Archive for April, 2018

The Best Ever Egg Salad

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

 

Now that the days are becoming longer my girls are ramping up the egg production.  It’s a blessing and a curse (of sorts) with my unpredictable work schedule.  I get to have fresh free range eggs for all my recipes, but in some weeks I have way more eggs than I can use.  Nice problem, right!

There are many ways to use excess eggs.  There are quiches or frittatas; custards and curds; or breakfast for dinner.  Some people even swear by freezing eggs for omelets or baking.  That’s a tad unappealing to me, though.

Our favorite way of using up excess eggs has always been good old fashioned egg salad.

Whether it was used for sandwiches or served heaped on top of crackers, it was the “go-to” take along for volleyball tournaments, weekend sheep shows, or just day tripping up the coast on a beautiful weekend.  I remember my DD’s volleyball team “always” requested egg salad sandwiches for their away games and we never left for a livestock show without a pack of finger sandwiches for road trip snacks.  Good thing I had 20 hens, and two large stock pots for boiling all those eggs!

Not only is egg salad a nutritious, protein packed alternative to other options, it’s also super easy to make and easy to pack in a small ice chest.

I’ve heard people say they don’t like egg salad because the eggs always taste a bit rubbery.  This would be true if the eggs were boiled too long, becoming overcooked.  But—I have covered on that.

 

A Foolproof Way to Boil Eggs

 

1.)  Place eggs in the bottom of a large stock pot.  The eggs go in first because they can break if you drop them in.  They can also crack if you drop them in hot water.

2.)  Fill pot with water to cover eggs by an inch or two.

3.)  Place pot on the stove over high heat.

4.)  Bring water to a rolling boil.

5.)  Remove pan from the stove and put a lid on the pot.

6.)  Let stand for 15 to 18 minutes.

7.)  Drain eggs and immediately plunge them into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process.  (This is why eggs get rubbery. They are over cooked)

Once the eggs are completely cooled they can be peeled.

 

Now you’re ready to make the best egg salad you’ve ever tasted!

 

The Best Ever Egg Salad Recipe

 

12 hardboiled eggs

1/3 cup mayonnaise (I prefer mayo over salad dressing)

2 Tbsp. yellow mustard

2 Tbsp. sweet pickle relish

Pepper to taste

The finished salad can be spooned over bread to make a sandwich, or topped on crackers.

 

BTW—this same recipe can be used for making deviled eggs, too.  Simply cut the hardboiled eggs in half length-wise.  Scoop out the yolks and mix with the mayo, mustard, relish and pepper, adjusting the amounts to fit the number of yolks you have.  Spoon the mixture into the hollow and lightly sprinkle with sweet paprika.

Sanitizing Seed Starting Pots

Saturday, April 14, 2018

 

For decades I’ve been a huge fan of pots; like my love of galvanized watering cans, it borders on a slight obsession.

Old mossy green pots that look like they have been used in a garden shed for a hundred years. The one’s covered in a lovely patina that harken you back to Victorian era gardens, or at least Victorian era garden shows.

With my yearlong funk over and the weather finally turning warm I have been antsy to get some seeds started, to feel the soil between my fingers and inhale the sweet smell of warm, damp earth so fragrant in spring.

I literally haven’t touched a plant in almost a year. Saying I’m eager to get back to gardening is actually a huge understatement. So I dug out my box of seeds to see what I had in the way of flower seeds and found Hollyhocks, Poppies, Bachelor Buttons and Nasturtiums.  Then it was off to the greenhouse to gather my pots. That’s when I discovered…I have no seed starting soil.  Great!

I also realized that my collection of seed starting pots had also been sitting collecting dust and God knows what else for the past year.  This was not good.

When you go through a funk many things fall by the wayside.

I was determined not to be thwarted in my newfound vigor to get my hands in the garden.  So, I decided to clean and sanitize the pots and let them dry while I went to town to buy the supplies I needed to make my seed starting soil.

I set up my cleaning station in the sink of my greenhouse, along with a few scrub brushes for scrubbing mystery gunk.

 

Sanitizing your seed starting pots

 

There’s really no magic trick to doing this, honestly, but I do have a few words from years of experience—Don’t Use Bleach!  It’s hard on your hands and fingernails, stinks like the devil and it makes your hands slimy—yuck.  The better alternative is good old fashioned, common as hell, cheap3% hydrogen peroxide.  Yep, you got it.  Don’t fuss around and over think this, just buy the cheapest stuff you can find.  I get mine from Big Lots for less than $1.00 per bottle and have several bottles on hand for wounds (human and animal), household cleaning solutions, detoxing baths and you got it…sanitizing garden pots.

 

Here’s how I cleaned and sanitized my pots.

