Monday, April 25, 2011

Another Rescue

I was at our GoodWill thrift store last week and found this nice little baby doll. She was kind of dirty and her clothing was worn, but I really found her face appealing so I brought her home not knowing for sure what I would do with her. And then, I remembered that the same little girl that I sent the other doll to is turning 3-years-old very soon, so I decided I would fix this one up for her too. I cleaned her up and made her a little jump suit, a dress, a nightgown and bonnet, a blanket, a carrying bed with handles, mattress and pillow. She's all ready to go to her new home now!

A Walk in the Woods

Where we live here in Southern Indiana (USA) we own about 10 acres. 2 of that is where the house/garden/garage, etc. is located, and the rest is in woods. For the last week or two we have had lots of rain. There have been flash flood warnings and that sort of thing going on, as well as tornadoes all over the place in our part of the country. Today, it continues to rain. I love the rain. I feel badly for the people that are dealing with flooding, certainly. My mother grew up in North Dakota during the Great Depression and they also suffered through 7 years of no rain called the "Dust Bowl." Grandpa had a farm and cattle ranch. Everything dried up and died. I do not understand how he was able to hold onto the farm, but he did. Mommie told me how she used to dust his dresser, and on top was always his coin purse. Before the drought, the purse was full and fat. During the bad years, it was thin and flat. It made her sad. She taught me to never complain about rain. They fed tumbleweeds to the cattle. They had locust plagues and terrible dust storms. But they survived. As a result, I really love the rain. Down in our woods is a stream. Most of the time there is very little water in it, and I wanted to go and see how it is today with all the rain. Here is a picture of what I found and at the end of this post you will see a very short film of some running water.

The dogwood trees are blooming:

See this big tree?

Here is the bottom of it. This is my "reading tree." See the concrete block down there at the base? Sometimes I go out there and sit and read in lovely solitude:

Here is our campsite in the woods. You can see the fire ring and a wood pile covered with a tarp to keep the wood dry:

Now, this next is a little sad... There was a large old oak tree that was forked, and we were worried from the looks of it that it might split in the wind and someone could get hurt or killed out there, so my husband and son cut it down. This picture shows only one of the main branches. I counted the growth rings and there are 111. So, that means this part is at least 111 years old. The other part I counted had 120. This grand old tree was born in 1891 !

Here is the film of the stream:

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Kefir - Chapter 13, A Tummy Cure

I have a dear friend, about my age, who has suffered for the last 4 years with stomach pain. She has taken medication for it, and that sometimes helped, but the problem was getting worse. Several weeks ago her doctor tested her for the bacteria that can cause stomach ulcers. The test came back negative. He told her she just has a sensitive stomach. The pain was actually in her duodenum. A month ago, I went to her home and showed her how to brew milk kefir and gave her some milk kefir grains. She started brewing and drinking it daily. 3 days after she started drinking the milk kefir, her pain was gone and has not returned. And she is no longer taking any medication.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Do you love cast iron cookware?

I am going to indulge in some reminiscences here, so if you get bored, just quit reading, ok? :) As I was frying some potatoes in my smallest cast iron pan this morning for my husband's breakfast, I was thinking about how cast iron cookware has impacted my life. My first memory of this was in my parents' home. Mommie had a standard sized skillet that she used for many things, including cooking the best T-bone steaks in the world, fried chicken (which she did every Sunday) and pork chops. I loved how she did the pork chops. She fried them until they were very very done. Oooo! How good they tasted and salty! Back in those days, we still worried about trichinosis from undercooked pork. I think that is much less of a concern now.

When my very Dear Husband and I got married, someone gave us a cast iron Dutch Oven with a lid. At the time, I had NO idea how important that particular item was going to be to me. I have used it hundreds of times, to make soups, breads and stews.

