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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Heirloom, Hybrid, and GMO seeds: Know the Difference

    I am pleased to have a guest poster today.  Please welcome Mary!

Hey there! I am so excited to share with you today about SEEDS!  My name is Mary and together with my husband we own and operate Mary's Heirloom Seeds.  We offer over 170 varieties of heirloom, non-GMO, open-pollinated, untreated seeds as well as organic gardening supplies.  I also blog over at Back to the Basics.
http://marysheirloomseeds.com/heirloom-cabbage.html

Today I'm sharing about 3 different types of seeds: Heirloom, Hybrid and GMO.

What is an Heirloom Seed?
An  heirloom seed variety has been saved and passed down from generation to generation. These seeds have been carefully cultivated and are considered a great value to the recipient. Some say an heirloom variety is 50 years old or more.  Some heirloom varieties have been passed down for over 100 years and others for over 400 years.

Heirloom Seeds can be very unique like the Lemon Cucumber or Romanesco de Italia Broccoli and others are just like the produce you buy in the store (only tastier) like the Roma Tomato
Mary's Heirloom Seeds, difference between Heirloom hybrid or GMO seeds, what is a hybrid seed, Back to the basics
Romanesco Broccoli
Heirloom seeds are also Open-Pollinated.  One of the many benefits of planting Heirloom Seeds is seed saving!  Heirloom seeds have also been called "heritage seeds."  Seed saving is how farmers and horiculturist have preserved the integrity of these seed varieties for hundred of years.

What is a Hybrid Seeds?
A Hybrid seed is seed produced by cross-pollinated plants. Hybrid seed production is predominant in agriculture and home gardening.

The benefits of hybrids can be a stronger or more disease-resistant plant.  The draw back is that the seeds saved from the fruit or veggie may be sterile for future planting.

What is a GMO Seed?
A GMO, or "genetically modified organisms," are plants or animals created through the gene splicing techniques of biotechnology (also called genetic engineering, or GE). This experimental technology merges DNA from different species, creating unstable combinations of plant, animal, bacterial and viral genes that cannot occur in nature or in traditional crossbreeding.

You may have heard the term GMO and that many groups around the world are fighting to have foods containing GMOs be labelled.

My biggest concern about GMOs is that they were designed to withstand and thrive heavy doses of cancer-causing pesticides. In my opinion, there should have been more independent research on the potential affects before they are used rather than after.

Mary's Heirloom Seeds, difference between Heirloom hybrid or GMO seeds, what is a hybrid seed, Back to the basics

I have been growing my own vegetables and herbs from heirloom, organic seeds and besides the money they save me the flavor is WAY better than the vegetables available at the supermarket.  It also makes me feel less dependent on the supply and I know what goes on my veggies.

Like us on facebook or follow on twitter.  We are always sharing organic growing info!

If you have additional questions please feel free to ask.  We just opened up our first seed store and we're thrilled to offer new educational programs for our community.

 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Top 10 Toddler Girl Toys of 2014

   Time really flies by fast and Christmas is just 7 weeks away from today.  So, for the next 7 weeks, each Thursday, up until Christmas time, I am going to be posting the Top Gifts for 2014.  This week we will be highlighting the Top Toddler Girl Gifts of 2014.

  Top Gifts for Toddlers for 2014

Disney "Frozen" toys
   The biggest movie for kids last year by far, was "Frozen" and kids are still in love with the movie and anything related to it.  Here are the top recommended "Frozen" gifts for every budget.


Top 10 Toddler Girl Toys of 2014, best toy recommendations for Christmas, Christmas toys for little girls


2.  "Spot it--Frozen Alphabet".  $11.85.  Elsa & Anna help to teach kids how to match letters.  Great educational toy that teaches kids about the alphabet in a fun way.

Top 10 Toddler Girl Toys of 2014, best toy recommendations for Christmas, Christmas toys for little girls




3.  Disney "Olaf"  pillow.  $15.19.  Who wouldn't want to snuggle with Olaf? 

Top 10 Toddler Girl Toys of 2014, best toy recommendations for Christmas, Christmas toys for little girls





4.  Disney Frozen Dress Up Trunk.  $24.99.  This trunk comes with 20 pieces including 2 dresses, 2 headbands, 2 necklaces, rings, & bracelets.  36 months-6 years.

Top 10 Toddler Girl Toys of 2014, best toy recommendations for Christmas, Christmas toys for little girls, Disney Frozen toys



5.  My First Disney Princess Frozen Snow Glow Elsa Singing Doll.  $49.95.  Just touch Elsa's snowflake necklace to hear Elsa talk and watch the magic as her dress lights up and twinkles.  Raise her arm and she sings "Let it Go".  Dress lights up, she sings the hit song "Let it Go" and says 15 different phrases.
Top 10 Toddler Girl Toys of 2014, best toy recommendations for Christmas, Christmas toys for little girls, Disney Frozen toys

Misc. Toddler Girl Toys

6.  Woofer Guitar.  $20.99.  Comes with 3 play modes:  acoustic, electric, or puppy mode. 8 musical buttons and plays 20 sing-a-long favorites.

