Tuesday, June 30, 2009

i bet you didn't know that tupperware made chicken, did you?

many, many moons ago when all my children were small, i was invited to a Tupperware party. given the fact that all my children were small, i jumped at the chance to get out of the house and interact with adults. with the potential for real and meaningful conversations. and no interruptions to wipe noses or other body parts...

since all the children were small (did i mention that already?) there was no money for things like marvelous plastic leftover containers, but i did come away from that party refreshed~ both with companionship and a wonderful recipe that I've managed to keep track of through a flood, 4 moves and 2 more children.

i still use this recipe, and wanted to share it with you. i use it mostly after we butcher chickens. when I've cut off the wings, leg quarters and breasts, I'm left with a chicken carcass that still has meat on it, but not very much.

what i do then is plop about a dozen carcasses in the pressure cooker. i cook them for about an hour and then bone them all. the last time we butchered, we did 30 chickens, and i got enough chicken to make 8 of these meals. pretty good, considering that many may have just thrown that all away! so without further ado, here is the recipe. (and since I'm such a good blogger, i even took a picture of the plastic freezer bag for you. in case you couldn't visualize it all by yourself!)

Tupperware Chicken

Chicken Mix:

6 lbs. chicken

¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped

½ lb. EACH onions, carrots and celery (about 2 cups chopped)

1½ t. dried basil

basically, condensing the complicated Tupperware instructions, you just cook all this until the veggies are tender. if your chicken is already cooked, like mine was, just throw that in at the end. the recipe says that this will make 6 of the main dish recipes, which will serve 4 people each. don't believe them for one second. you'll have to adjust for your own family. now put your family sized chicken mix in a freezer bag, and when you're ready to make it, you'll have 6 recipes to choose from:

Candied Chicken

chicken mix

3/4 cup maple syrup

1/3 cup ketchup

1/3 cup white vinegar

place chicken mix at bottom of skillet. (slightly thawed, i would think) mix remaining ingredients and pour over chicken. heat on stove until hot. serve over rice.

Orange Chicken Delight

chicken mix

1 can mandarin oranges, drained

¼ t. garlic powder

1/3 cup orange juice

1 T soy sauce

¼ t. dry mustard

1 T cornstarch

place chicken in bottom of baking dish. top with mandarin oranges. mix remaining ingredients, and pour over chicken mix. bake until hot. serve over rice.

Mexican Chicken

Chicken Marinara

Hearty Chicken Salad

Chicken with Dressing and Veggies

these two recipes are the ones that i use the most, but if you'd like to try some of the others, I'd be happy to share! just let me know, and I'll type them out in the comments section.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

A day of rest!

last week the planets were all aligned perfectly, and since it was the third Friday after the second Sunday we went canoeing and kayaking.

we all had a great time in the susquehanna river.

we went exploring, taking the time to look at pretty rocks and disgusting bugs...

we crossed log bridges...

we played in the river...

and with each other.

we cooked hot dogs over an open grill

and enjoyed a meal together as a family once again.

we celebrated M's birthday with a smore cake and a match candle!

we brought presents along for M~ catch phrase...


and skirt hangers...

it was a relaxing and refreshing day~ one that we all enjoyed very much!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

let's just pretend it's Thursday, shall we?

I've been super busy, and haven't taken the time to post. so here's a giant update, compete with scads of pictures.

we had a big gardening day this week, and all the children were helping. baby B helped me pinch and harvest some of my basil. it looks like she's gathering some dirt clods as well! (as if we don't already have enough mud and dirt inside the house!)

N is aggressively whacking down the Japanese knotweed. we are slowly winning the battle, and pushing back this noxious weed further and further from the potatoes.

here G is working at further staking the fence i have for the cucumbers, beans, summer squash and winter squash. i also planted nasturtiums and marigold to help prevent bugs from eating these plants.

although at the rate we're going, bugs should be the least of our worries. i mentioned before that either bunnies or groundhogs ate off nearly all of the cabbages, broccoli and cauliflower. i have been spraying them diligently with the irish spring mixture, sometimes twice a day. many of the plants had been making a valiant come back. however, in spite of my best efforts, the animals seem to have found the row again and are systematically chewing off the plants once more. we seem to be approaching the time to admit defeat. (either that, or time to get out the .22!)

