5/15/17

We finally had some beautiful weather this week!  So dinner was served outside on my parents three tier porch.  It couldn’t have been a more beautiful setting to have a big gathering for dinner.  And as is customary for the first weather that is worthy of a picnic, my parents made BBQ Ribs and Potato Salad.  There was also coleslaw, corn, fruited jello, raisin bread and white bread.  For dessert, there were two cheesecakes, one made with homemade cream cheese from out dairy cow!

At this picnic there were;  11 adults, 1 tween, 1 two-year-old,  1 toddler, 2 babies, 1 dog and 2 cats (the neighbors’ kids came to visit).

Do you want me to sit over there so you can put your girl here?

No, no you can sit by your wife!  She will fit in this corner just fine.  I don’t think the other is going to sit very long either.

Here’s the high chair.

Baby coming through! (It took a little arranging to get all the kids situated so they were safe from the stairs)

When you say prayers, say an extra one for Grandpa.

Bless this house Lord we pray, keep us safe by night and day, Amen.  And please bless Great Grandpa so he feels better both day and night.  Amen.

Very nice, thank you.

Very sweet!

Pardon my reach, it’s a little awkward with a whiny girl on your lap.

Don’t worry about it.

Do you want some jello, honey?  Hold on! I’m getting you food too!

Is that raisin bread? Make sure you get a piece of that!

Who wants coleslaw?

Thank you!
Hmm, we’ll just set that bread basket here.

In another week or two, you won’t get away with that! (As the baby is eyeballing the basket of bread sitting on the highchair tray juuuust out of reach)

Did you tell everyone how your concert went?

It went really good!

NOOOO! Don’t put that back in the Jello!!!

Here, I’ll just take that… (goes to put the spoon back in the bowl)

NOOOOOO!!!! Boogers here licked that.  The Jello might be questionable at this table guys, I don’t think she got the spoon back in there but I am not certain.

Ah, well, let’s just set that over here then…

Pardon my reach now.

Are there any little pieces of ribs left?

There’s a little chunk of meat.

And at this point both of my girls have decided they are done and are running wild up and down the stairs and out around the yard….

Wow, that girl has a good arm! (Referring to the softball game that is being played in the park across the yard).

Did she make it?

And some other baseball chatter.

Look at the new swing!  It’s a horse!

Ride!  Whee!

My husband and the neighbor go for a walk to look at a yard project that needs to be done.

I liked the red pepper in the potato salad dad, that was really good.

The cat comes over for a visit, and my children maul it.

He did really well letting her hug all over him.

That one’s not bad, the other one isn’t quite so friendly.

I have to tell you, I have a problem with your worm farm.

What?

So, I was digging in the garden to plant my new blueberry bushes and cut a worm.  I felt horrible thinking about your worms.

Haha!

I know!

Don’t worry, I couldn’t kill a wasp the other day.  It was huge and I was afraid if I hit it and didn’t kill it would get mad and attack me.  So I went and got the left over wasp spray, and I hit it, but it didn’t kill it or do anything so I tried again, and then it moved to the edge of the window, so I just kinda shooed it out.  I felt good about not killing it for a minute and was like great, it’s probably going to plan revenge now.

Do different kinds of worms make different kinds of soil? Like, are night crawlers different than regular earthworms?

I don’t know, mine are little red ones that can’t live below 40′, so they wouldn’t live in our soil I guess.

Can you go swing with your sister for a little bit?

Sure!

Of course like any picnic, there is lots of movement and flow, both of conversation and people.   And then dessert is brought out.

Ok, everyone, there are two different cheesecakes!  One is made with homemade cream cheese and the other is regular.

I can tell which is which already (frowning).

Oh, maybe not I could have over mixed one.

Mmm, these look good!

Here, take these down there and set them out for everyone.

Do you want strawberries?

So one of these is made with the homemade cream cheese?  Sorry, I can tell which is which.

Yeah, it sill tastes pretty good though.

I think there are a couple things, I left it out to soften which I think was a mistake for your cheese.  And maybe you need to drain it longer next time?

I think so, I can do that.  But I have also noticed my stuff has a different melting point, even the butter is different, I am not sure exactly why.

We tried the duck eggs the other day.

Oh yeah? How did you like those?

They were pretty good.  We still have to try them by themselves, but so far we like them.

Want a goose egg?

The same goose egg that’s been in your fridge for months now?

Yeah.

No thanks.

What is a goose egg like anyway?

Somewhere between a duck and chicken egg, but bigger.  Not quite as rich as a duck egg.

