A link to our Shop

At times we have to choose between the path that is conventional and the path that is not. In today's world that once worn path that our great grandparents traveled is so overgrown and forgotten that it barely exists. Our goal is to reforge that forgotten path and make it new again.

The Family Eggers

The Family Eggers

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Homeschooling - The Talk

Two days ago we had “The Talk” with our kids over dinner.  NO, not that talk, rather the talk about the kids leaving public school next year and being homeschooled.  If you read our previous blog post about this decision you already know we did not take the decision lightly.  (click here to read previous blog post).  This nationwide social trend of homeschooling and private schooling is becoming increasingly popular, and for obvious reasons.  Our current public education system is failing our children.  Nearly everyone agrees on this conclusion regardless of political affiliation.  The only thing people do disagree on is who to blame.  Rather than go on about politics, we’d rather share our kids’ responses and through those responses illustrate exactly why we believe that homeschool will be beneficial for our two kids.
Our daughter’s reaction was very positive and optimistic, on the verge of excitement.  She was as stoked as an adolescent could possibly be.  Immediately she recognized that she would have the one-on-one attention that she constantly craves but seldom has in the public school setting.  She did not say this in so many words, but she did mention the positives about how she learned better from us than from the school.  She also expressed excitement that her days would be more structured.  When we asked both kids whether they learned more at home or in school, and if they understood more when taught at home, both answered in the affirmative.  Our daughter was concerned about not having the school library, but when she was assured that weekly trips to the public library would be scheduled she was OK with it.  She loves to read!
Our son’s reaction was one of a little more concern and deep contemplation.  His concern centered around the possibility that he would have more work to do.  Maximum benefit for minimum effort seems to be his implied mantra.  Another question which he asked was whether we would be going on more than one field trip per year.  He was excited to find out that we will be planning many field trips.  When we asked him if he was ever truly challenged at school he replied that he wasn’t. Actually the conversation was more among the lines of“do you ever find anything really difficult to understand at school?”After a long pause his response was, “yes, swinging on the swing set.  I can’t get it to go.”.  We then asked if learning anything in the classroom was ever challenging.  After another pause his response was, “no.”.
The bottom line is that the system teaches each kid to reach a minimum standard.  The ones that can reach that minimum standard are ignored, and in our son’s case, expected to slow down and come back to the rest of the group.  In our daughter’s case, she gets the minimum amount of attention needed to reach that minimum goal.  As I have said before many times, public schooling teaches kids how to be mediocre. 

We also need to reiterate, that we do not blame the teachers for this educational epidemic.  We feel that teachers have their hands tied by the bureaucracy and the system for whom they work.  They can seldom be teachers and rather have been forced to become administers of tests and indoctrination.  Both of us are products of the public school system and find it unfortunate and appalling what the system has become.   

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Cleveland H. Eggers

Part of my civil war ancestry:  3rd Cousin (4Xs removed)

Cleveland Eggers and Rocalette (2nd wife)
Cleveland H. Eggers was born 21 Aug 1849 in Laurel Bloomery, Johnson County Tennessee to Abner and Lucinda Jane Venable Eggers.  He enlisted in the 13th Regiment Tennessee Calvary in 1863 at 14 years old. According to his enlistment card he was 18, so he no doubt lied about his age to enlist.  He was assigned to company G and later D and saw 2 and ½ years of combat (see below).  He married Elizabeth Jane Eller in 1866 and had up to 10 children.  Census records are a bit sketchy, but it appears he and Elizabeth had at least 3 sons that survived to adulthood and at least a couple of daughters that survived to adulthood as well.  Perhaps 4 children did not make it to their 10th birthday as there are some personal records, but very little census data.  He and Elizabeth divorced before the 1900 census and presumable before 1899.  Elizabeth passed away in 1932.
Apparently Cleveland was also married to a woman by the name of Rocalette, whom he married in 1899. By all accounts she was a widow at the time of this marriage. 
Cleveland passed away on 2 July 1908 in Oregon where he had been living for approximately 10 years with Rocalette. 

