Lunch Time

A big part of saving time and money goes into planning your meals.  The world likes to show us the convenience of grabbing on the go, but look what that has done to our waistlines and our wallets!  Yikes!  The best plan is to plan, prepare and work in your meals during a less busy time of the week.

I’ve said before that I like to do my meal prep on Sunday afternoons.  I do work outside of the home during the week so I understand when there is the argument of time.  However, packing lunches does not need to be a time hog.

The benefits of packing lunches greatly outweighs the time argument.  Whether you are packing for yourself, your spouse and/or your children, the benefits are all the same.

  1. You control the portions.  Everything from fast food to sit down is all greatly increased in the area of portions.
  2. You control the contents.  When you make, pack and measure, you know exactly what is going into your body.  If you or a family member have allergies, you no longer have to worry about ingesting something bad for them.
  3. The cost is greatly less.  The cost of putting together a lunch is greatly less then buying on the go.  Journal it and you will see it for yourself.
  4. Less waste. This is a huge item, you aren’t added to the garbage issue and if you pack wisely, you will cut down on your own disposables!

What you will need:

  1. A Lunch Box.  I know the picture shows a brown paper bag.  But I really do not advise using one for many reasons.  You will want a stable lunch bag/box that can hold some time of cooling pack, easy to carry or put into a backpack (good idea for kids and adults alike), but big enough to carry what you need for the day.
  2. A Reusable Cooling Pack.  These are very inexpensive and can be used over and over again.  I have one that is very thin and does a great job of cooling my lunch bag very well.  Just put it in the freezer every day when you get home and it will be ready for the next day!
  3. Reusable item containers.  You can pick these up at the dollar store.  Make sure you get microwaveable safe ones if you are planning to need to reheat items.  A Soup Thermos is also a great item to have so you don’t have to use a microwave!  I am not in favor of using disposable wrappings and bags, trash is trash, whether it comes from home or from somewhere else.
  4. Reusable Coffee/drink mug.  Avoid buying bottled water or coffee.  Make and bring your own and refill for free during the day.
  5. Reusable utensils.  Have a specific set for your lunch box(es).  Again, avoid disposable.

But what do I pack?

This is where it gets fun.  You are only limited by your imagination!  For kid lunches those are just super fun!  You can make your own “lunchables” of crackers, bread cut out using cookie cutters, meats, cheeses… but we will get to that.  Here are some ideas, adults enjoy the fun stuff too, sometimes even a little more!

  1.  Sandwiches do not need to be boring!  Use a large shaped cookie cutter to cut bread, meat, cheese and stack together.
  2. Afraid your sandwich will get soggy?  Pack the bread in one container and the items in another as and use a small condiment container for your ketchup, mayo or mustard.
  3. Subs.  Hot and cold subs are so simple to prepare at home with what you have on hand when you plan ahead!
  4. Hot Dogs.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Hot dogs.  My kids would love it when we would have “Hot Dog” week.  I would grill up hot dogs ahead of time and each day they would get a different type.  Monday, Pizza dog; Tuesday, Chicago Style Dog; Wednesday, Taco Dog (Chili dog with taco seasoning) and so on.
  5. Do not fear the dinner left overs!   When I make casseroles, I will make enough to put aside for some lunches for myself.  Especially in the winter to have a nice hot lunch.
  6. Soup and Salad.  How often to you pay $12+ for soup and salad at a fast food place?  So inexpensive and easy to do at home and pack!  I will make a pot of soup during the week and set aside portions for my lunch (and even freeze some like chicken noodle).  Salads, easy peasey.  Toss in some mixed lettuce, tomato and cucumber and whatever else you like and use a condiment container to carry our dressing.
  7. Chicken nuggets.  Chicken nuggets are so easy to make at home.  Do not buy the frozen ones.  Pre-make a batch by taking chicken thighs and or breasts and cutting into bite sized cubes.  sprinkle with fine bread crumbs if you like and cook in a skillet.  They freeze up perfect and you have a much better nugget.
  8. Sweet Tooth.  There is nothing like a sweet treat in the middle of the day.  The best thing is to bake and portion out a cookie a day.  Make a healthy sweet treat, or better yet, add in some fresh in season fruit!  My children when they were young liked something called “dirt pudding” which was simply chocolate pudding with crushed a crumbled cookie on top and I would put in a gummy worm or a gummy flower in each little cup for them.
  9. Homemade Lunchables.  These things are expensive in the store.  Make your own.  Using small cookie cutters, cut shapes out of cheeses and meats and add to a decorative container.  Add in grapes, pretzel sticks and other finger foods as a side.  Avoid the bad preservative packed snacks!
  10. Pizza.  I’m not talking about left over take out.  If you don’t make your own pizza and save some for lunch, make mini pizzas by using biscuit dough (I make my own), and putting on toppings and bake.  You can store these for the week and even freeze them after baking for later.
  11. Burritos.  My husband is responsible for getting me to love burritos for breakfast and lunch.  The possibilities for fillings are endless.  My favorite is a breakfast burrito with chorizo, eggs, potatoes and green chilies.  I enjoy it for breakfast and lunch.
  12. Egg Bites.  These are great for breakfast and for lunch!  Here is how you make them.  Breakfast Egg Bites

Here is a hint.  If you see it “prepackaged” in the store with cute enticing packaging, you can make it at home cheaper, with less preservatives and much better for you!  Another thing to remember that buying individually wrapped is much more expensive then buying a larger size and parsing out on your own.   Apple slices are just as easy to slice yourself, and a boiled egg is just as easy to do yourself instead of buying it boiled, and honestly, probably safer.

