Homemade Spiced Pear Butter

Spiced Pear ButterI’m a big fan of apple butter, so when I had a box of pears that needed to be used up quickly, pear butter kept coming to mind.  I looked up some recipes and then mixed, matched, and tweaked until I had a recipe I was happy with.  I have never made apple OR pear butter before and I was a bit skeptical at first.  But when I smelled that pot of yummyness bubbling on my stove I knew I had a winner!!

First peel and cut up 8 pounds of pears.  This was about 16 medium sized pears.

Spiced Pear ButterAdd just enough water to cover the bottom of the pan to keep them from sticking. About 1/2 a cup.  Cook on medium heat until they are soft, about 30 minutes.

Pear ButterLet the soft pears cool off a bit and then blend until you have a smooth consistency.  You could use a stick blender or a regular blender.

Pear Butter 1When you have a nice smooth “pear sauce” add the sugar, orange zest, nutmeg, orange juice, and almond extract.  Cook on medium heat until it reaches your desired thickness, stir often so it doesn’t stick to the pan.  It will take about an hour.  I let it cool then ladled it into clean pint size mason jars and put them in the freezer.

To can it: Ladle hot pear butter into sterile jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace.  Seal with lids and rings.  Process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes to seal.   This made a little over 4 pints.  The recipe could easily be doubled or cut in half.

Spiced Pear Butter 2NOTE:  This recipe uses about half the amount of sugar that all the other recipes for pear butter call for.  It was PLENTY sweet for us but you could add more if you like.  The only thing I will do differently next time is cook it for longer, I would prefer it to be a bit thicker.

5.0 from 3 reviews
Homemade Spiced Pear Butter
 
Author:
Recipe type: Condiment
Ingredients
  • 8 pounds of pears - about 16 medium size pears
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons grated orange zest
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • 1½ teaspoons almond extract
Instructions
  1. Wash, peel, core, and chop up 8 pounds of pears into a big pot.
  2. Add just enough water to cover the bottom of the pan, about ½ a cup.
  3. Cook on medium heat until pears are soft. About a ½ hour.
  4. Let them cool off a bit then blend until smooth.
  5. Return to the pot and add sugar, orange zest, nutmeg, orange juice, and almond extract.
  6. Cook on medium heat until it reaches desired thickness.
  7. To can or freeze see instructions above.

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Stinky Goes To The Fair

This is a post for all you Stinky fans out there.  If you’ve never heard of Stinky and want to know how Stinky got her name and why she is so special to us, click here.

When my girls picked out the hens they wanted to take to the fair.  Stinky was an obvious choice.   She is the most docile of all our chickens (given her history) and very easy to handle.

Over the past few weeks Jo, has been packing her around, singing to her, and training her to stand on the picnic table.  When you show a chicken they should stand on the table in front of you without being held there.

Stinky 1A few times while Jo was “training” Stinky  I would hear her firmly say “Stinky, you stay right here, I’ll be right back”.  She would leave the chicken on the table, run in the house to tell me something “exciting” or grab something “important” and then run back out.  That darn chicken would stay right where she was told every time, and Jo seemed to have absolute confidence Stinky would be there when she got back every time!

When fair time rolled around, I was not worried about Stinky. :)

Stinky 4Here she is taking her first bath in preparation for the fair.

Stinky 5It must have been an exhausting experience because as soon as the bath was over she had a snooze….. :)

Stinky 6We started our drive to the fair with the hens in a kennel.  Stinky however, would not behave herself and kept picking on poor Goldie.  She wound up riding on Jo’s lap…  (I suspect a conspiracy here!)

Stinky at the fairJo made sure Stinky got plenty of outside time and they both met new friends.

Stinky's FriendsMeet two of Stinky’s new friends: Fire and Afro :D

Show time was a little nerve-wracking for both of them.  But all that “training” paid off!

Blue RibbonsWe always knew she was a blue ribbon chicken!!

Stinky back homeAfter four eventful days at the fair Stinky was VERY happy to be home with the rest of the ladies!

 

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Pear Smoothies – A Healthy Fall Treat!

Fall Smoothies

Fall is in the air!

