Friday, July 29, 2011

Guest Post with Amy from A Latte with Ott A

Guest Post with Amy from A Latte with Ott A
Have you done any canning? Want to? If you're like me, you take pride in the words "I made it myself". Whether it's something I've sewn, a crafty endeavor, or a new dish that turned out great, I get a sense of satisfaction knowing I did it. And I love to introduce my friends to other friends who share the same passion. Today, you're going to meet an on-line friend, Amy from A Latte with Ott A. She’s sharing her Strawberry Rhubarb jam with us. So, let me introduce you and get right to it!

Canning is a great way to preserve food for later use, but I'm always surprised by how many woman are skeptical or unsure of trying to can. In a day when more people are looking into urban gardening and doing more with less I'm here to tell you canning is easy and if you can follow a recipe you can.... CAN! I grew up canning with my mother and now as an adult I can whatever we can't consumer during the growing season for our garden. An easy way to start canning is by making Jam. So come on in and grab a Latte' with Ott, A and learn how to make and can Strawberry Rhubarb Jam. This recipe is sure to tickle your tastebuds and this tutorial will give you step by step instructions on canning.
To start with I washed my cut rhubarb pieces.
Then I chopped the Rhubarb up into little pieces until I got 5 cups. (I used a Ulo Knife I got while in Alaska last summer.) Once all the Rhubarb is cut I place it in a large bowl and add 3 cups of sugar. I put a lid on the bowl and put it in the fridge overnight or for about 6 hours.
I then pour the sugar/rhubarb mixture into a large pan on top of the stove and brough to a boil over medium heat. Once it boils reduce heat and continue to stir for 12 minutes until Rhubarb is tender.
Remove from heat; stir in a 3 oz. package of strawberry gelatin mix.
While all of this is happening I am also getting my jars ready. (Canning requires lots of multi-tasking so it always helps to get yourself really organized before you start.) In a sink I place my clean canning jars in as hot of water as I can stand. This gets the temperature of the jar hot, so they won't crack later when you add to hot jam to it. Simply fill up your sink and let them soak.
At the same time I usually place my lids and rings bowls of hot water as well. Again just to get their temperature up.
On your stove you will have your jam cooking on at the same time you will want to get the water boiling in your pressure canner or large pot that you will place your jars in. It's important to have about enough water in your pot to cover your jars by about half and inch. (It's probably going to get hot in your kitchen so feel free to crank up the AC or get an extra fan going in there.)
Once your jam is ready to go I take my jars out of the hot water they were sitting in and I used a ladel and a funnel to fill my jars up to 1/2 inch from the top. It's important to leave some head space in jars you are canning to allow for any expansion.
Next I take a paper towl and wipe of the edges of the rims of the jars to make sure there is no debrie on them and they will seal properly.
I then take a lid out of the hot water it was sitting in and place it on top of the jar.
Then I take a ring out of the hot water it was sitting in and screw it tightly on the jar.
Now my jars are ready to be placed in the boiling water bath we have ready to go on the stove in our pressure canner or large pot. I use a pair of canning thongs to help me do this.
Once all the jars are in I place a lid on top and set my timer for 15 minutes (for these 1/2 pint sized jars.) I usually turn down the heat just a little as I want to maintain the level of boiling and heat and not keep increasing it.
After the timer goes off I kill the heat on the stove and let it sit there until the pressure in my canner has dropped or if your just using a large pot, wait until the bubbling of the boiling water has settled. Then it is safe to remove your jars from the water and place on a towel. Allow jars to sit undisturbed for several hours. During that time you should be listening for the popping sound of your jars sealing. A popping sound is the best sound to a canners hears as that meals the jars have sealed. If you are uncertain if the jars sealed or not, after they have been allowed to sit for several undistirbured hours, simply take off the ring and try to lift the lid off. If you can't pull it off it has sealed. If you can, then you know it didn't work.
This recipe will yield about 8 half pint jars. It simple to make and taste amazing on your morning toast or would make great gifts for friends and family. As you can see canning is easy to do so give it a try sometime and let me know how it turns out.
If you are interested in learning more about Canning feel free to stop by my blog during August 22-26 for Canning Week 2011. Each day we will be blogging more recipes and how to guides for how to can various fruits and vegetables and along the way have some give-a-ways as well. It's a great way to learn more and interact with other bloggers that can!!!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Prayer Request Tuesday

Prayer Tuesday

This is the day set aside for prayer for you...

