Monday, January 31, 2011

The cold hasn't hit us was around 35° this morning.

I did milk again, much better to do in 40° than in 0°!
I now can go 6 days without milking if need be.

DH put out extra hay for the cows....then we made a library run....8 books. That should hold us. He also got some kind of diesel treatment for the tractors.

It is misting lightly here and no sun to be found. We are supposed to be in the 6-12 inch corridor....we shall see. It is the zero and below temps that I dread the most.

I did get some seeds in the mail today....then found a small pack on the floor that I will send later.....early wonder beets. Hmmmmmm

We had coneys for lunch with leftover cole slaw and a dish of my canned apples.
I have a Pikes Peak roast in the crock pot for tomorrow. We will get several meals out of it; it was a large one. Either this afternoon or tomorrow I will make a lemon pie (my favorite). I bought a bag of lemons on sale some time back and need to use them. I think this will be my last crust in the will be making another batch soon. My sis thinks I can freeze the lemons whole? Got to check that one out.

I think all we have left to do is the get the blade on the tractor and I will feed the chickens some warm mash. I plan to leave the light bulb on in the chicken house tonight. It helps some.

Random Pictures.

Taken on the walk to the Big Pond Field.

From Big Pond
This poor old Oak is near its end.....on to firewood, then ashes for the garden and the cycle continues.

This one is still in good health:

and this next one reflects an ongoing garden to grow heirloom roses and this one and Baronne Prevost in particular.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Waitng for the Winter Storm - Bread

Saturday was like a spring day....started out at 35° and ended at 65°! However we are under a Winter Storm Watch. Predicted snow and/or ice and down to zero by Wednesday night....they are not real sure exactly when it will hit but are saying Monday.

I had plans to begin cleaning off the kitchen garden yesterday but we were out of bread so I stayed in and made 4 loaves, 2 100% whole wheat and 2 our regular honey wheat bread (used the same recipe for both....just changed the amount of ww).
To say the kitchen was a mess was an understatement. A lot of things are involved with making 4 loaves of bread. I grouped them together just to show:
In the photo, I have the first two ww rising in the pans.....the second two on the first rise in the dough bucket on the left....almost ready. I was able to scare up 4 loaf pans!

From Food

All were made using Annie's bread recipe (Annie1992 from Cooking Forum on GW). I thought the taste and texture on the 100% whole wheat was very nice, soft and not at all coarse. I use white whole wheat flour. I did add 1/4 teaspoons more SAF yeast to it.This shows the texture on a 100% whole wheat loaf:

And here is the harvest of the baking:

Bread making should be finished for the month...I did burger and hot dog buns last week and they are in the freezer....along with all but a few slices of the new bread.

I got my order from Pinetree yesterday. They backordered the white and red vinca. I hope it gets here early enough to get started inside. Everything else was correct.

I still haven't ordered strawberry plants....must get settled and do that soon.

I made the 4-grain pancakes from Joy of Cooking this morning. There will be enough left for a couple of more meals. I will just seal the bowl and keep in the refrigerator. We really do like these hearty pancakes.

Random Pictures

I took these the day of the walk back to the Big Pond Field

There are still pieces of the pole barn roof scattered all over the back of the farm. The tornado missed the house skipped back and took out the pole barn, went on north and hit the neighbor's house on the road behind us. Our neighbor to the west said they stood out and watched it skip over our house, dip down and hit the barn and then back up again over to the neighbor.

I like this next simple picture. The row of cedars is what we call an Ozarks cattle shelter. Standing under it can almost keep all rain off, the resin scent deters flies in summer, the dense shade is a blessing in summer and in winter.

and one of my favorite pictures of DH doing his thing, coming back after checking the cattle on the ATV,
We are now walking south on the lane after the walk.

Friday, January 28, 2011

and the rest of the story.........................

31° at 3:20 AM. We are going to have a glorious day of spring-like temperatures...high 50's then another cool down, typical Ozark weather.

and here is the rest of the story about the banana cake day:

Just so you all won't think I am this super cook with nary a failure or catastrophe, let me share the entire day of the Banana Cake cooking.

I took the long, tiring walk. I am still waiting for the ”feeling more energetic after exercise” to kick in.....what I felt was exhausted!

Cooking while tired is not really a great idea.

First I got the pizza dough going in the food processor. I just leave it until I am ready for it, mixed in fp and left there, ergo, one bowl, a very good thing.

Preheated oven to 350°. Made the cake, got it out of oven, placed on rack to cool. While it was baking I made the icing (see how organized I am).

Then made up the pizza. It makes two. Rolled out first crust, placed on corn-mealed peel. Slid into oven preheated to over 500° onto the stone. Cooked it way too long. Should have just done on 12 minutes and began watching. I am so used to the JennAir which probably never reached that temp because of the ill-fitting door.....I set it for 20 minutes.....way too brown, but edible.

Made second pizza, cooked about 12 minutes. Pushed peel under it and it was so cripy that it slid to back of oven and cracked off about ¼ of the pizza which then dropped upside down on the bottom of the new oven floor! I almost had a heart attack thinking about that tomato sauce etching itself to the oven floor. All I could do was turn off the oven and wait for it to cool down.
I should have taken pictures but I was in shock. I did call in the help mate to see and he just shook his head......well, he made a comment but I won't share it here!

