Thursday, December 31, 2009

Recipe for Mincemeat

I began this as a response for Flower Lady, but it got too long so just decided to do a second post for the day.

I actually wrote down what I did....a miracle for me.

Glenda's Mincemeat (meatless)

2 lbs apples peeled, cored (8-10 apples)
1 lbs dark raisins
1/2 lb golden raisins
3/4-1 cup candied cherries
1 cup candied orange peel grated(I made this)
2 cups frozen peaches (I think fresh would work and and I wouldn't even peel them)
2 oranges chopped (from making the candied peel)
1 cup raw sugar (I just had it on hand)(brown sugar would work)
3/4 cup white sugar
1 cup boiled down apple cider (can purchase)
1 cup apple cider , almost to the brandy point
(can use brandy)
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp grated nutmeg

I ran all the fruit including the orange peel through the KA grinder, then added sugars, ciders and spices, mixed and cooked for about 20 to 30 minutes. I let it 'ripen' at room temperature for a few days and then decided to cook it down and store in the fridge in a 1/2 gallon jar. I think it needs to age several weeks before using. If you use liquor, you wouldn't even need to put it in the fridge.

I tasted along to get it to my taste for sweetness, spice and tanginess (hardened cider). I was looking for a remembered taste. It was lots of fun. Now I am sending my sis two cups to see what she thinks. She is the real talented cook in the family.

The Mincemeat

For some reason about Thanksgiving I began thinking about Grandma and Mom's mincemeat. I could just taste it. I don't have their recipe, my Aunt didn't have it, but she could remember some things Grandma put in it. The funny thing is, I never really liked it back then. I just couldn't get it out of my mind.

The blessing of the computer age came to the rescue. I posted on a few forums I visit and several were kind enough to share their favorites with me. Most had suet and meat....I decided I didn't want meat...that stringy texture is what put me off before. Of course, that was after I bought a pork roast for it. We were forced to eat it for dinner and barbecue sandwiches. (not complaining at all).
I read all the recipes and used bits of several to come up with what tastes to me like I remember it. I made some tarts, ate those, but not really enough filling, make cookies (we weren't impressed with them at all) so yesterday I decided to use up the last quart and make a pie.

I was thrilled with it. It does taste like I thought it should. DH ate a piece but said that was enough....he doesn't even like raisin pie which I love.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

I made myself do something I have been dreading for a year..........created a new spread sheet for the beef cattle, with columns for calving dates. You would think this should just be a simple thing but it took me almost two hours, with reading, comparing handwritten pages (by my husband....not always easy to decode), making corrections and finally getting the number correct. I think I finally have it.
Not fun, but it has been driving me crazy having two or three sheets that were not correct.

This morning I decided to milk again so I wouldn't have to in the 8° temps they are predicting for us over the next couple of days. That went well; at least she didn't put her foot in the bucket.

We wrapped some water lines that were right on the concrete block wall of the milk parlor that are prone to freezing and blowing the cap off the end of the pvc pipeline. I pulled them loose from the wall and put fiberglass batting between them and the wall. We also put plastic over the inside of the window with the exhaust fan because a lot of air comes in around it.

I moved the squash away from the wall and closer to the gas stove where we leave a burner on very low to keep everything from freezing out there. So far, they are keeping much better than the pie pumpkins. They are Butternut and Long Island Cheese, both moschata varieties that are supposed to keep well.

I put fresh straw in the hen's nests and scattered some on the floor of their coop for insulation for them. We are letting them outside today but won't when the temps drop. There were three hens on the nest and we scared one off.
They have been laying better if we keep them confined in cold weather.

I have DH in taking all the decorations off the tree (bless him!) I hate doing it.
He has quite a collection of Hallmark cars and trucks and tractor ornaments and likes to look at them up close and personal. Our daughter has been at Hallmark since college and gets us both an ornament each year, 17 years now I think.

I also got the seeds ready to mail tomorrow for a couple of Oklahoma gardening friends. I will send them in with my husband tomorrow. I hope they are germinate well for them.

Here is my bird picture of the day:
From Birds

Monday, December 28, 2009

The house is back to just DH and me and seems very quiet.....not a bad thing!

