Tuesday, January 28, 2014

A Cup Of Cofftea Anyone?

People often drink either tea or coffee, but for some reason, most people never think of mixing them. My brother came up with a mix that many in our family like. It's like some enriched form of tea that tastes more like coffee. It can be altered by adding some cocoa, vanilla, and/or milk.
1 mug of hot water
1 bag black tea
1 teaspoonful of instant coffee
1 teaspoon of sugar (or to taste)

 If you're thinking that you'd like a change in hot drinks, try it! Otherwise, it's just a little from our corner of the world. 

Monday, January 27, 2014

Quick & Easy Hummus

Today I made this humus and served it with Flax & Rice Crackers.

  • 1 16 oz. can garbanzo beans, drained (reserve juice)
  • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons tahini
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon minced garlic
  • ¾ teaspoon cumin
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • cayenne pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup reserved juice from can
Blend all in a food processor until smooth. Adjust seasonings to taste. Enjoy!

I shared this on some of my favorite blog hops.

Flax & Rice Crackers (Gluten Free)

Different grains all have different nutrients, and it's good to eat a variety of them. Usually we end up eating more wheat products than other grains, so today I made these crackers out of rice and flax. They are great with hummus.

  • 3 cups brown rice flour
  • ½ cup golden flaxseed meal
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup plus 2-3 tablespoons almond milk (you can use regular milk)
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large bowl, mix dry ingredients together. Add almond milk, honey, and olive oil. Knead for a few minutes, until dough is smooth. Roll out thinly on a lightly oiled surface. Cut into squares. Prick crackers with a fork. 

Place on ungreased baking sheets. Bake for 20-30 minutes, until crisp and slightly golden.  

I shared this on some of my favorite blog hops

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Blueberry-Banana Smoothie

Use reserved pineapple juice from Pineapple Muffins in this easy smoothie.

Place 1 cup pineapple juice, 1 banana and 10 oz. of frozen blueberries in a blender. Blend until smooth. Serves 2-3.

Pineapple Muffins

Today I made these moist and delicious pineapple muffins. I added a tablespoon of chia seeds for an added nutritional boost, but they're optional. The reserved pineapple juice we used in a blueberry-banana smoothie. 

  • 2 sticks softened butter
  • 1 ½ cups brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 20 oz. can pineapple chunks, drained (reserve juice for smoothies)
  • 1 20 oz. can crushed pineapple
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds (optional)
  • 2 cups oats
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon of baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt (optional if you want to cut back on salt)
  • 3 cups whole wheat flour

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Blend butter and sugar in a large bowl. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Dice pineapple chunks, add to mixture. Then add the crushed pineapple, (don't drain it). Stir in the remaining ingredients. Grease 2 (12-count) muffin tins. Divide batter among the muffin tins. Bake for 20-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Enjoy!  

I linked this up to some of my favorite blog hops

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

How Do You Like This Office? - (Basically) Wordless Wednesdays

On the homestead, our house was quaintly nestled in a valley. Or a holler, as they say in Tennessee. With all the beautiful hills around, however, cell phone connection didn't really come our way. Which meant that if our phone (and dial-up internet) connection went out, we had to climb up a hill to get cell phone reception. One morning, our connection went out and my father had to climb a hill to work on our farm Facebook page and website. Though it wasn't too convenient, he had a beautiful view! 
Have you ever had to climb hills to get to your office? If not, what is the view from your office? 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Oat Crackers

These honey-sweetened oat crackers are really good with chicken salad and for just snacking on.

  • 1 cup olive oil
  • ½ cup honey
  • cup water
  • 2 ½ cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. In a medium bowl, mix together the dry ingredients. Stir in olive oil, honey, and water. Mix to form dough. 

Turn out onto a floured surface.

Roll out.

Cut into squares. I use a pizza cutter because it is the quickest.

Using a metal spatula, place crackers on flour-sprinkled baking sheets. Bake for 10-15 minutes. 

