Thursday

Dry Rub Mix

Dry Rub Mix for Meat or Barbecue Sauce
While searching the Internet a few years back for a good homemade dry rub mix I came across this recipe on The Yummy Life Blog. 
I decided to give it a try and I was not disappointed.  Turns out it’s great on chicken, beef, and pork and I have even used it on fish or when grilling shrimp.

Most of the spices I already had on hand and only had to purchase one or two.
I love spices and when I find one we like I usually purchase an extra.  I also love going into spice shops when we travel.  It's comparable to some people's shoe addiction I think. 

This dry rub mix took me back to long ago memories of my sister Debra and her wonderful recipes and spicy cooking.  One summer weekend years ago, she even spent the day showing my husband Bill and I how to make homemade barbecue sauce.  My sister Debra could just mix things together and they came out delicious every time.  I lost my sister a few years back, but this dry rub mix encouraged me to try to reproduce her barbecue sauce. And I have to say, it turned out wonderful!
So much so that the kids think I shouldn't share it, but I don't want good recipes to be lost forever. 
Been there, regret that.

Spice-aholic, me

Recently, I made the mistake of posting a photo on a Facebook page I follow of my barbecue sauce I canned and was over whelmed by the number of people who want, need or are looking for a good barbecue sauce recipe.  I wasn't prepared or even thinking about doing a blog post on the matter but the group forced my hand, haha. 
My sauce started  from my sister Debra's sauce, but also with this good dry rub mix recipe as the base from Monica on The Yummy Life Blog.  Thanks for sharing Monica!


Spread dark brown sugar on a tray to dry

Dry Rub Mix For Meat 

Makes 1-3/4 cups (fills a pint mason jar)

Ingredients
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup seasoned salt
1/4 cup paprika (sweet Hungarian)
1/4 cup smoked paprika (Spanish)
1 tablespoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 tablespoon celery salt
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons black pepper
1 tablespoon rubbed dried sage
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon ground mace
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

Mix all the spices together in a bowl or food processor

Directions
Spread brown sugar out on a plate or baking sheet for 1-2 hours so it can dry and avoid clumping. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and whisk together or place in a food processor and pulse until well blended.

Place Dry Rub Mix in a container for storage

Store in a mason jar or other airtight container.

To use sprinkle mix on all sides of the meat and rub in. You can cook right away or by covering the meat and refrigerating for an hour or two before cooking it helps the mix penetrate the meat a little more and enhances the flavor.  Also good for seasoning meat in a slow cooker.
My father Art used to eat seasoned salt (Lawry's) on his breakfast eggs, so I’m pretty sure he would have like this blend too.

Lids:
I used the Ball brand herb and spice mason jar lids.  But a Kraft Parmesan cheese lid will also fit a mason jar. 

Ball brand spice and herb lids for mason jars

Ball brand spice and herb lids for mason jars

Or a Kraft Cheese lid will work in a pinch

Variations:
I mixed Monica's recipe up as-is, but you can change it according to your tastes.
To make it spicier, add more chili powder, cayenne or black pepper.
If sweet is what you prefer add more brown sugar, cloves, allspice or mace.
For a smokier blend I like to add smoky paprika or applewood smoked salt.

Label:
Don't forget to make a label with directions.  Herbs and spices supposedly stay fresh or good for about a year.  If you don't use the mix very often it's also a good idea to put a date on the label. That way you'll know when it's time to make a fresh batch.

Make a label.  If not used often it's also good to add the date. 
Gifts:
Spices make excellent gifts at Christmas or as a Hostess or House Warming gift.  I have this on my list to give out next Christmas to family and friends.
You can double the recipe to make 4 - 1/2 pints.  Then just add pretty ribbons and a decorative label.  It can also be part of a food or cooking gift basket. 


The weather here has been so cold that I haven't been able tap our maple trees to make Maple Syrup, which really helps keep me busy and pass the time during these cold Ohio winter months.  Ugh.  I have a feeling this year we will go right into warm weather with no transition in between. 

Elizabeth

Other Blog Posts:

Tangy Sweet Barbecue Sauce (post coming soon)



Barbecue sauce makers,  extraordinaire;
 My late sister Debra and her husband Phil

An old photo from years ago of a big party and pig roast we held.
My husband Bill is in the middle and Phil in on the far left.




Sunday

Sausage Kale Soup (Zuppa Toscana)

There is something so comforting and soothing about having a hot bowl of soup on a cold winter’s day. 

If you ever wondered about soup, traditionally, soups are classified into two main groups: clear soups and thick soups. 
I always call mine soup or stew; depending on how thick it is and if there are more ingredients than liquid. 

For soup sticklers, many definitions state: 
“Soups are similar to stews, and in some cases there may not be a clear distinction between the two; however, soups generally have more liquid than stews.” 

