Thursday, March 31, 2011

Stocking up...

Last night I roasted a chicken.  
I had to clear room out of the refrigerator and freezer due to the new month's supplies being delivered this morning.  
You will have to wait and see the Scrumptious Saturday this Saturday to see what I made, but for today, I will tell you about the stocking we did last night and this morning.

After roasting the chicken, I broke up the chicken leftovers into smaller pieces and put as well as the pan drippings into a pot and covered all the bones in water.  Then I let it simmer from dinner time to bed time.  
My dear husband was actually the one to take the pot off the stove and put it in the fridge so we didn't waste it.  
This morning I woke up early as I had received a phone call the night before from our dear Frankferds that our delivery would arrive between 7:30 and 9:30 am!  I put the pot on the back burner on low and continued on my day.  
The delivery came...Stocking up yet again with flour, yeast, canned goods, produce, and dairy delivered to the door. Then, once everything was put away, I realized that we were out of yogurt, so out came one of our 1/2 gallon bottles of milk.
I figured I saved quite a bit of time, money and energy by having the delivery made.  They drive right by here anyway and the cost of gas and time out of our schedule made it worth it.
 C. and I prepared the yogurt in our usual way. With that starting to ferment, we started in on the chicken.  
I drained off one pint of ultra concentrated chicken stock and then began to pick any meat that had boiled off the bones.  I got one pint of chicken meat pieces.  I then put some of the stock over the chicken pieces and topped both bottles off with water.  With that done, I broke up the bones once more into smaller pieces to expose the marrow and all of the goodness found there.  Again, covering the bones with water, I started up the pot.

During all of this we:
Ate breakfast
Read one chapter in "Little House In the Big Woods"
Did a phonics lesson
Did a math lesson
Had some free play time with connect 4
Did a puzzle
Got dressed
Got very silly with a monster chase game.

That's my story...
What did you do this morning?

UPDATE: Weighed remains of chicken after 2nd boiling...Used all of the chicken except 8.6 oz (from a 6 pound bird) Pretty good EH?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


My boy is not the only one who is growing up.  It is amazing how they grow.  One day they are tiny red screaming lumps, and the next they turn into little people, full of their own ideas and having adventures of their own.  My dear little C. has decided that W. will not be the only reading child in the house.  

We've been looking at letters for a while.  She loves putting together alphabet puzzles.  At this point, I think it is time to move on.  Last Friday we were at homeschool group, where they have a "mall" a.k.a. a long table filled with items people want to get rid of with money boxes and where the money is being donated to usually.  Last Friday we got...

A world wall map (a little old, but it will serve it's purpose at this point.)
A CD-ROM for history
A Clifford teacher's book
A story book
Teach your child to read in 100 easy lessons.
All for $5.00
Where else can you get that for $5.00 and give to a good cause.

I had plans for the last book.  C. has been showing interest in reading books.  She's picking them up and pretending to read out loud using the pictures as a guide.  She does a pretty great job and I love hearing her babble on about how the stories relate to her current life status ("The princess was looking for kitty cats, but the mommy said 'NOOOOO tackling the cat.'")
Siegfried Engelman...
or Buy New $12.49

Today we had our first lesson.  She started insisting on helping point to the sounds.  She is even working on the phonemic and phonological awareness sections.  

The book recommends the program for three and a half year olds and older.  She just turned three, but she is loving it.  She loves anything that big kids do.  She is such an early riser that we have about 2 hours in the morning just for "us girlies" so I am planning on doing a lesson in the morning (it just takes 15 minutes or so) and then another lesson in the evening.  So maybe in two months I'll have an emergent reader...who knows.  I remember my grandmother teaching me to read when I was little.  I felt so special during our reading lessons because it was just the two of us.
I love getting our "girlie time"  with my little C.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Scrumptious Saturday...eating from storage

It's the beginning of the time of year where we actually get to eat freshly grown food out of the backyard (right now just oregano, mint and chives...but more will come.)  It also is the time of year to start clearing out what we have so that we will have room for what is to come as the seasons progress as they tend to do.  Soon lettuce and spinach will grow and be replaced  by tomatoes and peppers, which will give way to broccoli and apples. Oh the wonderful cycle of a garden. My jar filled shelves are now quickly emptying and more empty jars are going into the canning cupboard.  Soaking beans and sourdough are out frequently, and store bought food is becoming more common.  Some previous posts will be shared in this recipe.  It is with fond memories that I share this recipe as many of the items in it are home grown, preserved, and loved.

