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Real country biscuits can’t be beat. Slather ’em in butter and molasses and serve with a slice or two of Country ham. Doesn’t get any better than that.
The Bobbitt family on the front porch at “Cleveland”, the old home in Palmer Springs, VA. This biscuit recipe is from the little girl on the steps…my Mom.
- 2 Cups all purpose flour, measured after sifting (White Lily or Martha White is best)
- 3 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 to 1/3 cups shortening (use 1/3 for shorter biscuits)
- 2/3 cup milk
Sift dry ingredients together and cut in shortening. Add milk all at once, stirring until all flour is moistened. Turn out onto a lightly floured board. Knead dough gently 5 or 6 times, then roll or pat to a 1/2 inch thickness. Cut biscuits and place on an ungreased baking sheet, touching each other. Use a light colored baking sheet as dark pans make the bottoms overbrown. Prick each biscuit 3 times with a fork before baking. Bake at 450 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes. Makes 16 2-inch biscuits. Tip: Cover the surface of the measuring cup with a drop of oil. This allows shortening, molasses, and honey to come out with ease.
Reprinted with permission of Everette and Jean Barefoot.
Proper curing and aging of real country hams is truly a Southern art. Whether salt-cured, aged in sugar and salt or smoked, the high quality hams of North Carolina have come to be regarded as some of the finest in the nation.
For many years in the area of hearty farmland near Johnston County in eastern Carolina, the neighborly invitation from Jean and Everette Barefoot to their friends to “come on over for ham and eggs” was a welcomed treat not to be refused. Everette Barefoot had long been known for his deliciously-aged hams, though he only processed a number of hams sufficient for his own family and a few select friends and relatives at Christmas time.
Folks telephoning from far away often requested Jean Barefoot’s expertise in advising them of the real “Southern” method for cooking these hams. Following are a few of her hints for preparing a NC Country ham.
Everette Barefoot preparing his County Hams
To Bake the Ham: For Sunday dinners or holiday meals, whole hams are baked and sometimes garnished with cloves, pineapples, cherries and brown sugar. There are many ways to bake a country ham, though it is necessary to soak the salt-cured ham for 12 hours prior to baking in order to remove the salt. Simply soak the ham in water overnight before baking. (Extra aged hams which have been cured for 12 months or more can require as much as 48 hours in water.)
After soaking, scrub the ham well, place it skin-side up in a deep roasting pan and fill the pan at least half-way with water, wine, ginger ale or champagne. Cover tightly and place in a 300 degree oven. Never let the ham boil, but simply simmer it slowly instead. If you use a meat thermometer, remove the ham when the thermometer reaches 160 degrees. If you don’t use a thermometer, you can always tell that the ham is done when the aitch (hip) bone becomes loose! After removing from the oven, let the ham cool slightly and and remove skin before slicing. Cooking requires about 25 minutes per pound.
Another traditional method of baking a country ham includes an overnight soaking in water plus one cup of dark molasses. (Be sure to cut both ends off and remove any edges which seem exceptionally hard from the curing process prior to soaking the ham.) After the ham has soaked for at least 12 hours, pour off the water, then cover again with an additional one cup of molasses and water and bring to a boil on the stove. Then, return to a very slow boil until thick blisters appear on the ham. Cooking requires about 25 minutes per pound. Once more, let the ham sit in the same water and molasses another night. Before serving, pour off the water, trim the crust, and cover the fatty side in brown sugar before browning in the oven. This is the traditional “grandma’s way” of baking country ham.
The final recipe for baking a whole ham requires soaking the ham in water for 24 hours. After soaking, scrub the ham with a soft brush. Remove the “shank” end and place the ham in a covered roaster with seven cups of water. After preheating the oven to 500 degrees, bake the ham for fifteen minutes. Then, turn off the oven and leave the ham inside for three hours. Again, preheat the oven to 500 degrees and cook again for 15 minutes. Turn off the oven and let the ham remain for for eight hours. IMPORTANT! Do not open your oven door at all for the total eleven hours. Once you’ve aged as much as your ham in cooking it this way, remove the ham from the broth and let it cool. You may slice as is or you can remove the skin before slicing. Garnish with brown sugar, spices, etc. and brown slightly in the oven. You’ll be delightfully surprised at the wonderful flavor.
