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Canning Greens

Preserving the Good Life

‘Tis the season for greens, collards, kale, turnips.

This is a whole lot of work for a little yield…BUT it’s hard to beat home grown greens in the off season!  And these turned out SOOOOO good that I decided I needed to go back and pick more!   They seem to wilt down to nothing so don’t be surprised when it takes 4 grocery bags to yield 12 pints.

Here’s how we worked these up for canning:

Cook the greens down.  We put ours in a stock pot, filled 1/4 full with chicken broth and water, 1/2 broth, 1/2 water.  Let them simmer down until all the liquid was gone and the greens were tender.

Put jars in the oven for 200 degrees to get them hot while the greens are cooking.  And put on a pot of water to boil for topping off the jars.

Once the greens are…

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Blackberry Jalapeno Pepper Jelly

My family loves pepper jelly of any kind. So I’m always looking for varieties to add to our pantry. When a neighbor brought me a ton of peppers, I started searching for a new recipe. My boys fell in love with this one….I witnessed one son add it to a sausage biscuit and another son ate it with peanut butter crackers!!!! This one may be their favorite yet!!

7- 8 fresh jalapeno peppers
1 – large or two medium size green bell pepper, seeded
2 – cups frozen blackberries, thawed
2 – tablespoons lemon juice
1 – cup apple cider vinegar
3 – cups sugar
4 – 5- half pint canning jars with lids and bands


Cut off the stems and remove the seeds from the peppers (I recommend wearing latex gloves while handling hot peppers). If you want a bit of a kick leave in half of the jalapeno pepper seeds.

Puree peppers using a food processor or high speed blender with cider vinegar until smooth.

In a large pot combine pepper puree with sugar.

Add the frozen blackberries to the blender or food processor and blend the blackberries with the lemon juice.

Add the blackberry pulp to the pepper purée and sugar. Bring the mixture to a full boil, reduce heat to a light boil and simmer, stirring frequently.

Remove from heat and skim off any foam (if any). Ladle into hot, sterile jar leaving 1/4 inch head space. Wipe rims with a clean cloth. Apply lids and bands and finger tighten.

Add jars to hot water bath and process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

My family loves to serve on crackers with softened cream or goat cheese as a snack or appetizer. And this is so easy to grab and go! When you are going to a family get together grab a jar of pepper jelly, a package of cream cheese and box of crackers and you are ready to go!!!

Canning Sweet Pickle Relish

Sweet Pickle Relish is a necessity in our kitchen. My family loves it on hotdogs, in potato salad, egg salad, tuna and chicken salad. And some are guilty of even eating it by itself!! It is one of those things that is simply nice to have on hand.

The original recipe that I used said that this would make 7 half pints. I think that all depends on how much you cook your relish down and how much water is in your cucumbers. I got more than double that amount when I made it.


  • 8 lbs of pickling cucumbers
  • 1/2 cup pickling salt
  • 4 cups of white vinegar
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 1 tablespoon celery seed 
  • 1 tablespoon mustard seed
  • 2 1/2 cups (2-3 medium) onions finely chopped.
  1. Wash the cucumbers well under cold running water, trim off both ends, but leave the skin on. Chop into chunks, then finely chop in a food processor. Put in a large pot or bowl. Sprinkle with the salt, mix the cucumbers and salt by hand. Top with enough cold water to cover completely. Let stand for 2 hours.
  2. Finely chop the onion and set aside.
  3. Drain the cucumbers, rinse well and drain.
  4. In large stock pot, mix together the vinegar, sugar and spices. Stir in the onions and then the cucumbers.
  5. Bring to a boil, lower to a simmer and simmer for 10 minutes.
  6. Pack hot relish into pint or half pint jars.
  7. Leave 1/2 inch headspace.
  8. Debubble, adjust headspace.
  9. Wipe jar rims.
  10. Put lids on and tighten.
  11. Process in a water bath for 15 minutes.
  12. Let it sit for at least a month before opening.

As always ~ Enjoy and Happy Canning!

“Canned” Pound Cake

It’s the time of year for gift giving – give a gift of Homemade Love…

Preserving the Good Life

Grandma’s have done this for years yet you won’t find this in any canning books.  Based on friends who have done this for years and the canning grannies out there, this can be stored for up to one year. (But let’s be real – how long do you really think these will stick around?)  Besides, they make great gifts!

Preheat the oven on 350°.  Grease 12 wide mouth pint jars (or 6 quarts) and set them aside.  I used Crisco to grease mine and if that’s not handy, you can use Baker’s Joy Spray.