I am happy to report that when the oven was completely cooled down, the blob slid off with just a spatula under it and cleaned up quickly with just soap and water. I didn't want to use the self clean....I think it ruins the oven walls eventually.

I did have to scour the rack pretty intensively.

At least the cake was good. Well,the pizza was too if overcooked.

My sis called and she had had some cooking difficulties too. It either runs in the family or it is an age thing! She doesn't make bread nearly as much as I do.....but she had a recipe she liked but couldn't remember why she had cut it down in volume the last time so thought she would just make the entire amount this time............soon she remembered why.

She has a new HD KA mixer with the huge bowl, but using the l0 or so cups of flour required caused the dough to climb up the hook into the base of the mixer.. She had to add a little more flour and mix slowly to get it back down. Then she dumped all onto the board and kneaded by hand! I think I have heard others complain about this mixer....I didn't tell her that. She wanted me to get one but I am holding out for the Bosch (when Mom's old KA dies).

I will just be doing egg salad sandwiches for lunch today! We are going into town to visit with the in-laws and take them some cake. We didn't get into town....

Random Picture

This will be one of the first blooms I will see. It is from my friend Barb and will always be know as Barb's iris.

From Iris

Thursday, January 27, 2011

2nd attempt - Banana Cake, etc.

I have been having lots of nit-picking computer problems all on Gardenweb so did some ad-ons....still have trouble logging in...this morning added another No Script!
That may have been a mistake....lost my post here...just disabled it and will try again........Dang I did a long one too.

OK, abbreviated version.

I milked yesterday and than did a 45-minute walk straight down the middle of the farm to the Big Pond Field. The pond there isn't the biggest in area, but is supposed to be the deepest. We assigned names to the various field way back so we could identify where we were going or what area we were talking about. Sometimes I think DH and I speak different languages so we need all the help we can get.

I started out walking down the lane that runs through the center of the farm. From this lane you can access what area of the farm you want to go to, yet move cattle down it safely to the loading or working area.

I took lots of pictures but will share them just now and then....don't want to bore anyone to death. Here is the top of the bank leading down to the pond; it doesn't look steep here but is so I picked up a long stick for support. The pond is frozen and would probably would support me but I didn't want to test that theory.

Here is the frozen pond.

There were lots of turkey tracks and some others that may have been coyote. The snow isn't new so the tracks were not in pristine condition.

I did make the cake! You knew I would, didn't you.

This is from my old l970's era Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook. I have made it many times and it is always good. It is a good cake for beginners because it is a dump everything in one bowl and beat cake. I always use butter for shortening in my cakes....except for my favorite white cake....for obvious reasons....I want it white.

I like to cook/bake like our old Home Ec teacher taught us...get out all the ingredients first...move them to one side once you have added them. Preheat oven to 350°. Grease and flour either round cakes pans (2) or (l) 9x13 which I always use.

Banana Cake (from Better Homes & Garden Cookbook)

2 cups all purpose flour
1-1/2 cups sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon baking soda
1 cup mashed ripe banana
½ cup buttermilk or sour milk
½ cup shortening (I use butter)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

In a bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and ½ teaspoon salt. Mix; add bananas, buttermilk, shortening, eggs and vanilla. Beat on low speed till combined. Beat on medium speed for 3 minutes.

Pour batter in two round pans or a 9x13 oblong pan that have been greased and floured.

Bake in a preheated 350° oven until toothpick in center come out clean.....35 minutes or so. Maybe longer,..

Cool completely before icing.

We love this icing:

Cream Cheese

2-3oz packages cream cheese
½ cup softened butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
4-1/2 cups or more of powdered sugar.

Cream together cheese, butter and vanilla until fluffy.
Gradually add sugar beating well.
Add enough sugar to make a spreading consistency.

Will frost a layer cake or the oblong with some left over.

These cakes are supposed to be refrigerated with this icing...I rarely do, but if cake isn't used quickly, I would.
The batter is very thick and rich looking.

and here is a piece:
I don't know why but somehow this cake has a very moist,luscious taste, more-so than some others.

Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

22° this morning at 4:00 AM.

Yesterday was just my normal routine....nothing special cooked except for biscuits for breakfast.

influenced me to do a salad for our lunch. It is one of our favorite "meal" type salads. Simply tear up lettuce of choice (I have been using red leaf lettuce this winter..the Romaine is tough as shoe leather!), top with a high quality can of albacore tune (not the dreadful minced catfood)that has been drained, a diced boild egg, onion rings, a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. We like Ott's dressing. It is a Missouri product and DH uses it almost exclusively on his salads. We like the red one. This salad with a couple of crackers on the side makes a very filling meal.

When I boil eggs, I always do several. I keep the rest in the frig for other things. Today I think I will make egg salad sandwiches for lunch. They were talking about them on the GW Cooking Forum. I am easily influenced.

I may make a banana cake with cream cheese icing. I haven't done one in ages.

