Thursday, August 30, 2012

Be A Stickler

 Good to know information for the next time you're looking around the produce section of the grocery store!

“The garden suggests there might be a place where we can meet nature halfway.” 
― Michael Pollan

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Yummy Pepparkakor

For my birthday last year, Sara, my dear friend from Sweden, whom I met in Okinawa, Japan, and who is now living in Washington state, gave me the recipe for these cookies named Pepparkakor.  In the package she included a bottle of Ljus Sirap (or light syrup) and a packet of Bikarbonat Natron.  The finished cookies are spicy, sweet, and oh, so yummy!

The light syrup the recipe calls for is a Swedish syrup called Ljus Sirap.  The bottle Sara sent me is made by the company, Dan Sukker.  It's a syrup made from sugar beets rather than corn.  The bikarbonate called for in the recipe is bikarbonate natron by Santa Maria.  Both Swedish products should be available at an IKEA store. 


Bake at 350-degrees for 8-10 minutes.

1 c. brown sugar
1/3 c. light syrup
1/3 c. water.
150 grams butter (room temperature -about 1-1/2 sticks)
1 Tbs. ground cinnamon
1 tsp, ground cardamom
1 Tbs. ground cloves
1 Tbs. ground ginger
1-1/2 tsp. bikarbonate
3-1/3 c. flour

On stovetop, simmer together sugar, syrup, and water.  Mix butter and spices and add to the pot.  Let this cool without mixing and stirring.  

Mix bikarbonate with flour.  After the first part has cooled, mix it with the flour mixture,  Add that extra 1/3 cup flour if it feels too runny.  

Place in fridge overnight.  Roll out THIN dough and cut out cookies.  Add a peeled almond on top of each cut out.  Sara said she likes to make pigs.  I didn't have pig cutouts, but I think the hearts and stars are very pretty!

How to peel almonds:  Place them in a small pot of boiling water for a second while stirring.  Remove the pot from the heat and let it sit for 3 minutes.  Drain almonds and put them on a cloth towel.  Rub them with cloth and the skins pop right off. (Note: I accidentally found out that if you squeeze the almonds with your fingers you can shoot the insides across the room!)


The cookies were soft the first day and then, on the second day, they became delightfully crisp with a more pronounced spice taste.  De-lic-ious! 

Sweden Flag

Swedish Flag


Monday, August 27, 2012


On Friday we drove our pick up truck with its little load of vegetables, tables, signs, etc. to the Potter County Farmer's Market and got behind this....

Tractor trailer of green beans...

...heading to the canning plant


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Picking Haws For Haw Jelly

This shrub had vibrant tasting haws. Note the tiny apple-like fruit and impressive thorns.

We have two beautiful hawthorn trees in our backyard.  One has yellow haws and the other has red haws.  The yellow haw tree didn't produce at all this year while the red haw tree is loaded.  I finally got a chance to pick some haws for jelly yesterday.  

Be careful when picking haws because the trees have nasty thorns!


The haws from the hawthorn tree are known for their great effects on the circulatory system and the heart.   The hawthorn tree has a wonderful tradition of folklore and beliefs surrounding it.  Not surprisingly, the cruelly thorned hawthorn branches were thought to be used to make Christ's crown of thorns.  Bushman Fitness writes about the hawthorne's historical and medicinal background on his blog page Hawthorne: Blood-Control HQ.  

Recipes for haw jelly are not plentiful.  I found this one from Stalking the Healthful Herbs by Euell Gibbons.

Here is Euell Gibbon’s Recipe for Hawthorn Jelly:

To make Haw Jelly, crush 3 pounds of the fruit, add 4 cups of water, bring it to a boil, cover the kettle and let it simmer for 10 minutes, then strain the juice through a jelly bag and discard the spent pulp, seeds, and skins. If red haws are not too ripe, they will furnish ample pectin for jelly making, but if they are very ripe, add 1 package powdered pectin to the strained juice. We felt our juice could stand more acid, so we added the juice of 2 lemons. We put just 4 cups of this juice in a very large saucepan and brought it to a boil, then added 7 cups of sugar and very soon after it came to a boil again, it showed a perfect jelly test.

That's a lot of sugar.   But I've read that the jelly won't set if less sugar is used.  I'll make the jelly today and let you know the results! 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Best Time To Start Chickens For Butchering

A friend came to the Potter County Farmers Market this Friday and we talked about butchering chickens.  