If you have a prayer request, please list it in the comments below. You don't have to give any information you don't feel comfortable with. (A simple "unspoken" comment is sufficient).

If you would like to pray, then please pray for the comment above yours.

Also, if you would like to share a "praise" for a blessing you have received please feel free to leave a comment so we can all rejoice with you!

I would like to tell you all what a blessing you have been and how my heart melts when I hear from you, both privately and in the comments of how you are praying for the comments left here. That is what I hoped would happen. We're feeling a real sense of community, and sharing one another's burdens and rejoicing with our fellow sisters! Thank you so much for your feedback!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Who are we trying to leave a legacy to?

"The life of mortals is like grass, they flourish like a flower of the field;
The wind blows over it and it is gone, and it's place remembers it no more"
- Psalms 103:15-16

Tonight hubby is at the Rays' baseball game (they're playing the Yankees), so on the rare occasion I actually got possession of the remote control. I chose the Hallmark channel and sat down to a nice marathon of Little House On the Prairie. I know, I know. I lead such a jet-set lifestyle.

I don't know if it's with each passing year we live, or when we hear of someone's early demise, but we tend to think of our own mortality. What kind of mark are we leaving on this earth. (Kind of like the ponderings I made in the post called My Life.) We all want to be remembered.

In this episode, Charles Ingalls' good friend dies suddenly of a heart attack. After his death the man's children sell his homestead. Charles comes up and sees the man's name on a sign thrown to the side as the new owners move in and claim it as their own. This is probably the turning point where Charles starts thinking about what kind of a legacy he's leaving behind. Not wanting to live his whole life and never be remembered after he's gone.

Ok, to give you the "Reader's Digest" version I'll condense it.

Charles is making tables that are a hit in the "big city". He see's this as his opportunity to leave his mark. People will remember him through his furniture. So he leaves his family behind on the farm and works day and night in the city. After someone steals his idea and mass produces his furniture (there goes his dream of leaving his mark in the world...of being remembered).

He has to re-evaluate what a legacy really is. He had been working so hard to make sure he was remembered by strangers instead of the people who really mattered...his family.

The only investment that remains is in the lives of the ones we love. Do we spend as much time investing in the lives of those precious ones as we do achieving our "goals" and "ambitions" ?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Perspective is not reality

I was cleaning up folders in my computer today and came across something my aunt sent to me almost a year ago.  (I’m including my notes in intallics so you can know my thoughts at the time)   I’m really glad I saved it…

It sure is food for thought. How many times have I done this. God sure is patient with me.

wash day

A young couple moves into a new neighborhood.  The next morning while they are eating breakfast, the young woman sees her neighbor hanging the wash outside.

"That laundry is not very clean", she said.   "She doesn't know how to wash correctly.  Perhaps she needs better laundry soap."

Her husband looked on, but remained silent.  Every time her neighbor would hang her wash to dry, the young woman would make the same comments.

About one month later, the woman was surprised to see a nice clean wash on the line and said to her husband: "Look, she has learned how to wash correctly.   I wonder who taught her this."

The husband said, "I got up early this morning and cleaned our windows..."

And so it is with life. What we see when watching others depends on the purity of the window through which we look.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

This is the day set aside for prayer for you.
If you have a prayer request, please list it in the comments below. You don't have to give any information you don't feel comfortable with (a simple "unspoken" comment is sufficient).
If you would like to pray, please pray for the comment above yours.
Also, if you would like to share a "praise" for a blessing you have received, please feel free to list those also! I'd love to hear of it so we can rejoice with you.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Guest Post Day. Meet Heather.

I'm excited to introduce you to a new friend, Heather. If today, you were thinking, hmmm I sure need some new ideas and recipes, well you're going to love reading today's post! Heather has given us links to several different yumminess. Like pork? You're gonna love today!
So, without further delay, Here's Heather!

