As the winter weather rages on I have taken to baking with one of my favorite summer ingredients…. fresh juicy peaches. Of course it has to warm me up on the inside so what better way to use peaches than in a coffee cake? And of course my peaches weren’t fresh off the tree either. But I still love the taste of peaches and it reminds me of warm, sunny days. I’m grasping at anything to save me from these crappy snowy bitter-cold days that never seem to end. I did happen to see a groundhog the other day running under the trees out back. Spring is surely on its way… it’s just taking its sweet ol’ time!! I promise this coffee cake will make you feel better (at least for a little while)!! Continue reading
Well, I figured I’d better get this posted before another holiday comes and goes. I’ve been promising my Grammy to send her this recipe since last Thanksgiving and again since this Easter. What can I say? Time flies when you’re having fun, cleaning out chicken coops, planting a garden, mowing the grass…. living life.
This is one of those recipes that can just as easily pass as a dessert as it can for a side dish. No marshmallows necessary!
For a printable copy, click on the link below:)
Melt 4 Tbsp butter in a 9×13 baking dish. Add 3 cups of mashed sweet potatoes, 3/4 cup sugar, 1/2 tsp salt, 2 eggs, 1/2 cup milk, and 1/2 tsp vanilla. Mix well. Lumps are just fine.
Combine 1/3 cup flour, 1/3 cup melted butter, 3/4 cup brown sugar, and 1 cup chopped pecans in small bowl. Sprinkle over the top of the sweet potatoes.
Bake in a 350 degree oven for about an hour. Real technical, I know.
Allow to cool for at least 15 minutes. Trust me. Burnt tongue during a holiday feast is no fun. But you’ll want to make this for more than just holidays. An easy way to get your daily dose of veggies. And a great way to use up all those sweet potatoes that we canned! MMMmmm!!
Okay, now that I’ve finally come out of hibernation… ! Not really. Wish I could say that was true, but I’ve actually been very busy. The good kind of busy. The kind of busy that lets you know that you’re alive and good things will come of it. I recently re-entered the work force after a dozen years of being stay-at-home mom. Part-time, but it still gets me out of the house and feeling like I’m a real person again. Yay! So I’ve been working on finding my footing, trying to balance all the things I did before with working a “real” job. I’m sooo not going there today!
Is it too late to talk about New Years Resolutions and such? Nope. This is my blog and I can talk about whatever I want to. It’s all about me. Me, Me, Me!!! If you don’t like it, don’t read it!
Ha! Ha! HA! (my version of an evil laugh) Where are my minions?!
Ahem! Now, that I’ve had my little fit…
This year is going to be a great year. Really! We are in for a lot of changes. Good changes. When we first moved here we weren’t really sure what we were doing and not sure of the path that we were on. We had a good idea of where we wanted to be. A year and a half later, we get it. Really get it. We moved here taking things as they came along and not planning too far ahead. We’d had a few setbacks and were a little gun-shy. We leased this farm for 2 years (which seemed like ages back then!) and were hoping to buy it and make it our home. We were meant to take a different route. By September we will have to move again. I really, really hate moving! But that’s okay. Because we are going to find our forever farm. None of us can imagine life without animals, a large garden, or any of the things a farm has. Farming is what we were meant to do. Now that we know this, we know what to do. Kind of… the path to getting there might be a little tricky, but that’s okay. Life is an adventure and if you’re bored, you’re not really living. So, our time has become consumed with researching how to make a living off of a farm. Todd would love to be able to be a stay-at-home farmer. Someday. Both of the kids want to have farms when they grow up (which isn’t far off). And I want to have my goats, ducks, geese, chickens, and fresh garden goodies. They say the best job is to get paid doing what you love. So this year we make it happen!