Our experience has been that the best time to get your fast growing chicks is as late in the summer as possible.  That way, there's (hopefully) been one killing frost (here in north central Pennsylvania) when it comes time to butcher them in late September or early October and the flies are dead.  I personally find it quite disgusting to be butchering chickens and have flies land on them.  Blecch.   

The very best chicken butchering tutorial that I have found:   

Survival Skills With Russ

 “I want there to be no peasant in my kingdom so poor that he cannot have a chicken in his pot every Sunday”
 - Henry IV

Don't forget to go over to the Homestead Revival Barn Hop

Friday, August 17, 2012

Apple Cider Vinegar For Chickens?

Apple Cider Vinegar is full of vitamins, minerals, and trace elements.  When reading about this addition to my chickens' diet I found that it may help the chickens' health in a number of ways.  One way it may help is that it may prevent bacteria from building of in the birds' crops.  Another way it may help it that its reported to remove mucous from the body which helps chickens who are prone to respiratory problems.  And third, its supposed to build up their immune system.

From my very unscientific experience, I've found that my chickens' egg production really increases if once or twice a week I add a couple of tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to a couple gallons of my chickens' water. 

Many of the reports say to use natural, unfiltered, apple cider vinegar that has "mother" in it.  I use the basic cheap stuff off the grocery store shelf and it seems to work fine.  Who knows, maybe the egg production would go up even more with the good stuff?

What I use.
The Good Stuff

Give it a try... I'd love to hear about your results!

On which side does a chicken have the most feathers? 
On the outside.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Homestead Revival: Why You Should Shun Cheap Groceries

This author of this blog, Amy, eloquently says exactly what I would like to say.

And after you read her wonderful blog, don't forget that the Potter County Farmers Market is tomorrow, Friday, on the Coudersport Courthouse Square, from 2 - 6 p.m.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Crunch A Color

I came across wonderful food chart, lunch box planner, lunch box note, and placemat printables from Potter Barn Kids.  

"Make mealtime nutritious and fun with these downloadables from Jennifer Tyler Lee. Whether you're playing the Crunch A Color game or just want to get kids excited about eating well, these charts and cards are sure to inspire healthy – and colorful! – choices."

Downloadable templates
Crunch A Color Printables

Monday, August 13, 2012

Sour Cream Cucumbers

I was going to write about my outside weed garden.  But it'll be so much more fun with pictures.  Today, a recipe for that abundance of cucumbers people may be getting! 

This is a recipe my mom made when I was a kid and now I make it for my kids.  They gobble it up!

Sour Cream Cucumbers

Everything here is "to taste."  We like ours a tiny bit vinegary and garlicy.  So I'll give you approximate measures and you can taste your sour cream mixture until you get it the way your family likes it.  


3-4 cucumbers, peeled, if necessary, and very thinly sliced
sour cream, a nice big dollop (maybe 1/2 to 3/4 cup)
garlic powder (about 1 tsp.) 
white vinegar (about 2-3 tsp.)
pepper (about 1/8 tsp.)

I remember my mom always put the cucumbers in a colander with salt and ice cubes for a couple of hours (I think to crisp the cucumbers).  I usually forget about that step until just about suppertime and the dish still turns out tasty.  

Mix together sour cream, garlic powder and vinegar.  Taste and adjust.  Fold in sliced cucumbers until they're nicely coated.  Sprinkle with pepper.

So simple and so good!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Back To Blogging After a Brief Hiatus

Hello Everyone,

Its been a crazy summer and I'm ready to get back to blogging again.  Every camera in my house is currently AWOL, so for a bit I'll just have to give you descriptions - or crummy pictures with my phone!

Tonight I closed up front and back flaps and the side walls of the high tunnel.  There's a bumper crop waiting inside and I'm nervous that our 61-degree weather -with a forecasted drop to 57-degrees will not do my green tomatoes, growing peppers, and not-quite-ripe cantaloupe and watermelons a bit of good!  Is it really August 11th?  

Cucumbers are coming out of my ears.  I grew three varieties in the high tunnel and I'm very happy with them.  Two of the three are Picklebush, a short vining cucumber, with perfect for dill pickles sized fruits and Oriental Express, a variety that looks very similar to a beautiful English cucumber but with a slightly tougher and more bitter skin.  Oriental Express cucumbers seem to grow longer and longer instead of getting fat and seedy and though I prefer them peeled, the inner flesh is very mild.  The third cucumber I'm growing is a classic slicing cucumber with a thicker waxy skin and better keeping ability named Marketmore.  It gets large and seedy, but when picked the thicker skin helps it keep a little longer in the fridge or on the shelf.   

Tomorrow I'll talk about my outside (weed?)garden.