Sunday, October 21, 2012

How to make Hot Pepper Relish

Whew... We are over -run with peppers this year. What a blessing. Not only have we been enjoying them fresh on things like pizza, tacos, in salads, and in soups, but I have been pickling them and making hot pepper relish as well.

So all of these beautiful peppers and honestly you can only eat so many, and you can only pickle so many, and we love our relish, so relish they were destined to be...

You can use all kinds and colors, if you want more of a sweet relish, then use sweeter peppers, we like hot relish so I used a lot of jalepenos and cayenne

I use white onions also, they seem to work better than the other kinds, and honestly the purple onions don't seem to work at all. I didn't measure this batch, but I'll post an official "recipe" in a bit if you want specific measurments. Cut off the tops of the peppers and put the peppers and the onions into a food processor. I use a little water to help get them all chopped nicely. You'll drain the water so don't worry about it now...

Here is my beautiful mix in a collander, draining all the water from it, this is about 4 blenders full

And here is a cloer picture , notice I keep the seeds in it. 1) it is way easier to dice them without having to take the seeds out and 2) it keeps it spicy!

This picture isn't showing a whole lot, but I put the pepper mixture into the big pot with vinegar ( again measurements below) and let them get to a rolling boil....

And then I put them into my sterilized jars.... I process them in a boiling water bath for about 15 minutes.

Close up because I think they are beautiful
We use them on bean dishes a lot, my dad loves them on hot dogs and smoked sausages.... It's very versatile and you can do a lot with it.

I adapted my recipe from That's my Home.
Hot Pepper Relish

18 red chili peppers, seeded and stemmed

18 green chili peppers, seeded and stemmed (can use bell pepper for less heat)

6-8 onions peeled (4 pounds)

1 tablespoon canning or regular salt

boiling water

2 1/2 cups cider vinegar

2 1/2 cups sugar

Put peppers and onions through food chopper, or chop in water in blender and drain. Place in 6 qt. kettle. Add salt; cover with boiling water. Let stand 10 minutes.

Drain and discard liquid. Add vinegar and sugar to vegetables. Bring to boil, simmer 20 minutes. Ladle into 7 pint jars, pressing down as you pack so liquid covers vegetables. Wipe jar rim, adjust lids. Process in boiling water bath 15 minutes. Start to count processing time when water in canner returns to boiling. Remove jars.

Note: Won first prize at New Mexico State Fair! Delicious! Sweet and hot!
I hope some of you love it and enjoy it as much as my family does.....

Happy Homesteading.....

Linked up to Homesteading Barn Hop, Little Homestead on the Hill,  Frugal Days Sustainable Ways, The Backyard Farming Connection, Fill those Jars Friday Artful Tuesdays TALU Tuesdays Mop it Up Mondays
Green Thumb Thursday

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Laura Ingalls Part 6: Other Books you might like

Part 1: Introduction to the Series, information about Laura
Part 2: The books!
Part 3: Dress like Laura
Part 4: Places to visit to have that "Laura Experience"
Part 5: Cook like Laura
Part 6: Other books you might enjoy

So we've talked about all kinds of Laura fun-ness. There are some other great books out there also for all of you fanatics. For the wee ones in your life there is a series called "My First Little House books"
These are more of a picture type book and most of them just condense one chapter of a Little House book into a small, easily read picture book. There is a whole set of these! Fantastic. You can find these on Amazon, Ebay and other sites. They are really easy to find, but I know that not everyone knows to be on the lookout for them. Definatly a must have for the little Laura Lovers in your life.

There is a great bio on Laura Ingalls Wilder that I found to be an easy , yet informative read.
Again Amazon is your friend on these books. Some of them are even free shipping.

The Little house Guidebook features beautiful photographs of the places where Laura and her family lived. This is a great picture bok for both adults and kids alike. There is a lot of narrative also though, it's not just pictures.
There are many other books out there also, I think you will find a quick looks-y around Amazon, Ebay or other book store site and you will have more to read than you can ever imagine.

This concludes my very pitiful attempt on intriguing my readers with Everything Laura. I have really enjoyed sharing this fantastic series of books and corresponding history lessons with my family. It gives me something positive to share, something that makes them love to learn and love to read. Something that at the end of the day I can feel good about them being interested in.Love to you Laura!!

