Pork Roast with Sweet Potato & Glazed Kale:
I fixed this for supper last week, and it was a huge hit! The pork roast was so large that I planned on using the leftovers for lunch the next day. Well, that wasn’t happening. After my boys and husband had finished supper, there wasn’t any left.
This was easy to make because the Dutch oven did most of the work.
1 Naked Pig Pork Roast (mine was about 5lbs)
1 TBS Naked Pig Lard
One medium Onion
3 Sweet Potatoes
½ cup vegetable broth
½ teaspoon brown mustard
½ Cup Sweet Harvest Homestead Roasted Peach and Rosemary Jam
Two large handfuls of fresh chopped kale
In a Dutch oven, heat the lard on high. Sprinkle salt, pepper and sage over both sides of the roast and brown in hot lard.
Chop up one onion and add to the pot.
Add half cup of vegetable broth along with the fresh rosemary.
Put the lid of Dutch oven on the pot and simmer on low for 3 hours.
After two hours- chop up two sweet potatoes and add to the pot
Remove roast and sweet potatoes from the pot after the roast is fall-apart tender and sweet potatoes are sufficiently cooked.
To make the glazed kale:
There will be liquids and roast leavings in the Dutch oven, leave them because that is what makes this glaze taste so good! To the dutch oven add ½ cup of Sweet Harvest Homesteads Roasted Peach & Rosemary jam and one teaspoon brown mustard.
Stir until well incorporated and add two tablespoons water
Add two generous handfuls of chopped kale to the glaze in the pot.
Put lid on the pot and let mixture steam for about a minute
Remove kale from the pot into another bowl leaving behind some of the peach Rosemary glaze. Pour glaze over ham.
It’s no secret; we homeschool our children. There was a time when I would not tell many people that. The questions that were thrown our way were a bit intrusive, and sometimes painful. “How in the world can they possibly be socialized?” “How are you going to teach them sciences?” “Aren’t you afraid they will be backward?” Questions from well-meaning relatives and strangers caused me to reconsider the journey we were on. After all, being solely responsible for the education of all three of my children is a daunting task.
But my husband and I felt it was best for our family, so we put our shoulder to the wheel and kept pushing on.
Now- I get it; when I was younger, I thought homeschoolers were so weird! I thought to myself many times that I would never do that. Funny how much crow you eat after you have children.
We have been at it for 12 years, and I am happy to report that all three are smart, articulate, well socialized and can converse with any age group. They will give a firm handshake upon introduction and look you straight in the eye. They are entrepreneurs, musicians and they can all count change back- correctly. They are just like any other happy, healthy and well-adjusted children. We just chose to educate them differently. For our family, homeschooling is not about doing school at home; it is a bit different than that. A good term to use would be life schooling. Of course, we teach them reading, writing and (advanced) arithmetic, but after that instruction is over, they can cultivate the God-given talents and gifts that they were given.
My husband frequently travels for his job, and we are free to travel with him (thanks to frequent flyer miles) and visit other states and countries. Being there in person is better than a textbook any day! Our children work alongside me with my business, and that has prompted them to start their own side businesses. They all know how to grow food and preserve it, they know how to market products to sell, and they are great at interacting with the public.
Too often, we live our lives doing as society dictates. I have lived long enough to realize that living that way sometimes makes life dull. As long as what you want to do is not immoral and doesn't hurt anyone, if you want to do something different, then do it. Don't put yourself in a little box and follow the rest of the herd just because your ideas seem radical. Remember, Henry Ford seemed pretty radical and so did the Wright brothers.
Am I saying that homeschooling is for everyone? Heavens No. You are with your children ALL of the time. If the thought of that breaks you out in a cold sweat, it is not for you. But, if you crave an atmosphere that enriches your child’s talents, and creates a fun atmosphere for learning, it is a wonderful alternative. The experience of being with your children and homeschooling them is so much more than an education. It is an awesome experience!
