Stock Up: Get the most from your big bird!

Get the most out of your holiday turkeys (or even chickens)- make some stock!turkey_019

We always get at least one extra turkey at Thanksgiving because the prices are so good. And when we did, we realized we still had a 23 pound bird in our freezer.

To make room for this year’s extra turkey, we had an early Thanksgiving feast. I really enjoyed this week of good eats. We had easy, tasty protein to add to our rice bowls, salads and sandwiches. We also could split the favorites of the classic meal into many different meals throughout the week.

As an added benefit I can freeze some so I have safe roasted turkey on the ready for my daughter, who has several food allergies. It’s great to pre-prep a quick snack or meal for her.

I like to cook my turkey in a roaster. I always make a large pot of stock from the neck and gizzards, liver and heart while the meat is roasting. I put the neck, the ‘innards’, fresh sage, garlic and a quartered onion to simmer in a large stockpot. I let it bubble away all afternoon and used it for gravy, basting and stuffing.

After I’d made gravy for our early turkey dinner, I canned the stock that was left and had Turkey stock 3five quarts of stock just from the stockpot.

Since it was such a large turkey for the four of us, John sliced it down, while I picked off all the usable meat for some turkey salad and other future dinners.

Then I took the bones and returned them to my now clean roaster with some more onions, garlic and this time a couple carrots and celery stalks. I filled the roaster with water and let it simmer all night through the next day.

It was some work to get the fat off the top, but I found that cheese cloth or a paper towel fatseparatoralong the top skimmed well. (A gravy separator will work well too.) From the simmered bones, I got another thirteen quarts of stock.

It only takes 25 minutes at 11 pounds of pressure to can stock. In years past I have frozen it and while it may be a bit quicker to freeze stock, I have had to dodge large frozen blocks of it falling out of the bulging freezer.

Then when I would go to use it I would need to defrost it and often the container it was may have been cracked from an escape attempt, and the whole thing was just a production.

With canned stock, it is just easy breezy ready to use. I just pop the top and go. It’s definitely worth the time invested to clean the jars and do the canning properly.

I also plan to make some vegetable stock with the veggies that tend to be on sale for the making of thanksgiving feasts. I also freeze any of the celery or carrots that aren’t crisp enough to eat or use the trimmings from other dishes over time.

It is super simple because you can just toss the cutting and leftover bits into a container and pull that out when you are ready to make veggie stock.

When you add the garlic and onions, don’t stress about peeling perfectly. I just pour mine through a strainer to get all the big chunks out. I leave the garlic whole, and quarter the onions.

So for much less than what the turkey stock alone would have been at the grocery store, I got gallons of turkey and veggie stock.

Plus we got a fresh roasted turkey, yummy turkey sandwiches, and all the other favoriteTurkey stock 1 leftovers.

I can season the stocks to taste when I am ready to use it and I know every ingredient. It doesn’t get more perfect or basic than that.

One recipe that I love to make with the stock and some frozen turkey is dumplings. Just google gluten free vegan chicken dumplings if you need to avoid wheat, milk or egg. We have to avoid those things, and searching for vegan recipes makes things simpler. I just don’t tell the vegan dumplings that they’re cooking up in my meaty turkey stock!

If you don’t have food limitations, make your favorite dumplings, and toss them into a pefect, homemade stock. Really in a rush? You want these pot pie noodles. They’re great, and locally made.

Let’s Play “The Mennonite Game”

Justina Dee, the talent behind

Justina Dee, the talent behind

Country Life met Justina Dee, the grandaughter of an Amish preacher in October, and immediately knew she was “our kind of people.” We’d like to introduce her with her light-hearted entry about “The Mennonite Game”, when…well. She’ll tell you. We just want you to know: click to her site and see the video. Be sure the family’s gathered around, because they’ll love it too.               –Karen Johnson, editor, Country Life

One of my favorite things about being born into a family with Amish-Mennonite roots is the deep appreciation of family history and belonging which you are given. As a young child with Anabaptist ancestors, you quickly learn there are two things of great importance.

Lesson one – your family genealogy. My father is a brilliant steward of our family’s history and stories. One year he purchased the most recent edition of something we call “The Fisher Book”. (A record with thousands of Amish-Mennonite relatives.) My little brother was so excited to find his name in the new printing of the “Fisher Book” that he circled the text in dark black ink – not something you typically do in a very expensive and significant ancestral document. I’m sure someday his descendants will enjoy seeing the mark he made on history!

