Monday, September 30, 2013

Product Review: Core Bamboo

For a long time now, I've been using plastic cutting boards in my kitchen. I've been wanting to add a wooden cutting board to my kitchen for a while now but wasn't sure exactly what I wanted. When I got the opportunity to review a product by Core Bamboo, I knew that it had to be a cutting board.

The cutting board I received is the Peony Medium Bamboo Cutting Board. As you can see, it's beautiful. I love the two-toned wood and the Core logo in the corner. It has worked well for me and I recently used it to cut up six red onions for a recipe I was testing. It did not stain and cleaned up easily.

The Core Bamboo web site states that the cutting boards are made from 100% organically grown bamboo and are built to last for years to come. I do plan to keep this in my collection for years to come. Think of a quality cutting board as an investment in your cooking future.

While I did receive my cutting board directly from Core Bamboo, I have started looking for their products while I'm out shopping since I have been so impressed with the cutting board. I recently purchased this mortar and pestle in the festive shade of lime green. Isn't this a work of art? My husband loves to grind spices. I found this set at HomeGoods. On my last trip to T.J. Maxx, I found this set of utensils in the same lime color and added those to my collection, too.

Core Bamboo is definitely a brand that I will be seeking out in the future. There are colorful pieces to brighten up your kitchen and make you just feel happy to be cooking. They are durable enough to be considered lifetime investments.

Disclaimer: The company provided me with the product to review; however, the opinion expressed here is my own.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

My First Canning Experience Courtesy of "The Modern-Day Pioneer"

by Charlotte Denholtz
Adams Media
Anyone who has read my blog for a while knows my love for cookbooks. I have quite a collection of them. Lately, however, I've found myself drawn to a different genre of reading material - homesteading, modern pioneering, and self-sufficiency. I've been concentrating my efforts on building a library of reference books to assist and to inspire me into adopting a more deliberate and simplified lifestyle.
This book covers many areas of simple living. Not all chapters will appeal to every reader; however, the book is quite comprehensive and useful. If an area doesn't appeal to you right now at this point in your life, you may come back to the book in six months and decide that you want to learn about another aspect of modern pioneering.
Some of the areas covered in the book are: making the most use from the land you have, canning and preserving, simple meals including breadmaking, homebrewing, prairie remedies for injury and illness, soapmaking, candlemaking, quilting and sewing. 

One of my goals this year is to learn to can. I've wanted to do this for a while now because it seems like the ultimate skill that you must acquire to consider yourself self-sufficient. Why have I resisted? It's just the unknown of it all. Terms like water bath, headspace, sterilized can be a little intimidating. Plus, with canning, I think jams and jellies. My family goes through about one jar of grape jelly every year so I knew it would be a waste of ingredients to make jelly. Who would eat it around here?

When I found this recipe in The Modern-Day Pioneer, I knew it would be perfect recipe to introduce me to that art form known as canning. I often make a similar recipe to this one that we serve over steaks. Delicious!

My first attempt at canning: Caramelized Red Onion Relish
Caramelized Red Onion Relish
from The Modern-Day Pioneer
6 large red onions, peeled and very thinly sliced
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
3 cups dry red wine
1/2 cup aged balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp. fine sea salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  1. In a heavy nonstick skillet, combine onions and brown sugar with olive oil; heat over medium-high heat.
  2. Cook uncovered for 25 minutes, or until onions turn golden and start to caramelize, stirring frequently.
  3. Stir in wine, vinegar, salt, and pepper; bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and cook for 15 minutes, or until most of the liquid had evaporated, stirring frequently.
  4. Ladle into sterilized jars, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace. Remove air bubbles. Wipe rims. Cap and seal, then process in a water-bath canner for ten minutes. Makes 6 pints. ***

So, how did my first canning experience go? First of all, I used a large canning pot that took forever to boil. By forever, I mean well over an hour if not two hours on my electric stove. Next time that I use this large pot, I will put it outside on the gas burner and I will bring the water to the pot instead of filling it with water and trying to take it to the stove. Way TOO heavy! My back is still feeling it today.
***Secondly, my instincts told me that this would NOT make six pints as it states in the recipe. I was right. I made two pints. Considering that this was my first time canning and I'm unfamiliar with the whole "headspace" measurement, I could have possibly put too much in my jars. If that was the case, I could have possible made two pints and one half pint at the most.
Finally, I came away from this first canning experience with a sense of accomplishment. The final product does taste delicious. And, I've learned that I will stick to canning in half pint jars and that I will use my regular stock pot and can in small batches which is more useful to my family.
As I begin my journey to become a modern pioneer, I know that The Modern-Day Pioneer will provide me much needed inspiration along the way.
Disclaimer: The publisher provided me a review copy of the book; however, the opinion expressed here is my own.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Blog Tour: "Warm Up Your Winter"

We are not quite at the point where we're drinking warm beverages here in Georgia. Mother Nature teased us with a couple of cool fall-like mornings this past week. I'm hoping the trend will continue and we will find ourselves fully in fall soon.

