Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Living in the Country!


We have had a dream for many years.... of living in the country. The Lord didn't allow it until just a few months ago. What a blessing to be here and to be putting in our gardens, blueberry bushes and more. In this post, I am simply sharing some of the beauty of country scenes that we enjoy.

Living in the country has been a time of discovery for us... discovering our own woodland area... it is small, but new to us. Also as spring is finally here, we are seeing what is growing wild on our land... like gooseberry bushes (we have never had those, so we will be learning), may apples (another new thing) and more. 

The purple fields are not ours, but they are so beautiful to see. 








 We have tire swings now.   :) 

























 Sunsets, early mist or fog, early morning shadows, old barns, new barns, animals, birds, fields.... I love taking pictures of all of them!   :)

If you have read my blogs for any length of time, you know that I LOVE to take pictures. It is fun to have so many new scenes to see and enjoy!















 We do have a small barn - actually it is a shed built to look like a barn, but it's great for pictures as well as storage.










 This guy was on our property... about 30 feet from the house when we saw him. He left quickly, but I was glad to get a couple of pictures of him.


















 The bird songs are amazing and we are hearing more of them now that spring is finally here.









 We have finches, mockingbirds, blue birds and more. They are beautiful.

We aren't nearly as excited about the large numbers of blue jays (19 on the front yard one morning!), black birds and starlings.  We accept the good...and the frustrating though. :)











 The farmland is beautiful (and smelly in the spring, but that is part of country living!) .







 Another photo of our large buck....

















 We have 2 1/2 acres which is 10 times the land we had in the city. We are loving it.... and staying very busy!  We are already using this property a lot and look forward to what we can do with it.

 There have been many unexpected expenses since we moved .....frozen pipes and flooded driveway in the deep cold, very high electric bills for heating in this very cold winter, and more.... so we are really hoping to save some money with harvesting our own fruits and vegetables. There is a lot of work involved and we are tired, but it is exciting too.







 I liked how this photo turned out even though it isn't a usual photo. I am enjoying snapping many pictures and experimenting.












 Peach blossoms, apple tree and the beds for our blueberry bushes. This picture shows a few that are planted and my husband is trying to get 6 in the ground each evening after work. I would love to take you on a tour of our whole property... and I'm sure I will over the next few months.  :)  

We had many gardens in the city and I brought many plants to our "new" home..... sadly, we lost almost all of them as we didn't realize the garage freezes things and so I lost my starts to my herbs, flowers and more. There were no real garden beds at this house... just a decorative one in the front that had some grasses and shrubs, so we are really starting fresh. We have put in a garden plot that is rather unusual, but I think it will work for us... no pictures of that yet, but they will be coming in a future post. You know how much I blog about gardening!!!!   :) 

Anyway, it is so good to be back... thank you for joining me today and I look forward to reading your comments. Have a great week!






























Tuesday, October 10, 2017

WHAT Is Swamp Pie???





 Swamp Pie?   WHAT?????   What is Swamp Pie?      Who would ever want to eat Swamp Pie?  Ewww! The name alone conjures up images of things no one would want in a pie. Hmmm.....

Well, swamp pie came about because years ago, I wanted to come up with a quick dessert for my family and needed to use what was in my cupboard because I had no extra money for a treat and couldn't get to the store. I don't remember the occasion... maybe just to encourage my husband, but I knew we wanted a treat for the meal.

The cupboards had food, but not much in the way of extras and money was quite tight, so I wasn't sure what I would find... we were out of so many things. I did find a couple of things that someone had given to me, that hadn't been used yet....  so decided I could make a quick and easy dessert... and I knew the kids would like it and I hoped my husband would too. My many children were quite young at the time and rather excited about the strange looking pie.

My family loved the treat and the kids kept asking what it was called. I told them it didn't have a name. That bothered them and they promptly dubbed it Swamp Pie, amid many giggles. The name stuck... and the name couldn't be changed after that, though I admit that I tried. 🙂  It became one of our funny family stories.




Those 2 ingredients? ....................... A graham cracker crust and a box of pistachio pudding mix.
















We made swamp pie a few times after that first time and the kids loved it. One child even chose that for their birthday "cake" a couple of years. I haven't made it for a long time and had forgotten all about Swamp Pie until recently and decided to make it as a treat for my family.

