Tuesday, December 6, 2011

You know You're Famous When....

You know you're famous when......

You're in the shower. School is supposed to be done for the day and isn't.
The phone rings, you hear children making a mad dash to try out their phone
manners. At the same moment hear strange squawking coming from the
backyard. Is a chicken down? Has hawk snatched her? Ahhhh. Fame and
motherhood.

Next your beautifully mannered offspring are screaming through the
bedroom and bathroom doors, " Mister Jemanybbbdko Camp dell is on the
phone." Your screaming, "WHAT?", back through the shower walls. Finally
one of your children creeps in and repeats the garbled name. You say, "please
take a message. I'm in the shower right now!"

You hear the patter (trampling) of 7 and 11 year old feet leaving. Only to be
replaced by 17 1/2 year olds easy glide. "Mom, Jeremy Campbell from Fox 13
News is on the phone and would like to do an interview with you this evening.
It's about our chickens and how the city is allowing more people to have
them.".... You say, "Tell him you're sorry but you're busy this evening."

Your Christmasing the house with your beautiful, loud, crazy, sometimes obnoxious, very creative and caring family!

Yep, you're to famous to do a another local interview..... bring on the
big boys :)

Ps. Oldest daughter was soooooo professional. She told him she was your
secretary. The journalist was so pleased. I wonder if he enjoyed the elevator
music daughter #3 was producing from the other line? Humbling.....

Julie

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Canning, canning, canning

After a busy week of school, soccer games, dehydrating and canning; I'm a bit tired. Fall through early spring is truly the busy season for garden harvesting, pumpkin bread business and holidays here. For some reason every year it takes me by surprise!

We've gotten most of the gardens in, had plenty of rain and are now fighting the varmints and the chickens. Don't those chickens realize a third of the garden is for them? If they eat it now they'll never get to taste those big lovely collard leaves!

On the subject of chickens this is the first time that we've had almost our who crew molt at the same time. That means we have been getting less than 3 eggs a day from 12 girls in the past month or so. It's been a bit disappointing. We really use a lot of eggs here. I usually keep 4 dozen at all times in my refrigerator. Right now I' have about 8 eggs. I really don't want to buy eggs. Hopefully we are coming to the end. We have a lot of featherless hens out there and new feathers should be coming in soon... I pray.

Now back to canning. Here's what I put up this week:

15 quarts of pluot sauce
46 quarts of pears
10 quarts applesauce
4 quarts of apple butter
1/2 of a 5 gallon container of dried apple chips
( I planned on picture but my reader isn't reading.)

School Girl was a big help:)

This week I would like to make up about 12 quarts of chicken stock and pressure can them. I save the left over bones in the freezer until I have enough to make a BIG pot of stock. We tried this about six weeks ago and it was wonderful. It was also the first time I used the pressure canner that Urban Girl bought me for Christmas 2 years ago. What a savings this is! I'm still a little freaked out by it but that will dissipate with use. At least I hope so.

I'm also doing some MAJOR tweaking to my pantry. It is much needed since I'm doing more canning this year. I'm concerned my shelves are not strong enough to handle all those jars. Superman is looking at ways to reinforce them.

I still haven't gotten the perfect system worked out for us. I have even made a stock chart but have failed to check off items when they are used. I think this is going to take some more time. Maybe when I'm a bit less preoccupied.

This week is grocery week and I need to make my buying dollar s t r e t c h ! I've started buying more locally grown items and less organic. The shipping on organic produce is becoming outrageous. $5.45 for a 3 pound bag of apples! And that's a co-op price. Yikes! Pears are still on sale here for 66 cents a pound. Hence the reason for so many canned pears :0)

What great produce have you found? Trees are blessing, but they don't count in this question.
Julie

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Water Kefir Soda Update

We've been making water kefir soda (WKS) for a couple of months now and I've learned a lot.

1.Make a fermenting container. Really important if you plan on making WKS! check this out

2.Play with the types of natural sugars out there:

a) Sucanat- It was our sugar of choice because of the being rich in minerals. We found that it has to pungent of a flavor for making WKS. It actually ends up tasting more like a beer. We even tried adding more fruit syrup but it became over carbonated and we would ended up with exploded bottles! ** We do use it whenever we think our kefir needs a little extra feeding.**

b) Sucanat with Honey- Much lighter flavor but it does have honey in it which can kill your Kefir and it's price is well to pricey now.

c) Turbinado or Raw Sugar- This seems to have just the right amount for daily use. We tend to taste more of the flavor of the fruit syrup and less molasses. WKS taste like a sparkling fruit cider with this sugar.

