Monday, December 28, 2015

Happy Birthday Jeff

December 24th is my husband, Jeff's birthday.  For most of his life that day has been pretty much taken up with other goings on so the last few years we have tried to make that day a little more special for him.  He likes to go to the beach on that day because he thinks its so neat that its warm enough where we live to do so.  Last year it was much colder that day and we had to wear jackets.  This year it was in the upper 70's.  Much more pleasant.  We asked a lady near by to snap a pix of us and she did so.  We think it turned out quite well.
Even though it was warm it was still quite foggy.  Our hair was damp and my glasses even fogged up and stayed that way for a long time.  I think Jeff had a good day because he got to spend it with us and do things he wanted to.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Pasta Dressings

I always wanted recipes for different pasta salads and today I came across this. 

Reflection Joy's writing


This assignment, while difficult and time consuming, has actually been really enjoyable. I love history. Reading about it; watching it on tv; or re-living it through plays. It was so incredible to get the opportunity to create my own history. I was amazed to watch the development from complex society to global trade partner. I actually feel as if my society existed. I know it may seem silly, but I actually imagined the life of the people. What did a day look like to them? How did they make a living? Were they happy? Answering these questions and many more helped me develop my empire, Amia.

One thing I never took in to account when reading about societies in history is all that goes into building one. It is an incredibly intricate process. Several different things have to develop and many at the same time. It was also hard to know when to introduce a change into the society. I wanted everything to seem as if it developed naturally, as if Amia was really growing and becoming complex, but it was hard to know when to change something. So many things had to happen in order for one small thing to change. I definitely have a new found respect for people who started or maintained large empires or even small kingdoms. It is not as easy as it may seem.

All in all, I had a lot of fun creating Amia. It pushed me outside of my comfort zone and forced me to think outside of the box. Creating a people group, start to finish, was an amazing process that allowed me to really go in depth into a society and learn what all went in to creating one. I am really proud of what I created and I cannot wait to share it with everyone. Enjoy!


Sunday, December 13, 2015

Canned Lemon Curd

Canned Lemon Curd

  • 2½ cups superfine sugar*
  • ½ cup lemon zest (freshly zested), optional
  • 1 cup bottled lemon juice**
  • ¾ cup unsalted butter, chilled, cut into approximately ¾" pieces
  • 7 large egg yolks
  • 4 large whole eggs
Special Equipment Needed: lemon zester, balloon whisk, 1½ quart double boiler*** (the top double boiler pan should be at least 1½-quart volume), strainer, kitchen thermometer measuring at least up to 180°F, glass or stainless steel medium mixing bowl, silicone spatula or cooking spoon, and equipment for boiling water canning.
Yield: About 3 to 4 half-pint jars Please read Using Boiling Water Canners before beginning. If this is your first time canning, it is recommended that you read Principles of Home Canning.

  1.   Wash 4 half-pint canning jars with warm, soapy water. Rinse well; keep hot until ready to fill. Prepare canning lids according to manufacturer's directions.
  2. Fill boiling water canner with enough water to cover the filled jars by 1 to 2 inches. Use a thermometer to preheat the water to 180°F by the time filled jars are ready to be added.

