Oyster Bake?

  • Are you attending the all you can eat oyster bake on Saturday night? (Oyster, shrimp, sausage, cornbread) - $30

It can be a challenge to find a space in your home for a large dry erase board, but most of us live in places with windows. I like to keep categories of lists that I can look at in big print to keep things moving forward here at the Holler Homestead and something I learned years ago is that my windows are giant dry erase boards.

Now, you can use dry erase markers on them, but these fine tip chalk markers show up much better. I happen to have a dark colored wooden blind on my favorite dry erase window, so I find the lighter colors, like white and blue, are the most visible option. However, if you have a light blind on your window, you may find out that some of the darker colors, like red, pop more from your window.

Anyone who drops by the Holler Homestead will often see relics of lists, or drawings on the window right by my front door. This is because I like to jot things down as I am having morning coffee and my morning coffee is usually had in front of the house.

If you are having trouble finding the right space for YOUR dry erase board, consider a space-saving alternative and get some chalk markers.


Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate and the links above are affiliate links.

We all get them – those little, annoying sugar ants. Years ago, when we were first in the Holler, I would mix boric acid with sweetener and put it out for the little buggers. The first year, that worked. However, it slowly stopped working. We battled and battled the little buggers and I even had an extermination for them, which worked for a bit. But always, the little devils would return.

Then a friend let me in on a secret – her husband preferred to use Terro Ant Bait on their ants at home. This was big news since her husband was an exterminator. So I ordered some and tried them. And they worked GREAT.

It is now my habit to keep some of these little traps on hand so that I can put them out every time I see ants.

A note: this is not an all-or-nothing solution: They work the best out of anything I have tried. But they take a week or two, you need to put them in the line of ants so the bait gets found, and you need to practice good weed control around your house, as well as kitchen cleanliness. If you leave food for ants, more ants will come.

However, as a gentle household solution to the sugar ant problem, I prefer Terro Ant Bait over making my own.

Did I mention what these are made from sweetener and boric acid? Yup – the bait works by attracting the ants so they take it back to the nest and feed it to the queen and then it kills them. Boric acid is one of the gentler approaches to bug control from an environmental standpoint.

Links to Terro Ant Bait are from my Amazon Affiliate account.

Years ago, for my birthday, Mark purchased me a white, Hamilton Beach food processor at Walmart. All of his friends said that I would break up with him for such a domestically oriented gift and advised him to get me a piece of jewelry. He stood strong on his decision and we celebrated my birthday with homemade salsa, a nice wood fire and the AC running because it was still hot in October in Tennessee.

I used the snot out of that ting as I learned how to preserve vegetables and fruits, make sauces and powders, and so much more. Over time, the plastic food drum began to get brittle and pieces would come off. I looked around for replacement parts, but they were about as much as a new processor. It lasted 9 years. NINE long years of lots of use. Then, one day, the food drum was simple done. It fell apart.

The next year, I got a Cuisinart. It lasted 1 use before I broke the safety latch, so I replaced it. And broke the next one after two uses.

I quickly went back to my old faithful, the Hamilton Beach 10 Cup Food Processor. I briefly considered the 12 cup because it has a larger chute, but that 12 cup one also has a lid latch safety very similar to the Cuisinart. I figured I would break that in a moment. So, today, we have the Hamilton Beach 10 Cup Food Processor back in the kitchen and are able to happily process 20 lbs of cabbage in just one hour to make a winter’s worth of sauerkraut!

So today, I am recommending this as the Amazon Highlight of the week. which does give me a small commission if you click on my links.

Several years ago, Chef Brett handed me a Christmas present with three little spice tins produced by Bourbon Barrel Foods out of Kentucky. While all three samples were tasty, the one that stood out the most was the Bourbon Smoked Paprika – a true paprika with a little bit of heat and a ton of smoke. Within a month, this single spice became one of the most important dried herbs in my kitchen. I used it on eggs, in salsa, in stews, in stir fry, on steak, on chicken – on everything. Just a tiny bit of this spice packs a flavorful punch.

Today, we are Cooking With What We Have by rolling a roasted chicken into a tasty stew and here is what it will be:

  • 1 chicken carcass and related left over chicken meat
  • 2 quarts water
  • 1 diced onions
  • 2 cloves diced garlic
  • 1 large cubed potato
  • the last 8 ounces of last week’s green chili stew
  • 1 quart green beans
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp bourbon smoked paprika

Directions: Cook in the crockpot on low for 6-8 hours. Remove chicken bones – salt and pepper to taste.

What happens with this stew is that the bones make the water into a great broth and the additional liquid from the green beans and other vegetables mellows into it for additional flavor. The bourbon smoked paprika lends that smoky overtone to the soup.

Like the Himalayan salt I like to keep on hand, Bourbon Barrel Foods’ Bourbon Smoked Paprika is something I always have in my kitchen. One of these tins usually lasts a year.

The only drawback to this product at all is the packaging. I find it difficult to unscrew the lid on this style of tin, perhaps because as I get older, my gripping power appears to be waning.

I cannot recommend this product enough. Full disclosure, the Amazon links do result in a tiny commission for me.

You’ve heard me talk about the Encyclopedia of Country Living before on the show. This is a guide to everything household from growing food, to cooking a rattle snake, managing livestock, to handling a birth at home. Carla Emory set out to collect recipes and processes from the moment she began her life in the country. She noticed that much of this information was being lost as people grew old and died. What started as a book she thought would be written quickly grew into a giant reference.

And yet, the Encyclopedia of Country Living is also a good read. Carla’s writing style is accessible. She does a great job if interspersing stories with processes. And she knows her stuff.

If I only had one book that I was allowed to have out here in the Holler, this would be that book. I keep it close at hand for reference for anything from canning times to bacon curing ratios. In fact, I have bought two copies of this book because I wore out my first one from reading it so many times — and I do not usually read things more than one time.

If you are already on your homestead, dreaming of going to one, or simply interested in learning new skills as part of your urban homestead experience, this is the book to get.

Sherpa Himalayan Salt – 10 pounds

Many a scientific friend has not understood WHY I insist on high quality salt. They scoff at me for using pink salt because the chemical makeup of salt is, well, salt. Yes there is a WORLD of salts with subtle flavors, much like coffee, much like wine.

And every year, I buy 10 pounds of a good Himalayan Salt. That is why I wanted to recommend this product to y’all today. You see, my year is up. It is time for another 10 pounds.

If you hit the grocery store for a small shaker-full of Himalayan salt, you will pay $6, $10, or even $12 for it. It’s crazy when you can but it in bulk, on Amazon, with free shipping.

I’ve loved the Sherpa brand Himalayan salt for several years now and I hope you will too.

Let me know what you think.

~Disclosure: yes, I am an Amazon Affiliate to clicking on the link will result in a small commission for me. Yes I have bought and used this product. Yes, I just ordered another 10 pounds today!

I love garlic and have had to peel lots of it over the years. And the Zyliss Garlic Peeler is the best darn garlic peeling tool I have ever used. 

It is especially helpful when you have tons of garlic to peel and you have found some with a particularly thin outer husk. You know what I mean right? The outer husk doesn’t respond to the usual trick of squishing the garlic bulb with the flat side of your knife to make peeling easy, but rather stubbornly sticks to the garlic itself. This requires you to painstakingly pull each piece off. 

With the Zyliss Garlic Peeler, you just toss a clove in the rubber tube, press down and roll, and the peel sticks to the tube, not the garlic. It hardly takes up any space, only costs $5 and is a must have if you love garlic as much as I do.

Zyliss Garlic PeelerDo let me know if you buy one and tell me how you like it!