Category Archives: Home Cooking Recipes

As Promised it’s Raining!

I don’t often get very excited about rain when I have yard work to do. But this rain is different, we need it very badly. We have had no snow cover all winter to speak of and so far this spring very little if any rain. The garden beds are bone dry dust at this point.  The chickens are loving them to dust bathe in. Glad I can make them happy. Outside fires have been banned for several weeks and wild brush fires have been reported. We don’t often have brush fires in these parts.

I’m not worried about our water supply, we have an artesian well that pumps out more than 60 gallons a minute. We also have a hand dug well that is currently full to the top.  But I do worry about other’s wells, I would hate to see them have to buy tankers of water to put in their wells. Water troubles are almost unheard of in these parts of the woods.

Anyway I traded that rake in and stayed away from that attack rose bush and took out my shiny bright red Kitchen Aid mixer and put it to good use today. Daisy and I baked 2 loaves of pound cake.  Pound cake has been on my mind the past couple of weeks with the abundance of fresh eggs I have, 14 or so a day now. My old stand by recipe has shown up missing so I went looking on line for another recipe. To my surprise my friend Mitchel has recently posted his recipe for pound cake and it is WONDERFUL, a breeze to make and did I mention yummy with fresh strawberries and whipped cream. If you need the recipe to use up a few (8 eggs!) eggs this is a perfect one to try, you will not be disappointed with it. We ate one with dinner and the other was put in the freezer. I will do this again soon to stock up on baked breads in the freezer. They will be handy later in the summer when it’s too hot to turn on the oven and fresh strawberries are ready to pick in the garden.

I also put up another batch of Red Beet Pickled Eggs for snacking on this week. Over the weekend I will can up a batch of regular pickled eggs for the pantry. They are yummy in potato salad, tuna salad and for a side dish. I know – I know…many will tell you canning pickled eggs at home is unsafe and there is no approved method to do this if you don’t keep them refrigerated. I do it, have always done it and will continue to can pickled eggs.

And I had another treat today, Dick took me shopping for a new skirt and blouse. We have several Lodge functions soon and he wanted me to have something new to wear. You all know how well I like clothes shopping…not….but I found a nice organic cotton skirt and blouse that will do nicely.

We also stopped at the new feed store and I picked out 10 pounds of Yukon Gold seed potatoes. Being able to pick out your own is something new for me, usually the only way to get seed potatoes is to order them on line or purchase them from a local farmer. Well these are local and it was good to pick out just the ones I want. I always feel cheated when seed potatoes arrive in the mail and they are huge with only a single eye on them. Happens more often than not. I picked the smaller ones with several eyes that can be cut into chunks and still leave a good amount of potato with it. I feel it was a good, no a VERY good deal at 69 cents a pound. On line a single pound is $10 plus shipping. Think I will go back tomorrow for another variety, I didn’t want to push my luck with Dick, he hates standing around while I look and make up my mind what I am getting. We had already worked our way through 3 clothing stores, and he didn’t say a word about it or the feed store. He is sweet.

This will also give me the chance to look over the fencing supplies there. I would like a few cattle panels for the garden.

The attach Rogusa Rose last summer

Lastly I finished up a new batch of laundry soap and finished up the laundry for the week. So how did you weekend go? Hope it was a good one.

 

 

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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?

Potatoes A Convenience Food?

Well farm style…. I’m not talking about store bought frozen dinners or prepackaged food here. Well yes I am talking about prepackaged food only the packaging is farm style! I mentioned a bit about it in my last post but it got me to thinking about how much of the food around here can be just that…made for convenience when there is no time or energy to cook yet still eat healthy.

 New canning jars-now full of pizza sauce

The return of a pressure canner to the farm has been so helpful. I don’t know what I was thinking when I gave my other one away. Well yes I do, I thought here is a family much larger than mine and could use the help more than we could at the time, so I gave it and all the jars to them. To replace them ended up to be quite a bit more money then when I originally had purchased mine well over 20 years ago.

I put up all sorts of produce from the kitchen but recently one of my favorites has been the potato. Yes, potatoes, our family eats a lot of them and loves them. The pressure canner cooks them while they are processing so they are ready to go when you need them. There is no peeling or cooking needed. Fast, convenient and they sure beat the instant out of a box that taste like water and cardboard. The dry instant potato does find its way into our pantry as well.

Here are a few ways we have been using them lately:

  • Mashed to top casseroles
  • Toss with seasoning and breadcrumbs roasted in the oven-drain and rinse them first
  • Added to soups and stews
  • Fried in a pan with dried herbs from the garden-drain and rinse them first
  • Mashed for making potato pancakes
  • Heated with butter and sour cream

I think for our family growing potatoes is good to teach Daisy how to grow them and the resposibility of caring for them. It’s good for her to see and be involved with the food she eats from seed to her plate and the processes to get them there.

The lady bugs like them too...

Since our garden is small I will grow a small amount of them but the bulk will come from the farmer’s market for putting up to bring us through the winter next year. This year I have planned some sort of finger potatoes to grow since they are more costly at the markets.

So do you have other ways you use your home canned potatoes in a recipe?