I have been requested to put the recipe here that I used for the buns. It is the same recipe I have been using for our 'daily bread'. I got it from Annie1992 on the Cooking Forum on Gardenweb.
I now call it
Annie's Very Easy Honey/Wheat Bread. It makes two loaves or as many buns as you want it to make. It would make super dinner rolls too....I haven't done that yet.

3 cups AP flour (buy unbleached)
3 cups whole wheat (I use white whole wheat)
2 pkg yeast
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1 cup milk
1 cup water
1/2 cup honey (or less)or any sweetener you want to use
1/4 cup melted butter
1 egg slightly beaten

Heat milk, water, honey, butter and salt until just warm. Add yeast. Stir to dissolve. Stir in beaten egg. Add flours to make soft dough. Sometimes it will take all the flours...others it won't.

I use my KA mixer by adding about half the flour, Beat for l minute to start the gluten action. Change to the dough hook and slowly add the rest of the flour. Knead with mixer for 6 minutes or turn out onto floured surface and knead by hand for 8-10 minutes until smooth.

Place back in original mixing bowl (I do not clean it, just add some olive oil and brush it around the bowl right over the stuck on stuff....I actually use the ball of dough to smear the oil around. Turn the ball with the oiled smooth side up).
cover top with dampened cloth and let raise for about an hour until it has doubled in size.

Punch down. Let rest a bit, maybe 10 minutes. Divide in half, form into loaves, etc.
or make buns. Place them on greased baking sheets. Let raise again until doubled
Bake at 375° until nice and brown. Bread should test 190° internal temperature when fully cooked.

I won't tell you how to form the buns. I wasn't happy with mine. I need to perfect that....they got too tall and were too small around.

We had bacon cheeseburgers for lunch that day....very tasty.
We haven't used the hot dog buns yet.

Random Pictures

Here is a little taste of summertime. I think these are pipevine swallotails.
Pipevine Swallowtails

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Tour of West Calf Lots -

We are really enjoying our normal weather....they tell us we are way behind on moisture which worries me, but the temperature is good. 28° this morning at 4:30 AM.

The buns yesterday turned out great but my shaping of them leaves a little to be desired....hamburger buns rose to high, hot dog buns were too close together on pan so attached themselves to each other. The taste was super. We had a bacon cheeseburger for lunch. I even had chips which I rarely buy.
I now have lots of buns in the freezer.

I took a walk yesterday down to the west property line where a pond is. I call these two lots the calf lots. The first one next to the house is where I normally run my milk cow, Willow, her last year's calf and whatever other calf needs to be there (usually a heifer I have decided to keep and don't want exposed to the bull just yet).

Biscuit always goes with me. We both need the exercise. This is the gate from the yard into the first lot (3.5 acres) the building is the old chicken house which is now filled with old wood stoves, gardening stuff, chicken feed and 'stuff'.

We are looking to the second lot where the pond and loafing shed is. This the dividing fence. One thing this farm has is lots of various lots, paddocks (never heard that term until Missouri went crazy over New Zealands's intensive grazing technique), and fields.
Inside the field which is also about 3.5 acres, to the left if the pond and to the right or north is the shed and the other field where the heifers and bulls are now....beginning to see us.

If you have ever had livestock you know that they pick a path to the water source and use it over and over until it look like this:

I was surprised the pond is completely frozen over. I guess I shouldn't have been with our near zero temperatures.

The have definitely spotted us and are getting interested.

So,we will be heading back to the compound. I never feel completely secure in a field with bulls and there are three in here. They have never been aggressive but ....
This is the west side of the compound:

This is an old farm and has numerous buildings that are all clustered together. We have seen this style over and over on old farms in the area.

These are the loafing sheds that are in the back of the barn lot near the house. The bull pen is just the other side of the barbed wire.

This is looking a little to the right of the previous picture. By now you are familiar with the old silo and old barn.

By now I/we just take a right behind the chicken house to the gate into the yard.

This is an old farm and isn't spiffy with new Morton buildings like I am seeing everywhere these days, but it has felt like home to me from the first night we spent here back in December of 1991. I love living here and so does DH.

Monday, January 24, 2011

26° at 4:00 AM.

First, I am having internet issues with all Gardenweb site. They are using a tracking cookie called They will load almost fully according to the bar on the lower right hand side of the screen, but that is it.....sometimes it will finally load but then any movement within the site and I get the same thing.
I have tried Firefox's tools and removing and not allowing cookies....doesn't affect it at all.

So far Gardenweb is the only site affected. I checked the old computer with an old version of Windows and it is the same. I also tried using IE as browser....same.

Any ideas out there????

To Do Today List:

Make bread for buns
Feed Chickens mash
Take a walk west
Make FlowerLady's Oatmeal/Craisin Cookies

Been a busy morning so far. I decided to build a wood that done. There is nothing better than wood heat....Ilene knows that by now!

Did my routine daily housecleaning.....very light.

Then came the chickens. I left them locked up but took out a teakettle of very warm water and mixed up a mash using their egg pellets. They just go crazy when you do this. Now the pellets are before them 24/7, but making that warm mash sends them into an eating frenzy.
From chickens

I came back in and mixed up the bread and then took a walk through the two calf lots. I waited until the heifers and the bulls were in another field. I don't want to have to outrun one of the bulls.......couldn't if I wanted to! Biscuit went with me but he is no protection....if he gets scared he gets behind us.

