Monday, January 28, 2013

Doth $afely Trust in Her? ~ A True Story



It all started 15 years ago when her clock broke. Being the new daughter-in-law in the family, I jumped at the chance to bond with my mother-in-law. I quickly informed her that we now have an excuse to go shopping! She looked up and said softly, "Oh, I'm just going to purchase a clock kit and repair it".

A clock kit? Repair it? Did they make such antiquity and where would you find such things?

I proceeded to casually glance at the subject matter. Definitely not an heirloom or anything else of special interest, it was simply a basic kitchen clock. This was all very interesting…



To find out what happened next, continue reading at Deep Roots at Home, where I am guest posting today...

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Making Lemon Marmalade (with Printable Labels) ~ Citrus Series


There is something so nostalgic about a simmering pot of lemon marmalade on a cold, winter day. The yellow color is like a burst of sunshine! The aroma seems to connect you to your Victorian ancestors who graced their stoves with similar preserves. Louisa May Alcott noted after a trip to England that, "a choice pot of marmalade" was an essential to "British table comfort". Could it be to ours too?


"Mrs. Hale was hurried. It seemed as if desserts were impromptu and unusual things at the parsonage; whereas, if Mr. Hale would only have looked behind him, he would have seen biscuits and marmalade, and what not, all arranged in formal order on the sideboard. But the idea of pears had taken possession of Mr. Hale's mind, and was not to be got rid of."

~ Elizabeth Gaskell, North & South


Marmalade can be spread on toast or warm scones for a zesty flavor. It can be added into your hot tea for a tasty treat or preserved in jars awaiting those sweet, summer iced teas. 


The first step is to gather the goods:
  • 9 - 10 lemons (washed well)
  • 15 cups of water
  • warm sugar (this depends on the amount of lemon liquid you have at the end, about 8 cups)
  • candy thermometer

Remove the zest from the lemons.


Slice it up into thin strips.

Note: When I finished with these steps, I set the lemons and peels aside. I tended to some needs in the family and completed the next step a few hours later. The break in the day made this project feel less demanding and more like leisure.


Chop the flesh of your lemons and save the seeds. These should be placed in a piece of cheese-cloth. If you have extra thick pith (the white stuff surrounding the lemon under the peel), you can include it with the seeds inside your cloth. These ingredients are kept because they are full of pectin. This is what thickens your marmalade.


Place your chopped lemon flesh and its juices with your sliced zest, in a stainless steel pot. Tie your seeds and extra pith in the cheese-cloth, attached with a string. Add this into the pot as well (see photo above).

Add 15 cups of water and bring ingredients to a boil.


Once brought to a boil, lower the heat to a simmer and stir occasionally for 1 - 1 1/2 hours, or until the zest is very soft. Your mixture should have reduced by about one-third. If not, keep on simmering until it does. Remove the cheesecloth bag from the pot and squeeze out any excess juices. Discard.

Measure the remaining juice (I use a large glass, oven-proof measuring cup). For each one cup of juice, measure out one cup of warmed sugar (To warm sugar: place in an oven proof bowl at lowest setting for 15 minutes. This helps it to dissolve quicker).

Now, pour the lemon liquid back into your pot and add the "calculated amount" of warmed sugar.  Stir at low heat until the sugar has dissolved. Once that is achieved, boil your mixture rapidly, without stirring for 15 minutes or until your marmalade reaches setting point (220 degrees). Skim off any froth/foam. 


Let marmalade sit for five minutes before placing in hot, sterilized jars. This keeps the fruit from floating on the top and will help to evenly distribute the peels. Make sure to leave 1/8 inch head space. Process jars in a boiling water bath canner. Pint jars should be processed for 10 minutes and half-pint jars for 5 minutes. I like to use half pints since this isn't the type of jam that gets used up quickly in sandwiches and such.

If canning doesn't appeal to you, keep on reading...


For more detailed instructions on water bath canning, visit {here}.



Now for the fun part! You get to label your marmalade! Our free printable is HERE (just download and/or print). It is basic enough to where you can use it for any of your lemon creations.


Just use the lids and screw bands as patterns and cut according to your needs. These will work for both wide and regular mouth jars. You will just have more of a wider "white" border with the wide mouth jars. I don't bother gluing these down since they are cut to fit right under the screw lid.


Note to Self: After using a pallet of sugar for this recipe, I have challenged myself to create a honey version (includes printable recipe) for next time. 


You can always place the finished products into plastic containers and store in the freezer. I did this to the small amount that was leftover after I filled my canning rack with jars (I didn't have enough to warrant two whole batches). The only thing is that these did not completely solidify in the freezer. They kept for at least six months until summer (maybe even more but we finished them before hand). Don't forget to keep some in the refrigerator to use now and invite that dear friend over for tea!



