Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Too much jam! Is that possible?

I've made just too much jam in the last week or two!  Is that possible though?  Is it possible to have toooooo much?  Well...we don't eat a whole lot of jam usually, but lately we've been eating much more than usual because its homemade and delicious.  I MIGHT not go back to store bought, but I'm not sure.  It all started a few weeks ago when we were at the farmer's market selling stuff and I wanted to go buy some strawberries.  Then, hubby said that he has a guy that he works with who has too many and that maybe we could go pick some!  So, after some arrangements we went over and we picked a whole lot of them!!!  YUM!!  And really, while I have good intentions, I'm not likely to eat them, which is disappointing.  So...I made some yummy freezer jam!  I did some searching online for a good freezer jam recipe, but some of the ones I found just used the recipes that were in the box of pectin, so that's the route I took!  (I found a neat blog about it, but I can't seem to find it now...disappointing!)

So, I got myself some pectin and some mason jars...(Oh. no.  not more mason jars!  .... nooo .... because I don't absolutely LOVE them and always want to buy more anyways .... shoot .... hehe) Note: because of all the jam I made I had to buy 2 cases of half pint jars. Oh no.... :)
Here is the kind of pectin I used, its just regular all natural blah blah blah...
Here are the oh so beautiful jars after I washed them... (p.s. I totally love these counters in this rental house-see the orange in the makes me so happy!)

Then, what you do is crush enough strawberries to get 2 cups (I don't have a blender or food processor, so I used a magic bullet type machine to crush them, it makes it more uniform and spready, only 5 pulses I think worked on each cup of berries).  We had enough berries to where I had to make 3 batches!!!  This is a double batch in this picture, but I can't remember which part in the process this was.  
Funny enough, the 3 boxes of pectin I got for the strawberries all had the same instructions in them, but the box I bought for the raspberries had a totally different insert.  I don't know why, it seems very weird!!  Anyway, for the strawberry jam, I crushed the strawberries then added the sugar (2 cups strawberries, 4 cups sugar, and one box pectin for each batch but it varies per fruit and stuff like that).  After adding the sugar, let it sit for about 10 minutes and then put water with your pectin in a saucepan and cook until it boils, let it boil for a minute then add to your crushed fruit/sugar mixture.  Stir that for 3 minutes then put into the jars and let it set on the counter-top for 24 hours.  My first double batch made about 13 half-pints, then another batch made about 7 more. So I've got about 20 jars of Strawberry freezer jam.  Is that right?  Wow!  
Here's the strawberry jam...yum!!!  
 After that turned out so good, hubby thought I should try some raspberry jam too.  So, I got some raspberries at the store.  (Someday, when we have our own house and property I hope to have my own berry patches and fruit orchard!!)  I got 2 18-ounce packages of these beautiful red raspberries at Sam's club and this is all that was left after I made one batch of raspberry jam.  Rest assured, they aren't lasting long.  I might finish up the rest with my breakfast today.  
So, I got the same box of pectin and this one had completely different directions!  Weird.  And with raspberries you have to have 3 cups of crushed fruit and 5 1/4 cups of sugar.  I thought it needed lemon juice, so I got some lemon juice too, but it didn't need it apparently.  So, you crush the berries and because raspberries have all those annoying seeds run the fruit through a sieve to get rid of the seeds otherwise it'll be annoying eating it.  (Note: I didn't do this until the pectin was cooking and it was too late, so I don't think it set up right because it sat too long.  But I don't know yet, the 24 hours isn't up yet.)  Set aside the berries then put the sugar, water and pectin in a saucepan and heat until boiling then boil for 1 minute.  Remove from heat, add the fruit and stir for one minute then put in the jars, then let them set up on the counter for 24 hours.  Because I was still removing seeds, after I boiled it for a minute it sat there for probably 3 or 5 minutes waiting for me then I added the fruit and did the rest.  But it was still hot, so I might be okay, right?  Hmm...we shall see.  But with this batch of raspberry jam I made 9 half-pints of jam!!  YUM hopefully!!  
 After all that, you put the ones you wanna eat in the fridge then the rest in the freezer.  Both can last in the fridge for 3 weeks and a year in the freezer.  I'm wondering now if I should have used the directions in the other boxes for raspberry, but I wasn't sure if this particular box was formulated differently.  Oh well, its too late now.  I read on a different recipe that if it doesn't set up after 2 weeks you can put it back on the stove and cook it some more and that will fix it, but we shall see.  I'm excited to have too much jam!  Its really good on English scones.  YUM!!  What else should I use it on?  Toast...I've heard ice cream...and because I'm kinda weird, bread and milk....(wow, I haven't had that in a loooong time...)

