Tuesday, February 26, 2013

We Got Snow

We finally got some snow here; only 2-3 inches but it was beautiful!

I am standing looking out the front door:

This is my River Birch, they are so limber that they bend to the ground like willows.

Don't know why the kitty decided to venture out, but she did,

Here some of them were enjoying the morning sun during our previous ice storm.

Once again, I didn't get out.  I did take advantage and rendered the lard.

I almost filled a coffee can.  I am using Ilene's suggestion of using coffee containers for storage.  I don't know why I never though of that before.

and I made some of these,

Half are filled with my mincemeat and half with some of the peach preserves I made yesterday.

What do you call these little things?  They aren't tarts......they need a name.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Errand Day and Jam Making

I a slept until almost 4:30 AM, a very good night for me. 

We knew a storm front was moving in this afternoon so we did our errands early.  We went to the processors and picked up the cured meat  from the hog.  We pass a place that has a few buffalo and every time I take the camera they are out of sight.  Today, I didn't take it and 8 were in nice range.......We won't be going in that direction for a long time now since  the only reason is the meat plant.

We picked up a few supplies at the small local market and got gas for the truck.

The front came in around 3 pm.  Blew like crazy; rained some; snowed some but now the sun is shining.  It is still very windy.  Nothing will stick  at the temperatures we are  having.

I had thawed two packages of peaches several days ago and knew they had to be worked up.  I thawed them to make jam and jam  I did.  I made a regular 4 cup batch with pectin and then just cooked the remaining 3 cups with 3 cups of sugar until I thought the were the right consistency.

The quart jar is the old-fashioned kind of preserves.

I have the second package of ground hog fat thawing and will render it tomorrow.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Baking Again

It got pretty cold here again last night, 19° so we still have our layer of icy stuff.  Today should melt some and tomorrow in the 50's should take care of the rest....

I vowed not to feed the birds from the porch again because of the mess, but with ice on everything I knew they needed to be fed.  I finally caught a few of them but with everything in gray shades it is hard to pick them out.  There are 6 here.


I made the new cookies from the recipe my Sis sent me.  It was from Williams-Sonoma.  It is a keeper.

Cookies-Williams Sonoma Coconut Butterscotch Chip (equally good with chocolate chip)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Prepare a parchment lined cookie sheet.
1 1/3 cup all purpose flour
½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. Salt (I would use only ¼ next time)
½ cup butter, softened
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup light brown sugar, packed
½ tsp. pure vanilla
1 egg
1 ¾ cups sweetened, dried flaked coconut
1 1/2 cups chocolate or butterscotch chips ( I used chocolate)
½ cups finely chopped pecans (recipe didn’t call for nuts but I added them anyway)
Sift flour baking powder, soda and salt together in a bowl or on a sheet of waxed paper.
Cream butter on high speed until light yellow and fluffy. Add sugars and continue beating until no longer grainy to the touch. (I just creamed them well. Add vanilla and egg and beat until well mixed then on low speed, stir in flour mixture. Lastly add nuts and chips and continue stirring until well blended. Drop on prepared cooky sheet with rounded Tablespoon or with dampened hands shape into 1 inch balls. (I used my scoop which is about a rounded T., the shaping was going to take longer than I wanted to mess around with. The scoop worked fine.) Bake for about 15-17 min. until the edges are barely golden. Don't over cook.

I baked these one day and then the next, yesterday, I made  my first loaf of Challah.  I wasn't really too worried about making it....I have been making bread for several years.  Well, darlings, this was a bit of a challenge for me!  Not making it, that was very normal.  Then came the braiding.  First I thought this would be a simple thing so I opted for the 4 braid....after several sweaty attempts to do this one, I lobbed the dough back together and kneaded it into one ball.  Divided it into three ropes and began
  again.  Even this was not an easy task. First thing I know I did wrong was  the first of the braid wasn't tight enough.  It came out OK but is not very professional looking.  I will do better next time (I hope).  

I will be making it again.  It is a wonderful, rich and soft bread and we are loving it.

I used the recipe in Williams-Sonoma once again and I hope this link works.  http://www.williams-sonoma.com/recipe/challah.html?cm_src=RECIPESEARCH

and this is a slice that I hope shows the fine texture,

DH was very impressed; he really likes a soft, moist bread.  It toasted nicely for breakfast.

