Thanksgiving How To: Choose a Turkey

Here we are… 3 weeks before Thanksgiving. It is time to start thinking about that Thanksgiving feast. And while Thanksgiving might look a little different this year… there are still things to consider.

  • Pie or cake or dessert?
  • How many types of potatoes?
  • Fresh or Frozen turkey?
  • How many people are you feeding?
  • Whole turkey or just turkey breast this year?
  • Does it need to be Organic?
I can’t help you decide on dessert. I mean really, go with both if there is a question. And potatoes… probably 3. That’s how many Monica made in that one Friends Thanksgiving Episode. But the turkey, I can help you there… The tips you will learn here will work not only for this “weird” year but for every year! That’s what we want too. Normal… whatever that may be… because I sure hope this year isn’t the new normal… like people keep claiming.

What size turkey do I need?

(more…)

How to: Onion

Onions are one of those tricky vegetables. I’ve had friends (usually little kiddos) that can’t pronounce it correctly. The most common for a while was yonion. :). And it makes a lot of people cry. I can’t say everyone because I don’t cry cutting up onions, but I run people out of the house cutting up onions. My favorite thing to do IS cut up onions. So I always volunteer to cut onion for people. ALWAYS. 

So why do Onions make you cry?

Onions produce the chemical irritant known as syn-propanethial-S-oxide. The synthase enzyme converts the amino acid sulfoxides of the onion into sulfenic acid. It stimulates the eyes’ lachrymal glands so they release tears.

Do some Onions make you cry more than others?

It takes a lot of precise chemical reactions to produce tears. White, yellow, and red onions all have a higher concentration of the onion enzyme necessary to create syn-propanethial-S-oxide while sweet onions, green onions, and scallions have fewer of the necessary enzymes.

Do different Onions work better for certain things?

(more…)

Baking Basics: My Must-Have, On-Hand Ingredients

Welcome back to another Baking Basics installment! Today, let’s talk about how I stalk my pantry for Baking with a little Cooking mixed in.

Most people keep the basics on hand… flour, sugar, eggs, butter. You can make a lot of things with those four ingredients. But, I keep a large array of ingredients on hand. I have some favorites too. I live fairly close to town, but especially this day in age, I try to avoid Walmart at all costs, and where I live, that IS our grocery store. I wish more grocery stores would move into the area… please read this and follow suit!! Once I start to get low on something, I put it on my grocery list so I can re-stock it before I’m completely out.

Below is everything I keep in my pantry on a regular basis, along with brand recommendations and links, where applicable. Is there anything you would add to the list?!

FLOURS

  • All-Purpose Flour
  • Bread Flour
  • Cake Flour
  • Almond Flour
  • Coconut Flour
  • Whole Wheat Flour

(more…)

Fresh Pumpkin Butter (made with homegrown Pumpkins)

This past weekend we had our annual Trails for Kids fundraising ride. We had to postpone it a little bit… because we all know there’s this Pandemic thing going on. Honestly, I think it was a good time. In April we’re always fighting rain. Now, if you think about September… you could fight fall rains, but you also have a little warmer temps… so who knows. It’s kind of hit and miss on both occasions. We actually discussed that during our follow-up board meeting.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves… first things first… a few weeks ago my I had to harvest my pumpkins early because of squash bugs. They were sitting in my wagon behind my house waiting for me to do something with them.

Jump forward a couple of weeks… I’ve now made some pumpkin purée, but I still have pumpkins running out of my tookus. That’s even with sitting a few up on the front porch for fall decór. And don’t read that wrong, I was extremely excited that I could grow pumpkins!! But my thought is, I don’t want them going to waste.

I was having conversations with my friend Jody on what we were each bringing to the bake sale at the Trails for Kids auction. She mentioned her dad was making biscuits for her to donate. She wasn’t sure if they’d be plain or cheesy/garlicky, but if they were plain, she was going to try and convince him to make Apple Butter. I mentioned since it was fall, she should also throw in some pumpkin butter. She laughed and said she a) didn’t have any, b) didn’t know how to make any, and c) didn’t have time to learn.

(more…)

3-2-1 Cake Mix and Cake

This weekend was special. It is our annual Trails for Kids fundraiser. If you have been here anytime at all… you know that usually, we have this ride in April. Also… this year has been “interesting” (to say the least!) so we had to postpone until this past weekend. All summer long we wondered if it would even happen. I mean seriously…

But the time came and it did, in fact, happen! I can’t give away any of the details on the ride just yet but know, it was a MAJOR success! That would be an understatement!

