Thursday, December 30, 2010

January Menu

Well here is this month’s menu!  I have a few planned leftover days because I wanted less time in the kitchen so I could focus on getting my house organized.  But planning meals for my family is the first step in organization. So here are the meals planned for January….

1stmeatloaf, mashed potatoes, salad
2ndchili, cornbread, salad
3rdegg rolls, chicken chow mien 
4th – fish tacos, Spanish rice, salad
5th yummy pinto beans (make extra for tomorrow), homemade dinner rolls, salad
6th – leftovers
7th split pea soup made with ham bone saved (frozen) from Christmas dinner, dinner rolls, salad
8th Cajun baked chicken, cheesy rice, salad
9th – spaghetti, French bread, salad
10th – kielbasa cabbage & pasta, salad
11th salmon patties, garlic roasted potatoes, coleslaw
12th – tacos with all the trimmings
13th – crockpot beef stew (make extra), dinner rolls, salad
14th – leftovers
15th tuna noodle casserole, salad
16th lasagna, French bread, salad
17th – tuna melts, tomato soup, salad
18th – Pizza – Jacob’s birthday!!
19th Nachos for a Crowd, salad
20thpotato sausage soup (make extra), salad
21st – leftovers
22nd - white bean chicken chili (make extra), corn bread, salad
23rd – leftovers
24th – hot dogs, coleslaw, chips
25th – hamburgers, chips, coleslaw
26th chicken fajitas, salad
27th salmon chowder (make extra), biscuits, salad
28th – leftovers
29thbeef noodle soup (make extra), dinner rolls, salad
30th – leftovers
31stcrockpot chicken & gravy, salad

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

It's Almost the New Year!!!

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas. I did not get a chance to post before the holiday like I had wanted to. Life just became a whirlwind of busyness. Prior to Christmas day we made a spontaneous trip up to Port Townsend, WA to visit Tobin’s parents. It was such a nice trip and we all enjoyed the break from our routine. It is always great to visit with the family.

The girls and I got right to work after we got back to prepare food for our Christmas dinner. Leanne and Sierra handled all the cookie baking and helped me with our Christmas dinner. This year Tobin had to work over the holiday so it was a little different than usual. We enjoyed what time we did have together. We had our big meal on Christmas Eve and then he left for work. We opened gifts in the morning when he got home. We had a relaxing day and munched on all the leftovers from our Christmas dinner. Later in the afternoon the kids all headed into town to see a movie.

I got all the Christmas decorations put away a couple days later and got my house back to normal. I like to do it soon after Christmas because there is just something refreshing about going into the new year with life in order. I do love starting a new year! It just inspires fresh goals and it inspires me to clean and organize my house! The winter months just seem ideal for digging into the closets and storage areas and going through the “stuff”. I plan on purging and eliminating as much as I can! ~smile~

The first thing on my organization list has been getting my January menu plan made up. I am fine tuning it now and will be posting it very soon. The new menu calendar for January is posted on my site. You can find it here:  I post a new calendar every month. You can write your menus on it and hang it on the fridge to help keep you organized! I find having my meals planned is the one of the best things I can do to stay organized!

I plan on chatting this month about organization! I hope to touch on everything from organizing our day to our houses.. Lord willing I will have the time to share with you all!!

Hope you have a blessed day on your homesteads today!!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Updates from the Homestead

Hard to believe the month is flying by so quickly! Yesterday my daughters Sierra and Leanne and I went shopping and I finished up the last of my Christmas shopping. I still have one more gift to get out in the mail and now a lot of wrapping to do! :) I got my daughter Emily’s box packed and took it to the post office.. and spent half my life savings mailing it to her! LOL.. it was not that bad, but it was a bit of sticker shock! What a mama won’t do for her babes.. you know? ~smile~ .. But the best part of it all is she got it in one week and was just thrilled! It was worth it all to know how excited she was to receive all the goodies.