Top 10 Toddler Girl Toys of 2014, best toy recommendations for Christmas, Christmas toys for little girls, Disney Frozen toys

7.  Pink Bilibo.  $26.95.  This toy is amazing and pretty much every child loves them.  It is a rocking chair, a spinning top, a cradle, and a tunnel all in one toy. Award winning.

Top 10 Toddler Girl Toys of 2014, best toy recommendations for Christmas, Christmas toys for little girls, Disney Frozen toys



8.  Hansel & Gretel Toy House and Book.  $30.00  Let your young child "unplug" and play as you read the book "Hansel & Gretel" to them.  It comes with the storybook, toy house, 5 dolls, furniture, and carrying case.  You put it together like you would a 3D puzzle.  Hours of fun.

Top 10 Toddler Girl Toys of 2014, best toy recommendations for Christmas, Christmas toys for little girls, Disney Frozen toys

9.  FurReal Friends Baby Panda.  $37.49.  An exciting, fun, and engaging toy.  Pet her, talk to her, shake her rattle, or give her the bottle.  She will respond by walking, crawling, talking and by making feeding sounds.

Top 10 Toddler Girl Toys of 2014, best toy recommendations for Christmas, Christmas toys for little girls, Disney Frozen toys

10.  Big Hugs Elmo.  $49.99.  Everyone's favorite Sesame Street character is back again this year but this year he is "Big Hugs Elmo". Elmo likes getting hugs but this year, he can also give you a hug back!  Press Elmo's left foot and Elmo invites your child to engage in one of four different activities.  50 plus animated sounds and phrases and 3 songs. 

Top 10 Toddler Girl Toys of 2014, best toy recommendations for Christmas, Christmas toys for little girls, Disney Frozen toys
    Next Thursday, I will share the Top 10 Toddler Boy Toys of 2014.  Be sure to stop back by then!

Many of the links you see above lead to my "Amazon" store Countrified Hicks.  Ordering items from my store does not cost you a penny extra but I do receive a very small percentage as a bonus from Amazon for being an affiliate.  We appreciate your support.  It helps out our family more than you may know.


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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Dehydrating Yellow Squash

Dehydrating yellow squash, summer squash, dehydrating vegetables,

      Hello.  My name is Melody.  I like to dehydrate.  (Imitating an admission at a support group.)  It's true.  It's almost a compulsion.  If it can be dehydrated, you better believe that I will try to dehydrate.  I'm up to the challenge.  If you have been reading my posts you know that I even dehydrate watermelon, eggs, & milk.  If it is a fruit, a vegetable, an herb, or any kind of liquid (sauce, etc.) I WILL dehydrate it.
        I love to dehydrate; in fact, I prefer dehydrating over canning.  I used to can about everything but it took a lot of time, effort and energy and the jars take up a lot of space.  I have learned that dehydrating preserves the food just as well and takes up a lot less space.  For instance, to can 10 pounds of potatoes would take up a bunch of quart jars (you can only get 2-3 potatoes per jar).  But I can dehydrate 10 pounds of potatoes and they fit into 3 jars is all.

   To dehydrate yellow squash, just wash the squash and cut off the ends.  Once the ends are cut off, use a mandolin (on the thickest setting) and slice the squash into rounds.

Dehydrating yellow squash, summer squash, dehydrating vegetables,




     You do not need to boil the squash.  It will retain its color just fine.  Also, some blogs recommend that you put some oil on the squash but this makes the squash taste awful and turn rancid.  Once it is sliced, just place the pieces on your dehydrator trays.

Dehydrating yellow squash, summer squash, dehydrating vegetables,
  Turn on the dehydrator and let the squash dehydrate about 10 hours.  I just turn my dehydrator on right before I go to bed and the squash are ready the next morning.  Once dehydrated just store the squash chips in a mason jar.
    To use, you can eat these as a snack as they are or use them in stews, soups, casseroles, etc.  To reconstitute, just place in very hot water for about 10 minutes or add to your favorite recipe and cook the dish as you normally would. Or fry it up and have fried squash.  Just soak in hot water for a few minutes and fry as you would fresh squash.

dehydrating vegetables, Dehydrating yellow squash, summer squash

Many of the links you see above lead to my "Amazon" store Countrified Hicks.  Ordering items from my store does not cost you a penny extra but I do receive a very small percentage as a bonus from Amazon for being an affiliate.  We appreciate your support.  It helps out our family more than you may know.

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Sunday, October 26, 2014

Making Sassafras Powder with Sassafras Leaves

   Sassafras is a really neat tree and is easily identifiable because of its distinct feature that every tree has 3 distinctly different leaves.

Creole cooking, how to make gumbo file', uses of Sassafras leaves,
The three distinct leaves of the Sassafras tree.

