Saturday, December 31, 2011

Saturday morning has arrived.  Company is coming and we are doing dinner today.

I spent yesterday cleaning the fridge......a two hour job.  I vow to never let it get in that shape again.  I dismantled all shelves and supports so I feel I got a good job last.

I made my overnight refrigerator rolls and they are in the fridge.  I will take them out around 10 AM.  I also made a requested pecan pie and this morning made  an apple  pie (also requested).  The turkey will go in the oven as soon as the pie comes out.

I put together a large fruit salad this morning too. 

 I know I said I wouldn't decorate but I couldn't resist this little 3 foot $10 tree pre-lit at Wal Mart yesterday.  I had it in the back of my mind but didn't think anything would be left this late.  I used my decorations and skirt so it was a simple and inexpensive way to bring a little Christmas back.

The weather continues very mild but very windy....don't like the wind.

I cheated and made some Christmas cookies for Isabel (GD)

I better call this a post and get busy!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

At long last I am ready to end my blogging break.....

Just to catch up.  We did go to St. Louis as planned and had a very good visit with the grandkids for three days.
We came home Sunday December 18.  Now at this point I had no decorations up for Christmas since we had expected a New Year's visit from our daughter and her family.  Two days after getting home DH got very sick with an intestinal virus thing that just knocked him out for two days....just as he was getting a little better, it hit me.....hard!  I was sick for 4 days.  For 9 days we didn't get off the farm.......about two days ago I began feeling more normal but just a little weak.  Today I feel back to my norm.  This was the first time we have been sick in probably 30 or more years!  I think this is a new virus

I even milked this morning.  I am happy to report we had Willow's milk stored for about 10 days and it stayed beautifully sweet and good the entire time.  I was pleased about that; it tells me I am being very sanitary processing the milk.

The weather here today is beautiful with a breeze and beautiful sunshine.  I think we are supposed to be up to 60° by the weekend.

We still aren't sure about holiday plans.  I do know I don't plan to put up decorations for just one day....even though there will be some disappointment I know.  I will decorate the dining room and put the gifts on the table and try to make it look somewhat Christmasy.  I am hoping I can handle a turkey dinner.....I take rest breaks every hour or so.

 I made our favorite pound cake today.  I got the recipe from Allrecipes and it is called Gina's Poundcake.
It is unique in the way it is baked starting in a cold oven.
From Blog photos

I will freeze this if no company appears....
I have also made a batch of sugar cookies I will bake at the last minute and decorate ....  or freeze.

I also made a batch of Honey Oat Bran Bread.  We were out and I like having extra on hand for company.

An unexpected  Gift:

I was at my MIL's the other day and I spotted this quilt on top of some discard boxes in her garage.  I asked her where she got is from her MIL and used to be red and white but faded like this when she laundered it. She had it on the trash pick up stuff....she asked if I wanted it and I told her yes!  It is 100% hand made.  I laid it on the dining room table before putting it away and like the way it looked it now rests.

She told me she has others......I haven't seen them yet.

This is enough catching up.   I have been trying to read and respond to everyone's blogs and hope I haven't missed anyone.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Break Time

I have been taking a blogging break; some things  to  do for MIL and doing some extra farm things.

Be back soon.

I will leave you with one picture of Willow and her two babies.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Shopping Trip to the Mall

Yesterday was just a beautiful sunshiny day.  It was cold, but no wind and the sun shone all day long which has been rare lately.

It was my planned trip to the Mall with my 93 year-old MIL to pick out a bedspread for our bedroom for my Christmas present.  I was dreading it....first I hate shopping and I hate people spending money on me.

We headed into Macy's first because she has a credit card there and lots of coupons for deep discounts.  I don't have a Macy's card... We looked  at everything and I saw only one that jumped out at me.  It was in deep jewel tones...I thought it was way too pricey even on sale so I  moved away from it....even though she kept saying what pretty colors it was.  Then the saleswoman hit us.  I asked for help in selecting one and after a few questions, guess where she took us?  Of course right back to that expensive one (I smell commission in here  somewhere). I just told them both that I thought it was way too expensive. My MIL said that was what a gift was all about and she wanted me to have the one I wanted.....even insisted so I finally caved and just said Thank You.  She said she loves buying things for us and she can afford to.  I hope she is right.

I tried to get a good picture of it but the colors didn't turn out as well because of the west sun shining through the blinds but it will give you an idea of it.  My garishly yellow walls even seem toned down by the new bedding.  I will change them but won't have to be in a rush.

The reverse side is the stripe like the bedskirt.  The wonderful thing is we slept under it and it doesn't slip off the bed like previous ones  have and it is very light yet warm.  I am happy.

We stopped by the store and I bought some baking supplies and we picked up lunch from the deli and went home.  After lunch, I was defragmenting her hard drive and we were visiting in the family room.  She got up to do something in the kitchen and when she came back somehow she trip coming around the recliner and fell hard and hit her back on the edge of the lamp table. I couldn't catch her in time.  It just made me sick.  She had to lay there for a bit and then couldn't get up without turning away from the chair and crawling back to the seat....still didn't have the strength to get up so this old farm gal who has hefted 50-lb bags for feed for 40 years clasped her under her arms and joined my hands in front of her chest and lifted her up enough to get her into the chair.  It  was just about the limit I could lift.  She has been talking about getting one of those call button  thingies to wear and  I told her now is the time.  It just made me so sad that our wonderful day had to end that way.  I checked with her last night and she was doing OK.  She will be so sore this morning.

