Zina's Produce

  (Williamsburg, Virginia)
A Country Affair Farm
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chicken recipe

It is hard for me to fry chicken without thinking about the years I drove Limos. Although the two have nothing to do with each other they are forever intertwined. Living in Florida and working with retires. I learned a few things about the "Good Ol Days" bare foot walking to school, cat head biscuits with molasses poured in them , kids only getting vegetables for dinner..... They informed me that only on Sundays was chicken cooked. The men and preacher were served first with the kids getting what was left. These two lived so far down in the country that you could see the male truck a mile away! The cloud of dust was the signal for them that the mail was soon to be delivered. This was back when folks still wrote letters to each other and mail brought exciting news. This day was different than most. When the mail truck passed, they threw one of momma’s fattest hens in front of the truck, and yelled "FRIED CHICKEN! Frying chicken is something we do only a few times a year ,but I always think of this story when I do.

       Southern Fried Chicken

  •  8 pieces/ or boneless breast 
  • 2 cups low fat buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon season salt 
  • Flour, for dredging
  • Vegetable shortening, for frying



Place chicken pieces into a plastic container and cover with buttermilk over and refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours.


Melt enough shortening (over low heat) to come just 1/8-inch up the side of a 12-inch cast iron skillet or heavy fry pan. Once shortening liquefies raise heat to 325 degrees F.The key to good juicy fried chicken is to get a good scald on it. This will make it crispy on the outside a juicy on the inside. Test the grease by putting a drop of water in it, if it sputters its ready. Never put in when grease is not hot enough, chicken will absorb the grease, and be soggy.


Drain chicken in a colander. Combine spices and liberally season chicken. Dredge chicken in flour and shake off excess.


Place chicken skin side down into the pan. Put thighs in the center, and breast and legs around the edge of the pan. The oil should come half way up the pan. Cook chicken until golden brown on each side, approximately 10 to 12 minutes per side. Enjoy!





How did you get those little wings out of that cake?

The other day I told my daughter " If ever I leave this world ,please do not think  you have to hold on to ALL of my cook books". This is a load I would not put on anyone. Our library has a great selection of books to buy. 1.00 for hardback and .50 for paper. I am always walking out with one or two..... Recipes that follow stories are my fav. It is not enough that I eat it I have to read about it too! Where it came from, what events are set around it, is it old..... So I always include a story about what it is I am sharing with people, something they can share when they prepare it. In a way I'm selling it, making sure you know you have to try this recipe.  I can sell anything! My friend said "I can sell ketchup to a lady in white gloves". The recipes I write about are worthy to be made, or I wouldn't waste my time. I have plenty of recipes not worth making much less writing about. This is not one of them. People love a story with a recipe. So here goes!  My friend told me that while traveling with her family in Savannah GA. They saw a huge wedding cake being brought out from a van. When asked "What kind of  cake is that"? The chef replied, a traditional Savannah wedding cake. "Hummingbird Cake". That evening while dinning, there it was. They all shared, as it was a huge. They were instantly in love. This was sometime back, before internet was assessable. The recipe was very hard to find. Finally a friend, who had collected recipes for years, had it!  What we do know is that the recipe gained widespread popularity after it appeared in the February 1978 issue of Southern Living Magazine. We also know that the recipe was submitted by a Mrs L H Wiggins of Greensboro North Carolina and consists of two layers of cake full of chopped pecans, crushed pineapple, and mashed bananas that are filled and frosted with a delicious cream cheese icing. I love Southern Living recipes, so the fact that it is the most requested recipe EVER! I had to have it. It is moist, nutty, fruity, and even better the next day. No one seems to know it origins; ingredients suggest it is from Jamaica. There are two schools of thought about this cake and why it is named after a hummingbird. One is that it is so sweet hummingbirds are attracted to it, and the other is you hum when you eat it.  You tell me. I hope you enjoy it as much as my family has.

                            Hummingbird Cake

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt                                                                   

2 teaspoons baking soda
3 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon                
1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 can (8oz) crushed pineapple, well drained
1 cup chopped pecans                                                              

 2 cups ripe banana
Cream Cheese Frosting:
16 ounces cream cheese softened
1 cup butter, room temperature
2 pounds confectioners sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 to 1 cup chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 350°.
Sift flour, sugar, salt, baking soda and cinnamon together into mixing bowl several times.
Add eggs and oil to the dry ingredients. Stir with a wooden spoon until ingredients are moistened
Stir in vanilla, pineapple and 1 cup pecans.
Stir in the bananas
Spoon the batter into 3 well-greased and floured 9-inch round cake pans
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes,or until a wooden pick or cake tester inserted in center comes out clean.
Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn onto cooling rack.
Cool completely before frosting.
Cream Cheese Frosting:
Combine cream cheese and butter; cream until smooth. Add powdered sugar, beating with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Stir in vanilla.
Frost the tops layers, stack and then frost sides. Sprinkle top evenly with the 1/2 to 1 cup chopped pecans


Egg Facts!

