Saturday, June 25, 2011

What Happened in the Onion Patch

A few weeks ago, I planted a lot of onion sets. A week or two later, my husband ran the rototiller through the garden, and that is very helpful, but it doesn't weed up close to the plants. I was out there a day or two later, dealing with weeds, and by the time I got to the onion patch I was tired, and decided that since the soil was all nicely loose and crumbly, I would just sort of "hill" the onions quickly ~ just use the hoe and draw some soil up around the onions to smother the weeds. It worked very well, however, I was concerned because I've read that onions like to have their shoulders exposed. I was back working in there today, and lo and behold! I was just able to very lightly, with my hands, pull that extra soil off and that killed the little weeds that had grown in the meantime. I hope you understand what I mean. It saved me lots of effort. I don't know what it will do to the harvest, but then, weeds competing with the vegetables for light, food and water is not very helpful either.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Oyster Chowder

I was wanting to make some clam chowder for supper, but don't have any canned clams right now. I do, however, have lots of canned oysters, so decided to use those instead! Here are the oysters from one can and I sliced each of them into 4 pieces. Reserve the liquid from the can.

Scrub and cube 4 medium potatoes. Put them into a heavy kettle and add 1 small diced onion and 2 cups of chopped celery (mine came out of the freezer.) Add 2 cups of chicken broth, bring to a boil and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes.

Next, add 1/3 cup butter, the liquid from the can of oysters, 1.5 teaspoons salt and 2 cups of water. ( I used unsalted butter, so if yours is salted, you might want to add less salt.)
Bring that to a boil and slowly stir in 1 cup of whole milk into which you have mixed 1/2 cup unbleached white flour. Cook until it is nice and thick, stirring constantly. Gradually add more water to make it as thick or thin as you like.

Add 1.5 teaspoons of salt and several cranks of pepper.

Just when it is done, stir in the oyster pieces. They are very soft, so you don't want to cook them very much at all.

It is delicious!

Our first zucchini of the year!

I was working in the garden yesterday and found this very small zucchini squash. I also found one nice onion left in the greenhouse so brought them in for today's breakfast:

Here they are sauteing in some butter and olive oil:

...and made into a lovely omelet!

I know (hope) that before long I'll have too many zucchinis to keep up with, but right now, this was definitely a very welcome treat!

I don't remember if I mentioned this before... "Do you know what terrorism is in Indiana?" ahem.... "It's when you leave your car unlocked and when you come back it is stuffed full of zucchinis! :)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Nice Potato Chips

Have you ever considered making potato chips? It is easy to do. It takes a little time, but you can make them from wholesome ingredients and they are SO good! Here are my potatoes, scrubbed and sliced:

Here is my mandolin that I used to slice them. You can use a sharp knife, of course, if you like.

Here are a few of them already fried and draining on paper towels spread on a cookie sheet:

Here is one up close:

And here is my cast iron Dutch oven with some frying in it:

Potato Chips

Potatoes, scrubbed well and sliced thinly
Enough kettle-rendered lard to make 2 - 3 inches of melted fat in your heavy pan
Salt (I used RealSalt)

Prepare the potatoes.
In the meantime, heat the lard using a thermometer to at least 300 F, or up to 340.
Carefully drop potato slices into the fat. You only want one layer.
Let them fry until they start to turn brown. Don't burn them.
Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
Sprinkle with salt.

That's it!

You could season them in other ways if you like. I hope to be making some sour cream soon, and plan to make some more of these to serve with it.

Visit Simple Lives Thursday #49 where I have linked this post. Also at Frugal Tuesday Tip #22!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Daylily Fritters - again

Last year I blogged about daylily fritters. This is one of my favorite things to do in late Spring. As we were returning from milking the goats this morning, I saw the daylilies blooming enthusiastically, so I picked 4 of them to have with our breakfast.

Next, I made a batter to dip them in:

Fritter Batter for 4 Daylily Blossoms

1 chicken egg
2 Tablespoons goat milk
pinch of sea salt
some freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 cup sprouted wheat flour

Mix the first 4 ingredients together with a fork and then add the flour and stir that all together:

Then I melted 2 Tablespoons virgin coconut oil in my black iron skillet:

Then the blossoms got dipped into the batter and fried on medium-low heat until one side was brown:

Next, they get flipped over and the other side is fried until it is brown also:

Here is my husband's breakfast plate. We put butter and maple syrup on the fritters. On the plate you can also see 2 fried duck eggs (in the same pan right after the fritters were done,) and some soaked buttermilk biscuits.

