22 March 2014

Don't Forget Beauty Surrounds You

Though I hope to one day live closer to the mountains, don't think for a second I forget the beauty that surrounds my current "homestead." Yeah.  Right.  That's probably a lie.  It's more likely sometimes I do forget. But I guess that happens to all of us from time to time.

One of the beautiful things God has graced my environment with is the Bradford Pear tree. It lines our driveways, fence lines, and courtyards. The past few days, every time I enter the complex, I've been reminded of how fleeting the blooms are. It looks like fresh, powdery snow has fallen just for us! And the dainty white petals are being replaced with vibrant green leaves.

Though we sometimes wistfully dream of different, better places and spaces, we shouldn't forget to appreciate what God has gently, beautifully placed right in front of us.

(Shared at the Homestead Barn Hop and Themed Blog & Shop Hop.)

21 March 2014

Sippin' Some Shrub

Finishing the shrub we started yesterday...

Some people say to strain your shrub through a coffee filter or cheese cloth and remove all the fruit pieces and residue. To me, that is a waste of some tasty fruit. Conversely, I processed my shrub (whole strawberries and all) in a water bath for a total of 15 minutes. Now I have a couple of pints for later.

One of the reasons I became enamored with the idea of making the shrub was the thought of "strawberry soda." I gifted myself a SodaStream earlier this year. (Scored it for $20 with an Amazon Lightning Deal!) So carbonated beverages are a breeze, and adding the shrub to my repertoire was very appealing.

I must say it did not disappoint! The sweet and sour combination is quite delicious.  I found myself adding more and more shrub to my soda water.  :-)

You have total control over how much shrub goes into the water (or any other beverage of choice), so add just a little if that's what you desire. Or, you might be like me and desire a lot. I like adding a whole strawberry, too. Kind of like drinking a cherry coke from Sonic and looking forward to that single stem delicacy after you've slurped your way to the bottom of the cup!

Two thumbs up for strawberry shrub!

Disclosure: This post contains an affiliate link, which means I may receive a very small commission if you click the link and buy something. The price you pay will be no different than if you arrived at the same destination through another link. My opinions are my own, to be sure. If I link to a product and say I like it -- I truly like it! :-) Thanks for reading and following my blog.

20 March 2014

Startin' Some Shrub

One week old!
I started to get into water bath canning about the middle of last year, so I always have my eye out for good recipes. I also have a mild obsession with strawberries. (I planted 13 bare root strawberry plants in my patio container garden just a few weeks ago!) Add all that to some 'net trollin' and you'll get the sudden, desperate need to try some strawberry shrub.

Shrubs are (not talkin' foliage here!) fruit flavored vinegars. They actually have been around for centuries. For what coincides with my purposes, this is what Wikipedia has to say:
The American version of the shrub has its origins in 17th century England where vinegar was used as an alternative to citrus juices in the preservation of berries and other fruits for the off-season. Fruit preserves made in this fashion were themselves known as shrubs and the practice carried over to colonial America. By the 19th century, typical American recipes for shrubs used vinegar poured over fruit — traditionally berries — which was left to infuse anywhere from overnight up to several days; afterward the fruit would be strained out and the remaining liquid would be mixed with a sweetener such as sugar or honey and then reduced to make a syrup. The sweet-and-sour syrup could be mixed with either water or soda water and served as a soft drink, or it could be used as a mixer in alcoholic cocktails. Shrubs eventually fell out of popularity with the advent of home refrigeration.
Shrubs as alcoholic mixers made a comeback a couple of years ago, so that's likely why it's not too hard to find many recipes online.

I learned today that there is more than one route in shrub-making, but I went full steam ahead with my first recipe find: Spiced Pickled Strawberry Shrub at CanningAcrossAmerica.com.

Berries bathing in sugar, cinnamon, and apple cider vinegar.

I wanted to half the recipe, but quickly discovered that halving the amount of liquid would not even cover my 3 pints of strawberries. Not to mention the fact that some of my first batch boiled over onto my stove top. Yep, I'm a whiz in the kitchen.

Anyway, just lettin' ya know I needed a full batch of the recipe's liquid to go with half the recipe's amount of strawberries.

After that little debacle (and I'll admit it caused me to curse), everything went very smoothly. I'll let ya know how it all finished out tomorrow.

Disclosure: This post contains an affiliate link, which means I may receive a very small commission if you click the link and buy something. The price you pay will be no different than if you arrived at the same destination through another link. Though this will not likely make me rich, it may offset some of the fees associated with compiling this blog. Thanks for your support!

A Simple, Short (and Sweet?) Welcome

Welcome to my new blog!

If you are familiar with my other blogs, you will notice this is a slight departure from genealogy and cemeteries. (There will likely be a bit of history included from time to time, though!)

When I turned 40 -- yes, I'm trying to own it -- I (suddenly?) became acutely aware of all the chemicals I was putting in my body. No, nothing illegal. I'm talking about the chemicals in the grocery-store-bought food most of us buy.

Couple that with a desire to try minimalist living (at my personal comfort level, to be sure), and a hope to one day live in the mountains. Can you guess what happened? Yep. A wannabe homesteader was born.

Come along and share my triumphs, failures, progress, and backslides. Maybe I'm sure you'll laugh. Maybe you'll be inspired.
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