Sunday, May 30, 2010

Got Milk?

Our daughter, son-in-law and granddog came to visit us this weekend. "Lizzie" is a Pug. She is such a sweet doggie, but definitely has a face only a mother could love. :) As you can see, she enjoys the fresh goat milk. Just had to share this.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Using Fresh Vegetables

I am sharing this post on GNOWGFLINS Tuesday twister HERE.

I have been vegetable gardening since 1976. That first garden I still think was the best I ever had. It was not very large, but a friend brought in some sheep manure for us and I had some spoiled hay and used that on top of newspapers for mulch. I had so few green bean plants that I knew them individually. Truly. I picked green beans every day, Monday through Saturday, and if I had 1 quart to can, I canned 1 quart. I kept it up until the day we actually moved from that house and I had canned 90 quarts! That lasted us for 2 years. Money was very tight during those years. I remember snapping beans, nursing the baby and watching the pressure gauge on the canner all at the same time.

Through the years of raising our family, of course we did eat some fresh things from the garden, but I think my main focus was on putting food by. Now my thinking goes more like this.... "Hmmm... what should we have for supper? What is out in the garden that I could use?" And I start there.

I'll be gone this evening, so when I brought in today's vegetables, I just went ahead and fixed our normal supper for lunch.

Here is what I had. See the little bowl of mung bean sprouts? I had sprouted those a few days ago and needed to use them. Then you can see some green onions, Swiss chard, and some carrots peaking out behind the chard.

We also had a little bowl of radishes.

Here is my marvelous big cast iron wok that I actually bought for $10 on sale several years ago. I heated that up on medium high and added about a Tablespoon of kettle lard.

Then I put in sliced green onions, sliced carrots, and the bean sprouts and stirred it while it cooked for a few minutes. Last, I added the Swiss chard and stirred and cooked until it was nicely wilted.

Here is lunch on my plate: Stir fry over rice with Soy Sauce, and some liver 'n onions.


Saturday, May 22, 2010

Healing salve

In 1994, a friend and I took a series of classes on healing herbs and making remedies at home. Ever since then, I've made various versions of healing salves. A dear friend spent the day here yesterday, and being like-minded, we made a batch of salve.

Now, I have to tell you.... this stuff is amazing. It is not a panacea, but for certain skin problems it is amazingly effective.

1. My neighbor used it when she had "sun poisoning" and had the itchy rash caused by too much sun exposure. It cured it for her very quickly.

2. My daughter has used it for diaper rash that would not respond to any other treatment, and it cured it.

3. I use it often for skin irritations and it is soothing and healing.

4. I use it on my animals when they have skin problems. Depending on the problem, often, it helps.

It is made using Comfrey leaves and Plantain leaves. You can see a photo and article about the Comfrey HERE and about the Plantain HERE.

These are medicinal herbs. The salve has antibiotic and anti-fungal properties and helps promote cell growth and rapid healing.

Here is my recipe:

Healing Salve
Comfrey leaves
Plantain Leaves
Olive oil
Tincture of Benzoin (opt.)

Go outside with a gathering basket and a small knife or pair of scissors.  Gather a quantity of Plantain and Comfrey leaves, approximately the same amount of each.  

Bring them into the kitchen and wash them in a sink full of cold water.  Then, either pat them dry in towels or put them through a salad spinner.

Next, chop them up in your food processor, OR chop them very finely with a sharp knife.

Put all of the chopped leaves in a non-reactive (stainless or enameled) pot.  Pour in enough olive oil to cover the leaves.  Place the pot in your oven and set the timer for 4 hours and the temperature at 250 degrees F.

After the 4 hours, take it out of the oven.  Let the brew cool for a little while, and then line a colander with a cotton cloth.  Strain the brew through the cloth. Press out as much oil as you can.

Measure the resulting oil.  This will determine how much Beeswax you will need to add.  (More about that in a moment.) 

Gather up some little jars.  I often use baby food jars, when I can get them, but 1 cup canning jars are wonderful too.  You need jars with lids and of course you can use any size you wish, but I recommend smallish jars as then most of the salve may be stored in the freezer until you need it.

