Saturday, June 30, 2012

Ron and I Take Our Show on the Road

We went to an auction this morning and when we got there it was just starting to rain so Ron dropped me off at the location so I could get a number and he would park the truck.  I got the number and waited for him to come back, and waited and waited.  Finally I saw he coming down the drive and he was drenched.  He proceeded to tell me that when he was turning around on the country road that he misjudged the distance between the road and the ditch and he went into the ditch front first and the back drivers wheel was off the ground a couple of feet and he thought he was going to roll the truck.  Luckily someone came by and pulled him out. 
Later on in the day between the rain and heat I got a little tired and Ron spied some lawn chairs empty so he went over and sat down and I joined him.  The chairs were really old metal ones and I sat down and the chair buckled.  There I was laying on my back, legs in the air, laying in some flower bushes and maybe 100 people around where I was. (Renee and Noel stop laughing)  A couple of gentlemen saw it happened and started to come over to offer me some help getting up while Ron was sitting next to me laughing.  I held up my hand and said I didn't need any help and to just leave me alone; I proceeded to gracefully get up.  Well there isn't a graceful bone in this old ladies body and I finally got up and wanted to die, embarrassed to death.  Right now my left leg, knee and hip are hurting but I will make it.  
I did get some much needed pint canning jars and a larger water bath caner than I currently have.  I will give Renee the one I had so she can start some canning.  I think she plans on coming over the next time I do some water bath canning and see how easy it is to do.  When I get out the pressure caner out she will come over and learn how to do it also.  She was pretty young when I canned and needs a refresher.
Later, take care.

Friday, June 29, 2012

I Finally Got Enough Berries for A Pie

I knew if I kept at it I would get enough to make a blackberry pie; with the ones I got Wednesday and with today's I got a total of 4 cups enough for a pie.  I have a new goal of getting enough to make 3 more pies.  I have 13 days to accomplish this task and I will do my best to make my goal.  When I was picking raspberries I would get enough to make at least 3 pies each time; big difference.  The Japanese beetles are doing their best to eat them before I pick them so I have declared war.
When I finished the berry picking I decided I might as well work a little in the garden being that I was at this point drenched from sweating and it wasn't 9 AM yet.  I picked a couple pounds of peppers to pickle and can.  I ended up with 3 pints of banana peppers, not a whole lot but 3 more than I had.
Going to be another miserable day tomorrow so outside activity will be limited.  It is 8 PM, 94 degrees out and feel like temp is 104.  Just checked for the next 8 days it will be in the 90s and 2 of those days there is a 30% chance of rain.  Everything is going to dry out and burn up at this rate.  If doing a rain dance would get some rain instead of a call to the loony bin I would do it.  :)  .
Later, take care.  Try to stay cool.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

HOT Thursday

Right now it is 99 and feels like 108.  I sat out front for 20 minutes and I felt sick to my stomach just sitting there so I came back in.  I feel so sorry for those who work outside in weather like this; it is miserable out.  I have chicken breasts marinating to cook on the grill for supper.  I just can't wait to do it, not.  We don't eat until 6:30 or after so it might be a degree cooler by then.  I think I'll make some tuna salad to have sandwiches for tomorrow's supper.  It is just to hot to cook.
It's only going to get down to the mid 70's tonight so tomorrow mornings walk for berries will be a hot one.  Maybe I'll settle for riding the yard tractor instead of walking, now that would be really lazy if I did that.  I'll just walk and walk slowly and enjoy all the beauty that God has created.
I'm amazed every time I  go for a nature walk and look at everything around me.  Everything was created for a purpose, even those Japanese beetles.  I like to listen when I am walking, listen for a purpose.  Just don't listen really listen to all that is going on around you.  I live by a highway so the major sound is highway noises.  But if I listen for a purpose I hear the birds, the leaves moving, branches hitting each other, bugs making sounds, the frogs, the toads and if my cat followed I hear her walking in the woods stepping ever so gently on those fallen leaves and branches.   Next time your out side stop and listen, really listen and you will be amazed at the number of sounds you hear.  

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Beautiful Wednesday

Went blackberry picking first thing this morning (7:30) and had a nice walk but few berries.  The blackberry bushes are not bushy like raspberries but just a stem here and a stem there.  I might get enough to make a pie if I save up all that I get every time I go; oh well I will keep going every other day.  After berries I raked part of the chicken run and spread the straw on the new garden bed.  I could only get as far as my rake would go because Ralph the rooster is very protective and will try and attack if he can.  I will rake in there again in a week or so after the girls scratch around.  They are so fun to watch; they were scratching around the newly cleaned part and looking for things to eat.  I try and give them some leftovers or vegetable scraps before I collect the eggs so I can distract Ralph, but just in case he isn't distracted I always take the hay fork in with me.  Those feet of his are deadly weapons and I've had many bruises on my legs from him.  I fooled around in the garden after cleaning the run.  I was so enjoying the outside I was looking for anything to do.  I finally came in at 11:30 and took a shower and washed a load of clothes and then hung them out.
Took the garlic out of the dehydrator and will grind it later into garlic powder.  I think I will cut some cooking herbs after supper and dry them over night.  Tomorrow it is supposed to get to 100 and then for the next 10 days it will be in the upper 90's so after the herbs tonight I will not be dehydrating anything.  I don't need to add any extra heat in the house, the AC will have to work extra hard as it is.
I think I will go out back and sit and enjoy the little breeze and 85 degrees.  I hate being in the house, I would rather be outside doing something.
Later, take care.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Slow Day

