Sunday, June 26, 2011

Homestead Updates

This afternoon was a perfect day to get out and work in the garden. The sun was shining (at least for awhile!) and it was warm. With my daughter Sierra’s help we spent some time getting the weeds under control.. always a constant battle. And then my son Isaac helped me to set up the PVC pipes we use to water the garden.

Basically we have a spring fed pond that we use to water the garden. There is not a lot of elevation difference between the pond and the garden so sprinklers are out (not enough water pressure). The pond has sediment and such and it plugs the holes in soaker hoses.. so we use PVC pipe. The water runs from the pond through underground pipes to the garden. In the garden there is a faucet and place where the pipe comes up. I hook PVC pipes to this and run them to the garden. At each garden row I have ditches down the row and we let the water run down the ditch, after the water runs down the row we hook on another piece of pipe for the next row. We do this until we work our way across the garden. The next day we start at the other end and disconnect the pipes as we work back to the beginning. I shared about this last year in a blog post with pictures of the system: http://homesteadinghomemaker.blogspot.com/2009/07/watering-garden.html 

Here are some updated pictures of my garden…


My tomato plants are doing great.. I still need to get them staked but they are doing well..


My row of green beans..


My 250+ corn plants. These were the seeds that I started in my husbands shop a few weeks ago.  I got them planted last Monday and all but 2 or 3 of them have survived..


And my garden from the back corner.. it is really hard to get a full picture of it so this is the best I could do..




Other than garden work I also spent time this weekend in the kitchen.  I made a batch of feta cheese. I am itching to make some lacto fermented sauerkraut and some lacto fermented salsa and I needed some whey. Feta cheese tastes great and gives me a LOT of whey. I freeze the whey in smaller size containers to use in my recipes. You can find my recipe for the sauerkraut here: http://www.thefamilyhomestead.com/homemadekraut.htm  and the salsa here: http://www.thefamilyhomestead.com/lactofermentedsalsa.htm 

I also baked 4 loaves of bread and 2 loaves of sourdough banana bread. Below is a pic of the cheese hanging and draining out the whey and the 4 loaves of bread. I did not get a pic of the banana bread.. currently one loaf is almost gone and the second loaf is in the freezer.. :)



You can find my super easy feta cheese recipe here: http://www.thefamilyhomestead.com/easyfetacheese.htm  and the sourdough banana bread here: http://homesteadinghomemaker.blogspot.com/2011/06/sourdough-banana-bread-pizza-crust.html  and my basic whole wheat bread recipe here: http://www.thefamilyhomestead.com/deliciouswwbread.htm


That is all the updates from the homestead for now! Hope you all had a great weekend! :)

Friday, June 24, 2011

Cooking with Brown Rice: Brown Rice Florentine

The word florentine makes this recipe sound really fancy.. but it’s not.. florentine just means it has spinach in it!! :) This makes a great side dish to a meal and if you cook your rice up earlier in the day or have it in the freezer this goes together super fast at dinner time..


Brown Rice Florentine

1 medium onion, chopped
½ a green or red pepper, chopped (or you can use a few mini peppers which is what I did in the pics below)
2 or 3 large mushrooms, sliced
2 cups fresh spinach baby spinach leaves or tear up larger leaf spinach in smaller pieces
3 T butter
4 cups cooked brown rice
salt and pepper to taste



Assemble your ingredients and chop up veggies..



Heat up a large frying pan on medium high heat. When it is hot, add the butter and let it melt.




Add the onions, peppers and mushrooms to the frying pan and let these cook until the veggies are soft.




Now add the spinach and stir this around until the spinach wilts…






Add the cooked rice…



Stir and heat up. Taste a bite and add some salt and pepper to your liking.

Enjoy!! :)
 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A Few Reflections on Raising Daughters

I got an email from a lady who was concerned about her daughter. She, the mother, held a certain belief and her daughter was away from home and wavering on these beliefs. So it made me reflect. I have had 5 daughters and 4 of them are grown and doing their own thing in life. One of those 4 still lives at home but has a busy life working and obtaining her college degree, and I see her in passing as she leaves for work and her own life. The 5th is still being homeschooled.

As mothers we impart our views, beliefs, convictions to our daughters. In the end will they live and abide by these? Some may and some may not. My pastor once said if parenting were as easy as A+B=C then we would all get it right. We can’t expect because we have beliefs and views and convictions that our daughters will have these as well. There is something called free will. Every person has to walk their own path and come to their own conclusions. Honestly I would not want it any other way. We can’t be afraid to show our daughters the options of life because they may see something better than what they were raised with. They have to come to these conclusions on their own. They have to develop the conviction that the choices they make for their own life are THE best. And as mother’s we pray diligent for their hearts, always.