Caution: Do not heat the water in the canner to more than 180°F before jars are added. If the water in the canner is too hot when jars are added, the process time will not be long enough. The time it takes for the canner to reach boiling after the jars are added is expected to be 25 to 30 minutes for this product. Process time starts after the water in the canner comes to a full boil over the tops of the jars.
  3. Combine the sugar and lemon zest in a small bowl, stir to mix, and set aside about 30 minutes. Pre-measure the lemon juice and prepare the chilled butter pieces.
  4. Heat water in the bottom pan of the double boiler until it boils gently. The water should not boil vigorously or touch the bottom of the top double boiler pan or bowl in which the curd is to be cooked. Steam produced will be sufficient for the cooking process to occur.
  5. In the top of the double boiler, on the counter top or table, whisk the egg yolks and whole eggs together until thoroughly mixed. Slowly whisk in the sugar and zest, blending until well mixed and smooth. Blend in the lemon juice and then add the butter pieces to the mixture.
  6. Place the top of the double boiler over boiling water in the bottom pan. Stir gently but continuously with a silicone spatula or cooking spoon, to prevent the mixture from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Continue cooking until the mixture reaches a temperature of 170°F. Use a food thermometer to monitor the temperature.
  7. Remove the double boiler pan from the stove and place on a protected surface, such as a dish cloth or towel on the counter top. Continue to stir gently until the curd thickens (about 5 minutes). Strain curd through a mesh strainer into a glass or stainless steel bowl; discard collected zest.
  8. Fill hot strained curd into the clean, hot half-pint jars, leaving ½-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace if needed. Wipe rims of jars with a dampened, clean paper towel; apply two-piece metal canning lids.
  9. Process in the prepared boiling water canner according to the recommendations in Table 1. Let cool, undisturbed, for 12 to 24 hours and check for seals.
Table 1. Recommended process time for Canned Lemon Curd in a boiling-water canner.
 Process Time at Altitudes of
Style of PackJar Size0 - 1,000 ft1,001 - 6,000 ftAbove 6,000 ft
HotHalf-pints15 min2025

Shelf Life: For best quality, store in a cool, dark place (away from light). Plan to use canned lemon curd within 3 to 4 months. Browning and/or separation may occur with longer storage; discard any time these changes are observed.
Prepared lemon curd can also be frozen instead of canned for up to 1 year without quality changes when thawed. Package in freezer containers after straining and cooling to room temperature. To thaw, place container in a refrigerator at 40°F or lower for 24 hours before intended use. After thawing, consume within 4 weeks. (See Freezer Lemon Curd,
Preparation Notes:
* If superfine sugar is not available, run granulated sugar through a grinder or food processor for 1 minute, let settle, and use in place of superfine sugar. Do not use powdered sugar.
** Bottled lemon juice is used to standardize acidity. Fresh lemon juice can vary in acidity and is not recommended.
*** If a double boiler is not available, a substitute can be made with a large bowl or saucepan that can fit partway down into a saucepan of a smaller diameter. If the bottom pan has a larger diameter, the top bowl or pan should have a handle(s) that can rest on the rim of the lower pan.
For more detailed information on boiling water canning, see "Using Boiling Water Canners" at
For Lime Curd, use the same recipe but substitute 1 cup bottled lime juice and ¼ cup fresh lime zest for the lemon juice and zest.
Other citrus or fruit curds are not recommended for canning at this time.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Joy's story Part 3

·         These networks grew and thrived as the Amian Empire continued to flourish. Although

the trade network within Amia was continuing to grow, the Council soon recognized the need for

a more extensive trade network that encompassed other empires and continents. While Amia was

known for its blacksmith’s and their beautifully made swords as well as an abundance of natural

resources, the need for fine items such as silk, porcelain, and spices soon began to grow. As a

result, the Council sent 12 ambassadors, seven women and five men, to the neighboring and far-

reaching empires to develop trade agreements. Upon returning, not every ambassador was

successful, but they were able to secure trade agreements throughout much of Asia and parts of

Northern Africa. These trade routes soon became known as the Amian Trade Routes. They

included Europe as well as routes from China and India through the Middle East, Turkey, and

much of Northern Africa including Egypt. Each region played a part in the trade route. From

Amia came skillfully crafted swords and weapons. They also traded an abundance of seafood and

wood from their thick forests. From China came silk and porcelain, India supplied fine spices

and ivory, and Egypt supplied grain and textiles.

Shortly after the development of the Amian Trade Routes, the Amian government

underwent some major changes. Men began to play a more significant role in the government.