We didn't eat the green crunchy stem part:

This can be done with squash or pumpkin blossoms also. It really is very good. Needless to say, you don't have to have goat milk, or sprouted wheat flour or virgin coconut oil. Just use what you have to substitute.

In our part of the country, daylilies grow wild along the roadsides all over the place!

Have you ever eaten/cooked any flowers?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A Gentler Set of Complications

When I read about "simple living" or a "simpler life-style," I have to smile. I am living that "simple life" and there is nothing simple (or easy) about it. If you leave the other kind of lifestyle (insert your own description here) you will be trading one set of complications for a different set of complications. At least for me, however, I think my complications are more gentle. There are the long hours of toil tending a vegetable garden.

There is the milking, birthing and caring for milk goats (including finding, purchasing and hauling feed and hay, washing up milking equipment, making, waxing and storing cheese.) This also includes times of sorrow when a baby goat is born dead and the mother is bereft and I am left to be her comfort.

I make all of our bread and cook nearly everything from scratch. We heat with wood from our own woodlot (fabulous!) but for my husband, that includes all the work of gathering, splitting and stacking wood, as well as tending the fire and taking out the ashes.

I do have an automatic clothes washer and dryer (...nice!) but still hang nearly all of my laundry up to dry, year round, since in the wintertime, I hang it near the wood heating stove. We are NOT off-grid, so I have all the usual electric conveniences. I believe I would be fully capable of living off-grid, but have no desire to do that. It would require even more work, and I have other responsibilities that take precedence. I am content to know that at least I *think* I know HOW to live off-grid. :)

My point? When I am out in the garden, crawling around pulling out weeds that can't be gotten with the tiller or a hoe, I love the feel and smell of the soil. I love seeing all the wondrous little creatures that inhabit that soil. I love hearing the birds in the trees. I love the feel of sunshine on my back. I love watching the amazing burgeoning life force all around me. When I am kneading a batch of whole wheat bread (I usually make 5 loaves at a time,) I feel the connection to all of the women that went before that did the same thing for their families. When I make cheese I feel like a magician! When I serve these wonderful homegrown and homemade foods to my family and friends, I have invested so much love into the whole process (even the washing up!) that it simply makes me happy.

To sit down to a lunch like I had today ~ 2 pieces of whole wheat toast spread with homemade mayonnaise, topped with a nice slice of goat milk cheddar cheese and a few fresh basil leaves, a small slice of fresh blueberry pie and a nice glass of fresh goat milk... I KNOW how blessed I am. I appreciate what I have and am grateful to God for this gently complicated life that I live.

I know that many, oh so many in the world are starving, suffering, oppressed, abused, lonely or sick. How do I accept my good "fortune?" "To whom much is given, much is required." I believe that the only reason to have more than we need is so that we can share and help others who need our help. I believe that we are given weaknesses to humble us. I believe that through those weaknesses, we can learn and grow, become stronger and of more use to others. At the same time, we are all given talents. It is incumbent on each of us to develop those talents, not only for our own well-being and enjoyment, but again, so that we can share and lift others and help them with their burdens.

If I waste my opportunities, if I squander my time, if I squander my health, or wealth, or capacity for love and nurturing, if I get distracted with useless activity, if I spend time viewing or reading or listening to things that tear me down emotionally or spiritually, if I, therefore, waste what I have been given, then I have much less to give to others and will leave this life having not helped others like I could have done and should have done. There is nothing so painful as regrets. We do, and will, all have some regrets. We are human. I like to try to live in such a way as to minimize my regrets.

May God bless you all to find and live your dreams.

This post is linked with Wardeh's Simple Lives Thursdays.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Report - "The World's Fastest Lasagna"

I found the recipe here and it is a winner! The texture is a little different because of no "noodles" but we both liked it very much and Sarah is right. It is very fast to make and would be great, also, for anyone wanting to eat gluten-free who loves lasagna.

Here is how I did it.

2 days before, I put 2 cups of whole ground corn meal into a bowl with 1 Tablespoon milk kefir in a 2 cup measuring thing and filled it up with water to the 2 cup line. I let that soak for 24 hours.

