Dirt and sugar and everything in between

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Love is Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

I am convinced that homemade chicken noodle soup from scratch can cure anything. I have the best memories of homemade chicken noodle soup the way my step-father made it. The whole house would swell with the warm smell of the chicken stock and it would linger for days after he cooked it. I remember clutching a large ceramic bowl with an oversized spoon in my hand gulping down huge chunks of chicken and vegetables. Whenever my sister, mom or I got sick, even for a simple cold, my step-dad would declare he had the cure to our sickness and would get started whipping together his famous soup. I think the only time I ever got off the couch when I was sick was to eat a heart warming bowl of his chicken noodle soup. I don’t think I ever appreciated the art of chicken noodle soup until a few months ago when I decided to embark on the journey of making the same chicken noodle soup the way my step-dad made it.

I have documented the process and ingredients of the best chicken noodle soup below. The beauty about chicken noodle soup is you can add what you want and how much you want depending on personal preference. I personally like carrots so I will add a bit more carrots than celery. The full list of what I use is below. Image



Time: Between 3-5 hours depending on size of chicken.

  • 1 full chicken
  • 10-15 Carrots
  • 1-2 Celery stalks
  • 3-4 Onions
  • 1-2 Leeks
  • Fresh Parsley
  • 5-7 Bay leaves
  • 15-20 Black pepper corns
  • Celery root
  • Fresh Rosemary
  • Oregano
  • 5-8 Garlic cloves
  • Salt

I added 2 small dried peppers from my garden to add a bit of spice for a change. But for your first receipt I would stick with the basics and for future batches throw in some fun things. Please also remember depending on how big your chicken is and how large your pots is the amounts of each ingredients can be changed.

  1. Take the chicken and clean it off with some water. Open the cavity and rinse it with some water. Depending on the brand there might be some redish colored water in the cavity, this is totally normal, just dump this water out. If you feel more comfortable you can put some disposable gloves on to pull out the organs out of the cavity. Some chickens will already have the organs taken out, again it depends on the brand. I usually just toss the organs. Make sure to really clean of the surfaces you touched the chicken too.
  2. Grab your largest pot, Ideally a minimum of a 5 gallon pot. Put the chicken in the pot and fill the pot with water so the chicken is completely covered with water.
  3. Now go ahead and add the following veggies to make the stalk.
    1. Put in all of the onions. I take the skin off and quarter them
    2. Put in the leaves of the celery (the inner part of the celery stalk)
    3. 2 whole carrots
    4. Put both leeks in, cut off the top green part and just put the bottom part of the leeks in for the broth. They can be cut in half or put in whole
    5. All of the parsley, a good handful
    6. A few stems of fresh rosemary
    7. A few stems of Oregano
    8. All of the garlic cloves with the skins off
    9. Celery root, Cut into quarters or eighths. I leave the thick outer skin on
    10. All of the Bay leaves
    11. All of the peppercorns
    12. A few teaspoons of Salt. Additional salt will be added to taste at the end



  1. Bring the stalk to a boil and then reduce to a high simmer, the stalk should be softly boiling.
  2. Wait between 3-5 hours, again depending on the chicken size. You will know when the chicken is done because the whole chicken will literally fall off the bone and can be pulled apart easily. Ideally when it gets to this point it will pull off in nice sized strips rather than chunks of chicken. Make sure not to let it go for too long, the chicken will mix up with the veggies and it will be hard to separate the chicken from the cooked veggies.
  3. Once the chicken falls off the bone, strain the chicken and vegetables from the stalk. I usually pour the stalk into a cullender with a large pot underneath. Then I will strain the stalk for a second time through a finer mesh strainer back into the original 5 gallon pot. Discard the vegetables used to make the stalk and separate the chicken into nice sized strips. Now set aside the chicken. You will put it back into the soup at the end of the boil.
  4. Now cut up the rest of your celery stalks and carrots and add them to the strained chicken stalk. Put the flame on medium-low heat and softly boil for 20-30 minutes. You can taste the carrots to see how soft they are. I like mine not too mushy so I just make sure to watch them so they do not start to get so soft where they fall apart.
  5. Now for the last step. Add the chicken back into the stalk and softly boil for another 10-15 minutes. The chicken is already cooked so I usually just do this while I am adding additional salt and pepper to taste. I usually will add additional salt and freshly ground pepper to the soup when I am about to eat it so just remember not to go overboard with salt and pepper.

