Thursday, December 30, 2010

Up at 4:15 AM, temperature 51° (warmed up during the night).

DH had his usual oatmeal with my home made granola mixed in with extra fruit (ugggg)
and I had one of my new favorites, breakfast tortilla with scrambled egg, bacon and salsa. I made the tortillas from an ancient mix I found when I cleaned the freezer out and the salsa is my own.

I got a call from Lowes installer late yesterday;can't come today, but will be here tomorrow at 9 AM. Please don't let this be a hint of future troubles....see, I am gun shy about new appliances. He says it should just take a little over an hour.

Plans for today are: Clean house for company coming (daughter and family)
Milk this morning for extra on hand (all family members are great milk drinkers)
Maybe make some soap this afternoon if I can get my act together. I plan to document this for interested readers. I don't really need soap, but my daughter used a bar here that was a gift from a very gifted soap making forum friend that had some texturizer in it and she really liked I will be making goat milk and honey with ground oatmeal.

Next check garage freezer to be sure I have enough chicken for the promised fried chicken dinner and dumplings my daughter requested. Granddaughter has again requested coconut cream pie and an apple pie....I need to get her on a new kick. I did this for Thanksgiving! I already have the crusts in the freezer and will use my frozen apple slices.

Well best laid plans and all coming in this evening so no soap made. I have round steak smothered in cream of mushroom soup simmering away.
chocolate cake made (baked in stove oven)....will do potatoes and peas as sides.

The oven came. Looks quite impressive. I tried a cake using both racks.........was a total disaster. Saved one layer, chickens got the other one.
I guess cakes are a one rack deal..... I will do biscuits in it in the morning. There will be the real test. We had to rearrange the counter far so good.

I put up another bird feeder and they are just now coming to them, but I was too busy to do many pictures. I caught a couple of the White crowned sparrows on the Dining Room porch. The brown topped one is a juvenile, the white a mature bird. I think it takes a year for the color to change.

Rear View,
From Birds dec 16
From Birds dec 16

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

New Stove, New Counter Top Oven - New swing arm Lamp!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A nice sunny and warm day.

We decided to begin our shopping early. First on the agenda was the Habitat ReStore.
Well it is closer in town than I thought but had a sign out"Closed until January 3". We will go back just to see what they have. It wasn't a very large building.

Next back north to Lowes. They only had three gas ranges and only one with convection which I want to try. We settled on a Frigidaire SS model. It was about $1000 cheaper than the model we had looked at at Sears. I checked the knobs first thing and the manager even called the company to be sure. I didn't want anymore pressed foil over plastic! These are heavy cast. Of course if the oven door fits well I shouldn't get all that heat from the oven anyway. This one has the center grill/grate feature. The deal breaker was the price and she arranged it to be delivered an installed tomorrow! I am so excited and nervous.

I am having them haul off the Jenn Air. If someone can get some use out of it, great. We live out in the country and didn't want to have to mess with people coming to look then having no way to haul, etc., so DH said get rid of it! Of course, I used it yesterday and it worked like a charm except it takes about 30 minutes for the oven to preheat.

I also decided to get a larger counter-top oven. My sis has a Hamilton Beach she drug up from the basement when I told her it would be cheaper cooking for just the two of them to use it. She cooked her frozen biscuits beautifully and didn't even have to use foil to keep them from burning. It is way larger than my little one and has two racks. I found one on Amazon. It should get here tomorrow too. I am trying their Prime deal for 30 days to get the 2-day shipping free. I will cancel before the 30 days is up.

While at Lowe's I checked out their swing-arm lamps for bedside reading and they had what I wanted. What a different world we live in. The last one I had cost maybe $10, and you just mounted it on the wall and plugged it in. This one had to be assembled, a mounting bracket installed on the wall, then the lamp mounted on that. Then came the rod to cover the cord. That was in 3 or 4 pieces. The cord had to be inserted through it and then the plug attached. It took me some time and I had to gather up the drill, the level, a screwdriver to get started. DH stood by and watched (for a while). I am the family handyman inside. I don't mind, in fact, I kind of like doing it. I just hadn't done anything for a while and am way out of practice. I don't know who writes up the instruction, but I am either getting very dense or they have very sorry instructions. I had those darned screws in two or three times before I figured out what was right.

I love the lamp though. I set it up pretty high because I read sitting upright and didn't want it to touch my head at all.

Here she is in all her glory:
I used it last night and it is perfect!
I got a lot of garden catalogs over the last two days. I vowed not to even look, but did....Two very high dollar ones were White Flower Farms and Burpee. I have ordered a good bit of stuff from White Flower over the years and they are a good company to do business with. Burpee is just way too high priced when you compare to others. I love Jung Seed Co. and will probably order some shrubs from them and 1 or 2 other things.............blast! I love the new hydrangeas they are showing, especially the new Annabelle. Four inch pots means I will do a nursery row in the garden so I can remember to take proper care of them.

When we got home from all that buying, the propane company truck followed us in the drive and left $775 worth of LP! Isn't that always the way it is.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

December 21, 2010

We had a really nice, 50° day yesterday but too much wind.

I was dreading milking but am happy to report it went well. I got last.
First DH stayed with me. Second we carried the milk container and strainer to the milking area. When I got a half bucket, I poured it in. That way I would only loose half if she went berserk again.

The chain worked fine. She got antsy toward the end but nothing really bad. I was nervous the whole time which isn't good but that will pass with time.

This was errand day and we decided DH would do his exercise first. If we wait until after his enthusiasm lags....

Just as I was getting into the truck he mentioned that a piece of white paper was blowing around the drive.....I didn't pay any attention. We got to W-M and I opened my bag to get my list and it was not there. Guess what that white paper was.
I tried to recreate a list, but I knew I had some unusual things on it. I got most of those but when we got home, there lay the list in a flower bed. DH said don't look at it and you won't miss what you didn't get! I had to look and yes, I did miss some items. Nothing critical, I hope.