With all the food health warnings coming out in regards to fast food chains, take the time and responsibility over your own food.  Buy in season, enjoy variety and enjoy the health and saving benefits!

Until Next Time,

Mrs. Kay Lynn Rice

 

 

 

 

Planting Seeds

I bet you expected this to be about gardening, didn’t you?  Well, in a way it is.  We are growing a garden that will feed us for the rest of our lives if we are wise, or we are creating a barren plot that will cause us to fall.  I know, that isn’t a very positive way to start an article is it?  Truth be told, today’s world has us creating a barren plot.  How can we avoid falling into the trap of World View?

Think of pennies as seeds.  Every penny placed wisely grows, pennies cast to the side are lost.  I remember overhearing a conversation that pennies are useless in today’s society and should be “discarded”.  Now even a child knows that when you put a penny in a jar each day by the end of the year you have $3.65.  When you start finding pennies in the couch cushion, in the car, on the sidewalk, and you pick it up and add it to the jar, well, you just increased your income.  Seeds that grow into a crop.  One seed gives birth to a crop of fruit.

As with seeds and a garden, the soil must be primed, there is maintenance and care and daily pruning involved.  A seed will not grow on rock.

woman standing on pasture

How to prime your soil:

  1.  Budget.  I talk about this all the time.  A budget should be a living thing, not something you do once and shove in the drawer of a desk.  It is constantly changing, growing, shrinking.  Working with your budget weekly will allow you to see upcoming storms, droughts and be able to prepare accordingly.  During good times that your ‘crops’ are doing above expectation, work on saving and giving.
  2. Revisit your wants vs. needs.  Another subject I talk about all the time.  This is a subject that should have lots of communication around with your family, especially your spouse.  Exactly what do we need as a family?  What do we want?  Is our want justified?  Just a clue here, just because the neighbors are going on a one month cruise does not mean you have to do the same thing.
  3. Making your home work for you.  No, I am NOT talking about a refinance loan.  I’m talking about utilizing the spaces.  Instead of just flowers, plant herbs and vegetables.  This will help with your grocery bill and your health.  If you have land, put in a full garden and learn to preserve by canning, freezing and dehydrating.  Berries and fruit are also a great addition for visual as well as food.  Do you live where you can have poultry?  Chickens are a wonderful source of protein in both eggs and meat, but be prepared for lots of work.  Meat Rabbits are also a great way to supplement your meat intake.  You will need a to understand that meat rabbits are food, not pets.  With bringing on livestock you will need to look into your homeowner’s insurance, community rules, etc.
  4. Family Rules.   Seeds are best planted early.  With children its the same way.  Teach your children well in the areas of money and work.  Give them chores, teach them young to keep track of their earnings.  Encourage work at the proper ages and teach them responsibility of their earnings.  Every adult & young adult who is healthy and living under the roof need to have responsibilities both in work and finance.  Do not permit anyone to slide.  You are responsible for raising the next generation.  Here is also the difficult conversation section, do not be afraid to confront misuse of finances, even if it is with a spouse.  Do not attack, do not fight, find common ground and discuss to avoid the storm in the future.  Everyone is in this together.
  5. Find your leaks and areas of waste.  This is not only in the area of actually spending money, but in how you are spending time.  If you are “too busy” to cook at home, look at why?  Are you spending time in front of the television instead of meal prepping?  Have you overbooked your kid’s activities so much that no one has time to rest and focus on each other?  Time and Money both are things that we can control how they are used.
  6. Invest.  I’m not talking necessarily about the stock market.  I’m talking about investing in your home, future and self.  Use your money and time wisely to build not to break down.  Instead of spending thousands of dollars on a cable bill, cut the cord, and spend the time outside with your family building and doing instead of spending time in front of the television or all on different devices in different rooms.  Spend pennies on preparing a garden and watch your grocery bill go down.  Take the money you normally would spend on a daily coffee shop coffee and put it in a penny jar, you’ll be surprised how much money you have at the end of the month.  But don’t go out and reward yourself with it, pay off some bills instead, put it back into the crop to grow more.
  7. Pay off and get rid of the plastic.  I talk about this one often as well.  In today’s world, yes unfortunately, we do need a credit line.  But watch how you utilize it.  Ask yourself, do I really need <item, service> right now?  Can I save for it?  How much will this cost me in interest?  Can I buy it used for less and still save money on maintenance of this item/service?  Can I make it myself?  If you do run up a card.  Pay off your smallest debt first, then take the money you would be spending on it and add it to the next in the list of debt, doubling that payment amount, leaving the larger ones at their minimum payment until you move up the ladder.  This is called the Snowball effect, Dave Ramsey teaches this.  I am a huge follower of his and his Financial Peace University.  I love his budget tool at everydollar.com .
  8. Keep a small amount of cash on you at all times.  I will keep $5.00 on me in cash and if I am out and about and need something like water, I can use the cash and not a card, it also makes me more aware of how I’m spending things.  Keep track of your cash use as well.
  9. Utilities and Insurance.    It is wise to review your utilities and insurance at least quarterly or after a big life change.  I know you are thinking why utilities.  Here is the thing, if your electric bill jumped spiked the previous month/quarter you should ask yourself why.  Was it an overly hot or cold month?  If it was, do you really need the air conditioner set cold enough to support penguins?  Do you need the heater going like a dragon on overload.  There is a difference between comfort and access.  learn to acclimate a little better with alternative methods.  Dress appropriately for the weather inside and outside.  Adjust the thermostat when you will not be at home.  It’s all about adjusting behaviors and expectations.  Your insurance should be looked at periodically to make sure you are being covered for what you really need to be covered for.  There is no reason to be insurance poor.  You can also save up in an emergency fund to offset costs here as well.

