Sunday, August 12, 2012

Canning mania!

Last summer was busy - we were moving our school into a new building and we busy prepping and packing and then moving and unpacking. Canning took second place and I did not do nearly as much as usual. Luckily I had done so much canning the year before, and I had done a little bit last summer, that we still had lots of jam, enough to last the whole winter (and still leave some left over). This year I was determined to get back on the canning bandwagon. I started the summer by having my pressure canner gauge tested (it was fine) and by ordering a bulk supply of Pomona's pecin (my favorite). I also wanted to try out the Tattler reusable canning lids for a while. A friend has been using them for a few years and has had success, so I thought I'd buy some to try them out. I wound up ordering the bulk box of 200 - 100 each of regular and wide mouth. I began making jam on July 4 and as of August 12 have put up 123 jars. Most has been jam, but I also put up some peaches in quarts as well as some syrups and some zucchini relish (it is delicious and I'll make some more soon). The pressure canner has not been used yet, but green beans will be ready soon. We'll also put up some tomato-meat sauce and chili when the tomatoes are in full swing (unfortunately, just as school starts up again). I'll be canning, I'm sure, every weekend and in the evenings. Yesterday it was 16 jars of apricot jam and 16 jars of blueberry jam. Today it will be plum preserves - we have a bumper crop again this year!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Chicken tractors

People have asked for pictures of our chicken tractors. These are not great photos, but help you get some scale. This one is 8'x8'x18". Part of the top is wire mesh, and part has lightweight metal roofing for rain and sun protection. We use an automatic water-er that utilizes a separate bucket outside of the tractor with a tube which runs to the inside of the tractor. It is very easy to keep filled. They are moved to new grass each day.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Crackers - finally!

I've been wanting to make crackers for years but somehow have never gotten around to it.

We had a snowy day and our road was icy so we all spent the day at home - a perfect day for trying a fun and simple recipe. Cut with cute little cutters they seemed so intriguing that I simply could not wait to try them.

Such success!

2 cups (about 8.5 oz by weight) of shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup whole wheat flour
a dash of garlic powder, paprika, and oregano

Blend the whole thing well in the food processor.

Add: 6 tablespoons of cold butter cut up.

Blend in the food processor until it forms a ball. You might need a tablespoon or two of cold water.

Chill (if you have the patience to wait).

Roll out on a lightly floured board to about 1/8" thick. Cut with tiny cookie cutters and place on parchment paper.

Cook in a pre-heated 350 degree F oven for about 10 to 12 minutes.

They puff up and are delicious.

You may want to experiment with the seasonings (more salt, perhaps, or some onion powder).

The first batch that came out of the oven disappeared in just a few minutes. The children had a great time and we all had fun eating.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Silly Pants


We raise Shetland sheep here at our farm. They are small and give lovely wool in lots of different natural colors. The climate of the Shetland islands is similar enough to our Pacific NW climate that the sheep don't need much in the way of special care.

Recently a relative visited the Shetland islands and brought me back a small bag of DK weight yarn. This is the real deal - Shetland yarn from Shetland sheep from the actual Shetland islands - not the Pacific NW. There were five balls of yarn, each 25g, and each a different color.

I wasn't sure what I could do with 125g of yarn in five different colors other than hats. Then I thought of Charlotte.

Charlotte is our friends not-quite-two-year-old and she is a hoot. She loves to wear outrageous outfits (her mom likes to dress her in them, too) and she is quite a ham. I've been wanting to make a pair of Elizabeth Zimmermann longies again (I've made one pair for my own daughter when she was a not-quite-two-year-old), and thought that I could make a silly pair with lots of fair-isle type patterns.

Off I went - changing colors and patterns at a whim. What fun! I did knit both legs simultaneously (using both ends of the balls - a bit of a challenge) as I do have a tendency to be a single-sock-knitter and I was afraid that if I didn't knit both legs at the same time then I'd get one done and put the project aside.

I started it around December 26th and finished them today, January 6th. I didn't work too much on them this week, just finished the cuffs. Charlotte's mom helped by weaving in the loose ends (I told her honestly that, faced with all of those loose ends, if I had to do them all then Charlotte might well be too big for them by the time they were all done). I offered to split the job, but she did them all (I wove in about four of them - not even a drop in the bucket).

After weaving the crotch the only part left is blocking. I'll do that tomorrow so that they will be dry by Monday.

The Ravelry link is here: Silly Pants

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Rustina, the guard cow

Much moo-ing was taking place and we just knew something was up. A quick check outside and we found that "something" (probably one of our kitties) was attempting to get on top of our "outside" refrigerator (in the woodshed) to check out our cooling pates.

Thanks, Rustina!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Seven pounds, four ounces

We thought that this was the biggest chicken that we'd ever seen. It was chicken slaughter day and we were sure that we'd get the "big bird" trophy.

Our chicken co-op competitors, I mean friends, are the real winners. Their biggest chicken...

seven pounds, thirteen ounces :-0

I didn't even know that chickens got that big...

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Successful meal planned week!

While meal planning is a great theory, the execution requires somewhat more self discipline than can usually be found in groups (at least in our group). This week, though, we've been pretty successful.

Monday - busy day with work/school followed by music lessons in nearby city until 6 pm. Well planned with a crock pot chili (meat browned Sunday night and beans soaked from Sunday afternoon).

Tuesday - school/work, home briefly, then two of us stayed home while the other two went off to soccer practice. Originally I had a meeting scheduled for later that evening and so planned a quick meal. Pork chops, brown rice and veggies (Rice made on Sunday night, added to the veggie dish right before serving).

Wednesday (today) - school/work and then an evening at home. Chicken pot pie (chicken and stock prepared on the unexpected Tuesday night off) with biscuit crust. Four small pies left over for the four of us to have for lunch at school tomorrow.

Thursday (tomorrow) - already put on the crock pot with the pork hocks (cured from Sunday night until tonight) to cook overnight. Tomorrow add sauteed onions and dried split peas for a pea soup and let it cook all day. Tomorrow is another soccer practice, but this time I have a meeting directly after school and the other three, plus two more, will be home briefly and then meet us (parent of the other two) at soccer practice after the meeting. No time to cook - will just get home and have dinner.

No school on Friday (in-service for the teachers, but the other two have play-dates scheduled). There are lots of leftovers - we'll probably finish them off that night.

From the farm:
Monday - ground pork
Tuesday - pork chops, broccoli, peas
Wednesday - chicken, peas, as well as butter, lard and milk in biscuit crust
Thursday - pork hocks, onions, butter for saute

A little heavy on the pork this week, but we're going to have one and a half *more* pigs in the freezer before the end of the month so we needed to make some room. We need to have more people over for dinner...