Sunday, November 28, 2010

Miss me?

Long time no see, lol :) I have missed you guys, we have been swamped trying to get ready for winter. [WARNING: THIS POST IS A BIT OF A RAMBLE :) ] The great clothing switch out is finally over, the chickens are butchered (I even made some chicken breakfast sausage, yum!) Thanksgiving was a challenge until we found the awesome Oster Extra Large Convection Toaster oven (not a paid advertisement), it is deceptively small looking in the store but after much deliberation and many pans being inserted in the display model, we got it. It's about the size of a microwave so it's not tiny but it is great. It holds the really large lasagna pan with some room on each side and cooks evenly. Kansas mom brought us a delicious baked mac and cheese (it is very similar to my macaroni pie) that was a great addition to our Thanksgiving dinner. I found a terrific meat grinder for $5, I made the chicken sausage and then did ground sirloin for the Thanksgiving stuffing. The stuffing was delicious, but boy did I have doubts that it would turn out right. The night before I began working on some Black cake (think + rum fruit cake and lots more rum, lol), preparations, I cut up the fruit and got it soaking in a bottle of rum and cherry brandy. I completely spaced and allowed IL to have the left over raisins, forgetting that I would need them for stuffing. DH and I had discussed the menu and I asked about olives and he assured me that we had a jar, turns out there was all of 6 in said jar. So I was cutting up the handful of raisins that IL left and the 6 olives to put in the stuffing on Thanksgiving day as I hadn't gotten to it the night before. Not being a fan of turkey we had a nice fat chicken and no one even noticed that I forgot to put out the cranberry sauce :). Hmmm, what else have you missed . . . oh, now that we don't have pigs the layers are in their glee as they are the recipients of all the produce. Though the cows do like the cabbage leaves an such, the girls are doing well and have fattened up rather nicely for the winter. I am really glad we found a new hay guy, I prefer the quality of this hay over last couple years. It's not as cheap and we don't have a way to buy in bulk (his bales are HUGE, there is no way we could push them around), but the girls are MUCH happier. All the kids are doing well, they are super excited for Christmas (Go figure). The baby is getting big and I think he recognizes me, he even smiles at me :) Oh, thanks for all who have been praying for my mom, she did wonderfully and is recovering very well. How could I forget, we took the kids fishing this week. Now, we didn't catch anything but I don't think that's the point of the exercise :) They had a blast and we had a great bon fire after so they could make real s'mores. Now it wasn't quite what they had in mind, they were hoping to have the full camping experience but 20 degrees seemed a bit too cold to sleep outside, especially for a first time camping trip. We will continue to collect camping stuff as we find them and get ready to go in the spring. Fortunately we don't have to go but a couple miles to be in the woods, lol and a friend owns a great property over by the river that he maintains much like a camp ground. We didn't fish there as we could find any great places to take the kids down safely but we found the park off the old highway in our used to be city and it was perfect, though I think the mini waterfall may scare away the fish. It was really great to finally find it though, I had been hearing about it for sometime and never new where it was. Well that's all I've got for now, DH has a few new irons in the fire, keep us in prayer as we try to see where He is leading :) Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving. Oh and here are a few (actually quite a few really) pics :) Enjoy.

It was this big, honest. lol :) No fishing trip is complete without a one that got away story :)

Ever peal a raw egg?

AR was thrilled to see what the egg looked like minus the shell for his science experiment :)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Scratch & Dent Dreams--Slam Poetry

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Twenty Healthiest Foods for Under $1 By: Brie Cadman

Food prices are climbing, and some might be looking to fast foods and packaged foods for their cheap bites. But low cost doesn’t have to mean low quality. In fact, some of the most inexpensive things you can buy are the best things for you. At the grocery store, getting the most nutrition for the least amount of money means hanging out on the peripheries—near the fruits and veggies, the meat and dairy, and the bulk grains—while avoiding the expensive packaged interior. By doing so, not only will your kitchen be stocked with excellent foods, your wallet won’t be empty.

1. Oats
High in fiber and complex carbohydrates, oats have also been shown to lower cholesterol. And they sure are cheap—a dollar will buy you more than a week’s worth of hearty breakfasts.

Serving suggestions: Sprinkle with nuts and fruit in the morning, make oatmeal cookies for dessert.

2. Eggs
You can get about a half dozen of eggs for a dollar, making them one of the cheapest and most versatile sources of protein. They are also a good source of the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, which may ward off age-related eye problems.

Serving suggestions: Huevos rancheros for breakfast, egg salad sandwiches for lunch, and frittatas for dinner.

3. Kale
This dark, leafy green is loaded with vitamin C, carotenoids, and calcium. Like most greens, it is usually a dollar a bunch.

Serving suggestions: Chop up some kale and add to your favorite stir-fry; try German-Style Kale or traditional Irish Colcannon.

4. Potatoes
Because we often see potatoes at their unhealthiest—as fries or chips—we don’t think of them as nutritious, but they definitely are. Eaten with the skin on, potatoes contain almost half a day’s worth of Vitamin C, and are a good source of potassium. If you opt for sweet potatoes or yams, you’ll also get a good wallop of beta carotene. Plus, they’re dirt cheap and have almost endless culinary possibilities.