So that’s kind of the direction that this blog will lean to. The path to becoming farmers. But that will still include things like lots of recipes (I hear farmers are really great cooks!), crafty projects like making soap, knitting, quilting (still working on my first quilt Grammy!), health tidbits (one of the reasons we want to grow our own food is to avoid GMO’s and all the bad things they fill up our food with these days – your body only functions as good as the fuel that you put into it), special diet recipes (gluten free, sugar free, corn free, soy free), animal care, and the list goes on. I love learning and I can’t narrow this blog down to just one topic. And I certainly don’t have the time to write more than one blog! So this is just about life as an up and coming farmer. The good and the bad. Hopefully more good than bad!
From time to time I’ll pass on the blogging to one of the others (Todd, Nik, or Lexie) and let them tell you things from their perspective. That should be interesting!!! I’m really really really going to try to post on a more consistent basis – maybe once or twice a week. Crud. Just by posting that it makes me have to do it. Don’t want to be that person who says one thing and does another. Must be responsible and reliable! Set a good example!
Thank you for letting me vent, preach, or whatever you want to call it! I am stoked, excited, anxious, and all kinds of other adjectives for this year and what it will bring to our family. And if you want, I’d like to invite you to come along. Farmers are big on community. That’s another reason to farm, meeting all kinds of great people with similar interests and cares. I’ll try to keep the rants to a minimum but I’m making no promises. I am what I am and that’s all I can be. Was it Popeye that said that?
Here’s to a fantabulous 2014 and a having a sense of humor! A little humor is necessary to get through the struggles of life. That’s a word of wisdom from someone who used to take life waaay too seriously!
Well, the holidays are in full swing now. I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving! Ours wasn’t too bad. Except for that about every dish I made turned out grubby! Really, holidays are not the time to try out new recipes that you’ve never made before! Luckily it was just the four of us and I didn’t embarrass myself in front of lots of family. I tried to make homemade baked beans. I figured I’d get creative and combine 2 different recipes that I had. The first was for plain ol’ homemade baked beans, the second was for a four bean medley that calls for a big can of baked beans. How can you possibly mess that up? Leave it to me. Not even Nik would eat those beans. This kid eats EVERYTHING!!! That was my first clue as to how bad they were. At least we got some laughs out of it. I took all the leftovers out for the chickens and ducks. They’re still out there. Composting. Chickens won’t touch them. Ouch!
We also skipped the turkey and roasted a goose. I’m sorry, but Thanksgiving needs turkey! The goose wasn’t bad, just not the same. The rice stuffing was a tad too wet or juicy or whatever you want to call it. Sweet potato casserole is a no-fail dish so I was spared with that one! So our feast was a semi-dud but at least we were together and everyone was happy and thankful and healthy!
Sorry, I had to break away and chase the chickens and ducks away from the road. Trouble makers – the whole lot of them!! The weather is warm (for December anyway) and we let them out to forage for grass and any other goodies they can find. I wish you could hear them chattering because they are so happy! There’s a group of Pekins right outside my window making all kinds of happy racket!
I thought I would share a pumpkin recipe with you. Since I have all this pumpkin to play with. Don’t worry – this one has been tested and tried many times and it’s a keeper! Trust me – if you make it and don’t like it, just ship it off to me and I’ll eat it. No questions asked.
Here is a link to the original recipe. I made it gluten free so that we could all enjoy it. And I don’t bother with all that “bowl for wet, bowl for dry” stuff either. I make things simple – the less dirty dishes, the better! Dump it all in and mix it up. They still turn out delicious!
Pumpkin Pecan Muffins
1 cup sorghum flour
1 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour
2 tsp guar gum
3/4 cup coconut sugar
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup almond milk
1/4 cup sunflower oil
1 tsp pure vanilla
1/2 cup chopped pecans
Combine wet ingredients in large bowl, mixing well. Add dry ingredients, mixing well. Fold in pecans. Fill muffin cups three-fourths full. Make topping in same bowl.
1/3 cup coconut sugar
1/3 cup finely chopped pecans
1/4 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup cold butter, cubed
Combine sugar, pecans, and flour. Cut in butter until crumbly. Sprinkle over batter.
Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes before serving. This will make 12 or 13 regular sized muffins or 6 jumbo.
So, anybody have any good recipes for homemade baked beans that are tomato free and low in sugar? I know, what are baked beans without all the “good stuff” added? Help!
Whenever Todd introduces himself to someone he refers to himself as a “duck farmer”. Sometimes we get curious looks as to how you can actually “farm” ducks. I believe it’s an accurate description and one that I’ve taken to using also. We love ducks. We’ve grown our flock to over 100. See, we “grow” our ducks to use for food. Either by eating eggs from the ducks or the duck itself. I wish I could say it is an economical alternative, but I’m not sure yet. We put a lot of our time into the ducks. And depending on which breed of duck we’re talking about, lots of feed. Pekin ducks are dependent on you for finding the majority of their food. Muscovy ducks, on the other hand, are great foragers and they supplement their diet with feed. All of the ducks look forward to their treats of whole corn and scratch.
We’ve been busy “harvesting” ducks for the past month or two. On my last count we were down to 8 Pekins and … okay, I don’t actually know how many Muscovies are left! We’re trying to decide how many we want to keep over the winter. I’m pretty sure we will reduce the Pekins down to 2. I love the temperament of them, but they eat a lot. The only reason I want to keep 2 is because the one hen is the “sister” of our hand hatched goose baby (I don’t want him/her to be lonely) and the other is Lexie’s favorite 4H hen, Elizabeth. We have quite a few Muscovy ducks that we have named and want to keep to breed. We know we will keep only one drake.
Our harvesting window is slowly closing. Nobody wants to be slaughtering ducks in the freezing cold. Heck, nobody wants to slaughter ducks at all! We’ve been culling around 6 ducks each week. It’s a family affair. We all know what our jobs are and we work in a production line. Warning: some content may not be suitable for children or those with weak stomachs. Read at your own discretion. Lexie and I choose the ducks that are to be slaughtered and deliver them to the boys. The boys get the awesome job of axing heads. Okay, I know it’s not awesome – it’s gory, bloody, messy, and downright sucks. But you suck it up and do what you have to do. I don’t even cry anymore – I’m a big girl now! The ducks are hung in a tree to bleed out. We all start plucking down. There’s a 55 gallon drum that is full of down and someday we’ll find a use for it. Lexie and I also choose feathers that are pretty and interesting to save for making earrings with. The boys finish off plucking feathers and gutting the ducks. Everything is done by hand. After the ducks are cleaned and prepped, they are put into the refrigerator for 3 days to “relax”. When ducks are slaughtered they get stressed and the muscles all tense up. Letting them set allows the muscles to relax and the meat to be more tender. At the end of 3 days I do a final cleaning of the ducks and vacuum pack them for the freezer. We are fortunate, this winter our freezer will be full! OH, a farmers weather prediction: the ducks have been packing on insane amounts of fat this year. And it’s still early. More fat means colder temps. Ugh.
Around here, we eat duck 3 or 4 times a week. We eat duck like most people eat McDonald’s. One of our favorite ways to eat it is Duck with Noodles. Reminds me of those Bertolli frozen meals that I used to eat way back when. When we weren’t gluten free and worried about what was in the food we were eating.
- 1 duck
- spaghetti or fettucini noodles (I use Tinkyada brand gluten-free spaghetti noodles – made with brown rice only!)
- olive or sunflower oil
- 2 onions, chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic, diced
- 4 oz sliced mushrooms
- garlic powder
- salt and pepper
- Bragg’s nutritional yeast
- basil or oregano, to taste
Place duck in turkey roaster. Sprinkle with choice of herbs, salt, and pepper. Roast at 400 degrees for about 1 hour. Remove and let cool. Prepare noodles according to package directions. While noodles are cooking, saute onions, garlic, and mushrooms in large frying pan until browned. Place onion mixture in large bowl. Drain noodles and place in frying pan with a little bit of oil, spices, and nutritional yeast. Slightly brown or “fry”. Remove from skillet and add to onion mixture. When duck has cooled, remove meat from bones and shred into the noodles and onions. Sprinkle with spices and additional nutritional yeast. Mix well. Our family of 4 can get 2 meals out of this.