Any other ideas???
Grand total jam count?  29 jars!!  Holy cow!  So yummy though!!  No regrets!
xoxo, c

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Planet Earth worm project part 1

So, I'm taking an online Planet Earth geography class and its pretty interesting so far!  We have to be part of the Great Lakes Worm Watch project and eventually collect and preserve worms, which I'm pretty excited about funnily enough.  We have to do 3 different plots  (13"x13") for the class which I've chosen around the yard.  I'm thinking (IF I am feeling ambitious) that maybe I'll go to the forest area near my house and see what I can find out there. We will see!

I'm going to learn all sorts of cool things so you might get some weird facts (I might as well, its something interesting to blog about and I'm pretty excited!!).  Like these two: first, did you know that worms are not a native species to the United States and that they actually can hurt the forest floor by being there and doing their thing?  And two, earthworms CAN live in water for many months because they "breathe" through their skin.  WEIRD!  I didn't think they could! Awesome!!

As part of the first part of this assignment we had to take pictures of us by our plots and turn them in.  Here are mine!  hehe...Here is plot 1, I'm calling it "north of house."
 Here is plot 2: garden corner.
 And plot 3: west field corner.
(Hopefully, you can also see that we have corn growing in the field this year!  We are so super excited about it!  Its probably about 6-8 inches tall now, I think, but I might be wrong.)

We had to get the longitude and latitude for the locations of our plots too, so I got to use and do it that way because I don't have a handheld GPS.  Man, this is really cool! (That, or I'm a super dork! But I'm happy either way!)

I remember when I was young that we would collect worms.  I'm not sure why, I'll find out and get back to you.  But we used to pour this liquid stuff on the ground and the worms would come right up and we'd grab them and put them in containers I think.  I think that's why this project is so fun, it reminds me of things in my childhood and I'm not squeamish about picking them up either. Whenever I find some I always grab them and give them to the chickens!
Anyway, I best be getting to bed.  Talk to you soon!
xoxo, C

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Quick-ish update!

Hi Everyone!  Sorry its been really really long since I have posted has been really busy lately!!  

I started going to school again full time back in January, I took 5 classes for the spring semester and had a quick 2 week break in between.  I think I did pretty good, I got As and Bs, which is really nice, especially after being out of school for so long!!  Hopefully I can keep it up for the next 2 years.  I'm not sure if I told you, but I'm going to school for accounting!  Yay!...because its so exciting.  But I think it'll be a good move for me, hopefully, and if I decide to not do anything with accounting then at least I'll have a business degree and be able to do something with it.  :) I just started summer semester a couple of days ago and I am taking 3 classes (because you can only take 3 during the summer apparently-its only 10 weeks instead of 17, so they cram in a whole bunch of work in those weeks, so it kind of makes sense but kind of messes up my plan).  

I don't know if any of you know (which I think all of my family and some of my friends know), but we started a metal cut out business!  Yay!  The web site address is and we are Facebook as Cochin Creations.  I put the new stuff we are making on Facebook, so that is more updated than the web site.  The web site also has some issues that I'm still trying to work through, but it'll work for now until I have time to play with it again!  I learned the css and html coding from a tutorial that I found on youtube and I got a free program where you can design web sites and publish them through it.  I started out using Adobe Dreamweaver, but it ended up costing money and my free trial ran out! So I got Microsoft Expression Web 4 and it has been working really well.  There is still a lot of stuff I don’t know how to do, so hopefully that will come with time.  But it shows our pictures and it shows what we can do, so it’ll work for now.  We have been doing the local farmer’s market and also a farmer’s market about 25 miles away.  One is Saturday mornings and the other is every other week on Sunday mornings.  This weekend we get to do both, so it won’t be much of a weekend! Ugh, but we’ve been doing pretty well and its kinda fun to see what you can come up with and be creative and everything!  We will see how things go as time goes on!  :)

Also!!  The sweet little chickens turned a year old the other day!!!  I can’t believe it!  I would have taken pictures, but the gnats out here have been just so bad that they hang out in their coop all day because they are so annoying!  I don’t blame them, I stay inside too and when the gnats are swarming around you when you are out there you kind of want to freak out and run away from them.  Yikes!  Yes…they are that annoying!!  Stupid gnats.  I can’t believe that they are one year old already!  We still have all 13, they are laying up a storm, happy as ever (I think).  Except I haven’t been letting them out out (so they can play in the yard and in my garden) for some reason, but I think with the gnats about they are okay with that. 