Here are some facts about fresh farm eggs put out by "Mother Earth". We love the taste of our "Good Life" farm eggs. Our customers love our beef, chicken, and eggs. It is a great feeling to think you have a little control in what your family is fed. No antibiotics, steroids, hormones...all good things. I often email these egg facts to my customers, or slip them into our egg cartons. I thought I would share them with you.

*For every one egg you eat from a pastured hen, you would also have to eat three factory eggs to get the same amount of vitamin E and five for as much vitamin D. All the while, each additional conventional egg you eat will be giving you one third more cholesterol.

To get the amount of beta-carotene present in one pastured egg, for instance, you would have to eat seven from a factory farm*, according to the 2007 Mother Earth News egg testing project.



More great strawberry recipes!!

Strawberries go out as quick as they come in. So take advantage of these babies while they are here! We love to eat them right out of the patch; they are so fresh and fragrant. "Putting them up" is also a great way to stretch the season. I like to freeze in freezer bags the exact amount for my jam recipe, or even for a pie. Then there is no guessing how many bags to thaw. There are other ways to put up berries. Drying berries is great fun, and then add them to yogurt, cereal, granola, cakes, salads, muffins, pancake batter...all year long! I say this is great fun, because the dehydrator does most of the work! Any way you slice it, we love strawberries!

Swedish Creme
1 pint heavy heavy whipping cream
1 TBSP Knox gelatin
1 cup sugar
1 pint sour cream
Combine whipping cream, gelatin & sugar in top of a double boiler(fancy way to say-a bowl on the top of a pot of boiling water). Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Heat until all is dissolved. Remove from heat & let cool. Add sour cream & pour into buttered molds. Chill in refrigerator until firm. I collect old tin molds, a Pyrex custard dish will work as good as any .Great for individual servings.

Berry Sauce (any berry in season; raspberries, strawberries, blackberries are our fav.)
 1 1/2 cups fresh  berries                                                                                                                                         

 1 TBSP corn-starch
1 tsp. lemon juice
2 teaspoons sugar( more if needed for )
Add sugar to berries giving them time to juice up. Separate the berries from the juice. Put juice,cornstarch and lemon juice in a sauce pan :heat until thickened, if any additional sugar is needed add now (some berries are quite tart) .Add berries to sauce; cool.Unmold Creams and drizzle with sauce. Enjoy!
MaKes  10 :1/4 cup molds or 5 my size!

Strawberry Pretzel Salad

This is really not a salad at all! It’s a yummy, salty, creamy, sweet dessert! A classic ,you will never grow tired of! It sounds kind of yucky with the pretzels, but that is the best part.This is a layered desert, cut in squares. I haven’t had a complaint yet. Perfect at strawberry pickin time.

 2 c. crushed pretzels

3/4 c. melted butter

2 tbsp. powdered sugar

1 (8 oz.) cream cheese (room temp.)

8 oz. Cool Whip

1 c. powdered sugar

1 lg. box strawberry Jello

2 cups of fresh strawberries

Mix together pretzels, melted butter and the 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar. Then press in 9 x 13 inch pan. Bake 10 minutes at 350 degrees. Cool. Mix cream cheese, Cool Whip and 1 cup of powdered sugar; pour over pretzel crust.  

Dissolve large package of starwberry Jello in 2 cups boiling water. Add 2 cups of fresh strawberries. Mix well and pour over cream cheese. Chill for a couple hours. 


Fish in a Bag Soap!

This is a great project to do with the kids! It is so easy and you won't believe the double takes you get when folks walk by. They look so life like! We make these to sell and it is one of our party on the farm activities. This is a clear melt and pour soap! We leave them unscented, scents will alter the color. It really encourages kids to wash and wash and wash, just to get to the fish! We make 10 at a time, so we use a dowel rod and rest it on two salt containers. I tape the dowel on so it does not roll off.( If making one soap use two glasses ,bag in the middle and attach with two pins ,one on each glass). Then we attach a clear birthday bag with a close pin, leaving the bag resting a bit on the counter. Melt the soap, pour 2.5 oz. in bag (I use a funnel) spritz with alcohol (this will get rid of bubbles) wait until it sets Maybe 30 min.. Place fish in bag pour remainder soap (I adjust fish with a skewer) tie with a twist tie while it is liquid and hang back up to harden. That’s it! Picture is of first stage before second pour.  



