Saturday, January 26, 2008

Saturday on the Homestead


Today a new snow storm moved in. We have been very dry and cold and now I guess things are changing.. can’t wait for winter to end.. I am not a fan of being cold.. LOL.. In the meantime we are keeping our wood stove going around the clock. Plus we have an ample supply of hot water.. have not had our hot water heater on in a couple of months now. 


The day has seemed quiet and calm. Jacob and Sierra went to a church sleep over with their youth group and Emily and Leanne are house sitting so it was just me and Isaac last night.. that was fun. We snuggled up and watched an episode of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and Perry Mason. Jacob and Sierra arrived home this morning after only a couple of hours of sleep and promptly went to bed.. they are just now getting up. I joked with them and told them they are now on the night shift schedule and could go to work with dad! Jacob liked the idea, Sierra was not as thrilled.. 


I did a little crocheting on my afghan today. It is very slow going. I picked a simple enough pattern (basket weave) but it seems to take longer then I figured it would.. oh well.. at least I have something to keep my hands busy during the quiet times.


On Thursday I went and picked up my Azure order. The lady looked at it and said.. “is that all you got!” LOL.. I usually have a huge order and this time it was one box and case of tomato sauce.. I guess I had stocked up well enough in the past that this month I got a break. But since then I have found a couple of things I should have ordered.. I guess they will go on next months order. 


I still have not finished Caden’s quilt. I really need to get that done; just finding the time has been the biggest problem. But if I am snowed in tomorrow I won’t be going to church and so a sewing day seems like a good way to spend my time. 


Last Monday was a holiday and Hannah had that off from her bank teller job… so she came for a visit. It is always nice to see her. She brought along her newest addition.. her furbaby, Molly.. she is a lab/golden retriever mix… and what a doll she is! I love labs.. we had one when I was growing up and they are such loyal and faithful dogs. Molly is 11 weeks old and still in need of a bit of training.  Here is a pic of Hannah and Molly…




Leanne received her leather work boots in the mail this last week. She was very excited. We did find her some that she liked and she seemed to feel they would do the job, and they fit well. She has a very narrow foot so it was a bit of a challenge to find them. She needs these for her missions trip. Now she needs to break them in.. they strongly encourage everyone to break in their boots before boot camp (that is what they call their 2 weeks of training before she leaves to Egypt). So she will start wearing them around the farm. 


Dinner tonight will vary from my menu.. I am going fry up some of my leftover ham with onions and potatoes and add a salad. Dessert.. may or may not be on the menu.. at the moment I am not feeling real motivated!


That is all from the homestead.. hope you all are keeping warm.. 

Friday, January 25, 2008

My Grain Mill


I have had a few people asking me ay if we had made a decision on a new grain mill so I thought it I would share about that. I have had my new mill for about a month now. I have made 18 loaves of bread a couple batches of dinner rolls and some french bread sandwich rolls. So far I am quite pleased with the results.


After lots of research and time Tobin and I decided on a Retsel Grain Mill (Mill Rite was the one I purchased). I received it at the end of December. We opened the big box and set it up almost as soon as the UPS man had left. Then we ran some grain through it as they instructed and the next day I used it for the first time and made some dinner rolls. I really had missed not having a grain mill. I was buying whole wheat flour from my food co-op (Azure Standard) and the grocery store occasionally. There is such a huge difference to me in store bought whole wheat flour and my own home ground flour. The taste of freshly ground flour is so much better.. it has a fresh taste that is really lacking in store bought flour (not to mention the health benefits that are lacking) and boy had we missed that!


We made the choice on the Retsel for a few reasons. One of the reasons is that it has a nice big ¼ horse power motor.. this appealed to my mechanic husband. It grinds the grain with stone wheels (and steel wheels which I also purchased). The stone wheels can be removed and cleaned with a brush and all the grain and flour can be brushed and cleaned out of the machine. This keeps it clean and bug free.