3. Leave a good 3 inch head space when making your WKS. Trust me!

4. Use a fruit puree or concentrate. We make our own plum sryup and really like the flavor.
Maraschino cherries and vanilla made it smell like rotten cheese and I couldn't stand to be near my husband when he drank it. But don't fret. I love him so much I got him hooked on plum syrup. All is well again!


5. Use heavy duty glass bottles with canning style caps.

6. Again. Have a fermenting bucket. You'll be so happy you did. You'll be thinking how smart you are after your first extra bubbly batch of WKS!


Case in point, since our 1st explosion we always bucket ferment. Last week when Superman and I went to get a 2 day ferment of WKS out we found a hissing mess in one of our light weight bottles. Thankfully it had not shattered, but did pop it's little lid and was seeping out all over the bucket. All we had to do was rinse it out. No scrubbing down of the whole kitchen or pulling shrapnel out of the walls.

Now lets talk about carbonation. I only have theories here because I really haven't tried to figure the science of it. Please remember this. I'm just a mom doing crazy stuff in my kitchen, no expert!

Carbonation, the good burping kind. You know what I'm talking about. Not that I want to burp, but I could if I felt I needed to prove myself to Superman. Who am I kidding, I like the occasional burp. But I digress... We've found that the more pureed and sweetened your fruit is, the better the bubbles. Check daily for the right amount of carbonation. You'll see little bubbles bubbling up to the top of your bottle. Always open slowly in sink. Click here for a quick video on carbonation.

I have chunkier batches of syrup that is also used for pancakes and such. This syrup tends to need more fermenting time. Up to 3 days in fact. When I use a more pureed, sweetened fruit it can take as little as one day. Every batch is different so again check daily and use a fermenting bucket!

This is really a simple process, but you have to get in the habit of making your water, then soda daily. It takes about 10 minutes.

Let me know if you give it a whirl and what works for you!

Julie

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Patchwork Love

My good friend Angela over at Loving Legacy was cleaning out her fabric stash a couple of months ago. Whenever she does this my 4 sweeties seem to come to her mind. It seems someone is always creating something around here.


In this batch of odds and ends there was some very country looking patchwork fabric that the Little Chef just fell in love with. Not her usual style or colors but she really liked it! She even said it would be sooooo nice to have a skirt made out of it. I ended up having a free evening and this is what was created. She was so surprised.


It's very simple. I was in no mood for a pattern. I doubled her waist size and tripled it (waist size) for the ruffle. I used and inch and a half more elastic than her waist. I wanted her to have at least 2 years out of the skirt.

The Little Chef really likes it. We went out shopping last night and she wanted to wear it. She said it just somehow makes her feel different then when she wears it, even more so than a dress or skorts. She feels like a girl. Ahhh. Femininity how I love it :)

Julie

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Thinking

Yes, I do occasionally ponder things (okay usually way to much). So much so that I can miss the big picture because I'm stuck on a small blemish.

If you feel I'm talking in code I may be (and do I even understand it?). This past weekend I squeezed in a fluffy novel about a newspaper owner who was being forced out of town by a set of Good O'l Boys. This newspaper woman loved to serve others because of her love of the Lord. Not from compulsion or legalism but for the shear joy of trying to ease someone elses burden. She was by no means a perfect herself. I needed this story. It reminded that love comes in many different ways, from a kind word and quick pray to feeding the homeless.

Forward to yesterday. I have been struggling with some decisions we are going to need to make. Small blemishes compared to the Lord's big picture. I have been concentrating on myself so much and how it was all going to work out! While I was on the tread mill it hit me. Have I really learned to love others who are stumbling?

Years ago I would have turned away from them because they were messing up big time. Yikes! I've seen many who have fallen into adultery and I have run away from them. Maybe not in actuality but definitely in spirit and love. My attitude has become civil.

Am I fearful that if I'm kind, even loving toward them that their sin will become mine? That I will somehow fall into it? I use to think it was because I wanted to keep my children from any such sin. Trying to keep the bar raised and set a higher standard for our household. (I know how bad this sounds.)

Then while reading over the weekend I watched this fictional character love those other members of the body where they were at. She didn't give them permission for their behavior but she did extend love and forgiveness. Yikes! Can I do that? Have I just been trading one sin for another?

