Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

Are these feet all dressed up for Halloween?

My Mom and Dad spent last weekend with us, and we had such a great time together.  They hadn't been here since early summer, so it had been awhile.  They forgot, however, to pack their backyard "poop" shoes and had to show a little ingenuity and don these grocery bags while checking in on the animals and roasting s'mores over the fire pit!  The bags may not exactly be fashion-forward, but they got the job done! ;)

Hopefully, I'll get some good Halloween pics of our brood later today and can post them tomorrow. 
Have a happy and safe Halloween!  And, as Girl 2 would say, remember to brush away all those sugar bugs on your teeth before you go to bed tonight!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Black Bean Tacos

We pretty much have our favorite Spicy Black Bean Soup with cornbread for dinner every other Monday, so once every two weeks.  The recipe makes about double what our family can eat, so I was thrilled to stumble upon this yummy way to put the leftovers to good use.

After your family has eaten their fill of soup, drain the leftover soup, so that you're just left with the beans.  I usually have about 2 c. of beans left over.  When you're ready for those black beans to make their reappearance, add the following:
1/2 c. onion, chopped
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. paprika
2 Tbs. fresh chopped or 1 Tbs. dried cilantro
pinch of salt and pepper

Mash it all up with a potato masher.

Heat a few Tbs. of olive oil in a pan.  Add a corn tortilla and heat slightly as you add bean mixture and shredded cheese to one side.  Using your spatula, fold over the tortilla to create a taco.  Cook until crisp (about 3 minutes) then carefully flip it over to cook the other side.  Depending on the size of your pan, you can have 2 or 3 tacos cooking at once. 

Serve with salsa, shredded lettuce, sour cream, avocado -- whatever Mexican goodness you love!

These are an absolutely delicious way to work more beans into your diet.  After all, I seem to remember hearing somewhere that "beans, beans, they're good for your heart."  ;)

Monday, October 29, 2012

October Winner Is. . . .

Our October winner is . . .

Jenny Mills!

Congrats, Sis!  You'll be receiving this "Super Awesome" canning supply kit in the mail!


Sunday, October 28, 2012

Our Glasses: A Sanity Saver

Our glasses, from left to right is oldest to youngest.

This may seem like a weird thing to blog about, but just let me explain.  Yesterday, our family's set of Tervis Tumblers were in the dishwasher at an odd time, and, as a result, we dirtied 11 glasses while these 5 were out of use.  You know the routine:  "Is that my glass?  I'm not sure.  Guess I'll just get another one."

This is not an advertisement for Tervis.  Any glasses that are distinguishable will work.  We've had colored glasses in the past, but we weren't always the same color, so it didn't work right.  If you go with colors, be sure everyone knows his color and sticks with it. 
Now that we have these glasses, there's no question which glass belongs to which person .   The glasses get thrown into the dishwasher once per day but are used continuously throughout the day.  Switching beverages?  Just rinse and refill.

This cuts down on dishes and saves me a little bit of sanity each day.

Oh, and bonus:  Each glass comes with a snap on lid (or lid with straw for Little Boy) to make our glasses road-worthy.  Rather than packing a bunch of drinks in plastic bottles for road trips, we just pack up our Tervises and hit the road! 

In fact, my Mom uses the same system at her house, so if it's to Nana's house we're traveling, we'll just carry our glasses in and use them the whole time we're there.  ;)

Like I said, this is such a simple thing, but it really does save me time and aggravation, so I thought it was worth sharing.  :)  Sometimes it's the little things, you know?

Oh, and don't forget to comment on this post by the end of the day today to be entered into the drawing for the canning supplies!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Soap Safety

Everytime I don my gloves and goggles to whip up a batch of soap, I feel like the biggest goober.  (Sorry, no goggle pics in this post;)

But, today, as I splashed my milk/lye mixture onto the lens of my goggles, I was thankful that I'd chosen to follow protocol.  My soap-making book advises covering every possible inch of skin, with long pants and long-sleeves tucked into gloves. 
The last time I made soap, I took my gloves off mid-process for a minute to do something out of the kitchen.  When I returned, I grabbed the spoon to continue stirring, forgetting to don my gloves first.  Ahhhh!  Yes, lye will burn you!  And, like a moron, I was wearing shorts (what can I say?  I'd made soap so many times without incident that I was starting to get comfortable) and proceeded to splash a little bit of the mixture out of the pot and onto my leg.  Chemical burns are no joke!
Anyway, I was very thankful that I was wearing my goggles today.  (For those who know me best, the splash was on the left lens of my goggles, but still ;)

So, if soap-making is in your future, don't play around with the safety guidelines.  All the warnings on the bottle of lye are there for a reason!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Baby, It's Cold Outside!