Not much going on today. Cooked the green beans Renee gave me and made a Quinoa Salad and Pasta Salad to have with our meals this week.  Ron will not eat either one (doesn't know what's he missing) but the grandson Ian will eat both.  They make a nice side dish or a lunch for me.  I usually eat leftovers for lunch when we have them because Ron doesn't like leftovers.  Do you see a pattern here?  I'm going to try my luck again tomorrow morning with the blackberries.  Sure hope I get more than the cup we got on Monday.  Oh well if not the walk won't kill me and I enjoy looking around to see what I might find.  When I was sitting out back this afternoon I saw a doe and 2 fawns frolicking in the field.  We've seen several yearlings at the back of the house the last couple weeks.  The hay field was just cut 2 weeks ago so we are able to see them easier.  At the end of the hay field there is corn and it is already over 6 feet tall and when we were down by the corn on Monday we saw a lot of hoof prints at the edge of the field.  Not sure how big of a herd there is this year; a couple of years ago we saw up to 15 at one time in the field.  I love watching them and over the years have taken way too many pictures of them.
Later, take care.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Berries, I Mean a couple Berries and My Day

Renee and Brandon got here at 7 this morning to go pick berries and I was hanging up my first load of wash.  We had a nice visit, nice exercise but less than 50 berries.  I was so disappointed, they are still very red just takes longer to ripen than I thought.  Renee brought me a huge bag of green beans and a couple zucchini so I sat out back and snapped the beans enjoying the beautiful day.  It was nice and breezy out and made it a wonderful first day using my solar dryer.  I washed 2 loads and hung everything out.  When it was dry I took hangers out with me and hung the hanging clothes and folded the others as I took them off of the line.  I put my basket in my farm wagon and that worked just fine.  With the solar dryer I save on gas, electric and get some much needed exercise.  As I took the shirts off of the line I kept smelling them and the wonderful fresh smell was so nice.
I harvested some of my 5 different mint plants last night and put the leaves in the dehydrator.  When they were finished today I put in almost all of my garlic.  It took me over 2 hours to separate, peel, wash and slice the garlic and now is in the dehydrator drying.  I can say for sure we won't be bothered by any vampires tonight.  I like garlic but this is a bit too much; I've dehydrated onions before and they were worse.   Oh well just think of that wonderful garlic powder I will make.  I think I will dry some oregano, basil, thyme and lemon thyme when the garlic is done.
Going to Renee's house for supper tonight, she is serving several fresh salads that she made today.  She has a nice garden and like me eats from her garden a lot.  She is getting a bumper crop of green beans and had a nice crop of peas.  Her zucchini is also doing very good and she has shared several things with us and even used some of her fresh vegetables to barter with.  She needed some programs loaded on her old laptop so she had her brother, my son, come over to do it and gave him some things from the garden.  When she was here this morning I shared some of my peppers with her; her peppers are not ready yet and she swears that mine are on drugs or something the way they are producing.  Last year we hardly had any peppers  and this year I have a lot and they are so early.  The raised bed that they are in had a good amount of straw from the chicken coop and that chicken poop is powerful stuff.  Those girls lay some nice eggs and provide some wonderful free poop fertilizer. 

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Solar Dryer and Memories

For a couple of years I've wanted a solar dryer and this weekend Ron installed one for me.  First thing tomorrow morning I will use it to hang towels out to dry.  The last time I had a solar dryer was in the 70's.  I won't use if for everything but for sure the towels and bedsheets.  There is nothing so wonderful than the smell of sheets hung out.  I need to get some more clothes pins, Menard's was out yesterday. The seasoned readers will remember clothes pin bags made with a little girl's old dress that had the bottom sewed together and then you would use a wire clothes hanger to hang it on the line.  Clothes pins came in only one kind, then the spring clothes pins came along.  We used the regular ones when I was a child, the spring ones were too expensive and we couldn't afford them.  We would take a clothes pin and use it as a doll, draw a face on the top, add some yarn for hair if you had it and a small piece of material for the dress,  If we could find a pipe cleaner she would have arms but most of the time they were armless.  Then when mom ran out of clothes pins we had to give her our dolls back. 
Children now days would just revolt if they had to do some of the things we did as children.  We used our imaginations and made due with what we had, we didn't have all the electronic games to entertain us.  We made up games, played outside and were able to roam the neighborhood without fear of being abducted.  We played out after dark while our parents sat outside and visited to keep cool, no AC to keep us cool.
Boy has my mind wandered, just the memory of hanging clothes out has sparked wonderful memories.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Guess What I'll be Doing for the Next Couple of Weeks?

After a delicious supper of super nachos that were served with 2 kinds of homemade cheese and fresh picked red onions, tomatoes and 4 kinds of peppers I went for a walk down the field line checking on the blackberries.  The below is all I found tonight but by Monday morning there will be plenty to pick.  I will pick every other day until they are done or we are in Texas.  Jam will be made first and then pie filling.  I saw several trees along the tree line that have been completely been striped of their leaves by the Japanese Beetles.  I saw some evidence that they have been eating the leaves of blackberry plants also.  They need to keep away from the berries until the season is over.

