Saturday, December 31, 2011

Cheese Wiz, Gummy Fish & Cocktail Shrimp

Doesn’t sound like a very appetizing combination, does it?   And no, that's not a recipe from the Treasurey of White Trash Cooking (well, at least I don't think it is).

That's what we used to have for pre-midnight snacks at my Great Aunt Harriet’s house on New Year’s Eve as kids.  And I LOVED it!  It’s not like we put Cheese Wiz on the Swedish Fish.  There were separate plates for the squirty can of cheese-like substance and crackers, the multi-colored Swedish Fish (back then you couldn’t get just all red ones) in a fancy crystal bowl and then cocktail shrimp served on a elegant shrimp tray complete with the little attached bowl for the cocktail sauce. 

I would eat shrimp until I was stuffed.  And then eat some more.  Nothing like starting kids on high-priced seafood at such a young age.  Although I absolutely loved the shrimp, I don't recall if Christine had started her hatred of the little decapod crustaceans at this point or not.  Maybe I taunted her with the little shrimp bodies.....I don't recall.

Honestly, I don’t remember if we had a fancy supper beforehand or not.  Besides, how can a kid eat supper if she knows there’s going to be a huge bowl full of fish-shaped, gummy candy waiting?

We watched the big ball count the time down to Midnight on the television set (Midnight NY time, not Chicago time, so we got screwed out of another hour of staying up!) and blew our party horns, cranked those metal clanky things……and were out light a light no more than five minutes later.  I find out later in life that we were celebrating an hour early as the program we were watching was from New York and we were in Chicago.  Apparently the words “Time Zone” have little or no meaning to ones so young.  I recall being fast asleep in bed and suddenly being awakened by the sound of fireworks and gunshots……you know, the real Midnight, Central Standard Time.  Oh well.  We still got to eat gobs of junk and party food.
When we got a little older and were too "big" to spend the night at Aunt Harriet's, my Dad continued the shrimp feast.  We'd go to the local seafood market and buy jumbo shirmp.  Dad & I would sit in front of the sink peeling & deveining all those shrimp and then Dad would fry them up in a huge skillet with butter and fresh garlic.  The smell in the house was heavenly!  Of course, Christine didn't partake in the shrimp-extravaganza (where was she anyways??)  Silly girl.
Now that I have a family of my own, I’m starting to wonder what holiday traditions we should start.  Hopefully ones that Rhiannon will fondly remember.  We don’t have television hooked up so wouldn’t be able to do the New York Midnight celebration, but I suppose we could covertly turn the clocks ahead an hour and wait for the Cuckoo clock to strike a preemptive twelve (because you know, Mommy & Daddy can barely stay up past 10:30 nowadays). What tangled webs we weave!  Hopefully she won’t be psychologically scarred if / when she finds out we lied to her about it.
I guess we have a few more years until Rhiannon participates in the actual Midnight Celebration, but I haven’t decided what New Year’s Day will be like yet.  I go back & forth between wanting to make it a movie-watching, junk-food eating day or something outdoorsy like fishing or hiking and a picnic (weather permitting, of course).  But I do think that the Swedish Fish should be a continuing tradition, don’t you?
Have a safe and wonderful New Year's.  I'll see y'all next year!
PS - Yes Dad, we'll have a silver coin in our pockets at Midnight!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Homemade Breakfast Cereal

Since a possible temporary milk shortage may be on the horizon (on our farm, not nationally or globally, so don't freak out & go to CNN to check), I figured I'd better have my fill of cold cereal before we're out of fresh milk.

I guess it's no different than my homemade Granola, but it becomes cereal when I pour milk over it. 

I buy very little prepared cold cereals from the store, although Rice Krispies (or their generic counterpart) are an almost permanent part of our pantry.  There are like a million recipes that use that stuff and I love to make rice krispy treats in the summer.  And it's my fall-back breakfast for Rhiannon when she doesn't want to eat anything else.

Not only do I like to avoid those "extras" in the boxed cereal like food coloring (come on....neon blue and pink?????) and excessive sugars, but have you bought cereal lately?  Some are over five bucks a box!  For stinking cereal!!!  And the boxes are nowhere as big as they used to be.

So because I'm cheap I want healthier food, I like to make my own breakfast cereals for the house.  Well, it's not like I'm making the actual cereal know, puffing or popping or crunching up the actual grains.  I've always wanted to see how they do that; wonder if any of the companies give factory tours?  Now wouldn't that be a great future homeschooling fieldtrip for Me Rhiannon! 

When I get the hankering for homemade breakfast cereal, I buy bags of puffed wheat, puffed brown rice and crisp rice.  And all that's in those bags?  Wheat.  Rice.  Nothing else.

Puffed Wheat.  Ingredients: Whole Red Wheat.  Period.
Puffed Brown Rice.  Ingredients: Whole Brown Rice.  Period.

My recipe changes every single time.  I'm sorry to say that I've become one of "those" people who don't always follow recipes (or remember to write down what I did).  But basically, here's how I make my cereal:

Get a BIG honkin bowl.
Assemble the grains: puffed wheat, puffed rice, puffed corn, crisp rice, oatmeal.
Assemble the "special" ingredients: Cinnamon, chopped nuts, seeds, assorted dried fruits, flaked coconut, etc.

Gather the liquid ingredients / sweet stuff: Honey, maple syrup, simple homemade sugar syrup, veggie oil.

Dump all the grains in the bowl, then the dried fruits / nuts.  Mix.  Sprinkle cinnamon (or cocoa powder.....never did that before, but I might one day) & mix again.

