Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Wednesday on the Homestead


Good Morning!


It seems like forever since I have blogged.   I was plagued with more computer issues that are getting straightened out, thankfully!! 


I have also been busy with my home and making soap and lotion and getting gift baskets ready for the upcoming months. 


The weather here has cooled down considerably and in fact there is rain today.  I don’t mind this too much as it makes it easier to focus on inside things. 


With Emily’s help we managed to get this house nicely cleaned up earlier this week.  My desk is cleaned off, the floors look good..  we moved furniture around to get behind things and dust and vacuum.  Amazing how a house just ‘feels’ better after this type of thing. 


I had a friend share some zucchini from her garden with me the other day.  It was soooo good! I really miss my garden.  We made fried zucchini to go with that nights dinner (pork roast, Fabulous Baked Beans, steamed green beans – also from my friends garden- and fried zucchini.. yummy meal!). 


Tobin is almost done with the goat fencing and then my bucks will move to their new home and I will once again have a garden spot!  Obviously it is a bit too late to do much, but we will rototil it up and who knows, maybe I will plant some fall lettuce or spinach. 


Today is grocery shopping day.  Hannah will come in from her house sitting job and we are going to drop Emily off at her job and then Hannah and I will do the grocery shopping.  Then when we get home she and Sierra will go back to her house sitting job.  I guess 3 days of being without family was enough for her… she is ready for company! LOL.. 


That sums up my Wednesday on the Homestead! 

Monday, August 21, 2006

Making Blackberry Jam


It is blackberry season here in the Pacific Northwest!  And my property is full of blackberries.  The kids have been out daily picking them and we have been enjoying them.  Yesterday we made some blackberry jam (pictured above).  I have always loved making homemade jams.  But one thing I don’t love is all the sugar it requires.   Something like 4 cups of mashed berries to 7 cups of  sugar!  That is just way to much for me.  And the cost of pectin is pretty high as well.


I used an alternative the other day when we made blackberry jam.  I used Pomona Pectin.  I have used it before and was glad I chose this again.  One box of the pectin made 4 batches of blackberry jam.  Also you cam make the jam with little or no sugar or with honey because the pectin does not require the sugar to make it work, it uses calcium water.  The boxes of  pectin have a little packet of calcium powder that you mix with water and add 2t. per batch of jam.  It works wonderfully.


The recipe (inside the pectin box) said 4 cups of mashed berries to whatever sweetener I wanted and whatever amounts I wanted.  I found that for 4 cups of mashed berries I used 1 cup cane juice crystals and ½ cup honey.  The combination made the jam sweet but not overerly sweet and the berry taste was quite strong. 


Pomona Pectin has a website for anyone interested: and they do sell it on the site ($3.50 per box) Or you may also be able to find this pectin in a health food store.  I buy mine from Azure Standard: They charge $2.70 a box.  I also saw that they sell it in bulk by the pound, something I may do next year.  




Monday on the Homestead


(the above graphic shows that I may just be feeling the need for some fall like weather! LOL…   )


Today has been a nice day..  it has not been too busy and I  (along with help from my kids) were able to get things done.


I got 4 loads of laundry washed and most of them on the line..  the clothes line filled up and I dried the rest in the dryer.  Before I could start laundry I had to make the laundry soap.  I had not realized we were out.  No one told me!  It was no big deal as the laundry soap goes together very quickly. 


I also managed to label several bottles of lotion that I had made over the weekend (my Fuzzy Naval sold out very quickly so I was restocking that one and made a couple of others). 


Emily and Leanne picked more blackberries.  We are going to use some of them tomorrow to make blackberry ice cream..  yummy!!  


I got the house in nice order and them made a nice pot of salmon chowder for dinner.  Emily made garlic cheese biscuits to go along with the soup. 


I talked with my oldest daughter.  Her time is coming due soon.  She has about 6 or 7 weeks left until the birth of her little boy.  Her husband Jonathan is busy, busy with his Air Force schooling and is doing well. 


Tobin came home and we visited and he is now resting..  he has been working hard to put in more goat fencing during the weekends and some extra time at work..  so he was feeling it by the time he got home from work today.


Well that sums up my Monday on the Homestead!! 

Friday, August 18, 2006

Friday's Feast

What color is your car? 

A dark green Ford full size van,  a red Jetta, a white Jetta and a cream colored Ford pick up


If you could wake up tomorrow with full training in another occupation and a job in that field, what would it be? 


Wow..  I love what I do!  But I suppose if I had to pick something it would be learning computer web design and other computer geeky things..     Or selling real estate.. 



How many times in your life have you had the flu (or something similar)? 


