Saturday, October 31, 2009

Paige's Highlights

Ok, again with the themes. Here are grouping of selected resources for raising Poultry.

1. Ducks for the Garden. This article by Mother Earth News talks about having a little "herd" of ducks available to keep your yard, garden, and farm free of snails that carry liver flukes, grasshoppers, Japanese beetles, and mosquito larvae. Definitely a good idea for any garden/farm and they're more hardy and tend to be a little less feather-brained that chickens.


2. Wintering your Flocks. A rather in-depth article by Mother Earth News about keeping chickens and poultry over the winter. A lot of good pointers and things to remember--as well as shopping list ideas for your coops. To be honest, I was a little annoyed by the anti-biotics and bought feed ideas, but all in all it's pretty sound. I'm wanting to provide my flocks with all home-grown food--comfrey, mangle beets, etc. But, a good resource, none-the-less.

3. Homestead-Raised Chicken Feed. One thing that has always bothered me about raising animals is how dependent I still feel on the greater workings of big ag and commerce to provide me with what I need for my animals in the way of supplemental feeds. This series of writings by TheModernHomestead has proven to be very useful. There are in depth articles on making and grinding your own feeds. To be honest, initially doesn't seem to get away from commercial dependence, but as you read on, the homesteader ended up swapping to more home-grown feeds as just scratch grain and allowing the birds more forage. For that part, I encourage you to read through all the articles, but with special attention to the ones entitled "Feeding the Flock from the Homestead's Own Resources" and "Current Feeding Practice." Good reads and very do-able with a little forethought and planning.

4. Homestead Chicken Raising.
Harvey Ussery , the man behind TheModernHomestead writes in this article on Mother Earth News about some key pointers that differ for the homestead-raised poultry production. Breed selection, raising practices, and more. A good read.

5. Nut Wizard Video. My dad sent me some videos on my cell phone and since I couldn't share them here, I found this video on YouTube. It worked just like this for him! Certainly a must for any homesteader with nut trees!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Chrimas Breaks--little Africa?


Well, as Dan and I are going to be apart for the three months that I'm in Ohio for rotations, we've decided to carve out some time for ourselves for Christmas break around the family visitations. We looked around for some nice places to stay with whirlpools, fireplaces, etc., but nothing was really getting our attention--just fancy hotels with big price tags and nothing else to do. Having the free time off in Ohio in the middle of winter really limits things--no parks, no outdoors, sight-seeing isn't nearly as fun, and a lot of the attractions are closed down for the winter. Finally though, one of my good friends reminded me of Kalahari resorts. (The link is a video of the park.) It's a bit pricey, but once you take into account that the reservation includes admission to their indoor water park with wave pool, surfing pool, and water slides, it actually didn't seem too bad. And surprisingly, the resort dinners aren't really overpriced. :)

So, a little vacation, short drive, water park, whirlpool, and fireplace. Ahhhh....Merry Christmas to us. :)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Chicken Parmesan


Again, I'm on my kick of recipes from BHG.com. The other day I made their Chicken Parmesan Recipe. As with everything, I did a bit of alteration of the recipe to fit what I wanted and sort of combined a few versions of Chicken Parm that I had eaten over the years.

Basically, just follow their recipe, then when they have about 10 minutes to go and the topping has already become nice and crispy I add some tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese to top. Serve with pasta and additional sauce. It was certainly a hit!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Sunday Thoughts


Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NLT)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Paige's Highlights

1. Nut Wizards. Well, I don't have personal experience with this one, but my dad sent me an e-mail about these little contraptions. Every year we had the fall ritual of picking up all the black walnuts in the yard--and it was a pain! He says that he loaded a wheelbarrow in 5 minutes and was able to avoid the back aches! Definitely something worth a try, if you're ever going to try nut trees! I'm not so sure that I'd use it on apples and fruits, as you really should pick them off the tree if they're going to be for human consumption.

2. Harvesting Black Walnuts. So, I tend to go in themes and find things that interest me...which takes me down rabbit trails, but here's an interesting company--Hammonds Products--I found from the Nut Wizard website. They have services to hull the black walnuts that you may harvest, as well as instruction on how to handle hulling at home. Still a bunch of work, and I'm thinking I might stick with English Walnuts, but if you're blessed with some Black Walnuts already, you might as well get some benefit from them!

