Kitchen Tips & Tricks, Cute Curtain Tie Back, Herb Garden Spritzer & Citrus Raspberry Tea






Yummy & refreshing Herb Garden Spritzer… see recipe below!



Really cute curtain tie back… see how to below!

I spend a lot of time in the kitchen especially in the summer when we are busy with all the canning & freezing we do around our home.  I love to can as you will learn more this summer through my blogs I am sure!  Right now I am excited with spring and all the bounty she holds… rhubarb, asparagus, fresh greens, spinach, fresh garden tea… oh spring is delicious.  But I think all the seasons can be, especially with the season extensions that we have now with hoop houses and heated green houses at our farm.  With our Winter CSA they allow for fresh stuff all year!  Today I am kitchen mode so here are some fun ideas, tips, decorating ideas and yummy drinks to read about! Have a great day and wonderful weekend!

Handy Kitchen Tips…
“Food should be prepared with butter and love.” Swedish Proverb
*If you are in need of a Cake Stand simply use an inverted bowl and a pretty plate set on top! Presto- cake plate!
*To make colored sugar for decorating cupcakes or whatever simply start with 1 cup of sugar in a zip lock bag, add 2-3 drops of food coloring, knead the bag of sugar until completely blended; lay out evenly on cookie sheet and let air dry before putting in air tight container.
*Chocolate Cut Outs are easy to make and add an elegance to your desserts.  Simply spread melted chocolate thinly on a sheet of wax paper and chill until nearly set.  Cut out whatever shapes you would like using cookie cutters, chill again, then gently peel off.  Store flat in plastic freezer containers if you have extra!
*If you soak your wooden kabob skewers in water for about 20-30 minutes before you are ready to grill they won’t burn and your goodies won’t stick!
*Don’t open your oven door when baking especially, it drops the temp down almost 25 degrees every time- not good for those cakes & brownies!
*When you make hard boiled eggs, have a bowl with ice cubes in water ready to put them in; leave set for 1 minutes and watch the peals come right off!
*Don’t have an icing piper- no problem, use a one gallon plastic bag, put icing in bag, twist top as to push down towards one corner of bag; snip off a tiny bit of corner and there ya go- pipe away!
*Use a muffin pan to put your baked potatoes in- stand them up and bake as normal!
*Need to soften butter fast and don’t want to use a microwave~ shred the butter with a cheese grater, it will thaw faster!
*Your lettuce won’t brown if you tear it with your hands instead of cutting with a knife.
*Cut your bacon into 1 inch bites before frying if you are going to add it to a salad or other dish that calls for crumbled bacon- no more burnt fingers because of impatience 🙂 !
*Use a veggie peeler to make chocolate or cheese curls- so slick and fast!
*Use cookie cutters to cut cheese into fun shapes for your appetizer tray!
*Cut the center out of mini melons or even pineapple halves to serve your yummy fruit dips; use hollowed out bread rounds to serve veggie dips in- place in center of serving plate and put veggies all around.
*Need a lot of ice for a punch bowl~ use a muffin tin to make jumbo size ice cubes that won’t melt as quick. To make them extra special, boil water first and then add viola blossoms and freeze.  Boiled water freezes clear. 
*Use blue Mason can jars, small vases or pitchers to stand pretzels for dipping in, cuter & clever!
*When making muffins use an old fashioned ice cream scoop, they will all be the same size. To ensure they have nice round tops, only grease the tin half way up where the batter will stop.
*When getting ready to start a kitchen project, make sure you have all ingredients before you start!
*For faster, easier clean up start your project with a clean sink of hot soapy water, and wash as you go! No big mess at the end!
*Substitute apple, orange or pineapple juice for the water in cake mixes- adds a nice flavor!
 
Cute Curtain Tie Back & Napkin Rings
See attached photo’s!
Here is a super cute idea for your kitchen or dining room curtains.  To make this nifty tie back, simply drill a small hole approximately one inch in from the end of the fork’s handle.  Hold the utensil face up, then use pliers to bend the prongs back toward the handle, making sure to form a rounded C shape rather than a V.  Finish by screwing the tie back into your window molding.

Brighten up your table for entertaining with these floral napkin rings. Buy faux roses in your favorite hues at a crafts store, then sew them, singly or in pairs, onto regular hair elastics with a few stitches.

To fit standard dinner napkins, cut a bandanna into 6- by 9-inch strips. Fold each strip in thirds lengthwise, then fold in thirds width wise. Sew a button on one end, about 1 inch from the edge. (Choose any colorful loose buttons you may have on hand; they don’t need to match.) Then cut a corresponding buttonhole on the opposite end of the strip.

Here are samples of the home made napkin rings described above!  Be creative and change them up to suit your decor and taste!

Here are a couple recipes for refreshing drinks… a nice change from the usual!
Citrus Raspberry TeaMy two favorite flavors of teas are raspberry and any citrus… When Taylor threw this concoction together it was an instant hit for the whole family… a bite of citrus with the earthy goodness of raspberry.

4 cups water
6 Raspberry Tea Bags
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 12oz can each frozen Orange Juice AND Lemonade concentrate, thawed
10 cups cold water
ice

1. Bring the 4 cups of water to a boil in pot; remove from heat and add the teabags; steep overnight or for at least 8-10 hours; discard the teabags.
2 Pour into a large pitcher; add remaining ingredients.
Serve cold and be refreshed!

Herb Garden Spritzer
A refreshing drink for those hot summer days that are on the way.

