Tuesday, December 28, 2010

For The Love Of........Beer?

Yes, we do enjoy the occasional (occasional?) glass of home brew. And now that we have a truly wonderful home brew supply store not too far from home we really have been having fun.

Home brew has helped us in many ways; some of our more creative ideas have been hatched over a home brew (read here), and our choice for flavors is only limited by our imagination. We sit in our favorite chairs by the wood stove and toss out ideas to each other – how about honey and mint, or maybe some squash.....spelt? It's all fair game.

We won't go into detail on how to make home brew, there are many sites and books that cover that in great detail, but we will encourage anyone who has thought about brewing their own beer to go for it. Brewing can be very simple or complex, depending upon your time, space and desires. We often do simple, quick batches.

The most important thing is to just try - A local home brew club is a great way to learn. Once you get started, you'll be hooked. Just be careful about some of the ideas you come up with while sipping- you too may end up without a kitchen stove.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

What, My Stove? Are You Nuts??

Well, we did it. Just like that, our gas stove is no longer with us. Yup, gone. Cold turkey (literally).

What prompted this, you ask? I guess you could say “putting our money where our mouth is.” We have been slowly trying to eliminate propane use at our house, which started with the wood fired water heater.During the winter the gas stove is shut off, but still available, kind of like a crutch, a nice security blanket for "bad fire" days. But after some long talks (over a home brew or two) we decided to just take the stove out. There – now there is no excuse.

One thing that helped us arrive at that decision (besides the home brew) was the early Christmas gift of Global Sun Oven® - World's Best Solar OvenA friend has one and absolutely loves it. It's how she does all her summer baking and cooking, doing extra on sunny days to carry them over on cloudy days. She spoke so highly of it that it helped to make our decision easier.

I am a bit concerned about cooking in the summer, although last summer I did use the wood stoves most days (even in 80ยบ F weather) to cook a quick meal (no stews or breads). We have a bread machine we use on sunny days (doesn't effect our solar that way). And, I think we will cheat a little and keep our gas grill......for now.

Wish us luck!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Making Fruit Vinegar

Fruit Vinegar, Fermenting

Making Fruit Vinegar

Except for apple cider vinegar, we haven't had very good luck making vinegars from scratch (not to be confused with herbal vinegars, which come out great).

Thanks to the book Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods we have made a wonderful fruit vinegar, and it was so easy!

We took all the fruit pulp that we cooked down for wine. Basically raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, plums....any fruit. To make the wine we cook the fruit as you would to make juice and we saved all the fruit pulp. In the book it is called “Fruit Scrap Vinegar” and they say to use any fruit scraps.

Wash and sterilize a gallon glass jar. Put all your fruit in. Dissolve ¼ cup of sugar (we used honey) into 1 quart of water. Pour over the fruit.

Place cheese cloth on top of the jar and secure with a rubber band.

After about one week strain off the fruit and return liquid to the jar.

Let the jar sit two to three more weeks, (lightly shake occasionally) and test after two weeks. When the flavor is to your liking, the vinegar is ready. Transfer to a clean jar.

It really is that simple. We have done it twice and now have two unusual, tasty vinegars!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Grown-Up Mac and Cheese

This has become a favorite quick and easy meal for us.

Grown-Up Mac and Cheese

4 cups pasta; uncooked
1 pound hamburg; cooked
1/3 -1/2 pound feta cheese; crumbled
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup sour cream
salt and pepper; to taste

Cook pasta, drain and return to kettle.

Add cooked hamburg.

Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Heat to serve.

4 Servings

Monday, September 27, 2010

Rice & Bean Salad

Rice & Bean Salad

This rice and bean salad makes a great side dish, or even lunch.