Blackberries from today.

Look at those beautiful berries.

Don't they look good.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Blah Friday

Got up at 3:30 this morning to the well pump running and no water.  The plunger in the toilet tank broke the last time someone flushed the toilet, no way to know it did and it ran for no one knows how long.  Running the well dry twice in the last 10 days not good.  We are just so lucky the pump did not burn up.  Ron went to work and came home at 10 to work on getting the pump primed.  This time it took a lot of work, water all over the utility room, wet rugs and tempers which made for a horrible day.  Toilet is fixed, well is working, but the tempers need more work.

I have my new "Back to Eden" garden started.  I have the landscaping timbers laid out, it will be 8 ft by 32 ft, paper down and the paper covered with about 2 inches of shredded tree limbs and stumps.  Next I will put a layer of straw from the coop/run, grass clippings then more shredded tree limbs and stumps.  I will repeat the layers and need to achieve at least 8 inches when packed down.  I will add some leaves this fall. This will decompose over time and make the area very fertile for a nice garden bed.  As long as you keep adding to the area as it decomposes you should never have to do anything else.  You never have to till your garden, weed or water it.  The area should be ready for planting next spring.  Work up front should make growing easier, time will tell.
The garden beds that I have now all have straw from the coop/run and you can tell the difference that the natural fertilizer makes.  One of the 2 new raised beds did not get the straw added to it and the onions growing there are about 1/4 the size of the ones that are growing in the bed that has had straw added for the last 2 years.  My raised beds have to have very little weeding done to them and the only 2 things I have added to them is grass clippings and the straw.  If the new bed with the added shredded tree stumps does good I will add that to the raised beds.  Anything free and organic is what I like.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Lazy Day Thursday

I have not did a thing today or at least nothing productive.  I have to be busy and have some type of agenda or I am bored.  I am not do nothing person.
On the bright side I got my first delivery of chipped up tree branches/roots today.  Someone my husband works with does tree root removal and he dropped by a truck load of stuff and this is the beginning to my new garden bed.  After watching the Back To Eden documentary the other day I am going to do a garden like that.  I will put down newspaper, shredded trees, grass clippings and then this fall crushed up leaves.  All of this stuff will be a total depth of about 8 to 12 inches.  By next spring the bed will be ready to be planted.  If done correctly you shouldn't have to weed or water it.  Just add some of the same material that you made the garden with as it decomposes. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

My Busy Morning

Today was yard work day for me.  I worked out in the yard for 5 long hot hours this morning.  Cut the grass, used the weed eater on the weeds, pulled weeds in the garden, watered the garden using rain water from the rain barrels.  I hauled it by 5 gallon buckets and water everything that way.  Between the weed eater and hauling the water my right arm is so tired and it hurts.  The weed eater is so heavy and I've got to find the shoulder strap for it before next time.  The part of the yard that I cut last is the piece of land between the road and the ditch.  While I was backing up I got a little to close to the ditch and the lawn mower would not go forward no mater what.  There I was on the mower, in the ditch and when I took my foot off of the brake it would roll back farther.  I was so scared that I would flip it, I sat there for a minute and gathered my wits and proceeded to keep my foot on the brake and tried to get off the mower.  I then used my hand to hold the brake and finished getting off.  It was only 9:30 by then so I just let it sit there.  I did all the weeds and when it was time (11:00) to get the grandson up for school and work I had him come out and we tried to push it out.  When we were doing this the garbage truck came by and they asked if we needed help and how did it get in the ditch.  I said I wanted to know that answer too and said I had no idea how the grandson did it.  Of course they knew it was me and they managed to push it out and told me next time don't get that close as I might not be so lucky and might flip it.  Humble pie isn't that good.  To say I was embarrassed is an understatement.

Yesterday afternoon my son Ronnie stopped by and while he was here he sat up his camera and did some time lapse photography out back of the clouds and the chickens.  He does an excellent job at taking pictures and does this for a living while he is going to school working on his degree in this field.  Please click on this link and watch the chickens and then watch it again and watch the clouds and then if you watch it again you will see me and him.  Or if your are talented you can watch it once and see everything.  :)

While you are there take a look at some of his other pictures on the right hand side of the page they are excellent.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Raspberry Pie Filling Canning Day

Up early because I couldn't sleep so I started the pie filling.  I ended up with 19 quarts and part of another quart and had everything done and cooling by 9:30.  Thanks to my oldest daughter Gina who picked up a water bath caner at a garage sale for $2.  Having 2 of them sure comes in handy at times like this and for $2 that was a steal.  The partial quart will be used to make a cobbler that we will have tonight.  This is the first time I've made Raspberry pie filling and to think that Ron and I picked everyone of those berries.  The berries were free, wild, organic grown and you can't get much better than that.  I used the recipe that I found on this blog:
There are several other canning recipes that she has that I plan on trying.  Take a look and you will agree that she has some good looking stuff.
Now I'm ready for the blackberries, I will check on them again Friday and there should be some ready by then.  I will make some blackberry jam and blackberry pie filling and like the raspberries that will be free, wild and organic grown.
I am so enjoying retirement; when I worked I didn't have time to do all these things.