The following is from the National Park Service webpage about the service of the 13th Regiment, Tennessee Calvary  For a direct link click here.
13th Regiment, Tennessee Cavalry
 Overview:Organized at Strawberry Plains, Nashville and Gallatin, Tenn., October, 1863. Attached to District of Columbus. Ky., 6th Division, 16th Army Corps, Dept. of the Tennessee, to November, 1863. District of North Central Kentucky, Dept. of the Ohio, to January, 1864. District of Nashville, Tenn., Dept. of the Cumberland, to April, 1864. 3rd Brigade, 4th Division, Cavalry Corps, Army of the Cumberland, to October, 1864. 3rd Brigade, 4th Division, Cavalry Corps, Military Division Mississippi, November, 1864. District of East Tennessee to March, 1865. 3rd Brigade, Cavalry Division, District of East Tennessee, Dept. of the Cumberland to July, 1865. Cavalry Brigade, District of East Tennessee, to September, 1865.

Service:Duty in District of Columbus, Ky., and at Camp Nelson, Ky., till January, 1864. Duty in District of Nashville and on Nashville & Chattanooga Railroad, and at Bull's Gap, Tenn., till September, 1864. Rogersville August 21, 1864. Pursuit to Greenville August 21-23. Blue Springs August 23. Park's Gap, Greenville, September 4. Morgan killed. Gillem's Expedition from East Tennessee toward Southwest Virginia September 20-October 17. Rheatown September 28. Watauga River September 29. Carter's Station September 30-October 1. Operations in East Tennessee October 10-28. Greenville October 12. Bull's Gap October 16. Clinch Mountain October 18. Clinch Valley near Sneedsville October 21. Near Memphis October 25. Mossy Creek and Panther Gap October 27. Morristown and Russellville October 28. Operations against Breckenridge's advance into East Tennessee November 4-17. Russellville November 11. Bull's Gap November 11-13. Russellville November 14. Strawberry Plains November 16-17. Flat Creek November 17. Stoneman's Saltsville Raid December 10-29. Big Creek near Rogersville December 12. Kingsport December 13. Glade Springs December 15. Marion and capture of Wytheville December 16. Mt. Airy December 17. Engagement near Marion December 17-18. Capture and destruction of Saltsville, Va., December 20-21. Duty in East Tennessee till March, 1865. Stoneman's Expedition from East Tennessee into Southwest Virginia and Western North Carolina March 21-April 25. Wytheville April 6. Shallow Ford and near Mocksville April 11. Salisbury April 12. Catawba River near Morgantown April 17. Swannanoa Gap, N. C., April 20. Near Hendersonville April 23. Duty in District of East Tennessee till September. Mustered out September 5, 1865.

Special thanks to Ancestry.com and National Park Service

Monday, April 21, 2014

Survival Bracelet: Update

Mackenson's 1st two sales
If you read our blog a few days ago you know that Mackenson has started a new endeavor making and selling 550 paracord survival bracelets.  If you have not read it yet click here.

So far he has sold three and has pending orders for four more.

Not only is he making and selling these bracelets all on his own accord, he is also increasing his dexterity, reinforcing his money counting skills, keeping a ledger book that also allows for addition and subtraction (with decimals), writing a note and a receipt that accompanies each bracelet, and lastly developing brainstorming strategies to sell more.  There are probably other lessons in this as well. 

We are proud of him for coming up with this himself, doing 95% of the work and financing himself (we only double check everything is OK such as postage etc.).  If you are interested, his current price is $5 plus actual shipping.  Send us a note.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

MACK at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum

Last week during the Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington D.C., our family took a trip to see the beautiful trees and to visit one of the Smithsonian Museums.  Click here to read about our visit to see the cherry blossoms. 

Mackenson's visit to the Smithsonian Natural History Museum in Washington D.C. provided him with the opportunity to study the timeline of Earth's history.  He saw fossils, models and reproductions from the Precambrian time period, Paleozoic Era, Mesozoic Era and Cenozoic Era.  For his project he was asked to make a one page presentation or mini poster for each of these major time periods.

The jellyfish in a diorama displaying the Precambrian time period caught Mackenson's eye.

Veering away from animal life, Mackenson chose to look closely at the sphenophyllum (spore producing plants) that grew in the Paleozoic Era.