I did remember the Size J crochet hook and the 4.7 GB discs to back up Windows 7 on the new computer. It wouldn't let me use the regular 700 MB's that I have. I hope to get that done today. So far, I am liking Windows 7 very much. My internet speed is still slower than I would like. I have wireless, but I checked again and DSL is not available out here. Wireless is faster than my old dial-up so I will just be grateful to have that.

My Iowa sis just got a new Kindle and she just knows I need one! The library is just 7 minutes away and I can pre-order books on their website and just go in and pick them up at a drive in window.....I don't need to spend 5-10 dollars buying books. I told her about the Kindles last year and she has a friend who bought one. She has serious eye problems and I thought being able to enlarge the print would be great for her. She got it yesterday and called me three times. She was very excited and is going to love it. She buys her books now because her little library is very limited and she doesn't like to have to finish a book "on time".

We have such great phone conversations.....when she gets some new toy she calls and tells me I should get it too. I deserve it, her quote. She got a new KA mixer....I need one. I do want a heavy duty mixer....but a Bosch and Mom's old KA is still working. She got a new computer, I deserved one. She got a laptop. I needed one. I love her to pieces. We were just discussing how different we were in many ways, but the same in others. I am a list maker, I like to do financial reports, know what things are costing me; she could care less. We remember our past entirely different. I remember certain things; she remembers others. She cooks by instinct; I need a recipe to start with. Some days we talk 3 or 4 times; then we may go a week without talking. Thank you Lord for cell phones.

December 22, 2010

Just a normal day, we did deliver some Christmas goodies.
Stopped by the local library and grocery. I can't seem to stay out of the store for more than two days......I will do much better after the holidays!

December 23, 2010

We visited with our elderly neighbor who lived here for 50 years. We were delighted to find her alert and doing pretty well. We bought the farm from them.
She had gained 10 pounds which was worrying her, but we think she looks much better.
I took her some Christmas goodies. I hope she enjoys them.

Another trip to the store! This has to stop.

December 24, 2010

We got a light rain and it remained around freezing so no bad road conditions.
I cleaned today getting ready for Christmas dinner. We are having DH's parents out.
Our son and his family will be skiing in Colorado and our daughter won't be down until New Years.

December 25, 2010

We had a nice quiet Christmas day with the in-laws. I sent them home with enough food for at least two meals. She doesn't really like to cook. I wished they lived closer and I could share with them more often.
She gave me a rooster teapot. I love it but will use it as a decorative piece rather than a teapot.


December 26, 2010

Just a nice, lazy day. DH put lights in with the chickens hoping it will encourage them out of molt and into laying! We don't have too much hope for success.

December 27, 2010

We had a big, country breakfast of ham (from Christmas dinner), eggs, gravy and biscuits..........I love big breakfasts.

I milked this morning. She is still antsy and I still have DH stay with me and I empty the pail mid-way through so I won't loose anything.

I sent in a check for our taxes............never a fun thing to do.

We spent the rest of the day shopping for gas ranges. My lemon Jenn Air oven has been stopping midway during baking if I so much as touch anything on the despised electronic control panel. This was replaced last summer; I bet it was a rebuilt panel. I need to ask the Sears crew if they do this. I wonder if I will get a straight answer. I have had so much trouble with this range, that each year I buy the insurance from Sears and it has been money well spent!

We shopped three stores............nothing to really impress me except my feelings about Best Buy were reinforced. I do not like that store. They had exactly 2 ranges on the floor and the only clerk spent the entire time on the computer. I then looked for a counter-top oven that their website said they carried...........nada! I will not be getting in a hurry with the meantime, I will call the Sears service crew and schedule yet another service call.
I think my insurance runs until summer. They will, of course, have to order the part, and then come back to fix it.

Today, we are checking two more stores.....I may end up ordering one online and I may not get one at all! I get so tired of spending our hard-earned money on expensive, new things and then have all kinds of problems with them. I told DH yesterday if I bought all the major things I wanted to replace, the cost would be $5,000......that's a lot of beef calves!

First: the stove
Second: either new carpet for the living room and master bedroom or hardwood floors.
Either way the carpet needs to go! I am leaning toward carpet varies from week to week.
Third: New living room furniture.....sofa and two chairs or loveseat. I have had mine since the 70's and they show it.

That doesn't count the new Bosch Mixer (can wait on that one) and the Nutrimill and the dehydrator....there is close to another $1,000!

So here is what I will do. Think about what is absolutely positively necessary.
One thing comes up:

I need a working oven.
I will be fine if I do none of the above....I can always keep up the annual insurance policy with Sears and keep on keeping on.

Kris, I will be going to our Habitat Restore today. I am excited about that.

At last I am caught up. I always jot down each day in my written journal, but promised myself I would keep it online.

I see lot of people are redoing their blogs for the New Year. I need to restructure mine just so I can (and others if they want) find things. How should I go about that?

Advice will be much appreciated.

I will leave you with a favorite picture of the last cats to come to the farm via their pregnant mother who was dropped here.
They still snuggle with each other.....don't allow Mom near and love the dog. I see them rubbing up next to him daily. They hover around him but he comes bounding to me when I try to get a picture....I will try to capture the loving group through a window.

From Cats and dog

Monday, December 20, 2010

We are having a much nicer day today. It was above freezing when I got up.

This was milking morning. It was a disaster.
Willow is a stubborn cow and not exactly real laid back. She doesn't kick, but sometimes she pulls back and she did this morning breaking her tie, knocking me off the stool and spilling 3 gallons of milk. To say I was mad is an understatement.
I need to build her a stall where she is locked in from the rear or put a neck lock stanchion in front of her feed box. I will have milk again in the morning. This time I will have my assistant stay in the barn with me. She likes him...........not me. The previous owner's son did most of the milking. You would think by now, she would be used to me. Who knows............Just one of the little fringe benefits of having a milk cow. I have never had one behave like her. It isn't like she is mean and trying to hurt me; more like she is done! and she wants out of the barn. I am not looking forward to our bout in the morning.