Making Butter in a Jar !

You will need;

      A quart jar with a tight lid

      A handy dish towel

      3 cups heavy cream, at room temperature

Pour your cream into the jar and screw on lid tightly.  Hold dish cloth around the lid and begin to shake your jar of cream. Shake back and forth and within 20 minutes you’ll start seeing little yellow specks of butter forming. Keep on shaking, and you’ll have a nice size lump of butter in your cream. Drain off buttermilk (the leftover cream from the butter) into a container and put the lump of butter (which will be very soft and pliable) into another container with lid. Place in your refrigerator or somewhere cool so it can harden. It is ready to use at any time, soft or hard. Then with your leftover buttermilk you can make a good ole batch of buttermilk biscuits or cornbread to have with your fresh butter!

   We often like to sit on our porch swing or in a rocking chair and read a good book while we’re shaking our butter. I have a friend that told me a story about her parents putting the jar in the trunk of the car. Several “country mile dirt roads" later. Butter! This is a great idea to keep kids busy. My daughter even rolled the jar under her foot while watching a movie. She must get this from my mom, she does this with oranges at Christmas (to really get the juices flowing, same concept as rolling a lemon to juice it up) then she sticks an old fashioned peppermint stick in it for drinking the juice up! We call that a "hard candy Christmas"! That’s a whole other blog. Anyone besides my mom, get a brown sack with oranges, walnuts and hard candy under the tree? When we have our Christmas Hoe Down at our farm, I can’t help myself…..oranges, walnuts and old fashioned peppermint sticks have to be on the venue! I know this has nothing to do with butter , but I love Christmas!



Yellow Jackets, Fruit Flies and Ants" Oh My !" NATURAL Remedies!!

Last year was a first for me to have to contend with yellow jackets. I am a bee keeper; the idea of them really doesn’t bother me so much. But we run a fruit stand selling 50-60 boxes of peaches a week. So this was something I needed to address! Now after much research (and trial and error), I’ve   a better understanding of just what I am dealing with. As with the” Tomato Worm” I wrote about last week. It appears yellow Jackets have their place in nature too. Killing and feeding off other pesky pests. Last year I bought traps that were expensive and not effective. I also had tried to follow them back to their nests, just before dark and from their nests in the morning. I had been told I could fume them. Not being big on pesticides and not really wanting to be chased by these guys, I opted out of this idea. Oh, I watched every night to see if I could follow them and see where they lived, never to any avail. I even had one person tell me that her dad had tied a string to one’s leg, and they would fly awhile and rest. She said her dad followed one right home one night! The colony was so big, that when he lit the match to throw “It Lit up Like Shea Stadium”! Hey, I totally believe her, but did I want to try and pin a yellow jacket down to tie a string to its leg. I don’t think so! We did June bugs that way when I was a kid, but they didn’t sting!  Trying natural ways over chemicals is always my goal. A good friend and naturalist, mentioned to me a natural way to get rid of these pests.  A bowl of vinegar and a drop of dish soap. That is it! I concocted this very simple inexpensive remedy.  The next morning I had caught hundreds! If you set the trap out before you have a problem, you are more likely to catch the queen. No queen no colony. The other thing that keeps me going is. The remaining ones die at the end of the Summer and the nest is not reused! Yeah! I’m ready this year; my homemade natural traps are set. This is great for fruit flies in your kitchen too! Soak a piece of stale bread in vinegar and place in a bread bag, with some small holes in it. They can get in but they can’t get out!  Cover a bowl with plastic wrap, add vinegar and a dot of dish soap, some small holes and you have another indoor trap. Ant will not crawl over cinnamon so sprinkle it around your kitchen; around the outside of the house anywhere you have a problem. Bonus, you have a wonderful smelling house!  Please remember all wasps defend their nests, but the yellow jackets and hornets are most aggressive. Be very careful, which ever method you choose!





Tomato Horn Worms! Yuck!


Last year was my first year dealing with Tomato Horn Worms. First I noticed the damage on the foliage and then the worm! A new word for ugly! The daunting task of removing the worms is so slow. They are hard to see, and what to do with them? They are so fat I hated the thought of stomping them. When allowed to mature the worms fall to the ground to bury themselves and turn in to Emerald Moths. If they live that long. Predatory Braconid Wasp attaches eggs to the worms, which looks like rice. What to do? The wasp helps with pollination and the worm destroys. Remember the leaves are normal fare for these guys. Solution.... Use a black light to find them they glow and really stand out. Making plucking fast and easy. Place them in a jar with the lid off. The worm will die, wasps will hatch! I learned this from a home-school group that comes to our farm. Turns out that they had just studied these guys. I have heard if you plant Dill you will have Tomato Horn Worms?  Just so happens I planted Dill last year. Anybody know if this is true or just a coincidence?



