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Monday, September 30, 2013

Hedgerow Harvest

Better is a dinner of herbs where love is. than a stalled ox and hatred herewith.
~Proverbs 15:17~

Hello dear friends!  The other day we set out on a little trek to gather wild rose hips for making rose hip syrup.   It was such a beautiful day,
working in the warmth of the sun with the cool breeze of the lake.  While we were there,  we also found wild grapes, that in the past before our own vines were productive, we would use them to make the loveliest wild grape jelly.  There were also plenty of elderberries and apple trees.  If we hadn't our own trees, we could have taken a bushel home for applesauce.  The old country lanes are lined with with old abandoned apple trees.  While they are not the most beautiful, the fruit from these heirloom trees often have much better flavor than the commercially grown varieties.  Every area has national forests and public parks that are free for the picking.  See!  God does provide!  You just have to keep your eyes open

Rose hips are very high in vitamin C.  Their flavor is very tart and slightly citrusy, and you don't have to worry about them tasting like perfume.  We make a syrup that you can take when feeling a cold coming on, but it isn't strictly medicinal.  It's very good on cornbread for something different for breakfast and on pancakes also.  Here's how to make it:

Rose Hip Syrup

Wash a quart of rosehips.  Place in a plastic storage bag and smash with a hammer.  Put the smashed rosehips in a pot with  1/2 - 1 cup of water.  Boil until the flesh softens.  Strain the mash through a jelly bag, (this takes some muscle).  You'll end up with about 2 cups of juice.  Put juice, 1/2 C, honey, 1 C. sugar, 1 tsp, cinnamon, 1/4 tsp. cloves, and 1/4 tsp ginger into a heavy saucepan and boil to the desired thickness  (takes about 20 minutes).  Pour into sterilized  1/2  pint jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace.  Place sterilized lids on top and process for 15 minutes in a boiling water bath.

Another "free" food is mushrooms.  Ran and I attended a lecture on harvesting wild mushrooms, but after listening to all the cautions, we  decided that except for morels, we'd buy them from the store.  But here's the words of wisdom, we gleaned.  Always identify the mushrooms from the at least three different reference books .  Identify by description only; spore print, shape of cap, color, gills and stem.  Once you've identified the mushroom by that criteria, then only look at the picture to identify them.

It was amazing that after we attended that lecture, how many different mushrooms we noticed.  It really is just a matter of being observant.  But edibles aren't the only thing that we gleaned.
Little dogwood pods and chestnuts, make the prettiest Autumn decorations.  I thought they went quite nicely with a dried leaf I found outside my door.

I've decided that each post. I'd leave you with a recipe that uses simple ingredients that can be found in even the most meager pantries.  This week  it's molasses crinkles.  My son requested them for the little seasonal package I send his family.  And they are the perfect thing for Autumn.  There's something so old-fashioned and homey about things made from molasses.  Maybe it's because it harkens back to the early days of our country.  Did you know that you can make your own brown sugar  by combining 1 cup of white sugar with 1 tablespoon of molasses?
Molasses Crinkles

3/4 C. shortening
1 egg
1 C. brown sugar
1/4 C. molasses
2 1/4 C. flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cloves
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ginger
granulated sugar for rolling the dough in (about 2 tablespoons)

Beat together shortening, sugar egg and molasses.
Blend in all dry ingredients.
Roll dough into 1 1/2 inch balls.  Dip tops in sugar.  Place sugar side up on ungreased cookie sheets
Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes.