Just two this week! Been busy! :)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Spice-Rubbed Chicken

I made this over the weekend and it was a hit! No pictures from my end--again because it got eaten too quickly! I used much less onions than the recipe called for, and could've easily tossed some potatoes in to roast when there was an hour left. The roasted chicken from BHG.com turned out very tender and juicy and I'll have the carcass leftover for broth/

However, I also made ThreeFoldCord's Yeast rolls and I figured that was enough starch for one day! Mmmm, mmm, good!

The timing works out so well for both--make the dough as you're preheating the oven, then when the chicken is prepped and roasted for that first hour, you'll be right on track with shaping the rolls and letting them rise. I baked them after I took the chicken out of the oven and everything was perfect!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Five-Spice Chicken Noodle Soup


Since Dan spent some time on the missions field with him family in Indonesia, he's always been a big fan of Asian foods. As a result, we become more of Asian food eaters during our marriage and I was excited to see this recipe on BHG.com. And, from what I've had in oriental restaurants, this is actually pretty close to "authentic" as compared to some of the mexican foods on there (I have been SORELY disappointed with the Latino food recipes I've found thus far!).

You'll have to look specifically for the bok choy (Chinese cabbage), five-spice mix (a mixture of cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, etc.), and the somen noodles. Somen is a simple wheat noodle from Japan, so a bit of a mix of Asian country heritage. The bok choy was surprisingly yummy...the stalky part kept a bit of it's crunch and reminded me of a cross between spinach and water chestnuts. Very nice.

This was a SUPER easy recipe, easy clean-up, and was definitely a hit. It's going on our "master list" of recipes for sure!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Paige's Highlights

1. Spiced Butters. With fall upon us, I've been noticing some recipes for spiced butters, similar to apple butter--however, I've been most intrigued by vegetable butters. Mou, ye, and other thilly sings had a post on making spiced pumpkin butter and I decided to try to find a recipe (she has some BEAUTIFUL photography, too!) I'm thinking I have a new project to try this week! Also, I found a blogger who was talking about making a spiced carrot butter that tasted like carrot cake. They said the recipe was in their Ball Blue Book, but I just bought one and didn't find it. Maybe the recipe's in an older edition. Here's what I found for pumpkin butter, no luck with the carrot butter. :( Maybe I'll experiment one day. It was really easy to make and smelled soooo yummy all day long.

2. Pumpkin Seeds. Well, along with that pumpkin butter came some leftover seeds. My most recent Redbook magazine had a variety of spiced seeds recipes (free subscription, ftw.) Of course, if I remember correctly, just toasting them with some oil and salt is the traditional way. However, they used (A.) Parmesan cheese, thyme, olive oil, and salt, (B.) curry powder , oil, and salt, (C.) butter, pumpkin pie spices, sugar, and a smidgen of salt, and (D.) Spanish paprika, olive oil, and salt--just to mix it up a bit! They said to roast the dried seeds in a 350 degree oven for about 15-20 minutes, stirring and re-spicing half-way through, but I just used my toaster oven at a little higher temp for a littler longer. Mmmmm. Now, I'm wishing that that pumpkin came with a few more seeds....

3. Fruit Flies. The bane of my kitchen any time I have any bananas in it.... And I HATE fruit flies. I tried lots of ways of getting rid of them, but the easiest I've found is a home-made trap. Cut the top off a pop bottle so it's a funnel shape, flip it upside down in the leftover bottom of the bottle. Staple and tape the edges well, then put something that fruit flies like in the bottle. I usually use some juice and a splash of vinegar. THEN--don't forget this--drizzle in a bit of dish soap! It breaks the water film so when the flies try to get some of the juice, they slip in and drown. Also, they'll crawl into the bottle, but when they try to get back up and out, they go up the straight sides and can't get out the opening since they're too stupid to crawl down to get out. I usually set mine near my kitchen sink for a day or two, since they like to congregate around the water droplets. I've never had mine smell--and they've always cleared my house out of the little buggers within a day or two. :)