Again everyone starts to wander about here and there, picking up some dishes, having another glass of wine, play catch with the kids.  Grandma pulls out some fudge sickles and the littles require a bath before they can get in the car.  The oldest is tortured because she has homework that needs to be done (NOW!) and the babies enjoy the warm air on their naked legs.  Overall just a very pleasant time with wonderful people.

 

 

Quick Banana Bread

Bananas in my house become a weird situation.  Personally, I can’t stand them, and my littlest seems to agree with me.  Everyone else will either eat them like locusts or ignore them completely and I never really know which it will be.  This often leaves me with a few rather sad brown looking bananas after about a week.  My solution to this potentially wasteful situation is to make Banana Bread.

Since this is a quick bread, not a yeast bread, it comes together in a snap and disappears just as quickly.  A little slather of butter and the kids (and husband) have a nice after school snack.

 

 

Quick Banana Bread

1/4 cup butter

1/4 cup shortening

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

3/4 cup very ripe mashed bananas

1 1/4 cups flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/8 tsp nutmeg (optional)

Preheat oven to 350’F.  Grease 3 small loaf pans or an 8-inch square pan, set aside.

Cream butter, shortening and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, beating well after addition.  Stir in bananas.  Add baking soda, salt and nutmeg.  Stir in flour with a spoon until blended well.  Pour into prepared pans.  Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick (or dry spaghetti noodle) comes out clean.

 

Homesteading Cake

I made this cake tonight and I call it “I thought homesteading was a great idea and now what do I do with all of it” cake.  I am surrounded by milk and have made it my mission the last couple days to use up as much as I possibly can.

Actually, this cake is called a Hot Milk Cake and I found the recipe at Counter Dog while Googling “cakes that use alot of milk”.  The story along with it about her Grandmother is lovely as well!

I made a modification to the cream filling since I had an overload of milk and not eggs I reduced the egg yolks to 2 (instead of 8) and the salt to 1/2 tsp.  I also added the Raspberry coulis, from last year’s raspberry crop.

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I will post the recipe here soon, but in the meantime, the story that I mentioned above is really worth the read (perfect pass time for stirring the pudding!)

Happy Birthday Lee!

Happy birthday to my husband!  I know this meal is one he looks forward to all year, he gets his favorites that I rarely, if ever make simply because I don’t like them.  His choices included;  Meatloaf (from the Disney Princess Cookbook, because that’s the only version oldest daughter will eat), Scalloped Potatoes, and Asparagus.  Additionally, there was Potato Bread and Red Beets (because Dad wanted them).  For dessert, there was Banana Cream Pie.  Now, this pie is one that not only converted my Dad to eating Banana Cream but also moved it to the top of his list (I still don’t like bananas).

Our group was pretty typical, with last week’s new face in attendance again, so glad to have her with us!  The headcount looked like 2 babies, 1 toddler, 2 two-year-olds, 3 tweens and 12 adults.

And dinner went something like this:

You can sit next to the messy one there…

Hey, why isn’t she sitting out here?

She has an announcement she wants to make later and wants to sit at the big table to make it.

Did you get voted off the island to the kid table Mom?

Something like that.

Well, say prayers kiddo.

Bless this house, Lord we pray, keep us safe by night and day.  Amen.

It’s your birthday, get started so everyone else can eat.

He’s going to be in a meatloaf coma.  Don’t worry any beef does that to me too, puts me in a coma.

I don’t think beef has tryptophan in it…

Do you like beets?

Well, I am not going to say ‘No’ here because I’ve been proven wrong so many times, not usually, but I am going to try them.

Mom tried to feed me beets when I was a baby and I threw them all over the house!

Yes, you did.

Why is she sitting here tonight?

She wants to make her announcement.

Oh about the school thing?

Yes.

At the far end of the table I can hear them talking about jokes and puns, but never really caught the punch line, but one made it down to our end:

When you pour root beer into a square glass, what do you get?  Beer.

It’s a math joke.  The square root…

The radio station I listen to has the clean joke of the day, anyone can send one in too!

So I heard the little one tried to go swimming yesterday.

SHHH, it’s supposed to be a surprise.

Yeah, she did but SHHH, Mom doesn’t know we did pictures yesterday

That’s my favorite Disney Villan.

Which one was your favorite?

Ursala.

Ah good choice (and everyone goes on discussing their favorites, I am pretty sure we have done this conversation before, it’s true, we are Disney people)

What about Madame Mim?

What movie is she from?

Sword and the Stone.

AH, I haven’t seen that one in forever.

Hey, no pawing at the baby, leave her alone.

Is she ok?  I try to be chill, but…

She’s ok, you know me, but three little girls poking at her eyes and I interviene.

