Wednesday, July 30, 2014

How to Can Kosher Style Dill Pickles ~ A Tutorial


"Mother and the girls were making cucumber pickles... Everything must be saved, nothing wasted of all the summer's bounty."
~ Laura Ingalls Wilder, Farmer Boy

While we like to make refrigerator pickles for instant gratification, ferment large jars of cucumbers for all the health benefits, we also love to put up some pickles for our pantry. They are a necessary addition to our hamburger sandwiches (and I mean necessary), a wonderful accompaniment to grilled cheese, a quick, convenient snack for hungry humans and are tasty when chopped into potato and macaroni salads. How "can" you go wrong?

Note: For step by step procedures on how to can or start your canning day, visit here.  


The first step to making these kosher-style dill pickles is to prepare the cukes. You will need about 20 pounds of cucumbers (to make approx. 7 quarts), washed and drained, sliced in half and with blossom ends removed. The reason to remove the blossom end is because there is an enzyme present which will make your pickles softer (once processed). Therefore, if you want a firmer pickle, remove them.


Next you prepare the brine (aka canning liquid):

Place 1 1/2 cups sugar, 1 cup of canning salt (I use fine sea salt), 2 quarts of vinegar and 2 quarts of water into a cooking pot. Add 6 tbsp. of mixed pickling spices into a spice bag (or tied in cheesecloth) and simmer these ingredients together for 15 minutes.


While the brine is simmering, drop into each sterilized quart jar (for pint jars, cut the ingredients in half):
  • 1 head of dill (or 1 tsp. dried dill like we did)
  • 1 clove of peeled garlic
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp. mustard seed

Next, pack your cucumbers into the jars. Try to get in as many as possible so that you don't have floating cucumbers. This doesn't hurt them but it looks prettier to have a "packed" jar. Make sure you leave 1/4 inch headspace from the top of the jar.


Now, add your prepared "hot" brine to each jar, leaving 1/4 inch headspace from the top. Remove any air bubbles on the sides (see this post for explanations on headspace and air bubbles).


Finally, screw your canning lids (which should have been simmering in hot water this whole time) onto each jar and carefully put them in your boiling water bath canner (which should already be boiling). Begin timing immediately for 15 minutes for either pint or quart jars (do not wait for water to come back to a boil first before you begin timing ~ see reason below).

Important Notes: When making pickles is the only time you start the processing time as soon as the jars enter the boiling water bath. All other canning recipes require you to bring the contents back to a rolling boil prior to timing your prepared jars. This will keep your pickles on the crispier side. Otherwise you may have softer pickles which is a sad thing indeed!

Also, don't be alarmed, I tried using the European-style lids with recycled jars on some of my cucumbers this year which is why the lids look different than the usual Ball 2-piece system.


Once the pickles are removed from the canner and have cooled for 24 hours, make sure all have sealed. Anything unsealed should be placed in your refrigerator for consumption (though I would wait a few days prior to eating them to make sure they are fully marinated).

Yield: Approximately 7 quarts.

This delicious recipe was inspired by the Ball Blue Book of Preserving



Now you can label all the safely sealed jars! To use our vintage pickles labels (you will find them HERE), simply print them on plain paper, cut to size and affix with a glue stick. Or, print on blank sticker paper and cut to size. Happy harvesting!


All the fine print. This post may be shared with some or all of the following link-ups: The Art of Home-Making MondaysModest Mom Monday'sMonday's MusingsMake Your Home Sing MondayGood Morning Mondays,  The ScoopTitus 2 TuesdaysTuesdays with a TwistRaising HomemakersWise Woman Link UpHomestead Blog Hop Wow Us Wednesdays,  Coffee and ConversationHomemaking ThursdaysHome Sweet HomeOur Simple HomesteadAwesome Life Friday Link UpFive Star Frou Frou Friday, and Shabbilicious Friday. Thank you lovely ladies for hosting these. This post may contain affiliate links (which are merchant links that help to support this site at no additional cost to you if you purchase an item through them). Clip art is courtesy of the Graphics Fairy.

Friday, July 25, 2014

How to Make Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream {with Essential Oils}


"I have never tasted ice cream.
Diana tried to explain what it was like,
but I guess ice cream is one of those things that are beyond imagination."