We have had a flu bug going through the house. It’s been the cough, fever, achy muscle type thing. I think we are all pretty much past it now. We rarely get this sick; in fact I told Tobin that it has been years since I can remember the whole household being sick with something more than that common cold. I guess our immune systems were due for a workout! LOL.. I just kept lots of herbal tea brewing, and encouraged everyone to drink lots of water and I stocked up on oranges for some extra vitamin C.  It is nice to be past this now, it is not the greatest time of the year to be sick.

We finally got our Christmas tree up and decorated it last night….

Always makes me feel more festive once the tree is up.

This week I am focusing on getting some Christmas baking done. I will share with you as I get it done.. I need to get my cookies baked and in the freezer. Dessert for Christmas Day is always cookies. I bake several types and freeze them so they will be ready for Christmas.

I thought I would leave this blog post with my latest favorite recipe, Fish Tacos. I absolutely love them! And so does the family. I also found something at Costco that I am pretty happy with.. You bake them tortillas. On the down side they are white flour. I use to buy whole wheat tortillas from Azure Standard and really loved them. However for reasons I am not completely aware of the cost of the tortillas almost doubled. I could not bring myself to pay $40 a case for them. It was just too much for my budget. I started looking for alternatives and what I found at the grocery store is, in my opinion, just yucky. I read the ingredients list on the tortillas on the shelf and they are loaded with junk.. so that was not an option. I can make them, but right now I needed something simpler.. So I was intrigued when I saw these tortillas at Costco. They had 4 ingredients, flour, oil, salt, water.. that kind of made up for some of the fact that the flour is not whole wheat.. LOL.. and they taste yummy! You fry them up yourself to cook them when you need them. They also freeze just fine. I froze some of them and they were fine after they defrosted.

Now onto the recipe…

Fish Tacos
3 lbs white fish (I use tilapia, but any type of white fish will work) this amount was what I needed to feed my family. This recipe is very versatile you can use less fish to suit your own needs
½ of a large onion, chopped
3T chili powder
3t cumin
1T lime juice
salt, to taste
taco trimmings – lettuce, tomatoes, sliced olives, avocado is good too..
flour tortilla
Cheese – I think cheese is optional, I like mine without cheese

Chop up fish into bite size chunks…

Cook fish and onion in frying pan until the fish is done and the onion is soft. Add the spices and lime juice and a little salt to taste..

Now serve like you would regular tacos….

And enjoy! These are easy to make and taste great!!

That is all from the homestead for now.. :)

Friday, December 3, 2010

This and That

Shipping food gifts outside the US..
One of my commenter’s left me a bit of interesting advice on shipping food items. When I wrote the article I was thinking about sending gifts to family members in the states. If you have family members in other countries you will want to check with the Post Office to see what kind of restrictions there are for the country you are sending food items to. For instance, I checked for Denmark and found I can’t send powdered milk or products made with it. No idea why, but now I know I can’t send my daughter any cocoa mix.

Speaking of Denmark
I don’t think I have ever shared my daughter Emily’s blog with you yet. She blogs about her life and opinions on issues. Currently she is blogging about her experience in Denmark. If you would like to check it out you can find her blog here:  She has recently posted some beautiful pics of Copenhagen and the snowy winter weather she is experiencing!

Cookie Making
Well, it is that time of year for making cookies!! I am thinking when we decorate our tree we should also have a little fun baking and decorating some cookies. Last year my friend Jennie share with me a recipe for Sour Cream Cookies. They were easy to make and we had so much fun decorating them. This makes a huge amount of cookies, but they freeze beautifully. We enjoyed eating them when we made them and then I froze the rest for my cookie platter for Christmas dinner (you can see the pic of the cookies at the top of my blog). Here is Jennie’s recipe:

Sour Cream Cookies
4 cups sugar
1 1/3 cup butter (approx. 2 sticks plus 6 TBSP), softened
4 eggs
2 cups sour cream
2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. almond extract
2 tsp. baking soda
9 cups flour
Preheat oven to 350ยบ. Cream together the sugar and butter. Add eggs, sour cream, vanilla and almond extract to the sugar/butter mixture. Mix. Add to that the baking soda and flour. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto greased cookie sheets and bake 8-10 minutes. This is a doubled recipe. A single recipe uses 2/3 cup butter. Recipe makes approx. 12 dozen cookies.

