How To Brew All Grain Beer


Brewing your own beer and wine is becoming a favorite pastime for many, and we're some of the people that enjoy it. Here's how we brewed up our first batch of all grain beer. | Cooke's Frontier


We brewed our first batch of homebrew not long ago and we’ve been dreaming of making more ever since. After you taste a good homebrew, bottled commercial beer just isn’t very good anymore. You taste it and wonder why you would ever pay to buy it when you can brew good quality beer for the same price.

We certainly aren’t brew masters, but I can already see some similarities between my cheesemaking and brewing. Cleanliness is key and following directions (at least until you know what you’re doing) is the way to end up with superior results. I’m sure brewing has room for additions and subtractions, but in the beginning I would suggest sticking to the rules. Build a solid base of knowledge and then go from there.


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VTech InnoTab Cartridges Make Learning Fun!

I haven’t mentioned it on the blog in a long time, but we homeschool our 4 girls. It can be challenging at times to keep my littlest ones from disturbing the older two when we’re doing our schoolwork. I’ve found that having an array of educational games and activities to keep them occupied (and learning) is the way to go. One of the ways I do this is by utilizing our VTech InnoTab. While we love the InnoTab for fun, there are a TON of educational game cartridges and downloads as well.

  •          Parents can extend the play value of their VTech toys by purchasing new Learning Cartridges for InnoTab Learning Tablets.
  •          A range of educational cartridges are available, offering age-appropriate games, e-Books and more that allow children to progressively learn key subjects such as math, reading and science in steady stages.
  •          Interactive e-Books teach reading and vocabulary, while creative activities and camera fun inspire children’s imaginations.
  •          The cartridges are compatible with all current InnoTab models and will also work with new models that will be released later this year, including the InnoTab MAX, its fastest Wi-Fi tablet yet and its first to feature Android™ learning content.

I was sent two different cartridges to review. I’ll share a little about them below.

InnoTab® Learn to Write with Cody & Cora learning cartridge

(Ages 3-6 years; MSRP: $24.99)

  •          Go on learning adventures with Cody the Smart Cub™ and Cora the Smart Cub™ in Learn to Write with Cody & Cora for InnoTab. Read the e-Book about an adventure Cody and Cora take while writing and spelling words.
  •           Learn and develop handwriting skills in a progressive manner with 11 activities and games.
  •           Includes a fun e-Book about an adventure with Cody and Cora


InnoTab® Go! Go! Smart Wheels® Busy Day in Alphabet Town learning cartridge

(Ages 2-5 years; MSRP: $24.99)

  •           Explore Alphabet Town with Casey, Paul, Frank and Cyrus in the Go! Go! Smart Wheels Busy Day in Alphabet Town game for InnoTab. Read about their adventure in the e-Book or join the residents of Alphabet Town as they build roads, rescue kittens and more in fun learning games.
  •           This InnoTab software title features nine creative activities and learning games that teach letters, numbers and more.

My Thoughts:

I loved both of these cartridges. They were fun for my kids to play with, they kept them busy, learning, and entertained. After just a week of laying, my one child could recognize all of her letters and numbers where she was previously having a little bit of trouble with some of them.

I’d recommend them to anyone who has kids within the suggested ago range! They were fantastic. Honestly, I haven’t met a VTech product yet that I didn’t like and these were no exception. I was pleased with how much learning opportunities there were packed into each cartridge, and how much fun the learning activities were.

You can learn more about VTech by following them on Facebook and Twitter

The VTech product, gift card, information, and additional gift pack have been provided by VTech.

Extra Virgin Book Review

This was a fabulous Italian cookbook from two of my favorite TV hosts. I think you might just like it, too | Cooke's Frontier


One of my many loves in life is a good cookbook. Not just an instructional manual type cookbook, although those have their place, but rather cookbooks that I can sit down and read like a…well….book. Ones that draw you in and give you a peek at the author and their passion for the food that they cook.

I was so excited to see the book Extra Virgin on the list of books to choose from with Blogging For Books. I have loved watching the TV show of the same name on The Cooking Channel and so, this was the book that I picked from among all of the others. I was not disappointed. It’s a really lovely hardcover book with descriptive and informative recipes, along with full color photos.

My book now looks like it’s trying to sprout a tiny, pink porcupine because of all of the sticky notes I have tucked inside marking recipes that I can’t wait to try out. If you like Italian food, real Italian food, this is a fantastic book. I felt that the recipes are completely, totally doable and they don’t call for a million costly or hard to find ingredients.

I was pleased with this book, and I’d happily purchase any of the cookbooks that follow. Now I want to share with you a few highlights that I think you might enjoy!

DEBI MAZAR and GABRIELE CORCOS are ambassadors of contemporary Tuscan cooking. In Extra Virgin, food, family, and style come together in a celebration of the pleasures of the rustic Italian table with 120 recipes for simple yet exquisite meals that are accessible, full of fresh flavor, and easy to prepare. Gabriele is a traditional Italian with a big heart, and Debi is an outgoing, brash New York City girl. Their sassy and playful exchanges illuminate what’s important in everyday life: good food and a lot of love.

Ranging from traditional antipasti and soups to their spin on entrees, pizzas, and desserts, recipes include Pecorino and Honey Dip, a sweet and salty way to start a meal; tangy, luscious Grilled Apricots with Goat Cheese Ricotta, inspired by wild Tuscan apricot trees; and Sausage and Beans, which offers hints of fennel in a Tuscan red sauce. Here, too, are Braised Artichokes softened in guanciale-infused oil, Breakfast Pizza, and Coffee Granita just as Italians make it.

So flag these recipes, get sauce on them, let splashes of olive oil mark the pages—and invite Debi and Gabriele’s charisma and passion for cooking to spill into your kitchen.


I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. All of the opinions are mine, and 100% honest.

Baked Pumpkin with Vanilla Custard Filling

Want to try something a little different? Try this! Small, sweet pie pumpkins are cut in half, seeded, and filled with a creamy, delicious vanilla custard before they are baked. It's like a pumpkin pie minus the crust, but a whole lot more fun to bring to the table. | Cooke's Frontier

It is THE pumpkin time of year and I’m not immune to the lure of pumpkin flavored treats. In fact, pumpkin and squashes are some of my favorite ingredients to bake with.

I was visiting with my Grandma and she mentioned in an offhand way that she bakes little pie pumpkins full of custard. Why had I never thought of doing that before??? It sounds amazing, and tastes even better! Pumpkin pie is a pie that I love to eat, and this turns pumpkin pie into a deconstructed, crustless version.

People Will Think You’re A Genius When You Serve This!

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Get Winter Ready Mega Giveaway!

Are you winter ready? Let me help you get that way with a few reviews and a giveaway to get you started! | Cooke's Frontier


As you may have noticed, I’ve been busy reviewing a lot of gear that I’ve recommending getting, or creating, to have in your car before Winter sets in. Today, I’m so excited to give you a chance to win 1 of 4 different prizes. I have one of each of the below to give away. I can’t wait to help some of you lucky ready be just a little more prepared for whatever life has to throw at you :)

There was a reason for that…

I’m about to give away the gear I’ve reviewed and 4 lucky people are going to win prizes! Want to know what’s up for grabs? Read on…

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