The sun is shining very brightly for a change and I do love that. I have decided to start walking again....just a 15-20 minute walk but I think it will be good for me. This makes day 2...maybe if I put it in writing I will feel guilty if I don't do it.

We got some birding gifts for Christmas which we love, a squirrel proof tube feeder, a little bell shaped shelter for small birds, and a hanging seed/nut bell in a sock. I don't know about the shelter, but the feeders are very popular.

I love southern authors and our son gave me two of Rick Bragg's books, 'The Prince of Frog Town' and his latest, 'the most they ever had'. I already have Ava's Man and have read his other 'All Over but the Shouting'. He writes about "our people", who originally came from the hills of Tennessee and North Carolina and were farmers, coon hunters, white lightnin, hard working, hard drinking, hard fighting men. When I read Ava's Man, I told our son he had to read it and he would know from whence he came!

We still have some leftover turkey dinner so lunch today will be easy. I froze the leftover sweets so we wouldn't be tempted.

This was milking morning....cow stepped into bucket and wasted about a quart. I was not pleased!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Unplannned extra work

This is what happens when you forget what you are doing.

A couple of days ago, DH and I were in the garage getting something out of the freezer. He suggested I take some frozen fruit down to the house. This is what usually is dessert for us (not during the holidays!). I selected a package of peaches and what I thought was crushed strawberries, thinking I would make a small batch of jam for our granddaughter who loves it.

Then I went to the milk parlor where I process the milk, I dropped the fruits into the deep (I stress deep so I can't see them) stainless steel sink and proceeded to do two or three other things, thinking do not forget to take these to the house when you are finished. Two days was time to milk again. There still laying in the sink was the very thawed fruit, peaches have turned a darker color, and the strawberries (which turned out to be cherries) getting pale.
Frugal (tightwad) that I am, I took them to the house and made a batch of peach preserves and cherry jam. Granddaughter probably won't eat the cherry jam, but we will!

Waste not; want not..........that's my motto.

Friday, December 25, 2009

The predicted winter weather arrived! The temperature was 50° yesterday and this morning at 3AM was 17° with strong winds and a windchill of around zero. We didn't get the heavy snow that Oklahoma got or that those further north got.

I love this time of day. The house is clean (relatively), warm, no noise except for the wind outside, I have my coffee and time alone with the computer.....its a great life. There is just something about being snug inside with bad weather blowing out that makes you feel fortunate.

Oh, I do hear the cat zipping through the house like something possessed. I guess this is her play time. I need to get her a toy.

Our Christmas plans may get changed due to the weather. Our daughter was driving in this afternoon from the Kansas City area and that may not happen because the snow and ice.

Yes, plans changed; coming in tomorrow......we hope.

So, today I baked bread and made a cheesecake.....when I have time on my hands.......I tend to cook.

We didn't get nearly as much snow as others. This is the Cellar Bed across the drive from the house in the east yard.

From Winter Snow Storm 2009

and a Red Bellied Woodpecker hanging on for dear life in the wind!
From Winter Snow Storm 2009

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Family Milk Cow

I thought I would share a few thoughts for those interested in taking the plunge. I will probably have to share some pictures too.

The first thing to know is that it is a daily chore and all year round, except the two months she is dry and then you have to be sure she has good pasture and water.

You should have approximately a 305-day lactation with a 60-day dry period. Speaking of dry period, you will have to get her bred, your bull, a friend's bull, or A-I. A-I is getting harder and harder to find a technician. Be sure to have this problem worked out before getting your girl.

Some don't feed grain.....I think that is a serious mistake unless you have some rare breed that can maintain body weight and milk production on grass or hay alone. I feed a limited amount to my cow twice daily.

If you are a complete novice, please consider getting a cow that has already been hand-milked or machine milked if you are doing it that way. So she will have already had a calve or two or more. Mine was 6 years old so she had already had probably 4 calves but her udder was perfect and she was very sound.
Breaking them to milk is not always an easy job and especially if you have never done it before.

Enough for now, will add some more rambling thoughts on breeds and etc. in later posts.

Now here is our Willow. This is her fist calf born on our farm. She is a heifer out of our Black Angus bull. She is getting darker every day and may end up black!