Now this is where you're all going to yell at me.  Heat up "about that much" honey and "just a little bit" of oil in the microwave until it's warm & you can easily stir it.  Now, how much of course depends on how sweet you like your cereal and how much cereal is in that big ol' bowl.  But basically, you just want a very light coating over all the cereal.  As for how much honey (or other sweetener) to oil.....well, I'd say to about two cups of honey I'll add two Tablespoons of oil.

And you don't have to use honey.  Or just honey.  I've used a mixture of honey and maple syrup.  Or a homemade sugar syrup with a few drops of vanilla. 

Once your bowl o' cereal is mixed up nicely, spread it out into several baking pans or cookie sheets or casserole dishes and pop it into a 300 degree oven.  Or lower....or slightly higher.  Check it every fifteen minutes at first, then every five or so after "a while".  Yeah, I know, what kind of recipe is this?  Inexact measurements, guesstimated sugar to oil ratios, vague baking sue me.

But basically, you want to lightly brown the cereal.  So you'll have to just keep checking it as often as it needs to be checked so you can stir it to ensure even browning.

Take the pans out of the oven & let cool.  When cooled, break it into small pieces and store in an airtight container.  You can keep it on the countertop for a short while, but it will keep much longer in the fridge or freezer.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


So, I promised you all a chance to get a Box o' Chocolates from my good friend's shop Louisa's & Millie's Chocolates when I got to 100 Followers. 

This is a picture from their not try to lick the screen.

And yesterday was the magic day.

So I was thinking to myself, "Myself, what should I make these wacky people lovely blog followers do to gain an entry into the contest?"

There were thoughts of making you have to divulge embarrassing personal information, or revealing which celebrity you harbor lusty feelings for (mine would be Robert Duvall in Lonesome Dove or Tom Selleck).  Paul suggested making you say exactly why you deserved the chocolate.  But come on, is there not a reason one would be deserving of chocolate? 

So here's what you're gonn'a have to do for an entry:

Make a comment.  That's it.  I don't care what it's about, although something nice about cats may bestow Susan's (my black cat, not Susan at e-i-e-i-omg!) feline blessings upon you and your entry.  I'm not even going to make you "Share" this link on your blog or FB page, because although I don't mind extra followers, I think the loyal Followers of Krazo Acres shouldn't have to decrease their chances!

Open to US residents only, one entry per person, and I'll have Rhiannon pick the winner some time on New Year's Day.  Or whenever I get around to it.  Because you know, it's my blog and I can do whatever I want.

Good luck!

PS - Please comment on this blog post.  I know a few of you commented on the previous post, but if you wouldn't mind re-commenting on this one, it would make it easier to take down names.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Just ONE more!!

No, not one more Christmas cookie or piece of fudge (which has sadly been gone for almost two days now), but one more Follower!

I just noticed that I'm up to 99 Followers and I promised a box of Louisa's & Millie's Chocolates as a giveaway when I got to the magic number 100!

Come on all you lurkers, wouldn't you want to try for a box of Chocolates?!?!

Confectionary Convert

 “I can feel my teeth rotting away from an excess of sugar that no amount of toothpaste can dislodge."  - Walter Matthau in “A New Leaf”

That quote basically sums up how I felt throughout most of the Christmas weekend.  If I haven’t become a diabetic from all the sweets I recently consumed, I’ll be surprised. 
Along with the Christmas ham (honey-glazed, of course) Polish potato dumpling thingies (swimming in butter & honey), roasted veggies (I think the only thing NOT containing butter or sugar), we ate countless types of cookies, Black Forest Cake with a 4” topping of whipped cream, toffee, sweet breads (sweet BREAD, not sweetbread as in animal organs, although I bet if you put some icing on a pancreas, I would have eaten it), and other homemade candies.  My favorite being something that I almost totally dismissed.
We were given a huge package of Christmas goodies from a couple that I Kitty Sit for, and one of those packages had a tag that said “Maple Walnut Fudge”.   When I saw the tag, I immediately told Paul that he could have at it (as I was eying the decorated sugar cookies in same bag-o-goodies).  You see, although I’m a sugar addict, I’m not partial to fudge, let alone maple flavored candies.   Maybe it’s because I’ve eaten too many chunks of sub-par fudge.  And don’t ask me about the maple aversion; I LOVE maple syrup on my pancakes....makes absolutely no sense. 
But when Paul started making “nummy” noises (which he’ll never admit to) after biting into the fudge, I figured I may as well try some of it.  Besides, I couldn’t lie to Terri when she asked how I liked the fudge unless I actually ate some of it.  So I carefully picked off a small corner off one of the chunks.  And. It. Melted. In. My. Mouth.
Tried another piece.  Heaven.
And another.   This stuff is fudge???
Maybe I should try another few pieces, and check the tag, because I thought it said this was supposed to be fudge.
This so-called-Fudge was the smoothest, creamiest, yummiest, piece of non-chocolate candy I’ve had in like, well, a LONG time.  It reminded me of a smooth, yet denser, divinity kind’a candy.
And now it all gone! L
So I’m going to have to beg Terri for the recipe and add it to our Christmas Candy list for next year.   Or for any other special occasion.  Like Tuesdays.

Oh, and guess what else I got for Christmas:

My wood stove back, complete with tile flooring underneath!  I predict 80 degree temperatures in the house very, very soon.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Let there be Light

Today we (or at least those in the Northern Hemisphere) will get to enjoy an additional 3 seconds of daylight.  And it just keeps getting better with every passing day!  Well, at least until the next Solstice.
Most of us are probably rushing around trying to get all those last-minute things ready for Christmas, so the Solstice usually gets overlooked by most of the population.  Busybusybusybusybusy.  And I can relate.  But wouldn't it be nice to be able to recognize the truly awesome celestial phenomenon that brings more light into our life? 
I simply lit a few candles as a physical symbol to welcome the in the longer days.  Lucky for you, and any unsuspecting and unlucky passerby, my days of dancing naked under the cloak of night during the Solar Holidays are a distant memory (imagine what a train-wreck of a blog post that would have been!)  But I also spent some time enjoying the warm day yesterday by cleaning out both chicken coops.  Enjoying cleaning out chicken coops, you say?  Surely you're joking (no, I'm not.....and stop calling me Shirley)!  And what does shoveling chicken crap have to do with the Solstice?  Hang with me for just a sec, k?
But I did enjoy it.  You know why?  Because I took the time to recognize and enjoy the simple fact that the sun was shining, the weather was warm(ish) and my daughter was helping me with the farm chores.  Yeah, it took about twice the amount of time it would have if I had just done it myself, I had to wipe mud off Rhiannon's person more times than I can remember, the chickens were unduly harassed by same mud-covered toddler and the chicken food ended up everywhere but in the feed pans.
But there was light.  Not just from the few measly seconds of additional solar radiation, but from my daughter.  Rhiannon was the light to brighten my day.  And sometimes I forget about that.

So who brings light into your world?

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Strangers in the Night....

Well, looks like I'm going to have to edit my last post in regards to the kidding schedule.

Last night, I went to feed the goats their dinner & milk Ishtar.  Normally she pushes everyone out of the way to get to the barn and stands right in front of the milk parlor door then looks at me as if to say, "Any day now!"

So imagine my surprise when she was nowhere near the barn.  She was standing at the fence line where Pan is.  And was not making the slightest movement towards me or the barn.

So I clip everyone else to their appointed feeding stations, divvy out the grain rations and trudge back to the house to put on an old coat.  You see, I was expecting to simply go out to the barn, milk, feed, close the chickens up, then come back inside.  But no.  I was going to have to play PimpMomma tonight.

Apparently Pan did not hit the mark last time.  I kind'a wondered if he was getting it right as there seemed to be a little more struggling than usual......serves me right for not setting up the cinder blocks for him.  He had no problem with Nettie, who's also a full sized Saanen, but Ishtar is bigger than Nettie.

So by time I go back inside, put my mucky boots on along with an old coat, it's getting pretty dark.  So I pull out my new handy-dandy-no-homesteader-should-be-without headlamp:

For whatever reason, I'd put off getting one of these for like, ever.  Now I'm kicking myself when I think of how many early mornings / nights I've monkeyed around with having to carry eggs or milk buckets or whatever and a flashlight.  This thing is awesome.  But back to the goatsex.

So I've donned some of my goatpimping gear and make my way out to Pan's enclosure.  I set up a few cinderblocks for him, go back and clip Ishtar to a lead, drag her away from the fenceline and then get drug by Ishtar all the way to Pan's enclosure.   Both participants (the goats) were anxious and cooperative, although I think we only had one good connection.  Not sure if Pan was getting sleepy because of the darkness, but he wasn't his usual spunky self.  And I couldn't sit out there for a half hour as I had our Fire Department Christmas party to go to in less than an hour (and I still hadn't made the green bean casserole).

So I drug Ishtar back out of Pan's enclosure and put her back with the rest of the does.  Ran into the house to peel off the smelly coat & boots and had Paul "sniff" me to make sure I didn't stink of goat piss.  Hurriedly put together green bean casserole, put kind'a nice shoes on, nice (i.e. non-barn-smelling) coat on and off we went to the party.

And through the entire party, all I could think of was Ishtar & Pan.  Was one time enough?  Should I just hope that she'll still be in heat tomorrow and try to have her bred again in the morning?  What if she's not in standing heat by morning?  What if I missed another breeding opportunity?  What if this is her last heat cycle for the season.  Did I leave the iron on?

We had stragglers from the party come to our house afterwards, so I didn't go back outside for another try at breeding Ishtar.  It's not that I have to hide the fact that I am a pimp for farm animals as our friends are pretty much aware that our animals do have sex.  But I didn't really want several guys (with a few liquid libations already down their gullet) accompany me during my nighttime goat loving outing.  Because you just know that they would wonder why I was going outside in the middle of the night wearing one of Paul's old jackets, muck boots and a headlamp secured to my noggin.

And I wasn't sure I was up to loud men chortling, laughing and cracking crude farm animal intercourse jokes in the middle of the goat pen, in the pitch dark.  Guys can be soooooo immature!

So I waited until this morning to bring Ishtar back to Pan.  And hopefully it was successful.  Guess I'll know in a few weeks.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Year End Goat Review

Must all good things come to an end?
Ishtar is the only goat I'm milking now.  And this is what I'm getting each day:
Six cups of milk, and I'm savoring each drop!
And each day it's a little less.  But I suppose I shouldn't be complaining.  It's the end of December and I'm still getting fresh milk.
Kidding started in mid-March and didn’t end until the end of May; I purposely staggered the kiddings so I could get milk year-round.   At one point this Spring, I had fourteen goats running around.  What was I thinking???  Spring through Fall I sell three or four gallons of milk a week, and I often give some to a friend.  But even then, there were times I was swimming in milk. 
And even though we had a problem with Nettie going through a bout of Mastitis & being dried up, and I ended up selling Cloud in July, I was still able to get more than enough milk from Annette and Ishtar during the summer and fall.....and now even into winter.
I started drying up Annette in the beginning of December and she stopped producing almost immediately after limiting her grain & not milking her.  What a drastic difference compared to Nettie.  Nettie wants to keep putting out milk, no matter how much I ration her grain.  I think that's one of the reasons she lost so much weight last year / this spring.  So even before I realized that she had Mastitis, I had decided to let her wean her kids and then stop milking her so she'd put some weight back on.  Which thankfully she did over the summer and fall.  And you know what?  I really didn't miss the extra milk.
We can only drink so much (even with Ovaltine!), drench so much cereal with milk, make so many quiches, make so much fresh cheese, yogurt, etc..   It think it would be different if I actually started making hard / aged cheeses though, so that is really on my list of things to learn (how to do successfully, that is) next year.
I also have to decide if I’m going to continue selling milk.  There are only two people who buy it from me, and although it does help a little with the feed bills I wonder if it’s worth the trouble.  Well, I guess it’s really not that much trouble as I’d still have to milk, clean up, bottle & cool the milk for us anyhow.  Ugh. 
Decisions, decisions.
Anyhow, since I went another year without finding a Boer buck for Ishtar, everyone was bred to Pan.  The 2012 kidding schedule looks like this:
Nettie due: February 16th Annette due: March 12th Ishtar due: April 29th May 22nd
This is the earliest I’ve ever had a kidding scheduled.  I used to have them planned around the first part of April, but since I want to continue an almost-year-round supply of milk, the dates had to be earlier (and later).
But back to my current milk supply.  Since Nettie is due the middle of February, that means even if I dried Ishtar up tomorrow, we’ll only be without fresh milk for less than two months. 
Maybe I should start drying her up.  It would be nice to not have to milk for a while.   But it would also be nice to have fresh milk every day.
Decisions, decisions.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Oh, my aching hands

It’s that time of the year.  When the weather is drier, the woodstove is cranking out some major BTU’s (well, normally) and it seems that I’m constantly doing dishes or other chores that require my hands to be washed, scrubbed and dried countless times a day.
Just yesterday (after washing up milking stuff) I looked at my poor hands.  They were getting pretty cracked and my knuckles were starting to bleed a little.  I guess it’s past time that I start slathering on some good lotion before I really start hurting.
And lo and behold, what does Paul bring in with the mail, no more than like ten seconds after I make this earth-shattering realization?
Lemon Balm and Lavender Goat Milk Soaps and
Shea/Beeswax Salve!
Two bars of heavenly-scented homemade soaps and a jar of Shea & Beeswax balm from Sarah Jean at BeeWench Farm!
I was the lucky winner of her giveaway last week!  And don’t tell me I didn’t share the opportunity to enter to win, ‘cause I did, so phfffftttttt!!  Now don’t you wish YOU entered?
I’ve used the balm like five times already since last night (after a luxurious soaping-up in the shower with the Lavender soap) and my knuckles are already on their way to healing up.
Thanks again, Sarah Jean!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Ham Sandwiches

When my Dad came down for Thanksgiving, he brought me some early Christmas presents:

Lots'o containers!

Two-ton meat slicer.

Dad owned a little neighborhood bar & grill several years ago.  He would have daily lunch specials and was constantly testing his culinary skills on the unsuspecting patrons. He made a mean pork tenderloin and great homemade soups.  When he sold the bar & grill, he took most of his restaurant equipment with to either sell or keep for whatever reason.  I think he secretly wanted to open his own little posh restaurant and couldn't bear the idea of selling the stuff as he may one day "need" it. 
Since it seems Dad has finally given up his harebrained scheme dream of being head chef at his own restaurant, I was the lucky recipient of the meat slicer and bunches of food grade containers.
Which I finally put to good use:
Most of the containers filled & put into the cupboards.

Sliced ham, some for lunches, some for freezing.....
and some for now!
I know it may seem frivolous to want to have sliced meat around the house, but sometimes, ya just need a sandwich!  Paul has also taken another job where he doesn't always have access to a microwave to warm up his lunch, so sandwiches are very convenient.   But up until now, I had to go to the store and patronize the deli department.  I know, I know, there's nothing wrong with buying stuff from the deli (well, most of them at least), but we really try to avoid "store" bought meats.  Not only because the prices seem outrageous, but I find myself questioning some of the ingredients and prefer using meat from our farm, friends or the back forty. 

We did end up buying a whole ham though (as in not sliced, not an "entire" ham) as we don't have any of our own roasts ready to put through the slicer.  And it's HALF as expensive as the EXACT hams they slice up for you in the deli department.  Even if we don't get around to curing / smoking / cooking our roasts / hams in the freezer, we're still ahead of the game.  But I have to admit, I can't wait to make some pastrami!  I've been meaning to buy the seasonings for it but haven't got my butt in gear yet, so this is a good prod for me to get going.
Now I just have to make some more bread for all the ham sandwiches!!!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Saturday Oven Lovin'

Today we have another installment of Tiny Gardener's Oven Lovin!

Go over to her blog and post your recipe(s)'s my contribution:

Pineapple Cookies

2 Cups Flour
1 tsp. Baking Powder
1 tsp. Baking Soda
1 tsp. Salt
1/2 Cup Butter or Margarine
1 Cup Sugar

1 Egg
1/2 tsp. Vanilla
1/2 Cup Crushed Pineapple (drain juice)
1 Tbsp. Sugar

Sift first for ingredients together, put aside.  Cream butter & sugar.  Add egg, vanilla, pineapple & 1 Tbsp. Sugar.  Gradually add dry ingredients & mix until combined.  Sprinkle with chopped Pecans (if you want, unless of course, you are alergic to them, then leave them off just a few of them so the rest of us can enjoy them.....sorry Gloria!)  Bake at 375 degrees for 12 minutes.

Mrs. Mund's Fruit Cookies

1 1/2 Cup Sugar
1/2 Cup Butter
2 Eggs
2 2/3 Cup Flour
1/2 tsp. EACH Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Cloves (powdered, not whole)
1 tsp. Soda
1 Cup Pecans or Walnuts (or know, if you're alergic to Pecans and Walnuts....Gloria!!)
1 Cup Dates, chopped
1 Cup (or the whole 8 oz. tub if you REALLY like those thingies) Candied Fruit & Peel
2 Tbsp. Wine

Combine flour, spices, soda.  Cream sugar & butter, then add eggs, & wine.  Gradually add flour mixture until combined.  Add nuts, dates and fruit thingies and mix.  Bake at 350 degrees for 12 - 15 minutes.

The Pineapple Cookies are from my Mom's recipe collection and the Mrs. Mund's Fruit Cookies came from Gloria's recipe book.  I am not a fan of fruit cake, but I DID enjoy (more than a few) the Fruit Cookies.  So if you're an avid Fruitcake-hater, try the cookies......they were yummy!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Chickens in the Mist

It was a pretty dreary day yesterday.  Overcast and a bit of drizzle.  Kind'a depressing. 
Then Rhiannon hopped up on the chair next to the front window and started bouncing up & down.

There were chickens in the front yard:

It's not like it's that rare of an occurance.  I actually usually end up running outside screaming my head off at them if they get too close to the raised beds in the front yard.   But since the garden is done for the year, there was no need to scatter chickens.

And Rhiannon reminded me that even though it looked dreary outside, we didn't have to feel dreary inside.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Rhiannon's Room, Part 1

I've never been a "pink" kind'a gal.  Not sure if it's because I didn't want to look too girlie as a youngster (I was pretty much a tomboy), if the color pink didn't go with my complexion or if I had already made up my mind that I wasn't going to let society tell me that "Pink is for girls, blue is for boys".
So imagine my surprise when I found myself putting this little baby in my shopping cart one day:
Do not try to adjust your screen, the lamp really IS that Pink!
Maybe it was a moment of weakness spurred on by the fact that the lamp was like 50% off.  Or maybe it was because I was trying to accessorize a room to match this:

If you could throw-up a rainbow, I think this is what it would look like.
Wow.  Now that's some funky / bold colors for a RealTree and Olive Drab kind'a gal.  But that's just it.  It wasn't for ME.  It's for Rhiannon.

The decor in our log home is pretty much woodsy/country upstairs and basically "blah" downstairs as the basement interior is drywall instead of logs.  Lots of antique white, beige and the like.  Rhiannon's room used to be the guest room and was painted & decorated in that same aforementioned "blah" motif.  Gray carpeting, antique white paint, family pictures framed on the walls, an antique lamp and antique mahogony furniture.

I had originally thought that I'd be doing Rhiannon's room in light brown and light blue colors.  You know, pretty contemporary.  Pretty mature.........Pretty much "Blah"!

But it was time for Rhiannon to claim her own room.  So my Mom was wonderful enough to make Rhiannon this quilt:

At first, I was a little worried.  Ok.  I was a lot worried.  How could I ever find anything to match that quilt?  There was not a single speck of brown, hunter green or beige in that thing!!

But I slowly embraced the colors of the quilt.  I might even say that I had become "one" with the quilt for a short time.  To understand the colors, to read the colors, to even enjoy the colors.  And I realized that I didn't have to "match" everything.  That everything didn't have to be a color normally found in the woods.  And I had to remember that it wasn't my room, but my daughter's room.  Being under the age of three, she wasn't really involved in chosing the quilt colors or paint colors.  But I tried my best to pretend I was a (normal) little girl and think of what I'd like my room to look like.

So Mom, Rhiannon and I went to Lowe's to pick out some paint for the walls to replace the antique white.  I also picked up a semi-gloss white to paint.....the wood trim!  Oh, the horror!!  Painting over perfectly good wood!  I didn't know if I'd actually be able to do it.

Part 2 to follow.....

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Chicken and Noodles

Julie over at Mooberry Farm posted a recipe for Chicken and Noodles using leftover chicken.  She's a woman after my own heart.....nothing goes to waste!

And that recipe had perfect timing as we also had roast chicken on Monday night so I had leftover chicken to use up on Tuesday.  Now that's "Leftover Chicken Blogging Recipes Serendipity" if I do say so myself!  (Hugh? Nevermind.)

So I grabbed my laptop with Julie's post on-screen & put it on the kitchen counter so I could start making supper.  Chicken, check!  Potatoes, check!  Carrots, check!  Celery, check!  Chicken bouillon cubes, check!  Egg noodles, uhm, not so much.

But wait!  She also included a link to her great-grandmother's recipe for homemade egg noodles! 

I LOVE egg noodles.  But I'm an egg noodle snob.  I don't care for the dried ones; I like the frozen noodles, which of course, are more expensive therefore I do not buy them often.  Actually, I think the only time I ever buy them is for Thanksgiving or Christmas (which we then smother in turkey gravy).

So this was going to be the day I made egg noodles for the first time.  And I can say two things about the actual process; they are darned sticky and I really, really want a pastry cloth!

I kneaded my dough on the countertop sprinkled with copious amounts of flour, but my fingers kept getting stuck together.  So I pulled what eggnoodlegoo I could off of them, washed my hands, then sprayed my hands with cooking spray.  Much nicer. 

And since I am horrible at rolling out dough from any recipe, I lightly sprayed my baking sheet & rolling pin with cooking spray & rolled the dough out on the pans instead of doing it on a floured countertop.  Cheating?  Possibly.  But it got the job done.  Sort of.

I had another hour until I had to start supper so I left the noodles on the baking sheet.  And the noodles dried a little bit on top, but not on the bottom so they kind'a stuck to the sheet.  So I basically had to coax each and every stinking egg noodle off the sheet, cussing after each pull.

So was it worth it?  Definitely!  I can now add "Egg Noodles" to the list of things that I will no longer buy from the store!

And here's the result of the Eggnoodlerama and accompanying recipe items:
As if there wern't enough carbs in the bowl, I added a slice of homemade bread.
Thanks for the inspiration Julie!

Recipe Notes: Technically, I did make two modifications from Julie's recipe. I didn't add the celery because it looked a bit past the "people-eating" stage, so it went into the chicken bucket, and I did add about a cup of leftover chicken gravy from last night's supper so I omitted the butter.  I also used Russet potatoes, which didn't hold up as well as a yellow or red potato would have, but I didn't have any.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Round baking pan, crock, thingy

Here's the thing I cook my round bread in:

Two loaf pans on the left, round crock in the center,
and some old bowl on the right.
Sorry I didn't get a better picture but the step stool is in the basement and I'm too lazy to go get it.  Besides, I'd probably stumble up & down the stairs, crack my head on the almost-finished tile floor and bleed to death before dawn.  So use your imagination with the photo.  It's made by Pampered Chef (the crock, not the step stool!) and I believe they are some sort of stoneware.

I inherited both the round crock and the two loaf pans from someone on Paul's side of the family.  Basically, they moved out, we moved in, and they left those in the house and I nabbed them.  Finder's Keepers - Sorry Sharon!
And I absolutely LOVE them.  I only cook in my metal loaf pans if I have more than three loaves of bread to make.  They don't burn the bread as easily (not that I'm a burner of bread......often) as the metal pans and once you've seasoned them, the loaves pop right out.

I'm a cheapskate, but if I ever broke any of the pans, I would actually go out and buy another one instead of using just the metal pans now.  I just looked them up on the Pampered Chef website and the regular loaf pans are $23, but I didn't see the round loaf crock.  I even looked on ebay, but didn't find them there either.  Guess I'd better be really careful with mine then. 
And I bet you are all green with envy now.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Round Toast

Being the non-conformist family that we are, I made some round bread this weekend:

It's a half-white & half-whole wheat sourdough bread.  Please don't ask me for the recipe though as I've become one of those annoying people that just add "a little of this and some of that".  Every loaf is unique - although not always a very good kind'a unique.

I like the round loaves.  It just looks, well, like fun!  And who couldn't use some fun in their day?

Sunday, December 11, 2011

This is not a post....I repeat, this is NOT a post.

I've been trying to keep Sunday a no-blogging day because honestly, I spend WAY too much time on the computer.  Although as some of you may have already noticed, it doesn't stop me from reading / commenting on your blogs.  I'm an addict. 

So I'm not going to call this a blog post.  Just a photo-update:

New plywood, check!  Backerboard, check!
Hopefully we'll lay the tile tomorrow.

Evil Kitty "helping" move stuff out of the way.
Thank goodness it's finally coming's getting mighty chilly in here!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Saturday Oven Lovin!

Every Saturday, Tiny Gardener hosts Saturday Oven Lovin over at her blog.
Here's my recipe for this week:

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

1 Cup Vegetable Oil
1 Cup Brown Sugar (or 1 Cup Sugar & 1 tsp. Molassas)
2 Eggs
1 tsp. Vanilla
1 Cup Flour
1/2 tsp. EACH Baking Soda and Salt
1/2 tsp. Cinnamon
1/4 tsp. Nutmeg
4 Cups Oatmeal
1 Cup Raisins
Make as you would a normal cookie recipe.  Bake at 350 degrees for 10-13 minutes.

This is probably my favorite Oatmeal Raisin cookie recipe.  It's also a handy recipe to have around as it uses oil instead of butter.  And if you wanted to make this recipe with all shelf-stable items, you could just replace the eggs with egg powder (mixed with water to make the equivalent of two eggs).

Speking of shelf-stable cookery, Yukon Mike over at Living Prepared does quite a few recipes using only shelf-stable items.  Click on any of the "Food" items on the Topics sidebar to see them.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Early Christmas!!

I’ve been the lucky recipient of not one, but two gifts:

I recently won giveaways from two great fellow bloggers; An exercise DVD from Julie over at Mooberry Farm and an Apron Pattern (sans ruffles) from Mama Pea at A Homegrown Journal .  Well, I’m assuming that the DVD is under all that pretty wrapping……I didn’t have the heart to tear into it just yet!
Thank you Julie & Mama Pea!  Your packages make me smile every time I look at them & I’m sure when I get around to making the Apron or sweating my bum off on the treadmill, I’ll be thinking of you both......or swearing at you both! :)
Last week I hinted about hosting another giveaway of my own, but I’m still waiting for that magic number 100!  When I get to One Hundred Followers on my blog, I’m going to let you all put your name in the virtual hat and I’m going to scientifically draw a number (or in other words, have Rhiannon stuff her sticky hand into a basket or bowl filled with entrant names) for a box of delicious, delectable, mouth-watering, chocolaty delights from Louisa's and Millie's Chocolates!
If you want to tease yourself and see what kind of goodies you could win, click on her link above and peruse their website featuring their Chocolate, Marshmallow, Nougat, Flavored Creams and Caramel goodness.  And try not to lick the screen.  Although if you do, at least wipe it off.
So come on all you lurking around the blog… on “Follow” and give everyone, including yourself, a chance to win some CHOCOLATES!!!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Canning Venison

I've never canned meat.  Not even chicken, although I have canned chicken stock.
A friend of ours recently gave us some ground venison and about three pounds of cubed venison.  Made Salsbury steaks out of the ground meat (with gravy, duh) and although I was tempted to slow cook the chunks into a thick chili, I've been meaning to try canning meat.  Since I still had the pressure canner out for making chicken stock (I'll put it away one day), I figured this would be the perfect opportunity to practice.
There was enough cubed meat to fill three pint jars.  Not enough to make it really worth firing up the pressure canner, but this was going to be a learning experience.  And if it somehow turned out yucky tasting, I would have only ruined three pints of meat.

I washed the cubed venison and soaked it in water until most of the blood had left the meat, drained it and put it into a pot and just covered the meat with water and a teaspoon of salt.  I quickly brought the pot o' meat up to a boil, then took it off the burner.  Since I was going to do use the Hot Pack method, I just wanted to cook the meat to a rare stage as it will continue cooking in the pressure canner.

I took the chunks of meat out then strained the broth through a seive lined with cheesecloth to get some of the funky looking stuff out.  Packed the hot meat into the clean and hot pint jars, stuck a clove of garlic in each and poured the broth over it up to an inch from the top.

Wiped the rims off, tightened the lids down with the bands and put them into the pressure canner:
My three little jars.
Seventy-five minutes at 11 lbs. of pressure, took the canner off the burner, let the pressure drop to zero and took the jars out to cool (next to my bazillion finished jars of chicken stock):

I'm going to let them sit for a week before I open one and give it a taste test.  If they are yummy, I'll do the same thing when we get venison again, but hopefully there will be enough to pack them into several quart jars (90 minutes at 11 lbs. though).

I've also got a big package of boneless, skinless chicken breasts that I bought and froze earlier this year (yes, from the store...oh, the horror) and they are defrosting in the fridge right now.  A few years ago I bought some canned chicken breasts from the store to put into our pantry for "emergency" use.  Since they were going on two years old, I opened them and made some chicken & dumplings.  They were very, very salty.  I'm going to raw pack the defrosted chicken breasts and omit salt in the jars.  I figure if it needs salt, we'll just grab the salt shaker once it's on our dinner plate.  If I'm going to store canned meat in our pantry, I may as well do it myself.  Probably tastier, and hopefully cheaper than the store-bought stuff.

I'm hoping that my first meat-canning foray will lead to more "convenience" type meals during the winter.  Open a can of chicken, make a quick batch of dumplings or noodles, turn it into chicken pot pie or just dump it in with my homemade chicken stock for a hearty soup.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Winter Preps

Some of you already have a blanket of snow on the ground while others may get through the entire winter without even having to brush snow off your windshield.

We had our first snow yesterday morning.  It started out as rain, then sleet, then finally those big, heavy flakes.  Not much on the ground, and most of the warmer areas like the driveway were cleared by late afternoon.  This morning, anything that was left has turned to a crunchy ice topping on the grass and leaves (and on the porch steps....ask me how I know).

The goats like snow only slightly more than rain.  The younger batch of chickens didn't seem to mind the light covering of snow, but the older biddies were wary of it.  I just imagined the older hens with babushkas around their heads, wrapped in a musty-smelling crocheted shawl and just staring out the chicken door into the snowy yard......

"Oh Harriet, I told you should have made the trip to town for some birdseed and milk yesterday!"

"Do you see those crazy young'ins Imogene?  Get back in the coop before you catch a cold!"

I was a bit worried when I saw the sleet.  With the Ice Storm of 2009 still fresh in my memory, I had anxious feelings of being unprepared for another long-term power outage.  We were without power for thirteen days, but Rhiannon wasn't around yet.

We made it through that storm without many problems as we had a generator (and fuel for it) for keeping the freezers running and the wood stove for heating the house and cooking our meals.  But what we don't have this time around is our wood stove!  It's still sitting on the front porch.  Between the Thanksgiving holiday, family visiting, a bout with a nasty cold and general procrastination, we've yet to get the tile laid for the stove foundation.

Hopefully this snowfall "reminder" will get our butts in gear.  Going to make "The List" for winter this afternoon and check things out.
Have you prepped for the winter and any unexpected cold-weather emergencies?

Monday, December 5, 2011

Strange Chicken Treats

It rained ALL day Sunday and late into the night.  Not that I should complain; the weather guys had hinted that it may have been sleet or ice pellets at night.   I didn't have grand plans for doing things outside, but the goats tend to stay inside the barn when it rains (acid rain, you know) and make a mess of everything.  Goodness forbid they should take four steps outside to take a whiz. 

I only milked Ishtar yesterday evening.  Annette was pretty saggy and I figured I may as well start drying her up.  I'll continue milking Ishtar every day, but milk Annette every other day.

I also got their hooves trimmed.  It's much easier to trim when they've been wet for a while.  Oh, and a question for those of you that have both goats (or sheep) and chickens; are my chickens the only ones that go absolutely crazy scrambling to eat the hoof trimmings?  Talk about a major Ick-Factor.  I don't get it.  Maybe it's like some gourmet treat for poultry.

I did manage to clean out one side of the chicken coop this weekend and put down fresh bedding (wasted goat hay), but didn't get the other side cleaned.  Now all my wasted-hay-bedding is soaked so I'll have to wait a few days for it to dry out.  Or maybe the rain will have "cleaned" the hay and the goats will think it's "new & special" hay and want to eat it now.

As if.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Saturday Oven Lovin

Tiny Gardener had a most excellent idea for a Saturday blog post: Oven Lovin!

Not only does this give the participating bloggers a reprieve from having to make stuff up write a somewhat intelligent or informative post on Saturday, but it gives us a chance to swap recipes!