 

One:  I filled my tub with water and a bit of anti-bacterial liquid soap.

Two:  I brushed off all residual soil and grime, and, in my case, cobwebs and dead bugs.

Three:  I then scrubbed the pots in the soapy water to remove any crusted on soil, and to clean and disinfect them.

Four:  Lastly, I poured a bottle of hydrogen peroxide into a shallow wash pan and added about a quart of water. Then I bathed each pot in the peroxide solution before setting them on the rack to dry.

 

Why do I use hydrogen peroxide instead of bleach?

 

Simple.  Bleach can soak into the clay pots and be leached out when the planted pots are watered, killing the seedling.  Because the peroxide has beneficial properties, is diluted, but still strong enough to sanitize, it won’t hurt the plants.

You can also use this process on plastic pots, pony packs and seed trays. Just soak them and let them air dry.

If you’re in a hurry you can also spray each pot with regular white vinegar.  If you’re really concerned about fungus or bacteria, give your cleaning process the one-two punch by soaking the pots in the peroxide solution before spraying them with vinegar. That combo will kill just about anything.

This process took a bit longer than I had hoped because I was cleaning dozens of pots. By the time I got to town to buy my seed starter ingredients I was in no mood to spend the afternoon mixing soils. It was time for some instant gratification, meaning I purchased premixed seed starter soil.

I know, I know.

But, I can be a lazy homesteader for a day, can’t I?

The Best Molasses Cookies EVER!

Saturday, April 7, 2018

 

This is no joke. Just wait til you try them!

 

In the small town of Franklin, just south of Nashville, sits a small locally owned bakery and café that will rival any grandmother’s kitchen!  Their baked goods–pies, cakes, scones, muffins and cookies will put even the best baker to shame.  I stop by for lunch, tea or just to grab a sweet treat each time I visit my sister, and often times this includes a few of Merridee’s giant molasses cookies.  I know what you’re thinking…but, the calories!  Calorie’s be damned when cookies taste this good.

I spent last Christmas in Franklin and of course we stopped by many times for tea and treats.  I was fortunate enough to get the recipe a few days before I left.  When I got home I just had to make a batch for myself.  They turned out fantastic and the recipe is super easy.  The cookies bake up crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside, just the way a cookie should be.

Try them for yourself. You won’t be disappointed, I promise.

 

Best Ever Molasses Cookies

¾ cup shortening (half butter)

1 cup granulated sugar

¼ cup molasses

1 egg

2 teaspoons baking soda

½ teaspoon ground cloves

2 cups all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon salt

 

Melt shortening in a 3 or 4 quart saucepan over low heat. Remove from heat; let cool. Add sugar, molasses and egg. Beat well. Sift together dry ingredients and add, all at once, to the sugar, molasses mixture. Mix until well blended (the dough will be stiff, so don’t panic). Chill at least one hour.

Form dough into 1-inch balls, roll in granulated sugar and place on greased cookie sheet 1-inch apart. Bake at 375°F for 8-10 minutes; just until set and lightly browned. They should be crunchy and chewy when cool.  Makes about 2 dozen.  Store in a lidded container, so they don’t dry out.

The only change I made to the recipe was rolling them in vanilla sugar, because I had some on hand and I wanted to try it out.  YUM!

I also used a small ice cream or sorbet scope to form the balls, which made forming the balls easier and the cookies all came out the same size.

 

Image result for merridee's breadbasket

The Penny Prayer

Sunday, April 1, 2018

This story was told at my church a week ago, and I wanted to share it with you all.

 

A man was walking down the street when he came upon a penny lying on the ground. As he bent over to pick it up he said a little prayer of gratitude for the beautiful day; the bright blue sky and the warm sun in which to take his walk.  He stood still looking at the penny in the palm of his hand and reflecting on his prayer.  He decided that from then on he would say a little prayer every time he found a penny or took one out of his pocket. 

 

So—for the next 45-years, whenever he took pennies out of his pocket at the end of the day, or found one on the ground he said a little prayer; sometimes a grateful prayer, sometimes a thankful prayer, and sometime praying for a friend or family member. 

 

Each night when he came home he would put his pennies a dish on his dresser. As the dish filled up he switched a jar, which turned into a jug before the penny collection made its way to 5-gallon buckets.  As the years went by he collected more than five buckets full of pennies until one day he decided to take them to the bank.  It took the Tellers over 5 hours to run the pennies through the counting machine.

 

When they were finished counting, the man had more than $5,000 dollars’ worth of pennies.  The Teller was amazed, exclaiming “that’s a lot of money”! 

 

The older man just looked at the Teller and smiled before saying “no dear, that’s a lot of prayers”, “many of which have been answered”.

 

Who said there is no value in a penny?