I whipped up my mother’s “top secret” pound cake recipe and then spooned each jar 1/2 full, be careful not to get any on the edges of the jar.  This takes a little time and a steady hand.


For a more even bake, put the jars directly on the rack and bake until golden brown, in…

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Canning Red Pepper Jelly (No Pectin)

Preserving the Good Life

Sweet, spicy, hot pepper jelly + cream cheese + Ritz crackers = YUM!  This quick and easy, addictive appetizer is ready in minutes!

I had an abundance of peppers on hand so I doubled the following recipe and ended up with 11 jelly jars of jelly.

  • 1 1/2 lb red bell peppers, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 teaspoons dried hot red-pepper flakes
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 cup white-wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt

Cut peppers into 1 inch pieces.


Add peppers and pepper flakes in a food processor or blender.


Pulse until finely chopped.  Depending on if you prefer a chunky jam or a not so chunky jelly will determine how much you chop your peppers.


Stir together pepper mixture, sugar, vinegar, butter and salt in a heavy pot.  Bring to a vigorous boil and boil for 20+ minutes, stirring frequently, until it begins to thicken. …

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Chicken ‘n Dumplings

As the weather begins to cool down…it becomes Chicken ‘n Dumpling Season….ENJOY!

Preserving the Good Life

As the weather cools, my crowd loves soups, stews and old fashioned Chicken ‘n Dumplings.  This recipe is an all time family favorite at our house.   I can remember standing over the stove as a little girl, waiting for the milk to boil so the dumplings could be dropped.  Making Dumplings of any sort is an art.  Once mastered, you can make all sorts of dumplings:  Pea Dumplings, Blackberry Dumplings, not just Chicken ‘n Dumplings.  Here’s how we done it on our family farm.

Boil 4 large chicken breasts until done.  Separate chicken and broth, set broth aside. Take a mixer and shred the chicken – you’ll never hand shred chicken again….

In a pot combine shredded chicken, 1 pint chicken broth, 1 quart of milk and 1/2 stick of butter.  Bring to a boil.


This is where you can do it one of two ways:  Biscuits from a can…

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Strawberry Rhubarb Jam

One of my all time favorites….

Preserving the Good Life

Some of my fondest memories of Grandma’s kitchen involve a strawberry, rhubarb combination.  She used to make some of the best cobblers!  She never measured anything and I’d get tickled when she cooked with rhubarb.  She would add what she thought was enough sugar, then she’d add a little more just for good measure!  I had to figure out a way to get that combination of tart sweetness into something that I could eat in much smaller portions. There’s something about combining the sweet strawberries with the tart rhubarb that makes a blissful combination and leaves you wanting more.   When I tasted this jam, I could close my eyes and envision standing back in Grandma’s kitchen.
Rhubarb can be hard to find in my area until late May.  Sometimes, you can find it at the Farmer’s Market or the grocery store.   I got super excited when I found…

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Strawberry Jam – No Pectin, No Sure Jell

Strawberry Season has begun!

Preserving the Good Life


This recipe yields 12 jelly jars (8 oz)

  • 1 Gallon fresh berries – caped, washed and chopped
  • 8 cups of sugar – divided
  • 2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
  • 2 Tablespoons Real Butter
  • 12 sterile jars, rings and lids


Place the jars in the oven, heat to 200°.  Cap, wash and chop berries.  Measure berries.  An average gallon yields 8 cups of chopped berries; this is important.  For every cup of berries, you will need one cup of sugar.  Add berries and 1/2 of the sugar to a stock pot and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly.  Increase temperature to high.  Once it’s at a rolling boil, boil for 5 minutes, occasionally stirring.  Add remaining sugar, lemon juice and butter.   Bring to a rolling boil and boil for 10 minutes, stir occasionally.  Be sure to stir it enough that it doesn’t stick.  Skim off any excess pink foam.  Boil…

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Apple Cranberry Crisp

Preserving the Good Life

This is one of those mouth-watering recipes that can be used as a side dish at Thanksgiving, Christmas or as a dessert for any holiday occasion.


  • 3 cups chopped unpeeled apples
  • 2 cups whole raw cranberries
  • 1 1/4 cup of white sugar
  • 1/2 cup of water

Mix together the apples, cranberries and sugar in a casserole dish.  Top with 1/2 cup water.



  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cup of oatmeal
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts, optional

Mix together the topping and sprinkle it over the cranberry, apple mixture.


Bake for 1 hour on 350 degrees.  This is delicious as a side or as a dessert, warmed and topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  Enjoy!!!