"I beg your pardon?" said Ribby.
"May I pass you the marmalade?" said Duchess hurriedly.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Earth's Broken Lives...


“Christ is building His kingdom with earth's broken things. Men want only the strong, the successful, the victorious, the unbroken, in building their kingdoms; but God is the God of the unsuccessful, of those who have failed. Heaven is filling with earth's broken lives, and there is no bruised reed that Christ cannot take and restore to glorious blessedness and beauty. He can take the life crushed by pain or sorrow and make it into a harp whose music shall be all praise. He can lift earth's saddest failure up to heaven's glory.” 
~J.R. Miller


"He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds."
~ Psalm 147:3


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Simple Honey Lemon Cough Syrup ~ Citrus Series


"It is probable that the lemon is the most valuable of all fruit for preserving health."
~ Mrs. M. Grieve, A Modern Herbal

With its punch of vitamin C for strengthening the immune system, lemons also boast powerful antibacterial properties. This can help fight infections in the throat associated with the cold or flu. Here is a recipe for a simple cough syrup that you can add to your medicine cabinet while utilizing this amazing fruit during its peak. 


The list of simple supplies are:
  • one lemon
  • 2 tbsp. honey
  • 2 tbsp. glycerin
  • optional: recycled vanilla extract bottle

I originally (per the recipe in Back to Basics) boiled a clean lemon in water for ten minutes, squeezed out the juice once it was cool and strained it into a glass measuring cup. However, now I think that I would forego this step in order to get the benefits of "raw" lemon juice. The choice is yours...


Add 2 tbsp. of raw honey to your lemon juice… (which is an expectorant, anti-inflammatory, strengthens the immune system with anti-viral, anti-bacterial properties, etc…)


Add 2 tbsp. of glycerin and stir until combined… That's it!


Using a funnel, pour liquid into a clean bottle or jar. We used a recycled vanilla extract bottle to store our syrup. I figured that if anything, it would enhance the flavor to make it into a "honey lemon vanilla" cough syrup. It also has a nice apothecary look to it. You may reuse an old cough syrup bottle if you have one. Make sure to label it (you may use ours below)! We don't want another situation to happen like poor Anne Shirley! Remember?

"Anne fled to the pantry and returned with a small bottle partially filled with a brown liquid and labeled yellowly, "Best Vanilla." 
Marilla took it, uncorked it, smelled it."Mercy on us, Anne, you've flavored that cake with ANODYNE LINIMENT. I broke the liniment bottle last week and poured what was left into an old empty vanilla bottle. I suppose it's partly my fault—I should have warned you—but for pity's sake why couldn't you have smelled it?" 
Anne dissolved into tears under this double disgrace."
~ Excerpt from Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery




Important Notes:
  • Honey should not be given to children under two years of age.
  • This is a very basic syrup. As with any illness, please use prayer, wisdom and discernment* when treating your family.
  • Store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. 
  • Take one teaspoon at intervals when needed. 

"A merry heart doeth good like a medicine:
but a broken spirit drieth the bones."
~ Proverbs 17:22


Lemon clip art is courtesy of Reading, Roses and Prose. This recipe was gleaned from Back to Basics by Reader's Digest. NOTE: *I am not a professional, nor a doctor. Using natural remedies is a personal decision. Nothing I say on this blog is intended to treat or prevent disease.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Garlic and Cheese Bread Twist ~ A Loaf to Love!


If you love a good, cheesy loaf of garlic bread, then I encourage you to continue reading! Using your favorite bread recipe, just add a few extras to make your basic loaf into something special. Have I mentioned how delicious it is when hot and slathered in butter?


First off, prepare your favorite bread dough. Ours is a whole wheat blend with a few added seeds (flax and chia) for that hearty chewiness. I don't know if they retain their nutritional value when baked but it's worth a try! The dough has already risen once at this point...


Now, roll it out into a rectangle on an oiled surface (as if you are making cinnamon rolls). I would say about 12 by 9 inches but it really doesn't need to be precise.


Next, smear about 1/8 cup of melted butter across the dough. This is one of those approximate recipes so if it looks like it needs more, put more. If it looks like too much, then cut back. You just want to cover the dough with a coat of butter.


Mince about 2 - 3 cloves of fresh garlic. If you don't have a garlic press, you may want to consider purchasing one. They make the world of garlic so simple because you don't have to peel them first, just pop in and press! Evenly spread (or smear, rather) the minced garlic across your buttery dough.