To get into the fall and winter spirit, I'm joining the blog tour for Laura Powell's recipe booklet, Warm Up Your Winter, published by Cedar Fort. This booklet is filled with several varieties of hot chocolate and cider recipes. We were particularly drawn to the Frozen Hot Chocolate - yummy! I can't think of a better way to top it than with some Marshmallow Whipped Cream. Oh, my! That sounds like a dessert all in itself.

Some of these recipes are sure to warm you up this winter: Nutella Hot Chocolate, Hot Vanilla, Sweet Slow Cooker Hot Chocolate, Hot Caramel Apple Cider, and Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate.

For those of you who are fans of making your own hot cocoa mixes to use at home or to give away in jars as gifts, you'll enjoy trying out the recipe for Best Ever Hot Cocoa Mix. A cute mug, a jar of this cocoa mix, and a copy of this recipe booklet will make the perfect holiday gifts for anyone on your shopping list.

Disclaimer: Cedar Fort provided me with a copy of this cookbook; however, the opinion expressed here is my own.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013


Last Sunday was a sad day for me. It's still a sensitive subject for me. Take a good look at the measuring glass above. It is one of my favorite possessions. I use it quite often and, every time I use it, I think about how wonderful it is for measuring any amount you can think of from tablespoons to ounces to cups. Now, I know what you're thinking. It's glass. She dropped it and it shattered into thousands of pieces across her kitchen floor then one of her children stepped in the glass and cut his heel. That does make sense, but that's not the case.
On Sunday, my husband decided to fix himself a tall icy glass of his beloved Mountain Dew. He took from the cabinet what he thought was his Salty Dog Cafe glass which is shaped exactly like my beloved measuring beaker. "Hmmm...the Salty Dog logo must have washed off." As I walked over to inspect the glass, I noticed one lone, faint measuring line near the top of the glass. No, it was not the Salty Dog Cafe glass that had met its ruin, it was my...I repeat, MY measuring glass!!! Why?!?
Unfortunately, I had used a new dishwasher detergent in the latest wash cycle that ate through the decals and left me with a blank glass. I was (am) heartbroken over the whole thing. I immediately looked in the dishwasher as if I would find the little numbers floating around in the bottom of the appliance. No such luck! My husband, disinterested in my loss, went ahead drank his Mountain Dew while I cursed the dishwashing detergent...which will remain nameless. I will not rest until I make the long journey to World Market to replace the measuring glass. It served me well and didn't deserve this kind of demise.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Gooseberry Patch Review and Giveaway: "Hometown Harvest"

It's almost here! My favorite time of the year...fall. Fall is not yet in the air here in Georgia.  We've had a hot September. Even with the warm weather, I still get in the mood for fall with one of my other favorites, a Gooseberry Patch cookbook. Hometown Harvest is the newest cookbook in Gooseberry Patch's fall cookbook line. If you're like me and have all of the other fall editions, you'll want to add this one to your collection.
Around this time every year, I start yearning for those crisp fall mornings which are few and far between here in my area. I can easily get into the fall spirit by curling up on the couch with my Gooseberry Patch fall cookbooks and read the recipes and harvest memories while planning my own adventures in my area: fall festivals, hayrides, and corn mazes.
Just reading through the chapter titles makes my mouth water for pumpkin baked goods: Hometown Pancake Breakfast, Church Social Soup Supper, Thanksgiving Dinner to Remember, Game Day Get-Together, Pumpkin Patch Sweets and Slow-Cooker Potluck Pleasers. The cookbook is filled with every imaginable form of apples, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, and other seasonal ingredients.
I chose to highlight my very favorite fall flavor, apples, in the recipe featured here, Fresh Apple Pound Cake.