Everything set up, just waiting.

Time to get started.

This is my 20 qt pan, look how full it is.

19 quarts of Raspberry Pie Filling; partial qt to make a cobbler.


Monday, June 18, 2012

Tomorrow Is Canning Raspberry Pie Filling Day

Jars washed; check
Supplies out; check
Dry ingredients measured; check
Berries out of the freezer; check
Recipe adjusted for the amount of berries; check

All that is left is actually making it.  I have everything out to make about 18 quarts of raspberry pie filling in the morning.  I took a walk along the field line this afternoon to check out the blackberries and a lot are turning red already so I thought I better make some freezer room for them until I have enough to make pie filling out of them also.  I plan on making some blackberry jam too.  I guess with the 2 inches of rain we got Saturday night and the heat is speeding the ripening process up.  At the rate they are going I might be picking them by weeks end.  Some of the plants are just getting berries so the picking of the blackberries might last about 3 weeks.  That is good news; I will be able to get them picked and canned before we go to Texas the middle of July.

Back to Eden Gardening

Someone told me about this method of gardening and I just finished watching this documentary and it is fantastic.  I am going to start a new garden bed to try this out.  My first step is to get some wood chips and my husband is going to ask someone he knows about getting some free.  You will do yourself a favor by taking a couple of hours out of your day to watch this fantastic film.

You have to watch this and give it a try.

 SLB, show this to Travis.

Cheese and Butter

I used about 5 gallons of milk this morning and made some mozzarella cheese and took some of the cream and made butter.  It doesn't take that long to make the stuff but it takes longer to clean up and wash everything.  I use my two 4 gallon stainless steel pots to make the cheese and then I have the two 4 gallon buckets that we use to get the milk, then the 2 1/2 gallon glass jar for the butter churn and then a zillion other items.  Every thing is washed in bleach water by hand to make sure it is all sanitized.  When using raw milk you can't be too careful and if you knew me I am kind of a clean freak.
My husband is stopping at my daughter's (Renee's) house after work to pick up some fresh veggies she picked this morning from her garden.  She is so nice to share her garden goodies with me.  She is sending me some peas, already shucked, green beans that I think she has already snapped and some zucchini.  I know she's not grating the  zucchini but I will do that and freeze it in packages of 2 cups each so I can use it to make zucchini bread.
Later, take care. 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Gleaning Hay

Went out back to the hay field they cut and baled this week to retrieve some hay that they left.  Loaded up my wagon with the hay and brought it back home and spread it all around my berry bushes and around my potatoes.  Then went over to my adoptive flower/herb garden and there had been 3 bales of hay there since last summer and spread them around the back of the garden.  This will keep the weeds down and save me some work the next time I go over to take care of it.  I talked to David about me taking care of it and of course he has no problem with me doing it.  I feel that this is my payment for getting to look at it and it never hurts to help out your neighbors.

Corn on the Cob

A couple of weeks ago my sister-in-law Gale who lives in Texas called with a perfect way to cook and clean corn on the cob.  Take a ear of corn that is still in the husk and stick it in the microwave, cook until done.  Microwaves differ, I put 2 ears in for 10 minutes and they were perfect.  Remove from the microwave and cut the stem end on the cob off, make sure you cut at the very bottom of the ear.  Hold the top of the ear with the silks and squeeze the ear of corn out.  You will end up with a steamed ear of corn without any silks on it.  I also noticed that the whole kernel of corn came away from the cob and zero waste.  Thanks Gale for the wonderful tip. 
Corn right out of the microwave.

Cut off the stem end at the very bottom of the cob.

Grasp the silk end and squeeze out he corn.

Corn almost out of the husk.

Not a single silk left on the corn.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Amish Shopping Day

Went down to get some much needed items from the Amish Bulk Food Store that we go to.  I was down to just a couple pounds of flour so I picked up 50 lbs of it, needed some ClearJel to get my raspberry pie filling made and they finally got in some lye so I will be making some soap next week.  Picked up some spices and of course we always have to get some homemade candy.  We then went to the dairy and got 6 gallons of milk.  We used the electric cream separator (2nd time) that my sister in law from Texas sent to us and used a different setting but it just isn't separating the cream like the 100+ year old one we have.  I was so hoping that the electric one would do the trick.  The 100+ year old DeLaval that we have is big, heavy, lots of parts that need cleaned every time and my husband has to turn the crank 60 times a minute to make it work, but it does a wonderful job.  When I get the milk out on Monday to make cheese and if there is a lot of cream on it I guess it's back to the DeLaval. 
Some areas around us got some rain but we haven't seen a drop and it doesn't look like we will see any.
Later, take care.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Zucchini Bread

My daughter Renee gave me some shredded zucchini and 2 fresh zucchinis last night.  I grated the 2 she gave me, froze 2 cups and made a batch (2 loaves) of Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread.  I took the grated zucchini and made a batch (2 loaves) of Zucchini Bread.  After they were all cool I cut each loaf in half and frozen 3 bags of the bread with a half of loaf of each kind in the bags.  The other 2 halves I have in a container so we can enjoy them this weekend.  The recipes I used came from  I tried a smidgen of both and they are very good.  I did not use the nutmeg because I really don't care for it; I just doubled the cinnamon instead.
Thanks Renee now we have some zucchini bread in the freezer and some frozen zucchini that will make another batch sometime.

