Friday, March 29, 2013

Quickly...



Yesterday we made a quick trip to Lowe's to pick up some supplies to a new project our family is working on. Well, when your closest Lowe's is right beside a Tractor Supply and it is Barn Day's....
You HAVE to go in and ooo and ahhh over the babies!
These little bantam chicks were SO stinkin cute!
Bantams stay pretty small, even when they are full grown and they lay little white eggs. We have a couple in our coop here at the homestead.

It got me a little bit sentimental though... I was looking at all these babies and then I looked up and I saw some that were babies just yesterday. Now growing, changing, becoming their own persons. Voices changing, growing almost as tall as me.
 Time, it does pass by quickly.
And even though they are still young and I have time to help them as they grow, I have to remember each moment is special and to appreciate each stage we may be in...
What a privileged woman I am, to have so many that I can help care for and love and hopefully have a little part of their heart that loves me too.
Enjoy your reward...
   Mom, Aunt, Friend, Teacher, Mentor, Grandma, Sister, Cousin, whatever you may be... enjoy it and make it count for the Kingdom!


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Lemon and Vanilla Jam

I came across a lovely old recipe. No pectin, no sure-jel...
6 lemons (I used meyer lemons)
6 cups sugar (I used cane juice crystals)
2 Tbsp vanilla (I used the vanilla I make)

Cut the ends off the lemons and then cut them VERY thin. Remove any seeds and then cut each slice into 4 pieces.
Add 5 cups of water.
Bring to boil and then turn heat down and simmer for 45 minutes

Add your sugar and vanilla, continue to simmer at least 45 more minutes.
Mine took considerably longer, but it was rainy/snowy and I believe that made a difference.
Now, the 'old-fashioned way' to check for gelling is that you put a little bit on a plate. If the jam runs... cook longer. If it has resistance, then it's ready.

Another difference, once you fill your jars with hot jam, put hot lids on your jar and invert your jars and place a towel over them. Let them get COMPLETELY cool before you turn them back over and wipe them down for storage. 
Mine did seal and so you have to take into account, this is an OLD way of doing things. If you feel the need to water bath them, go ahead. I just wanted to do it just as the recipe called for. 
Also, mine turned a very dark amber color. I believe that was due to the fact that I used cane juice crystals that are light brown in color. If you were to use white sugar, I am guessing it wouldn't be as dark as mine. 
This jam was a lovely change to my normal strawberry/ grape/ blackberry jams. I like the candied peel, I think it will be beautifully paired with some scones and hot tea. 
If I do make this again, I may wait til I pull the jam off the oven to add the vanilla, but that's just me. I would have liked a bit more vanilla flavor. 
I ended up with 2 pints and 2 half pints. 
I hope you enjoy! 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

What love looks like...


A couple of weekends ago, we had fair weather (which has NOT been the case around here lately) and we took quick advantage of the somewhat warmish day.

We have had free range birds for a long time now. Having to replenish our flock quite often because of predator problems. After a fox took our flock from around 30 to 14, we had to do something. We let them begin to free range in the front part of the yard as well as the back.  We didn't lose any. It was fine... until they began to want to hang out on our porch.
Until it was time to begin some late winter crops in the garden...
These things posed a problem.
So, we decided being only that we have 14 birds. 2 roosters, 2 guinea, and 10 hens, we would fix the fence the goats tore down.


We were gifted several young pullets a couple of weeks back before the coop was finished, we found out that not only did we have a problem with a fox... but we also had a hawk that was picking off the little ones.
I really hate having the chickens in one spot, but until I can build a larger pen or make a tractor, this will have to do. They are safe and they have shelter, and we are having eggs again! Hooray!
Being outside with my family and working together... My heart swells with love and thankfulness.
Love can look like many things, but today... this is what love looks like, to me. 
xoxo

Monday, March 25, 2013

Frugality in the kitchen



When I bought our food co-op a couple of weeks back, I bought quite a few bulk items. Some, if not stored or used quickly, well they go bad.
Avocados are one of them.
I had read recently that you can vacuum seal them and they will last longer and you can also freeze them.
So, I bought quite a few avocados. I used some for guacamole and still had plenty that were not ripe. When they were, we cut them open and scooped out the flesh and mashed them up.
I then vacuum sealed them and look... still beautifully green many days later. I plan on using some in this weeks menu but the other 2 bags will go in the freezer.
There are some cashews I sealed and some cheese also.
This is my food saver. 