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
3 cups garbanzo beans (post soaking volume, about 2 cups before soaking)
1/2 cup roasted red peppers in olive oil
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup yogurt strained (makes about 1/4 cup Greek style yogurt and 1/4 cup whey-keep!)
Spices as you like (I used oregano and chive since I have them!)
Place everything except the oil in the food processor.  Give it a whiz around and then slowly stream in the olive oil.  Depending on your beans may need more or less oil.  

Recently the husband and I went to a restaurant and had some hummus made from black beans and it was really good too...we may have to make a batch of that some time.

As another note, when I strain my yogurt, I usually strain two cups at a time.  To do this you put a strainer over a  container and line the strainer with cheesecloth or a coffee filter. Place it in the fridge for a few hours.  This yields 1 cup yogurt, and one cup whey.  I have been topping the strained yogurt with granola and honey and then using the whey in my pancakes.

Whey Cultured Pancakes
(as in sophisticated too...right?)
1c flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 Tbs. sugar
1 Tbs oil
1 egg
1 cup whey.
Mix the dry ingredients, add in the wet.  Pour out by the 1/4 cup full on a hot oiled griddle (I'm in love with cast iron.)  When they git bubbly on the top, flip and cook for another 1-2 minutes.  The whey makes them extra fluffy and just a touch tangy.

So I just figured out how to do something.
Did you cook something SCRUMPTIOUS this week.
Share it here!
Just click on the below button.
Then enter your information.
Others will be able to go to your recipe that you made this week.
Let's see how it goes!
(Don't forget to leave a comment too, I love reading what you have to say.)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

W's now 6!

It's of 11:11pm last night, W. is 6 years old.
We celebrate birthdays with lots of choice.
W. made the following choices:

No school work (except arts and crafts.)
Jammies all day.

Chinese takeout for dinner.
Sitting at the head of the table.
(He had to move his blue dot too...)
Lots of lemonade.
Dinner by candlelight.
Home made napkin rings.
Old blue eyes on the CD player.
So as he ate his Chinese food (attempts were made with chopsticks! It's a miracle!) and bobbed to the beat of a CD bought for background music for our wedding, we spoke about all the wonderfulness that he has brought to our lives.  
He loved having his day of choice...his day to shine and do all the things he wanted to.
My big guy.
My sunshine.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

What nightmares are made of...

This day 6 years ago, my son was born (after being 2 weeks late and 36 hours of labor...I was ready.)
What I wasn't too ready for was this.
We took a big handful and stuck them in the freezer for later investigation.
After all, we have a party going on now.
Happy Birthday W.
More on this tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

What dreams are made of...

It's amazing to me.

One day you are knee deep in snow, trudging through it to take care of the chickens and tap the trees, then overnight the warm wind blows and melts it all.  Sure the neighbors complain that their basements flood (plant something other than gravel!) but you instead see the beauty of it.  The mud, the faintly green of the grass and weeds.  It's the urge that you get to buy seeds, and the way that you wait for them to come.  Last year's food scraps have magically turned into beautiful crumbly soil, fertile and ready to be added to the beds to nourish a new year's growth.

You go to the feed store to stock up on other seeds that you want to put in right away, or maybe it's for the seed starting supplies.  The fresh spring air has a certain scent that is intoxicating.  The smell of barn and dirt, moisture, growth.  It may be hot in the sunlight, but cold and blustery in the shade, just a reminder from winter that he is still lurking in the shadows.  
The early seeds that you plant start poking their little heads up out of the ground, spinach, lettuce, and carrots sending up their first two leaves towards the cold early year sun under their makeshift cold frame.

 The berries start putting out little grey leaves, and those tenacious weeds complain and try to hold fast when you pull them up. Strawberries stretch out last year's hands between mothers and daughters.  The Rhubarb starts poking out bright crumpled green leaves on the deep red stalks from their white winter cover.

The mint and oregano start their yearly quest for garden domination, while the chive hangs out between them and attempts to avoid the rabbit's gnaw.