8 cups confectioner’s sugar
1 stick butter, softened
2 dashes of salt
2 tsp. almond extract
1 tsp. vanilla
milk to right consistency
You can divide the frosting into 3 parts before adding the flavoring. Flavor 1 vanilla & color pink. Flavor 1 almond and color green. Flavor 1 maple and leave white. Sprinkle with chopped nuts and flaked coconut.

Congrats to my daughter in law, Lolot!!

Yesterday Lolot celebrated one year here in the USA!! It is so hard to believe she has been here a whole year now. The time sure has flown by quickly. I remember picking her up at the airport last year and then the whirlwind planning of her and my son’s wedding. Lolot has adjusted to life here in this country and life with our family so well. She told me the other day when we were talking about her one year anniversary that it has been an adjustment but it has also been made easier due to a loving family here for her.. kind of melted my mama’s heart.. :) She is currently working while my son continues to go to school.

Today’s To-Do List:

I have a busy Friday planned right here at home:
4 or 5 loads of laundry
Vacuuming, sweeping and mopping
Give my son Isaac a haircut – it is overdue!
Work on my Christmas card list – I need to get them out soon
Finish up the school week : check papers, give a spelling test, etc..
Dinner and food preps

That is all from the homestead today.. hope you have a great weekend! :)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Options for Shipping Homemade Food Gifts

I got an email from a nice lady who had a great question for me.. this is the question…

Could you please make some suggestions on food gifts to mail? Like a lot of people, my gift budget is stretched, and I'd love to make some goodies for my family to ship. But what makes a good "shipper"?

Great question.. I have family in Illinois.. and over the years my nieces have said they always look forward to the Christmas box from Auntie Crystal.. (~smile~) .. I put a whole lot of homemade love and goodness into those boxes and I will share what I have done and what I think works the best.. and why I choose what I do..

Cookies.. you know, what is Christmas without cookies.. but in my experience cookies don’t really ship all that well .. they break and fall apart and by the time they reach the recipient they are at least a couple days old or more. Cookies taste the best fresh out of the oven. My solution has been to send cookie mixes.. give them what they need to bake a couple dozen delicious homemade cookie and enjoy them fresh out of the oven. I don’t have a cookie mix per se.. I simply take my favorite cookie recipe and combine the dry ingredients and pack them into a zip type bag.. then I write on a card what they need to add and mixing and baking instructions. You can find my fav cookie recipes here: 

Same goes for quick breads… take your favorite recipe and combine the dry ingredients and let them know what they need to add and the directions to bake. If you want some help on this one I have my pumpkin recipe and banana bread recipe on my site complete with printable cards that can be attached to help them finish up the bread. You can find the pumpkin bread recipe here: pumpkinbread.htm  and the card for this here:  and the banana bread recipe here:  and the card here:

Candy: I find candy ships better than cookies do. What I have shipped is buckeyes (recipes online), and peppermint ice (recipe here:  ) and I am sure things like peanut brittle would work too.. With candies just make sure to wrap them in plastic wrap so they don’t stick together. And then they can be packed in zip type bags also.

Pretzels.. chocolate covered pretzels are easy to make and inexpensive. You will need the melty type chocolate (or chocolate bark).. melt it and dip your pretzels in it and let them dry on foil.

Granola.. it makes a great homemade gift. I have made a big batch and divided it up into zip type bags. They pack easily into boxes and don’t add a lot of weight or take up a lot of space.

Homemade jam is another great one. Yes it does add weight with the jars (but I will discuss that in a minute on shipping your goods to your family). So you didn’t make any jam this last summer? Don’t worry.. you can always make some grape jelly from a can of concentrated grape juice. Instructions are here:

Cocoa Mix… I always sent cocoa mix.. and my nieces still tell me how much they looked forward to that. My recipe is here:  You can also add a few chocolate covered spoons for mixing the cocoa with.. they are easy to make. Use plastic spoons and dip them in melty type chocolate and lay them on foil to dry. If you want you can crush up a few candy canes and sprinkle that on the spoons while they dry. Makes for a little extra chocolate taste in their cocoa with a hint of mint..

