Monday, May 31, 2010

Local and Homemade

Today I baked french bread.  I took a picture of it before we devoured it, but the software is acting up so I can't upload it.  We needed some yummy bread to complete our dinner of butter greens and spinach grown locally.  The ironic part of the greens is that we had to drive about 60 miles to obtain produce that was all grown within 5 miles of where we live!  I was going to take a picture of the salad too, but we were hungry and it was getting late.  The peppers were colorful and regional, but not local.  The tomatoes came from the grocery store-don't think anyone around here has tomoatoes yet.  The carrots are organic.  The dressing was homemade-from buttermilk I made from our goats milk.  I just added a bunch of herbs and spices, but I need a recipe.  It was good, but it needed something else.  Then we had artichokes with hollandaise sauce, made with our fresh eggs-I think it might have been the best sauce yet, and I've been making it for 33 years!

It wasn't all local, it wasn't all organic, and it wasn't all homemade, but it was all D-E-L-I-C-I-O-U-S!  I'll add the bread photo later!

Oh, and here's the view I had while planning my menus for the month:

Friday, May 28, 2010

Food for Thought

Luke 14:13-14 states:
But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you; for you shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”

I read this passage tonight and it made me pause to think, "how can I do this?"  If the people I know don't fit into any of these categories, how do I find those that do, and make them feel welcome in my home as I serve them a feast?  I know that if a stranger invited me to dinner I'd be suspicious, so how do I get to know the poor, maimed, lame and blind?  I do know a few who could be called poor by American standards, but I'm sure if I called them poor in their presence they'd argue that they have all they need.

Here I am with 5 or 6 dozen eggs and gallons of fresh milk in my fridge, and I don't know who to share it with.  I do know a man with 5 kids that just got laid off.  Do I take him some of my bounty?  Does that qualify according to the Scripture above?  I've asked God a few times to show me who needs some of this blessing He's given me, and no one really comes to mind when I do.  Maybe the thing to do is invite this family to "breakfast for dinner" and serve lots of buttermilk pancakes, scrambled eggs, bacon and sausage.  Hmm, think I'll run that one by hubby and see what he thinks.

Got any suggestions for breaking into circles of people who aren't like me?  Expanding my horizons, so to speak...

Chocolate Banana Smoothie

After a morning of outdoor chores, we came in to have a smoothie.  I already had the bananas and yogurt blended together when I decided to see what it would taste like to add sweetened cocoa powder to the mix.  Not bad-espcially considering the tartness of this batch of yogurt!  My son took a drink and said "mmmm".  It's simple, but here's how I did it.

16 oz plain yogurt (homemade is best!)
2 bananas
2 Tbsp sweetened cocoa powder (I have this ready for hot chocolate-ratio of two parts sugar to one part cocoa)
Blend until smooth-enjoy!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Economics of Homemade Laundry Soap

Last summer I made homemade laudry soap for the first time.  Based on the small initial investment, and the large quantity of soap made from a small portion of those ingredients, I knew it was really CHEAP to make this soap.  I never did the math though, and when telling anyone about it, I always said it broke down to pennies per load. 

Well, I just ran out of the batch made last summer and had to start another one, so I did the math.  I get 10 gallons of laundry soap for $1.21!  It only takes 1/4 cup per load, so 640 loads to a 10 gallon batch makes it .00189 cents per load, not even a penny!!  Not even half, or quarter of a penny!  If I do 5 loads a week it's still not a full penny per week.

If you need to cut costs, I highly recommend this as one way to do it.  It takes 15 minutes to mix it all up and then it sits for 24 hours, so it's not even labor intensive.  Here's what I did:

Grate one bar of Zote soap (some use Ivory or Fels Naptha) and dissolve in hot water.  I put it in a large pot on the stove, brought the water close to a boil, then added the grated soap and turned the temp down to low.  I whisked it a few times while it dissolved.  While this is happening, heat 2 gallons of water and add to a 5 gallon bucket.  When the Zote is dissolved, add it to the bucket with 1 cup of washing soda, and 1/2 cup of borax.  Whisk it all together to mix well, then add enough hot water to fill the bucket and stir once more.  Put the lid on and let it sit for 24 hours.  After that, use a smaller, handy container to hold your soap-perhaps an old laundry detergent bottle.  Fill it halfway with the soap, then add water to fill the bottle.  This is how you end up with 10 gallons of soap from a 5 gallon bucket.  Shake it well prior to each use.  Most directions I've read say to use hot water to fill the bottle, probably to break up the gelled soap.

Mine didn't gel this the first time, probably because I didn't have a lid for the bucket.  I still used the soap though.  My clothes come out clean.  I didn't dillute the first batch though, but now that I think about it, just because it didn't gel didn't mean there was less soap, so I should have.  I'd still have soap if I did!

