Thursday, October 4, 2012

No Fail Basic Bread Dough

I love homemade bread. Typically though, my homemade bread is a big ol' fail. I've tried different recipes, oh so many different recipes. I make bread that has wonderful flavor but very rarely rises. I've tried different yeasts with no success. I've tried 5-minute a day bread, bread from scratch, and bread maker bread.

A friend from church gave me a basic bread dough recipe and FINALLY I can make bread. Her best advice was that you don't have to follow the recipe exactly, you need to make bread like you cook, follow your eyes and nose. And since I've never been one to follow a recipe, this is my style of baking. The best part, it's basically a no-knead bread.

Basic Dough for buns, etc.
1 heaping tablespoon yeast (I've made with regular, fast-acting, and bread machine yeast with great results!)
1 level tablespoon salt
1 egg
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup oil
1 1/2 cup warm water
4 cups flour

Dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water and make sure bubbles are present.

Add all ingredients. Knead gently to incorporate all ingredients. I maybe knead for about a minute.

Place into a lightly greased bowl, cover, and set in a warm area to rise. For me, I let my dough rise in the laundry room. Once dough has doubled, shape into bread pan or form into rolls. Cover pan and allow to double again.

Bake 400 degrees until golden brown.

I am in LOVE with this dough. I have not tried it with whole wheat flour so I don't know if it would need gluten added to it. My favorite variation is to add 1 cup of 9 grain mix and decrease the flour by 1/2 cup and add 1 tablespoon garlic powder.



Sunday, August 12, 2012

Miss Em's Famous, Mouth-Watering, Hot-Diggity Peach Cobbler

I canned 28 pints of peaches today. Miss Em was quite concerned through the whole process that I wouldn't save her enough for her to make her "famous, mouth-watering, hot diggity peach cobbler" (do you ever wonder where your kids come up with this stuff?).

So we made peach cobbler. She gave me the general ingredients of what she wanted in there, I added the extras. I would have taken a picture but by the time I got into the kitchen, it was gone. Whatever didn't get eaten by us and our guests had been scooped up to take home for lunches tomorrow. The Farmer had even scooped up a little container for his own lunch tomorrow and put in on the shelf where I always put his lunch.

So in lieu of a picture, just imagine a warm, goey, peach cobbler steaming fresh out of the oven with trails of real whipping cream melting over the brown sugar crumbly top.

Admit it, your mouth is watering right?  :)  Thought so!!

Miss Em's Famous, Mouth-Watering, Hot-Diggity Peach Cobbler

5 cups fresh sliced peaches (but save the pit so you can grow a gazillion peaches next summer)
1/4 cup splenda brown sugar
1/4 cup splenda sugar
1/8 cup whole wheat flour
Shake some cinnamonony jamma mama (makes perfect sense right?)
Couple little pinches of sea salt
A little tipsy of lemon juice (1 tbsp)
Make a slurry with 1 tbsp. flour and 1 tbsp. water

Butter the butter of a casserole pan. Mix together all ingredients and put into pan. "And you gotta beat it with a spoon so it cooks up just right."

Crumbly Topping (Mix all ingredients together)

3/4 cup splenda brown sugar
1/3 cup splenda sugar
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup rolled oats
Shake some more of that cinnamonony jamma mama for some flavor! (there's moves and everything involved in this recipe)
1 stick melted butter
Some more of that healthy sea salt

Spread half of mixture onto top and bake 350 degrees for 30 minutes in a covered dish. Spread the rest of mixture and bake for 35 minutes in an uncovered dish.

Allow to cool and cover with some yummy whipped cream or ice cream. Sit back and enjoy and wish you'd remember to videotape your children!  :)


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Tomatoes - Fresh fro the Garden

Last night as we were finishing up chores, I wandered down to what is becoming my weedy garden. I really need to spend some time out in the garden weeding but it has been very humid and hot. However ,things are still growing splendidly!

I picked these four big gorgeous tomatoes that I took to work and ate for breakfast and lunch.

