Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Strawberry Trifle

Strawberry Trifle


It won't be long until summer weather kicks in and strawberries will be abundant.  Strawberries were on sale this week when I went to the grocery store and I couldn't resist throwing together an easy Strawberry Trifle for dessert. 

Here are the ingredients you need:

4 cups of fresh strawberries cleansed and cut in half
1 Angel Food Cake (I purchased mine in the bakery section)
1 (2.1oz) box of Instant Vanilla Pudding (We use the sugar and fat free kind)
1 large container of Cool-Whip


Step 1:  The night before you want to make the trifle (or at least a good hour before) make the pudding by following the directions on the box and put it in the fridge until it is good and firm.


Step 2: Break the Angel Food Cake into pieces and line the bottom of a pretty glass bowl

Step 3:  Line the outside of the bowl with strawberries, pointing the solid red side toward the outside of the bowl.  If you have more than enough strawberries, put some in the middle too.

Step 4: Put a layer of the vanilla pudding on top of the strawberries and Angel Food Cake.

Step 5: Put a layer of Cool Whip on top of the pudding.

Step 6: Garnish the top with strawberries. 
You can repeat the layers as needed.
Store in the refrigerator.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Poison Ivy is Bad News


This isn't an attractive picture of me by any means.  In fact, I look down right ugly.  You're probably thinking that my face looks like a sunburn gone bad, but it's actually poison ivy.  This past Saturday, the weather was beautiful, and I decided it was time for the first lawn cutting of the season.

While I was mowing, my neighbor to the south of us was burning off grass and weeds in between their rows of trees and thus gave me poison ivy.  I caught it by the poison ivy being airborne.  In my younger days, I was immune to this stuff.  I picked it with my hands and laughed at my family who couldn't do the same.  Now, it has come back to haunt me.  I can catch it just by looking at the stuff (not really, but it sure seems like it).  I've been to the doctor and received wonderful shots that help tremendously with the itching and burning that I am experiencing.  Today, it is starting to dry up and I refused to go to work because I look so hideous...and I am not being vain.  Today, my face looks like I have a million little zits on it.  Ugh!!!!

So here are a few little facts I want to share with you about poison ivy:

What is poison ivy?  Poison ivy a type of perennial weed that causes humans a lot of grief, but doesn't seem to affect livestock or pets.  It can grow as a ground cover, as a bush or vine. 

What does poison ivy look like?  It has three distinct leaves to it, thus the saying "leaves of three, let it be." 


What is poisonous about it?  Poison ivy secretes an oil that when humans come into contact with it, it causes itching and a rash.

What are the ways that in which I can get poison ivy?  Poison ivy is sneaky.  You can get it by touching the leaves, petting a pet that has the oil on their fur or through the air by someone burning it.

What should I do if I come in contact with poison ivy?  The first thing to do is go and wash the area that you came into contact with using soap and water.  Take a shower if you need to, but first put all the clothing that you may have come into contact with the poison ivy in the washer.  Wash yourself thoroughly with soap and water.  Wash all clothing as well.  The oil can remain on the clothing and you can contract it again if you come back into contact with it.

Poison ivy will usually generate a rash and severe itching within 24-72 hours of contact.  Depending on the severity, you may need to seek medical treatment.  Since I caught my current case of poison ivy through the air, I also have it in my mouth and have blisters in my mouth as well.  That is one of the reasons I needed to receive a shot for it.

Drugstores offer over-the-counter medications like Benadryl to relieve the itching so you can sleep and anti-itch ointments to apply topically.

The best way not to get poison ivy, is to know what it is, looks like and to AVOID it at all costs.

For more information on Poison Ivy check out Purdue's publication on it.





Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Peanut Butter Sheet Cake

Peanut Butter Sheet Cake


It's always great to attend church and it's even better, especially if you ask the men, when there's a dinner or food afterwards.  A few months ago, a sweet lady in our church made a spaghetti dinner while several of us hung Christmas decorations.  We came downstairs to eat and she had made this amazing peanut butter sheet cake for dessert.  After just one bite, I was hooked.  I'm not a big fan of peanut butter, but I love it with chocolate and I certainly found this cake appetizing.  This is a big sheet cake, so it would be ideal for a crowd!

I asked her if I could share the recipe with you, so here it is:

Peanut Butter Sheet Cake

2 C all purpose flour
1 C sugar
1 C brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
½ C sour milk (add 1 Tbsp vinegar in ½ C milk)
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla

Bring to a boil 2 sticks butter, 1 C water, 1 C creamy peanut butter----Pour over the above ingredients----mix and bake 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees

Frosting
1 stick butter
1/3 C sour milk (add 1 tsp vinegar to 1/3 C milk)
½ C creamy peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla
Bring to boil and remove from heat then add 1 pound powdered sugar (approx 3 Cups)
Pour over cake while mixture is still hot

Use a 15x10x1 pan

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Time to Think Gardening!




One of the few things that I enjoy about winter, is looking forward to the arrival of my seed catalogs.  Seasoned gardeners know that planning is the first step when it comes to a home vegetable garden.  By planning, you're saving time, money and ensuring that you will be growing the items that your family needs.  By planning ahead, it allows me to know that I only need to plant half the tomatoes I did last year because I still have 50 jars in the pantry.

Each year, my garden seems to grow in size.  I discover new items I want to plant, or realize that I hadn't planted enough the year before.  Additionally, I am adding items like grape vines, strawberries and fruit trees to the backyard.  This is where the seed catalogs come in handy.

Before Spring arrives, I suggest making a diagram of your garden plot.  Include in your diagram the vegetables that you want to grow, what rows you will put your plants in, how much distance you need between each row, the expected date that you want to plant, etc.

Purdue University suggests that early vegetables like lettuce, green onion and radishes be planted close to each other AND you can replant these yummies several times during the summer.  Items that grow tall, or vine, like pole beans, peas, corn and tomatoes can also be "grouped" together and should be at the North end of your garden so that they don't cast a shade on any smaller plants.

I like to go through the seed catalogs and make two lists.  The first list consists of what I know I will plant in this year's garden.  Then I go through those items, look at planting depth, date to plant, etc and then I make a second list of item's I want to plant to either try, start growing permanently, etc.  Seed catalogs are great for vegetable information (and a lot of it), but sometimes it's cheaper to buy locally and the plants/seeds are just as good. 

Purdue University offers a terrific publication, "Home Gardener's Guide" that offers many tips and ideas for planning your garden early.  Don't wait, look forward to Spring by planning your garden now!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Pointers for Blogging

My husband, Bill and I





In 2012, I felt the desire to get back to the basics of life and began blogging about life in general and that, of course, included life on the farm.   I’ve never been one to keep a diary or write down my thoughts but blogging just came naturally.  So what is a blog? A blog is often referred to as an online personal journal of someone’s interests.  For me, those interests include farming, cooking and other miscellaneous items that I can share with others.

If you think that you might want to start a blog, I would suggest first deciding what you might want to “blog” about it.  Ideas can include: hobbies that you enjoy, places that you’ve been, poems that you’ve written and more.  The possibilities are limitless.  The main thing to remember is that you’re blog will be posted online, meaning anyone can read it.

Blogging began in the late 1990’s and there are over 1.5 billion blogs on the Internet today.  You don't need special skills or an advanced degree in technology to blog...you just need to be passionate about what you’re blogging about.  If you know how to write and send an email on the computer, then you are good enough to write a blog.  Be sure to consider how much time you want to put into blogging and how often you want to “post” what you’ve blogged about. 

If you’re looking for something simple and free to get started blogging, try Google Blogger, WordPress or Tumblr.  They each have a help guide to get you set up, are free and user-friendly when it comes to creating templates and pages.  If you want something a little more hi-tech and upscale, consider purchasing a domain name. 

I enjoy blogging about my life on the farm.  My husband, Bill, and I operate a small grain farm outside of Mt. Summit appropriately named B&L Family Farms, LLC.  We grow corn and soybeans and raise chickens.  I subject those that help us on the farm to my cooking.  I try out new recipes on them to see if it’s a success or failure before I post the recipe on my blog.  Additionally, I enjoy canning and preserving the summer harvest from the garden.  These are my interests and I find blogging about them to be very rewarding, especially if I am able to help teach someone something new.  So what are you waiting for?  Go ahead and give it a try!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Homemade Broccoli Cheese Soup


Homemade Broccoli Cheese Soup


It's cold here in Indiana and has been cold for the last week.  The wind chill has been in the negative digits and today we had a whopping high of 22 degrees.  Last night, Bill went with me to pick up 18 chickens and 3 ducks from a couple that needed to find them a new home.  I offered to take them, but didn't tell Bill about the ducks until we got there.  Long story short, Bill didn't make a fuss over bringing home the ducks, so I thought I'd make him some homemade broccoli soup tonight as a peace offering.  There is nothing like some warm soup to make the cold outside melt away.  Even though this is homemade soup, and not out of a can, it is simple to make.  Serve with a grilled cheese and it's a meal fit for a king!

I used my Pampered Chef Rockcrok Dutch Oven to make this soup.  If you don't have one, you should consider adding this item to you kitchen collection.  I had a party and got my for 60% off.  It's amazing!


 INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 to 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 medium chopped onion
  • ¼ cup melted butter
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 3 cups half-and-half cream
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups fresh/or thawed broccoli, chopped to the consistency you prefer for the soup 
  • 2 cans (10 3/4 oz) Campbell's Cheddar Cheese Soup
  • 8 ounces grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS:
  1. Saute the onion in 1 to 2 tablespoons of melted butter and set aside.
    In your Rockcrok, or a large pot, whisk together the melted butter and flour over medium heat for about about 4 minutes.
  2. Next, slowly whisk in the half and half and chicken stock. Let it simmer for about 20 minutes.
  3. Add the broccoli and onions. Let them simmer on medium heat for about 25 minutes until the broccoli is tender.
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste and garnish with sharp cheddar cheese. 

Friday, January 9, 2015

Joy Jars




A very simple Joy Jar for 2015




I admit that I am not a crafty person.  I enjoy crafts, but just to come up with stuff on my own...no way!  My friend Ginger, who is also the Pastor's wife, is extremely creative and came up with these Joy Jars for 2015.  Last Sunday, she passed out a jar to each family.  We are to take these jars and write good things that happen to our family (or personally) on little pieces of paper throughout 2015.  Then on New Year's Eve (December 31, 2015) we will meet back at the church, share a meal, and then share our joy's with each other over the past year.

Examples of items that you can put in your Joy Jar:
  • Surprise gifts
  • Accomplished goals
  • Laugh Out Loud moments
  • Daily blessings
  • It was a God thing
  • The beauty of nature
  • Memories worth saving
  • Answered prayers
  • AND MORE!!!
She even created a Facebook page for it!  Instead of focusing on the negative, which we all do so often, let's make it a point to write down our joy's and fill our jar!