On our way home from a shopping trip my mom and I stopped at a fruit stand.  Everything looked soooo good (I love this time of year)!   After some debating I settled on a box of pears and a box of apples.  The pears were really ripe and by the next morning I thought the fruit flies were going to pick up my kitchen and fly away.  I quickly started a big batch of pear butter (I’ll share that recipe later) and then I froze a bunch to use in future smoothies.  What was left, nicely fit in the fridge and we are still enjoying fresh pears and fall smoothies.  After putting up a couple fly strips, my kitchen is now (mostly) fly free again!

Here are two wonderful, healthy fall smoothies!

Cinnamon Pear Smoothie 

All you need is: 2 pears (cored and quartered) – 1 frozen banana (cut into pieces) – 1 cup of milk (any kind) – 1/2 cup vanilla yogurt1/2 cup oatmeal1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon – a pinch of nutmeg.

Cinnamon Pear SmoothiePut everything in a blender and puree until nice and smooth. This makes enough for 3 of us to have a nice size smoothie.

 

Apple and Pear Smoothie

You will need: 1 ripe pear (cored and quartered) – 2 apples (cored, peeled and cut into pieces) – 1 frozen banana (peeled & cut into pieces) – 1/2 cup vanilla yogurt – 1/2 cup of apple juice1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Pear Apple Smoothie 1Throw it all in the blender and puree until smooth.

 These make a healthy breakfast or snack….it’s like fall in a cup!

 

The Queen Of The Red Double Wide adapted these recipes from: AllRecipes.com and Good Food Channel

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Raising Cornish Cross Chickens – Week 8 – Butchering Day

I have to admit that after the turmoil during fair week, I was very ready for butchering day.  Out of the 15 birds that we bought, we had 13 make it to butchering day.  The five my parents raised and eight out of ten that we raised.

If you would like to read about the first seven weeks (with lots of pictures) here they are: Week 1Week 2Week 3Week 4Week 5Week 6Week 7

Butchering DayThe evening before we butchered it POURED down rain while we were packing up at the fair.  By the time we got home they were soaking wet out in their little chicken tractor.  So we brought them in the shop to dry off.  They quickly dried and we kept them in for the night in case of another down pour.

We took the feed out 12 hours before butchering time; this is so the crop and intestinal tract has time to clear.

Rooster Hen CollageI weighed a few of them that morning and they were all around 7 pounds.

We put them in a couple of kennels and headed to my parents house.  They have raised turkeys in the past and have a better set up for butchering than we do.

We don’t have any killing cones so the guys used a chopping block and an axe.  I think next year we will buy or make some cones.  Especially if we have more than 13 chickens.

Scalding TemperatureFor scalding we kept the temperature between 145°and 150° F. and scalded them for 1 minute.  It worked great!  I couldn’t believe how easy they were to pluck!

PluckingThis is me, my mom, and one of my sisters plucking.

SkinningDigger skinned a few of them to see if it was faster than plucking.  Skinning was definitely faster.  Here are a couple pics of a skinned chicken, this was before it was gutted and cleaned.  Check out all that meat!!!

Skinned Cornish Cross

Cornish CrossThis is the gutting, cleaning, and wrapping station.  After they were cleaned we wrapped them in plastic wrap and put them in zip lock bags.  They were all around 5 pounds. :)

Cleaning and WrappingThe whole process only took about 2 hours for 13 chickens despite the fact everyone was exhausted from the fair.  I was surprised at how smoothly it went and that it didn’t bother me at all.  I was very pleased with the sizes of the dressed out birds.  My parents were pleased too and have decided to stick with chickens instead of turkeys from now on.  Mom already said she wants 20 more next year!  I’m sure we will get more next year too.  I’m thinking I’d like to try some freedom rangers, just so I can compare.

All said and done they cost right at $9.00 each. Not to bad for five pound, pastured chickens!

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August 2013 – A Month of Photos From the Red Double Wide

WOW!  August is over already?!?!

Hope you enjoy some of my photos from August.

Chicken

Buddies

Napping on the trampoline. :)

Green Beans

beans….beans…..beans

Bag Of Wheat

This a HUGE bag of wheat that my dad harvested. We are going to supplement the chicken feed with it and Digger wants to experiment with fodder.

