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Friday, December 18, 2015

Pressure Cooking Makes Holiday Entertaining a Breeze!

Does it feel like you spend all your time in the kitchen when getting ready for a holiday gathering? Do you spend days cooking to get ready for the event?

You don't have to! Pressure cooking can take the stress out of your holiday meals!

A pressure cooker works by capturing steam inside. As the steam builds up, pressure begins to increase inside the cooker. The pressure raises the boiling point of water and gets the temperature hotter than you ever could on a stove top. Because the cooking temperature is higher, the cook time is reduced substantially. What this means for you is a LOT less time slaving over a hot stove and more time entertaining your guests and enjoying all the yummy food you made!

You can make your holiday roast in a pressure cooker instead of the oven this year and you'll have dinner on the table in no time! You know what that means...more time to open gifts!

First you will need a large 15 quart pressure cooker like this All American.
You'll want to be sure your pressure cooker is large enough to hold a big roast. 

What you will need:
5 lb. chuck roast
5 cloves of garlic, peeled
Freshly chopped parsley and rosemary
2 1/2 cups of beef broth
Olive Oil 
Garlic Powder
Salt and Pepper

Here's what to do:
Make several slits in the roast with a sharp knife. Insert the peeled garlic cloves into the slits in the meat. 
Sprinkle the meat liberally with salt, pepper and garlic powder and rub into the roast.
Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a cast iron skillet until very hot. Sear the roast for 2-3 minutes on each side until lightly browned. Now it is ready for the pressure cooker!

Transfer the meat into the pressure cooker. Place the rack at the bottom to keep the meat elevated above the liquids you will put in. 
 Be sure to scrape the pan bits left into the cast iron skillet into the pressure cooker. This will give the roast a rich flavor as it cooks. 
Sprinkle the chopped parsley and rosemary over the roast with a drizzle of olive oil. Pour the beef broth over the meat and cover with the lid. Set the temperature to medium high heat. 
Bring the cooker to pressure and then turn the temperature to low. Cook for 25-30 minutes. After cooked, turn the heat off and let the pressure come down. Then remove the roast and dinner is served!

This roast will be deliciously fall apart tender. You might even want to leave a plate out for Santa! 

Only 6 days until Christmas!

Friday, March 6, 2015

Matches in a Mason Jar - Life Hack

Pair any box of matches with a mason jar and screw band.
Simple functionality all winter long. 

First, you have to create the lid. 
Make sure to include a large striking strip on the lid.

Cut and place your lid of match box cardboard under the jar screw band. 
Fill the mason jar with matches, 
& attach the lid. 

mason jar craft

Shakable, mason jar match dispenser. 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

6 Fall DIY porch decor ideas with glass bottles, flowers, paint, buckets and candy.

The days are getting shorter and the dusk cool air of the harvest season is unmistakable. It's the season for tiny pumpkins and spooky ghosts before the family makes plans for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Here are some simple and unique DIY fall decorations with an old fashioned flavor in the spirit of celebrating the emerging oranges, yellows, browns and reds of Autumn.

DIY Fall Decorations:
  1. Painted Glass Milk Bottles
  2. Hanging Pail with burlap
  3. Little red v & o rustic hanging lantern and tin tray
  4. A wooden bowl filed with fall candy favorites
  5. Yellow wild flowers in a quart glass milk bottle vase
  6. Dasies in a yellow bucket 

Use essentially any paint and swirl the colors around inside the bottle using a paint brush. I used yellow, red and white paint to make these three painted glass milk bottles in yellow, light orange and soft red. Try tying twine around the necks of bottles and cut strips of burlap to wrap around the center (secure with clear drying tacky glue).

I love rustic oil lanterns like this bright red one. They make nice homestead decorations and serve as lighting you can rely on. It's time to prepare for the storms and power outages of fall and winter - why not incorporate resilient practical elements like oil lanterns into our decorations? 

This lantern is displayed in a silver rectangle tin try lined in a piece of burlap with some dried Native American corn and newly fallen colorful Red Maple leaves. 


The galvanized bucket pail chosen for this hanging fall decoration has a sturdy handle attached so it hangs (or stands) flat against a wall or door. It's much more veritable than traditional rustic metal buckets. This bucket keeps the antique feel but makes for a very unique and more functional flat hanging metal bucket decoration. 

This bucket is a great idea as a container for simple and thoughtful gifts too. 

For fall decorations try filling your rustic metal bucket with tiny pumpkins (try to pick pumpkins with character - like the one with white dots pictured above - they represent our diverse heirloom food heritage). Orange and yellow flowers with the leaves of Autumn are all you need to create a great seasonal look in galvanized metal pails. 

The burlap in the bucket is a small burlap pouch (3" x 5") that is just right for giving notes of good wishes and thank you letters. The larger sizes of burlap sacks can be cut to make burlap strips and flat cloth for decorating place settings. 

It's not Fall without a bowl full of candy. You don't have to wait for Halloween to share Mary Jane, yellow honey drops, caramel chews, yellow jaw breakers, tasty round sweets, and delightful watermelon and cherry jolly ranchers with your visitors. 

Display your candy in a simple woven wooden bowl. 

