Saturday, January 29, 2011

Scrumptious Saturday: The Sisters' "Heirloom" Baked Beans

New England Baked Beans are a big part of...well...New England.   ETC ETC

It was a plan...
Two sisters craving baked beans....
Two crock pots...
Two recipies....

It shakes out something like this:

Country Sister's  Baked Beans
Step 1.  Acquire Vintage Orange Crock Pot as awesome Dump Find after City Sister acquires the much sought after family heirloom crock pot in a questionably underhanded manner one holiday visit (I'm kidding here of course--but the whole crock pot debaucle has been the source of many laughs so we of course HAVE to keep it going...and make the story more crazy every time)

Fill crock pot about 1/3 to 1/2 full of rinsed drybeans.  I use a combination of Great Northern (bought bulk) and Jacob's Cattle (homegrown)
Add One Medium Onion Coarsely Chopped
Just Cover with Water
Turn Crock on High

Check in an hour or so and again cover with water

When the beans are basically soft through
4T Ketchup
1/3 C Brown Sugar
1/4 C Molasses
3 T Dry Mustard
2 Strips Bacon (raw)

Cook on High 2-3 hours
Check for doneness
Salt to taste and turn down to low until you eat or store them for later in the fridge or freezer (yes you can freeze them!)

That Country Sister thinks she's something special because her (not so) beautiful (non heirloom) crockpot came from the dump.  Doesn't she now.

Citysister's crockpot beans.

3 cups dry rinsed great northern beans (purchased...during the last great shopping adventure)
1 onion (chopped)
2 cloves garlic (chopped)
4 slices bacon raw chopped up
1/3 cup Molasses
1/2 cup Brown sugar
1/4 cup ketchup
(I have a sweet shows here in the bean recipe.)
Put beans in a bowl with 6 cups water.  Try to fight off the 2 year olds manic cooking impulses to crazily stir the beans into oblivion.  Put bowl of beans in a hidden area to baffle the aforementioned 2 year old.  Let set overnight.  First thing in the morning drain the liquid off the beans and put in the crockpot with all the other ingredients as well as water up to the top of the beans.  Tell husband that the weird smells are not his breakfast.  Set crockpot on low for the rest of the day checking on the water level.  Enjoy.

We sometimes will have as a lunch the next day weenie beanies (our) Grannie's recipe!

4 cups baked beans
4 hot dogs
3 Tbs or so of ketchup and mustard
1/4 cup sauteed onion
Saute the onion.  Add in chopped up hot dogs (even when I was older, Granny insisted on chopping them up...after all you could choke.)  Cook the hot dogs until browned and warmed through.  Add the beans, ketchup and mustard to taste.
Serve with BUTTERED (no margarine!) bread.

Thursday, January 27, 2011


While wandering around on the internet, I came across Cold Antler Farm's blog.  On the sidebar, there is a picture of a diseased heart. 
  One with a disease that will infect and take hold of your heart.  
That's right, Farmheart.  
I think I first contracted in in early childhood.
My grandmother's friend had sheep.
They were soft and woolie and just fun.
I would tell my grandmother how I was going to be
a farmer and a stained glass window maker and a veterinarian.
I guess I would have been very busy.
I also remember going to my great grandfather's farm.  He had tons on ground bees living underground.
In the hot summer, they were fanning out their hives.  My brother and I stomped on those bees out of fear.
I remember the anger our great grandfather had at the sight of this.
These were valuable pollinators.
His dear friends.
He explained how everything on a farm worked together.
Maybe that's what I love about our little backyard homestead.
We work on it.
We dream about it.
It brings us all together.
Having a bad case of farmheart gets me through those rough times.
When the "hen" is actually a rooster.
When it is cold and things need to be done.
When it is 100 degrees in the shade and canning needs to be done.
But it is also a rewarding disease.
How many diseases can you say that about.
Because of it, I've seen my son hold a little baby chick so tenderly and whisper in awe,
"Isn't it a cutie?"
Because of it, my kids know vegetables don't come from a store.
Because of it, my daughter will sit next to me and tell me how she wants to wear a sheep as I knit (on a sock!)
(Insert silly mental image of a 2 year old with a big sheep on her back.)
Because of it, I sit hour after hour at night
sipping on tea (that I grew)
dreaming of the garden while pouring over seed catalogs.
Because of it, I yearn to get dirty.
Are you infected too?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Cold Frame of Mind : East Coast Version