I’m afraid that is about it…hubby has been working hard and doing well I think…he’s been sent on a couple of business trips, which I think he enjoyed a little bit.  We had both of our birthdays and our 10 year anniversary last month!  I can’t believe we are as old as we are and have been married for 10 years!  Holy cow!!!  Also, I think I have decided not to grow a garden this year.  But I'm still slightly on the fence about it.  I want to grow some stuff, mostly for the chickens.  I don't know! 

I think that is about it…I’m not sure what else is new or interesting…I better get some homework done before work! 


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Quick update and rant about recycling

Two things, a quickie update and a little rant.
First, I have lots and lots of great pictures to show you about the chickens and what we've been up to lately.  I'm sooooooo sorry that it has been over two months since I have posted anything.  I've been so busy and haven't taken the chance to do it. :( Please forgive me?

School is going pretty good, there is only 3 weeks left in this semester, then I have 2 weeks off before the summer semester starts!  Also, in 3 weeks, I'll be getting my braces off finally!  So Popcorn and Snickers bars and nuts and gum and everything else I love, here I come!!!  I'm super excited! It has only been 3 1/2 years!  Hubby is doing good, the chickens are doing good, somehow they all survived the harshest winter Iowa has seen in many years!  So glad we all made it!  I've been busy still working at the store, its pretty good.  I really really miss working in an office environment, so I've been looking a little bit here and there for a different job, but nothing as of yet.  I thought I had a job at a publishing company here in town, but they ended up finding someone with more experience.  Oh well! At least I have a job!  And it will work pretty good while going to school too.

That is about all I can think of at the moment, I'll try to update you with more information and pictures of the little babies soon (the chickens of course).

AND NOW...The rant.
I was going to put this on Facebook, but I figured I'd get too many opinions and I really didn't want to argue with people about it so I'll do it here instead!

I finally finished a stupid Global Business paper. Yay!  I think it turned out alright.

I don't usually do this, but I'm going to rant for a minute.  Ok, so you know on the bottles and cans where it says IA 5 cents! You think that you get 5 cents for the bottle right? So its a good deal, right? NO!  You have to pay the 5 cents when you buy the stupid plastic bottle or can on top of the cost of the product.  Then, if you want your stupid 5 cents back you have to take it all into one of the centers in a store and stand it all up nicely in a little box and then you get your money back (you can't crush your cans either so they take up less space and you can't put them in a 12 pack box and hand it in that way...noooo!!!).  I hate being forced into recycling, granted I CAN choose not to take it in, its completely optional and its only 5 cents, but I want my money back!  I think it is the stupidest thing ever to make people recycle like that. it literally makes me mad to have to go through the whole process.  First, I feel like an idiot taking bags of cans and bottles in the store in a cart, then it takes for EVER to put them in the boxes, and then you get $1.25 back for all that work.  Whoop-de-doo.  I love recycling, in fact, we have more recycling than garbage.  I just don't think they should pre-charge me for it and take my money like that.

xoxo C

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Goodies and Treatmaking...

Well, it has been quite a while since I last posted something...I am so sorry!
As far as updates, I'm finishing up my 4th week of my first semester back into school.  So far so good, I think.  Some of the classes are pretty lame, but that's to be expected, others are pretty interesting!  I'm still working at the same grocery store bakery, packaging wonderful deliciousness a little bit each week, and in order to get more hours, I've started bouncing departments, so I'll spend some time in the Health Market department and some in the Bakery.  I think the health market part suits me a little better because I spent 3 and a half years working at the health food store in Utah, so I have lots of experience with those products (the health market is mostly organic stuff and weird stuff like that).  It is really okay that I don't get too many hours, I have a lot of homework to do and hubby and I have been busy building some stuff.  Also, yesterday I had a regular orthodontist appointment, he checked the braces out and all looks good...AAAAAAAAND...we scheduled the date to get MY BRACES OFF!!!!  The special day will be May 14!!!  YAAAY!!! Happy anniversary and birthdays to us!! :) I've got my list of things I'm going to eat when they are off all ready! Yay!
Hubby is doing really good, he's been working hard!  I think right now he is working on Feller Bunchers...I don't know much about what he's doing with that, but there we are. :)