4. Homestead Exemptions. I was reading about this the other day, then I got to talking with my most recent preceptor. You should look into these for a bit of a tax break on your properties. Unfortunately, where Dan and I are planning on moving (Kentucky) you have to be more thant 65 years old and/or be disabled. We don't qualify on either grounds. However, I did look in our current state (Maine) and anyone can file for this for their primary residence. As near as I can tell, it makes $13k of your home exempt from state taxes....so if your primary home (only works with your primary residence) is worth $85k according for state purposes, you actually only end up paying property taxes on $72k. Additionally, in the event that you come under a lawsuit or something, that amount of your property is exempt from what they can get from you. Yeah, you might be forced to sell, but you get to keep $13k at least from the sale of your home. Definitely something to research a bit, based on your state of residence! Ahhhh, tax breaks....now to just have a homestead.....

5. Better Homes and Gardens.
I've been posting a lot of recipes from them and they're my new favorite website. :) The recipes you can save to your "recipe box" and all their decorating, crafts, sewing, gardening, etc things you can "clip" so you can keep track of them. A wonderful resource!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Apple Sausage Rigatoni

Ok, I'll admit, this recipe seemed a little out there when I saw it on BHG.com; however, after I realized that it had 5 ingredients, one pot, and only took about 30 minutes to make, I had to try it!

End Result: Not bad!

To be honest, the apple was a little of a taste-bud surprise, but the golden delicious apples are really mild. Here's the link to Better Homes and Gardens recipe, but as with everything with cooking, substitute with what you have! Here are my modifications... And as a side note, I think in the future I'll skip out on the apples and toss in some veggie of some sort instead. My (and Dan's!) traditional taste buds aren't used to fruit with our meat. :)

Apple Sausage Rigatoni

1 16-oz. box of penne pasta (cooked, drained)
4-5 sweet Italian sausage links (the big ones for hot dog buns) (sliced)
2-3 golden delicious apples
3/4 c. gorgonzola cheese
3/4 c. whipping cream.

1. Cook, drain, and set aside your pasta. In the same big pot, brown the sausage slices.
2. Add the apples and cook until tender, about 7 minutes.
3. Add the pasta, cheese, and cream then heat until warmed and the cheese crumbles disappear.
4. Enjoy! (And enjoy your easy clean-up!)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Autumn Colors

"Autumn is a Second Spring, When Every Leaf is a Flower” – Albert Camus

This weekend, Dan and I decided to finally get around to seeing Acadia National Park--while we are still in the area. It was a beautiful weekend and we were totally amazing. Rather than risk a tent, we just took the seats out of our van and slept on our air mattress. A back-pack each for us, a coleman stove, a few cooking supplies and food and we were set!

The first day, we decided to try Precipice trail that takes us up to the top of Mountain Champlain. It was a hairy hike/climb. Iron rungs and ladders were often the only "guarantee" to prevent you from slipping off the edge of the cliff. And there was a cliffside that we climbed--I felt like I was climbing up a huge-scale version of one of those asian water gardens that you put on your coffee table. The ladder was right over where a stream came trickling all over down the cliff face and trail. Fun, but definitely a bit unnerving to climb!
Sunday was a more relaxing hike/walk around Jordan pond, and finishing off driving around the park loop road and up to the peak of Mount Cadillac. We didn't make it to the Jordan Pond House, as there was every last tourist of the season there--this was the last decent weekend of the year and the peak of the foliage apparently! :-)

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Sunday Thoughts

1 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven..
Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NIV)

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Paige's Highlights

1. Waste not, want not. In preparation for all the home-steading and canning and such that I'm wanting to be doing in a year or two, I've decided to start saving canning jars from the store. When I was out shopping yesterday, I found plastic Ball lids--not the kind to can, but good caps for the jars I already have, dry storage of beans and such, and good to test the jars that I'm hoping to accumulate. I'm curious to see how many I can save from the recycle bin--and spare my wallet from the cost of buying! So far, I haven't saved any of the regular jars, but I found some really yummy spaghetti sauce--without HFCS--in Ball jars! Makes for cheaper sauce than the "cheap" stuff when you take into consideration the value of the jars (~$1 each).
2. Self-repairs. Here's a great website to help with all those little things that might break. It's a parts shop for appliances and gives advice and tips on how to fix things yourself. I HATE it when things break. Dan is great at fixing things and this past weekend we managed to avoid a nearly $120 bill to replace the motors on our van windows (Maine requires fully functional windows to pass inspection). A pretty drive out in the country to a junkyard, about an hour worth of finagling, and $2 for our parts and we were able to convert them back to hand crank windows--and we now have our stinking sticker! Dan's basically amazing. :)