Thursday, September 19, 2013


Hello dear friends!  So sorry for the long absence.   This year has been the most bounteous year for our garden.  So, of course,  my days have been spent canning and canning.  It would seem ungrateful to our Creator to waste such a harvest, so I feel spurred on to preserve as much as I can.  Although, I must admit I was a bit overjoyed when I heard that we might get a frost, so we picked the last of the tomatoes and pulled their vines.  Even after giving away bushels of them, we canned thirty-six
jars of spaghetti sauce, eight pints of ketchup, eight pints of chili sauce, sixteen quarts of tomatoes and ten pints of salsa.  Plus so many tomato sandwiches and bowls of panzanelli that I feared  we would turn into those little red fruits.  The same for the rest of the garden.  As a matter of fact we filled our little pantry, the back closet and Ran had to build me a little jelly cupboard which holds about one-hundred  and twenty jars, which we promptly filled.  Whew!   Even our little postage stamp orchard was busy.   The poor dears branches were bent with fruit. 
I'd never believe I'd say this, but I am quite tired of apple pies and blackberry cobblers!   We've yet to dig the potatoes, carrots and sweet potatoes. And Concord grapes and Brussels sprouts are still awaiting their moment.

Gardening and canning weren't the only activities, for summer is the season we stock up on wants and needs at garage and estate sales.   We started out on Memorial day with a long list and were quite amazed to find by the Labor day that we had crossed everything off our list.  And some of the items were quite  unusual, such as a magnifier for doing needlework and a primitive style Christmas tree.  And the lovely antiques I found this year!   An old overshot coverlet, a crock with a beautiful beehive stamp, a pretty majolica pitcher to add to my small collection (the first photograph) and even a braided rug that was the perfect colorway for our dining room. And all for pennies, as I am quite tight with my purse strings!

We also finished our little enclosed porch:
And made a friend with the young man that sold us the barn wood and the corrugated tin we used for the ceiling (oh my aching back from helping put that up!) This is the room my dear Ran practices his guitar.  What a joy it is to listen to him play while I'm preparing lunch,  It is the simple little routines such as that which make our lives so sweet.  I wouldn't want to trade my life for any celebrity or billionaire.  Besides, which billionaire has such nice blogging friends as you?

I don't know why, but it seems that autumn always encourages me to do something creative.  I've rediscovered the joy of embroidering.  Embroidering was the first needle art that learned at the ripe old age of five.  A few years back when cleaning out my mother's house, I found my first project; a potholder with a rooster.  The stitches were surprising small and even.  I'm not sure I could do any better today!

Baking is another art I learned at a very young age.  By the age of ten, I was responsible for baking all the goodies for my father's lunch pail, as my mother and sisters were not so talented in that regard.
But you don't need to be an experienced baker to make this cobbler:

TennTucky Blackberry Cobbler

Toss together 3 Tbsp. cornstarch, 1/2 C. sugar and 6 C. blackberries.  Put into a greased 11 X 7 inch pan.

1/2 C. butter, softened
1 C. sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2  C. flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 (8 oz.) container sour cream
1/2 tsp. baking soda

Beat butter until fluffy.  Beat in sugar.  Add eggs one at a time, beating well with each one.

Combine flour and baking powder.  Stir together sour cream and baking soda.  Alternately add flour mixture and sour cream mixture to butter mixture.  Combine until just blended.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes, cover with aluminum foil to prevent the cobbler from browning too much and bake an additional 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

Note:  We have a lot of blackberries, but in the winter when I use a  pint jar of canned blackberries, I half this recipe and bake it in an 8 inch pan.  And I omit the sugar, as canned blackberries already have sugar.

As the garden wanes, I will try to be a better blogging friend and leave comments more often, as your friendship means so much to me. And I'll try to post more often and nicer entries that reflect my mission of hope and thrift.  Until next time, I hope you enjoy the lovely days of autumn!


Roasted Maple Tomato Ketchup

2 lbs. tomatoes
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp. oil
2 tsp. cider vinegar
2 tbsp. maple syrup
1/4 tsp. dry mustard  (powder)
1/4 tsp. celery salt
1/4 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

slice tomatoes in half and place cut side down on a rimmed cookie sheet.  Add gloves of garlic and drizzle with the olive oil.  Roast for 20 minutes at 450 degrees.

Remove tomatoes from the oven and when cool enough to work with, slip off the skins. Pour off the excess water. Transfer the tomatoes and garlic to a blender pitcher and puree until smooth.  (I don't own a blender so I use an old fashioned food mill for this step).

Transfer tomatoes to a saucepan, add remaining ingredients and simmer until ketchup thickens.