Startled by Peaches (+ Peach Salsa Recipe)

Seven years ago I brought home a bunch of what could generously be called, well, peach-fuzz-1322572-1279x852sticks. It seemed as though it would take forever for them to emerge as anything but kindling. But year followed year, and the sticks turned into trees, which eventually began to take shape as an actual orchard. It isn’t huge; we only have 12 trees, but it’s a productive combination of peaches, apples, pears and plums.

This spring the trees were an absolutely breathtaking array of colorful, bee-infused blossoms that soon transformed into our first ever fruit harvest. The peaches ripened first. They came slowly for the first week until suddenly I found myself overwhelmed by a rather startling amount of peaches. I got out the jars and the canner and got to work, determined not to miss out on a single peach. 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

Homemade Salsa Fresca: So Easy, SOOO Good

The Squeezo All-Metal Food Mill makes quick work of salsa, applesauce, pumpkin, berries...the list goes on and on. An absolute essential for home canning!

The Squeezo All-Metal Food Mill makes quick work of salsa, applesauce, pumpkin, berries…the list goes on and on. An absolute essential for home canning!

Getting gorgeous tomatoes and peppers from your garden or the farm market? Here’s a quick and easy salsa recipe, along with an amazing way to take out all the work:

Salsa Fresca (Fresh Salsa)
You won't believe how easy - and delicious - it is. A recipe to keep for every summer's tomato crop!
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Prep Time
15 min
Total Time
15 min
Prep Time
15 min
Total Time
15 min
Ingredients
  1. 3 large tomatoes, quartered
  2. 1 small onion, chopped
  3. 1 small green bell pepper, seeds and veins removed, chopped
  4. 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  5. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  6. 1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped
  7. 1/2 jalapeno pepper, sliced
  8. 1 clove garlic, minced
  9. salt
  10. fresh lime juice
Instructions
  1. Run the tomatoes, peppers and onion through the Squeezo All-Metal Food Mill with the optional Pumpkin/Salsa screen.
  2. After you run the tomatoes, peppers and onion through the strainer, add the garlic, vinegar, olive oil, and cilantro to mixture and stir.
  3. Add salt and lime juice to taste.
  4. Cover and refrigerate until serving time.
Notes
  1. If you need more salsa (and you will) just double the recipe!
Lehman's Country Life http://countrylife.lehmans.com/

Have you heard of The Mennonite Game?

The author's Mennonite Grandparents. An Amish couple would almost never pose for a photograph, but Mennonites have accepted most forms of modern technology.

The author’s Mennonite Grandparents. An Amish couple would almost never pose for a photograph, but Mennonites have accepted most forms of modern technology.

“You’re Amish!”

I glanced back to see where the words came from. The kid was staring straight at me.
“No, I’m not,” I replied.

I had just taken my seat on the bus the first day of attending a new school. Twelve years old, and going into the seventh grade, this was a day I had been dreading. It was not easy to be around new people. Now this.

The kid who spoke appeared to be a couple years older than me, and kept staring accusingly. He wasn’t backing down.
Continue reading

Small Batch Refrigerator Dill Pickles

With such a large family, I got used to cooking everything in army-sized batches.dill pickles kathy harrison Now, with only one child still at home, I don’t need to do that anymore. But getting used to smaller batch cooking has been a challenge for me. This morning I got out all the equipment to make dill pickles when it occurred to me that I wasn’t likely to need three gallons this week. One will be plenty, and will probably leave enough left over to bring to my neighbor.

I will can larger batches for our pantry later but this early in the season I tend to make Refrigerator Dills a lot. They are crispy, tart and make use of the garlic that is just ready to harvest, and the the dill which is producing large, fragrant heads. My own garden up here in the hills is not giving us any cukes yet but the valley cukes are very good and they are just about giving them away at the farmer’s market. I bought a pound yesterday and the pickles I made are chilling now. Continue reading

Hannah Tested, Hannah Approved: Amish Furrowing Hoe

Our Amish-made furrowing hoe is  one of the best row-makers and precision weeders we've found.