Tomorrow's post will be pictures of the Tour of the Calf Lots and the west side view of the compound.

Came back in, punched down the dough.
My Sis called and we got into one of our long-winded wonderful conversations....I had to cut us off when the bread was ready to form into buns. Did that and while they were raising the last time, I made up the Oatmeal Craisin cookies.
I add wheat germ and should have used my ww pastry flour but forgot. They are delicious as always.

Buns are raising very slowly, Hope they turn out well. I made some changes.....

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The morning started out at 17° but got up to above freezing and a lot of the snow melted.

I fixed steak gravy and biscuits for breakfast. I always do that if we have round steak the day before and we did. I fixed smothered round steak, mashed potatoes and broccoli. I also made DH his chocolate pudding with whipped cream topping.

I milking this morning and bottled up the previous milking so now I am good for about three days.

After DH finished his cattle chores we made a bird seed run because we forgot them the previous day. I checked around for the best prices which were still a lot higher than last year. I am hoping it might last the season. I got 50 lbs of black oil sunflower seeds, 25 lbs. of niger thistle and 20 lbs of wild bird seed. I will make my own mix with the hen scratch. I hope to lure some different smaller birds with the thistle seeds. I have already had two little black capped chickadees at the dining room porch feeder.
From Birds
I got the mix a little too rich with the thistle seeds....will cut back next time.

DH told me to check and see if all the turkeys were still down by the west fenceline.....they were. This was using the camera on the full 12x zoom, but at least you can see how many.....the black specks on the field are the birds!
From Birds
He tried to count them this morning but finally gave up.

Here is the kind of gift a farm gal likes:

From Interior house
I have wanted a pair of these boots for a long time. My sis has a pair of the Tack masters and she sings their praises. I tried them on and they are certainly more streamlined and not as clunky, but I am not walking across the lawn to a mini-horse barn with paved floors and special bedding so I thought this style was more my kind of boot!
They were cheaper too and that might have influenced me just a tad!

All in all a good day!

Friday, January 21, 2011

We didn't get nearly the snow that some did. I am guessing around 2+ inches. It didn't get as cold either. It is 15° here right now. We do have another chance of snow today and a 70% chance for more on Sunday. It is winter!

The road out front seems to be clear, but most schools are still closed. We haven't had to get out at all.
I forgot to buy bird seed when we did out last shopping. I had it on the list too. So they are getting hen scratch and I made the suet blocks using the beef fat I rendered earlier. I am wondering about the beef versus the lard...they don't seem to be eating it very quickly. I did mix some lard in. I bought the largest tub of lard the store had this time instead of the smaller tubs I had been buying. Since I don't use Crisco anymore, I am using a lot more lard. I just wish it was totally not hydrogenated.

I have started simplifying and getting rid of things not being used, including clothes. I am not throwing out every single thing. I am keeping back some jeans that I can wear if.............(know what I mean?) It is a big if, but I have hopes.

I did my chest of drawers and we both have done the closets. Makeup drawer is next.

Random Picture

This is view outside of the kitchen window. When we put feed out, they stay out by the feeding tree until it is gone, then they come to the window feeder.

From View out Windows

Nothing is wasted; they always clean up the spilled seeds.

From View out Windows

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Ordered Seeds

Above freezing here with a heavy mist that has the drive wet. Still predicting snow for later in the week.

I had a very sleepless night and finally just got up around 1 AM and went to my nest in the kitchen and read. I dozed a little but still feel very sleep deprived. Have no idea what that is about But am discontinuing the Fish Oil capsules just in case....

I am happy to report I did list what I want to grow this year and how much canning and freezing and maybe dehydrating I want to do. I ordered the seeds this morning from Pinetree Seeds. I (naturally) got more than I intended but most will keep several a little carried away with vinca and zinnia seeds too. I failed to save seeds last year on almost everything.

Shipping was $6.95 and I can't drive to town and shop around any cheaper and then there is my time! I count it as pretty valuable (to me at least).

Kri, I ordered Dwarf Blue Curled Kale
Denim, I also ordered L.I. Cheese Squash (won't plant it this year though)

I am also going to try a new tomato that is good for canning, Heinz Classic Processor Tomato.

Pickling Cucumbers....I want to do much more Bread and Butter Pickles. I can eat a jar of those in a week!

I won't bore you with all the rest.......

DH is out of mysteries, so he is prompting me to get off the computer and get ready to go to the library.


All the yellow cats adore Biscuit and vice versa. Sometimes all three are nuzzled up next to him. He is in hog heaven (or would that be dog heaven)

Monday, January 17, 2011

Sunday Dinner - Stored Turnips - Plans for Day

3:34 AM, 33° , Made coffee that DH had set up the night before. Read for a while (a not very impressive book).

Breakfast was a simple egg with fried toast and a glass of milk.