Ploughing ,planting and dreaming! And yet another strawberry recipe!

My husband Gary has been busy ploughing the garden for his beautiful flowers and vegetables. Nine years of working this soil and it is finally perfect for what we grow. The girls (hens) had their hand at it after he was done. We have clay soil so it has been a challenge. We are now starting the process of becoming certified organic. We have plans for a you- pick-it fig farm, and local organic flowers. Great for summer weddings! We had another great day of weather. It makes me feel compelled to buy seeds, all the time! I love em, can't get enough. If I am not buying seeds or plants, I am looking in seed catalogues. We are growing beets for the first time this year. I bought some red and white striped Seed Saver type. One of my produce customers brought me some brown leafed lettuce from Monticello .Lettuce is one thing that really loves our soil. Last year we did a "Pick Your Own Salad Day" and the kids picked a cucumber, lettuce and a few radishes. They really enjoyed pulling those babies out of the ground. Who doesn’t? It is great fun. Swiss Chard is a new fav. with me, especially the rainbow. Not much can contend with the beauty of the Sun shining thru rainbow Swiss Chard. With strawberry season right around the corner, I have included yet another recipe (like you could ever have enough, right?)Enjoy! This recipe is a no bake cheese cake that is out of this world! You do have to put the crust in oven for 10 min. Great for this time of year. You can serve this cake 4 hrs after you make it,but it is best if made the day before. This recipe is adapted from the chef Curtis Stone.

                         No Bake Strawberry Cheese Cake

For the Crust:
1 cup very fine graham cracker crumbs (from 7 1/2 rectangular graham crackers; 4 ounces)
2 tablespoons sugar
5 1/ tablespoons unsalted butter melted
nonstick baking spray
For the Filling:
1 1/2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
1/4 cup water
2 8-ounce packages cream cheese (room temperature)
1 cup cottage cheese (pressed through strainer)
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup sugar
1 large egg yolk
8 ounces fresh strawberries (hulled and thinly sliced)
For the Topping:
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
12 ounces fresh strawberries (hulled and quartered)
2 teaspoons 10- to 20-year aged balsamic vinegar
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place the graham crackers crumbs and sugar in a medium bowl.

Slowly mix in the melted butter to form a wet sandy texture and until the mixture clumps when squeezed together.

Spray the sides and bottom of a 9-inch-diameter springform cake pan with nonstick baking spray then line with parchment paper.

Press the crumbs onto the bottom of the prepared pan. Place the pan on a baking sheet and bake until the crust is pale golden brown about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool the crust completely before filling.

To Prepare the Filling:

Sprinkle the gelatin into a small saucepan. Pour the water over the gelatin and swirl to blend. Let stand until the gelatin softens about 5 minutes.

Blend the cream cheese in a food processor until smooth and creamy scraping down the sides and bottom of the mixing bowl occasionally to ensure no lumps remain.

Add the cottage cheese and continue to blend until smooth and creamy.

Add the sweetened condensed milk sugar and egg yolk and blend well. Set aside.

Stir the gelatin mixture over medium heat until the gelatin dissolves about 1½ minutes.

With the food processor running slowly pour the hot melted gelatin mixture through the feed tube and into the cream cheese mixture in a thin stream.

Continue to process to ensure the gelatin is very well blended.

Transfer the cream cheese mixture to a bowl and fold in the strawberries.

Pour the cream cheese mixture into the prepared crust.

Refrigerate until the cheesecake is cold and set preferably 1 day.

Carefully peel away the parchment paper from around the sides of the cheesecake
Using the small offset spatula loosen the crust from the bottom of the cake pan and the paper. Using 1 or 2 long wide spatulas remove the cheesecake from pan bottom and transfer the cake to a cake plate. You can use the small spatula or a knife to smooth the sides of the cheesecakes if necessary.

Spoon strawberries on top for garnish.
Cut the cake into wedges and transfer to plates. Drizzle the balsamic vinegar over the cheesecake and serve.

Sounds wierd but the clash between the strawberries and the balsamic vinegar is wonderful.


Sun Shinny Day! Daffodil Cake

We have been so blessed with great weather over Spring break! The kids have really enjoyed themselves this week. The produce season starts soon and my kids know first-hand how much work is ahead! Life is good and we are enjoying all that God has blessed us with! To celebrate today (My Birthday) I thought with all this beautiful sun shinny weather. I would share a recipe for a delicious Daffodil Cake. This orange-scented spring cake displays a light and airy texture and features a sweet-tart cream cheese glaze. For a presentation that wows! Alternating the yellow and white batter this cake really is stunning .Garnish the cake plate with beautiful daffodils, or edible pansies! Enjoy!

