Wednesday, July 9, 2014

How to Freeze Rhubarb {Dry or Wet Pack}

 Oh sweet rhubarb...how I love thee.
I had a dear neighbor give us a whole PILE of rhubarb and decided I would freeze it to use this winter. 
 I also made a delicious Strawberry Rhubarb Cobbler for dessert that night, too.
Topped with a dollop of vanilla Greek yogurt... it was heavenly!


To Freeze Rhubarb:

1. Choose firm, tender, well colored stalks of rhubarb.
2. Wash thoroughly with cold or lukewarm water.


 3. Rhubarb varieties vary. If yours has a tough outer skin, just peel it off starting at the top. You can tell if it has a skin... it peels easily.




 5. Next, remove the ends of the rhubarb and cut into 1/2 inch pieces.


 6. Blanch the rhubarb pieces in boiling water for 1 minute. 
Promptly put it into ice water to retain color and flavor. 
This is especially helpful if you will be storing the rhubarb for many months.




 7. You can dry or wet pack Rhubarb. Wet pack involves freezing it in a honey, fruit juice, or sugar solution....which is best for long term storage.

 FOR DRY PACK:
Ladle the rhubarb into freezer bags, squeezing out any air. You can use a vacuum sealer or a straw. Simply seal the bag, leaving space for the straw and then suck out remaining air. Seal tight.

FOR WET PACK:
Rhubarb can be packed in a solution of sugar and water to help preserve color and flavor.
You only need enough solution to cover the fruit: about 1 cup per quart. 
It is not added as a preservative, but rather prevents browning and prevents drying.
Peach, white grape, or apple juice are good alternatives to processed sugar.

I researched most of my information from this site, and thought their information on sugar syrups was very helpful... 

Sugar Syrups
 
Type of SyrupSugarWaterYield
Fruit juice (peach, apple or white grape)004 cups
Stevia (or if you prefer, Splenda) (2 cups)06 cups6 cups
Light sugar2 cups6 cups7 cups
Medium sugar3 cups6 cups7.2 cups
Heavy sugar4 cups6 cups7.4 cups

If you are using fruit juice, you don't need to prepare anything. Just use it straight out of the bottle!

To prepare sugar or stevia syrups, just add to the water slowly heating on the stove.
Stir it constantly until everything is dissolved and then remove from heat.
Let it cool before adding it to the fruit.
 9. Put rhubarb and solution in a large bowl together and mix completely.
10. Ladle into freezer bags and eliminate any air.


To use, just set on the counter for a couple of hours or in the refrigerator overnight.
You will want to drain the wet pack before use.

If you are CRAVING rhubarb...you have to try this Gluten Free Strawberry Rhubarb Cobbler.
Oh, it is sooo good!



Enjoy!

~Julia

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Fourth of July Bunting

*I am re-posting this great tutorial....just in case you are looking for a last minute 4th of July craft. They make sweet little hostess gifts if you are spending the Fourth with friends!


The Fourth of July is one of my all time favorite holidays.
Spending the day celebrating our great country and all of its freedom is such a privilege.
Hot dogs grilling, sparklers at dusk, the kids swimming all day, and sitting on our back porch with blankets at night to watch all of the fireworks across the valley top it off for me:)

I wanted to make a little bunting to hang for the festivities, and came up with this...



Yes...I used pom-poms again.
I can't resist!
I just love that it gives the garland a little bling for the Fourth of July.
You could also add jute webbing...which I happened to have on hand.


Would you like to make one, too?
It is super simple and there is no sewing involved.


I gathered what I had on hand:
jute webbing
ticking fabric
buttons
pom pom fringe
rick rack
and a glue gun

I cut about 5-6 feet of the pom-
 pom fringe and removed the poms where I was going to place the little flags.


You could also use rick rack...it would look so darling!

I ripped {on the seam} ticking fabric in strips about 10 inches long by 4 inches wide.
Just leave the edges raw...it adds to the charm.
I cut a little "V" at the bottom.

To attach, just evenly space them and use a little hot glue to secure.



I like to fold the ends of the rick rack or pom pom fringe over and put a little dab of glue to finish the edge.


You could add more embellishment, like the just webbing if you want.
Lately, I have seen many people using the jute on buntings and thought it was such a wonderful idea:).
Red, white, and blue...perfect!
Just cut to fit and then glue them on the same way.
Buttons would be cute, too!