Yesterday, the girls wore shorts to school.  Today, they wore coats.  Such is the weather here in Arkansas.  One day it's summer, the next it's winter -- or so it seems.

Anyway, following his bi-annual feed run to Thayer, Missouri (have I mentioned that we're very particular about our animal's feed and have to drive all the way to Thayer to get the kind we want?) earlier this week, John came home announcing that he'd picked me up a surprise. 

Now, I know some women whose thoughts might've immediately drifted to flowers or some other nonsense, but I know better.  John is far too practical for all that.  Besides, he had just returned from the feed store. 
This is what I got -- deerskin Thinsulate-lined gloves!  I was thrilled.  They are so soft AND warm. 

He, of course, got himself a pair, too.  I know that a lot of folks might take cold weather as an indicator that it's time to stay indoors more, but we don't ascribe to that.  We couldn't even if we wanted to.  Too many animals depend on us. So, a gift of winter work gloves is a great one!

John wore his this morning and came in from his chores proclaiming that the key to staying happy outdoors in the cold is keeping your extremities warm -- hands, feet, and head.  I've definitely found this to be true when running in the cold, too. 

If you do a lot of work outside during the winter, I'd advise you to pick up a pair of good, warm gloves.  At $20.95, these are not the cheapest on the shelf, but they're a good investment in your winter happiness!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Time for Our October Drawing!

This month, in honor of my recent canning craze, I'm giving away a brand new set of canning supplies!  Starting with the funnel and going clockwise, here's what we've got in this kit:
1.  aforementioned funnel -- fits either standard or wide-mouth jars and allows you to fill 'em up without making a giant mess
2.  jar lifter -- this is an amazing tool!  It expertly grabs jars so that you can lower them into or pull them out of your hot water without burning yourself!
3.  head space-measurer/bubble-getter-outer -- (okay, those may not be technical terms)  The jagged edge has measurements from 1/4" to 1" to help you get your head space accurate.  The other end is used to poke around the edges of your filled jar and get out any air bubbles before sealing.
4.  magnetic lid lifter -- this tool has a magnet on the end and aids you in lifting hot lids out of hot water without burning your hands

Great stuff, huh? 
So, what do you have to do to get entered into this month's drawing?

Comment on this post by Sunday, answering this question:

What's your favorite thing you've NEVER canned? 
Yep, you read that right.  What do you wish you could put away fresh and have for later, but you've never actually tried to do it?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Jelly Fail

Confession:  I've never made jelly. 
Not true jelly, anyway. . . you know, the kind that's made of only sugar and fruit juice.
But, I had this big bowlful of leftover pear juice from my cinnamon pear canning last week and hated to throw it out, so I decided to try turning it into jelly. 

So, I added some more sugar so that the total sugar was what my canning book called for.

(As you can see, I was working on multiple projects at once.  Maybe that was my problem -- multi-tasking failure)

I brought the mixture to 220 degrees as my recipe advised.  Then, I checked for it to "sheet" off the spoon the way the book described.  It didn't.  I let it sit at 220 degrees for several minutes, but it never did thicken up.
I went ahead and jarred it up, hoping that it might thicken during canning.
As you can see here, it didn't.  Oh, well.  Since it was just leftover juice, I'm only out my time and the cost of a couple cups of sugar. 

Those more experienced canners, suggestions?  What went wrong here?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Garden Surprises

Back in the spring, I was able to put up quite a few jars of green beans.  Then, the drought came.  The vines quit producing, but with all my watering they stayed green.  It felt cruel to yank them out, considering all the effort they were making to survive, so I just kept watering them all summer long.  Now that the temps are a bit cooler . . . surprise! . . . they've decided to produce again!
Yesterday I was able to harvest a pretty big mess of beans.  Since I was surprised by this and had already planned our weekly menu, I decided to can them. (Besides, I'm on a canning kick, remember?)

