Saturday, October 6, 2012

What I've Been Up To This Summer...

Hey Y'all!

I just wanted to drop in and give you a little shout out. :-) I'm battling with feelings of guilt over how I have neglected this blog this year. I hate that. But, life has just thrown a lot at me during this season it seems, and something's gotta give. I hope it won't be this way for long. 

Let's see if I can give you a short synopsis of what I've been up to this year, shall we?

1) Of course, you know that I started PURE YANKABILLY All Natural Skincare. Y'all I had NO idea how consuming setting up a business would be. It's not just making product... Now, Etsy has had some policy changes which aren't conducive for shops like mine. So, I will be creating my own website for PURE YANKABILLY here shortly. One more thing to add to the list. :-) I'll let you know when it's up and running. I'm really enjoying myself with this business endeavor, but it takes a lot of time.

2) We managed to sneak in a long-weekend away this summer. We were supposed to go to West Virginia for a family reunion, but that was when those terrible storms rolled through and left everyone without power, food, gas, etc. I was pretty bummed because I haven't seen most of that side of my family in 20 years. I haven't seen my beloved mountains in longer than that. But, evidently it wasn't meant to be. I was just happy that all of my family was safe and unharmed. En leu of WV, my family stole a weekend get-a-way to one of our favorite places here in Indiana. This is when it was 107 degrees, so most of our time was spent hanging out in the hotel room. Lord, it was a hot summer! It was hotter here than any summer we lived in Florida. What's up with that? But, I digress...

3) Me and the man-child also spent a week with family in Michigan before school started so he could log some family time. That's very important. Family.

4) As soon as we got home from Michigan, tomatoes were begging to be canned. Lots and lots of tomatoes. We'd already worked the green beans and squash 'til it was coming out our ears beforehand. The garden is always a LOT of work in the summer. Actually, we have more peppers to work today. But, it's very rewarding work that makes me smile every time I'm eating food that we have grown well into winter. Definitely worth it.

5) School started the day after Labor Day for us. Which meant Homeschool Group also started. This year I'm teaching two classes, which I'm having a blast in. It also means that I have to study and be prepared. 

6) My husband was rear-ended four years ago at full speed. It left him with injuries that unless a miracle takes place, he'll carry with him for the rest of his life. We're believing for the miracle! Anyway, he sought an attorney to help him with getting worker's comp to cooperate a few years ago. Long story short...it went to trial. The trial was a week and a half ago. That was pretty much all-consuming leading up to the big days. Lots of visits with attorneys and prep work. Life went on hold during that period. Thank God, it's done and over with. That chapter is closed and we can move on. And, thank God they ruled in our favor. 

Now, that the trial is over and we are back into a school-year routine, I'm hoping to be able to pop in more frequently here. Of course, there is still life - which includes trying to get the business firing on all cylinders. But, hopefully I'll find my groove again.

In the meantime I want to leave you with a few photos of what we've got going in my neck of the woods. I'm really excited about it!




We're getting a windmill farm!
These things are huge and impressive.


The base. My husband is 6'1".


The engine that holds the propellers. Did I mention that my husband is 6'1"?


The propeller blades attached to the engine thingy.


One of the 3 lengths of the base and the part that holds the propeller blades on a semi.


I could only get 2 of them in my lens at a time. And, this in no way does them justice. The base of each one is 300' tall and they stand 490' at the top of the propellers. There are a lot more of them up now than when I took this picture. So, I'll try and get a better shot to share with you again sometime. There are going to be 125 windmills when it's all said and done. It's one of the most amazing things I've ever seen - watching them spring up everywhere. 

I'm glad to see a renewable energy source becoming an important part of my community.

Alright, y'all...I'm outta here. 

Until next time...
Pam

Thursday, May 24, 2012

My First Foray Into Wild Edibles

Every year when we put out our garden there is this certain weed that absolutely wants to take over. Last year we put straw down, which made a remarkable difference. We are going to do the same this year - probably this weekend. My husband has tilled in between the rows in the meantime to keep the weeds under control. But, this weed is still cropping up in the rows where our veggies are growing.