Farm Notes:  February 22, turned bull into lot with Jewel and Willow. Random Dog Picture

I think I will use the small heater in the background for her pictures so we can guage her growing,  My Sis likes updates and it is hard to measure her.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Yak Trax in the Ice


4 AM , the sleet/rain mixture has just started.  8:32 AM, we now have about 1/2 inch of that lovely mix on most things.  I have just seen one vehicle go by so far and no salt trucks at all.

We are getting periods of drizzle that is freezing.  I think by Sunday it should all be melted once again.

I am now a shut in person so I resort to cooking......

I made the wonderful Pecan Sandies that I first saw on Ilene's blog.  It may still be in the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook, I haven't checked.  I love  shortbread and that is what these are really except you don't have to roll out and then cut....they don't make a large amount but that is OK.  I can make something different  sooner and I am going to.  My Iowa Sis sent me a recipe she got from Williams Sonoma that she says is very good.  I might even make them today.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Future Projects and Daily Doins

It has remained cold all day....I did put the flat of lettuces out on the porch in the sun.  I will bring them back in this evening.

Hallelujah!  I finished the cushion covers, except I need to buy 1/4 yard for make 4 more ties.  I hope to get  that tomorrow.   I am glad they are finished.

Note  the sewing machine by the window....oh for a special room for projects....I have had a mess in the dining room all  this time.

speaking of projects........

I have several fulminating in my brain these days but haven't settled on one to actually put my money where my mouth/mind is.

1.  Do a remodel on the guest bath.....a pretty expensive project
2.  Extend my L shaped back porch which is 5 feet wide by 15 feet and the back L is 5 x 7, so it would be filled in to be a nice  sized utility room of about 15x15....sewing  machine could go here.....maybe washer and dryer then,
3.  Make current utility a walk-in closet right off the master bathroom....that would be wonderful!
4.  Have a lean-to greenhouse built off east end of sheds across the drive (I know this is the most luxurious one since I am getting along fine without one!

5.  Enclose dining room porch into a sun room where we would enjoy coffee on cold days.  It is 7 x 15,  pretty narrow  but would work for us.
6 Enclose small living room porch foroffice for me and the computer.  This would eliminate the front entrance which no one uses but might be   negative if selling (for the kids).

7.  Make a wide opening between the  kitchen and the middle room (13x13) and make that the dining room.
Dining room would become living room; living room would be divided into two bedrooms (making them pretty small.

8 Or..............build two bedrooms across  the back of the house....a very expensive project

Or what I usually end up doing......nothing!  Seriously, I think the bathroom may be chosen.... the tub surround is very bad.

I will probably delete all the above  before I post.  Nope, going to leave it here for future reference for me.  You call can just skip over it.

We did errands yesterday on Saturday.  You would think we could pick a better day since we are  here each day but somehow it gets put off until Saturday, dumb, dumb and I forgot to get the 1/2 yard of material to finish the ties for the two cushions! drat.  I did pick up the matching jars for q-tips and  cotton for the master bathroom vanity.

This morning is bright and sunny and promises to be much warmer.  It is 33° right now but supposed to reach 50°.

I am milking this morning....Willow has a new trick. First   DH does out to lock the calves in the barn so he can walk Willow through their pen to come up the ramp into the barn and I don't go out until that is done.  If she sees me she refuses to go into the pen....she doesn't want to share her milk with me.  Now she has figured out what he is doing and the last two milking days the minute he locks the calves up, she whirls back and runs out to the field again..... We will out smart her...maybe.  Next time he will let her into the small pen adjacent to the calves pen before he locks them out of sight......surely she won't know I am milking that day.  I will still stay out of sight until the deed is done.  Willow is too smart for us.

Tuesday, February 19

The cold front blew in yesterday and it is 25° this morning.  Now  they are talking of a possibility of an ice storm coming in tonight.....I hope it goes the way of the heavy rain predicted earlier.  I sometimes wonder why I bother to check weather forecasts.

Today is trash day  so I have to empty the house trashcans.

I need to make another batch of soap quickly.  I think I will carry all my supplies out to the Milk Parlor where I have stainless steel sinks and the old gas range.  It might be a little cool but at least the mess will not be in my kitchen.  DH says I am filling that room way too fast!

I think I will publish this before I get cold feet and delete it all.

Friday, February 15, 2013

 I began this February 13, Wednesday.

Up at 4 AM,  took Sugar out for a short meander.....it was just around freezing  then.  We got a very light snow it was already beginning to melt.  It will  all be gone by this evening.  Our high is supposed to hit 50°.

We do like this pattern of fronts rolling in every few days with some moisture. It all counts up.

Good news! My tiller is ready to be picked up.  I am sure the ground is too wet to work but I will be checking it closely until I find a good day.