Morning Exploring Walk

Got up early and started on my walk around the back field.  At the edge of our property is a hay field and then at the edge of the field is some woods.  We have plenty of deer, a few coyotes, skunk, raccoons, possums and various other small animals.  I walked around the whole field/tree line looking for raspberries or gooseberries or anything else that looked interesting.  I found zero gooseberries, 1 very small raspberry bush and about 1/4 mile or more of blackberry bushes.  Almost the entire tree line is loaded with the bushes.  I am on cloud nine right now.  I see blackberry jam and pies in the near future.  I've never seen so many blackberry bushes before and they are in various stages of development.  Blackberries get ripe around here the last of July and the first of August. My berry picking partner has a long time to rest up and then it will be a couple of long weeks of picking.  Just to think that they were practically out my back door all this time.  I took my small camera out with me so the below pictures are not that good.  I guess I need to practicing using it again; I am so used to the big camera.

Does anyone know what these are?

They're back; the horrible beetles.

Does anyone know what this tree is, they are little and brown.

Not a wonderful picture but here are some blackberries.

    (If you click on the pictures you can see them full screen.)

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Lazy Thursday

Didn't do a whole lot of anything today.  Went into town to get 100 lbs of chicken feed and came home and made 3 canning jar baskets.  Did some wash, changed the bedding and started on a new rag rug.  After supper went in to Renee's to take her a roll of chicken wire that Ron got and sat and visited with them for an hour or so.  She gave me some shredded zucchini that she froze yesterday for me and she picked me 2 zucchini to bring home.  Looks like I am going to make some zucchini bread tomorrow, I think I have enough flour for a batch.  Saturday is Amish shopping day and will be getting 50 lbs of flour then.  I also will be getting some clear jel so I can make and can some quarts of raspberry pie filling.  I have a small list of other things that I also need to get when we are there.  I can't rely on my memory to remember them so I write it down.  I don't know if my daughter Gina has a list of things that she wants, I always let the girls know when we go down and will pick up things for them also.
Tuesday night one of the boys from the Amish dairy called because he knows that Ron works in a scrap yard and he was wondering if he could get them an air horn to use at their brothers lumber mill.  They need it to use as a signal.  He also had a couple of other things that they were looking for and Ron will do his best to help them out.  I gave them my number a couple of months ago and the next time they butcher a cow they are going to call me so I can come down and get the suet so I can use it to make soap.  They were raising organic feed hogs and selling them but the price of corn is so high that they can't afford to do that at the present time.  So one of the boys that is still at home is working at his brothers lumber mill to help support the family.  They are so sweet and friendly.
Later, take care.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

I Think I Did It

Well I think I did it, ran the well dry watering the gardens and trees.  I unplugged the pump and will have to wait until Ron comes home from work (3 hours yet) to prime it and hopefully the water table will have risen enough in the well so we can have some water.  I was afraid this would happen with the horrible shortage of rain.  When we don't get rain for so long the water table beneath the ground takes longer to fill up and I hope that is all that has happened.  We had this problem about 6 years ago and we really had to watch our water usage.  I have dishes to wash and about 12 -16 cups of raspberries that I picked this morning that need washed and put in the freezer.  I guess I'll just dust and vacuum and call it a day until Ron gets home from work.

All Ron had to do was plug the pump back in and the water storage tank filled up and the pump shut off.  Got the dishes done and berries all washed and in the freezer, I got 16 cups.

Ham and Cheese Bread & Cinnamon Raisin Bread

Ham and cheese sandwiches are a favorite in our house and when I can bake it all together it makes it super easy and delicious.  Every week I bake bread for the week and I use the Amish Loaf Bread recipe that I found over at upper right hand corner, Farm Bell Recipes (I use 1/2 the sugar that is called for).   I also use this recipe to make ham and cheese pull apart bread.  I make the recipe (makes 2 loaves) and after it has risen I cut the dough in half.  Then the half I cut into 6 balls of dough.  Pat each ball out into a rectangle, add your favorite cheese, several slices of deli ham, fold the ends to meet in the middle, then fold in half and out them in the bread pan.  Bake it at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes.  Cool for about 1/2 hour and then pull apart a section to eat.  You can add some mustard or your favorite condiment.  This stuff is delicious.  I wrap the leftovers and can reheat in the microwave the next day or eat it cold. 
I take the other half of the dough and have another loaf of bread for the week or pat it out, butter it, sprinkle some cinnamon and sugar over it, add some raisins and have bread for breakfast.  This time since I just baked 2 loaves of bread a few hours ago I made Cinnamon Raisin Bread with the other half of the dough.

Dough, ham cheese
The ends are folded to the center.

Then fold in half.

Put them in the bread pan.

After rising and ready for the oven.

Out of the oven.

L to R; Ham and Cheese, Cinnamon Raisin Bread.  These are ready to be eaten.