Then, a few days ago I  read this blog post from New Life on a Homestead about a common garden weed. MY common garden weed. Turns out that it isn't a weed after all. It's actually a super food called purslane. Go figure. 

I'm starting to realize that many of the plants that we consider weeds are actually some of the most nutritious foods on the planet. 




Take the lowly dandelion, for instance. That little plant is the nemesis of every man who desires a green lawn in the nation. But, it's actually very good for food. It's leaves can be eaten raw in salads or cooked many different ways. It's roots can be roasted and ground up and brewed as coffee. The flowers are also edible and are supposed to be a favorite when battered and fried. Though I've never eaten (or drank) it, I hear it is really yummy. It's also a powerhouse of nutrition that is fantastic for your liver, among other things.

But, we're talking about purslane today...


(from plantphotos.net)

This is what www.plant.photos.net says about purslane:

...also called Summer Purslane - purslane usually grows spread out flat on the ground. It can be found growing in almost any unshaded area, including flower beds, corn fields, and waste places. Purslane can be found growing in cold climate areas (e.g., Canada) as well as warm areas (e.g., the Caribbean).
Medicinal Uses:

Verdolaga is also valued in Latin America for its medicinal properties. Purslane contains more Omega-3 fatty acids than any other leafy vegetable plants, and may have positive effects on the brain and may aid in such conditions as depression, bipolar disorder, Alzheimer's disease, autism, schizophrenia, attention deficit disorder, hyperactivity and migraines. For other medicinal uses see: http://www.ansci.cornell.edu/plants/medicinal/portula.html#efficacy

American Indians used the plant as a poultice for burns, juice for earaches, tea for headaches and stomachaches.

Pretty cool, eh?

It's also an excellent source of vitamins A, C and E and the essential amino acids. So, I figured that I needed to try this wonder food. Crab cakes were on the menu for the night and I don't have any of the parsley that I usually put in it, yet. So, I thought it would be a great night to try the purslane. I went out the garden and pulled some of it, washed it really well in water and then spun it dry in my salad spinner.  





Since it can be eaten cooked or raw, I tasted one of the leaves. It has a very mild, but tasty flavor. It is supposed to be very similar in taste and consistency to watercress, but I've never eaten it so I can't vouch for that fact.
For my crab cakes, I simply cut the roots off and added the amount I needed to the food processor, stems and all. They're edible, too. Next, I added the rest of my ingredients to the food processor to finish chopping and mixing everything together.

Evidently, purslane is also a very popular salad green in Europe. Considering we were having salad with our dinner (and I've been buying the el cheapo bagged iceberg lettuce lately) I picked off the leaves of some more of my purslane and added to the salad mix to bump up the nutritional value of my otherwise pretty nutritionless bagged salad.



Not only is it tasty, but it's pretty, too. :-)


All in all, I really liked the purslane and will definitely use it again.
You probably realize this, but I'm going to mention it anyway. Don't eat wild edibles from places that are likely to have been sprayed with pesticides or that grow too close to the road where they would be covered in exhaust fumes. I felt confident using the purslane from my garden because we don't spray. We've actually found that our garden seems to do better than most people's in our area and I think it's because we leave it alone and try to build the soil quality every year. Healthy soil makes for healthy plants.
I'm amazed at how many wild edibles that we have around us and are clueless about. I would really like to start learning more about them. It just so happens that Wild Cards is a deck of cards that has pictures and information on 52 different wild plants that you can eat. It includes information on where each plant is found, how to cook it and its medicinal uses. I really need to get one of those decks.
So, tell me - have you ever eaten weeds?

I'm sharing this post with Wildcrafting Wednesday.

* UPDATE: I have had a couple of people tell me that the link to the Wild Cards took them to an, um, unsavory website. I apologize for that. On my Mac it took me right where it was supposed to. In an effort to fix the problem I changed the link. Please, let me know if it is still not working right and I will just remove it altogether and you can just google it for yourself. ;-) Thanks, y'all!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

My Anniversary Weekend

Hello, Hello, Helllllooooo... Hi! Hey, Y'all! So glad to see you! Thank you to everyone who has expressed an interest in my health and well-being. And, to those who'd wondered if I'd turned to poop and the hogs ate me. So, let me start by saying that I have not turned to feces and been eaten by the other white meat. Also, I am fine and dandy. I have just been extremely busy and my brain has been on overload - incapable of trying to string together coherent sentences that anyone would want to read on this little ol' blog of mine. Hopefully, now that homeschool group is done for the year, I'll be able to get back to blogging a little more regularly. Now that we've gotten that out of the way...

