Easy Homemade Marmalade

With everything going on in the world during the COVID-19 pandemic, I have had a lot more time on my hands at home to try out new things that interest me.

Having extra oranges on hand that may or may not get eaten before they got hard, the idea of trying to make my own marmalade so they didn’t go to waste came to mind. Also, a bit of extra vitamin C in my diet wouldn’t hurt, right?

Advertisements
Advertisements

I personally do not like overly sweet food, so I adjusted the recipe I found to have less sugar than called for by about half.

First, I washed my oranges and lemon, cut the ends off, then cut them into quarters and then into thin strips. Next time I would try cutting them into thin rounds first and then into quarters to see which method is easiest to get the thinnest strips.

Make sure there are no seeds before adding the orange and lemon to the pot. (I saved the cut off the ends of the oranges to make a vinegar cleaner later).

Advertisements
Advertisements

Add the sugar and water and bring to a boil, then remove from the heat.

I let the batch set overnight as this gives the orange’s natural pectin time to set. Some recipes called for pectin, which I did not have on hand, so I chose this method rather than wait until the next time I made it to the grocery store (which wouldn’t be for a while given the government’s strong recommendation to stay home unless absolutely necessary).

Advertisements
Advertisements

The next day, I brought the batch back up to a boil, then turned it down to a simmer for 2 hours.

The next step was to bring it to a gentle boil for 20 – 30 minutes, stirring continuously to avoid burning. The recipe said to use a candy thermometer and bring the temperature to 220 Degrees F – I actually whipped out my candy thermometer, despite my temptation to “wing it!”

Advertisements

That being said… My batch only made it to about 210 Degrees before it started looking gelled enough, so I took a spoonful of the marmalade out and put it in the fridge for a minute to test how it set up. 

Advertisements

It was the consistency I wanted, so I took my marmalade off the heat and put it into 3 clean, sanitized pint jars and sealed.

Of course my spoonful to test it was tasty, but I still HAD to try the marmalade with fresh, homemade sourdough bread for my final rating – and let me tell you, this will not be the last time I make this recipe!

It makes for a great breakfast when slathered on top of sourdough English muffins.

I had a friend joke that they call marmalade “old people jam” and it made me laugh; Pinterest already thinks I am an older lady, so why not just embrace it? Haha

Advertisements
Advertisements

Recipe

4 Medium Oranges, sliced thinly

1 Lemon, sliced thinly

6 Cups Water

4 Cups Sugar (if you like it sweeter you can add another 4 cups of sugar)

Advertisements
Advertisements

Directions

Bring all ingredients to a boil in a large pot. Remove from heat, cover, and leave overnight.

Bring to a boil the next day, reduce heat to a simmer for 2 hours.

Bring to a gentle boil for 20 – 30 minutes. Target heat using your candy thermometer is 220 Degrees F. Test thickness by taking a spoonful and placing in the fridge for a minute; if it is watery, continue to cook. If it gels well, your batch is done.

Fill clean, sanitized jars and seal with hot water bath. 

Makes about 3 pints.

Enjoy!

Advertisements
Advertisements

Have you made marmalade? Do you plan to give it a try? I would love to hear from you below!

Advertisements

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements

How to make a solar chandelier

Step-by-step instructions on how to make your own solar chandelier.

I am a huge fan of repurposing items for the “waste not, want not” concept. And when it comes to my greenhouse, I love fun projects that give it a unique look.

We had a chandelier that needed a lot of TLC if we were ever to get it to work again… and I just didn’t have a place planned for it in the house. I had seen the idea of turning old light fixtures into solar lights, so I decided to give it a try for myself!

Advertisements
Advertisements

First things first, we had to remove the old light bulb bases that were stuck in the fixture. Then we removed all of the old wiring.

Next, with dollar solar lights, we siliconed the lights in place. Because the silicone does not set up right away, we left the chandelier hanging off the stairs for a day.

All that was left after that was to put the light up and wait for sunset to see if our project worked!

Advertisements

That evening, as the daylight began to fade, the lights started glowing softly at first and then getting brighter as night crept in. It was an experiment that turned out perfectly!

