October 22, 2012

New Skills

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I have to admit that half the reason I started Throwback Road was to make sure that all of the things I wanted to accomplish actually happened.  It is easier for me to get things done if I tell other people I am going to do them.  I am a woman of my word. 
I will never forget when I posted my 2012 Garden Plans last winter.  I pressed the publish button on Blogger and my stomach did a back flip.  I remember thinking “Julia, you may have just bitten off way more then you can chew”, but I am happy to say that my 2012 garden was one of the best things to ever happen to me.  I am hoping with my next endeavor that I will have the same experience.
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Can you guess what my next goal is….learning how to sew and knit.  I believe that gardening will always be my favorite hobby, but I need something for these hands to do during the chilly months.  I love to create and the idea of sewing my boys a cute pair of pants or knitting a gorgeous scarf for my sister truly excites me.  I have a very basic knowledge of using a sewing machine (I did get an “A” in Home Economics back in 5th grade) and I have taken a beginner knitting class at my local yarn shop.   I have high hopes!  I have some good friends in the area who have offered up their stitching experience and there is always the Internet to fall back on.
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I could not resist purchasing the book Sewing for Boys.  It is not very often that I find a book that focuses just on boy crafts.  It is filled with 24 adorable and easy patterns.  Once I figure out how to thread my machine I will dive into this book.
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Wish me luck!  I will post my creations as soon as I have something that looks halfway normal.  I was kidding with Mr. G, that if push came to shove and I had to knit him a sweater, we would have to piece together a gazillion knit squares.  I would call it his patchwork sweater….you see, I can knit a mean square wash cloth and that is about it.  I am excited for this new adventure…we will see where it takes me.  Suggestions of good websites, blogs, and YouTube videos are VERY appreciated.

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Do you have any new skills that you want to tackle this fall?

October 18, 2012

Kale Chips

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Kale Chips have been on my list of things to cook with my fall crops.  I have never been an avid lover of kale.  I have incorporated it into stews and sometimes even meatballs, but I have never been a “can’t wait to dig into some yummy kale” kind of girl.  I feel like Kale has become increasing popular over the past couple of years.  Even cooking methods for kale has become a popular pin on Pinterest.  I started some Ragged Jack Kale from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds back at the end of July with the goal to have a nice crop of kale to try this recipe.
Kale is a really easy plant to grow.  Frost does not hurt it….some might say that the flavor is enhanced  by the cold.  Once the plant starts were in the ground, the kale took off and has not stopped.
Kale Chips are extremely easy to make and surprisingly delicious.  I believe that Kale Crisps are a better name for them because of their light texture.  They almost melt in your mouth and are a little addictive.  Here is the recipe I used from Smitten Kitchen:

Kale Chips  recipe from Smitten Kitchen
1 bunch (about 6 ounces) kale (I used Ragged Jack but any type will do)
1 tablespoon olive oil
Sea salt, to taste
Preheat oven to 300°F. Rinse and dry the kale, then remove the stems and tough center ribs. Cut into large pieces, toss with olive oil in a bowl then sprinkle with salt. Arrange leaves in a single layer on a large baking sheet (I needed two because mine are tiny; I also lined mine with parchment for easy clean-up but there’s no reason that you must). Bake for 20 minutes, or until crisp. Place baking sheet on a rack to cool.
My picture does not do the Kale Chips justice.  It was taken with my cell phone and does not show the rich green color of this tasty snack.  My final vote is that this snack is super easy to make, very yummy, and will now become a staple in my household.  Give it a try, it won’t disappoint!

October 10, 2012

Meat Eater

As a nation, we have swapped the smelly and unpredictable pungency of the woods in exchange for the sanitized safety of manicured grass.  While we once wondered about the migrations of wild animals across the landscape, we now wonder whether the putting green will be slow or fast.”
–Steven Rinella, Meat Eater
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If you have been reading this blog for awhile you:
1. know I love books
2. know my husband, Mr. G, is a hunter

With that being said, I have found a book that has inspired me to hunt.  It makes me want to wake up at 4 am in the morning to hike into the Rocky Mountains with a rifle over my shoulder.  It also reinstates that drive in me to make sure that my boys grow up learning and loving to hunt.  I have always supported hunting, but this book has really helped me understand the beauty behind it.

My family and I have a ritual starting every fall. Sunday night (after the football game is over) we all sit down and watch our favorite family show, Meat Eater.  Steven Rinella is my kind of hunter.  He is not in it for the trophy, but for the meat to feed his family.  His show is riddled with adventure, humor, survival skills, and amazing game recipes.  Even my six year old sits glued to the television, talking of the day when he can legally hunt in Colorado.  Stevens’ new book, Meat Eater, is just as good as the show. 

One of my favorite lines from the book is Steven explaining whether hunters are really the bloodthirsty killers many people think they are….
 “If hunters really did get their jollies by killing animals, why would we go through the hassle of trying to find wild and unpredictable game animals under sometimes exceedingly difficult environmental circumstances when we could just volunteer at the Humane Society and kill a few dozen dogs and cats in an afternoon, or get a job at an Iowa slaughterhouse and kill a couple hundred cattle a day in air-conditioned comfort?” –Steven Rinella
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This book I so much more then a book about hunting.  It is a book about adventure…about pushing the human body and spirit to the limit and ultimately about learning where meat really comes from.  I have enjoyed Stevens stories and look forward to trying many of his game recipes once my freezer gets restocked again….hint hint Mr. G.
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Have you ever hunted before and if so what is your favorite game to eat?

