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Super Easy Valentine’s Day Wreath

Supplies:

  • foam heart
  • red felt
  • straight pins
  • 3” circle cut out or cup (used as a guide when cutting felt)
  • ribbon of choice
  • scissors

 

Directions:

  1. Trace and cut many, many 3” circles.
  2. Fold the circles in half and then in half again.
  3. Pin the felt through the side and into the Styrofoam.  Continue doing this until the wreath is covered.  Covering the back side is not necessary because it won’t be seen when hanging up.
  4. On the back side of the wreath, pin in the ribbon for hanging.

That’s it!  Now you have a beautiful wreath for Valentine’s Day or even all year long!

Make Your Own Dog Food

For some people, Fido and Whiskers are genuinely part of the family.  Furry friends of the 4-legged variety are our faithful companions, through thick and thin.  Recently, many people have themselves begun to realize the affect food has on our bodies.  Animal lovers, of course, want their pets to benefit from these kinds of healthy choices as well.

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Comfort Food Recipe

While the weather in Florida is unpredictable at best, there are a few days where the temperatures drop.  On these kinds of days, there is nothing more comforting than the aroma of favorite meal wafting throughout the house.  For me, the best kinds of comfort foods are best made in a crockpot, which also coincides with my lack of motivation on cold days.  Here is a recipe that is sure to be a crowd pleaser, and no one need know just how simple it was to prepare.  This recipe also has the added benefit of being completely grain and gluten free, and you can use the leftover sauce for other meals throughout the week.

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Oh, Lard…

A serious trend in Amerca is making the old new again.  From fashion to decorating, we are getting back to our roots.  This extends even further into cooking.  We’ve found out that many modern foods do not stand up to their traditional counterparts.  Sugar is better for you than high fructose corn syrup.  The right kind of chocolate, it turns out, is good for your health.  Another trend in food preparation is throwing out shortening and margarine and replacing it with lard.

That’s right, lard.  Now before you turn up your nose, consider a few things.  Lard has been used in cooking for centuries upon centuries; more generations back than you can probably count.  Our ancestors could not afford to waste any part of an animal, thus the use of lard was widely known.  Even in today’s times, eating every possible part of an animal is environmentally smart.  In the past hundred years or so, however, lard has been demonized in American culture.  Most people recoil at the thought of using animal fat in their every day cooking.

Let’s look at this from a purely scientific point of view, though. Shortening was first sold in 1911 by Proctor & Gamble, calling it Crisco.  Crisco was originally formulated to be used in candles to replace the more expensive animal fat.  When electricity began to reduce the market for candles, they began selling the product as a food.  Shortening is made entirely of vegetable oil and contains many saturated fats, something to be avoided.  Lard, on the other hand, is a monosaturated fat and contains no trans-fats, which are the worst of the bunch.  In fact, it is said that lard is a good source of Vitamin D.  Plus, lard is minimally processed and contains no preservatives, something we should all be trying to get rid of in our diets.

While lard can be purchased at some grocery stores, it is best when rendered at home.  The first step in this process is to obtain the pork fat – possibly the hardest part of the entire process.  Your average grocery store will only have fat from factory-raised pigs.  Make sure you use only naturally raised pork.  The best place to find this is at a specialty market or even a farmers market.  Inquire about the meat’s origins and their feeding practices and see how much is available for purchase.  If you are planning on using your lard for use in pastries, try finding “leaf lard” which is the fat from around the kidneys.  This is the best lard for use in baking.

Once you have found your fat, the first step is to cut it into 1” cubes, some even put it through a meat grinder.  The idea is to have small enough pieces to get as much fat out as possible.  There are two ways to render the fat – in the oven or on the stovetop.  For the oven, begin by heating the over to 225⁰F.  Put about a quarter-inch of water at the bottom of a dutch oven.  This prevents the fat from browning before it has time to melt.  Add your chopped up fat and put it in the over for at least a couple of hours, stirring occasionally.  Once the chunks won’t give up any more fat, remove it from the oven.  If you are using the stovetop method, place the lard in a stockpot and simmer on low heat for at least a few hours, again until the chunks won’t give up any more fat.  Once the lard as cooled down a bit, strain it.  You can use a coffee filter and a cone or whatever means available.  The best thing to do next would be to reheat the filtered lard and prepare quart jars and lids.  Then seal the lard in the jars and voila!  The lard should stay good in the jars but once opened should be refrigerated.

Now that you have all this lard, what should you do with it?  Lard can be used in place of shortening and butter in almost any facet.   On popcorn?  Yum.   In recipes?  The tastiest cookies.  Frying up some eggs?  Lard will give you a nice crispiness.   If you’d like, you can use a half butter, half lard combination. Some people even spread lard over bread and sprinkle on some onions and salt and call is a sandwich.  As for the left over cracklings – snack on them, use them on a salad, or use them as treats for your pets.

We are all trying to be healthier and more environmentally conscious.  Lard is an easy way to cut out more processed foods and take advantage of a centuries old practice.  Your wallet and taste buds are sure to thank you.

What’s Your Type?The Newest Health Trend

Let’s be real… Everyone is looking for that “end all, be all” of diets.  One of the newest ideas is to look at human physiology from an evolutionary viewpoint.  This is where the “Blood Type Diet” comes in.  The idea of eating specifically for your blood type was first introduced by Dr. Peter D’Adamo in his book, Eat Right 4 Your Type, which continues to be a bestseller.  Dr. D’Adamo claims that following his guidelines will not only assist with occurrences such as allergies and immune system complications, but also with weight lose. 

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Strawberry Basics

One of the best feelings is enjoying fresh fruit right from your very own garden. Strawberries are simple to grow and make a sweet, delicious treat. Strawberries can be planted outdoors or in containers or hanging pots, which make them even easier to grow.

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Golden 100 Results Are In!

Your voice was heard! Since August, Practical Living Magazine has been conducting a voting campaign to learn what you, the reader, think is the best..well, anything Osceola Has to offer. For a grueling 100+ days, we inquired everything from coffee shops to tattoo parlors, best pubs to the best grub, and so much more. and you didn’t disappoint (though as someone who had to tally the votes, maybe a little less enthusiasm would have been appreciated). If the curiosity is killing you, check out our results by clicking here and see if your vote made it to the top!

Super Bowl: by the numbers

For many Americans, the holiday season doesn’t end on New Year’s Day. Since it began in 1967, the Super Bowl has become one of our nation’s most revered annual traditions. Over the years this glorified sporting event has evolved into a grandiose celebration of camaraderie, gluttony, and the occasional funny commercial (oh, and football too). And with nearly half a century of existence, this pseudo-holiday has grown to possess a lush history and some astonishing statistics. So in between scarfing down delicious snacks and yelling at your television screen, share some of these interesting facts with your friends!


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