I don't feel that everyone's battle has to be mine, but I could be loving a bit more and try to show forgiveness and understanding. I mean isn't that what I would want in the same situation?

Dear Jesus please help me not to hide behind fear, show truth when needed, grace and forgiveness and love all.

Julie

Monday, September 26, 2011

Nitrate Free Pepperoni

I'm not sure if I should show you the picture or not. I tweaked a recipe from Tammy's Recipes and it is quite tasty. BUT (and it's kind of a big BUT) the color is just not right. So the pepperoni looks a little grey (gross) but again taste SUPER! So here goes nothing....

nitrate free pepperoni

See how gray it looks? That's because I used Real Salt (sea salt) instead of curring salts which have all the nitrates and fake pink color (they do this so people won't mistake it for table salt). That pink dye also gives sausages of all types that nice color we are all so used too.

All the flavor was still in there and I figured if I'm making this homemade I want it to be as healthy as possible for my family. So why would I add the nitrates? Because I didn't use the pink salt I can't just leave this out in my pantry like you could with some of the store bought stuff. If you do to try this recipe and decide to go "all natural" please make sure that you store all your extra pepperoni in the freezer until needed. Safety people safety!

I've checked out many sites on the food safety and we have been making nitrate free beef jerky for years so I felt confident with this recipe. BUT please don't take my word for it. Check things out for yourself :)

I did use 2 pounds of very lean grass fed ground beef and spices from my own garden! I was very excited about this :) I'm always looking for fun, do it yourself challenges. I did grind up all my spices to a fine powder in the blender which I highly recommend. Then I let the meat marinate for 2 1/2 days. The cooking time was 8 hours and was really easy to forget about so I highly recommend a timer. Super easy!

Will I continue to make my own pepperoni? Yes, I think I will.




Would I serve it to guest? Depends on the guest. For some it may not be normal enough. Most of us eat with our eyes and noses. The nose is covered and if you can trick your eyes into thinking its sliced meatballs then you're good to go!




Anyone want to stop by and try some? By the way this recipe makes 4 rolls.




Julie




Oh and I'm linking up with Homestead Revival's Barn Hop!

Friday, September 23, 2011

No Excuses... it's just Our life

That's right no excuses anymore for why I'm not blogging more frequently ( I'm secretly itching to make excuses but I won't). It's just our life right now.

We have been super busy. While everyone elses summer gardens are winding down we are gearing up for our 1st big planting of the season. Fall/ winter here at our home usually starts out our growing season, followed by winter/ spring planting. Next summer I'm hoping to plant our beds full of sweet potatoes as our ground cover.

This summer we added a large 3 1/2 x 24 foot bed to the front of our house behind the white picket fence we installed this summer. Lots of little yummy veggies are starting to poke their heads up :) We had intended to use a old work table to make a salad table, but I think it is way past it's prime and would take to much shoring up. So we've decided to either make a new raised bed out of pallets (if we can get our hands on some) or small round swimming pools ($7 a piece). I need more room for tomatoes and peppers too :0)

I've been working hard at starting our veggies all from seed. I'm happy to report that I'm making some head way, but still need to learn a lot more.

Here's a run down of what has been planted so far:

-60 collard plants (apx) they chickens love them
--we made a new bed and fenced it off from the hungry ladies!
-3 double rows of vining green beans
- Farm Girl's patch of bush beans (20 or so)
-4 double rows sugar snap peas
-8 cabbages
-8 red cabbages
-16 Brussel sprouts
-kohlrabi
-fennel
-radishes
-4 jalapeno
-4 green pepper
-2 cheery tomatoes
-4 Brandy wine tomatoes
-marigolds
-calendula
-chamomile
-bunching onions
-mint patch
-spinach patch
-Texas sweet onions
-rosemary
-dill
-basil
-eggplant
-stevia
- 8 cucumbers

-Need to plant about 30 Kale plants that are about ready.

We still need to figure out the cauliflower, broccoli and eggplant. I'll probably be buying these as plants this year do to seed problems. Also get my lettuce garden up and rolling and a variety of odds and ends.

I've also tried my hand at chocolate syrup and elderberry syrup. I've got homemade pepperoni started in the fridge. I'm hoping it will turn out tasty! Ooooo and we've found something that is helping to keep the marauders out of our gardens!