Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Cruze Farm Girl

Buttermilk seems like a drink from the past but Colleen Cruze from the Cruze Farm Girl Dairy, is bringing new life to the old time favorite!  She and her family milk the cows and churn up her favorite thirst quencher right on their land, about 15 miles east from Knoxville, TN.

When you churn butter out of cream, buttermilk is the tart liquid that is left over.  Before you are able to drink it, the buttermilk must ferment which gives the acid time to create the milk's unique taste.

Colleen loves this drink so much she has made a business out of it.  She hands it out samples at the local Farmers Market, and creates her own country favorites with it like ice cream, biscuits, and pancakes.

While her ice cream is a big seller, Colleen is certain there is an untapped market out there.  She believes that yogurt lovers are the audience that would adore her product. "If they would just take a sip of this, they'd be hooked.", she says.

To learn more visit: Cruzefarmgirl.com  or the Farm's Facebook

Monday, February 18, 2013

Dru's Black Bean and Pinto Chili

With a few cold winter days still in our future, a new twist on chili will be a welcomed meal!  This simple, made from scratch recipe, is switched up from the norm by replacing red beans with black beans and pintos.

1 large can petite diced tomatoes
1- 14 oz can petite diced tomatoes
1 small can tomato paste
1-14 oz can black beans
1-14 oz can pinto beans
1 to 1 1/2 lbs ground chuck
1 medium onion diced
2 or 3 cloves of garlic
2 tbs brown sugar
2 tsps ground cumin
2 to 3 tsps chili powder
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp kosher salt

Brown and drain beef; saute onion and crushed garlic cloves. Place all ingredients in a large pot and simmer for as long as you can resist eating it. There is no exact recipe, add more or less spices to suit your taste. I don't like really spicy chili, some people do. Just keep adjusting until it's what you like.

Garnish with mild cheddar cheese, avocado, or sour cream. For a crunchy addition Frito's or multi-grain torta chips hit the spot!

Dru, thank you so much for this recipe! It is absolutely delicious!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Chocolatiers "Beyond Compare"

The Appalachians are sprinkled with wonderful chocolatiers and candy shops. Of the many worthy businesses I have found, two companies are very different but both are "beyond compare." The first company is the renowned Ruth Hunt Candy Company of Mt. Sterling, KY. In 1921, Ruth Tharpe Hunt began selling confections to her friends and family. It went so well she opened a small candy store in her home. She paid strict attention to detail and made each candy with the finest ingredients. The company now offers 70 kinds of candy. The Blue Monday Cream Pie chocolate bar is one of the favorites. Other favorites are the bourbon chocolates and a big selection of equine products (sold at the Kentucky Derby) .Celebrating 92 years in business, Ruth Hunt candies are a Kentucky landmark!

Ruth Hunt's Handmade Chocolates
The Original Ruth Hunt House

The second is a "bean-to-bar" business called the French Broad Chocolate Company in Asheville, NC. It was established in 2007 by the Rattigans to bring a natural and creative chocolate experience to its customers. Complete with a chocolate lounge, factory, and tasting room, this chocolate company has impacted Asheville and the surrounding areas in a big way. They are building a big local business of not only chocolate bars, truffles, and brownies but also chocolate drinks. They also offer chocolate bars from around the world.

For a unique experience, I suggest a visit to the chocolate lounge! But expect to stand in line.                                       

Both businesses offer online sales too. Check these "Chocolatiers Beyond Compare" !                      

A Polar Plunge

I loved a recent article in the Blue Ridge Outdoors by Will Harlan titled Polar Barely. He describes taking part in a different New Years event called the Polar Bear Swim. You swim out 50 meters and back into a mountain lake on the first day of the year. He describes the people, the physical challenge and the exhilaration he felt. This article is delightful, check it out at blueridgeoutdoors.com.

I also saw a recent episode of the Bachelor where the dotting ladies took a plunge into an icy lake in Montana. If you feel drab from winter you have a couple more chances this year to take a polar plunge!

Appalachian State University in Boone, NC will hold its 14th annual plunge at the campus Duck Pond on Feb 16th, 4PM.  You can register up until 3PM.  The $25 entrance fee is to help support the Watauga County Athletes.