Wind Storm

We had a nasty wind storm that blew over several corn stocks. I was glad it didn’t do more damage.

Tomato

We have dozens and dozens of these….now, if they would just turn red!

Bee

I am very pleased with how many bees I hear and see while in the garden. :)

Some of our corn grew CRAZY tall.  A few of them are over 12 feet tall and the ears are so high I'm going to need a ladder to harvest them!

Some of our corn grew like CRAZY. A few of them are over 12 feet tall and the ears are so high I’m going to need a ladder to harvest them!

Sun Flower

One volunteer sun flower came up in the middle of our garden. I decided to let it grow and I’m glad I did. It’s absolutely gorgeous! I counted 30 blooms on it at one point. :)

We ended the month of August with the county fair.

Showing Chickens

This isn’t the greatest picture but I wanted everyone to see how the fair and chickens are a family ordeal! They all did so well with ALL of their projects. I am a very proud mom, sister, and aunt!!!

September will be bringing many changes.  I have decided after much thought and prayer to go back to teaching at our local Christian School and the girls will also be attending there.  This means lots less time at home.  I am hopeful that I can keep up with cooking from scratch, gardening, and my blog!

Thanks for stopping by the Red Double Wide!!  Hope you are all getting to enjoy this harvest season. :D

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Raising Cornish Cross Chickens – Week 7

FAIR WEEK!  (An unexpected experience)

If you’ve been following along on our Cornish Cross raising adventure, brace yourself for an eventful week 7!  If you are new to our little adventure you might want to check out the first six weeks: week 1week 2week 3week 4week 5week 6

My girls ages 9 and 10 chose to take two of our Cornish Cross to the fair this year and sell them at the market livestock sale.  Our family has always shown and sold sheep, but with a lack of fencing and the fact that chickens are far less expensive to raise, we encouraged chickens this year…..a mistake??  Maybe….

Our 4-H leader, who knows WAY more about chickens than we do, advised that we pick a couple of our roosters to take to the fair because of their size.  So on Wednesday afternoon the girls each picked out a rooster and we set to work getting them cleaned up.  The girls also took two laying hens to the fair, which made a total of seven baths that afternoon…..four chicken baths then three people baths, getting chickens clean is a dirty job!

Cornish Cross Bath 1

No their feathers did not fall out, this is just the way they are….makes for some easy pluckin!

I was dreading this part, but other than a few soggy, soapy chicken wings slapping us in the face and one mom and two girls chasing a soaking wet hen around the yard……it went very well.  :D

This isn't a very good picture, but here they are all clean and dry awaiting a ride to the fair!  I thought they cleaned up very nicely. :)

This isn’t a very good picture, but here they are all clean and dry, awaiting a ride to the fair! I thought they cleaned up very nicely. :)

It was a nice, warm, day so it didn’t take them long to dry off….and we were off to the fair!

Both Cornish Cross weighed in at 6.6 pounds (to sell they have to weigh between 4 and 7 pounds)  and after a vet check we settled them into their cages.  They were the only Cornish Cross in the barn…we live in a small county!  I noticed right away that they didn’t really like walking on the wire cages, it was very different than our lawn.  The poultry barn was hot, and this breed doesn’t do well in the heat.  They plopped down in their cages, spread their wings out away from their bodies and started panting. (this is normal; this is how they act when they are hot)  I was a little worried, but It was starting to cool off by then and I figured in a couple hours they would be fine….and they were.  The next morning they looked great and we kept an eye on them throughout the day.

Sorry about the bad pictures, but you'll see why I wanted to show them to you in a minute.

Sorry about the bad pictures…theses were taken Thursday in the late morning.