I will continue to discuss these items throughout the blog.  I hope you enjoy them and that they help you think of ways to be more efficient and cost sensitive in your life so that you can grow a most productive crop.

“She goes to inspect a field and buys it with her earnings she plants a vineyard.  She is energetic and strong, a hard worker.”  Proverbs 31: 16-17

Until Next Time,

Mrs. Kay Lynn Rice

Breakfast Egg Bites

I promised several dear friends my recipe for my Breakfast Egg Bites. These are a great go to for busy mornings and a great way to budget and eat healthy. I normally make a batch of 12 for the following week. These also freeze very well.

You can change up the ingredients for your preference and what you have readily available.

Ingredients:

  • 8 large eggs
  • 2 smallish potatoes diced or shredded
  • 1 small onion diced
  • 1 cup of diced peppers of choice
  • 1 jar (4 ounces) jalapeno diced tomatoes
  • A hand full of mushrooms
  • Meat of your choice. I like chorizo.

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Spray your muffin pan with Bakers Secret, or coat with grease and flour like you would for a cake.
  3. In a skillet add some oil of your choice and fry up your meat. Once done set aside in a bowl.
  4. Add your potatoes and veggies and fry up as you would hashbrowns.
  5. In a large bowl whip up your eggs.
  6. Once the meat is cool, add in your meat to the eggs.
  7. Once the veggies are done and cooled down add the veggies to the eggs.
  8. Fold everything together.
  9. Now add the egg mixture to your muffin pan spots. Not quite filling them to the top.
  10. Place in oven to cook for approximately 15 to 20 min. You want them completely done but not over cooked. I check mine with a toothpick test. You want a clean toothpick.
  11. I let cool for 20 or so minutes then remove them from the pan. They shouldn’t need much help to come out if the pan.
  12. Refrigerate or freeze.

Enjoy.

Until next time,

Mrs. Kay Lynn Rice

A Tough Conversation

Money.  When you hear that word, what do you think of?  Does it make you worry, depressed, happy, longing, dreaming?  In this world no matter what, we need money to survive.  No matter how self-sufficient you are, you still need money.  The trick is to manage what you have wisely and not get caught up in the world and the tricks that are played to separate you from your hard earned wages.

There are more arguments in a relationship about money than any other subject.  It causes strife and worry.  But it doesn’t have to.  It all depends on how you view it.  Money is a tool, it is not your life and its not meant to be that.  We work to earn money to live, we don’t live for work.  Many times our priorities get shifted to the world’s view and we become trapped in that more, bigger, better trap.  The ease of credit, the thoughtless buying or lack of planning, these all lead to leaks in our financial, and eventually our mental well-being, and even sometimes the end to wonderful relationships.

Tips to simple rules of being healthy frugal:

  1.  Understand your wants from your needs.   This is a big one.  TV, internet, friends, the world in general preaches that our wants are our rewards and pushing our wants to become what we think are our needs.   You need shelter, food and water, clothing (basic) and previsions, and of those, you don’t need the biggest and the best.  All of the other points will follow this mentality, if you know a need from a want that is your biggest hurdle.
  2. Eat at home and make your drinks/coffee/tea at home.  I am still amazed at how many of my friends will spend $3-$5 on a cup of coffee.   Make it at home and buy a nice carry mug.  We buy a dark roast coffee at a local bulk store that is better than any coffee shop grind.  Also, when you eat at home and pack your meals for work you know exactly what is going into your body.  Keep it natural, not only will your wallet thank you, so will your waistline.
  3. Buy second hand clothes.  While there are items that should never be bought second hand (underwear, hair items, personal stuff) most all of your clothes can be bought second hand and be in style.  If you do need something ‘new’ then utilize your discount and outlet stores.  I enjoy an online store called ThredUp  they will even pay for your gently used clothes you no longer want.
  4. Garage Sales, Thrift Stores, Friends/Family.  Consider it a treasure hunt for something you really need.  By utilizing the mentality of looking for a needed item, it will also give you the time to really think about if you really need it.  Keep a list.  We do a lot of canning especially when our garden is coming on, in the store canning jars are high priced, but you would be surprised how many you can find in good condition in garage sales and thrift stores, and even better yet when someone is cleaning out their basement and finds a box of them!
  5. Grow your own food!  This may seem extreme to many, but to be honest, its not that hard, and you will watch your grocery bill shrink, especially if you preserve by canning, drying and/or freezing what is in season.  Even if it is only greens, tomatoes and cucumbers you will quickly notice a difference in taste, quality and your grocery bill.  For those who can house AND TAKE CARE OF chickens, this is a great source of eggs and meat as well.
  6. Stop relying on credit cards.  This is a hard one, especially in today’s society.  Unfortunately, we all need at least one, especially to travel.  Choose wisely and use wisely.  Do not use it as a “just put it on the card” excuse.  We all fall into that moment of over using a credit line and then feel the pain later.  Learn from your mistakes, pay it off, close what you can, move on with your life.
  7. Home.  A home falls under the need topic but it does not mean you have to move into the Wayne Mansion.  You don’t need to have the biggest and the best.  Keep in mind your purpose.  Do you want minimal maintenance (every home will have maintenance).  Do you really want to own a home?  There is nothing wrong with renting until you reach a point in your life that is right to own a home.  Just don’t pay ridiculous rent for nothing.  What purpose is the home to have?  Do you have children?  Will you have children?  Do you want a homestead to be more self-sufficient?  Does the location really suit you?  What kind of taxes are you looking at?  So much can become overwhelming quick, and if you are building, keep in mind that you do not need to get the top of the line of everything in that home at the time you build.
  8. Budget, budget, budget!    I know, its boring and stressful and makes you accountable.  Don’t just set the budget and ‘fudge the numbers’, actually add what you are spending to each item so you can see it.  I like Dave Ramsey’s Every Dollar program (everydollar.com).  Trust me, it will help you become more aware of where your money is going.
  9. Save your money for a rainy day.  The storms will come.  It is not a matter of if but when.  Your car WILL break down.  There WILL be medical needs and emergencies.  There WILL be accidents.  There will be times when money is tight.  Just because you get that big bonus, don’t go hog wild, feed the piggy bank instead.
  10. Fix the leaks.  What is a leak?  This is where your money invisibly disappears.  Interest rates on credit cards and loans are a horrible leak and you need to get those stopped immediately.  Other leaks can be not looking at your car or home insurance often to tweak as life changes.  It could be that daily stop at the coffee shop or bar, or the quick meal on the run through a drive through.  What about online subscriptions or cable that you rarely if ever use?  A leak can seem like nothing but if you start recording those leaks you can see how quickly they add up.
  11. Work.  If your income isn’t cutting it then its time to roll up your sleeves and put more into it.  Everyone who adult age and healthy must be pulling their weight.  Children who are not adults and living at home can help with chores and they too can have certain responsibilities so they can learn the value of a dollar as well.  If you realize you are over your head in debt or a situation arises for the need, then look into ways that can help your financial situation.  Do you have a hobby that can add some added income, cleaning, cooking, a craft.  You will need to look at local licensing to sell out of the home and many times into your homeowner’s insurance.  Now, here is the hard part, don’t spend the extra because now you have an extra income.  PAY OFF THAT DEBT so you can get back to enjoying life more.

These are only a few of the basics of becoming money wise and I hope they help calm your mind and help you on your way.

“The earnings of the godly enhance their lives, but evil people squander their money on sin.”  Proverbs 10:16 NLT

Until next time,

Mrs. Kay Lynn Rice

 

Broody Brats

Ah the joys of chickens.  Everyone thinks they are these precious, sweet, little fluffy pets that present you with breakfast every morning.  WRONG-O!  Well, sometimes, anyway.  I love my hens, they give hours of entertainment as well as breakfast and eventually, dinner.  However, there is a ton of work involved with them.

We do not have a rooster and I personally, for reasons of space and cost, do not raise chicks.  We start with pullets.  At least for now.  This summer we had one lady who seemed to be stuck in longing to being a mommy hen.  She is an Orphington, her normal name is Skip, but for about 2 and half months it was Crabby Patty.  And crabby is an understatement.20180620_181808_optimized1940890653.jpg

In all my years of owning chickens, I have never, ever had a hen stay broody for as long as she did this summer without chicks to care for.  She even got to the place where she refused to leave “HER” nest and would push eggs from the other nests for her to sit on them.  Then she decided she would bully the younger hens so they wouldn’t even come IN the coop, she parked her fluffy butt at the entrance of the coop and would not move.  If you took her off the nest, she would turn right around and plop her butt back in the nest.  If you moved her to gather eggs, she would bite you, if a hen came in the coop she would squawk and and attack her.  One morning after her coming at me while I was gathering the eggs, I told my husband it was time for the hatchet.  Egg production was down and I was beginning to have to play hide-and-seek for some of the eggs in the barn off the side of the run.

Bless my husband’s heart, he told me to give him a try at ‘breaking broody’.  I told him, fine, and so he proceeded after his usual deep research.

He used a large kennel cage and placed it in the barn off the run.  He placed it on two railings so it was off the ground a wee bit and made sure it had stationary pans for water and food.  The barn is well lit but nicely shaded and out of the elements and the other hens walk freely around it.  He gently placed Crabby in the cage.  We are pretty sure she cussed at him in chicken squawks as he latched the door.  The other hens seemed curious as they walked around her.  After a while he took her out, and dang gone it, she bee lined it strait for her nest.  If another hen was in her spot, she would push them out.

This went on for several days, my husband’s patience is great, so great I call him the Chicken Whisperer.  Eventually, one day, we noticed, after being let out of detention, Crabby went and sat on the perch with another hen.  Before dusk she walked in and got in HER nest, but she didn’t go strait in.

The next day, she played in the yard with the other hens but still made sure she had HER nest by dusk.  This went on for about a week.  Now Crabby Patty is back to being Happy Fluffy-butt Skip.  Happily playing in the yard and no longer combative with the other ladies, although we have one hen who is still cautious of her.