Identify this Plant Please

Here are a couple of pictures of a bush and the berries that are on it.  I ate a couple yesterday and 1 today.  They are sweet with soft seeds.  I was hoping you would answer this Mr SLB, you were the person who I thought of yesterday when I told Renee that we needed a guide with us to identify other plants that we could pick.

Bush with berries.

This is a close up of the berries I brought home today.

I'm sure there are so many plants out there that are good for something.  I tried looking up some things yesterday but with no luck. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Raspberry Picking Again

Got up early and out of the house before 6:30, picked up Renee and we went a couple places we had not been yet.  The berries are everywhere and no one has picked them so a lot are drying up on the vines.  My arms have well over 100 scratches and pokes from the thorns but I just keep on making a path to get to them.  I said we needed leathers like the motorcycle riders wear so we would be protected.  I was in such a hurry this morning to get going that I forgot my hat.  The hat is my buddy, protects me from the sun and keeps the ticks out of my head.  Renee and I might go again tomorrow morning.  I just hate to think of all those good berries going to waste.  The majority of the berries we picked today were a lot bigger that we have found so far.  I have my berries in the colander in the sink of water waiting for me to clean them and put them in the freezer until next week when I will can some quarts of raspberry pie filling.
We almost had a "Grandma in Canada" moment but it was Renee and the car keys.  Thank goodness she remembered where she took a pit stop and laid the keys on the ground or we would have been calling Ron to come to our aid.  A "Grandma in Canada" moment has something to do with no facilities for 100 miles and needing to use them so the side of the road would work.  That would have been OK but she took off her glasses and laid them beside where she made a deposit and then remembered it after we got back on the road.  We went back but no one was ever able to find the glasses.
I have decided that we need to find someone who can identify trees and brush of Illinois to go picking with us.  We have seen several kinds of berries and trees that we wish we new what they were.  I tried 3 different kinds of berries today and if any were poisonous they didn't work.  I know what blackberries look like and they will be ripe in several weeks, I think one of the berries I tried were ground berries and the other 2 were small round purple berries.  Both of them tasted good, not bitter.  I'm sure there are so many wonderful plants out there that we could use for something.  Need a botanist ASAP.  :)

Update:  I got 18 cups from today's picking.
Also I forgot to mention, if you go picking with Renee and want all the berries to yourself just spot a snake and mention you saw it and that's all it takes.  Today was the first time I have seen one while picking.  It was a black snake on a bush and it slithered away when I said "Renee, oh never mind".   

Monday, June 11, 2012

Ham and Cheese Roll

I had 2 gallons of milk that I made up into mozzarella cheese this morning.  While it was sitting waiting for it to curdle I thought I would do something different with it and make some mozzarella cheese and ham roll ups.  When it was ready to be put in containers I took and cut it in half, patted it flat and added some black forest ham  on top of it, rolled it up and put it back in the bowl and stuck it in the microwave for about 15 seconds.  Just enough time for the cheese to melt a little to seal it into a roll.  I then cut it in half and wrapped in Saran Wrap and put it in the fridge to cool.  I will confess I did slice a small piece and put it on a cracker to test.  It is very good.  Next time I'll cut down on the amount of ham but otherwise this is something I will make again.  This would be perfect to serve at holiday times or as a snack.  Here is the recipe I use to make mozzarella cheese, I have no idea where I got it.

Mozzarella Cheese

1 gallon of whole milk, raw or store bought (I use partially skim milk because I separate the raw milk to get the cream to make butter)
1 1/2 tsp citric acid dissolved in 1/2 cup cool water
Rennet, follow the directions on your rennet as how much to use per gallon of milk.  I use animal rennet that I send for and I use 1/16 of a tsp for 1-3 gallons of milk
1 tsp sea or kosher salt

Place the milk in a large heavy bottomed stock pot.  Heat to 55 degrees F.  Add the citric acid /water solution and stir to mix, gently stir once in a while to keep the milk from scorching on the bottom of the pan..  When it reaches 90 degrees F add the rennet solution, stir to mix and continue heating until it reaches 105 degrees F.  Remove from the heat and check for curd.  When the milk has fully curdled and separated from the whey drain in a cheese cloth lined colander.
Put the drained curds in a microwave safe bowl and heat on high for 1 minute.  Remove and drain any whey and knead the curds in the bowl to distribute the heat.  This is where you need a good pair of rubber gloves.  Add the salt and return to microwave and heat for 35 seconds, drain any whey, knead, return to microwave for the 3rd time for 35 seconds.  Remove, drain, knead; at this point the cheese will be shinny and taffy like.  Knead until it is shinny and elastic, form into whatever shape you want, wrap and put in the fridge.  This will keep at least one week in the fridge. 
I remove the cheese from the covered container after 24 hours, put it in a vacuum seal bag and remove the air and put it in the freezer.  I have kept cheese in the freezer for several months without any change of flavor or consistency.  When I am ready to use it I just thaw it.

I never just make 1 gallon at a time, if I am going to make a mess in the kitchen I might as well make a big one.  The pans I use to make cheese in will hold 4 gallons each and this is usually how big of batch I make at a time.  You will need to adjust the amount of time you put it in the microwave but you will know after making it a couple of times what it should look and feel like.

Cheese patted out.

Cheese with the ham.

All rolled up and ready for the microwave.

Out of the microwave.

All rolled and ready to be wrapped.

Taste sample, it had to be done.

Ready for the fridge.

Linking this to Homestead Barn Hop.


Sunday, June 10, 2012

Berry Picking, Change of Scenery

Ron and I got up at 6:30 this morning to beat the heat and go and pick raspberries.  We picked for 2 1/2 hours and have 3 bags with 4 cups in them (pie size) and 1 bag with 3 cups.  There is about another week of raspberries and then they are done for the year.  Want to try and go at least once more and will dehydrate them to use on oatmeal or whatever.  We also relocated some of the bushes to give them a change of scenery to the back of our property.  We now have 9 starts of raspberries and 7 blackberries.  Digging their new home was horrible.  The ground back there has been packed down really good by the farmers tractor and by us when we were loading and loading things.  We got out the ax and used it do dig the holes, it was that hard.  I added some good chicken mulch and watered them in.  I am keeping my fingers crossed hoping they make it.
I also put in some late onion sets and lettuce where I pulled the garlic.  I just hate to see any bare spots not doing their job.  I pulled the rest of the spinach and feed it to the chickens, it was getting a little bitter because it has been warm out.
Tomorrow I have to bake bread; usually do it on Sunday but was just too darn tired doing everything outside.  I also have 2 gallons of milk that needs made into mozzarella cheese that I will do in the morning after I get the bread started.  I need to make some lasagna and freeze it for easy meals but just have a little flour left until we go down to the Amish store this week.  Sure hope she got her shipment in so I can get 50 lbs and also I can't make any soap until she gets more lye in.
I sat down for a couple of hours this afternoon and tied together strips of rags for some rugs.  I have lots of rags all cut up and ready to tie together.  Crocheting the rugs is the easy part, cutting, tying and winding up the rags into giant balls of material is the hard part.
Later, take care.  

Saturday, June 9, 2012


Right now we have 13 hens that are laying, we have 4 nest boxes and they all insist on using the same box.  There have been many times that 2 are in it at the same time and one or more might be waiting to use it.  The nest boxes are all the same size, have the same nesting material and are all next to each other.  It will be interesting to see what nests the 12 pullets that should start laying in August will choose.  We plan on adding 2 more nest boxes before then but with the 13 just using one, sometimes two nest boxes do we really need to?  Crazy chickens!!!!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Garlic Harvest

Just finished pulling the garlic that I planted last fall.  I've never grown garlic and I guess it's a good harvest.  I have it tied together and hung under the patio umbrella out back.  I know one thing for sure; won't be any vampires around here.  I now have a small bare spot in the garden and I think I'll put some lettuce in there for the chickens to have. 
Worked on some canning jar baskets today and have the reed cut for about 10 more.  I have a little more reed to cut but had to stop because it was pinching a nerve in my thumb and it was tingling and hurting.  Getting old is so much fun. 
Had baked breaded pork chops, lima beans and some tomatoes from the garden for supper. 
This weekend it is going to get warmer and we have a chance of rain on Monday.  We need the rain so bad, our area is almost 6 inches under the normal rain fall for the year.  We get our water from our well and I am so afraid it will run low or even worse run it dry if we don't get some rain soon. 
Later, take care. 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Raspberry Picking

Went raspberry picking for 2 1/2 hours this morning and got 16 cups, enough for 4 pies.  I bagged them 4 cups to a bag and froze them.  We saw a huge amount of berries dried up because they were not picked.  I'm surprised that no one picks them they are very visible.   Worked around the house and cut some reed to make baskets tomorrow.  Below are the jar/baskets that I am working on right now.  I know they need different garters for them but I don't have any material and wanted to see how they looked with a garter on them.  The one jar with the rag rug look is also one I made, not sure I am going to make more of that kind.  I will take them to the shop the first of the week and see what she thinks. The garter on it doesn't match at all but wanted to see how it would look. 

Basket jars I'm making, they are on a canning jar with an old zinc canning lid.

This is one I crocheted using material, with a different garter it would look nicer.

For my kids and local readers, I am looking for old potato mashers that look like this, of course without the deer antler handle.  I made a basket using one several years ago and want to make some more.  They are really unique looking but need to find some more of these.  If you find one under a dollar pick it up and I will pay you back.  Attention Gale, show Richard this and since he stops at a lot of thrift stores maybe he might be able to find some.  Thanks

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Muffin Mix Recipe

Today I started on a new craft that I saw a picture of and really liked so I sat down to try and do it myself.  You weave a basket around a quart size canning jar, make a garter like thing and then add a old 1 piece zinc canning jar lid.  I will try and post some pictures tomorrow; I made 3 of them and made 4 garters.  I purchased some zinc lids off of eBay and should have them by tomorrow and then will take them to the shop next week to sell.  I thought I had a lot more basket reed than I have but will use what I have and see how they sell before I buy some more.  I will have to keep my eyes open and look around at garage sales, not one of those things that you hardly see but will try.

In the morning I am going to pick raspberries with Renee, I will put these in the freezer to make pies with.  I am out of sugar or I would just can some raspberry pie filling.  

Here is one more of the convenience mixes I keep on hand.  I've used canned pie cherries, bananas and pineapple for the fruit and all are very good.

