Tuesday, September 29, 2009

New eBook from The Family Homestead!!


Freezer Cooking with Meal Starters:
Take the Stress Out of a Busy Day by being Prepared!


You can take added steps out of dinner preparations by having some foods ready to go in your freezer.  This is not making whole dinners for the freezer; this is easier and more flexible!  You use basic mixes of meat, beans and/or rice and turn these into quick and delicious meals for your family.  


In this 40+ page eBook you fill find recipes for the basic meal starters plus lots of recipes for the meals that use them. Everything from tacos to spaghetti to beef stew, to delicious chicken recipes and more.   And a printable freezer inventory chart is included… 

The cost of this eBook is $9.00

For more information click HERE 






Saturday, September 26, 2009



Well my tomatoes just keep coming!  Every time I go out I end up with another 8 or 10 pounds of them.  I am thinking about now that the first freeze we get will come as a relief and I can put the garden to bed! LOL..  but in the meantime I am taking advantage of the abundance.   I recently have been making salsa.  I normally only make lacto fermented salsa, but there are only so many gallons I can make and keep of that so I decided to make some for canning.  My friend Leah Hillman shared her recipe with me and I tried it.  I have to say we all just loved it!  I have tried a few salsa recipes for canning in the past and to me they either taste of vinegar to much or are to watery..  but that was not the case for this salsa.    

Here is the recipe she shared with me… 

Salsa for Canning…   

10 lbs tomatoes, chopped
6 medium onions, chopped
3 cups bell peppers (any kind), chopped
12 jalapeno peppers, chopped and seeded
5 chili peppers, chopped and seeded (this will make it spicy or milder, depending on the peppers you choose)
10 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 1/3 cups white vinegar
1/4 cup salt
2 tsp pepper
2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp cumin
2 tbsp lime juice
3 cans tomato paste (the bigger cans, not the tiny ones)

Combine all ingredients except tomato paste in a large stock pot.  Simmer approximately 40 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add tomato paste and mix well.  Simmer another 20 minutes or so.  At this point, I take out about half of the salsa, blend it smooth in the blender and then return it to the pot, but you can leave it chunky if you prefer.  Ladle into hot jars leaving 1/4" headspace.  Cap and process 15 minutes in a water bath canner.  Remove jars and let cool.

This recipe makes approximately 15 pints.

The original recipe also called for 1/4 cup brown sugar and 1/4 cup white sugar, so if you like your salsa sweeter, add this in.

Thank you Leah for sharing this!!

I did not add the sugar to mine.  In total I ended up making 25 pint jars of salsa!! 

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Updates from the Homestead


Life on my homestead has been busy as always. On Thursday Tobin and I put our son Jacob on a airplane to head to Washington DC.  He will be staying with family while he waits for our son Richard to get out of the Army.  Next week Richard will officially be done with his service in the Army.  He will be picking up Jacob and the two of them will begin a fun little cross country trip from D.C to home..  a lot of miles to cover, but they are really looking forward to the trip and the time together.   

I spent a good amount of time in the kitchen yesterday.  I made some cabbage soup for our dinner and then made 3 loaves of Challah bread and zucchini spice cake for dessert (I also got a lot of extra zucchini grated and in the freezer).  It was a perfect meal for a cloudy, cool and rainy day.  I was going to can up some of my cabbage soup but discovered my pressure gauge was loose on the top of the canner.  I will see if this can be fixed.. if not it might be time for a new pressure gauge.. so the cabbage soup may be frozen.  

 The garden is still keeping me busy..  besides the spaghetti sauce and lacto fermented salsa that I have made, on Friday I made a few pint jars of Summer Salsa.  It is a fruit and tomato spicy sweet salsa.  It looks very pretty and tastes yummy.  I may make some more of it.  I got the recipe from The Complete Book of Home Persevering by Ball….

      Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving            

 This last week Tobin, Isaac and I spent some time working in the garden.  It was getting over grown with weeds and it was time to pull up some summer squash plants that weren’t producing any more.  While Isaac and I picked another 8 or 10 pounds of tomatoes and a big overgrown squash plant (how does that happen.. a couple days ago it was almost ready.. and then.. ??) and a few cabbages.. Tobin rototilled the unplanted areas of the garden.  Then he rototilled the area where I had pulled out all the green bean plants and I did the weeding between the plants.  By the time we were done working the garden was looking real pretty…

It will soon be time to put the garden to bed for the winter..   

I am working on a quilt right now that is almost done.. I have just run out of time in a day to work on it this last week.  I might get to it this afternoon.. we will see.. unless I need to do more canning.. But I really want to get my quilt project done (and share a pic with you) and move onto thinking about Christmas projects next..   

The first week of our homeschool went quite well.  This afternoon I need to line up the schedule for next week.   

That is all the updates from my homestead!  Have a blessed Sunday!! 