OK!  Its Cold.  Yesterday morning our house was 52 degrees.  Yes, inside.  No big surprise---we've been here before.  So, without meaning to freeze the fantasy of those seeking their dream in a rambling 200 year old farmhouse...please be advised.  Even if you gut the house back to the the traditionally thin walls and install brand new and alternative and supplemental heat systems and put in all new ultra efficient will still be cold.  Well--actually if you have more money than us and can afford to then fully insulate the attic floor and the basement ceiling with R-30 and truly believe that the rodents won't carry it all away within 2 years....then you might have at least a fighting chance.  But truth be told we ran out of extra funds for renovations a few years ago and thus, it is every winter when we hit the SUB ZERO stretch, that we start crunching numbers and trying to promise ourselves that we will save this year and do those insulation projects before next winter....lottery tickets anyone??   Here's an idea, I'll house swap someone with a 1000 square foot energy efficient new house who is craving my rambling old farmhouse for one winter....and we'll compare notes.  Mind you, I wouldn't give up my acres and my privacy and my animals...the few days of slight discomfort is probably worth it....but I do fantasize about stoking one single Jotul and burning only 2-4 cord of wood a year.  If you are in this boat---count your blessings---they are many!

So we wear layers, indoors, and wool hats and when I type or play piano for any time my fingers go cold.  And its pretty hard to get out of bed...not to mention step out of a shower.  But this too shall pass and we'll be back in the sweltering 20s and this "cold snap" will be nothing more than a memory of fortitude and new england grit and determination.

Stay warm friends!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Cold Frame of mind

I found a great article here about cold frames.  Oh how I love the idea of getting out there sooner rather than later.  I have begun my winter ritual...over dreaming the garden.  Over thinking where and what I shall grow. And planning to grow more than we have room for, of course!  I sometimes plan like I have a garden that is over an acre in size.  Then reality hits...I only have 1/4th of an acre TOTAL...My garden consists of:
a strip 18 inches by 20 feet
a patch 5 feet by 20 feet
a berry patch (poorly fault) and the blueberries I think have been chomped by deer
2 raised beds about 4 feet by 6 feet (with plans for 4 more this spring)

So that is a grand total of 163 square feet more or less with plans of another 96 square feet or 259 square feet total (more or less, some gardens may be bigger or smaller.)  So here is my challenge this year.  As one of the goals set forth here, I am going to weigh everything I grow...or at least everything I get in the house (W. has a habit of eating in the garden.)  I am going to make a separate page where I list what I planted, spent, and grew.  I challenge my sister to do the same (ah ha something to make up for the jam challenge that never happened!) To see how cost effective the garden is.  I may even have to throw in cost/time canning/freezing...eggs...I am not yet sure if I'm up to that challenge just yet.

I am always amazed by people like this  sure they have some advantages
no young children who need to be cared for at this time
warmer environment
years of experience
but overall, they are self sufficient on just 1/5th of an acre!  And they produce enough to sell as well...
A girl can dream.

So here is my plan...
Check over the catalogs
Check with friends 
(there is no way we can use all the seeds that we order...we can't use all 30 tomato plants that grow from a packet...especially when we want to grow a couple of varieties) 
to see if they'd like some seedlings or seeds.
Order the above.
I need to plan and research the whole succession planting thing as well as interplanting!
I've been looking here
to get well as here

Get moving on some cold frames and checking for cheap hay (could be used later for chickens and then compost, or mulch when the weather gets better...waste not!)
I also found an interesting little bit here about square foot gardening and making seed mats.
Then the weighing can begin.
I hope to have the first broccoli, lettuce, spinach, carrots, potatoes and beets in maybe in early March when the snow melts and I can see ground.
I also found this, a guide and the method of The Three Sister Garden, an ancient method of growing corn, beans, and squash.  We've been talking about growing corn this year.  This method seems like it would be best for climbing dry beans, and flint corn...both things I want to grow this year (and who could say no to squash?)
We also want to grow sweet corn.
We also want to try to seed save.
This will involve some careful planning so that the pollination times are separated.
Anyone done this before?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Simple indulgence...