OK. So what in tarnation have I been up to exactly? Well, of course you know that I started a business this year and opened a shop on Etsy, PURE YANKABILLY - All Natural Skincare. That's where the majority of my brain cells have been recently. Y'all, there is a LOT of work that is involved in starting a business. It's not just making products, taking pictures and uploading them to Etsy. That's actually the smallest part of it. Who knew?... Anyway, Isaac is still homeschooled and we are part of a homeschool group. So, we've had that and several days of Stanford Testing. And, for some weird reason my family expects me to still feed them and make sure they have clean undies and all. You understand about that, right? In the midst of my new normal, though, we've tried to squeeze in a few fun thing, too. Today I'll share a bit about one of these mini trips with you.

Last month Chris and I celebrated our 17th wedding anniversary. In trying to think of something fun to do in honor of it, we decided to take a weekend trip to Columbus, OH where it all began for us. We wanted to take Isaac along and show him all of "our" special places - where we met, where we went to school, where we dated, our first apartment, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

The closer we got to the city and as that lovely skyline came into view, we got really excited. Well, Chris and I did anyway. Floods of old memories and the feelings that came with them started rolling in. Then, we came to the area that we once called home. To say that it had changed would be a colossal understatement. It had been really nice when we lived there. Now, not so much... Anyway, we checked into our hotel and began our expedition. Oh yeah, our hotel wasn't even there 17 years ago. Neither was the mini city that used to be cornfields surrounding it.

Y'all, it was CRAZY! CRAZY, I say! Our journey to 'us' began when we met at Meijers (a northern version Walmart, only nicer), where we both worked. We got off of work at 2 in the morning and the only place open at that time was the Waffle House that occupied the front of the Meijers parking lot. So, that was where we went every night when we got off work to drink tea and talk until we had to go get a few hours of shut-eye before school. People, they closed Meijers down! It was just an empty, dilapidated shell of a building! Then, they had torn down the Waffle House and built a new one in a different location of the same parking lot. So, even though there was still a Waffle House there - it wasn't "our" Waffle House. Bummer... After that disappointment, we decided to go see our first apartment that we lived in after we got married. It. had. changed. ALOT. It was a pretty new and pretty nice neighborhood back in the day. Now, though...well, let's just say that we were afraid to slow down to snap a picture of it.

 After that, I had Chris drive by my first apartment there. And, lo and behold, it hadn't been torn down or moved or changed into a new super center or anything.


I lived in the first floor apartment right there where the grill is. Ironically, the name of the apartment complex is "The Moors" and my new last name is also Moore. I think it was destiny. Yep. Lots of memories there. I lived there with 4 other girls. The people above us sounded like they moved the furniture at least a few nights a week to hold line dancing parties. Of course, we probably weren't much quieter. That apartment complex was more like a dorm and our place seemed to be a major hang-out. At least one thing about Columbus hadn't changed so far...

We moved on to see the old school. You guessed her... The old campus had been sold. It wasn't there anymore. The school had relocated and had changed names. See, I told you it was crazy. By this time it was getting late so we hit the Walmart that hadn't existed 17 years ago for drinks for the night, grabbed some take-out from the Popeye's that popped up out of nowhere and headed back to the hotel that used to just be a cornfield.

The next morning dawned with fresh hopes of finding and exploring the parks that we used to picnic at and walk the trails. We also thought we'd head out to Hocking Hills, which is only a short 40 minute drive away. But, alas, it was not to be. It was raining. Not that all out frog chokin' kind of rain - just the kind that was light enough to be a nuisance. We knew Hocking Hills would be a bad idea because you just really don't want to go walking trails high in the cliffs on wet rock. We figured we could still go find our old parks, though. But, you guessed it, we could not find them for the life of us. Everything was so built up and new roads and towns expanded to the point where nothing was recognizable. And, if it hadn't been for GPS we would have been totally lost.