This mint chocolate chip ice cream is tied for first place in the world of ice cream for our family (I will share our other favorite flavor on another day). It is so deliciously refreshing that it makes the perfect summer splurge! Allow me to share and keep in mind that good quality ingredients are essential.


Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
  • 2 large eggs (make sure they are fresh)
  • ¾ cup of sugar (we used organic)
  • 2 cups of heavy cream (or whipping cream)
  • 1 cup of milk (we prefer raw)
  • 3-4 drops of peppermint essential oil (we use doTERRA since it is safe to consume and not all essential oils are) (or you may also use 2 tsp. peppermint extract)
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips or 1/2 cup chopped semi-sweet/dark chocolate bar or 1/2 cup chopped mint dark chocolate bar (which is what we used) or 1/2 cup chopped Andes mints
Whisk eggs in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy, add in the sugar, a little at a time until completely blended in. Whisk another minute and add in your cream and milk. Stir these ingredients together until completely blended in (if you are using mint extract instead of the essential oils then now is the time to add it-- if using the essential oil, continue reading). Transfer mixture to your ice cream maker and prepare according to manufacturers directions. Half way through the ice cream making process, very carefully add your peppermint essential oil (you only need about 3-4 drops per quart, according to taste). During the last five minutes of ice cream making, add in your chocolate of choice.


Yield: This makes approx. 1 quart of ice cream. You can safely double the recipe if you are using a 2 quart ice cream maker. In fact, I always recommend it!

"And we had ice cream.
Words fail me to described that ice cream.
Marilla, I assure you it was sublime."



Our printable recipe is shared HERE for your recipe book. Simply download from the link shared, save and print. You may also be interested in our Favorite {No Cook, Raw} Vanilla Ice Cream ~ 4 Variations Recipe.
All the fine print. This post may be shared with some or all of the following link-ups: The Art of Home-Making MondaysModest Mom Monday'sMonday's MusingsMake Your Home Sing MondayGood Morning Mondays,  The ScoopTitus 2 TuesdaysTuesdays with a TwistRaising HomemakersWise Woman Link UpHomestead Blog Hop Wow Us Wednesdays,  Coffee and ConversationHomemaking ThursdaysHome Sweet HomeOur Simple HomesteadFrom the Farm Blog HopAwesome Life Friday Link UpFive Star Frou Frou FridayShabbilicious FridaySimply Natural Saturdays and Clever Chicks Blog Hop. Thank you lovely ladies for hosting these. This post may contain affiliate links (which are merchant links that help to support this site at no additional cost to you if you purchase an item through them).

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Make Your Own Lavender Infused Medicinal Oil


"An age-old remedy for calming and soothing the nerves, improving mood and relaxing muscles, beautifully scented lavender and its essential oil are commonly used for inducing a restful sleep, relieving depression and anxiety and for other disorders relating to a nervous or tense state..."

If you have lots of lavender, something useful, easy and fun to make is a medicinal oil. You can rub it into tense shoulders to relax those taxed nerves. You can massage it onto tired feet to sooth the "soul" after a long day. It makes a lovely moisturizing body oil after a warm bath. In fact, this lavender infused oil can also be used as a base for making handmade lotions, lotion bars, creams, balms and salves.



Not only is the scent intoxicating, lavender is also very calming, stress-relieving, mood enhancing, is antibacterial, anti-fungal, an antiseptic, disinfectant, antispasmodic, pain reliever, burn healer and more. The Almighty packed a lot of healing power into lavender making it my all time favorite plant, herb and flower! 


To prepare your medicinal oil, simply gather your lavender flowers (fresh or dried, make some or buy some). If using fresh flowers, fresh-wilt them first as shared below and place them in a clean jar. Cover flowers by at least 1-2 inches with olive oil (or coconut oil would be divine) and screw lid on firmly. These oils were chosen for their longer shelf life and medicinal properties. Let the mixture steep in a sunny spot for 2 - 3 weeks. This is called a solar infusion.