The garlic, so carefully planted from the previous year's best and biggest bulbs and then mulched the fall before, starts poking up to remind you that they are there.  Little chirps from birds working hard fill the ears, as does the slashing sound of the hoe.  You send the kids out.  Their quest is to pick up all the limbs, sticks and twigs that the harsh winter broke from the trees.  They will make a wonderful start to a birthday bonfire.
  It's a magical time of year.  
One full of possibilities, dreams and over planning.  
Thoughts of canning in the blazing summer heat have barely entered your mind.
Yet, you have planned everything that will become dinners, canning adventures, and freezer stuffing.
It is Spring.

Note: The page for Citysister's harvest has been updated...I am finally writing it all down!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Scrumptious Saturday...a pie for my guy

My husband starts a new job on Monday...Friday was his last (official) day at his old job.
So technically he is unemployed this weekend.
So I made pie.
Somehow it seems fitting.
He wanted cherry pie.
I didn't have enough in the freezer.
So this is what he gets.

Mixed Berry Pie
One recipe double pie crust
about 6 cups blackberries, blueberries, and cherries
2 TBS cornstarch
1/4 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
Mix the berries, flour, cornstarch, and sugar in a bowl.
Roll out the crust and place in a greased pie pan.
Put the berry filling in.
Put the top crust on in any manner you see fit.
(I did lattice, but I saw a lovely one done once with cookie cutters and seasonal shapes.)
Brush top crust with milk and then sprinkle with sugar.
Bake at 400 for 20 minutes.
Bake at 350 for about an hour.
You may want to cover the pie with tinfoil once it turns the correct color brown.
Enjoy it.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

A quarter pounder without cheese

A quarter pounder

Two eggs from the same chicken
This egg was the only one layed the day after the great mucking. 
 I consider it a thank you from the girls.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

I'll pay for this tomorrow...

Monday is usually my work day.  I work one day a week and am home for the rest.  I had a cancellation so I went home for a few hours in the middle of the day.  The weather has started taking a turn for the damp coolness that usually precedes the blasting heat of summer around here. 
 I figured I would hoe the beds I started last summer and fall.  It took all of 10 minutes to do this as the soil was the best I have ever seen.  Soft, crumbly, dark and rich, it will be the best food for our food.  I then decided it could maybe do with a little nitrogen from our chicken coop aka "chicken poo."  I went in with a bucket and extracted a mass of our deep litter from the past 6 months.  It was starting to mature to a nicely aged mass of fertilizer.  So I put one bucket on each of our raised beds.  
Then I figured I shouldn't stop there. 
 I opened the muck door in the back of the chicken coop that goes straight into the compost heap.  After 2 hours, I had finally cleaned out 6 months of weekly layering of chicken litter.  I also took the time to use some of the compost from last year and layered compost with chicken litter in order to get a lovely bacterial colony going in the heap.  Worms were everywhere in the deep layers about one foot below ground, a sure sign of healthy soil that has been produced.  

With the work all done, I jumped in the shower (I bet my afternoon clients were happy I did this!) and went to the local feed store.  There I bought a big compressed bale of peat moss for lasagna beds and mulching later in the season, and on a whim asked how much for a discarded pallet.  The pallet recycler gives them a dollar each so he'd give me the same deal.  I also got a few seeds that I saw and liked.  
With all that done, I went back to work, clean, energized, and hopeful about my garden.  But I knew after all the lugging, pushing, and tugging, I'd be paying for it the next day...
and boy o boy am I ever.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Scrumptious Saturday

As long ago promised, I have made a vegetarian meal.
(Yes, you could add bacon and it would be great, but for today, we are all out of bacon.)
Often I will "accidentally" make too many mashed potatoes.
What is one to do with leftover mashed potatoes.

Mashed Potato Pancakes
2 cups leftover mashed potatoes
2 eggs
1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. cheddar cheese shredded
salt and pepper

Stir everything up in a bowl.  Place on a very hot oiled pan (I love my cast iron griddle for this.) by the 1/4 cup full and mash down into a pancake.  Let cook for a few minutes until golden brown, then flip.  After flipping, I like to give it a little smash so that it is about 1/4 inch thick.  Let cook for a few more golden minutes and serve hot.  I use it as a main course, a side, a breakfast whatever my fancy is that day.  But there is no doubt about it, they are rather scrumptious. 

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Any one up for sinzibukwud?

Sinzibukwud...the Algonquin word (and also Cree) for maple sugar.
Just in case you didn't know.
(I didn't until I read the handouts I got from our field trip.)

