Thursday, August 23, 2012

Pickles, Soap, and Chicks

Problem: Our garden is producing enough veggies to eat for meals, but not enough to can in vast quantities all in one day.

Solution: We preserve just a few mason jars at a time.

Exhibit A:
I pulled 5 cucumbers from the garden yesterday. Not nearly enough for traditional canning methods. I created my own recipe last year and our family LOVES it. Besides tasting delicious, it is sooo easy to make and there is very little cooking involved and no canning necessary, either.

I heat 3 3/4 cups each of vinegar and water and dissolve 3/8 cups of canning salt into it and remove it from the heat. I like crunchy pickles, so I don't want the cucumbers to cook in the brine. Meanwhile, I slice my cucumbers into 1/4 inch slices. I add these, 2 heads of dill, 2 cloves of garlic (sliced in chunks), and 1/4 tsp Cayenne (to taste, really) to a mason jar. I pour the luke-warm vinegar mixture to cover the contents, leaving about 1/2 inch head room in the jar and cover with a lid. Most of the time, I find that these lids seal without any further processing. Even when they don't, the pickles are preserved in vinegar and salt, I feel that mine are safe to eat. (If you prefer to process them in a canner, you should.) The pickles are ready to eat in 2 days, but get better the longer they sit. What I love the most about these is that they start out tasting like garlic dill pickles and finish with a little spicy kick. The pickles stay nicely crisp. It is so simple, I can easily preserve just a few jars at a time as our cucumbers are ready to be picked. ♥
Sometime in the next few days, we will tackle our first batch of canning ♪ Salsa ♪ of the season. I am excited about this prospect. It feels like I have been waiting all summer for this... because. I. have. Spicy, delicious, home made salsa. Oooooh yeah. Sean and I spent a little time last night to pick the tomatoes and peppers we are going to use. We decided to pick some of the tomatoes even though they were still green on the vine because it seems lately that if we wait for them to fully ripen, the various bugs spoil them or they split open. I placed our pickings into a brown paper bag and stored them in a cool, dry, dark place to ripen over the next few days. When the tomatoes ripen, the salsa making will commence!
The soap came out really well. I love that it leaves my hands feeling soft for a long time after I have used it. I am definitely going to purchase two more soap molds because I think I prefer the clean, shiny, finished look of the ones that were molded in them. I like the homey look of the bars I cut and shaved into the traditional shape and size of soap, but I am not sure there is a market for these. The four bars in the top left corner are what the raw cut soaps look like. The lower two on the left are bars that I carved and smoothed out with a knife. I wrapped one in handmade paper and sealed it with a sticker. "E" to mark those with the eucalyptus scent. The four bars on the right were made with the soap mold. These are cucumber melon scented and look much more "finished". I would love your feedback on these.
1- Do you prefer the unfinished or finished bars?

2- Are the simple paper wrapping attractive?

3- How much would you expect to pay for a bar of hand made, goat's milk soap like the ones pictured?
I would love to get your opinion on the finished product. The soap needs to cure for 4 weeks so that when it is used, it doesn't melt away. The soap I will sell, will be aged for the full time recommended. But, I have 10 sample sized cubes of the eucalyptus soap, which I would love to send out for some of you to try out. If you are interested in receiving one, please request one via a comment on this post. I will honor the first 10 sample requests received. The samples will be provided free of charge and mailed to you, but I do respectfully ask that after you try the sample, you will share your honest opinion on the product. I will create a post on the blog specifically for you to leave your comments and improvement suggestions. ♥
Broody Wyandotte is proving to be as good a mother as Broody Barred Rock hen and better than the incubator! We now have 12 fluffy, peeping chicks living in the brooder inside the living room. I think I wrote you about checking the eggs inside the incubator already; how they are alive and developing, but seem to be younger than the ones from the nests outside. After 2 more chicks were hatched today, Sean and I candled the remaining 3 eggs in the outside nest. They are also alive and look suspiciously similar to those in the incubator. That being the case, Sean and I returned all 6 developing eggs to under Broody Wyandotte with the hopes that she will hatch the remaining chicks safely and naturally. The hens have a 12/20 hatch rate or 60% hatch rate as things stand now. If the other 6 hatch, that would increase the hatch rate to 90%- really Excellent, by any standards. ♥

How Cute Are THESE ????
I'm glad you stopped by for a visit.
Sonja ♥


  1. Hey Sonja, I guess I like the rough cut and i like the paper around them. I think it looks homemade and not store bought. I harvested some tomatoes from my garden and I love it. I am going to do your pickel idea and I have someone giving me pickels all the time so I can do some big batches thank you for the recipe I can't wait to try it. If you get a chance to let the chicks stay with the mom sometime it is such a great experience. I loved watching ours train thier little ones to peck out the grains and bugs and how the babies would hop on the moms back and how she would pay so much attention to them. Reminds me of Jehovah and how he is with his babies. (us) keep up the good work!!!!! cherie

    1. I hope you like the recipe!

      We thought about letting the chicks stay with Momma hen for a while, but the chicks cannot get out of the nesting box safely, so that was problematic.

      Did you want to sample the soap? Just let me know. :)

    2. I think that would be lovely to have a sample. we are due to get together some time soon to say hello. oh do you have a salsa recipe? i am getting a bunch of tomatoes today that need to be used. I don't know what to do with them.
      ugh. cherie

  2. Soap looks good! You can certainly send a sample my way and I will give it a go!
    I would check out Etsy and see what seems to be selling and such.
    Such cute babies!
    We have to get our tomatoes off the vine green too, critters seem to like them too much.

    1. Your sample will be sent shortly. :) I have a full bar coming your way via Momma T, but she is not going to be headed back to her home land until late September, so I will put your sample in the mail before then. ♥

  3. Hey Sonja, I am thrilled for you. So many accomplishments in one week. I think the rough cut soap is wonderful. It would be my preference along with the paper sleeve. For selling, the one from the mold may present better for some people. The chicks look great. I can't wait to come and see them. But for today, I am tied to the kitchen canning peaches. Another fun and tasty way to remember summer in the dark of winter. Happy pickling, soap-making and chick-raising.
    Nancy R.

  4. 1) I personally prefer the unfinished bars. I like the raw edge rustic look. Most of the handmade soaps I see around here in Missouri at local farmer's markets are unfinished. I think it really conveys the idea of homemade in small batches when it doesn't look like it was made by a machine!

    2) I really like the wrapping - it's simple and classic. Lots of wrappers I see have too much information on them. I like the simplicity of yours.

    3) The soap looks pretty thick, so I'd expect to pay about $8 per bar. Maybe if customers don't want to pay that much, you could make smaller trial size bars (kind of like what you'd get in a hotel room) for $3 or $4. But personally I'd expect to pay around $8 knowing you cared for and milked the goats yourself and made each bar of soap.

    I would love to try out some of your soap! Can I email you my home address? I'm so excited to try it out!

    1. Please, do! I would be very happy to send you a sample. :)