More laundry recipes and a FAQ can be found here.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Tattler Give Away

My friend Amy over at Homestead Revival is giving away a set of BPA free Tattler canning lids!  Check out her blog to see how you can enter.  The link to Tattler is at her blog too, so you can check out these gems for yourself!

I really should keep it a secret so I have better odds of winning, but that wouldn't be very thoughtful, would it?  :-)

Monday, May 24, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

I do more than plan the weeks' menu on Monday, but it has a nice ring to it.  I stole it from Jennifer at PJ Academy blog.  I also fill my son's snack drawers-1 in the fridge with fruit, cheese, boiled eggs, and small cans of V8; and another in the drawer where his cups, plates and bowls go with mixed nuts, dried fruit, and bunny crackers.  We also have a basket on the counter with fruit in it (he and I prefer it room temp).  He can choose snacks from any of these throughout the day, giving him independence and a bit of responsibility.
I also make more yogurt, buttermilk, cheese and any other dairy product I can come up with to reduce the qty of milk in the fridge.  Even after two weeks of having other avenues for milk consumption I have three and a half gallons of milk.  Two and a half qts of yogurt, a pint of buttermilk, and another half pint incubating along with another batch of chevre and ice cream round out the variety of our dairy products.  I write milk on our menu plan at each dinner, but that doesn't always translate into drinking it every night.  I also have smoothies down each morning, but the same thing applies.

I know that if I were drinking more of the milk I'd be better nourished and thus less fatigued.  It's hard to overcome 30 years of non milk drinking though.  I am getting better though.

Polly-we tried the chevre warmed and it was more creamy.  I took it to a BBQ and the hosts loved  it, so I'm making a batch for them.  I tell everyone that tries any of our dairy made concoctions that they won't hurt my feelings if they don't like it.  I think most have been honest, as I get a variety of responses.

Today for MPM I even cleaned out the fridge and made an inventory of contents.  Then I planned meals around what I could make from those ingredients.  We bought a large bag of organic carrots a while back and I need to get them used up.  I used two for carrot raisin muffins this morning and will put a bunch in the crock pot tomorrow for pot roast.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


I knew my list wasn't complete nor comprehensive-I forgot the premiere of Toy Story 3!  My son loves the first 2 movies, and we went to see the 3D double feature release of 1 & 2 last fall.  TS3 comes out June 18th and I don't even have it on my calendar!  My mom's birthday is a few days after the release and I think that's how we're celebrating.  She and I chatted this evening and she wants to have him spend a week at her house.  Go Grandma!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

HenPals Nesting Boxes

If you raise chickens, you may be interested in these handmade nesting boxes for your gals.  They're giving one away, but you have to enter before midnight EST on May 19th.  Check 'em out!

Monday, May 17, 2010


Over the weekend I noticed that I had made 100 posts.  I think that's a milestone.  I was also thinking of writing of my life now vs one year ago and that's another milestone.  Choosing to buy a buck is another one, but I already told you about that.  My son's first year of preschool came to an end last week, we could call that a milestone too.

On Saturday, I made buttermilk biscuits, with buttermilk that I made myself, from goats that I hand milked.  We ate it with sausage made from a goat we raised.  I'd say lovingly, but my attitide towards him wasn't so warm for the last few months.  Not that anything in his care changed, just my attitude toward this kid that was drinking my milk and ramming me in the legs.  I also baked brownies from scratch, made a peach pie from scratch, made homemade ice cream.  I finished off a second batch of chevre that I shaped into a pretty ball for a BBQ we went to on Sunday.  I made bread dough in the machine and used it to make chicken in a bread loaf for dinner.  I kept the kicthen relatively clean all day too.

In addition to those kitchen duties, I washed all of our bed sheets and made fresh beds, folded and put away 2 loads of my sons clothes, and took care of the daily animal needs.  For some of you, this may sound like any typical day.  For me, it caused me to realize how far I've come in a year or so.  Brownies came out of a box, biscuits from a can (though from time to time I would make a batch from scratch), cheese was something I'd never even contemplated making, and ice cream wasn't something I really enjoyed enough to keep in the freezer.  Dinner was eaten out more often than home and the dishwasher was only needed about once a week.  While I cook at home a lot now, we still don't use enough dishes to run the machine daily, but getting close!

I've started using cut up old wash cloths to clean my goats' udders instead of paper towels.  I made a few cloth napkins at my first sewing lesson, and I use cloth pads instead of disposable ones now.  This will be a nice accounting of where we are at this point in our journey and some day I might read it and say-that's all  I did??  For now, I'm pleased with the progress and hope to keep taking steps in the direction that brings us health.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Buck Stops Here

We broke down, gave in and bought a registerable Alpine buck last night.  I've been looking for one to use as a stud since we got our girls last year and we found one Alpine, but he wasn't registered and lived too far away.  This guy comes from registered parents, so we just need to do the paperwork.  He is VERY calm-I was surprised.  The town where he used to live is about an hour away from here and he didn't make a sound the whole way back, nor when we took him out of the truck to go into the pasture.  He's even kinda handsome.  No pictures yet though.  Previous owner called him Bolt.  Not sure what we'll go with.