First Picture, one-day old  Willow and Ginger

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


This is a trial and error blog! So, I have changed the template to see if it will accommodate the new size.

I want to be able to post some pictures in a larger size, especially the birds.
From Birds

I have learned a little more about my is about time. I have had it for a a couple of years. There is a very generous member named Sharon on the GardenWeb Cooking Forum who takes professional pictures of food. She has generously created a blog called Food Photo Tips at I have applied the closeup shot method to the birds. I take them all through the kitchen window using the zoom until it is not blurry and in macro. I sometimes adjust the White Balance and sometimes leave it on automatic.

I am using a Panasonic Lumix DMC FZ8, which is just a point and shoot or you can do some manual adjustments.....I haven't got beyond this.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

This and That

Yesterday was errand day which is always tiring but necessary.


We went to the farmer's co-op to pick up some grains for the chickens. I think I will experiment with just feeding them grains instead of egg krumbles or pellets. I like knowing what they are eating and you never do with pellets. I bought rolled corn, whole oats (I wanted wheat but would have had to go to another building across town for that), and for insurance a bag of krumbles. They will also get all table scraps and I will pull the blasted henbit for them as long as it is green.

It will be interesting to see how this works. I know my grandmother raised her chickens on scraps and whole corn she shelled off the cob each evening to feed them. I have gone to the corn crib with her many times. I think this is another reason I want to grow open pollinated corn next year. My corn crib will just be some large trash bins though.

The new heater for their water is malfunctioning..........don't know what that is about. It is now working.


From Food
From Food

I have made spritz butter cookies and Russian Teacake cookies now. I have never had trouble with the cookie press.........but did this year. Finally got through with that ordeal.

Friday, December 18, 2009

34° this morning with a cold front coming in.


Yesterday while waiting for the temperature to warm up, I made a batch of what we call Reece's, peanut butter balls dipped in chocolate. Today I will do Spritz Butter cookies and maybe one or two others.
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I knew yesterday was supposed to be our last nice day for a while so decided to get the rest of the mulching done.

DH brought me 4 more bales of straw and I spent a couple of hours late in the afternoon finishing the asparagus row and a weedy corner of the garden. I used the old hay bales (left in the yard for over a week) to mulch the flower border that runs along the south side of the garden, a "found" rose cutting that appeared when the hostas died back....I don't even remember which rose it is, the rosemary and dahlias and the new herb bed that has garlic up about 6 inches and several other fall planted things. I used three bags of leaves to mulch them.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Up at 4:00 AM, temperature 32°

We are having a couple of nice is supposed to be 50° so I will finish mulching the asparagus bed.

We restarted our trash pickup yesterday. We tried to stick to the recycling and burning method for one year. We finally gave up; they no longer take glass. It got so complicated with having to drive here and there. So, now all in one container again and our lives have become easier.

Milked yesterday and set 2 gallons to clabber, pullets 6 eggs, old Buff l. Life is good.


A few years ago, I got interested in heirloom gardening. There were several reasons behind it. First I love the idea of being self-sustaining (up to point....remember the trash thing) then I like the simple life style and I think we have lost a lot of flavor and nutrition with all the hybridizing. I know my grandmother didn't have to order or buy $$$$$ of garden seeds each year, she saved her own and you can't do that with hybrids.

I have ordered lots of seeds this year, but once I decide what we like and what grows well in our area, I should be able to save seeds. I saved three different varieties of pole bean seeds last fall: Cherokee Trail of Tears, Kentucky Wonder and Kwintus, all pole beans which is all I grow.

I ordered seed from a local supplier who has become quite famous and successful and has opened a store in Petaluma, Ca., Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. Yesterday they sent their 2010 catalog and it is a thing of great beauty. It was like reading a fascinating garden book. The pictures were the fact, the whole catalog is the best I have ever seen. I worry though about the cost and the direction they are taking....a bit like Silver Dollar City which I hate. It may just be an age thing for me, but they have festivals, a fake old time city, etc...........

I just have to order some open pollinated corn seed now and think I have found my source, a small family owned seed company in Tennessee, New Hope Seed Co. I hope we can get new ground ready totally away from the kitchen garden so the corn can be safe from cross pollination. I hope to have a grinder by next fall and use the corn for meal and the chickens. I remember Grandpa's corn crib and going out there to get a few ears to shell out for the chickens...lots of fun ahead.

