Monday, February 27, 2012

Monday Jumble

What a wonderful way to begin this late "winter" day here in Indiana. It is sunny, a little breezy and a perfect day for hanging out laundry. The sun on my face, the birds singing... oh, so nice!

My breakfast - 1/2 strip nitrate-free bacon, free-range egg fried in the bacon drippings, a piece of homemade whole wheat toast with real butter and a small glass of goat milk kefir. Yum.

I'm "scraping the barrel" for dinner tonight. The weather last summer was so dry that our potatoes did not do as well as usual. Many of them were very small, and I have noticed they are not keeping very well. Generally, I don't peel potatoes, but when they look like this:

Then I do. Here are the small potatoes, peeled and in the pot:

I cut them up and simmered them until they were tender:

Surely, Gentle Reader, you already know how to make mashed potatoes. (Note to self... Why am I blogging about this?) I added a nice glob of butter and some fresh milk to the pot of drained potatoes. I have been told you should not add cold milk when mashing potatoes or it will tend to make them be lumpy. Horrors! Lumpy mashed potatoes? :-0 So, I pour the cold milk into the bottom of the hot pan and let it heat up some before mashing them. I also add unrefined sea salt and a sprinkle of garlic powder. (DH love garlic potatoes.)

So... Here they are! (Are you excited yet?)

Still scraping the barrel for dinner. I had about 2 cups of leftover chicken and homemade whole wheat sourdough noodles and want to be sure we use it up. But it needed to be resurrected. I added a pint of homemade chicken stock and a little more salt:

Lunch - 1/2 a beautiful ripe avocado with 1/2 cup of cottage cheese and some salt and pepper. SO good!

I took the following picture the day I was defrosting the deep freeze. (Blush.) This is actually a cobweb that was growing in that corner. Did you know... cobwebs are NOT caused by spiders. No, they are a result of dust and static electricity. I thought it was a little unusual looking:

From the internet: "Cobwebs are caused by a certain area not being cleaned and dusted for a long period of time. Dust particles form together creating the lines of fuzz seen on high walls."


The best thing I found today:

I shared this link at Real Food Wednesday!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Easter Egg Musings...

My mother grew up on a farm in North Dakota, in the early 20th century. They had chickens, but their chickens laid white eggs. Nothing wrong with that, of course, but she told me that for Easter, her mother would boil the eggs with onion skins in the water to make them be a pretty color. I always think of that. I made these hard-boiled eggs a couple of days ago and wondered what she would think. These come from the chickens of a friend of mine, and they are brown, tan, white and even blue! Araucana chickens lay blue and green eggs. There is no need for me to color them at all, but if you DO color eggs, there are ways to do it naturally and not have to use chemical colorings.

Hard boil your eggs, and allow them to cool completely. Make sure they are well dried before placing them in the dye baths. Immerse the eggs in the coloring liquid to which you have added 2 Tablespoons of white vinegar (per quart of liquid) and put them into the refrigerator. Go back from time to time and check on the color. When it is as you wish, then remove the eggs and discard the dye liquid. The longer they soak, the deeper the dye color. After coloring, be sure to store your eggs in the refrigerator!

1. Onion Skin Dye Yellow to Gold

To make dye from yellow onion skins, place several skins in your pot of water. Boil them for a little while and allow the mixture to cool with the skins in the water. Then drain off the water to use for the actually dyeing. Add the vinegar. Put the skins in your compost. Soak your hard-boiled eggs in this dye bath and depending on how many eggs you use and how concentrated the dye bath is, you can get warm tones that range from gold to a lovely terra cotta.

2. Cranberry Dye Light Blue

To use fresh cranberries, boil 4 cups cranberries in 2 cups cold water until the berries burst. Let them cool. Drain and save the liquid. Add the vinegar. For a light blue, soak only a short time. If the eggs stay in very long, they will become dark gray in color.

3. Turmeric Yellow Dye

In a quart of water, simmer 1/4 cup of ground turmeric. Cool. Strain, add the vinegar and proceed.

4. Red Cabbage Blue

About 3/4 of a head of red cabbage chopped up will make a lovely blue. Again, cook for a while, cool in liquid, strain, add the vinegar and then dye your eggs.

I am sure there are a number of other recipes you can use. These are the ones I am familiar with.

You might wonder why I'd go to the trouble...? I used to use food colorings when my children were still at home. I was not aware of the natural choices besides the onion skins. This natural method is healthier, of course, and I think a lot more fun!

You can make patterns on the eggs by drizzling them with melted wax or wrapping them with rubber bands before dyeing.

Easter is coming soon! Make your plans and have fun with this.

I have blogged about this previously, but I will mention it again here. This is the BEST way to make hard-boiled eggs. even very fresh eggs will peel easily and you won't have the unattractive green layer between the yolk and the white of the egg.

To Hard Boil Eggs

1. Bring a 3 quart saucepan half-full of water to a boil. 2. Using a push pin, poke a tiny hole in the large end of each egg. 3. With a slotted spoon, place all of the eggs in the boiling water. 4. When the water begins to boil again, set your timer for 10 minutes, and reduce the heat so the water is simmering. 5. While the eggs are cooking, prepare a bowl of ice water. 6. When the eggs are done, immediately transfer them to the ice water. Let them sit in there for a few minutes. 7. Drain and peel when you are ready!

This post is linked to Homemaker Monday!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Is it Spring YET?

I went out today and did some weeding in the greenhouse. Where we live, we have had spring-like weather on and off all winter and never had the usual bitter temperatures even yet. It was 70 degrees in there as I was working today. Very nice and sunny!

Here is the kale bed:

Do you remember the mullein plant I left in there? Here she is!

Here is what she looked like last Fall:

As the warmer weather comes, she will send up a tall flower stalk. Mullein is biennial.

Here you can see the Bright Lights Swiss chard. It's so pretty. I'll be able to use it all summer if I take off the flower stalks as they try to grow.

Kelly Kale:

Here is what I brought in for dinner:

A closer view of the Swiss Chard:

View from the door:

And here is a picture of the little Finnish garlics happily growing under some straw mulch outside in the garden:

Lacinto Kale:

I am so very grateful for our greenhouse.
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