Peach Cobbler

This is an easy, delicious cobbler recipe. For the Vegan version, simply substitute the butter and milk with a vegan option.

Peach Co

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
4 cups peeled and sliced fresh peaches
1 cup granulated sugar, divided
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup milk
Raw sugar, for topping (optional)

Preheat oven to 400°F. Melt butter and pour into a baking pan (something around 9×13). Add peaches. Sprinkle ½ cup sugar over peaches, dust with nutmeg and cinnamon, and stir together.

In a medium-size bowl, combine remaining ½ cup sugar with flour, baking powder, and milk. Stir until smooth. Pour over peaches. Sprinkle with raw sugar (if using). Bake until top is golden, 30–40 minutes. Serve with ice cream or whip cream

Dogs in the Garden

While most animals are ok with eating things in the garden, dogs are not among these. Many goodies in the garden are bad for them. Here are some that you will want to watch your furry friends around.

Grapes & Raisins
While some dogs can consume grapes and raisins with no symptoms, it’s simply just not worth the risk. This is because consuming grapes or raisins can actually lead to irreversible kidney damage.

Onions & Garlic
The Pet Poison Helpline warns that garlic is actually considered to be more toxic than onions. Both vegetables can cause serious problems in dogs. Symptoms of onion or garlic toxicity include lethargy, elevated heart and respiratory rates, pale gums, and even collapse.

The pulp of the fruit is safe for dogs to eat, the plant and pit are moderately toxic to dogs, and can result in respiratory failure and death. The plants and pits contain cyanide.

While only a small amount of mushroom species are toxic to dogs, it’s important to make sure you aren’t feeding them the wrong ones. If you’re unable to identify a mushroom species quickly, it’s imperative that you take your dog to the veterinarian immediately after consumption. Mushroom toxicity is known to be fatal in dogs, resulting from seizures, tremors, and organ failure.

Currants carry the same level of severe toxicity that grapes and raisins do. Even if you don’t notice sudden vomiting and diarrhea after your dog consumes currants, take your dog to the veterinarian. Just like the other small fruit, currants can cause severe renal failure.

Raw & Green Potatoes
Unripe, green, and raw potatoes are toxic to dogs. Symptoms of potato toxicity in dogs include nausea, vomiting, seizures and heart irregularities.

The seeds, leaves and stems of apricot plants are toxic to dogs. They are able to consume the pulp of the fruit. These plants also contain cyanide, and can result in respiratory failure and death.

The leaves and stems of rhubarb depletes the calcium levels in dogs’ bodies. This can result in renal failure as well as other medical problems.

Apple Seeds
Apple seeds contain cyanide, and are very toxic to dogs. Caution should be taken on giving your dog too many apples. It is best to avoid the core.

Tomato Plants
The red tomato can be beneficial to dogs, the plant itself is quite toxic. The stems and leaves of the tomato plant, as well as the unripened fruit, can cause gastrointestinal upset in dogs.

Grandma’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

After trying these you will toss that tollhouse recipe in the trash. These are easy and sooo delicious!


1 cup butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups chocolate chips (I like to use a mixture of milk chocolate and semi sweet)
1 cup of nuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

Cream together the butter, white sugar, and brown sugar until smooth.

Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Add baking soda and salt.

Stir in flour

Add in chocolate chips, and nuts(optional).

Drop by using a cookie scoop onto ungreased pans.Bake for about 8-10 minutes (depending on oven), or until edges are nicely browned.

Jingle Balls All The Way

Every year in December the ladies of the family get together and bake. We make sugar cookies, ginger snaps, peanut butter, chocolate chip cookies and more….but our favorite is grandma balls. These scrumptious peanut butter/chocolate balls are well……scrumptious. Grandma would have to make these by the buckets to keep the kids happy.

12208299_10153702736257440_7943098806592868_nGrandmas traditional peanut butter and chocolate ball recipe has been handed down and is now made by several generations of the Howard women. This recipe is a close family secret BUT this year we thought we would tweak the recipe a bit and come of with a variety of balls….and share the recipe/s. This Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ball is delicious. If you use the right kind of chocolate, it can even be considered Vegan. Either way, the kids will love them.