On an unrelated animal note-we had to take Purrsy to the vet again when we got back from buying the goat.  She looked thin, but wouldn't jump up onto the dryer to eat (does anyone else have cats and dogs and have to keep the cat food up high?) so I reached down to pick her up and felt something wet.  She's not quite a year old and a small cat, but had a rather large gash on her underside.  Several inches long and kinda deep.  No blood though-maybe she had already cleaned herself up, but none was even visible.  We are fortunate to have a 24 hour vet in town.  I haven't heard from them, guess I should call and see if she's ready to come home.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Best Fed Chickens in Town

I think we've got the best fed chickens around!  Today they got at least a half gallon of whey from my first (successful) cheesemaking venture, and then Tony found a recently killed snake in the yard, so he cut it into large chunks for them.  They're still pecking away at it.

In related news, Mr Redofrd likes the chick feed, so he's figured out how to get into their opened pen to eat it.  We've moved their pen to the backyard and open it during the day.  Mr Redford hops right in and sleeps on their straw and eats their feed.

About that cheese...I love it!  Tony doesn't seem too excited about it, and our son is turned off because he likes "orange" cheese.  I told him the orange part isn't the good part, so he tried it and asked for more.  He still hasn't eaten the little bowlful I gave him, but he says he likes it.  I doused it with sea salt and then a bell pepper rub.  I'm thinking almost any seasoning would be fabulous with it.  Maybe cilantro lime...For those that have experience making chevre, can I do anything to make it more firm/less crumbly?

I also made buttermilk.  Tony is the only one to try it so far and he said it's the best he's ever had and he'll drink it straight.  I plan to make buttermilk biscuits with it tomorrow morning-to go with our fresh eggs and goat sausage.  MMMMMMMMM!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Morning Off Schedule

But it's exciting!  My culture order from NE CheeseMaking Supply arrived this morning before I took my son to preschool.  I quickly read the directions for chevre and realized I could start that as soon as I got back, as well as a qt of buttermilk.  So-the 5 quarts needed for both are warming to the proper temps and then I'll add the starter culture.  In my morning milking I acquired another 2 and a half quarts so my net change in milk quantity is just 2 and a half quarts.

I was getting a bit frazzled when my tummy growled and I realized I hadn't eaten breakfast yet, so I whipped something up and sat down here to read my friends' blogs.  Then it hit me-except for the butter on the toast, everything was homemade or purchased locally.  The ham came from a hlaf hog we bought from a local grower, toast from homemade bread, with butter and homemade peach jam.  I should be drinking another glass of fresh milk too...

I need to go get the kitchen cleaned before it's time to pick up kiddos at preschool.  It's my day to have 2 extras and we go to the park for a while, so I need to have water and snacks ready too.  Check back Friday for results of my first cheesemaking attempt...

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Tuesday Tidbits

My first thought for a blog today was to share that our pet bunny, Rabbit Redford, has learned how to get into the house using the pet door.  Not sure what to do about that!  I've got the door closed off for now, hoping he'll forget that he can do it, but I'm not hopeful that would work.  Silly rabbit.

Then I found this site with printables I like, so I wanted to share it.  There are vintage looking calendar pages also.  The link takes you to a pretty page to record an inventory of food you already have at home.  I'm going to put one on the door of the freezer with quantities written next to it, so when DH brings something home he can cross thru the highest number to know we now have this many left.  For instance, fresh bacon: 10 9 8 7, etc, where he crosses of #10 the first time he takes one out and we know there are 9 left. 

I'm eagerly anticipating the arrival of my dairy cultures by mail.  I ordered quite a variety for cheesemaking, plus sweet yogurt, buttermilk, and sour cream.  Can't wait to try them all!

It's cold in my neck of the woods today-or at least cool.  I'm wearing long sleeves in the house.  Nice to know the heat isn't here to stay.

We planted grape vines yesterday, thanks to a generous gift from Polly at Polly's Path blog.  Some day they will be a beautiful edible border along the north side of our property line.

Got a little miffed while reading this story.  I think she's a little off base, but entitled to her opinion.  The prevalence of historical revisionism is partly to blame, I think.

So that's what's on my mind today.  Thoughts?