First thing this morning will be processing the clabbered milk. I have already taken out a quart to keep for butter milk......thinking buttermilk biscuits and pancakes. The rest will be cottage cheese.

Just finished with the cheese making. I ended up with about 2 quarts or lbs, I didn't measure or weigh it and I should have. Drained the curds, salted and added about 1/4 cup heavy cream to it...I couldn't resist and had a dish.
From Food
From Food
From Food

Now the part I don't the mess up in the kitchen.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Eggs and Asparagus

We were amazed that we got 8 eggs from the new 8 pullets on the second day. They are such happy birds and sing and talk all day long. Our chickens pay no attention to them in their coop.

This morning after milking, I cleaned off the asparagus row and got about 1/3 of it mulched. I will have to keep the chickens off the garden now.....they scratch the mulch down to the dirt. I think another 3 bales of straw will finish the job. Then I want to burn all the garden debris which is tomato plants and asparagus to help keep down disease and insects.

The blackberries have spread over into the asparagus row. I will prune them early next spring and may try to remove the ones in the asparagus. I have more raspberry vines than I realized. They are easy to tell from the blackberries because of the way they grow and their stem color.

I think the weather will cooperate over the next few days so I can get the garden finished for winter.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

New Chickens

The weather here is very dreary, some light rain, no sun in sight, but a mild 42°. Another cold front is moving in soon.

We found some 6 month old pullets on Craig's List in Monett and decided to buy a few to supplement our girls who are not laying at all! They were very nice size and beginning to lay already. We bought 8 and brought them home in a light rain covered with a tarp. We arrived safely and I decided to cover the pen side of the coop with some old greenhouse plastic to make a snug place for them. I want to keep them isolated for a while so they can get used to the hen house and make friends with our chickens through the wire wall. I just enclosed the south and west walls, the north is the wall of the enclosed coop and I left the east side open. They have settled in nicely and are singing happily. I even got an egg this morning.

I couldn't wait any longer to test the mincemeat so I made a small batch of tarts this morning. I think it needs a little sugar added; outside of that, I like it very much and it reminds me of Grandma's.

From Food

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Glad to report the cold snap is past. We got down to 9° one morning.

We did get the strawberry bed mulched with some help from my friends..........Photobucket

I got the henhouse bedded with straw, cleaned the nest boxes and removed extra pans from the floor so they would have more room. We kept them up during the coldest days (2). Even with all that loving attention, they are still not laying.

My neighbor sells eggs so we had to give in and buy hurt!

We are back in more normal temperatures for us, the 40's day and 20's nights. It almost feels like summer.

I have vowed to learn how to use my camera better this winter. I am taking bird pictures outside the kitchen window. I have a feeder hanging there so can get some closeup shots.

This is a White Crowned Sparrow. He/she lit on the Endless Summer Hydrangea bloom right beneath the kitchen window. This seems to be a favorite perch when leaving the feeder or if too many are there before him.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

It's still dark outside and 34°. I think precipitation is in the predictions for the day. Just heard the forecast and cold front is coming! Supposed to be down to 9° by Wednesday! Yikes. Got to get the outside stuff done asap.

To Do: Bring down 4 bales of straw from the back barn and mulch the strawberry bed and put down a bale for the chickens, clean their nest box. This is all in hopes they will decide to lay again before spring!

Chickens in general: Note to self.....start a fresh bunch each spring or at least every other spring.


The mincemeat is ripening in the stainless steel pot on the back of the stove and tasting better every day. I am using it like jam on my breakfast toast. When I was a child, I wouldn't touch it.

Bread Making: Yesterday I used my standby recipe but added lots of extra goodies to it. I am calling it Health Bread Recipe No. 1.

From Food

From Food

From Food
From Food


2 pkgs yeast (I use SAF that I keep in the freezer)
1/2 cup warm water

2-1/2 cups warmed milk (original recipe called for water but this is healthy whole foods remember)
1-1/2 teaspoon salt

1-1/2 cups Oat Bran Cereal (found in supermarkets...brand Bob's Red Mill)
1/2 cup either honey or sugar (I used raw sugar)
1/4 cup melted butter
6 cups 50/50 flour (half whole wheatand half AP)
1 egg
2 cups Bread flour (I used AP with gluten added)

shortening to coat 3 loaf pans. Or can be baked in rounds on oven stone.