Mackenson liked the Trilophosaurus, a lizard that lived in the Mesozoic Era. 

Uiuntatheres was an early mammal in the Cenozoic that Mackenson was interested in.

 Click here to see Marie's National History Museum project posters.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

MARIE at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum

Last week during the Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington D.C., our family took a trip to see the beautiful trees and to visit one of the Smithsonian Museums.  Click here to read about our visit to see the cherry blossoms. 

Marie's visit to the Smithsonian Natural History Museum in Washington D.C. provided her with the opportunity to study the timeline of Earth's history.  She saw fossils, models and reproductions from the Precambrian time period, Paleozoic Era, Mesozoic Era and Cenozoic Era.  For her project she was asked to make a one page presentation or mini poster for each of these major time periods.

From the Precambrian time she identified a spindle-shaped life form.

From the Paleozoic Era she found an early amphibian, Ichthyostega.

Marie liked the dinosaur Diplodocus (the long-neck) from the Mesozoic Era.

The early dog Hesperocyon gregarius was Marie's favorite Cenozoic Era organism.

Click here to see Mackenson's Natural History Museum project posters.

Natural History Museum Assignment

This past weekend we went to the Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington DC.  While there we managed to check out part of the Natural History Museum.  What possible better place is there to learn about Earth's history?  Naturally we used this as an opportunity to teach some basics.  We decided to focus on the the 4 Major eras of Earth's living history Precambrian (not a real era), Paleozoic, Mesozoic, and Cenozoic.  For each era each child picked one animal to write about.  Each Era and animal served as a separate creative assignment during the week.  We kept the projects pretty simple with the goal to see how life has evolved over the hundreds of millions of years.

On the way home (about a 3 hour drive with traffic) we had each child reiterate the eras in order as well as spell them.  We also talked about how long humans have been on the planet in comparison to the age of the Earth, how long reptiles and dinosaurs roamed, mass extinctions and some basic animal anatomy/physiology.  For this trip we focused mostly on how teeth are different among carnivores versus herbivores and how those teeth are used respectively.

It was a very good trip, and for anyone visiting DC, make sure your kids get the full effect.  DC can be a science lesson, History lesson, government/civics and almost anything else.  It is truly a wonderful place.

Link to Mackenson's Project

Link To Marie's Project


Friday, April 18, 2014


There was an early art project I remember doing in about 3rd grade around Easter time.  Thanks to my excellent memory (but mostly google) we were able to recreate this project for our kids just in time for Easter.  Also, we try to make everything we do into a learning activity, so there are some science as well as art aspects to the project.


Materials needed:

Party balloons (in the shape of an egg)
String or yarn - a thinner yarn works better, but any should work.
Table sugar


1.  Inflate the balloons to the desired size and tie them off.  This will be the size of your future Easter egg.

2.  Wrap sting/yarn around the balloon, trying to keep the string as tight as possible.  To make it easier to get started you may want to tie the end of the string to the mouth of the balloon.  How much string you wrap around the balloon is up to you.  My daughter went a little overboard, but the result is still nice.

Note:  it is best to leave a little extra string tied off at the top of the balloon to serve as a way to hang it up while drying and eventual display.

3.  In a large mixing bowl mix 2 parts sugar to 1 part warm/hot water.  We used 2 cups sugar and 1 cup water (heated in the tea kettle).  This amount was nearly perfect for our three (3) eggs.

4.  Soak each wrapped balloon in the sugar solution making sure all of the string/yarn is moist to wet.

5.  Hang to let dry.  Remember that this will drip the sugary solution on whatever is below, so you may want to pre-place some newspaper or a towel or whatever below...THIS IS HOW WE GET ANTS.

 6.  Once dry, decorate however your child's mind wishes.  We plan on cutting a hole in the side and putting some Easter type flotsam inside the egg.   


Science - chemistry:
Discuss how a solution is formed and what it is.
 -discuss how 2 cups of sugar can go into 1 cup of water and the result is not 3 cups of solution.  Right now we are keeping this concept very elementary.

