Archive for June, 2010

Raspberry Crisp in a Jar

Sunday, June 27th, 2010

raspberry crisp

A whole pie or a cake is often a bit much for Bernie and me. He doesn’t have much of a sweet-tooth. Unfortunately, I do. So if I make a pie or cake when we are not expecting company, I will end up eating the whole thing, or it will end up going to waste. Needless to say, I don’t often make a pie or cake for just the two of us. So I was pretty darn happy when I found the recipe for those little single serving sized gems above. Not only are these raspberry crisps really yummy, they are easy to make and, because they can be stored in the freezer, they are a quick homemade treat when needed.

I had read about making pies in a jar, but 1/2 pint jars are really very small. They only hold 4 fluid ounces, and I was certain any pie crust I make would quickly fill the majority of that little jar and leave precious little space for any filling. When I read the Crisp in a Jar recipe on Wendolonia, I knew this was the solution.

I made my raspberry crisps with no changes to her recipe, but I will share a couple of notes:

For the filling I did not add the optional flavorings. I felt that the fresh raspberries really did not need any help.

Since we had such little rain this spring, the wild raspberries on our property didn’t produce a lot of berries, and many of what they did produce dried on the vine. Each day when we took the pups on their mail run, Bernie and I would pick the few ripe raspberries that we found along the way. I froze them and added to them each day. I used those raspberries to make these crisps. The recipe calls for 1 cup of fruit per jar, but I found that 6 cups of frozen fresh raspberries ended up making 10 jars of crisp.

The recipe for the streusel topping made the exact amount needed for my 10 crisps. It was perfect.

I baked the frozen crisp as she recommended – I took the jar out of the freezer and put it on a cookie sheet. After removing the lid, I put it in a COLD oven (do not preheat) and set it on 375 degrees. The recipe says to bake it 30 minutes, and it was certainly done in that amount of time, but I think it could have baked another 5 minutes or so to get the filling a little more bubbly and to brown the crisp a bit more. But this could have been a difference between her oven and mine.

This recipe makes a great tasting, convenient, homemade treat.

raspberry crisp

I’m pretty sure my freezer is going to contain Crisp in a Jar from here on out. Dewberries will be ripening in the next few weeks. Oh, and I’m really looking forward to apple season……..

Rendering Lard

Sunday, June 20th, 2010

When we made sausage from venison right before Christmas, we went to the hog farmer up the road and purchased about 20 pounds of “trimmings” to blend with it. “Trimmings” really is mostly the fat leftover when hogs are processed. We used a good deal of it, and what was left was put into the freezer. This weekend, I decided to render it into lard.

There are a few ways to render lard, but I chose the crock pot for this batch for several reasons, the least of which is not the fact that using the crock pot requires the least of my time and attention.

I used a 6 quart crock pot and simply took the frozen trimmings out of the packages and put it right into the crock pot. We had finely ground our trimmings to use in the sausage making.

Rendering Lard

Then I turned the crock pot on low, put the lid on it, and went with Bernie visit with the plant lady up the road. Several hours later, the lard was slowly simmering.

Rendering Lard

I stirred it from time to time to break it up as it thawed and began melting. If you are using trimmings, just cut them into small cubes or chunks before rendering.

I left the fat in the crock pot on low overnight, and then put the lard in canning jars this morning.

Rendering Lard

Since not everything was fat, there was some meat at the bottom of the pot. I strained the lard through a metal mesh strainer, and that worked just fine for lard we will be using to cook with. I save the meat pieces I strain out from the lard. This makes great seasoning for beans or other dishes. I just put mine in a container in the refrigerator.

If I had planned to use the lard for soap making, I would have used cheese cloth so the lard was as clear as possible. For cooking, this creamy white lard will be just perfect.

rendered lard

There is no need to process the lard in a canner. Once the jars are filled with the hot lard and the lid applied, the lid will seal. The jars can be stored on a shelf at room temperature with little worry. But if you are at all concerned, just freeze or refrigerate them.

Simply Simple Syrup

Saturday, June 19th, 2010

I’ve started making sun tea each day so that we can have ice tea on these warm, summer evenings. But I end up making two separate batches because I only drink sweet tea, and Bernie only drinks unsweetened tea. As you know, cold tea does not melt sugar very well, so I sweeten the entire batch while it’s still warm. And this results in two containers of tea in the refrigerator – one with sugar, and one without.

To avoid this, I made some simple syrup that I can stir into warm or cold tea to sweeten it. This batch is Lemon Basil Simple Syrup, and it’s quite simple to make.

Lemon Basil Simple Syrup

1/2 cup loosely packed Lemon Basil leaves (washed)
2 cups Sugar
1 cup Water
1 Lemon

In a medium sized pot, mix together the sugar and water. Cut the lemon in half, and squeeze the juice of each into the sugar and water mixture. Add the two lemon halves and the lemon basil to the pot of sugar and water. Put the pot on the stove over medium heat and stir constantly as the sugar melts.