1 1/2 cup(s) sugar
1 cup(s) cake flour, (not self-rising)
6 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon(s) orange juice, fresh squeezed
2 teaspoon(s) orange zest, grated
1/2 teaspoon(s) orange extract
12 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 tablespoon(s) fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon(s) salt
1 teaspoon(s) vanilla extract
4 ounce(s) cream cheese
2 tablespoon(s) orange juice, fresh squeezed
2 teaspoon(s) (additional) fresh orange juice
3/4 teaspoon(s) grated orange zest
3 1/4 cup(s) confectioners' sugar, sifted
Strips of orange peel, julienned, for garnish
Cake: Heat oven to 350 degrees F. In a bowl, whisk 1/2 cup of the sugar with cake flour; sift onto a piece of waxed paper.
In a bowl, with an electric mixer on high speed, beat egg yolks and 1/4 cup of the sugar 3 minutes. Beat in orange juice, zest, and extract.
Thoroughly clean beaters. In a large bowl, with mixer on medium speed, beat egg whites, lemon juice, and salt until foamy and beginning to hold their shape. Increase speed to medium-high; beat in the remaining 3/4 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time. Continue to beat until soft, glossy peaks form. Quickly beat in vanilla. Sift one third of flour mixture over beaten whites; gently fold in with a large rubber spatula, just until blended. Repeat 2 more times with the remaining flour mixture. Gently scrape half the batter into another large bowl. Gently fold in egg yolk mixture, just until blended.
Using a large spoon, alternately spoon batters into an ungreased 10-inch tube pan with a removable bottom; swirl batters slightly with a thin knife.
Bake 40 minutes, or until cake is firm in center when gently pressed. Immediately invert center tube of pan onto the neck of a bottle; cool completely. To loosen, run a knife around sides of pan and tube. Invert cake to unmold onto a serving plate.
Glaze: In a bowl, with mixer on medium speed, beat cream cheese, 2 tablespoons of the orange juice, orange zest, and 1/2 cup of the confectioners' sugar until smooth. Beat in the remaining 2 3/4 cups confectioners' sugar, half at a time. Add more orange juice as needed to make a thick glaze. Beat until smooth. Spread glaze over cake. Let stand until set; garnish with orange peel or flowers!

County Fair, funnel cakes, kettle corn,pickles, blue ribbons...

Our County Fair is fast approaching! My son and I love to enter things in the fair, always hoping for a blue ribbon! He sells Justin's Ranger Cookies at our market and he always tells a joke when you buy a cookie. “Why did the cookie go to the doctor” ? "Because he felt crummy”. He has won a blue ribbon for his cookies, but the customers love his jokes! He is quite the entrepreneur. He is going to sell fish bait (worms) for the campers who come to our produce market. He already sells them  fire wood . He is as excited as I am about the Fair, we talk about it all the time. What jams and pickles should mom bring. What should we bake? But there are times when we can't wait to eat funnel cakes , kettle corn, corn dogs,fried Oreos ,let me stop! I have included a few  recipes for you to make at home. You don’t have to have a big fancy kettle to make kettle corn . It’s fun and easy. Moms Dill pickles are always a treat, the best I have ever had. And a simple funnel cake recipe. Enjoy! See you at the Fair!

               Easy Kettle Corn Recipe

1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup popcorn kernels
1/3 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt

*Special Equipment – A large pot with lid

Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.  Add popcorn and sugar giving it a quick stir and then cover with lid.  Once popcorn starts popping, pick it up and give it a quick shake every few seconds until popping slows down, between 3-4 minutes.  Remove immediately from heat and pour into a large bowl.  Sprinkle with salt and serve immediately.  Do not make the mistake of removing the pot from heat without transferring to a bowl. Due to the high heat of the pot, if you don’t transfer the popcorn it will caramelize and perhaps burn


                   Keuchels (German Funnel Cake)

Keuchels (KEE-kulls) are wonderful things! They are puffy, round pieces of fried dough which are thick and chewy around the edges and thin and crunchy in the middle. A proper keuchel should be about the size of a luncheon plate and be a lovely, golden brown color. This is an old German recipe, similar to a funnel cake!

Mix well:

 1 qt. milk

1 c. sugar

1 stick margarine or butter

Dissolve a yeast cake in ½ c. warm water.

Knead together 8 c. flour and 6 eggs. Add the yeast and the milk mixture. Knead well. Cover and let raise.

Pinch off pieces by the handful and shape into round, flat shapes that are thicker toward the edge and flat toward the middle. Drop into a fryer of hot oil and fry until golden and floating. Drain well and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Eating them warm with jam or fresh fruit on top is a real treat.