Fresh Apple Pound Cake

Fresh Apple Pound Cake
Submitted by Theresia King
Knoxville, TN
1-1/4 c. oil
2 c. sugar
3 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
3 apples, peeled, cored and diced
1 c. chopped pecans
Combine oil, sugar and eggs in a bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed for 3 minutes; beat in vanilla. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon; mix well. Add flour mixture to oil mixture. Beat well; fold in apples and pecans. Pour batter into a greased 12" Bundt pan. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour and 20 minutes, or until a toothpick tests done. Cool for several minutes; turn cake out of pan. Serves 16.

Are you ready to welcome fall into your home? Are you ready to welcome this cookbook into your home? In addition to the review copy I received from Gooseberry Patch, I also received a copy of the cookbook to give away to one of my readers. Enter in the widget below. Please allow a few moments for the widget to load.
Good Luck and Happy Harvest!
For more chances to win, visit these Gooseberry Patch Early Bird Reviewers:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, September 15, 2013

What I'm Looking Forward to in 2014...

I've added quite a few cookbooks to my collection this year. There are still a few cookbooks that will be published in October and November of this year that are hanging around on my wish list. Will I buy them? Who knows. I'm waiting to get an inside peek before I make my final decision. However, I'm always looking ahead when it comes to new books and there are several being published in 2014 that I am so excited to get my hands on. Let's take a look...
This first book that I'm excited about is Handmade Gatherings: Recipes & Crafts for Seasonal Celebrations & Potluck Parties by Ashley English. Ashley writes the blog, Small Measure. which is one of my favorites. I love to read about Ashley's life on her homestead and I have much admiration for all that she does. I have a couple of Ashley's other books, A Year of Pies and Canning & Preserving from the Homemade Living series. As I type this, Keeping Chickens is heading my way from the Amazon warehouse.
I've been reading Ashley's blog for a while now and soak up every little insight that she gives into this new book which makes its arrival in April 2014. She will also release another book next fall, too, which I'm equally excited to read. I wish her much success with both of these books. Both of them will definitely find a home on my book shelf.

While I'm not as familiar with Georgia Pellegrini, I'm beyond excited about this book, Modern Pioneering, which has currently has a release date of March 2014. You may be familiar with Georgia's most recent book, Girl Hunter. While I have always held an interest in homesteading, pioneering, and self-sufficiency, I am becoming increasingly drawn to the lifestyle and feel that I am being called to make the necessary changes in my life to become more self-sufficient. I guess you could say that I am being called home and want to be fully prepared when the time does come for me to answer that call.

Spring much better than spring cleaning!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Review: HannahMax Cookie Chips

I was quite delighted to receive a case of HannahMax Cookie Chips for my enjoyment and review. I received four different flavors: Original, Chocolate Chip, Cinnamon Sugar, and Sea Salted Peanut Butter. The cookie chips are also available in Dark Chocolate Chocolate Chip.

What is HannahMax Cookie Chips? They are thin, crunchy cookies that combine the sweetness of a cookie with the crunch of a chip. Bottom line, they're delicious! I started my munching...I mean trying Original Cookie Chips. I'll have to admit that while all of the varieties were delicious, the original was my favorite. When I opened the bag and got a whiff of that brown sugar, I knew I was in for a treat. My 10-year-old joined in and, before we knew it, we had eaten the whole bag in one sitting. That may not have been what the company had in mind.

A couple of days later, we decided that the Chocolate Chip Cookie Chips needed our attention. They combined the brown sugar goodness of the original with chocolate chips. Again, these did not last long either.

I decided that I may need other opinions beside those of my family so I took the remaining two bags, Cinnamon Sugar and Sea Salted Peanut Butter, to work. Both of these were delicious and enjoyed by my boss. He was particularly fond of the Sea Salted Peanut Butter. 

Being a fan of soft, chewy cookies, I was a little apprehensive about eating a thin, crunchy cookie chip. I was definitely surprised at how much I loved these cookies. I also think that they would be perfect served with your favorite chocolate chip cookie dough cheese ball or toffee apple dip. Had I not eaten them all so quickly, I would have done just that.
Look for these HannahMax Cookie Chips in these stores or order some from the web site. While they're the perfect snack, a bag of these cookie chips would definitely come in handy for your fall and holiday entertaining. They would also make the perfect addition to any gift basket.
Disclaimer: HannahMax Baking provided me with the delicious products for review; however, the opinion expressed here is my own.