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Labor of Love

I don’t know where to even begin in writing this post, my heart is so full….so let’s just start at the beginning.  A friend sent this article to my husband, it’s an article that I hadn’t seen in years, it explains the history behind the family cabin…..”Recapturing A Heritage”, Callie and Clinton Marshall were my grandparents.


In 1985, when I was a young child, my grandfather built this one room cabin as a replica of what he grew up in.  He wanted his grandchildren to see what it was like to grow up in a simple cabin with no power, no running water and the bare basics like he did.  This cabin sits at the foot of the mountain, on the family farm, back in a little corner surrounded by shallow creek.  To me it’s one of the most peaceful places on earth,  often referred to by my Grandmother as “a ‘lil peace of Heaven”.  The older I get, the more I understand why she called it that.

Growing up I would help my Grandmother clean the cabin every Spring, Fall and before special occasions.  We would dust the family heirlooms, wash windows and sweep, it’s harder to clean than you think with no running water or electricity.  The guys would weed-eat and clean up outside, clearing limbs from the creek and cleaning up the best they could.   As my grandparents aged and later passed on, I continued to clean the cabin every Spring,  Fall and special occasion just as I did growing up.  My grandparents put such love it that place, it was the least I could do, not to mention it’s filled with such memories of sleepovers, fish frys, chicken stews and Christmases past.


This picture is of my family the Christmas of 1985….

Another family member inherited this lil piece of heaven but that didn’t stop the love I poured into it. I’m fortunate enough to live about 20 minutes from the property and be able to help take care of the upkeep.  What I wasn’t able to do was make all the much needed repairs without his permission and my father’s help.  That’s where God stepped in and the rest is history.  Since the 1st of August we have worked diligently, tirelessly and weekly on this cabin making the much needed repairs.  My father went at this project with a passion and if you know him, you know, when he’s on a mission the job is going to get done!

Here’s how the cabin looked late July…


The project started with bulldozing behind the cabin to make room for a back porch.  We spent a Saturday building a back porch to help keep the water off the back of the cabin to help preserve the logs.  As it was, the back of the cabin stayed wet and the logs were rotting.  Opening and closing the back door became a challenge as the water had damaged the framing.


There’s a spring head just to the side of the cabin that ran to the creek and left a swampy mess behind it.  We dug a 100 ft ditch from the spring to the creek and spent a Saturday building a “blind” ditch to bury the spring head so it could drain into the creek and not leave the swamp behind.  Later the boys hauled in loads and loads of black mountain dirt to cover the ditch and make a yard.

We tore the old shingles off of the porch to realize that boards needed to be replaced before our roofing party.  We replaced the rotten boards and replaced the old moss covered shingles with a new tin roof.

We tore out old wooden chinking which had strips of insulation tucked in behind it. That was a nasty job as the mice had resided in those cracks for 30+ yrs and it made for a perfect doorway for the snakes.  We  found 4 snakes during this project!  As we cleaned that out, a man by the name of, Blanchard Montgomery went behind us and filled those cracks with cement.  It’s a true art to do that type of work and Blanchard done a beautiful job.

During the removal of chinking we found four logs that desperately needed replacing, that lead to another day’s project.  The Montgomery boys helped my father that day, they literally found a Pine tree and took it from standing, to the sawmill to the cabin walls.  That adventure was educational in itself.

Another day was spent replacing the molding and fine tuning the back door.  As it was, the door would barely open and close and took “holding your mouth right” to get it to shut properly.

Another full day (or two) was spent making a newer, more stable bridge to replace the one that was tattered and rickety due to age.

At this point, projects were beginning to wrap up and the cabin was finally mouse and snake proof, so the cleaning began…but 1st, we needed lights.  So we installed 4 LED lights to run off of a battery.  The cabin is so tucked in to the base of that mountain that you had to pipe in sunlight.  When the lights came on, wow, not only was I able to see the craftsmanship that went into the cabin, I was able to see all the dust and spiderwebs.  It took a week’s worth of generator operated vacuuming, elbow grease, corn oil and Murphy’s Oil Soap to get it clean enough to suit me.  I took every piece of glass and linen home to wash it.  We spent a day reworking every piece of cast iron.

The cabin is filled with four generations of family heirlooms, such as; receiving gowns that my great-grandmother wore, a picture of my great-great-grandmother, a hammer my great-grandfather used to mend shoes and irons that my great-grandmother used to iron clothes for the Dr of the community, Dr. Gates.  So much history under one roof.

Now it’s time to enjoy it and make some memories!  We had our 1st Christmas there in 12 years this past Christmas.

Stay tuned for the renovations to come in 2017……


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