you can’t even tell! We have sold our soul to the devil and found an honest-to-god, reliable, professional, honest and CHEAP tree removal company. I’m going to need some more trees taken down next month or so to start planning for a veggie garden!

We love, love, lurrrrrve our new house. It’s definitely a little bit country, and a little bit rock-and-roll. I love the layout, the property, everything. I’m not sure if it’s our forever home, but we’ll be here for a long while.

Pictures coming soon; promise!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Friday, August 17, 2012

Quiet Before The Storm

We move next week! I'm taking a few moments to enjoy a quiet morning while waiting for the carpet people to show up.


Friday, August 03, 2012

A Slutty Little Wine

With a name like Sexual Chocolate, I should have known this wine would be reeeeally easy.


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

What I'm Canning Right Now

Pickles and Wine The good and bad news about making long-term canning projects is you have plenty of time to decide when you want to deal with what you’ve made and it never seems to happen at a convenient time.

I currently have a 5 gallon batch (from left) of Skeeter Pee (Hard Lemonade), Peach Wine, and Spicy Garlic Dills happily fermenting in the basement, which is fine and great except for that whole moving thing going on right now. It just so happens that I need to do something with all of these babies before the big moving day comes and that takes time to coordinate.

skeeter pee, peach wine, and pickles

Both the Skeeter Pee and Peach Wine were started about 3 months ago. I’ve never made Hard Lemonade and wasn’t completely bowled over from my initial tastes of this batch, so it might not make it. The Peach Wine is a Jack Keller recipe and I know it’ll take a little time to age before drinking. I used all those frozen peaches I had stored in my deep freezer from last summer.

The Spicy Garlic Dills are a traditional fermented pickle recipe from The Joy of Pickling. I started those about 4 or 6 weeks ago. How do you know when they’re ready? When they taste ready! As a matter of fact, I gave one big cuke a try tonight and they’re perfect. Not as spicy as last year’s batch, but I can add more pepper flakes to the jars when I process them.

Pickle crock filled with yummy pickles!

The green, flappy looking thing on the top is a raft of fresh grape leaves; those help keep these babies nice and crisp. No one likes a limp pickle! I use a glass pie plate with two full quart jars on top to keep everything weighted down.

Looks like I’ll be canning this weekend whether I like it or not!

Friday, July 20, 2012

We Did It!

We did it!  We are officially homeowners and have been for 9 whole days.  We've been super busy getting things prepped, coordinating with contractors, and trying to get ready for the big move.  So far, we've had radon mitigation in the basement, the AC ducts cleaned, the painting started, the back 40 bush-hogged, and have had about a gazillion carpet estimates.  Tomorrow we get the gutters cleaned and the house power washed. 

What is it with carpet companies?  We've had estimates that have been all over the charts...from $5k to $10k for approximately 170 square yards.  Some of these people are on drugs if they think we are going to pay $10k for friggin carpet!  We bit the bullet and are trying Lowes.  I know, I know, but they have the Mowhawk Smartstrand carpet and cushion I want.  The installers are legit (from what I've researched).  We'll see...

Meanwhile, the areaway drain outside the basement is backing up and flooding into the basement when it rains really hard.  So that means, the basement finish is on hold...plus there's the whole financing thing.  'Nuther time.

AND! Hubby got his first tick.  Welcome to the country!

Monday, July 09, 2012

Close-us Interruptus

So, umm, yeah,  about that closing thing.  Our closing has been delayed due to the seller having to remove some fallen trees that damaged the neighbor's property. 

So, get this...the seller initially wanted US to take responsibility for taking care of this and to reimburse the neighbor for damage!!!!  Can you believe that shit boys and girls???  Um, hello WE DON'T OWN THE HOUSE!!!  I may have been born in the morning, but not THIS morning.

Sheesh.