Well a few times I am sure..  Having a house full kids means things go around and sometimes more than once..  However in general we are a pretty healthy bunch so it has been a long, long time since I have had anything


Main Course
What is something that has happened to you this week that you didn't expect? 


To have to wait 45 minutes in the Shari’s Parking Lot for my friend who was late..  she had been held up at work and did not have her cell phone to tell me.  None the less when she did arrive we spent the next 5 hours in the restauraunt visiting and having fun (she is my best friend and we had not seen each other in awhile).. 

How old were you when you had your first kiss? 


Too Young..    


"How old were you when you got married?" ~ 20

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

More Cheese Making (Another Feta Cheese Recipe)

I have continued to make more feta cheese and wanted to share my updates with you.  I tried another recipe that I like.  The cheese it a bit firmer and dryer but that makes it crumble better. 


Here is the second recipe for anyone wanting to try it.  The procedures are basically the same as the first recipe.


1 gallon milk (I used raw goat milk, but milk from the store would work too)

1/4 cup buttermilk or 1/8 tsp Mesophilic M culture (I have used Mesophilic A without problem too)

1 teaspoon liquid rennet

1/4 cup cool water

Cheese salt


Bring your milk up to 86 degrees and add the buttermilk or cheese culture.  Put a lid on the pot and wait 1 hour. 


After one hour mix the rennet and the water together and add to milk and stir.  Cover and keep at 86 degrees for another hour.  This is actually easier done than you may think.  I took a second pot that was bigger than the one I had my milk in and put warm 86 degree water in it (I did not have it on the stove, just used my tap water and got it to about 86, this does not have to be exact).  After adding the rennet I set the pot of milk into this warm water.  You basically just want the milk to stay warm.  Another time I was baking bread and cooking a pot of beans on the stove so I just set the pot of milk next to the stove and the heat from around this area kept my pot at the right temp.  This is not crucial.. if you temp drops a few degrees your cheese will still be fine. 


After one hour take your pot out of the warm water and set it on the counter.  Using a long knife (I used a bread knife) I cut the cheese curds up into ½ inch pieces.  Do this slowly and gently.  After the curds are cut let it rest for 5 minutes.


Strain the cheese as described (and shown) in the feta cheese post I made the other day ( ).  Let the whey drip out for 6 hours to overnight.


When the whey has dripped out, take the cheese and slice it into slabs and lay on a plate.  Sprinkle well with salt (I did not measure..  just sprinkled well).  Leave this to sit for 4 to 6 hours depending on how salty you like your feta.  If you don’t know, start with 4 hours for this batch and see what you think and make adjustments for the next time.


As it sits with the salt more whey will be extracted and that is normal.  When this period of time is done rinse the salt off the cheese.  Cut the cheese up into chunks and layer in a jar with herbs and spices (as directed previously, but don’t add more salt).  The last batch I made I cut up a dried red hot chili pepper and added that between the layers of cheese and herbs. ( I was hoping that would give it a bite.  And it has worked!  It tastes so good! )


Cover with olive oil and let sit.  It gets better with time, if you can manage to not eat it!  That’s what keeps happening to my cheese.  We are eating up pretty quick so I guess today or tomorrow I am going to make some more feta.


10 On Tuesday

10 Things I Hate Doing


1. Finding the lost shoe..  

2. Finding the lost sock

3. Discovering the lost shoe or sock several months later in the dirt somewhere on the property.. 

4. Trying to find things in the kitchen after the kids have unloaded the dishwasher

5. Organizing the basement

6. Quicken

7. Trying to get dinner on the table when I failed to plan it!

8. Making appointments (for anything )

9. Saying the same thing 6 times.. for instance when I say something to one child and the next walks in the room and says, “What?” so I repeat myself and then another child walks in the room and says, “What?” and I repeat myself again.. and so on, and so on.. 

10. Cleaning up messes after my kids (hence the reason I train them to clean up after themselves)


Monday, August 14, 2006

Monday Madness

1. How many "people" pictures do you have displayed in your house?


 Actually not all that many.. I have a few collage type pictures that I have made of my family hanging in my hall.. a couple small ones sitting on furniture..  Now if the question was how many do I have on my computer!!  That would be totally a different answer! LOL..

2. How many times a month/year do you rearrange your furniture? 


Rarely..  I think in 10 years I have rearranged my living 3 times.  At Christmas I have to do a bit of rearranging to make room for the tree, but then things go back to normal.

3. Do you check your email every day? If so, how many times a day


I usually just leave it on all day if I am home.... I check fairly often.. 

4. How often do you generally look at a clock/watch on any given day? 


I check all the time..  That is how I stay on track with my day! 

5. How do you handle telemarketer phone calls?   


Thank you but I am not interested..   ‘CLICK’ 

Monday on the Homestead

It is blackberry season here..  so this week we have blackberry pie and blackberry jam on the list..  I am going to try making some of my jam with honey and see how we like that. 