On to Plan B. We decided to go find one of our favorite towns, Granville, OH. It's a beautiful little town nestled in the hills and home to Denison University.


We used to love to take the beautiful back roads and drive through those gorgeous hills, enjoying each other's company as well as the view. It was magical - especially during Autumn when the leaves were in peak color. It was also the place where this incident happened.

Although it was rainy, it was still beautiful. Here's a bit of it's charm - although there ain't nothing like the real thing, Baby.

brick roads

quaint churches

lovely houses

and this charming town full of incredibly cool restaurants and stores

like this one.

It's a very French-y type store

with darling vignettes every place you look.

Granville also has this hotel.

It's supposed to be haunted. We didn't go in to find out.

A brief trip through Granville was all we could handle. Not only was it still drizzling, it had gotten c.o.l.d. It looked like everything we had planned for our anniversary get-away and trip down memory lane had been doomed from the git-go. I didn't even mention how our original hotel reservations had fallen through when we were only about an hour away and our room ended up costing more for one night than our original reservations had been for 2. So, we decided that we would stop for a nice, warm lunch and head on back to home-sweet-home.

Although nothing went as we had envisioned for that weekend, all-in-all it was still nice to get away for the night. We also learned a good lesson. You can't relive the past. Time marches on whether we want it to or not. So, it was a good reminder to enjoy the memories of our lives just for what they are - good memories - and focus on making new ones. Which is exactly what that weekend ended up being. Now we can look back and say, "Hey, remember that time we went to Columbus to show Isaac all of our old places and our history and not one thing went right because everything had changed?"

Have you ever tried to take a trip down memory lane only to find it had turned into a super-highway?

Thursday, April 5, 2012

I NEED YOUR HELP...ASAP

Alright, lovely readers...I need your help. I don't usually post twice in one day. Heck, lately, I don't even post once a day! But, here's the deal...


I'm having a giveaway on PURE YANKABILLY'S Facebook page for a 4 ounce jar of Green Goodness Healing Balm ~ IF we hit 100 'likes'. Y'all, we only need 3 more. THREE MORE!




Let me quickly share a bit about Green Goodness. This stuff is UH-MAZING! Amazing, I say! Here's why...This wonder-worker will instantly take the pain or itch out of burns, bites, stings or scrapes. It removes boils, quickly heals and soothes cold sores, quickly heals (or prevents) new bruises, heals diaper rash, fungal infections (think ringworm/athlete's foot), topical yeast infections and so much more! On top of it all it's all organic! Yee-haw! 


So, will you help a sistah out? Go here and "like" PURE YANKABILLY on Facebook and you'll be entered to win this amazing healing balm, too. Let's do this ASAP, K?


Thank you! You're awesome, wonderful and amazing!


UPDATE:
Thank you all SO much! You did it! We hit the mark!

Making Homemade Beef Stock

My family bought half of a grass-fed cow this winter. I asked the processing plant for the bones and any extras they had. Now, I'm a veteran at making homemade chicken stock, but this was to be my first foray into beef stock. We put the huge bag of bones into the freezer to wait until I had room in the freezer to make stock. You see, we also bought a pastured hog that came in about 6 weeks before the beef did. That meant my freezer was full. to. the. max. Since, I had 200 thousand pounds of bones, I was going to need to freeze the resulting stock so it wouldn't spoil. Of course that was going to take up precious freezer space that I just didn't have until we ate some more meat.


When I knew that time was getting close for me to make stock we took the big bag of bones out of the freezer and set it on the garage floor to wait for me. I live in Indiana and it was winter time so this should have been no problem. Clue in on key word should. Let me rephrase...In a typical winter this should not have been a problem. Clue in on key words typical winter. In case you just flew in from Mars or something...this has NOT been a typical winter. No. We had to have a warm snap. Like, even warmer than our unusually warm winter snap. I couldn't get those bones out of the garage before they quickly spoiled because of the heat. GRRRRRR! Needless to say, I was NOT a happy camper. Lesson learned...


