Tuesday, September 1, 2015

~Visit Old Sturbridge Village!~

The short road trip to Old Sturbridge Village in Sturbridge, MA on Friday was great!  It was such a comfortable day to step back in time!  The sun was shining brightly & we walked around with our water bottles & sunglasses.

After leaving the crowded parking lot, we were welcomed in the Visitor Center.  This was a no admission charge visit- sponsored by the Highland Street Foundation.  This also was the last Friday of FREE FUN FRIDAYS before so many school aged children began the new school year.  So many families learned about New England village life long ago!  We all left the 21st century Visitor Center and found ourselves in the village where every day life used different methods to get every day tasks done.  It was set in about the 1830's time period.  What a treat to learn American History by having FuN!

Our first stop was to watch & to listen to a lady explain how yarn was dyed.  Her yarn had already gone through the process of the sheep shearing & spinning.  She was dyeing it her color of choice- Yellow.  First, the yarn was "prepared".  There were many colors available to use during this time period & the colors came from objects in nature.  The objects were added to a "bath" of heated water.  The "prepared" yarn was then soaked for a certain period of time.  Goldenrod flowers were used to dye yarn the color Yellow.      
A Lady dyeing yarn the color Yellow using Goldenrod flowers!

In the Bank a portrait of George Washington hung proudly on the wall.  Then, from the Tin Shop we walked up the road to the Grist Mill where Rye & Corn were ground.  From there to the Blacksmith Shop.
The Blacksmith

After watching, listening & asking questions we visited the Cooper who was making a round container from wood. 

Then onto the Freeman Farmhouse to learn about making Cheeses.  In the summer the extra milk on the farm was used to make Cheeses.  Any Cheeses that the family does not use can be sold to the Knight Store.  At the store a store ledger is kept to record this sale as a Credit.  The family could purchase needed items at the store that they did not make themselves using this Credit.  They could also make a purchase by having a Debit on the family's account.  The Cheese (& Butter in cooler weather) could be sold by the store's owner in Boston.  Families living in the city would not be making Cheese.  The store owner would be purchasing items in Boston that were imported- like Tea & Spices to sell back to families in the village.       

A Lady making Cheese!
This lady's kitchen & tools in the Freeman Farmhouse were fascinating.  Notice the slices of Apples drying on a string below the ceiling.  Cloths drying above the fireplace.

Then onto visit the Shoemaker who was busily working on a shoe while sitting on his Cobbler's Bench. 

Shoemaker working on his "Cobbler's Bench"!

A Potter and a School Teacher then captured our attention.  Walking down the road we stopped at the Knight Store.  Inside a lady was inquiring about the price of a knitting needles container.  She wanted to store her knitting needles & knitting work safely.  The shopkeeper also told her that there was a need for knitted mittens, so if she was interested, a pair or two could be sold to the Knight Store.  In the store on the opposite wall there were many choices of objects to purchase on the shelves for the residents of Sturbridge Village.
So many objects to purchase!

A toothbrush with an ivory handle was in the locked case on a counter.  The lady shared with me that everyone in the family would use the same toothbrush.

There are so many fascinating areas to visit in Old Sturbridge Village.  We made our way to a few of them.  The Bake Shop makes yummy Oatmeal Cookies!  Many people were smiling while eating Chocolate Chip Cookies, too!

If you ever have the opportunity to go back in time to the 19th century, stop in to Old Sturbridge Village in Central MA.  I've given you only "a snapshot" here of rural American life in the Northeast around the 1830's.  This is a great place to visit!  In the Fall the Cider Mill will be working!

We Enjoyed!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Old Sturbridge Village- Free Fun Friday!

Do you live in Massachusetts or in a neighboring state? Are you traveling through MA tomorrow- August 28th? Are you thinking about a last minute adventure to do with your school age children & school has not started yet?  Visit Old Sturbridge Village in Sturbridge, MA!  It's located off the Mass Pike, I-90.  