That is it!
The bunting is so fast and easy to make and a festive addition to any room:).  

Have a great day!
~Julia

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Hospitality in Your Heart...for Your Children


I read something by Ann Voskamp yesterday and it struck my heart.
"There is hospitality... making a safe place inside of you for a child."

It got me thinking...do I really provide a safe place in my heart for my own children?




Hospitality is easy to give to others, but my own little brood??
They have probably seen the best and worst in me many days...

I think too often we look at our mistakes in parenting and then focus on the negative.
I should have done this...I could have responded better...or I really messed up that conversation.
More and more I have come to realize that this parenting thing has copious amounts of God's grace.
He was the first to love me and the first to love my children.
My relationship with my children is a direct reflection of my closeness to God.
You see, creating that space in your heart is all about moving the excess junk crowding and filling it with God's grace.

Grace is forgiveness.
Grace is calm.
Grace is openness and peacefulness.
Grace is comfort when they hurt.
Grace is coming to the Lord before I speak and covering my children with the warmth of that kind of love.
Grace is listening...really listening.



I have teens and sometimes emotions run rather high.
Keeping perspective and responding with a calm manner has been something I have come by the hard way.
I never expected to fall flat on my face so much as a parent.
Some days, I feel like a toddler learning how to walk!
How I respond to my mistakes is what creates hospitality in my heart for my children.
They see I'm human, and how you should fix wrongs.


Giving them my full attention when they are talking.
Being a good listener.
There is hospitality at it's finest.


Accepting them at their best and worst, and knowing that sometimes their behavior is just how they may be coping with something.
Giving them a relationship based on openness and trust.
This is hospitality.

Spending TIME....down time...with them.
Engaging them in whatever you are doing in the moment.
That is hospitality.

The success in parenting these gifts given to us is in the way we change to meet needs. 
Oh, how my heart has been transformed over and over through trials!
That kind of love....the love that forms to mold each child's needs....that is the heart full of hospitality.
That is the heart that creates a warm and inviting place for your child to find rest and peace.


I hope you are having a lovely summer so far!

~Julia


Friday, June 27, 2014

Strawberry Rhubarb Cobbler {Gluten and Sugar Free}...Perfect 4th of July Dish!

That time of the year is upon us.
A day to celebrate our country with red, white, and blue waving proudly.
We are, of course, in the middle of the busiest time of year with haying.
This quick and simple dessert is sooo healthy for you, and comes together fast if you are in a hurry.
I love that.
And can you believe it has NO sugar or gluten?
Your taste buds will thank you.
I pinky promise.
It's scrumptious...and super-duper slimming!


STRAWBERRY RHUBARB COBBLER
{serves about 10}

*About 4 cups sliced strawberries {if using frozen thaw and drain}

*About 4 cups rhubarb, cut into 1/2 inch pieces {if using frozen thaw and drain}

*1 cup erythritol sweetener OR another sugar substitute. Erythritol is one of the safest sugar substitutes and can be bought here.

*2 TBS cornstarch OR  1 TBS glucomannan powder {konjac root powder which is very healthy and acts as a gel/binder}...you can buy here.

*1 tsp. orange extract

For topping:
1 cup almond flour
1 cup sliced almonds
1.5 cups oatmeal
3/4 cup erythritol
1 TBS. cinnamon
pinch of salt
3/4 cup butter OR 1/2 cup coconut butter {in health food stores}
1 egg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine first 5 ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Pour into a lightly greased 9x13 baking dish.

Combine the next 7 ingredients with hands until crumbly. Add egg and combine.
Place on top of fruit mixture and bake for 40-45 minutes until bubbly and slightly brown on top.

Enjoy!






Sunday, June 1, 2014

Sunday Supper: {Spring} White Bean, Chicken, and Cilantro Fajitas

The fresh taste of Spring just bellows in this simple fare.
We just had the fajitas topped off with a dollop of sour cream and a side of tortilla chips and salsa.
It's delicious and I hope you love it, too.