Our Amish-made furrowing hoe is one of the best row-makers and precision weeders we’ve found.

My Amish furrowing hoe arrived in the mail the day before a big planting event in a community garden just down the hill from my house in the country. I woke up that morning, did my rabbit and sheep chores, made my breakfast of greens and a couple fried eggs, and brought my breakfast, a fork, some seeds, and the hoe down to the bottom of the road. I sat on a gravel pile and ate my breakfast while I waited for the rest of the crew to arrive. Conor showed up before the others; the first words out of his mouth were “You look like Walt Whitman.” The second statement was, “That hoe is calling out to me.” Continue reading

Summer Fruit Clafoutis

Summer Fruit Clafoutis

It’s the season of abundance. The bush fruit is at its peak. Eggs are coming faster than we can consume them and the cow is giving copious amounts of creamy milk. Finding ways to use it all up can be a challenge. Much fruit has been juiced and gorgeous jars of crystal clear raspberry jelly grace my pantry shelves. More has been set to ferment with sugar and yeast and will provide healing syrups during the winter cold season. Eggs have been fried and deviled, pickled and poached but still they come. We did set a clutch under our broody hen as we fear we might run into problems getting chicks due to the avian virus in the big farms out west. Cream has been churned into butter and the milk curing into rounds of cheddar cheese. Continue reading

Making It Yourself: Why Bother?

Kathy's homemade soap. Find the supplies you need to make yours at Lehmans.com and our store in Kidron, Ohio.

Kathy’s homemade soap. Find the supplies you need to make yours at Lehmans.com and our store in Kidron, Ohio.

I recently taught a workshop on soapmaking at our local folk school. I was telling a friend about it and she asked a pretty profound question: Why do you bother?

It pays to ask this kind of question from time to time. The truth is that much of what I routinely do is optional. I can afford to eat without my garden and critters. I can get good quality soap and candles, hand cream and lip balm without spending my time and energy creating them. I probably save a bit of money but in truth, if I calculate my salary after expenses I would do better picking up cans from the side of the road for the nickel return.

But I do it anyway, and here is why. Continue reading

Our Amish Neighbors

All Amish groups are not the same - but why, and what are their differences?

All Amish groups are not the same – but why, and what are their differences?

How about a little lesson? We’ll keep it short and interesting. Let’s call it: Some

things you always wondered about the Amish and Mennonites, but didn’t know who to ask.  

I am a Mennonite who lives in an area of Ohio with a very large Amish and Mennonite population (in fact, it’s the world’s largest).  Allow me to share a very brief overview about the Amish and Mennonites in these parts.

There are four distinct groups of Amish living in the Kidron, Ohio area.
These are:

  • Swartzentrubers
  • Dans, also called Danners
  • Old Order
  • New Order

Continue reading

What’s in Your Refrigerator?

The refrigerators of people who are trying to live on less, leave behind smaller carbon

Proper food storage prevents spoilage and throwing out good food! Food huggers fit over almost any size jar, can or even cut vegetables to lock in freshness.

Proper food storage prevents spoilage and throwing out good food! Food huggers fit over almost any size jar, can or even cut vegetables to lock in freshness.

footprints and do more for themselves look very different from the refrigerators of people who are less concerned with those ideals. You don’t see many packaged foods, name brands or fancy labels in frugal refrigerators. What you do see are Mason jars filled with home processed or bulk purchased food, home-made goodies and leftover bit and dabs that will be turned into good meals for hungry families.

I cleaned out my refrigerator this week. I had a few things that had seen better days. Those brown apple cores will go to feed our chickens or pigs. The wilted greens go to the worm farm or the compost pile. Jars of water from cooking vegetables will go into stock. Bread crusts will turn into stuffing or pudding. Hard cheese will grace a casserole. Nothing much goes to waste around here. Continue reading