Mom’s Best Dill Pickles
They are the very best pickles she has ever tasted or made.
Boil together:
3 quarts water
1 quart vinegar
½ cup salt
1/4 cup sugar
1/8 tsp alum
Pack 20 to 24 small cucumbers into glass jars. Add 2 cloves of garlic and a head of dill to each jar. Pour the hot brine to fill the jars. Seal and process.


Tomato Marmalade


This is excellent with any meat. If you mix equal parts of this and hearty mustard it makes a great glaze for roasts.


Peel 3 oranges and 2 lemons. Cut the peelings into very fine slivers. Combine with 2 cups water and simmer for 15 minutes. Drain.


Remove all pulp from the fruit and add it to the peelings. Blanch and peel 5 ½ pounds of tomatoes and slice.


Combine all ingredients in a kettle and mix lightly. Add a spice bag containing 5 cinnamon sticks and 1 tbsp. cloves. Add 6 cups sugar and 1 tsp. salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat and cook until thick and clear. Ladle into sterile jars and seal. Process 15 minutes.


Green Tomato Relish
This recipe is a great way to use up green tomatoes when the season is coming to an end.
Clean and cut into manageable pieces 5 pounds of green tomatoes. Pack them into sterile jars and to each jar add 1 clove of garlic, a few slices of onion, 1 whole clove and 3-4 dill heads. Place in a large pan:
1 quart of vinegar
1 quart of water
1/3 cup salt
sugar as desired
Simmer for five minutes then pour into the jars over the tomatoes. Seal and process for 20 minutes. These are really delicious!!!


"Local Loofas"


I am always about looking for something that is special or amazes people as they shop at our market. Sometimes these things find me!  A good friend and farmer showed up one day with burlap sack full of Loofas. All different shapes and sizes. Bartering is something that we do here at Zina's Produce. I’ve bartered watermelons for peaches, cucumbers for chicken manure, and now I am bartering for Loofas. I never even knew they grew on vines! I guess I never gave it much thought. I thought they came from the ocean as did most of my customers. I made a sign that read "Local Loofas", and they flew out the door. People were just as amazed as I, to find out that they grew right here in town.  We even left seeds in some so they could grow their own. I was even more blown away by the fact that they are edible when harvested very young, 2 to 3" long .Looks allot like a giant cucumber. The vine grows best in full sun with a fair amount of water and something to grow on .It can grow a big as 30 ft. and has the most beautiful yellow flowers 2-3 inches, and green fruit that grow up to 24 inches in length. Being a soap maker I love to pour my soap into a loofa (while in a loaf pan) letting it fill the whole thing up and when hardens, I slice it! If I use orange or lime  colored glycerine soap , it looks just like a citrus slice! It is a great project for kids, making gifts that are local and organic is all the rage right now. A little glue on a dowel (that they have stained) inserted into a loofa and bingo, instant gift.  I am always amazed at the wonders of Gods nature and my farmers! Thanks Anne.



Early to Rise" Strawberries and Rhubarb"

Soon strawberries and Rhubarb will be center stage! I can’t wait until I taste the first local strawberry. Failing a backyard bed or pick- your-own farm, try to find local strawberries! In season these babies are best when eaten right out of the patch sweet and still warm from the sun. Strawberry varieties grown for mass production and transportation, fail in comparison to local berries. Make sure when you visit a farm, market or pick your own. To buy berries that are scarlet, shiny, plump and fragrant. Store the berries in the fridge in well ventilated baskets so they can breathe. Wash them just before eating and remove the hull and stems AFTER you wash them. Remember a fresh local berry is worth the wait. Eating and cooking seasonal is close to our hearts here at our farm. My husband and I have always taken our children out strawberry picking. And although we own a produce market, things haven’t changed. We still pick berries together and make jam. Remember the intensity and scent is what makes a fresh berry remain unsurpassed. The aroma of strawberries and spring onions as I make my daily pickup is incredible! It lets me know, Spring has Sprung!

Strawberries are a natural complement to Rhubarb, which come into season at the same time. Coming from stores Rhubarb has been stripped of its leaves, which are toxic, containing oxalic acid. Never eat the leaves! Rhubarb season here in Va. Is April-May. Refrigerate them as soon as possible. To cook cut the stalks across into ½ “ -1 “ pieces. You can stew or bake them with plenty of sugar as they are tart. Hot house varieties are sweeter compared to home grown, so adjust sugar accordingly. Rhubarb cooks quickly, so cook it no longer than necessary. Stringing it is not necessary  but some prefer . It is a natural laxative. Some call a spring tonic. I love strawberry rhubarb pie and jam. Recently I discovered how good a rhubarb sauce goes with pork or lamb. The tartness offsets the meats richness, much like apples and pork. (Yum) And the best part is Rhubarb is a perennial,coming back year after year!

