Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Tuesday on the Homestead


Today has been a quiet kind of day around here.  I slept in a little, which was nice!  When I got up Emily was just coming back from having taken Leanne to her nanny job.  Leanne is filling in for her so that Emily can have some more study time.  She is doing a lot of studying for her pre-calculus clep test.  She went all the way through Advanced Math with the Saxon books but that has been a few years ago.  She has been clearing the dust in her brain from those days..  as they say..  “if you don’t use it, you loose it”…  well she has not lost it..  just needs to be pulled down off the shelf and brought back to her current memory.  She was struggling with a few concepts and Tobin (our resident math genius ) helped her work through some of that this morning.   

After the kids got up and going and the chores were done they all settled into the school routine and I got some rice soaking in my rice cooker and some lentils soaking for tonight’s dinner.   We are having lentil and brown rice tacos with my fermented salsa and all the trimmings.   

Jacob and Isaac cleaned out the goat barn and spread down 2 bags of stove pellets.  I have a doe who is due to deliver very soon.  She is looking pretty big so I am thinking she probably has twins.  The past two years she only delivered one kid each time so I am hoping for two this year.  Tobin and I bought more hay last week which should feed them until spring time when things start growing again.   

Speaking of spring..   I am so ready for winter to be over!    Not that this will happen for a little while but on the bright side January is nearly over.  We woke up to snow falling this morning..  luckily there was not much accumulation and then it turned to rain later in the day.    

Yesterday Tobin and I went to town for our weekly little date at Starbucks and then ran some errands.  We went to Costco and picked up groceries as well.  We always look forward to our Monday afternoons together; they are a great way to start our weekend!   When we got home Sierra had the chicken baking and the salad made.  I had made a double batch of black bean patties in the morning. I also put coconut rice in the rice cooker before I left for town and set the delay timer on it so it would be done cooking by the time the rest of the meal was done.  It was a yummy dinner.   

So far I am keeping up with my New Year goals to incorporate more “Sally Fallon” type cooking into my family’s diet.  I have recultured another gallon of kefir and we have been using that to soak flour and to drink.  I have made more yogurt and hung that for the whey.  I am using a lot of whey now so this week I am planning on making a batch of feta cheese.  One gallon of milk will give me one pound of cheese and whole lot of whey to use!  I have a batch of sauerkraut fermenting and that should be done by tomorrow.  Then it will be time to think about starting another batch.  My family has really liked the sauerkraut and I have to say it tastes so much better than anything store bought!  Not to mention how much healthier it is..  lots of great nutritional benefits.   

While at Costco yesterday I purchased a couple of organic chickens and right now have my big 14qt pot simmering on the stove with the chickens, veggies and water.  In a couple of days I will have several cups of chicken broth to put in the freezer and by then it will most likely be time to make more beef broth.   

I have also been remembering to soak my beans, flour and oatmeal (for our breakfast) more consistently than I had been.  The trick I have found is to always be thinking several steps ahead of myself.  Meaning that I have to know what I am serving for the next day and even the next several days so that I can have anything soaking or fermenting or ‘in the works’ for those meals.   

I was thinking this morning of how incorporating this type of cooking and baking is really a matter of making it part of my daily process.  I remember when I started cooking more from scratch and getting rid of processed food.  It seemed like everything took longer to make because much of it was new to me.  But once I got it down it just became a matter of habit and today I don’t think anything of throwing together all my meals from scratch, it is just a matter of process.  I know soon that will be the way these new food preparations will be..  just habit.  

Well I have written a book here and need to move onto other things….. so that is all from the homestead!  Stay warm! 

Friday, January 23, 2009

Friday on the Homestead


I felt very rested when I got up this morning and started my day off running as my feet hit the floor..  ok.. well not quite..  I had to have my coffee first and give myself some wake up time.    While my coffee was sitting in my French press coffee pot steeping I went downstairs and got a fire going to start warming up the house.   