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Canning Spaghetti Sauce


My tomatoes are finally coming in full force!  So I have been making lacto fermented salsa and spaghetti sauce.  I thought I would share my recipe and how I can up the sauce.  I don’t peel the tomatoes … just thought I would mention this..    In order to can this sauce you will need a pressure canner.  If you don’t have one you can always freeze the sauce in quart size freezer bags.   

Spaghetti Sauce from Fresh Tomatoes

¼ cup olive oil
3 large onions, chopped
2 green peppers, chopped
8oz mushrooms, sliced (about 4 cups sliced)
2 cups chopped celery
1T minced garlic
8 to 10lbs fresh tomatoes
26oz tomato paste
3 to 4 cups tomato juice
4T Italian seasonings
1T salt
1 or 2t red chili peppers, optional (adds a little zest) 

OK.. here we go… 

You will need a very big pot for all of this.  The one I am using is 14 quarts.  Sautee in olive oil the onions, green peppers, mushrooms, celery and garlic until soft. 


While the veggies are cooking wash the tomatoes


Core them and use a food processor to puree them..   Set them aside until the veggies are done cooking. 


When the veggies are soft add the tomatoes…


Add the remaining ingredients


Let this simmer uncovered for an hour or so….. 

Now get out 7 quart canning jars.  Wash them with hot soapy water.  Set them in your sink and fill each one with boiling water to keep them hot.  And it helps to test them to see if any might break with the hot water.


Get out 7 rings and 7 new lids.  Put them in a pan of water and put on the stove.  Heat them up so they are hot and ready to go…


Now fill each jar with 4 cups of sauce. Leave 1 inch head space. Wipe the rim of the jar clean and put a hot lid and ring on.  Tighten the ring finger tip tight. 


Put the jars in the canner…..

Now at this point I am assuming that if you own a pressure canner you know how to use it..    Soo.. I was not going to do a lot of detail on how to use a canner..  that may be in another post at some point if I thought there was an interest..   

In any case..  you will need to process the sauce at 10lbs of pressure for 90 minutes.  If you live at higher elevations you will need to adjust this accordingly.  After much research on times to process this sauce I settled for 90 minutes. It is nearly impossible to find reliable information on how much time to process some of the individual veggies in the sauce.  So I figured I better shoot for safety on this one.   


When you are done you will have some beautiful sauce ready for winter….






Monday, September 14, 2009

My 21st First Day of School

Today was the first day of homeschool for my kids.  Jacob started 4 weeks ago, but today Sierra and Isaac began so I look at today as the first official day.  This is my 21st - first day of school.  I am starting my 21st year of homeschooling and what a journey it has been.  Some years have been great, some have been difficult, some have been discouraging, some have been absolutely wonderful and some have just been so-so.  The one reason I continue on, even after difficult or discouraging years is conviction.  Homeschooling is not a must for everyone, but it is where the Lord has called our family.   When my husband and I started homeschooling we were convicted that this is what the Lord was calling us to do.  And as the years have gone by I can say I am tired and weary at times but because I know that this is where the Lord wants me, I know He will give me the strength to continue on.  He has done that year after year and I know will continue to do so.  There have been times that if I did not have the conviction to homeschool I would have looked at putting my children in public school..  but I already know that the plan the Lord has for our life.. the life of my children..  is His plan and He will carry me forward until my work is done.  

I have some incredibly sweet memories of years gone by.  I am forever grateful to have had the time, day after day, to be with my children. It has been a joy to watch them learn and grow and develop and as I look back I am so thankful for this opportunity to grow and learn together and to be with them.  It has been a fantastic 20 years!   Thank you Lord!  

So with great excitement I began this morning by waking my children up (soon they will have to use their alarm clocks.. but this morning I gave them a “happy first day of school” wake up )...  They did their Bible and devotional reading, ate, we did household chores and then sat down with  the books.  Over this last weekend I had already laid out the first week’s school schedule. Each of them had their schedule in hand and they began with math.  Then moved onto English.  Then it was lunch time. After lunch they finished up the last subjects and read in their books.  Isaac is reading The Rover Boys on the Lake, Sierra is reading Around the World in 80 Days and Jacob is reading Oliver Twist.  They finished up school around 2:30.   

It was a pleasant and smooth first day of school and I prayed that the Lord would bless this school year and make it a productive one for my children and give us the needed tenacity to do our work.   

Isaac all set and ready to start the new year….



Sunday, September 13, 2009

This Weeks Menu




Whole wheat crackers








Burgers on the grill on

homemade hamburger buns (I use the linked recipe to make my hamburger buns)



Pot roast & potatoes in the crockpot







Tortillas & homemade salsa


Friday, September 11, 2009

Zucchini Brownies

  Yesterday Sierra made these delicious zucchini brownies.  The family enjoyed them last night for dessert. They were wonderfully moist and no one would know they had zucchini in them .. unless you told them!