This mill is different from the micronizer type mills such as the Whisper Mill which I had previously owned. Those types of mills basically burst open the grain. Those mills are more susceptible to damage from rocks. I do buy triple cleaned wheat but none the less it was a small rock that damaged my mill the first time. Tobin was able to fix it, but the second time it happened he was not. He took it apart and we saw that several of the teeth that do the milling had been broken off and some were flat.. the mill was definitely no good anymore..


A few other things that appealed to us.. The mill is very quiet.. we can have a conversation in the same room it is running. There is no dust while it grinds. The stones are in the front of the mill and there is a catch pan to catch the flour that gently falls. The flour never over heats like it did in my Whisper Mill if I was grinding a lot of grain.


It is also very slow, which is what helps keep the grain cooler but this is something I am getting use to. I need to plan ahead so that I have my grain grinding while I am getting the rest of my baking supplies prepared.


Here is a picture of my new mill. I have it set up in my laundry room. I store my wheat in buckets with gamma seal lids(you can see a few of them on the right) in my laundry room/pantry so I figured it would be good to have the wheat and the mill in the same room, plus I am not taking up my kitchen counter space. 



You can kind of see the flour falling from the mill into the pan in the picture below. By the way I purchased the flour catch pan from Retsel that they sold and was very disappointed by it. It is very small and not at all worth the money. So in the picture below I put my 11x15 pan under to catch the flour.



There are no marked settings on the knob to show the fineness of the grain, so I have had to play around with it to figure out what is the best setting. Depending on where I set the knob, the flour can be very fine or coarse. You can also grind grains for cracked grain cereals, something I would like to try soon. If you set the mill too fine it can glaze the stones, which I did have happen. But they clean up well and the next time I did some grinding the glazing on the stones was completely gone.


All in all I have been happy with the purchase and am expecting this mill to last a good long time. 

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

More Crockpot Cooking...

I am still on my crockpot cooking spree.. and loving it! Yesterday Tobin and I were going into town in the afternoon. I put my dinner together in the morning in my two crockpots. The meatballs went into my big 6qt. crockpot and my mac and cheese went into my smaller one. When we got home later in the evening Leanne had added some applesauce and carrots w/ranch dip to the meal and were all ready to eat! And the mess of making the meal had been cleaned up long before we sat down, making kitchen clean-up a breeze as well. 


BBQ Crockpot Meatballs

Crystal Miller


2#’s hamburger

2 slices homemade wheat bread, cubed

2 eggs

½ small onion, chopped or amount to taste

½ to 1 teaspoon Spike or seasoning salt

salt and pepper, as desired



1 cup barbeque sauce, homemade preferred

1 cup peach jam, or apricot will also work


To make meatballs combine hamburger, bread cubes, eggs, onion, salt, pepper and seasoning salt. Form into small balls and put in an 11x15 pan. Bake for 20 minutes or until a meatball cut in half is completely cooked through.


Prepare sauce by mixing together bbq sauce and jam. When I made this recipe I used my own homemade bbq sauce and my own homemade jam.. it was delicious!


After meatballs have cooked lift them out of the pan and place in crockpot. Pour sauce over them. Cover and cook on low for 4 hours.




Crockpot Macaroni and Cheese

Crystal Miller


2 ½ cups dry whole wheat elbow macaroni

1 can; 13oz evaporated milk

1 cup milk

¼ cup butter, melted

2 eggs, beat with fork before adding

4 cups cheddar cheese

Salt and pepper to taste


Begin by cooking the elbow macaroni for until just barely done. I normally cook whole wheat elbows for 11 to 12 minutes and for this recipe I cooked them 8 minutes. Drain and put noodles into crockpot. Add remaining ingredients and stir well. Cook on low for 3 hours. 


Monday, January 21, 2008

Making Pasta


On my menu tonight was seafood pasta. It was my version of my friend Laurie’s recipe for Shrimp Pasta. I made it with shrimp, scallops, and crab (imitation crab) it was yummy. But the most fun was that Emily and I made the pasta for the dinner. 