_ Happy Homesteading Ya'll

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Laura Ingalls Part 5: Cook Like Laura

Part 1: Introduction to the Series, information about Laura
Part 2: The books!
Part 3: Dress like Laura
Part 4: Places to visit to have that "Laura Experience"
Part 5: Cook like Laura
Part 6: Other books you might enjoy

Maybe I should have titled it "eat like Laura" because some of it doesn't require a bunch of cooking, but none the less my girls and I have enjoyed trying out some of the things that are referenced along the way in the Little House Series.

First up! Honey!
In the book the girls were very excited when Pa went out into the woods and returned home with a story of out smarting a bear and then the corresponding honey bees to get a big batch of honey. We took that as a geat invitation to discuss things like pollination, functions of bees, and of course how honey is produced. We are fortunate to have several local beek keepers and I always keep a stock of raw fresh local honey. It was great to just get a spoon full and savor it while discussing it in the book.

Maple Syrup!
Maple syrup making is a process discussed a lot in the book. We don't tap trees anywhere around here, but I do splurge every so often and purchase the good stuff from Vermont. We talked about maple syrup making, how it has to be cooked and purified, how the book discuss Ma stirring it, and Pa tapping the trees and the sweet treats that were made from it. Be sure to sample maple syrup during your exploration into the Little House on the Prarie Books.

Drop Biscuits and Johnny cakes
Although not quite as exciting, we also have made biscuits and Johnny cakes that are discussed in the books. The girls were interested in the Johnny cakes and the book describes the reason Ma thinks they are called that ( you'll have to read it to find out!). This was a great lesson in basic cooking, stockpiling basics and simple techniques to ensure warm bread is on the table by using few ingredients.

There is also mention in the books about butchering there own meat. My girls are used to us eating venison , fish and other seafood so they are familiar with that process. The smokehouse is something else they know about as we smoke some of our meats in my father in laws small smokehouse. The process of curing a ham in a tree trunk though was new to them! It allowed us a chance to talk about food preservation in the "olden days" and ways Laura's family could preserve enough food to eat for the winter.

So what are some other ideas of fun foods to make or try with kiddos while discussing the Little House books??

Happy Homesteading!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Laura Ingalls Part 4: Places to vist for that "Laura" Experience

Part 1: Introduction to the Series, information about Laura
Part 2: The books!
Part 3: Dress like Laura
Part 4: Places to visit to have that "Laura Experience"
Part 5: Cook like Laura
Part 6: Other books you might enjoy

Part 4: Places to vist to have that "Laura Experience"
The picture above is from a cute little old Homestead we took the kids to recently. You can read about it here, but since we are right in the middle of the Little House books the girls really enjoyed seeing what some of the houses were like in the "olden" days. No, the house isn't exactly what the books describe as what Laura lived in, but the point is that we got out together and explored something new.
There are some actual "Laura" places to visit though. I know my readers are from all over, and some of these may not be feasible, but if you are close you could easily drop in.
There is a musuem in Walnut Grove, Mn. There is a festival, museum, even a Laura and Nellie look alike contest.
Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Home and Musuem. This is located in Mansfield , Missouri and is where she settled later in life . This is where she wrote her Little house books.
The Little House Historic Homes is located in De Smet, South Dakota and is the setting for her book, Little Town on the Praire. Also in De Smet is the Ingalls Homestead This looks great, they offer covered wagon rides, you can look at the school where Laura and Mary went to school, run through the prarie grasses and so much more! Maybe one day I'll make it there!
If you live in Iowa you could visit a home she lived in as a child. The Laura Ingalls Park and Musuem has a Parade, a 5k, a musuem, gift shop and more.
If you are interested in Almonzo ( her husband) you can visit his boyhood home. It is located in Malone New York.  
Kansas, which is where the Prarie actually came into play has a great musuem also, with the one room cabin that is written about so often in the book series.  They offer lamplight tours and other events including re-enactments which sound really great!
Hopefully you all can visit one of these, or a similiar place to give yourself and your family a glimpse into the past.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Larua Ingalls Part 3: Dress like Laura

Part 1: Introduction to the Series, information about Laura
Part 2: The books!
Part 3: Dress like Laura
Part 4: Places to visit to have that "Laura Experience"
Part 5: Cook like Laura
Part 6: Other books you might enjoy

Part 3: Dress Like Laura

                                                                        photo credit

I love bonnets. I do. I can't help it. I think they are the cutest thing ever. Not only are they adorable but they serve a practical purpose as well.
I found a great tutorial at Given Moments Blog for all of crafty vixens out there ready to get your sew on.