When you are ready to serve boil some egg noodles or whichever noodle type you prefer so you can add the noodles to each individual bowl when you serve it. I prefer to do this than let the noodles soak in the broth.

Also you can freeze some of the soup for later. I usually put the soup in a huge tupperware to enjoy untill the last drop. Dont forget to give it away to all of your friends. I love to  share what I make.

Enjoy and eat up!


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Photo shoot with gel filters

I am talking a color theory class currently and the other day we were working with gel filters to create different effects by putting the colored gel filter in front of the camera lens. With the huge Instagram craze, anyone can create antique looking photographs by using Instagrams filter library. I mean don’t get me wrong, I am an Instagram addict, but I do see a ton of people on there taking picture of last nights drunken extravaganza and calling it art. I take mostly pictures of gardening, plants, composting, my cats, food, baking goods I make, art projects I am working on and anything else I find interesting. ( btw, my username is ltackbary if your on instagram and want to follow me!)

Anyway, we went outside to play with some of these gel filters and below are some of the results. I think they turned out pretty well for an impromptu photo shoot. I ended up modeling for some of them in my American Apparel grandma sweater and I used some half drank Miller high life beer cans I found in the ally, so none the less it was pretty much hipster fun. Enjoy!






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Something to think about

My brother said something the other week to me that really struck me. He text me, “…and the banks keep getting bigger and corn becomes the only food commodity”- Chris Lyons. I have been on this kick about corn so I made this today.


Peppers and Vodka, Vodka and Peppers

This week is a glorious week up at the family cottage in northern Michigan. I always like to do little project while up here so this trip I have focused my efforts on hot peppers. So I decided to infuse hot peppers in vodka and pickle the peppers. Last night I did part one, which was infusing the hot peppers in vodka. I read a few articles on doing it and kind of combined what I read into what I did. In the town of Glen Arbor where the family cottage is, there is a place called Arts Tavern, literally the best tavern you will ever go to. The walls and ceiling are lined with all of the universities pendants and stuffed fish line the walls. At night they raise a pool table up from below the wood floor for the nighttime locals, and they serve the best bloody mary’s I have ever had. I first discovered vodka infused with peppers at Arts Tavern. At the bar they had a huge vat of vodka that had been infused for a month with hot peppers. First off, all of the recipes I have read say only wait a few days with the hot peppers in the vodka, so needless to say, this vodka was the hottest thing you would have ever tasted. I had a bloody mary with the vodka and my lips burned for hours after, but it was the best bloody mary I have ever had. So I decided to try it myself. Here is what I did. I went to a local organic farmers market and picked up some fresh peppers. I got chile peppers, cherry, cayenne, banana and serrano peppers. I first rinsed the pepper with water in a pot of water. I just like the picture below to show all of the different kind of peppers I used. ImageNext was the job of cutting all of the peppers. I did not wear gloves, which I instantly regretted. I literally washed my hands over 20 times and scrubbed them with a dish sponge and still ever time I accidentally touched my face it burned like crazy. Please, although it looks stupid, wear gloves! Apparently the oil in the peppers does not wash of easily and it burns like hell if you rub your eyes or nose. I learned that the hard way when I made a quick stir fry last week with a banana pepper and scratched my nose after washing my hands and my nose was on fire for a few hours after. I had a final exam in my consumer behavior class and was not happy to take my final with my face on fire.ImageMake sure to save the seeds for planting too. I usually let them sit on the counter for a few days to dry and then seperate them into envelopes for storing. ImageSo what I did was cut off the stems off of the peppers and cut them in half. I took out the seeds and veins since that is where most of the heat comes from. Then I just plopped one of each kind of pepper into quart sized mason jars and added the vodka. I did sanitize the jars before I put the peppers in too, which is basically just boiling the jars on the stove. ImageI closed up the jars and put them on the counter. Make sure they are not in the sun or anything. Ideally you want them in a dark and cooler place. I have heard you can wait between 3 days and a week depending on how hot you want the vodka. Make sure to keep the original bottle of vodka you used so you can pour the new hot pepper vodka back into the bottle. Or you can just take the peppers out and leave the vodka in the jars. I feel like that would be a nice little gift to a friend who like bloody mary’s or spicy drinks. Here are some photos I took of the jars. We had a little photo shoot together and they were loving the attention. Image



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Beer making for the love of beer