Tomorrow there is Free admission! It's a FREE FUN FRIDAY day (sponsored by the Highland Street Foundation) in this "New England Living History Museum".  Go back in time to the 1830's for a day.  Learn a bit more about history!

Free Fun Friday!
Tomorrow, August 28, 2015
Old Sturbridge Village
Sturbridge, Massachusetts 

Enjoy this Living History Museum!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Peach Freezer Jam

Place lids on top & label/ date the Peach Freezer Jam.
Sits on my table for 24 hours & then into the freezer!
Local fresh Peaches!  Yum!  Last Thursday at our Farmers' Market it did not take me long to spot the display of this delicious fruit.  I was on a mission.  5 or 6 of the Peaches would be needed to prep 1 batch of Peach Freezer Jam this week.  The other ingredients were in my pantry- just waiting for Peach Season!  This variety of Freezer Jam takes a bit more effort, but boy is it worth it.  In the middle of winter Jim will spread some on an English Muffin & I'll hear the comment, "This is my favorite flavor!"  Now, with an endorsement like that how can I pass on making this variety?  Truth is, I cannot.  So I purchased many Peaches- we'd also enjoy eating this juicy yummy fruit.  The Peaches I selected were all firm, so they would all ripen at once.

***An easy method to ripen them is to place 3- 4 Peaches (stem side down) in a brown paper lunch bag.  Close the top & leave on your kitchen counter for 1- 2 days.  Then check to see if the Peaches are ripe.  If not, close bag & check the next day.  After ripening, refrigerate.

Peaches ripening on counter.

Today was Peach Freezer Jam Day!  The Certo (liquid fruit pectin), Sugar & Lemon Juice were located.  My supply of 1 Cup Ziploc Freezer Containers were all purchased this past spring.  That was when I learned that my treasured 8 oz. containers were no longer manufactured.  It was time to stock up!  I had my Freezer Jams to make!

Following directions exactly are a must when making Freezer Jams.  As many times as I've made them over the past 30 years, I always reread the directions that are located in each Certo box.  I also reread my Cooking Hints (to read click here).  I always prepare 1 extra Peach, because it may be used.  Depends on size of Peaches.

Now, all 9 covered/ labeled/ dated containers are sitting undisturbed on my table- doing their thing for 24 hours.  Tomorrow at 5 PM the Peach Freezer Jam will find its spot on the top shelf of our freezer downstairs next to the Strawberry & Blueberry Jams!  :)

Do you make Freezer Jams?  You'd enjoy the taste!  


Friday, August 21, 2015

Summer Meat Sauce

Summer Meat Sauce
Woah! Today at least a few of my muscles reminded me they haven't been used in a bit!  Two days ago we drove east on the Mass Pike (I-90) & visited our son & his family.  Another way to phrase that is that two days ago we had so much FuN playing games & reading to our young grandsons before the busy month of September & school begins in Massachusetts.  There's a few aches here.  Who am I kidding they're everywhere!  It's my normal- 2 days later, and so worth it, too!  :)

Today was the perfect day to take out my Slow Cooker!  Green Peppers, Eggplant, & Zucchini were in the fridge & easy to wash/ dry/ cut up for the Slow Cooker's pot.  A quick trip to our grocery store for the 3/4 pound of Ground Beef & to my pantry made for an easy dinner preparation.

Making a Meat Sauce in a Slow Cooker (Crock Pot) using fresh local vegetables is ideal for this time of year.  During our colder winter months it's always so handy to pull out a frozen container of sauce to enjoy over pasta.  Much less salt in a sauce prepared this way, too.  Whenever possible I use canned tomato sauce & tomatoes that contain less salt when preparing recipes!  Chunks of fresh veggies taste so good!    