I still wanted to make beef stock, though. Bone broth is one of the healthiest foods you can consume and I am over buying an inferior product if I don't have to. Guess what I found out? You can actually buy the bones from a butcher many times. Meijers (a superstore in the Midwest) even sells them. So, I bought me some bones and made beef stock. Wanna learn?


First, you need to get some bones. I started by saving all the beef bones that came in our roasts and off of our steaks in a gallon sized bag in the freezer.




Then, I bought some soup bones at Whole Foods.




And last, but not least...I snatched up this baby to throw in for good measure. :0)




It's a cow hoof. The hard part has been taken off and it's been cleaned, of course.




I thought you might like a close up. You're welcome. :) These are really great for making stock because they're full of the substance which causes stock to gel. You want that. It's super good for your joints as well as your immune system.


I think I freaked the lady out behind me in the check-out lane at Meijers when she saw this on the conveyor belt. Our conversation went something like this...


- Excuse me, what is that?
- A cow hoof.
- What are you going to do with it?
- Make dinner.
- voice begins to raise... Exactly WHAT are you making with it?
- voice remains calm and nonchalant... Braised cow hooves with liver meatballs. It's cooked with lots of garlic and onions, which makes everything taste wonderful. It's really good for you.
- voice is near panicky and about 5 octaves higher... OH. MY. GAAAWD! How can you EAT that?


Naw, I didn't really say that to her. But, I totally would have if I was on-the-spot witty. Unfortunately, I usually come up with some real zingers, but it's always after the fact. :) This is how our conversation really went...


- Excuse me, what is that?
- A cow hoof.
- What are you going to do with it?
- Make beef stock.
- Oh?
- Yeah, they're great for making stock because they produce a lot of the gel that is so good for building your immune system and joints.
- Well, that makes sense. I just wouldn't want to see one show up on my dinner plate!


It wasn't until I hit the parking lot that I realized I could have had a really great time messing with her. Oh well, there's always next time. :)


You probably want to know how to finish making stock now so I'll get off of my bunny trail.


After I gathered all of my respective bones, I put them in my favorite 9 quart iron Dutch oven. I give you permission to use whatever you want, though. I'm nice that way. Then I added some flavor and nutrient enhancers.




This part is really flexible, but I added carrots, onions and garlic. They make the broth taste yummy and give a real boost to the immune system. I also added bay leaves, because bay leaves make everything taste better. The dried stuff you see in the picture is parsley from last year's herb garden. If you ever plan on planting parsley in your herb garden make sure to get the Italian parsley. Don't even bother with the curly stuff - unless you like to put a snippet of it on the side of your dinner plates for everyone to throw away. Then, by all means, knock yourself out. I won't judge you. Anyhoo...I also added sea salt and pepper for good measure. As far as flexibility goes, you can throw in celery, leafy greens like kale or collards, any herb you have on hand (think thyme, chives, sage...), the occasional potato peel, etc. I've even been known to throw in a few asparagus stems, though you would want to go easy on that. They have a pretty strong flavor when cooked for a long time and can quickly overwhelm the broth. You want the main flavor to be the animal the bones came from, not asparagus. Know what I mean?


A quick tip if you're going to start making bone broth, beef or chicken, is this: If you're going to peel carrots for something, wash them first and then save the peels in a zip lock bag in the freezer. You can also save onion and garlic skins, the tips of celery or the ends of any veggie that you would normally send to the trash or compost bin as long as you wash them first. This also applies to the stems of soft herbs. Then, when your bag of frozen veggie scraps is full just add it to your bones for broth. The scraps are still full of nutrients and flavor. Even though they're not fit for showcasing in a meal they're perfect for making broth and you didn't have to waste a vegetable in the meantime.




Here's another quick tip for you. Don't mess with peeling and chopping the garlic. I simply smash them with the side of knife and throw them into the pot skins and all. I KNOW.. so much easier! You're welcome.




Once you've decided on add-ins, or not, just cover with water. I mean...JUST. You don't want inches of water over the tops of your bones 'n veggies. Kapeesh?