Just the mention of the word sends folks into a decline…crabgrass. It’s a tough and invasive annual weed that will take hold of your turf in the blink of an eye. You’ve worked hard to establish a weed-free environment and despite your best efforts, you’ve been run over with the long and unsightly tentacles of digitaria. What went wrong?
Organic or Synthetic Weed Control?
Maintaining a weed-free environment takes year-round oversight. That doesn’t mean you have to spend all of your waking hours micro-managing each blade of grass. To the contrary…with a well-planned strategy, you should be able to take reasonable care with minimal applications of herbicides. There are two basic categories of turf care that can be pursued: Organic and Synthetic. Both have positive aspects and drawbacks. Organic solutions leave a smaller environmental footprint and deliver good results. Often, they require multiple applications at a heavier rate and for this reason, they can an expensive alternative. Synthetic herbicides offer very good and cost-effective results when applied correctly. The environmental footprint is great and care should be used not to over-apply. For the purpose of this article, we will take a deeper look at synthetic options.
Pre-Emergent and Post-Emergent Weed Control
Weeds go through cycles of life and require different control treatments depending on their current stage. Perennial weeds like Dandelions have cycles of active growth and dormancy. The germinated weed does not die, but rather, remains in a dormant state during the winter period. Annual weeds, like crabgrass, actually die-off every year. However, they deposit seed which lays fallow throughout the winter season. This difference between a germinated yet dormant plant and an ungerminated seed is significant and determines the path forward. Crabgrass seed hunkers down during the winter until the ground temperature reaches the mid 50’s. The ground temperature is different from the air temperature. Depending on your location in the United States, germination can begin anytime from January through May. Take a look at the map below for detail:
The term Pre-Emergent is a bit misleading. Pre-emergent herbicides like Prodiamine and Dythiopyr do their work not prior to germination or emergence….but JUST afterwards. They form a vapor barrier that hovers just above the ground and as seed begins to germinate, these pre-emergent herbicides act to sterilize the young plant prior to the bi-foliar stage. This all happens at a very early point…and for all intents and purposes, it is “pre-emergent.” These agents are also non-selective, which means that they will sterilize any and all seeds and the vapor barrier is active for 2-3 months. Great care must be taken to not sow any desired seed during this period. If you throw grass seed during the active period, do not expect germination. While these herbicides are non-selective, different ones tend to perform better on certain weeds. Prodiamine is an excellent choice for crabgrass, poa annua, chickweed, goosegrass, henbit, johnsongrass, purslane, spurge, woodsorrel and many others. In addition to these weeds, when dealing with sandburs, it is recommended that Dithiopyr is used. The strength of the vapor barrier of dithiopyr is needed to combat the extra-tough stickers.
A regimen of pre-emergent herbicide applications will do a great job on weed control. But despite your best efforts, you will most need some post-emergent help as well. This boils down to one certainty: Mother Nature Always Wins. But don’t be discouraged that your pre-emergent efforts did not control 100% of your issue. Once air temperatures reach 70 degrees, you can begin to apply post-emergent herbicides to eliminate crabgrass and other weeds. Strong and effective products like MSMA require two applications but deliver fantastic and dependable results.
There have been a lot of questions about the use of MSMA in the state of Florida. Based on the product label on the Drexel MSMA 6 Plus that we offer at Stone Brothers, our understanding is the following:
MSMA 6 Plus is for selective post-emergent weed control in Cotton, Golf courses, Sod Farms and Highway Rights-of-Way. MSMA 6 Plus is registered for sale and shipment to the entire state of Florida, but the application of MSMA is restricted to only to Cotton in the following counties: Calhoun, Columbia, Escambia, Gadsden, Hamilton, Holmes, Jackson, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, Suwannee, Walton and Washington. Also, applications to cotton in Florida should be confined to band treatments.
If your needs fall within these requirements, you may click the link below to order MSMA 6 Plus.