I told DH that you don't realize how frail (not in size!) that she is until you see her fall and realize she can't get up.  It was a shock.  She is a like me in that it doesn't take much for her to get off balance and fall.  Mine is just a dizziness thing that I have most days so that I watch where I get myself but hers is just a sort of lightness on her feet like she isn't really attached to the ground.  I know I have gone on and on here and you may skip this one but I wanted it documented for my kids and me to remember.

Now if this Christmas present wasn't enough for both of us and it was, she called later and said to be here Friday because DH's present was coming.....bless her heart I think she is getting satellite TV for her TV addicted son.  We had it once and were both too stingy to keep paying for it for it.  It makes me feel slightly ashamed.

I have always know I was blessed in the in-law department and now you know too.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Coconut Oil Biscuits

Up at 3 AM.  It was 20°,  it never got above freezing yesterday so some snow is left on the ground.  The roads are clear.

I have been anxious to try the coconut flavored and scented new oil.  Last night I made buttermilk pancakes and there is a definite very light taste of coconut.  We didn't think it was offensive and DH thought if you didn't tell anyone, they would never notice it.  I know my two kids.....they would.  Our daughter doesn't like anything coconut so I won't be using it when she is visiting.  I will be using it for waffles or pancakes for us.

I didn't really want biscuits again this morning but my curiosity got the best of me.  I made sausage biscuits.  We can taste a faint hint of coconut in them too.  Once again not  bad.  I will probably continue using it for us.  It has zero trans fats and zero cholesterol if you follow that nutritional thing.  I am not sure I do, but still.....I think of DH's heart attack and do watch the cholesterol thing for him.  I made  the biscuits larger and one was our limit.  I left him watching them while I  computed.....they almost got too brown. He is like his mother in cooking, if I tell him so many minutes, then that is what he does. He doesn't check....she doesn't either. 

These are just my regular recipe only using 1/2 cup coconut oil (3 cups flour).  I think I could cut it to 1/3 cup and will try that next time.

This is shopping day,so I will be doing minimal housekeeping before leaving.

I have been laying out cooking supplies to take to St.Louis with me.  They want gingerbread cookies so I am taking my spices.  No sense in them buying a bunch of expensive things that they may never use again.  I am looking for a small plastic case with a handle to take my chef's supplies with me when I travel.  I plan to take cookie cutters, food colorings, and my yeast.  I better print off a couple of recipes too.  I  see beignets in our future.

Monday, December 5, 2011

First Snow

Monday, December 5, 2011

Well, the cold front has arrived.  It is 27° here this morning.

Yesterday (Sunday) we had our roast beef dinner with DH's Mom and it tasted wonderful!  We hadn't had beef in some time....I served beef (ala crockpot), cooked potatoes, carrots and onions in a separate pan on the range, seasoned with beef broth, garlic and onion powder.  Salad was cranberries (from Thanksgiving and home-made applesauce), roast beef gravy and rolls.  We had strawberry shortcake for dessert.

Two things of note:  I tried a new recipe from the Kitchen Aid cookbook for a sweet yeast dough for the rolls using 3 eggs. I got enough for a muffin pan of 12 rolls and a pie plate of cinnamon rolls.  It is a good recipe.

Second, I will never buy GV (Wal Mart's Brand) of heavy whipping cream again.  It has several additives and I had to whip it forever and it still didn't have the consistency that I was  rather slick.  I don't think I could have made butter with it if I had whipped it all day long.....I need to  check other brands (like Hiland, our local processor) and see what they have added.  Drat Willow for keeping her cream.

We sent home a plate of all things for her dinner today.

Tuesday, November 6, 2011

We have our first little snow this morning.  The windchill was 11° (and it was milking morning).

This was taken standing on the milk parlor porch,looking to the house. 

I milk inside a barn and it really just takes me about 20 minutes to milk so I never suffer from cold and I could turn on a heater or the overhead furnace if  I needed to.

Willow was down about 1/2gallon in milk,not surprising with the cold.

The new coconut oil came today and it does smell like coconut and there is a light taste.  I will be using it for breakfast in the morning just to see if that carries over into the food...will let you know. 

I made pizza for lunch and this time just let the dough for the crust raise about 30 was still very crispy which is how we like it.  Of course, I baked it on the pizza stone at 500° and it cooked in about 10 minutes.

Tomorrow I am going shopping with my MIL.  She wants me to pick out a new spread for our bedroom for Christmas...I am not a shopper and don't do well shopping with interesting to see how that goes. I sound ungrateful but I am not.....I am just shopping challenged!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Biscuits, Cookies and Gardening

For once the weatherman got it exactly right!  He predicted rain early, clearing and sunny and then afternoon rain.
I had cornered DH into helping me pull dead plants from he veggie garden so when the rains stopped I got ready to go out.  I saw a truck pull into the was the fencing man we have been waiting on for several weeks.....there went my garden help!

