Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Homemade Graham Crackers

As I have become more health conscious in my cooking I have become an avid label reader. I found that something as simple as a box of graham crackers was loaded with sugar and hydrogenated oils. I knew it was time to learn to make my own.  They are amazingly simple to make. Here is a recipe that my family enjoys, I hope yours will too!!


Graham Crackers

Crystal Miller


1/3 c. olive oil

1/3 c. honey

¼ c milk

2T molasses

1 t. vanilla

2 ½ to 3 cups whole wheat pastry flour

1 t baking powder

½ t. baking soda

¼ t. salt

1 t cinnamon


In a large mixing bowl using a wire whip mix combine olive oil, milk, honey, molasses and vanilla. In a smaller mixing bowl combine 2 ½ cups of pastry flour, baking powder, soda, salt and cinnamon. Add this to the liquid mixture. At some point you will want to switch from the wire whip to large mixing spoon. Add the extra ½ cup flour if your dough is sticky. A little sticky is ok. By the time you finish adding the extra flour you will be doing the mixing with your hands. 


Preheat your oven to 300 degrees. While the oven is heating up divide dough in half. Spray a large cookie sheet (15x13 approx. size) with non-stick spray such as Pam. Now roll out one of the dough halves onto the cookie sheet. A cookie sheet without sides is the easiest. It should pretty much fill up the whole cookie sheet. You can rub a little extra flour onto your rolling pin if needed. 


Using a pizza cutter, cut dough into squares and poke with a fork. 


Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool on cookie sheet and separate and carefully remove them.



Monday, July 30, 2007

Monday on the Homestead


Well the sky is blue, mostly, and that is a good sign that we may have a nice summery day today! Maybe we can enjoy a little swim and sun time at the pond this afternoon.


Our weekend was busy, Tobin worked and the kids and I caught up on laundry and housework and Emily baked us a couple more pies. She gets hooked on a type of recipe (breads, pies, etc…) and bakes a bunch.. we don’t complain! LOL.. I had purchased 20#’s of organic peaches from my Azure co-op and so we had a yummy peach pie that she made. I hope they still have peaches available next month. That 20# box is almost gone. We have all been enjoying them so much. She also made a strawberry pie using fruit sweetened strawberry jam and it was good too.. I will try and find the time to get the recipes posted here on the blog. Good thing there are enough of us around here that one pie only gives one serving to each of us or my waistline would be growing by leaps and bounds! LOL.. instead I have actually been losing weight this summer, which is a nice.


Today the boys need to get their laundry done and the upstairs needs vacuuming, sweeping and mopping. The younger kids need to get their sheets washed today too.. and due to all this nice weather they will be able to hang them out… gotta love the smell sheets after hanging on the line on a hot summer day!


I am also going to get some yogurt hanging to collect the whey. I want to make another batch of sauerkraut. My goodness it is sooo good. We just love the stuff and cabbages are very inexpensive right now. I have some growing in my garden and will be eager to turn those into sauerkraut when they are ready.


Coffee Beans..   After reading and being inspired by my all time favorite homemaking book, Home Comforts, I decided to try grinding my own coffee beans. I bought less than a pound of organic coffee beans to try this out. Wow.. what a great difference.. and I am not really into my coffee that much, but I do love a good cup or two of the stuff every morning. I don’t know why I waited so long to try this.. it is worth doing! And I was able to get the organic beans at my grocery store for the same price as all the rest of the beans.. can’t beat that!   The only thing my coffee grinder did prior to this was grind flax seeds.. now I will have to buy another one for the flax I guess! Coffee flavored flax (or would that be flax flavored coffee).. just does not sound too good! 


Dinner tonight is bbq beef over rice. I had it on my menu last week.. and well, last week seemed crazy with the menu.. so we try again this week! I put the frozen roast in the crockpot last night and later this morning I will shred it up and make bbq sauce for it. I also put my rice on to soak last night before I went to bed. 


Have a good and productive Monday on your homestead!


Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Peanut Butter Pie Recipe

Here is the Peanut Butter Pie recipe I mentioned in my last blog posting. And wow.. this pie was delicious! 