My assistant tells me he has found a chain to attach her to the feed bin.

I hesitated to include this bit, but it is the truth of living on the farm. It isn't always fresh air and warm animals and lots of garden has its little downers too so I left it in.

After settling down after that little barn episode, I decided to make Mom's recipe for peanut brittle. I made a double batch of the syrup mixture but didn't double the peanuts. It turned out well. I think her recipe uses a little more soda which makes it very brittle and not hard at all. Probably no one will eat it except the in-laws and us.

Yesterday we saw the Pileated Woodpecker again. We haven't seen him for several years. I missed getting a shot (camera) of him. Thank you very much gray cat!
I decided to take out the screen by my computer. That is where I can observe the bird feeder and take my pictures through the window...........which will have to be cleaned often. It is a magnificent bird and always makes us smile. He is Woody Woodpecker!

I am still reading on the third in the series (and last) of Steig Larrson's novels,
I will be glad when I am finished...........not my favorite reads at all, but I will finish.

I was all set to crochet the hat shown on Granny J and Mom2fur's websites but found I need to buy a size J crochet hook. It is on my list now and I will pick it up today.

I also baked one of the turkeys I had bought over Thanksgiving. The test is complete. The Butterball turkey is worth the extra money. This one was Jennie something or other, Dillon/Kroger's brand. It wasn't nearly as tender and juicy as the Butterball. I made us a simple evening meal of turkey, mashed potatoes with gravy, and peas. The rest will be put in the freezer for either Christmas or a later date. I couldn't face staying up boiling the carcass so froze it too.

Finished up the day watching "Endgame" on Masterpiece on PBS. A good move about the ending of apartheid.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Rambling Thoughts

It was 26° this morning at 4 AM.

As usual, I have put off making cookies and candies until I am starting to feel panic! I kept thinking it was too soon. I should have just made them early and frozen them like Joyce does.

I sat here this morning trying to get my thoughts in order and thinking about what I needed to be doing this winter and early spring.
These are in no particular order.

1. Dormant oil spray the orchard
1a. Check about using a spray to help with fire blight. May have lost some trees due to this dread disease.
2. Check supply of seeds and see what I need to order and do it asap.
3. Decide if I want to buy the Nutrimill. I have all that dent corn I harvested for cornmeal and I have a source for wheat berries about an hour away.
4. Order new strawberry plants. I killed mine last year
5. Make a new batch of goat's milk soap with oatmeal or cornmeal
I think I need to order Lavender EO.
6. "Encourage" the helpmeet to remove the gate to the porch and get it fixed!
7. Repair the bathroom light fixture (I dread doing it).
8. Check older fruit trees for damage and prune off broken limbs.

I vow to print a chart of the necessary orchard sprays and do them religiously
this year. My new trees will not do much since I just planted them last year.

Clean off all gardens....huge job.

I feel better already. I am an accountant at heart.....I like things
listed and checked off when done! I also categorize each expenditure and can do instantaneous reports with Quicken. Call me crazy but I like it.

I did some baking yesterday. I made the traditional spritz cookies and a batch of pecan tassies. I can't decide what else I will make, maybe Russian tea cakes and thumbprint cookies.
From Food

It actually warmed up during the night. I think our weeks is predicted to be much warmer.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

I had a senior moment yesterday when I posted the new picture. I meant to title it the "The Missed Coyote". I was making the bed and DH hollered at me from the living room to take a picture of coyote crossing the field down by the sheds. Well, by the time I got the camera, he was in a little draw and couldn't be seen. I like the picture anyway so used it.

The King Arthur Fruitcake

I don't usually like most fruitcakes, but I thought KA's orange-cranberry-nut one sounded very good and decided to try it. I won't bore you with the details of what all I changed, but suffice it to say I call mine Apple, Cranberry Fruit Cake. I couldn't find the blasted can of orange juice in the freezer and I looked and looked. I think I must have served it over Thanksgiving. By now I had the batter put together and didn't want a 30 minute delay so I substituted frozen apple juice instead. We like it very much.....I will make it again.

The only flaw in King Arthur's directions (and I am not surprised and should have known better) was to just lightly oil the pans.....Maybe if I had used the bundt pan that is non-stick it would have worked better. The cherries stuck to the bottom of the pan and I had a few anxious moments before they came loose. I would definitely oil the pans and then use parchment paper on the bottoms. The sides came out fine. I used two regular bread pans.

I didn't put nuts either......I have family members who don't like nuts in their foods.


Thursday, we went to see the in-laws. I needed to enroll my MIL in a new drug insurance program. If you aren't old enough to qualify for Medicare, you won't appreciate the garbage seniors have to go through each November to review their insurance. There is no problem if you are just going to stay the same, but the drug insurance goes up greatly each year so you need to do the review. My MIL is 92 and uses the computer, but mostly just for emails. She can't navigate through all the internet stuff. FIL is 86 and just getting over pneumonia. They are remarkable people. She handles all their meds (each is taking 6 a day), doctors, and drives them to church and all necessary trips to doctors. I won't get started on geriatric medical care!!!! That could take a while. I hope I am as fit and as sharp as they are in 21 years.

She won't let me help her. I wanted to run the vacuum while there, but she absolutely refused. Her monster sweeper is really too heavy for her. I really lucked out in in-law department those many years ago.

Thursday, December 16, 2010


Very ordinary day. It was slightly warmer than the day before. I think the high was around freezing.