I didn't have to put a lot of thought into what I was going to submit for my recipe as I had these on the countertop staring at me for the last few days:

So for my first Oven Lovin recipe, I present to you my Banana Oatmeal Bread:
1 ¼ Cup Whole Wheat Flour
1 Cup Oatmeal
1 tsp. Baking Soda
½ tsp. EACH Cinnamon & Salt
1 Cup Sugar
2 Eggs
½ Cup Vegetable Oil
1 tsp. Vanilla
2 Ripe Bananas
¾ Cup Sunflower Seeds

Combine the flour, oatmeal, soda, salt & cinnamon together in a bowl & set aside.  Cream together the sugar, eggs, oil & vanilla then add the bananas & mix until kind’a smooth.  Gradually add the flour / oatmeal and then add the sunflower seeds.  Pour batter into a greased & lightly floured pan and bake in a 375 degree oven for 60 minutes or more (check using a toothpick after an hour).
This was a make-shift recipe when I had a LOT of oatmeal in the house and NOT a lot of walnuts around.  So I figured I may as use the oatmeal in place of some of the flour and use what nuts I DID have around; sunflower seeds.  Seeds, nuts, whatever.  Ever since I used the sunflower seeds in the banana bread, I haven’t gone back to the walnuts. 

Friday, December 2, 2011

Nothin' but Time

I feel like my barn chores are soooo much easier lately.  The Cornish have been put in the freezer so I no longer have to worry about feeding / watering them or moving their pen.  The garden no longer needs watering or weeding.  And now I’m milking in the evenings instead of the morning.
For the past few weeks, I have been upping the milking time by a half-hour each day.  There are several reasons I’ve been doing so (and not just because I’m not a morning person!);
Rhiannon has been pretty insistent that she attend the morning milkings and barn chores.  But it’s just too cold early in the morning and I don’t want her freezing her little bum off.
I’m going to have to dry them up pretty soon and I figured that once they are used to evening milkings, I’ll go to every-other-day evening milkings and then stop altogether.
And I don’t like freezing cold early mornings much myself. 
The evening milkings seem to be much more laid back.  I’m not running around trying to let the chickens out, feed the chickens, water the goats/chickens, milk the goats, yell at Rhiannon to stop chasing the rooster, run the milk into the house to strain it, then get some breakfast into Rhiannon’s maw before she throws a fit. 

I just milk the goats & yell at Rhiannon to stop harassing the livestock.
Now that I’ve got all this “extra” time on my hands, I’ll use it for other things.  Like chipping ice out of the water buckets and hauling warm water to the critters (had to do that on Wednesday morning.  Boooo!).
Oh well.  It’s not like I’d do anything really constructive with the extra fifteen minutes other than browse the blogosphere.

Don't forget to check out all the Giveaways!  Mama Pea just added one today; click HERE to see them all.

Thursday, December 1, 2011


Louisa's Country Closet is giving away some cute collars and toys just in time for Christmas!  Click HERE to enter!

Don't forget Julie over at Mooberry Farm; she's giving away one of her favorite exercise DVD's!
Click HERE to enter! 

And Sarah Jean at BeeWench Farm is giving away some homemade soap and udder blam!  Click HERE to enter!

This just in: Another Apron Pattern Giveaway; this time from Mama Pea! 
Click HERE to enter!

The Spirit of Giving is in the air!  And just to tease you all, I'm planning on giving away a box of chocolates from Louisa's and Millie's Chocolates very soon.  If you want it to be even sooner, you'll have to sucker some of your friends into becomming followers because I'm going to do the giveaway when I get to One Hundred Followers!

(Wow, that's a lot of exclamation points in one blog post!)

Caprine Dominatrix

Nettie and Annette are both very vocal and affectionate when they are in heat.  The also do a lot of tail flagging and get a bit pink in the behind, so it’s not too hard to tell when they are in season.  Last year I had trouble figuring out Ishtar’s cycle.  Pan wasn’t within sight of the does last year.

This year, Pan is up next to the rest of the herd, but still separated by fencing.   Ishtar has been in heat at least three other times this season, and each time it was pretty obvious.  She would be pacing back and forth along the fence line, shoving her head through the panels and getting covered in stinky-buck smell as Pan was more than happy to paw at her and rub his head all over her.
Ishtar is a big Saanen, larger than her mother Nettie.  I was hoping to have Ishtar bred to a Boer this year (and last year), but I have yet to find anyone with a Boer for stud and there’s no way I was going to buy another buck, especially a standard sized breed.  It’s hard enough wrestling Pan who’s a Nigerian Dwarf buck; I couldn’t imagine messing around with a Boer buck.
My intentions were to start up our own meat goat herd using Ishtar as the dam and a purebred Boer as the sire.  Basically I want the offspring to have her large frame, but with a meaty build.  Any female offspring from that breeding would be kept as breeding stock and bred back to another purebred Boer buck.  The males would go into the freezer.
Since I once again struck out on finding a Boer for stud, I let Pan breed Ishtar.  It’s not that I don’t like the kiddings from that match; Ishtar’s kids are nice mini-milkers (F1 Mini-Saanen).  But I’ve got enough milkers.  I want meat.  Goat meat.
Ishtar is also the Alpha doe, or Herd Queen of our little herd.  And she rules with an Iron Fist.  When it comes to milking time / feeding time, there’s no doubt who’s top goat. 
When I decided that I’d have Pan breed Ishtar, we did the normal goat-date thing.  I put the doe on a lead, take her to Pan’s enclosure and let the goat-luv’n begin.  That usually entails Pan running around, making those spitty-flappy-lip goat noises, pawing, ear-nibbling and the like, eventually ending with a good connection and DNA swapped.  I’ll hold on to the lead the first few minutes to make sure everyone is “satisfied”, but eventually unclip the doe and let the two have some private time together.
But apparently Ishtar was not satisfied with being the subordinate goat.  As soon as I unclipped her lead, she started chasing Pan around the pen.  SHE was making the snorty noises, pawing and mounting HIM!  And I don’t think he was too fond of it either as he kept running away.  At one point he even tried to hide behind me.  But being the closet masochist that I am, I let her stay in the pen and have her way with him.
I came back out about an hour later and found them like this:
If it weren’t for the fact that Ishtar had just finished a cigarette and Pan was sobbing for me to let him out, it would have been almost cute.