The photo above shows you the HUGE cast iron skillet I have. It is the wonderful old Griswold brand, a 12 inch skillet. Back in 1976, we rented a house in Aurora, Nebraska (USA). When we moved in, the house was nice and clean and there was nothing left behind in it, EXCEPT, this wonderful old skillet was in the basement. I guess the people that lived there before just didn't want it. We cleaned it up and it has been so useful. Above I'm browning some pork chops in it. I've made huge batches of pasta, used it for baking large loaves of bread, made stir-fries, pot pies, cooked outside over a fire in it ~ Johnny cakes, pancakes, biscuits, steaks.... One of my daughters loves this skillet so much that we joke that when she hears of my demise, she will rush to the house and take it away before anyone notices. ;)

And then there are all the other pieces I have accumulated, most of them at garage sales and thrift stores through the years ~ a 12 inch Dutch oven with a recessed lid for outdoor cooking, a round flat griddle, a 10 inch skillet, a corn dodger pan, a large wok, 5 bread pans, a pie dish and a footed round bottomed soup pot that I use on a tripod over an outdoor fire.

...and I LOVE cast iron. It is nearly indestructible, very versatile and pleasant to use. For a long time, I bought into the notion that your cast iron had to have a proper "seasoning." Not that there is anything wrong with having your pans seasoned, but I have found, thanks to Wardeh at GNOWFGLINS, that if you use sufficient fat, you don't need to be concerned about things sticking and getting ruined. Now that I know that such things as butter, extra-virgin coconut oil and kettle-rendered lard are actually GOOD for us, it makes cooking much easier.

Do YOU love cast iron? Do you have any?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Saving Garden Seeds...

You never know when there might be a garden seed shortage, or a trucking strike, or you ran out of money, just when it was time to send in your seed order. One thing I would like to do is plant heirloom varieties of garden vegetables and save my own seed. The research I have done tells me that is a new hobby, and there is a lot to be learned in order to be successful. Oh, I've done a little bit of it, but not much. Maybe I'll never get around to it. My husband has begun to express an interest in that, so we'll see...

In the meantime ~ I recently discovered a new, and reasonably priced, local source of seeds and plants of all kinds. If any of you live in southern Indiana (USA) you might want to check out Marion's Greenhouse in Deputy, Indiana. I went there a few weeks ago and got seed potatoes, onion sets and garden vegetable seeds. I returned about a week ago and purchased a modest supply of basic vegetable seeds for NEXT year. I brought them home, vacuum packed them using our Food Saver, placed the package in a Zip-Lock bag, labeled it and will keep it in the freezer until next spring. My plan (hope) is to do that each year, and have a fresh and viable supply on hand at all times.

The next step will be to also put up a supply of heirloom varieties just in case, while I am waiting and putting off doing something about that issue.

You can purchase #10 cans of garden seed collections for "survival" online, but they are quite expensive. I think this will be a good alternative. Even if the power fails, the seeds will stay good for at least a year, if kept in a cool, dry, dark place.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Canning Chicken

A local grocery store is offering fresh chicken leg quarters, 10# for $4.95. I really was hoping this year I could raise some chickens, but it's not going to happen, so I went and bought 60# of these leg quarters and canned them today. I ended up with 25 quarts of bone-in meat and what I think will be 18 pints of chicken stock. I've never canned meat before. A friend has told me how easy it is, and she is right. It was much easier than canning fruits and vegetables. This should be enough to last for a year for us. I did not try to make a tutorial for you. I didn't have a camera man available, and just didn't think I wanted to juggle the camera while I was dealing with greasy raw meat. So, I will give you the link where I learned how to do it. I'd also like to tell you how I cut up the meat. If you look at a chicken "leg quarter," on the underside, you will notice that on the edge of the thigh is part of the back of the chicken. Attached to that is a portion of the scapula, or shoulder blade. Run a sharp knife under that and cut close to the spine portion. Then, grasp that scapula and bend it away from the meat. Doing this will remove the bone of the thigh from the back and you can easily cut the back meat and bone off. I set these aside for making the stock. I also used kitchen shears to cut off any large pieces of fat, and put that with the stock as well. Next, on the skin side of the quarter, find where the leg and thigh bones meet and cut between them and through the whole piece. I found that I could fit about 6 legs or 5 thighs in a wide-mouth quart jar.