Bad news!  the truck that was supposed to be fixed and we would never have that problem again (just not starting once in a while....then starting a few hours later), we had that problem yesterday.....DH took it back;  he said a loose wire but he didn't really know the answer....bring it back if it fails again.  I think we are about ready to take it to be dealer.  We are hearing stories about 2005 model Chevrolets having this problem.  Surely,  the dealer will know what to do.  The truck just has about 65,000 miles one it and has lots of wonderful features like leather seats, club cab, heated seats.....I priced a new one for $45,000.....that means lots of repairs can be put into this one.....it will be the first that I can remember of anything needing attention.


I haven't made anything special but got some comments about the bread  so I thought I would share some things I have learned along the way.

I keep my yeast (SAF l lb) in an airtight container in the freezer.  I use directly from it.  I don't keep any in the fridge.

Flours:  Once I began using KA, I know longer have to add any enhancers to  the dough, no gluten,rarely ascorbic acid (crushed V-C), no dough enhancer mixes.  I without fail get great rise from both white and whole wheat (half white; half whole wheat) breads.

I keep the white whole wheat flour in the freezer, but not the white bread flour.  I do use KA bread flour, if not I would use the enhancers,

I use whatever sweetener at hand no matter what the recipe calls for, honey, sugar, brown sugar, or even molasses  in whole wheat.

I use butter or lard for the shortening; usually butter.

I almost always make it from the beginning using my large Kitchen Aid mixer.....sometimes I get it out at the last and knead a few times just to keep my hand in....and to smooth the dough, but the major kneading is done  by the machine.   That may be cheating but I hope it will keep me making bread into my ripe old (older) age.

I use any of my bread doughs for hamburger or hot dog buns, but I do have a special dough (refrigerator) that I use for rolls or coffee cake or other sweet rolls.  I have a special recipe I now use for cinnamon rolls.


Nothing special.   I milked.  She was down just a little.  I got brave and  let Sugar run free for a while.  She  finally came to me and was rewarded with a bit of raw hamburger.  I am going to do that again today.

We picked up the tiller, it started and ran smoothly.  There was a loose wire on the truck; I doubt that was the problem but it goes to the dealer the next time.


The next two days are going to be  too cold for me to do anything outside!  I will set my box of lettuce seedlings out in the sun when it warms up.  It is hovering near freezing right now.


This is a garden idea:  tuck edibles here and there in flower beds; this is right by the back door where I have now started an herb bed.  I will do lettuce here again and maybe a few green onions and spinach.  It can be a salad and herb bed.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Crackling Cornbread, Cushions and Bread Day

Our little cooler front arrived.  We just got a total of .75 of rain out of the two-day system.  The winds have finally dropped considerably.

I got a little carried away on seeds......again.  I wanted some Laura Bush petunia seeds  so to 'round out' the order and make the shipping a more reasonable per package, I got a few more things, 9 to be exact.

Dixondale will be shipping my onions next month.  I will try to get the garden tilled before then....haven't heard from the service center yet.

I am still  working on the cushion slip covers..............

I will take another picture of all of the chairs at the table....maybe.  I just have to finish the ties.  I used velcro self adhesive type to close the back. 


Kris sent me a link to a blog about making crackling cornbread .  The blogger was so enthusiastic about it, I decided to give it another try.  I used my regular recipe but added l  cup of the cracklings to the batter.  We had it for supper last even ing with cold (willow) milk and lots of butter.  We both loved it!  We had it at lunch with white beans and cole slaw. I thawed a  small piece of pound cake for dessert.  I believe I will keep it for us and not give it to the chickens or the birds......... Thanks Kris.


I also used about half white whole wheat in place of regular white flour.  Couldn't see it made a bit of difference in either texture or taste.

I must have browned the last batch a little too much.

The other cooking above normal was making bread again.  DH prefers all white but is flexible so I cut back on the white whole wheat and replaced it with bread flour. 

I still have problem with the loaves puffing out one side.  I have tried moving the pans half way through baking, I have sealed  them carefully; I have let them raise way past the pans so I wouldn't get so much pop when they hit the hot oven.  Nothing works....I  think my pans are just too small.....next time, I am making 5 loaves out of the same recipe.  The dough weighed over 6 lbs (6.10).  I think I have even tried slashing a loaf, but not sure about that one.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Second part of tour: The Big Pond Field

Good Saturday morning!  It is a little cooler here this morning, 32° and  cloudy.  We got 3/8 inches of rain and are promised more today.  We are grateful for all amounts.