Creativity at it's best.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Isaac Eggers

Part of my Civil War ancestry:  My 3rd Cousin (4Xs removed)

Isaac Eggers was born 6 June 1845 in Watauga, North Carolina to Abner and Charlotte Hageman Ford Eggers.  He joined the 2nd Regiment of West Virginia Calvary (Union) and held the rank of private.  He served in company I.  Not a lot is known about Isaac.  He passed away on 4 December 1863 and is buried at the national cemetery in Annapolis, MD.  Based on the timeline of military action of the 2nd WVA RGT, it is likely that Isaac succumbed to disease or even perhaps injury from previous fighting.  His death preceded major action by 4 days and was after any other major action by about a month.  The complete campaign of the 2nd WVA REGT is listed below.   Information is courtesy of the National Park Service Civil War page.  See below for complete 2nd West Virginia Calvary history.
Due to his young age upon death he left behind no children.

2nd Regiment Cavalry
Organized at Parkersburg, W. Va., September to November, 1861. Attached to District of the Kanawha, W. Va., to March, 1862.  Unattached, Kanawha Division, W. Va., to September, 1862.  Unattached, District of the Kanawha. Dept. of the Ohio, to January, 1863.  Unattached, 3rd Division, 8th Army Corps, Middle Department, to June, 1863. Scammon's Division, W. Va., to December, 1863.  3rd Brigade, 3rd Division, Army of West Virginia, to April, 1864.  1st Brigade, 2nd Cavalry Division, Army of West Virginia, to June, 1864. 3rd Brigade, 2nd Cavalry Division, Army of West Virginia, to July, 1864.  2nd Brigade, 2nd Cavalry Division, W. Va., to November, 1864. 2nd Brigade, 2nd Division, Cavalry Corps, Middle Military Division, to February, 1865.  3rd Brigade, 3rd Division, Cavalry Corps, Army of the Potomac, to June, 1865.