Most folks choose to get rid of sandbur stickers with our fantastic Sandbur Knockout Combo. But if you’re looking for an alternative option, give this Sandbur Wine recipe a try. Thanks to our friend Jack Keller for this creative idea. Check out more of Jack’s recipes by clicking here.
- 1 qt sand burr spikelets
- 1 11-oz can Welch’s 100% White Grape Juice Frozen Concentrate
- 1 1/4 lbs finely granulated sugar
- 1 1/4 tsp acid blend
- 1/8 tsp grape tannin
- 6 1/2 pts water
- 1 tsp yeast nutrient
- 1/2 tsp potassium sorbate
- 1 crushed Campden tablet
- Pasteur Champagne Yeast
Bring sand burrs to boil in 1 qt water for 15-20 minutes. Strain and discard burrs, but retain water. Add sugar, tannin, acid blend, and yeast nutrient and stir well to dissolve. Add grape concentrate and remaining water. Cover and set aside to cool. When room temperature, add activated yeast and recover. Stir daily until vigorous fermentation subsides (7-10 days). Transfer to secondary, top up and fit airlock. Ferment to absolute dryness (30-45 days). Rack into clean secondary, top up and refit airlock. Rack after 60 days and again 30 days after that. Stabilize with potassium sorbate and crushed Campden tablet (stirred well), then sweeten to taste. Wait 30 days and rack into bottles. This wine was very drinkable after two months but absolutely heavenly after a year.
Our harness-grade leather dog collars are as tough as they good-looking. They will provide a lifetime of rugged service. We hand-stamp our brass ID tags and secure them with punch through brass rivets. When you are ready to place your order, here are a few tips on how to get the best measurement to assure a proper fit. Place a string comfortably around your dog’s neck…not too tight…not too loose.
Ready to order? Click Here
Folks have been buying 100% Broom Corn fiber brooms from Stone Brothers & Byrd for years and years. From the now unavailable Kitchenette Brooms to the fantastic Airlight Broom, these Made in the USA brooms offer a higher quality of sweeping because of their construction. But what is Broom Corn? We turned to the University of Wisconsin Extension office for this article. Hope you enjoy. Want to pick up a few brooms for yourself? Click Here.
Broomcorn (Sorghum vulgare var. technicum) is a type of sorghum that is used for making brooms and whiskbrooms. It differs from other sorghums in that it produces heads with fibrous seed branches that may be as much as 36 in. long.
Although the origin of broomcorn is obscure, sorghum apparently originated in central Africa. Production of this crop then spread to the Mediterranean, where people used long-branched sorghum panicles for making brooms in the Dark Ages. Broomcorn may have evolved as a result of repeated selection of seed from heads that had the longest panicle branches. The broomcorn plant was first described in Italy in the late 1500s. Benjamin Franklin is credited with introducing broomcorn to the United States in the early 1700s. Initially, broomcorn was grown only as a garden crop for use in the home. By 1834 commercial broomcorn production had spread to several states in the Northeast and started moving west. Illinois was the leading producer of broomcorn in the 1860s, but production of the crop in that state virtually ceased in 1967. Some production has occurred in Wisconsin since 1948.
Domestic broomcorn acreage is low because of the limited demand for the crop and its vast labor requirements, particularly for harvesting. In the early 1970s, approximately 100,000 acres of broomcorn were harvested in the United States annually, with the highest acreages in Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico and Colorado. It is also produced in Illinois and Iowa. Half of the domestic needs for broomcorn are imported from Mexico.
The long fibrous panicle of the broomcorn plant is used for making brooms. A ton of broomcorn brush makes 80 to 100 dozen brooms. High-quality broomcorn brush is pea-green in color and free from discolorations. The fibers should be straight, smooth, pliable, and approximately 20 in. long. Brush that is overripe, reddened, bleached, crooked, coarse or flat is considered poor quality.
The stalks are of very little value for forage. The mature seed is similar to oat in feed value.