Rice & Bean Salad
2 cups rice; cooked
2 cups beans, lima/or choice (dried beans); cooked
1 tablespoon celery leaves; dried or 1/4 cup celery
1 small onion; chopped
2 tablespoons pickled garlic scapes; optional
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons herbal vinegar; or apple cider vinegar
salt and pepper; to taste

We used cooked dried lima beans in this recipe. I think another type of dried bean would work better, the lima beans got a bit mushy, but the taste was great. Measure the 2 cups of beans after they are cooked, not before.

Combine cooked rice and cooked beans in a large bowl.

Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. More oil or vinegar can be used as needed to taste.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Roasted Tomato Sauce

Lots of tomatoes this year. We've been drying a lot of them and also making sauce, and more sauce. We roast it in the oven, which gives it a wonderful full flavor and is ready much faster than cooking it on top of the stove.

Pasta Sauce

We use a roasting pan (half...you want the top open).

Preheat oven to 450 F

Chop up the tomatoes along with onion, peppers, anything you want to add to your sauce. We use zucchini, eggplant, whatever we have on hand.

Add seasoning.

Fill the roasting pan and place in oven.

Stir well every 45 minutes or so.

The time of cooking depends upon how large your pan is and how thick you want your sauce. We do some very thick with just tomatoes for pizza sauce. We also make some not as thick...stewed tomatoes.

This method works out real well for us, and the kitchen smells so good!

Roasted Tomato Sauce

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Goals: Fact or Fiction

The problem with goals is the awful feeling you get when you don't reach them. Don't get me wrong, we set a lot of goals that we reach, but sometimes I think we set goals too high, for too many things. It's so easy to sit with pen and paper and make a list of “Goals for the Summer” and then have the summer fly by, with barely a scratch to the paper.

We have many “To Do” lists, which are usually simple things; fix a broken window. Goals on the other hand, tend to be major; build deck. Oh boy....where has the summer gone! (I know, it's not over yet). We also have long term goals that may take 3 or more years. I like the extra time.

I guess the biggest thing I have learned from all my goal writing is to try not to make it too overwhelming. There is nothing wrong with only getting a few projects done in a year. The project police won't come and arrest us. The neighbours don't care what we get done...neither do all the animals (unless it has to do directly with them). We are trying so hard to make more time for ourselves. Time to be lazy.

Here is an update on how our goals for 2010 are coming along.

Make Pasta: Not yet

Build Workshop
: Change of plans. Going to use another space and save ourselves from having to build an extra building. Here is a time when we used our heads to try and make work lighter for ourselves.

Set Up Blacksmith Shop
: Still planning and looking for tools.

Forage More Food: This is something we have done a lot better on this year. We are finding plants on our property that are quite tasty. We are also working on a booklet on what we are finding.

Extend Our Loft: Still thinking

Redo Cab On Plow Truck
: Sold plow truck instead. That was an hard project turned easy.

Redo Woodshed: Maybe next year

Learn To Make Head Yoke For Oxen
: Our dear friend who was the head yoke expert passed away last month. This will be on hold for awhile.

Climb Borestone Mountain
: Good fall trip

Plant One Or More Fruit Tree, Nut Tree and Berry Bush
: Planted a pear and peach tree and more grapes.
Plan Outdoor Kitchen: We're planning

Propagate More Plants
: Always working on this one.

Build Front Deck With Grape Railing
: The grapes are wishing we would hurry up and do this.

Christmas Tree Patch: Taking what is already growing and doing some pruning . Making a nice patch

Ice House Experiment
: Figured we need cold weather for this one (is that a good excuse?)

Worms: Can't decide on a good place to keep them

More Rain Water Collection
: Done, but still could add more

Build Solar Oven, Kiln and Dehydrator: My dream......

Become More Organized.....WOW. Actually, this is the one we are doing the best on. It has been the summer of organization...I love it!

Reduce Trash: Yup!

Use Less Plastic: Yup!

Stay On Top Of GMO Issues
: An on going thing....GMO issues have us very concerned. What's wrong with regular food? Why does it have to become a scientific experiment?

Eat Only Local Food: We get closer to this goal every day.