I had to fess up and say I was wrong for wanting to put Skip on the dinner block and that my husband was Right.  Yes, there, in black and white, he was right and in doing so our egg production is back up, the hens are back to using their nesting boxes and everyone is being civil again.

I have been told this breed is more prone to be broody longer and their desire to be a mommy is great.  So keep that in mind when getting layer hens if you don’t want to hatch and/or raise chicks.

 

Until Next Time,

Mrs. Kay Lynn Rice

 

Sweet Heat Pickle Relish

I love a good pickle relish, especially on grilled bratwurst, but my favorite is to use in ham salad, egg salad, macaroni salad, you get the picture.  Of course, it wouldn’t be from the Rice Household without a little spark of heat.

Here is my recipe for my Sweet Heat Pickle Relish.

Ingredients:  (Makes about 8 half-pints of relish)

  • 4 cups of finely chopped cucumbers (skin on)
  • 2 cups of finely chopped onions
  • 1 green pepper finely chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper finely chopped (or 2 green if you don’t want a red one)
  • 2 jalapeno peppers finely chopped (remove the seeds and membranes for less heat)  *Use Latex gloves when working with any hot pepper.
  • 1/4 cup of pickling salt
  • 2 cups of cider vinegar (canning grade)
  • 3 cups of sugar
  • 1 tsp. celery seed
  • 1 tablespoon of mustard seed

Directions:

  1. I use my Ninja processor to finely chop my items.
  2. Combine the cucumbers, onion and peppers in a very large bowl.
  3. Sprinkle with the pickling salt and toss well (please put on latex gloves to avoid burning your face and eyes).
  4. Cover with ice and cold water and set to the side.
  5. Let the mixture stand for 2 hours minimum but no longer than 6 hours.
  6. Drain well, pressing out the excess water.
  7. Combine your cider vinegar, sugar, celery seed and mustard seed in a kettle.
  8. Bring liquid to a boil to dissolve the sugar.  It is important you stir while heating so the sugar doesn’t burn on the bottom of your kettle.
  9. Add your chopped items to the liquid and simmer for approximately 10 minutes.
  10. Pack into prepared and sterilized half pint (or quarter pint) jars, leaving a half inch head space.
  11. Water bath process for 15 minutes.
  12. Remove from your water bath canner to a place where they can seal.
  13. The pop will confirm your jars have sealed.
  14. Leave alone to settle for 12-24 hours before putting them in your pantry.

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Sweet Heat Pickle Relish

I hope you enjoy this wonderful condiment!

Until Next Time,

Mrs. Kay Lynn Rice

 

 

Head Cheese

I was having a conversation with a good friend of mine who raises pigs.  As most of my conversations go, it turned to food.  One of the topics that came up was Head Cheese, looking for a good recipe and the appreciation of this odd concoction.  My grandpa made this after butcher season so I offered to post the process on how to make it the way I know how to make it.

Keep in mind I love pickled pigs feet, scrapple, fried pig skins and other deliciousness of the hills.  Making head cheese is a long drawn out process, but isn’t that the way with anything good?

Okay, so here we go.  I am not going to include pictures because I do not have access to a fresh butchered pig right now, and some of my readers may be grossed out a tad with the process.

First and foremost after the main butchering of the hog is done, comes the head prep.  There are no real rules to this and its done many ways.  The head should be cut in half to make it fit in your boiling pot (outside) a little better.  Hog’s heads are very large.

DAY ONE

The pig’s face needs cleaned (shaved) of random bits of whiskers.  Pigs have very course whiskers.  Clean the pig ears inside and out (yes pigs get ear wax too), grossed out yet?  You will be.  Next are the trotters, otherwise known as the feet and hocks.  Pigs feet are gross, yup, they wallow and step in everything and honestly uncleaned pigs feet STINK.  While trotters are cleaned immediately following butchering, especially if the plan is to make some pickled pigs feet and hocks, they still are gross.  It’s the feet that gives head cheese the thick gel, but you don’t want your cheese to smell like wet locker socks.  To take care of that rinse the feet in hot water to get rid of the ‘juice’.  Next boil a pot of water with some white vinegar.  Blanch the pigs feet for a minute or two and rinse them with cold water, repeat 3 to 4 times.  At this time you’ll notice the wet sock smell will be gone.  Very fresh trotters may not need this much prep, depends on your hog and how you’ve butchered it or had it butchered.

Now on to the fun stuff.  I remember this being done outside in a big boil pot.  Combine your brine in the pot:

  • 2 gallons of water
  • 2 cups of kosher salt
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1/2 cup of Pink Salt (processing salt used for headcheese)

Simmer your brine and cool.  Place the head and trotters in the brine to sit overnight.

DAY TWO

Rinse off the brine thoroughly.  I will tell you that the final product will retain quite a bit of salt.

Head cheese is one of those, use what you have type things so I’m going to list some basic items to include.

  • water
  • leeks/ramps
  • onion
  • parsley
  • garlic
  • peppercorns
  • bay leaves
  • nutmeg
  • allspice
  • vinagar

Put everything back in your large pot to cook for 4 hours.  All the flavors will meld together throughout the process.

Maintain a simmer in the pot.  Again, this should be done outside over an open fire, the smoke will lend to the final flavor.

After 4 hours the jawbone should easily separate from the rest of the skull.  The liquid should have a golden hue to it.  Drain the golden liquid out and set in the refrigerator to sit overnight (this will create your jelly).