Ilene's blog talked about her last year's turnips and reminded me to check my bucket stored in the cellar. They had sprouts, very pale about 3-5 inches long. I think that cellar stays a little too warm for long-term storage for them. I brought a few to the kitchen and cooked a small pan....the results and my opinion: Storage does not enhance their texture or flavor. They are quite edible but nothing to write home about. I think I will slowly freeze the rest for stews and soups. They are not bitter or strong and one or two were sweet. I did get a tad too much red pepper flakes in them.....had quite a coughing jag after tasting them.

Yesterday's lunch with the in-laws was very nice. He is getting more frail and I notice he has a slight tremor to his hands now. Sad. His mind is very sharp.

We had a weird lunch. I made our son's meat ball and spaghetti recipe for them but didn't do a green salad so made some strange green beans, home-made whole cranberry sauce with a touch of o.j. and zest. I did have the French bread with it and chocolate pie.

From Food

I used Joy of Cooking's method of putting the yolks in with the dry ingredients and milk and whisking all of them together until no yellow streaks remain, cook to bubbly, remove and whisk briskly again; return to heat and cook bubbly for l minute. Pour into shell, cover with meringue and brown. It was a great hit.
MIL wants recipe. She is like me and hates that temper the egg yolk thing.

We had enough left that I sent them home with over a half loaf of the bread, enough meatballs and spaghetti for at least one hefty meal, green pie....not enough of it left. I did remember to give the peanut brittle to my FIL. He was delighted. He thought I had forgot about making it for him. Now he will be getting both bittersweet truffles and peanut brittle for his birthday in March.

I have put on a very large pot of pinto beans with the last of my ham bits and pieces. I plan to do the Honduran (sil's mother) way of leaving it on the back of the stove all week and reheating it each day to boiling....will plan to serve it almost daily as a side anyway. Let you know how that works out.

The only other thing on my list (mentally) for today is quit procrastinating about the garden and make a plan and order onions and strawberry plants....and anything else I won't find locally.

Good luck to me.....

Miscellaneous bird picture:
Pileated Woodpecker. I found this looking for something else. I haven't seen it long enough since to take a picture. I think this was taken two years ago.


Sunday, January 16, 2011

Saturday was pretty much a do-nothing kind of day. I did invite the in-laws out for dinner today. I did my routine house-work.....made the bed tidied up, cleaned the bathroom, vacuumed the back porch. I has become the entrance to the house...and it is the one area that always looks is our mud (and other stuff) room. I finally just quit caring. All our company is friends or family anyway.

I finished a Sue Grafton mystery. I enjoyed it.

The warmer temperatures are holding. I didn't milk was going to interfere with DH's plans, so will this morning.

The one area that seems to be of great interest and causes more comments than anything is this frugal living and green revolution. I have a few more thoughts and will respond to some questions asked.

Tami, wanted to know about long-term storage of beans...maybe coffee?. I never ever buy coffee beans. They are just too expensive. I also don't hoard when prices are supposed to skyrocket...except maybe sugar during jelly canning times. Then the most I keep on hand is about 30 pounds or enough to get me through the season. I don't hoard coffee. If you are wondering about regular beans, I imagine you could vacuum seal or freeze, but haven't researched it. My pinto and white beans don't last that long. I try to cook beans at least once a week and enough for eating several meals. They are another very frugal food and we love them any way you prepare them.

I think this is an interesting side story about beans and other cultures. Our SIL is a Honduran native and beans are a staple for them as with other Latin American cultures. He came from a family that was quite well-to-do, but beans were still a favored food. His mother would cook a huge pot and leave them on the back of the range all week. Each day she would bring them to the boil again and use how much she needed. Then cover and leave. I thought that was very interesting. Never refrigerated them at all. I may try that just out of curiosity. I am not recommending anyone do this at all.....don't want anyone to get sick....

Now more on cable or satellite TV. We had it for years, but finally realized we were watching maybe three channels out of all those hundreds we were paying for. The movies got to be maybe two different ones per week and they were repeated on about 6 channels.... In place of the $39.95 DirecTV, we now have Netflix, the cheapest service they offered which is two movies per month which is about right for us. I think the cost is under $5. I love it and their selection is superior. I even have a problem finding two we will watch. Our SIL who is up on everything, helps me select from time to time.

Funny how we were discussing trash service....a neighbor who helps L. who we bought the farm from (remember her love story), called and wondered if our trash had been picked up this week. If the roads are bad, they don't run the rural routes. I told her no; it was still sitting out front. Then we went from that to the cost and the fuel surcharge. She mentioned that she and Lydia were paying $60 for three month's service. I knew that was higher than mine...yep, looked it up on Quicken and I paid our bill of $48 at the end of December. She is really in a snit and will call them first thing Monday. Be interesting to see what happens....probably ours will go up! I may cancel again!

Now on to rags vs. paper towels. I did that for a while too. Then I wondered if the cost wasn't about equal because of laundry, using hot water, soap, electricity to run machine.....I know that doesn't address the tree issue but I still buy the darned paper towels.

Gardening is a subject dear to my heart. I have been gardening since we bought our first house in 1971. I worry that new gardeners today are so inundated with magazine articles and TV shows and ads for various specialty products to garden that they spend way more than necessary to do it. All you really need are seeds or plants, dirt, and water and sunshine. That, of course, doesn't address the issue of places with no top soil to speak of, or highly acid or limey soils. Those things will need to be corrected in various ways. For most of us though we can just dig up or mulch and small area and begin. You don't even have to build raised beds. I am not saying they aren't a good concept but the cost of building them could be prohibitive for a lot of people.

