Saturday, January 23, 2010

Easy Baking Recipes: Peanut Butter Cake

Peanut Butter Cake With Whipped Cream

Peanut Butter Cake
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup honey
2 large eggs
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350°F

Grease and flour a 9 x 13 pan

Cream together the peanut butter, butter and honey.

Peanut Butter Cake, PB, Butter and Honey
Add the eggs and mix well.

Peanut Butter Cake, PB, Butter, Honey and Eggs
Combine the flour and baking powder together and mix well. Add to the batter.

Stir the flour/powder mixture into the batter while slowly adding the milk. Combine well.

Peanut Butter Cake, All Ingredients
Put batter into pan and bake for about 30 to 35 minutes, taking care not to over bake.

Peanut Butter Cake, Ready To Be Baked

Cool on a wire rack.

Peanut Butter Cake, Out Of The Oven

Serve with whipped cream or the frosting of your choice.

Making Whipped Cream

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Natural House Cleaning, Making Your Own Cleaning Supplies

With so many chemical cleaners on the market these days, and the costs of natural ones going up, it’s nice to be able to make your own. Here are a few of our favorite ways to clean.

To deep clean wooden cutting boards spread baking soda over the surface, then pour vinegar over them. The bubbles will do the deep cleaning. Rinse with hot water and let air dry.

A baking soda and water paste will remove most stains from counter tops and will also remove odors (this also works for hands, for odors anyway).

Eucalyptus essential oil is a great bacteria fighter. Place a few drops on a damp dish cloth and use to wipe down counters. Pine, lavender, lemon and lime essential oils work well also.


To really clean dish towels soak in boiling water to which a few drops of tea tree, eucalyptus or thyme essential oil have been added, then wash as usual.

A mixture of water and vinegar will clean windows, glass surfaces, counters and fixtures. Use a borax and water to help fight mold.

Grease can easily be removed from cooking surfaces with a mixture of baking soda and vinegar. This also works for cookware, sprinkle baking soda in the pan and cover with vinegar. Let sit over night and clean in the morning.

We regularly pour baking soda and vinegar down our drains, then after a few minutes we flush the drain with boiling water. This helps keep them free of grease and soap scum.

Sprinkling baking soda in the trash container before putting in a bag will help eliminate odors.

A mixture of vegetable oil and lemon juice works well as a furniture polish.

Clean toilets with baking soda and vinegar. We also use biodegradable dish soap for cleaning the toilet. A few drops of essential oil can be added to the toilet tank.

Add vinegar to the final rinse of laundry instead of fabric softener.

We air out the house once a week, even in the middle of winter. My grandmother always said to, so I never questioned it.

For general cleaning we mix some dish soap with very hot water and add a few drops of lemon essential oil. The lemon help fights germs and smells so good that cleaning is almost enjoyable!

A good resource book is:Baking Soda: Over 500 Fabulous, Fun and Frugal Uses You'Ve Probably Never Thought of

We also like using this  trash pod in the car for easy clean ups. It is well made and easy to care for.



Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Easy Recipes, Baked Beans

bean pot
This is a recipe from our Grant Farm Honey Recipes Cookbook. Perfect for a cold day!

Baked Beans
2 cups dried beans, your choice
1 large onion; chopped
1/4 pound salt pork, or 1 tablespoon of salt
3 tablespoons dry mustard
3 tablespoons molasses
1/4 cup honey

Soak the beans over night.

Preheat oven to 500°F.

Cut salt pork in half and put a piece in the bottom of a bean pot. Add the beans and soaking liquid. Add the rest of the ingredients, placing the other piece of salt pork on top of the beans. Be sure you have plenty of water to cover the beans well.

Bake at 500°F for one hour, then lower the temperature to 350°F and cook about 4 to 4 1/2 hours longer. Check the liquid every so often and add more as needed.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Oh My, This Should Get Us By

When our generator stopped working last spring I had mixed feelings, grief and relief. You see, I really dislike using a generator and dream of being able to produce all of our own power without a back up generator; I long for the day we do not need one. It didn’t take long for me to realize that we still have a need for back up power until we are able to build up our system more.