There are also some on Etsy that other people have made. I found one seller here, that has super cute bonnets for as low as $8.50.  Ebay is another option of course, and I have found some really cute bonnets at thrift stores as well.

Dresses are adorable also. I love talking to the girls about fabric, and calico, and different patterns and swatches. A trip to the local fabric store, or maybe just into your sewing room would be a great side learning experience while reading the books.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Laura Ingalls Part 2: The books

Laura Ingalls Part 2: The Books
You can see here the other parts in this series:
Part 1: Introduction to the Series, information about Laura
Part 2: The books!
Part 3: Dress like Laura
Part 4: Places to visit to have that "Laura Experience"
Part 5: Cook like Laura
Part 6: Other books you might enjoy

I have 3 kiddos. I have two girls ages 5 and 6 and a little guy that just turned one. We have started a bed time ritual , which we ALL love of reading the Little House series before bed. These books are an easy read, are fun, have vividy imagry and the girls LOVE it. My husband will read it to them sometimes if I am busy with baby or something, but for the most part it is a special time for us to be together right before bed.

To make things more fun, I will either turn off all the lights and use a lantern to read by, or a candle. Just like Laura would have! I think it creates a little bit extra ambiance that just adds to the overall mood of the books.

There are several books in the series, and I personally think it is best to go in order. I normally read one chapter a night, which is a good length. Here are the books:

Little House in the Big Woods
Farmer Boy
Little House on the Prarie
On the Banks of Plum Creek
By the Shores of Silver Lake
The Long Winter
These Happy Golden Years
Little Town on the Prarie
The First Four Years

To me, this is the series that really started my fascination. My mother read them to me as a child, I read them several times myself as a child and now I am thoroughly enjoying reading them to my girls.

I am lucky enough to have the same set I had as a child, but they are available many places. was the cheapest place I found, and you can buy one at a time or buy them all at once. Just search for Little house on the Prarie Books. has the full set for sale, .com also does. If you can't seem to find it please let me know! I would love to help you find a set to buy. What a great Christmas gift this would be, or some great winter reading!

Later on in the series I'll have some other books you might like revolving around Laura.....

Happy Homesteading....

Friday, October 5, 2012

Laura Ingalls: Part 1 Introduction to Series

Okay, I'll admit it. I love Laura Ingalls. I love the books, I love the tv series, I love the grand imagination and sassy little spark that she had in those books and tv shows. This may be a little bit off of my "typical" blog posts, but I am going to start a small series today on Everything Laura.

 The series will kind of go like this:
Part 1: Introduction to the Series, information about Laura
Part 2: The books!
Part 3: Dress like Laura
Part 4: Places to visit to have that "Laura Experience"
Part 5: Cook like Laura
Part 6: Other books you might enjoy

So today I just wanted to share a bit about Laura Ingalls Wilder.

She was a real person! It's not just a tv show, or a book. She actually was a real person and I think sometimes people don't really realize that she isn't a fictional character.

This is a picture of her as an adult.
Laura Elizabeth Ingalls was born February 7, 1867, seven miles north of the village of Pepin, in the "Big Woods" of Wisconsin.,[ Her life here formed the basis for the book Little House in the Big Woods.

In Laura's early childhood, her father settled on land not yet open for homesteading in what was then Indian Territory near what is now Independence, Kansas—an experience that formed the basis of Ingalls' novel Little House on the Prairie. In the years subsequent to this move, her father's restless spirit led them on various moves to a preemption claim in Walnut Grove, Minnesota, living with relatives near South Troy, Minnesota, and helping to run a hotel in Burr Oak, Iowa. After a move from Burr Oak back to Walnut Grove, where he served as the town butcher and Justice of the Peace, Charles Ingalls accepted a railroad job in the spring of 1879 which led him to eastern Dakota Territory, where he was joined by the family in the fall of 1879. Charles filed for a homestead over the winter of 1879–1880; De Smet, South Dakota was home for the rest of his, Caroline, and Mary's lives. After spending the mild winter of 1879–1880 in the Surveyor's House, the Ingalls family watched the town of DeSmet rise up from the prairie in 1880. The following winter, 1880–1881, one of the most severe on record in the Dakotas, was later described by Wilder in her book, The Long Winter. Once the family was settled in DeSmet, Wilder attended school, worked several part-time jobs and made many friends, most importantly the bachelor homesteader Almanzo Wilder (1857–1949), whom she later married. This time in her life is well documented in the books Little Town on the Prairie, and These Happy Golden Years.