Hoping for Strawberries

Here is the strawberry patch I planted last year. You can see there are some weeds that need to be removed. It has been very wet and we haven't gotten to that chore yet. The winter was very snowy for our area, which is good for the strawberries, as a snow cover protects them from extremely cold weather. It's been several years since we had our own strawberries, so I'm excited about this. :)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Saving the Greenhouse!

While the grandchildren were here, I turned my back on the greenhouse for those 2 weeks. It dawned on me yesterday that I'd better go out there and take care of it. First, I needed a hearty breakfast... sourdough whole wheat pancakes, butter, maple syrup, a farm fresh egg and some milk kefir:

Next, I put on Silicone Glove and ran soap under my fingernails:

Here I am, all ready to get to work!


The kale is all going to seed:

The Swiss chard is calling for help!

The weeds (this is dock) are rejoicing:

50 degrees outside the greenhouse, 72 inside:

The first wheelbarrow load going to the compost:

And the second.....:

Baby tomato plants:

Bunching onions:

Now the Swiss Chard can breathe:

A few leaf lettuces that survived the winter:


That only took 2 hours of work. And was a lot of fun!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Another Tortilla Recipe

I have posted about homemade tortillas twice before. Here is a new recipe I developed.

Buttermilk (or milk kefir) soaked Flour Tortillas

The night before, up to 24 hours before, combine in a bowl:

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup buttermilk - you may need a little more to moisten all the flour.(I use 1/2 cup milk kefir and 1/2 fresh whole milk (goat.)

Stir that together well, cover with plastic wrap and allow to sit for 8 - 24 hours.

When it's time to bake your tortillas, start heating your griddle or cast iron skillet on medium/low heat.

Turn dough onto surface lightly sprinkled with unbleached white flour.

Press flat and on top of the dough, sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon RealSalt, 2 teaspoons Rumford baking powder, and put 2 Tablespoons of extra-virgin coconut oil on top also.

Then, knead for a few minutes until the dough is well combined and elastic. Divide into 12 pieces and form each one into a little round thing. Let those rest on a floured surface as you roll each one out and bake them on the hot griddle, one at a time.

This is a healthy alternative to the sourdough tortillas. As I've mentioned before, it is important to properly soak your whole grains, nuts and seeds before consumption to inactivate the anti-nutrients that interfere with proper digestion and absorption of minerals.

These are soft and delicious!

Please note: Earlier today I posted this and had the leavening, salt and fat in the first list of ingredients. That was an error!!

Linked with the wonderful Hearth and Soul hop!  Also, Traditional Tuesday #26.  :)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

I'm desparate!

Child, "Grandma, what's for dinner?"

Me, "Don't worry, I'll cook something yummy."

Followed by a mad dash to the kitchen and looking over what's on hand and thinking, "They don't care if it goes together."

Later - Child, "What are you cooking?"

Me, "Bacon, grilled cheese sandwiches and a bowl of fresh fruit."

Child, "Yay!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Perfect Oatmeal

For 4 servings, the night before combine:

2 cups old-fashioned oats
2 Tablespoons plain yogurt
1/4 teaspoon RealSalt
4 cups water

Cover and let this sit overnight. In the morning, bring it to a boil, and stirring, simmer it until it is as thick as you like.

In each of 4 bowls place:

1 Tablespoon real butter
1 Tablespoon real maple syrup
2 Tablespoon coarsely chopped soaked and dried walnut pieces
1/4 cup whole milk

Divide the porridge amongst the bowls. Stir and eat!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

4th time around...

Remember the onion sprout? I have trimmed it off 3 times already and here is the 4th offering. It's still going strong!
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