A found a toad in the garden, and she and B spent some time looking at it. B was contented to just look at the toad; she didn't want to hold it.

the potatoes are blooming! soon we'll have fresh potatoes for dinner. can't wait!

the buckwheat that G and i planted as a cover crop/green manure is doing well. it's about 6-8" tall, and growing quickly. I'd like to plant 2 cover crops of this before the fall frost. one advantage of the garden being in the bottom land down by the creek is that we don't get the frosts like everyone else. we have a slightly longer growing season since we are protected by the warmth of the creek.

all 3 girls helped weed. M is working on the carrots.

A and B are weeding along the landscape fabric in the cabbages...ect. row.

with every one's help, i feel that we're able to keep up with all the work that needs to be done. that's a good feeling, but I'm not sure how long it will last! right now, we're mostly just tending the garden; there is no harvesting or preserving to do.

here's the LG, photo taken from the other end.

the ducks have moved to a pen outside, and are in fact Dudley's neighbors. the ducks' feathers are starting to come in, and once they are fully feathered we'll consider letting them free range. right now they are happy with the fresh greens that i give them several times a day.

a few weeks ago, i decided that i would like a sheep. both as a pet for the girls, and as a green lawnmower to help keep some of the more hilly areas of the lawn trimmed. Dave and i spent several Monday afternoons at the livestock auction hoping to get a sheep.

unfortunately, they were either rams, too big, or sold in lots of 4 or more. so no sheep for the girls.

but we did come home with a guinea pig! for 50 cents! (that was my main reason for buying it. because it was so cheap. and nothing encourages a substantial commitment of time and money over the next 5-8 years like a cheap start-up cost!) talk about an impulse buy...

anyway... the GP has been dubbed Emma, and A and B both help take care of her.

moving right along...

the high tunnel tomatoes are getting ginormous! I've staked them 4 times already, and if i hadn't run out of stake height, I'd still be staking! hopefully we'll have tomatoes soon. one of the varieties that we planted in the high tunnel was early girl, so fresh tomatoes may soon be on the horizon.

the UG tomatoes are doing well, too, even though they're not nearly as tall. here is another endless job of staking...

and remember, these tomatoes were bought at the same time and were the same size. the only difference was when and where they were planted.

the Kentucky wonder pole beans are up, and so far so good. (last year the groundhog ate nearly all our beans!) i have the beans planted around the base of a tomato cage, since I'm obviously not going to be using the cages this year. with the help of a stake and zip ties, there are 2 tomato cages on top of each other. I'm pleased with this idea, and hope that it works as well as I'm imagining.

that's it for the *sort of* weekly livestock and garden report. there's been lots of rain, so sometimes it's a challenge to get out in the garden between raindrops. but since everything is growing so well, i can't complain.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

dave's really on a roll!

Dave is determined to have the front part of the house sided by the 4th of July. at the rate he's going, that won't be a problem!

I'm anxious to get the south-west side of the house done, as soon the day lillies will be in full bloom, and I'm hoping to get a picture~ a near duplicate of the one that was taken in the 1930's.

but no pressure... there's always next year!

Monday, June 22, 2009


we interrupt this sporadically posted blog to bring you a Public Service Announcement.

remember the wonderful looking strawberry pie that i was bragging telling you about?

well, it turns out that sure jell and clear gel are not the same thing.

neither are they interchangeable.

here ends the PSA.

please continue with your dinner, minus the wonderful planned dessert.