Advertisements
Advertisements

During the late summer, my scarlet pole beans get so tall they end up using the chandelier as though it were their trellis, reaching ever higher for the sunshine.

Advertisements
Advertisements

Have you done a cool DIY garden project? Drop a comment below!

Advertisements

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements

Top 10 Herbs to Grow in your Kitchen Garden

One of my favourite parts of summer is the ability to run out to my kitchen garden, aka my greenhouse, and pick fresh herbs to add to dinner as I am cooking.

There is just something so satisfying about growing my own food – and you absolutely can’t beat the freshness of garden-to-table meals!

Oh, and did I mention that herbs are also incredibly healthy for you?

Advertisements
Advertisements

The health benefits range from lowering blood pressure, lowering cholesterol, enhancing memory, calming the stomach, and even boosting one’s mood!

If you live in a small space, you can still easily grow herbs in a window with small pots.

I am a big believer in cooking meals that are packed with flavour, color, and nutrients; herbs (and spices) are the key to transforming a bland recipe into a gourmet delicacy.

Advertisements
Advertisements

What is the difference between an herb and a spice?

Many people have to clue what the difference is!

So I’ll tell you.

Advertisements
Advertisements

Herbs are the leaf, whereas a spice comes from the seed of a plant.

Take cilantro versus coriander for example; they both come from the same plant, however cilantro is the name for the leaf and coriander is the name of the seed.

Often the seed and the leaf can have different flavours and are used in different recipes.

Now you know!

Advertisements
Advertisements

I have a few must-have herbs that I use in soooo many recipes.

These are my top picks!

Basil

Advertisements
Advertisements

Basil is by far my favourite herb to add to salads.

(Check out my blog on how to grow basil)

It is so flavourful and turns a run-of-the-mill recipe into a gourmet meal with that added garnish.

Once you have a healthy plant started, it is easy to propagate more plants while you are pruning your current plant back.

Pruning is very important to keep your basil plant producing rather than bolting and going to seed.

Advertisements
Advertisements

By the end of the season, I typically end up with so many leaves that I am almost forced to make pesto to use up all my basil.

It is an annual, so I make sure to allow one or two plants go to seed at the end of the season so I can save the seeds for planting the following spring.

Basil is an anti-inflammatory and is believed to help with digestion, fight depression, and reduce the risk of diabetes.

Advertisements
Advertisements

Dill

Advertisements
Advertisements

Dill is a classic because of its diversity.

You can add it to soups, creamy chicken dishes, or – my personal favourite – to garlic mashed potatoes!

And of course you can’t for get it being a perfect addition to potato salad for those summer BBQ’s.

Advertisements
Advertisements

Another reason Dill is a popular choice for a kitchen garden is the fact that their seeds are used for many pickling recipes – yes, the seeds are what give dill pickles their flavour, NOT the leaves as many would expect.

And did I mention that their seeds are easy to save for planting the next year?

I can never plant too much dill; each year I plant a little more and each year we use all of it!

Dill is high in calcium, vitamin C, and antioxidants.

Advertisements
Advertisements

Cilantro

Advertisements
Advertisements

Easy to grow is an understatement for Cilantro!

The last couple years I literally just thew a bunch of seeds in a raised bed and didn’t even cover them with soil!

I always end up with baskets heaping full several times throughout the summer and have to dry a lot of it to avoid wasting the excess leaves.

And speaking of easy? The seeds are a breeze to pick and store over the winter, with amazing germination in the Spring.

Advertisements
Advertisements

Cilantro brings such a distinctive taste to many cultural dishes from various countries; I use it in the sauce for my fish tacos, the marinade for carne asada, and as a garnish for my fried tacos.

Some people love it, while others hate it. There does not seem to be an “in between” on this one.

(Obviously I am on the “love it” side of the fence!)

Cilantro is believed to promote healthy skin and hair, as well as reduce the risk of cardiac disease, diabetes, and obesity.