One issue that is always a constant in the Christian world of raising daughters is a college education. This can go in contrast to some people’s beliefs on raising daughters to be homemakers. So, do we want our daughters to not have a college degree so we can make sure they don’t have any other options but homemaking? I should hope not. Are we concerned that if they have a degree it will lead to a career and they won’t want to be homemakers? Well, I guess that is always a possibility. But the reason I became a homemaker was not a lack of options it was a conviction from the Lord that said I was the one He chose to raise the children He gave me and the one He chose to love and support my husband, the one He chose to run the household He gave me. It was all about God, not a lack of options. I want my daughters to come to these same conclusions for their own lives.

Why are so many afraid of strong, independent, educated, competent women? Women that are capable of making good and godly choices for their own lives. I understand the feminist angle, believe me you can’t live in this society and not see this. I don’t want to raise feminist daughters. I want to raise women that are strong, educated, competent HELPMEETS!

Let me share something about myself. I am strong headed, independent minded and a doer in life. And this is one thing my husband loves about me. He knows his best interest is always first and foremost on my mind and the good of our family and home is always my first priority. But I think independently. He likes that fact and that he and I can talk about the issues of life and decisions that need to be made and he has an equal in life to help him make decisions. Women need to be strong, smart and independent minded to be able to bring to their marriage the fullest potential it can have. The one thing about being a wife is that we willing put ourselves under the authority of a husband because that is what the Lord has designed as the best pattern for a successful life and marriage and we do it because we love our husbands! But we are his equal and need to bring to the table our best for our family’s interest. I want to raise daughters that have that same strong, smart and independent thought and can bring to their marriage something of value. Sometimes the things in life that we experience are what help us to come to those independent thoughts.

At some point we have to let go of our daughters, knowing we have done, prayed and taught the best that we have in us. After this they need to walk their own path. They may make bad choices, they may make wonderful choices, but ultimately I want them to be women that love God, want to serve Him all the days of their lives and can live up to the Proverbs 31 ideal. They can consider a field and buy it, they can sell their wares, they work hard every day for their family, they can be the woman that does her husband good all the days of his life, they can be women that their children will rise up and call blessed.
 

Monday, June 20, 2011

Cooking with Brown Rice: Jambalaya

This is a spicy rice dish I have seen made a zillion different ways. Some are very complicated, some seem to have several types of meat and seafood in it, most all use white rice. I have come up with my own version of this meal that I would like to think is pretty easy. I usually try and cook the rice early in the day so when dinner time comes around this meal goes together very quickly.

One common thing these recipes have is the fact that this dish is hot.. So you can add or take away spices depending on what you like.

The sausage used in this recipe is link type sausage similar to kielbasa. I buy a brand at Costco called Louisiana Hot Links. I like them because they are hot! But if you are not a fan of hot food you can buy any other type of sausage you would like. The amount of meat I give in the recipe is something that you can adjust easily. You don’t have to have a lot of meat for this dish.

Jambalaya


4T olive oil
8 oz link sausage, cut in quarters
½ to ¾ lb chicken boneless, skinless chicken, cut into bite size pieces
1 medium onion, diced
½ a green pepper, or several small mini peppers, sliced
1 ½ t minced garlic
1 – 14oz can diced tomatoes
½ t red pepper flakes
½ t pepper
1t hot pepper sauce (such as the brand Tabasco), you can use less if you don’t want the dish to be hot
5 cups cooked brown rice

In a large frying pan heat olive oil until hot. Add sausage, chicken, onion, peppers and garlic. Cook this until the chicken is done and the veggies are tender.



Add tomatoes, pepper flakes, pepper and hot pepper sauce. Stir to combine ingredients.




Now add rice and stir. Taste, and add salt to your liking. (sorry this pic turned out a little blurry)..



Serve with a green salad and enjoy!



 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Adding More Brown Rice to our Diet

When I think of all the starches I can add to our diet (bread, potatoes, pasta, brown rice), brown rice seems like such a great nutritional choice. Good quality homemade bread is also a good choice, but we eat a lot of bread at other meals as well and I wanted more variety. I am currently on a quest to come up with more ways to serve brown rice, either as a side dish or casserole type main dishes.

I have a few really yummy recipes to share but for today I want to share the first basic.. how to cook a pot of brown rice..

