Monday, January 30, 2012

Changing Me

Church yesterday was AWESOME!!!! We had our normal Sunday morning service and then we had a 5th Sunday Service that night that included people from other local Methodist churches and a guest pastor. Don't get me wrong. I LOVE our pastor! He is very inspirational and he doesn't mind tackling the hard issues. I look forward to church every single Sunday. Sometimes, though, it is nice to get a different perspective, a different style. Last night's service was that and so much more! I came away from it with so many questions that I really needed to ask myself. There wasn't a dry eye in the congregation at the end and I could really feel Jesus in that place right at that moment. All the things that were talked about in the morning service and evening service were still swirling around in my head when I turned on my computer and checked out one of my favorite blogs and read what she had to say. Lo and behold, she was talking about one of the very things that had been weighing on my mind. Some of the points she made were almost word for word what I have been thinking. You can read her blog here. I have this same problem and it has really been bugging my lately. I always complain that I can't 'hear' God talking to me. Truth is, He does. I am just ignoring Him. Not exactly intentionally but ignoring Him nonetheless. When I hear about someone in need, I often feel moved to help out in some way but the execution of that help is rarely successful. Most times I wait so long to do anything that I forget about it. For example, the Headmistress (and member of my church) at my kids old school was recently hospitalized and had to have surgery. I felt prompted to send her a note letting her know that we were praying for a speedy recovery for her. Did I do it? No. Why? Well, THAT would be the question I need to answer. Why do I feel compelled to do something, yet don't do it? I always feel awful when I remember that I 'forgot' to do something but it doesn't seem to change the fact that I still don't do it. Our preacher has been doing a series on Becoming Who We Need To Be. Problem is, I don't know who I should be. What I do know is that there are things I don't like about the person I already am. Maybe the first step in becoming who I should be is getting rid of all I don't want to be. Hmmm. Food for thought.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Change....(No not THAT one)

I have come to an important realization in my life. Before I elaborate on this realization, I need to give you a little background. I grew up in a little town next to a big city in SW Florida. We weren't really outdoor people unless you are talking about being in the pool or at the beach. I never knew a person who hunted and only one or two that fished. My food all came from Publix. My meat came from the Publix butcher who wore a white lab coat and a white paper hat. He always smiled too. The meat was on styrofoam trays wrapped in plastic and I never questioned this set up. Fast forward to my early 20's and into my life comes my wonderful husband who, I am not sure how I missed this, hunted and fished his whole life! He actually shot animals and ate them! WHAT????? No, no, no. That is not how I did things so, after we were married, our meat came from Publix, on styrofoam and wrapped in plastic. When money got tight, our meat still came wrapped in plastic but the name "Walmart" mysteriously appeared on it. Fast forward again (hope no one is getting motion sickness) to a couple of years ago. We had moved from 'city' Florida to 'country' Georgia in 2005 and hubby decided that we needed to get back to the basics so he began serious hunting to fill our freezer and feed us. I humored him. I agreed that from October to January, I would be a hunting widow. Mainly because it put me in charge of the remote quite a bit more often! Then the WIERDEST thing happened. I don't know when the change happened but happen it did. Here comes my big revelation....I actually prefer the meat harvested from our own property. I still get grossed out when I catch a glimpse of hubby processing a hog or deer but I have made peace with the actual eating of that animal. Me! Little miss styrofoam and plastic. I knew the change was complete and permanent when I asked hubby if he would mind butchering chickens. He looked at me and said " Honey, just because your hens aren't laying a lot of eggs right now doesn't mean we need to kill them." I explained to him that I wasn't about to eat my 'girls'. I want to raise meat chickens. The look on his face was priceless!!! Like he just couldn't comprehend those words coming out of my mouth. His response? "I don't mind at all". What a guy! I have now decided that I don't ever want to buy meat from a grocery store again! It truly scares me. Have you ever seen those documentaries on slaughterhouses? THAT is what grocery stores carry. THAT is what was on styrofoam and wrapped in plastic. THAT is what I used to insist on. THAT scares me! So, my plan is this-hubby hunts and fishes and gets what he can to put in the freezer. (We are so blessed to live in an area that is full of deer and hogs) Until we can get our own cows, we will buy grass fed beef from a local farmer. I will place my order for some meat chickens to raise and, well, you can guess what will happen to them. I even have an interest in raising sheep for wool and meat.  I feel so much better now :)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

When Did I Become My Parents????

I remember when I was a youngster and I would laugh at my parents over various things. Once, my mom wanted to record a tv show but she couldn't figure out how to set the VCR (yes, this was before DVR's!). I laughed at her while I set the VCR. I couldn't believe she couldn't figure out how to do something so simple. The other day I turned on the tv and my son had been playing the Wii. I had to call him in the family room to put the tv back to where I could watch it. I can't be sure but I think I saw a little smirk on his face while he fixed the tv.
I remember my dad wanting to know how to 'get on the internet and do stuff'. I laughed the whole time I showed him how simple it was. A couple of days ago, I tried downloading music from iTunes on to my daughter's iPod for her using her iTunes gift card. I couldn't figure out how to get it to use the gift card instead of my debit card that was saved to the account. Thirty minutes later of threatening the computer and using language unbecoming of a woman, I finally saw the little button that I needed to click. Both my kids have had great fun telling people how mama couldn't figure out iTunes!
When did I go from tech savvy young person to needing one of those "....For Dummies" books old fart? When did that change happen?
My mom came over last Saturday to use my washer and, while she was waiting, she sat at my kitchen counter watching me make bread. She told me that one of her fondest memories as a child was going to her grandparents house on Saturdays (their baking day) and eating all the fresh breads and strudels that they made. Unfortunately, she never learned how to make them herself. I had to stifle a smile when she asked if I could teach her to make bread. The more things change, the more they stay the same :-)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Pancake Sausage Muffins

I discovered these little gems over at Heavenly Homemakers and I am so glad I did!

The night before:
 Mix 2 c. whole wheat flour and 1 1/2 c. cultured buttermilk in a bowl until combined. Cover with a towel and leave on counter overnight.

In the morning mix into the flour/buttermilk mixture the following:
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1/3 c. melted butter
1/2 lb. cooked ground breakfast sausage

Grease 12 muffin tins (don't use cupcake liners) and fill the tins almost full. Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes. Serve drizzled with maple syrup.

Soaked Oatmeal Pancakes

Oh my goodness, these are soooooo good! And filling!
The night before:
Mix 2 c. dry oatmeal (I used quick cooking for this) and 1/2 c.  whole wheat flour (or all purpose) in a bowl. Add 2 c. cultured buttermilk and stir until everything is combined. Cover with a towel and leave on the counter overnight.

In the morning:
 Add the following to the oat mixture that is soaking on the counter-
2 eggs
2 tbsp. melted coconut oil (or whatever oil you have)
2 tbsp. sucanat or sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt

Mix everything together and drop by the 1/4 cup full onto a hot, buttered skillet. Flip when the edges start to dry out. Enjoy with lots of maple syrup.
We had quite a bit left over so I just put them in the freezer for another breakfast.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Homemade Pizza

Dang I am STUFFED!!! Lunch today was homemade pizza and, honestly, I have NO desire whatsoever to ever eat at a pizza place again when homemade tastes way better!( And is so much CHEAPER, HEALTHIER) I use a couple of different recipes for our pizza. For the dough, I like the one in the Pioneer Woman Cooks cookbook. It is easy-peasy.

Mix 1 tsp. of yeast (or half a packet) into 1 1/2 c. warm water. Let sit so the yeast can dissolve. In the bowl of your mixer, combine 4 c. flour (I use hard white wheat) and 1 tsp. salt. Turn on mixer to low and drizzle in 1/3 c. olive oil. Once oil is incorporated, add the yeast/water mixture to the flour/oil mixture and combine until the dough forms a ball. Drizzle a little bit of oil in a large bowl. Smoosh it around a bit and dump the dough into it, turning to coat the top. You can now do 1 of 2 things. If you aren't going to make your pizza today, you can put some plastic wrap on top of the dough and place the bowl in the fridge for up to 2 days. If you are ready to make your pizza today, cover the bowl with a damp towel and set it in a warm place for an hour or 2 to rise. (It will not rise as high as bread dough).(If you are just now pulling your dough out of the fridge it may need an extra 30-45 mins of rising time.) Once the dough has risen a bit, preheat your oven to 500 degrees. This recipe makes enough dough for 2 large pizzas so divide dough in half. Sprinkle just a bit of olive oil on 2 cookie sheets and rub it all over to keep the dough from adhering like concrete to it. Take 1/2 of the dough and stretch it out on the pan with your fingers until it is nice and thin and covering almost the entire pan (or as much as it will cover). Do the same with the other half of the dough on the other pan. I like to sprinkle just a little bit of powdered garlic over the dough because I LOVE garlic!!! Once you have the dough stretched out you can get really creative. You can make sauce or not. I made a tomato sauce to go on ours. This recipe is from Heavenly Homemakers and is way simple.

1 can Tomato Sauce (about 2 cups)
2 tsp. Dried Basil
1 tsp. Dried Oregano
1  tsp. Powdered Garlic
1/2 tsp. Salt

Stir all the ingredients together and smear as much or as little as you like over the top of the dough. Now add WHATEVER you want! Meat, veggies (I like to saute veggies a bit to soften them before I put them on the pizza), cheese. Do whatever will make your family fall on their knees praising you as the pizza queen.
For today's pizza, I sauteed some thinly sliced onions, green peppers and mushrooms and topped them with mozzarella. If there had been more than 4 slices of pepperoni left in the fridge, it would have found its way to the pizza too but, alas, my pepperoni stash has been severely pilfered.
Once you get all the toppings you like, stick your pizzas in the oven for about 10-15 mins. (Rotate pans half way thru to get them all cooked evenly).
This is what could be awaiting you:

Yum! My mouth just waters looking at it :)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

I Love Homeschooling

When I say I love homeschooling, what I mean to say is I REALLY love homeschooling! Anyone who knew me 3 years ago would probably be shocked at that statement. I had never been known for of being home. That is, until 3 years ago when The Almighty was tired of my not listening to Him and He spoke JUST A BIT LOUDER if you get my drift. I never had anything against those who stayed home, teaching their kids, taking care of their homes and cooking like, all the time. I just wasn't one of them. I enjoyed working and being out of the house. Then He changed me. It started with homeschooling. I had been feeling it for awhile and had been seriously trying to ignore it. I had no interest in being home all day, schooling my kids. (I know, bad mommie. Stick with me though). I finally had to give in because when God calls you to do something, for pete's sake JUST DO IT! It started with going to a homeschool conference led by a very sweet family, the Maxwell's. Little by little, I started to come around and hubby said if I hated it, we could always send them back to the private school they were in. Okay. I picked a cirriculum and ordered it. It came in and I installed it on the 2 new laptops I ordered for the twins. The day came when we decided we would start school. Then the weirdest thing happened. Every doubt that had been holding on for dear life in my head...vanished! All of it. Homeschooling felt as natural a thing to do as breathing does. From that day on, I have been a changed person. My most favorite place to be my home with my husband and my kids around me all day long. I never tire of having them with me. I crave it. My husband started working from home less than a year later. He is now right across the driveway during the day. Able to eat lunch with us when the phones aren't crazy, able to answer questions or solve problems. Able to BE with his family. Over the last 3 years, I have gone from what I was before, career woman, relying on others to educate my children, avoider of being home for any length of time, to a woman who realizes that everything that will ever be important to me begins right here in my home. I am the influence on my children, not a stranger. I am the one responsible for preparing them for life on their own and with their future families. I am responsible for instilling in them everything God has been putting on my heart to do all along. My only regret is that I couldn't hear what God wanted from me (because I wasn't listening) when my older children were young. I feel that if they had had the kind of upbringing that their younger brother and sister are having, that maybe life would have been just a bit different for them. But then again, maybe that was God's plan after all.

If you are feeling that God wants you to do something, please just do it or you WILL miss out on the blessings that He is waiting to give you. Even if you are scared, trust Him. He always knows what is best for us and rarely ever do know what is best for us..

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Cinnamon Bread French Toast

One of the byproducts of trying to find bread recipes I love is that I have loaves of not-quite-what-I-am looking-for bread to play with. One of my favorite ways to use them up is french toast. I had 2 loaves of cinnamon bread in the freezer from my Christmas baking that I thought would make a pretty good breakfast. I sliced both loaves up about an inch thick.

Then I mixed up a couple of eggs, some milk, vanilla and cinnamon
I coated the bread and put them into my cast iron skillet. Dontcha love cast iron skillets? I sure do. I finally learned not to turn the heat way up because, once it gets hot, it STAYS hot for a very looooooong time!
Anyway, I cooked them on both sides till they were nice and crispy on the outside.

And ....Voila!!!

Okay, there was a lot more of this but, doggone it, I was hungry!
I did have a few pieces left to put in the freezer for future breakfasts. I love having homemade freezer food ready to pop into the toaster oven or microwave!

Reward for waking up...

I was outside the other morning, just before dawn, finishing up the morning chores. I was about to walk back in the house when I glanced up at the sky and saw this:
and this too....

God really knows how to impress a girl!
This is the view from the back (used to be the front but the previous owners did away with the driveway and turned it into the back of the house. Go figure) of my house. Where I sit in the living room, doing my morning Bible reading, I can watch the sun come up and every time, it takes my breath away.

 I am not, naturally, a morning person. I do not 'enjoy' getting out of bed before the rooster crows, but there is something to be said about getting an early start on things. Living on a farm, an early start is a requirement! There are animals to be fed and, during growing season, garden work to be done. Middle Georgia is not known for its mild summer temps, either, so the earlier you get started the better! But during the winter, things slow just a bit and I get to enjoy watching the world wake up. A fresh, new start where anything is possible. Thank you God for giving me this reward.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Candle Wax Fire Starters

Since it is the season for fireplaces, I thought I would share a recipe for fire starters that I have been using. For the life of me, I cannot remember where I got the original 'recipe' from. I would never claim someone else's work as my own but I am going to share it with you and give credit to whomever posted this on her blog and gave me a wonderful idea. We used to buy starter logs but, at $20 for 6 logs, it just got to be too expensive. Then my husband would hold one of those long lighters to lightard wood and get it going that way but it got to be expensive buying new lighters all the time so this idea came along and I thought "What the heck?". I had everything on hand so I made a dozen of them and boy, do they work GOOD! Hubby was so impressed with them. All you do is light one, stick it under the wood and watch your flames come to life.

You'll need 3 simple household items:

Old candles or broken crayons (with paper removed)
Paper egg carton (do NOT use styrofoam)
Dryer Lint

Take your egg carton and cut off the lid. Then put a small amount of dryer lint in each hole.

Set on a piece of wax paper (I forgot to do this and wound up with wax all over my counter). Then
take a small pot and fill about 1/2 way with water. Set it on the stove to heat. Once water is hot (mine was boiling) put a heavy glass jar (I used one that had come with a candle in it) and stick all the candles/crayons in the pot and let the water melt the wax.
This time I was using a good sized pillar candle so it took at least 30 minutes to melt down. Stir every once in awhile to break the wax down. Once wax is all melted, CAREFULLY take the jar out of the pot. The first time I used my jar lifter from my canner but this time I used 2 oven mitts. This way seemed to work much better and I had more control over the jar. Pour the melted wax over the lint but don't over fill or it will run all over the place (don't ask).
Let them sit on the counter to harden. Once they are hard, cut them apart like so.

Keep them near the fireplace and when you want a nice fire, just light the corner and stick them under your wood.