 A very simple DIY quart glass milk bottle flower vase can really bring your fall decorations together. Slide a rolled strip of burlap into the bottle to line its interior before filling with your favorite fall color hand-picked wild flowers. 

This yellow metal bucket is a bright decoration perfect for the beginning of fall. Use it to display wildflowers like daises or to give a gift of sweet red table wine (bonus: later, fill bucket with ice to keep wine chilled throughout dinner). What do you think of this pleasant yellow bucket? If you would like to put your flowers in water, attach the burlap strip to the exterior of the bottle.

Early fall in our mountains of Virginia looks like this:

Good luck do it yourself-ers! May this harvest season bring you much nutrition and joy.

What simple rustic porch / outdoor decoration projects are you doing for early fall?

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Breakfast Packed in a Mason Jars!

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, right? 

Since you're already making cereal and milk once, use a pint glass jar and a half pint mason jar to pack the same thing to-go. 

The dry cereal is in a pint jar and kept secure with a wise mouth storage lid. These storage lids are handy because they don't rust and are perfect for the short term storage of food. The half pint jar holds the milk you;'ll add to your cereal. There's enough food in these jars for two servings of cereal and milk. yum!


Free kitchen conversion printables for liquid volume measures, dry measures, oven temperatures, common substitutions, and pan sizes. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

How to Make Fresh Apple Beer from apple peelings

A Mountain Recipe

It's apple season! We're excited. We took some photos of the season's first apples.

Need something to do with apple skins from your apple peeler? Try Apple Beer - a recipe passed down for generations in this part of the mountains -

Apple Beer - Peel your apples - we love this apple peeler - and dry peelings in the sun or by stove. Put them in a crock and add enough boiling water to cover them. Cover the crock with cloth or a wooden lid and let it sit for one or two days, until all the flavor comes out of peeling. You may add sugar.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Making Fresh Blueberry Jam

We picked fresh local blueberries. We made jam. We used this recipe and took some photos.

For every three pints of blueberries discard the stems and crush berries. This makes roughly 4 cups of crushed berries and you'll include 4 cups of sugar and a package suregel.

We did not filter out the parts of fruit, thus, making blueberry jam. 


1. Bring water-bath canner, half full with water, to simmer. 
2. Wash jars and bands in hot, soapy water. Rinse with warm water. Drain well before filling.

3. Pour boiling water over flat lids in saucepan turn off the heat. Let stand in hot water until ready to use. 
4. Prepare fruit as described above. Measure exact amount into sauce pan - using less sugar with result in set failure. (don't add the sugar yet, however! only the fruit)

3. Sir in a box of pectin (suregel) into the sauce pot. Stir in water. 
4. Bring mixture to a full rolling boil.

5. Stir in sugar quickly (THIS IS WHEN YOU ADD SUGAR FROM ABOVE)
6. Ladle into jars, wipe jar rim, place lids from warm water onto jar, and screw on a jar ring to each jar.

7. If jam is hot there is no need to place them in canner. You can process jars in water bath canner for about seven minutes to ensure the jam inside is hot enough to create a seal for your preserved jam.

8. Once processed use a jar lifter to lift jars out of canner.

9. Let jars stand on counter for 24 hours while they seal. 

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Canning Dilly Beans

It's the season for beans! & we've got a great dill-inspired snack


Preserving dilly beans is quick, easy and doesn't require a pressure canner.

It's the same basic recipe for canning dill pickles. Vinegar protects the food from bacteria that regular canning takes more time and heat to do. For these dilly beans (without pressure) it takes 15 minutes in a waterbath. Regular green beans are canned under pressure for about 25 minutes (or three hours in a waterbath canner).

trying new jar size - Pint and a Half. 

*note - jar needs more headspace


  • 8 pint and a half jars (we wanted to try the new size!) and 1 wide-mouth quart jar washed with hot soapy water and let dry
  • 9 wide-mouth lids and rings fit together placed in medium saucepan covered with water and brought to a simmer
  • fresh dill & green beans washed, broken and scrubbed
  • 1 or more cloves of pealed garlic


  • 8 1/2 cups of water
  • 2 1/4 cups of white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup of pickling salt

Before Filling Jars: 

  • Fill water bath canner half-full with water; set on stove burner
  • In large saucepan, bring water, vinegar and salt to boil; turn off the heat; set aside

Filling Jars: 

  • place a layer of dill and garlic at the bottom of each jar, 
  • tightly load beans into the jar to the neck of the jar (depending on size you may have two layers)
  • add a top layer of dill and garlic clove if desired
  • Pour brine into filled jars leaving half-inch head space (no brine or beans at the top to ensure proper jar seal)

  • Add lid and ring to each jar, tighten them evenly (wiping the glass jar lip with a clean cloth will help ensure the jars seal properly) 

  • Place jars into your waterbath canner with water JUST to the necks of the jars
  • Bring water almost to a boil (about 15 minutes depending on how fast it heats) - boiling for 6-10 minutes 
  • Remove jars, carefully set on a dish towel on the kitchen counter and wait for the seal - the indented lid (it sounds like a "pop")

Dilly beans are a fast and easy way to process a season's bean crop without using a pressure canner. 
When we picked beans we also took advantage of the season's wild berries, yum! 

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