Bean Soup Mixes… the internet is full of them. But again, what I do is take my favorite recipe (usually my chili bean soup recipe: ) and mix the beans and spices and give directions on what to add and how to cook.

If you sew.. add a homemade apron to the box.. :)

Now for shipping… I have come to love the post offices Priority Mail boxes.. the boxes are free, the shipping is not dependent on the weight of the box. You can send a medium size box for $10.20 (or so.. it is less expensive when you buy the postage online than if you take it into the post office) and a large box for $12.95. So weight is not really a big issue. You can go to the post office and pick up your Priority Mail box for free.. take it home and pack it up..

There you have it.. I am sure I have mailed other items but that is what comes to my mind this evening.. hope it gives you some ideas on sending your kitchen goodness to your family..

Thank you K for the email question and the idea to make it a blog post.. :)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

December Menu

December is just about here! I spent time this last weekend working on my December menu. I have linked many of the meals listed on my site. One note to make.. I have French bread linked to my pizza crust recipe. I use this recipe to make French bread.. the 3 crust recipe will make 2 loaves of French bread.

If you need a menu calendar to write your monthly menu on you can find mine here:  I post a new menu calendar each month. They are a handy way to write out your menu and keep it on your fridge for easy reference.

December Menu

1st – tuna patties, garlic roasted potatoes, coleslaw
2nd – spaghetti, French bread, salad
3rd – baked chicken legs, mashed potatoes, salad
4th – potato sausage chowder, biscuits, salad
5th – beef stew, bread sticks, salad
6th – Chinese rice (with chicken and shrimp), egg rolls
7th – fish tacos, Spanish rice, salad
8th – crockpot lasagna, French bread, salad
9th – brats and potato casserole, green beans,
10th – taco soup, cornbread, salad
11th – crockpot chicken and gravy, brown rice, salad
12th – hotdogs, coleslaw, chips
13th – yummy pinto beans, dinner rolls, salad
14th – homemade pizza, salad
15th – chicken potato soup, garlic cheese biscuits, salad
16th – meatballs, mac & cheese, salad
17th – crockpot scalloped potatoes w/salmon, salad
18th – hamburger stroganoff over pasta, salad
19th – cream cheese chicken enchiladas, tortilla chips & salsa, salad
20th – tuna melts, homemade tomato soup, salad
21st – chili, cornbread, salad
22nd – meatloaf, baked potatoes, salad
23rd – cheesy chicken & rice casserole, salad
24th – baked ham, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, dinner rolls, jello or fruit salad, spinach salad
25th – leftovers
26th – navy bean & ham soup, cornbread, salad
27th – chicken fajitas, chips & salsa, salad
28th – kielbasa, cabbage & pasta, salad
29th – crockpot hamburger, veggie soup, dinner rolls, salad
30th – salmon noodle casserole, biscuits, salad
31st – lasagna, French bread, salad

Friday, November 26, 2010


I hope you all had a blessed Thanksgiving day! We enjoyed ours so much. I had 8 people here (13 total), and it was a lot of fun. Here are a few pics from our day…
My granddaughter Elizabeth :)

Today I am cleaning up and getting ready to pull out the Christmas decorations and think about the upcoming holiday. I have already done quite a bit of my shopping.. online! I love the UPS man this time of year! LOL.. ;) I am not a fan of Christmas shopping, at least not any more than I have to go out and do. I prefer online shopping as much as possible!!  

Right now my first agenda is to get a box packed up for my daughter Emily.  Emily is a coffee lover and knows all the local coffee shops and which ones make the best coffee. Sadly in Denmark coffee is not as big of a thing as it is here in our part of the world. So she is suffering a bit for lack of a real cup of coffee.. The first thing that is going into the Christmas box is a Melitta coffee cone and filters (lets you make one cup of coffee at a time.. you sit the little coffee cone on top of your cup, put a filter in and pour boiling water over the grounds) plus some Starbucks coffee! She already knows this gift is coming so if she reads this blog.. no big surprise to her! Ha.. ha.. 