Pretty much....this is what I call a perfect Saturday morning in January.  Wood heat, Coffee, knitting project and seed catalog...the sun rising on my back....and the quiet hum of a family homestead up and running...not minding that I am taking a few self-indulgent moments.  It really doesn't get much better than that. 

What's your perfect Saturday morning?

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Scrumptious Saturday

With our food order that came in, I knew that the husband would be out of town (he hates Mexican food)...
We have been studying the continents...and so we have been studying North America first.  
With that in mind, I knew what would be yummy. 
And educational.
And just plain fun.
Normal people have breakfast for dinner upon occasion.
Upon occasion, I like to have dinner for breakfast!
(And switch sentence structures around.)


2 blue corn tortillas per person
1/4 cup (more or less as desired) shredded cheddar cheese per person
Shredded cold chicken (optional)
Veggies (optional)
Mexican seasoning
Salsa (my kids eat salsa like most people would have soup)

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Lay down on a cookie sheet one tortilla per person.  Top with (chicken, veggies) cheese.  Sprinkle with Mexican seasoning.  Top with other tortilla.  Put in oven for about 5 minutes, take out and flip, then return to the oven for an additional 5 minutes (this ensures proper crisping of the tortillas as well as even cheesiness on each tortilla if you add the optional items.  Dip in the salsa (or like my kids do, spoon salsa on each bite.)  

It's a great item to cook with children (if adults take care of the oven and flipping) as they can customize it to their liking.
I also found this meal to be very inexpensive. 
I paid $1.79 for 10 tortillas ($1.07 for 6 used)
$3.50/lb for the cheese (which we have shredded and frozen always on hand for snacks about, we used about $0.30 worth) 
The chicken was leftover ($1.30 for the amount we used.)  
The Mexican seasoning was something we have on hand.
The salsa is something we have in stock as well usually ($0.30 for the amount used.)  
So for a little less than $1 per person I made a wholesome breakfast with plenty still around to make more!
(compare to the price of a weekend breakfast of toast, eggs, and bacon
instead of tortilla, cheese, and chicken)

Or you could have it for, a great price for dinner!
or I could imagine it being used for a kid's lunch party...
let's just call it Scrumptious!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Homesteading: Sometimes it hurts...a little

If you're not down with the more intense parts of animal husbandry then you might want to hide your mind from the rest of this post...just a little warning....

When we started having animals on the farm we knew that we would have to make many tough decisions.  Decisions that are maybe even controversial.  We feel strongly about caring for our animals, all of them, intended for consumption or not,  in the most humane way we can manage.  We provide them with the best housing and food that we can afford and we are mindful of allowing them to behave in a manner that is most akin to their natural instincts.  This, we need to balance against our need to contain them to a reasonable space that we can manage to fence, our finances, and our own personal health and safety. 
The finances part we manage by not taking on more than we can afford.  It is not difficult to get in over your head with grain and hay costs, and we are ever mindful of how much we spend every month and whether we can afford to maintain an animal in what we consider to be at least humane...and more likely....excellent conditions.
We also give our animals more space than they probably need.  We feel they are healthier this way...and happier.  Example: Pigs dont like to mire in their own waste anymore than we do--ours get lots of space or a stall that is mucked daily and we have leaner pigs because of it.  That's fine with us.
On the more grizzly side of things, we have had to make several tough calls:

1.  Disbud (dehorn) Goat Kids?  Answer: YES
     For us, having small children around unpredicatble animals with hard horns and knowing that we may need to use wire sheep fence for part of their pasture (which can be very dangerous for the goat if they get their horns caught in it), answered that question for us.  While neither of my bottle fed does have ever come at me with their head, I cant say the same when it comes to my children (goats butting my kids...not my kids butting me), or for my Liza goat---who is much like her dad---pretty aggressive.  Also, I felt that if I was going to have my face really close to these goats when milking, that it would be more prudent to have a horn-less goat.  I have now successfully disbudded several goat kids with an iron--its quick and doesnt seem to bother the kids for long at all...its not pleasant...but a few moments of unpleasantry and a lifetime of ease and safety are the choice that we made.  I respect others who decide so many things...its a personal choice.