Advertisements
Advertisements

Thyme

Advertisements
Advertisements

Thyme can be used in cooking or even for landscaping and is a hardy plant that is tough to kill. Plus the bees love the flowers!

The fact that it is hardy to our zone (zone 4) is a big benefit; I love perennials because they cut down on the work and cost each spring during planting.

Advertisements
Advertisements

I like using thyme in soups and stews – and sometimes even in my scrambled eggs for breakfast.

A couple fresh sprigs of thyme also add a nice flavour profile to premium roast beef.

Thyme is believed to help boost the immune system and is high in vitamin C, vitamin A, and iron.

Advertisements
Advertisements

Oregano

Advertisements
Advertisements

Oregano is what makes or breaks a good pasta sauce!

Whether you are making spaghetti, lasagna or even pizza sauce, oregano is a key ingredient.

(Oregano can become bitter if overcooked, so add it toward the end of a recipe for optimal flavour)

Advertisements
Advertisements

I also use it in my jambalaya recipe and even my herbed pizza dough recipe!

Oregano is a prolific plant that produces well all summer long.

Pruning on a regular basis will help keep it from bolting and forces heavier production.

Advertisements
Advertisements

It is rated to zone 5, so I typically pot my oregano in the fall and keep it in the house until it is warm enough to plant back outside in the spring.

The health benefits of oregano are as incredible as the taste it adds to food!

Not only is it loaded with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, it also packs a punch with vitamin K, vitamin E, manganese, iron, and calcium.

Talk about a SUPER HERB!

Advertisements
Advertisements

Rosemary

Advertisements
Advertisements

Mmm! The scent of rubbing this plant alone is so calming! Its pungent fragrance is so soothing and relaxing.

Rosemary is a bit pickier about its watering than some other herbs; it likes well-drained soil, fairly dry conditions – and will not be happy if you accidentally overwater it!

I use it primarily in rosemary rice to add a unique flavour as well as *obviously* in focaccia bread (yum!). It goes well in soups and stews as well.

Advertisements
Advertisements

Unlike thyme, rosemary is rated for zone 7 (at the coldest) and will not make it through our brutal winters.

I overwinter my rosemary the same way I do with my oregano – by potting it in the fall and bringing it into the house for the winter.

Rosemary is high in both antioxidants and anti-inflammatories; it is believed to improve the immune system, blood circulation, and even help with brain function!

Advertisements
Advertisements

Chives

Advertisements
Advertisements

The mild, onion flavour makes for a wonderful garnish on many dishes and the bright green pop of color adds a fancy presentation.

I usually will add either chives or green onions to my loaded hasselback potatoes or loaded stuffed potatoes.

They are easy to grow from seed or from a clump divided from a mature plant.

Growing from seed, they take a couple years to become fully grown and ready for harvesting – but once they are mature they are prolific producers!

Advertisements
Advertisements

Their beautiful purple flowers are edible and can be added to salads for a bit of extra color.

Rated for up to zone 3, they are a great perennial to add to an herb garden.

For a slightly different flavour, try planting garlic chives.

Chives are high in vitamin K, which helps with bone strength and blood clotting.

Advertisements
Advertisements

Lavender

Advertisements
Advertisements

Most people are familiar with the fragrance of lavender and the calming properties they possess, but may not realize it is also used for many dessert recipes.

The leaves and flowers can be harvested for teas, infused oil, and the ever-popular essential oil.

Advertisements
Advertisements

Bees absolutely love their soft plumes of flowers.

Unfortunately for me, they are only rated to zone 5 – almost hardy enough for our zone, but not quite tough enough.

Lavender has anti-inflammatory properties and is believed to be a mood-booster by relieving anxiety and promoting calmness.

Advertisements
Advertisements

Parsley

Advertisements
Advertisements

I hated the huge bunch of parsley served on the side of burgers and fries as a kid, not realizing that parsley is usually just meant as a garnish and not meant to be eaten by itself! (I was raised with the mentality not to waste food, but that big mouthful of parsley is where I drew the line!)

