Monday, June 25, 2012

The Eggmobile, and Bocconcini with Pesto

Isn't it beautiful!  It's finally done, and in use, and I LOVE it!  The egg mobile turned out great, I threw up a bunch of roosts inside that need a bit of finish work, and was in such a hurry to get it into use I used sticks for the nest box entry, but for the most part it's awesome.  I've been moving it about every three days, I don't want so much poop to build up underneath that it kills the grass.  The chickens have been staying in the pen very nicely, we do have a hawk or two and an owl or two that like to perch in the trees and panic the chickens.  I managed to find some goslings locally that hopefully will grow up fast so I can put them out with the chickens as guardians.  I hate to loose my chickens to predators.

The first few days they laid their eggs everywhere, on the floor, in their food, out in the yard, and they broke and ate several.  This made me panic a bit, it would be awful if my chickens became egg eaters from the stress of moving, but they settled down after a couple days and are now laying 100% in the next boxes, and not eating any.  I put mats into the boxes instead of straw, and go down in the afternoon after they are done laying to gather eggs and pull down netting over the boxes so they can't roost in them.  So this has completely curtailed my egg washing chores, which is wonderful.  But I do have to walk all the way down to the bottom pasture several times a day, which is a pain, and the last time is after dark to lock them up.  Last night I forgot to lock them up, and I knew I had to move the house today.  I realized this at 2:30 this morning, so I had to get up and go down there, that wasn't much fun at all.  My plan is to train the kids to go down and shut them up, I need to work on that.  Right now I'm moving it every three days, it'd probably be better every two days but it's a bit of work, especially since the grounds so dry it's hard as rock and I have to hammer each fence post in.  Oh how I wish I had enough acreage that I could dispense with the fence.  But those stupid chickens will just come right back to the house, oh how I hate them sometimes, there are four that have been getting out and hanging out up here.  I carry them down and they are back again in minutes, I don't know what to do with them, other than wring their necks, but they are worth too much for that.

I have been craving some fresh mozzarella cheese lately, and have been too busy to make any lately.  But I finally got around to it today, I had a couple gallons of milk that was getting old and needed to be used.  I also have a wealth of basil in the garden, and fresh mozzarella and basil is just too good.  First I made one gallon's worth, then ate it all by myself, so then I made a 2nd gallon and the rest of the family shared that.   I'm not going to write out the cheese recipe, Google 30 minute mozzarella, it's super easy and the best cheese you will ever eat, well, the best fresh cheese for sure.  After the cheese was done I ran up to the garden and picked a ton of basil, which of course, when all was said and done, was only about 2 cups of leaves.  And all the ripe tomatoes I had, which wasn't very many, out of almost 50 tomato plants I'm not doing very well.  I don't know what's wrong with them.  Then I ground them up with some olive oil, supposed to be 1/2 cup, I didn't measure, about 1/2 cup of pine nuts, about 1/2 cup of Parmesan, two big cloves of garlic, and about 1/2 tsp salt.  Then I sliced up the tomatoes and pigged out.  Oh my goodness it was the yummiest thing ever, as evidenced by the fact that I ate a gallons worth of cheese...  Hmm, I'm writing this thinking about the two lonely balls of leftover cheese that's sitting in the fridge, maybe those need to be eaten right now, there might be room in my stomach by now, I haven't eaten anything it at least 10 minutes.  Oh, and I'd like to give a shout out to my friends at U Pick It Farms and say thanks for the lovely veggies, I hadn't been by there in a while and one of the boys brought me down two bags full of vegetables, tomatoes, squash, fresh herbs, banana peppers, and the most delicious carrots ever.  Since I've already eaten all the tomatoes I could find in my garden, theirs will provide a lovely addition to supper!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Our mini-vacation

Tell building a trap with his hot dog stick,
 I think he's planning on catching a deer with it
This last Sun/Mon we decided to take off and head down to Ft Smith State Park to go camping and boating and fishing, something that my kids have been begging to do for close to a year now and we've kept putting them off.  Plus it was Tell's 4th birthday, another great excuse!  I'd gone down to milking once a day last week, the dry weather and lack of grass has made the cow's production drop so much that it just wasn't worth the hassle of twice a day milking. So that helped free us up to get out of here for 24 hours.  We packed up the entire house and then some, or it seemed like it, we 
also bought a bunch of "camping food" at Aldi's, which meant splurges on junk food that we normally don't eat, marshmallows, chips, hot dogs, etc.  But Chris says it's camping and therefore okay.  We got there about 6pm Sunday, set up the tent and then headed down to the lake to paddle around and swim.  According to the signs, swimming is not allowed in the lake, but us lawbreakers did it anyway.  We just paddled to the opposite side of the lake, away from anyone who would care, and swam to our hearts content.  

The girls chased Chris around in the canoe trying to catch him, while he pushed them under with his paddle when they got close, Kayli didn't mind being dunked but Ari cried.  Toughen up girl!

Birthday boy, I made the most delicious cake ever, but of course no one took a picture of it, it was sinfully delicious, and sinfully unhealthy...  Recipe at the bottom for those of you who are in need of something sinfully delicious and unhealthy :

We found a beach type area with tons of little clam shells, the kids collected a bunch to bring home. Which are now spread out all over my porch, at least I managed to keep them outside, the last thing I need is hundreds of sandy clam shells all over my house.

There were some really neat caves in the cliff on one side of the lake, the 2nd time we went out there were a couple young buzzards hanging out, I wanted to climb up and try to find their nest but we didn't.  They were pretty easy going, we managed to get super close before they flew away.

And yes, my husband isn't so great with the camera, out of like 200 pictures, only about 10 of them are any good.  Though I am thankful he took them, if it weren't for him we probably wouldn't have had any pictures at all.

Ender enjoying his cake, I forgot to bring plates or silverware, not that the kids cared, cups and hands work just fine.  And yes, he's naked, anyone surprised?  There wasn't anyone around to care, we had that end of the campground to ourselves thankfully.

Really Good Chocolate Cake
1 3/4 cup almond flour
1/3 cup coconut flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
2/3 cup butter, softened 
2 cups plain, unsweetened yogurt
1 cup honey ( I cut it down a bit and used some stevia as well)
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
(I also totally cheated and dumped some chocolate chips in there to make it super duper good)

 Do I really need to tell you how to put it together?  Throw it all into a bowl, mix it up, grease up a 9x13 dish or whatever, dump in the cake batter, stick it in the oven on 350 or whatever, cook til done.  Around 30 minutes if you are so disciplined as to set a timer.

Cream Cheese Coffee Icing
Two packages cream cheese
Honey and stevia to taste
couple teaspoons instant coffee

Mix it all up and spread it on top of the cake once it cools off.  I like coffee icing on a chocolate cake, it's just so good.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Yummy food, Squash, and Geese

Well, life has just been too busy, or rather, as most of you know, I'm pregnant and therefore most of what I do is lie on the couch moaning about how crappy I feel, and then getting up to rush through what I have to do so I can get back to the couch.  I'm feeling a bit sorry for myself, not that I have any real reason to, I know people who have much harder pregnancies than me and deal with it much better, but it's my pity party and I can cry if I want to!  Anyways, after not cooking my husband supper last night and feeling awful about it, I forced myself to get a decent meal cooked today.  I picked a couple absolutely beautiful yellow squash from the garden today, that brightened my day quite a bit, I'm so in love with my garden, I just wish I didn't feel so sick when it comes to food.  Right now vegetables are on my "do not talk about or I will vomit" list.  But I love squash pie, that's not really a vegetable dish so I'm making it.  I usually make it like a lemon custard, but after scouring my cupboards and not finding any lemon extract, I found another recipe, for a Squash Coconut Custard.  Sounds good!  I'm also having absolutely horrible carb cravings, so instead of making a healthy grain free meal as usual, I decided to make a cornbread.  My husband loves cornbread and has been asking for some for a while, so no time like the present!  It's only got 1 cup of cornmeal, and tons of other yummy stuff to make it healthy, so I won't give myself a hard time about it.  I also whipped up some Heavenly Eggs, (Deviled Eggs, for the unenlightened) to add a bit of protein to the meal.  Yes, I know, that's quite a strange mix of foods for a supper, but I'm weird like that.  Who cares if they go well together, as long as it's all yummy that's all that matters.

First I made a crust, I usually don't bother with crusts for custard but I figured, why not go all out.  I just mixed 2 cups almond flour with 2 tbs coconut oil and an egg, pressed it out in a bowl, and threw it in my preheating oven til it was pretty and golden.

Then I chopped up the two squash, threw them in a pot with a bit of water to steam for about 5 minutes until soft. Then put it in the blender with the rest of the ingredients and blend until super smooth.

Finished product, and it was yummy, though I ate so much of the Heavenly Eggs and cornbread that I couldn't eat much of it, oh well, it'll make a good breakfast.  I completely forgot, again, to take a pic of the cornbread, take my word for it, it looked good and tasted better.  I had several servings it was so good.

On the farm side of things, I let the goslings out of their pen today, the garden is fenced to keep out chickens, so I figure it'll keep the goslings in and safe, I think they are big enough that the cat's won't think they're edible, or at least I hope.  They have been doing such a good job of eating weeds wherever I've moved their pen, I've had to move it three times a day to keep them fresh greens.  I've not raised geese before and I read that after 6 weeks they can forage for 100% of their food, that's awesome!   After having chickens which eat a ton, this will be a nice break for my feed bill.  Not that they will really produce anything, but I've hopes that they will protect the chickens from the huge owl and hawks that keep hanging around my chicken pen.  Actually, I guess they will produce more goslings hopefully next year, that'll be fun :)

 And then I've just got to show off my squash, this has been a wonderful year for squash for me, I don't know if normal people's squash are this good, but to me this is amazing.  My plants are huge, and loaded with squash, there are 5 yellow squash of differing sizes on this plant, and I already picked one off this morning, plus tons more blooms.  I'm so excited :)  Last year my squash were devastated by Vine Borers and millions of Squash Beetles, I probably got two squash out of 10 plants.  I even bought a Shop Vac and spent hours vacuuming up beetles off my plants, I filled that vac
up several times with bugs, it was ridiculous.  So far this year I've only seen a few, those *((*&^$# bugs had better stay the heck away from my garden.