2.  Castrate piglets?  Answer: NO
      This was one job that I had fully prepared myself for.  Our sow was to farrow for the first time and I was prepared to castrate all of the little boy piglets myself.  I read the materials, over and over, set to go watch another person do a batch, and checked out the equipment.  The thing is that most people want to buy a castrated male piglet for meat.  Its been the long standing wisdom that you have to castrate boars or you get 'boar taint' or an off taste in the meat.  After doing a ton of reading we decided that we disagreed with that long standing wisdom and successfully sold all of our boar piglets uncut.  Hooray!  I really was not looking forward to removing the testicles of little piglets--could I, yes--but glad we decided it was an unnecessary intervention.

3.  Ring pig noses? Answer: NO
    Some people put rings in their pig's noses so their pigs don't root up their pasture.  We have large black hogs.  They're pasture pigs.  Supposedly they don't root and just eat pasture.  Our observation is that this is true, IF you have really good quality pasture...which we do in some areas...but dont in many areas.  BUT.  The way we see it is, the pig roots up the nasty pasture area and eats all of the grubs and moves the soil around---and leaves behind some fertilizer.  Then we move fence, add pasture seed, and voila!  Good pasture.  Plus, along the lines of letting animals follow their natural instincts---it just didn't set with us to make it painful for a pig to root.  They're rooters.  Its what they do.  Again---I get why someone would do it.  Just not for us.

4.  Dehorn calf?  Answer: YES
     This was probably the biggest choice for us yet.  We got our calf at 3 months old.  A little on the old side to use the disbudding iron...and we stalled a little.  But in our hearts we knew we did not want a dairy animal with horns.  The woman who sold us the calf had a scar just under her eyeball from an unintentional meeting with a horn tip.  Really close to being blind!  Another woman we know was recently gored in the back by her docile horned cow.  They don't mean to do it--most of the time.  Its just that they move quick and if you are in the wrong spot--well it only takes a second.  With two little kids and me planning to take a seat down by her side and extract milk--it just didn't make sense to take the risk.  I think cow horns are beautiful and I am glad that some people are willing to live with them. 
   So we had to wait until the cold season since dehorning would be a bit more of a meaty endeavor and would attract flies and maggots in the warm temps.  A few weeks ago we went ahead and made a very luxurious ($$) call to a specialized bovine vet.  Not messing around here.  There are plenty of farmers that do it themselves--power to them.   We called the vet.  It involved:  a local anesthesia block, a general sedative, a scalpel, a wire saw, artery forceps, a dehorning iron, antiseptic spray and some anti sedative uppers.  It was really no big whoop.  The most intense part of it all is that my cow now has two (temporary) holes in the top of her head through which I can look directly into her corneal sinus.  The holes are about as big as a pencil and should close up in a couple weeks.  Still....that is just wierd.   Believe me, we did a ton of reading on this one, and our vet was excellent.  Daisy was babied and pampered and popped right up and started eating hay immediately after the procedure.  I am relieved that it is done and she is snuggly and calm as ever.  Maybe, if i have time tomorrow I'll get a picture up of what it looks like.  From a science-y point of view its really quite interesting.

Anyways...controversial or not, that is how we have handled all of those decisions.  I don't know that I ever thought I would be sitting up at night reading about artery forceps or how to press a piglet scrotum just so...but its all part of it.  I think its good stuff to know.  That when you look at a cow, you ask yourself about the horn situation...or when you see a litter of piglets you wonder how and if the farmer handled that castration.   Its real stuff, isn't it?!  Opinions? 

An outdoor kind of day.