I bought a pasta maker on ebay a few months ago but had not used it. I was a bit intimidated by the process so I had left it in the box. Emily was home today and really wanted to give it a try. So we pulled out the box and gave it a whirl. It was EASY and fun!! I don’t know why I waited so long. 


We made fettuccini. The recipe was basically 2 cups flour (I used half white and half whole wheat pastry flour), 1 egg, 2 T oil and approx. 4T water.. I added that as it was mixing. 


Here are some pics of our pasta making time..






Here is Laurie’s recipe for Shrimp Pasta:



Laurie Bostwick



1/3 cup olive oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 pound shrimp, peeled, deveined and remove tails

2/3 cup clam juice or chicken broth

1/3 cup dry white wine

1 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons each lemon juice and chopped parsley

1/4 teaspoon each dried basil leaves and dried oregano leaves, crushed

1 package linguine pasta (8 ounce size) cooked and drained





Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic; reduce heat to low. Simmer until garlic is tender. Add shrimp in same skillet and cook over medium-low heat until opaque. Remove; reserve liquid in pan. Add clam juice (I use the chicken broth when I'm out of clam juice); bring to a boil. Add wine; cook over medium-high heat 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low; add cream, stirring constantly. Add cheese; stir until smooth. Cook until thickened. Add shrimp to sauce. Heat through. Add remaining except linguine. Pour over linguine in large bowl; toss gently to coat. Serve with additional grated Parmesan cheese, if desired




***I use all chicken broth if I don't have clam juice or wine. Also, you can use half and half if you want to cut down on calories***


I doubled the recipe and used:

1 lb shrimp

½ lb scallops

½ lb imitation crab


It is a delicious recipe! 

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Menu for the week



Seafood Pasta




Chicken ala King (crockpot)

over brown rice




BBQ Meatballs (crockpot)

Green beans



Baked ham




Cheesy potato and ham (crockpot)





Tortilla chips and salsa



Lasagna (crockpot)

Homemade french bread


Updates from the Homestead


It has been over a week since I have had a chance to blog. I have been super busy with lots going on. 


This last week I had 3 trips into town; one for grocery shopping, one with Tobin and the third one with Emily to purchase some fabric. Those days in town really seem to throw the schedule off for me and I feel like I am racing behind the curve to keep the wheels turning here at home. 


Also this last week my boys’ best friend Andy spent the whole week with us. His parents went on a week long vacation to Hawaii (aww.. sun, warmth, water.. gotta love the thought right now as we are headed for some cold temps this week! )


This last week also seemed to be a busy computer week for me too. I had my message board moved to a new server and it ran into numerous issues that were caused by the old server. I had a tech guy that was so great to work with! He worked tirelessly to get the issues fixed and the board moved. We did end up losing some posts, but the faster moving board seems like an ok price to pay for that. 


On Friday my son Jacob celebrated his 14th birthday! Where have the years gone! He is maturing into a wonderful capable and helpful young man. His main passion in life right now seems to be Halo.. LOL (xbox game).. Now his oldest brother (my son in Iraq) is like a Halo 3 top champion (or whatever they call that.. you can tell I am not xbox literate! ) and so the two of them email quite often about how Jacob is doing on his Halo game and Richard tells him he needs to get ready for when he is home on leave.. he says, “Jacob, you need to get good to challenge me in this game… REAL good!”.. thus Jacob’s incentive to keep playing. And my incentive to make sure he keeps up with his home responsibilities (no Halo until all your school work has been done, wood re-supplied for the day, household chores done, goats fed and watered, etc.. ).



Speaking of my oldest son Richard, I talked with him yesterday. He said it is going well for him. They are changing his units assignment which he was not crazy about but says he will adjust fine. He also told me that hopefully by the end of the month all his paperwork will have moved through and he will officially be an E-5! That gives him the rank of sergeant. I am very proud of my boy..  