Sunday, May 9, 2010

On Books and Reading

I already confessed a passion for books and reading.  My passion is starting to cost me a few dollars here and there in over due book fines.  My local library network has a decent online tool that shows me what I have out and when it's due.  It also emails me 2 days before an item is due to remind me.  I'm usually quite good and either getting it back to the library or renewing it, but lately I'm either TOTALLY forgetting that I even got the email, or there has been a breakdown in their system.  I logged in tonight to place a hold on another book that looks interesting and learned that I have two books that were due May 1st.  That's over a week ago!  The odd part is I owe $1.20 for one and .25 cents for the other.  If they were both due on the same day, then there must be different rates based on which library it came from.  In the big picture, I don't mind so much, as the fees go toward building projects (I think), but it's one of those things that I used to NEVER let happen that has changed since becoming a mom!  At least I got to renew them online tonight so that the fees stop accruing.

Got Milk?

Or eggs for that matter!  The bowl on the 2nd shelf is yogurt that I'm straining (another 2 qts of milk used) and behind that is a gallon jug full of milk.

Friday, May 7, 2010

More About Time

About ten years ago I read an article that questioned whether our modern day appliances really saved us any time.  The author suggested that the time it takes to run the dishwasher might be longer than the time it takes to wash them by hand.  She went through a whole list of examples and the whole time I was thinking to myself, "true, but I'm not standing at the sink the whole time the dishwasher is running" or whatever the device in question might be.  A few days after that, I was making dinner, baking bread, washing dishes and doing laundry-and I wasn't even home!  There was a meal in the crockpot, dough in the bread machine, etc.  I was getting 4 things done at home while I wasn't even there.  Obviously that article has stuck with me all these years.  I was reminded of it again this morning as I was warming milk in the crockpot to put it into the yogurt maker, and the ice cream maker was running-all while cooking bacon and eggs for breakfast.  Her point may have been right, but I feel it was shortsighted for reasons already mentioned.

Now-when those with foresight to create items that help us can come up with the self cleaning kitchen....

A small kitchen gets destroyed quickly, but it also doesn't take too long to clean it up!  Now off to the store to get the ingredients for this marinade to make goat fajitas for dinner.  A friend has homemade tortillas too!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Time Conflicts

Do you ever wonder how we'll handle eternity?  Knowing there is no end?  It's a concept I can't wrap my brain around in a world where no one seems to have enough time!  I'm either busy living life, while simultaneously thinking  about how I want to present this experience on my blog, or sitting here reading other blogs and web sites learning to do  things that will take me away from the computer.  There are days I could make 4 or 5 posts, but then I'm not sure if they'd all get read or simply lost in the shuffle, so I wait.  Then a whole week goes by and I haven't blogged!  So just a quick summary of things that have been on my mind:
  1. This is our first year planting heirloom seeds (I think I'm using the right terminology-seeds that can be planted and seeds from its fruit can be saved for next year) and the package tells me I can't plant a different variety from the same cultivar with 1/4 to 1/2 mile of each other.  What??  So I can only have one type of melon?  Or beet?  Or cucumber?  Anyone else had any trouble with this?
  2. We went to the County Fair the other day and had a great time!  I called it our Official Kick-Off of Summer Fun.  Got some good pictures, then my poor husband sat down with it in his back pocket.  The screen cracked and you can't see anything on it anymore.  It still takes pictures though.  Looking at eBay for another one.
  3. I want to have a contest to name the trio of goats that arrived at our home April 15th.  I need good pictures of them first.  The prize will be a homemade bread bag, and I wanted to post pictures of the tea towels I bought to make them with.
  4. My husband and I celebrated the 4 year anniversarry of our engagement last night by attending the Celtic Woman concert in Phoenix.  My parents watched our son and we got a hotel room afterwards.  It was a fabulous time and I want to find links to youtube videos of this concert to point out some of the highlights.  In addition to the amazing voices of the singers, the musicians are unbelievable too.  Dual percussionists-quite entertaining to watch.
  5. Tonight we got to watch a local performance of The Sound of Music.  It's my favorite movie, my husband enjoys it, and every now and then our 4 year old son asks to watch it.  We took him with us and he did quite well.  He preferred the singing parts and got a little restless during speaking parts, but never so much as to be a nuisance to those nearby.
  6. I'm getting 3 quarts of milk a day from our goats.  We aren't keeping up with using it!  I've run out of canning jars to store it in.  And gallon jugs.  We have 2 gallons away this week.  I made 4 quarts of yogurt in the last 10 days.  2 quarts of ice cream.  As soon as I place the order for cheese cultures I can start making cheese!  I thought I might be able to find some in Phoenix, so waited til that trip was over, but never even found a cheesemaking supply store.  Polly-did you say you get yours from the NE Cheesmaking Co?  I checked their site and will probably order their goat cheese starter kit tomorrow.  Hubby said he could make a cheese press for me.
Those are just the ones I can remember.  I probably ought to set a time just for posting, but I'm not good at sticking to a regular schedule.  I'm enjoing reading the blogs I follow, and I'm making some "friends" in the process. More later.  Thanks for stopping by!

One happy boy riding the tractor wagon to the fair entrance last week!