Next, get comfy, because you are in for a lot of picking and sitting.  Put on some gloves, and once the head and trotters are cooled down enough to handle, spread out a place to pick all the meat off the head and trotters.  Spread your head and trotters out to cool, if you put the in another pot, they will only stay hot.

What to shred and keep is always up for discussion.  However, things like the eyes should be discarded.  The tongue, take out and skin and set it aside wrapped in the refrigerator.  Pull the meat first, you should have plenty to not worry about adding any of the skin or fat.

At the end of the day, cover the pork meat and put in the refrigerator.

DAY THREE  (I told you this was a long process)

Pull out your broth.  It should be gelatin, under a layer of pork fat.  Scrape off the pork fat.  This isn’t as easy as it sounds because the gelatin isn’t very firm.

Heat your gelatin on the stove until it becomes liquid again.  Strain the liquid using a micro-weave cheesecloth this pulls out any impurities.

After straining the liquid, put it back on the burner until it’s reduced by a third.  This takes a while so you can turn your attention to the meat mixture.

Take your pieces of pork and add the seasonings you like.  This is always up for taste.  I remember the seasoning being sage, rosemary and thyme with a little red pepper.  But that is up to you.  Mix your seasoning with your pork with gloves on.  Shred larger pieces as you mix through the meat, keep the fat that is with the meat.

Taste your gelatin once it’s reduced.  If it needs more salt, add it here.  You might also need to add a touch of vinegar, but that’s to taste and preference.

Remember the tongue that was set a side?  Take it out and cube it up.  You can always saved some for sandwiches.  Add in the cubed tongue meat to the pork bits, stir in.

Line your bread loaf pans with clear wrap (you’ll need a several bread loaf pans).  Make sure you use enough to cover the bottom, sides and plenty to wrap over the top.

Now pack in bread loaf pans.  Do not pack super tight, loose but full.  Tap down to where there isn’t much space between bits.

Pour your gelatin mixture over the pork bits in the pans.  Cover with the clear wrap over the top.

Put in the refrigerator to cool.

DAY FOUR

The next day you go to the fridge and there you have it.  Head cheese.

headcheese

It can bee eaten plain, on bread, on crackers, as a sandwich.

Enjoy!

Until Next Time,

Mrs. Kay Lynn Rice

 

Ginger Turmeric Kombucha

My journey into making Kombucha (a fermented tea drink which is healthy for the gut) began several months ago, a very good friend gave me the instructions and my first SCOBY which you need to make this wonderful drink.  The SCOBY is living ‘healthy’ bacteria that resembles a flat jelly fish, or the weird creatures from one of the original Star Trek series…. You know the one, admit it.  Anyway, SCOBY is actually an acronym: Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast.  It is what does the job in making your Kombucha.  Ginger and Turmeric are wonderful natural roots that are great for the stomach and inflammation plus they taste YUMMY!

You will need several items just to get started:

  1. Two 1 gallon Glass jars, you can get them at glass jars at amazon
  2. A minimum of 6 swing top bottles, again at Amazon here swing top bottles
  3. Your SCOBY, if you don’t have a friend who has a live one living in her SCOBY hotel, guess what, you can get that from Amazon Too.  SCOBY
  4. 2 cups of sugar
  5. 3 tea bags of green or black tea.
  6. 1 gallon of FILTERED PURE WATER.  Do not, I repeat, to not use tap water, the chlorine and fluoride will kill you SCOBY.
  7. Starter and again if you don’t have a friend who is already brewing, yup, you guessed it go to Amazon.  Kombucha Starter

DIRECTIONS

  1. Brew your sweet tea (sugar, water and tea) and let cool until it is room temperature.  This is important, room temperature.
  2. Once the tea cools (NOT COLD), pour into the large glass jar
  3. Wash your hands with vinegar, yes, you read that correctly this helps you not infect your SCOBY with your germs.
  4. Float the SCOBY on the surface.  It may sink but that is okay.
  5. Gently add in 1-2 cups of the unflavored starter that is at room temperature.
  6. Cover with a breathable cloth but something fruit flies can not get through.  I use a micro mesh cheese cloth and double it.
  7. Tighten with a rubber band.
  8. Sit in a quiet place away from sunlight and cold as cold will slow the growth of the bacteria.  War is okay but not too warm.
  9. Let ferment for 7-10 days (14 has been perfect for us).  This step is very flexible.  The shorter the first ferment the sweeter the brew, the longer the ferment the more sour as the yeast feeds off the sugar from the sweet tea.
  10. Once Ready, wash your hands with vinegar and remove your SCOBY and put in the second jar with some of the tea from the first jar (I put a cup in the first time, now more because if have a bunch in my hotel).
  11. You may need to separate your SCOBYs because they will meld together as you continue to use them.  Each new batch will grow a baby SCOBY to the Mother SCOBY.
  12. Fill your flip top bottles to the bottom of the neck, NOT to the top of the bottle.
  13. For the Ginger Turmeric, I add one teaspoon of diced fresh Ginger and 1 teaspoon of diced fresh turmeric root (both peeled).
  14. Save 2 cups of this batch of the fermented tea (starter) for use for your next batch.  Keep it going by starting at the first step all over again.
    1. I also date these and have now started a rotation of 2 batches soon to be 3 rotation so we have kombucha ready when desired.
  15. Cap each bottle with the top.  And store in a cool dark place. for about 5-7 days.
  16. Once you are ready to enjoy your brew, CAREFULLY open the bottle.
  17. This is why you only fill to the base of the neck, it will FIZZ, alot.  I have found its best to open slowly in a high top bowl.  The sweeter the tea and the higher the sugar content (ginger has a lot) the more it will fizz as a result of the second brew (flavor brew).
  18. Keep in the refrigerator once opened and enjoy!