I had some leftover cooked sweet potatoes in the fridge. They were just steamed with no added anything. I decided to make my recipe for Pumpkin Bread but substitute pureed sweet potatoes. (Remember I raised quite a lot in the garden this year and they are stored under the bed in the spare bedroom). I had to microwave one more to get the 2 cups called for. I also got very daring and added l cup of my mincemeat, a cup of coconut and a cup of chopped pecans. You can't really go wrong with any of these bread recipes. It turned out great. I made two regular sized loafs and two mini loafs. One of the minis will be for my elderly neighbor and, naturally we had to sample the other one.

From Food

I splurged the other day at King Arthur's website. They were offering free shipping, so I ordered several bags of different flours. There is only one store nearby (35 minutes) that carries them and the one time I bought whole wheat, it was very old!. I put the bag of white whole wheat in the back porch freezer but will leave the bread and AP in the pantry. I also ordered my favorite SAF yeast that will keep a year once opened in the freezer. I just transfer it to a wide mouth canning jar and label it with the date. It won't last me a year. I also got us a milk jug. I have been putting the milk into 1 /2 gallon canning jars. Try pouring out of one of those! I had milk drips everywhere from DH's pouring (one of is jobs is to set the table and pour the milk). He likes it but I think the handle is too close to the jar. It is Italian and all the label is in Italian. That's a first, usually English is listed also, and sometimes Spanish and French.

It holds a half gallon. I will still store the milk in the parlor fridge in the canning jars and just transfer it when I bring it down to the house.

I cooked the 'Easter' eggs this morning. The huge one was a double yolk. Here is what they looked like out of shell. I can report they were quite tasty.

DH likes his toast fried so that is what he got.

I know I said I didn't trust KA's recipes..............well they enclosed a recipe card for orange-cranberry nut fruit cake that is calling to me...........need to shop for a couple of items first.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

New Chickens

We had a different kind of morning.

Our chickens have gone on strike (they are moulting) and we aren't getting enough eggs. I have been watching Craig's List for a while now looking for a few young laying hens and this morning before daylight I found a fairly close listing for 6 8-month old Americana chickens, already laying. These are the one who lay what is referred to as Easter eggs. The eggs are various shades of turquoise and light blue and bluegreen. I have always wanted a few of them.....when I responded to the ad, he answered immediately.

He worked a night shift so wanted us to come as early as possible. I had just put biscuits in the oven and scrambled eggs so I told him we would come.....after breakfast. Of course,I hadn't planned to get chickens so needed to winterize the half of the chicken coop for these girls. This meant applying heavy duty plastic to the south and west sides of the wire with batten strips, cleaning the little 6x6 foot area and putting feed and water inside. It probably took me an hour and when DH came to help me move the chickens inside, he was surprised to find these inside the cage we brought them home in. The wet ones are the new girls gifts. I put one of the olders hens in for comparison (on the left side).

From Americana Chickens

I took some pictures of them. I think they are going to settle right in and didn't seem too afraid as I caught each one and passed it to DH to put in the new coop.

Here are all 6 of them. The black one seems the hardest to capture with the camera.

From Americana Chickens
These two are sort of silvery.

From Americana Chickens

So, I am feeling a little tired, but happy we will soon have fresh eggs again.
I may keep them confined the rest of the winter.

I put on a pot of white beans for our evening meal and lunch will be a 'doctored' up store pizza. I added extras sauce and pepperoni.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

First Snow - Strawberry Jam and Mincemeat Tarts

Well the cold front arrived with horrific winds. I felt very snug inside sitting here at the computer with a cup of hot coffee while the gale was going on outside.

I did venture out to the milk parlor to get milk and my jelly jars. Wow!

Here is the view off the porch this morning.


Several of you commented on reading and your likes and dislikes. I guess you could say I have very eclectic tastes. I love biographies and history, in fact, bought John Adams and l776, by David McCollough. I love novels about the Civil War. I enjoy historical fiction but I want it accurate about the historical facts such as dates, people and locations.

I like 'literature' and like mysteries. I love stories based in the south. Don't know why they appeal so much to me, but they do. I am not offended by violence or explicit sex............if they add to the story, but if they are tossed in for prurient interest that turns me off instantly. Some best sellers make me wonder why; others are quite deserving. It is all very personal as to choice. I love Southern authors. I don't read Joyce Carol Oates anymore. Her books depress me terribly. I don't really like books that are too fluffy or sentimental...not Romance Novels...but that is just my taste. I think reading is one of the best, most enjoyable things we can do for ourselves....and if you use the library, it is completely free! Not a bad thing.

I rarely watch television......if PBS doesn't have something that interests me, I read. I probably read too much!

I have got my husband reading now but he limits his books to mysteries only. I can't take a steady diet of them....have to spread my wings a little.


I made my strawberry jam this morning. Like all best laid plans this went slightly astray. I ended up doing a cross between old fashioned cooked down jam and one using pectin. I used 7 cups of berries with 7 cups of sugar and only l package of liquid pectin (all I had). I cooked it about 14 minutes before it reached the 'jell' stage.

My sister made some mincemeat tarts so, of course, I had to make a few too.
The side advantage of this was I made my favorite pie recipe so now have 5 more single crusts in the freezer for Christmas. I used one single amount for the tarts.
I used a tuna can for the circles, dampened the edges and placed a rounded teaspoon of mincemeat in the center and closed and pressed them. I lightly tapped the tops in a bowl of sugar and baked them at 400° for 20 minutes. Here they are:

After all this, we had Sloppy Joes for least they were on home-made buns!

The winds are still going strong here.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Preparing the the Cold Front

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Up at 4 AM, 30°.

Just routine housecleaning day.

Errands: Library, pickup up DH's meds at local pharmacy, and local grocery for few items.