 Our oldest son, who lives on his own, was home and we talked about Swamp Pie because I was planning to make it the next week. He was on his phone and not paying attention to the conversation, but when he heard the words, Swamp Pie, he perked up and asked "What? What is Swamp Pie?" He said it sounded familiar and he knew he should know, but couldn't remember. It was obvious that the memory was a pleasant one.... and we made sure we would have it when he could be here.




When I made Swamp Pie the first time, I just mixed the pudding as the box said and dumped it in and chilled it. It was a bit messy, which added to the appeal for the kids.

When I made it this time, I lessened the amount of milk I put in the pudding and it set up better. Either way, works fine.














This time, I made 2 pies for my family of big eaters... and they were enjoyed. We laughed about the silly name and how it seemed so intriguing and daring to them when they named the pie years ago.

What a fun memory.









~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~




                                      SWAMP PIE!
                                             A super simple recipe and a tasty treat.


        1 ready made graham cracker pie crust

        2 boxes of Pistachio Pudding
        2-3 cups of milk............................. Whisk pudding mix and milk until thickened
                                                                 Pour into pie crust and chill.
                                                                 Serve and enjoy!



              Gentle Joy Homemaker                         gentlejoyhomemaker.blogspot.com

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


That's it... it really is super simple.... and yet has a fun name. It was enjoyable to bring that memory back to our family again. A small thing, yet those small things bind us together... What a blessing. I also have to admit that Swamp Pie does sound more interesting than Pistachio Pie, although I'm sure some would argue the point! I never would have chosen such a name, but now it fits. Either way, we sure enjoyed it!

Thank you for visiting.... and I hope you will enjoy a slice of Swamp Pie... at least once.   😀





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Sunday, August 27, 2017

"Breakfast on the Go" Muffins #2 'Mostly Savory'






























I have a large family and work times vary, so breakfasts are hurried and eaten individually, for the most part. Not everyone gets up or leaves at the same times. l have been trying to create some healthier and quick muffins that will fill my guys up and help them to not skip breakfast because of lack of time to fix something. Of course, the girls and I will enjoy them too, but in lesser amounts. :)

My first "Breakfast on the Go" Muffin was a little sweet and my family loved it. You can read about it and find the recipe here:
   "Breakfast on the Go" Muffins 'A Little Sweet'


This muffin isn't sweet, it is savory. It is packed with meat, cheese, seeds, veggies and more. This one passed the family test also. 

For the first "Breakfast on the Go" Muffin, we mixed up a basic muffin batter and added the rest of the ingredients. For this muffin, we put ALL of the ingredients in and mixed it up at the end! Not the normal way to do it, but it worked.... so either way will work.  :) 















I made 4 batches of the recipe I have in this post. Like I said, I have a big family and I like to have some muffins in the freezer, so I made a big amount of them.

I put everything in at the same time and just mixed it that way. It simplified making the muffins. It was a bit challenging to stir in because I made such a large batch, but it worked fine.






The batter is thick and chunky and it is easy to spoon it into the muffin cups.












I feel guilty sharing this, but I will anyway. We sprayed the bottom of the muffin cups to keep them from sticking. I don't like doing that, but it does help the muffin papers to come off the muffin quite easily.









A couple of years ago, I found these brown baking cups at a garage sale. There are 500 muffin cups in a box! They were $2.50 each box. I went ahead and bought 3 of them, joking about it being a lifetime supply for me.

 Well, we went through 101 of them today! What a blessing that special deal has been to me.  :)  Special deals like that come rather seldom, which is why I bought 3 of them. I sure am glad I did now. 






A fork works well to take the hot muffins from the pan to put them on cooling racks.















The cranberries are rather tart in here, but we liked them.

TIP-Buy extra bags of fresh cranberries at the end of the Thanksgiving season and keep them in the freezer. They are easy to pull out for recipes like this. Sometimes, they even mark the price down, although I have found that to be rare.










Like I said, I made 101 muffins today and here are most of them. There were several eaten for "testing purposes" :)   and also for lunch since I didn't make any with all of the other cooking and baking going on today. It was a very busy Saturday.