1 bottle (750-ml)of Sparkling White Grape Juice
1 cup Real Lemon juice
2 cups Lemon Lime soda
1 1/2 cup raw organic sugar, divided
5 Tbsp. lemon zest
2 cups lemon thyme leaves (2 bunches)
Ice
1 1/2 liters tonic water

1. In a large pot, bring first 3 ingredients and 1 cup of sugar to a boil; add lemon zest; reduce heat to medium low and let simmer for 5 minutes until sugar is completely dissolved.
2. Remove the pot from heat; add 1 cup/bunch of thyme leaves and steep for 15 minutes (let set).
3. While mixture is still hot, add a few more thyme sprigs plus 1/2 cup sugar.
4. Set a 2 quart container in a bowl and fell bowl halfway with the ice.  Strain the mixture into a container; place bowl in freezer and add water to cover ice; chill until cold and mixture is slushy, about 8-9 hours.
5. Divide among glasses, then top off with the tonic water, add ice if desired; garnish with thyme sprigs.

Happy Day,
Jean

Idea Note Books, Remembrance Shadow Boxes, Edible Centerpiece & A Yummy Romaine & Bacon Salad!

I love photographing my gardens, both veggie and flower. I take photos of them at each stage so I know what I need to fill in, get rid of, thin out or re-do.  As I page through my garden journals, it is so interesting to see how the beds have matured, changed and been redone over time.  To be able to go back and see each season and where I need to add, thin out or add an element to hard scapeing an area helps in future planning & budgeting.  I always think that I need more in the spring, for some reason I have never been able to be satisfied with my spring garden’s. Shall I say they are always a work in progress~ slow, steady progress!  I use an Idea Notebook as one way to keep track of all the wonderful idea’s I see as I drive past a lovely yard or see something ‘neatsy’ at a greenhouse/nursery.  I keep this in my purse so I can simply take it out and jot down the idea.  I also like to keep my camera along with me so I can photograph anything of interest. This is how my mailbox came to be.  I had driven past this super cute mailbox that had bird houses hand painted on it. I took some photographs, bought a new mail box, a really big one, and replicated the images onto my own. Now I too have a super cute mailbox! I am too forgetful to remember everything I like and would like to eventually do.  I love my gardening magazines and often find all sorts of neat ideas that I would like to do.  I don’t like ripping pages out of them so I will either photocopy them and then tape them in my idea notebook or journal. Be sure to include magazine name,  page number and date in which the idea/article was in!
Remembrance Shadow Boxes
are a beautiful heirloom for oneself or to give as a gift.  My dear mother in the Lord made one of these in memory of each of her parents after they passed away. She purchased the shadow boxes at a big box hobby store and then created what I believe are heirloom treasures.  They are done very scrapbook’ish with pretty paper on the back, almost looking like wall paper.  Then she incorporated several meaningful items in each that represented each parent.  The memorabilia are tacked onto the ‘wall’ with adhesive tape or small pins. Each contains their reading glasses, a photograph and several other items that.  So easy and yet simply stunning!

No table is quite done without a centerpiece. It creates a finished and homey atmosphere to the room. Whether it is a vase filled with in season flowers, a rooster statue, a candelabra or a bowl filled with fruit, it sets the stage to an inviting feeling. Edible plants are one way to create something very special.  To create a lovely Edible Centerpiece you first will need a container that you can set in the center~ indoor or out.  This can be a large, shallow Terra cotta or clay pot, an old fashioned wooden toolbox, an old drawer lined with plastic or a wicker basket lined with plastic so the dirt won’t flow out- the key is that there is proper drainage and that you have it resting in a container to catch water- especially if inside.  Personally I think these are most special on a patio or picnic table for outdoor enjoyment.
Here are a few choice plant combo’s:
*For a yummy Salad Bowl plant one of each in the corners if square container or an ‘x’ if round:  nasturtium~trailing preferably, a variegated lemon  thyme, Genovese basil and Italian Large leaf parsley; in center plant a romaine lettuce and spinach plant.  Please take into consideration the growth size of each plant and determine the size of your planter if it will accommodate this planting.   A 24″ in diameter pot would be recommended. 
*Herb Lovers~ try Genovese Basil, Lemon Basil, Italian Large Leaf parsley, tarragon and a thyme.  Whenever you are ready to grill you can snip off some to add into a butter for brushing on corn or shish-ka-bob.  Fresh snipped basil & parsley for yummy Brushetta, thyme for grilled squash or chicken and tarragon for fish!
The combo’s are really up to your taste buds, so be creative and let your taste buds soar!

Everyone loves our bacon, for what I believe to be very good reasons~ no nitrates or nitrites, no G.M.O. feed given to our hogs, naturally raised with open fresh air & sunshine.  Here is yet another way to serve up some of our bacon with our yummy heirloom Romaine lettuces!
Romaine & Bacon Salad

2 medium heads romaine lettuce from Garden Gate, chopped
1 red onion from Garden Gate, sliced thinly
1/2 pound bacon from Garden Gate
1 cup raw organic sugar
1 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup salted sunflower seeds
homemade croutons (see previous blog for recipe)

1. Arrange lettuce in a bowl and top with onions.
2.  Fry bacon in skillet over medium- high heat, cook bacon until crisp; drain.
3. Combine vinegar & sugar; pour over bacon in skillet; bring to a simmer over medium heat; cook and stir until sugar dissolves, about 3 minutes. 
4.  Pour mixture over lettuce and onion. Toss together to mix evenly; top with cranberries, seeds & croutons.
5. Serve immediately.
Enjoy! 

Happy Day,
Jean