And half a colindar (red on red doesn't make for the best picture) of scumptious cherry tomatoes that the farmer took to work for lunch.

So delicious. So summer.

There may be lots of tomato sandwiches in our future!


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes

A good friend gave me this recipe and it couldn't be easier. My kids also LOVE them!

1 box Spice Cake Mix
2 cups pumpkin puree

Mix together and bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes.

My friend used the pumpkin pie mix but I had pumpkin puree in the freezer from last fall. I like the pumpkin puree better, it seemed to make a denser cake. Either way they are yummy and healthy. If you make 24, they come in at about 69 calories each and 12 muffins are about 138 calories each.


Saturday, July 14, 2012

Dinner at the farm

I truly love summer eating. Our dinner tonight.

Chicken - Our farm. I cooked off two chickens a couple nights ago in the crockpot and we're been eating on them for a couple of days. I'd much rather have it roasted in the oven but its been hot, really hot!

Corn on the cob - Local farmer.

Tomatoes - Our garden! YUMMY! Sometimes when it gets hot, I really question why we garden and farm. Then I smell a fresh picked tomato and all my doubts go away.

Green Beans - savanging find. Seriously!

My brother called me this morning and told me that he was driving home with one of his boys and came across a ditched filled with green beans. They stopped to see what it was about. A semi-truck rolled over the night before (the driver is okay) and spilled the entire load of green beans. The kids and I went up to get some and ran into a couple of county highway workers who said to spread the word so people would come get them before whatever wasn't gone by Monday morning would go into compost.

I hate wasted food and thinks our society throws away entirely TOO MUCH purely because it doesn't look perfect. This accident is a perfect example. The company didn't want the green beans because they tumbled out of the truck onto the ground.

Here's what I came home with.

Actually this is about half of what I came home with. I spent the afternoon visiting neighbors, friends and relatives giving away beans.

Now tonight I'm canning. Lots and lots of canning. I barely put a dent in these and most of them are going to church with me tomorrow to give away the rest.


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Cloth Diapering using padded underwear

I wish I would have gone this route with the first child. This could quite possibly be my favorite cloth diapering option. If anything, it cuts done on the number of regular cloth diapers needed thus making cloth diapering even cheaper. They are less bulky than regular cloth diapers and sew up quicker.

The little babe now has a nice little stash of padded underwear for daytime wear along with three new fleece covers. Running around outside, or even inside as long as I'm watching for when he goes, he doesn't need a cover. There are thick enough to absorb urine but not so bulky as to make them uncomfortable for a little mover and groover! I did the gerber training pants route with our oldest and these beat them hands down, not even a good comparison, blows them outta the water (not that I'm tootin' my own horn or anything here  :)  ).

Cost-wise these cost me $8.59 to make 10 pairs of padded underwear and three fleece covers. The only thing I had to buy was the underwear, the rest came from my fabric stash. The cost would have been approximately $25 if I had to buy the materials (FOE $1.50 for 3 yards, fleece $7.00 for 1 yard, flannel $8.00 for 2 yards and underwear $8.59 for 10 pairs).

As far as sewing, they are very quick to sew up. I did 10 pairs of underwear and 3 covers in about 2 hours and that includes the time spent measuring and cutting materials.

You could use any type of material for the cover (fleece, wool, PUL). If you used a pattern such as Katrina's Soaker Pattern (free pattern), it would eliminate having to use foldover elastic.

Hope everything is staying cool. Temperatures here in Wisconsin are hoovering around 100 degrees!


Saturday, June 30, 2012

Bulking up the underroos - Tutorial

One of my most popular posts is when I showed my bulked up underroos. Now I'm back to bulking up some more underwear, but we're not quite ready for potty training with the babe yet. However, he is getting quite the rashes from his diaper and the summer heat so we're bulking up some underwear since his favorite place is outside, anytime, anywhere, with anyone, no matter the weather.

Start by gathering your supplies. I'm using some leftover zorb blanks and some diaper flannel and of course some underwear (which I prewashed, although I'm not sure if it's necessary with underwear but I did it anyways). You'll also need a marking pen and some pins. My favorite marking pens are crayola washable markers. I used to buy fancy sewing marking pens but with kids they always seemed to disappear and I haven't had any issues with the marker not coming out of the fabric.

