Saturday, October 25, 2014

A Cooking Good Day

Good Saturday morning.  Today is supposed to be much warmer  than normal.   It is rare we in the Ozarks have 'normal' weather. 

I had great plans yesterday to go with the farm manager (DH) when he went to check the cows.  Of  course that didn't fit with his plans.....the old ATV needed gas, needed air in the tires, etc.  I told him to get it ready asap.  We will see this morning how impressed he was with that request.  I haven't been out on the farm in a  very long time. 

I went back to turn the chickens out and found my temporary fence was laying looked like something had pushed it in toward the chicken pen.  I did not turn them loose.  I think  we may give them  free range  of the back gardens today.  I want to observe the Beagle to be sure she won't bother them first.

Kris was talking about comparing the fresh, free- range eggs with penned chickens and we could see the difference.  Mine have been confined to bare dirt since our "helpers" quit.  So they really haven't  been exposed  to grass for more  than 3 or 4 days  but I tested this morning and Max could pick out the grass ones over  the others!  I know the penned ones are absolutely fresh and free of drugs, but I feel sure the darker the yolk the better for you the egg will  be. 

OK,  since I couldn't survey the farm, I went back inside and  made chicken and rice soup with the last of the thawed broth and some other leftovers including rice from the evening before's stir fry.

It was very simple.  I diced a remaining chicken breast (from the evening before), tossed it into the soup pot with the broth and rice.  I diced a carrot and a potato and let all simmer until  done.  I am so proud of myself for using leftovers.  I did toss in a few peas right at the last.

While the soup was cooking  I made a small batch of Pear Honey.  I have a Kieffer pear tree and about  all it is good for is making pear honey!  It is a tart and very hard pear.  It is also supposed to be very blight resistant and it is not!

I picked 6 very large pears and let them ripen inside for several days.

Pear Honey

4 cups ground pears
1 cup crushed pineapple (not  drained)
l cup sugar for each cup of fruit.
I also added just a tad of the pineapple juice left in the can to get it started.

Put all in  a heavy bottomed pan and cook very slowly on low or simmer until clear and soft.  It will be thickened by this time.  It takes quite a while.  I used my smallest burner on the gas range with a  simmer plate and just stirred occasionally.

I don't remember it being as pink as this batch was but it turned out nicely and we had it for breakfast on frozen biscuits from yesterday morning.  I always freeze half the biscuits uncooked.

I used my maslin pan.  I don't know how I managed all those years without it.

Once cooking began: I see it is clear here, don't know when it turned pink......

 and finished product.  (Note: I have lost my jar lids so I
 didn't actually seal these but refrigerated them instead) Yes, one jar is half empty after testing yesterday and breakfast this morning.

It mounds nicely on the biscuit,

The only other thing I did was start another bottle of vanilla.  I bought my beans from a new source (Martha Stewart recommends them so they must be good, right?)Beanilla.  I just ordered two packages of 10 each.  The other bulk order didn't last the year  they were supposed to even sealed tightly in a jar.  I had to toss several that were very slimy and  soft!  At the price of the beans, you don't want  to do that often.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Lost my Cooking Groove

We are still having  nice fall weather; no killing frost yet.  Most days are sunny but yesterday was a dreary cool, misty day.

I didn't realize about the mist until I went out to harvest more peppers that I had spied during my mowing escapade.  I picked a Walmart sack to bulging full.

Speaking of 'cooking groove', I have had this happen several times in my later years.  When I related it to my older Sis she said she had had the same thing.  What happens is I cook my normal recipes and somehow they don't turn out well.  The first was biscuits that I have made l,000's of times.  I know the recipe by heart.  I knew the dough was too soft but  I kept kneading in more no avail.  They tasted fine but  were flatter than they should be and looked really strange.  My last batch of bread made a few days ago weren't top notch.  Yet, I had measured carefully and kneaded as always....bread was not lovely inside.....tasted fine but not primo.  I had better sense than to attempt a cake or pie crust!

This morning, I made biscuits again just to see if the black cloud had passed.  Thankfully, it had and the biscuits were up to my usual standards.

It is such a simple recipe:

2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 + cup of shortening (I use lard)
1 cup buttermilk

Cut shortening into flour mix until size of small peas.  Add milk.  Stir until just moistened.  Knead about four times.  Cut into size you like.  Bake at 425 to 450 degrees for about l0  minutes or until brown and done inside.

I talked to my Sis yesterday evening and she had the same cloud in Iowa.  She was making a  chicken casserole and wan ted to double the recipe of 2 cups of chicken broth so she added 4 'cans' instead of 4 cups.......then had to try and drain (after mixing the ingredients) the excess; add more bread, etc.  It was tasty but not as it should have been.  I told I jinxed her by telling  about my issues....Sisters are wonderful.  We often even cook the same  foods on the same day.

Update on the Mower:  We now have a new $55 tire.  The hole was beyond repair.  All that is left is to air up the front tire.  DH even got the tire back on and drove the mower up to the shop......he did warn me  about not driving it until he checked everything out.   My mowing days could be coming to a close (not really).  I do need to finish the area behind the garage before winter sets in.

Along the same Sister lines....two months ago she drove their mower into the mini horse panels (cattle panels) and BIL had to remove the panel to unhook it from the mower.  You could call us the Lucy twins.


Cooking yesterday was stir fried chicken over rice for DH and fried chicken livers with the same sauce over rice for me.  I sauteed my normal onion and green peppers (fresh from the garden last harvest) with the addition of leftover cooked carrots and broccoli cuts.

I also made my Sis's recipe  for bread pudding only to find DH wasn't too impressed.  The only difference  is it called for  stale white bread instead of Mom's recipe using stale biscuits.  I think I like the biscuit better too.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

A Day in the life.........