How many you get will depend on how much wax you use. This pillar candle was almost new (yikes!) and it made enough for 36 lil' starters.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Soaked Whole Wheat Bread

 I have been searching for a sandwich bread recipe that I love. Ohhhh, I think this is it! I have made it a couple of times, changing things a bit and, today, I think I have achieved success. The original recipe comes from Shaye at The Elliott Homestead. Please check out her blog. It is AMAZING and her writing is so much fun. Anyway, I had to change the recipe a bit because the original calls for more flour than my mixer can handle. Here is my version:


5 1/2 C. Whole Wheat Flour-You will add up to 2 more cups on baking day (I use White Whole Wheat)
1/2  C. Cultured Buttermilk
1 1/2 C. Warm Water
1 C. Oats (old fashioned)
1/2 C. Honey
1/3 C. Melted Coconut Oil or Butter

The afternoon before you want to bake, do the following:
Combine the ingredients in the bowl of your mixer. Cover with a damp cloth (I cheat and use a damp paper towel) and plastic wrap. Let it sit at room temperature for 12-24 hours.

Baking Day:
Combine the following in a small bowl-
1/2 C. Warm water
1 tsp. Honey
2 1/2 Tbsp. Dry Active yeast
(If you are looking at Shaye's recipe, you will notice that I didn't make changes to this part of the recipe. I have found that leaving this the same as the original makes the bread rise much better than cutting the amounts in half)
Let this sit for about 5 minutes until nice and foamy.
Add yeast mixture to the flour mixture and mix until all combined. Add 1 1/2 Tbsp. Sea Salt and mix it in. Add more flour if needed to make the dough come together and pull away from the sides of the bowl. Let mixer do the kneading work for you for about 5 minutes.  Dump out dough into a large bowl that has been oiled all over. Turn dough over to oil the top. Cover and let rise for about an hour, until doubled in size. Punch dough down and turn over. Cover and let rise a second time until doubled, about 30 minutes. Punch down again and divide in half. Shape each half into a loaf and put in oiled baking pans. Let rise for another 30 minutes until doubled and then put in a preheated to 350 degree oven for about 25-30 minutes.
I have kinda large loaf pans so I only get 2 loaves. If you have regular sized loaf pans you can divide the dough into 3 loaves.   This recipe is being shared at Frugally Sustainable.

Crispy Cheddar Chicken

This recipe is from Jimmie at I changed it a bit to suit my tastes.

5-6 Chicken breasts, skinless/boneless
1 sleeve Ritz Whole Wheat crackers, crushed
1/2 c. Milk
1 1/2 c. Shredded Cheese
1 tsp. Dried Parsley
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 can Cream of Chicken Soup (I make my own)
4 tbsp. Sour Cream
1 tbsp. Butter

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a 13x9 pan with cooking spray and set aside. Pour the milk into a shallow bowl. Mix the cheese and crackers in another shallow bowl. Dip chicken in milk and then dredge in cracker/cheese mixture. (I have very little luck getting the mixture to stick to the chicken so I get what I can on them and, at the end, I put whatever is left over the top of the chicken). Place chicken in pan. Once all chicken is coated and remaining mixture is placed on the chicken, salt and pepper (or any other seasonings you like) the chicken and cover with foil and cook for 35 minutes. Remove foil and cook, uncovered, for 10 minutes. During the last 10 minutes of cooking, pour soup, sour cream and butter in a small saucepan and cook over med. heat until heated through. Once chicken is finished cooking, plate it up and serve it with the sauce over the top.

This is being shared at The Prairie Homestead Blog Hop

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

January = No Eating Out

Because we are trying desperately to get on top of our finances and eliminate all debt, we have set aside January as our month of no eating out. Before, hubby and I would have date night on Friday nights, then maybe grab pizza on Saturday after working on the farm all day. Then Sunday after church, we would all be starved so we would grab some sandwiches. All of this would add up to over $100 just on the weekends. Then there would be times during the week when we would need to be in town around lunch or dinner time and we would grab something quick. That would equal quite a bit of income spent on something that wasn't doing our bodies any good. Ok, I must admit that SOMETIMES I do enjoy not having to cook something and having a restaurant clean up and wash the dishes but lately I have gotten to the point that I just don't want to spend the money on food that may or may not be healthy/tasty when I can make all kinds of goodies right here that I know taste good and are good for us. So January is our month of no eating out. That being said, I already had to break that rule. The kids and I went to a town 35 miles away to do our monthly grocery shopping. I thought that I had planned the timing right and we would be home in time for lunch. Well, that just didn't happen and the twins and I were starved (note to self, NEVER grocery shop when you are hungry!) so we made a swing through Chik Fil A. Not going to beat myself up about it, just gonna move on!
I do actually have a point to this post. If I am going to be cooking 3 meals a day, everyday, then I need to have a stash of recipes. I get bored with food very easily and do not like to have the same things day in, day out so I am constantly ripping out recipes from magazines. Until recently, those 100's of recipes were in different areas around my kitchen , dining room, bedroom, bathroom (don't ask). Whenever I wanted a certain recipe, I would spend half the day searching for it. Then I came up with, what I would call, a pretty doggone good idea.

This is simply and old milk crate that we no longer used and hanging file folders. Now, all my ripped out recipes have a place to go. I still need to work on the categories because some are too big and too vague but you get the idea. Now when I want to make Pork for dinner, I just go to the pork file and see what looks good. I had thought about scanning all the recipes into my computer but honestly I haven't figured out how to do that yet I just don't have the time and I usually have the laptop off when it's cooking time so paper recipes are the way to go for me! Usually, before the monthly grocery shopping, I will look through several files and make sure that I have the ingredients on my list so, during the month, I can make a wide variety of food and not be stuck making the same things over and over again. Now if I can just get the twins to do the cooking and the cleaning up and maybe the bringing it out to the table for me, I would never have to eat out again!

This is being shared at blog hop

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


No-poo...Trust me, this has NOTHING to do with a toilet! This is all about going shampoo (and conditioner) free. I have seen quite a few people on some of the blogs I read doing this and, since I am all about the getting rid of grocery store stuff, I thought this might be interesting. I have shoulder length, very fine hair that is 'almost' uncolored. My hair tends to be very oily and I have to wash it every day. If our skin is our largest organ, why in the world do we insist on pouring, scrubbing and slathering on the toxins??? So, for the next 2 weeks I am going to try the no-poo method.  Here is a site that will give you all the details on why and how. Very interesting reading if I do say so myself. I have spent much time in the shower reading the ingredients on the back of shampoo and, after I get past 'water', things start to get a little dicey. I'll keep you posted as to how this is going.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Cream Cheese Squares

I am about to give you the ULTIMATE not good for you dessert. There is nothing in this dessert that will help you to grow up big and strong and you will not receive any essential vitamins or minerals. You will, however, be forced into an ecstasy induced coma and we all need a few more of those these days:)
I got this from and changed it up just a bit.

Cream Cheese Squares

1-8 oz pkg. cream cheese
1         can crescent rolls
1         cup Sucanat (or sugar)
1/2      tsp. vanilla extract

For the top:
1/4      cup butter (melted)
1/8      cup Sucanat (or Sugar)
1/2      tsp. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8x8 pan with parchement paper or foil.
Open can of crescent rolls and unroll. Separate it into 4 squares and close up the perforations. Put 2 squares of rolls in bottom of pan. In a mixer, cream together the cream cheese and Sucanat (or sugar). Add the vanilla and mix until smooth. Pour cream cheese mixture on top of rolls in pan and spread around so it covers the rolls. Take the other 2 squares of rolls and place them on top of the cream cheese but don't mush it down.
Pour melted butter all over the top of the rolls. Mix together the Sucanat (or Sugar) and the cinnamon and sprinkle it all over the top of the rolls. Bake for 25-30 or until the top is nice and brown. Once they are done, let them sit for just awhile. You do NOT want to burn your mouth on the hot filling. Not like I would know ANYTHING about that....
Once they have cooled just a little bit, go ahead and cut yourself off a piece. Look at the picture and you can see a tiny corner of mine missing:)

Alternative To Chemical Carpet Cleaners

We were having some friends over the other night and my carpets were in some serious need of cleaning. With 2 dogs, 2 kids and one husband who wears his filthy work boots all throughout the house, the carpets needed a good cleaning. I got out my trusty Hoover carpet cleaner and went to the pantry to get the carpet cleaning solution. I looked high and low but there was none to be found. Oh No!!! I just knew my friends would walk in my house and immediately feet...or worse! Never fear, I had baking soda...and tea tree oil! I got a little experimenty because I just couldn't bear my carpets any longer. I dissolved a heaping tablespoon of baking soda in some hot water and added about 1/8 teaspoon of tea tree oil. I figured that baking soda is a natural deodorizer and tea tree oil has wonderful antibacterial properties so this could actually work. I wasn't too worried about hurting my carpets because I wasn't using any chemicals so I poured my concoction into the cleaner holder and went to cleaning. Dirty, disgusting water being sucked up into the machine was a good sign. The tea tree oil scent was rather refreshing. I finished cleaning those disgusting carpets and noticed that the house smelled clean and fresh. Once the carpets were dry, I noticed that they were VERY soft! Of course, I had to get down there and sniff them. No stinkies!!!! SUCCESS!!!! This is just one more product I can cross off my list of buying at the store.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Homemade Brownies To Die For!

In this wonderful journey of eating whole foods, I have been trying to replace commercial foods with homemade ones. One thing that I was having trouble finding a homemade replacement for was brownies.
Yep, I LOVE those tasty made-from-a-box brownies and found that most homemade recipes just weren't very good. Well, all that has changed with this little chocolatey block of heaven. I found this recipe in Southern Living and I am really impressed with it. I just made plain ol' brownies because my son hates when I put little crunchy things in our sweets but there are so many additions that could be added to make them completely over the top scrumptious!
Are you ready?????

Here it is:

4 (1 oz) unsweetened chocolate baking squares
3/4 c. butter (please use real butter and not that fake stuff!!)
1 1/2 c. sugar (ok, I used white stuff. I know it will kill me but I wasn't sure how sucanat would taste)
1/2 c. firmly packed brown sugar (again, I used brown sugar instead of something healthier. I'm a rebel)
3 eggs
1 c. whole wheat flour (you could use all purpose but why???)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/8 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 350. Line an 8x8 pan with either tin foil (spray with non stick spray afterwards) or parchment paper and set aside. In a microwave safe bowl, heat the chocolate and butter for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds, until melted and smooth. Whisk in sugars. Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking until just blended. Whisk in flour, vanilla and salt.  Pour into prepared pan and bake for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out mostly clean with just a few crumbs. Let cool in pan for about an hour then lift out of pan and cut into squares. 

These brownies are soooooo yummy. Feel free to add in nuts, coconut, peanut butter chips, whatever. Little boy doesn't know it but the next batch is going to be loaded up with all kinds of goodies!!!

This recipe is being shared at The Prairie Homestead Blog Hop and The Way Grandmama Does It Blog Hop

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

French Bread

Here it is! The easiest, tastiest french bread recipe. This recipe will make 2 very nice loaves.


2     Tbsp. active dry yeast
2     C. Warm water (I test the temp this way-If I stick my finger in and it burns, it's too hot. If I stick my
       finger in and it feels very warm but doesn't burn, it is just right)
4-5 C. Flour-I use Hard White Wheat or Bread Flour. You can mix it up and use what you like.
2     Tsp. Salt
1     Tsp. Sugar (I used Sucanat this last time and did NOT like the taste that much)