One day while making jam, it just would not jell. So I changed my labels and made Zina’s Strawberry Topper. It is great topped on anything…pancakes, waffles, yogurt, cake… It quickly became one of my better sellers. Then my husband bought me an ice-cream maker! Zina’s topper  became my year round supply of strawberry ice-cream, any time you want it! It has less sugar than strawberry jam (hence the reason it didn’t jell) I use this recipe for all seasonal berries blueberries ,raspberries, blackberries… Here is the recipe for Zina’s Strawberry Topper and ice cream. Enjoy!

Strawberry Ice-cream

This ice cream is delicious adding fresh local strawberries or Zina’s Strawberry Topper: Recipe as follows.

1 ½ pint of Zina’s Strawberry topper

½ cold milk

2 ¾ cup of heavy cream

11/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

In a medium bowl combine the milk and sugar, mix with mixer until sugar is dissolved. About two min. Stir in heavy cream, vanilla, and strawberry topper. Pour mixture into the freezer bowl, turn on maker and let it mix for 25 min. If more berries are wanted add during last 5 min. Enjoy!

                                       Zina’s Strawberry Topper


Use the best local strawberries you can find. Can be used as a jam, but runnier than your traditional jam. You can substitute any berry in season. 

6 cups of fresh berries 

Juice of 1 lemon 

4 cups of sugar

Combine the berries and lemon in a heavy pot. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until juice runs from berries and they float. Add sugar, stir until dissolved, bring liquids to a boil. Cook until the topping reaches setting point.220 degrees on a candy thermometer, about 15 min. stirring as it boils to avoid scorching. Skim off foam, adding a tsp. of butter will help this, spoon clean ½ pint jars. Hot water bathe for 10 min. Store in cool, dry cupboard.

Makes about 6 half-pint jars 

                                       Rhubarb Coffee Cake

This coffee cake has a nice balance between the sweet of the topping and the tart of the fruit. Great with coffee for a real morning treat!

1 1/4 c. of milk

1 T. vinegar

2 1/4 c flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp.salt

8 T. butter (1 stick at room temp.)

1 1/4 c. brown sugar

1 large egg

2 c. of rhubarb 1/2 " thick


1/2 c. brown sugar

1/2 c. old fashioned rolled oats

1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Bake 350 

Butter and flour 9x13 pan. Tapping out excess flour.Combine the milk and vinegar and let stand until curdles (5 min). Mix the flour baking soda ,salt together. Cream the butter,brown sugar together in med. bowl until fluffy about 3 min. Beat in the egg. Combine flour mixture ,sour milk, and creamed butter and sugar. Do not over mix! Mix just until ingredients are moist. Fold in rhubarb, spread in pan. Mix topping : Brown sugar, oats, and butter. Spread evenly over batter, mash down a bit with the back of a spoon. Bake until a tooth pick comes out clean.35 min. Cool in the pan on a rack.Enjoy! 


               Easy Balsamic Strawberry Jam Recipe


2 cups of chopped strawberries  

1 cup of sugar

2 Tbl. of balsamic vinegar


Cook strawberries, sugar, and balsamic vinegar in a medium pan on med heat for about 20 minutes stirring occasionally. I usually eye-ball the thickness of the sauce to determine when it is done. When the jam mixture has reduced to the consistency of thick honey or 220 degrees F. remove from heat and allow to cool. Enjoy!


Eggs Eggs Glorious Eggs!!!


Eggs, Eggs glorious Eggs!! If you haven’t had a fresh, local farm egg. You need to do so soon. They are coming in by the dozens (no pun intended), this time of year. The taste alone is worth buying a doz.  from your local farm.  Here are a few amazing facts I like to share with my customers.

*For every one egg you eat from a pastured (farm) hen, you would also have to eat three factory eggs to get the same amount of vitamin E and five for as much vitamin D. All the while, each additional conventional (factory) egg you eat will be giving you one third more cholesterol.

To get the amount of beta-carotene present in one pastured egg, for instance, you would have to eat seven from a factory farm*, according to the 2007 Mother Earth News egg testing project.

They are an ideal form of protein.

They provide a higher combined level of the nine essential amino acids than anything else we eat!

All of this is very important for our health, but the most outstanding quality is the luscious taste. The versatility is endless… meringues, custards, omelettes, mayo….

The culinary feats are endless. All the while encased in its own natural container. 