Emily, Hannah and I went to Walmart today to pickup a few needed baking supplies.  Emily will be baking up some goodies for the county fair.  The entries need to be in to the fair by Tuesday or Wednesday.  She has a big list of things to make..  we will see how many she is able to do!


I have 2 loads of laundry hanging on the lines right now.. and a third to get out there soon.  I had Jacob scrub the tiles in the bathtub.. they were overdue for a good cleaning.  Leanne worked some on the kitchen while I was gone..  Sierra helped too..  the house was in nice shape when we got back from Walmart. 


Dinner tonight is Chinese chicken and noodles..  quick, easy and tasty..  I was going to make potstickers.. but now it seems hot and I lost my inspiration with the heat of the day!!  Maybe it will come back soon enough for dinner!! 


I had to order a new Front Page program.. something was wrong with mine..  so I am kind of lost without the ability to update my website!  Now I will be patiently waiting for the mail each day and hoping to find it in there..  then I can feel like all is running correctly again after my big reformatting job.. 


I will be taking pics and posting Emily’s fair recipes..  and letting you know how she does this week!


Is anyone else ready for fall??  I am and then I am not..  I love summer but then again about now I start thinking about crisp cool fall mornings, a slight nip in the air, the leaves falling off the trees..  the pumpkins ripe and in the stores..  ahhh..    But then again.. I don’t want to rush the fun freedom of summer here..  because fall also brings with it school and school schedules again.. LOL..  

Wednesday, August 9, 2006

How to Render Lard

The last time we raised pigs I had the butcher save me all the pig fat.  I wanted to render my own lard for cooking and for soap making.  I have since rendered some of it and recently had a friend ask me for directions on how I did it.  I thought someone else may also find this information useful. 


How to Render Lard


Cut the fat into small pieces.  Put in a large pot (I use stainless steel) and put the pot on your burner.  Turn on low and stir and let it slowly melt down.  After it has melted there will be lots of bits that did not melt.  I pour this melted fat and bits through a strainer into another pot or large bowl.  Discard the bits and return the melted fat to the pot.


The fat will still be looking dirty and not ready to use yet.  The next step is to add an equal amount of water to the fat.   Bring this fat/water, mixture to a boil, reduce heat and let is simmer for about 20 minutes.


Put the pot somewhere to cool over night.  In the morning the fat will have risen to the top and be firm and the water will be underneath along with a lot of the gritty fat bits that made it look dirty. 


I do the water boiling step a second time in order to get nice clean white looking lard.  I spoon out all the fat in the pot, put it in a clean pot, add an equal amount of water and bring it to a boil, turn down, simmer for 20 minutes and let it cool.


After this the lard is nice and white looking.  I then take it out of the pan and store it in the fridge to use or put in zip lock bags to use during the rest of the year.

Tuesday, August 8, 2006

Honey Nut Breakfast Twists

I found this recipe on my friend Tammy’s blog  It looked yummy and my resident baker (who LOVES to play around with recipes), Emily, decided to give it a try. 


Emily made some changes to the original recipe    She used whole wheat flour, organic sugar and she cut the twists differently than the recipe stated, and she doubled it!  Which was a good thing because these twists were gone in no time! 


If you want Emily’s recipe that has her changes in it you can get it on her (and her sisters) blog:


Thanks for posting such a yummy looking recipe Tammy!


The first pic is the twists right out of the oven the second is after inverting them. 


Our Wood for the Winter

Well it looks like we are basically done gathering this winters wood.  Tobin figures one more trip up around our property and that will fill up the last little space in the wood shelter.


I have been most impressed by my hard working Jacob, Isaac and Sierra.  Jacob has cut up a tremendous amount of wood and Isaac and Sierra have stacked it all.  A few times the older girls helped them, but by in large most all the wood seen in the pictures was cut and stacked by my three youngest.


Tobin cut and split the bigger pieces, and he cut up the medium size pieces with his chain saw.  The rest Jacob cut with the chop saw. 


I told them yesterday when I took this picture how much we all will appreciate this hard work when we are warm and cozy this winter.  And we have an abundant supply of hot water.  We heat our water in the winter with wood too.


Here are Sierra, Jacob and Isaac standing in front of all their efforts! 


The space to the right of Isaac is the last little bit to be filled. 



Each section of the shed holds 3 rows of wood.  Each section holds approximately 2 cords of wood.

Back to Blogging!


Whew..  I have been dealing with computer issues and had to reformat my hard drive..  so that is why I have not been here blogging since last week!  I had a few articles ready to share and then catastrophe hit!    But things are much better and my computer is almost back to normal. So stay tuned..