Yesterday was spent running back to town, but it was a good trip....my beloved Merry Tiller (the 3 h.p. Scotsman,ca 1976) has been running very rough for a couple of years now and the oil fill plug was lost in the garden and never found.....I substituted a carved down wine cork until it finally disintegrated.  I was thrilled  to find  one of our local farm supply stores would work on the Briggs and Stratton engine so we loaded it up and took it in.  They have promised me one week completion....that should give me lots of time  to till the garden.  I think it is just a carburetor adjustment. They also had the oil fill plug!  I am keeping my fingers crossed because this machine cannot be replaced.

Late in the afternoon, I began my cushion covers.....so far, I am not impressed with the new look.  I hope the wide ties will improve the overall look.  So......I may or may not share pictures.. They are extremely easy to make.

Now, I am looking at new machines at Amazon.....even though my old Kenmore is doing this simple straight stitching fine. 

The rest of the middle of the farm tour pictures

This field lies directly north of the hay storage field and is maybe 15 acres long and narrow running east and west.  We have taken hay on this field before but not recently.  We call it the Big Pond Field (we are clever with names....). The field drops sharply right at the gate down to the pond; the rest of the field is pretty level.

I see some of the roofing from the tornado destroyed barn has worked  loose and is laying here and there.  We need to take the truck and pick it up.

Panning to the right,

This is taken down near the pond looking up the hill to the fence line of an Ozarks windbreak/shelter aka, cedar trees.

There were lots of these little fellow enjoying the sun,

Remember me mentioning all the light reddish brown calves and wondering about that.... well while looking at this little one, it hit me.

I am probably seeing some results of Willow's genetics.  She is a dark red Milking Shorthorn I have had for several years.  In the field are her daughters, Annabelle (the red and white spotted one) and Ginger, her daughter from our Angus bull....both have had several calves by now and we may even have kept some back.   I know we have a bull from her and a Black Angus who is breeding age.  The red genes are there!
Mystery solved. 

This is bread-making day so I better get started.  DH said I could make either whole wheat or white (he does prefer the white though).  If I get real ambitious I may make both.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

A Walk on the Farm

We are very overcast this morning and pretty breezy.  Rain is promised this afternoon; we hope they are right.

It was so nice and sunny out yesterday morning, I decided to  take a walk straight back  to the field where we have the cows now.  We always pull them off the hay fields in January so the can't nibble the new grass.  We will be fertilizing those fields next month or in early April.

There is a lane down the middle of the farm that goes back to about half way to the north boundary.

This begins in the barn lot  right behind the big round topped barn.
 We still have several large puddles of water in the lane....I know because I got water in both my low-top rubber garden shoes.....next time I will wear the high tops.

This is looking northwest; you can see the hay bales way in the background.  This is where I am headed. 

 DH was feeding hay; he loads one on both ends for balance and also quicker feeding.  He has three rings he drops the bales into.

This is the hay storage field (7 acres) and also where the pole barn was before the tornado.  DH is to the left feeding and this is standing at the entrance looking back where you can barely see the cows eating.

I tried to slip up on them because I knew I would disturb them; first because they aren't used to seeing people on foot and second they aren't used to seeing me!

They are already beginning to turn and watch me.

and now they are doing what comes naturally when something scares them  (this time, me),

From here I went into the Big Pond Field that forms part of our north boundary.  I will post a few of those tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

We are still in the midst of an unseasonable warm period.  It got almost to  70 one day.

Yesterday, Monday, was errand day.  We needed puppy chow and I needed King Arthur flour and the truck needed gas.  Gas is back up to almost $3.30 now.  I also hit Hobby Lobby.  The cushions on my dining room chairs are getting pretty bedraggled and the bottom non-skid rubber is wearing off and sticking to my wooden chair seats.  At first I thought I would just get new cushions (8); the one I like would have cost almost $300!  The cushions are in excellent shape,  just the covers are worn (and I am tired of them).  so I decided to try to get past my laziness in all things sewing  and make new covers.

I hope to begin today....this may push me over the edge to a new sewing machine......mine is an 1960 era Kenmore.  I just bought a neutral cotton.  If it goes well, down the road I might upgrade to something heavier.  I almost got a light weight denim/twill fabric but it was 60 inches and I had figured for a 45 inch width with  little waste  so didn't try to recalculate in the store.  I will make the first one and see how it looks and take it from there.  I can't say I am really looking forward to making 8 slip covers.......

Good news to report on Park Seed Company.  All the seeds were delivered in a timely fashion.  Now let's hope the germination is good. 

