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My husband teases me because every Christmas my gifts are all related to food. This Christmas I got a smoker, which had been on back order, and it just arrived. This is a Pit Boss gas smoker, and we tried it for the first time this weekend. I got a Boston butt on sale for 97 cents a pound, which we served with an Eastern Carolina sauce, along with chicken leg quarters and smoked baked beans.

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Home Canned Three Bean Salad

My first memories of three bean salad were at a park called Lake Dixon, where my family rented little boats and picnicked on the shore. There were always potucks and parties there too, and one dish I specifically remember eating a a potluck there was three bean salad. It’s probably strange I remember my first taste of this classic salad, but maybe it’s because I really wanted to like it, but didn’t. The beans were drenched in an unbalanced vinegar dressing, with an overly sharp bite. I liked the idea of the different textures of beans together, but the dressing ruined it for me. Recently, I saw someone post a picture of their home canned three bean salad, so I drilled the poster regarding taste. Their recipe came from the Amish Canning Cookbook, a dish I had been eyeing every time I thumbed through that book. This person assured me this side dish was not overpowering with vinegar. Inspecting the ingredient list, I could see this version had promise, and because the ingredients were inexpensive, I thought, “why not?”

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Cast Iron Skillet Cornbread

Cornbread is pioneer food at its best – – simple,  hearty, and inexpensive. And although cornbread is most famous as a co-host for chili, I love warm, buttered cornbread for breakfast with a piece of sausage and a cup of steaming hot, black coffee. My kids like to drizzle maple syrup over cornbread for breakfast.

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Canning Butternut Squash


Aldi had butternut squash for 59 cents a pound, so I picked up 8 in different sizes. Winter squash is a winner to stock up on, because it lasts for months on your counter. No need to come right home from the store,  and start putting your winter squash in jars. But since I bought so many, and four large heirloom pumpkins to process before Christmas, I decided to get a head start.

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Apple Scrap Cider

This year I discovered how to turn fruit scraps into something special. You can make vinegar, syrup, and jelly by boiling it down and saving the juice. I actually started making apple cider flavored syrup not just for pancakes, but as a binder for granola bars. I made peach syrup a few months ago, and I’m going to make some granola with peach syrup, almond slices and dehydrated peaches. Playing with food is just so much fun, especially when you can turn would-be kitchen trash into treasure.

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