Take the end of your bag and place just inside the machine. Lock the side arm down and press seal.
It will seal the end of the bag, so you have a way of filling.


Another neat thing about the bags is there are these little lines to help you cut across evenly in whatever size you need.

Fill your bags with whatever you like.
For the example, I am using some chopped pecans.

Put the opposite end in the machine. This time press vacuum seal. It will suck the air out and then seal the end.



See, both lights are on. When it is finished both lights will go off.
Now you have a sealed bag. It's easy and it is an excellent tool to have in your kitchen. I plan on vacuum sealing many bulk items in the future, and if you vacuum them flat then you can easily store them in your freezer. 


Thursday, March 21, 2013

My Kitchen Apothecary

I've had an idea swirling around in my head for a while now. I wanted a place for all my natural herbs, tinctures, salves and soaps, etc.
I just didn't have the cabinet... or so I thought.
So one night when I was laying down, I was thinking about where I could find a cabinet on a budget. The next morning I realized I had the perfect cabinet in my bathroom.
This little cabinet... I purchased this cabinet long before I was married or had become a mother. I found it at a local antique shop and since I knew the lady who owned the shop she kindly let me put it on layaway. Being young and broke, even though it wasn't all that expensive, layaway was the only option.
A few weeks later it came home with me, and has been in each room of the house at one time or another I believe.
It now graces our kitchen and dining room area as my apothecary.

We carried it out of my bathroom and cleaned it up a bit and began stocking it with herbs and oils and soap-making supplies.
Soap-making...an adventure that is coming soon!



Once soap is made, I have a little drawer in the cabinet that I plan on housing the final products til time of usage or gift giving.


And then, in the bottom two cabinets, I can store the items that are not as lovely to see. Stick blenders, soap making pots and bowls... and the like.
A very useful little cabinet indeed. And as time goes on, I am sure we will enjoy it even more. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Lacto fermented sauerkraut Part 1, and some sweet memories...


I am part of an amazing group now. We are a part of a Natural food co-op and I am soooo excited. It is helping me instill the healthy habits that I am working sooo hard towards. I'll share a little more of that with you in the future.  Here's a little bit of the bounty. It is all wonderfully delicious and I am able to create some healthful meals for my family.

One thing I am exited about is lacto-fermented sauerkraut.  I've made this several times in the past. It is wonderful! It makes me sad that I haven't made it in so long.
I can't dwell on what I haven't done though... I just have to be excited at what we ARE doing and the progress that IS being made. Right? Right!

Here's our cabbage. I am running it through the food processor, because it makes the work fast! I really like cutting it like I did when I was the 'slaw maker' at Nannie Red's house when I was a little girl. I always wanted to help in the kitchen, and so I got dubbed the slaw maker. ;) I used one of these...

Like I said... the food processor made it much faster work.
After I shredded each head of cabbage, I added these ingredients.
1 tablespoon of sea salt

1 tablespoon caraway seed
4 tablespoons of whey


You can make as little or as much as you like, I ended up using 4 heads of cabbage, and after each head, I added the ingredients above.
Once I finished I laid my weights inside and pressed down. The weights are part of what comes with a crock like this.


Second weight goes in...

Press down til juice comes up and is about an inch over the weights.

Place the lid over the crock
Now, pour some water around the lid in the lip of the crock. This is so great. It allows air to get out, but no air to get in!


This is called a Harsch Crock made specifically for fermenting veggies. I got it from amazon, it's a 10 Liter. If I had more cabbage, I would have used quite a bit more. It can make a LOT!!!
Now, this is only part 1 of this series. I have to let it sit out for a couple of days and then I have to put it somewhere cool and dark for about 3 weeks to let it get all fermented and ripe. I will post about this again when it is ready.

So here is our old school pics that are from about 6 years ago. 
Preciousness!
These are from my OLD, OLD blog. Aren't they precious? 
Look at all those whispy curly curls. Awww
Some of our efforts from that day, so long ago.
Another time we made kraut... incorporating the food processor. 
How my babes have grown.
I need a tissue. 
More yummy kraut. 
I hope you give making your own kraut a try and even more than that... get your kids in there with you and make memories. These are treasures that I will never get tired of. 
Blessings!