Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Wednesday on the Homestead


We are enjoying a beautifully hot 90 degree day! We have been enjoying our pond today and the kids picked some veggies from the garden that we will have with our dinner tonight. 


Yesterday I spent the whole day in town with the kids. We started by stopping at the vet’s office for another bottle of Frontline for the dog and cats. Fleas seem the worse right now and our litter of barn cats were covered. Sierra had given them a bath but they needed something more. Plus they needed to be wormed and so did Ellie (our Pomeranian).  I had to purchase things for the children too.. some needed shoes and some needed clothes and that was accomplished at a couple different stores… by then it was time for a stop of Starbucks for mom  then it was a stop at Costco for groceries, then the feed store and finally the drive back to the country.. awwww…  It was great to get home, unload our things and then splash in the pond to cool off.


Tonight we will be grilling steaks on the bbq. Last night we got home late enough that I decided to switch my menu around and have shrimp linguini last night and the bbq tonight. Right now I need to go and finish my macaroni salad, and sauté the zucchini that I did not cook last night. Leanne is going to cut up a watermelon and I made a big bowl of cucumber salad. We are getting a lot of cherry tomatoes from the garden so we just washed them up and put them in a bowl.. decided to just enjoy them like a bowl of fruit.. they are sooo sweet and good.  Dessert?? Well if the girls don’t want to make anything then we will do without.. we don’t make dessert every night but Tobin sure does like something sweet after dinner. 


I just had to share with you all about our little Pom, Ellie. She is the sweetest dog. She has become very protective and motherly towards our litter of barn cats. So much so that she cleans them, cares for them and they follow her around like their long lost mother. But the cutest thing to us is that she nurses them!! She had puppies a couple of years ago so I am sure there is no milk.. I  think the kitties just like the comfort they get from their “mama”. I got this picture of them today (the 4th kitty was not in the picture).. 



Joanna asked if I would post pics of our new windows on our house.. I will as soon as we are done.. Things are looking good and I think Tobin and I have made a color choice so I will wait until they are all painted and finished. Pretty much all the windows in our home need to be replaced (our house is on the older side being built in the 1920’s).. so this is just a start but we are excited and looking forward to the changes.. although they will be slow. Tobin does all the work himself... but we are determined now to get it finished over the next few years. 


Now it is time to finish up dinner preps and go spend some time with my hubby and kids.  oh yes… I had a couple of recipe requests and I will get them posted as soon as I can.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

This Weeks Menu



Beef stew

Dinner rolls




Baked chicken legs

Garlic roasted potatoes




Steaks on the grill

Macaroni salad

French bread

Salad or coleslaw



Shrimp linguini

Sautéed zucchini




Pizza rice casserole




Chili bean soup

Tortillas and salsa




Sausage rice casserole

Green beans



Desserts on the list

Pineapple cake

Peanut butter pie

Chocolate chip cookies



Oats, granola, pancakes, coffee cake, fruit, yogurt, bagels


Lunches: leftovers, sandwiches, soup

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Zucchini Coffee Cake

I am still keeping up with the zucchini that my very nice neighbor brings me. My own plant may be producing soon and I will need to keep the zucchini creativity going! LOL…. One of these blog posts I will gather together all my zucchini recipes and share them with you. But for now, I will share this zucchini coffee cake recipe that I made this morning for the family. I also served fresh organic peaches that I got from my Azure order.. yum, yum!!


Zucchini Coffee Cake

1 ½ cups whole wheat pastry flour

1 ¼ cups oats

1 cup Sucanat

1t baking soda

1t cinnamon

½ t salt

2 cups shredded zucchini

½ cup butter, softened

¼ c yogurt

1t vanilla

2 eggs



¾ cup cane juice crystals

½ cup whole wheat pastry flour

½ cup oats

½ t cinnamon

¼ cup butter, softened



This is a very easy coffee cake to make. Combine all of the cake ingredients into your Kitchen Aid or Bosch bowl (or use a mixing bowl and a hand mixer) and blend until it is well combined. The batter will be thick. Spoon and spread this into a 9x13 pan that has been sprayed with non-stick spray.  Combine the dry ingredients for the topping and use a fork or your (clean) hands to mix in the butter until it is crumbly. Sprinkle the topping over the cake. Bake at 350 for 35 to 40minutes.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Tuesday on the Homestead


I am taking my afternoon break. I have taken the sheets off my bed and I need to go and remake it and move some laundry through. Leanne cleaned up the laundry room so now we can walk in there again LOL.. and Sierra cleaned up the kitchen. I will tackle the dining room and then the house will at least be in nice shape again.


The boys left yesterday to spend the night at their friends house and will be back home today whenever I get up there to get them or their friends mom brings them home.. I will call soon and see what the plan is.