This past weekend was my first time brewing my own beer. I went to a class a few weeks back and finally got around to doing it myself. I am a big fan of DIY, if I could I would be completely self sustaining. I am growing my own hops but it is only 2 years old and it has not budded this year and I feel like it might not bud this year which I am pretty bummed about. Anyway, I really am into hoppy beer and usually go for the IPA’s but wanted to try something different so I went for a indain black ale. Its pretty dark and it was my first time doing it by myself so I really hope it turns out well. I have heard some stories of yeast not being good anymore and the whole batch flopping so I just hope it doesn’t happen to me. Yet I think each batch will be better and better. Here are a few pictures of the fun. ImageSo first step is steeping the barley grains in water for about 20 minutes at about 160 degrees. Once that is finished the water should change color depending on the grains you use. Then the next step is starting the boil which is about 210 degrees, for 60 minutes. Once it starts boiling you add the malt and hops. I did 3 addition of hops. The first addition of hops was at the beginning of the boil is called bittering hops since the longer the hops boil the more bitter the taste, the second addition was after 45 minutes of boiling and this is called the flavoring hops. Finally the last addition was 5 minutes before the boil ended and this is called aroma hops. I will also add more hops to the second fermentation which is called dry hopping. More hops the better I say.ImageThen once the boil is done you take the whole pot and put it in a nice ice bath to cool down the wort. I did this in my sink. Let it chill till it gets to about 70 degrees. ImageThen you can pour it into the carboy with a strainer. Make sure everything you use is sterilized. Then add some nice chilled purified water to make it a total of 5 gallons. I added 3 gallons at the end since I had used 2 gallons for boiling. Make sure to cap it allowing the CO2 to escape. Leave it in a dark, cool place, or if you are me, I put a few t-shirts on it to keep the light out.ImageI will post another post about bottling in about a week and a half. Now I just have to sit around and wait. P.S. This is a really basic outline of how to brew at home, just a quick outline. Everyone does it a bit differently but this is how I was taught so that’s what you get. Any tips or comments are totally welcomed.

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Trip to the Lincoln Park Conservatory

So this morning I went biking with my Dad to the lincoln park conservatory. Via lake shore it is only about a 4.5 mile bike ride and it is a beautiful sunny day so there is nothing better. We strolled through the different rooms looking at plants I have never seen before and probably will never see again. That is what is so great about greenhouses, you can see a plant that maybe you will never see otherwise due to where it is native to.  Here are some photos I took of their wonderful greenhouse.

I love this beautiful plant. I must say I have no idea what it is but it is wonderful. I need to get better about identifying plants and flowers, I have a few books but I do not read them that often. It is a goal to walk through these places and be able to identify all of the plants!

The ceiling of the greenhouse. I always love the lines in greenhouse. It is so structured and geometric and is a nice juxtaposition with all of the natural plants that grow in all shapes and sizes. I imagine the plants are daydreaming what it would be like outside of the greenhouse.

Again, sadly, another plant I don’t know. I really regret not writing down the names of the plants since they are all labeled. This would add to my non-existent plant knowledge library. Lately I have been toying with the idea of getting a masters in horticulture, so I better get cracking on plant knowledge if I want that to happen.


So this is beekeeping, and I can not get enough

Alright, I feel like 2 posts in one day is enough for starting a blog but I just really want to do one last post. I have started beekeeping after returning from France and seeing the wonderful life of bees on the farm. I have read as many books about organic beekeeping I can, read as many blogs, and watched about as many documentaries on beekeeping as there are out there. I have to admit that I am fully obsessed with beekeeping, If I could I would visit my hives every day, I would. Yet, keeping with organic beekeeping, I think they should have some time to themselves. I have posted some pictures of my hives which I keep up in Riverwoods, away from the noise of the city. I would like to start some more hives so let me know if anyone is interested!Image

I do not use wax foundation. I want them to make their own comb, this is another organic practice. They bees like it better and so do I. Just after two weeks look at the progress they made. A few of the frames were already fully drawn. I am so proud of my ladies.


Close up on some freshly drawn comb and some beautiful honey already hanging out. Looks like it is lunch time, they are all taking a lunch break for some honey.


This is a bit of an older photo but I wanted to include it. I was changing from the 10 frames hives to 8 frame hives. It was when I was still wearing gear and I was super hot in 90 degree weather in my long sleeves and jeans. I love this photo surrounded by the forest. It is my true sanctuary.


Nice close up on the ladies. They really are wonderful. The sound alone of humming bees is a gift enough. Keeping with the organic way I will be leaving most of the honey for them for the winter since I got a late start this year. The queens are doing great and despite it being hot and dry they seem to be loving life.