So, needless to say, we are in a holding pattern until Coldblood Banker gets their crap together.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

And So It Begins

Can you believe it?  I am closing today or tomorrow, or next week…depending on if the seller is going to be a complete ass about the tree that fell over on the neighbor’s shed.  Apparently, they seem to think that even though we don’t even OWN the house, we should pay for it.  Ummm, yeah, riiii-ght.
I have paint picked out, contractors on stand-by and I’m ready to get this REAL party started.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Green Light

The radon test for the well and water came back normal!  Looks like I will be homeowner in less than 30 days (God willing).  All that's left is the appraisal and termite inspection.

Woot!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Planet Radon

So the radon test they did in the basement came back very high...like over 2 times the highest safety amount high.  So, since the house is on a well and septic system, we researched that it was highly recommended to have the groundwater (well) tested for radon too.  The house can be mitigated, no biggie, but if the water tests come back high, we are going to walk away from the sale.

Surprisingly, it's been a pain in the patootie to get the water tested for radon.  We've probably spent close to $500 with three different tests to find this out.  The first test just tested the well water for e-coli and other scary stuff (came back fine); the second test, called an Alpha/Beta test will test for all kinds of radioactive crazies (will come back in the next day or two), and the third test, which will test specifically for radon will come back by the end of the week.

For the radon test, hubby had to drive all the way to Richmond to deliver it to a specific laboratory.  Sheesh.

Cross your fingers!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes!

I am often confused at the universe. On one hand, I believe that anything that’s worth having takes work. On the other hand, I believe that when something is meant to be, it comes easily. I have found both of these beliefs to be especially true these past few weeks.

We’re buying a house ya’ll!

More to the point: I’m buying a house! Ever since that whole “short sale thing” in Florida, my husband is ineligible to be approved for a mortgage for a minimum of 2-3 years. We thought that we’d be renting again for at least another 6 months to a year before we’d be able to co-apply for a mortgage, BUT since I am a veteran and since I’ve never used my VA loan benefits for a mortgage, the bank was able to approve little ole me completely for a mortgage.

New house front

Here it is and it’s gorgeous. And it’s ON FOUR ACRES!! I can hardly grasp how this is all happening so fast, but it’s been almost effortless. It’s a foreclosure and we stole it hot-handed from the bank. The previous owners hardly lived in it at all and it’s practically brand new.

Family room...needs new color!

It needs some paint and a few minor upgrades, but other than that, it’s everything we’ve ever wanted. It does need the basement finished, but we are working on getting that going. We close the first week of July. I can hardly contain my excitement thinking about the gardening fun I’m going to have!

Backyard...future gardens galore!

Things are going to be picking up around here!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Spring Has Sprung!

Spring daffodils in the front yard

Literally over night! After this long, wintery break from blogging, I’m ready to start a new year with new thoughts, ideas, recipes, and pictures. But I’m not sure if this is the right venue. I know I need to update my blogging platform and make this site more searchable and sociable, but I just don’t have the interest at this point. I’d rather be doing other things. I’d rather be in it, getting dirty, and sharing later.

What have I been up to lately? Cooking for sure, just not much of it. Last weekend I put up 18 quarts of the most fan-friggin’ awesome homemade, home fermented sauerkraut. I started fermenting it on Christmas day and it took almost 3 months of low and slow to really be something special. Next want to start up ye’ olde wine making equipment and do something with all those pounds of frozen peaches in my freezer from last year’s harvest.

I’ve been into painting lately, specifically pop/modern stencil art like this, and this, and this. I’m still very new, but I love how you can take everyday things and make it into art…part whimsy…part message. I love how I can make something to hang on my walls that doesn’t cost a lot of money. Plus handmade art makes great, customized gifts.

I’ve been working a lot at my job, especially last December and January, but it’s all good and I like my job for the most part. It has its moments like every job, but it’s been the best so far.

And that’s really about it, for the most part. I plan to do more outside type stuff this year, venture into new interests, and build on the old ones. Stay tuned!
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