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Bring the mixture to a full boil and then cut off the heat and leave it on the burner.

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When it has completely cooled, squeeze both the juice of the lemon halves back into the pot, and discard the lemon halves. I use a slotted spoon to remove and discard the basil leaves, and then pour the simple syrup through a wire strainer into a pint mason jar.

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Store in the refrigerator. This is a wonderful sweetener for ice tea, or even freshly squeezed lemonade. You can even use it to make cocktails. You can make plain simple syrup by leaving out the lemon and lemon basil, or make mint flavored simple syrup by using mint leaves. You are only limited by your personal tastes and imagination!

Simple, tasty, and very nice to have on hand.

Our Latest Surprise

Friday, June 4th, 2010

Remember the baby chick I wrote about a couple of days ago – the one that hatched all alone in a nest in the woods, and the Phoenix hen adopted? She’s doing really well.

baby chicks

Here she is next to one of the Phoenix mama’s original chicks.

baby chicks

Still so tiny. But see the little chocolate colored chick right next to mama in that picture? Well, that little chick was today’s surprise. I was sitting in my office working with my window open and I kept hearing a baby chirping very loudly. I figured one of the new chicks got separated from one of the mamas. Imagine my surprise when I went into the run to find a baby chick that was obviously only a few hours old. She could hardly stand up without falling over. And she was so cold she was shivering. Yet *another* egg had hatched out from that nest in the woods. And that mama Hamburg is so busy with her other five, she will not be held back by a new baby.

We put the baby under a heat lamp for a bit, and when she warmed up I held her for quite a while. Eventually I saw mama Hamburg laying in the run with her babies under her, so I sneaked out there and slipped the new chick under her too and hoped for the best.

A while later I went outside to check on her, but that mama Hamburg and her five babies were no where to be seen. That new baby chick? She had apparently been adopted by the Phoenix mama.

baby chicks

I removed all remaining eggs from that nest. I hated to do it, but babies hatching from it at this point are clearly at a high risk of not making it. I am astounded that two have hatched with no one on the nest except at night. Mama Hamburg is not going to care for any more chicks, and that sweet mama Phoenix has her wings full.

Thirteen baby chicks and four teenagers running around the yard cheeping warms my heart. But knowing half of these are probably cockerels does not. I do not plan to let any more broodies set on eggs this year.

Please pray I can be strong.

Update to Broody in the Woods

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

Oh dear heavens. The mama that came up today with five chicks she hatched in the woods? Well, she’s settling into the run with her babies, so I decided to head up to her nest in the woods and get rid of all the eggs that she didn’t hatch so there isn’t a couple dozen eggs rotting in one place to attract predictors.

Imagine my surprise when I peered inside that nest and found a newly hatched baby! She was still wet and she was breathing. I scooped her up in my cupped hands and warmed her. I brought her in the house and Bernie grabbed a box and lined the bottom. Then he set up a heat lamp. I put the baby chick in the box and she cheeped and cheeped. Every time I put my hand over her, she quieted down. I just couldn’t leave her. I scooped her up and went outside.

I saw her mama setting in the run with her five chicks underneath. Perfect! I gently slid the baby under her and she quickly jumped up squawking. Dangit!

I picked the baby up again and noticed my broody Phoenix that hatched out two babies last week. She was heading into the coop with her two chicks. I gave them a few minutes and then quietly went into the coop. I sat on the floor several minutes until she settled down and her babies scooted underneath her. I gently lifted her side and slid this new baby under her. She puffed up and began cooing. *phew*

I have no idea if this baby will make it. She hatched several hours after the mama had left the nest. I never would have believed that could happen – I suspect the heat of the day and the bright sun shining directly on the nest kept the egg warm enough to hatch.

My Phoenix hens love being mamas. I’ve found them trying to sleep on the roost with eight week old “babies” under them! Usually the mamas get tired of the babies and move on – but with my Phoenix’s the babies usually leave the mamas first.

This baby seems strong, and I feel certain that if any mama hen can pull a baby through such a rough start, this Phoenix will do it. I sure pray she makes it.

These chickens will definitely be the death of me.

Well, Well, Well. Look Who Decided to Come Home.

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

Broody Hamburg

I had a heck of a time getting a picture – she tried to hide them under a bench in the run – but if you look closely you may see all five of the babies she dragged home today. I’m not complaining. It could have been much worse. I expected her to hatch out a dozen of those eggs.

The other Hamburg mama is doing great with her four.

Broody Hamburg

Today is the first time since March that I do not have broodies setting on eggs. I think we all can use this little break.