Peanut Butter Pie

Emily Miller


1 graham cracker crust (recipe follows)

1 ½ cups whole cream

2 oz cream cheese, softened

1 cup powdered Sucanat (can use powdered sugar), sift before measuring

1/3 cup half n half

1 t vanilla

1 cup peanut butter (made with peanuts only, chunky or smooth, your choice)

Chocolate syrup (for drizzling on top)


We make this in our Kitchen Aid and have two bowls for it and both were needed for this recipe. You could make this with a KA and if you have hand beaters that would be helpful for whipping the cream. If not, follow directions for whipping the cream and then transfer this into a bowl while you wash the bowl and move on to the second part.


Before you begin put a bowl and the beaters of your mixer in the freezer to chill. When they are cold, whip the cream until it is very stiff.


In another bowl combine softened cream cheese, sifted powdered Sucanat, half n half, vanilla and peanut butter. Mix this very well; it must be nice and smooth. Add about 1/3 of the whipped cream to this and mix well. Then fold this mixture into the last of the whipped cream. Spoon this mixture into the graham cracker crust. Drizzle chocolate syrup over the top and chill until cold. Serve and enjoy!


Graham Cracker Crust
Crystal Miller


1 ½ c. graham cracker crumbs

¼ c Sucanat

1/3 cup melted butter


Mix all ingredients together and press into the bottom and sides of a 9” pie plate. Set this in the refrigerator for a few minutes before pouring filling in. It will help the crust to solidify and not fall apart when filling. 


Wednesday on the Homestead


Our Wednesday has been much less hectic than are Tuesday was. We started off Tuesday by finding the mama goat that I had figured was not going to deliver this year, had delivered quads! Unfortunately one was dead and was not looking too great. The other two were doing fine. We brought the one that was not doing well up to the house. We hand fed her colustrum from mama with a dropper and it seemed like it was perking up and was doing better but despite all our effort never made it through the night .. so another sad face..  the realities of farm life…  That made a total of 11 kids born on the farm this year. . I still have 3 kids from earlier births that I need to get sold and try and decide if I want to keep these two little does or sell them and the mama goat too. That would certainly thin down the herd which has been my goal this year.


I took Emily into the doctor today. On Monday night her eyes were red and yucky looking, matted together .. classic signs of pink eye. I was a bit concerned about the little babies she cares for. So Leanne took her place on Tuesday (and today) and I tried to get her into the doctor’s office, but they were booked. Today I got in. The doctor said it could be pink eye caused by allergies but gave us some antibiotic ointment anyway due to her job caring for the babies. We would feel badly if we spread something. However I tend to agree about the allergies being the cause as no one else in the house has the pink eye which seems to spread pretty easily. She is dealing with her allergies a lot right now so we got another prescription of alegra and flonase and tomorrow she will be back caring for the babies. 


The girls did their cleaning job yesterday and I took the younger kids to the library to get their prizes for the summer reading program and then down the park so they could wade around in the lake.   Then before picking up the girls I ran to a friend’s house and picked up my Pampered Chef’s order.


Today I have had time to take care of my home. Which is so nice.  Emily, not being one to sit idly, decided to make a peanut butter pie for us for dessert. This one looks yummy. We are always striving for recipes that don’t call for cool whip (nasty stuff, from a health perspective ) and that always seems to be the common ingredient in peanut butter pie.. well, her experiment today looks good! The girls tried the beaters and said it tasted good too! If this one turns out I will post the recipe. She even started off by first making the graham crackers and after they cooled she crushed them to make the crust. We find pie crusts made with homemade graham crackers taste delicious!  I will post that recipe too…


The sun has come back to the PNW and the temps are up again and that has been great. Hopefully summer will stick around now for a little while! Dinner tonight is burgers on the grill. Due to all the things going on this week my menu has been all out of whack!  I made Chinese chicken salad instead of tuna salad, and we are grilling out tonight instead of tomorrow night.. maybe tomorrow I will finally have the bbq beef!


I need to go and work on dinner preps. When Tobin is finished working on his project we will get the bbq grill going. 


Hope you all had a great Wednesday on your homesteads!