FLAVORS:

My husband and I love the Ginger Turmeric and really have no want at this time to change it up.  Plus, these roots are great for the gut and inflammation.  However, you can play with flavors, some I’ve seen are Orange Ginger; Strawberry Lemon; Blueberry Lemon; Raspberry; Elderberry and so many others.  Just remember, the more the sugar, the more active the Fizz.

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Now, about your SCOBY Hotel:

I keep my old SCOBYs in a ‘SCOBY Hotel’ which is basically a glass jar with stacks of SCOBYs.  Treat these like the fermenting kombucha by covering them with a breathable cloth and add sweet tea once in a while for food.  They love their sweet teas!  Feed them about once a month or so.  You will also see growth spurts in your SCOBYs at that time.  I rotate them between batches.  There are all kinds of uses for SCOBYs if you get too many teach a friend how to make Kombucha and donate a SCOBY.  They are great to add to a compost bin because of the healthy bacteria.  Mother Earth News just had a recipe in making SCOBY treats (think healthy gummies).

Enjoy your brewing.

Mrs. Kay Lynn Rice

 

Finding Time

More than often I get questions and comments from friends and colleagues such as: “How do you find time to do everything you do?” or my favorite “Do you ever sleep?”

My morning and evening devotions have found their way to focus on this subject here lately. As a result, I’ve felt the urge to write about it.

Finding time, makes it sound like time is this object that is fleeting and always out of our reach, but in fact, its right there, in our hands at all times.  Time isn’t fleeting, its the choices that we make to cause it to fly away or be used productively.  Time, as well as money, are two things that in reality we have a choice on how to use them.  We can use them wisely, or we can waste them.  A wise person, saves and uses wisely a fool wastes them on fleeting things.

There is also a very big difference in resting and being lazy.  Resting is a refueling, lazy is a waste of resources.  Resting comes as a result of hard work and productivity and finding calm.  Being lazy, is relying on others and outside sources to provide for us.  Do you remember the old story of the Ant and the Grasshopper?  The grasshopper mocked the ant for working so hard in the hot summer months, he insisted on singing, playing and being “lazy”.  The Ant worked diligently to fill its home with food so it could survive the harsh winter to come.  The story has a harsh lesson in the end.  The Grasshopper starved, the ant survived.

Here are some of the ways that allow me to focus on what is truly important, I hope they will help you on your journey.