We are in "birthday season" where we have 4 family birthdays in a little over 2 weeks! I am quite busy with school, birthday cakes and gifts, regular household and family responsibilities and more, and we just didn't get lunch made. Everyone made it until supper though, with a muffin for a snack. :)




































































































~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

             Gentle Joy Homemaker


 

      "Breakfast on the Go" Muffins #2   'Mostly Savory'


2 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten
1 cup milk
1/4 cup melted butter

1 cup diced onion
3/4 cup diced green pepper
1 cup shredded carrots
1/2 cup Chicken Bits   (Recipe here:  How to Make CHICKEN BITS! ) 
                            You can also used cut up chicken... or bacon bits.
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup millet seed
1/8 cup chia seeds
1/4 cup flax seed meal (flax seeds can be ground in a coffee grinder)
1 1/4 cup cranberries (can use frozen or soak dried ones in hot water for 15 min to plump up, drain
                              water and use the berries
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 teaspoon dill weed
1/4 teaspoon dill seed
1/2 teaspoon parsley
1/2 teaspoon tumeric
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
                  ...........................................Stir all together gently, but thoroughly,  in a large bowl.
                                                            Spoon batter into greased muffin cups. Makes 2 dozen muffins

                                                             Bake at 425 degrees for 25 minutes.
                                                             Remove from muffin pans and cool on wire racks.

                                                 These store well in a zipper freezer bag.

       I know there are a lot of ingredients here... my purpose was to make a healthier and filling muffin that was different from the first "Breakfast on the Go" Muffin. I liked having a lot of veggies and seeds in this. What started as a recipe to make 1 dozen muffins became one that makes 2 dozen!!  :)

Gentle Joy Homemaker                                    www.http://gentlejoyhomemaker.blogspot.com

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


I am so glad to have these "Breakfast on the Go" #2 - Mostly Savory' muffins in the freezer... and I need to make more of the Breakfast on the Go Muffins - 'A Little Sweet' to put in there also. I hope to get ahead on some of these, so that breakfasts will be easier for a while.  :)

Thank you for visiting. I hope you have a wonderful week.






The other posts mentioned in this post are:

"Breakfast on the Go" Muffins - 'A Little Sweet'

How to Make CHICKEN BITS!



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Sunday, August 20, 2017

How to Make CHICKEN BITS!



















  I started making chicken bits and they are wonderful! I am using them the same way we would normally use bacon bits. The flavor is strong and tasty and I know what is in them since I am the one making them. Also, I have tired of the fatty bacon bits and am loving the better chicken bits. They are not hard to make either.




  First of all, I cook chicken breast... you can use other parts of the chicken, but I have used the chicken breast. I watch for it to be on sale and I love to cook it in the crockpot and let it be marinated to deepen the flavor and make it wonderfully moist.  Here's how I do that:

Strange Marinades for Chicken!

 Most of the chicken breast was shredded, as shown here, but I saved out some larger pieces to use for making chicken bits....  see next picture. I could have used the shredded chicken also, and may in the future.







  I put cooked chicken in a frying pan with olive oil and seasoning. You can use your favorites... or experiment.  :)

I used a variety of spices... including Italian seasoning, dried garlic and onion and more. I didn't measure... just sprinkled it on the cooked meat in the pan.... and added more when I wanted to.

Next step is to start cutting the meat  with the turner. Since the meat is cooked and so tender, it is easy to cut.








Cutting with the edge of the turner worked well and I kept cutting the pieces smaller and smaller.


I added some BBQ sauce and some Italian dressing to it as it was cooking... and some more olive oil. 


This was cooked on a medium heat and turned often to brown and toast the meat.














 You can decide how brown you want your chicken bits. I cooked mine for about 25 minutes or so and turned them often so they wouldn't burn.

I would have been fine with cooking them to a darker crispness and yet, we loved them this way too. I think there will be some variation on how well done you want them.

When we tasted  pieces now and then, they just tasted better and better.  What a wonderful explosion of flavor.  :)

 TIP....  Do NOT make this when you are hungry!!!  Eat something first as these smell and taste so good that it may be hard to stop "trying" them.   🙂




 I put my Chicken Bits into 2 feta cheese containers and put them in the freezer. I didn't make a lot of it...  so we will be careful on how much we use at at time... just like we would be careful about how many bacon bits we would use.