I stress the word small. Don't start too big and then find out it is a lot of work and give up. I would just do a small flower-bed size for greens and a tomato or pepper plant or two to get the feel of it. Maybe just edge a bed with the beautiful lettuces and spinach with some green onions tucked in here and there.
Pepper plants are pretty enough for a center attraction in the bed. Now tomatoes are a whole 'nother story. Mine don't look beautiful too long. We are plagued with various leaf diseases in the Ozarks. I would still do a plant or two on stakes with lots of air circulation and maybe tucked back where they won't be quite as obvious. Bull's blood beets are a beautiful plant growing and can be used both for greens and the roots.

I think food is probably where most could really save some money. Don't buy snack foods. Don't buy boxed or ready-made anything. Make bread. Cook from scratch. If you work, use your crock pot....a lot! Learn to read labels if you do nothing else. Then decide if you want to feed your family all that stuff that you don't know what half is. I would encourage anyone,like gardening, just start small and slowly change your habits. I have always maintained I can stir up a cake as quickly as I can tear open the box, get the scissors out to open the plastic inside container, measure out the oil, get the two eggs out of the fridge and then mix.
I have a cake that I just put everything in one bowl, mix and bake. Very, very simple and good.

Develop some quick, simple recipes you can always fall back on especially if you are still working.

There are still some things that I am trying to decide in my own mind about doing from scratch. There is the Nutrimill grain grinder. I know Ilene has one. I am still ambivalent about buying it. I did grow all that dent corn that will have to be ground....will I buy wheat berries for flour? Can you tell the difference in the taste of the bread? I know the nutrients are supposed to be more....they aren't that expensive....yet I am still sitting here pondering that cost. Same with the dehydrator and the new heavy duty mixer (Bosch). I think I wonder if these items don't fall in the category of all the fancy fertilizers and gadgets they push for gardening.....are they really necessary or just more consumerism. I wonder...........

OK, enough deep thoughts for today.

Company is coming; I need to clean house, milk (maybe), make chocolate pie (did the crust last night....I do love just getting it out of the freezer!), get the meat out of the freezer, make a cranberry orange salad and dust. I hate dusting and leave it until the last possible moment.

Random picture, taken at the kitchen sink, maybe three feet from the birds.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Cobblers and French Bread

To some cobbler means fruit with a cake-type batter drizzled on top and baked...not me!
Cobbler is made with a top and bottom regular pie crust with lots of fruit in between, no thickener and is served hot in dishes with melted butter or thick cream on top. I make mine in a casserole dish. It is interesting how we are influenced by how our Mothers cooked. I do some things different but basically I cook like Mom.

Yesterday I made my favorite blackberry cobbler.

I still have a few bags left in the freezer from my blackberry patch. The last two years, I have given them up to the hated Japanese Beetles. I keep wracking my brain thinking of how I can cover them to keep the beetles away. Nothing short of a large cage of screen wire comes to mind. I am not above doing that if I keep losing the crop to them. This is another Oriental fruit pest we did not need!

Yesterday was our first day of warmer temperatures. I milked and will milk again today to take advantage and maybe get Willow more relaxed with me. It will be a test………….let you know how that works. DH thinks when I go so long between milking, it becomes new all over again for her.

I made French bread yesterday. The recipe makes three large loaves which I freeze. I like having it on hand for certain foods… soups, Italian pasta things, steaks, etc. I also just like it toasted. It makes a crusty loaf without having to do anything special like using water during cooking. It is shiny because I always brush it with butter so the crust won't be too hard for DH. He doesn't like it that way.

Frugal Living

I keep reading blogs about this subject and it has me thinking which is a good thing!
I feel like I could do a much better job where food is concerned....I need to start using out of the freezers daily....shouldn't have to buy anything except coffee, flour, sugars, and shortening. I buy pastas but could make them. I buy dry beans (tried the flaying of beans for dried seeds once.........lots of serious work to get many beans). The only meat we buy is bacon and sausage and chicken. I hope to grow some fryers this spring....for the freezer but we will have to get very organized with the chicken house to do can be done though.

We stopped Directv some time ago. We still both have cell phones and I recently added the texting feature for the grands. We aren't using it like I thought we would so I think I will discontinue it. We don't take the newspaper and I quit subscribing to all gardening magazines years ago.

I do still have the internet and it costs $40 a month. We can't get DSL out here and probably never will unless Obama's plan for everyone to have it via rural electric organizations comes to fruition....I am not holding my breath! I would really, really miss the computer and don't want to go to the library as one blogger is now doing.

We quit trash service for almost a year and then our local town got so persnickety about the recyclying that I didn't know what to do with some would mean a trip to the big city periodically to get rid of those things. We started up trash pickup service again. It is grossly overpriced and they tack a fuel fee on each month that gets progressively higher. I am still pondering that issue.

We do try to save on trips to town but could do much better with that if I would make DH pay more attention to cat and dog food.......and bananas! You wouldn't believe how many bananas he eats.

