Monday, May 5, 2014

Soft Pretzels

There's nothing better than a soft pretzel! Every time I make these, they are gone right away! They are very easy to make with little effort.  Serve with a cheese sauce or even cream cheese.

Soft Pretzels 
Yield 16 pretzels

2 cups warm water
3 Tbl sugar
1 pkg dry active yeast
4-5 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1/4 baking soda
3-4 cups water
Egg wash (1 egg + 2 tbl water)
Sea Salt
1. Turn oven light on and keep door closed.  This will keep the oven at 85* and will give you a warm place to allow pretzels to rise.
2. In a non-metal bowl, whisk yeast, sugar, and warm water.
3. Place in oven and allow to sit 5 minutes until the yeast is bubbly.
4. In your stand mixer with the dough hook, add the flour and the salt.  Mix together.
5. Add yeast and mix until until dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl.
6. Place dough in a large bowl and lightly cover with a towel or plastic wrap.  Place in oven and allow to rise until doubled in size, approx. 1 hour.
7. Bring baking soda and water to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer.
8. Divide dough into 16 pieces.
9. Roll each piece of dough into an 16" rope and form into pretzel shape.
10. Using a large slotted spoon, dip each pretzel into the baking soda water.
11. Place on a lightly greased baking sheet and allow to rise for 15 minutes in oven.
12. Remove from oven and preheat oven to 450*
13.  Brush each pretzel with egg wash and sprinkle with sea salt
14. Bake pretzels for 13 minutes, until lightly browned.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Wild Violet Jelly

Did you know you could make jelly from wild violets,  the pretty little purple "weeds" that grow in your yard every spring?  You can!  And let me tell you, it's good!  It has a very unique taste that is hard to describe.  It doesn't have a floral taste like you might think.

Wild violets also have numerous health benefits! They are high in vitamins A, C, bioflavonoids, calcium, and magnesium.  The leaves can be used for skin rashes, sore and swollen joints, eczema, digestive problems, bruises, made into a cough syrup, used as a laxative, sore throats, arthritis, and they are a natural diuretic with cleansing properties!  You can read more about that HERE. I'm going to post an old recipe from my great grandmother on how to make a salve from the leaves sometime later next week, so be sure to check back!

In addition to the health benefits of wild violets, you can also use the flowers to be visually appealing in different food dishes.  Toss a few flowers into a green leafy salad with a balsamic vinaigrette dressing for a pop of color.  You can also put the flowers in ice cube trays, fill with water, and freeze to have ice cubes with little violets inside every cube.  Or, fill the trays with white wine and freeze to enjoy in a glass of wine!  Put a few of the flowers on top of a cake to add a touch of elegance.  The possibilities are just endless!!

To make the jelly, you only use the purple flowers.  Look how pretty they all look in a bowl!

Violet Jelly
3 cups violet flowers
3 cups water
approx 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
4 cups sugar
1 box pectin
6 half pint jars

1. Collect and rinse violet flowers
2. Bring water to a boil and add violets.
3. Allow violets to steep overnight in water.
4. Strain liquid through a sieve, discard flowers.  It will be a blueish liquid like this:
5. Add enough apple cider to bring the liquid back up to 3 cups.  It will turn from the blueish color to a pretty purple color:
6. In a medium sized pot, add liquid and stir in pectin
7. Bring the liquid to a boil.
8. Add the sugar.
9. Return to a full boil and boil for 2 minutes.  Make sure to continuously be stirring to prevent scorching.
10. Ladle hot jelly into half pint jars.
11. Process in a water canner for 10 minutes.
12. Allow jelly to sit so it will set up, do not move or disturb.
Yield 6 half pint jars

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Canning Pineapples

I recently found pineapples on sale for $1.50 each at the local grocery store, so I decided to can them! They are very simple to do if you have basic canning knowledge and the basic equipment. The home canned pineapples taste so much better than the ones you buy in the store!!

10 pineapples gave me 24 pints of chunked pineapples. You first need to decide what kind of liquid you wish to can the pineapples in: water, unsweetened pineapple juice, light syrup, medium syrup, or a heavy syrup. I chose to do mine in a medium syrup which is a 2:1 ratio of water to sugar. It took 18 cups of water and 9 cups of sugar to make my 24 pints.

First, you want to take the rind off the pineapples, the top, core out the center and cut into chunks. I bought a pineapple corer, but decided it was a lot of work twisting the corer down to the bottom, plus I feel it left a lot of fruit behind. Here's a photo:
If you were ever going to have a party and wanted to serve drinks out of real pineapples, then this would be a great tool to have!
I just ended up using a sharp, serrated knife.

Next, bring your liquid of choice to a boil (plus sugar if using). Allow it to simmer while putting the pineapples in jars. You want to pack them in, but don't stuff them. Taking a ladle, ladle the liquid into the jars, leaving 1/2" head space. Put the lids on the jars and process in a water bath canner for 15 minutes.

It's really just that easy! Stored in a cool, dry place, the pineapples should last 12-18 months.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Checking In!

I cannot believe it's been 3 years since I have posted on here! I've been thinking for a while of getting back into the habit. I know it's hard to believe, but Jaiden is 9 and Arya will be 7 in May! Time has gone by so fast!
Arya is on the left and Jaiden is on the right. They recently took part in a local craft fair selling Rainbow Loom bracelets.

I have completely quit doing any crafts and haven't sewn anything in a long time. I kinda got burnt out with it and haven't had a desire to begin again. I got rid of all my crafting supplies, but have held onto a lot of my fabric and sewing machine. I have become really interested in photography and have been working to better my skills.

We're still working on the never ending saga of remodeling our house! I am happy to report that we are almost finished! We have had a hard time trying to find someone to do the work for us. We have 8 different people come over to work and never show back up. It's almost impossible to find a dependable person in construction who is dependable and doesn't charge a fortune!

I hope to post again on a somewhat regular basis. I've got recipes, canning tips, upcycling projects, and general items I want to share. I canned 24 pints of pineapples yesterday and I plan on sharing the recipe and tips next week. So....Until then!