You will want to hide some of these for the adults!



1/3 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup brown sugar
2-3 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup milk chocolate chips
2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (for dipping)
Sea salt (optional)

Line a baking sheet with wax paper. In a bowl mix together butter, sugar and vanilla. Then add flour and mix just until combined. Stir in the milk chocolate chips. Make one inch balls and place on the pan. Freeze for about 30 minutes. Balls may seem a bit crumbly while rolling. When the dough is firm, remove from the freezer and dip the cookie dough in melted chocolate. Tap off an excess chocolate and place on wax paper and top with sea salt if desired. Place back in the freezer until chocolate has hardened. Store in the fridge.


Turn on the Lights


It is scary to think what is behind these walls. Since the Manor was built before modern lighting, it is safe to assume that no electrical was run when the house was built.  Which explains so much in our quest for bringing the old lady up to par.

Tomas Edison was just introducing the light bulb when the Manor was built and even though Grass Valley & Nevada City were early adopters of electricity, it was still years off before average home owners could afford it. At some point modern electrical was added, we just wonder in what era and by who? We have found a little of everything in these walls.

There are still a few working push button switches in the house, which we work hard to preserve.  I have to say though…..they get pushed cautiously. Something about seeing that spark is just a bit scary 🙂

At the time electrical was added, the options were less than what we have today.  This caused people to do things the only way they could, which are definitely not to the standards of today. As we open up walls and remodel rooms we also fix things like the electrical. It takes the very easy paint job to another level.

repair6   repair7

Now electrical isn’t for the average home DIY person, although the replacement of an outlet or switch is relatively easy these days. There are a variety of options to fit your needs but if not done properly it can cause major issues. Like burn your house down or worse… can kill you. It is always best to have someone on hand skilled in the art of electricity when tackling large projects like this. Don’t cut corners when it comes to electrical!

What’s for Dinner

Many of us ask this every day, don’t we?

There is this essential device that every kitchen should have……it is called a crockpot.  It doesn’t care if you are vegan, vegetarian or a meat lover.  It doesn’t care if you make bread, soup, butters, meats, sauces or desserts in it.  It is the most versatile device you can have in your kitchen 🙂

Here is an easy one for those “what’s for dinner” days. You can do this all from scratch or use a few canned items to make it simple.  You can tweak it and add to your taste. Don’t be afraid to experiment a bit with the flavors

Mom’s Chicken Cacciatore

  • 1 pound (about 4) skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • Mushrooms (a cup or two)*
  • Bell pepper (a cup or two)*
  • Onion (a cup or two)*
  • Garlic (2 or 3 cloves)*
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 cups tomato sauce
  • Can of diced tomatoes**
  • Shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (put on top when serving)
Ok, this one is easy.
  • Chop everything and put it all in the crockpot.
  • Add all the other ingredients, except the cheese.
  • *Add as much or as little of these as you like.
  • **This can be substituted with a favorite marinara sauce.
  • The chicken can be chopped, sliced or left as whole. It can be breaded and pre-cooked and just the sauce cooked in the crockpot.  There is no right or wrong way to do this dish.
  • For the vegans and vegetarians you can use eggplant or a chicken substitute.
  • Serve over noodles, rice or potatoes




comp3Composting has to be one of the easiest things and is one of the best things you can do for your garden.  You don’t have to go out and buy any fancy barrel turning contraption,  or even do an enclosure. It can literally be a pile. A sunny spot and a water source is a must. Keeping your compost pile hot and watered is key for helping it break down.

We have two compost piles.  Our sectioned solution (seen here) and our pile.  The pile we add our larger items to, which will decompose over time and the smaller one gets all of our kitchen and garden scraps. This one we turn and sift.

Here are some tips that will get you started:

  • comp1Add grass clippings (which add necessary nitrogen to a compost pile) Be sure to mix with the “brown” materials that add carbon. Both are necessary for quick decomposition and rich compost.
  • Leaves are an excellent choice for brown material
  • Do not compost fats, pet droppings (dogs & cats), or animal products.
  • Newspaper or plain white paper from the computer is excellent for composting – just remember to shred it first to speed up the process.
  • Add coffee grounds, worms love them!
  • If adding ashes, do so sparingly. They are alkaline and affect the pH of the pile.