1/2 cup chia seed jell
1/4 cup milled flax seed
1/3 cup wheat germ

Add yeast to 1/2 cup water to dissolve

Combine lukewarm milk, melted butter, salt, oat bran cereal, sugar and 2 cups of the flour mix and beat well (I used a KA stand mixer).

Add egg, yeast mixture, chia jell, mix well.

Add dry additives to the couple of cups of bread flour and mix. Add this to liquid ingredients and mix well, I beat with the mixer for a couple of minutes and if it is too thin, I add flour until it is like thick pancake batter. Then begin adding flour until you get a nice soft dough that comes away from the sides of the bowl or, if by hand, until you have a pretty stiff dough. Either knead with mixer 6 minutes or by hand for 8-10 minutes. If using a mixer, turn out on floured board knead a minute or so to get the feel of the dough and to form a nice smooth ball.

Place in bowl for first rise. Cover with damp towel and put in a fairly warm area.
I don't grease the bowl for rising and I use the same bowl I mix it in. Let raise until doubled, about l hour. Gently turn out onto board and fold a few times. Divide into three loaves. I usually weigh them to get them even. Form into nice loaf shape and put in pans for second rise.

Don't cover. Let raise for maybe l hour. I use the old poke in corner of loaf test. If the dent stays it is ready.

Bake 375° for approximatly 40 minutes. I test with instant thermometer until internal temp reaches at least 185°

Note: If using oven stone for rounds, I form the ball, sprinkle a pizza peel with cornmeal and use it to slide the rounds onto the hot stone.

Note: Just to show that I am a bread junkie, I took a picture of all the various ingredients I keep in the freezer for various breads.

From Food

Believe me all this isn't necessary; all you really need is flour, water and's a hobby for me so I make no excuses!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Today it is 30.2° and overcast.

I don't milk today so DH will tend to morning chores (bless him).

Today To Do List:

Breadmaking Day (my favorite day)
More practice with indoor photos with the camera
Hopefully some good bird shots outside the kitchen window.

Speaking of feeding the birds, a few days ago I asked DH to check the smokehouse (where we keep the feeders stored over summer) for a tube feeder. He reported back that there wasn't one. So, off to Lowe's we went where I bought a feeder. When I saw the copper lid, that rang a bell but I ignored it. Got home; put it up and in a couple of days the canaries found it.

Yesterday I had to get something from the smokehouse (see I have already forgotten what) and there just inside the door hanging on a nail was the new tube feeder from last year! It is much heavier and more decorative than the one just bought. I have no idea what he was looking for when he ignored this!

I think it is sturdy enough that we retired the squirrel chewed one on the Elm tree and replaced it with the 'found' one.

It is downright scary!

Nell,of Secrets 0f A Seed Scatterer's Blog posted a picture of a Pileated Woodpecker, another thing our areas have in common. I took this picture a couple of years ago in our front yard. It was working happily away on our bug infested Elm tree.
Pileated Woodpecker

Thursday, December 3, 2009

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Winter Entertainment

From Birds

We both get such a kick out of feeding the birds and trying to get pictures of them out the kitchen window. It is much easier to feed them!

This morning may have been our coldest yet 26°, but with very little wind.
I milked Willow, but left one quarter for Ginger, her baby. The adoptee is certainly big enough to wean, but I let him share with Ginger except on days that I choose to milk. I fed the calves and wormed all six cats. It was much easier than I anticipated.

I have baked an angel-food cake and cooked brown rice for our lunch. I will be doing fried rice with ham bits and cake with frozen (out of my patch) strawberries.
We are both trying to be better about what we eat (interpret that as lose weight).

I received my Park Seed Co. order yesterday, short the back-ordered Candy onion seed.
Very annoying since I ordered so early. They did the same thing last year which put my onion plants way behind. I may just cancel.

Inventoried my garden seeds finally and shouldn't have to order anything more.

The rest of the day will be spent in my 'nest' in the kitchen reading. My Dad used to call it that and it fits the spot perfectly.