SERVICE.--Ordered to Guyandotte, W. Va., December 15, 1861, and duty there until April, 1862. Cooperate with Garfield against Humphrey Marshall January 7-8, 1862.  Dry Fork, Cheat River, February 8.  1st Battalion (Cos. "B," "C," "F," "H" and "I") moved to Meadow Bluff April, 1862.  2nd Battalion (Cos. "A," "D," "E," "G" and "K") moved to Raleigh with General Cox engaged in scouting and operating against bushwhackers in Raleigh, Fayette and Wyoming Counties until August, then rejoined Regiment. Demonstration on Virginia & Tennessee Railroad May 10-18.  Lewisburg May 12.  Princeton May 15-17. Retreat to Flat Top Mountain May 18. Jackson River Depot May 20. Lewisburg May 23. Raid to Shaver River May 30. Lewisburg May 30. Middle Creek June 8. Alderson's Ferry June 9. Wolf Creek July 10. Lamb's Mill July 15. Blue Sulphur Springs July 20. Alderson's Ferry July 23. Williamsport July 28. At Meadow Bluff until August. Ordered to Kanawha Falls August 14. Shady Springs August 28 (Detachment). Campaign in Kanawha Valley September 6-16. Barboursville September 8. Fayetteville September 10. Cotton Hill September 11. Loop Creek September 11. Hurricane Bridge September 12. Charlestown September 13. At Point Pleasant to October 20. Moved to Charlestown October 20, thence to Camp Piatt. Expedition from Summerville to Cold Knob Mountain November 24-30. Lewis Mill on Sinking Creek November 26. Peters Mountain Raid January 5-20, 1863. Scout into Wyoming County February 5-8. Expedition into Pocahontas County February 10-12. Scout through Boone, Wyoming and Logan Counties March 12-16. Expedition through Logan and Cabell Counties April 3-6. Mud River April 5. Lewisburg May 2. West Union May 6. Summerville May 12 Fayetteville May 18-20. Scout on Big and Little Coal Rivers June 18-19. Loup Creek June 26 (Cos. "B" and "I"). Raleigh July 4. Expedition from Fayetteville to Wytheville July 13-25. Shady Springs July 14. Wytheville July 18-19. Fayetteville July 28. Cold Springs Gap August 5 (Detachment). Scouts from Camp Piatt September 11-13. Smythe County September 14. Scout to Boone Court House October 21-22. Expedition from Charlestown to Lewisburg November 3-13. Little Sewell Mountain November 6. Capture of Lewisburg November 7. Muddy Creek November 7. Near Union November 8. Scammon's Demonstration from the Kanawha Valley December 8-25. Meadow Bluff December 11. Lewisburg and Greenbrier River December 12. Scout in Cabell and Wayne Counties March 16-18, 1864. Averill's Raid on Virginia & Tennessee Railroad May 5-19. Princeton, Grassy Lick Cove, near Wytheville, Wytheville, Ingle and Cove Gap May 10. Salt Pond and Pond Mountain Gap May 13. Hunter's Raid on Lynchburg, Va., May 26-July 1. Staunton June 8. Newport June 10. Lexington June 11. Near Buchanan June 13. New London June 16. Otter Creek June 16. Diamond Hill June 17. Lynchburg June 17-18. Liberty June 19. Buford's Gap June 20. Catawba Mountains and near Salem June 21. Cove Gap June 23. Snicker's Ferry July 17-18. Carter's Farm July 20. Newtown July 22. Kernstown, Winchester, July 24. Martinsburg July 25. Hagerstown July 29. McConnellsburg, Pa., July 30. Hancock, Md., July 31. Near Moorefield August 7. Williamsport August 26. Martinsburg August 31. Bunker Hill September 2-3. Near Bunker Hill September 5. Near Stephenson's Depot September 5. Darkesville September 10. Bunker Hill September 13. Near Berryville September 14. Battle of Winchester September 19. Fisher's Hill September 22. Mt. Jackson September 23-24. Forest Hill or Timberville September 24. Piedmont September 25. Brown's Gap September 26. Weyer's Cave September 26-27. Battle of Cedar Creek October 19. Dry Run October 23. Nineveh November 12. Rude's Hill, Front Royal, November 22. Expedition to Gordonsville December 19-28. Liberty Mills December 22. Jack's Shop, near Gordonsville, December 23. Near Ashby's Gap December 27. Sheridan's Raid from Winchester February 25-March 25, 1865. Mt. Crawford February 28. Waynesboro March 2. Charlottesville March 3. Augusta Court House March 10. Haydensville March 12. Beaver Dam Station March 15. White House March 26. Appomattox Campaign March 28-April 9. Dinwiddie Court House March 29-31. Five Forks April 1. Namozine Church and Scott's Corners April 2. Jettersville April 4. Sailor's Creek April 6. Stony Point April 7. Appomattox Station April 8. Appomattox Court House April 9. Surrender of Lee and his army. Expedition to North Carolina April 23-29. March to Washington, D.C., May. Grand Review May 23. Mustered out June 30, 1865.

Regiment lost during service 4 Officers and 77 Enlisted men killed and mortally wounded and 115 Enlisted men by disease. Total 196.
·         From the Civil War Archive   http://www.civilwararchive.com/Unreghst/unwvcav.htm#2ndcav

Special thanks to Ancestry.com and The National Parks Service.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Cherry Blossoms - Washington DC trip

For those of you unfamiliar with April in the nations capital, it is the time of year when the many cherry trees are in full bloom.  It is truly a spectacular sight; every tree around the pond near the Jefferson Memorial is in full bloom.  It is beautiful, or at least it would be if there were not 100,000 other people also crowded together to get a look.  It was the most crowded I had ever seen the Mall and it was exhausting just moving through the crowd.

We still were able to get a few good pictures and check this one off of our East Coast proverbial bucket list.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Music pages

Tin Whistle :  Rakes of Mallow and Sally Gardens
Tin Whistle:  Morrison's Jig
Tin Whistle:  The Gael (Last of the Mohicans)

Tin Whistle; Sally Gardens and Rakes of Mallow

These are a couple of my favorite quick tunes.  Sally gardens was probably the first song I committed to memory.  Hope you enjoy.  As always, if you have any questions, comments or requests, let me know.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Eggs - What is the Difference?

Working with food safety and having an extreme interest in agriculture I have been asked several times about the differences between the quality of farm fresh eggs vs the ones you find at the grocery.  Though this can be a dissertation in itself, I will leave you with a couple points and address a few misconceptions.

