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Another Convenience Food-Farm Style

Sweet Pea and Calendula soap ready to be cut into bars

I know I talk about this all the time but here I go again. Some times I don’t feel like making a huge mess or spending lots of time cooking. There are other fun things to do but everyone has to eat right? And everyone like good home cooked meals over some boxed stuff, right?

Last night was one of those I don’t feel like cooking nights. So our fast food was a hot bowl of pea soup, corn bread and for dessert we had peaches. I had exactly 2 pans, 4 spoons, 4 glasses, 4 bowls, 1 knife and a wooden spoon to clean up. I warmed up a jar of pea soup I had frozen last fall, a quick corn bread recipe that took all of 5 minutes to measure out, and I stirred together right in my cast iron frying pan then baked and popped the lid off a jar of peaches I put up. The corn bread recipe could have been even faster if I had the recipe minus the liquids and eggs premeasured in a container with the recipe written on the side.

gardener's soap with cranberry seeds

The secret to these meals is that it all started months ago when I purchased a nice smoked pork shoulder. We had a wonderful family meal with close friends the night I cooked it. I saved the left over meat in small packages and froze for things like quick omelets, mac and cheese and even toasted ham and cheese sandwiches.

Meal two came with the ham bone a few night later, I made into a nice large batch of pea soup. This was a don’t even think about it meal. I put the ham bone in the crock pot and covered it with water, set it on low and forgot about it until the next day. After it was cool I removed the bone and other undesirable pieces, leaving the loose ham bits in the water. To this I dumped in about 4# of dried peas and a few well diced carrots. I turned the crock pot back on low and forgot about it again until later in the day when it was dinner time. Turned out perfect. A quick batch of corn bread and a fresh salad from the garden and dinner was served.

To freeze the leftover soup for another quick meal, I used regular quart canning jars and lids to freeze meal size portions in. These were not new lids, this is okay because I didn’t pressure can the soup I froze it. Make sure to leave plenty of head room as this stuff does expand when it freezes. No pressure canning needed, I simply put the band and lid on and put it in the freezer. I sometimes use other sized jars and their lids in place of the canning jars, it depends on the size I want to freeze.

After dinner last night I stopped into one of my favorite Blogs, to say hello to Rhonda Jean over at Down To Earth and was quite pleased to see she too is talking about pork shoulders and how handy and economical they are. You can read about it from her, here. Her photo of her dinner makes me hungry all over again for another cooked roast.

will be in our Etsy shop soon...Smells like spring to me...

So now on to the corn bread, like I said I was in no mood to spend lots of time cooking so I mixed my corn bread right in the cast iron frying pan and tossed it in the oven to bake. My recipe calls for corn meal, I decided to use up some I ground last fall while preparing for our 7 months of eating from our pantry. The recipe also called for a small amount of white flour, I used ground oats and a bit of bran flour. There is also a small amount of “liquid fat” my recipe calls for so I used flax oil with a splash of sunflower oil. It turned out yummy. * here is another little Karyn is not into cooking tonight tip…the recipe needed a cup of milk. Since I am doing my baking with powdered milk to cut back on the fresh milk ($$ & running to the farm down the road) I didn’t bother mixing the milk first I tossed about 3 TBS of the milk powder right in the flour mix and added a cup of water with the oil and egg.

20 minutes and very little dishes later we were stuffed full of our convenience food…farm style. Now to decide what is for dinner tonight. I think it will be a “farm house buffet”  (leftovers for those of you who are wondering). We have some Shepard’s pie, pea soup, potato salad and fresh spinach that need to be used up. Almost forgot the brownies and chocolate chip cookies…

So whats for dinner at your house tonight?

Celebrating Spring

Sap season from the Sugar Maples was short lived this year. Over the weekend we helped friends roll up and put away their tubing and buckets for another year. 200 gallons total for the season I think will drive the price per gallon up until next season. I think it was a little less than half their usual amount.