 We had a lovely day exploring outside.
We searched for animal homes.
We studied plants.

We watched Seamus (SHAYmus) playing.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

What you get for the money...

Pittsburgh has long been considered a great place to live...
the cultural events and museums
the low cost of living
family friendly environment
and many other reasons...

I had been reading a series from here over the past week about cutting your budget and frugal grocery shopping while maintaining high quality nutritional food.  I found it pretty interesting reading the comments from people about things they do to reduce the cost of wholesome food...

About once a month my husband and I sit down and take stock of the cupboards and freezer and make a big order (or two...when we forget or run out before the order is picked up) from here.  Usually it totals about $300.  For the most part, this is the bulk of our groceries for the month. We supplement with previous bulk bought items, frozen and canned food from the summer, and during the summer items that we get from our garden.  For meat, we bought a quarter of a cow from here, and supplement from here.

2 # butter (Amish roll butter! yummy)*
6 gallons milk (low heat pasteurized, non homogenized- good for making yogurt)*
10 blue corn tortillas*
2 boxes frozen spinach*
5# potatoes*
5# dried beans*
1 bottle disinfectant cleaner

1 loaf bread (we usually make our own, but it's nice to have a frozen loaf on hand)*
1 box vegetable bullion cubes*

1 case tomato soup*
1 bottle Mexican seasoning*
1# cinnamon*
1 jar salsa*
25# rice*
1 gallon honey
25# unbleached flour*
5# raisins*
1# cocoa*
1# oregano*
1# Italian seasoning*
4 oz. vanilla
8 oz. artichoke fettuccine*

3# apples*
1 bunch celery*
1 case pretzels*

# pound(s)
I like to go on Saturdays when you can shop the warehouse (other days it is closed and you just come by and they load you up.) Occasionally they'll have produce that is not so pretty or dairy that's on it's way out for a steal...such as

8.5 pounds after the kids ate all the bananas that they could over 2 days
and the 1-2 pounds that went straight to the compost heap
(wet and moldy...not good for human consumption/storage!)

The guys in the warehouse said that they weren't pretty enough to sell so they let the kids have them.  They also joked that we could only have them if we made them some banana bread...who knows they are such great people I may just do so!
They also had 3# blocks of cream cheese for $4 and some change...past date, but still good...
I was thinking cheesecake, but decided not to.
It's just not that good for me.
(but my tongue and tummy are regretting that decision.)
(No, I currently receive no compensation from them, it's just a really great company)

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Scrumptious Saturday

It's Saturday again...
This week I made some brown rice to be topped with
Cranberry pork roast.

I first made a batch of cranberry sauce
I had about 3/4 of a bag left so I added 3/4 cup honey and 3/4 cup water and brought it to a boil for about 5 minutes.  I put half of it away for later and added the other half to MY crock pot (somehow country sister believes it should be hers as it was our parents original 1970 orange crockpot.  She found another similar one in her junk yard pickings.)  
I then put in a 2 lb. pork roast which I had stabbed several times to let the sauce flavor it.
I also added about 1 tsp of garlic powder, thyme, salt, and pepper was well as about 2 tbs of vinegar.
I let it cook for about 4 hours.

And wallah! 
As I said, I sliced some up on top of a bed of brown rice with a little of the sauce.
I had pictures, but the focus is way off...sorry.
It was still yummy.

If you don't like the sweet and sour taste of it, you might not add the vinegar and instead add a little brown sugar and ketchup and make more of a cranberry bbq version.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Stop...Drop...and Roll

One requirement in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania's homeschooling laws is that you must teach fire safety. This morning, W. decided to don his hat, and pretend to be a fire fighter.  
I love opportunities like this one.  
We talked about stop, drop, and roll.
Don't forget to cover your face.
W. has some experience with this method (not actual hands on, but more of a theoretical knowledge luckily) so he taught C. about it.  
Then W. started coming up with crazy scenarios...
"C...a dragon is attacking you and your hair is on fire...what do you do...stop, drop, and roll while I fight the dragon and put out the fire."