On Friday night of our fundraiser, we have a bake sale. A few years ago I had a chocolate chip cookie in a cast-iron skillet go for $130. Well, this year I had something go for more than that… but that’s another story for another time :). Yup, I’m mean.

Today I want to share a recipe I’ve shared before… BUT… the cool thing is this is perfect for camping. And since this fundraiser involves camping, what better time to share, am I right?

3-2-1 Cake Mix & Cake

Ingredients for Cake Mix Setup:

  • A box of Angel Food Cake mix
  • A box of your favorite flavor of cake (chocolate, funfetti, lemon, you name it!)
  • A ziplock bag

(more…)

How to Make Buttermilk (sour milk)

Picture this… you find a recipe you want to make… something that requires buttermilk… for example:

And you happen to be fresh out of buttermilk… or better yet, you have never bought buttermilk in your life. It happens to the best of us! But… what you may not know is making buttermilk (aka sour milk) is super simple and you probably have the ingredients for that!

What is Buttermilk?

Buttermilk is a fermented dairy drink. Traditionally, it was the liquid left behind after churning butter out of cultured cream; (more…)

How to Make Simple Syrup

What is Simple Syrup? Easy answer… it is a sweetener.

Easier answer: how to make it…

How to Make Simple Syrup

Use equal parts granulated sugar to water. It is a 1:1 ratio.

Bring 1 cup of water to a boil. Add 1 cup sugar. Once the water comes to a boil, reduce to a simmer and allow the sugar to dissolve in the water. Place in a storage container in your refrigerator for up to 1 month, or use right away. (more…)

Pumpkin Purée

Let’s make Pumpkin Purée from the fantastic pumpkins you grew in your garden! You didn’t spend all summer growing pumpkins for nothing, after all. Oh, I guess… you can use them for Fall/Halloween decorations… but you should probably put up a few just because, right? Well today, I’m going to show you how!

Pumpkin Purée

1.Start with the pumpkins. Now, my pumpkins here are a little smaller than they should be, but sometimes you have to harvest pumpkins early. That was the case here. These pumpkins weighed in between 4 and 6 pounds. Wash them off. While you will remove the outer shells, it is best to clean off the excess soil. Preheat oven to 375˚F.

2. Make sure you have a sharp knife to be able to slice the pumpkins in half. You’ll also want a spoon, olive oil, and salt. Plus, go ahead and prepare your pans. Get a large jelly roll pan (half sheet) and line with parchment paper. The parchment paper helps with cleanup later. (more…)

How to Freeze Okra

When I decided to start and plant my garden this spring, I asked my family what they would like to see planted. I mean, after all, they were going to be reaping the rewards too. At that point in the day, I think that we were eating lunch (or dinner… but we were definitely eating) and the oldest and my husband had fried okra. They both immediately chimed in and said, Okra.

Okra… um… okay. I know nothing about making fried okra, but okay, I’ll figure it out. Oh wait, you mean you can eat okra that isn’t fried. Okay, I’ll learn about that too while I’m at it. Because, why not. (more…)

How to Can Peaches

It is that time of the year… Peaches!! They are in full supply. I love peaches. They are so great to eat as is or you can can them for later. Like the dead of winter when you are wanting that zesty, sweet taste of summer. There are 2 ways to can, we’ll get to that.

I would like to start some of my own Peach trees, but until that happens, I know where there is a stand on the side of the road ready to sell! And that’s just where I went on Sunday. I also bought a watermelon and my mom a cantaloupe. I don’t like cantaloupe but she does.

A fun side note about the word syrup… Grandma had me reading in her Joy of Cooking Cookbook about freezing peaches. We were looking for sugar measurements. Anyway, they kept spelling syrup, sirup. That spelling was driving me nuts. I wish I was still in Grad School so that I had access to the Oxford English Dictionary to look up the spelling history.

Also, side note: if you are canning anything… canning lids and jars for that matter are difficult to find right now. Supposedly it isn’t a shortage, but more so everyone was home and raising a garden. All canning is happening RIGHT. NOW.

Peaches

Grandma told me that she read that 1 bushel of peaches should produce 15, 20, 30 jars of peaches. It’s so funny that 3 different things she read said 3 different things. Either way, we were well on our way to that. We had 3/4 of a bushel of peaches. We got 13-quart jars and 2 half-full gallon bags for freezing.

Not all the peaches were ready for canning, so grandma’s tip is to lay them out on plastic overnight. The next day most all of them were ready to go. (more…)