I also told the family that these containers are not to be used for casseroles or soups... these are for chicken bit uses only! They would taste great in anything, but I want to make these last.  I have some ideas of what I want to do with them... and plan to share one of them soon.




Here we had chicken bits in our broccoli salad... and they were delicious!  We usually use bacon bits, but loved the chicken bits and they added such great flavor.

We have also used chicken bits in a regular salad and on BLT sandwiches. I love having these highly flavored bits of chicken ready to add something special to dishes.





 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

           How to make delicious bits of chicken to use in place of bacon bits.




                          Chicken Bits


 1-2  Chicken breasts, already cooked
 1/2 cup Olive Oil
 1 1/2 - 2 tsp dried Italian seasoning (can add other seasonings also, if desired)
 1/2 tsp. dried garlic
 1 tsp. dried onions ..................................... Put in frying pan, cook on medium heat. Cut meat
                                                                           into small pieces as it cooks

1/4 cup BBQ sauce
1 cup Italian dressing.................................. Stir in and continue to turn over as the meat browns


         
................................................................ Cook on medium heat for about 25 minutes until it reaches
                                                                    the brown and toasty color you like. This needs to be
                                                                    watched as you don't want it to burn.

                                                                 More olive oil can be added, if desired.                                                                   


                                                                  Store in a covered container in the freezer and use as
                                                                      needed. Great for salads, pizza, BLTs, and more.


Gentle Joy Homemaker                               www.http://gentlejoyhomemaker.blogspot.com

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
               
 Thank you for visiting... If you make these, I would love to hear about it... and how you use them.... or if you have made something similar.  I love to read your comments.  I hope you have a wonderful week.










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Monday, August 14, 2017

I'd Love To Have a Gazebo!





A gazebo is attractive... and a wonderful addition to a garden or park.

We enjoy them and their beauty and have dreamed of having one in our garden. We still talk of it, but it just doesn't seem that important any more... life is so full and rich... and busy!  We so enjoy our family and our gardens and yard.

How nice, though, to see and enjoy this one. 






 We have talked of putting one in our yard or garden, but haven't...we don't have the time or the money or the space for one.

I haven't even considered having a gazebo for the last few years...  I haven't cared that much, but I still had that old dream of having a gazebo "someday".















We were on a trip to visit family and saw this beautiful gazebo in a park.  My husband pointed it out to me since he knew I loved them. I was surprised to notice that it was pretty, but I was more interested in the bridge, the river, the river barge and more.

The view of the bridge and the river from the gazebo was appealing.











 The beauty of the gazebo can nicely frame a scene like the one shown here.


























 This gazebo isn't as ornate as some, but I do like it just like it is. It is pretty, but not overdone and it fit the location.


























I love this picture of the gazebo and my husband as he was walking away from it and heading back to our kids who were at the river.

It was fun to have a pretty place to sit and enjoy the view.  Maybe one day we will put one on our property, although I am content to enjoy them at other locations.

I also realize that even a small gazebo would seem quite large on our little 1/4 acre property.... and I would choose NOT to have one. Isn't it interesting how our dreams can change?  I would much rather have some room for my kids and neighbor kids to play in the yard...  or to have gardens and a bench than to have a large structure out there.

What a blessing to see a gazebo... and enjoy it... and get pictures.  I will continue to enjoy them while also being thankful that I do not have one of my own. Years ago, I wouldn't have been able to say that because I REALLY wanted to have a gazebo. Now, I have to say that I don't really care if I ever have a gazebo or not... there are so many more important things in my life now and a gazebo doesn't really matter that much although I can still enjoy them.

I wonder what else there is that I have "always wanted" and think I would "love to have"... but is no longer that important to me. Maybe it would be helpful to review our dreams... and sift through them.... and discard the ones that don't apply anymore... and learn to be content and happy with what we do have.

Could it be that God wants us to abandon some of our old dreams, so that He can give us new ones or allow us to really see the dreams He has already provided?

Thank you for visiting... I hope you have a wonderful week.

"The Lord hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad."  Psalm 126:3






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