Then I started some laundry and since my grain mill is in the laundry room I also started grinding up 10 cups of wheat (half of what I needed)..  my bucket of wheat was empty and so I went to the freezer to pull out another 50# bag.  The bag had gotten ripped and I had wheat spilling out.  I got a plastic garbage bag and managed to get it around the bag of wheat so I did not loose too much or make a huge mess in the freezer!  AT this point I had hefted and moved around so many huge bags of grain that my back was killing me and decided to wait until Tobin got home to pull that ripped bag out for me (it was at the very bottom of the chest freezer) and finish grinding my wheat later on.  

I went to another freezer and pulled out a beef pot roast and got that started in my crockpot.  While in the kitchen I heated up some milk and got a quart of yogurt going.  I checked the status of my fermenting salsa and it looked great!  I could see bubbles and it has not gotten too cool so by tonight it should be ready to put in the fridge.   

I had about 30 minutes of accounting book work to catch up on and did that next.  Then moved more laundry though and made another cup of coffee.  I spent some time answering emails and doing some writing.   

I had a good chunk of my to-do list done before my hubby even got home from work or the kids were up.   

This afternoon I ground up the rest of my flour, I have 6 loaves of bread baking in the oven right now and have been finishing up the laundry.  I grated up about 4#’s of laundry soap and need to get that bagged up in a day or two. I still need to peel potatoes (or rather give that job to one of the kids) for dinner and think if I want to make some dinner rolls to go with our roast and mashed potatoes.   

My 3 younger kids are finishing their school work up and Emily and Leanne went to town.  Leanne needed to go and see if she passed her GED math test (which she did!! Yea, first test done!) and then the two of them were headed to Starbucks to have some coffee and study time together.  Emily has her pre-calculus math clep test scheduled for Monday.   

On another note:


My daughter Leanne loves to write.  She decided to start a blog as an outlet for her writing.  If you would like to check out new blog here is the link:  http://www.homesteadblogger.com/butterflygirl/  I think she is doing a great job with her blog! Her recent entry was on goat cheese and she added a little history lesson.  Writing is her passion and she plans on starting College Plus! soon and working towards an English degree.   

That is all from my homestead today!  Hope you all have a great weekend! 

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Updates from my Homestead

So far so good on my working to meet my new goals (see blog post here).  My sauerkraut turned out wonderful.. so delicious. I did have to move it to a warmer location to insure that it did not cool down to much overnight.  That did the trick and it came out perfect.   

I made my beef broth (as seen in my last blog post).  And yesterday I made a new gallon of kefir to have on hand to use for soaking flour for baking.  I also made over a gallon of fermented salsa from Sally Fallon’s recipe.  Actually the recipe was pretty much like what I make except for the addition of the whey and some lemon juice.  If you want the recipe for this, then I highly recommend purchasing her book..  lots of great nutritional information and recipes.   Here is a pic from yesterdays endeavors….


So my next goal is to make more yogurt so I can get more whey and more yogurt cheese.  Then it will be time to make more sauerkraut.   

After I drained my last batch of yogurt to get the whey from it I had a good amount of yogurt cheese as well.  We spread this on whole wheat bagels and I put some in a cream sauce one night for our dinner.  On Wednesday I used up the last of it when I made some macaroni and cheese for dinner. I boiled some whole wheat elbow noodles and when they were done I drained them and put them back in my cooking pot.  I added some butter and let that melt.  Then I added the yogurt cheese to this and let that melt and mix in well.  Then I added some grated cheddar cheese and a little milk.  It made some delicious mac and cheese..  my kids loved it. 

Today’s To-Do List 

Go and pick up my Azure order.   

After that Tobin and I are headed to the recycling center and then to go and pick up some hay for my goats.   

Dinner preps.. I need to do that this morning.  Dinner for tonight is Crockpot Vegetable Beef Soup, dinner rolls and a salad. 

Tobin and the kids are going to rake up the driveway.  We have had about a week of amazingly windy weather.  We lost power a couple of times and lots of tree limbs fell from the trees and made a big mess.  I do believe the wind is over now and it is time to clean up!  