Well, I got very little done over  the weekend.  I decided to try to organize the upright freezer...........egads.  That led  to taking about 6 Walmart bags of stuff out to the chest freezer.....then, of course, I had to reorganze that one so I would know what we had and where it was located.  I actually made an inventory list and diagram of location.  That will last about a month...........
After standing on concrete for a couple of hours I was done for the day.

Our resulting  lunch was interesting to say the least. I thawed two mystery packages.  One was a favorite spaghetti/cheese bake and the other was some sauteed garden veggies (tomatoes, onion, peppers, squash, and corn).  That last was a nice surprise.  It was as good as fresh.  My Iowa Sis had told me she does that with excess squash because they don't freeze well alone.  I will do it again.  DH even ate his share.

I also thawed three containers of  chicken broth so will  make  a large pot of some soups today.
Pulled a rack  of baby back  ribs out of the chest freezer and will barbecue them in the oven today too.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

I made the soup, minestrone, the ribs, and still have enough broth to do another soup....maybe chicken and rice. 

I decided to do some mowing yesterday afternoon and was delighted that it was not painful.  I  mowed the chicken yard  and around the west end of the garden when disaster struck!  The mower bogged down; I thought it was buried in mulch and tried over and over by turning and backing and pulling forward before I gave up and checked to see what was happening.  The rear large tire  was off the rim and the front one was flat.  I don't know what happened....I did see a broken bottle I got too close  to near the lagoon and I brushed way too close to a steel fence post....My mate was not happy.....This morning we  will take the wheel off and hope that it can be fixed.  The front will just (I hope) need air.

Along the lines of 'when it rains; it pours', I decided to put the 25 gallon sprayer on the the back of the old ATV so I could spray a fence row.  I was told it wouldn't start.  I am hoping a few hours on the charger will take care of that problem.  I need the pressure  of the big sprayer to do a good job on those Elm sprouts.

The next pictures are the results of the neighbor's scroungy  bull getting over on us many times.  They will be sold quickly.  I sure don't want those horns passed along.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Beautiful Saturday Morning!

and it truly is.  We are having perfect fall days and cool nights.  We don't have  much color here yet but we haven't had a frost yet either.  I think our normal date is l0/20 or near that.

I took my first tour of the yard yesterday in probably a month or  so.  I also took the camera.

These are growing all over the yard because of our wonderful rains:

I counted 20 clumps.  I was told by a dairy nutritionist that was a sign of fertile soil.  I hope he is right.

Here is an interesting one.  I did know the name but it escapes me.  I tried to find a  similar one using Google search.  I found one similar but not in this stage or not this exact one.

I still have some nice patches of self-seeded annuals hanging on.  Have you noticed that the salvias get a much deeper and intense blue with cooler weather.

See the pure white strain?  I hope to save seeds but it will probably reappear next year.

This is a wider view of this happenstance clump of self-seeders,

and the dahlias......I planted these bargains from Lowes about 5 years ago and never lift them,

These blooms recurred even after I clipped them back earlier thinking they were done for the year,

I mentioned this little thing last post.  It is another stray that the neighbor called us about.............need I say more.  She is a female who has had at least one litter and I am highly suspicious she may be having another....Oh well, we have never had puppies before.

and a gift for the girls in the henhouse:

He is quite ancient so I don't think he will bother  them to excess.  Our neighbor was moving and she had three hens and this old standby.  She is the one who located our latest batch of Hi-Line hens and didn't want to move hers so gifted us  with them.  Of course, if you know chickens at all, you realize  that this threw them into a turmoil and our production dropped quickly.  I think they are about to get used to each other now. 

Chickens are so funny.  I cleaned out the nests yesterday and before I finished, 3 hens were trying to get into the same nest....with two vacant ones on the same shelf.

Friday, October 17, 2014

September 29 to October 17

I am far behind yet  again.  I haven't  even been doing a private journal.  I  need to get back in my routine of doing it the first thing when I get up.....with my first cup of coffee.

Nothing of real significance to report.

My arthritic knee has not been kind.  I think our cold, rainy  weather could be a contributing factor. I have an email in to the rheumatologist asking how much off-label nsaids and what combination I can take.  The pain is tolerable but it sure  cuts into my doing much extra work.

Enough about that.......

The rains have been wonderful, coming down slow and steady.  I think we are up to about 4.5 inches in the past week.  It still hasn't been enough for fill ponds to overflowing but it sure is making the Fescue grow.

We have put together another of those wood shelves that I like.  I now have them side by side on the porch and have moved all my home canned goods out there.  My next project is to make three more gingham curtains to cover the fronts of them.

I almost have the back porch organized.  I still want to empty a file cabinet and burn all contents and get it off the porch.  I have things from 30 years ago and certainly aren't necessary to keep.  I am a pack rat.

Max is doing all the outside chores now, even milking the cow.  I just go out on days I want to save milk for our  use.  He gets along better with Willow than I do.

Another little (well not  so little if you consider the cost!) irritation. I have new  glasses  and have tried to convince myself for about a month  now that they are working well.......they are not!  I have the graduated bifocal kind which is all I have ever had.  I simply  cannot  find  a  good spot for  clear reading.  I have been getting by with the Kindle but  now have a library book and I can't adjust  the size of the print....I  am calling today! 

Today is bread day.  I always look forward to that.  I have a new  routine and a new recipe.  I am making a 2-loaf recipe of white buttermilk bread for DH and a three-loaf recipe of a whole  grain bread for me.  He will eat both but prefers the white.

Here is  what is popping up all over the yard due to our lovely rains,

and maybe a new dog,