The whole meal, hands on, doesn’t take long. Once the duck is roasted, everything else comes together within 30 minutes. Which is why it’s one of our favorite go-to meals. Serve with a side of veggies, some homemade applesauce, and you’re good to go!
Farmers do eat well! We feel really good when we sit down to eat, knowing that we put work into what’s on our plate and that we are capable of providing for ourselves. It makes you appreciate your food, and a side of appreciation makes anything taste even better!
This past weekend we attended the Loudonville Street Fair. Street fairs are better than regular fairs (if that makes any sense). First of all, they’re free! Second of all, they’re free! Okay, I know I repeated myself but you’ve gotta love free. Sometimes I get a little aggravated paying $6.00 per person to get into the fairgrounds to walk around and see a few animals, get bullied by the crowds, pay an extra $2.00 per ride per person, and go home hungry because you can’t find any good food to eat. Not that I’m bitter or anything. But with a street fair, you walk in and enjoy. After you’ve spent an hour or two and there’s nothing left to see, you don’t mind leaving because you don’t feel like you’ve wasted your money. Call me frugal.
That’s me, standing by the Porta Potty. Yep.
We went to the fair on a mission. We were watching our friends show their rabbits. Both of the kids went home with a ton of ribbons and a few trophies. Just another day on the showing circuit for them.
We had a little fun “posing” the fluffy bunnies too!
Lexie managed to get in a little bit of training on how to properly hold a rabbit.
You should hold them like a football, with their head tucked into your armpit (poor bunny) and your arms supporting them underneath. This makes the rabbit feel secure. Not quite sure what it has to do with a football, but I suppose that’s why you’ll find me baking instead of watching the games. I’m pretty sure I’ve never taught my kids how to hold a football either. Oops! See, you just never know what skills to teach your kids and what they might need them for. Football = Rabbit shows!?
Congratulations to the kids on their winning bunnies and winning showmanship! And thanks again for all the tips!
Last night I made Blueberry Baked Oatmeal for dinner. Yes, you heard right – dinner! Todd had a late night at work and I wanted something easy with leftovers. I heart leftovers! And since my Grammy got me thinking about baked oatmeal…
- 4 1/2 cups of oatmeal (Not instant. We use certified gluten free oats)
- 3/4 cup brown sugar (I use coconut palm sugar)
- 1 cup butter, melted
- 3 cups milk (we use Silk Almond unsweetened vanilla)
- 2 eggs, beaten (fresh duck eggs, of course!)
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 to 1 tsp cinnamon (depending on how cinnamony you like it!)
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1 1/2 cups frozen blueberries
I’m a lazy baker. SOOOO… I take a glass 9 x 13 baking dish, put my 2 sticks of butter in there, and pop it in the microwave for a minute to melt the butter. Then I throw all the remaining ingredients in there and mix it up right in the baking dish. You don’t even really need to measure the baking soda, salt, cinnamon, or nutmeg. Sprinkle it in there and don’t worry about it. Bake it in a 375 degree oven for about 30 minutes or so and enjoy! You can even mix it all up, throw it in the refrigerator, and bake it in the morning. That’s my idea of baking!
If you look really close at the picture, you can see the steam coming off the oatmeal! This stuff doesn’t last long around here. Nik says he could eat it every day. The great thing is that you don’t need any additional sweeteners or toppings. Okay, I like to add a little more cinnamon and a dribble or two of milk. Everybody else eats it just the way it is. I’m thinking of trying it with apples and cinnamon or maybe peaches. Like those little packets of instant oatmeal. Only better.
Speaking of oatmeal, it’s snack time and I’m pretty sure there was a piece left over in the frig….