So the goal will be to really watch my food bills. It is hard when everything but the kitchen sink is on one bill.

I make our own soap (for fun mostly) but have not liked any of the laundry soaps I have tried. Either we get our clothes dirtier than others or I haven't tried the correct formula. DH is my laundry man and he is sold 100% on Tide powder with bleach....and he likes his rinses too. I haven't tried the cup of vinegar yet....will have to buy vinegar first. I am betting he won't like it!

Sorry for rambling on....these are just thoughts about all this I have been reading.

The one thing that really annoys me is the phones: $70 for two cells plus almost $30 for a landline. $100 a month for what we used to get by with for $10 a month.
Once we get used to these luxuries, they become our necessities.

Things to ponder in the wee hours of the morning.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Warmer temperatures - New Soup Recipe

It was 25° this morning when I got up at 5 AM! What a lovely change from the 0° of yesterday.

I will milk this morning for sure, maybe three days in a row to beat the next cold front.

I made a new soup recipe yesterday. It was not from my new cookbook but from the Cooking Forum on Gardenweb. It was posted by wizardnm. We liked it very much and it is so hearty that it doesn't require anything else in my opinion.

2 C cubed potatoes (peeling optional)
1 1/2 C water
2 carrots, grated
1/2 C chopped onion
1/2 C chopped green pepper
1 jalapeno pepper, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp beef bouillon granules
Combine the above in a large pan and cook until potatoes are tender.
1 lb lean ground beef
Brown and drain ground beef and stir into cooked potatoes
2 1/2 C milk
3 Tbsp flour
Combine flour and milk and stir into soup. Bring to a boil then reduce heat.
1/2 lb Velveeta Cheese, cubed
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
Stir into soup, just until cheese is melted.
bacon crumbles (optional)
Top each serving with bacon if desired.
Makes 4-6 servings

Seeing Kris' greens growing boosted my enthusiasm a little so after milking, I decided to plant a flat of lettuces....the large bag of potting soil was frozen brick DH is bringing it down to the back porch after checking the cows...I will plant tomorrow.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

It is 1.1° here this morning at 5.45AM. Thank goodness, the warm up is supposed to start today.

All seems to be going well on the farm. No frozen pipes, no new calves, just the normal aggravation of extreme cold such as DH having to break ice on the ponds daily and keep hay out for all of the various fields of cows.

I have managed to stay inside.....but will milk tomorrow morning.

I am happy to report we actually got 5 eggs. I just know it is because we fed the warm mash. This morning we will also give them a warm drink. The heated waterer just barely keeps the water above freezing.

When telling about the old barn, I remembered another story about the old farm house we live in.

The middle room had old, old shag carpeting in it. This room is in the middle of the house and has no would think the architect relative who supposedly design the addition in the early 1970's would have come up with a better plan! This room was Lydias bedroom. Well, under the carpet in the closet I found an envelope that had several pictures of a young man in it. Also one with him and Lydia and her husband and a funeral picture with a flower spray on the top of the coffin. I had no idea why they were hid like that. I called Lydia and she came down immediately and told me this story:

Her father was a very strict and abusive man. He just had three daughters and he worked them like mules. Well one summer a neighbor's nephew spent the summer with them. He was a dark-haired good looking young man. They went to Lydia's family church and she first saw him there. It was love at first sight for both of them. They sat together in church and may have even occasionally held hands. Her father positively went berserk and told her she could never see him again. He knocked her off their front porch during one of his yelling sessions and she broke her finger. She told people in the church about it,but, of course, nothing was done. Such were the times back then. She and the boy were able to meet secretly a few times, but summer was soon over and he went back to town. I don't know if they were able to communicate at all after that. Well, she went on to marry Lee Dean and the boy wound up in California where he married and had two daughters.

She told me she loved Lee, but nothing like what she had felt for her first love! Tears came into her eyes telling me this story. After many years, he either called her or wrote to her asking if Lee would mind if he came out to the farm to visit them one last time. She didn't know, but he had been diagnosed with terminal cancer.
She asked Lee,who knew about him, and much to his credit he told her sure. It would be fine with him. These were the pictures taken of that visit. The casket was the man's. Lydia was notified of his death by his daughters. It seems the man had told them all about her and how he had loved her all his life! The girls put Lydia's flowers on the casket, not the families'. That was why they sent her the picture.

Lydia had hid these pictures in the closet under the carpet. I don't know why she didn't just keep them in a drawer. I am not sure her daughter knew about any of this and still don't know.

Now if that isn't a love story, I don't know what is.

It raised my approval of Lee who was a crotchety old man when we first met him by a country mile!

Fiction has nothing on real life.

Another Bird Picture (I warned you)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Old Barn

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Up around 4 AM and watched the temperature drop very quickly to around 10°.

I tried a southern type cornbread from the new book and must admit I like mine better! DH liked it very much.

I decided to make the leftovers of dinner into a warm mash for the chickens. I have to thank Granny for reminding me about mash. DH reports they went crazy for it. I will make some today just using their commercial egg pellet feed.

I spent most of the afternoon reading the three new cookbooks and only the points of interest in the new gardening book.