I’m Heather from 3 kids and lots of pigs where I blog about our crazy, hectic, but full of fun and love life as I try to balance being a full-time off-farm working momma while raising the 5th generation of corn, soybean, and pig farmers in The Farmer’s family.

Big Sissy and Bubby with 100 pounds of pork we donated to our local food pantry.
So as you can already tell, pigs play a big part in our life and pork plays a big role in our diets.  We eat a lot of pork at this pigpen which is why we were so excited when it was finally announced that pork could now be cooked to an internal temperature of 145 degrees.  Per the new USDA guidelines, whole pork muscle cuts such as chops, loins, and roasts can be cooked to an internal temperature of 145 degrees followed by a 3 minute waiting period.

I've had a few questions from friends and family on if this is really safe or not since the pork may still be slightly pink after it is cooked.  I am not a meat scientist, but I can tell you that there was a lot of research done on this before the new guidelines were announced and I have complete faith in this research.  

I'll be honest, I have made a few recipes at home in the past that had me cook pork to 150 degrees followed by a 5-10 minute waiting period.  I could immediately tell a difference in these recipes versus the ones that I cooked to the previously required 160 degrees.  You will find that pork cooked to 145 degrees followed by a 3 minute waiting period before slicing/cutting are much more tender and juicier which just makes pork that much better to me and as the proud pork mom, I want you to enjoy pork to its fullest.  So go ahead and adopt 145 for those chops, loins, and roasts.  Ground pork still needs to be cooked to 160 degrees so just be sure to use a digital thermometer whenever cooking or grilling with meat.  

And in case you need some further inspiration, here are some pigpen favorite pork recipes:

If you want to continue to find new pork recipes and keep up to date on our family farm and pig pen, you can follow along at 3 kids and lots of pigs, on Twitter @proudporkmom, or Facebook at 3 kids and lots of pigs and The Real Farmwives of America and Friends.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Monday, July 11, 2011

Prayer Request Tuesday

This is the day set aside for prayer for you.
If you have a prayer request, please list it in the comments below. You don't have to give any information you don't feel comfortable with (a simple "unspoken" comment is sufficient).

If you would like to pray, please pray for the comment above yours.
Also, if you would like to share a "praise" for a blessing you have received, please feel free to list those also! I'd love to hear of it so we can rejoice with you.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

How to Peel a Boiled Egg

Do you have a fool-proof way to peel a boiled egg?
I like to keep some boiled eggs in the ‘frige to put in salads and when I’m starving (as a healthier choice than chips or cookies).  But with the last batch, I had enough! I wanted to find out if it was really possible to have perfectly peeled eggs.  It has been so “hit or miss”  so I went to the experts… my friends on facebook, and twitter. I got a lot of answers, some confirmed things I had thought, and others were, well, just outright hilarious. 
I thought I’d share my findings with you.  If you have good luck with ‘em, please leave a comment and share!
Here’s the input I received from some of my facebook friends:
Brooke from Applesauce is the New Black said to “immerse in ice cube water and then "crackle" the shell. Peel away!”
Sean, (Brooke’s husband) said: Just remove the shell before boiling. Works great every time.”   uh, yeah.  Ok, Sean.   LOL
Eve W. said “ Buy your eggs ahead of time like 2 weeks! Older eggs always peel easier then fresh eggs!
Susan C said “Yes to older eggs - also rinse in cold water before crackling _ I bounce mine in pan to get multiple little cracks - then soak about 5 mins in cold water and peel under water in the pan
I knew I was right about that “old egg” theory!!!  Just needed confirmation.
And from my Twitter friends:
Tara said  if you’re really lazy you can buy them already boiled in a bag at store. “
Kathleen said “Not much to tell just wait for it to cool and then peel off the shell I usually tap it a couple of times w/fork”
Tara  from Perfectly Flawed “I have heard if you put them in the fridge to cool they are easier to peel.”
Chrissy from My Hoot Designs said  “I run cold water over the egg while peeling, after first rolling it against the side of the sink to crack and break the shell up”
Laura from Home Making Joyfully actually blogged about this in the past and sent me a link. (click on the name of her blog to go to it).  In that post, she confirmed my suspicions about older eggs too!  Smile
And last, but not because she’s the least (because her answer was so funny and cute)  Tonya from More Info than You Wanted said:  “I get 'em about 75% of the time, I figure when I hit 100% I will be prepared to meet my maker.”
So, there you have it.  There are some really great tips here, but you know what I’ve come to the realization of ???    You’re not going to  get it perfect 100% of the time.  And when that happens,  make egg salad!   LOL

Friday, July 8, 2011

Do you SWAG?