Today we have freezing rain falling and super slick roads so I am staying right here in my comfy, warm home until it melts. I'm thinking winter is really here..  

That is all from the homestead for now.. but will be back soon!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Updates from the homestead

Well it has been a while since I updated .. life has been sooo busy! I was helping my daughter Emily prepare and pack for her trip to Denmark. She will be an au pair for a super nice family for the next year.

She left yesterday morning. We headed out about 6:am and stopped at Starbucks for a final cup of coffee together. Sierra was with us too.. we got to the airport at 7:30 and stayed until she had gotten through security. She headed to Chicago and then from there flew on Scandinavian Airlines to Denmark. She had an 8 hour wait in Chicago and a very long flight after that. She called this morning to let us know she had arrived safe and sound with her new family. It was pretty emotional for me as her and I are very close and the thought of not seeing for a year was hard to handle.. but, I know this will be an awesome experience for her and am so excited for what she will encounter.

Before she left she took the last test of her last class for her degree.. so my sweet and awesome hardworking daughter got her BSBA in accounting in 2 ½ years and we could not be more proud of her. She is off on the adventure of a lifetime!

While all the preplanning and packing was going on I also was able to add to the accomplishments this year.. teaching my son Jacob to drive (that makes 2 kids taught this year)! He got his driver’s license a couple of weeks ago.. that makes 6 down and 2 to go! :) I get a break now for a year or so before my daughter Sierra is ready to get her permit.. whew!

Last Sunday we celebrated my oldest son’s 28th birthday. It was an exciting time because it was the first time in 5 years that he had been with us to celebrate his birthday. It was great being with all the family. His amazingly sweet wife planned a party for him at his favorite pizza place.. Izzy’s (you know it if you live in my area ;) .. it was a lot of fun and I took lots of pics.. here are a few..

Sierra and Leanne

Tobin, Jacob and Emily

This was the whole crew (plus Richards best friend Aaron and his wife Valya..  Aaron is the son of my very best friend Sarah.. Richard and Aaron have been friends for many years now...).. 

We kind of take over a restaurant nowadays.. LOL.. it was a lot of fun....

..That’s all from the homestead for now….

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thanksgiving Planner

Are you hosting Thanksgiving dinner at your home this year?  I made a Thanksgiving planner a few years ago to help with the process... 

3 weeks ahead of time
 Figure out how many people will you be serving and how big of a turkey you will need.  To calculate this, you need to figure about 1 ½ lbs of turkey per person.  So if you are feeding 8 people you would need a turkey that was about 12 pounds.  I usually buy them bigger so I will have leftovers. 
Write out guest list
Plan out menu
Gather recipes
Write out grocery list
2 weeks ahead
Buy turkey (if buying frozen ones)
Make dinner rolls and freeze.  I like to freeze them before baking.  I shape them into rolls; lay them out on a tray and flash freeze them.  On Thanksgiving Day I bring them out in the morning to defrost and rise. 
If your guests are contributing to the meal let them know what you would like them to bring.
1 Week Ahead
Clean out your fridge to make room for the added food items
IF you have not bought your turkey yet, they should be on sale this week. 
Do your grocery shopping of staple items you will need for the meal

4 to 5 Days Ahead
If your turkey is frozen you need to put it into the fridge to defrost now.  A turkey will take anywhere from 2 to 6 days to defrost depending on its size (figure one day for every 5 pounds of weight). 
Buy any fresh and perishable items you will need
Make cranberry sauce and refrigerate
Make salad dressings and refrigerate
3 Days Ahead
Clean your house
Get out and ‘good’ dishes or bigger serving dishes and get them washed
2 Days Ahead
Wash table linens
Get out your roasting pans, thermometer, turkey baster and make sure they are clean and ready to go
Wash and chop up veggies for stuffing and side dishes and put in refrigerator
Make pie crusts, roll them out, and put in pie plates. Cover each one with plastic wrap and put in fridge