Avoid Buying Products From China
: Very difficult when you pay attention, but we are on top of it.

Overall I think we have done very well, and we have done a lot of things that are not on our list....is it too late to add them on, just so we can cross them off????

Monday, August 30, 2010

Scrambled Eggs with Cheese

Sunday mornings are usually when my husband makes breakfast. I really look forward to what he will do; sometimes it's simple and sometimes quite gourmet, but never a disappointment.

Here is what he made this week: Scrambled Eggs with Cheese

Scrambled Eggs with Cheese

Crack however many eggs you want into a bowl.eggs

Scramble the eggs and add milk.
mixing the eggs

Put your frying pan on medium to low heat and melt some butter in the pan to prevent sticking.

Pour egg mixture into the pan (you may need to lower the heat a little, you do not want these eggs to cook fast). Put cheese pieces on top of egg mixture.
adding the cheese

Cook slowly, stirring as needed. Be careful not to over cook.

We like to use a variety of cheeses, sometimes 2 or 3 different kinds at a time.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Sweet Potato Salad

Sweet Potato Salad

If you like sweet potatoes this salad won't disappoint!

Sweet Potato Salad
1 large sweet potato; chopped, cooked, cooled
1 small onion; chopped
2 large eggs; hard boiled, diced
1 tablespoon Italian herb blend
mayonnaise; to taste

Mix together potato, onion, eggs and herb blend.

Add mayonnaise to taste.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Tequila and Ginger Marinade

Wanted something a little different last night. This is what we came up with.

Tequila and Ginger Marinade
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon tamari (soy sauce)
1 teaspoon tequila
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4 teaspoon ginger; ground

Combine all ingredients and mix well.

This will marinate 1 1/2 to 2 pounds of beef.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

A “What’s In the Frig?” Pasta Salad

Pasta Salad
Earlier today I was in the mood for a pasta salad, but I knew I really didn’t have a lot of ingredients on hand. I decided to scour the refrigerator to see what I could come up with.

I cooked about 3 cups of pasta and set it aside. I found walnuts and shredded some asiago cheese. Last summer I made pickled nasturtium seeds (“capers”) and pickled garlic scapes, and I knew these would be good in a salad. We recently bought some organic freshly pressed sunflower oil from a local farm. That and some of the brine from the garlic scapes would make a great dressing. From the spice drawer I decided on Italian herb blend.

Ingredients For Pasta Slad

I didn’t measure a thing. Just “a little of this, a bit of that” and tasted as I went along. I added a little extra sunflower oil at the end and mixed in all the ingredients.

It tastes great!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Easy Baking Recipes: Pumpkin Pie

Last week we cut up the last pumpkin from our garden. It was quite big, so we were able to make a lot of things with it.

Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin Pie

1 pie shell, 8, unbaked
1 1/2 cups pumpkin; cooked and mashed
1/4 cup honey
1 tablespoon molasses
1 tablespoon flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1 large egg
1/2 cup cream (heavy)

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Grease a pie plate and line with pie shell.

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well with a fork.

Pour into prepared pie plate.

Bake 55 to 65 minutes, until filling is firm.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Baked Apples

Baked Apples

Baked Apples
6 large apples; peeled, cored and sliced
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon cloves
2 tablespoons butter; melted
1/4 cup water

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9" x 7" baking dish.

Peel, core and slice apples into 8 pieces. Place in baking dish.

Combine sugar, flour and spices. Mix well and sprinkle over apple slices.

Pour melted butter over apples/flour mixture, then pour the water on top.

Bake 20 minutes uncovered, then 20 minutes covered. Serve warm. It is also good cold.


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge

Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge
Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge
1/4 cup butter
1/3 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
pinch salt
16 oz powdered sugar
1/2 cup baking cocoa
1/2 cup peanut butter

Butter an 8" x 8" square pan.

Melt butter in a medium to large sauce pan.