Buying a new generator was not an option at the time, but with a very rainy spring/summer we did need a bit of extra help in the battery charging department. Our car came to the rescue.

We ran heavy gauge wires from the battery bank (positive and negative) to the outside wall of the house (driveway side) and drilled a hole through the wall for the wires to pass through. We mounted a fuse box outside and connected the positive wire into the top side of the fuse box. Then we got booster cables the same gauge wire, cut one end and tied the negative from the booster cables to the negative from the house. The positive wire from the booster cables connects to the bottom of the fuse terminal.

Inside the house the negative stays connected to the battery bank. After charging we disconnect the positive. We used booster cable clamps to connect to the battery bank.

The fuse box outside is protected by a sheet metal shield that is bent at an angle to serve as a roof.

Outside Fuse Box

When need be, we connect the car to the cables and begin charging our battery bank. This set up is still working fine for us.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Reflecting

Winter In Maine
Winter in Maine is a time for reflection; to reflect on what we have, what we want, what we have accomplished and what still needs to be done.

We started a list about 6 years ago of short and long term goals, dreams and desires. Some of the things are simple, “fix truck,” while others are a bit more difficult, “eat only what we grow” and “learn French.” But each year more and more gets crossed off our list, and some new things get added on as we learn what we desire out of this life.

Looking back over the past year we are finally starting to feel as though things are coming together. Sure we have had our failures (many) - we tried raising pigs without an adequate yard for them and spent more time chasing pigs than feeding them, and that was in the winter. Not one of our smarter ideas. We also tried Guinea fowl; their constant squawking drove us crazy. Horses were another thing that didn’t work out for us, hundreds of dollars later.

But we don’t look at these things as failures; we look at them as lessons. How can we figure out what really works for us if we don’t know what doesn’t?

Each year we become a bit more independent. One of our goals is to eliminate the use of propane completely and this past year we have gotten a lot closer to that goal, in fact right now we are not using any propane at all and shouldn’t have to until summer when we turn on our refrigerator (read more at http://homesteadinginmaine.blogspot.com/2009/11/wood-fired-water-heater.html and http://homesteadinginmaine.blogspot.com/2009/10/free-cold-weather-refrigeration.html).

We are also learning about wild foods and began eating more of our lawn and mowing less of it. Luckily for us we have a lot of great edibles in our lawn and are finding more all the time. Foraging New England: Finding, Identifying, and Preparing Edible Wild Foods and Medicinal Plants from Maine to Connecticut

But it goes beyond all that, the biggest challenge for me is learning to relax more and not get so worked up about things (actually my husband is improving on the “worked up” part as well). We are taking some time for us and I am not worrying about our List of Things to be Done; it’s pretty sad when you have to add “relax” to your “to do” list.

We will try raising pigs again, but not until we are better equipped for them. I would like to use them as little rototillers for the garden. One of my favorite phrases has become “let the animals do the work” and you know what, it works! Cows graze and clear land for us and the chickens keep the bug population down while scratching and fertilizing. I think pigs will be a great help to us as well.

Oh, there is so much more that has to be done, we need a barn, a work shop and larger gardens but for now I am only going to enjoy what has been done and be thankful for all we do have.

Now if only I could get the cats to feed the chickens in the mornings…..

Monday, January 4, 2010

Apple Glazed Walnut and Mushroom Saute

2 tablespoon oil
8-10 cloves garlic; sliced
1 cup mushrooms; sliced
3 tablespoons walnuts; chopped
3/4 cup apple cider
pinch crushed red pepper; optional
salt and pepper; to taste

Heat oil in a medium skillet over high heat.
Add garlic and saute until tender.
Stir in mushrooms and add red pepper, if using.
Saute a minute or so, add walnuts and mix well.
Pour apple cider over the mixture and reduce liquid by half.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Serve hot.
2 Servings