Hey want to sing Happy Birthday to Daddy?

YES!! HAPPYYYYYYYY! Coming!!

Happy to you!

Ok ready?

Happy Birthday to you (chchchcha), Happy Birthday to you (Happy to Mollie!), Happy Birthday dear Lee (Happy ME!!)(chachacha) Happy Birthday (Happy Daddy!)to you!

Lick candle?

Not that end! That side is hot!

Don’t bite the end! Are you ok? You can’t eat that!

This piece big enough (the whole pie).

AHHHHHH!!(baby screaming at Mom for a piece of pie)

I think she would like a piece of that…

She’s next, here.

And everyone settles into eating their pie, and coversations go around and around, from radio shows, to upcoming craft shows and awesome leatherwork, to how leather is made and so on.  The Disney Princess Cookbook left with the chef for his upcoming meal planning meeting, and see you laters were said.

Simple MooShu Pork

There are many wonderful things to say about this recipe.  It is quick, simple and delicious.  I would not call it “authentic”  by any means, but rather loosely based on a real Chinese dish.  It does fill the need for a good stir-fry though!

The addition of more traditional Chinese vegetables would be easy to add and not affect the basic recipe at all!  My family just happens to prefer only carrots and onions.

 

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Fresh ham steak from our local hog farmer.  It isn’t a common cut, but certainly worked well in this dish!

 

I made this with a fresh ham steak tonight, after scouring the internet for uses for this particular cut of meat, I didn’t really find any that seemed to get people excited.  Most of the complaints called the cut of meat tough, and in my opinion, there are two things you can do with tough meat, cook it low and slow or slice it super thin.  Time was not on my side tonight, so super thin won.

 

Simple Moo Shu Pork

Serves about 4

                          Marinade:

                      3 Tbsp Soy Sauce

1 tsp dry cooking sherry

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp cornstarch

1/2 pound pork, sliced very thin

1/4 cup thinly sliced onions

1/4 cup thinly sliced carrots

3 eggs, beaten (add an extra egg if desired)

1/2 tsp salt

3 Tbsp Vegetable oil

1-2 Tbsp Sesame oil

1-2 green onions thinly sliced (optional)

1 Tbsp Oyster Sauce (optional)

Directions:

Mix marinade ingredients and marinate pork for 20-30 minutes.  Meanwhile, slice onions and carrots into very thin (julienne) strips,  Heat wok or large frying pan and add 2 Tbsp vegetable oil. Add the eggs and salt cooking eggs are just done and scrambled.  Move into a warm bowl.  Add 1 Tbsp vegetable oil to the pan.  Add the carrots and onions and cook until just tender.  Add to the warm bowl with the eggs.

Add 1-2 Tbsp sesame oil to the pan and add the pork.  Cook until meat is thoroughly cooked.  Return the eggs and vegetables to the pan and add oyster sauce and green onions if desired, mixing well.  Serve over rice or with Chinese pancakes.

Where does the time go?

Have you ever noticed when you are expecting big changes, but not sure exactly how they will come into fruition that life takes on a holding pattern?  The term holding pattern seems to invoke thoughts of dullness and inactivity but I feel just the opposite.

I am a planner.  The further out I can plan something the happier I am.  Waiting on the unexpected or even the expected frustrates me, and since I am not sure exactly what to expect I plan for EVERYTHING!  Are we expanding the farm? Well, we should build new pastures and temporary housing here.  Thinking a CSA might be the right choice for the farm? Quadruple the garden so we can practice growing and producing this year.   New job? Maybe I should hire help, or take that massive garden and can and freeze produce like a doomsday prepper, just in case.  Prospectively marketing my soap to a rather large regional company, I think I need a bottle of wine….

My point to this ramble? Holding patterns can be frustrating because you feel like you are treading water.  I feel like I am moving at the speed of light, but everything is as it was.  Embracing change is easier than embracing the waiting.

Not to mention I am also in the season of life where my littles are demanding my time and attention (one likes to go to bed at 11 PM and the other likes to wake up at 5 AM, need I say more?)  And my oldest is involved with school and after school activities.

All of these things combined together make for a turbulent holding pattern!  I have been so hectic I have not even written about our last two dinners, which is a shame because we have had some amazing people sitting around the table!  Our dear friends (my Puerto Rican “sister” and her significant other) and one of our regulars mother (who was a pleasure to meet!).  Time has slipped away from me and I have forgotten to write down the details and what I have left are little memories of my oldest saying OCHO! with dramatic hand gestures, pillow hats, and dancing.  And conversations about hot pizza cheese burning the roof of your mouth, a class for kids where they can disassemble toys without consequence and mom wearing white gloves to dinner because she got into an altercation with a poisonous plant.  All of these things giving the illusion that I have an excellent memory for being able to recall these moments.  Personally, I think it is the people that make them so recallable.