  1. Wake up early and be consistent throughout the week. rooster
  2.  Morning is very important; how you start it will be the direction of your day.  Because of this, I will slowly wake up.  Laying in bed until my brain isn’t fuzzy anymore and then start moving to get ready.
  3. Make your bed.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Making your bed each morning gives you a sense of accomplishment from the very beginning.
  4. Daily Devotions and prayer.  I start my day with a simple devotion time and prayer to ask for guidance and wisdom in the upcoming day.  I also give thanks for having another day and for my husband.
  5. Keep your clothes simple.  Plan the night before what you will be wearing the next day and know what you have to wear.  In short, don’t have a department store in your closet or most of it in the laundry basket.
  6. For those of us who must work outside of the home as well as at home, remember this always.  We work to live, not live to work.  Your worth is not measured by your job and career.  I make sure that my job (as a programmer in the Tech World) has specific hours.  I work 40 to 50 (if uncontrolled deadlines are needed) a week.  When I am at work, I am at work.  I also allow myself a lunch break, which normally I write or take a walk during good weather.  Breaks are very important for keeping the mind clear.  I also spend the first 10 minutes of every morning, organizing my day with the tasks for that day and moving them along as need be, utilizing an Agile methodology.
  7. For both home and work I have outlined in a journal of what my goals are for the day, nothing lofty, just what needs to be done.  Keep It Short & Simple.
  8. I keep track of what I spend or earn.  This helps me with my budgeting and keeps at the front of my mind to not waste funds.
  9. At home, I keep a strict rule that home is for home and family.  This includes preparing the pantry for winter from our garden and supplementing with items from local farmers.  This is how I am able to can fruits and vegetables in season and bake homemade breads and rolls.
  10. I do not stay “tied” to my phone or computer.  I have found that keeping a written bullet journal handy to keep track of my to-do-lists, ‘shopping’ lists, moods, favorite scriptures and other things is better than being “plugged in”.  This way I’m not distracted to waste time on other “apps”.  I also have found that “helpful” apps are really not helpful at all, in fact they waste time more than anything as you grow to having an obligation to them.
  11. Shopping:  Okay this is a touchy subject.  I know that that the grocery apps are becoming a huge thing now days.  But convenience creates its own demons.  Plan your grocery needs, take the time to go and get only, what is on your list.  You will save money and be more prepared.   Keep a rule that if you don’t have an item in between runs, you will agree to go without, period.  If it is a necessity, say yogurt, make sure you have it on your list to pick up on the grocery run.  Keep your runs to once every other week, maybe longer if you can.  The time and money saved continues to grow. Also, non grocery shopping apps suck you into spending more money and time then what you really need, they speak to your impulse voice.  Its amazing how much you can spend in this way.  UNPLUG.
  12. TV is not a priority.  In fact, for us, it’s rarely on with the exception of some news and maybe an old TV show now and then, even then if my husband and I are enjoying the television, I’m knitting, crocheting or sewing while watching.  We have also cut the cable cord.  This saves us over $100 a month, another frugal tip.  Getting rid of TV will save you a ton of time and a ton of stress.
  13. Understanding your needs versus your wants.  Being plugged into the world tends to make it very confusing on exactly what a want and a need really is.  Especially when the new car, vacation, food, clothing, personal ads are constantly talking to you, even if you say you don’t pay attention to them, they become that little voice saying you need this, you need this to be popular, to be better, to be wanted.  Turn them off.  You don’t NEED any of it.  By not cluttering your life and not spending more and more money on things (wants) the stress will start to melt away.
  14. We eat at home with basic ingredients.  I have heard the argument that it takes too much time to fix good meals at home.  Hogwash!  The time and money you spend driving, waiting, eating and driving home, not to mention the health effects on your body, you could have had a much better meal and not spend half the money and the time.  If you have a tight work schedule, then meal-prep on the weekends.  Plan ahead for the week with a schedule.  This will also help you save money.  Oh, and make your morning coffee at home don’t hit the drive-through.  The money you spend on a good coffee maker and a travel mug, is pennies compared to the monthly cost of that daily/multiple coffee shop run.
  15. Enjoy the moment.  Instead of worrying about what you need to do tomorrow.  Schedule your week so you can sit back and enjoy the moment with the ones you love.  Now, when I say schedule your week, this DOES NOT MEAN DOWN TO THE SECOND!  Keep your load light, make room to enjoy life as life comes to you.  Do NOT over schedule.  Especially, if you have children.  Do not schedule an event every night.  Set limits for you and for them.  Take in a board game, enjoy conversation, a walk, and do chores together.
  16. This one goes with not over scheduling your time.  If you can’t give it at home, then don’t give it away somewhere else.  What does this mean?  If you are too busy to cook for your family, don’t volunteer to bake for the bake-sale.  If you don’t have enough money to buy your kid’s school supplies, don’t go out with friends to dinner and or a bar.
  17. Pack your lunch and prepare your breakfast the night before.  This way there is no rush and no temptation to hit the fast food place on the way to where you are going.
  18. Tidy up before bed.  Make sure the dishes are done, items are put away.  When you take care of things as they arise, the job is not near as daunting.
  19. Now here is the big one:  REST.  Yes, REST.  Take some time to unwind, read a calming book or an evening devotion.  UNPLUG, do not pick up that phone or tablet before bed, it stimulates the brain.
  20. Go to bed “early”.  We try to be in bed between 9 and 9:30 pm each night, this means we easily obtain 7-8 hours of good sleep before we start all over again.  A good night’s sleep is important for your body to refuel and repair.  It’s directly tied into your mood, weight, stress levels and energy.  Get some good rest.

I know this really sounds like a lot, but it all falls into place easily.  I’ll be writing more about bullet journals in the future, but keeping these are a wonderful way to stay organized.  It also helps me to remember what I did several days back.

Enjoy, and until next time.

Mrs. Kay Lynn Rice

Dill Pickles

It’s now the end of July and the garden is in full force!  Especially the cucumbers, okra, eggplant and squash.

Every pantry should have some pickles tucked away as special treat.  Here is my favorite dill pickle brine recipe.  This is a very versatile recipe that can be used with beans (dilly beans), okra, squash, eggplant and especially cucumbers, just replace the cucumber spears with beans, okra or squash.

Ingredients (Makes 8 pints):

  • 4 pounds of pickling cucmbers
  • 8 heads of fresh dill
  • 8 cleaned cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 cup of pickling salt
  • 4 cups of apple cider vinegar (canning grade)
  • 4 cups of water
  • 1 tablespoon mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)

Directions:

  1. Prepare your pint jars for canning (wash/sterilize).
  2. Prepare your water bath canner.
  3. Slice your cucumbers into spears that fit into pint jars leaving 1/2 inch head-space.
    1. For Okra, slice off the stems, leave the caps, and slice off the tip of the bottom.
    2. For dilly beans, remove the top stem area and the tip at the bottom.
    3. For squash slice like you would cucumbers.
    4. For eggplant, slice into rounds or into strips, skin on.
  4. Pack each jar tightly.
  5. Add one clove of garlic and one head of dill in each jar.
  6. Add in your red pepper flakes if you choose to have spicy.
  7. In a large pot combine your vinegar, water, mustard seeds and salt and bring to a boil.
  8. Pour hot liquid into each jar, leaving 1/2 inch head-space.
  9. Clean the mouth of each jar, placing on the lids and rings.  Make sure your rings are tight, but not like Hercules tight.
  10. Place in your water bath canner and process for 10 minutes AFTER your water bath canner reaches a full boil.  (Please refer to your canner’s directions for best results).
  11. Remove and cool, they will POP when sealed.
  12. It’s best to leave sitting for 12-24 hours before moving into storage.
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Dill pickles

Enjoy!

Until Next Time,

Mrs. Kay Lynn Rice