If you would like to know more about homeschooling, there are numerous homeschooling support groups in North Carolina, especially here in the Charlotte area. July 7-9th, there will be a super informative Life Schooling conference in Matthews at the Southern Evangelical Seminary. For more information you can visit their website www.lifeschoolingconference.com
That’s the news from the homestead, see you next week.
*a quick note, Sweet Harvest Homestead will not be at the Locust Farmers Market on June 22nd. We will look forward to serving you on June 30th.
Although this might seem like a strange subject to write an article about, it is one that is near and dear to my heart, and I want to give you some positive insight on something that we all (hopefully) use; soap.
Now, let me give you a bit of history. I went to a Summer Faire and Country Market at the historic Ramsey House back in Knoxville, Tennessee in the late 90’s. A woman was there demonstrating how to make handmade soap. The process was intriguing! I found it fascinating that you could mix oil, water, and sodium hydroxide (lye) together, add in some fragrance and produce a luxurious bar of soap. Using the handmade soap proved to be even better than watching it being made. After switching and using the handmade soap for a week, my skin started glowing, and the dryness on my knees and elbows went away. From then on, I was hooked. I started making handmade soap, and it is all that my family has used for the past 16 years.
You see, most of the soap that you see at the store isn’t technically “soap.” It is a detergent. It will get you clean, alright but it also strips your skin of its naturally occurring oils. That is why you get that squeaky clean feel, but you may also have dry skin, and sometimes a rash along with the use of store bought detergent soap.
During the saponification process (that’s a fancy way of saying soap making) two products occur when fats and a strong alkali are mixed, they are soap and glycerin.
Commercial soap makers glean the glycerin from the soap to use in other products. Natural soap makers keep that glycerin in the bar. The naturally occurring glycerin along with the carefully chosen oils such as coconut and palm are the reason that you skin feels and looks so good after using handmade soap.
Many of my customers have reported that their eczema and psoriasis have calmed by using Sweet Harvest Homestead’s soap. That makes my heart sing to know I have helped someone! On a recent business trip that my boys took with my husband, my middle son broke out in a terrible rash all over his torso after showering. He sent me a picture of his red back and belly and texted “Mama, I wish I brought your soap, this soap here in Mexico gives me a rash.” Poor fellow. Happily it went away after he stopped using that harsh detergent on his skin.
If you are happy with the soap that you currently use, keep on using it. However, if you are prone to skin irritations and don’t like that “tight” feeling that your skin has after using store bought soap, I encourage you to try a bar of carefully created, handcrafted soap. I believe you will truly love the difference.
I have taught a couple of hundred people, in my home how to make soap over the years, and I have produced a soap making booklet and DVD that you can watch in your home. It is important to me that folks know how to be self-sufficient and take great care of their bodies, inside and out. You can find more information about my soap making instructional here.
Now, I realize that making soap isn’t for everyone. If you would rather buy a ready-made bar, you can always come by the Locust Farmers Market on Thursday’s from 11-4 and see me. (I’m under the pink tent).
Pick up a bar or two and try it. I truly feel you will love it.
That’s the news from the homestead, see you next week.
After going “land looking” (as my children called it) every weekend for a year, we finally found our land, and thankfully, a house on it in March of 2006. This was the start of Sweet Harvest Homestead.
Property in this part of the Carolinas is not cheap. We initially wanted to buy in Union County but found that we could not afford more than an acre out there. When we finally came upon this old home place and land, it just felt right! You know when something is meant to be, I could feel it in my bones. The land was filled with persimmon and hickory trees. There was even a lilac bush in the front yard. It was full of things that I have always loved.
After we acquired the house, we had to do quite a lot of work in order to make it livable for a family of 5. The former owner was a bachelor and had only lived in the home part time. Mice, snakes and other varmints had made it their living quarters. We spent every spare moment that we could, ripping out old carpet, putting in doors, cutting down walls, tearing out paneling to expose the original tongue and groove boards. My husband and I thought we had found a treasure when we found beautiful, old wall boards behind ugly old paneling. Ah, ignorance is bliss though. We would find out just how much insulating the ugly paneling would have provided during our first winter there. Burr!