After all that it will be time to focus on school work and house work and getting hubby ready for a new work week.   

Hope you all have a great Thursday on your homesteads! 



Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Making Beef Stock from Scratch

I have had a few goals for this new year to improve our health (see the blog post where I discuss this HERE )by incorporating more food preparations on a regular basis from the book Nourishing Traditions (by author Sally Fallon).

One of those goals is to make stock on a regular basis. I am trying to avoid as much food as possible that contains MSG. Beef and/or chicken bullion cubes are loaded with MSG. I buy a better alternative which is a powdered stock seasoning from my health food co op but regardless it still contains forms of MSG. The only way to have flavorful broths and soups is to make stock from scratch, the way our grandmothers did it!  ~smile~

Homemade stock, aside from being MSG free, is loaded with good quality minerals that your body needs. Homemade stock is an excellent way to improve your family’s diet with high a super high quality food source.

Before you begin you will need to purchase beef soup bones. I have seen them at butcher shops so I know they are available. I get mine from the cow we purchase each year. We buy a whole cow from a local farmer each year and I always request the soup bones. I get several wrapped packages of soup bones ready to go. You can also add other types of beef to this. For the tutorial below I also added a package of ribs. I have not found a great way to cook ribs that I really enjoy. They are too fatty for my tastes. My family is not a real fan of ribs so I decided to throw a package in with my beef soup bones to add more flavor and I knew I could save the meat at the end to freeze for soups later on.

Aside form beef soup bones you will also need a few onions, carrots and celery, a small amount of vinegar and a large stock pot (the one seen in the pictures is 14 quarts).

It is hard for me to give a recipe for this because I just base it by how many bones I have and how many of the extras (onions, carrots, celery) I want to add. It is hard to think one could add too many of them.  Just use what you have and follow the directions below.

For the batch of stock you will see here I used a total of 10 pounds of beef bones.

I put the beef bones in my stock pot and covered them with water. I added ½ cup of vinegar and let it sit about an hour. The vinegar helps draw out the minerals and good nutritious qualities from the bones.

While that was sitting I cup up my veggies and added them to the pot along with more water. You need to leave some space at the top of the pot for boiling.

Then I turned the burner on high and brought it a boil. I skimmed off any scum that rose to the top. I put the lid on and turned the burner down to low.

I let my stock simmer for 30 hours. The longer it cooks the better the flavor. Sally Fallon recommends anything from 12 to 72 hours. Here is what mine looked like after the cooking time was done.

When the time was up I removed all the bones and then strained the stock through a colander. I had a large bowl full of stock and one full of the bones and meat.

When it had cooled down I removed the meat from the bones and chopped it up. I had enough meat to put about 1 ½ cups in to 3 zip bags. I labeled them and put them in the freezer. I will use this for future soup recipes.  I threw away the remaining bones.

I took my big stock pot and washed it and then poured my beef stock back into the pot. It filled the pot about 2/3rd’s full. I put the pot in the fridge to allow the fat to rise to the top and solidify so I could remove that the next day.

After removing all the solidified fat from my stock I divided the stock into 2 and 4 cup portions and put them into zip bags. From 10 pounds of beef bones I ended up with 22 cups of rich, thick delicious broth.

The broth can substituted in any recipe calling for a can of broth or replace the water and bullion cubes for the stock.

Happy Birthday Jacob!!



I should say happy belated birthday! My son Jacob turned a big 15 years old on Sunday!  Wow…  Each year all 8 of my children grow another year older and my reaction still seems to be the same..  Wow!  Where did all the years go?..  I guess as I live day to day I don’t really reflect on the time passing by. However when a birthday comes along I have a few minutes to reflect and think about that child and the years that have gone by.  I realize that my babes are growing up!! Which is good in many ways and sad in others.  