Now, this next step is optional but highly recommended. Add 1 or 2 tablespoons of cider vinegar to the water and let it sit for about 30 minutes before you turn the heat on. The cider vinegar begins to break down the bones so that inner substance that forms the gel that is so good for you can be released.


After about 30 minutes turn the heat on medium high and bring to a boil. Skim off any foam that forms and then turn the heat down to med low. Cover your pot. You want a gently bubbling simmer, not a boil. That's it! 


Don't let the details of this post fool you. It takes mere minutes of hands-on time to get to this point. From here on out you barely even have to think about your broth, much less touch it. So, though there is a lot of time involved, there is very little hands on time involved. It's brainless, really. And...it smells SO GOOD your husband will go nuts when he gets home from work. I'm talkin' 'wake you up in the night 'cause it smells so good' good here. Moving on...


Ideally you want to let your stock simmer for 24 hours before you strain it. But, you can let it go even longer if you like. I wouldn't strain beef stock any sooner than 18 hours, personally. Chicken stock can be removed after 8 or 12 hours if you need to. The beautiful thing about making your own stock is that you can make it in a crock pot if you're uncomfortable with running your stove top for that long at a time.


Another tid bit of information is that your bones can be reused. Remove the veggies after each batch if you're using them. Chicken bones can be used 2 or 3 times. Beef bones can be reused up to 5 times. Now, each batch of broth is going to be weaker than the one before. The first batch of stock is superb, unequaled to store bought even, and is best used where the flavor is going to be featured. Think soups, sauces, etc. The later batches which are less flavorful are great for cooking anything that would normally just use water. Think rice, risotto, steaming veggies, yada, yada, yada. Although you don't get the awesome flavor, you're still getting extra nutrients.




When my stock was done, I poured it into mason jars through a cheesecloth.




Once it's cool the fat will rise to the top. You can scoop it off if you wish. Or, you can scoop it off and save it separately to use in cooking because what you have there is tallow - a traditional, healthy fat. You can see that the jars in the back look different than the jars in the front. They don't have that dark, rich color because they were from a later batch of beef stock. It'll be perfect for cooking rice or something like that in.  


All in all, I ended up with 7 quarts of beef stock. I can live with that. :0 I'm not lying when I tell you that the flavor of store bought broth in no way, shape or form comes anywhere near the flavor of homemade stock. The difference it makes in the flavor of your meals will amaze you once you try it.


You can go here for a tutorial on how to make chicken stock and a few more tips about packaging and storing broth in general.


So, do tell...Have you ever made your own stock before? Is this something you think you would ever do? Any more ideas on what to do with the later batches of stock that don't have as rich of a flavor?

Monday, April 2, 2012

Updates and a Winner...

I'm home after a weekend with my family in Michigan. I not only got to spend time with the kinfolk, but I also... A) got a much needed haircut (It'd been a year.) ~ B) had a meeting pertaining to PURE YANKABILLY ~ C) had my first two in-home parties ~ and D) got to spend time with some wonderful old friends as well as meet a few new ones.

Because of my trip north I am late in choosing a winner for my 2nd PURE YANKABILLY giveaway. But, alas, choose a winner I did via Random.org. And the winner is...drum roll please....

#11 - Carol Sue



Congratulations, Carol Sue, on winning the 5 piece Love Your Face Kit!

If you didn't win you can visit Sarah @ CrAzY House. Visit her anyway! She did a review of the products I sent her and is also giving away the 5 piece Love Your Face Kit!

I will make my best effort to get a post I'm working on (not related to PURE YANKABILLY) up tomorrow.

Hope to see you then!
Pam


Sunday, March 25, 2012

And the Winner Is...

We have a winner for the first PURE YANKABILLY giveaway! The winner was chosen by Random.org.

Congratulations to #23 - Jenny!
          Oh my goodness ~ each of these prodcuts makes me GIDDY!! I choose the Flower Power Soothing salve =) I love the name!


There is still time to enter the giveaway for the 5 piece Love Your Face Kit.


Happy Sunday!
Pam