Since we had no family in the area to watch them, we would take the children along. Looking back, I don’t know how in the world we managed to get all of that work done with a 5, 3 and 1 ½ year old underfoot. When you are determined, I guess you can do just about anything.
Everyone thought we were nuts. We were leaving a brand new home, in a nice neighborhood, complete with a club house and swimming pool. It was easy living, but I’m just not that kind of girl.
I wanted to be out where I could raise my windows and not hear the conversation next door, I wanted chickens, and to be able to give my children the freedom to play outside without me being right there with them. I wanted to be able to sit on the front porch and talk at the close of the day with my sweetheart without people looking at us. I wanted fresh air, birdsong and space to roam. Well, I got that, plus a whole lot more.
The first night that we slept in the house, my husband set up some mouse traps. Rodents don’t easily leave a house that they have occupied for nearly 20 years. He would set one, go to bed and… snap! We would hear a mouse meeting his death. He would dispose of it and set another one. …snap! It would go off again. After setting and killing the 7th one, we decided that we could live with them for one night and called an exterminator the next morning to set some bigger traps under the house.
Many times, I would walk in the bathroom (which was added on to the house years after it was first built) and find a black snake on the floor. That old place was not for the faint of heart.
Now, before I tell anymore wild tales of mice and snakes. Let me tell you the great parts about being there.
While exploring the land, we found an area where an old barn had been, and had fallen down during Hurricane Hugo. There was also a gigantic old tree that had met Hugo’s wrath and was lying on its side. The kids would spend hours on that tree or “hollow log” as they named it. We discovered old marbles, arrow heads and old toys out there too. Can you just imagine... the year is 1915 and after the farm chores were through, little boys would go out to the barn to play a game of ringer or cherry pit? My own little boys found a few of those lost treasures, of days gone by.
We found out that there was a wagon road on our property that led to an old school called Cedar Hill. The building is no longer there and it is actually on a farm adjoining ours but it is fun to imagine the children walking along that road, to and from school.
While we were tilling up an area for a garden one afternoon, we found a couple of broken plates and an old doll head. The plates had such a pretty pattern but I could never find a piece with a name.
Once, while walking along the old wagon road, Wesley our middle child who was 6 at the time came across a very pretty, tiny, cobalt blue bottle, sitting at the base of a tree. Who left that bottle there so many years ago? Could it have been a little fellow, like my Wesley?
The biggest treasure of all that we found while living there was the last of 10 children born in the home. Mrs. Virginia Smith McGee. She was born in the front room in 1925 to Sarah Coley and John Nathaniel Smith. The road that the house sits on was named for that family. My neighbor, Janice Efird, told me that Mrs. Virginia, was her Aunt by marriage and that she would put me in touch with her. What a wonderful lady she turned out to be! She lived in California and had moved out there as a newlywed, soon after graduating from Stanfield High School.
She sent me pictures, and hand drawn maps and told me stories about the place over the phone when I spoke to her. I really felt blessed to be able to talk to her. She had a deep love for her old home and even had a painting of the house that hung on the wall of her California house.
She said that they grew cotton, raised chickens and grew all of their own food. They only went to the store for coffee, flour and sugar. She drew pictures for me, pointing out where the grape arbors were and where the privy once stood. The room that was the bedroom for my boys was actually the parlor in her day and you could not reach it from inside the house, you had to go outside and in through another door to get to it.
Some days, I felt smothered, being in that house with just 5 of us. I can’t imagine how it would have been with 12, as it was when she was growing up.
We exchanged Christmas cards and photos a time or two but then life got busy, I didn’t take the time to write, and we lost touch. I asked my neighbor about her about a month ago and a deep pain hit my heart when she told me that Mrs. Virginia died a few years back. I was very blessed to have been able to know her and to have had her share her memories with me.
