Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Washing and Preparing Lettuces From the Garden

This may be something that many of you are familiar with, but I thought I'd post as preparing lettuce was a little tricky when I first started gardening.
Lily has been growing a variety of lettuces and spinach for our family to enjoy, as well as to sell.
Today, I gave her a little lesson on how to clean lettuce for eating.
This is my personal method...I am sure there are other ways, but this is really thorough.
And what is better than a fresh, organic salad?


We start by picking a large amount...I think today we filled 4 Ziploc bags.
{Ziploc bags and containers are BPA free.}
I sanitize my sink first, and then fill it with cold water.
Put all of the lettuce in the cold water and give it a good swish.


Let it sit about 30 minutes.
You will find a good amount of dirt has fallen to the bottom.
Then with the tap water running, I rinse each leaf...making sure the crevices don't hold dirt particles:).


I put all of the lettuce into a colander and then fill my sink with fresh cold water again.
Put all of the lettuce back in, give it a swish, and then let it sit for another 20 minutes or so.
If you find that there is no dirt at the bottom of the sink, you are ready to dry and spin the lettuce!
If there is still dirt...which I rarely see, then repeat rinsing.
Pile all of the lettuce onto clean dish cloths on the counter.


At this point, I get my salad spinner out.
If you don't have one, it is well worth the investment.
You can find them for around $20.
Using a paper towel or clean cloth, I pat each leaf mostly dry, then put it in the spinner.



After spinning, the lettuce is ready to bag or eat fresh!


*A little tip*
If you place a clean paper towel or napkin in with the lettuce, it will keep longer.
I have heard that is true for cucumbers, too.
 Just wrap each one individually and it will last longer.

We eat so many fresh salads in the summer. 
I love that I can step out my back door and pick from a variety of lettuces for a salad.
Lettuce is one of the easiest veges to grow!


Salads are a great way to incorporate all kinds of vegetables.
Sometimes I add peas, carrots, onion, and anything else that is in season.
Other days, we just add red onion slices and call it good.
I just started making the MOST delicious homemade Ranch dressing...oh my it is fantastic!
For the recipe, visit my friend, Anne Marie at Na Da Farm:).


~Julia

Monday, June 25, 2012

Blueberry Peach Pie...Oh My!

This is one of my favorite pies!
The flavors and colors meld in such a scrumptious way.
It's also perfect for a bite on the Fourth of July!




 Blueberry Peach Pie
{You can also freeze this recipe.}

1 cup white flour
1-1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon..or to taste
6- 6 1/2 cups peaches, peeled and sliced thin
1 cup blueberries...fresh or frozen
If freezing: 1 gallon freezer bag
3 TBS cold butter, cubed
2 pie crusts

Pour first three ingredients in bag and mix.
Add fruit, seal, and shake up until well mixed.
Squeeze air out and reseal.
Lay flat and freeze or get ready to pour into pie dish.

To Bake: Put frozen pie filling into crust lined pie dish. 
This is a pretty big pie, so be sure to mound fruit in the middle. 
Add 3 TBS. cold butter and dot the filling. 
Put top crust on, flute edges, and sprinkle top with cinnamon and sugar, if you like. 
Line edges with foil to prevent burning.
Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes...until hot and bubbly.
{I usually put a cookie sheet on the bottom rack with a little foil on it...just in case the pie bubbles over a bit.}
Take foil off for the last 25 minutes to brown the crust.
Enjoy your pie!



 ~Julia




Sunday, June 24, 2012

Orange Julius

Every Friday night, we have a movie night with the kids. 
During the summer I make them a frothy Orange Julius and a big bowl of popcorn.
It is so refreshing and delicious...but what I love even more is that I make it with kefir.




Shhh...the kids don't know!
You can totally make this with milk and it tastes wonderful, too...if you don't have kefir on hand.
It also makes a delicious addition to Sunday breakfast!

Kefir Orange Julius
3/4 can of frozen orange juice
3 cups kefir
1 cup milk {4 cups if NOT using kefir}
1 tsp. nutmeg
2TBS vanilla
honey to taste

Mix thoroughly in a blender until frothy.
Serve right away and garnish with a little nutmeg on top.



For more information on the health benefits of kefir, click HERE.
Have a blessed Sunday.
~Julia 

Friday, June 22, 2012

A Vintage Canning Book & Making Jam Without Pectin or Sugar

My sister recently inherited a few cookbooks from her husband's Grandmother Margaret.
We were looking through them, and came across this sweet canning book by Kerr. 
It was first published in 1948 and then re-published in 1965.

It is so neat that it is full of old newspaper clippings and little notes as to how Margaret liked each of the dishes.

Look at this note to the readers on the inside of the front cover...


Doesn't it just warm your heart?
I love that she says, "Our men-folks are longing for and even demanding these appetizing foods that tickle the palate."
Darren is not the demanding type...he is always happy with any kind of a warm meal:).
But he might be longing for more!

It just makes me want to can a little more so I can produce some of those "Magic Dishes" for my men-folk.

Although this might be an out of date recipe according to today's canning standards, I think I am going to try this Strawberry Conserve and substitute sugar for honey.
Doesn't it look perfectly delicious?



And this pickle recipe...