I have always gardened unassisted so I headed out.  It didn't take much over an hour to pull up all the vegetation on the west side of the garden.  I did leave the row of Lutz beets.  They love the cool weather and the tops are gorgeous.  I pulled a couple to chop for the cow this interesting to see if she will eat them.

I stacked the dead plants in a sort of windrow on the north side of the garden and  will let them compost in situ.
I then used my new ergonomic, arthritis foundation recommended pruners by Fiskar to clean up the 40 foot garden fence.  This meant cutting large woody stalks of poke, KMOTGG that look like bamboo stalks, some roses and some volunteer tomatoes.  I also pruned about 4 clematis.  I am happy to report they worked like a dream!  My left wrist stays tender even on the Prednisone and I worried about problems at all.
I am a happy gardener and they were cheaper than Felcos at around $28.

I still have the east end corn patch to do and will use the loppers (new also) on that area.  The first nice, dry day I get, I will till the area.  I also need to stick some cloves of garlic in.  I am late with that and probably don't even need any but will do it anyway.

Today is roast beef dinner day.  I put the roast in the crock pot with a package of onion soup mix *(and yes you can make your own) and it should be ready around noon.  I have settled on the hot milk sponge cake and will make rolls later.  I love cooking with the crock pot!

This morning I made biscuits again using W-M's coconut oil and once again we like the texture better than lard.  Here is how they turned out:

I set another quart of buttermilk since I was down to a cup left in the jar.

Yesterday morning I made Cinnamon Ginger cookies.  We both miss having a mid-morning snack with our coffee.  I made them with the coconut oil too.  They turned out well. 

From Food

My sis from Iowa called (her husband was at a gun show) and we had a long talk about books.  Our tastes aren't exactly the same but close.  She has Kindle and is loving it.  I have a local library and am loving it! and mine is cheaper......

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Geese are on the Move

I woke up at 2 AM to a gently falling rain.  We had the window open and there is a metal awning over that back porch.  It makes a wonderful sound when it rains.  It has been raining off and off ever since.  I got up at 4 AM.

I doubt I will get any outside work done today even though it will be our last warm day for a while.....time will tell.
I would like to pull the tomatoes off the strawberry gardening mistake of the year.

The Farmer's Daughter had a wonderful picture yesterday of the geese migrating and it reminded us that we hadn't seen any so far.  When DH went out yesterday evening to do chores, he called me and said go outside and look up.  There were l00's of geese moving southeast. Some were in formation and others in a straight line.  We love to watch them and hear them each year.

It was hard to get a good picture without using the contrast edit because the sky was so dark and cloudy.


I did milk and she gave me a full 2 gallons and I saw traces  on her hips so I do believe she will have a calf approximately 9 months from now, actually around September 9.  I will watch her beginning around 20 days from now.  We just left the bull in the field with her...

We have been out of beef for some time.  I may have mentioned that my dear (greedy) husband did not cut out two for home use when he sold calves last time! Well I found a beautiful rolled chuck roast in the meat freezer yesterday and I almost got giddy.  I do miss my beef!  I will be having his Mom out for Sunday roast beef dinner.  I think Sundays are her loneliest days of the  week.  I haven't decided on dessert yet.  Either my white cake or Ilene's Hot Milk Sponge cake with  frozen strawberries.

38° here this morning.  More rain is moving in later.  I plan to try to squeeze in some more garden pull up tomato plants off the strawberry row.  I may not have any strawberries left.

I originally wrote this November 30 so I will have to check  to see if all is pertinent.

I have been reading my real food book by Nina Planck again and the article about coconut oil jumped out at me again.  I have been using Louana's brand from Wal Mart and knew it wouldn't be the best quality.  Minor research led me no where on it.  I decided to find the best alternative at the cheapest price I could.  I ended up on Amazon (how did I live before Amazon?) and found Nutiva Organic Extra-Virgin on sale.
I paid $46.86 for 108 ounces or .433 per oz.  It is made from fresh coconut, cold processed and unrefined.  The only worrisome thing is it smells and tastes like coconut...don't know how that will be in biscuits....I will soon know. It will be delivered in 6 days.


I wasn't as happy with the second recipe for Oatmeal Bread.  It tastes very good but is a heavier, denser bread.  I won't post the recipe.  It was in my Joy of Cooking book listed as Oat Bread Cockaigne.

My next test will be Hodgson Mills Oat Bran  bread using their hot oat bran cereal...I finally remembered to buy some.

DIY Detergent

I made up a full-size batch of the laundry detergent yesterday.  I used the box grater and then decided to see how fine I could get it with the food processor.  Here is the result:

I was short the second bar of Fels Naptha so I used an equal amount of my homemade and very strong lye soap and it grates like very fine interesting to see if it would work as well as FN.

Farm News

Usually I breed Willow back after her second heat after calving but this year I decided to give her more rest and time the calf to be born after the worst heat of summer.  I hate the  flies of summer.

When I milked day before yesterday, she was way down in her milk and I thought  she might be coming into heat.  Sure enough  I heard her bellowing when I went out to plant the bulbs. DH said the young bull was running the fence next to her area.  We walked down and turned him in to her.  It is so funny to watch their ritual.  Lots of sniffing, her wanting to mount him, him circling her.....I finally got bored and left them to what they do best without an audience.....I am hoping to see signs on her this morning.  You cattle people will know what I am referring to.