Two wonderful Christmases were spent in that old house. My parents got to be there for one magical Christmas Eve. We sang songs, played games, ate good food and of course Santa Claus came. We also had a big Thanksgiving and some great Easter egg hunts in the field out behind the house. I am so glad that I have videos and pictures of those events because my children were so small and my sweet Mama was on them. She has gone to her reward now. I hope she met up with Mrs. Virginia along the way.
We lived in that house for two years, and in 2008 built our new house up in the woods behind it.
The old house sat empty for a little while but a wonderful, new family moved in and fixed it up so nicely!
I am so glad to know that the house is still filled with light, warmth and love of family as it celebrates a whole century of sheltering so many precious lives.
Last week, a friend and fellow vendor at the farmers market introduced us to his granddaughter who was visiting from Kansas. He told us that she came every summer and that he and his wife enjoyed spoiling her while she was here. I could not only see, but also feel the genuine love in my friend’s eyes when he introduced me to that pretty, freckled nose, eight year old named Caroline. My heart filled with happy reflection as I thought about the sweetness of a week in the summer, spent at my grandparent’s home in Nashville, Tennessee.
While I was busy reminiscing, my mind wandered back to the summer of 1983. My family had just moved from the small town of Waverly, Tennessee to action packed Pigeon Forge. My brother and I thought we had struck gold. There was so much to do! So much to see! Only trouble was, we didn’t have any new friends and even less money to do all of that fun stuff with.
A few weeks after moving to our new home, I noticed a little girl playing in the yard a few houses down. I waved, and she waved back, but I was shy and quickly ran inside the house. Minutes later, there was a knock at the door and when my mother answered; there stood the little girl and her grandmother. They explained that the granddaughter was visiting her grandparents for two weeks, and they wondered if I would like to play. That was the start of a friendship that would last three glorious summers.
Casey Bagel was her name. It was actually Baker, but her accent made Baker sound like Bagel, so the name stuck, and that is how we referred to her from then on. She came from Indiana and had a large, black poodle named Babette, who traveled with her. Casey was a sweet and generous girl with honey-colored hair and big brown eyes. I was reading Trixie Beldon books at the time, and Trixie’s best friend Honey had those same features. Whenever I read the mysteries that Trixie and Honey were solving, I envisioned me as Trixie and Casey as Honey. Casey and I were constant companions on those golden summer days. Her grandmother worked as a maid at the River Breeze Motel. Her employers graciously allowed their workers to use the pool and on many hot summer evenings, we would go swimming. It was the first time I ever went down a slide at a swimming pool. We always had a poolside snack of Dr. Pepper and Pay Day candy bars. To this day, swimming just isn’t complete until I’ve had that sweet and salty treat.
Casey’s grandmother was a kind and giving woman. She would take us to play miniature golf and buy us ice cream cones. She even sprung for many Smoky Mountain souvenirs at one of our favorite places, Hillbilly Village.
When we weren’t out playing tourists, we would gather rocks from the Pigeon River and sit on her grandparents back deck and paint them. We turned those river rocks into lady bugs and butterflies and once I painted rocks depicting every single member of my extended Mayberry Family. I gave them to my grandmother; 33 years later, she still has them. At night, we would catch lightening bugs in old mayonnaise jars and sit outside until the fireworks at Tommy Bartlett’s Water Circus signaled the end of the show and bedtime for us.
My first foray into sparklers was in Casey’s grandparent’s yard. That girl loved sparklers and her time there wasn’t complete until we set off a box of sparklers.
Our fun lasted for three blissful summers; then my family moved to another house across town. A letter or two was exchanged, but by then we both became interested in other pursuits and like many summer friendships, it gently faded away.
Sometimes, on muggy summer nights, while watching my children catch lightening bugs out in the front yard, I think of Casey and her grandparents and how lucky I was that she chose me to be her friend, all those years ago.
That’s the news from the homestead. See you next week.