When I use parsley as a garnish, I chop it into small pieces and sprinkle a sparse amount on the dish so the taste is not overpowering; when used correctly, parsley compliments the other flavours in a dish rather than dominating the flavour profile.

Advertisements
Advertisements

Parsley is know as a biennial, which means it grows the first year and goes to seed the second year.

I like “self-seeding” plants because they are essentially perennials in the concept that I do not have to keep replanting them each year.

As with dark green, leafy vegetables, parsley is loaded with nutrients.

It is also high in antioxidants and is believed to have cancer-fighting properties.

Advertisements
Advertisements

Mint

Advertisements
Advertisements

The mint family has a number of varieties to choose from; traditional mint, chocolate mint, spearmint, etc.

Rated for zone 3, they are incredibly hardy plants and difficult to kill.

If left to their own devices, they will quickly take over the area where they were planted and can become a weed if you’re not careful!

They can be added to cold drinks like a rhubarb simple syrup seltzer, used in teas or added as a garnish on desserts.

Mint has anti-inflammatory properties and is believed to help with digestive functions.

Advertisements
Advertisements

Keeping herbs fresh

Ideally, herbs are best picked just before you plan to use them; they will have the freshest taste, best texture, and highest nutrient content.

If garden-to-table isn’t an option for you, store the herbs in the fridge.

Most herbs like to be placed in a jar with a little water at the bottom, just covering the bottom of the stems – make sure the leaves are not in the water or they can make it murky after being in the water for a while.

Advertisements
Advertisements

Honorable Mentions

A few other herbs to consider are marjoram, winter savoury, tarragon, sage, and stevia.

Advertisements
Advertisements

Want to know how to prepare herbs for long-time storage? SUBSCRIBE to see that blog post when it comes out!

Advertisements

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements

How to Force Hyacinth Bulbs in the Middle of Winter

Learn how to force Hyacinth bulbs in the middle of winter!

What better way to add tranquility to your space than these elegant Hyacinth flowers in the dead of winter?

Today, as I am writing this, we are the coldest place on earth at a harsh -40° C (-50° C with the windchill!) – therefore fresh flowers are a welcome reprieve from the cold and dark.

The gentle fragrance of the Hyacinths fills the room and adds the perfect pastel colours to my kitchen, dining room, and bedroom. I love flowers, and live flowers rather than cut flowers seem so much sweeter!

Advertisements
Advertisements

So how do you go about forcing these bulbs to flower in the middle of winter?

It will take planning, preparation, and a LOT of patience, but if you are willing to put in the work for the payoff in the end – you’ve come to the right place!

Obviously, the first step is to buy the bulbs; finding high quality bulbs will help give you the best results. You want bulbs that are a bit larger than a golf ball and are nice and firm.

Next, the bulbs need to be chilled in a dry, dark place. If you have a cold pantry, this works well; if not, you can chill them in your refrigerator in one of the drawers (just makes sure you do not have fruit near them as the gasses the fruit puts off are not good for the forcing process).

Advertisements
Advertisements

Most resources I have seen recommend chilling the bulbs for 12-15 weeks, although I only chilled mine for 10-12 weeks.

Chilled bulbs, ready to start forcing

Once they had been chilled, I started the bulbs in batches every 3-4 weeks so I would have new blossoms forming as the previous ones were drying up. You will know they are ready to start as they will have 1-2 inches of green growth started by this time.

Advertisements
Advertisements
The very first sign of a blossom forming

I put a layer of decorative stones in a vase, then added the bulbs, then added just enough water to touch the root of the bulb. Too much water touching the bulb will cause it to rot.

Advertisements

WARNING! The Hyacinth bulbs cause skin irritation, so you should either wear gloves or wash your hands immediately after working with them (do NOT touch your face like I did… I had to find out the hard way that they cause an itchy reaction).

Advertisements
Advertisements
Blossoms starting to emerge and turn color

Next, I added a few drops of bleach to help kill bacteria that can cause slime and a foul smell – you don’t want pretty smelling flowers in stinky water, right? Adding a little bit of rubbing alcohol at this point also helps keep the flower stems from getting tall and spindly.

