Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Homemade Peanut Butter Balls

Yummm..... We were making peanut butter balls earlier this week. And they are so easy.

1 reg. sized jar peanut butter (approx. 16 oz...and ounce or two more or less won't matter)
1 bag confectioner sugar
1 bag semi sweet chocolate chips (16 oz)

You will also need a mixing bowl, double boiler, cookie sheets, waxed paper and skewers.

Mix the peanut butter and sugar together in a bowl until it forms a well mixed dough. Form into walnut sized balls. Allow to firm in refrigerator or cool place. (Note that some will add a stick of melted margarine to this mix as well. This is optional. It can make the candy very rich.)

Meanwhile, melt chocolate over double boiler. Add shortening to allow easier dipping and give
slight gloss. Start with 1 teaspoon of shortening then add more in smaller increments if necessary.

When peanut butter balls are firm insert skewer and dip into chocolate. Set back on cookie sheet. Return full tray to cool area to allow chocolate to harden. (Note that if peanut butter balls crack in half, they are too cold. Allow to warm up slightly, just until skewer may be inserted without cracking the candy.)

Candy may be frozen.


Thursday, October 24, 2013

Keeping Lettuce Fresh

Because the weather was changing (for the worse I might add...cold.....) I ended up picking the rest of the lettuce so that, if we did get a freeze (ugh!) I wouldn't lose the greens. But there was so much there, still. I had given lettuce away till everyone who wanted some, was fully stocked. I only have so much room in the fridge and you certainly can't freeze it like you can with collards or spinach. And, there is also the problem of keeping it fresh for an extended period of time.

I ended up cutting the roots off 1/2 of the lettuce, standing in a bowl, filling it with water so that the stems were submersed, then putting the entire thing in the fridge. With the second 1/2 of the lettuce, I left the roots on, stood the greens, roots and all, into a small, plastic bucket, filled with water and placed in a protected place on the porch where it can stay cool (as the lettuce is cold tolerant but not freeze tolerant). So far both methods are working well.

The reason why I cut the roots off of the lettuce that I keep in the fridge is for ease of use. Just grab from fridge without having to take the time to remove the roots. But keeping the roots on the bunch I still have outside is with the hopes that having the roots still attached will further prolong the life of the lettuce.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Bee Blog

Very, very, very early this morning (at midnight because of time differences), I had an interview with Gary from Kiwimana Beekeeping Supplies in New Zealand, for their podcast. It was lots of fun and I really enjoyed talking with him.

Check out their blog at  and while you're there, check out their website and podcast links.

I'll be posting the date that the podcast will air.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Homesteading Educator Speaker Finder

Check it out!

I am now on the speaker list for Homesteading Education.

Find Me Here!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Late Night

It is a late night working on the next book for the Backyard Farming Series, which will be on cattle. "Goats" is scheduled to come out in November!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Last of the Harvest

Unfortunately, it is that time of year again. Harvesting the last of the garden. Although I continue to have some various Italian lettuce in yet (which I will need to cover at night once the temperature drops), I removed the mini gourds and cayenne peppers that were left.

Because so many of the peppers came in late, most were still green. HUGE, but green. However if I just set them out in a cool place, out of the way on a counter, they should turn red and hopefully have some heat. Once the peppers have turned, I will harvest and save some seeds then dry the peppers. After they are good and dry, into the grinder they will go to be turned into cayenne pepper powder.

I have been giving some of the cute little gourds to friends for fall decorating. Some I will dry, some I will harvest seeds from for next year.

It should be mentioned that if you use a coffee grinder to grind spices, designate that grinder for spices and herbs only. Do to the oils left behind, if you were to go ahead and grind coffee beans in it, you may find a surprise in taste. (Pepper flavored coffee anyone?)

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Shameless Self Promotion!

My latest books came out in August and September. They may be purchased from Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other major book sellers, as well as directly from the publisher Hatherleigh Press.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Taking Root

The meyer lemon tree (which is potted) had a small sprout near the base of the trunk. Needless to say, I didn't want it there so I carefully removed it. However, it looked like such the perfect little tree, that I put it into a small pot to see if it might just root as soon as I removed it from the trunk so the wound on the cutting would be fresh. (Although if necessary, the end can be snipped off again.)

Maybe it will, maybe it won't, but it is worth a try. I did try to give another piece a try earlier this summer, and it was doing fine  untill.....I forgot to bring it in during a few days of heavy rain, and it was so small, it drowned.

Do I actually need 2 lemon trees should this one take? Not really. But I can't resist the challenge. And if it is successful, then I can have 2 nice trees and lots of lemons.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

A Brief Break to Deal with Coconuts!

At the property in Florida where my parents are, a big bunch of coconuts broke off with their branch.  Although they were really not ready to harvest,  we decided to give it a go anyway to see what we would get.

We didn't do too badly. Even at this early stage, we got a bit of coconut meat and coconut water.....all of which went into the freezer.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

More Drying.......

Lots of drying going on here. This batch has a mix of green tomatoes and small ornamental peppers (which actually taste like bell pepper). The green tomatoes went into the dried tomato and bell pepper in oil mix while the ornamentals went into a good, dry container for future use.

The dried tomatoes in oil were so very good with my homemade feta cheese!

Drying is really a great way to preserve foods, especially if you have no space to store canned foods and/or are out of freezer space. Simply add water to rehydrate to a pliable form.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Seed Saving

Gathering and saving garlic chive seed.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Further Adventures in Cheese Making

As I said a few days ago, I began a quest to learn cheese making. Since there are no workshops on this subject where I am, I took it upon myself to teach myself. I've been learning a lot and having a blast as I do. I even created my own cheese recipe after a mistake making one cheese proved delicious in the end. And yes, I've replicated it!

Since the farmer cheese, I have since made feta as well, and was able to cut into my cheddar wheel (yum!). I even marinated some of my feta in oil and fresh herbs with some black olives (the only ingredient besides the oil that I did not grow or make) and some of my dried tomatoes, trying to replicate a feta mix that I love but have not been able to find any longer. I think I've hit it! (yay!)

While it should sit for a week or two, I couldn't resist and tried a piece after only a few days. It was soooo good. But it really does need to sit just a tad more.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Cheese Making

This season I decided to begin making cheese. I have actually been practicing with store purchased milk until I have gotten more comfortable with the process.

My first effort was farmer's cheese with garlic and dill. Very good crumbled onto salad or as a snack. It is a very easy cheese to make, creating the curds with vinegar.

Stay tuned for further efforts as well as some of the end results for this year's food drying.