To tap a tree you don't need fancy equipment...
You don't have to spend money on buckets or spiles.  
Everything needed to tap a tree, I found in my house.
A drill fitted with a bit.
A gallon milk container.
A nail and hammer.
A drinking straw (about 1/3 per tree.)
(A big bucket may come in handy too.)

In order to keep the trees healthy, there are a few ground rules.
Only drill to 1 3/4 inches depth.
I put a rubber band on my bit in order to make sure.

Only tap trees that are over 36 inches around at 52 inches above ground level.
For every 15 or so inches further around, you can add a tap.

So then we went to our neighbor's yard (yes, we asked permission first.)
We drilled a hole in 3 trees.
It's amazing how hard maple wood is.
Smoke started coming from the bit and when the cold sap touched it, we heard sizzles.
After the holes were made, we put one of the plastic drinking straws into the hole.
As you can see from the picture, sap was already dripping down the bark.

Next, we put a nail in the tree about an inch above the "spile."
Then two holes were placed in the milk jug.
The top one holds the jug to the tree via the nail.
The second allows the spile to pour cold crisp sweet tree sap into the jug.

This morning I went to the tree to see how much sap we had collected over night.
About 1 cup.
Since sap only runs when the night is below freezing and the day is above freezing this was pretty good.
Last night wasn't even freezing.
This week, the days are supposed to be warm and the nights below freezing.
I can't wait until we get some more sap.

I also got a great tip from the field trip.
Place the sap in the freezer or outside on a freezing night.
In the morning you should have a layer of ice on top.
Throw it out.
It is just water ice, and it will save about an hour of boiling off time.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A pile of fermentation

We got back from a mini-vacation yesterday afternoon.  
Typically I make yogurt on a weekly basis, but I didn't have time to before I left, 
so our old yogurt was a bit icky.
So today I had to revamp the yogurt from here.

I also received a package in the mail from Alaska thanks to 
This is my life at 720 square feet, she is such a sweet fierce momma!

In it was a pack of sourdough from Alaska!
(Have I ever mentioned my obsession with Alaska...
I have a ULU my parents brought back for me and now a living sourdough... and some beautiful books! 
Oh it is just too much!)
I love sourdough.
I love it with passion.
I have wanted to make a good one for a while, but just didn't have the courage to make one from scratch 
(what if it made awful sourdough) 
and I couldn't find a starter that was an old strain locally.
C. and I mixed it up (with a bit of a struggle over the whole spoon issue.  
C. didn't want to use a wooden spoon.  
Her metal spoon would spell certain death for the dough.)
So now I have that fermenting over the top of my yogurt on a heating pad.
I have a large pile of fermentation slowly cooking away.
I love all the little creatures making food yummy.

So I will post this without pictures in hope that I find my camera after the long car ride and will later post a picture of my heap.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Scrumptious Saturday...Cook once for 3 days.

Sorry, the whole household has been sick.
The seasonal flu and cold took me out for a while.
I was planning on posting this last Scrumptious Saturday.
But, better late than never.

I love making roasts.
You cook once and can eat for days.
I made a 2 pound pork roast make 3 meals for 4 people
(aka 12 meals or about 1.25 oz/person/day at a cost of less than a dollar a meal.)
Day 1 Recipe
1 2 lb pork loin roast
1 can tomato paste
4 cloves garlic peeled
veggie stock
seasonings to your liking

Rub seasonings onto pork.  Cut 4 deep slits into the pork and insert garlic into the holes.  Place the roast into a hot pan with some oil and sear it off.  Pour in veggie broth mixed with the tomato paste.  Put in oven at 300 degrees until tender. Serve with rice (hint...make too much rice so you have leftover rice) and savor.

Save the roasting liquid and make into BBQ sauce by adding
sweetener (molassas, brown sugar, and honey all do nicely and play together nicely as well.  Amounts vary as some like sweet bbq and some like hot.  It also varies by the type of sweetener(s) you use.)
hot pepper powder (I use a touch, like 1/8 tsp of chyanne pepper)
garlic powder (as much or as little as you wish)
ketchup (about 1/4 c)
lemon juice (about 1/4 c)
vinegar (again depending on what kind you like and how sweet/sour you like it.)

Take half of the leftovers and dice...refrigerate with your leftover rice and then make fried rice.

Take the other half, shred it using 2 forks and cook in the above bbq sauce.

My family doesn't always like to eat "theme and variations" style, so I will let you know that the bbq and the fried rice all freeze nicely. 

What else would you do with this "theme and variation"