Me checking out the frames. I think I had located the queen in this photo and was trying to show my dad. It is always a rush when I see her. I just noticed in the photo a bee flying towards my face, well good thing no stings that day. The little ladies are too good to me.

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Started my worm compost bin!

So after covering both porches in veggies and herbs and I figured I better get a worm compost bin to turn my scraps into food for the plants and turn my urban garden into a full circle sustainable model. Essentially plants need nitrogen to grow which the natural way is through compost or using aquaponics, which I will also be setting up soon, so watch out for that post. Anyway, I ordered my worm compost bin from Woodland direct, I got the VermiHut 3 Tray Worm Compost Bin, which was about $75 with shipping, and then got my worms from uncle Jim’s worms farms, about $25 bucks with shipping and both arrived within the week. It was not too much investment but this means no more buying compost. So for the fun of it, I have documented what I did to get these worms started. I am on day three today and after lifting up some of the newspaper, the worms have already stated to chow down on the food scraps I tossed in there.

ImageSo first you put a piece of fabric under the first worm tray to help keep out some of the compost from getting in the worm tea and clogging up the spout. (worm tea is amazing for nitrogen source and as a natural insecticide if sprayed on the leaves of the plants). Then I put the first media tray on the fabric and put coconut shells in the bottom of the tray. The fabric and coconut shells came in the package I bought (good deal!). You let the coconut shell soak in a bucket for 10 minutes and it will expand and have lots of bedding for the worms. Put a layer of the coconut shells down and then put your worms in. I literally just poured them out of the bag in the photo above. You can see they are all clumped together, but they soon will wiggle away to get out of the light. I also should mention I have them on my porch. I will probably bring them inside during the winter, but now I have them on my porch in a shady place and they are quite happy I must say. Make sure to put them in the shade, they do not like to be baked in the sun. Okay next, after you put your worms in put some more of the coconut shell or if you don’t have the coconut shell, newspaper or dirt works. I put the coconut shells and then more newspaper on top of the soil and coconut shells. Make sure to put a good amount of newspaper and mist it with some water to keep it moist. You will want to keep this newspaper moist and not let it dry out so check on your worms every once and a while.

There you go, you have your worm compost bin started. Once they start working on this first tray and turn it into worm castings (compost for your soil), you can add another tray above it, add some soil or the compost they made from the first tray and some food and they will migrate up to the food source.

Please let me know if you have any questions about worm composting. They eat about double their weight in a weeks time and are the best pest you will ever invest in.

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Kibourne Park Fundraiser party!


This is the wonderful Kilbourne greenhouse that I have been volunteering at for about a year now. The amazing thing about the greenhouse is they are a teaching greenhouse so all year round they have groups of kids from the park district that come and learn about growing a garden, exploring nature, and embracing all of the bugs and animals around us. Last night there was a fundraiser to build a new roof for the greenhouse. To show how badly we need a new roof, it was raining off and on thought the night and the roof was leaking all over.

Despite the weather everyone was in great moods and could not be happier to come together to support such a wonderful greenhouse. Also local business all came together and pitched in to make this a great party, Half Acre brewery donated a keg of my favorite beer, daisy cutter, Virtue hard cider donated a keg of cider, I actually made a crap load of syrup for the event with berries from the garden, which were a great hit with the kids, live jazz, Chef Jeff from the Chopping Block created amazing food, and most of the ingredients came from the garden, and Jennifer from Ginger Snaps made amazing desserts. There was a silent auction and activities for kids as well. Of course I was in charge of the kids activities which I didn’t mind, I still had plenty of Half Acre so I happy.


This little princess was all about the Crayons. The main kid event was painting with natural dyes from the garden. For all of those DIY moms out there, basically we took flower from the garden as well as walnuts with their shells, fill a mason jar about half way with the flowers and then add boiling water. Now just let them sit, the longer you wait the better, so you can open them up and try them ans see. Some of the flowers do not produce as strong of a color so play around with the flowers. Again if the color is not that strong, wait another week or so and try it again. They do smell funky some times, especially the walnut shells, but the smellier the better they work for some reason. We used little post cards with pictures of birds, flowers and lady bugs but you can use the paints for anything really.

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Dear new blog,

Dear new blog,

I have a lot of exciting ideas for you. I hope you turn out to be everything I want you to be. I want to blog about beekeeping, baking, cooking, farmers markets, gardening, composting and any thing else I find interesting. I hope that is okay with you.

Much love,

-Lauren T