Chinese Chicken Salad Recipe

I apologize to the lady who emailed me asking me for this recipe. I said I would write it out and post it several days ago! I have just been so busy I have not had the time to get it off my scratch paper and onto the computer until now! I had another change in my menu plan last night, due to a crazy day that had some unexpected things happen.. and we decided to make this last night..  so I took a couple pictures and got the recipe finally written down. 


Normally I serve homemade egg rolls with this salad, but with my day yesterday there was no way I had the time for that.. so Leanne made some garlic cheese dinner rolls to go with it.. not very oriental.. LOL.. but tasted very good!!


Chinese Chicken Salad

Crystal Miller

~this meal feeds 7 of us (2 adults and 3 teens, 2 children)


Coconut oil

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces

1 ½ cups whole wheat pastry flour

3 t salt

¾ t pepper

1 egg

½ cup milk


Romaine lettuce

Red cabbage

Green cabbage or nappa cabbage

~I use half lettuce and half cabbage, all sliced and chopped thin. For the cabbage I use equal parts of the red and the green~ have enough of this mixture available to feed your family. I really don’t measure out the greens, I just fill a large bowl. 

1 carrot, grated

1 medium onion, chopped

2 tomatoes chopped

~other salad veggies based on what you like and what you have on hand

Cashews (enough for sprinkling on top of the salad)

Croutons – I make my own using my own homemade bread


Cooking the Chicken:

Heat the coconut oil in a fry pan until quite hot (I don’t ever really test it, but I would guess 300 to 350 degrees). Mix flour and seasonings in a bowl. Put the milk in a separate bowl and add the egg, stirring well. Dip chicken pieces first into the milk/egg mixture then coat them with the flour mixture and fry them for about 5 minutes in the coconut oil, turning while they cook. Lay on a plate with a napkin to drain while you cook the rest. They can sit in a warm oven until ready to serve.


Assembling the Salad:

Mix all salad greens and the carrot into a large bowl. 


Put the remaining veggies and nuts into separate bowls for serving ‘salad bar style’.


Serve this salad by putting the greens on plates, adding what ever other salad options you desire, then topping with chicken, cashews and croutons and then top with oriental dressing (recipe follows).



Oriental Salad Dressing

¾ cup honey

5T mayonnaise

6T white vinegar

¼ cup grey poupon mustard

½ t sesame oil


Put all ingredients into a small bowl and using a wire whip, stir until combined well. 


I like to serve this meal with homemade eggrolls.. another recipe I need to get written down!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Monday on the Homestead


Well my Saturday did not go quite as planned. I did get 25#’s of soap made and my sauerkraut made too (it is now sitting on the counter fermenting and will be ready by Tuesday). But my daughter Emily got a call from a lady she baby sits for and she asked if Emily could come and watch her little twin boys (who are only a few weeks old) for the afternoon. Leanne said she would go and help too. Sooo the chickens never got done! But they are still on the to-do list for this week. I should have been more clear in my post on pictures of butchering the chickens.. I will put this on a webpage.. not directly here on the blog.. so those that are vegetarians, don’t want to see something like this, or don’t think they can handle this, …don’t have to click.  


I think it was Kitty who said something about how nice it was my girls help me out with this.. haa.. haa.. it is really the other way around!! How nice it is of me to help them! LOL.. Emily and Leanne have a chicken egg business and have 50 to 60 hens (hard to count when they are always moving around) and they do all the work to care for them, sell the eggs and manage their own finances for this.  Well it is now at a point where they are eating the same amount of food but not giving the same amount of eggs. The hens are 2 to 3 years old and it is time cull the flock. Also my girls are trying to decide if they want to continue the business because if they do, they need to buy more chicks this fall so they are laying eggs by spring time. Right now they have more egg customers than eggs. However the price of chicken food is really climbing.. anyone else notice this? We have seen it go up $1 a bag just in the last month. So the other question for them is:  are people willing to pay the higher prices for the free range eggs? I know some will because they just love the eggs and know the health benefits. 