Bottled Wednesday's milk. One full pint of heavy cream skimmed.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Up at 3 AM. 33°

Made KA's recipe for English Muffins...........a disastrous flop, edible but ugly.
I had made them before and they turned out super.....finally realized I had used the recipe from my old Farm Journal Bread cookbook! To be honest, I haven't had great luck with King Arthur's recipes....they always require some weird specialty ingredient that you buy from them ................ wonder why.

Saturday December 11, 2010

Up AT 2:30 am (I know, it is just ridiculous!)

It warmed during the night, 49°. The front has arrived now though with 30 mph winds and the temperature is dropping rapidly. It is hovering around 32° .

I made an executive decision to milk today even though I had 3 bottles of milk in the outside refrigerator. I thought it would be much nicer milking in the relative warmth of 49° than single digit temps we are supposed to have for the next few days.

After milking I stored a couple more large flower pots so they wouldn't freeze and break. I also took some plastic off the small hoop house and stored it.

I brought some strawberries and (I think) apricots down to make jams for the grands for Christmas. I will do that tomorrow sometime.

During these last few days I have started a new book that was so big some time back, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I am thoroughly enjoying it. When I told my son, he ranted against the book for some time. He has very strong opinions about most things and especially books. He is a devout follower of Cormac McCarthy and got me reading his books. I agree the man is probably a genius, but after reading 4 of his books, I grew very depressed and refused to read The Road!

We have some interesting discussions! Our daughter wanted to read the Larssen books, but the waiting list at the library was so long, she bought all three of them. She brought them to me over Thanksgiving. She wasn't overly impressed with them, but the mystery genre isn't her thing.

I sent my sis a quart of my 2010 mincemeat; she thought it was very good, maybe better than last year's. She said my BIL even tasted some and said it was good. High praise since he won't eat it unless it's buried in some kind of baking. He won't eat it as pie. She is the real cook so when I get praise from her I really appreciate it.

Stay warm everyone.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Getting Ready for the Cold Blast

Up at 4:30 AM this morning. It is cold, but not as cold as they are predicting for Saturday night...single digits then!

I milked this morning and Willow seemed to be shivering a little. I don't think it was the cold. She was nervous because the babies were confined and she tried to pull loose from the stanchion and I had to tie her up tighter. I do think I got all the milk though.

DH reported the electric heating bottom to the chicken waterer was not working. They don't last long for us. So, he is headed off to the local MFA Farm Supply later this morning to pick up one "on sale" for $36! Outrageous, I think.

I will also turn a burner on low in the milk parlor. I don't want water pipes or my canned goods to freeze.

All the hoses are put away. We do have some plastic waterers that are almost full and frozen solid. DH is bad to overfill in the winter.

We also have to leave water dripping in the house. I am afraid to trust temps below 10°.

I looked out at the bird feeder this morning and here is what I saw:

So, I raised the feeder much higher on another limb that I could barely reach. I don't think the cats can jump that high. They seem to agree with me; no one is lingering under the feeder now.

The Grass Bed is in full winter dress:

When I couldn't feel my fingers, I went back inside and made a fresh pot of coffee.
DH just called from the east fields to say he was looking at ll deer over behind the round bales of hay. They begin to show up again after deer season is over. I don't know how they know, but they do.

I am feeling the urge to bake something..........maybe oatmeal cookies again.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

New Simple Bread Recipe

It was another cold day here.

I decided to try a much touted bread recipe from the Cooking Forum. It was attributed to Annie1992 on the forum. We liked it very much. If you are looking for a finely textured bread more like store-bought (Ilene, I am thinking of your husband here), you might give this one a try.

3 cups all-purpose flour (I used bread flour)
3 cups whole wheat (I had some Prairie Gold White Wheat flour)
2 packages yeast
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1 cup milk
1 cup water
1/2 cup honey (I was out so used raw sugar instead)
1/4 cup butter
1 egg

2 loaves of bread

I use my KA mixer so here was my routine. I heated the water and milk, sugar or honey and butter to around 105-110°. Poured into the mixer bowl, added the yeast to dissolve along with the egg. Mix to blend the egg and yeast into the liquids.

While this was heating, I added the measured flours into a large bowl and mixed.

To the bowl of liquids, add enough of the flours along with the salt to make a thick batter and beat a minute with the regular flat beater. I think this gets the gluten working. Then I changed to the dough hook and slowly added the rest of the flour mix. You can let the mixer do the job of kneading or you can dump out on floured board and do it by hand. I sort of do half and half. I like to finish the kneading by hand to get the 'feel' of the dough. You can't over knead.

Place in greased bowl (I just use the mixer bowl without washing by pouring a little olive oil and spreading it around with a paper towel). turn dough to oil the top or just pat with the paper towel. Cover with damp cloth and let raise until doubled in size. It took over an hour in my cool kitchen yesterday. Punch down; divide in half; form into loaves and place in greased pans and let raise the second time. This went much quicker, not an hour. By now I had the oven preheating so the kitchen was much warmer.

Note: I added a little ascorbic acid to the batter and 1/2 cup of oat bran hot cereal for more fiber but no other enhancers since I was using bread flour which is higher gluten.

I will be toasting a slice shortly to see how that does.

This may become my regular bread recipe.

From Food

I have been reading seed catalogs. Lots of fun, but still plan to cut way back this year.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Granola Recipe

Another cold, overcast day here. I was out only briefly to go to the milk parlor to bottle the milk.

I had accumulated almost a quart of cream so I made butter using the food processor. Photobucket

I was all set to feed DH leftover stew but he requested chili, so chili it is. I already have the beans cooked from after Thanksgiving.

I was determined to find that original granola recipe.............and I did.

Here is is. BTW, DH liked it better than the last I made (shown in the picture)

DH's Favorite Granola

4 cups oats
1 cup wheat germ
1 cup nuts
½ cup sesame seeds
¼ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
1/3 cup canola oil
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup water
dried fruit – l cup

Mix all. Spread on sheet cake pan. Bake at 300° about 40 minutes. Stir every 20 minutes or so.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

I have missed a couple of days. Mostly just lazy but I want to keep it as my journal so I will backtrack a little.