Sprinkle with shredded mozzarella cheese, about a cup (or to generously cover dough). I wouldn't use the pre-shredded stuff because of all the anti-caking agents which hinder your cheese from melting nicely.


Gently roll the dough into a log (using the longer length end). When you reach the end, pinch the dough sides together to keep them together. 


Carefully move the dough log onto a greased cookie sheet and hope that it fits!


Cut across the middle of your dough with a pizza cutter. Leave one end of your log uncut by 1/2 inch.


Here is where it gets a bit messy. Carefully open up the dough on each side to expose the middle cheese part.


Twist the two pieces of dough, up and under each other (while trying to keep the cheese part opened and faced up) until you get to the end. Pinch the ends together and fold under to seal them. Don't worry if it comes out messy, it will still taste good! At this point, you may sprinkle on some grated parmesan cheese and cover with a cloth. 


Let dough rise one hour. Bake in a preheated oven at 400 degrees until golden brown (about 15-20 minutes though each oven and bread dough is different). 


Before removing from the oven, check the bottom with a spatula to make sure it is golden brown as well. If it is, then it is ready! After about 5 minutes (when bread has settled), you can carefully move it to a cooling rack. Serve with hot soup and a green, leafy salad… 


"Give us this day our daily bread."
~ Matthew 6:11


Friday, January 11, 2013

Basic Household Uses for Lemons ~ Citrus Series


"Lemon juice is another natural cleaner and deoderizer. Fill a handy spray bottle with equal parts of water and lemon juice (you can use pre-squeezed lemon juice from a bottle); use it to freshen the air in your home. Rub a cut lemon over a wooden cutting board to sanitize it. Or rub the cut end of the lemon over a faucet to remove lime scale. You can also put lemon peel and baking soda in your vacuum cleaner bag to deodorize it." 
~ Donna Smallin, Excerpt from Cleaning Plain & Simple
Housecleaning:
  • Lemons boast antibacterial properties. Because of their acidity, they are able to cut grease. You can wash floors with them and sanitize countertops. Simple squeeze a lemon into a small bucket with hot water and use as a cleaning solution.
  • Sprinkle sea salt on your cutting board, and scrub it with half of a lemon for a thorough cleaning. Once dry, apply a coat of butcher block oil (do not use vegetable or olive oils since they may turn rancid) to further preserve your board. 
  • Dip a half of lemon in salt and use as a scourer in the kitchen and bathroom. Lemons help to cut through limescale and soap scum. This method can also help to remove rust from floors and brighten your chrome fixtures.
  • When lemon peels are infused in white vinegar for a month, it is an effective and aromatic cleaner. Simply use lemon peels in place of lavender from this recipe for an all purpose cleaner.
  • When mixed with baking soda, it can remove stains from plastic storage containers and clean tarnish from brass, copper, or stainless steel cookware.
  • If you run out of dish soap, add 1 tbsp. baking soda along with the juice of 1/2 lemon to your dishwater. I have done this before but it is really my emergency method because I need to see bubbles in my water. 
  • Make your own furniture polish by mixing the juice from one lemon with one tsp. of olive oil and one tsp. water. Apply a thin coat onto wood furniture and buff out with a clean rag (I love microfiber towels for these types of projects). This recipe was found here.
  • When implementing any of these ideas, keep in mind that you are also helping to kill fleas and other bugs which don't appreciate lemon juice.
  • Simmer your leftover lemon parts in a pot of water for a few hours to freshen up your home. If you have a wood-stove, place it on top of that for some frugal aromatherapy. This would also act as a humidifier to keep that dry, croup cough away. Lemon scent is said to give your brain a boost and we could all use that!
In the Laundry Room:
  • Lemons are a natural stain fighter. Add the juice of half a lemon to a bucket of cold/warm water and use as a pre-soak solution for "bleaching" whites.
  • You can also add 1/2 cup of fresh lemon juice to the rinse cycle of your washing machine for a mild bleaching treatment. Note: I have not personally tried this idea yet.

"To Remove Stains from the Hands, rub them with a piece of lemon."
~ Fowler's Household Helps by A.L. Fowler, 1916


This post may be shared with some or all of the following link-ups: Modest Mom Monday'sMake it Yourself Mondays,  Homestead Barn Hop, Natural Living Tuesday'sTeach Me TuesdayDomestically Divine TuesdayRaising HomemakersWise Woman Link UpFrugal Days, Sustainable WaysSimple Living Wednesdays and Deep Roots at Home. Thank you lovely ladies for hosting these. Some of these ideas were gleaned from Household Cleaning by Rachelle Strauss.

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