Lake Lanier Islands Resort in Buford, GA is having their 4th annual Polar Plunge on Feb 16th also! First they will have a costume contest on the beach from 1- 1:30PM.  Then at 1:30PM there will be a safety briefing and plunge time will be at 2PM.

Happy plunging!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

A "Heart Felt" Mouse

This heart shaped mouse is adorable and easy to make! A fun toy for your kitten or a unique keepsake. This crafty mouse is made with a few supplies you may already have around the house.

Tools needed:  If you have a sewing machine it will make this project very quick but needle and thread will be helpful too. A hot glue gun will come in handy when gluing on the ears, eyes, nose and accent button. 

To make this little mouse, you will need to cut 2 pieces of felt in the shape of a heart, and 3 other small circles of felt for the eyes and nose. A tiny piece of fabric to create the ears. Some polyfill to stuff him with. A short piece leather string for the tail and a few strands of cotton strings for the whiskers.  Last but not least, a button or some type of accent to add a nice touch to your mouse.  (The large paper clip was just for a size reference.)

Everyone that have seen these little guys have "Eeked' with excitement, so I hope you enjoy them too!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Earthy Scents for Wintertime Blues

"If your ideal mid-winters night involves a soft sweater, shearling slippers, and a good book by the fire, you might look to natural aromas to enhance that snuggly feeling. "Earthy scents connect you with the elements," says Tanya Bochnig, a natural perfumer (Whole Living Magazine; January/February issue).

So go ahead! Fill your hibernation den with the earthy aromas that whirl about you in the great outdoors.   Cedar, nuts, amber, fir, musk and sandalwood... Old man winter might keep me indoors but thanks to my nose, I can get a daily reminder of what is outside my front door!

Interested in buying some earthy scents of your own? There is a company from Great Neck, NY called Demeter Fragrance that is sure to please. Some of their scents are 100% natural while other, more complicated scents, require a bit more chemistry. Dirt, lava rock, and beeswax are just a few of their more complicated brews.

If you would like to check out the Demeter Fragrance website, click here.  While on this page, if you would like to navigate your way to the natural scents that they offer, click "Demeter Naturals." If you would like to browse the more random scents, select "Classic."  It is sure to amuse you!

I have always loved being in the great outdoors! There is nothing more relaxing than being outside and enjoying the beautiful things God created. Even though the weather may have me trapped inside, I am still able to bring a little of the outdoors into my home!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Heavenly Stitches

If you are around the Kingsport, TN area and sewing is your thing, there is a family owned quilt, embroidery, and sewing shop that you must see!  Paul and Yvonne Crow opened Heavenly Stitches November 8, 2010.  Starting with only 300 bolts of fabric and dream.  Now as their dream continues to unfold they have more than 3000 bolts of fabric and huge clientel. 

When I first walked in, I was impressed by a lovely lady who greeted me and offered me assistance.  She happened to be the store owner Yvonne.  Instantly, I saw the passion that she has for her work. 

(Right to Left) Paul, Yvonne, and their daughter, Renee
I found the shop to have a large variety of fabric for every occasion, sewing tools, notions, sewing matchines, embroidery kits, books and more. 

They have a lot of classes lined up! Classes range from learning the basics of a sewing machine to group projects.  My favorite class was the "Womens of Courage" quilt class.  I have never heard of anyone having this class!  Where have I been?? 

Here is a completed Women of Courage quilt that
is made in honor of many different historic heros.  

In this class a group gathers monthly and each person receives a packet of material to make a block(s) for a quilt.  Each packet includes a picture and short story of a true female hero who had courage to pave the way to many opportunities we women have today.

I think it is unique that I was interested in the Women of Courage quilt when right here in this shop I found a true woman of courage who has succeeded in making a dream come true called Heavenly Stitches.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Field of Greens

Picking greens in the Spring brings back special memories of my Grandmother.  She would take me out in early March and we would look for wild creasy greens. 

Today, I plant a variety of greens to harvest in March to use in my meals.  They are fun to pick, tasty to eat, and good for your health!