Now comes the math.  This year's batch made 5.3 cups of oil.  I added 4.5 ounces of melted Beeswax.  So, that divides out to using 0.89 ounces of Beeswax for each cup of oil.  This is not an exact science.  If you add more, your salve will be more firm.  If you add less, it will be softer.  I like this consistency.  You will, of course, need to have a little digital scale.  They are not too expensive, and if you are serious about making salve, it's a good investment and has many other uses also (soap making being one of them.)

Rig up a little double boiler for your Beeswax.  I put mine in an empty food can and place it in a small pot with water in it.  NEVER melt wax directly on the stove.  If it gets too hot, it can explode and burn you.

When the wax is melted, stir it into the oil.  If you would like a preservative, add 5 drops of Tincture of Benzoin for each cup of oil, but this is not necessary if you will be storing your salve in the refrigerator or freezer.  I do add it to mine, as I share this salve with a number of other folks, and don't want it going rancid on their kitchen shelf.

Pour the mixture into the prepared jars, put on the lids and let it cool.  That's it!

It sounds complicated all written out like this, but it's not.  Just go out, get the plants, chop them up, cook them in oil, strain, melt the wax, stir that in and voila!  Wonderful, versatile healing salve!

You can purchase beeswax from bee keeping supply companies online.  Do shop around, as prices vary considerably.

I recently heard from a young friend of mine that she had cracked her tibia in a fall, and used my salve on the area and it helped it heal nicely.  Another name for Comfrey is "Bone set." This

Thursday, May 20, 2010

A Rose by any other name....

My husband took this photo of a rose in our garden yesterday, after the rain. I just had to share it with you. It is a rose bush one of our daughters gave to me for Mother's Day a few years ago.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Cream - Real Cream

Our goats are giving us about 2 gallons of milk a day right now. One in the morning, of course, and one in the evening. That is a LOT of milk for two people! I trade some for eggs and some for produce, but still....

Here you can see 2 gallons of milk warming up to 40 degrees C. on the stove:

We recently purchased a cream separator. It was made in Russia and so we had to buy an electric converter box. This was our very first time separating cream from our goat milk. The machine worked easily and from the the two gallons, we ended up with about a pint of Very Heavy Cream.

After it was chilled in the refrigerator, you can see how thick it is:

I need to separate some more and then I'll have a whole quart and I think I'll make butter. I did add a little to our mashed potatoes for supper tonight and that was very nice. When I do make the butter, I will report back here.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Soaked Tortillas - long winded success

Whole grains, nuts and seeds contain phytic acid, which if not taken care of, can interfere with the absorption of minerals by the body. Phytates, I gather are BAD for us. So, in my quest to find ways to make my favorite grain-based foods from whole grains, I decided to work on my flour tortilla recipe.

Here is a little bowl, into which I put:

1 cup freshly ground whole wheat flour
1/2 cup warm water
1 Tablespoon liquid milk kefir

It was then covered with plastic wrap and it soaked the grain all night, which ended up being about 9 hours by the time I got back to it. ( I am told the minimum soaking time should be at least 7 hours. )

Here you can see my griddle, this morning, heating on the stove set to "medium". It looks dirty. That's because it is from a failure I had yesterday with this project. Instead of water with a little milk kefir, I soaked it in straight kefir. It made a much too tender and cake-like product, so I just saved the equipment overnight without washing. I know, I know....

Here is how the dough looked this morning:

Now I am going to stir in the following:

2 teaspoons extra-virgin coconut oil
1/2 teaspoon Celtic sea salt (unrefined)
1 teaspoon Rumford baking powder

Here it is all stirred together:

Turned out onto my bread board sprinkled liberally with unbleached white flour:

Knead vigorously for 3 minutes using a little more flour as needed to prevent sticking:

Cut into 6 pieces:

Form the pieces into little smoothish round things by tucking under the cut edges:

Ok, so here starts the other part of the experiment. My daughter gave me a lovely tortilla press for Mother's Day. (No, you cannot adopt her. ;-) I think these are mainly used for corn tortillas, and that will be my next project, but I decided to give it a try with the flour kind. I did half of them this way.

Put a piece of wax paper on the bottom, sprinkle with flour, place the ball of dough kind of close to the hinge:

Sprinkle with more flour and cover with another piece of waxed paper and then press:

Here it is after peeling off one piece of the waxed paper:

The tortilla on the hot griddle:

Turned over to cook the other side:

Trying out plastic wrap as an alternative:

The pressed tortillas were just too thick, and so I went back to my usual method, which is to quickly roll them out, one by one, and cook on the griddle:

Here is one all rolled out:

How it looks when the first side is done. See the little bubbles?