Here is their  first encounter, note his head in sniffing mode:

Friday, December 2, 2011

Check the November 30 Date Post

I posted this this morning and it kept the November 30th date and I can't figure how to change the date to this morning....I did some follow up things so thought I would let you know where to find the darned thing!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Busy Day

We are slightly warmer here this morning, 35°.

Yesterday was filled with some necessary errands.  These are not my favorite days...

We delayed starting until after lunch.  I made a squash soup trying to use up my canned Long Island Cheese Squash.  It was very tasty.  I just sauteed some onion, yellow and green bell pepper in butter and olive oil.  Tossed in a pinch of red pepper flakes, added the quart of pumpkin, a pinch of tumeric, salt and pepper and a couple of cups of chicken stock.  At the last I added some heavy cream and heated it all up.  DH didn't rave about it, but he did eat a bowl.  I may sneak leftovers into a meal too.

I had a return to make way out to the mall; DH needed houseslippers and we wanted to stop by his Mom's to visit a little.  We also took her a dozen eggs.  We got the slippers on sale at Penneys about half what I had paid for his last pair pays to shop a little which is not my area of expertise.  The return went smoothly and I also found a pair of dressy trousers for me for out trip to St. Louis.  I will attend a play with the two granddaughters for a night out with mother event and felt my jeans might not be appropriate!  Funny how everything is now  a discount store!  Why don't they just call them that and not show the prices as big sale items.....oh well, the bottom line is what counts for me.

MIL is doing quite well and says she does not mind being alone and told us it is the first time she has been alone on her own since she was about 17  and she is now 93!  Secretly I think she is liking having the immaculate house and not having to worry about meals for anyone.  Her refrigerator has maybe 4 items in it!
She is living on heating up prepared foods and instant things.  No muss, no fuss and very little clean-up.

We had to rehang a mirror for her that had dropped down on a shelf.  It was so heavy I can't believe it didn't break. 

We were supposed to stop by the local store, but DH was tired and said he would shop when he goes in to exercise this morning......just his banana fix.  I may have him pick up a couple of whole fryers that were on sale.  Have you noticed everyone has chicken on sale now....wonder how they determine to do that?

I am happy to report I went out this afternoon and planted my bulb order!  The soil was so nice and moist the digging was very easy.  I filled a whiskey barrel with blue hyacinths and white tulips.  Next spring we will move it down to the house with the lift on the tractor.  I want it where we can enjoy it sitting on the porch.  The rest were alliums, Tete a Tete and Kokopelli jonquils and some white muscari.  Should have lots of fragrance around the back porch area with them.    It will be fun to see something new next spring.

Lunch doesn't photograph well but we thought it was very tasty.  I had turkey broth from the carcass that I hadn't frozen yet so I boiled it down  by about half and made egg noodles.  I tossed in another vacuum sealed packed of turkey with some sauteed onions and had peas and my favorite winter salad of iceberg lettuce with Miracle Whip (yes, I am a redneck!)  Mom always had that and I have rediscovered it lately.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

DIY Laundry Detergent - The Winner!

Good Tuesday morning!  and it is a beautiful one, bright sun shining and very crisp and cold.

I did my normal early morning house chores, made the bed, folded some laundry, put fresh sheets on a guest bed, and tidied up the kitchen.

Over Thanksgiving I had laid out an extra pie crust to thaw in case we wanted a different pie....didn't have to use it so I made jam pasties this morning.  I never know what to call them, but Cindy over on Chickens in the Road posted her pastie recipe with meat filling and I thought they looked like my little ones with jam pasties they are!

I had a jar of over-processed peach jam where I had cooked down the sugar and peaches  with no added pectin and I overdid it on the cooking.  I thought this would be a good use of the jam and it was. I just roll out the crust pretty thin and use a can for the cutter.  I put a dollop of jam in the center, brush edges with water, fold over, crimp with a fork and sprinkle the tops with raw sugar.  I baked them at 400° for 15 minutes and they were done perfectly.

DIY Laundry Detergent

OK, so the real purpose of this post is to tell you about the laundry detergent.  I have thus far tried two or more DIY recipes, one liquid and we were never happy with how our clothes came out.  Now you must factor in that we are active farmers and we get some serious dirt both animal and mineral on our clothes and I am a messy cook and wipe my hands frequently on my aprons (but not my pink one!) which leaves greasy spots.  These never came out with the other trial soaps.

I found this one on Keeping a Family Cow forum .
It was originally posted by Mountainmama and the founder of the forum had made it and was very pleased with the results.

I had everything already on hand except the Oxyclean from my previous trials.
My husband does our laundry and it the resident expert on all things involved with keeping our clothes clean.  I defer to him on all things laundry and he is happy with this one.


2 bars grated Fels-Naptha
2 cups baking soda
3 cups washing soda
3 cups Borax powder
1 cup Oxyclean (buy the generic one; I bought Sun Oxygen cleaner at Wal Mart)

Use 1-1/2 Tablespoons for normal load and 2 Tablespoons for very dirty clothes.  We just use the scoop that came in the Oxyclean.