1 Day Ahead
If you are making mashed potatoes for the crockpot you can make those up now and store in fridge. Tomorrow you take them out and put in the crockpot on low in the morning.
Make stuffing and refrigerate. If you are stuffing your turkey do not do that now, wait until right before you put the turkey in the oven
Assemble side dishes
Assemble any jello type salads
In the evening pull out your turkey, clean it and make sure it has defrosted and put back in fridge. Remove giblets and refrigerate
Set the table in the evening if desired
Assemble and bake pies
Thanksgiving Day
Put some Christmas music on (this is our little tradition ~smile~)
Stuff turkey and put in oven at appropriate time (or if you have a roaster oven you can bake the turkey in there leaving your oven for heating up side dishes and baking dinner rolls)
Put the giblets in water with a little salt and let those simmer. You can use the broth for gravy and the cooked and chopped giblets can also be added to the gravy
Pull out dinner rolls and let them defrost and rise
Set the table if you did not do this yesterday
Put the mashed potatoes in the crockpot
If you have a second crockpot you can put the stuffing in there to warm (if you are not stuffing your turkey.  I always stuff the turkey and have leftover stuffing in a second crockpot)
When the turkey has finished cooking, pull it out
Put the side dishes in the oven to bake (if you did not bake the turkey in a roaster oven)
Bake dinner rolls
While the side dishes are heating up and rolls are baking, make gravy
Take a deep breath
Light some candles
Freshen up
Greet your guests
Enjoy your meal and give lots of thanks the Lord for his blessings and bounty in your life

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Make a Thankful Tree

Want a fun way for you and your family to display all that you are thankful for?? Make a Thankful Tree!!

You will need:
1 brown paper bag
Construction Paper: red, yellow and orange

Cut open the brown paper bag by cutting down one of the creases and then cutting the bottom off. Lay the paper out on the table and use about half to ¾ of the length of the bag to draw a tree trunk.
Staple this to the back of a door or a bulletin board.

Using the remaining pieces of the bag make branches. Staple those coming form the tree trunk.

Now make leaves out of construction paper. Make lots of them!


Put them in a basket and leave a pen nearby.

Have the members of your family begin to write down on the leaves what they are thankful for. Begin to attach these leaves to the tree.


Once you start this project.. the tree can fill up quickly!!

How nice to have a heart full of thanks to the Lord for all His blessings when you sit down to your Thanksgiving dinner!

Friday, November 5, 2010

November's Menu

I realize the month is well under way but I thought I would post my November menu. Sometimes it can be helpful for coming up with new meal ideas. Sometimes when I get in a menu planning slump I like to look at other menu plans and see if it sparks some creativity! Plus it just seems that this time of year gets very busy and having my meals all planned out takes a lot of stress out of my day. 

Those meals marked with (CP) mean they are crockpot meals. The highlighted meals are links to the recipes on my site. Currently I have my menu written out on my Nov. menu planning calendar and hanging on the fridge..  it makes it easy to see what's for dinner each day and what kind of preps I need to do for tomorrows dinner..  I post a new menu planning calendar on my website at the beginning of each month (I actually try and get it up a few days ahead of time).  You can find the menu planning calendars here: 

Nov Menu
1st- Pumpkin Chili, tortilla chips, salad
2nd – bakedchicken legs, mashed potatoes, salad
3rd – split pea soup, pepperoni bread, salad
4th – chicken enchiladas, chips & salsa, salad

