Roast Beef and Barley Build the Best Cold Weather Soup

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in January 2015. Since most of us have been experiencing bitter cold temperatures lately, we thought a good, hot soup is just what we need. Enjoy!

After a frantic few weeks of holiday cooking, you’re probably ready to put together some meals that are nearly heat and eat. Beef Barley Soup can do that for you, putting roast beef leftovers to good use, and adding barley for more protein and staying power. We usually plan for a chuck or arm roast that will allow us to have a pound or so of meat left, and we usually freeze a fourth to a half batch of the beef and barley soup made from the leftover beef. Continue reading

Real Food, Real Life: City Girl Churns Butter

Alison and her husband Jacob.

Alison and her husband Jacob.

This might be the coolest blog post I’ve written in a long time, if not ever. It’s all about the magical, real essence of butter. Continue reading

Real Mince Pies Recipe, Straight from Olde England

mince-pie

My younger sister spent a year of her college career as an exchange student to Leeds, England. There she learned many life lessons, including how to drink lots of tea, how to drive on the left side of the road, and how to make these rich mini pies, which are now a Christmas tradition in her household (and which I am lucky enough to devour when we visit her). Continue reading

Local Brothers Bake Up One of Our Best Holiday Goodies

Richard and pose in front of their giant gas baking oven, which is nearly 8 feet tall and 12 feet wide.

Richard, left, and Steve pose in front of their giant gas baking oven, which is just under 8 feet tall and 12 feet wide. It can bake 50 loaves of stollen at once. The brothers moved the vintage oven from a school that closed to the bakery.

Everyone knows that Ohio’s Amish country bakeries are the best anywhere. Now we can share a traditional holiday treat with you: stollen bread. Continue reading

Homemade Maraschino Cherries: Easy, Delicious, Fun!

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I decided to try out a recipe for homemade Maraschino cherries for my summer beverage and dessert enjoyment. Who knew it was so easy – and soooo delicious? Continue reading

Water Bath or Pressure Canners: What Works for You?

Ball Blue Book Food Canning Guide

Ideal for beginning or experienced home canners–The Ball Blue Book has the best and most up-to-date home food preserving information. Available at Lehmans.com or Lehman’s in Kidron, Ohio.

When folks new to canning start out, one of biggest questions asked is this one: which kind of canner should I use? And the answer most often heard is this one: “Well, it depends. What are you canning?”

As frustrating as that might be, that fuzzy answer isn’t out of line.

It really is important to know what you’ll be canning. Depending on the acidity level of the food, different processes and methods are used. Continue reading

Six Simple Tips for an Allergy-Free Picnic

 

Party Trays

A durable and reusable helper for parties, picnics and barbeques.

A picnic should be a fun gathering of family and friends where everyone can relax and have a nice time together. However, for many people attending a picnic can cause stress and panic. No, I am not talking about the dreaded conversation with your awkward uncle or the pressure from grandma to find that special someone. I’m talking about coping with the spread of dishes put out for meals.

For many, the serving table full of its tasty fare, chock-full of traditional picnic dishes can cause stress. In a time when there are so many fad diets, intolerances and medical needs involving food, there are many people that can’t just eat what everyone else is eating. At our typical family gatherings there are folks with food allergies, diabetics and vegans all needing to eat. So here are six simple steps we always use to help everyone have a nicer mealtime. Continue reading

Quick Cheater Chicken Broth

Stainless steel 8 qt stockpot

Find this 8 quart, sturdy, even-heating stockpot at Lehman’s in Kidron or at Lehmans.com. For conventional or wood ranges.

You want to make your own homemade soup, but you just feel like you don’t have the time to make your own chicken stock. Is that what’s troubling you, Bunky?

Fuss no more. This “cheater” chicken broth is simple, quick and is great for the busiest households. Next time you buy (or defrost) uncooked chicken for a meal, snag an extra 4 to 6 bone-in breast pieces, or 2 to 3 whole breast portions with the bones. Skin chicken if you want a lower-fat, clearer broth. I always skin my chicken and trim the fat off the meat when I make this broth.

Bones are what give great flavor to broths and stocks. This recipe is a broth–a hot liquid made with just the chicken pieces and few other ingredients. Stocks include bones, but also add veggies, usually root vegetables, for added flavor.

Cheater Chicken Broth
(makes about 8 cups)
4 to 6 bone-in chicken breast pieces
8 cups water -OR- 4 cups water and 2 cups white wine
Spices to taste: salt, garlic powder, poultry seasoning

Pour liquid into large stockpot, and add chicken pieces. Season with 1-2 teaspoons of salt, 1 teaspoon garlic powder and one teaspoon poultry seasonings.