Then, I put water in the base of my double boiler and brought that to a boil and also boiled 4 cups of water in my tea kettle. When both were boiling, I poured the 4 cups into the top of the double boiler and then started adding the soaked corn meal gradually, stirring well. I added some salt. You will have to do this to taste. Then, stirring from time to time, I put on the lid and cooked it all for 45 minutes.

When it was all done and nice and thick, I poured it into a tupperware type container and let it cool, covered it and put it in the fridge.

I did all so this so I would not have to BUY polenta at the grocery store.

When it was time to make the lasagna, I used some slices of the polenta to cover the bottom of my baking dish. Then I used homemade whole milk ricotta, ground beef cooked with a little lard and a chopped onion, mixed into some home canned tomato sauce, and also some grated homemade mozarella cheese that I had in the freezer.

Obviously, all these things can be purchased at a store, but I am just telling you what I used.

I mixed in some extra Italian seasoning and then layered it like this:

Butter the baking dish.
Put in slices of polenta to cover the bottom.
Put on half the ricotta.
Then half of the marinara and meat sauce.
Then half of the mozarella.
Next, ricotta, sauce and mozarella.

Bake at 375 F for 25 minutes, till bubbly. Let it cool for a while and then serve. Yummy!!

Here are the amounts I used for my pan, which is about 7 inches by 9 inches:


1/2 # polenta, sliced
2 cups marinara sauce
1 Tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
1 small onion, chopped
1 Tablespoon of lard for sauteing the onion
1/2 # ground beef
1/4 # mozzarella cheese, grated
1 cup ricotta cheese

Butter the baking dish.
Saute the chopped onion for a few minutes then cook the ground beef with it, chopping it all up.
Add the marinara and Italian seasoning to the meat.
Grate the mozzarella cheese.
Now, layer everthing on top of the polenta ~ 1/2 ricotta, sauce, mozzarella, ricotta, sauce, moz.
Bake at 375 F for 25 minutes
Allow to cool for a while before serving, just a few minutes.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Erin's Sourdough English Muffins: Update

One of my favorite recipes is for Erin's Sourdough English Muffins. I posted about these previously here. These are so delicious, easy to make and not only are good for breakfast and then toasted the next day (s), but they make fabulous sandwiches. We had some tuna salad sandwiches on them yesterday. They make great hamburger buns as well.

The only problem that I have had with the original recipe is that after you add the salt and baking soda, it says to let them rise for 45 minutes. Milking goats makes mornings a bit hurried, and I don't want to wait so long to be able to bake the muffins (stove top) and so now I only let them rise for 15 minutes and it works just as well, if not better.

If you have never had these, please give them a try. They are wonderful!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Kefir - Chapter 14 - E. Coli

I just read this very interesting post on a kefir making yahoo group that I belong to and thought I would pass it along:


E. coli

Tue May 31, 2011 8:23 pm (PDT)

E. coli is one of the most ubiquitose bacteria on this planet! In other words, it is EVERYWHERE, and I can guarantee it is on the grass in your lawn, probably on your own hands most of the time. It is found in the Colons of all animals that have colons, including those pretty song birds you want to eat at your bird feeders. And mice. And cats, And dogs. And parrots. You should have from five to fifteen POUNDS of this bacteria in your own Colon as you read this. You need it for final absorption of the food values in the chyme that has not been fully "harvested" in your small intestine.

It is virtually harmless, BUT - a big But - There are four or five varieties of it that will give you "Montezuma's Revenge" of vomiting and diahrrea, which is annoying but rarely fatal., And there is ONE specific variety that normally lives in COW STOMACHS, and it will KILL YOU.

Those unfortunate folks got contaminated with that deadly variety.

Now you know why us old geezers were taught to "wash all fruits, apples, and vegetables before even tasting them." And to wash our hands before handling food.

Now, the fun thing is that when this nasty variety of E. Colii is deliberately introduced into healthy Kefir Grains, IT IS KILLED BY THE KEFIR GRAINS.,

Incidentally, E. Coli of the harmless kinds is often found in milk, even pasteurized milk if it has been carelessly handled during the bottling process after the pasteurization. Or after it has been put in pitchers or glasses while being served at the table.

I would not worry too much about it becoming a problem in your Kefir.


in central Iowa
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...