Time to move on now, I have to work on my Azure Standard order, get some laundry going and add another log on the fire..  


Have a great Sunday on your Homesteads..

Black Bean Chicken Chili


Yesterday morning I was clueless as to what I was going to serve for dinner. I have been busy this last week and my menu planning suffered so I was just winging it. This meal was a joint brain storming creation by Emily and me. 


3 cups dry black beans

12 cups water

1 T salt

1 large onion, chopped

1 ½ lbs boneless chicken (can be thighs or breast), cut into bite size pieces

1 T minced garlic

Olive oil

1 cup frozen corn

1 can Rotel type tomatoes (spicy tomatoes)

2 T chili powder

1 T hot sauce, opt


Put beans, water and salt into a large soup pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and let simmer for 2 ½ to 3 hours or until beans are tender and cooked. After beans have cooked, drain off a couple 2 or 3 cups of the liquid and reserve for later.


In a large frying pan cook onion, chicken and garlic in olive oil until the chicken is completely cooked and the onion is soft. Add this to the beans.


Add frozen corn, tomatoes, chili powder and hot sauce (if using) to the bean/chicken mixture. Add some of the reserved bean juice if needed to reach your desired consistency. 


I served this meal with tortillas, salsa and big green salad. It was YUM-O!!


NOTE: this meal would also make a great crockpot meal.. just make ahead and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours

Friday, January 11, 2008

Crockpot and Soup Meals for the Winter


Here are a couple of recipes I made this last week. They were delicious and perfect for these winter evenings. 


Crockpot Chili

Crystal Miller


1 lb hamburger

1 cup chopped onions

1 cup chopped peppers (these can be green or red or yellow peppers or a combo of any of them)

1 cup chopped celery

2 14oz cans diced tomatoes

4 to 5 cups cooked red beans – Reserve a couple cups bean broth from cooking the beans

2T chili powder

1T hot pepper sauce (such as the brand Tabasco)

1T minced garlic

1t salt


In a medium sized frying pan cook the hamburger and veggies until the meat is completely cooked and the veggies are tender. Put in crockpot. Add remaining ingredients and enough reserved bean broth to give it your desired consistency. Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours.  Serve with tortilla chips and salsa or cornbread and a green salad. 




Potato Sausage Chowder

Crystal Miller


3 to 4 lbs potatoes, peeled and chopped

½ to 1 lb sausage, cooked

½ an onion, chopped

2 cups frozen corn

1 can evaporated milk

salt and pepper to taste


Cover the chopped potatoes with water and add about 2 teaspoons salt. Bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes are fork tender. Drain off the water until it is at the same level as the potatoes.. make sure to save the potato water. 


In a medium frying pan cook sausage and onion until sausage is completely cooked and onion is soft. Add to the potatoes. Add corn and evaporated milk. Stir and add some of the reserved potato water until you have a consistency that you desire. Add salt and pepper to taste.


Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Tuesday on the Homestead

 Thank you all for the sweet comments about my new grandbaby..  we are so happy about this!  I could be wrong and just may be but I have this feeling it is a girl..  we will have to wait until she has an ultrasound to see if I am right or not..  but Emily had the same feeling too.  I found myself looking at little girl baby clothes yesterday while I was in Costco! LOL.. 

We were all surprised this morning when we woke up to a white wintry morning.  It was beautiful out!  But I was so happy that Tobin was home and able to take Emily to her nanny job.  I just don’t drive in this stuff.  By tonight it is raining and just barely above 32 and so I am thinking it will be melted by tomorrow.   

The day was quiet.  I made a big pot of potato sausage chowder.  It just seemed a good say for soup.  I got 5 loads of laundry done and dinner made and that was about it.  The kids worked on school and Tobin worked on tax stuff.   

Tomorrow Tobin and I will be going to town to run some errands and have a little time out together.  I am sure the roads will be fine. I heard the plow going up our road this evening.   