Amian ambassadors ran into problems while trying to secure trade agreements. In most of the

other areas of the world, women had little to no role in government. As a result, some rulers

refused to do business with the woman ambassadors sent from Amia. To combat this, Amia

began to have more men as ambassadors to the foreign countries. Men were also able to achieve

·         a higher status in government including a seat on the Council. The Council has nine members

and men were able to fill four of those seats. While woman still hold the majority in the Council,

men began to be seen as equal partners in government and political matters. The Council also

developed a more complicated and intricate government by delegation each member a region of

the Amian Empire to oversee. Eight of the nine members of the Council were delegated a region

of Amia. The Head of the Council oversaw all regions and “ruled” in the Amian capital of

Alessa. The eight Council members were responsible for all that happened in their region. They

oversaw the collection of taxes, the judicial system, and crop intake. They were responsible for

delegating and appointing new officials when needed. Each of the eight regions was in charge of

security for their portion of the trade route. They policed the roads, ports and posts that ran

through their region, keeping merchants and business owners safe.   

Due to the expansion of the trade networks, Amia’s population continued to increase.

Their cities grew larger and the government became more developed. The Amian people were

able to sell their livelihood along the trade routes and make a good living. People from all over

settled in Amia and the cultures and traditions soon began to merge. The Amian Empire became

a melting pot for hundreds of different peoples, cultures, and religions. People flocked to Amia

seeking a new place to live and missionaries came bringing new religions. While extremely

skeptical of the new religions at first, Amians slowly began to adopt these new practices. Islam

and Christianity were both introduced to Amia through the trade routes. Both religions were

similar to Amia’s religion in their worship of one god. While both religions were extremely

popular, the Council adopted Islam as their official religion. Some Amians still worshiped the

Guardian Spirit, but most were either Muslims or Christian. The Council did not seek to demand

their people to adopt one religion over the other. Amians were free to choose their religion and to

worship their chosen god in peace without fear of repercussion.

Life in Amia was great. They had come a long way from those fourteen people, escaping

slavery, fleeing for their lives and searching for a better one. Their tiny group of people had

developed into a global powerhouse. The Amian Empire continued to thrive and grow for several

more centuries. Many of their culture and traditions can been seen in the people groups of
modern day. Their ways will forever be entrenched in the culture of the continental Europe and
many of the surrounding lands. The original fourteen members could never have known the
impact their rebellion would cause and they have truly left their mark on the world forever.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Pressure Canning Black Bean and Corn Salsa

Pressure Canning Black Bean and Corn Salsa

Ingredients from my own kitchen makes approximately 12 pints jars

1 pound dried black beans
8 cups corn
2 cups tomatoes, chopped (I used a combination of red, yellow, and orange tomatoes)
2 onions
6 bell peppers, chopped and seeds removed
3 hot peppers, chopped seeds removed
2 tbsp red pepper flakes
1 cup cilantro chopped
1 tbsp cumin
¼ cup lime juice


1. Soak the beans overnight in warm water. On the next day drain and sort the beans.

2. Add the beans to a large stockpot. Fill the pot with water to cover the beans by two inches of water. Boil the beans 30 minutes while stirring frequently.

3. Drain the beans again. Place the beans back in the stock pot along with the corn, tomatoes, onions, peppers, red pepper flakes, cilantro, cumin, and lime juice. Fill the pot with water until the water level is one inch above the vegetable level. Bring the vegetables to a boil while stirring frequently. Boil for 10 minutes or until the onions turn translucent.

4. Ladle the hot vegetables and beans into pint jars. Add brine to the jar to completely cover the vegetables. Leave a 1” headspace. Add the lids and adjust the two piece caps.

5. Process the jars in a pressure canner at 10 pounds of pressure for 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Prickly Pear Cactus Jelly

Today I had the great fortune to help a friend make Prickly Pear Cactus Jelly.  She did all the prep work.  Picking the prickly pears, burning the tiny pokey things, boiling the pears and making the juice.

The juice was a beautiful rich color.  We ended up making 3 batches with a total of 47 jars.  31 quarter pints, 10 half pints and 6 pints.