III. Growth Habits:
Broomcorn is a coarse annual grass that grows 6 to 15 ft tall. It has woody stalks with dry pith and 8 to 15 nodes and leaves above the ground. The upper internode, or peduncle, is 8 to 18 in. long and topped by a series of closely compressed panicle nodes from which the fibers develop. The fibers, usually 12 to 24 in. long, are branched toward the tip, and the flowers and seeds are borne at the tips of the small branches. The seeds are brown, broadly boat-shaped and enclosed in tan, reddish tan or brown, pubescent glumes. The glumes generally remain on the mature seeds, and 30,000 seeds weigh approximately one pound.
Plants of standard varieties range from 6 to 15 ft in height; dwarf varieties range from 3 to 7 ft in height. Dwarf varieties usually produce one or more tillers, which also bear usable brush. Some dwarf varieties develop constrictions near the base of the peduncle, which provide a ready breaking point when the brush is pulled from the stalk.
IV. Environment Requirements:
Broomcorn can be grown in practically every state. It will produce a fair quality of brush wherever the temperatures are high enough for com to grow well. Like other sorghums, it is relatively tolerant of heat, drought and poor culture. The best brush, however, is produced where the summers are warm and the soils are moist and fertile. Annual rainfall of 15 to 32 in. is adequate. Poor soils and extremely cool or dry weather result in inferior brush.
Broomcorn does best in warm, fertile soils. Deep alluvial soils usually produce brush of higher yield and quality than shallower soils. The crop can be grown on rich bottom lands or sandy uplands.
V. Cultural Practices:
A. Seedbed Preparation:
In the Midwest, the land is usually plowed, double-disked and then harrowed prior to planting broomcorn.
B. Seeding Date:
Broomcorn is usually planted between May 1 and June 15.
C. Method and Rate of Seeding:
In humid regions, broomcorn is planted in 36 to 40 in. rows, with plants spaced 3 in. apart. A thinner stand (with plants 6 to 9 in. apart in the rows) is used in the drier western broomcorn districts. The quantity of seed required ranges from 2 to 4 lb/acre (60,000 to 100,000 seeds/acre).
D. Fertility and Lime Requirements:
Nutrient requirements for most sorghums include 60 to 120 lb/acre of nitrogen, depending on soil organic matter level, and 30 lb/acre each of phosphate (P2O5) and potash (K2O) at medium soil test levels. Animal manure or a balanced commercial fertilizer can be applied. A soil pH of 6.0 to 6.5 may result in highest yields.
E. Variety Selection:
The varieties of broomcorn grown in the United States can be divided into three groups: Standard, Western Dwarf and Whisk Dwarf. Standard broomcorn varieties usually grow 6 to 15 ft tall. They bear a brush 16 to 36 in. long. The “handle” or stem of the brush is at least 8 in. long and is cut at harvest. Evergreen, Black Spanish (Black Jap) and California Golden are varieties of standard broomcorn.
Western Dwarf broomcorn varieties usually grow 4 to 7 ft. The brush (15 to 24 in. long) is weakly attached to the stalk and can be pulled or jerked off at harvest time without cutting. About one-half to two-thirds of the length of the brush is covered by the “boot,” or upper leaf sheath, at harvest. The Western Dwarf broomcorn varieties, including Evergreen Dwarf, Scarborough and Black Spanish Dwarf, are grown in the semiarid western areas.
Whisk Dwarf broomcorn usually grows to a height of 2 1/2 to 4 ft and produces a fine slender brush about 12 to 18 in. in length. The stem is easily detached from the stalk, and the brush is harvested by pulling or jerking. Whisk Dwarf is used for making whisk brooms and for the insides of floor brooms. The only variety of Whisk Dwarf grown in this country is Jap or Whisk Dwarf.
F. Weed Control:
Weeds are controlled by cultivation until the broomcorn plants are large enough to compete with the weeds.
G. Diseases and Their Control:
All varieties of broomcorn appear to be susceptible to fungal smut (Sphacelotheca sorghi), which destroys the seed heads. Another disease, Sorghum rust (Puccinia purpurea), attacks the leaves of broomcorn but does not cause appreciable damage or loss.
Sorghum crops are subject to a number of other diseases that can be limiting, especially in wet climates. These include fungi that cause foliage blights and stalk rots. Rotations help reduce their severity and keep them under control.
H. Insects and Other Predators and Their Control:
No information available.