Swag Bucks that is.


What is a SwagBuck?

SwagBucks are electronic bucks that you earn for searching the web – something that we do every day, right? You can then redeem SwagBucks for items such as gift cards, Starbucks gift cards and more.

How Can You Earn SwagBucks?

You can earn SwagBucks just by signing up! Go HERE to register!

Download the SwagBucks toolbar
When you use the SwagBucks toolbar for searching the Internet, every search is a chance to earn SwagBucks.  There are shortcuts for ways to earn SwagBucks built right into the toolbar, too.  Just click the “Earn” button to explore!

SwagBucks Blog
You can find free codes daily on the SwagBucks blog.

Follow SwagBucks on Twitter and Facebook
You can find more SwagCodes through these sites.

Search for pages you visit daily.

Shop online, complete special offers, play games or even watch videos
You can find all of these options and more under the “Earn” category at the top of the SwagBucks page.

And here’s something even more exciting!


Friday is MEGA SwagBucks day.
You have a greater chance of earning a high value SwagBuck every Friday. 

My first “cash-in” of my swagbucks was for a $25.00 gift card.  I’m working on my second.  I think it cost me something like 1300 swagbucks (so swag bucks aren’t actual face-value bucks), but I got to that sum by doing nothing more than using the Swagbucks search bar.  

When you download the search bar, it’s easy.  PLUS, at the beginning of each new day, you automatically get one buck, just for logging on! 

If you’d like to try it, I’d really appreciate it if you’d use this link HERE.   I’ll get some bucks (Yaaay!).  And when you refer someone, you’ll get ‘em too. (they’ll thank you!) and for each buck they get, you’ll get a little too (I think it’s up to 1,000 bucks total)

So, it doesn’t cost you anything.  (Ok, maybe a tiny little space on  your toolbar, for the swagbucks tool bar – LOL)  and you’re searching on the internet anyway. 

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Fresh Produce–Frozen


I love vegetables.  I really do..except of course for okra.  That’s not a veggie in my book.  Boiled is as disgusting as…well, it’s disgusting.  And fried?  Uh-uh.  There’s not enough ketchup in the world.  But other than okra, I love veggies.  I live in a great part of Florida.  Close enough to the city, but closer still to the farming communities too.  Yep, the best of both worlds.  I like to drive through the farmer’s market in Plant City and pick up some seasonal deliciousness.  Fresh is always best.

But there’s another option and this is so cool (literally).  I’m fortunate enough to live near Southwestern Produce.  I’m on their mailing list so I get a card like this each month when they’re open to the public.


The really neat thing is they’ve done the work for me, flash frozen it, and bagged it up for me.  I just call and tell ‘em what I want, and pick it up. 


(I Like their slogan:  “Fresh from the farm to your freezer”)

The veggies are basically in bulk, but since they’re flash frozen, it’s easy to divide it up when I get home into other bags for smaller portions.  I love doing it this way, especially in the summer.  Who wants to heat up their kitchen, shelling and then blanching the veggies to freeze?  I remember, one year, butter peas weren’t on the list so I called to see why.  I was told that the crop was not up to par that year.  Wow.  They could’ve gone ahead and made money by selling whatever it was, but because it didn’t meet their standards opted not to do so.  That won me over! 

Anyway, this probably sounds like an advertisement for them.  It’s really not.  It’s just (if you’ll notice the date on the card) I was looking at it tonight to see if there was anything I needed.  I had an order last month so probably don’t need anything but just looking anyway. 

What about where you live?  Do you get your veggies any place other than the grocery store?   Do you belong to a Co-Op?  (I’ve never been in one of those and wondered how they work).  Or do you have a garden of your own?    I’d love to hear from you!


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