"When I make oils from fresh herbs, before adding the herbs to the oil, I usually freshwilt them: I place them on a basket or screen in a single layer, in a warm area out of direct sunlight, and let them wilt for several hours. They’re ready when they look limp. Fresh wilting allows some of the moisture to evaporate, so there’s less chance of spoilage."


When the time is up, strain the solids through a fine cheesecloth or a piece of thin cotton/muslin to remove all particles. Pour the finished product into a clean, dry jar or bottle (we just reused the brown glass bottle the olive oil came in) and label with the date. Store oil in a cool, dark area (like your pantry) for up to 12 months (or until oil seems "off").

Note: If you notice condensation on the inside of your lid, wipe with a clean and dry cloth immediately (your herbs may have had too much moisture in them when preparing this).


To make this infusion double strength, add another batch of lavender flowers to your finished oil and repeat the process one more time. Or, you can simply add 10 drops of lavender essential oil to every cup of your infused oil to give it a stronger potency (and a longer shelf life).


You may also be interested in What to Make and Do with All Your Lovely Lavender. For other herbal inspired projects, check out Rosemary Gladstar's Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner's Guide which has been a wonderful resource for our family.


Our lavender label is shared above if you would like to use it. Simply right click on the image and save. You may also like to print a copy of this recipe to place in your herbal. You will find it HERE!


Friday, July 18, 2014

Seasons at Home Magazine ~ Scrumptious Seasonal Reading



“Some books are so familiar that reading them is like being home again.”

~ Louisa May Alcott

When I was younger, I used to subscribe to at least ten magazines. I loved to flip through the pages during my 3 o'clock tea or at night to unwind before bed. We aren't a television family so magazines were such a treat. Unfortunately, I noticed that the content wasn't as acceptable to me as it used to be. My lifestyle was different, my budget was different, my goals were definitely different and I could no longer relate to the words that they printed. I unsubscribed to all of them. And then, a few years ago, a friend introduced me to Seasons at Home magazine and I was in love again.


These are magazines for the "keeper at home". They are beautiful, lovely, inspiring, creative and godly! Call me old fashioned, but I love to hold the glossy pages in my hands (that is something that the computer can never replace for me), to breathe in the subtle smell of ink and slowly savor every pretty picture.


Included are many simple sewing projects and handiwork crafts. They share tasty looking recipes (even desserts) that include whole grain flours. Each issue also features a wood-working project for fathers and sons and homemaking projects for mothers and daughters. It is truly a family friendly publication!


Seasons at Home also features homeschooling encouragement such as unit study ideas, themed tea party inspiration and many other fun activities to do with your children.

The best part about this printed magazine is that my family can safely peruse the pages without having to surf through potential filth on the internet. That is something the world wide web can never offer, completely clean content.


The sad part is that they won't be printing anymore issues! The good news is that you can still enjoy their back-issues while supplies last. I own them all and keep them in a safe spot as they are very dear to me. So, if you are a magazine gal like myself, I wanted to introduce Seasons at Home to you. You may even come across an article in the winter issue by an old-fashioned soul named JES...



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Any purchases made through this link will help to support this blog
but is at no extra cost to you dear reader. Thank you kindly!}


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Blessings of Old Fashioned Work ~ Part One


"I wish to preach, not the doctrine of ignoble ease,
but the doctrine of the strenuous life."
~Theodore Roosevelt

Will you hear a quote like this from modern day man? The feeling one gets from today's society is that work is to be scorned. It is something we should try to avoid. We are taught instead to embrace a lifestyle of as much play as possible.


"Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth."
~ Ephesians 4:28

The Bible teaches a completely different doctrine. It teaches that man was meant to work till the sweat of his brow. It teaches that we are not to eat the bread of idleness. And most importantly, it teaches that when we do work, we should do it as unto the Lord.


"For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat."
~ 2 Thessalonians 3:10

Our family has found it important to teach the doctrine of a work-filled life. After all, the life of a Christian is one where we are to pick up a cross. That is anything but easy. 


When we embrace our work for the day, know that it is expected of us, we won't be disappointed or disillusioned by our lot in life. The key is to realize the blessings it brings. And there is blessings!

“Earning happiness means doing good and working, not speculating and being lazy. Laziness may look inviting, but only work gives you true satisfaction.”