I am working on new daily and weekly schedules to help us ease into the school year. I won’t be starting school until sometime in September so I hope to be better organized by then. Leanne said she was going to get started on her Advanced Math book.. she is my very self directed and self motivated child.. one year she did 2 Saxon math books on her own initiative. Only took one or two weeks off during the summer.    


I am starting to think about schooling as I feel the weather starting to change. The cooler days and nights and the rain have certainly made it feel more like fall. I am really not ready for this but seems there is not much I can do to stop it! haa.. haa. 


I need to package up some soap today and make some more if the day does not get away from me. Tobin is working on our house project. The windows came so he priming them now to get them ready to install some time this week.. at least we hope to get that far. 


Dinner tonight was going to be chicken tacos because I thought I had some boneless skinless chicken to use up.. but when I went freezer searching I could not find it.. so instead I will make beef enchiladas. I do have some organic corn tortillas in the freezer to use and I like making enchiladas with those. Plus we will make a salad with veggies from the garden. Emily said when she got home from her job today she wanted to make an apple crisp for dessert.. sounds good to me. We have apples falling from the trees and maybe today we can go and gather them before I let the goats out to graze.. the first thing the do now when they get out is run down to the apple trees and start eating!


Now I am off to change sheets and move some laundry through the system! Hope you have a great Tuesday on your homestead!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

This Weeks Menu



Sweet and sour meatballs over brown rice




Italian sausages

Macaroni and cheese




Chicken tacos with all the trimmings



Baked fish

Brown rice pilaf

Zucchini patties



Baked spaghetti




Spicy beef and beans over brown rice

Tortilla chips and salsa

Salad of some sort



Tuna noodle casserole



Possible desserts to make this week:

Zucchini chocolate cake

Peanut butter pie

Lemon bars


Breakfast Plans (I don’t really plan breakfast for each day, just have a list of what I will be making and pick from that)



Baked oatmeal

Scrambled eggs (possibly put in ww flour tortillas for breakfast burritos)

Zucchini coffee cake

Oatmeal muffins (made using any leftover oatmeal)

Fruit smoothies


Lunches are typically leftovers, sandwiches or soups and homemade bread and I often make fruit smoothies to go with whatever our lunch is


Fruit Smoothies

I have several recipes for these but most often I take whatever type of fruit I have on hand (bananas, peaches (canned peaches work great, just drain first), pineapple, strawberries (usually frozen), etc..)


I put the fruit in the blender add a couple cups of milk (or keifer), I add some homemade yogurt (or good quality store bought) and blend this until the fruit is smooth. If you want it sweeter, you can add some honey or stevia or cane juice crystals. Then I add ice cubes to make it cold and thicken it up. Blend until smooth and serve to eagerly waiting family.

Zucchini Cheese Chowder

I made this last night to go with our dinner. It was delicious! Another great use for the abundance of zucchini this time of year!


Zucchini Cheese Chowder

Crystal Miller


6 cups zucchini (or any type of summer squash) cubes (no need to peel, just get rid of the seeds and cut into cubes)

1 large onion, cut up

½ cup butter

6 cups milk

6 T cornstarch

4 chicken bouillon cubes

6 cups cheddar cheese

Extra milk to thin to desired consistency


Sautee zucchini and onion in butter. Mix cornstarch with milk. When vegetables are done cooking add cornstarch/milk and bouillon cubes. Add cheese and cook until mixture thickens. Stir and let it gently boil for about a minute. Salt and pepper to taste. If chowder is too thick you can thin it down with added milk. Taste and readjust seasonings. 



Saturday, August 18, 2007

Making Homemade Jam


In this current months newsletter I wrote about making homemade jam. I have expanded on this topic and also posted lots of how-to pictures for anyone wanting more information. 


I have also included the recipe (with pictures) on making zucchini jam (scroll to the end of the jam page for a link to the recipe page).


Thursday, August 16, 2007

Thursday on the Homestead


I woke up this morning thinking it was Wednesday and it was not until I got back from taking Emily to her babysitting job that it dawned on me it was actually Thursday! Once again the days have just been flying by. I have been super busy, right at home. 


I have done a lot of baking, soap making and house work and that has just consumed my days. With my girls gone for most of the last 7 or 8 days it also tends to make my days much busier as the younger kids and I help with their animal chores and house chores.


Leanne arrived home this morning from her 7 day house sitting/lady watching job. She said Miss Margaret was even more forgetful than before which made her a little sad. But her kids left her a note telling her where they had gone and Leanne said that helped a lot.. since she has almost no short term memory, she read the note every day as if it was the first and it seemed to bring her a lot of comfort. Leanne also said she has had enough Skip-Bo for some time now! LOL.. Miss Margaret can’t remember how many games she has played in a day.. but Leanne does!   Emily did join Leanne for a few days that she did not have to care for the twins. 