Here is a photo of me taking my Grandaughter, Lily, to pick a variety of greens.

 She is as cute as a button!

Here are a few types of greens that I enjoy.  My favorite is baby spinach but I like to have different types. 

Right now is great time to get some seeds and start your very own "Field of Greens".  In my experience a little tender love and care can go a looong way when it comes to producing a good crop.  Here are some tips that might help you if this is your first time planting!

5 Steps to Successsful Greens:

1.  Prepare your ground well.
      a.  Plow up the size area you need.
      b.  Rake the dirt to smooth out the clumps.

2.  When planting your seeds:
      a.  Follow instructions on your pack of seeds, or
      b.  Mix your seeds with flour or meal and shake the mixture with a sifter to get them even.

3.  Cover the seeeds lightly

4.  Water gently with a sprinkler

5.   Wait till plants are up a few inches and thin the plants if necessary so that they have room to grow.

Within a few weeks you will be going out to your field of greens (small or large) and picking a "mess" for dinner.  Enjoy! 

Friday, January 18, 2013

Rhyme Ice & Snow

A beautiful winter morning in Waynesville, NC.  I love how the rhyme ice sparkles in January!  And I especially love my Grandaughter, Becca, in the middle of it!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Keeping Bees

If you are a bee lover or just a honey user you will LOVE "Keeping Bees" by Ashley English.  Keeping Bees takes you from the history of bees, to housing bees, equipment needed, feeding them, plus a year at a glance.  It also talks about health and wellness of the colony and many things you can make with the honey harvest.  (The Honey Ice Cream recipe sounds amazing!)  I was so impressed with the pictures and helpful information that once I picked the book up, I couldn't put it down!

Although I loved many things about the book, my favorite was her "Profile of a Beekeeper".  Those sections throughout the book introduced me to many types of beekeepers across the country and the world! 

Ashley English and her husband live in Candler, North Carolina in the heart of the southern Appalachians.  Check out her blog @ small-measure.blogspot.com.

Click here, to purchase this book on Amazon!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Long-Haired Goat

Boy, oh boy!  You never know what you're going to find around these curvy roads!

The other day it was a long-haired goat posing for me on a rock...

Even his friends weren't camera shy!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Tunisian Crochet

It's cold outside and the new seasons of TV shows are soon to begin.  What a perfect time to start a new craft!  I would suggest Tunisian crochet. Tunisian crochet is a beautiful and versatile stitch technique that borrows elements from both knitting and crochet, creating a pleasing fusion of the two techniques.

If you are familiar with crocheting, a tunisian crochet hook is longer than a regular crochet hook. It has a hook at one end and a knob at the other end to hold the stitches on the hook.

Unlike regular crocheting, Tunisian crochet, stitches are picked up and held on the hook for the first part of the row and then worked off the hook for the second part of the row. 
This book is one way you can learn the technique. It also has many patterns and even an instructional DVD.  Click on the picture below to be connected with Amazon Market Place and check out this book!                                       

If you are around the Asheville area, my friend Rita de Maintenon, is a wonderful teacher and an exceptional crafter.  She offers several classes.  If you are interested, here is her website: http://heirloomtreasuresfiberarts.com/.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

A Touch of Peppermint!

On my trip to the grocery store I picked up a new item.  I was thinking, lets give some wintery treats a kiss of mint with Peppermint Flavored Marshmallows!

Winter Treat #1

First, I decided to make an extremely complicated cup of hot chocolate from another lady's recipe. You might know her as Swiss Miss.  Once the Miss' chocolate powder was properly blended with water, I added in the mint marshmallows.  I wanted to be sure and let them start to melt a little before I tried it.  It was a great combo!  The mint flavor made my my mouth tingle a little with each sip.

Winter Treat #2

The next treat I chose was "Operation:  Microwave-Smores".  I wasn't sure if it would work.  To my surprise, it turned out well!  The mint was not overpowering in the least!  It was just right.  Just be sure and don't warm them too long.  It can quickly turn into a mess! 

Maybe you can come up with some ideas to keep toasty during this fridgid weather!  What would you do with these different flavors of marshmallows?