Blunt-End Stainless Steel Slotted Spoons from Lehmans.com.

Long handles and perforated bowls make Blunt-End Slotted Stainless Steel Spoons perfect for soup-making sessions. At Lehman’s in Kidron, Ohio or at Lehmans.com.

Simmer mixture at medium heat until chicken is done: 15 to 45 minutes, depending on the size of your chicken breasts and how long your stove takes to warm the liquids. Stir occasionally.

Use a slotted spoon to remove chicken to plate and cool. Adjust seasonings in broth to your taste. Take broth off the heat to cool.

When the chicken pieces cool enough to handle, remove meat from the bones, shred meat and return to broth.

At this point, you can serve the broth as is, add veggies to whip up a chicken soup, add dumplings, or pop the broth into the fridge for a day or two (no more, it won’t hold more than that), or freeze the broth for later use.

No matter what you do, you’ll have a tasty base for soup, stews, or dumplings.

• White wine will give you a big punch of flavor, and all the alcohol will steam off during the simmer. If you’ve not cooked with wine before, use 7 cups water and 1 of wine. You may want to increase the amount of wine you use as you get used to cooking with it.

• A squeeze of lemon juice will liven up a water-only broth. If you just use water, add the juice from 1/4 of a lemon as the simmering just starts. It’ll help tenderize the chicken too. If you think it needs more “oomph” add a bit more fresh lemon juice just before serving.

Best breads: With this simple broth, whole wheat saltines or regular saltines do well. My grandad used to float little bits of buttered bread in his chicken broth, and that’s pretty tasty too. Croutons can add texture if you have them handy.

Should you prefer your broth meat-free, use the poached chicken breast sliced in sandwiches, shredded and warmed with Old Carolina Barbeque Sauce, or mixed into this favorite dip.

Spicy Buffalo-Style Chicken Dip
1-12 oz bottle Frank’s Original Hot Sauce
2-8 oz packages cream cheese, cut into cubes
1-16 oz bottle Ranch Dressing
1-28 oz can Lehman’s Canned Chicken (or about 3 cups cooked chicken)
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese

Mix all the ingredients together. Cook in a crock pot or slow cooker for an hour or two, stirring occasionally.

You can also bake it at 350°F for 30 minutes if you don’t want to wait! Serve with tortilla chips, crackers and celery.

Craft An Upcycled Christmas in 2015

I loved how the jar lid tags came out! Underneath, you can see my festive gift bag fabric.

I loved how the jar lid tags came out! Underneath, you can see my festive gift bag fabric.

It’s no secret that our landfills are overflowing. I take every opportunity to reduce the amount of waste I produce by reusing and repurposing whatever I can. Over the holidays I get to exercise my creative muscle to make beautiful wrappings and tags from what would otherwise be junk into decorative items that can be reused year after year.

Canning Jar Lids:

One thing I have an abundance of canning jar lids. They can only be used once, no matter how perfect they look. This year I also had a huge supply of jar labels.

Put the two together with some spray paint and you have lovely gift tags. These were so much fun to make; the process became a family affair akin to making gingerbread houses and Christmas cookies.

I gathered several dozen jar lids and gave them a good wash then let them dry completely. I had a lot of cans of spray paint left over from other projects. I found the color really didn’t matter. Although red and green are festive, the black chalkboard paint looked great too. It can be written on to which is a plus but I had trouble making the letters small enough with the large chalk I had on hand. I preferred the look of the labels. I considered poking holes in the tops so I could string ribbon or raffia through them but decided to go with some rolled tape I had that was losing its stickiness.

Make Gift Bags
I scored a bolt of red and white striped fabric at a tag sale so I now have a collection of cute gift bags that look sweet with my upcycled tags. They were easy to sew. (Editor’s Note: Pick up lots of great ideas on making your own gift bags via this Pinterest page!)

This week, I will pack up the leftover bags and the tags. Like Christmas snow, they’ll make an appearance at Christmas 2015, bringing some magic and happy memories to this special season.

Cowboy Chili Is Hearty, Homemade Fast Meal

Royal Blue Enamelware Bowls at Lehmans.com

Any soup is tastier in Royal Blue Enamelware bowls. At Lehman’s in Kidron, Ohio, or at Lehmans.com.

Chili is a hot favorite at the Johnson household, but since we both work, time can be an issue. The crock pot doesn’t always get set up on a workday morning, or we’re out of our stash of browned hamburger in the freezer.

But Cowboy Chili doesn’t need cooked all day. In fact, you can whip it up in about an hour. It’s rich, chunky, and scoops up well on corn chips. (I favor the lime-flavored ones made by our neighbors at Shearer’s.) Continue reading