The temperature really dropped during the night and was 6° when I got up at 3:45 AM and will drop to around zero by sunrise.

No pipes frozen in the house. We always leave the water dripping when it gets down to 10° or lower.

I have been thinking a lot about this old barn. It is ready for some serious repairs which we cannot do. I refuse to allow it to fall into fatal disrepair like our neighbor did with their barn built during the same era! I hope to hire Amish barn repairers to do the work. They are very expensive but worth it.
I know the barn's history because the people we bought the farm from built it during WWII. They lived here for fifty years before they sold most of the farm to us back in December of 1991. The farm adjoins our other farm (40 acres on it) and I used to look across at these fields when I was brush hogging in our hay field (old farm) and think how wonderful it would be to have this one! Some dreams do come true!

But back to the barn....they built the lower stone and block part themselves, mixing all the cement by hand and laying the stones. I know the 12 inch wide boards the doors were built with came from an old barn in Arkansas and still had some faded red paint on it. The doors are made of double layers and weigh a ton!
When they had the bottom half almost finished he was drafted and sent to train in California. She went out as soon as she could, but when he was shipped out to the Philippines, she came back to the farm. He told us some horrific stories of what he saw there and how his best friend was killed standing right next to him because he wouldn't wear his helmet half the time. Lee had just warned him!

His wife, Lydia, who is still our beloved neighbor, lived in this house while he was gone. I have seen pictures of it then, no paint at all. Her furniture was old crates for cabinets. She grew out the Guernsey heifers that would be their milking herd when he got home.

He did and they hired the Amish to build the huge loft part of the barn. The roofing is aluminum rather than iron and never rusts. They milked in the way of the times, with the cows locked into stanchions and them squatting beside them milking into buckets and then dumping into milk cans. Their only child, a daughter was born during this time and Lydia would carry her to the barn and put her in a card board box in a safe corner while she milked. Later they built the concrete Milk Parlor where we did out dairying. I love the history of the barn and even though it has outlived its usefulness now I don't want it torn down or falling down.

The barn is fully wired. It used to have water lines but those were not working when we moved in. As you can see the front repairs will be the two openings (left and right) that no longer have doors. All the framing has to be replaced before doors can be hung. The wind whistles inside on me when I milk!

The hay loft door needs work as well as the part missing siding (storm damage).

The tornado drove something into the spot on the roof that is curled up and letting rain in. I don't want the upstairs flooring rotted out.

This picture shows the roof,
and this is the west side door that needs redoing.
Nothing much needs to be done on the east side.

I milk in that pen on the left hand side of the barn (with no door). That pen is about 12x12.
I used to raise all the baby Holstein calves inside this barn. We made individual pens down each side. I usually had all the pens filled.

The north side also has a door that is in good repair.

The first step will be to check with a neighbor who just had a huge barn re-roofed using an Amish crew. Then get a bid. That will be the scariest part. Might just have to get it done part at a time.

I am making doughnuts....DH just plaintively said "you never make doughnuts anymore". I have the willpower of a flea!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

When we got up, it wasn't so bad but the temperature has now dropped to 9°! We just got about 2 inches of snow but there is a little ice under that. We won't be getting out on the roads today.

I knew the birds would flock to the feeders with snow on.

This picture is for Kris....can you count them?
I bought a bag of hen scratch for the birds yesterday when we went to the feed store...forgot the crushed oyster shells which was the real purpose of the trip. They had Muck boots on sale and that took all my attention; not the ones I want though and the others weren't in my size. We did pick up extra feed for the chickens.

We came home and I used some leftover chili and white beans as a base for a large pot of new chili. I also made Ilene's hot milk sponge cake with chocolate butter cream icing. DH wanted a small piece at 4AM this morning when we got up.

Today's plan for the noon day meal (I call it lunch) is going to be a package of my frozen green-stage pink eye purple hull peas, fried potatoes with onion and a recipe of cornbread from my new "The Cornbread Gospels" cookbook (thank you for posting about this Joycee). I am enjoying reading this like a novel. I have decided I make northern/African type cornbread which means about half flour and meal and pretty sweet. I think I will try a southern type today. I will have to use yellow cornmeal since I never buy white.

The other book on soups is supposed to come today.

Well I brought all the gardening seeds down from the milk parlor yesterday and they are going to stay on the end of the dining room table until I figure out what I can get rid of and what, if anything, I need to order. I know I should have a packet of Long Island Cheese squash left, but it is not to be found! You would think after all these years gardening I would be so organized that I would never loose anything.....well the coffee can of tomato seeds wasn't with the other took two more trips to the milk parlor where I found those in another room! Still no squash seeds. Then I remembered my sis had brought me some Kwintus bean seeds down (I originally have given her some of mine but I didn't save enough seeds last season for this season)and I didn't know where they were! Found those blasted things....still no squash seeds. The other thing is why didn't I save seeds from those beauties when I raised them two years ago......I saved a bunch of various things this year by just clipping some plants and laying on the back labels. Do I know what they are now? I do not! So that is my goal this year:


When I was outside yesterday morning spreading straw, I had company:
and her daughter, Bette.