Add milk and vanilla and remove from heat.

Mix together the powdered sugar salt and baking cocoa. Gradually add to the milk/butter mixture and stir until well blended.

Stir in peanut butter. Mix well.
Making Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge
Press into prepared pan. Cool in the refrigerator a few hours before cutting into squares.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge
Yield: 16 good size pieces

Friday, June 4, 2010

Baby Ducks

Pekin Duckling

This has been a tough year for our ducks. First, we lost Ivan, our Call duck to a mink and then Rebecca, a 9 year old Khaki Campbell to old age. That left Casandra, an Indian Runner, all by herself. Well, not completely by herself. She has 7 chickens to hang out with, but it hasn't been the same for her; the chickens don't really enjoy swimming in the pond.

Last week I called our local feed store and ordered 2 Pekin ducklings and got a phone call that they were in today. Since these are day old ducklings, they need to stay in our house for a while before they can go live in the chicken coop. We have raised many babies in our house, from chickens, ducks and turkeys to pheasants and guineas. I think we have it down to a science.

We have a few large plastic totes that we saved just for this purpose. At first we tried cardboard boxes, which worked out okay for all the animals except the ducks. Ducks are very messy drinkers and it didn't take long for the cardboard boxed to become a nuisance. The plastic totes work out very well.

We first put in a layer of shavings in the tote and then a bowl of food. The water container gets set on a brick to keep it off the bottom of the tote, and therefore stays a little cleaner. Shavings find their way into the waterer much too quickly.

Since our house is powered by solar, we don't use a heat lamp in the tote, but we do have a small red light that uses very little electricity. We heat up a brick in the oven (not too hot), wrap it in a towel and place this in the box. The red light does offer some heat, but it also seems to relax the birds for some reason; they seem to find the color soothing. We first noticed that with chicks.

Inside the tote, warm bricks and light

The tote sits on top of our washer and dryer. We place some window screens on top (to keep young flyers in and cats out) and in the evening we place a towel over most of the top to be sure everyone is warm enough.

Tote for raising baby birds

Pekin Duckling

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Easy Baking Recipes, Desserts: Sugar Cookies

These will cure your sweet-tooth!
Sugar Cookies
Sugar Cookies
2/3 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder

Preheat oven to 400°F. Grease cookie sheets.

Mix oil, eggs and vanilla with a fork.

Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.

Drop dough by tablespoonfuls about 2" apart on prepared pans. Flatten with fingers.

Bake for about 8 minutes. Immediately remove from cookie sheets and cool on a wire rack.

Makes about 28 good size cookies.

Sugar Cookies

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Pumpkin Bread

Lots of baking today with our cooked pumpkin. The kitchen still smells good!

Pumpkin Bread
Pumpkin Bread
2 large eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup honey
1 cup pumpkin; cooked and mashed
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup white flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon orange peel; grated

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a loaf pan.

Mix together eggs, vegetable oil, honey and pumpkin. Mix well.

Stir in the dry ingredients and combine.

Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake 45 to 55 minutes until a knife inserted in to the center comes out clean.

Turn out of the pan onto a wire rack to cool.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Herb Corn Bread

Herb Corn Bread

Herb Corn Bread

1 1/2 cups corn meal
1 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon dill; dried
1 tablespoon oregano; dried
1 heaping tablespoon honey
2 large eggs
4 tablespoons butter; melted
1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 400°F. Grease an 8" x 8" pan.

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well.Herb Corn Bread Batter
Spread into prepared pan.

Bake 18 to 20 minutes.

Yield: 16 Pieces

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Apple Cider Mashed Sweet Potato

Apple Cider Mashed Sweet Potato
So simple, yet so yummy!!

Apple Cider Mashed Sweet Potato
1 large sweet potato
2 large white potatoes
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup apple cider
1/3 cup milk

Peel, chop and cook potatoes.

Drain, add butter, cider and milk.