So, here are some pictures and recipes of things that I've been making....YUM!! Brace yourself, there is a lot of deliciousness coming your way.... hehe! (yes, I should be doing homework instead of posting these.... and if anyone wants the recipes for these post a comment in the comments and I'll put it up).
Okay...first, I made some soft pretzels!  They were pretty good!!  We added some wheat flour to make them a little bit healthier!  I think they might even be low carb, but I can't remember exactly. 
OH MY GOSH.  These are Swedish Pancakes.  Similar to German pancakes but they are a bit different.  I love these sooooo much.  I think I made them 3 times last week!!!  The recipe is so simple too!  (Yes, I've almost memorized it...)  I half the recipe, which then makes 2 servings and I can eat the whole pan with no leftovers...haha!  YUM!  I added cinnamon to it too so you get that beautiful little crust and added flavor on top...ah man..I should have had that for breakfast today instead of toast and a banana....
With....homemade maple syrup!  I've never made homemade maple syrup before now, but I don't think I'll go back to regular.  And I finally got to use the adorable little pitcher I got from Ikea before we moved (sad that its a little chipped...).
It is soo good though, and I love how thin it is, I feel like it goes a lot further than regular Mrs. Butterworth does.  And I feel like it has more flavor too...This recipe calls for 1 cup of granulated sugar, 1 cup of brown sugar, 1 cup of water and 1 Tablespoon of maple flavoring.  So easy and Yum!  It makes about 2 cups of syrup.  A friend of mine's mom uses the same recipe but adds another cup of water to the recipe, not a bad idea.  Plus it would make the syrup go further! :) I might do that next time!
I also made some bread-sticks.  I deviated from my usual bread-stick recipe to try these "olive garden" bread-sticks.  They were pretty good, we really liked the texture of these but I felt like my other recipe has more flavor.  So a week or so later I tried them again and added basil, Parmesan cheese and some other stuff to them and they were pretty good!  They may not look too appealing, but they were good!
OH...and cinnamon rolls.  YUM-O!  I got this recipe for quick and easy cinnamon rolls from a friend and have made them a couple of times so far.  The recipe for icing that came with it though, I wasn't too sure about.  Before now, I haven't really met an icing recipe that I liked that didn't taste like powdered sugar.  I found this recipe for icing with another cinnamon roll recipe that I really liked!  So I used friend's cinnamon roll dough recipe and my new favorite icing recipe.
The icing calls for cream cheese, hot water, butter, powdered sugar and vanilla (I think..), it is really good!  BUT...if you can hold yourself back and possibly wait...they taste better the next day! So...really, if your like us, what you can do is eat a bunch that day and then eat the rest the following day. Yep, I think you should do that. 
And finally....chocolate frosted peanut butter bars.  Yes! I believe the recipe I followed is supposed to resemble the peanut butter bars many of us got when we were in school back in the good old days.  Oh...they're so delicious.  I think my peanut butter cookie could have been a bit thinner, so maybe next time I make them I will split the dough up between two pans.  
I put them in the freezer after a few days when I realized we wouldn't be able to eat them all before they went bad, so we've got some in the freezer!  Yum.
What deliciousness have you been making lately? :)

Friday, January 17, 2014

Chicken Snow Angels

Well, we have had maybe 2 or 3 warm days (35 ish degrees outside) the last couple of weeks and I decided to let the chickens out of their coop for a little bit to get some fresh air while I was getting them some food and water one day.  I think they were so excited to be able to run free again that they didn't realize what the white stuff was.  So they flew out into the field and this is as far as they got.  They got out there and stayed put.  But I guess they wanted to make their own snow angels, too, so I let them sit there for a little bit.  Eventually, I had to go and pick them up and put them back into the coop.  Silly chickens!!
 Here are the snow angels they left behind, along with a present or two.