Myth:  Farm eggs are better because they are fresher. 
    The truth is that freshness, or rather time between when the egg is laid compared to when it is consumed, is actually a minor consideration when considering which is better.  An egg can keep at room temperature for a much longer time than most people think and longer than the FDA/USDA folks recommend.  If you don’t believe me consider this:  a chicken can lay an egg every 28- 36 hours.   A clutch of eggs can number up to 20 eggs before a setting hen will begin to sit on the nest and begin incubation.  This equilibrates to about a month between when that 1st egg was laid and when the hen started sitting on it.  Obviously it did not spoil in that month and during that month the hen did not refrigerate that egg.  Conclusion:  Good eggs do not spoil very quickly even at moderate temperatures.
Fact:  In reality egg at the grocery store is probably fresher as large egg production facilities collect eggs, clean them and refrigerate them within minutes to hours of them being laid.  A farm egg could easily sit out for a day or more before being collected.  However, like was said above, freshness is only a minor consideration.
Myth:  There is no difference between farm eggs and commercial eggs in regards to quality, nutritional value and animal welfare. 
Fact:  There are a number of differences.  These differences all relate directly to how the animal is raised and what it is fed.  Common sense dictates that an animal with a more well-rounded diet with access to varied food inputs will be healthier than animals that are confined with a poor (bare minimum) diet.  Commercial establishments balance food inputs compared to egg output and look for the most economical balance with minimal regard for animal husbandry practices.  Often this leads to poor nutrition, antibiotic prophylaxis, and overcrowding.
Besides the obvious fact that chickens raised in their natural habitat is probably better husbandry then raising chicken in extremely crowded wire cages, there are a number of reasons to choose free range farm eggs.  Eggs that are farm raised tend to have higher values of Omega-3 fats, Vitamin E, vitamin D, folate, and a number of antioxidants.  Commercial eggs often fall behind in nutritional value compared to farm eggs.  The proof is in the pudding or in this case the egg.  Outside of expensive nutritional tests, a visual test will quickly show the average person the difference.  Most farm eggs will have darker yolks, appear less watery, have yolks that stand “taller” and have thicker shells.      

Notice the difference?  The egg on the left is from a local farm and the egg on the right is from the local supermarket.  The left egg has a darker yolk, the yolk is more elevated (raised) and appears less watery
DISCLAIMER:  There are other considerations that people should take to heart as well.  Although farm eggs are likely to be healthier, the unregulated diet of the hens could expose them to sources of toxins such as heavy metals, pesticide residues etc.  It is always a good idea to be familiar with the farm from which you buy your eggs.  Also, pathogens from private flocks (as well as commercial) can make their way into the eggs.  Cook your eggs well.


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Survival Bracelets from 550 paracord : Entrepreneurial opportunity for an 8 year old

Last year Mackenson and I went on our annual cub scout camping trip.  One of the activities that the boys learned was how to tie survival bracelets out of parachute cord also known as 550 cord.  The cord has a very high tensile strength and as such has a great many uses while camping, hiking, adventuring or any other outdoor-type activity.

The survival bracelet allows a person to carry approximately 10-20 foot of cord while still looking quite stylish.  Mackenson made several of these for gifts and came up with the idea of selling them.  When we have seen them at the outdoor stores and sporting goods sections they are priced anywhere from $5 on up to $20, so why not?

Mackenson is starting on this endeavor. We are wishing him the best of luck and will aid him in the marketing. 

Additionally we are using this entrepreneurial adventure to teach and reinforce some basic math, the concepts of basic account keeping (debits and credits) and some basic marketing strategies.

If by chance you are considering investing in this unique opportunity please let us know.  :)    Also stay tuned for updates.   We are pretty sure there will be many.

There has been an update since this posting to see it click here.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Green Tomato Jam

Green Tomato Jam
As we begin the season of spring with the seeding of lettuce and tomato plants indoors, the rewards of last year's harvest continue to grace our table.  Green tomato jam is one of the experiments of last fall as the frost loomed near and our tomato plants were still lush with unripened fruit.  We also dehydrated and ground some of these green tomatoes into powder (click here for the tomato powder post).  After a bit of research, Joe and I came up with the following jam recipe.  Use the method as a guide, but remember to always follow the instructions of your particular equipment and ingredients!

