I may suck at being a faithful blogger as of lately, but some day life may simmer down and I’ll do better. Right now it’s all about prioritizing. Regardless this is good little saying I came across today. I found it while cleaning out my friend’s house a couple years back. I also wanted to share a few pictures from a recent trip to Florida.
Attitude….The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill. It will make or break a company, church, or home.
The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past. We cannot change that people will act a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude.
I am convinced that life is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you, we are in charge of our attitudes.
Sunday, December 28, 2014
Saturday, November 1, 2014
On a regular basis I make soup broth. Currently I have a pot simmering on my 1960′s countertop with a couple quarts in the fridge from last weekend waiting to be made of. We are a soup family regardless of the time of day or season. I wrote a post about making broth back in 2010 but since then the topic has been brought up time and time again with friends. I am often surprised at how many people have never considered making this simple concoction. With that said along with my passion for home cooking I felt the need to write about it once again.
I make chicken broth more often then any other type of broth. Beef & vegetable broth I make occasionally. There is no need to follow a recipe. I usually cook it in a crock pot anywhere from 7 to 24 hours on low depending on my
Anytime we eat meat with a bone, mostly chicken I throw the carcass in a bag into the freezer. Same goes for any extra veggies you may have. You can even go as far as saving carrot peelings, celery ends, and potato peels.
This will take like 5 minutes to whip up and then the crock will do the rest of the work….
- Place chicken carcass in crock pot
- Fill with water leaving a little space for veggies/herbs
- Splash (1/4 – 1/2 cup) of vinegar, I have also heard white wine, lemon or anything acidic. It helps to sap the nutrients and minerals out of the bones.
- Add an onion, couple carrots, couple celery stalks, garlic if your feeling adventurous
- Couple bay leaves, several peppercorns, sprinkle of kosher salt, and if desired whatever herbs are handy (basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary). I usually throw in 1 or two herbs, whatever is in season or dried.
- Cook, cool, strain, use for soups, gravies, whatever your heart desires or store for future use. It also freezes well.
*Modifications…for beef broth use beef bone, for vegetable broth I don’t use vinegar and I use a wider variety of vegetables, whatever left overs I have fresh or frozen including but not limited to potatoes, zucchini, and tomatoes.
It’s a fairly simple process. I encourage everyone to try it at least once and compare it side by to store- bought stock. Pretty sure you’ll be done with buying broth other then for back up stash in your cupboards. That’s all it took to covert me a few years back.
Monday, October 20, 2014
A couple years ago Kim and I attended a basic wine making class at the Common Ground Fair. A large, bearded gentleman in a jean jacket stood before the crowd with a five gallon bucket in hand and said, “I’m going to keep this real simple!” Since then we have had a great deal of fun with the skills learned that day. We give wine for gifts, bring it to holiday gatherings, bbqs, and parties.
We’ve also utilized wine for bartering as well. Exchanging for goods as well as pay back for good deeds done. Plus it’s just plain old satisfying to sit down and enjoy an ice cold glass of relaxation that you created yourself.
To get started you’ll need an air tight container with an air lock. We use a multitude of different containers including 5 gallon buckets, jugs, jars, and carbouy’s. The air lock is just a water chamber that keeps air from entering the wine and lets the gasses out. Clean all containers including bottles with bleach and water. Rinse well!!
We have made a great deal of apple, strawberry, and blueberry wine as well as a multitude of other fruity flavors, too many to mention. I start by soaking roughly 1.5 gals of fruit in roughly 3 to 4 gals of water, mash it a bit and let it set in a cool place a couple of days to absorb the flavor. A refrigerator is the best bet or set it outside if it’s cool enough. Basically your making a fruit infused water. Next I strain off the fruit and add 10lbs of sugar and 1 tablespoon of yeast to the juice or fruit water. Sometimes I use bread yeast and sometimes I use a packet of wine yeast. Both work fine however the wine yeast is a bit more user friendly. It forms a hard layer when it drops out of suspension. If you start with a fruit juice make sure it does not contain preservatives, which could stop the yeast from working. This recipe will not work with grapes so don’t try it, just trust me on that!!
We’ve also fermented tea and lemonade adding a bit of ginger which was a big hit with the ladies. I’ll do a post on that at another time.
70 degrees is the preferred temperature for fermentation to occur so find an area in your home that is closest to that if possible. It is not an exact science so don’t overthink it, we don’t and we are able to pull it off. We live in an old farmhouse and the temperatures can vary room to room by 20 degrees in the winter. The beauty and curse of wood heat.