All cut up and ready to go!

Who knew?  Three unexpected quarts of green beans for us to eat this winter. 

Since three jars is hardly worth getting the canner out for, I decided to try my hand at some jelly, too.  More on that failure in tomorrow's post!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Holy Sweet Potato!

According to my organic gardening handbook, my sweet potatoes are ready for harvest once the first frost kills off the green foliage.  BUT,  I decided to go ahead and do it today. 

Here's why:
1.  I've noticed lots of bugs/caterpillars on the foliage lately.   I read that sometimes leaving potatoes in the ground too long can result in insect-damaged roots. 
2.  I've about decided that frost may never come.  Here it is, late October, and we've still got 80 degree weather in our 10-day forecast.  My impatience and curiosity are getting the better of me.  What's been going on under that soil for the past 4 months?
3.  I could take advantage of the warm weather in the forecast and use the garage to cure my potatoes.  My book suggests allowing sweet potatoes to sit at 80-85 degrees for 2 weeks to prolong shelf-life.  My stifling garage should do just fine.
4.  It was just such a beautiful day today.  It made me want to just sit in the sun and get my hands dirty (literally).
Here's what the garden bed looked like before I dug in.

Scarf and Milkshake lend a hand.

2 wheelbarrowfuls of foliage, ready for the compost pile

That's a whole-bunch of sweet potatoes!  Looks like the blog is going to be full of sweet potato recipes this fall!

The garden bed once I was finished digging

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Whole Sha-Bang!

You know what they say:  waste not, want not
We as Americans don't seem to ascribe to this philosophy, though.  I read a sobering statistic that stated that despite all of our mothers reminding us to remember the poor starving children in Africa as we push our peas around our plates, nearly 40% of food produced in the U.S. is wasted.  It either isn't "pretty" enough to make it to the shelves, gets tossed during processing, goes bad in our own refrigerators, or is tossed from grocery store shelves after its "best by" date.  As a whole, we are waste-ers, yet we still want for nothing.  We take most of our resources for granted.

Homesteading, even on a small scale, has a way of exposing that error and reteaching us the value of the resources God has given us.  Take for example, the chicken.  I can tell you this: since we've been raising our own chickens in the backyard, slaughtering them with our own hands, and cooking them in our kitchen, we've wasted not a single shred of their meat. 

Understandable, right?  I mean, we didn't research and select the perfect breed, rejoice in the chicks arrival, settle them into the warm brooding box, feed them daily, watch them grow, laugh at their antics, research humane slaughter practices, employ those practices with our own knives and hands, package, freeze, thaw, and cook them only to let the leftovers go bad in the fridge and become food for the garbage disposal.  I mean, those chickens were intended to feed us! 

Just because we may not always see the process involved with the production of our food, this is all still true -- it was intended to feed us.  Out of respect for the system God put in place to feed us, the animals that give their lives to do so, and the people involved in the production of our foods, we ought to strive to minimize our waste. 

All of this ranting eventually brings me to this:  today I was able to make use of some of the chicken parts that we don't eat -- wasting them not, if you will.

If I'm not cooking a bird whole, I'll thaw it and then cut it into its 8 traditional pieces:  2 thighs, 2 legs, 2 breasts, and 2 wings.  That leaves me with the back.  Ever considered a chicken back?  When you look at one skinned, you can see that it does actually have some meat on it, but it's just so hard to get to.

As I cut the back out of a bird, I throw it back into the plastic storage bag and back into the freezer from whence it came.  Today, once I had collected 4-5 chicken backs, I used them to make chicken broth, using my usual recipe
For basically the cost of a couple of celery stalks and carrots, I was able to make use of chicken parts that would otherwise have been thrown out.  (Sidenote:  You can also use the neck and/or bones leftover from other recipes.) 
I usually freeze my broth, but I've been in such a canning mood lately that I decided to put some up in jars to use on those days when I've not had the forethought to thaw out any broth.  I used both quart and pint jars because my go-to bean recipes call for either 4 or 6 cups of broth, so this way I can use either just a quart for the 4 c. recipes or a quart and a pint for the 6 c. recipes.  (We've gotten into a pattern of having some type of beans every Monday -- it's a carryover from our New Orleans days!)