Since I also made some fleece covers, I didn't line them with a layer of PUL. So if you want that additional layer for potty training, you'll also need some PUL scraps.

Start by making a pattern. I fold the underwear in half and lined up with the blank that was also folded in half.

Pin and mark the lines. The cross line will be used for marking the front and back.

I laid the underwear out on the cross mark, folded down the waistband to find the front and back length.

Lay the new soaker inside the underwear to see if it's a good fit and make any necessary adjustments. Once you have a good fit, use this piece to make a template for your other soaker pieces.

Fold your underwear inside out.

Pin your soaker pieces. Carefully sew around the outside of the soaker. Make sure you don't catch the other side of the underwear. Not that I've done this or anything, but it might be a possibility, especially if you're sewing with young children. Just sayin'.

I use a zig-zag stitch.

Ta-da! You're bulked up underroos!

The soaker material is entirely preference. I used what I had on hand. If you're using just flannel, I would use several pieces.


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Rhubarb Jello Dessert

Sunday afternoon while I was in the midst of jam making, the Farmer asked me to "make that really good rhubarb dessert, you know the one with jello and the sprinkled crust, that's my favorite."

So the conversation goes back and forth until I finally call his mom to find out it's a dessert she used to make, back in like 1978. This is one of them.

Bottom Crust
3 cups flour (I used 2 cups whole wheat, 1 cup all-purpose)
3 tbsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
Cut in 3/4 cup butter
In a separate bowl, mix 3 eggs and 3 tbsp. milk and add to above mixture. Grease a 9x13 cake pan and press into pan.

Cover with 4 cups of cut rhubarb and sprinkle with 1 - 6 oz. package of jello (I used raspberry because it's what I had on hand).

Mix together 1/2 cup butter, 2 cups sugar (I used splenda), 1 cup flour (I used whole wheat), 1 cup rolled oats, and 1/2 cup brown sugar (splenda again). Sprinkle over rhubarb.

Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes.

Very good. I've had a piece each night. Make that two pieces tonight.  :)


Linking to:

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Dinner at the farm

I love when people post their menus for the week because it gives me inspiration. However, I am not a menu planner. In high school, I had a friend who every Sunday night, picked out all her clothes for the week and hung them on hangers. I asked her once what happened if she didn't feel like wearing that for the day. Her response was but that's the outfit for the day.

Cooking dinner is like outfit planning. I know everything that I have in my kitchen and work around it. When I grocery shop, I always buy the basics, plus whatever else I think would be nice for the week. For example, if I see a recipe for fish tacos, I'll put the ingredients I need on my shopping list and figure sometime during the week, I'll make them.

If you came to dinner at the farm, this is most likely what I'd feed you (lunch is sandwiches, leftovers, or you're on your own so ALWAYS plan to come for dinner).

Roasted chicken, dilled green beans, saurekraut, lettuce salad with apples, radishes, and hard boiled eggs. The kids passed on the green beans and saurekraut and had corn. In the winter, we'd add bread and put out butter, homemade jam, and honey or maybe cornbread or some brown or wild rice.

And with the exception of the apples and salad dressing, everything was raised or grown on the farm. I'm very proud of that.

Tonight you'd even get dessert. Strawberry rhubarb cake for the adults (recipe tomorrow). Berries of choice with whipped cream and sprinkles for the kids.

I roasted two chickens today. The leftovers will go for lunches or added into other meals throughout the next couple of days. Shredded chicken with fruit and cottage cheese is a favorite lunch for the kids and we may have chicken tacos one night or a chicken salad with lots of veggies and fruit with crusty french bread.

Now I have to go hide the cake before I eat another piece!