  • comp2Plants that have been treated with pesticides and/or herbicides (weeds and lawn clippings) should be avoided.
  • Algae and seaweed make excellent additions to your compost pile. Be sure to rinse off any salts before using.
  • Straw is an excellent source of carbon for your compost pile. However, it may contain weed seeds, so make sure the pile is “cooking” properly. used straw from stalls is a great addition.
  • Halloween pumpkins are an excellent addition, just make sure to break them up.


Canning Pumpkin

Pumpkins offer far more than a door-stop at Halloween. This season is also the prime time to find and use sugar or pie pumpkins, the best for cooking and baking.  Pumpkin seeds from any pumpkin can also be dried and roasted.


Canning pumpkin butter or mashed or pureed pumpkin is NOT recommended.

The only directions for canning pumpkin and winter squash are for cubed flesh. Only pressure canning methods are recommended for canning cubed pumpkin.An average of 16 pounds is needed per canner load of 7 quarts; an average of 10 pounds is needed per canner load of 9 pints – an average of 2¼ pounds per quart. Pumpkins and squash should have a hard rind and stringless, mature pulp of ideal quality for cooking fresh. Small size pumpkins (sugar or pie varieties) make better products.

Wash; remove seeds, cut into 1-inch-wide slices, and peel. Cut flesh into 1-inch cubes. Boil 2 minutes in water.Caution: Do not mash or puree. Fill jars with cubes and cover cooking liquid, leaving 1-inch headspace. Adjust lids and process following the USDA recommendations, which can be found here  at the National Center for Home Preservation

Homemade Peanut Butter

Say goodbye to store bought and hello to delicious! Homemade peanut butter is so easy and so much better for you.

Peanut Butter

15 ounces shelled and skinned roasted peanuts
1 teaspoon kosher salt (optional)
1 1/2 teaspoons honey or other sweetener (optional)
1 1/2 tablespoons peanut oil (optional)

Place the peanuts, salt and honey into the bowl of a food processor. Process for 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Place the lid back on and continue to process while slowly drizzling in the oil and process until the mixture is smooth. Place the peanut butter in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 months.


Toasting also gives your peanut butter a deeper, richer flavor.

You can use nuts that come pre-roasted from the store. Give them a quick trip through the oven to warm them up and help the oils loosen up.

You can absolutely substitute any nut you like in this recipe. The method is exactly the same for making any other kind of nut butter

Add cinnamon, pumpkin spice, nutella, chocolate, etc. Since you can make batches that are as big or small as you like, it’s very easy to experiment with different versions.

Homemade peanut butter will never be quite as perfectly smooth as a jar of Skippy. It will always have a rougher texture than the commercially-prepared stuff. 

Apple Season

It is apple season and here is one of the easiest items you can preserve and use all year long.


Apple Pie Filling

4 1/2 – cups sugar
1 – cup cornstarch or 1/2 cup Clear Jel starch
* We prefer Clear Jel
2 – teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 – teaspoon nutmeg
1 – teaspoon salt
3 – tablespoons lemon juice
10 – cups of water
6 pounds of tart apples, washed, peeled and thinly sliced
(I used a combination of golden delicious and granny smith apples)


In a large pot, blend together sugar, cornstarch/Clear Jel, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Stir in the 10 cups of water and lemon juice with a wire whisk. Cook and stir until bubbly and thick; remove from heat.

While the filling is cooking peel and slice the apples. Add apples to a solution of 3 tablespoons of lemon juice to 1 quart of water to avoid discoloration while you peel all the apples.

Drain the fruit well before packing in jars. Pack apples into clean, hot canning jars leaving an inch from the top of the jar.

Fill with the hot syrup, leaving 1/2 inch space from the top of the jar. Remove air bubbles by running a knife around the insides of each jar. Close the jars with sterile lids and rims.

Process in a boiling water bath for 20 -30 minutes. Use a jar tongs to remove the jars from water Place the jars on a dish towel to dry and allow the jars to cool for several hours.
*Confirm process time based on elevation at National Center for Home Preservation

Check the seals to make certain the lids are sealed properly.