Friday, 12/3/10:

I milked in the morning. Went well. Did some cleaning.

New Project: I had several years worth of pieces of both homemade soap and store soap slivers so I decided to remelt these and see what I could redeem. I would say it wasn't 100% successful. I should have asked my soap-making buddies about how to do this before I checked the internet and then sort of ad-libbed it.

First mistake: I should have chopped up the pieces more before I started the melting. I added some water and a little olive oil and they did begin melting quickly.

Second mistake: I should have placed the pan over hot water (like chocolate). It began to stick.

After what I decided was too long, I strained the pieces out and put them in the food processor. That made a sort of whipped stuff which is OK. Some soapers do this for a fluffy looking top. It does make for a very slimy cleanup job!

I added 1/2 cup cornmeal for a scrubby texture. I have sliced it, but is is still pretty soft. I don't know if it will cure out hard or not, but it is usable.

From soaping

I am sure glad I didn't waste my fragrance oils on it!

Saturday, 12/4/10

Today has been brutally cold with lots of strong winds....I haven't been outside.

This seemed like a good stew day. I used my electric saucepan and just made a no-recipe version using stew meat, onion, celery, carrots and potatoes and 1 pint of my tomatoes with some added water to cook the meat first. The only seasoning was a little Worcestershire, a bay leaf and salt and pepper.

I completely forgot that I had half of one of our favorite casseroles left from when I used the already hot oven from cooking pizza. It is a great way to use leftover ham. You just layer sliced potatoes,onion, some cheese, cream of mushroomm soup (diluted with some milk for spreadability)and chopped up ham. I usually get at least two complete layers in the dish. Bake covered until potatoes are tender which takes forever, well over an hour. I should parboil the potatoes a little. I have been making this since we were first married.
I use pepper but no salt because of the soup.

I also made more granola. I can't believe DH is eating it so well. He sprinkles it over his oatmeal!!!! I couldn't find the blasted recipe. I know I got it from a blog where they called it the best granola that someone had brought to them. I hope I have it in my file. I found another recipe on Allrecipes that I kind of followed. I think it is very good, but it didn't make the little balls or pieces like the other one did.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Homemade Pizza

Ilene's blog got me thinking about homemade pizza so I hope this won't be considered copycat if I post my recipe and technique. It is fresh on my mind because I made it for our daughter's family for their lunch before they left Saturday. I have to make it at least once for both kids when they visit. Sometimes I make it in two regular pizza pans and sometimes I make it on my cookie sheet pan that has a small lip.

This crust recipe is from Farm Journal's Homemade Breads cookbook (1985)

I use the food processor

l pkg yeast
1 tsp sugar
1 cup warm water
1 tsp salt
3 to 3-1/4 cups A/P flour
2 tblsp. oil (I use Olive Oil)

In small bowl, sprinkle yeast and sugar over the warm water; stir until dissolved.
Place salt and 3 cups flour into food processor (can use part whole wheat flour)
with the metal blade. Whir to mix salt.

While processor is running, pour yeast mixture through feed tube. Process until soft dough forms that leaves the side of the bowl. About 45 seconds is all.
Add oil, process l more minute. If dough sticks to side of bowl add more flour l tblsp at a time, processing 10 seconds after each.

Now just leave lid on and cover top of feed tube. I sometimes let this raise a few hours. Make in the morning,use at night or noon....or just 30 minutes. Whatever works for you.

Punch down. Toss out on lightly floured board, cover and let rest 5 minutes.
If making in pizza pan, divide in half.
Roll out using your favorite method. My favorite for a crisp crust is to use the oven stone which has been preheated at 500°. Sprinkle pizza peel with cornmeal (to act as ball bearings for sliding the crust off onto the stone.

Roll out crust on lightly floured surface; transfer to either the peel or directly into well greased pans.Make up pizza on peel or pans and then slide onto stone or set pans on lowest rack and bake about 15 minutes or until done to suit you.

My favorite pizza sauce is very simple,not much spices at all.

1 chopped onion
1 quart tomatoes
1 small can tomato sauce or some paste (just to give depth of flavor and color
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar.
1 tsp basil, some garlic powder and whatever tastes good to you.

Cook all in saucepan until very reduced, not too runny. Tip: add basil at the very last to retain flavor.

I spread some Parmesan cheese on crust, then sauce and then toppings and lastly the shredded mozzarella cheese.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

We went through 4 gallons of milk over Thanksgiving....I had anticipated that knowing my family. I had milked three times close together so I had the milk on hand and didn't have to go to the barn (that was DH's chore) while company was here.
I milked yesterday morning. The weather wasn't bad at all except it was drizzly and windy.

Today is supposed to much colder .

I cooked a large pot of pinto beans yesterday and tossed in a cupful of leftover ham bits. I like beans just cooked with butter, but DH wanted the ham. I still have the ham bone and fatty pieces in the freezer. I will save them for a pot of white beans.
We had cornbread and that was it. One of our favorite meals.

Our oldest granddaughter (16) loves photography so when she is here, I let her take my camera and use it to her heart's content. She took 238 pictures. Thank God for digital technology. She took a series of my 'cat whisperer' which I think is so typical of him. He does love his cats, all 8 of them!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

New Computer - Thanksgiving

The cold front arrived along with about 2 inches of rain and lots of thunder and lightening. Today is just drizzly and 30°.

Children and families got in safely and are at Grandparents now. I just baked a strange looking pecan pie and a pumpkin pie for our dinner tomorrow.

I was just text-ed that they sat down to eat at 3:18 for their 2 PM dinner! I am not surprised. It was a good decision for us to stay on the farm.