Broomcorn brush turns from pale yellow to light green before maturity. It should be harvested when the entire brush is green from the tip down to the base of the peduncle. The fibers will be weak at the bottom if they are harvested while the lower ends are still yellow. The brush often begins to redden and become less flexible about 4 or 5 days after the proper stage for harvesting.
Tall standard broomcorn is “tabled” to allow some drying before it is removed from the field. The tabler walks backward between two rows and breaks the stalks diagonally across each other to form a “table” out of the two rows that is 2 to 3 ft high. The brush is then cut, pulled out of the boot, or leaf sheath, and placed on the “table” to dry for a short time (less than 24 hours). The brush is transferred to a curing shed.
The heads of dwarf varieties are jerked or pulled from the stalks and allowed to dry for a day in bunches on the ground or between the stalks before they are hauled from the field.
Broomcorn may be threshed either before or after curing. However, threshing before curing results in better quality brush because the fine branches are less likely to be knocked off when the brush is still moist and flexible.
J. Drying and Storage:
The highest quality broomcorn is cured in 4 to 6 in. layers on slats in sheds. Curing requires 10 to 20 days, after which the broomcorn is baled. Bales weigh about 330 pounds each.
When hauling, curing, threshing and baling, the brush must be handled in small bunches to keep the fibers straight and untangled. Because of the special care that is required, the operations of harvesting, curing, threshing and baling may take 90 to 130 man-hours per ton of shed-cured brush cut from tabled stalks.
VI. Yield Potential and Performance Results:
Normal broomcorn yields range from 300 to 600 lb/acre, or enough to make 150 to 350 brooms/acre.
NANA WALTON’S KITCHEN
My world has glittered with frost the past three mornings. It tosses rainbows in the air as the sun’s rays peek through the golden leaves drooping from the trees. My carrots, spinach, cabbages, celery, radishes and onions are growing happily under their row cover. Another busy summer of canning and preserving has come to a close. With satisfaction I stare at rows of jams, pickles and tomato products put up for the cold months ahead.
Winter has a slower pace for those of us who garden and preserve the harvest. Canning does not end in my home simply because winter has arrived. Now is the perfect time for crafting one- of –a- kind gifts to share with others.
Thanksgiving has passed and my thoughts turn to making small batch Christmas goodies. This leads to pulling out my sugar and chocolate smeared cookbook, the one I started writing 20 years ago. The one I swear I will finish before I die. The one I will pass down to my granddaughter, full of generations of homemade memories.
Sipping my cocoa I flip to the cranberry butter recipe I created years ago. Cranberries were on sale and as a single, working mother I had little cash to spare for gifts to give friends and neighbors. Through trial and error over the next few weeks I created a delicious fruit spread that celebrates the flavors of the season.
What better way to celebrate the bounty of the harvest than a basket of scones and the fresh, bright taste of sweetly spiced cranberries?
From our home to yours, Happy Holidays!
CRANBERRY BUTTER (makes 10-12 cups)
4 medium sized sweet apples, peeled, cored and chopped, (golden delicious or galas are fine)
3 – 12oz packages fresh cranberries 5 cups sugar
Zest and juice of 1 large orange 1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg ½ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp ground clove ¼ tsp salt
(12-14) 8oz canning jars, sterilized
First combine orange zest and sugar, set aside for 30-60 minutes
Prepare apples as directed and place in a large stock pot, add orange juice and spices.
Using a fine mesh strainer strain sugar into the pot, discard the orange zest. Trust me on this – cooking with the zest makes the product too bitter!
Place the pan on the stove over medium heat, stirring constantly until the sugar melts. Cook until the apples become fork tender.
Add the cranberries and cook on medium high heat, stirring constantly, until most of the berries have popped or it reaches 210F. Remove from heat and purée with an immersion blender or a blender until completely smooth.
Return to medium heat and cook, stirring constantly until it just begins to boil.
Fill sterilized jars leaving 1/4 inch head space. Wipe the rims and threads clean with damp paper towel. Seal to fingertip tightness. Fill your canner with tap warm water. Bring to a boil on high heat. Process 4oz/8oz jars for 10 minutes or 15 minutes for pint jars. Never start your water bath with boiling water! The starting temperature of the water bath should always be lower than the temperature of your product.