The spring cleaning in the house is done! Walls, windows & floors all washed and polished. The heavy drapes and window quilts washed, dried on the line and put away with sachets of lavender until the fall season arrives again. A purging of the cellar has begun and so far we found 21 items that can go to the Goodwill. The barn is swept of cobwebs and the general clean up done until it gets warmer when the tack can be washed down and oiled for the summer season.

Left on the list are the window screens and lawn furniture to be washed down and set up for the season. The heavy winter bed quilts and flannel sheets are still on the bed until it’s a little warmer.  All this activity doesn’t guarantee we won’t see more snow before it’s all over, but does it feel good the past few weeks to shake things up and add that fresh spring feeling to the house.

The horses are shedding like crazy and are brushed down twice a day this past week and I will continue until mid June when they stop shedding. Boy I think I could make an entire mattress with the hair off those two.

This afternoon I’m off to cook one of my yearly suppers for the guys down at the Masonic Hall. We are expecting around 45 or so for a lasagna dinner. Complete with garlic bread sticks, tossed salad and brownies and ice cream for dessert. It will be a good time and I’m sure like always I will be ready for bed when all is cleaned up and put away.

I hope you are making your own progress on the changing of the season, it’s sort  a ritual every season in the order things get done around here. Happy Spring!

Farm Fashion

I always get a chuckle out of fashion or better put my lack of fashion.  A good friend of mine always reads several of the country magazines and saves them for me to read, I then pass them on. By the time they hit the recycle bins they have been read by a dozen or so ladies. Don’t tell the subscription departments about this one…

Any way I noticed several are showing big spreads on new spring fashions for the farm life. Fancy rubber clogs with flowers on them for gardening, spring aprons, the latest jeans and button up shirts. Fancy new tote bags to take to the markets and new spring chore coats. Me, I grab what ever works and is handy, fashion, or even matching is not a consideration.

So what do you think of my latest fashion to hitch the dog out this morning? What can I say, I already had my knit slippers on so the rubber clogs would keep them dry to go outside. Who needs to bother get dressed for a quick trip, my fleece house coat will work for a few minutes… Not pretty but it works.

I have a sneaky suspicion I am not alone in this self decided farm fashion. Would anyone like to share a few shots of your farm fashions? How about a link to show them off?

Here is something I do think is pretty… It’s called Chocolate Spice, made with cocoa, cinnamon,  and orange essential oils. It’s part of the soaping spree I went on last week. I haven’t listed them on the Farm Store blog yet, but do have a couple of 5 ounce bars left if you are interested. The other purple and white swirl is pure lavender.

Today was a lovely day spent with my lovely husband. We took a ride to town down the snow and slush covered roads to pick up prescriptions and just spend some time together. We ran into several friends and had a great visit with them. Took a nice walk down the main street and around the park by the river. I nice time. After being married 9 years he still holds my hand every chance he gets.

I had put together a corn chowder in the crock pot this morning for dinner. Made from ingredients in our pantry and freezer. I guess while we were gone several hungry friends of the boys showed up to hang out with them and when we returned there were 2 single bowls of chowder in the fridge for us, the rest was gone and the dishes washed and put away…. Dick, Daisy and I had that with corn bread for dinner. Guess I should think it was good as there were no left overs, this makes me feel good.

Today brough a bit more snow and rain. Tonight I can hear the wind howling outside and I’m glad I’m in the house with a warm cup of tea. This is the first chance in a few days I have had to check in on my favorite blogs.

Tomorrow will bring the start of some de-cluttering in our bedroom closet. How we gather so many clothes when we don’t often buy new I have no idea. But it happens. I’m really thinking about how to use all those sweatshirts no one wears and make a rug  or two with them.

