Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Going Old School on My Fruits and Veggies

Let me start by saying that I am glad I am not Old Order Amish. After one day of canning, I really respect the work they do...and all without electricity! As idyllic as it sometimes sounds to live in the Amish way--living and working on a farm, traveling by horse and buggy, and coming together as a community to can, quilt, and build barns, I would really miss my modern conveniences. I guess I am a city girl with a farm girl's heart.

Well, back to my saga of canning. We have been getting a good bit of produce from our family garden this year, and although we have given some away, we still have plenty. So, I thought I would try my hand this year at canning. I first made some Triple Berry Jam, which is a freezer jam and doesn't need processing. I thought, "Wow! That was easy!" It tasted great and whet my appetite for putting up more stuff. My next attempt was pickled jalapeños and salsa. They were umm...not so easy. I think the neighbors two doors down could hear me coughing from the fumes of the boiling vinegar to go over the peppers. The hardest part was finding out a few minutes before I started that you can't use the canning pot on a glass surface stovetop, which is what I have. I truly had a moment of panic--then my inner Girl Scout kicked in. I could use our gas grill! It is pretty much like a gas stove, only outside. So, I placed the canner on the grill top and lit 'er up. To my surprise, it worked! The only problem was that I had to make about 431 trips from the inside stove to the grill to bring jars back and forth, and I probably used half a tank of propane. These are probably some expensive jars of salsa and peppers, but hopefully they will be good!

I just want to say that, despite the labor, the problems, and the hours of time it took, I will probably can some more. It is extremely satisfying to see the rows of my neatly labeled jars in my pantry and to know that we grew those and canned them ourselves. Maybe I will wait until David is home to help me--I'm sure he would love it! At the risk of sound overly "green", between our garden, the chickens (which will hopefully give us eggs this fall), and the canning, I feel "closer" to our food. There is something to be said for knowing where at least some of your food is coming from and also teaching your children the value of hard work and showing them that food doesn't just appear magically at the grocery store. We are quite happy with our little "Hardgrave Farm." As they say at McDonald's, "We're loving it!"

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Breath of Angel: The Angeleon Circle Book One

"Breath of angel, blood of man..."

Age-old debts demand repayment, the restoration of an ancient passage between heaven and earth hangs in the balance, and a feud between immortals and angels escalates. This and more await you in "Breath of Angel," the first book in the series, "The Angeleon Circle" by Karyn Henley. This young adult fantasy adventure features Melaia, a young priestess, whose life takes an unimaginable turn after witnessing the murder of a stranger in the temple courtyard. When she discovers wings on the victim, Melaia realizes that the myths and tales told in the temple are no longer fanciful stories...they are truth.

Even though most fantasy novels are written for YA, I still enjoy the opportunity to lose myself in another world so different from our own. Karyn Henley creates just such a world, and the premise of the plot is one I hadn't encountered before. The story was a little slow to grab my attention in the beginning, but I continued reading and was glad that I did. The characters were interesting, but unfortunately, I never felt like I got to know most of them very well. All in all, I enjoyed the book and look forward to the next in the series.

I received a free copy of "Breath of Angel" by Karyn Henley from WaterBrook Multnomah for my review. Please rank my review below. The higher my rankings, the more prizes I can win!

Is Chivalry Dead, or Just Lazy?

I live with a gentleman. And, yes, I do mean my husband. He opens and closes doors for me, lifts heavy objects when I can't, and even drives for me most of the time. His chivalrous behavior used to be the norm. When I was younger and working full-time, I remember the men in the office holding doors for the ladies, making coffee, and lifting the heavy bottles on to the water cooler so that we wouldn't have to. Although there are some places, like my church, where there are still knights in shining armor, chivalry for the most part seems to be a lost art.

You may be asking yourself, "Why is Angela thinking about chivalry when she's supposed to be soaking up the sun in Orange Beach?" Of course, if this is the first time you are reading this blog, you probably wouldn't have asked yourself that because you didn't know I was at the beach...or you don't care. Either way, I will answer the question with a little story:

"Once upon a time, on the beach sat a lady and her beautiful young daughter, chatting delightedly under several rainbow colored umbrellas. The lady's husband swam in the azure waters of the Gulf with their other two, equally beautiful, daughters. All of the sudden, a huge gust of wind blew towards the lady and her daughter, turning two of their umbrellas inside out! The wind was so strong, it threatened to rip the umbrellas out of the sand and blow them down the beach. With all her might, the lady held on to the largest umbrella, trying to keep it in place, while also attempting to get her husband's attention. While in the midst of this dilemma, to her surprise, she saw two men in beach chairs watching her. Surely these brave knights would rescue a damsel in distress! But, alas, what did she see on their faces? Not concern, but amusement. They were laughing! These were not brave knights at all! They were but court jesters. Not one lifted a finger to aid the lady. Finally, she gained the attention of her husband, and he began the long and arduous trek through the ocean waves. Finally, his journey ended, and he reached his fair wife. Then, with much labor, the lady's mighty husband righted the umbrellas and restored peace to the morning, all while the jesters watched. Only with much self control and his wife's staying hand did the husband resist running the rogues through. Afterwards, the lady left the beach saddened that chivalry and common courtesy had been banished from the land in which she dwelled."

I hope you got the point of this true tale. To any of you men who may have decided to read my blog and think that the behavior of the men in the above story was deplorable, let me just say that I appreciate you. To every man who has held open a door, pulled out a chair, or given up a seat for a lady, I want to say a huge "THANK YOU!" The world needs more men like you. Just remember, the world may tell you that chivalry is old-fashioned, and it very well may be, but just because something is old-fashioned doesn't mean it isn't right.