I have some sprouted cuttings from a rose of sharon, no roots but leaves.  They are just in water.  Today I am dipping them in rooting hormone and planting them all in one pot of soil.  Thank you Ilene.  I haven't done the seeds yet.  I have them chilling in the refrigerator.

My lettuce  under the lights and looks very pale and spindly. I need to get them out in the nice sunshine if I can find a sheltered spot close by the back door.  I know I will have to bring them back inside at night.  This nice weather can't last into spring.

The chickens have picked up a little.  We are getting 3 and 4 each day.  My Iowa  Sis has ordered some laying age pullets for $8 from a hatchery.  She is starting anew.  I know I need to do that but haven't done anything so far.

Random Pictures

I hope this poppy returns this year.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Rendering Lard

I slept in this morning.....5 AM.  It didn't even freeze during the night.

DH had already taken Sugar out and she was sleeping peacefully by the heater on the rug at his feet.  Most importantly, he had the coffee ready.  He left my chair and headed to his chair in the living room.  I read while the puppy continued to sleep.  I got in some very good reading time.

DH had his oatmeal with blueberries, bananas and English walnuts.....(he fixes); I had one egg and l toast (I fix) and breakfast was over.  Tomorrow I will do  us a country breakfast and try out the new sausage.

We had porksteak, mashed potatoes with peas and a carrot/cabbage cole slaw for lunch yesterday.  I also made a very quick (from my frozen crust) apple cobbler.  We were very happy with the flavor of the pork.  I wish I could describe the rich flavor which is very different from the pork you buy, but it is delicious.  The price had gone up considerately since last purchase but we were expecting that.  Our half fit into those heavy fruit boxes that you get at the orchard.  I wish I could have weighed the meat but it was too much trouble.  It wasn't  cheap but neither is it at the store.

Late in the afternoon, I decided to render the ground fat.  It was a package a little over 4 lbs.  I will do our son's too; he never wants it.  I may offer him some rendered lard and see what he says.  I use my all purpose maslin pan and it works beautifully.  Once it is melted a bit I put it on my simmer burner and just stir now and again.  A little water in the pan first keeps it from sticking.

Here is the end product.

That is a half gallon jar.  I never know how to use the cracklings.  I put some in cornbread once and wasn't impressed.  They might have been a little overcooked.  I tried not to do that this time.  They taste good with a little salt.  Any ideas how to use them?

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Sugar Proofing the Floor and other ordinary things

We had a nice warm up overnight and it is in the mid-20's this morning, a great improvement over yesterday.

We did do errands yesterday, but just the library and Wal Mart so it wasn't too bad.  We sailed right past the store that carries King Arthur flour and didn't turn around  to go back.  If I run out before, I will just use what is available at our local store.  I keep thinking about getting a mill and ordering bulk wheat berries but wonder if the end product would be as good as King Arthur.  What do you think Ilene and anyone else who has done this.  It appeals to my 'earth mother' sensibilities to grind my own.

I got a 5x7 cheap rug to place under the heater and my chair to keep Sugar from doing further damage to my old pine floors in the kitchen.  So far she hasn't laid on the new rug much.  I got a neutral thing but it is so drab  I think I will get a green one and put this on the back porch.  It will be wall-to-wall width out there.  It is just a temporary thing so I  guess it doesn't really matter except the drabness offends me!
This is the area in the kitchen  we refer to as my 'nest'; now we have to call it Sugar and My Nest.  DH only gets to sit there if I am cooking.....he says he will buy me a new chair when we get the dog weaned....I could use one.

This morning we are heading to our local slaughter/meat place to pick up a hog we ordered two months ago.  They have a local farmer raise hogs for them and you have to get on a waiting list.  So far (3hogs later), we have been very pleased.  We  will have  to wait a few weeks to pick up the cured things and the brats.  They are a little distance from us but we enjoy the ride.  We pass by a place that has a few buffaloes.  I always want to get pictures, but so far been unable to.

Our son will  take half.  I think a whole hog would take too long for us to use and pork doesn't stay good in the freezer as long as beef probably because of the fat content.  I will soon be rendering lard again.  We also hope we can pick up some big dog bones for the beast!

Random Pictures

I thought I wouldn't add any more flowers, but looking back at this 2011 picture, I realize a lot of my fragrant garden phlox had disappeared.  I do love them and think I will restock.  You can tell I am feeling better  these days......

From Summer Gardening and Flowers

These old pictures remind me  of how I use to garden when I felt really well.  I am keeping my fingers crossed for this year!