I bought a computer a couple of days ago. I got the HP I was looking at online. I opened the box and decided I better wait until after Thanksgiving to attack that. Our son had it up and running in about 15 minutes.....I can use both now and get on the internet on both! He just stacked the towers to the left of the desk. I will have to get used to the new setup.

It is now Sunday morning, November 28. Company all gone, all leftovers mostly gone.
Have a pot of turkey broth ready to strain and make into soup or freeze.

Big Hits: Peanut butter balls, Flowerlady's Oatmeal Craisin cookies.(sent recipe home with both kids), Butterball turkey (the moistest one I have ever cooked), and the coconut cream pie and pecan pie. You never know.......

The grandkids had the most fun running the tops of the big round bales east of the house. It was fun to watch, the dog ran right along with them.

Now life will get back to normal.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

I may not get back tomorrow so I want to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving!

From November 2010

I saw the bud on this a week ago and thought it would never make it, but it did. I picked it yesterday before the heavy rains. It suffered some wind damage.

My dinner will be on Friday at noon. I have been getting some things done ahead of time. Today I am making the rolls and later will bake an apple pie and maybe a cherry.

I miss a second oven when I am doing all this different baking. Some just can't be made ahead, like cream pie. I really don't like to do any pies in advance but this time, just had to.

I have milked a couple of times so I would have cream and have accumulated a quart which should be enough.

Right in the midst of this activity, DH decided he was going to sell calves today...tried to get him to no avail.

So this morning out in the drizzle to help load and off to the sale barn. We don't stay for the sale so it doesn't take much time. I pulled out another very large heifer to keep; he was expecting that. When we got back, we ran her through the chute again so I could ear tag her and she is now out with the other heifers and the bull. The farm doesn't stop for anyone.........

We got a really nice rain overnight and this morning. Very thankful for that.

Monday, November 22, 2010

More nice weather here Sunday, but the wind was horrific.  I don't think I got outside all day.

I made peanut butter balls for the grands.  When they were down last our grandson mentioned those round things.......hint, hint.  I tested a few....they are good.

From Food

Today I will be making hamburger buns and I am hoping to learn how Ilene makes her pigs in a blanket.  I don't know if I can make that dough ahead of time or not but I want to make it while the kids are here.  I think they will like them.

Might do some other cook ahead things.  Our son will be down Wednesday and leave Friday; our daughter down Thursday and leave Saturday.  I am not going to the in-laws this year, DH's decision.  Their dinner gets later each year, and 2 pm means really more like 3 pm.  on Thursday. DH has to be home and checking cattle before dark and that is just too rushed.  We are probably in the doghouse with them, but 49 years of conforming should be enough..........

Saturday, November 20, 2010

It is 40° here this morning and promises to be a sunny day with a high in the 60's.

I have a few outside things I need to do before our cold weather hits next week:

1.  move pots of rhubarb and things my sis brought me from her garden to the east side of the old chicken house.  I will
     bury them in straw soon.
2.  Check the lettuce for something more to cover them with.  Planted too late and will no doubt succumb to extreme
3.  Tidy up around the back patio area before Thanksgiving.

That was yesterday.

This morning after milking which went well  again, I moved the pots over to the chicken house and piled straw around them but not over the tops quite yet.  I will wait until is get cold and stays cold.

Tidied up patio by moving the pots and had DH take the two dog bowls to the barn and scrub them...hopefully they will stay back there.

Then over to the east sheds where I husked the dent corn and stored it in the milk parlor.  I am saving the husks for ???  I might try DIY tamales.........or a wreath or just compost them.  I ended up with some nubbins I will give to the chickens.

These sheds are a disaster area where we have stored old lumber from the tornadoed hay barn and other detritus that we can't part with.  There were even newspapers blown around from the summer when I laid my tomatoes on a picnic table on the papers.  While picking them up, I stepped on a board that turned with me and down I went.  I have a chronic dizziness that usually doesn't cause me much trouble unless I get up too high or get on unstable ground.  Didn't really hurt myself except for a jammed right elbow and a bruise on my right hip......  I did make some headway though.  I will slowly work on the rest over winter.  At first glance things are improved.

Next on the schedule was getting the chickens ready for winter by putting down some new straw bedding.
That always sends them into a frenzy of scratching.  They like nothing better  than scratching in straw.  As soon as I got it down on the floor and  the nests cleaned out here they came.  By tonight you won't be able to find the feeder or waterer.  DH will not be happy with me.

From chickens
This is the enclosed pen part.  The chicken house was a pre-built one made by Amish..  It is just 6x12 and one half is enclosed and the other is the pen area.  All under roof.  The nest boxes are accessible from the outside.
From chickens
This is our crossbred rooster.  He is the only one we have ever had that has never shown any aggression toward us at all.  I usually am afraid to even go into the chicken yard without a stick, but not with this  one.  May he live forever!

From chickens

I made a new apron today, but like my old denim style better.  I am retiring the sewing machine for the unforeseeable future.  It is a very messy hobby unless you have a dedicated hobby or sewing room and I don't.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Weather continues cool and overcast.

Flowerlady was kind enough to post her recipe for Oatmeal Craisin  cookies and I did make them.  We thought they were delicious and this now will become "the" oatmeal cookie recipe.  I like the texture of the cookies.  This was a DIY recipe so I made some changes:

I added l cup of coconut
and  l cup of chopped English walnuts.

From Food

I always bake one tray darker because my husband likes his cookies semi-burnt.  I put the rest in a ziploc bag and froze. I will see if the family likes them over Thanksgiving.
The recipe can be found on Flowerlady's blog

Not much else happened yesterday other than a trip to the library to return some books and pick up others.  I found another book by Donald McCaig, Canaaen, another Civil War novel.  I am looking forward to starting that one.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Still misty and cool, not much sun.

