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

8 Reasons Old Cookbooks Are Important

old teakettles

by Gaye Levy, Backdoor Survival
Reposted with Permission

A couple of months ago I was going through some old boxes tucked into the hidden recesses of my garage and I stumbled upon a box of old cookbooks.  Since I learned to cook long before the age of computers, most of my self-taught efforts came by way of these cookbooks. I started to collect cookbooks in high school and little did I know then what I know now: old cookbooks are important. Continue reading

Making Homemade Syrup: 10 Tips Before You Tap

Our glass honey and syrup dispenser saves you a sticky mess. At our store in Kidron and Lehmans.com.

Our glass honey and syrup dispenser saves you a sticky mess. At our store in Kidron and Lehmans.com.

By Scott Ervin

Editor’s Note: The following article is by Scott Ervin, husband of Glenda Lehman Ervin (Lehman’s VP of Marketing) and son-in-law of Jay Lehman (Lehman’s founder). An avid outdoorsman, Scott tried his hand at maple syrup making two years ago and learned many valuable lessons in the process.

There is an abundance of sources for information on how to tap trees and make maple syrup. How-to guides are readily available on line and in books. I picked up a great book at Lehman’s that was very helpful. I recommend that anyone interested in making maple syrup for the first time study this readily available information carefully before embarking on your quest for delicious homemade syrup. 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

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.

Upcycle Old Tshirts for Thoughtful Gift!

Children's Tshirts

Sure, they may outgrow them, but you can make cute quilts with them afterwards!

If you’re like the folks who work here at Lehman’s, you like to make things with your hands. And for the holidays, you really like to make gifts for those few people who make your life complete.

This year, you might need their cooperation, a few Tshirts, and some basic sewing skills. We love the idea of a quilt made from well-loved or outgrown Ts that aren’t really past their prime.

In fact, one of our own staff members, Elaine, created a beautiful, very warm comforter using the Lehman’s t-shirts she wore to work for years!

Elaine's "Lehman's Ts Quilt."

Elaine’s “Lehman’s Ts Quilt.”

See the tutorial here:
http://www.favequilts.com/T-Shirt-Quilts/Classic-Memories-T-Shirt-Quilt

Manage Your Homestead’s Food Supply Successfully

A LOT of just harvested garlic bulbs!

How do you process all this garlic? Dry some, crush some! Click for more info about Lehman’s super garlic press.

When you grow and raise a lot of food, one of the tricks to making it pay is managing the inventory. That means record keeping, not always my favorite thing but necessary if I am going to avoid waste.

Last month we harvested our garlic and it was phenomenal. I harvested 15o heads. That might seem like a lot but we are garlic lovers and I need enough to eat and to save for seed for next year. The biggest bulbs were pulled out immediately. The temptation is to eat those but that would leave me inferior seed. I put those heads away to plant in this month, and dry the rest to use throughout the year.

Continue reading

Michigan Apples Keep Judy Hustling

Bushel baskets available at Lehmans.com or Lehman's in Kidron, Ohio.

Bushel baskets available at Lehmans.com or Lehman’s in Kidron, Ohio.

I was a busy bee over the weekend. Bought a bushel of mixed apples grown right here in Michigan, and made applesauce and apple butter. Sounds so simple with so few words, but it’s actually quite a lot of work, even though I significantly changed two labor-intensive steps.

I have a food press, one of those cone-shaped dealies with a wooden pestle. It’s hard work to press apples with their peels, cores, seeds and stems through it, and you’re constantly cleaning out the scrap. I also have an attachment for my Kitchen Aid that will separate the scrap from the apple flesh, but I didn’t want to dirty more dishes. Continue reading

From College Kitchen to Our Dinner Table

French Press Coffee Maker

Lehman’s French Press Coffee Maker is great gift for your favorite student. It’s easy to use and easy to clean.

Ah, the college years. Did we even realize how good we had it? New friends, exciting (or not) courses, free time, parental units probably far away, little responsibility – at least compared to full adulthood/parenthood. College was where I learned to love coffee, where I found out I had a gift for making my roommates laugh…and also where I learned to cook!

After two years in the dorms, subsisting on cafeteria food (which, I must admit, was actually pretty good) and Ramen noodles cooked in hand-me-down hotpots, my girlfriends and I signed the lease on a townhouse close to campus, where we would live until graduation. It had a full kitchen, so one of the first routines we set up after we all moved in was the dinner schedule.

Breakfasts and lunches, we decided, were free-for-alls, but dinners would be sacred, in a way. We all came from good solid families where sitting down for nightly meals was the norm, and I’m sure we all (despite our burgeoning independence) longed for some of that stable “homey” feeling. So we each picked a night, and began to cook for each other.

Like most students, we were all living on a shoestring budget (I got paid $2 per typed page of notes I took for a Psych 101 class – imagine that!) so our meals were simple, hearty and shall we say, sometimes quite creative. And sure, during finals week we threw the cooking schedule out the window and ordered in pizza. But interestingly, some of the same recipes we each came to be known for, I use to this day. In fact, the following three are still some of my “go-to’s,” – 14 years, one husband, two jobs and three children later. Enjoy – and send some good thoughts to your college roomies as you cook them. I know I do! Continue reading