3. Homesteading Today. A website entirely devoted as a discussion board to various topics on self-sustaining living. They have boards on every kind of livestock, cooking, energy sources and more. I really liked the discussion on saving money and frugality.

4. Wonderful Honey. Here's an article from Mother Earth News on the benefits of honey. And despite what the article insinuates, we actually DID get taught about honey in PA school and it's uses as a wound dressing (one of the good things of "liberal" New England--alternative therapy). So, that's actually scientifically well-known about the osmotic effects on bacteria. So far, they've yet to figure out a way to become resistant to physics. I would underline their concerns about giving raw honey to babies or other people who are suffering from weakened immune systems (transplant patients, chemo patients, etc.). That botulinum toxin is nasty stuff.
5. Chipotle Smoked Peppers
. Dan and I are particular fans of peppers, salsa, and most things Mexican. This looks like a good idea and I can't wait to try it! Even better, it gives me yet another excuse for him to make me a solar powered dryer. (See an earlier Highlights for pictures of the design I like best). Poor Dan, I'm going to keep him SOOO busy when we get our own place....chicken tractors, cider presses/grinders, solar dryers, houses, workshops....whew! Aren't I just lucky that he likes building things.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Stuffed Summer Squash


At work the other day, there was a large bag overflowing with mammoth-sized, yellow summer squash--and a note labeled "free." I took a few home, determined to make something decent out of them. As a kid, we always just ate squash as is, and I was never a fan. I googled the squash and picked a picture that looked yummy.

We settled on a Stuffed Summer Squash recipe from myrecipes.com. As with everything, I made a few adjustments based on what I had on hand and needed to finish off. Dan has browned some ground beef the day before and seasoned it with some cumin and garlic. So, I tossed that in instead of the ground turkey. Also, I had a bit extra stuffing mix (left-over), so I tossed all but the 1/3 c. in the skillet with the sauces. And I kept the juices with the canned tomatoes, so it effectively moistend the extra stuffing. It turned out lovely and Dan and I had two meals from it.

Easy, one dish dinner, complete with starch, veggie, and meat. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Shrimp Scampi

Shrimp Scampi from 100 Best Italian Recipes

2. Tbsp. Olive oil
1/2 c. onion (diced)
1 large garlic clove (minced)
1 small green bell pepper (sliced)
1 small yellow bell pepper (sliced)
8 oz. medium shrimp (pelled, deveined)
1 can diced tomatoes
2 tsp. dried parsley
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. dried oregano

Orzo pasta, cooked and drained.

1. Heat oil and saute onions and garlic one minute.
2. Add peppers and saute 2 minutes more. Add shrimp and cook 2 minutes.
3. Add undrained tomatoes, spices, lemon juice. Cook 2-3 minutes or until heated. Serve over orzo pasta.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Sunday Thoughts


Know the state of your flocks, and put your heart into caring for your herds, for riches don't last forever, and the crown might not be secure for the next generation. After the hay is harvested, the new crop appears, and the mountain grasses are gathered in, your sheep will provide wool for clothing, and your goats will be sold for the price of a field. And you will have enough goat's milk for you, your family, and your servants.