To can broth, you need a pressure canner.  Fill hot, sterilized jars with hot, freshly prepared broth, allowing 1" headspace.  Add lids and rings and process for 25 minutes at 10 lbs. of pressure.

Voila!  Chicken broth at-the-ready in your pantry.  And, it comes complete with that warm, fuzzy feeling you get from knowing that you made use of the whole sha-bang, (or chicken, in this case.  :)

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Habaneros or Parsley, anyone?

It seems I've got more Habanero peppers than I know what to do with.  I've already used some for salsa, but they're too hot for us to just munch on raw. 

We've also got parsley aplenty!  I chose a variety this year that boasted that it would be slow in going to seed and would thus produce for a longer period of time.  It's definitely proven true to it's word.  This parsley is abundant and fragrant and has been producing for several months now.

If you could use some of either of these, please let me know, and I'll see how to get it to you!  Cold weather will be claiming them if they aren't harvested soon, so speak up quickly!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Mystery Chicken

This little gal is our mystery chicken.  The hatchery we use shipped us a free "exotic breed" chick with our most recent order of meat chickens.  She's now got some of her adult feathers, but we're still not much closer to identifying her breed.  The other night, John was squatted down outside the coop comparing her to chicken photos he'd pulled up on his smart phone.  Still, we're unsure.  What does seem to be clear is that she is a SHE.  That's good news.  We'd have had a tough decision to make if it had turned out to be male, since he wouldn't have beefed up enough to be worth much in the way of meat and obviously would be useless as a layer.  As an exotic, she may not be a very prolific layer, but at least she won't wake us up crowing and will make an addition to our breakfast somewhat regularly.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Canning Craze!

Despite the blood, sweat, and tears involved (okay, no tears yet, but blood and sweat, for sure), I can't seem to get enough of canning!  In fact, I just completed my second canning project of the day. 
I'm making good use already of my new metal bowls.  Heretofore, the bowls on the right were the only mixing bowls we owned.  They are great and get lots of use, but they weren't cutting it for this homesteader-in-training.  I went this morning (at 7:40am -- yes, they were open that early) to visit my neighbor/church family member at his restaurant supply company and purchased 2 of these 16 qt. metal mixing bowls.  I love them!

Tonight, I canned some more Cinnamon Pears for Little Boy.  I asked Girl 2 whether she'd like to try some, but she was skeptical.  Little Boy tried to convince her, "They REALLY good!  They like marshmallows and cinnamon and cookies!"  She was sold (and who wouldn't be?)  And, guess what?  She's a big fan, too.  I made them just like we did in my canning club meeting, only I did chunks instead of slices and opted to leave out the food coloring.

I'm on such a canning kick and still have several recipes I plan to try.  In fact, I thought about making this "Canning Week" on the blog and can something different everyday.  It became apparent today, though, that "Canning Week" would also be "Neglect-Your-Preschooler Week," so we may have to space things out a bit.  But, be warned, there will be more canning in this blog's near future!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Our Little Broilers

Our little broilers are already double the size they were when they suffered their Dexter attack a few weeks back.  It's amazing how quickly they grow.
Here's a look at what happens when John moves them.  He's been doing this in the late-afternoon/evening lately, rather than in the morning, because it's so much easier to do during bright daylight.

You can see in this photo how they just kind of move with the tractor as he rolls it.  It seems they've got the hang of the routine and are always glad to see that new patch of grass.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Que Es "Mincemeat"?

At my canning club meeting last week, we canned cinnamon pears.  The process was pretty straightforward and the result, yummy.  But, on the table at the meeting, there was some of this.

I was checking it out when another club member informed me that it was mincemeat. Mincemeat?  I didn't exactly know what it was, and I was not eager to find out.  As I headed back to my seat, though, some of the other ladies swarmed and pretty much demanded that I try it.  How bad could it be, I thought; after all, it's got cream cheese and a cracker to cut the taste. 


I immediately asked for the recipe. 

Now, mincemeat is sometimes made without meat (as this one was), but it does usually involve some type of beef or beef suet (suet, according to this website, is the hard fat around the kidneys of an animal and is frequently used in British fare).   Mincemeat is British cuisine, so I realize it's weird that I used Spanish in the title of this post. It's just that mincemeat was so foreign to me, it may as well have been a foreign language, and Spanish is the only one I know a little of ;)

I knew immediately that I planned to make some of this stuff for myself when I got home and that I might even give some as Christmas gifts.  But, the name had to go.  Would anyone even bother opening up a jar of "Pear Mincemeat"?  Further research revealed the the term "chutney" has become so widespread that so long as it involves fchopped fruit and spices, it qualifies. 