Serving suggestions: In the a.m., try Easy Breakfast Potatoes; for lunch, make potato salad; for dinner, have them with sour cream and chives.

5. Apples
I’m fond of apples because they’re inexpensive, easy to find, come in portion-controlled packaging, and taste good. They are a good source of pectin—a fiber that may help reduce cholesterol—and they have the antioxidant Vitamin C, which keeps your blood vessels healthy.

Serving suggestions: Plain; as applesauce; or in baked goods like Pumpkin-Apple Breakfast Bread.

6. Nuts
Though nuts have a high fat content, they’re packed with the good-for-you fats—unsaturated and monounsaturated. They’re also good sources of essential fatty acids, Vitamin E, and protein. And because they’re so nutrient-dense, you only need to eat a little to get the nutritional benefits. Although some nuts, like pecans and macadamias, can be costly, peanuts, walnuts, and almonds, especially when bought in the shell, are low in cost.

Serving suggestions: Raw; roasted and salted; sprinkled in salads.

7. Bananas
At a local Trader Joe’s, I found bananas for about 19¢ apiece; a dollar gets you a banana a day for the workweek. High in potassium and fiber (9 grams for one), bananas are a no-brainer when it comes to eating your five a day quotient of fruits and veggies.

Serving suggestions: In smoothies, by themselves, in cereal and yogurt.

8. Garbanzo Beans
With beans, you’re getting your money’s worth and then some. Not only are they a great source of protein and fiber, but ’bonzos are also high in fiber, iron, folate, and manganese, and may help reduce cholesterol levels. And if you don’t like one type, try another—black, lima, lentils … the varieties are endless. Though they require soaking and cooking, the most inexpensive way to purchase these beans is in dried form; a precooked can will still only run you around a buck.

Serving suggestions: In salads, curries, and Orange Hummus.

9. Broccoli
Broccoli contains tons of nice nutrients—calcium, vitamins A and C, potassium, folate, and fiber. As if that isn’t enough, broccoli is also packed with phytonutrients, compounds that may help prevent heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers. Plus, it’s low in calories and cost.

Serving suggestions: Throw it in salads, stir fries, or served as an accompaniment to meat in this Steamed Ginger Chicken with Asian Greens recipe.

Read More Here

Friday, November 5, 2010

Taking the hogs to market

There is a lot of preparation that goes into taking hogs to market, for one thing how to get them into the trailer without much fuss. For those of you that have been reading my blog for a while you may remember our adventure with this last year. This time we didn't just have one to get in but several. I was not up for that battle again, nor was dh. So this time we started working out the plan and discussing it at night before bed. For months we discussed the logistics of each idea, pigs aren't like cows and will not walk a given path without a fuss. In fact, the minute they discover that you're moving them in a certain direction they make it their business to go in the opposite one, they are smart little guys.

One night, during one of my pregnancy induced insomnia, it hit me; why not back the trailer up to the back doors and just let them walk in? It sounded so simple and logical, it was crazy enough that it might just work. Now the thing about planning is that sometimes you need to be at a site to make the plan and sometimes being there limits the possibilities that you can see. In this case it was a bit of both. In the past we had tried several different ideas to get the pigs loaded, they all failed, but we were trying to plan on site and couldn't see any other way. This time we weren't there and the possibilities seemed much better.

Like all good plans, things will need to be tweaked once you begin to implement it. So the plan was to get the trailer backed up to the doors, then distract them with food and open the trailer door inside the barn, to make for easy closing. We would lure them in with more food. Well we got out there and finally got the trailer backed up to the doors but there was no way to swing open the door inside the barn as planned. Thankfully, we took the time to walk through the plan on site rather than flying by the seat of our pants (see we're learning). Dh decided that the best coarse would be to get the center gate off and let them walk through it, not a bad idea except that get the gate on and off is difficult because it is rusted and a bit warped. It wasn't perfect but it would have to work because this was the best plan we had.

Dh pounded on the gate to get the rust loose and finally pried the gate off. We opted not to move the t-post in front of the barn door. He opened one of the barn doors and it was clear that the t-post needed to move so he pulled on it (bending the post, gosh is he strong) giving them a clear path into the trailer. I stood in the opposite space keeping them from straying and AR was at the front throwing in the day produce. As I said, it seemed so crazy it just might work, and it did. They munched happily while dh and I worked on getting the center gate back in place, it took a little effort but it went in. :) They pushed on the door for a bit and then went back to eating.

This morning the little darlings went to market and will be in their new freezer homes in 2 weeks. Now begins our search once more to find new piglets, we hope to eventually have 2 litters go to market each year but for now we keep growing and learning. The farm will be awfully quiet now that the pigs are gone.

In other news: JM is doing very well and has gotten each of his siblings wrapped around his tiny little fingers. AR is a teenager now and was blessed to have 2 celebrations for his big day. HG is counting down to her birthday this weekend, she is getting to be such a little lady. If you remember please keep my mom in your prayers as she goes in for surgery next week. She is so far away . . . it is hard not to worry. :( We hope to see her soon. Well, that's all for now, check back soon for changes and updates :)

*Photo credit: Thanks to Sugar mountain farm for a great comprehensive pork cut chart. :)