Saturday, June 23, 2012

Whimsical Couture Pillowcase Romper

The Facts

: 2 yard of Heather Ross Far Far Away
Pattern: Whimsey Couture Pillowcase Romper
Year: c. 2012
Notions: None. Could use grosgrain ribbon for ties.
Time to complete: about 2 hours. Could have been quicker but three kids, one of whom is sick (which explains the funky pose above) and another teething.
What I'd Change/Changes Made: None, surprisingly. Miss Em is very comfortable so I may make another one.

I love this double guaze material from Heather Ross. And it screams summer. The only difference I would make on another one is to lengthen the body, probably 3 inches. But this is only because Em has a long body.  I left the ends on the tie raw so they will unravel and fray. I turned the hem under 1" twice since I didn't have enough material to add a ruffle and didn't want to put a solid blue ruffle.

I haven't sewn, really sewn, in quite awhile. It felt good. Now to start working on downsizing the fabric stash with some more projects!


Monday, June 18, 2012

Controlling Out of Control Hair

Awhile back, I posted my "new do." Which I absolutely adore, even though I really need to get a hair cut. Unfortunately, on hot humid days much like today, it looks more like this.

I've always like headbands but hated wearing them for a variety of reasons. Those little plastic ones hurt, those skinny little elastic ones don't do much when you have thick, curly hair, and those wide jersey ones just look wrong. Then I found this on pinterest but was too cheap to pay $26 for a headband.

So this afternoon and 15 minutes later, I ended up with this.

And had the Lil' Man model.

 Two simple rectangles twisted together to make the "knot" at top and an elastic band from my daughter's hair basket underneath.

So comfortable.

Now I'm going to go make a bunch more.

And then use them BEFORE my hair starts looking like it did in the first picture.


ps - Yes, it's the middle of June and I still have a Santa Claus up. I figure if he makes it to the 4th of July, I might as well just say I'm decorating early.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

My new planters

The other day, during the snake situation. I was in the process of planting flowers. Scrunging through the shed, I found a variety of items to use.

The tall shelving unit was brought home when we were cleaning out the rental property last spring. I put nail holes in the bottom to help with water drainage and filled the buckets full of flower seeds and pumpkin plants.

These two dishes were also brought out of the rental property.

My last set of planters were actually mine and the bigger pot was filled with spinach.

The glider was also a free find last spring. I was driving through town and it was sitting in a front yard with a free sign on it. Just needed a good scrubbing and a coat of paint.


A Simple Sunday Afternoon and the Snake

It all started out innocent enough. Farmer took the little farmer to buy a new piece of farm equipment. So the little man and Miss Em and I took off to buy some very important things for the farm. You know, like a rose bush, potting soil, flowers and some tomato cages. When we got home, I began planting the new bushes in the front flower bed and then I moved to the back of the house and started planting the flowers but I needed the flower pot in the corner.

However, it was quite buried and tangled beneath the grape vine so I enlisted the help of the Farmer to help me untangle and hang the vine. With the planter freed, I began planting all my flowers but realized I had more flowers than pots. Too cheap to go back to the store to buy pots, I scouted the shed and saw this rack.

But I couldn't find the bins. (I'll show you the end result of my project tomorrow.) The Farmer though they were in the garage off the house. In the above picture, the garage is to the right, the laundry room is the left along with an entry door. Now in the summer, the kids usually prop this door open so they can come in and out of the house without having to bug me when they can't get the handle open.

Have y'all figured out where this is leading??

Uh huh, you guessed it. I went into the house to find the bins to find a 3 1/2 foot snake in my laundry room.

I seriously do not think I have ran that fast in years.

I seriously think the neighbors a mile away heard me screaming.

I seriously think I scared the crap outta the Farmer with my screaming for him to come RIGHT NOW!

Apparently, we roused the snake outta his nice cool home by messing with the grape vine. The Farmer called his dad and the neighbors to all come see because he wanted to know what kind of snake it was so he knew whether or not to kill it.

The Farmer and I had a screaming fight (okay really it was just me screaming) that it doesn't matter what kind of snake it is because the only good snake is a dead one. Their supposed rationale is that a bull snake (which apparently what is was) is good at eating mice around the farm.

Their logic is totally ridiculous.

Unfortunately, they removed to the snake to the field across the road.

There may be a farm for sale shortly.


Friday, June 8, 2012

Simple Summer Jammies

It started out with me wanting to make my oldest some "simple" summer pajamas using this tutorial. I even picked up this t-shirt on the clearance rack at walmart for a dollar.

Apparently, I have issues with measuring. They were very blousy and a tad short. I did the mature thing and threw them towards the trash and went and did some manual labor.

I came back to them awhile later.

I added a simple bodice and trimmed the top, back and armholes with foldover elastic.

Now I'll be making some more. This is a great way to repurpose t-shirts! Miss Em says they are light and airy...the perfect summer jammies.


Monday, May 28, 2012

Grandma's Chocolate Syrup

My middle child's favorite food is chocolate, followed by blueberries. He has quite the little sweet tooth for a 3-year-old. He's also my hyper child so we like to watch what he's getting in his food (i.e. high fructose corn syrup and sugar and 482 other ingredients in something as simple as chocolate syrup). When the chocolate syrup ran out, I called grandma to get a recipe.

Grandma's Chocolate Syrup

1 1/3 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
2 1/4 cups sugar (I used Splenda)
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/3 cups boiling water
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Combined cocoa, Splenda, and salt. Gradually add boiling water. Stir over medium heat until smooth (about 10 minutes). Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla. Store in fridge.

Ta-da! Something I no longer feel horrible about feeding my chocolate loving three-year-old!


Thursday, May 24, 2012

Rhubarb Kiwi Jam

Let me start by saying to look past the picture and make this jam! It is good and surprisingly, for jam, not at all that unhealthy. This is so good that the evening shift girl at work tried some and then got mad when I put it in my bag to take home until I explained there was another jar in the fridge.

I manage an group home so I spend a lot of time cooking and baking. I had brought in rhubarb to make rhubarb dessert and had some left over. We also had some leftover kiwi that were bordering on going bad and this is what I came up with.

Rhubarb Kiwi Jam

3 cups chopped rhubarb
4 cups chopped kiwi
1/4 cup sugar (Splenda is what I used)
1/4 cup vinegar
Oh about a teaspoon of salt
1/4 cup lemon juice

I added all ingredients but the kiwi and cooked until the rhubarb broke down. Stirred in the kiwi and cooked for about 10-12 minutes.

The result...a sweet, tart jam that I definately want to make more of!


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

On chasing cattle

When having farm animals, cattle in particular, there are certain things that are bound to happen. The biggest is that cattle will go through the fence when the Farmer is not home to chase them.

Cattle also have a horrible timing. If it's raining, storming, snowing, you're late for work, it's the middle of the night, you and the kids are all dressed for church, and nobody is around to come help you chase them, they WILL go through the fence.

I've chased cattle pregnant, I've chased cattle with babies and toddlers strapped to my back. I've chased cattle pregnant, in the pouring rain, at 2 in the morning. I've chased cattle barefoot, in flip flops and in Nikes. I've chased cattle in freshly plowed fields and through corn that's 8 feet high. I've tried bribing them with corn, sweet talking, swearing, and down right running. I've tried evasive maneveurs and last second whims but have found that dumb luck is usually how you get them back into the pasture.  

Also, if you get a pedicure, the cattle are bound to go through the fence.

Oh, can you tell what I did tonight?


Sunday, May 13, 2012

Rhubarb Dessert

This is probably one of my favorite desserts. It has an almost sour taste that I love. My chickens have been digging through freshly plowed fields and garden which accounts for the bright yellow, almost orange filling.

3/4 cup butter
2 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar

Crumble, put in 9" x 13" pan and bake 10 minutes at 350 degrees.

5 cups rhubarb
5 eggs yolks
2 cups sugar
4 tbsp. flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup milk

Mix and pour onto crust. Bake 45 minutes at 350 degrees.