So, here's my recipe for "Pear Chutney."

7 lbs. ripe pears (Thanks, Angela, for trading me some goat milk for some pears!)
1 lemon
2 lbs. raisins
6 3/4 c. sugar
1 Tbs. cloves
1 Tbs. cinnamon
1 Tbs. nutmeg
1 Tbs. allspice
1 tsp. ginger
1 c. vinegar

(Sugar was on sale this week, so I bought 4 bags!  I figure, since I didn't have to pay for my pears, this probably came out to about $.70 per jar.  Not bad! 

Peel, quarter, and core pears.  Peel and quarter lemon, removing seeds.   
Put pears, lemon, and raisins through food processor or chopper. 

Combine with the remaining ingredients in a large pot and bring to a boil over medium heat (be sure to stir frequently to prevent scorching the sugar on the bottom of the pan).  Simmer for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, go feed the pear peels and cores to the chickens! 

Pour, boiling hot, into hot pint jars, leaving 1/4" headspace.

Wipe rims clean, add lids and rings.

Process 25 minutes in boiling water bath.

Remove and allow to cool, listening for the PING!
The recipe suggested it would yield 9 pints.  I got 8 pints.  (Yes, I realize there are only 7 in the photo.  I didn't process one jar and put it straight into the fridge for us to have with dinner tonight.)

Cold Frame Update

Well, we had some pretty strong winds and rain over the weekend, and the cold frame still stands! 
So far, it seems to be working well.  I love how the plastic sheeting really holds moisture in so that I don't have to water very often!

Here's a peek inside.  We've got a couple of different varieties of lettuce and spinach coming up.

And, if you look closely, there are some little shoots of kale coming up, too.

Hopefully, we'll have fresh greens ready for the table soon!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Our Nasty Buck

Copper, King of the Rock

We love having visitors to our little farm.  And, I'll admit, things are very entertaining in the backyard right now.  I would not, however, think this is a prime time to bring over the kiddos for a friendly farm visit.  In fact, if any kiddos are reading this post along with you, it might be time to send them to make their beds or clean their rooms.

Yep, it's breeding season, and though we're not sure Copper has managed to actually get things done yet, he's trying desperately.  While a lot of dairy goat owners today choose artificial insemination, we opted to go a more natural route and own a buck.  Honestly, I think we're beginning to rethink the decision.  In the months we've owned him, Copper has gone from adorable little buckling to disgusting buck Herd King.

For those who are unfamiliar with buck behavior, allow me to quote from The Backyard Goat as way of explanation:

**Warning:  Parts of this quote are NOT suitable for the kiddos and, in fact, use language that I stumble over myself, as an adult!**

"Though regal and affectionate to a fault, bucks have bizarre habits that  make them unsuitable for most applications.  Bucks,  . . . enter 'rut' as autumn approaches. . . Since many bucks consider humans part of their herd, they court female caretakers and challenge human males for leadership.  A two-hundred-pound buck is a force to reckon with [luckily for us, Copper isn't near that size], whether he's standing with his front feet on a woman's shoulders blubbering in her face or ramming a man with his forehead or horns.  People are seriously injured by bucks every year.  . . . If the danger factor isn't enough, consider this: during rut, scent glands located near a buck's horns (or where his horns used to be) secrete incredibly strong-scented, greasy musk.  When a buck rubs his forehead on a person or object, he's spreading his scent.  . . . They also spray thin streams of urine along their bellies, on their front legs and chests, and into their mouths and beards.  Bucks also twist themselves and grasp their penises in their mouths.  They sometimes masturbate on their bellies and front legs and then sniff themselves and 'flehmen.'"