On a side note, we figured out pretty well how to tell if our hens are laying. Laying hens have bright red combs and wattles, non laying hens have combs and wattles that are dull looking. Also if you look at a chicken’s vent (where the egg comes out of) and it looks dry and withered they are not laying. Vents that are moist looking means they are laying..   The girls checked several hens out.. those with dull looking combs and wattles and those with bright looking ones and then the vents and it is a consistently good way to tell. 


The other thing that did not get done Saturday was making kefir. It does help to have the milk defrosted! LOL.. just one of those ‘little’ details I forgot!  The milk is defrosted now and I will do that today.. 


My Monday is looking busy too. I have housekeeping to do: laundry, dusting, sweeping, mopping, etc.. I will enlist the kids to help me. All but Emily, who will be caring for the little twin boys (her new part time job) for about 4 hours while the mama gets some sleep. 


Dinner is potato soup, unless something else suits my fancy. I made my menu on a day when it was cool and wet out and soup sounded good. Today is supposed be near 80 so maybe it will be potato salad and something on the grill.. 


Hope you all have a productive Monday on your homesteads!


-As a side note: my girls have posted pictures and shared about their Mexico missions trip on their blog for anyone who might be interested: http://www.homesteadblogger.com/3sisters

Sunday, July 22, 2007

This Weeks Menu



Baked chicken legs

Cheesy rice pilaf




Potato soup w/sausage




Bbq beef over homemade rolls or brown rice




Tuna salad

Split pea soup

Dinner rolls



Hamburgers on the grill

Potato salad

Carrot sticks w/homemade ranch dip



Crockpot chicken and gravy

Brown rice

Fried cabbage and onions



Tacos w/all the trimmings

Tortilla chips and salsa




Saturday, July 21, 2007

Saturday on the Homestead

Today is rainy and gray. Apparently we are getting the tail end of a typhoon that is out in the Pacific Ocean and that has given us several days of gray and wet weather. I know one thing my garden is loving it.. both my plants and the weeds!!  There will be lots to do in the garden when the sunny dry days come back.   


Today I have a ton of stuff I want to get done but reality says I won’t get to it all. I am starting my day off by making soap. As soon as I am done blogging I will be getting at it. I am planning on making about 25#’s. 


Then my list includes making sauerkraut (I put some yogurt out last night to drain and now have whey to do this), and I really wanted to get a gallon of kefir going too… and the biggest chore for my girls and I today is we need to butcher a chicken or two.. that is the one I am not sure I will get to! Emily and Leanne have caught a couple egg eaters and it is time for them to get that special invitation to dinner (haa.. haa.. got that from a lady on my boards!!)!  Plus we really need to cull out the hens that are not laying.. as soon as we figure the best way to determine this. Tobin hung up the killing cone last night and I think while I make soap this morning the girls can get the rest of the stuff set up. If I feel brave enough I may take some pics of the process for those who are interested in how it is done. I am not any kind of an expert but I figure, hey… if I can do it then anyone can! LOL..  


Dinner tonight will be very easy.. maybe some potato sausage soup and cornbread and salad. Something that I can also have the girls work on while I do soap and then when our busy afternoon is over dinner will be basically an easy thing.


Well that is my plans, we will now see how far I get on all this..   and will be back to let you know!


Hope you all have a good and productive Saturday on your homesteads!




Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Wednesday on the Homestead


My daughters arrived home from Mexico safe and sound, exhausted and inspired, encouraged and very tan! More than that they returned seeing how fortunate and blessed they were and all that they take for granted here in this country. They were thankful that they had the opportunity to help these people. One of my daughters said that despite the conditions she saw (incredible poverty and destitute situations) that many of these people were happy, especially the children. That greatly impacted her to see face to face that ‘stuff’ is not what it is all about here on this earth. Both daughters would like to do something like this again. They were blessed by the opportunity to reach out and touch the lives of these people, even in a small way. I have been looking at their pictures and hearing all about it! I am sure when they have recovered they will be posting more about their experience. 


This morning I woke up to rain. It certainly will be helpful for the garden and our water supply (which is spring fed ).  So I decided to spend my day inside getting caught up on things. I have products to make for my store and I need to get set up to make soap again.