Jacob is growing up to be quite a mature, responsible young man.  He is a hard worker and very reliable. This year he has shown great tenacity in his own personal goal of finishing two Saxon math books.  He plans to be done with the Algebra 2 book by the end of the month and then will start the Advanced Math book.  For anyone familiar with those books they are not easy!  As my husband says..  they are rigorous!    I have no doubt he will achieve his goal.   I am proud to see the emerging man that he will one day be.  

Happy Birthday to my boy!!


Saturday, January 17, 2009

Making Sauerkraut (lacto-fermented)


After getting home yesterday from shopping I was able to get my cabbage cut up and start my sauerkraut.  This can be a couple day process just to get to this point ! LOL..   As I mentioned in my last blog post one of my goals is to try and make some type of fermented on a weekly basis.

On Thursday I started by making some whole milk yogurt.  I had a small amount of Nancy’s (brand name) Yogurt in my fridge but not enough to collect the needed amount of whey.   

So I pulled out my yogurt maker.  I have made yogurt in many ways over the years but for me the easiest is with a yogurt maker.  A couple of years ago I purchased a Salton Yogurt Maker and have loved it. I even bought my daughter Carolyn one and she says she has been very happy with it too.  It makes 1 quart of yogurt.  It is reasonably prices as well.  For just under $25.00 you will have the ability to make lots and lots of yogurt inexpensively and simply.  Here is a pic of mine…


My yogurt was all done by later in the evening so I put it in the fridge.  In the morning I used an old clean piece of pillow case that I had cut up for this purpose.  I washed it in hot soapy, bleach water to make sure it was clean and sterilized. I put my quart of yogurt in that and tied it to a handle on my kitchen cupboard door and let it hang for about 24 hours and put a bowl under it to collect the whey.   


When I as done I had about 2 cups of whey (the pictures shows less than this because when I took this pic I had already pulled out whey for my sauerkraut and used some to soak my brown rice for yesterdays dinner).  And I had some yummy yogurt cheese which we use just like you would cream cheese. 


I cut up my cabbage, onions and carrots using my Bosch…


I added my salt and whey and pounded it and let sit for a bit and then put it in my glass jar and added the weight (a zip bag filled with water) and it is now sitting and doing its fermenting thing.  If all goes right I will have sauerkraut Monday. 


If you want step by step instructions to do this (with pictures and recipe) you can find that here: http://www.thefamilyhomestead.com/homemadekraut.htm  

The recipe I used to make my yogurt was this: 

4 cups whole milk
½  cup yogurt (my Nancy’s yogurt with live cultures)
¼ cup powdered milk 

I find it works best if you plug in your yogurt maker first.  That way it will warm up and be the same temp as your yogurt when you poor it in.  It helps so you don’t cool the yogurt down.  

Combine the milk and powdered milk in a saucepan and heat to about 150 or so..  Then remove from the heat and let it cool to 110.  Add the yogurt and stir until it is mixed in well.  Pour into yogurt maker.  Leave for any where from 4 to 12 hours.  I gently shake the container just a little to see if it is firm and ready, if not I let go for a little longer.  When done put it in the fridge for about 12 hours.  Then it is ready to go!   

I will let you know if my sauerkraut turns out well.  My only concern has been the temp of my house.  You need to keep the fermenting kraut fairly warm.  I moved my jar to a spot in the house that is typically a bit warmer in hopes on not letting the night time drop in temps affect it.  So we will see! 

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Updates from the Homestead


Our visit with our son was wonderful! He was here 3 weeks and we so enjoyed that time with him. He left yesterday to head back to Ft. Bragg.  He really enjoyed the time at home too, it was necessary and needed recovery time from Iraq for him. He left with some fresh enthusiasm and better defined plans for the upcoming year and I am very excited for him!    

But now it is time to get my life back in order and get the family back on our regular schedule.  We will start school officially on Monday.  Sierra and Isaac already picked up their math books and started getting a few lessons done this week.  But the rest of the school work will start back up on Monday.   

Today I need to head to the grocery store and run a few errands.  Leanne and Sierra will come along to help.  After that there is laundry and food preps on my to-do list. 