Zucchini Brownies

1/2 cup olive oil
1 1/2 cups cane juice crystals
2t vanilla
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 t baking soda
1t salt
2 cups shredded zucchini

In a large mixer combine olive oil, cane juice crystals and vanilla.  Add the flour and cocoa powder and mix well.  Add zucchini.  Spread into a 9x13 pan and bake at 350 for about 25 to 30 minutes.  Spread with iceing when cooled. 

Chocolate Icing
2 cups powdered sucanat or powdered sugar
6T cocoa powder
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 t vanilla
2 – 4T milk

In a mixer bowl combine powdered sucanat and cocoa powder.  Add butter until mixture is combined.  Add vanilla and first 2T of milk.  Mix.  Add as much of the remaining milk as needed to give you a nice spreading consistency.  


Monday, September 7, 2009

Happy Birthday to Leanne!!



Yesterday Leanne, my 4th daughter and 5th child celebrated her 18th birthday!!  It was a wonderful afternoon.  Sierra decorated her cake and we had homemade ice cream (I made chocolate ice cream and chopped up Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and added them.. yum!) . 

Leanne is such a sweet daughter.  She is quiet, loving, caring and helpful.  She has a real servant’s heart and is always ready to help out anyone who needs help if she is able.   

She is currently working on her college degree.  She thinks she would like to be a teacher.  She says it would be something she could use in the mission field or she would like to be able to be a help to the homeschooling community where she may live as an adult.   

She is my right arm.  She is incredibly helpful at home.  For the last couple of years she has been in charge of teaching my youngest two math and has done a fantastic job.  She is very patient with the kids and they enjoy her as their math teacher.   

She is a huge blessing to our lives!

Happy Birthday Leanne!!  I Love You!!   

Scenes from the day…

Leanne and Grandpa..

Emily & Leanne..

Leanne's birthday cake that Sierra decorated for her...

Leanne and mom....


Thursday, September 3, 2009

Updates from the Homestead



Life has been rather full lately.  Lots of activities happening with everyone it seems.  Emily and Sierra flew to Maryland and spent a week there… got some great nephew hugging in .  I guess that is one nice thing about online colleges you can keep up with your school work even if you are in another state.  Leanne has been house sitting and working on her college work as well.  Jacob is into his 3rd week of school and things are going smoothly.  

The most fun update is Sierra’s bedroom.  Tobin finished all the drywall and other prep work and the painting finally started.  Sierra and I bought a quart of both green and blue paint and she painted a scrap piece of drywall so she could see the colors together and make sure this is what she wanted.  Yep.. she loved her choices.  So yesterday we went and picked up a gallon of each and last night she started painting.  Wow..  It would not be my personal choice in color but I have to say it does not look too bad and she is thrilled.  It is fun to be a bit adventurous with paint!  After much thought on this she decided to go with painting 2 walls green and 2 walls blue.  The carpet will be blue and we will accent with purple accessories.  I will post pics soon..   

My garden is doing great.  I am still harvesting lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, summer squash and I have enough ears of corn left for one or two more dinners.  I am thinking about doing some overwintering seeds.  I was going to rototill the garden and plant a row of lettuce, spinach and a few other seeds and see if they come up in the spring.  Does anyone do this?  I wondered if I need to mulch them heavily?  I will try and do some research and see what I come up with.  On the rest of the garden area I want to plant a cover crop to try and keep the weeds under control and it will be a good way to add nitrogen to the soil next spring.   

I have also been doing more cooking for the freezer.  I ran out of just about everything I had made and started a new batch of beef, hamburger, ham, and chicken.  I have loved having these meal starters ready to go and am looking forward to them helping me out as I ease into the school year.  Today I need to strain out my chicken broth and cook and bag up some beans.  

It looks like we have a string of several cool days coming up in our forecast.  I am planning and doing a little baking and maybe even get some extra baked items in the freezer.  Bagels were sounding yummy..  we will see how the week/weekend goes.   

I also started sewing a quilt.  I guess the thoughts of fall and cooler days have me in a sewing mood.  It is just a small one that I will put over the back of my loveseat but I am enjoying doing a little sewing again.  I will post more about it in a future blog post.  When Emily saw I had my sewing machine out she reminded me that she had picked out some fabric for an apron and would just be so happy if I would make it for her.  She has no time to sew and I would enjoy doing that for her. That may be my next project after I finish the quilt.  

Our homeschool will officially start on September 14th. This will begin my 21st year of homeschooling..     I finally have all the curriculum ordered and it has arrived.  We have plenty of paper and pencils too..     Now it is time to start laying out the daily school work schedule.  I am actually looking forward to getting back to some structure in my day and that familiar routine with my kids.

That is all the updates I have for now..  Hope you all have a great day on your homesteads today!