I have been reading several books lately.. really too many for the time I have to read so I am making very slow progress through them all. But a friend mentioned the book Home Comforts and I pulled out my copy and have really enjoyed just reading through from the beginning. It could be looked at as just a reference manual, and it is a good one.. but more than that she really brings a lot of great inspiration to housekeeping and it has been a good encouragement this last week to me.   If you are interested in this book you can find it Amazon and it is very reasonably priced used as well!



Yesterday Tobin and I spent the afternoon in town. We had errands to run and we went out to lunch/dinner.. to late to be called lunch but too early to be called dinner..  We came home and spent the evening with the kids. Emily started a babysitting job for a lady that lives not too far from us. She is watching baby twin boys that are just weeks old so the poor mama can get some sleep. Yesterday was her first day and she said she enjoyed it but found it challenging to keep two babies content!  Leanne and the rest of the crew stayed home and did some housework while we were gone and of course did lots of laundry from the Mexico trip. 


Tonight’s dinner will be chicken (of one sort or another), coleslaw and a rice side dish of some sort . I have a menu planned out but I seem to be changing it as the week goes by just because! That works fine for me.. at least I have something planned if I come up with no ideas in the morning.


Time to get moving on my day! Hope you have a great Wednesday on your homesteads. 

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Saturday on the Homestead


It has been over a week since I blogged last. What a busy, busy week it has been! My girls will be home late tomorrow night. They leave Mexico today. I have only heard from them once so far. I am looking forward to seeing them again!  I have missed them!


The younger kids and I have managed the farm pretty well in their absence. We have gotten into a nice routine . 


Sierra has done a great job helping me in the kitchen and in the house. The boys have done a great job helping in the house too, but they have been doing most of the goat chores and chickens. We let our goats out of their fenced area daily to browse the property and help keep the weeds and grass down. So every day the boys let them out, and then nightly they fill water buckets and round them back into the barn and then open the gate so Dad can get to work in the evening without the hassle of stopping to deal with the gate. Then they feed chickens, get them fresh water and collect eggs.


Andy (our pastors son who has been staying with us while they are in Mexico) has not seemed to get homesick and just kind of fit right in with our routines.. but then again he has spent lots of time here.. just not 10 full days! 


During the week we had a heat wave. Temps were up near 100 and in some areas over 100. Now it has cooled back down to the upper 80’s.  We all lived through it by hanging out by the pond! 


My hubby also celebrated his 46th birthday this last week. It was fun. We had my fil, bil and his new wife and her kids here. We swam and enjoyed pizza and of course cake and ice cream. Tobin asked for a chiffon cake (one that Emily had made for the family awhile back) w/coffee flavored frosting. It was delicious!! It was made in an angle food cake pan and looked so pretty. I wish I had gotten a picture of it before we cut into it. I was just busy with so many details that day that I did not get the picture.


I promised someone via email that I would post my Chinese chicken salad recipe and I apologize that it has not happened.. I have it written down on a sheet of paper and need to get it on the computer so I can post it.. I will get to it as soon as I can. 


I think life might slow down a little for me when the girls get back.. but then who knows! I keep saying that and life keeps going a little faster than I like!


My garden is coming along just fine. I am thinking of planting more zucchini. Tobin did not realize where I had planted them and rototilled over them. Now I am wondering if it is too late.. I may just try anyway!


Hope you all have a great weekend! 

Saturday, July 7, 2007

On the Homestead

After spending lots of time in the last two weeks in preparation, packing and numerous details.. I finally got my two girls, Emily & Leanne, off to Mexico yesterday morning! Our pastor picked them up at 4:AM. He also dropped his son Andy off with us to stay while they are all in Mexico. There are a group 16 people going; several adults and teens. They will be building houses and doing VBS for about 200+ kids. I hope it is a great experience for them.


Since they left the house has seemed very quiet! The kids are enjoying having Andy here.. he is my boys’ best friend (the one they went to DisneyLand with). I have had a chance to catch up on housework and book work and web work. Soon I will get July’s newsletter out (in case you were wondering where it is). 