Mash well. More milk can be used as desired.

Sweet Potatoes

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Peanut Butter Molasses Cookies

Peanut Butter Molasses Cookies

Peanut Butter Molasses Cookies

1/2 cup butter; room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/3 cup molasses or birch syrup
1 large egg; room temperature
2 cups flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly grease a cookie sheet.

Cream together butter and sugar.

Add peanut butter, molasses or birch syrup and egg. Mix well.Wet Ingredients For Peanut Butter Molasses Cookies

Combine dry ingredients and add to the peanut butter mixture. Stir well.
All Ingredients For PB Molasses Cookies
Drop by teaspoonfuls on to cookie sheet. Flatten with moist fingers.

Bake 8 to 10 minutes. Remove onto a wire rack to cool.

Yield about 40 cookies.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

An Easy to Make Screen House for Hen and Babies

Gwen and Baby in Chciken Screen House

An Easy to Make Screen House for Hen and Babies

We are always on the look out for items to be reused and saved from the landfill. When we saw wooden framed window screens at a yard sale one day we knew they were too good to pass up. At the time we didn't have a use for them, but since then they have been used over and over again as a chicken screen house.

The screens measure about 3' by 4 ½' and screw together easily. We have enough to cover the top (we don't screw the top down, but leave them easily removable so that we can climb in and out of the area to change food and water).

Making a Chicken Screen House

We build a small house for the chicken and chicks to sleep in at night, something we can lock up to keep predators away. This fits in the screen house easily and has ventilation at the top so that the chickens don't get too warm in the summer.

Chicken Screen House

We have used these screens for hens with babies, but also for chicks and ducklings that we bought from the feed store. It keeps the babies safe, and yet lets them get fresh air and grass.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Pasta with Garlic and Vanilla Cream Sauce

We love pasta, and my husband is a great sauce maker!

Pasta with Garlic and Vanilla Cream Sauce
4 cup uncooked pasta
3 tablespoons butter
5 medium garlic cloves; finely chopped
1 small onion; finely chopped
1 cup cream (heavy)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon pepper; freshly ground
1/2 teaspoon salt; to taste
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1 cup water

Cook pasta according to package instructions.

Melt butter over medium/high heat.

Saute garlic and onion until tender.

Add cream, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add vanilla, pepper and salt.

Combine flour and mustard powder into cold water and thoroughly mix. Ad mixture to cream and increase heat to high. Stir constantly until sauce thickens to desires consistency.

Serve over pasta.

Serves 4

Saturday, May 1, 2010

A Calf is Born, Photos of Emma

Emma was born on July 26, 2008. Molly is the first cow I have ever had and I was very excited about her giving birth. My biggest hope was to be at home and to be with her. As it worked out my husband, a friend and his 9 year old son and I were all here to witness the great event. Whenever I tell people I took photos they all have the same reaction: "Yuck!" It wasn't "yuck" at all, it was wonderful.

I am sure many people have never witnessed the birth of a calf, so I wanted to share these photos.

Molly, A Very Pregnant Cow

Photo of a calf being born

Calf Being Born

Emma Being Born

Molly & Emma

The entire process took about 20 minutes.

Molly and Emma

Mommy and Baby

Hungry Baby

Emma Today

Emma Today

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Easy Baking Recipes, Desserts: Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate Chip Cookies
Chocolate Chip Cookies

1/4 cup butter; room temperature
1/4 cup honey
1 large egg
2 tablespoons milk
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 °F. Grease a cookie sheet.

Cream butter and honey. Add remaining ingredients, except for the chocolate ships and mix well.

Stir in the chocolate chips.

Drop by teaspoonfuls onto prepared cookie sheet.

Chocolate Chip Cookies, Ready For Oven

Bake 8 - 10 minutes, being careful not to over brown.

Remove from cookie sheet and cool on a wire rack.

Yield 16 to 18 cookies.

Chocolate Chip Cookies