This is a lovely spread for toast, scones or biscuits. It also makes a delectable filling for crepes or thumbprint cookies. Try spreading it on a chicken, turkey or ham sandwich with a bit of Brie and winter lettuce or use it to garnish a pork roast.
This recipe has approximately half the sugar of traditional jams making it a healthier option for those trying to count calories or reduce their sugar intake.
Please review the steps for water bath canning in a recent edition of the Ball Blue Book, “Guide to Preserving” or at the national center for home food preservation website: www.nchfp.uga.edu
Brandon Minnich Walton, all rights reserved, December 2015
MSMA is a very effective post-emergent weed killer that, when applied as directed on the label, takes care of many of the toughest weeds out there. When the temperature reaches 70 degrees, MSMA can be used at a recommended mix rate of one ounce per gallon of water. This gallon of solution treats 1,000 sq/ft. An additional application should be made approximately 20 days later. Apply during warm weather when temperature is between 70°F and 90°F. Do not water turf for at least 24 hours after application. Turfgrass may be temporarily discolored. Bermudagrass, Bluegrass, and Zoysiagrass have shown tolerance if this product is properly applied. Injury may result if applied to Bentgrass, Fescue, and St. Augustine grass.
MSMA is effective on the following weeds:
Bahiagrass (Paspalumsp.), Barnyardgrass (Echinochloa crus-galli), Beggartick, hairy (Biden pilosa), Brachiaria spp., Broomsedge, Chickweed, (Stellaria media), Cocklebur (Xanthium spinosum), Crabgrass, large (Digitaria sp.), Crabgrass, smooth (Digitaria sp.), Dallisgrass (Paspalum dilatatum), Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale), Dayflower (Commelina sp.), Fiddleneck (Amsinckia sp.), Florida Beggarweed (Desmodium tortuosum), Foxtail (Setaria sp.), Goosegrass (Eleusine indica), Guineagrass (Panicum sp.), Jimsonweed (Datura stramonium), Johnsongrass (Sorghum halipense), Morning Glory (Ipomoea spp.), Mustard, Wild Nutsedge (Cyperus sp.), Oats, wild (Avena fatua), Pigweed (Amaranthus sp.), Puncturevine (Tribulus terrestris), Purslane, common, Ragweed (Ambrosia spp.), Sandbur (Cenchrus sp.), Sicklepod (Cassia obtusifolia), Sorrel, wood (Oxalis sp.), Spurge (Euphorbia sp.), Witchgrass (Panicum capillare) For complete MSMA label instructions, please CLICK HERE.
What’s the difference? Coming out of Mama’s over-sized kettle, they all smelled and tasted fantastic. Making jams, jellies, preserves and marmalade was an all day event that culminated that evening with a hot batch of homemade biscuits to test the results. If they passed the grade with Dad (which they always did), it was into the fresh-boiled mason jars with the fruit du jour with melted Gulf wax on top to seal the deal. Ah…memories.
But what is, exactly, the difference between jelly, jam, preserves and marmalade? Well, the differences are slight, but important. If your breakfast biscuit demands a precise explanation, try this on for size:
Jelly – The clear consistency of jelly is due to the fact that jelly is a product of the fruit juice alone. No fruit pulp makes it into the jelly jar. Generally, jelly will also contain pectin which aids in the gelling of the jelly. If it’s clear and it wiggles, you’ve got yourself a bowl of jelly.
Jam – The key component of jam is a a bit of pulp mixed in with the fruit juice. The first jam was most-likely produced by a slip-shod jelly maker who let some pulp slide through. Not bad, she thought…all we need is a new name. And Jam was born.
Preserves – Holistic jam makers prefer to save the entire fruit, not just the juice or bits of pulp. Thus, preserves are thicker renderings that comprise the vast majority of the fruit. If you use a knife instead of a spoon to get it out of the jar, chances are, you are into preserves.
Marmalade – Traditionally, marmalade is made with citrus fruit and features thin bits of rind. Orange marmalade is certainly the king of the marmalade hill.