Thursday night I received a phone call that I was to immediately remove my daughters chickens from the fair grounds. The vet said they were sick and not going to make it through the night!   As I approached the barn I saw the vet outside and asked him what the problem was.  He said that our chickens had bloody wings, sores on their feet, their feathers were falling out, and they couldn’t stand up!?!?!?!  My brief attempt at defending this breed and these birds in particular was oddly met with “I know, I know” and some reference to PETA.  In short the vet made it very clear that he had made a decision, it was his call, and the birds had to go.  Yes, I argued….no, I did not scream, yell, cuss, kick, bite, or hit, like I was tempted to do at that moment. (we’re talking about some major restraint here folks)

I removed the chickens with tears in my eyes and two little girls full of questions I couldn’t answer.  :(

When we got home I took the kennel into the shop and opened the door.  Both chickens walked out and I began checking them over.  I had the Vetericyn out to spray any hurt wings or sores…..there was no need for Vetericyn.  I was relieved to not find any sores, but at the same time was very frustrated!

Feet - Wings 1After we took some pictures we put the chickens back in the pen with the rest of the meat chickens.  The next morning, the chickens “that weren’t going to make it through the night” were just fine.  When I opened the gate to give them breakfast they all ran to me. (Well, as well as Cornish Cross can run anyway)  In fact, four days later as I write this they are still fine!

By the time we got back to the fair grounds the next morning our 4-H leader had heard about what had happened,… and she was none to happy!!  We ended up filing a grievance with the fair board and attending a board meeting on Saturday morning. (This filled me with some measure of anxiety by the way, I am not one for confrontation)  The board was very kind to listen to our complaint.  I stated that I believed the whole situation was handled poorly and I didn’t want this to happen to more kids in the future.  They said that everyone needs more education about this hybrid chicken, and market chickens should have cages on the floor so they don’t have to walk on wire mesh.

I agree with the board that more education is needed,(like how to tell an ugly, hot chicken apart from a sick or injured chicken) and maybe some misconceptions about this bird can get cleared up. (at least at our little county fair)  I intend on writing several more posts about Cornish Cross and we will be making several educational posters to hang up at the fair next year….. whether we enter Cornish Cross or not.  The fair was not a total bust, the girls had tons of fun showing their hens and hanging out with friends.  They are already talking about next year. :D

Next week I will share about our last week and our very first butchering day.

I want to say thank you, thank you, thank you to our wonderful 4-H leader Linda.  She was so much help in our meat chicken raising experience and is always available to answer our questions.  She helped with 4-H books, the fair entry process, and when things got crazy at the fair, she stood by us, helped with the grievance process, and even went to the board meeting with us.  Linda….YOU ROCK!!!!  :D  

Here is a link to Week 8 – Butchering day

 

Easy Fresh Green Bean Recipes

Green beans, green beans, green beans every where.  I have planted green beans many, many times, but never have they tasted so good or been so abundant! (it must have been those heirloom seeds?)   We pick them about every three days trying to keep up with them.

Fresh Green BeansAll these green beans have let me get acquainted with my brand new pressure cooker!

Canned Green BeansSo far I have canned 20 pints and 14 quarts.  I’m thinking that will get us through an entire year, especially since Digger isn’t fond of canned green beans.  I have given some away to friends and family and the rest we have been enjoying with dinner.

Here are 2 super tasty ways to EASILY add fresh green beans to your dinner.

First find a REALLY cute niece to help you snap the beans. :)

Bean snappen

She took her bean snappin job VERY seriously!

If you don’t have one of these (my sympathies) it CAN be done alone, BUT it is very boring.

After the beans are snapped and you have picked up all the beans off the floor and cut all the little teeth marks off of them, give them a good washing!  (I told you, not boring with a cute helper)

Grease a cookie sheet and place as many snapped and washed beans as your family will eat for dinner on the cookie sheet.  Drizzle with some olive oil and sprinkle sea salt and freshly ground pepper on the top.  Place in the oven at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes.  This is soooo easy and so yummy!

Oven Roasted Green BeansThe next recipe is my favorite because it involves BACON!

You will need fresh snapped and washed green beans, bacon, and a small onion.

Green Bean RecipeChop up the bacon (I used 6 slices) and fry it until crispy.  Place the bacon on a paper towel to drain,  leave the bacon fat in the pan and add the onion and green beans (about 4 cups).  I used half of a LARGE onion I bought from our neighbors at the farmers market….wow!  Let them saute in the bacon grease for a few minutes, stirring often.  When they are a done to your liking, drain excess liquid then add the bacon back in and stir.  Add Salt and pepper to taste.