October 8, 2012

My Larder Shelf

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Happy October!  I can’t believe that the last time I was on the blog was in the beginning of September.  Life has taken over this past month and between Big C’s school, football, Cub Scouts, playing with Little C, canning, and life in general, the blog has slipped.  I was feeling really bad about this fact until I did the final tally of my larder shelf. Now I know where the majority of my time has gone!  This is only my second true year of canning and I am very proud of my results. Here is the final tally sheet.  You can click on the links below and it will take you to the recipe I used.

Throwback Road Larder Shelf 2012

Canned Produce
6 Quarts of Summer Squash Sandwich Stackers
2 Pints of Gingery Pickled Beets
10 Pints + 4 Quarts of Tomato Basil Sauce from Ashley English's' Homemade Living Series
8 1/2 Pints + 2 Pints of Peach Butter
5 1/2 Pints of Peach Jam
5 Pints of Peach Salsa from my favorite canning book Food In Jars
4 Pints of Tomato Salsa
2 1/2 Pints of Tomato Jam ……amazing!
1 Pint of Fire Roasted Tomatoes
2 Quarts + 2 Pints of Plums in Honey Syrup
20 Pounds of Sauerkraut
4 Gallons + 15 Quarts of Fridge Pickles
1 Quart + 5 Pints of Homemade Applesauce
Frozen Produce
3 Gallons Cherry Tomatoes
4 Gallons Blanched Summer Squash
6 Cups Shredded Zucchini
8 Quarts Roasted Green Chilies
4 Quarts Spinach
1 loaf of Zucchini Bread
1 Ice cube tray of frozen basil
Dried Produce
1/2 Gallon Jar of Scarlett Runner Beans
40 Storage Onions

I did not keep track of all of the fresh produce we ate throughout the summer, but it sure was yummy!
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The first frost hit Colorado the end of last week and the garden is in the process of being put to rest.  My kale, cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower are loving the morning frosts and the garlic is snug under a bed of straw.  Time to clean up my potting area and rest for a bit.  I will miss strolling in the garden every morning, but I look forward to planning out next years bounty.  I am glad to be back on Throwback Road, and as always thanks for stopping by!

September 1, 2012

Garden Harvest Decorating

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One of my best friends is coming into town this weekend, and I could not be more excited.  Like any hostess, I spent the week tidying up and getting the house ready.  My daily harvest is displayed on my kitchen table and with a couple flowers added, I created a display that makes me smile.  The colors of summers bounty get me everytime….deep red, bright yellow, aubergine, and the best thing is that they not only look good, but they taste good!
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I hope that all of you have a wonderful Labor Day weekend filled with friends, good food, and time outside.  I look forward to delicious tomato salad, juicy steak, a crisp glass of Chardonnay with one of my dearest friends.  Happy Labor Day from Throwback Road!
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August 29, 2012

And the winner is……..

And the winner of the $25 Gift Certificate to Ethel Gloves is….drumroll please………..


Congratulations to Sherri!  Please contact me via my e-mail juliaereed@comcast.net so I can get you your Ethel Glove winnings.  Thanks to all who entered!  Just because you did not win, doesn’t mean you should not buy yourself an amazing pair of Ethel Gloves.  Treat yourself or one of your favorite people today!  Happy Gardening!

August 28, 2012

Plums in Honey Syrup

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This is hands down one of the easiest canning recipes I have ever followed.  I originally saw this blog post for Plums in Honey Syrup over on the amazing canning blog Food in Jars.  I wiped the saliva from my mouth dreaming about sweet plums swimming in a gorgeous honey bath.  I saved the blog post to “something I must try one day” and went on my way.  I had not thought much about this recipe until my good friend offered me a chance to pick some of the fruit from her backyard plum tree.  Talk about a kid in a candy store!  I literally ran across the yard filling my pockets and a target plastic bag until I could hold no more….I know a little dramatic, but I was really excited! 

The whole drive home I racked my brain trying to remember that one recipe I had drooled over years back.  Lucky for me, the author of the blog Food in Jars, Marisa McClellan, included this recipe in her  amazing new canning cookbook named…drumroll please!….Food in Jars.  I had pre-ordered her book awhile back and it has quickly become my new canning bible. 
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Whole Plums Preserved in Honey Syrup from Food in Jars Cookbook
1 1/2 cups of honey
4 cups of water
enough plums to fill four quart jars (I used three of my four quarts)
4 cinnamon sticks, a vanilla bean sliced into four pieces or four star anise bits

In a medium saucepan, combine the honey and water and bring to a boil.
Bring a canning pot or large stock pot to a boil. Put your lids into a small saucepan and bring to a simmer.
Clean canning jars and pack the plums in as tightly as you can. Insert your cinnamon
stick, vanilla bean or star anise. Fill jars with honey syrup, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace.
Wipe rims to remove all traces of any spilled honey syrup, apply lids and tightened rings. Process in a boiling water canner for 25 minutes (starting time when the pot returns to a boil after the jars have been placed inside).
When processing time is up, remove the jars to a cutting board or towel-lined countertop (as they cool and seal, they might spit out a bit of sticky syrup, so don’t let them cool on any surface that can’t handle that). Let the jars cool undisturbed for 24 hours.
When jars are completely cool, remove the rings, check the seals and wipe the jars down to remove any sticky residue. Label and store in a cool, dark place for up to a year.

This recipe was beyond easy and I can’t wait to try these mixed into some yogurt for breakfast or cooked down on the stove with a little vinegar for a pork topping.  If you are new to canning or are just looking for some amazing inspiration make sure to check out the Food in Jars Blog….one might say I have a blog crush.

While you are on Throwback Road don’t forget to enter my giveaway for a $25 gift certificate to Ethel Gloves.  Click on this link to enter.  Good luck and have a great day!
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