Cooking Brown Rice


I’ve read, tried and posted on many ways to cook brown rice. I seem to always settle in on a way that is simplified. If making brown rice turns into a big ordeal then I will always end up opting for something simpler like potatoes or pasta for the meal.

I have, for awhile now, soaked my rice before cooking. I did this first for nutritional reasons (the breaking down of phytic acid, but after reading a recent article I’ve been rethinking phytic acid I am not as convinced anymore that the soaking of grains is needed for nutritional reasons – this is something I plan to blog and share about soon). All that to say, I don’t usually soak my brown rice anymore. So here is my current method of cooking brown rice…


Take a large stock pot (6qt) and heat it up on medium high. Add 2 to 4 tablespoons olive oil and let this get hot..




Add 2 cups long grain brown rice..



Stir it around and let it get hot. The rice will start to brown…



When the rice is nice and brown add 4 1/3 cups of water…






And 1 ½ teaspoons of salt..



Bring to a boil. Stir a few times…



Once it has come to a boil, reduce the heat slowly over the next 5 minutes. If you do this, the pot will not overflow when you put the lid on it. You can stir a few times during this 5 minutes..




When the time is up, put the lid on and cook the rice on low heat for 1 hour and 10 minutes...







When cooking time is up, remove from heat and remove lid. Fluff with a fork…




Now the rice can be used in various recipes. It can also be frozen at this point and used in the future.

I will be posting a few recipes on using the cooked brown rice.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Updates from the Homestead

I had such a nice day today. I woke up with a to do list that was a mile long. I got some of it started and then my daughter Hannah came over with Rylee and Elizabeth.. and the whole list got set aside.. and how great my day was. One thing I miss about little babies is sitting and rocking them and holding that sweet little bundle. :) So when Hannah does bring that little bundle over I drop everything and enjoy the moment! Life is too short to stress.. and rocking babies has always been very high on my priority list!!

Little Miss Rylee is almost 6 weeks old now.. my goodness how time flies. Elizabeth is 2 ½ and loves her baby sister.

My son Jacob also came along and it was good to visit with him as well. Nothing is better than the chance to sit and talk with your grown children. The years go by quickly and it becomes even more meaningful to me to spend time with my children.







Aside from children and grandchildren life here on my homestead has been moving along at a steady pace. My corn seeds look as though just about all of them now have come up and are about 2 inches high. Amazing to me, I only planted them one week ago. I hope to put them in the garden next weekend. .. if the weather cooperates!

We have had a few good days, and the temps are coming up but still a lot of cloud cover and not much sun. I am praying this changes soon… my garden needs some sunny hot days!!

Due to the lack of sun and cool temps I am making a lot of soup lately. A couple of weeks ago I took out 3 gallon bags full of veggie scraps from the freezer and made a HUGE pot of veggie broth. I ended up with 14 quarts.



Last night I used 2 bags to make some quick and easy hamburger soup. I don’t have a pic to share but will share my recipe.

Easy Hamburger Veggie Soup

3 to 4T olive oil
1 onion, chopped
½ green pepper or several small mini peppers, chopped
3 or 4 large mushrooms, sliced
1lb hamburger
8 cups stock (beef, chicken or veggie)
1 cup sliced carrots
1 quart (or 2 cans) green beans, drained
½ quart (or 1 can) corn, drained or you can use frozen corn (16oz)
1 can – 16oz diced tomatoes
4 to 6 oz pasta of your choice
1t salt
1t seasoning salt
½ t pepper
1 to 3t Tabasco sauce (depending on how much kick you like)

Heat olive oil in a 6 quart soup pot. Add onion, peppers, and mushrooms and cook until they start to get soft. Add hamburger and continue cooking until the hamburger is no longer pink. Add stock and carrots and cook for about 15 minutes. Add veggies and pasta and cook as long as your pasta needs (about 8 to 12 minutes). Season with spices. Let simmer for another 15 minutes or so to blend flavors. Serve with homemade bread, crackers, or biscuits and a big green salad.

Enjoy!!

That’s all from the homestead for now.. hope you enjoy your weekend!! :)

 

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Sourdough Banana Bread & Pizza Crust

I am still enjoying my sourdough starter and trying new things.. and making some things again.. like the other day I made sourdough French bread again to go with our spaghetti dinner.. oh yum!

My latest adventure was banana bread.. that was fantastic! I am patiently waiting for my current bunch of bananas to give me so over ripe ones so I can make this again. And I made sourdough pizza crust.

Here are the recipes….