The added plus is the clothes feel like you have used a rinse, very fluffy and they have a nice clean smell.  We have very hard water and so far this has worked equally well as Tide w/bleach which is all we would use up to this point.

I just read that  Oxyclean is the bleach product in Tide!  No wonder it works so well.  I think it was the addition of it that made this one DIY one work.

I will give a report on the new Oat Bread Cockaigne that I made yesterday tomorrow...
and using coconut oil.

Monday, November 28, 2011

We are having a period of colder than normal weather here.  It began raining Saturday and drizzled all day; we got another inch which is very good.

Well when I read my previous post, I saw I didn't get done all I had set out to surprise there!
I didn't get the fridge cleaned...I made a small batch of fudge but it was a total disaster; very sugary. If any of you have a "no fail" recipe I will be most grateful!  This was so bad, I froze it hoping to find a use for it at some point.  I can't make decent brownies either!

Our company left around 3PM Saturday afternoon.  I go into a let-down mode and pretty much drop into my easy chair and recuperate for a long while after company and big dinners.

Sunday I was somewhat back to normal mode and  vacuum sealed lots of turkey and ham and dressing.  I have two quarts of turkey broth to freeze today. 

I didn't milk when I said I would but I did yesterday morning.  We were completely out of milk and were reduced to drinking some 'store' milk DH's mom brought out left from her dinner.  She can't drink regular milk; has lactose intolerance.  The minute I have Willow's milk DH won't drink the store milk.....

 We are down to a few slices of Oatmeal bread so today I will be baking....

Random Farm Picture

I haven't taken pictures lately... I took this a few weeks ago.  It is in a 7-acre pasture that marks the western boundary of the farm.  I can see it from the west side of the house.

Rain has stopped for we have had a few gloomy days with no sun in sight.

I know most of us are busily preparing for Thanksgiving dinner/dinners so I will just jot down some of my doings.

First, I got started reading Nina Planck's book "real food" again and got worked up once again.  I keep coconut oil on hand but use it mostly for soaping.  I will be changing that after reading about its beneficial qualities in her book.  I decided to test it by using it to make biscuits this morning.  I used my regular 2 cups of flour recipe and use 1/2 cup of the coconut oil.....perfect biscuits in every way.  That will be a new routine .  Now I don't order online and get organic, cold milled which may negate all the benefits of my Walmart buy....I don't know.

I have my two pie crusts laid out thawing for making pies for MIL's dinner tomorrow.  I made rolls yesterday and will take some also.  The rest I will freeze for our Saturday dinner.  I have the ham thawed and will cook it Friday since my daughter and family will be here...leftover for the Saturday dinner alon with the turkey.

I cooked two bags of .99 Ocean Spray cranberries for sauce; taking out one pint for whole and running the balance through the Foley's Food Mill for the smooth sauce.

But the big news is I defrosted the upright freezer so I can actually see things again.  I took out three bags of sliced apples and cooked them for chunky applesauce for an alternative to the cranberries.

Funny thing about making the rolls so early;  I was preparing to make a test batch of the Oat Bran bread and already had the 2 packages of yeast proofing and began looking for the hot oat bran cereal the recipe calls for....not to be found (which led me to the defrosting project!)....I didn't have any.  By now the yeast is getting reading to flow over the sides of the measuring cup.....I decided to just make the dinner rolls instead of the bread.  I had every additive known to the bread-making world but no hot oat bran cereal!

Today I fully intend to clean out the bottom freezer drawer of the I find the oat bran cereal...maybe. It would hurt to clean the entire refrigerator either.

I will also milk this morning so I won't run out.  My kids are big milk drinkers, especially our icy cold raw milk. I raised 'em right!

Sis called yesterday evening around 5:30 PM...she was visiting with her DH and she told him she was going to call and they had a bet I would be in my jammies.......easy money.!  Of course I had on my jammies; it was dark outside ergo, I am ready for bed.  Well she kept me up until 7:30 so I managed to stay awake until 8:30 PM.  The time change is killing me...

I am going to make fudge today.  Our granddaughter has asked for it twice now.....this time she is getting it.  I will be sending it home with her.  I can remember when she wouldn't touch anything chocolate.

to be continued...

Monday, November 21, 2011

Bean Soup and odds and ends - Onion and Garlic Harvest

We have had some pretty disagreeable weather for a few days, overcast and even got some more rain; about 1/2 inch. They are predicting heavy rains along and south of I-44.  We are about 10 miles north of I-44 so we may not be in the heavy zone, but we hope we are.  The ground is pretty wet now so that would mean run-off that would refill ponds for farmers.

I just read Ilene's blog about cooking beans and having leftovers and it reminded me of what I did with some leftover beans last week.  First I cooked a large pot of white beans with a very meaty ham bone and we enjoyed it with cole slaw and cornbread (I baked this so I would have some leftovers for dressing for Thanksgiving).  The next day I didn't want beans again  so I modified my Bean Soup recipe that called for stew meat.  I cut all the ham off the bone and added it back to the beans pot.  Then I diced up 4 potatoes, an onion and some celery, covered with water and cooked it until very soft.  I used the potato masher to slush it up some.  I then added about half the leftover ham and beans to the potato mixture.  I added salt and pepper to taste and brought back to a boil.  I used the masher again.  I could have used an immersible blender but mine is for soap making....At the last minute I added a large dollop of butter.  It was better than the original beans!  I still have a small portion of beans left which I will make into baked or barbecued beans today.