                                                    Here's Andi doing all the work.

                                             Me sitting down stirring the pot.
This is Pamela
My friend Andi lives on Mt. Echo ranch.  They have a very historic place.  The stage coach used to stop right there on the land they now own.  Andi said we can make Muscatine grape jelly and persimmon jelly from fruits grown right there on their land.  Isn't that neat?  We had a good day.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Joy's story Part 2

·         As trade in Amia grew due to the surplus of natural supplies and the development of

specialized labor, more and more people were drawn to the society. Instead of heading home

once the trade was made, many people began to settle in Amia. Through inter-marriages the

population began to grow and the Council decided to form a military force. Once the military

was properly established the Head of the Council, Mother Lea at that time, had a vision from the

Guardian Spirit. In her vision, the Guardian Spirit told Mother Lea that Amia could no longer

stay at peace with the neighboring societies. It was time for Amia to become the leader. After

Mother Lea told her vision to the Council, the decision was made to begin to expand Amia. The

Amian military, led by Mother Lea’s daughter Kona, a brilliant warrior and leader, began to

invade to the North first. The campaign lasted for 7 long years, until they reached the North Sea.

Once they had successfully brought the people under their rule, the Amian army began to look

towards the East. General Kona conquered the land to the East as far as the Dnieper River and

South to the Black Sea bringing most of Continental Europe under the control of Amia.

The Council then decided to establish an official capital for the Amia Empire. Located

just north of modern-day Warsaw, Poland they founded Alessa which means Protector of

Humanity. The entire Council moved to Alessa and began to run the Amian Empire from there.

The Council appointed delegates who were faithful to Amia and its interests to serve as

representatives in the newly conquered lands. The Amians sought to bring in the people of other

lands by incorporating their culture into their own. Instead of presiding over the people like a

harsh dictator, the Council and its Head decide to allow the conquered people to continue with

their traditions, but they instituted a universal tax in order to fund their military. The tax

collection was overseen by the appointed delegates. The Council also sought to institute

universal laws that were used to draw the several different people groups into the Amian Empire

without forcing them to give up their cultures. Doing this served to unify the various lands of

Amia in to one powerful Empire.

As the Amian Empire grew and adjusted to its expanding boarders, daily life in Amia also

changed. Natural hierarchies developed into three groups. The aristocrats, working class, and the

indentured servants. The aristocrats, who consisted of wealthy business owners, leaders of

government, and the religious leaders, were at the top of the Amian hierarchy. Next, were shop

owners, skilled labors, and the everyday working man. The lowest group were the indentured

·         servants. The Council of Amia had outlawed slavery, but if a person could not pay what was

owed, they could become a servant in lieu of payment. The length of servitude was agreed upon

between the two parties and was witnessed by a member of government. Once the agreed upon

years have been served, the person was then free to leave and pursue their own life once again.

However, because they were servant, they fell into the lowest group along with beggars and the


With the incorporation of new peoples and cultures came the expansion of trade

throughout the Amian Empire. Iron metallurgy was one of the first new developments to Amian

society. Taught to locals by traveling merchants, Amians became skilled laborers and

blacksmiths. Blacksmiths were able to supply the army with weapons and armor as well as create

sound structures that lasted longer than the previously used wood. Laborers became skilled

craftsmen and began to craft supplies solely for trade. The need for artisans also developed and

with the incorporation of foreign peoples the craft grew into a thriving career. Long before Amia

began conquering other people they had a surplus of supplies. As the people became skilled they

began building and crafting not out of necessity, but as trade. Their crafts became businesses, and

their businesses, enterprises. The Council quickly developed extensive trade routes through all of

the empire. From the North Sea to the Dnieper River and south to the Black Sea. Developing

these trade routes was crucial for the continual growth and expansion of the Amian Empire. The

Council also established cities along the trade routes to encourage economic growth and

strengthen trade