Have you made a different variation on baked oatmeal? I’d love to hear some of your recipes and suggestions!
I love this time of the year. All the preparations for winter, a myriad of colors, a crispness in the air… and canning.
We harvested the remaining beets, tomatillos, and carrots from the garden. The carrots were juiced for us and the leftovers were fed to Buster Bunny. Tomatillos were made into salsa verde, which we all agreed wasn’t as good as our friend Dave made it. I’ll work on it for next year, and maybe steal his recipe.
The beets were washed, boiled, peeled, and cubed in preparation for canning. They would have to wait until canning day.
We took a day and went to visit my parents. While we were in the area, we stopped at our favorite apple orchard and loaded up on apples. We bought 4 overfilled brown paper bags of #2 apples. These are apples that have fallen off the tree or that have a bruise or other minor flaw. Perfect for homemade applesauce. We bought a mixture of Gala, Macintosh, and Jonathon. And a big bag of Honey Crisp just for munching on.
Super Easy Sugar-Free Crockpot Applesauce
- peeled, cored, and chopped apples (enough to almost fill your crockpot)
- lots of cinnamon
- dash of nutmeg
Put everything in your crockpot, add a little water, and let cook on low for about 6 hours. Or turn it to high for 4 hours. You can add more water depending on how thick you like your applesauce. You can also add a few more apples halfway through so that you get some apple chunks (if you like it chunky) in your applesauce.
Applesauce should be canned using the boiling water method. Leave 1/2 inch of headspace in your jars and process quarts or pints for 20 minutes.
I spent the next day canning beets in the pressure cooker and applesauce in the boiling water canner. We made 8 batches of applesauce over a 3 day period. My kitchen smelled like apple pie. It was also quite messy!
I now have 35 quarts of beets and 27 quarts of applesauce. That doesn’t include the beets and applesauce that we’ve already eaten. It’s looking to be a good year for canning! I love the feeling I get from having a well-stocked pantry.
We had a surprise in the poultry pasture. Nik was collecting eggs and came running back to the house. I was sure something had happened to one of our ducks. Instead, we saw this guy standing there…
Not what I expected with the ducks, geese, and chickens! Nik and I herded him into a corner and he flew out. I think he probably stopped by for a snack and wasn’t sure which way to go to get out. Luckily for him, it wasn’t pheasant season!
To top off our day, we were treated with a beautiful sunset. It makes me think of that old sailor saying:
Red at night, sailor’s delight
Red in morn, sailor’s take warn.
We’ve been gluten free for about 6 years now. Luckily the kids don’t remember too much about Happy Meals and all those trips through the McDonald’s drive thru. But sometimes it’s nice to give them (or myself) a treat to some fast food chicken nuggets. These babies are really good! Similar to your typical nuggets only better. Isn’t homemade always better?! Toss a bag of fries in the oven and you can fool the kids into thinking they got a “cheat” day!
You can click on the link below to take you to a printable page. Yay!
4 chicken breasts, cut into nugget-sized pieces
1 1/2 cups cornstarch
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp guar gum (you could also use xanthan gum)
1 cup milk
Heat pan of oil to 370 degrees. Combine all batter ingredients in a bowl. Let sit about 5 minutes to thicken. Dip chicken pieces into batter and place in hot oil. Fry for 5 minutes or until cooked through.
These may not be the healthiest nuggets around, but are fine for the occasional meal. We like to serve them with barbecue sauce or ranch dressing. You could even get a bottle of sweet & sour sauce to use. They’re even good plain! Any leftovers (if you’re lucky enough to have any) can be reheated and used the next day.
One time that I made these for lunch I ended up with this:
Looks just like a chicken, don’t you think?! Nik saved it and told me to sell it on ebay. He said people buy all kinds of food items that look like different things. He was going to use the money to buy a farm for us. Such a good kid! Nonetheless, I never did put that nugget on ebay. Who knows what I missed out on.