According to Wikipedia, “Evidence of the existence of soup can be found as far back as about 20,000 BC. Boiling was not a common cooking technique until the invention of waterproof containers (which probably came in the form of clay vessels). Animal hides and watertight baskets of bark or reeds were used before this. To boil the water hot rocks were used.”

My first experience with sausage kale soup or Zuppa Toscana was at an Olive Garden restaurant years ago.  Because it’s my favorite soup there, I decided to recreate it at home.  Questioning a server, I found out that the soup is prepackaged in a large bag when it comes to the restaurant and comes from Gordon Food Service (GFS). The restaurant kitchen staff adds fresh kale after pouring the soup into a large pot. Coming in a prepackage bag makes me thinks there are most likely lots of additives in their soup.

Fresh Kale

And anyone who says they bribed or received the original recipe from someone who knew someone who used to work at Olive Garden didn't do their research or should be suspect.
Anyway, fresh is always better in my opinion. And soup with no additives or preservatives is better still.
So here’s how I make mine. 
I like to add only 1 pound of sausage, but the guys always complain that's not enough meat.
You should hear the moans when it’s meatless dinner night!

You can add extra garlic, pepper or oregano if desired or add a little thyme. Whatever tastes good to you.  You can also add a little garlic salt. 
Potatoes will cook down and help thicken the broth, so don’t be afraid to add even more slices of potatoes.
I cook my soup in a Crockpot but it can also be simmered in a stockpot.

This soup is wonderful served with fresh homemade garlic sticks! (recipe coming soon)

Cook the sausage until crumbly and no longer pink


Sausage Kale Soup


Ingredients
2 pints homemade or cans (14-1/2 ounces) chicken broth
1 cup of whole milk
1 cup heavy whipping cream, (or half and half)
1 to 2 pounds savory or Italian Sausage (or combo)
1 large onion
2 – 3 garlic cloves
5 to 6 medium potatoes
2 tablespoons butter
1 bunch of fresh kale
1 teaspoon course ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon oregano
Salt to taste if desired
Crushed red peppers for garnish (optional)

 
Chop the onions and garlic

Directions
Turn Crockpot on high and then pour in the chicken broth, milk and
whipping cream.
(This can also be cooked in a pot on the stove top).
Cook sausage until crumbly and done. Drain and place in Crockpot.
Wash potatoes, slice with peels on and then add to the Crockpot.

Wash and slice the potatoes

Melt butter in the same skillet used for the sausage.  Chop onion and
mince the garlic and add to the skillet.  Sauté the onion and garlic about
3 minutes or until tender then put into the Crockpot.

Saute the onions and garlic

Tear kale into pieces, discarding the stem, and then add to the Crockpot.
Add pepper, a little salt if desired and oregano.

Cook all in a Crockpot or large stockpot

Finally, stir it all together.  Cook on high for 2 to 3 hours.
Reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are tender.
Or if cooking on the stovetop, bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are tender and kale is soft.




The broth is one of the best parts of this soup, but if you prefer a thicker broth, remove ½ to ¾ cup of the soup broth. Whisk ¼ to ½ cup flour or cornstarch into the broth to form a consistency of thick pancake batter.  Mix paste back into the soup and let simmer until it thickens.


PRINT RECIPE


Here in central Ohio we just got nearly 8 inches of snow dumped on us yesterday.  Then last night, temps dipped into the teens so the roads turned into a sheet of ice.  We're staying home this weekend, catching up on a few needed repairs and just waiting for Spring.
Hope all is warm and well where you are,
Elizabeth





Friday

Rabbits: A Natural and Cultural History

Lagomorphs; A Natural and Cultural History.
By Guest Blogger Alexis Lynch.

Rabbits are remarkable and fascinating creatures that deserve appreciation, so I think a bit of an overview is in order:

Rabbits (Sylvilagus) and Hares (Lepus) of North America belong to the Order and Family Lagomorpha Leporidae, and in total there are 29 species of rabbits and 32 species of hares.

So what’s the difference between a rabbit and a hare? 
Rabbits are altricial; meaning they are born in an undeveloped state and require care and feeding by the parents. Rabbits are born naked and blind into fur-lined nests in burrows below ground. They stay in the nest tended to by their mother for a couple of weeks.

Thursday

Psycho Kitty or Sybil the Cat

Our small farm was once part of a much larger property with acres of farmland.  Included in that original property were woods.  Our land is still pretty wooded and has a creek, but now the denser woods are across the road from ours.  Two of our neighbor’s homes are in and surrounded by woods, a creek and ravines.
Because of that natural setting we see a lot of wild animals:  Deer, fox, coyote, opossum, raccoon, rabbits, snakes and hawks to name a few.

A couple years ago on a trip to see Maple Syrup making demonstrations, we ended up adopting 2 barn cats from Malabar Farm, the historical farm of Pulitzer prize winning author Louis Bromfield.  Seems many cats are dumped in front of the park and end up living in their main barn.  The park workers are constantly looking for homes for the many (and I mean many) barn cats living on the property.

