Friday, November 28, 2014

Happy Birthday Ziva!

Today Ziva turned one. Hard to believe. So she had a birthday party! She and Tucker each got a quarter pounder with cheese. Can't imagine what she wished for tho~

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thanksgiving Pies

Today was pie making day. I always make them the day before Thanksgiving so I can take my time. I like to cook the pumpkin fresh and make crusts from scratch. This year I was lucky enough to find some local lard so I was excited to try it out.

Lard makes such a lovely crust to work with! Now cooling on the counter are a chocolate pecan and a pumpkin pie,
And headed for the freezer a large bowl of pumpkin!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Meals In a Jar #1

I ran across this book recently and am really excited to try several of the recipes out. This one "Muffins 4 Ways" was by far the easiest and I think in addition to making lovely hostess gifts will be a quick and easy breakfast. I baked a batch to see how they tasted and they were good.
Certainly real eggs and real milk would make them richer tasting but for a quick fix, camping or a hurried trip to the mountains they would be perfect. Everything is in the jar including the oil (in packets) so all you add is a cup water, An excellent addition to our emergency food stores as well since they are vacuum sealed and the shelf life is long.
After that little experiment a good friend arrived and we headed to the garden to weed the spinach. Heavy rains due in tomorrow will make garden work a messy job so I wanted to get that done before hand. After that, she helped set up a Facebook page for the farm. I am not schooled in the way of social media, so she is holding my hand in this venture! Anyway, I guess I am supposed to say, "Like us on Facebook?!!)

Friday, November 21, 2014

The crock pot has simmered 24 hours a day since Monday producing large amounts of rich stock. The last bones went in the morning. This week I have frozen 7 luscious quarts of stock and have consumed at least couple more.
The kitchen has smelled incredible.
The freezer shelf is full of stock and waiting for a large pot of soup to be made. Making stock this way is so economical, healthy and easy! You can make some yourself I have posted instructions here on my eating blog.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

 It was with fear an trepidation I uncovered the lettuce today. Oh happy day! It survived last night which for us was the coldest night on record- a frigid 14*. The kale did not fair very well and looks pretty bad. It will rebound, I just don't know how long it will take. Surprisingly, the spinach looked unfazed and I was able to pick a large bag once the temps warmed a bit. We are on a weather roller coaster and though the next few days will have below average temps there is nothing in the forecast like last night.
I am so pleased with the performance of the row cover I plan to order more to have for future use. If I had only covered part of the kale we would have had plenty to use until the other recovered. Lessons learned.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Trying To Save The Lettuce

I had to work today but was able to get off a bit early. The main reason was to check the critters, though Mom had filled all the water buckets, and cover the lettuce. The temps are predicted to go down into the low teens. I am not ready for this!!
And so with 4 layers of row cover, a layer of greenhouse plastic and several blankets I did a "please don't die dance" headed to the house and hoped for the best. We will see what tomorrow brings-

