Monthly Archives: March 2015



Allspice Demystified

Allspice … we know it helps give our pumpkin pies that delicious, unmistakable taste. I even used it in my Pumpkin Refrigerator Pickles. But what the heck is allspice, anyway?

Photo by jeffreyw via Wikimedia Commons


Take a poll of people in most any setting, and I’ll venture to guess that the most common opinion would be that allspice is a mixture of spices—perhaps cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. But when you look for allspice on the spices shelf at your local grocery, you might notice that one option is to buy allspice berries. So there goes the mixture theory …

Allspice—also known as Jamaica pepper, myrtle pepper, pimenta, pimento, English pepper, and newspice—actually got its name as early as the 1600s because it tasted like a mixture of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. But those berries you saw on the shelf were actually the dried fruit of the P. dioica plant. And in addition to its use in baked goods, sausages, and curries, allspice has also had an interesting history of non-culinary uses—including one in Napolean’s army. Check out this video from the American Chemical Society to find out more. (Spoiler alert: you’re either going to find the narrator endearingly adorable … or annoying. 🙂 )



Need a Bathroom?

In our busy world of travel and errands, there’s a universal question that we all must eventually face, especially if we’re the parent of little ones: Where’s the bathroom? Pulling over for a little “hike” in the woods is fine for many of us, but what if there are no woods nearby or your stop requires a little more, ahem, pampering?

Well, if your smartphone accompanies you on your jaunts, there’s an app for that! Airpnp uses your geographic location to give you a list of places to potty, from freebies at coffee shops and stores to private homes that rent out their bathrooms. Private homes that rent out their bathrooms?!

graphic, Airpnp

Yes, that’s right, people actually rent out their bathrooms. Listings on the site include photos, hours of service, and fees, and many boast family-friendly atmospheres or luxurious soaps. The founders, natives of New Orleans, created the app when they realized they could help frustrated revelers find a bathroom during the city’s annual Mardi Gras festivities. Co-founder and “PEO” Max Gaudin says, “You can use Airpnp on your phone via the browser, on your computer, or download our iOS app.” Their playful tagline reads “Urine good hands.” For those of us who sometimes have to really, really GO, this app could turn out to be ….? What would you end the sentence with? Dashing?



Farmgirl Jubilee Merit Badge, Beginner Level

The adorable, always humorous MBA Jane is my way of honoring our Sisterhood Merit Badge program, now with 6,269 dues-paying members who have earned an amazing number of merit badges so far—8,908 total! Take it away, MBA Jane!!! MJ 

Wondering who I am? I’m Merit Badge Awardee Jane (MBA Jane for short). In my former life   

For this week’s Each Other/Farmgirl Jubilee Beginning Level Merit Badge, I brewed myself a cuppa, baked a few current scones (with clotted cream, guv’nr), kept me eyes peeled for a sighting of the Tardis (my childhood dream of being Doctor Who’s new companion has never died), and read all about HM Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee of 2012.

What a bash. It was positively smashing and brilliant. (Crikey, I love British idioms. Wait. Crikey is more Down Under, isn’t it? Well, that’s a bit barmy of me, but no matter.) The British know how to do a jubilee, I tell you what. The peasants (do we still call them that?) camped out in the rain to be a part of this celebration, so you know it was a party worth going to. Like Woodstock, only way more posh. A party 60 years in the making, in fact. Cheeky!


Photo by Richard Symonds via Wikimedia Commons

Lest you think this all a bunch of codswallop or that I’m off my trolley, check it out here.

Just reading about it has me knackered, but I was determined to earn this badge. It turns out that a jubilee is a basically an anniversary celebration of … well, just about anything. Want to commemorate the first anniversary of your first Badge? Have a jubilee! Feel like marking the fifth birthday of hosting your very own grownup dinner party? It’s jubilee time!

