Sunday, August 19, 2012

Sources of Inspiration

When I post these lovely recipes that I use to can up the good bounty that is rolling out of my garden, I often get an email or a comment asking, "Where is that from?"  I thought a little blog post about where I find my inspiration for canning, gardening or chicken-rearing might be in order, as well as some of the books I couldn't live without!

To start with, there are several blogs that I love for both gardening and canning resources:
  • A great canning site, Food in Jars is a fantastic resource for both recipes and guidance on safe canning procedures.
  • My online friend Kathie has a wonderful little blog, Two Frog Home, where she shares recipes, ideas for preserving the harvest, and some great ideas for simple living.
  • Canning Across America is a fun read for both recipes and stories from other canners around the country.  Unite with all those mason jar aficionados our there here!
  • A host of gardeners share what is going on in their humble backyard or community garden plots at Tend, with periodic updates from several different authors.  It is nice to hear about what works and what doesn't from other folks out there in the trenches!
Anyone who comes to visit my house will likely notice the massive horde of books that I have on a collection of bookcases.  If there was one thing I could change about my house, it would be to line every single wall with built-in bookshelves.  Wouldn't that be cool?  Ah, well.  Maybe someday when I win Megabucks.  In this collection of books, there are some gems that I simply couldn't be without.  All can be found on, but you might luck out and find a copy at your local thrift or used book store!

  1. Top pick:  The Encyclopedia of Country Living by Carla Emery is a terrific resource with information on just about everything (and anything) you'd want to know about living a hands on kind of life.
  2. Rodale's Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs is a nice book, although it doesn't explain a whole depth of medicinal resources.  I've found it helpful to discern what herbs I had growing already in my yard (hello, borage) as well as trying to figure out why certain herbs weren't growing well.
  3. I use jam recipes from Well Preserved by Joan Hassol all the time.  Small batch, simple ingredients, absolutely fail-proof: simply perfect!  It is like reading a story, as well, as beautifully written essays are included in each seasonal chapter.
  4. No kitchen should be without a copy of Ball's Complete Book of Home Preserving, which builds on the classic, shorter Blue Book with unique and flavorful recipes to preserve the harvest.
  5. A new acquisition for me, I think the Dehydrator Bible will really help me to make the best use of my electric and solar dehydrators.
  6. For help with the chickens, I rely on The Chicken Health Handbook to diagnose both behaviors and ailments in my little happy flock of hens.  They do a pretty good job managing their own pests and illnesses, but occasionally I need the reassurance that it isn't some dread disease or other affecting the girls!
So there you have it:  The essential list of resources by the Chicken Lady.  Hopefully, you all find them helpful, too!  (Incidentally, by clicking on the highlighted titles/links it will route you to either the site or to Amazon where you can find your own copies.  Have fun building your library!)

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