I think I will make another oatmeal type bread today and check it against the Grandma's bread recipe.  This will be a good bread is cold and having the oven on will be very cozy.

I started a quart of buttermilk yesterday and it still hasn't clabbered.  I used store milk for a starter so I don't know what happened; will just leave it out longer.

Pictures of the Day

Candy onions and garlic.  I had lots of Super Star white onions but I have used all of them already; they don't keep quite as long as the yellows. 

Friday, November 18, 2011

Post No. 2 (optional) How to Fix CD RW Drive

This one is almost funny but it saved me a lot of time, trouble and money!

You may skip this one if it is of no interest to you.  I probably would myself.

I have two computers.  They are hooked together so I can access either from the new one.  The old computer has two CD/DVD drives, one rewritable.  The new computer has only one Multimedia Drive.  For some time now the RW drive on the old computer would not told me everything was working...still couldn't open the drive.  I wanted to burn some copies from MP3 disc (the funeral......don't ask me why!)OK,ask.....MIL requested them for other relatives.....I made one from a file I downloaded on my new computer and it took a long time to then burn it to a cd.  This would be so easy with the dual file so I was determined to take both computers in and have a second drive installed on the new computer and have the non-working drive fixed or replaced on the old one.  I called Office Depot and would have to order the drives...I had to go in to order it; they wouldn't take a credit card over the phone....I couldn't wait while they repaired it. The other store had the drive but was a few days behind....couldn't wait for that one either.  I didn't want to leave either one in the stores since all my financial data is on them.....

When all else fails, Google!  There it was how to repair the old drive.  It required a straightened paper clip!  Yes, a paper stick it in the tiny hole in front of the drive; push it in and it releases a locking mechanism and out pops the drive!  Amazing.  So now, I will just live with the single drive on the new one.

I figure it saved me about $200.

Refinished Cedar Chest

I finished this yesterday.

I have it in front of the sofa like a coffee table.  It looks crowded here but the room is 19 x 16 and it leaves plenty of space.
and here is the real reason I bought it:

This let me get rid of a table in a bedroom that had stacks of bedding on it and empty some zipper bags of blankets out of the closet.  There is still room for more in the chest.  It is 48 inches long.

We are liking having a coffee table in front of the sofa...haven't had one in years.  Now DH has yet another place to stack all his reading material, glass and coffee cup and all the other detritus he seems to surround himself with! 

I wanted to report that I made my 6-crust recipe for pies and used the newly rendered lard to test it for taste.
I made a small blackberry cobbler and the crust is piggy taste at all.  I am set for Thanksgiving pies now.  All are frozen singly so I just take out what I want and let  thaw. 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Heirloom Petunias - Onion and Garlic Harvest - Pumpkin Sheet Cake

It is a  very cold morning here; our first hard freeze (28° for three hours).  We will sink down to around 26 by daylight.  I meant to get some rose cuttings...may be too late for that.

So far the heirloom petunias I grow have been improved by the cold....I will see what this does to them when I go out to milk this morning.

This is a little patch that reseeds itself  right by the garage door.  I just leave them be and we walk  around them.
These are growing outside the back porch door among the late lettuce I planted.  I just tossed the seeds out during the summer.

They are such a carefree hybrid ruffly things for me!  I love the simpler blooms of all heirlooms the best.

The lettuce is still good too.

If I have shown this picture before, forgive me.....I didn't want to look it up...I did gather all the cured onions and garlic a couple of weeks ago and got it stored in a freeze-free zone (the milk parlor).

The onions will be gone long before winter is over...the garlic might last forever (it will go bad before then).

I made the Pumpkin Sheet Cake as promised and we kept out 4 pieces and the rest is in the freezer for the Holidays.and iced and cut into squares.

Pumpkin Sheet Cake

1 can (16 oz.) pumpkin
2 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs lightly beaten
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Beat pumpkin, sugar and oil together. Add eggs and mix well. Combine flour, b. soda, cinnamon and salt. Add to pumpkin mixture, mix well. Pour and spread over a greased 15x10x1 inch baking pan. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes or done.

Cool and then frost with cream cheese frosting.


1 pkg cream cheese softened (3oz)
5 Table. butter softened
1 teas. vanilla
1-3/4 cups powdered sugar
3-4 teaspoons milk

Chopped nuts (optional)
Beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla until smooth. Gradually add the sugar and mix well. Add enough milk to get the right spreading consistency. Frost cake and sprinkle with nuts.

Yield 20-24 servings.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Fall Roses - Lard

We have been having some wonderful warm weather....if you don't count the wind. However, yesterday was just perfect....with no wind at all.

I have been catching up on some odds and ends of projects.

First, I rendered the last two bags of ground pork fat and got 6 lbs of the wonderful stuff.  It renders so quickly on top of the stove in the maslin pot so that is what I always do.  I started with this,

and ended with this
From Blog photos

This time of year my roses always look better than any other time of year.  I have 4 or so blooming now.