Read more here, and don’t miss the video:

No-Bake Pumpkin Chiffon Pie: Easy Holiday Dessert

Running out of time to bake a homemade pumpkin pie? Try this tasty Pumpkin Chiffon version. It’s a quick, no-bake, delicious dessert that’s packed full of pumpkin goodness. One of our great customer service folks, Celesta, shared the recipe. (If you were lucky enough to get a copy of our 55th Anniversary cookbook* before they sold out, this recipe is on page 225.)

Essential Glass Pie Plate

Essential Glass Pie Plate, perfect for home-baked crusts! At or Lehman’s in Kidron, Ohio.

No-Bake Pumpkin Chiffon Pie
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
3/4 C. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 C. cold milk
3 egg yolks
3 egg whites
1 C. cooked pumpkin

(You can use canned pumpkin, if you don’t cook your own pumpkin)

I usually grab a stoneware mug when dissolving gelatin in warm water. The stoneware keeps it warmer longer. Check out Lehman's Heritage Blue Stripe Stoneware at

I usually grab a stoneware mug when dissolving gelatin in warm water. The stoneware keeps it warmer longer. Check out Lehman’s Heritage Blue Stripe Stoneware at

Make the Pie

Separate eggs into whites and yolks. Dissolve gelatin in water and set aside. Mix all remaining ingredients together in saucepan, then place saucepan over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring constantly. Add gelatin to warm pumpkin mixture, mix well, and remove from heat.

Cool in pan until partially set, but still warm enough to be pourable. Beat egg whites until stiff. Add 1/4 cup sugar and egg whites to pumpkin mixture, and fold gently until no white streaks are visible. Pour into baked 9-inch pie shell. Allow to set until firm. Top with whipped cream before serving.

*Looking forward to our brand new 60th Anniversary Cookbook? It’s in production now. Pre-order your copy, and don’t miss out.

Youthview: Loving Traditional Family Thanksgivings

Alli Ervin, Youthview blogger.

Alli Ervin, Youthview blogger.

Last year we hosted Thanksgiving at our house for the first time in several years – I enjoyed the holiday more than I ever had before and that’s saying something because it’s one of my favorite occasions. It makes me feel warm and loved to have family (I am talking aunts, uncles, cousins, the whole gang, ranging in age from four years old to 84 years old) at our home.

I love helping my mom prepare the food and put out seasonal decorations. We live in a woods so tree branches, leaves and pine cones, artfully arranged in a large glass bowl, add great fall touches. I always get to choose which music we are going to play and what drinks to serve (a simple one is grape juice and 7-Up, garnished with orange slices) and, when everything is ready and the house smells like turkey and stuffing, we wait for the doorbell to ring.

The turkey is always a centerpiece of my family's traditional meal.

The turkey is always a centerpiece of my family’s traditional meal.

I have such a big, fun family and I love it when we’re all together*. The food is always amazing, especially at Thanksgiving. My mom and I often bake bread together, which is what she used to do with her mother. Our Thanksgiving menu is very traditional – we briefly discussed doing something different (how about a baked potato bar?) but the outcry was heard for miles. Turkey and ham, mashed potatoes, corn casserole, seven-layer salad, fresh bread, and more pies that you can count. My mom made deviled eggs last Thanksgiving (that’s one of her specialties) and forgot to get them out until after the meal. We enjoyed a round of appetizers after dessert and had a good laugh.

Even though it’s more work, hosting the holidays at your house is a great experience. It’s all about being with family and friends so if the cooking stresses you out, make it a pot luck carry in, or even call ahead and order something. Enjoy a meal and then, afterwards, (at least in my family), the men retire to watch football and yell at their favorite teams and the women do a craft (we had a fun one this year – more on that in the next blog).

No many how many times I get asked what grade I am; how I am doing at school or how tall I am (I grew 5 inches over the past year and am 5’8”, by the way) it’s always so much fun when my family is all together.

*Editor’s note: Allison’s grandfather is Jay Lehman, founder; her uncle is Galen Lehman, president; and her mother is Glenda Lehman Ervin, vice president.

Seasonal Storms Readiness Primer

This article originally ran in summer 2012. There are useful tips for year-round storm preparation, though, and I hope that you’ll use them and be ready for incoming winter weather. — Karen Johnson, Editor, Country Life

From our preparedness/homesteading blogger Kathy Harrison! In stock now.

From our preparedness/homesteading blogger Kathy Harrison! In stock now.

Like most young boys, I often dreamed of living without modern creature comforts. In my ideal world I would use candles for my light, cook over an open flame, and eat canned goods and jerky.