We were so blessed this year to have our chickens laying all Winter. Finally.. We realised we need to replace the flock each year. (One year they moulted for nearly 5 months)I don’t know about you, but feeding chickens in the cold, for five months with NO EGGS is not my thing. All ready for laying in the Fall, we have our new baby chicks!

I also learned somewhat late if you want a Momma Hen. Buy a Bantam! They will hatch anything. We have such a hen at our farm now. She supplies us and our visitors, with many hours of enjoyment. She is the best mom, teaching them to roost, dig for bugs, dust bathe.. All the while planning her next clutch of babies. To do it all over again. Hence the Name Momma Hen! I waited three years for my Rhode Island Reds to sit. One of our famers shared this titbit of info. Since then it’s been Eggs, Eggs, Glorious Eggs! What to do with all of those eggs! Here is a recipe for all of your eggs, whether you’re own, or a local farm.

              Pickled Eggs

  • 1 (15 ounce) can beets  
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced 
  • 12 hard cooked eggs, shelled and left whole
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup vinegar

1.      Drain liquid from the beets into saucepan. Place beets, onions, and eggs into a large bowl or pitcher.

2.     Pour sugar and vinegar into the saucepan with the beet liquid and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, and let the mixture simmer 15 minutes. 

3.     Pour the beet juice mixture over the beets, eggs, and onions. Seal the bowl or pitcher and refrigerate. Refrigerate for at least one to 3 days; the longer they are allowed to sit the better they will taste.



Home Made Laundry Soap!




The weather has been gorgeous this week.  It has got me thinking about hanging clothes on the clothes line! I love the process of hanging clothes out. The smell and the satisfaction of knowing you are being greener.  Last year I started making our Laundry Detergent, both liquid and powder. Cost is .7 cents per load! It is nice to save money, but I want laundry clean and stains gone. I had to see for myself if it was actually worth it. I have 6 children and 4 grand children, and we live on a farm. So I know a little about stains!  Most people are in the mind set that if it there is not allot of suds, then it isn’t clean. Not true, it is actually  cleaner. This is a great soap for High Efficiency Washers too!  All of the ingredients are made in the USA, Yeah! Also are safe for your family and our environment. I also love the smell... there are many recipes you could try. But I have already done the trial and era process for you. I tried less water (for concentration) more water to see if I could stretch the dollar more. Anyway I like this recipe the most and I think you will too! I bought all I needed for this soap at Ace Hardware. If you can’t find what you need request that your local store carry it.( Hint: share the recipe maybe it will speed things up!) I was so excited to get ready to make mine, I could hardly wait! Some recipes call for Dove soap, Tote, and my favourite Fels-Naptha!  It smell soooo clean, I sometimes add essential oil to the wash. If we are picking berries, or working in the garden, riding horses, then I might add citronella oil. This help ward off insects and, chiggers hate it. Otherwise I just love the smell of the Fels-Naptha. It is a great idea to keep a bar handy in the laundry room for stubborn satins. Just rub on stain and throw in the wash or laundry basket. Another green alternative for softening clothes is vinegar in the rinse cycle. The smell does rinse out.  For all of you soapers out there, you can grate your own soap to replace commercial bar soaps. Castile soaps are a great choice! Remember the finer the cheese grater the smaller the soap particles. This is good for the liquid because the time for the soap to melt takes less time ( you do not want clumps, be sure to dissolve all the way.)




I triple this recipe due to large family! It is hard to get use to the small amount you use, but commercial laundry soaps are full of fillers.


1 c grated laundry soap bar (which is about 2/3 of a bar)  Fels-Naptha
1/2 c washing soda ( pure baking soda, not the one you bake with,
1/2 c borax

Grate the soap with a cheese grater or food processor. Add all ingredients into a bowl that has an airtight lid. Stir or shake to mix well. Store the air tight container. Use 2 Tablespoons per load.


Now you have 2 choices, either liquid or powder detergent.  Powder is simpler, both are good.


 Liquid Detergent


  • Borax  


  • Washing Soda(Related to Baking soda, and can be found in most laundry detergent sections of the grocery store.  Washing Soda does not give off harmful fumes, but you must wear gloves while handling it.)  


  • Fels-Naptha 




1 quart water (boiling)
2 cups bar soap (grated)
2 cups borax
2 cups washing soda


1. Add finely grated bar soap to the boiling water and stir until soap is melted. You can keep on low heat until soap is melted.


2. Pour the soap water into a large, clean pail and add the borax and washing soda. Stir well until all is dissolved.


3. Add 2 gallons of water, stir until well mixed.


4. Cover pail and use 1/4 cup for each load of laundry. Once it’s cool, add 5 - 7 drops of your favourite essential oil per gallon (optional) Stir the soap each time you use it (it will gel).


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