 

Triple Chocolate Scones

My wonderful friend gave me the recipe for these tasty little scones.  They definitely satisfied an after dinner sweet tooth and could replace any donut in the morning.

The recipe has several steps, but they are simple and well worth the effort.  Even if your little farm princess melts down because her dress is covering up her fleece lined jeans…

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I added an extra step for myself today when I realized after the scones were baked that I did not have powdered sugar for the glaze.  So I learned to make powdered sugar, which was surprisingly easy to do!  Easy as 1 cup of sugar and 1 tablespoon of cornstarch into the blender and let it spin until it is smooth and fluffy! This gave me about 1 cup of powdered sugar.

 

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Homemade Powdered Sugar 1 cup granulated sugar + 1 Tablespoon cornstach and blend on high until fluffy

 

Triple Chocolate Scones

makes: 8 scones

Ingredients:

1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

2 1/2 Tsp baking powder

1/2 cup (1 stick) FROZEN butter, unsalted

1/2 tsp salt (if you are using salted butter cut this to 1/4 tsp)

1/2-3/4 cup heavy cream

1 large egg

1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup coarsely chopped semi-sweet chocolate

Glaze and Topping

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 Tbsp water

1/4 cup chopped semi-sweet chocolate

 

Directions

Pre-heat oven to 400’F and position the rack in the middle-low position. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or grease well.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, sugar, and salt.  Grate the frozen butter (using a box grater or food processor, you just going for very small cold pieces).  Mix into the flour mixture with a pastry cutter or two knives until the mixture looks evenly coarse.  Keep cold.

In a small bowl mix together 1/2 cup cream, egg, and vanilla.  Lightly mix into the flour mixture until it seems just moist, if needed add additional cream 1 tablespoon at a time until it comes together.  Be careful not to over mix the dough!

Pour the dough onto a lightly floured surface ( I mixed a little cocoa powder in with my flour).  Also lightly flour your hands and work the dough into a ball.  Press or gently roll the dough into an 8-inch circle. Cut into 8 equal wedges (pizza style) with a sharp knife or pizza cutter.  Separate the scones and put them on the baking sheet.

Bake for 18-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Allow to cool for a couple minutes until you can handle them.  While the scones are cooling make the glaze.

Mix together the powdered sugar, vanilla, and water until very smooth (I did this on a plate to make dunking easier).  Dunk the scones into the glaze OR use a pastry brush to brush the glaze on (I found this to be the easiest way).  Allow the glaze to dry and the scones to finish cooling.

Just before serving melt the remaining chocolate in the microwave using 30 seconds for the first interval and 15 seconds for each additional interval stirring well in between until the chocolate is smooth and thin (if needed add 1/2 tsp vegetable oil).  Drizzle over scones, allow chocolate to harden and enjoy!

 

Hello & Goodbye

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Last week Sugar Dot and Merida came back to the farm after going to visit a bull for a couple months (Merida went to keep Sugar Dot in milk while she was away).  I didn’t realize how much I missed seeing them out the back window!  Although I have to admit, being able to do chores in less than 15 minutes while she was away spoiled me a bit.  The sparkling jars of fresh milk once again filling my fridge make the extra time (in the pouring rain and knee-deep mud, way to go Michigan) well worth it.

Lucy our horse also came home from winter camp where she was helping give lessons.  She too is enjoying nice open pastures, but not so much the rain.

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The little turkeys have outgrown their small brooding area and have been relocated to a much larger coop.  They are actively enjoying the ample space and nice warm heat lamp.  It made me laugh the first morning I went to check on them, the second I walked in they all immediately started chirping and ran to the food dishes.  Since I had more space I was able to put out extra dishes so they should never run out, but the acted like they couldn’t have breakfast until I walked in.  They are now cured of waiting for me to eat but give me a cheerful greeting none the less.

Today also is the day the steers are leaving us to go to the butcher (ironically it is the first day of National Beef Month).  Drizzly rain seems fitting for the occasion, but I really wish they had nicer weather to travel in.  Their leaving also frees up some pasture space for re-arranging our herds, which means it is time for all the babies to be weaned from their mothers.  It is well past time for them to be separated, so it is a good thing for sure!

I also noticed a flower on one of the strawberry plants today, so spring and summer are at least trying to break through on our little farm!