~ Proverbs 27.23-27

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Paige's Highlights

1. Preserving Herbs. My parents tell me how they used this same technique to prep baby food for me. Take your veggies, pasta, meat, etc. blend in a food processor then freeze in ice cube trays. "What's Paige having for dinner?" "Well, a green cube, and orange cube, and a tan cube. " (peas, carrots, and chicken) Also, popping them out frozen made them keep well if you had to carry them around in a diaper bag all day. Here's the technique for preserving herbs--try it with basil and oregano then pop in a cube to your tomato sauces.
Fresh basil is another herb we preserve for our soups and casseroles in the winter When it is abundant, we puree it with enough oil to make a paste, then freeze it in ice cube trays. One cube will season a sauce, more will make a lovely pesto.
2. Top-Bar Bee-keeping. Another option for the homesteaders who don't use too much honey and/or want bees more for the pollination effects. It's less expensive than traditional supers and easy for the average person to built from scraps of lumber. Also, a good alternative if you want to be harvesting honey comb with your honey. Here's the link to the article. Be sure to also check out the more detailed plans (link in the article.) Also, I got to looking around a bit and found a great blogger about his top bar bee experience (see my list to the left). He said that he harvested two of these bars and got 4.5 quarts of honey from them. Definitely more than enough for me! And it's much less equipment intensive since he wanted to keep the wax for his wife to make candles out of. He just put each comb in a gallon-size plastic bag, crushed, then strained through several layers of (new) nylons. No supers, no centrifuges, just common, inexpensive equipment for home use. I like. :)


3. A good quote. I tend to avoid politics when possible...they depress and stress me out. But taken in small quantities, it's not too bad. Here's a quote that I've found fitting and a warning to the current actions taken on Capitol Hill.

“The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public's money”

Alexis de Tocqueville quotes
4. Renovating Pasture. This is something that I've thought about a decent amount. Most any new farmer will certainly have to make some adjustments to the land that they just bought. Many times it was a single crop growth for haying or a harvest crop. Either way, it will likely be in some need of some TLC. Nature's Harmony Blog had a good outline of revitalizing pasture and getting rid of weeds, namely--mechanical, shading, grazing, and seeding. Not pesticides, no fancy machinery, and great results. Enjoy!

5. Whizbang Applesauce. Well, as you know, I'm a bit obsessed with The Deliberate Agrarian's blog. His most recent entry was exactly something that I had been rolling around in my mind....If you can make apple cider easier with the grinder and cider press plans, what else can you apply it to? I mean, if you're going to go to the trouble of making the thing and spending the money on the supplies, I'd like to have more than one application for it than apple cider. Well, my brain immediately started thinking about other juices like grape juice. Also, what about apple sauce--just avoid the pressing part and just grind. Then there's other sauces--tomato sauce and pear chutney for example. Well, the other day, Mr. Herrick Kimball posted about his most recent efforts at usuing the grinder to make apple sauce.

I think that his post also raises another point--along with getting away from the over-processed food taste, there's going to be a texture difference as compared t home-made food. I know that I've encountered it when I've sampled friends' canning efforts. Their foods taste very different and FEEL very different from what my tongue was expecting-whether that was apple sauce, peach pie filling, or pickles. And I would venture to say that it should. You're processing less, you're adding less salt, less sugar, no preservatives, no added flavors or colors. The entire food experience varies. If you wanted to recreate a "healthier" version of a store-bought food and make it look, taste, and feel exactly the same, I think that's missing out on part of the beauty of the difference. So, expect a difference in taste and texture--and be open minded as to what food should taste like-I'm sure that's changed a lot over the past generation or two.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Carrot Cake

Well, like Dan's favorites, they tend to get away from me before I have a chance to snap a picture--saved by Google. This is actually pretty close to what ours looks like. Here's our recipe for Carrot Cake along with my little tweaks!

Carrot Cake from the Betty Crocker Cookbook

1 1/2 c. sugar
1 c. vegetable oil
3 large eggs
2 c. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt
3 c. shredded carrots (about 5 medium)
1/2 c. coarsely chopped nuts (I use walnut. Also optional for those with allergies)
1/2 c. shredded coconut (I will usually shred it again to make it a bit finer) (my addition)

1. Preheat oven to 350, grease and flour a 13x9 or two 8"/9" round pans.
2. Beat sugar, oil, and eggs until blended. Add flour, cinnamon, baking soda, vanilla, and salt. Beat about one minute more. By hand, stir in the carrots, nuts, and coconut. Pour into pans.
3. Bake 40-45 minutes (13x9) or 30-35 (8"/9" rounds) or until toothpick comes out clean.
4. Frost with Cream Cheese Frosting. If you have to transport it to share, some coconut on top of the frosting will keep any covering from pulling the frosting off, should it touch it.