Hyacinth blossoms almost at full bloom

Keep your bulbs in a cool, dark room for another 2 weeks. Once you bring them out into the warm part of the house, they will start growing over the next 3-4 weeks. Be sure to add water as needed to keep the water level right at the roots.

Advertisements
Advertisements

Once they start blooming, you can expect them to last about 3-4 weeks. The blossoms start out as a green cluster of nubs being pushed up through the center of the leaves, slowly turning color and opening as they mature.

The fragrance is amazing! Once they turn color, they start wafting a beautiful scent around them. I added a vase of these glorious flowers to my nightstand and have been so content falling asleep to their soft aroma.

Advertisements
Advertisements
Forced Hyacinth Blossoms
Hyacinth flowers in full bloom

The next stage is taking care of the bulbs after the flowers have dried up. I trimmed the dead flowers off; right now, my first set of forced bulbs still have beautiful green leaves – even without the flowers they add a refreshing color to the house.

Advertisements
Advertisements

Now, I will wait for the leaves to die back and turn brown on their own. They still need some water, but cutting back on the amount they are given is supposed to help the bulbs know they need to store the energy required for the next season.

If you found this blog helpful or interesting, don’t forget to subscribe to see future “how-to” blogs for home, garden, and lifestyle!

Advertisements

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements

The House from 1915

World War I is still waging on. Sir Robert Borden is the Prime Minister. The US reject the proposal for women to have the right to vote…..

The year 1915 – 

World War I is still waging on. Sir Robert Borden is the Prime Minister. The US reject the proposal for women to have the right to vote. The first coast-to-coast long distance phone call in the US, with Alexander Graham Bell. John McCrae writes Flanders Fields. The Rocky Mountain National Park is established. Pluto is photographed for the first time. The Vancouver Millionaires win the Stanley Cup. Babe Ruth’s first career home run. Einstein’s theory of general relativity is formulated. The 1 millionth Ford car is manufactured. Frank Sinatra is born.

Advertisements
Advertisements

1915 has so many world changing events happening, and yet a family in rural Saskatchewan are in the midst of building their home. Little do they know the years it will age and weather, the many lives lived in it and the history made. If these walls could talk, the stories they would tell! I can only imagine the hard work that building a house in 1915 would be; none of our modern tools like air nailers, table saws, and shop lights.

Advertisements
Advertisements

Old Farm SiteFast forward almost 100 years – Jake and I had been married just over a year and had been looking at buying our first house. We are both hard working, industrious, and like to think big. None of the houses we looked at in North Battleford were quite what we were looking for, so we kept looking and this once in a lifetime opportunity practically fell into our lap months later – with one day to decide if we would take it!

Now, we had seen this house many a time before as we had farmed land around it. It was abandoned, so we had ventured a peak around and knew what the place looked like.  But the farm land was being sold and as a last minute discovery on our part, the buyers and sellers were both willing to exclude the farm yard and a few acres from their deal to be sold separately, however their papers would be signed in 1 day!

Advertisements
Advertisements

DSC_0665

Obviously, you can guess what we decided, but it was a lot of discussion and hoping we were making the right call. This place was OLD and had not been well cared for in the last 11-12 years (from the timeline the neighbours have given us). It needed a lot of work. A LOT!

The Ugly – So what shape was it in? The one day we had to make our decision, we decided to take a walk around the acreage and revisit the house, sometime early May with snow still on the ground. I remember all the broken glass on the floors from vandals breaking out the windows. I remember the rain blowing in through where the glass should have been and the floor soaking wet. I remember the pigeons living inside frantically trying to escape the intruders through those empty windows. This poor, old house needed someone who was willing to fix everything!

Advertisements
Advertisements

And we took it  –  to be continued…
If you have enjoyed the beginning saga of our adventures with the Old House on the Prairie, please subscribe to my blog for the next update on our story!

(Please note: historic information taken from wikipedia and dates for the house are from the best information we have gathered from neighbours and the library)
Advertisements
Advertisements

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements
%d bloggers like this: