Thursday, June 28, 2012

Winter Wood Gathering

We heat with wood… it is our only option. We do not have other adequate means of heating our home unless we were to put in an entire heating system (furnace, ducts, etc..). So each year my guys begin the journey of bringing in about 6 cords of wood from our property. I have to say I am incredibly proud of my boys.. or young men I should say.. they both know how to put in a full day’s work and they enjoy it! Without their help it would be a long arduous process for my already over worked hubby.. we could not be more thankful for their cooperation and help! We are a little over half way there now!

Unloading a tractor load of wood…

Jacob bringing in another load of wood… he cuts the trees and cuts it into chunks, fills the tractor bucket and then brings it down for Tobin to split and stack…

Lunch break! I keep the guys well fed while they are working….

Heading off for another load…

A little over half way there..

It’s a good feeling to get a such a great start to gathering the winter wood..


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Wednesday on the Homestead

Today was a beautiful day! The sun was shining and we had NO rain.. first time in a week. Sierra and I left early and headed to town to do the grocery shopping. We returned home and unloaded all the food. Then the two of us got busy and cleaned up the house. She did an awesome job cleaning the bathroom right down to scrubbing the tile in the tub and giving the floor a real work out then she handled the living room. I focused on the kitchen, dining room and laundry room.

Then it was time to move outside and get to my garden. I waited until later in the day because the garden was so wet I wanted it to dry out some before I got busy. I had corn plants that really needed to get in the ground. Tomorrow the rain will return so I knew this was my only chance for a few more days. Here are what my corn starts (and cucumber starts) looked liked…

I spent 2 hours in the garden getting them all in the ground!! It was a great feeling to have it all done.. my muscles feel it tonight! Ha, ha!! But that is great.. plus I had 2 hours to soak up lots of sunshine and I really loved that. Here is a pic of the corn plants in the ground (hard to see them.. but the are there!)..

And a quick peek at my tomatoes and green beans.. despite the unseasonably cool and wet weather they are surviving!

Tomorrow if the rain holds off long enough I will get back to the garden and weed..

That’s all from the homestead for today!

Monday, June 25, 2012

This Week’s Menu

Last week seemed to be a crazy busy week for me (a reason for the spotty blogging as well).  I had kids moving in different directions, my girlfriend was giving her daughter a graduation party and asked me to help with the food planning and preps…  so it seemed we had quite a few nights that the kids put together sandwiches and thankfully I had meals for hubby to take to work (I freeze him individual serving sizes for nights such as these).. so several of last week’s meals did not get made.  They are on the menu again for this week…



Chili (from freezer), cornbread, watermelon & cantaloupe


Pineapple Ham over rice, salad

Chicken n’ gravy over mashed potatoes, salad

Thursday, June 21, 2012

It’s Official!!

My daughter Leanne received her diploma in the mail two days ago! It is now official.. she has earned her BA in English! I am sooo incredibly proud of her. Other than Leanne I am probably the only one who has seen the countless hours and dedication she put into earning this degree (in 2 years 10 months). To me she is just amazing! ~smile~

As for her next step in life… she has not let the dust settle much. She is now almost finished gaining certification from a program called: TEFAL - Teaching English as a Foreign Language . She should have her certification by August and already has an interview with a company from South Korea to teach English to grade school children. We will see where this goes, but she is excited about her future.


Monday, June 18, 2012

This Week’s Menu

Crockpot beef stew, salad, french bread

Burritos (using chicken & rice burrito filling from freezer).. with all the trimmings, tortilla chips & salsa

Split pea soup, ham & cheese bread (using the recipe for pepperoni bread found here:   substituting ham  and cheddar cheese for the pepperoni and mozzarella cheese) , salad


Chili (from freezer), cornbread, salad



Friday, June 15, 2012

Homestead Garden Update

This afternoon was a wonderfully warm and sunny day. I spent about an hour weeding. I also took a few pics to share.

These are my tomatoes. They are growing well. None have seemed to suffer from the transplanting or the incessant rain we have. I’m thinking they were loving the warmth and sun as much as I was today!

It has been about 10 days since I planted the majority of my veggie seeds. Some of them are beginning to pop up now… I get so excited when I see my little plants make their appearance.. I must be a crazy gardening lady.. ha, ha, ha…

Here is a little lettuce…

My yellow wax beans…

Green beans.. a whole long row of them, the picture does not show them that well…

Near the beginning of May I planted some cabbage starts that I had bought from my food co-op (Azure Standard). They are doing well, at least most of them. I have a couple that don’t looks so hot. But I am happy with the ones that are growing strong. I just have not had luck with cabbages. So I am hoping that buy getting the plants in the ground earlier than usual, I just might get a few cabbages this year…

When I planted the cabbage plants I also planted a few zinnia seeds ….

And some sunflowers…

And last but not least… the corn starts and cucumber starts that I planted last Sunday under the lights are doing great!! I hope maybe by next weekend I can get them in the garden…

The corn…

And cucumbers…

Here is a pic of how my garden looks as of today….

It takes me about 45 minutes to an hour to weed it all. I jokingly say I’m "heading to the gym" when I go out to weed… it’s a good workout!! ~smile~


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Freezer Cooking for June – Part 2

I finally finished up my freezer cooking for the month. Due to having company last week and lots of other things to deal with I was not able to get back to it until today. Last week I did the hamburger meals ( ) and I made 5 chicken meals for the freezer. No new recipes… I made 2 batches of Cajun chicken , 2 batches worth of Ranch Chicken , and 1 batch of Honey Dijon Chicken

Today my focus was on ham. I bought a 6.25 lb ham from Costco last week…

From this I made:
2 Bbq Ham and Cornbread Casserole
2 Pineapple Ham
1 Creamed Ham

I started by cutting my ham up into bite size pieces…

And cooking 1 ½ batches of brown rice  ..

I started with the Bbq Ham and Cornbread Casserole. You can find the recipe here:  (I’m making a double batch of this recipe). I mixed the ingredients together for the casserole for freezing and will make the cornbread batter on the day I serve the meal.

I started by chopping a large onion and slicing a can of olives. I used 1 quart of corn (as this is what I had on hand)…

Then I sautéed the onion in a bit of olive oil until it was soft…

In a large bowl I combined 5 cups of ham, the sliced olives, the corn and the sautéed onions..

Then I added the bbq sauce

And the water

Then divided the mixture between 2 gallon size zip lock bags. On serving day I will defrost this and put it into a 9x13 pan and make the cornbread batter, pour over the top and bake according to the recipe.

After this I moved onto the Pineapple Ham. Here is the recipe:

Pineapple Ham Freezer Recipe
4 T butter
1 medium onion, chopped
½ of a red or green pepper, chopped
5 cups ham, cubed
can pineapple chunks, drain juice but save for recipe, you will need 1 ½ cups pineapple juice. If you do not have the full 1 ½ cups add water
1T cider vinegar
2 T Sucanat or brown sugar
2 t yellow mustard
2 tablespoons cornstarch

In a large frying pan over medium high heat melt butter. Add onion and peppers. Cook until veggies are soft. Add ham and pineapple chunks. Stir and cook until ham is heated up. 

In a small bowl combine pineapple juice (drained from can) with vinegar, Sucanat (or brown sugar), mustard and cornstarch. Stir to combine well. Add this all at once to ham and veggies and heat until mixture boils and thickens. Remove from heat and let cool. When it has cooled put it into a gallon size zip type bag, label and freeze.

On serving day, pull out of freezer to defrost. Reheat on stove top or microwave. Serve over/with brown rice. Add a green salad for a yummy meal.

I began by sautéing the onions and peppers in the butter. I then added the pineapple and ham…

I used a 2 cup measuring cup to drain my pineapple juice into. I add a little water to make 1 ½ cups. I then added the vinegar, Sucanat (or brown sugar), mustard and cornstarch and mixed this well. I poured this mixture into ham mixture.

Stir and bring to a boil and let simmer until heated through and sauce is thickened. Let this cool and then divide between 2 gallon size zip type bags. Label and freeze..

The last meal I made was Creamed Ham:

Creamed Ham
This makes a large amount creamed ham, if your feeding less people than I am, you can divide this between 2 zip type bags for the freezer. 

½ cup butter
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 medium to large onion, chopped
4 cups diced cooked ham
½ cup whole wheat pastry flour
4 cups milk
1 t salt
1t seasoning salt
½ t pepper
1 t Worcestershire sauce
1 cup frozen peas

In a large frying pan on medium high heat melt butter. Add celery & onions. Cook until veggies are tender. Add flour and stir and cook for a few seconds. Add milk all at once. Stir well to remove any lumps. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and let it cook for a couple of minutes until mixture thickens and flour it cooked. Add salt, seasoning salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, and ham. Stir to combine, let this come to a boil and thicken. Add peas. Remove from heat and let it cool. After it has cooled put it in a gallon size zip lock bag, label and freeze.

On serving day, pull creamed ham out of freezer and let defrost. Heat creamed ham on stove top or microwave. Serve over brown rice, pasta, mashed potatoes, or cornbread and add a tossed green salad and/or fresh fruit for a complete meal.

For this meal melt the butter in a large frying pan and add onions and celery. Cook until onions and celery are soft and add ham. Heat until ham is hot and add flour. Stir until flour is mixed well…

Add milk and seasonings …

Cook until hot and thickened. Add peas…

Let this cool. Put in zip type gallon size bag. Label and freeze. On serving day, defrost, heat on stove top or microwave and serve over brown rice, pasta, mashed potatoes, or cornbread.

That sums up my June freezer meals. I ended up with a total of 16 meals that will certainly be a help to me for the next few weeks!


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

This and That

Been a busy few days.. my niece from Chicago came and spent a week with us. We had such a great visit with her. She is back in Chicago now and we miss her already.

My son Jacob has had a “Project Car” in the works. It started out as a damaged shell. My son in law Will (Hannah’s hubby) gave him the car and has helped him this last year to get the car up and running. It has been an incredible experience for Jacob. He has loved every minute of it and has learned so much. Will is a mechanic by trade so has been able to get Jake all the parts needed as well as the knowledge to take the shell of car and turn it into a car that Jacob is so proud of. He did body work along with putting in a new engine and redoing everything down to wiring harness and seals and everything else involved in putting a car together from virtually nothing. Did it save Jake money over buying a car?.. nope.. but he already had that (a car that is).. but it gave him sooo much more.. he learned a ton about car mechanics and had the awesome experience of setting a goal and seeing it through to the end. The car is now up and running and Jacob has the title and has paid for the insurance and is a very happy guy! And I am proud of him!! I had to laugh the other morning.. we were in the kitchen and he pointed out the window to his new car and said to me… “Mom, aren’t you just dying to hop in that car and let me take you for a drive?” LOL… He makes my day I tell you.. :)



Green Onions.. did you know that if you put the end of the green onions in a jar of water that they will regrow? I did not know this. My youngest 2 daughters heard about this and tried it. After cutting up 3 green onions to add to a salad they took the bottom parts (with the roots on it) and stuck them in a small glass of water and put them on the window sill in the kitchen. Two weeks later.. I have more green onions now to add to our salads…


Yesterday was a wonderfully sunny and warm day… much needed around here. I spent an hour in the garden and got it all weeded and planted a few more flower seeds. Most of my garden is now planted. I have corn and cucumbers currently growing under the lights in my hubby’s shop. Those will be planted in a couple of weeks when the weather should be much warmer. Yesterday I just enjoyed weeding.. yep you read that right.. I enjoy weeding.. there is something about the warmth, the quiet and the solitude that I so love about the job. Nothing like time to think.. and ponder… and pray… and when I am done, my garden looks so much better.

That is all from the homestead for now…


Monday, June 11, 2012

This Week’s Menu

Pizza casserole (from freezer), strawberries, salad
Crockpot chicken n gravy, brown rice, salad
Hamburgers w/all the trimmings, watermelon
Sloppy joes (from the freezer) over french bread slices, watermelon, salad

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Homestead Update

I am so excited and happy to share this update. My daughter Emily and Brandon, the man in her life, are officially engaged!!! Wedding plans are in the working.. it's looking like a fall time wedding although they have not set a date yet.. they are still working on that. I will keep you posted!

My husband and I are so thrilled with this news!! Our family absolutely loves Brandon! He is a fantastic man and honestly we could not have imagined a better match for our daughter. They are just perfect for each other.



Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Freezer Cooking for June – Part 1

This month promises to be a busy month in the garden (if the weather cooperates). So once again I am getting food into the freezer to make busy days flow better. The first thing I started with today was my hamburger plan. I started with 6 pounds of hamburger. Here are the meals I made:

Crockpot chili x2
Sloppy joes x1
Beef & bean burrito filling x1
Pizza casserole x2

First thing I did this morning (after making coffee of course ;) .. was to start cooking 8 cups of dried beans. The beans are needed for all the meals except the pizza casserole. You can use any type of beans you would like. I used a mixture of red & black beans…

I combined 8 cups of dried beans, 2 gallons of water and 8t salt. I brought it to a boil, covered and reduced the heat and let it simmer for 2 ½ hours.

After the beans were cooking and the kitchen cleaned up from breakfast I did a few other household chores and when the beans were almost done cooking I began the next step. Since most of the recipes I was making called for onions, peppers, and celery I decided to cut them all up and cook them with my 6 pounds of hamburger at one time. Using my food processor to speed things up I chopped up:

3 large onions
3 large red peppers (green ones would work too)
2 cups sliced celery

I heated up a large (8 quart) stock pot and put a coating of olive oil in it and heated to medium high. I then added the veggies and cooked them part way. I then added the hamburger and began stirring it up. It is a LOT of stuff in the pot.. but it does work! I cooked and stirred the hamburger and veggies until the meat was completely cooked…

When the beans were done cooking I drained off quite a bit of the bean broth. But I wanted to keep some of it.

Now I was ready to assemble my meals. I started with chili. You can find my recipe here:

I put 5 cups of beans (each cup had some bean broth with it) and 3 ½ cups of the cooked hamburger veggie mixture into each of 2 gallon size zip type bags (I made 2 meals of this). Then I added the diced tomatoes and spices according to the recipe.

On cooking day I will put it all in the crockpot and cook on low for 5 to 6 hours.

The next meal I assembled was the sloppy joes. I made one batch of this. I put 5 cups of cooked beans (with a bit of broth) and 3 ½ cups of the hamburger veggie mixture into a gallon size zip type bag. I then added spices according to my recipe found here:   On cooking day you heat it up on the stove top until hot and bubbly and serve over French bread or rolls. 

At this point I needed to do a little kitchen clean up. Before I started that I got my noodles cooking for my Pizza Casserole recipe….

By the time I had my kitchen back in order my pasta had finished cooking and I assembled the Pizza Casserole recipe. I mixed the recipe up in a large bowl to make it a bit easier. I used about 6 ½ cups of the meat mixture in place of the hamburger and onion in the following recipe…

I divided this recipe between 2 zip type gallon size bags...

Here is the recipe…

Pizza Casserole ( for the freezer)

2 lbs ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
2 jars spaghetti sauce
16 oz pasta (any type, I used whole wheat rotini), cooked and drained
4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
4 to 6 oz sliced pepperoni

Heat a large frying pan on medium high heat. Cook hamburger and onion until meat is no longer pink and onion is soft. In a large bowl combine cooked meat/onion mixture, spaghetti sauce, cooked pasta, cheese and pepperoni. Divide mixture between 2 gallon size zip type bags. Label & freeze.

On cooking day: defrost casserole (you can do this the best by pulling it out the night before and defrosting in the fridge) and put in 9x13 pan. Bake at 350 for 35 to 40 minutes or until it is hot and bubbly. Serve with a salad and French bread.

I then moved onto chicken, which I will post about next time… :)