5th – crockpot lasagna, homemade French bread, green beans
6th – beef & veggie soup,biscuits, salad
7th – meatballs (crockpot),mac & cheese, salad
8th – chili,cornbread, salad
9th – tuna patties, garlic roasted potatoes, coleslaw
10th – tacos made with mylentil & rice taco filling, and all the trimmings
11th – cranberry chicken (CP), mashed potatoes, salad
12th – black bean sloppy joes onhomemade hogie rolls
13th – pizza rice casserole, salad
14th – chicken potato chowder, homemade dinner rolls, salad
15th – beef enchiladas, chips & salsa, salad
16th – spaghetti, homemade French bread, green beans
17th – Chinese rice (with chicken and shrimp),egg rolls,
18th – white bean chicken chili, soft whole wheat bread sticks, salad
19th – quick beef stroganoff, salad
20th – clam chowder, oat dinner rolls, salad
21st – taco soup, cornbread, salad
22nd – hot dogs, coleslaw, chips
23rd – pizza – Sierra’s Birthday!!
24th – egg salad sandwiches,tomato soup
25th – Thanksgiving Dinner at my house
26th – leftovers
27th – leftovers
28th – beef stew (cp),bread sticks, salad
29th – nachos for a crowd, chips, salad
30th – southwest stew(CP), cornbread, coleslaw


Monday, November 1, 2010

Updates from the homestead

Well.. it looks like it has been a while since I posted a blog.. I started having little computer issues and they escalated to big computer issues. I got my resident IT man (my son Jacob) working on them. He managed to transfer all my files to my laptop and then I had to get my laptop set up so I could do my thing from it.. I still need to work on my main PC but for now I am up and running and that is a good thing!

All the while I have been busy at home, taking care of life and keeping up on the kids schooling and taking care of details. One of those details was canning the last of my pumpkin. I did not take pics of the process but will lay out the details….

Canning Pumpkin
I started by cutting the last three pumpkins I had left in half and cleaning them out. I pre cooked the pumpkins for about 15 minutes in the same way I had done it for pumpkin puree (see previous blog post). It was enough cooking time to soften up the skin so it was easy to peel. Then I cubed it into 1 inch pieces. I put the pieces in a pot and covered them with water and boiled them for 2 minutes. I filled hot jars with the hot pumpkin chunks and water. I canned them at 10lbs of pressure for 90 minutes. I had three pretty large pumpkins and ended up with 14 quarts canned and 6 quarts in the freezer.

House Keeping and Using Our Time Wisely ..…
Keeping house.. a seemingly endless task, no? Well a few weeks ago I decided to really dissect my time and see how much time got spent on keeping up my home and if I was using my time as wisely as possible. You know being a housewife is very different than going to a job every day. My time is dictated by my own schedule and I am responsible to use my time as wisely as possible.. was I doing that? For one week I started keeping an hour by hour log on what I did each day. One thing I learned is doing the basics in life (house keeping maintenance to keep my house looking neat and orderly) really did not take that long.. you know .. 5 minutes to unload the dishwasher, 15 minutes to vacuum the rugs, 5 minutes to sweep the floors, 10 minutes to change sheets, 15 minutes to clean the bathroom, etc.. So.. I realized I had a lot of time left to take care of important details, cook meals and embark on projects, etc.. Sometimes I get emails from ladies asking me “How do you do it all?”… well my first response is always.. I don’t do it all.. and I don’t.. I am really just a regular lady raising kids, keeping a clean house, homeschooling, taking care of my hubby, cooking food.. yea it is a lot.. but, it is my daily work. I found out in that one week of being ultra conscious of my time that keeping up on my priorities may be tedious at time and an unappreciated task.... but was that so much different than what my hubby deals with at his job? Do I really need to be recognized for just doing my job? Nope.. I am blessed to be able to do what I do each day.. that was my conclusion..

So I have a new appreciation on being a good steward of my time… less time on the computer, less time spent idle and more time spent doing the tasks that the Lord has given me to do.. I thought of the Scripture ..” do not grow weary while doing good”.. yes it can get wearisome to do the same thing day after day.. but what a blessing I have to be in control of my days, to take care of my family and to serve the Lord in this way. My job: be a good steward of my time and serve my family with thankfulness, love and joy!! :)

On another note.. I am proud to say that my daughter Emily just took her mid term test on her very LAST accounting class for her degree.. she has two weeks now to study up and take her final. The class is an online class from
Louisiana State University.. she has done all the book work and is now at the test taking point. The reason she has only two weeks to get this class done is that she will be leaving to Denmark in two weeks. She will be there for one year.. She has taken a job as an Au Pair for a super nice family. An au pair is similar to a nanny.. but they travel to a different country, take language classes and play more of a big sister role and gain a culture experience while there. They receive room and board and a small salary to take care of personal basics and language classes in return for helping to take care of the children in the home. She is super excited about this experience. I know for sure we will miss her dearly but I am thrilled that she is able to do this. When she gets back home next year she will then work on pursing her life as an account :).