7 Months of Eating Well from our Pantry-The animals eat too…

I haven’t mentioned in a while about feeding the animals around here. The Dalton the dog, Dudley the house cat, and the barn cats eat the homemade food I prepare for them weekly. The process is simple and only takes about 45 minutes from start to finish. Sort of my version on Stone Soup for them. Do any of you remember that children’s book?

I pull out a rather large stock pot and start adding things to it. I take a look in the fridge to see if there is any left over meat, if not I will use about 1 pound of beef, chicken or turkey from the freezer. Next I add any left over veggies that I want to clean up, if not I check the freezer because there are bags in there just for them. I also save and freeze things like potato, carrot peels and other trimmings from preparing our meals and into the pot they go. This is where I add the water from boiling veggies I saved too.

Next I add several types of rice, oh’ I don’t know, about 1 cup. I sometimes use barley, oats, what ever I have around and into the pot it goes. NEVER BEANS! Fill the pot with water and boil until the rice is just about done, then I add a few hand fulls of pasta, what ever is close at hand. I add a couple of  Tablespoons of flax seed oil or sunflower oil and a couple of bullion cubes or any saved gravy. This will cook until everything is done and let it sit to cool before putting it into the fridge. This would freeze well if I wanted to make a larger batch.

Food from the garden being processed to feed our pets

This is good wholesome food, I’m not talking about feeding them the bad, spoiled left overs, those go to the compost. The veggies I saved are good but not perfect. The green beans had a bit of the discoloring they will get if you touch them wet while they are growing. The nutritional value is there, I use those for soup stock too.

The carrots that were too little or badly misshapen were washed well, cut, blanched and frozen. I am almost positive these are in better shape than what is going into commercial food being prepared for human consumption, never mind pet food.

This week’s meals was a combination of baked ham, grilled steak, zucchini, green beans, beet tops, carrot peals and tops, wild rice, long grain rice, barley, a bit of whole wheat macaroni, sunflower oil and 2 beef bullion cubes.

I can honestly say that feeding them like this saves us money. Most weeks there is enough leftover meat and the freezer has plenty of less than perfect veggies we grew this summer and saved for them. If we should run low there are packages of meat scraps I picked up from our local butcher that cost us almost nothing. A 20 pound box of beef scraps was $6.00. You know from these scraps I was also able to cut several pounds of very nice stew beef for our use.

We also have several pounds of venison a friend was cleaning out of his freezer to make room for the new deer this year. Now in most cases I would NOT feed deer meat to a dog! But our’s is always on his run when he is outside and his chances of ever going out hunting is very slim. He earns his keep by being cute I guess, and he is good at letting us know when someone is here or something isn’t just right.

Another great benefit is I don’t have to lug huge bags of dry pet food around. I don’t have the plastic bags it came in to do something with and that makes us happy to cut down on unneeded garbage to recycle. An 18 pound bag of commercial dog food costs around $18.-$23. these days. If you follow the feeding directions on the package that bag would last the dog just about a week. WOW!

Even if you don’t have room for a garden or freezer space, a trip weekly to the grocery store for fresh ingredients will still help you save time, money and your back.

 I certainly feel better knowing what they are eating, that it greatly lessens the chances of them becoming sick. How many times recently have I heard about pet food being recalled? To many for my liking. Store bought pet food is a fairly new invention made for our new fast paced life and a very profitable way for the meat processors to get rid of their by-products that would otherwise go to waste. In our Grandparent’s time store bought pet food was unheard of and I can pretty much bet they would not have parted with their hard earned money to buy it. Grain and hay for the animals yes, but to feed a cat or dog, no way on earth. The ads on TV and even from your vet about having to feed your pets commercial food for nutritional reasons is a marketing scheme to get you to part with your hard earned money while you feed your pets garbage. Wild dogs and cats are opportunists and will eat what ever they can find just like any other animal and have always done so.

I also have notice that they void much less than other dogs and cats who are fed commercial foods. Their food is actually being used by their bodies. That being said this is the reason why they are able to eat less. Dalton is a mutant Beagle (no not really, but he was bought as a 12″ Beagle and I think there is some blood hound in him that makes him larger than normal Beagles) he weights around 60 pounds and eats 1/2 cup of his food twice a day. Dudley is a small sized cat and I feed him about the same when he has had enough Dalton is all to happy to help him with the rest he didn’t eat. They will also eat scraps of toast, leftover oatmeal or other goodies we might have left after a meal.

Dalton & Dudley sharing a homemade meal together

Did it take up more garden space? No not really, these veggies would have gone to the compost bin. True these carrots were perfectly good for us to eat, and my up-bringing tells me to shredded them for baking or relish or even served them in less than perfect shape. But we had plenty that were prettier. If not a row or two can be squeezed in to feed the animals.

 True I had to purchase a bit more meat but that is the cost of keeping an animal. True it takes up valuable freezer space but there are other alternatives to freezing their food. Next year I might can jars of pet food instead of storing everything in the freezer and making a week’s worth at a time.  The other thing I could have done is dehydrate the veggies. Dehydrated food doesn’t need to be refrigerated or frozen. I have plenty of time to work this out over the winter.

So with the veggies and meat safely frozen in the freezer I feel good that there is enough to feed them from our pantry over the winter. It took very little planning and a bit more time but not much. I was chopping, and blanching veggies any way so a batch or two for the pets was not a big deal.

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