There is great accomplishment in the completion of a task. To see a stack of firewood which you prepared for the winter brings a definite delight. It may not be a promised vacation but it is a promised warmth that brings you joy. A cultivated garden brings satisfaction that a purchase from the produce department will never give. A freshly mowed lawn rewards you with a beautiful view from your kitchen window. When one looks at work from this point of view, it is a blessing. 

“God has so arranged the world that work is necessary, and He gives us hands and strength to do it. The enjoyment of leisure would be nothing if we had only leisure. It is the joy of work well done that enables us to enjoy rest, just as it is the experiences of hunger and thirst that make food and drink such pleasures.” 
~ Elisabeth Elliot, Discipline: The Glad Surrender


Work may look different in each of our households. Some live in the city, some on ranches and farms, but there is always a task that needs doing wherever you reside. Perhaps your season is one with small children. That is truly a job worth investing in! You are training future workers of God. For others, it may be a skirt that needs mending (instead of purchasing new), sometimes it is produce that needs preserving, other times it is to clean and organize that house of ours until it sparkles and shines. But in all of these moments, it is a blessing to be industrious, a blessing to do "old fashioned work" because "in all labour there is profit" (Proverbs 14:23a). Let's embrace our work ladies!

“No man needs sympathy because he has to work, because he has a burden to carry. Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.” 
Theodore Roosevelt



Note: When this author is speaking of work, she is not suggesting the "workaholic" person who has a cell phone attached to their ear and an electronic device glued to their eyes. She is speaking of old fashioned labor. The kind that makes one move or sweat, the kind it takes to raise a family.

{See part one part twopart threepart four and part five of this series.}

This post may be shared with some or all of the following link-ups: The Art of Home-Making MondaysModest Mom Monday'sMonday's MusingsMake Your Home Sing MondayGood Morning Mondays,  The ScoopTitus 2sdaysTitus 2 TuesdaysRoses of InspirationTuesdays with a TwistRaising HomemakersWise Woman Link UpHomestead Blog Hop Wow Us Wednesdays, Wildcrafting WednesdayCoffee and ConversationSo Much at HomeHomemaking ThursdaysHome Sweet HomeHearts for Home ThursdaysHome Acre HopGrowing in Grace ThursdaysFrom the Farm Blog HopFarmgirl FridayFront Porch Friday Blog HopAwesome Life Friday Link UpSimply Natural Saturdays and Clever Chicks Blog Hop. Thank you lovely ladies for hosting these. Thank you lovely ladies for hosting these.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Our Favorite {No Cook, Raw} Vanilla Ice Cream ~ 4 Variations


"Let's make ice-cream!" Royal shouted.
Eliza Jane loved ice-cream.
She hesitated, and said, "Well..."
~ Laura Ingalls Wilder, Farmer Boy

Our family loves ice cream! Because of this, I feel more comfortable serving our homemade versions since they lack all the fake ingredients sold in many ice creams today. If you knew some of the things (read #3 in this list and forgive me in advance for showing you) they use to substitute "real" flavor with in your sweets, you would cringe and attempt to make your own too! It is so easy. We are sharing four variations for a no-cook vanilla ice cream that should please every family in some way... 


"Almanzo ran after Royal to the ice-house. They dug a block of ice out of the sawdust and put it in a grain sack. They laid the sack on the back porch and pounded it with hatches till the ice was crushed."
Laura Ingalls Wilder, Farmer Boy

This is a basic and beautifully tasty vanilla ice cream recipe. We try and use organic, less processed sugar as well as raw milk and farm fresh eggs. The result is perfect!

Old-Fashioned Vanilla Ice Cream
  • 2 large eggs (make sure they are fresh)
  • ¾ cup of sugar (we used organic)
  • 2 cups of heavy cream (or whipping cream)
  • 1 cup of milk (we prefer raw)
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
Whisk eggs in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy, add in the sugar, a little at a time until completely blended in. Whisk another minute and add in your cream, milk and vanilla. Whisk everything together until completely blended in. Transfer mixture to your ice cream maker and prepare according to manufacturers directions. This recipe makes approximately 1 quart of ice cream.