  Sassafras has long been known as a medicinal herb used by American Indians for hundreds of years.   The leaves, roots and oils of the Sassafras can all be used for a variety of conditions.  Today, I am going to cover one way we harvest and use the Sassafras leaves.  We turn them to powder and use it as many people do in Creole cooking.
     When Sassafras leaves are dried and ground up into powder, it is called file' or gumbo file' which is a thickener for soups and gumbos and to add flavor to them.  It adds a bit of a spicy flavor.  Just add it in once you begin to simmer your soup or gumbo.  It is best not to boil it but let the flavors emerge from simmering.
     To make the powder, just gather up a few handfuls of leaves and rinse them off.  Pat dry and lay them on them on your dehydrator trays.  Turn on the dehydrator and let the leaves dehydrate for about 4 hours.  Once they are dry, they crumble very easily.  Place them in a food processor or use a Magic Bullet (like I do) and pulse the leaves until they turn into a fine powder.  Pour into a mason jar and store the Sassafras powder until you are ready to use it.

Creole cooking, how to make gumbo file', uses of Sassafras leaves,
Sassafras powder (aka gumbo file')

Many of the links you see above lead to my "Amazon" store Countrified Hicks.  Ordering items from my store does not cost you a penny extra but I do receive a very small percentage as a bonus from Amazon for being an affiliate.  We appreciate your support.  It helps out our family more than you may know.


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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Surprise Ride Review

Surprise Ride is a great subscription service geared towards kids aged 6-11 years old.   Each month, Surprise Ride will send a box full of educational items that provide hours of hands-on learning fun.  It is a great way to foster imagination and creative play in your child.
Surprise ride
  Pictured above is a sample of what your kit may look like.  Pretty cool, huh?


I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Making Spinach Powder

    Spinach is such a powerful and useful vegetable.  It has great nutritional value but it also can be used medicinally.  My problem is that I don't really care for the taste of spinach.  Spinach is easy to grow so we do grow it in our garden but then I dehydrate it and turn it into spinach powder to be used in soups, stews, smoothies, casseroles, stir-fry, sauces, or put it into a gel capsule and take as a vitamin.  Also, dehydrating and grinding spinach to power does not diminish its nutritional value at all.  :-)
Making spinach powder at home, how to dehydrate spinach, how to use spinach powder, preserving spinach
I love the color of the powder, don't you?

   To make spinach powder is quite easy.  First, rinse off your spinach leaves and lay the leaves on your dehydrator trays.
Making spinach powder at home, how to dehydrate spinach, how to use spinach powder, preserving spinach
  
Turn on your dehydrator and let the leaves dry for about 4-5 hours.  They are done when the leaves are brittle.  
Making spinach powder at home, how to dehydrate spinach, how to use spinach powder, preserving spinach

   Take the dried leaves and place them in your Magic Bullet or a blender and pulse until it turns into a fine powder.  You may have to strain the pieces through a sieve a few times to make sure the leaves are all ground up.
Making spinach powder at home, how to dehydrate spinach, how to use spinach powder, preserving spinach

   Store your powder in a mason jar.  When you want to use it, just add a tablespoon or two to your dish to add nutritional value, taste and color.  

Many of the links you see above lead to my "Amazon" store Countrified Hicks.  Ordering items from my store does not cost you a penny extra but I do receive a very small percentage as a bonus from Amazon for being an affiliate.  We appreciate your support.  It helps out our family more than you may know.




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Monday, October 13, 2014

Complete Chicken Dinner in the Crock Pot

    I love using my crock pot.  Okay, let's be honest, I have two crock pots and I use them all the time, often both at the same time.  Cooking meals in a crock pot just makes sense.  Very little prep work; you don't heat up your house; you can put food on when you go to bed and it is ready for lunch the next day; or better yet, put a meal in the crock pot in the morning before work and come home to supper waiting on you.
      Meals in crockpots do not have to be elaborate.  Because the food slow cooks all day (or night) the flavors have a chance to "meld" together and comes out fantastic.  This is one of those meals.

Complete Chicken Dinner in the Crock Pot

 4 chicken quarters
1 stick of margarine
1 T. chopped onions
2 cans of green beans
4 potatoes (sliced or cubed)
water

    Place your potatoes into the crockpot.  Put the stick of margarine on top of the potatoes.

Complete meal in a crock pot; Complete chicken dinner recipe, Chicken recipes for slow cooker, southern dish recipe

  As you can tell, I used some of my dehydrated potatoes instead.  If you use them, you do not need to soak them first.  Put them in and they will soften and cook perfectly this way.

Drain the green beans and pour onto the potatoes.  

Complete meal in a crock pot; Complete chicken dinner recipe, Chicken recipes for slow cooker, southern dish recipe

  Pour enough water in the pot to cover the potatoes.  Place the chicken quarters in last and season them with a bit of poultry seasoning; put the lid on the crock pot and turn it on low. 

Complete meal in a crock pot; Complete chicken dinner recipe, Chicken recipes for slow cooker, southern dish recipe

 Let it cook 8 hours or overnight.  I have let it cook up to 14 hours and it was still perfect.                

Many of the links you see above lead to my "Amazon" store Countrified Hicks.  Ordering items from my store does not cost you a penny extra but I do receive a very small percentage as a bonus from Amazon for being an affiliate.  We appreciate your support.  It helps out our family more than you may know.

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