Blog Post About Our Peanut Webisode

We make an annual pilgrimage to South Carolina for our family reunion. That means a solid week of family-, beach-, and vacation-time. It also means BOILED PEANUTS!

Peanuts after two weeks of drying.

Boiled peanut history is a bit sketchy. Apparently, boiled peanuts were a direct result of Sherman’s march to the sea that split the Confederacy in half and deprived soldiers of food supplies. Peanuts were available and were either roasted or boiled. Someone added salt to a batch (maybe from fatback?? salt, during those times, was hard to come by) and discovered, not only was it tasty, it preserved the legume for up to a week in the soldier’s knapsack.

Our boiled peanuts rarely last an afternoon at the reunion. Over the years, we’ve reached an understanding: if anyone is headed out for a newspaper or sundries, you’d best not return without a bag of boiled peanuts.

Last summer, I asked the lady who runs the stand in Garden City, S.C. how to boil peanuts. It was July, in South Carolina, her store is barely air-conditioned and she said the peanuts boil in a kettle full of salted water for about five to six hours!

I’ll stick with the roasting for now…and count down the days to the reunion this year.

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Peanut Harvesting and Preparation

We find Tracy in the peanut patch and learn more about this popular plant with the peculiar habit of ripening underground.


A Thought About Thanksgiving

“Now, I don’t want you to bring anything….”

What to bring?

That’s what mom said this morning when we were discussing what I would bring to Virginia for Thanksgiving. Now, we both know I’m going to bring something. I can’t not bring anything. It’s not how I was raised. You never come empty-handed – anywhere – especially to a family gathering. And not because you’d be looked down upon, made fun of, or, goodness forbid, not invited back, but because it’s an extension of your heart.


It’s such a good feeling showing up with an armload of covered dishes that you’ve created – be it casseroles (done that) desserts (had to make three trips back to the car one year) or a fresh turkey (you don’t even want to know what the bird last year dressed out at). This year, I didn’t have much time in the kitchen in the days leading up to Turkey Day, so I was afraid I wouldn’t have much to give.

“Don’t bring anything” (i.e. – ‘I’m your mother and I know you’ve been terribly busy lately so please don’t go to any trouble. I’ve got everything covered this year’). Okay, Momma….

To all on this happy occasion: Have a loving and lovely Thanksgiving!


Our Shoots Are Too Short

Our shoots are too short. I find myself thinking that every time we wrap an interview segment.

The Shoo Fly segment was no different.

It’s not the impressive fact Felicia Fisher left a position as a Park Avenue attorney to pursue her new career (well, maybe it is) nor the fact we share the common ground of motherhood while we’re “re-inventing” ourselves that leaves me with deep appreciation. I believe that it’s simply the fact that she has chosen a nostalgic route for herself — a destiny that was your birthright a couple of generations ago but now, if you wish it, you must carve it out of a 21st-century lifestyle.

Well, it seemed as though the “interview” flew by….

I’m lucky the Black Buggy Baking Company is just a few miles away (I ate close to half of the Shoo Fly Pie that she left with me that night) but I’m even luckier to have found her friendship!

Care for another dose of nostalgia?  Check this out: Dinah Shore – Shoofly Pie and Apple Pan Dowdy

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Life With Turkeys

Turkeys have been, by far, the biggest surprise for me. I think I knew what to expect when we began raising the sheep—that they’d be, well, “sheepish.” The goats, frequently portrayed in cartoons eating tin cans, will nibble at just about anything. And chickens?  Well, they just act chicken-like.

But the turkeys? They watch EVERYTHING you do and EVERYTHING that goes on in the barnyard. As young adults,  they begin to rely on a precise feeding regimen and know exactly when and where the next feeding should occur.

Our flock is especially sensitive to the sound of heavy truck transmissions and will gobble, in unison, as one approaches. I think they think the school bus is some large yellow bird. Although we can’t see the bus when it’s about a half mile away and approaching, the turkeys begin to gobble and it’s my cue to call the kids. “I hear the turkeys…the bus is coming!”

The other morning took the cake. Usually, they will wait on the porch for someone to make their way to the barn for their feeding. I had changed the screen door for the storm door the day before and as I sat at the computer a few feet away, I heard a singular “tap” on the storm door. Then it came again. I waited. There it was again. I went to check it out thinking it was someone’s knock. It was. I opened the door to see the three gobblers, having pecked at the plexiglass, standing on the doormat as if to say, “we’re ready for our corn now.” I laughed out loud—very loud—which started a gobbling reaction from them.

You can only imagine my excitement in visiting Koch’s Turkey Farm and seeing all of those turkeys! Many, many thanks to Duane and the Koch family for a fun visit!

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A Visit to an Organic Turkey Farm

Join Tracy Toth on a visit to family-owned Koch’s Turkey Farm to learn more about raising antibiotic-free turkeys — including an all-natural vegetarian diet and providing lots of room to roam.

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Take a walk in tall grasses this time of year and you’ll  likely pick up all sorts of hitchhikers (yes, we called them “hitchhikers” as kids)  As a  mom, I tend to find these indoors more than out: on socks, coveralls, the dryer lint screen, bath towels.

The typical varieties around here are Agrimony and Tall Beggar’s Ticks.

Agrimony Seeds

Agrimony’s aliases should clue us in:  “Cockeburr,”  “Sticklewort,” “Philanthropos” (maybe because it gives freely of its seeds?). It’s a lovely native plant—with tall, showy spikes in the late summer. The seeds rely on passersby (human and/or animal) to pick up and unknowingly deposit them elsewhere.

Tall Beggar's Ticks

Tall Beggar’s Ticks have unique prongs which grab at any soft material—a shirt, dog hair, etc. Nathaniel, my son, upon seeing the collection on my pants promptly said, “Mom, pull those out gently because if the spikes break in the material, it’ll bother you for days!” I agreed. Just one plant can yield hundreds of prickly-pronged seeds.

In 1941, a Swiss engineer returned from a walk with his dog and found burdock seeds lodged in the animal’s fur. After careful microscopic scrutiny, he became fascinated by the “hook and loop construction” that he saw. Do you know what he invented?


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Blog Post About Our Apple Butter Webisode

I hadn’t made apple butter for years before this Fall (and I LOVE apple butter!).

I remember slaving over my first batch when the children were very little. The hours at the stove…the slow, slow simmer…the aroma that filled the house…the toddlers who turned their noses up at the texture! That’s right: neither of them liked it. At all. Of course, I found this out AFTER the batch was finished. Needless to say,  the apple butter page in the Ball Blue Book went unused for years (I can tell because that particular page is clean—as in no stains/spills/rings or other  canning “footprints” that divulge years of use).

This was the year I broke out the cinnamon and gave it another shot—for the kids!  I am sure in years past, I made a small batch here or there but can’t really recall. I’m happy to report: they both love it. Well, now they love it.

Maybe a few more years down the road when that apple butter page has earned its stains, spills, and rings, I’ll forget about the years I didn’t turn to it. On second thought, I probably won’t. It’s a sweet memory, nonetheless.

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Making Apple Butter

Pull up a chair in Tracy’s kitchen as she shares her recipe for preparing and preserving apple butter.

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