 
Sourdough Banana Bread


1 cup cane juice crystals or white sugar
1/3 cup olive oil
½ cup proofed sourdough starter
2 eggs
1t vanilla
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (aka soft white wheat)
1t salt
1 t baking soda
2 or 3 ripe bananas, mashed


Combine cane juice crystals (or sugar) and olive oil in a mixer. Add sourdough starter and mix. Add eggs and vanilla and mix well. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Pour batter into a loaf pan and bake at 375 for 40 to 50 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.


For the pizza crust I converted my own pizza recipe into a sourdough recipe and it was very good! The night I made pizza I made one of each: one regular crust and one sourdough.. the sourdough crust pizza was eaten up first!

Sourdough Pizza Crust
Makes 1 crust


1 cup sourdough starter
¼ c warm water
1 to 1 ¾ cups whole wheat bread flour
1t salt
1 ½ T olive oil
3/4 t Italian seasonings
1/2 t chopped garlic

In a mixer such as a Bosch or a Kitchen Aid sourdough starter and warm water. Add 1cup of flour and all remaining ingredients. Mix dough well adding the extra flour until the dough will not stick to the sides of the bowl. Knead for about 4 minutes in the Bosch and 6 to 8 in the Kitchen Aid.

Let the dough rise until doubled in size. This may take a few hours depending on the temps of your kitchen and your starter.

Punch down dough and shape into a ball and roll out to fit a 14 inch pizza pan. Let rest for about 20 to 30 minutes.

While the dough is resting preheat oven to 475. Bake crust for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add pizza sauce and your favorite toppings. Return to oven and bake another 10 to 15 minutes until pizza is done.


If you would like info on making your own sourdough starter and other sourdough recipes you can find that here: http://www.thefamilyhomestead.com/sourdoughstarter.htm

 

Monday, June 6, 2011

Homestead Garden Update



We finally had a beautiful dry and sunny weekend!! I did not waste a bit of it and got my garden in right away. Due to all the rain I let the garden dry out on Friday and then got about 1/3 of the garden put in on Saturday. And another 1/3 on Sunday and the last 1/3 will be corn.

On Saturday my kids Leanne, Sierra and Isaac helped me get some rows staked out and get the tomatoes in the ground. All in all I ended up with 43 tomato plants from the seeds I started back in April. I am super excited and the girls and I chatted about all the salsa and spaghetti sauce we will be making by early fall. Then I planted a ½ pound of green bean seed and Sierra planted 4 packages of lettuce seed and some flowers.

Yesterday Isaac and I got the second 1/3 of the garden in. We planted, cukes, cabbage, beets, carrots, radishes, 3 types of summer squash, pumpkins, winter squash, bunching onions and lots of flowers.. I planted a couple packages of zinnias’ (it was my dad’s favorite flower and I always plant some in memory of him :).

Last Friday I planted 288 corn seeds and they are currently under the lights in my hubby’s shop. I like to give them a good 2 week start inside before transplanting them. I have not had good luck with direct seeding. The birds come and eat up the seeds and often it is not warm enough to plant them till late into the month of June and then I worry if the weather will stay hot enough to make it to harvest. So planting starts has solved both of those issues. When I finally get the corn planted in the garden I can officially say the garden is completely in.

Here are some pics from our garden planting weekend..







Thursday, June 2, 2011

June Menu



Monthly menu planning calendars that you can print out and write out your own menu for the month of June can be found here:  http://www.thefamilyhomestead.com/menuplanningcalendars.htm

1st – pizza, watermelon
2nd – leftovers
3rdcream cheese chicken enchiladas, salad
4th – dutch oven pot roast, new potatoes, salad
5th – spaghetti, French bread, salad
6th – leftovers
7th – oven fried chicken, brown rice side dish, salad
8thfish tacos with all the trimmings
9th – jambalaya, salad
10th – leftovers
11th – crustless chicken pot pie topped with cheesy biscuits, salad
12thyummy pinto beans, dinner rolls, salad
13th delicious Italian casserole, salad
14th – leftovers
15th – sub sandwiches, homemade tomato soup, watermelon
16th meatloaf, garlic roasted potatoes, salad
17thchicken noodle soup, biscuits, salad
18th – leftovers
19thRed beans & rice, salad
20thcrockpot meatballs, mac & cheese, salad
21st – pizza, fresh fruit or salad
22nd – leftovers
23rd – cheesy chicken & rice, salad
24thsausage potato chowder, dinner rolls, salad
25thquick beef stroganoff, salad
26th – leftovers
27thcrockpot sloppy joes on hoagie rolls, salad
28th chicken fajitas, salad
29th – bbq hamburgers, fresh fruit, coleslaw
30th – leftovers