Apparently, fire fighters have a side job of dragon slaying.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The forest for the trees...

Yesterday as I lay on the floor after battling some flu-ish sickness and the laundry at the same time I breathed deep and tried to restore. 

I lay there thinking about something that City Husband once said during one of his first visits to our place.  He was standing in the kitchen and he remarked how one of his favorite things was that the view out of every window was just trees...thats all you see is trees.  Its true.  But for the several years I had lived here I had thought very little about that.  So consumed with house building and farming and child caring and whatnot...I had certainly fallen in love with our land...but had never really looked at it through that viewfinder.   And so I am thankful for my brother in law whose wonderful perspective, undoubtedly shaped by his city-view childhood, has provided me with a new and rejuvinating perspective on my space.

I am thankful for those moments.  The ones when you see the same situation, the same view, through another lens, another angle or a shifted perspective.  Sometimes it is easy to find, and sometimes it takes the eyes of another person or being splayed out on the floor to get us there. 

Try it today!  Squint your eyes, breathe deep.  Turn your head and then look again.  Be flexible where you are normally rigid.  Smile when you normally don't.  Lay down on the floor and admit defeat and see what victories come your way. 

(and when my camera stops acting up I'll share my view with you....)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Last night I dreamed of homework...

My dear little C. woke us up this morning (at an unspecified o'dark o'clock) with a happy look on her face.  She then proceeded to tell us of her dream.  "It was wonderful...I dreamed of...homework."  She loves doing "work." I asked her what homework she was thinking of...

"North America...Africa...Australia...and Antarctica...these are the seven continents in our whole wide world..."

I am so proud of my little ones.

We have been studying the globe.  
I made up a song about the continents.
I find my kids remember things better in song.  
Driving home last night they burst out into song (alright, C. started singing and then she begged W. to sing too...being a decent older brother he obliged but reminded her it was "just this one time.")

(Sung to 10 little Indians)
"North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, and Antarctica
These are the seven continents, in our whole wide world."

Grandma has also been doing work with the kiddos when I go to work.  C. always wants to show me what she has done with great pride.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Scrumptious Saturday

Camera pictures. I am sorry.
This week I made something yummy.
I made...
Stuffed Chicken
2 stalks celery
1/2 an onion
Bell's seasoning (taste varies...I use lots, it's poultry seasoning at it's best in my humble opinion.)
1/4th loaf of bread ripped into quarter sized pieces.
1/4 cup butter
Milk (not sure how much)
2 lbs boneless chicken breast (leftovers are intentional in this case) skin is up to you.

Melt butter in a skillet.  Add the onion and celery.  Saute until soft.  Take off heat.  Put bread into a large bowl and add veggies and any butter in the pan.  Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and bell's seasoning.  Pour in milk until everything is firm but wet.  Cut breasts to make a pocket (horizontally about 3/4th of the way through)  Shove stuffing in and place on an oiled cookie sheet stuffing up.  Cover and bake at 400 for about 45 min (internal temp of 170) taking the cover off for the last 15 min to let it brown up a little.  We had green beans from the freezer with it, and that's that.

I was able to source everything pretty locally...the grain was raised just north of here to make the bread.  The chicken was raised also just north of here.  The celery and onion came from a local farmer, and the butter came from the Amish community near here.  The milk came from a little west of here.  And the Bell's seasoning is from away...sorry I have to import it on my journey to visit my family.  It's that good.  Salt and also comes from away as does my yeast for the bread (but the honey in it is local.)

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The hats have it!

I did it.

I made a hat for each of my family members in time for Christmas.

The boys' matching hats are a lovely variegated blue cotton blend with a red alpaca wool stripe.  On the husband's hat is also a ring of gray cotton.  I kind of like how the blue made stripes.  C's "pink" was knitted using pink cotton and a synthetic pink yarn as well at the same time...
I learned a lot while making these...

1. always check to see what side you are knitting on.
2. don't use cotton on wood needles
3. DPN's aren't as scary as they seem
4. I can do it.