In the Kitchen: Nourishing Traditions 

One of my new year goals this year was to be more diligent about incorporating more “Nourishing Traditions” type of food prep to my routines.  I love the book and agree with so much of what she (the author Sally Fallon) has written but putting it into practice and keeping it going has been a big challenge.  So as part of my new year goal planning I decided to come up with a plan to start small, focus on just a few things and work to keep that as a regular part of my cooking and meal preparations.   

So far this is what I have come up with:  

1. Work to have some sort of cultured milk product in the house at all times.  Nothing like needing a bit of whey or kefir or yogurt to make something or soak some grains and realize you need to make it first!  Kind of kills the inspiration to go farther.   

So with that in mind I plan to make a gallon of kefir this weekend. It is easy to reculture and the last batch of kefir I made I was able to reculture it from early in the summer to late into the fall.  Then it stopped working very well and I tossed it with the good intentions of getting more started but have not.  So that will be on my list this weekend.  I use powdered kefir cultures that I buy from Leeners.com  I highly recommend their cheese cultures.  I could not believe how many gallons of kefir I got from just one packet of cultures..  very worth it!  You can see my picture tutorial on making kefir from powdered cultures here: http://www.thefamilyhomestead.com/makingkefirinpics.htm  

Also I plan on making more whole milk yogurt so I can have the whey and the yogurt cheese from it.  Right now I have a quart of yogurt I made on Thursday hanging and dripping to catch the whey (for my sauerkraut) and then we can enjoy the yogurt cheese and use that like you would cream cheese.   

2. My second goal is to try and have some type of lacto-fermented veggie going weekly.  My favorite is sauerkraut (you can find my instructions on making it here: http://www.thefamilyhomestead.com/homemadekraut.htm  ).  I have made a ton of this but never seem to have it in the house on a regular basis.  I have also fermented other veggies like carrots, garlic, cucumbers, and tomatoes (which is more like fermented salsa and VERY good!).  I would like to keep up with some of my favorites and try a few more too. 

3. I am going to start making more homemade stock.  Right now I have some beef bones defrosted from the cow we purchased last year and I plan on starting beef stock this morning.  Today while I am shopping I plan on buying a couple of organic chickens for chicken stock.  I will freeze the stock so I can have it on hand.   

4. Add more coconut oil and coconut milk into our diet.  That I will do by cooking with them and adding them to our foods.   

None of these goals are difficult, so for me it is just a matter of being more diligent to incorporate them into my routines.  I will add more to this list as soon as I feel like I have these basics down regularly.  I will keep you posted on my progress.   

That is all from the homestead today..  but I will be back to share more on these topics this weekend!  Hope you have a great Friday on your homestead! 

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Monday on the Homestead


We have been focusing lots of our time with my son.  His visit home has been wonderful.  He said it has been just what he needed.  The girls and I have been keeping the meals and baking going almost non-stop since he came home.  I am glad to see him enjoying home cooking so much.  He still has a couple more weeks with us. 

Today some of life needs to go back to normal.  Emily starts work again (after a couple week holiday break) and I think I will have the youngest kids do a little school.  Jacob may go out and about in town with Richard today so he may not start school yet.  He is way ahead of schedule anyway so I am not too concerned about it.   

On my to-do list today is laundry and housework.  I need to get some floors mopped and some dusting done.  Wood heat seems to create a lot of dust!  I also need to get the kids back to my daily house cleaning chore list today.  With all the fun times and off schedules my house is showing a bit of neglect.  So that much of a normal schedule will start today! 

Tobin and I will be having our weekly date so I need to get a pot of bean soup cooking before we leave.  I was thinking Italian Pintos were sounding pretty good.  Maybe I will find the time to get some French bread made before I leave too..  we will see how the days goes.   

I will be back soon to more blogging and sharing but for now life seems very focused on my kids and family.   

I wanted to leave with a pic of my grandbaby Elizabeth taken at Christmas time..  she is growing so quickly! …

Hope you all have a great Monday on your Homestead!