They are so fun!  I wish it wasn't so darn cold outside, then they wouldn't have to be stayed cooped up all the time, it makes me feel bad! But I really don't want them to freeze!!!  Maybe I'm too protective of my babies.... (probably)

I have been trying some new recipes lately...these are some Sunflower Parmesan crackers!  My first attempt at making crackers, ever!
The recipe called for 1 cup of sunflower seeds, 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese and 1/4 cup of water. Grind the seeds and parmesan together til its like flower then add in the water until it makes a sort of dough.  Its pretty greasy (natural oils from the sunflowers I suppose).  Then flatten it between two sheets of parchment on a baking sheet, score them into squares or whatever but leave them where they are.  Bake for half an hour and then take out of the oven and break apart to cool.  They were okay.  If they would have been thinner they would have had more crunch to them, but they were alright.  They look a little bit like Golden Grahams, don't they?  Yum!  I wish they were Golden Grahams!! :)  I have a recipe for almond butter crackers that uses almond meal, I might have to try that one, they look really good!  Thank you, Pinterest!

I also tried this other recipe from Pinterest that I found, its for crepes.
Initially, I was pretty nervous to make crepes, but after the first couple I had the hang of it pretty well!  I still don't know what I'm going to use them for, but we have some now!  I tried some the other night with some blueberry cream cheese and strawberry jam.  I think it would have been better if it was plain cream cheese rather than blueberry, the flavors just seemed kinda weird.

Annd...last but not least, this is what was happening outside our house.  This is where the exhaust comes out from our furnace.
That's a pretty sweet icicle... (icicle? That looks like its spelled weird!)
Anyway, I better get ready to go, I'm meeting a guy to get an office chair off of craigslist.  I need a good office chair, don't I?  School starts on Tuesday!!!  I'm so excited!!!!  (kinda nervous too...) Anywho...
xoxo   c

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Happy Hatch Day: 7-ish months!

First, the chickens just turned 7 months old!  I have some not very pretty pictures for you to see! Mostly because its been pretty cold for a little while now and -20° the last few days.  Holy Cow!!! I am not suited for this kind of cold!  But we are surviving, not to worry.  Today, however, it warmed up to 3° today! It kind of felt nice, which is funny because that's still really cold.  I was just happy that the air wasn't trying to eat my face.  And the fun part is, we had a pretty good ice storm a couple of weeks ago then it snowed quite a bit, so there was all sorts of snow hanging out on top of the ice, so when the snow melts (or blows back in the driveway because of the wind) you can see the awful layer of ice underneath it.  We also had a nice warm day one day when it got into the late 30s and everything started melting so there were puddles in the driveway.  Then, of course, it got really cold again so the puddles froze.  Now our driveway has a really nice giant layer of ice. I hope all that makes sense.  The good news though, this weekend its supposed to get up to 35° to 39°!  It'll be a heat wave, so nice!  And the following week so far should be in the late 20s.  Not too shabby.  

Well, 9 out of 9 eggs that I picked up yesterday from the chickens were frozen and cracked in half. Because I didn't want to eat them, I boiled them along with a bunch of yolks from last weekend. They got quite the pile of stuff today!  The two muffin things were an experiment that didn't work out.  But they eat them, so I'll feed it to them rather than throw it away.  :)
Here is the thermometer showing that it is 0° outside.  Holy Cow!  Just terrible, but it rose to 0, it was about -20 this morning...
When I went to see the chickens and give them the delicious pile of eggs I looked out into the field and saw some turkeys!  There were 6, you can't see them very clearly, but its pretty cool that they are in our backyard.
 ANNDD....Here are the chickens!  The first fresh air and daylight that they have seen in weeks.  Poor babies.

Here is after I gave them the eggs!  They were in love!
Here is Basil's and his comb...after the frostbite and the fights, here is what we have.  There aren't the traditional ripples since they disappeared, but it still looks pretty good.
Here is Parker and his comb.  Man, he's a good lookin' chicken...look at the blue in his feathers on his chest.  Gosh.  His comb is also smoothing out, but still has some remnants and seems dirty too.
Also, one of my red sex link hens is getting a black comb...Hopefully it heals or something...

My poor baby chickens...They will be super excited when it starts warming up!  I'm super excited to let them out again and not worry about their little faces freezing off!