"Alice came out to watch them while she whipped egg-whites on a platter."
~ Laura Ingalls Wilder, Farmer Boy

Vanilla Honey Ice Cream
  • Replace the sugar with 1/2 cup of honey in the "old-fashioned" recipe shared above.

"Eliza Jane measured milk and cream,
and dipped up sugar from the barrel in the pantry."
~ Laura Ingalls Wilder, Farmer Boy

Vanilla Ice Cream Made with Pure Goat Milk

When the girls are lactating, I sometimes make ice cream with their fresh, pure, raw milk (and zero cow cream). Goat's milk is naturally homogenized so you really can't separate the cream from it with great results but it does offer some creamy content for making ice cream (and is gentler for many people than cow's milk). However, it is more of an icier, soft-serve style textured ice cream.
  • To make this version, simply substitute goat's milk for all the cream and milk shared in the "old-fashioned" recipe above (for example, you would need 3 cups of goat milk to make 1 quart of ice cream).

"She made a big milk-pail full of yellow custard."
~ Laura Ingalls Wilder, Farmer Boy

Golden Vanilla Ice Cream

This is our favorite ice cream to serve with cobblers and fruit pies. I do hope you try this buttery and brown-sugary version of vanilla ice cream!
  • Replace the sugar with 2/3 cup of coconut sugar in the "old-fashioned" recipe shared above.

"They set the pail in the tub and packed the snowy crushed ice around it, with salt, and they covered it all with a blanket. Every few minutes they took off the blanket and uncovered the pail, and stirred the freezing ice-cream."
~ Laura Ingalls Wilder, Farmer Boy

Variations: You may include 1/2 cup of add-ins per quart of ice cream to the last five minutes of ice-cream making. Some ideas are mini chocolate chips, nuts, shredded coconut, chopped up chocolate bars, etc.


"When it was frozen, Alice brought saucers and spoons..."
~ Laura Ingalls Wilder, Farmer Boy

Yield: All these recipes make approx. 1 quart of ice cream. You can safely double the recipes if you are using a 2 quart ice cream maker. In fact, I recommend it :)


"They could eat all the ice-cream and cake they wanted to..."
~ Laura Ingalls Wilder, Farmer Boy



The Inside Scoop: The first recipe we shared was adapted from the Ben & Jerry's Homemade Ice Cream & Dessert Book which we love. The remaining variations were tweaked by yours truly to create different dessert experiences.


Ice Cream ~ The Full Scoop by Gail Gibbons is a fun non-fiction picture book for children which you might want to check out. You can even do a mini unit study out of making ice cream! Don't forget to read the Farmer Boy excerpts on pages 205-206. You can try making it the old fashioned way like the book describes.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Preserving the Harvest ~ Link Up Love


"Old-timers preserved food mainly by root-cellaring, drying, salting - or feeding to livestock, which returned the food as milk, meat, or work. The old-timers never let anything go to waste. After canning came along, most country families canned many, many jars of fruit, vegetables, and meats every year."
~ Carla Emory, Excerpt from The Encyclopedia of Country Living

Preserving all your fresh foods to last all the year long is a passion of mine. Other lovely ladies who have this same interest shared some wonderful ideas on the 7th edition of The Art of Home-Making Mondays. I hope these posts will inspire you to save some of the harvest the old fashioned way!


What to do with blackberries?

Tracy at Our Simple Life share a delicious recipe for canning blackberry pie filling. I drool as I type this. An alternative way to store your buckets of berries is to dehydrate them for cereals, snacks and such. Visit Countrified Hicks for a tutorial on how to dry blackberries.


Learn to Dehydrate!

Gentle Joy has really inspired me to take my dehydrator to the next level. She shares all kinds of ideas and personal experiments in her dehydrating foods series. 


Save those Garlic Scapes!

Have you ever heard of these? We grow garlic and yet this is new to me. Lindsey at Cultivate Nourishing shares how to prepare pickled garlic scapes for the pantry and how to ferment garlic scapes. I am curious to try preserving this other part of our beloved garlic plant!

"Waste not, want not." 
~ An English Proverb

Thank you lovely ladies for your contribution to our link up last week! I hope you will join us next week for The Art of Home-Making Mondays. Your post may be featured here :)





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