Eat a few while warm! Then place them in a bag or airtight container for storing. These probably would be best eaten within one week, but I'm sure nothing would be wrong with them if you use them later than that. However, even though I usually make a double batch, we still have never had them around for that long

I linked this post to some of my favorite blog hops

Sunday, January 19, 2014

At The Water Mill - Grinding Grain

On the homestead, we usually ground our flour in our own solar-powered grain grinders. However, when we first moved to the farm, we used the water mill down the road. I myself never went, but my mother and some of my siblings did. (I was busy when they went so I couldn't go) I talked with them today about it and I wrote this from their point of view.
We didn't have a chance to take any pictures of the water wheel because we didn't have a camera at the time. Therefore, I'm just including a picture of our homestead to give you an idea of the nearby scenery.

Down the gravel road, up hills, through woods, and past ponds and creeks, we went to the water mill that was a mile from our house. Yes, a real water mill, in use. We walked into the small barn carrying buckets of spelt. Looking out the window, we could see the spring-fed pond and dam on one side of the water wheel and a creek on the other side. There were gears and belts that could snag a finger or pull someone in, so we had to be careful. Very careful.

We poured grain into the hopper and pulled the steal lever that opened the dam. Water rushed down and propelled the water wheel. Splish, splash. The wheel turned and the water flowed into the creek that ran through the woods. It was truly picturesque.

The water wheel turned gears that were attached to two huge belts. Those belts were hooked to the stone mill and turned the shaft. Meanwhile, the stones began to grind the wheat. Soon flour began to slowly pour out of the stones into the five-gallon bucket beneath them. The first little bit of flour was dumped out, this was to clean the stones before they ground the flour that we would use.

Outdoors the water flowed and the wheel turned, inside the flour flowed and the stones turned. After all our spelt was ground we returned the dam into its place. As we left the mill, the pond began to rise again. And we had a lot of bread to bake...

Friday, January 17, 2014

Alfredo Sauce

We often make this as an alternative to cream-cheese based Alfredo sauce. We only had yellow shredded cheese when I made this today, so the sauce is a little yellow. When we had this for lunch, one of my sisters asked me if I wrote down the recipe so that we could make it this way exactly again. Well, I'm glad that (surprisingly) I did! 
  • 1 ½ sticks butter.
  • ¼ cup flour (I use whole wheat)
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • dash black pepper
  • 4 cups milk
  • 3 cups shredded cheese

Melt butter in a pan. Add flour and simmer over medium-high heat for one minute, stirring the whole time. Add spices. Stir in milk. Bring to a simmer, stirring often. Add cheese. Mix well and continue simmering until cheese is melted and sauce is thickened. Add more milk if it seems too thick. Serve on hot pasta and enjoy!  

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Apple-Cinnamon Bread

  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla (you can do less if you don't want to use that much)
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup oats
  • 3 ½ cups whole wheat flour
  • 4 medium apples, chopped

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large bowl, mix ingredients together (in order). Pour into two bread pans. Bake for 40-50 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Homemade Pizza

  • 2 cups warm water
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tablespoon yeast
  • 4 ½ – 5 cups whole wheat flour
In a large bowl, mix the water, olive oil, honey salt, yeast, and 3 cups flour. Knead in remaining flour. The dough should be fairly soft, I only used 4 ½ cups of flour, but you might need to use more. Knead for 2-3 minutes. Let rise one hour.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Divide the dough into four pieces. Roll each piece into a 16-17 inch diameter circle. Place on baking sheets and prick with a fork.

Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes. Top with sauce, cheese, and toppings of choice. Bake each pizza another 15-20 minutes, until the cheese is golden and bubbly.

