Aug 22, 2014

Dehydrating Herbs - Parsley

This past week has been all about parsley. 

flat leaf parsley

There is only one parsley plant in the garden this year because my family is not a big fan of it.  But I do use it in a handful of recipes so I wanted to replenish my supply.

It's an easy herb to grow from seeds or plant; in the garden, on the deck or in a sunny window.

Herbs are best collected in the early morning. I'll slip on my garden wellies, grab my basket & kitchen shears and head out to the garden. 

I have a small wire fence around the parsley to keep it from laying over when it grows taller. To gather it, I hold a bunch with one hand and snip across the stems near the ground with the other. This time I collected three bunches (most of the plant) and laid them carefully in my basket.

If you're not going to process your herbs right away, place them (their stems) in a jar of water on the counter.

I preserve my parsley by dehydration, then crush it slightly to store in canning jars. 



I use 2 fan-less Ronco dehydrators.
We purchased one 20 years ago & 
another at a yard sale for $3. this past spring.



Here's how I prep it for drying:

Many times I'll leave some stem on my herbs when drying, making it easier to pick up the herbs from the drying trays.



I place my leaves/stems in a salad spinner basket to wash and spin them dry. 

Then they are placed on the dehydrator trays. Parsley will only need two or three hours to dry, so check on it often and rotate trays if necessary.


You'll know the parsley is dry when it crumbles in your hand. It's now ready to store. 

For parsley, I pack the leaves/stems in canning jars, pushing them in as I fill a jar. Depending on how many jars I have and the frequency of use, I will vacuum seal some of the jars for longer storage.



Other notes...
...If you process your herbs in the morning, you'll give yourself plenty of time to finish the full process, especially if you're doing multiple batches, long before bedtime. You do not want to leave your leafy green herbs in your dehydrator overnight!

...When removing your dried herbs from the trays and packing them into your jars, place a clean sheet of wax paper (foil or parchment paper) under your work area to catch all the dried particles that break off in your hands, then pour them into your jar too!


Do you have parsley in your herb garden?
How do you store it?



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Aug 12, 2014

Seashell Candles


seashell candles


Do you collect seashells at the seashore?

seashells

Here's a fun idea to use some shells 
for your outdoor decor.


You'll need:
clam shells
wax 
wicks
clay pot saucer
sand 

I used a pack of tea light candles that I picked up at a tag sale for .10 cents. 

tea light candles, wicks removed

The tea lights were my wax & wicks, the wicks have a tiny metal base and slip right out of the candle. Then I dropped the "wickless" candle into a tin can to melt on the side burner of my grill. 

When the wax was completely melted, I dipped the wicks into the liquid wax and placed them in my seashells to secure them. Next, in went the wax. They cooled in minutes.

saucers with seashell candles


I had more wax then shells so I poured the remaining wax in tin cupcake cups to use as wax melts for another craft at a later time!

wax melts


Simple outdoor decor!

Seashell candle outdoor decor


Do you collect souvenirs from your vacations?
How do you display them? 


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Aug 9, 2014

Vintage Dish Towels - what should I do?


Whoa, where is the summer going?!  August has moved right in!




Aside from harvesting & preserving all the lovely produce from the garden this summer, the hubs and I have been hitting as many garage sales, flea markets & tag sales that we can!


I recently found some vintage dish towels for .25 cents. This one is my favorite...lovin' the colors!

Now I have to think of a fun way to display them or maybe re-purpose them.

I'm the mother of boys, so I don't want them used for wiping dirty hands or sopping up spilled iced tea on the floor. I need to be creative!

Any ideas??


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Jul 13, 2014

Classic Pesto - 4 ingredients!



Basil, basil everywhere!
It's one of my very favorite herbs in the garden! It grows so quickly, you can easily start a second crop just six weeks after planting the first!



Classic Pesto

2 cups fresh basil, lightly packed
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese (about 5 oz.)
½ to cup olive oil
1 to 2 cloves garlic (optional)

Whirl basil, Parmesan, ½ cup of the oil and, if using, garlic in a blender or food processor until smooth; add more oil, if needed.
Pesto can be used immediately, frozen or refrigerated with *special care.

*recipe may be refrigerated for an extended period of time, IF a thin layer of olive oil is covering the top!  

Each time I use a little, I pour another thin layer of oil on top before returning it to the frig! 


Pesto can be used in a variety of ways; as a sauce, spread, dip, even a marinade. Add a bit to your morning eggs or lunchtime soups to kick up the favor! 
But be cautious, a little goes a long way!
Enjoy!






How do you use your pesto?

check out my Easy Basil Butter here.


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Jul 8, 2014

Peeling Farm Fresh Eggs






Having backyard chickens has been such a blessing, I highly recommend it for everyone, if zoning laws permit!

I was recently talking with some other "farm wives" about the joy of having an unending supply of fresh eggs on hand, but they were telling me how they had to BUY eggs at the grocery store for their hard-boiled egg dishes because fresh eggs can't be peeled.  eek! say it isn't so!!

We've always hard-boiled & peeled our fresh eggs, and you CAN too! 


here's how~

steam them!  
Place your fresh eggs in steam basket/colander over boiling water. (not letting the boiling water touch them!) Let them steam for 20 minutes. 

Remove steamer from heat and immerse in icy cold water to stop the cooking process, about 2 minutes.  Remove from water.
DO NOT let them soak in the water.




Now gently tap the egg to start a crack and the shell should quite literally slide off your hard boiled egg!



Perfection!



Time to make some deviled eggs!



Do you have chickens in your backyard?
Have you ever considered it?



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