12 cups green tomatoes, chopped
1 lemon, cut in half
4" bit of ginger, peeled
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp clove
14 T pectin
10 cups sugar

If you know your way around jam/jelly making follow your normal jam procedure; if you don't have much experience, your pectin carton should have specific instructions for when to add pectin and sugar.

Place jars in a hot water bath to preheat and sanitize.  Sanitization requires boiling for 10 minutes, according to the USDA click here to see the USDA Guide to Home Canning.

Put tomatoes, lemon and ginger in a blender until smooth or run tomatoes through a food mill to remove seeds and skins.  Everything pureed nicely in our blender so we felt no need to use a food mill.  The seeds remain, but that is part of the charm of this jam in our opinion.  The goal with the blender was to chop the tomatoes, lemon and ginger as fine as possible.  Possible chopping alternatives would be a grater, food processor or chopping with a knife.  It's up to you!

Transfer to a large cooking pot, add spices and bring to a boil on the stove, stirring occasionally until the water is reduced and the tomatoes are nice and thick.

Add pectin and stir.  Bring to a boil while stirring occasionally.

Add sugar and stir.  Bring to a roiling boil.  Boil and stir for 2 minutes.

Ladle into prepared jars and cap with lids and rings.

Process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

TIn Whistle - Morrison's Jig

Morrison's Jig is one of my favorite tunes on the whistle.  I think you can see why.  Still a few minor mistakes.....see if you can pick them out.  I hope you enjoy.  As always, if you have any questions, comments or requests let me know.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Pumpkin Powder

Dehydrated pumpkin turns into pumpkin powder quite nicely.
Pumpkins Decorating the Front Yard in Autumn
A Pressure Cooker/Canner is Used to Cook Pumpkins Rapidly
Raw Pumpkin (back) and Cooked Pumpkin (front)
Pumpkin Dried in Food Dehydrator
Dried Pumpkin Coming Out of the Dehydrator to be Frozen
Dried Pumpkin up Close
Dried Pumpkin Bagged and Placed in the Freezer

Frozen Pumpkin is Easier to Grind in the Blender Because it is Hard
Dried Pumpkin Ground in the Blender
Final Product: Pumpkin Powder

Pumpkin powder can be added to soups, baked goods such as muffins or pancakes, tomato pizza/pasta sauces, bread, casseroles - anywhere you would use pumpkin puree!  My favorite is pumpkin pancake mix we created and gifted to friends and family one winter. 

Vitamix: Grind Flour at Home in About a Minute

This week one car was in the shop, leaving the main grocery getter (and cook) without motorized transportation during the day.  By not being able to run errands that involved a significant distance I was able to slow down and do a few projects at home.  Some of those projects were born out necessity, owing to the fact that there was no mid-week grocery store trip.   

All of the bread we consume in our house, including the pizza crust for Pizza Fridays, is homemade.  This week I baked the usual amount of bread, steadily emptying the flour bin.  As I used the last of the King Arthur flour on Thursday night for a loaf of bread, I wondered if I would need to make a trip to the neighborhood grocer for Friday's pizza.  Though it's not ideal, I would be okay with that.  Fortunately, I remembered a recent purchase of hard red winter wheat berries that were stored in the freezer.  I bought them with the idea that I would experiment grinding them into flour in our Vitamix.

To grind whole grain into flour using a Vitamix:

-Use the dry blade container and tamper if you have them.  The tamper will help the grains circulate as they grind and not get caught up in the blades.

-Place 2 cups whole grains into the Vitamix.

-Turn on the blender for 1 minute or less.  Blending for longer times may cause your machine and flour to overheat or your flour to become a hard mass stuck to the inside of your blender.  I blended for 50 seconds, because I was happy with how fine the flour was.  

-To grind into a finer flour you could wait for the machine and flour to cool before re-blending.  Take the container off the base and stir the flour to speed the cooling process and clear the flour away from the blades somewhat, to reduce the likelihood the flour will pack down around the blades.  

-Remember to not overwork and overheat your blender! 

Hard Red Winter Wheat Berries

Flour from Ground Wheat Berries

King Arthur White Whole Wheat on the Left, Ground Wheat Berries on Right