This first one is Paul McCartney which I planted sometime in the early 1990's.  That is a very long time for a rose to last in my gardens.

It was so windy the day I took these photos that trying to catch the blooms up close was tricky.
That is my excuse for these being very off center,and this is a single bud that I finally anchored with my hand,
and this last one is called the last rose of summer and it is also the first rose  of spring.  It is an ancient China rose called Parson's Pink,

I have two others blooming that I will try to photograph before another hard freeze.

I started refinishing the cedar chest I bought.....ended up just sanding off the finish and will do a coat or two of poly to seal it.  I sanded the inside to refresh the cedar smell.  I hope to bring it in today.  I plan to store extra bedding in it.  It wasn't in pristine condition.....

Saturday, November 12, 2011

It was another early morning here.  2:45AM!  I am thinking reaction to the Prednisone....but my arms and hands are well....
It was much warmer this morning, 50° but will be another windy day.  Deer season starts this morning so I will not be outside much...I could hear the neighbors shooting out yesterday afternoon.  That always scares me.

I wanted to report that I made the pumpkin cake from Denim's recipe.  I love recipes that make small cakes since it is just the two of us.  I was very surprised at how light and fluffy the cake was.  I thought because of the pumpkin it would be pretty dense but not so.  It is all gone but two pieces now.

I have added some really good new recipes from blogging friends which is just another plus from enjoying  reading the blogs.

A gardening friend recommended these new toys because of my hand issues.  I got them 'free' with points on my credit card which was a real plus!  I have just used them a few minutes to test and know I will love them.  The loppers cut through some smaller saplings like butter.  They are recommened by the Arthritis Foundation.
Bless Amazon's corporate heart, I found them there.  They haven't failed me yet!  Amazon that is.

Some time ago I mentioned that I made a 'new' DIY laundry soap recommended on my favorite cow blog.
I am still in the testing it mode, but washed a set of flannel sheets yesterday and they came out fluffy and soft and slightly fragrant.  We haven't been using a rinse with Tide and the towels have been pretty stiff.  DH washed a load with jeans last evening but they weren't really soiled and he liked how they came out.  I am tentatively thinking it will be the one we use.....more to come later when I test some really soiled clothes.
 I have now tried a liquid and a granular and we didn't like either.....this one may be a keeper recipe.  I haven't figured the costs yet but it has to be minimal compared to Tide at $14 a box!

A little fall color:

This is what I call the 'Grace' bed for the smoke tree that is the star.  It has two crepe myrtles on the right and a red barberry on the left with a very dark red mum in front.  Nothing is spectacular this year because of our hot and dry summer.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Trials on Oatmeal Bread

Up at 3AM.  Rains are gone and it is in the 30's. 

Well, I began the trial baking on oatmeal bread yesterday. The first one I did was called Grandma's Oatmeal bread.  Here are  some various pictures.
It looks beautiful.....until I show you the other side.

As you can see it exploded.  Now I would rather I get a nice tall rise than not, but this is overdone!  I may not have had the sealed part on the bottom enough.   Or maybe the pinch of ginger helped the yeast a bit much.
But we have decided we  don't care.  It was just an excellent bread, very fine textured and soft and should make for some great sandwiches.  We find whole wheat breaks a little to much for good sandwiches, especially after a few days.

This one is well worth trying.

Grandma's Oatmeal Bread

From Blue Ribbon Breads by Hodgson Mills

2 pkg yeast
½ cup 115° water
1-1/4 cup boiling water
1 cup quick-cooking oatmeal (I have just chopped up regular in the food processor before)
½ cup light molasses (or honey)
½ vegetable oil
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
6 to 6-1/2 cups unbleached flour (you may mix with whole wheat- I did)
2 eggs beaten
solid shortening to coat bowl and two 9x5x3 loaf pans

1 egg white
¼ cup oatmeal
1 T. water

Add yeast to ½ cup warm water and let stand 10 minutes (this is proofing the yeast)

Combine boiling water, oatmeal, molasses or honey, oil and salt. Cool to lukewarm. Stir in 2 cups flour. Mix well.
Add 2 whole eggs and yeast mixture. Mix well. Add remaining flour to make a soft dough. Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, 10 minutes by hand or 4 in mixer. Put in a greased bowl, rotate to coat top. Cover with a damp towel and let rise about 1-1/2 hours. Knead down and let rise a second time until doubled, about l hour.
Divide into two equal portions form into loaves and place in greased pans and let rise about one hour.

While dough is rising preheat oven to 375°.

Brush loaves with the egg white coating mixture and sprinkle with oatmeal.

Bake 35 to 40 minutes until top is golden brown. Remove from pans immediately and let cool on racks.

Makes 2 loaves.

Note:  I added 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger (optional)
I used half honey and half molasses since my molasses was dark
I used half olive oil and half canola oil.
All else exactly the same.

I told you it is hard for me to follow bread directions to the letter!

Random Cat Picture

Our granddaughter took this one.  It appeals to me.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Recipe for Chocolate Sheet Cake

I am still having trouble adjusting to the time change; now getting  up around 3 AM.  It does give me some nice, quiet reading time...