The pattern for the boys can be found here
The Boyfriend Hat
And C's hat can be found here
note it looks nothing like how her's turned is worth a try.
Twist and Tie Hat

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

New Year's Goals...Or...I like me just the way I am

Here it comes...the "new year how can I improve me" entry.
  I have some things I'd like to accomplish this year. 
Yes, like many I see a new year as a blank slate (as Anne Shirley would say "with no mistakes in it...yet.") But at the same time I feel a little silly.
 I am who I am.
  No more, no less.  
I know I will never be a size 4, be graceful (my grandmother used to call me "crash, bang, boom" for a very good reason) or have the perfectly clean home with the perfectly mannered and behaved children.  I may never have a larder filled with the fruit of my summer labor, grown, harvested, and preserved perfectly and the time to accomplish all of this and more. 
After all, I am quite comfortable being just quirky old me. 
As 30 draws ever nearer, I realize I have been perfecting the art of being me.
I am a piece of art.
Yes, I am an oddball.
I like doing some very odd things for where I am. 
Nobody I know here knits, keeps chickens, or cans things.
Some keep gardens...I know a few that home school.  

At the same time, I see room for learning.
Ah life, that never ending classroom.
Instead of making resolutions, I'd like to improve my knowledge of things.
To expand my horizons.
To become an even better version of me.
Citysister 2.0

Weigh everything we grow.
(Just to know...price it out...maybe I'll make a tally and let you in on it.)
Expand the garden so that it can support most of our veggie needs for the year.
(Yummy and delicious and very nutritious.)
Work on learning how to garden around the year.
(Cold frame, here I come.)
Can, Freeze, make pickles.
(Expand upon what I already do.)

Home life
Learn how to bake with alternative sugars (aka honey and agave syrup)
(In hopes that someday we have bees when we have more land.)
Improve my organizational skills
(As I can be really unorganized...but that's a secret.)
Minimize the clutter
(again with the organization...I can't even organize my thoughts here.)
Have a yard sale
(To get rid of all that aforementioned clutter.)
Knit a sweater and a pair of socks...oh how I wish for the perfectly hideous stripy long socks.
(The husband wishes for a cardigan with leather elbow patches.)

Expand my homeschooling network
(I am having a hard time finding like minded people around here.)
Further improve my organization.
(Again with the organization.)
Be the perfect mom 

Overall, I am very thankful for the last year.  We set aside some worries and have begun to really realize what is important in life.
I have had this lovely chance to reconnect with my sister as well.  
As well as with those people that read this.  
Thanks for coming by and visiting with us.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Scrumptious Saturday...Happy New Year

As the sun set on 2010, I looked out my kitchen window.  I had to capture it.  I find myself spending lots of time in the kitchen, cooking, cleaning, puttering while on the phone...I love that I have a window that looks over the sunrise, and another that looks over the sunset, as usually I get to see both.  My kitchen looks over the gardens and the chickens.  A nice reminder of where the food I cook comes (or could come) from. A big goal for next year is to grow a larger percentage of our food.  I'm already itching to get out there.

This time of the year we have so much cranberry sauce.  It's winter comfort food.  I love mixing it with chicken or spreading it on bread.  I planted 10 little cranberry plants last fall.  I can't wait to see what happens! I was reading Cooking Light, and found this appeals to my cranberry love, even though I am not a big drinker.

Cranberry Kir Royale
(from Cooking Light, November 2010)

1/2 C. whole berry cranberry sauce
3/4 C. Vodka
Mix and let sit in the fridge for 4 days.

Put a little in the bottom of a champagne flute and then pour on the champagne (OK sparkling wine... or whatever)

We have a tradition of having a picnic of duck on New Year's Eve.  This year we had Roasted Duck Adams County (the recipe is from the Bed and Breakfast cookbook of Gettysburg) as made at the Dobbin House in Gettysburg (my favorite dish I've had there.)  The whole recipe is quite convoluted so I will not write it here.  And as our picnic is late at night, I couldn't get natural light...and the pictures were too yellow to show.  Oh well, it was delicious.  As a side, I made bacon cheddar smashed potatoes.  
Everything is better with bacon.