5 egg whites
12 tsbp. sugar

Beat egg whites, add sugar and spread on top of baked mixture. Bake 15 minutes or until gold brown. (My topping should be higher but I only have a hand mixer so get bored standing there beating my egg whites...still tastes good.)  :)


Saturday, May 12, 2012

Farm Animals

It's always nice to know that your farm animals can co-exist! This is what I found when I walked into the barn this morning...a hen nesting in the calves hay bin!


Friday, May 11, 2012

Baby Chicks

It never fails. I order chicks and it completely leaves my mind when they are supposed to arrive. Until usually the day before when I open my email and find a shipping notification. Then we're scrambling in the barn at 10 pm after the kiddlings are in bed cleaning and setting up brooder boxes.

It also never fails that I get to the post office for my one box and think, "Oh they didn't ship all my birds, no way they are all in there!"

And they always are!

Ducks and geese in one compartment.

Turkeys in another.

Jumbo Cornish Cross take up the other two compartments.

Stretching and running, exploring their "temporary" home.

These are the two that were born a couple weeks ago. The flash scared the creepers outta this one and he/she went straight up into the air. I laughed at the chicken and I'm pretty sure I hurt its feelings.

Let the summer fun begin!


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Fish Tacos

When I read food blogs, I often wonder how they take pictures of the food. One blogger recently mentioned that she typically does her photo shoots outside. Huh!?! I like food, I like to cook and experiment. But I don't have the patience to set up a photo shoot, I just want to taste! Maybe if I did set up a photo shoot when I took pictures of my food, I wouldn't have had the need to join Weight Watchers? :)

Since joining Weight Watchers, I've taken a renewed interest in cooking healthier. Know what I've learned? Eating whole foods and Weight Watchers is hard! WW promotes the use of low-fat, low-calorie food. Sauteing using cooking spray instead of butter or oil. Me, I like homemade bread slauthered in butter and jam and real food.

So it's been quite a journey. One good thing is that it has upped my intake of vegetables. The other nite, the farmer and I had Fish Tacos. YUMMY!

Fish Tacos - My Way

Flour Tortillas
Grilled Ahi Tuna
Thinly Sliced red and green cabbage
Fresh salsa made with cilantro, tomatoes, red onions, jalapeno, salt and pepper.
Spicy cajun sauce made with plain yogurt and cayenne seasoning.
Fresh lime.

I think the only difference is that next time I'll ever so lightly pickle the cabbages. Just slightly to give it a little tang and soften is slightly.


Sunday, May 6, 2012

New Do

I love long least in my head. But really I like it better on other people. I was growing my hair out but gave in and cut it the other day.



Friday, April 27, 2012

Dress A Girl Around the World

Hopeful Threads is a blog I've been following for quite a few months. Each month, Kristy picks a project and asks for donations. It's really quite incredible what she does. Earlier this month, I found two vintage pillowcases and finally got around to finishing them. You know, nothing like waiting until the last minute or anything!

They have the sweetest pale brown flowers on them so to add some color, I used light purple bias tape. A pillowcase dress is one of the simpliest things to make. If it wasn't for distractions (children), a person could whip up 10 in about two hours. I did two in two hours.


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Bees and a bear warning

The bees arrived and where installed on Sunday. We're adding three hives and replacing one that we lost last year to swarm so we'll have a total of six hives! Bees being installed is fascinating...I like to watch from a distance! Ha! There have only been two years that I've had to really work with the bees and that was while the Farmer was traveling. One of those years I was pregnant. So yes, beekeeping can be very safe when you're safe about it!

Way over on the right hand side of the picture is the electric fencer. Ours runs off a battery. Two years ago, we have two hives destroyed by a bear so now we take precautions. Installing new bee hives is not an inexpensive hobby to have so we like to protect our investment as much as possible.

It wasn't even 30 minutes after we had the new bees installed when we saw a bear walking up our property line on the backside of the barn. Luckily the bees are on the other side of the property. The Farmer followed behind the bear to see where he went but lost track of him (from like a distance of half a mile!). Fortunately, we haven't seen the bear since. And being the good blogger that I am, I scolded the Farmer for not taking the camera. He gave me the "you're nuts" look. So I gave him the same look because hey, I'm not the one that was following a bear! :)