Pizza Sauce:

  • 6-7 cups tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon minced garlic

Mix all ingredients and use on pizza.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Whole Wheat Cheesy Rolls

  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 ½ tablespoon yeast
  • ½ cup milk
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • ½ tablespoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 blocks cream cheese
  • 1 cup shredded cheese
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • dash black pepper
  • dash paprika

Dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water; let rest for five minutes and then pour into a large bowl. Add remaining dough ingredients. Mix until no longer able to. Then knead for 3-5 minutes. Cover and leave to rise for one hour. Mix filling. After the dough is risen, cut it into halves. Roll out each half into a large rectangle. Spread half the filling on one rectangle.

Roll up dough. 

Cut slices one inch thick. Place on a greased baking sheet. Repeat with remaining rectangle. Let rise for 45 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Homemade Creamy Salad Dressing

This creamy ranch-style dressing is really easy to make!

  • ½ cup mayonnaise (homemade!)
  • 1 tablespoon each: honey and apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons each: olive oil and lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoon dried basil
  • ¼ teaspoon oregano

Mix all ingredients in a small bowl or cup measure. Cover and refrigerate until serving. Makes about ¾ cup.

Salad makes me think of summer and fresh vegetables... Here is a picture of one of the produce boxes we used to sell on our certified organic farm! 

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Snow's Falling, Plants Are Growing

January is usually considered the most wintery of all months. Coldest temperatures and highest snowfalls almost always take place during this time. But although the outdoor weather plummets, it is time to begin planing for the soon coming growing season. When we lived on the farm, January was a month filled with seed-ordering and even plant starting.

The cold wind blew as snowflakes softly fell. Inside the greenhouse, wood-stoves radiated heat, bringing the temperature up to the 70s. We were busy mixing potting soil and preparing to start plants. Excitement filled the air as we made soil-blocks and placed them onto our homemade wooden flats. Then we tediously put a few seeds into each soil-block. Although after a while our backs got sore from bending over, it still was always a fun and enjoyable time.

Our greenhouse was divided into two sections. The first section's dimensions were 30x12 feet and was lined with around 150 square feet of growing tables. It was heated by a nice barrel stove that my older brothers made. The second section was for our early tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers, as well as some winter lettuce for our family. This 30x36 foot area was heated by a further two barrel stoves, one of them we bought from a neighbor and the other was homemade.

Every day my brother kept the wood-stoves stocked and the plants watered, even rising one to two times a night to keep the stoves going. The hard work payed off and the seeds soon began sprouting, peaking above the soil and climbing upward. Yes, there's a lot of work. But it's worth it.

By the way; my older brothers built our greenhouse with timber that they felled. Here is a link to a video of them building it:  http://homesteadinthehillsoftennessee.blogspot.com/2013/12/greenhouse-video.html

Monday, January 6, 2014

Whole Wheat Crescent Rolls

Today I made these crescent rolls for lunch with salad and cottage cheese.

  • 1 ½ cups milk
  • 3 sticks butter (cold)
  • 2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 ½ tablespoons yeast
  • ¾ cup warm water
  • 1 egg
  • 4 cups flour (I use whole wheat)
Heat milk, one stick butter, salt, and two tablespoons sugar in a saucepan until steamy. Meanwhile, mix yeast, one tablespoon sugar, and warm water in a small bowl. Set aside. Pour the warm milk mixture into a large bowl. Stir in two cups flour. Add the yeast mixture and egg. Then mix in the rest of the flour.
Thinly slice half a stick of cold butter and place the slices on the top of the dough. Fold the dough in half, pat down, and slice the other half stick of butter onto it. Then fold the dough over the butter again, and pat down. Repeat with the other stick of butter.
Let rise for 2-3 hours in the refrigerator. You could also leave it in the refrigerator overnight and bake them the next day.
On a buttered surface, roll dough out into a rectangle, fold in half and roll out again. Repeat this 8-10 times. Then cut the dough in half and roll each half into an 16 inch diameter circle. 

Cut each circle into eight wedges. Roll up each wedge.

Place them on greased baking sheets and let rise for 45 minutes.