A few weeks ago I mentioned to a friend while trying to print those pesky round labels I would like a new printer. A printer that worked, my old one is fussy. Look what she dropped off to us! I can not believe it! This one is an ink jet, has a scanner, fax and copier, oh it prints too… I haven’t figured out where to put it just yet, it’s to large to fit in my cabinet where the old one lives. But for now this old typewriter stand will work in the corner by the kitchen table. I just love the mix of old and new. Dick doesn’t appreciate it and thinks the old stand should stay in the cellar…

This is where I do most of my computer work, right at the kitchen table. When I’m done everything gets picked up and put away in the cupboard.  Actually the kitchen table is the heart of our home. Everything from crafts, animal first-aid, eating, playing board games to sewing and just visiting with a cup of coffee is done at the table. I think our family spends 90% of our time around it when inside, to me much better than sitting on front of the tv.

How about you? Do you spend much time at the kitchen table or is another space in your home a favorite meeting place?

Hope you had as good of a day as I did.

Karyn

Baking bug–continued

Another baking project that I mentioned a few days ago. English Muffins. I have made about 6 batches over the past couple of weeks and it’s time to make more already. This is what is left after breakfast this morning, 2 out of 12…. They were yummy with some of the dandelion jelly I made this summer.

A batch makes about 20 muffins for me. I freeze them, then bag them to be used as wanted. I found that do not set on the counter past 2 days before they weren’t good to eat. Freezing them was the answer, they thaw on the counter in about 10 minutes. When fresh-baked I keep around 6-10 out in a glass bowl covered with a hand towel. I have been using the cereal box liners. They are holding up well and are easy to wash and dry off.

I found these also make great mini pizzas! Especially with fresh home-made mozzarella cheese. We were given some as a gift over the holidays. Now I HAVE to make my own, puts the store-bought to shame and I would imagine it will be cost effective too. I was just talking with the woman who made the cheese that she makes it using 3 gallons of fresh raw milk. That out of that same 3 gallons she is also able to make ricotta cheese and gets about 1/2 pound of fresh butter. Now that’s getting your money’s worth out of a few gallons of milk!

She also told me there are several ways to make the mozzarella cheese but her favorite and most predictable was to use bought cultures. She suggested Leeners to me. I will look into it. Learning to make dairy products has been a goal of mine for a couple of years now.

Remember when I was making butter milk and sour cream ? I still do make it but found we didn’t use it even in baking fast enough. So I stopped for a while.

English Muffins

  • 1 1/2 cup powdered milk
  • 3 Tbl sugar
  • 1 Tbl. salt
  • 3 Tbl. shortening
  • 3 cups hot water
  • 2 Tbl. active dry yeast
  • 3/8 tsp. sugar
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 6 cups flour

In first bowl combine milk, 3 Tbl. sugar, 1 1/2 tsp salt, shortening and hot water. Stir well until milk and sugar are dissolved and shortening has melted. Set aside.

In small second bowl:

Combine yeast, 3/8 tsp. sugar and 1 cup warm water. Stir and let yeast do it’s thing…it will be bubbly. add this to the sifted flour.

combine flour with the milk mixture and stir well. Cover with a warm damp towel and let rest for 30 minutes.

Get your griddle hot, or your cast iron frying pan. Give it a light coat of butter so your muffins won’t stick. Once ready drop about 1/2 cup on griddle and let cook each side 7-8 minutes. Cool on a rack.

It was suggested to me to cover the muffins with a pan lid while cooking, I never have and have had no problems with them cooking. I did find that if you try to eat these while still warm you will think they aren’t cooked and be sticky in the middle. They really are cooked but need to cool before toasting them.

It was also suggested that if I want perfectly round muffins to use a clean tuna can as a ring with the bottom of the can cut out. Me, I like lop-sided and I looked at our tuna cans, the bottom of the can is rounded and won’t cut off the can with an opener. (Sort of like the new soda cans). But I bet if you had rings for pancakes these would work. This is really a bread dough constancy, not like pancake batter.

Hope you try these, enjoy!

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