On December 10, 1882, two months before her 16th birthday, Laura accepted her first teaching position, teaching three terms in one-room schools, when not attending school herself in DeSmet. In the book Little Town on the Prairie, Laura states that she received her first teaching certificate on December 24, 1882, but this was an enhancement for dramatic effect.[citation needed] Laura's original "Third Grade" teaching certificate can be seen on page 25 of William Anderson's book Laura's Album (Harper Collins, 1998). She later admitted that she did not particularly enjoy teaching, but felt the responsibility from a young age to help her family financially, and wage earning opportunities for females were limited. Between 1883 and 1885, she taught three terms of school, worked for the local dressmaker and attended high school, although she did not graduate. Her teaching career and her own studies ended when she married Almanzo Wilder, whom she called Manly, on August 25, 1885, when she was eighteen and he was twenty-eight. Almanzo Wilder had achieved a degree of prosperity on his homestead claim, owing to favorable weather in the early 1880s, and the couple's prospects seemed bright. She joined Almanzo in a new home on his claim north of De Smet and agreed to help him make the claim succeed. On December 5, 1886, she gave birth to Rose Wilder (1886–1968) and later, an unnamed son, who died shortly after his birth in 1889.

In 1894, the  young couple moved to Mansfield, Missouri, using their savings to make a down payment on a piece of undeveloped property just outside of town. They named the place Rocky Ridge Farm. The ramshackle log cabin was eventually replaced with an impressive 10-room farmhouse and outbuildings. The couple's climb to financial security was a slow process. Initially, the only income the farm produced was from wagonloads of firewood Almanzo sold for 50 cents in town, the result of the backbreaking work of clearing the trees and stones from land that slowly evolved into fertile fields and pastures. The apple trees did not begin to bear fruit for seven years. Barely able to eke out more than a subsistence living on the new farm, the Wilders decided to move into nearby Mansfield in the late 1890s and rent a small house. Almanzo found work as an oil salesman and general delivery man, while Laura took in boarders and served meals to local railroad workers.[citation needed]Wilder's parents visited around this time, and presented to the couple, as a gift, the deed to the house they had been renting in Mansfield. This was the economic jump start they needed; they added acreage to the original purchase, eventually owning nearly 200 acres. Around 1910, they sold their house in town and using the proceeds from the sale, were able to move back to the farm permanently, and to complete Rocky Ridge Farmhouse. What began as about 40 acres (0.2 km2) of thickly wooded, stone-covered hillside with a windowless log cabin, over the next 20 years evolved into a 200-acre (0.8 km2), relatively prosperous poultry, dairy, and fruit farm and an impressive 10-bedroom farmhouse. (

I'm not too sure if her life was ALL that different than many other's that lived during that time. But what was dfferent was her ability to chronical those events so vividly in her books. That is what makes us feel connected to her and feel a bond to her life.
Tomorrow we will look at her book series and discuss where to buy them, etc.

Happy Homesteading.....

Linked up to Homestead Barn Hop Frugal Days Sustainable Ways

Thursday, October 4, 2012

One small step: New series on small steps towards homesteading

I've been thinking about a few ways to help myself get organized (AGH) and also to improve my blog as a kind of place that people could follow along, be interactive and let me know what they are up to also. I will continue to post as I normally do , ( about yummy pies, salsas and other recipes, outings with the kids, my adventures in gardening etc.) but I also want to add a little maybe weekly section called " One small step".

This will just be a sort of challenge to myself and to my blogger friends for something very small we can do together towards our Quest to building our Homesteading Utopia.

Some of you may already do it, if so then HOORAY, you can help the rest of us. Some things you may have no interest in doing. No worries. Just thought this would be a fun way to share my thoughts a little more clearly.

Some ideas I have include:
Buying one extra bulk item per month, utilizing eggs more in my weekly menu, thrift store shopping, purging unwanted /un-needed items from our home, trying new whole foods recipes, baking our own bread for a month, menu planning, specific challenges in the garden etc. Books I'd like to read, book reviews etc.

I would love to hear from some of you guys also, just some really small steps to get us all on the path towards sustainability. Be looking for some posts soon, helping us all towards our goal, one small step at a time....

Happy Homesteading!