Ed’s grandma gave us this amaryllis for Christmas and it’s in full bloom today!


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Weekly Menu 2/12/18

Monday – spaghetti and sausage, broccoli

Tuesday – steak, sweet potatoes, salad

Wednesday – hamburgers, baked fries, salad

Thursday – pork chops, rice, applesauce, salad

Friday – homemade pizza

Saturday – chicken legs, macaroni and cheese, salad

Sunday – frittata, bacon, fruit salad

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Maple Syrup Season

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Filed under Adventures, Local Agriculture, Outside, parenting, Photo Essay

Stories and Snuggles

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Slow Cooker Chicken Wild Rice Soup

I like to make a big pot of soup every weekend. I usually cook it on the stove but sometimes I use the crock pot just so I don’t have to watch it as much. My first secret ingredient in this soup is butternut squash. It starts to break down as it gets soft and that helps to thicken the soup. The second secret ingredient is chicken legs and thighs, because they make the broth tastier than boneless skinless breasts. And the final secret ingredient? Better Than Bullion chicken flavor. It makes for a very flavorful broth. I’ve added mushrooms and celery to this soup in the past and both are yummy but I didn’t have them on hand today.

  • Chicken: 2 legs, 2 thighs, 2 wings (or any combo of those parts- this is how we package the chickens my in-laws raise so it’s what I use)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1 large parsnip, peeled and sliced
  • 1/2 small butternut squash, peeled and diced
  • 3/4 cup wild rice mix
  • 1 Tbsp Better Than Bullion Chicken Flavor
  • Water to cover everything (6-7 cups)

Place all ingredients in the slow cooker and set it to high for 4 hours. Remove the chicken, shred it and add it back to the soup. Serve with fresh bread or crackers.

Anna loves bread with her soup. For her, I simply mash up the softened veggies and chicken to make it an easier consistency to eat.

What’s your favorite type of soup? Please share in the comments!

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Yankee Maple Sugar Apple Pie

After taking a few years off from entering any of my pies in the local fair, I decided it was time to get back to it. I entered the State Two Crusted Apple Pie Contest, because I figured go big or go home! The rules stated that you could have other flavors added in as long as it was predominantly apple, so I decided to mix it up a bit so that my pie would stand out to the judges. I chose to develop a recipe using maple syrup and maple sugar because it’s a little bit different but still a traditional apple pie. I did a few trials, with feedback from my parents, brothers and sister in law (who are all apple connoisseurs) and my mother in law (who used to win all the baking contests and then became a judge at the fair). I also had my husband and picky kids as enthusiastic testers! I loved all the constructive criticism they gave me, because that made the pie so much better. My goals were to have a flaky, buttery crust that was golden brown and cooked well on the bottom, and tender, juicy (but not too juicy) flavorful apples. I pulled out all my tricks and got a delicious pie!


  • 3 cups flour
  • 12 Tbsp cold butter
  • 1/3 cup cold shortening
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 6-8 Tbsp ice water

1. In a food processor, combine all ingredients except water and pulse until the butter is the size of small peas.

2. With the food processor running, pour in the water one tablespoon at a time until it forms into a ball.

3. Separate the dough in half, form into disks, wrap in plastic and place in the fridge while you prepare the filling.


  • 6 large apples, Cortland and McIntosh, peeled and sliced
  • 1/2 cup maple sugar (granulated)
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup flour

Other ingredients for putting it all together

  • 3 Tbsp butter, softened and divided
  • 1 egg, beaten with 1 Tbsp water added
  • 2 Tbsp maple sugar (granulated)

Make the pie!

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and remove the dough from the refrigerator.

2. Grease a 10″ pie pan with 1 Tbsp of the softened butter. This is one of my tricks to get a nicely browned bottom crust.

3. Combine all the filling ingredients in a big bowl.

4. Roll out the bottom crust and place it in the pan. Pile in the filling, leaving behind some of the juices that accumulate in the bowl so it’s not too runny. Pile it high! I like a lot of apples.

5. Dot the top of the apples with the remaining 2 Tbsp of softened butter.

6. Roll out the top crust and place it on top. Crimp the edges and cut a hole in the middle for a vent. In my family’s farm market, we carve designs into the tops of the pies so we can tell them apart. The apple design is three sheaves of wheat, and I find it’s impossible for me to make an apple pie without that design on top! That’s how I know it’s apple!

7. Brush on the egg wash and sprinkle on the maple sugar. Place on a sheet pan lined with foil or parchment to catch the drips, and place it in the middle of the oven.

8. Bake for an hour, then move the pie to the bottom rack for 10 minutes to finish cooking the bottom crust. Finally, move it to the top rack to nicely brown the top for about 10 minutes. It’s done when the filling bubbles out and the crust is golden brown.

9. Let the pie cool for at least an hour before slicing so it’s not too runny. Or go ahead and eat it if you can’t wait! Serve with a couple slices or sharp cheddar cheese, or vanilla ice cream on top.

So after all that work, I got second place at my local fair. I was busy (I do have a job and three kids) and only baked one instead of doing a back up pie, and I got a huge crack in the crust! I lost points on the appearance, and ended up losing by one point! My pie scored highest for crust, flavor and texture though! Lesson learned, bake two and enter the prettier one. And eat the other! Next year I’m going to try again. The winner at the local fair goes on to compete at the state level.

I also entered my old favorite, Butternut Squash Pie, and won a blue ribbon for it. That pie is always a winner!

We brought the Yankee Maple Sugar Apple Pie to Thanksgiving this year and my family loved it. If you try the recipe, let me know how you like it!

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Books and Basketball

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