Okay.  Aren't you glad I warned you about the content of this post?  Now, I do not plan to post any pics of Copper's myriad disgusting behaviors, but I have tried to snap a pic of him "flehmening."  So far,  I've been unsuccessful.  Flehmening is when he lifts his chin and curls his upper lip.  "By curling his lip, he exposes the vomeronasal organ (also called the Jacobson's organ), in the roof of his mouth, and draws scent toward it.  This behavior helps him identify scents."    So, Copper is flehmening a lot these days.  He flehmens as he follows the gals around.  He flehmens as he admires his own terrible stench.  In fact, he does it so often that the only reason I haven't photographed it is that he stinks so terribly that I try to stay as far away from him as possible these days. 
Sharing a moment with Honey

This post has left me wondering where I ought to draw the line when it comes to how much info is too much for the blog.  What do you think, TMI?  I just want to paint an accurate picture of what it's like to live on our little farm, and right now, it's pretty hard to ignore the fact that all of this is going on. 

What do the kids think of all this?  Well, there've definitely been some questions.  And, the other day, I watched Girl 2 stop playing on the swingset and just watch Copper, mesmerized, as he proceeded to do some pretty disgusting things that left his hair on his face matted together.  Thankfully, she did not then come ask me about it.  When it was all over, she just went right back to hanging upside down on the playset. 
Offering a view of the matted hair on his face

Though it's disgusting to read about (I just literally cringed as I reread The Backyard Goat quote above), it is just a part of nature.  When it comes to this season of autumn, though, I think I much prefer the pumpkins and jewel-toned leaves to the flehmening goats.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Mmmmm. Pears!

Thursday evening, I enjoyed my 2nd Canning Club meeting.  Three club members tag-teamed and taught the rest of us how to can Cinnamon Pears.  I was a bit skeptical about whether or not I would actually like cinnamon pears, but Little Boy and I pretty much demolished our jar at lunch today!  In fact, though he'd previously negotiated a deal that involved a cookie for dessert, he revised his request once he'd tried the pears:  "Momma, when I eat all of dis (chipped beef on toast), I get more of deeze (cinnamon pears)?"
At the meeting I took copious notes on how to make them, so I'll attempt to make sense of my scrawl, record it here for me to reference later, and allow Jessica, my partner in canning, a peek at what we did since she wasn't able to make the meeting.  ;)

1.  One of the three teachers had brought pears from her father's backyard for us to use.  We peeled, cut out any bad sections, cored, and sliced the pears and threw them into a mix of 1/4 c. lemon juice to 1 qt. water to preserve their color while we worked.  (I think that when I attempt this at home, I will chunk rather than slice.  I think that would be easier for Little Boy to eat.)

2.  We drained off the water and added pears to pre-warmed water.  We then added sugar to the water at a ratio of 2 c. sugar for every quart of water (you need enough water to cover all the pears).  Also, add 1 cinnamon stick per quart of water used.  Then, we added red food coloring to "taste" (is that funny to anyone else?).  I guess this is done so that they look more "cinnamon-y," but, honestly, pink pears are a little weird to me, so I think I'd leave this out if just canning them for our own use.

3. We brought the mix to a boil and cooked for 6 minutes.  Stirring frequently is key during this part of the process to keep it from sticking and burning.  A thick enamel pan works well for canning things that tend to burn easily.  Apparently good enamel pans are difficult to find these days, though.  The one we used in class was given to one of the teachers by her grandmother years ago.

4. We then ladled the pears and juice (removing the cinnamon sticks) into hot, prepared jars.  Packing pretty tightly, be sure that the pears are covered with liquid and leave 1/2" headspace.  Use a non-metal object to poke around and release any air bubbles ("Why non-metal?" I asked.  The response?  A blank stare, followed by a laugh and "because that's what Grandma did!"  Then someone else finally piped up and said that they thought it was because metal might break the hot glass.  One lady said she uses a chopstick or kabab skewer as her "non-metal" object.)  Wipe top of jar clean before adding prepped lids and rings.

5. We processed in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes before removing and waiting for the PINGS!

I got to take a jar home!
Here are the pears I had today with my lunch.

Those chubby little fingers couldn't get enough of these pears!

If you're interested in canning some of your own, I'd recommend this recipe.  The cinnamon gives the pears a kick, and the syrup mix is a lot lighter than what canned pears from the grocery store are coated in.  If you don't have pears growing in your dad's backyard, now's a good time to purchase them at the store.  One of our local stores has them for $.99 a lb. until Tuesday-- check your sale paper (or better yet, your local farmer's market!)