This morning I got up before the kids and made them sausage gravy over whole wheat biscuits, scrambled eggs and fruit for breakfast. They ate all of it up! However I did make less than I normally do. I am having to rethink all my cooking once again..  to accommodate for less eaters. Tonight I am making a much smaller batch of spaghetti sauce.. and it is not too late to think about dessert.. it may be banana smoothies for dessert.. which would help me use up some ripe bananas I have and not heat up the kitchen.. plus the kids would it!


Aside from getting my newsletter out… I hope to get another 25#’s of soap made tomorrow. I need to keep making soap this month to get myself ahead of it all..  And.. I just remembered.. for those who have emailed me about my Oatmeal, Milk and Honey Goat Milk Soap.. I now have it back in stock! 


Hope you all are having a great weekend on your homesteads!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Honey Glazed Carrots

Honey Glazed Carrots
Crystal Miller


The other day I put a roast in the crockpot in the morning to cook all day. In the evening we made up some garlic potatoes and I made these honey glazed carrots to go with the meal. They were a big hit! 


1 ½ lbs of carrots (this was about 8 to 10 large size carrots), sliced into coins


¼ t salt

4T butter

2 T honey


Put carrot coins into a medium sized sauce pan and add water. You don’t want to cover them, you want to steam them. Just make sure there is enough water to keep them from scorching. Add the salt and bring this to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the carrots are fork tender, but not falling apart (approx. 10 minutes).


When the carrots are done, drain the water. In the same saucepan add the butter and honey and put this back on the burner on low. After the butter has melted add the cooked carrots. Gently stir and cook them until they have a nice glazed appearance. 




Monday, July 2, 2007

Last Week on the Homestead


What a week it was. I have managed to get lots of little details done in preparation for my girl’s trip to Mexico. They are going on a mission’s trip with our church. There was a nice long list of supplies that they needed and I think I have all of it done. They have less than a week now to finish packing. I think we have one more trip out to pick up things and then we are completely done. They are very excited to be going and I am excited for them!  The younger kids and I will be managing the farm and the home chores without them. So it will seem very different for the 10 days they will be gone.


One of our trips to town last week was to Good Will. I love thrift stores. The girls on this Mexico trip must dress very conservatively .. clothes can’t be form fitting, no skin showing, long skirts, etc.. My girls are pretty modest in their dress but they are not as modest as the standards of the village they are going to. So to not offend they are covering themselves even more. As an example, the women wear long skirts with pants on under their skirts so that if the skirt comes up no ankles are showing.. closed toed shoes have to be worn, long sleeved shirts to church, etc... They can wear pants to work in .. as long as they have shirts that are long and cover and are at least three quarter sleeve length. They will be working long hours in hot and dusty conditions so they have been told that usually most people discard the clothing after the trip. So the girls each found some jean overalls that are very loss fitting. They also found long skirts, bigger sized blouses and t-shirts, etc.. So while they were looking for their clothing I managed to find a cute skirt and blouse. They were both in very nice condition.. I always love a good find! 


Yesterday Tobin and I celebrated 23 years of marriage!!! We spent time over the last week just reminiscing about the last 27 years together (we met 27 years ago.. I was 16 and he was 18). We have had many, many sweet and precious years together. We both agreed that life is such a blessing when you can share it with your best friend. Now we look forward to the next 23 years!!  


I also made about 25 pounds of soap too.. I have more to make this coming week.. my soap is in need of restocking! 


Tobin has some extra time off this coming week but we really don’t have any big plans. We are working on our house some and the weather is looking like it will be hot and beautiful. So I am sure we will be enjoying time at the pond and BBQ’s. On the 4th we will just be doing more of the same… 


My menu this week looks like this:



Chinese chicken salad

Homemade egg rolls (we had a slight change in the menu last week so this is carried over)



Burgers on the grill w/trimmings

Potato or macaroni salad



Steaks on the grill


Potato or macaroni salad (left from Tuesday)

Brownies and homemade ice cream



Chicken and beef kabobs on the grill

Fabulous baked beans

Green salad



Lentil chili

Tortilla chips and salsa




Crockpot spaghetti

French bread




Baked chicken legs

Laurie’s macaroni and cheese