I bottled yesterday's milk and made butter. I had one guart of cream from the last two milkings. I got 9.6 oz of butter. I don't like to let the cream accumulate too long and since I just milk two or three times a week so I just make it more often. I am finding the food processor with the plastic blade is faster that the mixer with the wire whip.

I now have three little packages frozen.

We did our Thanksgiving dinner shopping yesterday. I hope I don't have to make another run for something.

I think both of our children will be here. That hasn't happened in a long time.
We will be crowded but the cousins all have such a good time together that it is worth the hubbub for that alone.


I pulled almost all of the turnips. They were beginning to re-sprout. I think I will try storing them in the cellar. The two or three freezes made them much sweeter. These should last me all year....DH won't touch them.

From Harvest 2010

A couple weighed over a pound and had split. I thought they would be strong and pithy but they weren't.

From Harvest 2010

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Milking without Sharing -Reorganized upright Freezer

Journal Monday and Tuesday, November 15 and 16

We are having cool and overcast days with some mist; no appreciable rain.

The doctor's appointment went well and I am dismissed! Have to continue with the prednisone until February 15, but at another reduced rate. I am taking the smallest amount possible. He said he hopes, in the nicest way, to never see me again and told him likewise. He is my kind of doctor!


I see Suzanne is still having troubles with her baby calf and milk cow.

I can report success once I separated the calves. I am fortunate that there was a pen right in front of Willow's feed bunk. I rigged a gate across it so she can see the babies. At first she is reluctant to let down her milk, but I persevere.
I have had two milkings (mornings only) where I almost filled he bucket and got a full pint of heavy cream from each. She might be holding up a little on the cream but that is enough for me to make butter so that is OK.

The last time I didn't even let the calves out to strip her. Her teats are getting a little chapped so I slathered udder balm on after I finished milking and didn't want those rascals slurping it off.

They are very good about heading into the pen....there is grain in there for them.
From Milking

and after the milking Willow is visiting with them over the makeshift gate (door on its side)
From Milking

I will have a quart of cream to make butter with this morning.


I have put the second coat of poly on the bathroom floor. That is what was needed; it is now very slick feeling and after several days I will be able to put a rug down.

I had a senior moment (well, several moments actually).

I had a throw rug in there before I started painting. Yesterday I thought I would find it to be ready to put it back. Looked high and rug. Began looking this morning again; no rug. Walked into the kitchen and voila!
I had put it under the chair in the kitchen...
From Interior house

It was suggested I show my 'reorganized' ancient upright freezer and share how I find things. Maybe if I commit this to the internet it will make be stick with the organization method. I haven't before!

From Upright Freezer
and the bottom area:
From Upright Freezer

You note I keep loose items in a plastic bag so they won't slide into the floor each time I open (untape) the door.

The top shelf is for cooked foods. Now properly labeled and I am happy to report I have used several items recently.

Second is strictly for breads, baked goods and ingredients for making breads.
The third shelf:
From Upright Freezer
Meats on the right, middle is various fruits and veggies are in plastic bag.

The bottom wired area is for vegetables. See the strange pale green stuff? It looks like shredded or ground cabbage. I will be thawing that this week for soup.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Sunday Journal

Nothing special day. Very cool outside all day.

I think I had my first successful total milking without contending with the calf on the other side. At least Willow let her milk down and I almost filled the milk bucket. The real test will be skimming the cream.

I had a day off...did minimal housework. Cooked a fried chicken dinner for us and read.

I love the Civil War period both historical and fictional accounts. I have taped all of Ken Burns Civil War. We never missed a single one.
I am currently reading Jacob's Ladder by Donald McCaig. It is an award winning Civil War novel and may be the best one I have ever read. It was written in 1998. I found it through the internet. It is about Virginia and some of her plantation people during the war. It is just a great read.

This morning I have a follow-up appointment with the rheumatologist which I hope is my last. I am still doing great and hope to be off the very small dose of steroids asap.

I hope to get the poly coat on the bathroom floor this afternoon.

Just a last comment on cooking shows. I watched Cooks Country TV show yesterday and had to just laugh. It was about how to make fluffy mashed potatoes.
First peel and rinse, then dice into l inch pieces; rinse. Cover with water and cook 15 minutes; drain rinse; refill and cook 15 more or until done. Run through ricer.. season. Voila mashed potatoes.

I don't think I will be following that silly routine on for Thanksgiving dinner!

I leave you with yet another use for Duck Tape:

From Upright Freezer

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Journal for Saturday - Fall Color

We are a little cooler this morning, hovering around 40°. Highs are supposed to just be in the mid-40's. The rain we received was very light.

At last we are getting some fall color in the yard. We have a row of silver maples along the road out front, most are hollow and we are told they will die....who knows when, in the meantime, they get a beautiful yellow and they will stay until Mother Nature says otherwise.
From November 2010
You can see they suffered some ice storm damage a few years ago.

The trees got their color so late, I am afraid they will loose their leaves too soon for us to enjoy them very long.

This is the small dogwood by the front drive that everyone tells me I need to remove....haven't done it yet.

From November 2010
and this is the south side of the shrub border on the east side of the drive next to the road.
Nothing can beat the common euonymous shrubs for brilliance.
From November 2010
This is the border that I hope to be able to cut most of it down this winter. There are lots of dead things in amongst the shrubs and all need to be renewed. It will be a huge job using the new chainsaw.

The west yard is full of trees. We lost some huge ones to tornadoes and ice storms over the years and we have replanted, white oak, swamp oak, red maple and a pin oak that are getting to be a nice size. The October Glory red maple doesn't get full sun now that the trees on the south side are so large....the color is late and not as bright as other years. It is very hard to find full sun in our yard and if I do, it would block a path for the tractor or truck to access a no planting in those zones.

From November 2010

Nothing on schedule for today other than normal daily routine. I will milk this morning.