Muffin Mix

8 cups flour
3 cups sugar
3 tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Mix all ingredients and store in cool place, makes 11 cups Muffin Mix.

For Muffins:
2 3/4 cup Muffin Mix
1 egg, beaten
1 cup milk
1/2 cup butter or margarine melted, or 1/2 cup vegetable oil

Mix all ingredients, pour in greased muffin pans, bake 18 to 20 minutes 400 degrees.

For Peach Muffins, fold in 1 cup diced fresh peaches into the batter mix above.

For Banana Muffins, Mash 1 banana and add to batter mix above.

For Blueberry Muffins, fold in 1 cup fresh blueberries in the batter mix above.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Cheese out of the Press, Yard Work Done

Took the cheese out of the press first thing this morning and now it is sitting out and will be for several days so it can dry.  I will turn it over a couple times a day so it can dry evenly.   Went in to town to pay our property taxes that I almost forgot to pay (due today) and then came home and started the yard work.  4 1/2 hours later it is all done.  My arms are really hurting from running the weed eater.  Usually I do the mowing and my husband does the weed whacking but I figured since he works and I don't I should do it.  This is the first time in years that I have done this and all I can say is I need guards to go on my legs.  We have a lot of trim work and there is gravel on the sides of the driveway and that stuff hurts when it hits your legs.  I have at least 50 bruises on my legs now and a couple spots it broke the skin.  I watered the gardens and the trees today, I sure hope this no rain thing ends soon.  I picked 7 small tomatoes, 1 green pepper, 1 banana pepper, 3 onions and some lettuce today.  The garden despite the lack of rain is doing very good.  Last year we hardly got any peppers and so far this year I've picked 3 and it is only the 5th of June.  I have at least a dozen more peppers on my plants right now and lots of blooms.

Colby Cheese drying.

Garden pickings for the day.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Raspberry Jam and Cheddar Cheese Day

Started my day making 2 batches of Colby cheese.  The recipe for the cheese is on the link below, this stuff is so good.  In between stirring, cutting the curd and waiting I made some raspberry jam with the raspberries we picked yesterday.  I got 4 pints, 13 ea 1/2 pints and 1 pint that is in the fridge.  I also made some more butter and got 11 oz put in the freezer. 
So for lunch Brandon and I had a piece of homemade bread with fresh homemade butter and raspberry jam, OMG life doesn't get much better than that.  When thing got cleaned up I made another mess and used the rest of the berries and made a cobbler which boiled all over the oven and made biscuits and chicken a la king for supper.  Looks like I will be cleaning the oven before I can use it again, not fun.

Everything set up and ready for Brandon and I to put the jam in the jars.

Butter churn churning some cream.

The jam, the back left jar is what Brandon and I sampled for lunch.

The 2 batches of Colby in the presses.  The plastic bags on top have weights in them and I put the weights in the plastic bags to keep any dirt that might be on them off of the press.  These presses are ones my husband made me, the pans that the pvc pipes sit in have holes in the front seam so the whey can drain off.  Nothing fancy but they work perfect.  The only thing we had to purchase was the pvc pipes and found the wood at Menard's in the discount bin.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Sunday in Review

Up and out of the house before 8:30 this morning to pick raspberries.  Brandon, Ron and I started out and Renee joined us by the time we got to the second spot.  We picked a huge amount (a little over 7 lbs) and I plan on going again in a couple of days.  These bushes are along places where there once was some railroad tracks.  I also spotted a small patch of blackberries that should be ready in a month or so.  Right now the berries are in the fridge and I plan on making some raspberry jam and a raspberry cobbler tomorrow after I get the cheese started.
We separated the milk today that we got yesterday in the electric cream separator that Gale sent me.  After churning the cream into butter I see where we will need to adjust the cream setting, it is all by trial and error.  When I get the milk out to make cheese tomorrow I will try and skim some more cream from the top.  I also need to save a little of it to make a quiche for supper one night this week.  I think we will go down to get a little milk this coming weekend so we can try and get the adjustment set so I can have more butter to take to Gale when we go to Texas next month.  So far I got 1 lb and 5 oz of butter put in the freezer to take.  
Here is another time saving recipe to use, it is for Corn Bread Mix and I keep a batch of this in the fridge at all times.

Corn Bread Mix

4 cups flour
4 cups yellow cornmeal
2 cups instant nonfat dry milk or dry buttermilk powder
2/3 cup sugar
4 tablespoons baking powder
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon baking soda
Mix all ingredients and store in an airtight container.  Makes 10 cups.

For Corn Bread or Corn Muffins:
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 1/4 cup Corn Bread Mix
Mix first 3 ingredients, add Corn Bread Mix until moistened.  Pour into greased loaf pan or muffin pan and bake 20 to 25 minutes at 425 degrees.

Milk going through the separator.

Butter in the churn.

After the butter is done I put it back in the churn, add cold water and churn for 15 seconds or so to wash the buttermilk out of the butter.  You need to try to remove the most you can so it keeps longer.

Look at those delicious raspberries.

This many berries is a lot of hard work but worth it.
Butter for Gale, it is so deep yellow.  The color is so much deeper at this time of year.  In the winter when the cows don't have grasses to eat the butter is almost pure white instead of the nice yellow.