And then I just had to show off my cute little pumpkin, this is the first year I've planted pumpkins and I'm so excited.  I sure hope they turn out well, I love pumpkin pie, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin smoothies, pumpkin custard, pumpkin pancakes, um, basically pumpkin anything, though the pumpkin soup I made once was just okay.  Chris really liked it though.

Mexican Cornbread
2 eggs
1/4 cup coconut oil or butter
1 cup buttermilk or yogurt
1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
1 (8 ounce) can cream-style corn (8 oz can? What's that?  I used a regular 14 oz can)
1 large onion, chopped
2 fresh jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced ( I used a can of chili's as my jalepeno's aren't big enough yet)
1 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup almond flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8 inch square baking dish or a cast iron skillet.
In a small bowl, beat eggs. Mix in butter and buttermilk. Stir in 1 cup shredded cheese, creamed corn, onion, and jalapenos.
In a large bowl, whisk together cornmeal, flour, baking powder, soda, and salt. Stir the egg mixture into the dry ingredients. Mix well. Pour batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup cheese on top.
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until center is set and top is golden brown.

Coconut Squash Custard
1 cup chopped squash, I use yellow, if you use zucchini I'd peel it or the kids will probably flip
1 cup flaked coconut, divided
1/3 cup sucanat or honey
Stevia to taste ( I didn't add this and it's pretty much sweet enough, though it wouldn't hurt to be a bit sweeter)
1 1/2 cups milk
3 eggs (next time I'm going to put in a couple more, it was a little soggy)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pinch salt
1 pie crust (optional)
1 pinch ground nutmeg

Heat 1 inch of water to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add zucchini, cover, and steam until softened, about 5 minutes.
In a blender or food processor, blend the cooked zucchini, 3/4 cup coconut, sugar, milk, eggs, vanilla extract, and salt until smooth. Pour into the pie crust, and sprinkle with remaining coconut and nutmeg.
Bake at 350 degrees F for about an hour, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Blueberry Coffecake and Cheesy Surprises

I woke up with energy this morning, and was tired of the same ol same ol for breakfast, the kids whine when I make plain old eggs, all they want is pancakes or waffles.  And of course that gets old after a while, for me at least.  And since I've got 8 gallons of blueberries in the freezer from our blueberry expedition last week, and no I didn't blog about it, shame on me...  And since my kids are still in bed so I've got the time, woohoo!  I made blueberry coffeecake.  It was fun, I got to lick the honey spoon all by myself, plus the spatula, and got to eat several spoonfuls of batter without sharing, I'm having the time of my life here!  I highly recommend if you have kids that are awake to double this recipe, because they're going to want to eat batter, it's sooooo good, actually just double it anyway, leftovers are great.

Blueberry Coffeecake
1/2 cup almond flour
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup cream/coconut milk/milk/yogurt/whatever milky like substance you feel like using
1/4 cup honey
Stevia to taste
4 eggs
1 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Baking Soda
1/4 tsp salt

Mix all of the above, you can do the proper thing and mix dry and wet separately, I never do and it always turns out fine.  Then put in a preheated oven, or not, if you're like me and forget, at 350 for 30-40 minutes til done.

And so, I completely forgot about taking a picture til I was on the last bite, and instead of getting up and getting the camera to document this momentous occasion, I just said "screw it" and ate it down.

But I do have pictures of the next part of this post, I decided, since I have lots of Zucchini, to make our favorite Cheesy Surprises.  This was a term my husband coined last year to get the picky kids to eat squash, I've since improved on the recipe and it's oh so yummy.

Cheesy Surprises
1 cup Almond Flour
1 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
2 tsp Garlic Powder
2 tsp dried Onion Flakes (I love those things!)
Salt to taste

Mix all this in a bowl

Then beat 4 eggs, and slice up a bunch of zucchini, I cut them in half and then slice each half into big pieces, you can slice them into cute little circles, but that takes way more time and I'm all about time saving.  Then dip the slices into the egg, then into the flour mixture, then spread them out on parchment paper on a baking pan.

If you don't have parchment paper go out and buy some now, you cannot live without it.  I lived, barely, without it for many years, I only discovered it in the last year or two, and it's absolutely amazing.  I reuse mine several times, I buy mine from Azure Standard and it's not bleached or anything and it's also compostable.
Then throw it in the oven for a while, until they look done.  I'm not sure how long, I'm guessing 20 minutes or so at 350.

The thinner ones get super crispy and can be eaten like chips, I think I prefer the thicker ones though, the thin ones were a bit dry.  I may go with more Parmesan and less almond flour next time to see if I can remedy that.

We also cooked up some Tilapia in butter with a bit of Tony Sacheries (sp?) Yum, I know it's not a very nutritious fish, but I can't really handle Salmon, too fishy :(  I figure bland fish is better than no fish at all.