I wanted to share something with you all. I posted my last blog posting on whole wheat oat dinner rolls.. and they made delicious dinner rolls.. very soft and nice. So a couple days later I made cinnamon rolls with the same dough and they turned out wonderful!! I put a simple powdered sugar (I was out of powdered Sucanat) glaze over the top.. yummy..



On the topic of bread baking I also made some French Bread out of my pizza crust recipe ( ) and it was so yummy.. we had it with lasagna over the week. And it made great toast the next day too! If you use that recipe, the dough can be divided into 2 loaves. I have one of those nifty French bread pans to bake it in, and I highly recommend them! They are not expensive. I think I got mine from Ebay a few years ago.




I also have been making jam. I made zucchini jam and then I made some grape jelly. We were completely out of jam so I had to make what I could.. I am not sure my blackberries are ripe enough quite yet.. and with our cool summer, who knows when they will ripen up. Here is a picture of my jams:






I had some questions asked on various blogs so I hope I can remember them all and answer them..


Monique asked how I froze my bread. I buy baggies that have a twist tie, they are less than 5 cents a bag and the gallon size holds a loaf of bread just fine. The brand is, Hefty Storage Bags..


Gretchen said her fermented pickles smelled terrible.. well I would say they did not turn out. Your temperatures could have been too hot or too cool. You also need to make sure your veggies are completely under the liquid. That is why I use the ziplock bag with water in it trick.. works every time. You can see my picture instructions for making sauerkraut on my website:


Jenn (how are you?.. I will get over to your blog and say hi soon!! ).. do try the fermented cucumbers.. they taste wonderful!   The zucchini pie recipe is here:


Lisa (Lerdman4) asked how I freeze zucchini.. I shred it up and measure it out in amounts that my zucchini bread recipe calls for and then freeze. That is the only thing I use it for. It gets very watery when defrosted. Don’t drain the water.. just put all of it in, that may help your zucchini bread to not be so dry.



If I missed your question.. please ask again!! 


Hope you all had a great Thursday on your homesteads!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Whole Wheat Oat Dinner Rolls

I made these tonight for dinner. I found the original recipe in my new cookbook The Best of Mennonite Fellowship Meals.. but I did a bit of tweaking to the recipe and assembled a little differently than had been stated. The family ate almost all of them, so I would say they were a hit!


Whole Wheat Oat Dinner Rolls (makes 24 rolls)


2 1/3 cups water

1 cup oats

3T butter

2 T yeast

2/3 cup Sucanat (can use brown sugar)

1 ½ t salt

3 cups whole wheat flour

2 cups unbleached white flour


Bring water to a boil and add oats and butter. Let set until it has cooled to lukewarm. In a mixer bowl combine water/oat mixture, yeast, Sucanat, salt and stir. Add whole wheat flour and mix. Add remaining unbleached flour until the dough no longer sticks to the sides of the mixer bowl and you have a nice soft dough. Knead the dough for 5 to 8 minutes. Let this rest and rise for 30 to 45 minutes. 


Punch down and divide the dough into 24 pieces. Roll each piece and place in 2- 9x13 pans that have been sprayed with non-stick spray.


Let them rise until doubled in size, about 30 to 45 minutes. Bake at 350 for 20 to 30 minutes or until nicely golden brown.


Thursday, August 9, 2007

Thursday on the Homestead



Wow.. Thursday already! Where has my week gone?  Two days were spent in town. One day was spent with Tobin and the other with Leanne and Sierra. Tobin and I had errands to run and he needed to pick up a few things for our current projects. We ended up near our old neighborhood back in the city. We drove by our old house and then went and had lunch at our favorite neighborhood restaurant. It was a lot of fun spending time just reminiscing about life back then. We were so busy fixing up our fixer-upper and had a few of our babies in that house. Sweet memories for sure, but we were also happy to leave the city behind and come home to our older children and enjoy the blessings of today. 


Yesterday I went grocery shopping with Leanne and Sierra and stopped at a place that sells local produce. I picked up some corn on the cob, pickling cukes, a melon, and some dill. Then I went to my regular grocery store and to Costco. In the evening I went and dropped Leanne off at her house sitting job. She will be house sitting and watching Miss Margaret (the sweet little 90+ year old lady the girls watch occasionally) while her son and dil go on vacation. She will be there for a few days and Emily will join her over the weekend. 


This week my girls and I have also done a lot of baking. I made sandwich rolls and bagels, Leanne made 6 loaves of bread and Emily and Leanne have made about 4 different types of cookies. Most of them are in the freezer. They are getting them made so they can send them off to my son in a care package. He likes getting homemade goodies in the mail. 


This morning I caught up on getting orders out from my little online store and then the younger kids and I cleaned up the kitchen and I got 2 gallons of fermented cucumbers started (from Nourishing Traditions cookbook). Can’t wait to try them!  That is where the pickling cukes and the dill from yesterday were used. Here is a picture of them..



