Thursday, April 25, 2013

Dividing Rhubarb and Making A New Planting Bed

Dividing Rhubarb and Making A New Planting Bed

If there's one thing I'm good at it's poor planning. Just ask my perennials that get moved year after year, even after I promise them 'this is the last time, I promise!'

This years poor unsuspecting fool was rhubarb.

When I made the first (yes, the rhubarb has actually been in the same spot about 6 years, possibly a record) made the rhubarb bed, I had no intention of moving it. But as the years have gone buy I realized that I want to move the cow pasture a bit, and the rhubarb patch is in the way. Hence, this Spring's overhaul.

Back a few years ago we put up a green house, and thought we might add a second one. We put plastic on the ground and weighed it down. That is as far as we got with those plans.

Along with most things around here, plans changed and we are not putting up a second green house, at least not in that spot.

The good thing is that the grass there has died and the dirt is nice and loose to dig. A perfect spot to move the rhubarb.

I started by digging up the ground and adding some compost from the cow stall. This compost has been decomposing for the past few years and looks great.

I dug up a large patch of rhubarb and divided it to make the replanting easier.

I dug large enough holes to plant the rhubarb and refilled with dirt.

I then added more compost as a mulch and watered well.

I will continue with this process until the rest of the rhubarb is moved.

I am not sure how much of a harvest we will get this year, but this is the last time I will be moving the rhubarb....promise!

Here are some recipes we've made using rhubarb

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Shortbread Cake

This is one of our favorite dessert recipes to make. It uses honey instead of sugar, and is not overly sweet. We serve it with fruits (and usually whipped cream because I am always looking for an excuse to eat more whipped cream!)

Shortbread Cake


1 cup flour
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup honey
2 teaspoon baking powder
1 egg
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon vanilla


Grease an 8” x 8” pan.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Mix all ingredients in a mixing bowl until well blended.

Pour into pan and bake about 20 minutes, until a knife comes out clean when inserted in the middle.

This makes a great shortbread for strawberry shortcake or any other fruit dessert, especially when served with whipped cream.

shortbread cake ingredients

shortbread cake, ready to go into the oven

shortbread cake, baked


Monday, April 15, 2013

Harvest Grains Batter Bread

 For Christmas last year we received many different types of King Arthur flour and have fun experimenting with them. However, please note that this bread can be made by simply using any flour. We have had good luck using an all purpose bread flour, as well as part whole wheat flour. We encourage you to experiment with different flours to see which taste you enjoy the most.  Instead of the Harvest Grains, additional flour can be used.

Harvest Grains Batter Bread
Makes one loaf

1c. all-purpose flour
1c. King Arthur European flour
1 1/4 c. King Arthur Sir Lancelot flour
3/4 c. King Arthur Harvest Grains
2 Tbs  dry yeast
1 tbsp. honey
3/4 tsp. salt
1 1/4 c. warm water
1 egg

In large bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups flour, harvest grains,yeast, honey and salt; mix well. Add water and egg, mixing well. Gradually stir in remaining flour to make a stiff batter.

Spoon into greased loaf pan (we also used greased parchment paper). Cover; let rise in warm place until doubled, about 1/2 an hour. Bake at 375 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes until golden brown. Remove from pan; serve warm or cold.

This is a hearty bread with a course texture.


Saturday, April 6, 2013

Fresh Honey Comb

Over the past 6 or so years we have had honey bees off and on. I say 'off and on' because quite a few winters we loose them but come summer we get swarms moving into empty hives. We are starting to think that they don't like Maine during the winter, but like to return in summer (maybe they are going to Florida for the winter like a lot of Mainers do)

Late fall we had two hives that we had acquired during the summer. Both were strong hives and had plenty of honey. Now the bees are gone. Still plenty of honey for them, so they didn't leave because of lack of food. I hope they will be back this summer.

One of the swarms had moved into hive parts that we had stored in a stack, no foundation in it, only empty boxes.

When this happens the bees will create their own foundation, but it is hard to get the honey. We weren't concerned about this, because we just figured we'd let the bees do their thing. Now that the bees are gone, the hive is full of lovely honey. Too much to leave sitting there waiting for critters to get it. We decided we should be the ones to enjoy it.

The flavor is wonderful. We chew on small pieces of the comb then spit out the wax (it's kind of like the wax teeth candy I used to buy as a kid, only so very much tastier.)

We now have a huge stainless steel bowl full of honey comb sitting on the kitchen counter. And the kitchen has the wonderful smell of honey to it. 


Monday, April 1, 2013

The Perfect (for the moment) Steak and Cheese Sandwich.

We love cheese. I mean REALLY love cheese. Sharp, soft, doesn't matter, as long as it's cheese.

Weight gain has been a problem here at the Homesteading In Maine house this winter, so we have been trying to cut back on all foods, not just cheese, but I think cheese has been the hardest. We are to learning to use it as a condiment, not the main course.

That is where this sandwich comes in. It's full of steak, with just the right amount of cheese melted on top.

That is where this sandwich comes in. It's full of steak, with just the right amount of cheese melted on top.

First we saute some onions in lard (butter is fine) until they are just soft. We then add sliced steak and cook to medium (our preference).

The sandwich is toasted in the broiler of our gas stove. We first toast one side of the bread. Then flip the bread and add the steak and onion mixture, topping with cheese. Any melt-able cheese will work great.

The slices go back into the broiler until the cheese is melted. We then add mayonnaise and put the two halves together.

Pure heaven.