Today is much cooler and windy.  I  took a few pictures  and was pretty cold by the time I came back in.
I am getting color on my October Glory Maple at last.

and this is the west yard.....I do no ornamental gardening here and I love it.....

My trees are a swamp oak, a white oak, the pin oak and some silver maples....and the red maple.  Note:   I don't do leaves....might windrow some with the mower later....or not.

I was surprised to see this late lovely yesterday in all the rain.  This is the old standby 'Immortality' iris.

I have had some requests for both the oatmeal bread and the sheet cake recipes.  Here is the sheet cake, a very simple, no-fail recipe:

Secret Cake

I have been making this cake for so long, probably since 1971 when this local cookbook came out.
It was called Symphony of Cooking, fifth movement published by the Springfield Symphony Orchestra presented by The Women's Division of the Springfield Symphony Association.

When I make it for the whole family, I take out half the icing for plain and add the nuts and coconut to the rest....I then have a half plain iced and half other....we seem to be divided on who wants what!

2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
½ Teaspoon salt

l stick butter
½ cup shortening
1 cup water
3-1/2 Tablespoons cocoa

½ cup buttermilk
2 unbeaten eggs
1 Teaspoon vanilla
1 Teaspoon soda

Sift first 3 ingredients together. Bring next 4 ingredients to a boil; pour over sugar mixture and blend well. Add last 4 ingredients ; mix well. Batter will be thin. Pour into greased 11x16x1 inch pan. Bake at 400° for around 20 minutes.


1 stick butter
3-1/2 Tablespoons cocoa
½ cup buttermilk
1 box powdered sugar
1 Teaspoon vanilla
1 cup black walnuts or nuts of your choice
1 cup flaked coconut

Boil first 3 ingredients until slightly thickened. Remove from heat; add rest of ingredients. Leave cake in pan; frost while still hot.

This freezes well.
Yield: 20 large servings or 5 dozen brownie size.

As for the Oatmeal bread, I had it in the freezer and I have about 3 recipes for oatmeal bread and don't know which one I did.  I also notoriously ad lib with various additives.  So this morning I am making two loaves of one of the recipes and actually following the recipe (maybe a couple tiny ad libs...) and will test and see if it is my best one.  Besides, it gave me a good reason to make bread!  More to follow...

Ilene mentioned salt for the mincemeat.  I don't think I added any....will add a bit to the package in the  fridge.  I use vinegar too.  I will post me DIY recipe soon.

I am making my Iowa sis a care package this afternoon.  She will be getting  package of mincemeat, a batch of Goat's Milk soap with lavender and rosemary fragrance, and a package of vanilla beans and my recipe for vanilla.  I have almost let it all slip a time or two.  I like to surprise her!  I want her take on the mincemeat.  It isn't for anything special just fun.  She does love the soap.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Back At Last - Lots of Rain and other odds and ends

We have been getting wonderful rains at last.  First 1/2 inch and then 2.5 inches and counting with  this last system.  We are so grateful. Pastures should grow here until the ground freezes hard and stays that way.  The cows will be happy!

I have been missing from Blogland for a while now.  My FIL passed away last Wednesday and we have been busy with family, services and all that entails.  His death was a blessing; he was completely helpless and semi-conscious the last few days.  Funerals are usually an anathema to me and I was delighted that we had what I imagine an Irish Wake to be only minus the whiskey and food!  The minister had asked for remembrances from all of us and when a story peaked his interest he would ask for more details.  One involved  Jack letting a new car back into the lake while my very young son was holding the boat by a rope....Jack was afraid the boat would pull Steve into the water so he jumped out to save him, not setting the brake....Steve saw the car backing into the water and yelled at him.....he jumped back in but not before telling Steve to let go the boat.  He set the brake and was now sitting in water up to his waist.  Steve ran to get help and they were winched out of the lake.  He then parked the car  and they fished the rest of the day!  The audience was laughing before the story was finished.  Lots of wonderful memories were shared.

It was the first time I felt better after a funeral than before  The vocalist sang some wonderful old hymns and asked the guest to sing along and many did.  I looked back over the small crowd and realized most were in their 70's and way beyond.  It was mostly their church friends.  Jack would have loved it.

Sylvia is doing quite well as I knew she would.  She has no regrets and planned the funeral like she knew he would want.  Max asked for a military funeral for him.  He served in the Navy during WWII.  It was very impressive!

We all feel now that life goes on and we are not sad.

I had the immediate family out to the farm and we had sandwiches on my French  and Oatmeal Bread.  I also had a huge pots of hamburger soup with two kinds of crackers and served that Chocolate Sheet Cake that some call Mississippi Mud Cake. 

All company was gone by Sunday morning.  I had to take Monday off to rest!  I love them all dearly but it takes a little energy to deal with all the food things.  The blessing was my hands and arms were finally back to normal.  Thank you Prednisone.

I was cleaning out the fridge of leftovers (chickens love that!) and found I had thawed a package of piecrust that needed to be used.  I hadn't sampled this year's mincemeat yet so I made tarts.  Only two are left; even DH ate them and he isn't a big fan of mincemeat. I didn't think this year's batch was up to snuff but I can't figure out what is missing.