Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

My family and I are celebrating our Thanksgiving with our Momma's dad, and Daddy's parents.

Ben and I love our Grandma's recipe for Cranberry Salad. It's a good way to remember her on holidays. (We make it on Christmas, too.)

Cranberry Salad

1 can apple sauce (we have used both chunky and regular)
1 can whole cranberry cranberry sauce
1 large box cherry jello
1 cup boiling water
1/2 cup nuts (optional)

Mix jello and water until dissolved. Add other ingredients. Mix well and chill before serving.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Holiday Savings

We love the savings on the day-after-Thanksgiving. However, Momma and I do not like to fight the crowd. This year, Teaching Good Things and Generation Cedar are offering discounts on their products.

Teaching Good Things is offering a sale with 30% off of all their DVD's and e-books, plus free shipping and free gift wrapping. (This sale excludes the DVD bundle, which already has 40% off.) All that you need to do to receive this sale is to enter the coupon code BIGSALE when checking out! This sale starts on Thursday, 11/26, and ends on Tuesday, 12/1.
I have enjoyed learning to crochet and decorate cakes with their DVD's. Right now, I am using their crochet DVD! It is very easy to follow and informative.

Generation Cedar is also offering a sale on their products. The sale is $10 off orders of $50 or more, or $5 off orders of $25 or more. This sale includes their e-book bundle, which has 40% off normally, their skin products, Scripture Songs CD, both tangible and downloadable, baby gift items, and single e-books. This sale is only applicable the day-after-Thanksgiving.

I thought that you would like to know about these sales so that you don't have to fight the crowds!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Pecans and Pecan Recipes

Yesterday, Ben and I shelled pecans. Some of our friends had given us some pecans from Georgia. Thank you!

Pecans are tree nuts, and native to North America. (Note: Some people are allergic to tree nuts, so use caution!) George Washington and Thomas Jefferson planted pecan trees at their plantations. In Albany, Georgia, there are 600,000 pecan trees, and a pecan festival is held there every year. Also, Texas adopted the pecan tree as their state tree in 1919. Pecans have no cholesterol or sodium, and are an excellent source of fiber, protein and natural antioxidants.

When you shell pecans, you need to make sure that the center divider between pecan halves is removed. The divider is very bitter! Ben and I cracked the pecans by using vice grips. We would make the vice grips a little bit tighter than the pecan, and then cracked them. The pecans cracked easily!

Here are some recipes that we might be trying with our pecans:

Pecan Pie

1 cup white corn syrup
1 cup brown sugar
1/3 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 eggs
2 cups roasted pecans
pie dough

Melt the butter, and mix it with the corn syrup, brown sugar, salt, and vanilla.
Gently beat eggs and then add them to the batter and stir until the batter looks as it did before the eggs were added
Take your pie dough and roll it out to about 1/8 of an inch in thickness. Then, place the rolled dough in the pie pan. Cut the excess crust off around the edge of the pie pan, leaving 1 inch around the edge.
Fold the inch edge of the pie dough under itself so that it folds in half. You can also pinch the dough around the edge of the pie pan.
Pour the pecan pie filling into pie shell and sprinkle the roasted pecans on top of the pecan pie filling.
Bake at 350° F for 1 hr. - 1 hr. and 10 min.
After the pie has been in the oven for about 30 minutes, take it out, and put strips of foil around the edge to keep the pie crust from burning. The filling will be runny and quite hot. Then, put the pie back in the oven for the rest of the time.
After about 30 minutes, test the pie to see if it is done by sticking a knife in the middle of it. If the knife comes out clean, the pie is done, and if it comes out dirty, it needs about 10 more minutes in the oven.

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Pecan Pie Cookie Bars

2 cups All Purpose Flour
1 cup dark brown sugar, divided
1 cup butter or margarine, melted
1 large egg, beaten
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chopped pecans

Heat oven to 350° F. Spray bottom of 13x9-inch baking pan with non-stick cooking spray. In large bowl, combine flour, 1/2 cup brown sugar and butter. Spread on bottom of the pan, and bake for 20 minutes.
In a medium bowl, beat together egg, sweetened condensed milk, vanilla and remaining brown sugar. Stir in pecans. Pour on top of baked cookie layer. Bake 25 minutes, cool and then cut into bars. Store leftovers covered at room temperature.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Picking Persimmons

Last Tuesday, Ben and I went and picked some persimmons in the field. Our neighbors told us about the trees, so Ben wanted to try this wild food! He thought that they were very tasty! The persimmon trees were loaded with the fruit. They are very sweet, but they have many big seeds in the center. A good frost makes the persimmons sweet.
Adelia and Lina Beard described persimmons in their book, Wild Food on the Trail, as, "The persimmon is about the size of a plum, but is flattened at the poles. It grows close to the branch and its calyx is large. The color is yellow generally flushed with red. Some writers describe it as juicy, but I would not call it that; the flesh is more like custard or soft jelly."

I have Wild Food on the Trail in an e-Book format. It is a very helpful book when it comes to identifying wild foods. Wild Food on the Trail also has some drawings of some of the fruits, berries and the leaves of the plants for easy identification. I got my copy of this helpful book from Olde-Books.com. Right now, Olde-Books.com is offering a coupon for a dollar off on this useful book, which is valid until November 18, 2009. The coupon code is persimmon.

We enjoyed picking persimmons. It was fun to pick our own "wild food on the trail"!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Making Autumn Olive Jam

Last week, my friend Hannah and I made autumn olive jam. Autumn olives are small, red and slightly white speckled berries. They are somewhat like the shape of an apple, though they are only 1/4 inch tall. Autumn olives have a slightly tart taste, though when Hannah and I picked them, they were very ripe and quite sweet.

Autumn olives are invasive, and Hannah's family's woods have many of the bushes. All of the trees were loaded with the berries, and we picked about 16 cups.
After we picked enough berries, we washed them and picked off most of the stems.
Next we cooked the berries with a bit of water and mashed them with a potato masher.
Hannah and I placed the crushed berries in a sieve to strain out the seeds and skin.
We used Pomona's Pectin and followed their instructions for the amount of pectin that we used.
Hannah and I made 9 half-pints of jam!

Autumn Olive Jam
Makes 8 cups

8 cups autumn olives, stemmed
1/2 cup water
7 cups sugar
1 small package dry pectin

Cook the fruit and water in a large stainless steel pot on high/med for about 5 minutes, while crushing with a potato masher until most of the fruit has been crushed and seeds are extracted. Remove from heat and pour through a sieve or put through a food mill to strain out the seeds. 8 cups of fruit will come to 4 cups of pulp.

Measure 4 cups pulp and return to saucepan, adding 7 cups sugar. Add 1/2 tsp. butter, if desired, to help reduce foam. Bring to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Quickly stir in the pectin and the sugar and boil for exactly 1 minute longer. Remove from heat and skim off any foam, if necessary.

Ladle quickly into hot sterilized jars, filling to 1/4" headspace. Wipe rims and screw lids on tightly. Process in boiling water canner for 10 minutes.
Thank you, Hannah, for letting me help you!