The magic begins in 2 days. The yeast grow and consume the sugar creating a byproduct of alcohol and CO2. Place the container out of direct sunlight and it will make a wonderful bubbling noise until the sugar is gone or the alcohol content is too high for the yeast to survive. They die and fall to the bottom in roughly 8 weeks give or take a few weeks.
Lastly, siphon it into sterilized wine bottles or mason jars. Pour over ice & enjoy!
Sunday, October 19, 2014
Like most people I love pickles! I have canned them many times before. However, last year my pickles were an epic failure! I overcooked them or something because they came out way too soggy…..beyond edible. Anyone that cans knows how bad that sucks. Lots of work was put into growing those babies from seed, tending the endless amounts of weeds and insects trying to steal your precious goods, picking, cleaning, canning. Damn! Well this year my cucumbers did not do well and regardless I was stuck in Florida in the prime of Maine’s canning season. Thankfully I was home in time to put up my favorite crop, tomatoes. I was fortunate enough to make up lots of spaghetti sauce, canning some and freezing the last of it as that is the
I like canning but honestly I’m all about making life easier! Making this type of pickles is a tangible goal for anyone especially if someone gifts you the cucumbers. 10 minutes top to delicious pickles the whole family will enjoy…I promise!
This will make a half gallon
- 4 1/2 cups of water
- 3/4 cup of vinegar
- 1/8 cup & 1 tablespoon of sea salt or kosher salt
- 1/4 cup of sugar
- 3-4 dill sprigs (or whatever you want I tend to use more)
- couple cloves of garlic
- several pickling cucumbers washed and sliced lengthwise
The first 2 batches I made NEVER made it to the fridge, we devoured them starting the day after I made them. Batch 3 that Maine Man made has been in the fridge a couple weeks and are still very tasty. Not sure what the shelf life is on these but I will definitely figure that out next garden season!
My kids are fortunate to have a good Papa that takes time out to teach them real life skills.
Practicing up so she can beat the boys!
On a final note I want to share with you a tried and true margarita recipe
This only makes a small amount but if you need, there are lots of conversion charts.
- salt for rimming the glass
- 1 1/2ounces tequila (blanco, 100% agave)
- 1 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1/2 ounce Cointreau (not Triple Sec)
Sunday, October 12, 2014
In the past I used to like to blog late in the evening when all was quite on the homestead. Now it seems I can barely stay awake much past 9 pm. Even though I have not put a lot of time in this space I do give it a lot of thought on a fairly regular basis. I find I especially think about what I could write about or what I would love to share when I am in the midst of doing mindless jobs around the farm…. mowing, weeding, stacking wood. Then nightfall comes and the only thing I care to do after cleaning up is spending time with my family or curling up to good book. Days….well they are jammed packed between the kids and the other family commitments I currently have. Any hoo…here I am.
The most recent book that I completed and thoroughly enjoyed is A Homesteader’s Year on Deer Isle by Anneli Carter-Sundqvist. It was a quick, easy, inspiring read. It can be purchased on the website I have attached to the title. I was fortunate enough to buy the book directly from the author at the Common Ground fair where I listened to her speak. I admire what she and her husband do yet it the same breath I do not envy their lifestyle as I have a pretty good idea of the work and sacrifices it entails. I am pretty content just doing the semi-homesteading thing we do right here. Never the less she has made me realize I too could write a book (has been a long-time goal of mine) and she has perked my interest in learning more about fermenting food. I initially had planned to share a no-canning pickle recipe I recently concocted not once but twice but due to internet glitches that will have to wait to a later date.
Saturday, July 5, 2014
A week ago today I climbed up into the loft of the barn thinking it would be great to capture a few pictures of our gardens. I had no idea what would follow this picture taking escapade. The above garden was mostly planted by Maine Man And Country Boy, we call it our vine garden. (squash, pumpkins, and cukes)
The garden above and below are the two I planted and tended so far. Behind the garden is portable shelter MM made for the meat birds.
MM did most of the gardening until last year when his cup runneth over . So this is only my second year growing gardens independently and I’ve been damn proud of my thriving beds of greens. We have harvested so far this season: dill, cilantro, spinach, kale, bok choy, beet greens, radish, lettuce, garlic, and zucchini.
For pest control I’ve been fairly lucky so far covering my affected crops with row crop covers temporarily. I swear by that method!
This is the last picture I took of the boys out back haying before the ladder kicked out on me as I was coming down from the loft. Tried to catch myself on a beam, hung for a bit shredding the labrum and whatever else in my right shoulder. So needless to say I have not applied make-up in a week, can’t wear anything that doesn’t have an elastic waist, have mastered doing dishes with my left hand, can’t put my hair up, and Tuesday cannot come quick enough as I have an appointment with a surgeon….my how life changes in an instant!