Monday, September 16, 2013

What a beautiful weekend!

I am starting to feel a fall chill here in Kentucky.  Over the weekend, the morning had a little extra chill that I love when waking up (though it also makes me want to just stay in bed covered up!).  Alex had a great soccer game Saturday morning, and then we got to enjoy a beautiful hike at Mcconnell Springs.  Cara put on a jacket and I realized just how much she has grown since the spring, so on Sunday we headed out to the store and got a new hoodie for her.  I also got a little cleaning done, but not as much as I should have done, which seems to be the story of my life when it comes to cleaning!  Maybe when the kids are grown I will have time to clean!  What did your weekend look like?  I hope everyone has a wonderful week!!
Alex and Cara at Mcconnell Springs

Monday, September 9, 2013

Fall Soccer is Here!

Now things are going to be super busy until Christmas!!  Once soccer ends, I start on my Masters.  I will do my best to stick with 3 days a week blog posts, but they will probably be a whole lot of ramblings and I will get back to a few recipes when things slow down!!  Hope everyone is having a great Monday, I am missing my 3 day weekend from last week right now ;)

Friday, September 6, 2013

Couch to 5K

So last week I started the Couch to 5K program.  I found a wonderful app for my phone from Active.com that shows me how far and how fast I have gone each time I am out, something that completely keeps me motivated as I love to compare my most recent run to previous runs. 

Now I have always been quite timid about getting outside and jogging/running.  I don't know, it just seems like the older I get, the more I don't want to be seen running, which is really strange when I stop and think about it.  I mean, we have quite a few joggers in my neighborhood and have a walking trail where I see plenty of joggers.  Why do I even care what others think of my jogging?  I don't know most of the people I see when I am out, and I am looking decent since I have a sports bra helping out with not getting knocked out or a black eye when I am jogging (my bigger breasted ladies, you know what I am talking about ;) ).

Anyways, I have been told by a few people I should at least try the whole Couch to 5K thing, that it is a great way to ease into it and get comfortable.  So I finally looked at the calendar for the program and could have slapped myself when I saw that most of the times needed were just 30 minutes a day, 3 days a week!  How awesome is that!  I was thinking I would have to carve out all this time, and working around Damien's schedule to ensure someone was home with the kids during my run was something I had been dreading.  But 3 days a week for only 30 minutes?  There were surely 3 evenings I could find Damien off, or even a morning of a weekend if need be... sure enough, when I checked Damien's work schedule, I found I could fit this in quite easily!

So one evening, I was completely motivated, found the awesome app I mentioned above, but I needed something to help with carrying my phone around as I was not planning to be wearing jeans on my run.  So I headed to Wal-Mart quickly and found one of those armbands that can carry your phone and I was set.  The first week's calendar for the Couch to 5K is to jog for 1 minute and walk for a minute and a half alternating.  The best part of the app was that it told me when to start jogging and when to start walking, so I did not have to time it myself.  I don't know about you, but I don't want to have to think about the exercise when I am exercising, so having something tell me when to jog and when to walk was pretty awesome.  Some times it is the small things I love!  I was also able to play Pandora in the background and could still hear the lady on the Couch to 5K app clearly.  And if you have music stored on your phone, you can just play it through the app.

This fall I will not be able to participate in any races, and I know once it starts to get cold I will stop running outside (hopefully I will be motivated to keep up on the treadmill), but I love that I can do this again when it warms up in the spring, and hopefully I will be able to participate in a race!  I have just completed the first week so far, so let's see how motivated I stay in the coming weeks.

Have you done the Couch to 5K program?  Did you stick with it after the program?  I would love to hear your story, including if you got to complete a race after doing the program!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Canning Crunchy Banana Pepper Rings

After 2 batches, I found the way I prefer to can banana pepper rings so they have a nice crunch to them (the first batch I tried were way too mushy!).  After reading up on what others have done, I decided to try the open kettle food processing method instead of a hot water bath.  I warn you, the open kettle food processing method is not the way the USDA recommends canning.  However, all my jars sealed and I know we will eat these up pretty quickly, but if you are not sure, stick with a hot water bath method of sealing your jars (keep jars in the hot water bath after putting lids on for about 10 minutes).  I also used Ball's Pickle Crisp Granules in each jar, so they may stay crunchier after the water bath as well.  And now, for the recipe!

Ingredients:
  • 5- 1 pint canning jars, lids, and rings
  • 15-20 Banana peppers sliced into rings (I had closer to 20)
  • 1 clove garlic for each pint jar
  • 1/8 teaspoon Ball's Pickle Crisp Granules per pint jar
For the Brine:
  • 5 cups white distilled vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 teaspoons canning/pickling salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
Directions:
  1. Wash and slice your banana peppers into rings, taking out any seeds during the process.
  2. After all the slicing is done, ensure your jars are sterilized.  I stick each jar in hot, boiling water.  Also, keep the lids in hot, right at boiling point water until you are ready to put them on top of the filled, hot jar. 
  3. At this point I start working on the brine.  In a pot, bring your brine ingredients to a boil (the vinegar, water, canning/picking salt, sugar, and turmeric).  Once it starts boiling, boil for 5 minutes.
  4. While the brine is boiling, get your hot jars ready by putting in a clove of garlic in each jar.  Pack in the banana peppers tightly!  Right before the last little bit of peppers, add the 1/8 teaspoon of pickle crisp granules.
  5. When your brine is ready, fill until you have 1/2 inch of head space.  Tap the jar on the counter or use a long handle or spatula to get the bubbles out and re-fill the jar until you are back to 1/2 inch of head space.
  6. Quickly wipe the jar rim before placing the lid on it.  After placing the hot lid, put ring on and let it sit upside down.  I let mine stay this way overnight, then checked to see if was sealed the next day (the lid was concave, it did not spring and pop back up when touched or pushed down).




I may or may not have learned some of the following dos and don'ts from experience.
  • Do wear oven mitts when dealing with any of the hot items, even if you are using another tool to pick the object up!
  • Don't think that just because the pepper rings fit in the jar that it is packed, actually pack those rings down!
  • Do cut your peppers into rings before boiling the brine.
Remember, the USDA does not recommend this method of canning.  If you are unsure, please go ahead and do a hot water bath.  If you try it, please let me know if the pickle crisp granules were enough to keep the peppers crispy during the hot water bath!  Thanks!

 

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