Monday

Make in the Morning Cinnamon Rolls

I am anxiously awaiting the perfect outdoor temperatures so I can once again tap my maple trees to make maple syrup.  The temps need to be above 40 degrees during the day and below freezing at night. This causes the sap to run.  

While waiting all I can think about are recipes using maple syrup.

This is a pretty easy homemade Cinnamon Roll recipe and perfect for a lazy Saturday morning.

These can be started in the early morning hours before everyone wakes, and are ready in about 1 to 1½ hours, start to finish.   Their also just as good the next day! (if any make it that long)

Tuesday

Look What I Found: Antique Handmade Quilt

Patchwork Quilt
I like stopping in second hand stores, thrift stores and antique shops whenever possible.
This is my latest find:  a beautiful old patchwork quilt!
I know very little about quilts except I like them and collect them if the price is right.  This is one of my best finds yet at $8.99.
I found this quilt especially interesting because of the pattern and names so I did a little research on old quilts.

A patchwork quilt is a quilt in which the top layer consists of pieces of fabric sewn together to form a design. Originally, this was to make full use of left-over scraps of fabric.

If you are reading this post and can shed more light on this quilt I would really 
appreciate it! 

Friday

Quick and Easy Strawberry Cake

Strawberry Cake
An easy sheet cake or layer cake and ready in no time using a prepackaged cake mix and frozen strawberries. 
Or if you prefer something more natural, mix up a white cake batter and homemade frosting!

We pick our strawberries at a nearby farm every year around the first week of June to make our own natural Homemade Strawberry Jam.  And I always buy extra strawberries to chop and freeze to use with desserts, on ice cream and in salads.  There is nothing like the taste of a summer fresh strawberry!  Well June is quickly approaching so this year I decided to use up some of the strawberries from last year to make a Cake for my husband Bill’s birthday.

This cake is also perfect if you’re looking for a Valentine’s Day Dessert.  Or bookmark or Pin this recipe for summer and use fresh garden strawberries.  Great to serve at outdoor barbecues and summer dinner parties too!

If making cake batter from scratch using your favorite recipe, just decrease the liquid by a 1/3 to ½ cup and add 1 cup mashed strawberries with juice and the strawberry flavored gelatin.
If Jell-O brand gelatin is not for you, Better Bowls makes a natural brand of strawberry gelatin!

Wednesday

How I Got Started Breeding Rabbits

Rabbits:  The Beginning
By Guest Blogger Alexis Lynch:  An Introduction

Hello! I’m Elizabeth’s daughter and after many requests from my Mom, I agreed to do a little guest blogging.  
I will be blogging about Rabbits: raising, feeding, housing and breeding along with other rabbit concerns.    

As a child I had a pet rabbit. It’s been so many years ago that I no longer remember the exact day I got him but he was a grey short-haired Mini-Rex named Thunder.   He was an average example of his breed, only special because he was my very own and I loved him. He lived near our clubhouse in an outdoor hutch my mother built from salvaged lumber.  I have many happy memories of taking him out to our sunny grassy yard where we spent many hours playing together.  Time passed and as all living things do; sadly including pets, Thunder eventually died. I remember crying and running to tell my parents. I never had another pet rabbit after that; my experience with rabbits thereafter stemming from what I read from books or online, watching nature shows or rabbits I saw at county fairs.

Sunday

Perfect Sourdough Bread

Sourdough bread is great buttered, toasted, served with dinner or used for sandwiches. 
In my opinion bread making is an art. 
There is a special pleasure working with bread and just the aroma of baking bread throughout the house is well worth the effort.

I grew up eating my mother’s homemade bread.  We would beg and beg her to make it and it was always eaten hot from the oven covered with butter.  
My mother never looked at a recipe to make her bread, she just mixed it up and it was perfect. Every time. Sigh.

I can not just whip up a loaf of bread, I always have the recipe right next to me and I have been practicing for years.  In the pass, I’ve had as many bread failures as successes I think, but I kept at it. 

Using a sourdough starter is an ancient method to make leavened bread.

Friday

Easy Shelves You Can Build Yourself

Easy Shelf Design For Multiple Shelf Use

Recently I finished painting my newest pantry shelves. The shelves were a combination of new and used wood.
When we purchased our small farm the kitchen had a small 4’ by 4’ pantry closet, (with 6 inch wide shelves, ugh) and later I converted another closet for pantry space.  But last year we did a complete kitchen remodel, going down to bare studs so I had to build a new pantry.

You may have read in another blog post of mine that I am no expert.
I am a trial and error kind of person and self taught, right or wrong.  My father was a wonderful carpenter and builder of things so I like to think I got a little bit of that from him.
Maybe from following him around a lot when I was little.

I use a pretty basic shelf design which can change slightly depending on the character or purpose of the shelving.  Storage shelves are more rustic and not always “perfect”. 
Book shelves get a little added trim and detail work and are put together with a more attention to ascetics.