The kids got the sleds out and spent a lot of the afternoon sledding down the hills on our property.  Now I have wet/damp clothes hanging all around the wood stove heat vent (our wood stove/furnace is in the basements and vent up to the main floor).  They had a lot of fun and got some great exercise.  Now are watching some old tv shows. Their current favorite is Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.  Emily and Leanne are chatting together.  And I am obviously online… and listening to my current favorite country song..  She’s Everything by Brad Paisley.  I am a country music fan..  you either love it or you don’t..  except for Tobin who likes it because I do.. LOL…. 

Here are a few pics of the white stuff…


Hope you all had a warm day on your homestead… 



Sunday, January 6, 2008

Updates from the Homestead


Well Sunday is just about over and I have a few quiet moments to do a blog posting. The kids, except for Isaac, are all at Bible study this evening.


My weekend was busy, busy.. I made 30#’s of soap! I need to replace all that soap that went flying off the shelves during the holidays and add a new scent or two for spring time, which is a little ways away but with curing time and all it should be just about right. I am sure I will need to make some more in another week or two. 


My week ahead looks like we will be getting back into our regular routine. The kids start back with their homeschooling tomorrow. I am looking forward this.


The big, big news of the weekend: My daughter Carolyn called me and told me that she and Jonathan are having a baby!!! I am soooo excited! Caden will have a little brother or sister some time in September! I can’t wait to be a grandma again.  I hope I am able to get away and be there for this birth. She said she wants another home birth and they both want me and Sarah (my closest friend who is like family to us) to be there if we can. Carolyn had an unassisted homebirth and Sarah and I were the ones who delivered Caden. I told her to make it a matter of prayer and I would do the same thing and we will just wait and see. Now I need to finish Caden’s quilt that I have been working on so I can get started making something for this wee one.. 


Hope you all have had a good weekend on your homesteads.. 

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Happy New Year!


I started my New Year out with a quiet day. My younger three kids had gone to their friend’s houses so it just left me, Tobin, Emily and Leanne. Emily said to me… “Don’t you notice how peaceful it is today Mom?” .. haa.. haa.. yes she was right!  I took advantage of that peacefulness and got my newsletter sent out and then cleaned my bedroom. It was in need of some deep cleaning. It looks so much better now! I also washed 4 loads of laundry. In the evening I finished up all my book keeping work for my ebusiness so I could hand it all over to Tobin in preparations for taxes.. So all in all I thought it was a very productive day. Tobin and I went and picked up the kids in the evening, so that ended the peacefulness.. LOL.. 


On New Years Eve, I lost my internet connection. I thought it was the fault of my satellite company and I was busy that day so I just waited thinking they would solve the problem. But when it did not get solved I called the tech people and they got me back up and running. A couple of weeks ago I hooked up a router and helped Tobin and Emily get their laptops up and running and connected to the internet. Apparently some little hiccup between my router and modem caused the problem. Now I know to check that first if I ever have that happen again.


This morning there is a nice dusting of snow on the ground. Don’t know if it will snow any more but as it is slowly getting light out it is pretty to see. We have the wood stove going just about ‘round the clock keeping us warm and toasty. I think I will be doing a little baking today to help with the warm and toasty feelings (plus I get to use my new grain mill again, and I will share about that in my next blog post)... Dinner is still up in the air.. but maybe some Chinese food will be on my menu. 


Today, aside from kitchen work, some orders to send out and more laundry to do I will be printing off a couple of books in prep for starting school back up. I had posted about using the Robinson Curriculum and my book printing. Someone asked me what program I use that gets 4 pages to one sheet of paper. Well it isn’t a program but rather an option with my printer. I have a Brother laser printer and I can print in duplex (prints on both sides of the paper) or I can print in booklet (prints 2 pages on each side of the paper). I use the booklet setting to print out my books for the kids. Saves a lot on paper, especially when I am printing out 300 to 400 page books. 


Hope you all have a nice day today on your homesteads..