After 30 of those minutes are over, turn on oven to 400 degrees to preheat. When crescents are done rising, place in oven and bake for 25-35 minutes, until golden.  

Friday, January 3, 2014

How To Make Sauerkraut In A Crock

Fresh, raw sauerkraut is one of those things that are really healthy...and tastes good too! Some people say it's good to have a small portion of sauerkraut at every meal. We've made lots of sauerkraut in our lives and yesterday we made some more.

Step 1: Shred cabbage. A food processor makes this task easier.

Step 2: Add around 1 tbsp salt per head of cabbage, perhaps just a touch less.

Step 3: Mix cabbage and salt thoroughly in a very large bowl. (Or do two batches in a smaller one)

Step 4: Let the cabbage rest for around 10-15 minutes with the salt mixed in.

Step 5: Pound the cabbage with a meat hammer until it gets really juicy.

Step 5: Pack the cabbage into your crock. Pour in the liquid too!

Step 6: Pound and push the cabbage down with your fists until the cabbage is covered with juice.

Step 7: Put the stone weights on the cabbage. (If your crock has stone weights.)

Step 8: Make sure the cabbage juice covers the stones. Then place the cover on and fill the well with water. (Don't put water in the cabbage, you put water in the well to create an airtight seal with the lid)

Step 9: Leave the sauerkraut for 4 weeks. DON'T check it before then – it'll mold if you open the lid (one of my aunts did that). Once a week refill the well with water, it evaporates some. 

Step 10: Pack the sauerkraut into jars and refrigerate. Wash the crock. Then soak the stones in vinegar for around an hour so they won't mold.  

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Dehydrating Apples On A Wood-Stove

When we bought boxes and boxes of apples we liked to dry some on our wood-stove. If we were cooking something and the stove needed to be really hot we'd take the apples off and then put them back on the wood-stove when we were done. 

How to do it:

Core, peel, and slice apples. (we did this with a hand-cranked gadget) Coat the apple slices with lemon juice if you don't want them to brown. Arrange the apple slices on cookie sheets. Then lay some stainless steel table knives on your wood-stove. Although nothing seemed to happen to our knives, you might not want to use your best silverware. Place the baking sheets on the knives and let the apples dry! Turn the apples once in a while, maybe 2-3 times total. On a side note; you might not want to dry your apples directly over the fire-box, as that might be too hot. Have fun!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

An Interview With The "Chicken Man"

Today I did an interview with my younger brother who we nicknamed "the chicken man". He was in charge of our family's 100 laying hens. He has a great sense of humor and on the farm always either wore a Jonsered chainsaw cap or an American Poultry Association cap.

Q: What was your favorite part of taking care of chickens? A: Graphing egg production

Q: What did you have to do to take care of the chickens? A: Feed and water the chickens, check to make sure they have enough minerals, collect eggs, wash eggs, close and open the chick coop, flip the hay once a week, and change the hay around once every six months.

Q: What was your funniest chicken experience? A: When a chicken got stuck in a fly trap.

Q: What was the hardest part of taking care of chickens? A: Taking the chickens' water container's top off and carrying the watering container when it was filled with water.

Q: Were you a member of any chicken-raiser's group? A: I was a member of the American Poultry Association.

Q: What was the average number of eggs you collected daily? A: 60

Q: What was the smallest egg you've ever collected? A: The size of a robin egg.

Q: What's the most unique egg you've ever found? A: A fossilized egg under an old chicken coop.

Q: Did you ever have any certification for your eggs? A: Our eggs were certified naturally grown.

Q: What's your favorite kind of laying hen? A: Production Reds

Q: What did you feed your chickens? A: Our own mix of freshly ground certified organic wheat, oats, corn, soybeans, and a few added minerals

Q: Did you need a permit to sell eggs? If so, what does that entail? A: Yes, we needed a permit. Our facilities were inspected and we had to wash the eggs in bleach-water

Q: What would you like to tell your readers before we close? A: Thank you for reading and have a wonderful 2014!