White Bean, Grilled Chicken, and Cilantro Fajitas
{serves 6}

2 cans Northern White beans, drained
6 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, grilled 
1/2 bunch of cilantro washed, chopped
3/4 cup olive oil
1 onion chopped
1 tsp. cumin
5 TBS. lime juice
3 bell peppers, chopped
6 flour tortillas
opt. sour cream, salsa, avocado

Grill chicken until cooked through, about 8 minutes on each side. I like to use the barbecue :).
Once it has rested for a few minutes, slice into 1/4 inch strips. Set aside.
In a medium pan, add olive oil and heat to medium.
Saute onions and peppers until translucent. Add beans and heat for about 2 minutes.
Add cumin and lime juice. Stir until combined, about 2 minutes.
Add chicken and cilantro, stir until combined. 
Set aside.

In another medium pan, add a little olive oil.
Heat to medium-low.
Prepare tortillas: scoop a generous amount of filling onto one half.
Fold over and place in the warm pan.
Cook until golden brown on one side, about 1.5 minutes, flip to the other side and repeat.
You will need to add a little drizzle of olive oil each time you add a new tortilla.
Serve warm with sour cream, avocado, or salsa.


Enjoy!

~Julia

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

When Life is a Little Crazy...Hang Out With the Cows

Life has been a little crazy for us lately.
Busy things...good things, like planting the garden and getting outside projects done.
I haven't even had time to write!
I feel so bad, but I think I am going to reduce my Sunday Supper posts to once a month for now.
Spring and summer are just full and we are always outdoors.
 Fall and Winter allow me more down time to sit and write :).

Yesterday, we moved cows out to pasture, and I just sat out there with them.
Such a nice break with the ladies...and one little bull.




Sometimes you just have to stop....rest....wait.
And take pictures of beautiful bovines....hee hee.

Hope you have a day full of good things!

~Julia

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Patience


I hope you all had a wonderful Mother's Day weekend!
Mine was just lovely.
A day spent together with my family, my dear Mom, a Skype visit with my mother-in-law, brunch at a nearby farm, and time to fill my heart with sweet memories.
As a mother, I think the greatest virtue I have had to acquire is patience.


Patience.
It's the trait that allows us to endure the hard things and then wait for the good.
I believe that when you lack patience, you focus so much on yourself that you are unable to be generous, kind, and giving to those around you amid the many challenges that come up in everyday life.
Oh boy....have I ever been there!


pa·tience
ˈpāSHəns/
noun
  1. 1.
    the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.




I make a conscious effort to practice patience daily.
Because let's face it: patience is essential to many circumstances in life.
I wait on the laundry, the kids getting ready to leave the house, the doctor visit, the dentist.
I wait to hear good news from a friend, I wait in line at the grocery store.
I wait for hearts to heal and hurts to mend.
But do I stop to really see the gifts around me while I wait?

It requires a certain inner strength to not be discouraged by life's disappointments, or struggles....and they happen daily.
Rather, patience preserves that peace in your mind and gives you courage.
For me, the Lord has been gently tapping on my shoulder...reminding me to see the gift in waiting.
To slow.
Fully slow and focus a mind that races to see the outcome.
To look before my eyes and take in the gifts at hand and to be thankful.



Rather than being so overcome by the problem or task at hand, practicing patience and slowing allows you to live virtuously.


Patience brings forth an inner strength that grants you the ability to live life gracefully...even under pressure.
To care for those around you and put their hearts ahead of your own.
This is motherhood summed up in one sentence :).


I think as a mother I always feel this certain "rush" to do something while I wait on something else.
Multitasking and hurrying throughout my day to try and finish more and more.
Perhaps missing the moment in the wait to be patient and see what is set before me....
Maybe my little one asking a question that I am too hurried to really answer.
Forgetting to look around to see who might need an uplifting word, help with something, or just a little more of my time.


It happens all the time.
Everywhere...even in the grocery store waiting in line.
Instead of grappling with my thoughts on what I need to do next, maybe I need to chat with my children, or another person in line.
Offer a gentle smile or a helping hand.



To look for that moment of grace and a way to bless those around me.





Patience is the virtue that gives you freedom.
Freedom to know that in waiting there is a reward.
Like the farmer who patiently waters his crop....knowing that it will bring forth growth.
I want that kind of growth and motherhood has fine tuned that yearning in my heart.

Hope your day is wonderful and full of patient blessings!

~Julia



















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