Monday, November 17, 2014

A long day in the kitchen. Processing three deer was quite a job. We have a system worked out with Jill and I cutting up the meat and Mom vacuum sealing it. Still it took 6 1/2 hours. A couple hours in I started the crock pot with bones, onions, garlic and mushrooms to cook down for stock. With the amount of bones we have there will be no need to purchase any store bought stock for quite a while, if at all this winter. At the end of the day over 100 packs of meat were ready to go in the freezer. Jill and I split most, Mom took a couple of packs as Dad doesn't eat it....well, not knowingly ;-)
Around 4:30 Mom and I left to tend our critters and I needed to cover the lettuce. Tonight is going to be in the low 20's. So far we have managed to keep it alive. It's been a tough battle though. We are experiencing January weather in November. A wild start to the winter here on the homestead. It certainly makes us wonder what the future holds!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Though cold outside, sis and I spent a while in the warmth of the greenhouse potting up the blackberry bushes and grapevines. We planted them in recycled 1 gallon pots and will wait until spring to put them in a permanent place outside. Normally here in the sunny south they could go in the ground now but we are having unseasonably cold weather and I fear they would not survive that so early in their planting. So, for the winter they will hang out here where they are protected.
We also planted a large flat of lettuce. And check out that beautiful pot of parsley in the middle of the pic! It's ready to harvest and add to the stuffing on Thanksgiving. Yum.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Luke was home from school this weekend and he and my brother in law went to the VA farm to hunt. Home they came with 3!! deer. Monday will definitely be a busy day cutting up and packaging it all. It took the boys the better part of the the day to get the deer cleaned and quartered so I spent most of the day cleaning and organizing. I had to rearrange some freezer shelves to make room for the large amount of meat we will soon have. So exciting! 
Our Internet has been extremely spotty lately and after a second long phone call finally "convinced" our server that a tech needed to come out. An hour later I received a call one was on his way...gotta love the power of persuasion! We are now fixed and good to go. 
A quiet but productive day here on the homestead.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Up early this morning to get chores done before heading off to teach the second a bread class, this one an afternoon session. While feeding, the Fed Ex guy showed up with all of the fruit trees that were ordered several weeks ago. Being that part of them were bare root and a extremely cold weekend was predicted I knew I would be planting after class!
Class went well, and I got home around 4. Shovel in hand, I hurried to the orchard and started digging holes. It was dark when I finished up but 6 new apple trees are now planted and waiting to wake up in the spring.
I had also ordered 12 blackberry bushes and 6 grape vines. These arrived looking absolutely gorgeous but unfortunately the weather will not allow them to go in the ground now. I plan to pot them in gallon pots this weekend and put them in the greenhouse for the winter. I also have 2 fig trees, a peach and several damson plum (those gifted from a friend) to plant this weekend as well. Yay for edible landscaping!  

Monday, November 10, 2014

Today sis, mom and I spent the morning cutting up and packaging the deer my brother-in-law shot over the weekend. Though not pros, we do a pretty good job and when finished were rewarded with lots of burger, stew and roasts. And as always the crockpots were piled full of bones and allowed to cook overnight to produce a dark rich and nourishing broth.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Today I taught the first in a series of bread classes for the county extension office. They have a wonderful huge kitchen and lots of interest in bread making. So I packed up my grinder, grains and mixer and off  I went. Bless this class's heart they were my guinea pigs. A little bit of trail and error with their ovens and water temps but it was lots of fun and I hope I have created some new bakers!
Once back home I headed to the barn to check critters and get chores done. I harvested some beautiful lettuce for our grilled chicken salads tonight and then off to the kitchen to finally finish up the jalapeno peppers harvested on Sunday.
By day's end 13 jars of peppers were canned. The last of the summer's bounty tucked away for winter's use. For the next few months we will enjoy what the winter garden provides in addition to all the goodies preserved over the summer.  

Monday, November 3, 2014

Preserving Peppers

Today I started on the pile of peppers harvested yesterday. The red bell peppers were roasted and frozen.
The green bells were dehydrated.
And the rest of the sweet peppers chopped and frozen. In retrospect I wish I had dehydrated more of the sweet peppers. I have stumbled on a book called "Meals in a Jar" that I am wanting to play around with...more on that later though!
The jalapenos will have to wait until Wednesday since I ran out of time and I plan to pickle those. Another busy day on the homestead.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

The First Killing Frost

I had planned to cover the peppers as tonight was to be the coldest night before the weather warmed back up but a sad surprise greeted me at the garden today. The last of the peppers and eggplant had been struck down by Jack Frost.
We gleaned the plants and I will be preserving them in the coming days.
The lettuce came through as it is a little tougher however, in preparing for  the mid 20's tonight a row cover was placed over it. Notice the kale to the left? It is beautiful. Time for kale chips. Yum.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

A cold, nasty day today. The wind was blowing a gale and the cold rain, though much needed, made for a miserable chore time. It has been such a warm week some of the young goats seemed to be caught off guard so I moved them to the barn where it was warmer and offered them extra hay. To top it off, I was having the kitchen painted and banned from that room so there was no baking or cooking much. ( I did sneak on a chicken for dumplings tonight!) And so, I took the opportunity to spend some time in my studio catching up on paperwork and designing new handouts for the bread classes I am starting next week in conjunction with the extension office. Yes, I hope to be filling the community with bread bakers!