Today I still have time to conquer something else on my never ending list. I may make some zucchini jam. I have enough zucchini to make at least one batch. This weekend I have a lot on my list too.. make soap and lotion and make some more jam. 


Currently I have 2 new cookbooks that I ordered that I am dying to find the time to sit and read through them. One is The Best of Mennonite Fellowship Meals and the other is Sunday’s at Moosewood Restaurant. Emily will be excited to see the Moosewood cookbook came in, she likes their cookbooks. 


Time to go clean up the kitchen and think about getting lunch ready for the kiddo’s. Dinner tonight is easy.. baked fish, Laurie’s mac & cheese, corn on the cob and salad using fresh lettuce from our garden. Sounds yummy to me.. 


Hope you have a great day on your homestead today!

Sunday, August 5, 2007

This Weeks Menu







Corn on the cob






Hamburgers on the grill

Potato salad



Baked fish




Homemade dinner rolls or French bread




Friday, August 3, 2007

Friday on the Homestead


What a busy week it has been! We have been doing a bit of remodel work on our house and doing things outside, like laying in drain pipe for the gutters. With 75 to 100 inches of rain a year, you have to have a way of dealing with all that water that falls on the roof! Tobin gave Jacob the job of digging the trenches and laying the pipe. It has been a great job for him. He has had to use muscle strength and utilize his math skills (brain strength ) so that the pipe had the right amount of down hill slope to it. Then he laid the pipe and had put all the bends and t’s and clean out spots. He has enjoyed this job and has not minded a way to make some extra money and Tobin has been able to concentrate on other things.


We are replacing windows on the south side of our house, and doing repair on our deck. The windows are all on order and we are excited for them to come in. When it is all done we will replace some siding and paint. Tobin and I have been having a lot of discussions on paint colors and looking at paint cards. It will be fun to get some paint and put it on the house to see what we like the best.


I realized the other day as I was in my garden that I do have a surviving zucchini plant. Tobin accidentally rototilled over them after I planted them. It was my fault for not marking where they were at. I never did replant. So I was really excited to see that one had come up. In the meantime an egg customer of ours brought a big basket full of yellow summer squash and we have really been enjoying them.   So far I have figured out how to have squash 3 meals a day.. LOL..  Breakfast is zucchini bread, lunch has been fired zucchini (today it may be zucchini patties) and dinner last night was zucchini chicken parmigiana… And dessert was zucchini pie w/ice cream!  On Tuesday I served zucchini, onions and garlic that had been sautéed in butter as a side dish.. YUMMY!!  This morning I was contemplating zucchini coffee cake.. By the end of zucchini season I am sure we will all be glad to see it go, but I am finding it an enjoyable challenge to not let it go to waste! I may end up freezing some too.


I made soap this week, but have more to make this weekend. We also started butchering chickens finally. We still have a few more to go.. but I will update about that later. The good news is I think we found our main egg eater.. believe it or not.. it is the rooster! We are kind of sad about this as he is a nice roosters and we like him. But we like our eggs better. So he will join the ranks of those that are currently in the freezer! I plan to use these old chickens for making soup stock for the freezer. I am going to follow Sally Fallons recipe in Nourishing Traditions. I have some beef bones from our cow I want to use for that too. But that will have to wait till the weather cools some.


This week the kids and I also enjoyed time in the sun and swimming in the pond. We all have nice tans to show for it!  Summer is my favorite season but it never seems to last long enough around here. Being up north as I am it seems to take awhile to get here and then leaves too soon. 


Today I take my older girls to their house cleaning job and then take the younger kids to the library. They all have summer reading stuff to turn in and books to return. Then the rest of the day is still up in the air. We need to do some baking and the regular house cleaning. 


Have a great Friday on your homesteads!

Graham Cracker Questions Answered


I wanted to address a couple of questions about my last post on making homemade graham crackers..


One lady asked why there was no graham flour in them.. well graham flour is whole wheat flour. They remove the germ and the bran, grind it a bit differently (more coarsely) and add it back in.  So it gives it a slightly different texture. Something I don’t miss when I use regular whole wheat flour.  I am sure grocery store graham crackers are much more refined than this.


Another question was if you could make them from hard wheat. Technically yes. I don’t use hard wheat except for making bread. I prefer the lightness of the pastry flour for all my non-yeasted baking. But you could try it and see what you prefer.


Someone else asked about freezing the crackers. I have never done it so I don’t know. Ours just get eaten to quick or used for baking, they never make it to the freezer.  But if you do experiment and freeze them and it does turn out fine (or not).. let me know! 


And Margaret, thanks for letting me know you tried them and they were a hit at your house!


Crewchief asked me if I had this recipe on my site.. I don’t yet. I usually post recipes here first and then when I take the time to update my site I add them there.