Eventually I got my wish- about five years ago during an exceptionally bad winter when the power lines came down. For five days my family endured frigid temperatures with no phone service or electricity. The grocery and hardware stores in the nearby towns were in the same shape, leaving everyone to find their own way to survive. Continue reading

This Centerpiece is For The Birds (Literally)

Here at Lehman’s, we love to be crafty and thrifty at the same time. This HOLIDAYCENTERPIECEScenterpiece idea is great on so many levels: it’s simple and rustically beautiful, inexpensive, a wonderful children’s activity, and you can feed the birds afterward so nothing is wasted. What’s more, it goes together in just a few minutes, and youngsters as little as 3 can help.

After the holiday, have fun popping the popcorn and stringing it with the cranberries. This could be a great evening activity to do while watching the football game, or for the next day when the children are still home from school. Drape your popcorn and cranberry garlands outside on trees, bushes, fences, even picnic tables, and watch the birds come back again and again for some cold-weather snacks.

You will need:tgiving1


1. Pour popcorn into the canning jar(s), layering colored popcorn as you wish and filling jars a little more than halfway. For perfectly same-sized layers, use a measuring cup for the popcorn.tgiving2

2. Pour fresh cranberries on top of the popcorn layers, filling jars almost to the top.

3. Press a tea light candle into the cranberries, making sure no parts of the cranberries are touching the candle itself. (If you’re wanting to leave these lit for long periods of time, use battery powered tea lights.)

4. Tie twine, raffia or ribbon of your choice around the top of the jar(s). I used Lehman’s  jute twine for a totally natural look.

5. Arrange on the table in whatever way you wish: a single jar surrounded bphoto 1by pine cones and pumpkins, a grouping of jars accented by your favorite plate, basket or a pretty table runner. The possibilities are endless. Voila – your table is beautiful, and the birds will be thankful this holiday, too!

Here’s another idea: Instead of centerpieces, layer the popcorn and cranberries in half-pint canning jars, tightly seal with lids and bands and write your guests’ names on the lids. You’ve now made table place settings that double as take-home favors. Simple, natural, festive and fun.

Classic Turkey Brine Recipe

For super moist, flavorful turkey this year, brine that bird!

Shelley, Lehman’s Merchandising Assistant, has been brining her family’s Thanksgiving turkey for the past couple of years, and she shared her simple recipe with us. We’re passing it on to you! Brining the turkey for at least 12 hours before roasting makes it extra moist, and this recipe gives the meat a slightly sweet flavor (which Shelley says her brood loves). Try it this year – it’s quick, easy and it just may become part of your Turkey Day turkey_087.tif1024x768traditions.

Classic Turkey Brine

You’ll need:

  • 1 gallon water
  • 1 cup coarse salt (such as sea salt or pink salt)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 orange, juiced and rind finely grated
  • 1 tablespoon whole cloves
  • 1 tablespoon whole allspice
  • 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1 turkey, 12-15 lb (thaw turkey and remove giblets before brining)
  • Ice (enough to cover turkey)
  • large stockpot and/or storage container with lid (such as a 5-gallon bucket or 4-gallon bucket)


In a large stockpot, combine all ingredients except turkey and ice. Bring to a boil and stir to dissolve salt and sugar. Remove from heat and let stand 30 minutes. Chill. Place the turkey, brining liquid and ice in stockpot or lidded bucket and let stand up to 12 hours (overnight works well). Roast and feast!

DIY: Building Your Own Fermenting Jar

Try pickled beets in the Perfect Pickler! It's available now at

Try pickled beets in the Perfect Pickler! If you aren’t sure about making your own fermenting jar, it’s available in two sizes at

When I was little, my mother made pickles in crocks. It seemed like a lot of work with many steps to finally get to a tasty pickle. I recently found out that what she was doing was fermenting the cucumbers and that it’s not hard to do! And in the last couple of weeks, I have gone from thinking probiotics were just capsules or something in special yogurt to making my own sauerkraut. How did I not know that lacto-fermented foods are good for you?

Airlock fermentation systems like the Perfect Pickler™ are attractive, but to stay within my budget, I created my own. Here is what you can do to make your own airlock fermentation system.

Continue reading

Pickle Your Fall Vegetables With A Lacto-Fermented Process

recycled paper cutting board

Durable! Our employees swear by our Epicurean® Cutting Board. At Lehman’s in Kidron, Ohio, or at

I have always made a lot of pickles. We eat something pickled nearly every day. Pickled beans and beets are our favorites with carrots and cauliflower nearly as popular. We like bread and butter pickles too. Lately, I have been making a lot more lacto-fermented pickles than traditional canned pickles in brine. We can make a ½ gallon of pickles and eat them over the course of a few weeks and then just make up another crispy batch.

The process is really simple too. All you need is a sharp knife and a cutting board and some ½ gallon jars. Almost any vegetable can be fermented although a few things don’t appeal to me. I have tried pickled greens and found them, well; odd is all I can say about them. Continue reading