June is made for strawberries!

we enjoyed our time strawberry picking last week, but we ate all the strawberries before i could get Korlissa's recipe and make the pie!

so this morning, after garden chores, the little girls and i went strawberry picking locally. i wanted to try out that particular strawberry patch, and get enough berries to make this pie for dessert. (note to self: do not go picking there again next year~ too weedy, too sparse, too expensive and the berries are not that nice)

Korlissa's Strawberry Pie

Mix: 1 cup sugar
4 T clear gel

Add: 1 1/4 cup water
1 T lemon juice
red food coloring
1 QT strawberries

pour into graham cracker crust. refrigerate until set. can top/garnish with cool whip

one of the reasons that i was so excited to get this recipe is that Korlissa told me that it works well with frozen strawberries. since we can only have Aunt Velma's Strawberry Pie a few times in June, i was eager to try this recipe out.

my pies are made and setting up in the refrigerator as i type, so I'll have to let you know how they taste after dinner. but if they taste as good as they look, everything will be just fine!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

pesto- el fresco!

my basil is doing quite well and last week i was able to transplant it into the LG. there are nearly 40 plants, plus a few left in the cold frame, which is much closer to the house, making it easier to dash out for a few fresh leaves.
however, the big hold up on the commencement of pesto fever is pine nuts. as in~ they are hard to find locally and inexpensively. i was holding out for Sam's Club, but in the end Wegman's came through. (with a little help from a friend)

so now I'm all set to go~ and can hardly wait! my cherry tomatoes are not ready yet, but I'll start making fresh pesto anyway, and just enjoy them with noodles. yum!

1 or 2 plump garlic cloves
3 T pine nuts (can use ½ walnuts)
3 cups loosely packed basil leaves (stems removed, leaves washed and dried)
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 T Romano (i usually omit this)
2 T soft butter
½ cup olive oil

in food processor~ process garlic, salt (tiny bit) and nuts until finely chopped. add basil and olive oil. when smooth add cheese and butter and process just to combine.

can serve fresh, or freeze for later. (i freeze mine in ice cube trays)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

how to entertain several small children on a cold and rainy day...

# 1- a big brother is very helpful, but not strictly and absolutely necessary.

# 2~ ceiling fan. (this is required)

#3~ toilet paper. (although string or yarn will work equally as well)

#4~ tape the toilet paper onto the fan. turn on the fan, and encourage the rambunctious small children in their attempts to catch the whirling cyclone.

#5~ nap time will soon follow, much to the relief of the mother and said older brother.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

as far as the eye can see...

yesterday we took the time to go strawberry picking with friends from church, Ben and Korlissa. M and G were able to come and help, and of course we took A and B.

the picking was great~ and the weather was very co-operative as well. since it was an overcast day, we weren't baking and sweating in the hot sun!

since this is A's second year as a strawberry picker, she was an old hand at it, and did very well. i was so proud when she picked the whole bucketful herself! she was quite proud, too.

initially B hung right close to my elbow, but quickly discovered that she really likes strawberries. she would hold out her little quart box to me and say "strawberry, mama!" I'd oblige her and plop one in, and she'd just as quickly pop the strawberry into her mouth. as she became more comfortable with the strawberry field, she would wander into her own row. as i would glance up, i could see her little head just sticking up over the plants as she intently searched for her own strawberries.

judging from the red lips and fingers of the little girls, they ate nearly their weight in fresh strawberries yesterday!

a handful of yummy, fresh berries!

40 quarts of fresh strawberries~ but now that we have them home, the work really begins!

* first order of business- strawberry shortcake for dinner. that's an annual family tradition.

* 2 strawberry pies, using the recipe from Dave's Aunt Velma.

Aunt Velma's Strawberry Jello Pie

1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup water
1/4 cup corn starch

combine sugar, water and corn starch in small sauce pan. cook until thick, stirring constantly. Add~ 3 oz. strawberry jello. pour into cooked pie crust with fresh halved strawberries. refrigerate until cool and set.

*42 pints freezer jelly

*2 quarts freezer jelly (for G to take along to Creation '09)

*8 bags (2 quarts) frozen whole berries for pie

(Korlissa promised to give me the recipe at church on Sunday, so I'll share it with you then.)

* I put 3 quarts of berries in the fridge to eat fresh- on salads, cereal or on ice cream. of course, those are already nearly gone!

with G's diligent help, we had nearly all the berries processed and frozen before 11PM last night. i'm grateful for his help, and we'll all be glad for the pies and jelly during the long, cold winter!


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