Jack LOVES pickles. He will eat a whole jar by himself!
And look, it got a WOW in 1969 and '70!
~~~
This time of the year, I start with jams.
Lots and lots of jams.
I had a friend recently email me and ask if I ever made jam without pectin and only using honey.
Plum butter and apple butter have been my closest attempt, but I have been wanting to try that method!
I believe that the product is called a fruit butter or an conserve when it has been cooked down slowly without the use of pectin.
The texture is similar to jam, though!
And honey...oh, you will never want to use anything else once you start!
The flavor is incredible!


Here is a great link for strawberry jam...made with no pectin and honey:).

I would love to share more recipes for jam/butters made without pectin!
Do you have an amazing recipe?
Was it passed down to you by your mother or grandmother?
Would you like to share it?
If so, email me at julia.ablissfullycontentlife@gmail.com with your jam/butter/conserve recipe {without pectin} and I would LOVE to feature you!!








Have a great weekend!

~Julia

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A Fourth of July Skirt

The Fourth is such a fun day and what better way to celebrate than to dress up in a new Fourth of July skirt.
OK, so you could totally wear this any time of the year... but it is perfect for the Fourth!


I love to shop locally, and we have a really wonderful fabric store in town that had this great navy check!
It is 100% cotton and nice and thick.
I made this skirt for myself with a 2 inch waist band and two charming big pockets.
The back is elastic so it is really comfy and forgiving:).


I made my own pattern because I wanted something different than what you can typically find at the chain stores. 
I also really do not like slips...and the fabric is thick enough you can go without.
The length is just perfect below the knee and it is oh so cool and breezy on a hot Summer day.



Would you like one for the Fourth, too?
I went down and bought the rest of the bolt, I liked the fabric so much!
I have enough to make two more skirts.



I've listed them in my Etsy shop...The Field Barn.

~~~~~~~~~~~

Have a lovely day!

~Julia


Monday, June 18, 2012

Fourth of July Bunting

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

Friday, June 15, 2012

Flossie and the Adopted Banties

A few weeks ago, we bought three of the cutest little chicks.


I am sorry to say that we lost two...one to a certain cat with a very innocent look on her face and another escaped out of the open door of the coop...left open by yours truly.
It happens on a farm, although I was still a little disappointed.
Only Flossie, the little White Leghorn survived.

She was quiet and hid both times.
We picked up three little Birchin Cochin Banties who are just darling and about three weeks younger than the first batch.



I think that we have one rooster...which will be perfect!
I like little roosters:).
Poor sweet Flossie was lonely, but I didn't dare put her with the tiny, fluffy little Banties for fear she might peck at them.
So a couple of weeks ago, I made a small pen with a divider where she could see her new pals, but not touch them:).
She went wild and just paced the "fence" all night.
The next day, she found a way in...and the rest is history!
We found her clucking gently at the chicks, trying to coax them to huddle under her wings.
 If they made the slightest move, she was there to make sure they were safe.
She wanted to be a mama...and the three Banties were so happy to have her.
They made the cutest little cooing sounds to their "Mama."
It was hard to believe...Flossie hadn't even laid an egg yet!



They are a little bigger now, but she still insists that they are her babies.
I would call them "pre-teen chickies" and she really keeps them in line...when she clucks, they listen!

In a way, I have a heart like Flossie.
I could have a dozen kids and be happy.
I see children at the grocery store that I know are not in a good situation... and I want to take them home.
Lily peruses the state site for adoption and regularly picks out a sister:).
Darren's heart is just as big:).
A home full of children, full of love for them no matter what the situation, enjoying them for who God has created them to be...is so rewarding and lends to a happy life.

I guess Flossie knew that from the start:).

~Julia


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Numbered Cloth Napkins {A Tutorial}

A little while back I made these numbered cloth napkins out of drop cloths!
Did you know that the more you wash that fabric, the more it resembles linen?
Some people call it "poor man's linen."
I love it because you get sooo much yardage for cheap.


These napkins were a fun project and fairly easy!
They end up super absorbent, soft, and nubby.
To start out, you can read about how to sew mitered corners HERE and follow the directions to make the everyday cloth napkins.


Begin by washing and drying the drop cloth a few times.

Cut out 20"x20" squares and then starch and iron them.
The starch is really important as it helps to make the fabric stiff and easier to sew.
Follow the directions to make a cloth napkin in my previous tutorial, then we will add the numbers:).


I used a navy thread, but the choice of color is all up to you.
Make sure you are also using the right needle!
I used a medium weight sewing needle on my machine.
Follow the directions to make a mitered corner.
I made a double stitch along the outside about a 1/4 inch from the first one.



Next, print out numbers on your computer and then cut out the outline with an exacto knife.
It should look like a stencil.
This will be your template for tracing on your napkin.

I used a font that I liked {Book Antiqua} and then enlarged it to about 3 1/2 inches tall.

Trace onto the corner of your napkin {anywhere is really fine}.
I just used a pencil.



Now, to make the number stand out, sew around the outline at least three times.... careful to come close to overlapping the first stitch.


Don't worry if it isn't perfect!
It just adds to to the charm:). 

That is it.



Aren't they darling?

They would make a great addition to a 4th of July picnic or as a hostess gift.

Happy sewing!

~Julia

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