Summer Meat Sauce


2 Green Peppers, cut into chunks or strips
(3/4 lb.) Ground Beef - Brown in skillet, removes fat
(1) large Eggplant - Cut into slices, then into chunks.
(3) small Zucchini - Cut in slices, then in half.
Dehydrated Onion, Parsley - as desired
1/4 teaspoon each Garlic Powder, Oregano & Basil
(1) can Tomatoes - drain, can be whole & cut in quarters or diced
About 28 oz. Tomato Sauce
(1) 6 oz. can Tomato Paste

  1. Spray Slow Cooker pot with PAM.
  2. Brown Ground Beef in skillet.
  3. Rinse all vegetables under cold running water, dry.
  4. Cut Green Peppers into strips & then in halves. Place in Slow Cooker's pot.
  5. Add browned Ground Beef.
  6. Add Eggplant pieces & halved sliced Zucchini pieces.
  7. Sprinkle on Onions, Parsley, Garlic Powder, Oregano & Basil. 
  8. Add drained cut/diced Tomatoes.
  9. In small bowl mix Tomato Paste with Tomato Sauce until smooth.
  10. Add Tomato Sauce/Paste to pot.
  11. Cover with lid.
  12. Cook on High (#5) Setting for 4 hours.
  13. Stir & serve over Pasta of choice.
After dinner when the extra sauce cooled, portions were placed in freezer containers & dated/ labelled.  On a snowy winter evening nothing beats an easy "take out" dinner when you can just visit your freezer.


Saturday, August 15, 2015

Colonial Cooking!

Have you ever wondered how cooking was done in Colonial America?  I sure have.  My oven, baking sheets, pots & pans & slow cooker are used all of the time.  How were the families' meals prepared long ago?  Yes, a fireplace & large pot were used, but there is more to the story.  How was it done? 

Yesterday my DH & I visited Historic Deerfield in Deerfield, MA.  It was one of the Free Fun Friday places to visit on August 14, (sponsored by the Highland Street Foundation).  Walking through the 18th century village & visiting some of the museum houses took us back in time.  Then, walking into the kitchens of the old homes was so interesting! 

Today I visited Historic Deerfield's website & learned even more about cooking during this time period by watching their short video.  I hope you, my readers, also enjoy watching it.          

So that's how freshly caught fish could be cooked- so long ago!    

Thank you Historic Deerfield for this great video!

Another Thank You to the Highland Street Foundation & Historic Deerfield for a great Friday learning more History!

We did Enjoy!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

~Summer 2015~

Walking up our driveway after every daily walk the colorful vibrant zinnias are a great greeting!  Gotta' save the zinnia seeds again this Fall for next years crop! :)

What a great time of year!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

~Tortellini Salad~

Tortellini Salad
(File Photo)
Our Family Gathering in the summer!  It's always a FuN day at our home!  The invitations are mailed a month earlier.  The week before, we start to pay closer attention to our local weathermen's weekend predictions.  Hopefully, the word rain is not included.  This past Saturday the family gathered.  We chatted, we laughed, we shared news & we had our outdoor picnic!  

There's always some Chicken grilling going on during this day.  A cold meat platter for mini sandwiches & also many salads.  Definitely chunks of Watermelon & also Cantaloupe!  This year I decided to include a Tortellini Salad

Tortellini Salad is quick to prep, it's easy to make & it's a pasta salad.  Cannot forget the pasta!  A 12 ounce bag of frozen tri-colored tortellini is prepared using the directions on the package.   

Tortellini Salad

(1) 12 ounce bag frozen Tri-colored Tortellini
Italian Salad Dressing - 8 oz.
Parsley, chopped
Chopped Onion
Garlic Powder
Black Olives, sliced - optional and delicious   

  1. Prepare Tortellini following directions on package.
  2.  Drain, rinse with Cold water to cool down.
  3.  Place in bowl.
  4.  Add about 1/2 Cup Italian Salad Dressing.
  5.  Add desired amount of chopped Parsley, chopped onion + Garlic Powder.
  6.  Add about 1/2 Cup Black Olives, sliced, optional
  7. Cover and refrigerate overnight or for 6 hours.
  8. Before serving, add additional Italian Dressing & stir. 
With so many fresh fruits & veggies on our table this was a great pasta dish!  And then there was dessert!