Fresh Green Bean RecipeThat’s it; deeeelicious!  I ate this for lunch yesterday…well not ALL of it, I shared a little with the girls. :)  Digger who won’t touch a green bean out of a can will happily eat either of these easy fresh green bean recipes!

Happy snappin everyone!

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Raising Cornish Cross Chickens – Week 6

I am pleased to say that week 6 went MUCH better than week 5!!  If you want to read about the first 4 weeks here they are: Week 1Week 2Week 3Week 4

We had no casualties this week and as you can see their feathers are filling in nicely.  So allot less ugliness going on. :D

6 Week Old Cornish CrossI weighed a couple of them on Friday and they weighed right around four pounds.  They are the perfect weight for the fair this week. :)

Six Week Old Cornish Cross

So far the total cost for each chicken is $8.00.  We plan on butchering in 2 more weeks.

Stay tuned for fair pictures next week!

Here is a link to Week 7

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Award Winning Chocolate Chunk Brownies

Brownies 4In the past I have tried to share only recipes that are on the healthier side…this is not one of those!  I feel compelled to share it with you though, because they REALLY are award winning brownies (not to mention easy and delicious).

Brownies 5In 2009 when Little Chef was 6 years old I asked her if she wanted to make some cookies and enter them into the fair.  She said  “no, I want to make brownies”.  So we found a brownie recipe that looked easy enough for a six year old and she went to work (with a little help from mom).  That year she brought home the huge purple “Top Of Show” ribbon.  Over the past four years that recipe has become our “go to” dessert.  If I need a dessert quickly this is the recipe I grab.  I usually grab my daughter too and have her make them! (lots of grabbing going on, sorry)  She never says no to making “her” brownies. ;)  So when her 4-H leader told us about “Food Activity Day”  the natural recipe of choice was………..you guessed it,  Chocolate Chunk Brownies.  On food activity day the kids pick a recipe and bring everything they need to prepare that recipe (or meal).   They set to work while the judge watches.  When they are done and the kitchen is clean they get to share their food with the judge and answer any questions they have.  My daughter was so excited about this day, and she had soooo much fun!  She was asking if she could do it again next year before they even handed out the awards. :D  She received reserve champion in the Junior class for her brownies and brought home another purple ribbon and a blue ribbon!

Brownies 2They are soooo soft, gooey, and chocolaty rich, and they just melt in your mouth!

Brownies 3

5.0 from 2 reviews
Award Winning Chocolate Chunk Brownies
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Ingredients
  • 1 cup butter - melted
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 4 eggs - slightly beaten
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup simi-sweet chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl add the sugar, vanilla, and eggs to the warm melted butter and blend well. Add flour, cocoa and salt; mix well. Stir in the chocolate chips and pour into a greased 13X9-inch pan.
  2. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes or until set. Let cool for at least 1 hour or until completely cooled before cutting into bars.

As you can see this is not a healthy recipe but definitely worth sharing. :)  Well….maybe I just wanted to brag about my Little Chef, that’s not so little any more.

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Raising Cornish Cross Chickens – Week 5

I think the two words to describe week 5 would be ugly and messy…….I might throw in smelly too!

Week 5I’m moving their pen two and three times a day now to keep them on fresh clean grass.  Sadly we had our first casualties this week…..yes, not just one but two.  :(  I went out early Thursday morning and there was a dead chicken??  We don’t know why it died, but this breed is prone to heart attacks so I’m guessing that was it.  Saturday morning I went out and a barn cat had some how reached under the pen and snagged one of them and had managed to eat half of it……super grooooss!!  I also lost two hens this week….it was NOT a happy chicken week around here…..sigh.

He obviously wanted the rest of the food to himself!

He obviously wanted the rest of the food to himself!

The eight remaining Cornish cross are doing well and gaining weight FAST.  We are now taking extra precautions to make sure they are cat proof!!!!

5 Weeks Old

If you would like, you can read about the first four weeks of our meat chicken experience….they were much cuter on week 1 and 2!  ;)    Week 1Week 2Week 3Week 4

Here is a link to Week 6

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