Photo, Tsuchiura Fireworks Display by peaceful-jp-scenery via Flickr

For me, the hard part wasn’t planning a party. I mean, come on, luv, I’m the princess of parties. I have the cocktail dress to prove it (a becoming little black chiffon with a flounce to die for). The hard part was deciding what to celebrate. There’s just so much good in this farmgirl’s life …

Then I had it. I could host another Organic Dinner Party for my friends and family, and incorporate some of the other farmgirl elements: a reusable bag swap perhaps, or an evening of candlemaking (right after our course of bangers and mash … or maybe bubbles and squeak … hold the blood pudding)?

Of course, my jubilee didn’t need to be British … but I was kind of hooked. Line and sinker. Which reminds me of fish and chips. Luvvly jubbly, gals.

I got to work planning my jubilee and even included an invite for the Doctor.

Doctor Who?

Just wish I knew where to mail it.



Awesome Kids

Today, I have a treat for you … three awesome kids with big accomplishments.

First, I’ll introduce you to Lennon and Maisy.


Lennon and Maisy are sisters, just 15 and 11 years old, who are phenomenal singers. They’ve been appearing on the TV drama “Nashville” since 2012. The girls come by their talent naturally—their parents are the country music duo The Stellas, who finished fourth place on the CMT singing competition “Can You Duet” and have since gone on to make albums and tour with the Zac Brown Band. And their grandfather was once a member of the 1950s mega-group, The Platters. I’m not the only one bedazzled by Lennon and Maisy’s talents—their You Tube channel has over 60 million views! Here’s my favorite:

Since I’m not much of a TV watcher, I hadn’t seen Lennon and Maisy on “Nashville.” Instead, I was introduced to them by another amazing kid, a little guy with a big name: Kid President.

Kid President, 10-year-old Robby Novak, is a YouTube sensation, with scores of videos produced by his brother-in-law, Brad Montague, that have gathered over 75 million views. Robby has osteogenesis imperfecta, or “brittle bones disease” (Robby says, “That means I break easy.”), resulting in over 70 fractures in his short life. Brad was so inspired by Robby’s positive attitude throughout his trials that he knew they could inspire others with their videos. In the words of Kid President, “Life is too short to not be awesome.” He’s even written a book called Kid President’s Guide To Being Awesome. Robby and Brad have inspired millions to “dance, celebrate life, and throw more parades.” I’ll bet that after you watch Robby’s take on “20 Things We Should Say More Often,” you’ll be watching more Kid President videos.

The icing on the cake? These three amazing kids, together in one video! Enjoy “A Love Song from Kid President and Lennon & Maisy.”




Today’s Recipe: Maple-Bacon-Wrapped Brussels Sprouts




8 slices bacon (long slices of bacon are best)
1 T maple syrup
12 small Brussels sprouts (smaller Brussels sprouts are best), trimmed and cut in half
24 round toothpicks

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
2. Arrange bacon slices on prepared baking sheet. Brush top of each slice with maple syrup, flip over, and brush other side. Bake for about 20 minutes. Bacon should be slightly undercooked so it’s still pliable enough to wrap around Brussels sprouts.
3. Line a plate with paper towels; transfer bacon to plate to drain and cool.
4. Cut each slice of bacon into thirds, and wrap a Brussels sprout half in bacon, securing at the top with a toothpick. Place back on baking sheet.
5. When all the Brussels sprouts are wrapped, bake for an additional 15-20 minutes, until sprouts are tender and bacon is crisp.

Gather ingredients.


Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Arrange 8 slices of bacon on prepared baking sheet.


Using 1 T maple syrup, brush tops of each bacon slice.

bacon_0372 Flip over, and brush other side.

bacon_0378bacon_0381 Bake for about 20 minutes. Bacon should be slightly undercooked so it’s still pliable enough to wrap around Brussels sprouts. Line a plate with paper towels; transfer bacon to plate to drain and cool. Cut each slice of bacon into thirds, and wrap 12 trimmed Brussels sprouts halves in bacon, securing each at the top with a round toothpick.

bacon_0363bacon_0357bacon_0359 Place back on baking sheet.

bacon_0366 When all the Brussels sprouts are wrapped, bake for an additional 15-20 minutes, until sprouts are tender and bacon is crisp.