That is all from the homestead for now! Hope your week is off to a great start!!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Making Your Own Pumpkin Puree from Fresh Pumpkins

I finally had a chance to work on some of my pumpkins this last week. I made pumpkin puree for the freezer and roasted pumpkin seeds. My son Isaac helped me by taking some pics and he was in charge of doing the seed roasting, and he liked that quite a bit..

I planted smaller size pumpkins that were meant for pies. The big ones you get in the grocery store this time of year are not really pie pumpkins. I have heard that they tend to be stringy and not too tasty. Pie pumpkins are sweeter.. so my suggestion is if you want to do this at home see if you can locate some pumpkin varieties that were grown for making into pies (maybe farmers markets or health food stores).

I processed 4 pumpkins on this day weighing a total of 33bs. Here is how I did it…

The first pumpkin was about 8lbs.

I started by carefully cutting it in half..

Then cleaning out the insides by scooping with a spoon until all the seeds and insides were gone. Make sure you save the seeds.. I will show you at the end how to roast them.. I did all 4 of them this way..

Then it was time to cook them. I have a 14 quart stock pot and that was big enough to hold half of them. I would have used my big canner pot for the job but at the time it was sitting on the stove simmering beef broth. So I did the cooking in two batches. I added a couple inches of water in the bottom of the pot, cut my pumpkin halves in half again to get them to fit in the pot. I brought the water to a boil, put the lid on, reduced the heat and let it basically steam until the pumpkins for fork tender. This took about 45 minutes..

When they were done cooking I pulled them out of the pot and put them in a bowl.

Then I began to peel them. The peels come off pretty easy at this point. You can use a knife to loosen the peel and take it off…

But what I found to be the easiest way is to use the same thing I use to peel potatoes.. a cheese slicer .. if you have never peeled potatoes with one of these little guys.. you should.. once I tried it, I never went back to a regular potato peeler. I found the skins came off quick and easy this way..

After peeling, it was time to puree… I used my food processor. You could also use a hand blender. But the food processor made very fast work of it all…

After all the pumpkin had been processed I had a large bowl full of puree….

Which I bagged up into quart size bags. I ended up with 5 ½ quarts of pumpkin puree…

Now you can freeze this. You can not safely can pumpkin puree.  It is too heavy and dense and can not get hot enough to be able to can safely so it must be frozen.This puree can now be used in any of your favorite pumpkin recipes! 

Now for the pumpkin seeds…

This was my sons job to do and he enjoyed it quite a bit..

Begin by removing the seeds from the inside goop.. and putting them in a bowl..

Then put the bowl of seeds in the sink and fill the bowl with water to start rinsing the seeds off. Make sure you remove any pumpkin pulp you find.

Then strain the seeds to remove the water…

Measure and see how many seeds you have. Put the seeds in a large pot. For every ½ cup of seeds add 2 cups water and 1 tablespoon salt. Bring this to a boil. Let the seeds boil in the salt water for about 10 minutes. As you can see below we did not have a big enough pan and our water boiled over a bit.. but nothing was lost..

When the boiling time is done, strain the seeds…

Get a baking tray (preferably one with sides) and pour a little olive oil on the tray…

Spread out your drained seeds and stir them to coat with the oil….

Put your own rack at the top of you oven and preheat to 400 degrees. Put the seeds in the oven…

Bake until the seeds are golden brown. You may need to stop and stir them occasionally as they are roasting…

And here are the finished seeds!! And boy are they tasty!!  :)