Flipped over and cooking the other side:

Finished and on a plate! See the long spatula there? That is what I use to flip them over, but of course you can use anything that works.

Side by side comparison. Pressed tortillas on the right, rolled out on the left:

Then I cover them with a little cloth until it's time to eat!

So quick and easy and versatile. Think tacos, wraps, enchiladas.... yum!

And now I have my healthy version!

I am toying with the idea of using the press to make flat breads. I will report back if I have any success with that.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Laundry Recollections...

I love hanging laundry out to dry. There are so many fond memories associated with it for me. When I was a little girl, my momma always hung laundry to dry. Even in the wintertime she always had a way to do it in the house. In later years she owned a dryer, but never used it to dry the clothing... only to "fluff up" some things. She said that a dryer would "beat up" the clothes and wear them out faster. She was right. Back in those days the only clothesline available was the white cotton kind, which stretches, and she had some long pieces of wood with notches in the ends and she would prop up the middle of the clotheslines so the laundry would not drag on the ground. My favorite part was how she hung our sheets. One end was pinned to one line, and the other end was pinned to the adjacent line, so there was this beautiful sheet with a "tunnel" in the middle. I used to go and look at that and wish that I could climb up in there and take a nap. I think about that every time I hang out the sheets!

Here is today's laundry:

In 1977 we lived in a little house that had no place to hook up a washer or dryer. Money was very tight, so I couldn't afford to go to a laundromat. I did our washing in a wash tub in the bathroom and found an old hand-cranked wringer that I attached to an open drawer. Needless to say, doing the laundry was quite a chore! Even so, though, I didn't have to heat the water like our grandmothers would have. One day I had hung all the laundry out to dry, and my little girl (see her in the picture) who was 3 years old, pulled one of the sheets off the line and got it all dirty. I was not pleased, and in order to make the punishment fit the crime, I made her wash it again for me. She thought it was great fun! Fortunately, she never repeated her crime. :-)

Scroll forward about 22 years and here is another laundry photo. This is the daughter of the little girl you see above, enjoying HER mom's drying sheets!

These pictures are all framed and hanging in my laundry room. This next one is a drawing that one of our granddaughters drew of the hanging laundry when she was living here.

And I still have that washboard.....

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Here comes Susie!


As I mentioned, I found a home for my 3 baby boy goats. They left on Friday. On Saturday afternoon we bought this sweet little doe kid. She's 6 weeks old and very friendly and nice. She is a grade Alpine. One of her grandmothers was a Saanen. She still takes a bottle and oh, my how she loves attention! Milking is going well, and I've been brewing lots of kefir and have started some cheese making. I hope soon to try out the new cream separator and make some butter. Gardening is in full swing, also, so this is a very busy time of year.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

A picture is worth a thousand words!

Of course, I'll have to add a few words anyway. I have found a good home for my 3 little buck kids. The new owner will come and pick them up tomorrow. She raises lots of dairy goats and will be happy to raise these too. Then on Saturday, we've made arrangements to purchase a little doe kid that is about 4 weeks old for me to raise. I am so pleased!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

All Safe

The second doe gave birth yesterday, about 24 hours after the first one. As large as she seemed, I expected triplets, but all she had was one large buck kid! Here they all are. Sadly, I don't need baby boy goats, but I have found a good home for them with another woman who raises lots of milk goats. And on Saturday, we are going to buy a little girl, about 4 weeks old for me to raise. I am excited! The newest addition is the brown one in the foreground. Aren't they cute?

Monday, May 3, 2010

Guess What?

Can you tell from this picture what is going on here? I went out to the barn to feed my goats this morning and everything seemed normal. I did some other things, including picking some Swiss chard and carrots in the greenhouse and planting a whole lot of leek transplants. Then I went to the barn to check on the girls, and there was Gracie with two sweet buck kids! Could have knocked me over with a feather! That Pepsi bottle is what I used to get some colostrum into the babies.

Here they are bedded down in their little pen.

And here is Gracie. I am very grateful that all went well.

And here is the proud grandmother!

Here is "Abby" who is supposed to be due today. Maybe everyone will be born on the same day!

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