Add yeast to warm water and let sit until foamy, about 5 or so minutes. In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the dough hook add 2 c. of the flour, all the salt and all the sugar. Stir it up. Once the yeast is all foamy, pour it all into the flour mixture and start mixing. Add the flour, a half cup at a time until the dough comes together and cleans the sides of the bowl. You can take the dough out and knead it on a lightly floured surface but it is just as easy to leave it in the mixer on med. to med. low speed for about 5 minutes and let the mixer do the work. Once the dough is looking nice and elastic-y, dump it into a large, greased bowl and turn it over to grease the top. Cover with a towel and let sit in a warm place to rise for about an hour or when it has doubled in size. Once it has doubled, punch dough down and cut it into 2 pieces. You can finish this off in a couple of ways. You could roll each half out on a lightly floured surface into a foot long rectangle and roll it up by the long side OR you can just stretch it and sqeeze it till it forms a log about a foot long. Put both logs on a baking sheet (use parchment paper and you won't have to wash the pan-just sayin') and make sure they aren't anywhere near touching each other, cover with the towel again and let them rise once more till they are about doubled again. Usually takes about 30-45 mins. depending on how warm the kitchen is. Once they have risen a second time, pop them into a 450 degree oven and bake for 15 mins. They should make a hollow sound when tapped on the bottom at the end of the baking time. If not, bake for another minute or two.
I am such a dork and never bothered to take any reference photos while I made these yesterday but today I got smart and photo'd the bread in it's breakfast reincarnation-FRENCH TOAST!!!

Oh, they were soooooo yummy!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Welcome 2012....

Ahhh, a new year full of possiblities! I love this time of year because I get a do-over. I get to try and fix all the things I did wrong in the past or at least some of the major ones! I don't do resolutions because I think that just sets me up for failure so I prefer to think of it as "improvements".
           1.  Try to eliminate as much grocery store food as possible. Yeah, I know that is a HUGE undertaking. But what is more important than taking care of your family to the best of your ability? How am I going to accomplish this? First by growing a bigger garden and preserving A LOT more of the harvest than I have in the past. Also, I will start replacing store products with homemade ones. There are so many great ideas out there that I would be a fool not to take advantage of others research and testing :) Hubby already hunts and provides about 65% of our meat. We figured that we need just 2 extra deer, and 3-4 decent sized hogs and his hunting could provide 90% of the meat. We have a pond that can provide some fish. My chickens are safe because their eggs are too valuable to me to eat the birds themselves so I am trying to find someone here that raises meat chickens. Someday I will tell you the story of the mass rooster slaughter we had on Easter morning a few years back.

              2.  Look for ways to save money on everyday things. This spring, hubby is making me a clothesline so I can drastically reduce the need for my dryer. We already cut the satellite bill down to almost nothing because we just don't watch much tv.( I was willing to get rid of the satellite altogether but hubby didn't want to get that drastic...YET)We are currently going through our bills and seeing where we can negotiate lower rates or cut things out that we can live without.

               3.  Sell things that we don't use or can live without.  This one is a little hard because I hate dealing with people. I know that sounds horrible but the older I get the more of a recluse I become. Thank goodness hubby has no problem talking to people. We have a big cargo trailer that we bought when we moved here almost 7 years ago and it really isn't doing anything other than storing tools and stuff so that will be going to a dealer to get sold. We are also in the process of harvesting trees on our property. Six years ago we harvested the mature pines but left the hard woods. Now they are ready to be cut. All proceeds will go towards eliminating our debt.

               4.  Make all our food from scratch. This one goes along with #1. Whatever I can make from scratch means I don't have to buy it from the store. Plus, homemade always tastes better! So far, our "from scratch" stuff includes: all our bread products and desserts, ranch dressing, taco seasoning, cream of mushroom and cream of chicken soups (both for cooking and eating), all sauces and casseroles, all breakfast foods including some awesome granola, applesauce, jams and jellies. Once I make something myself, I no longer will buy it's counterpart from the store. Takes a bit of planning. I wanted to have burgers one night but forgot to make the buns. Can't exactly whip them up in 30 minutes so we couldn't have the burgers but I am getting better at keeping a good supply of breads on hand.

               5.  Get a milk cow. I am looking forward to this one more than anything! I cannot wait to have our own raw milk, cream, whey and cheeses. Where we live, selling raw milk is illegal so I cannot buy from any of the dairy farms here. If I can't get it from them, I will just get it myself. Yes, I know this is a GINORMOUS time commitment that will require a ton of work on my part. We have a friend who has a dairy farm in Maine and he has given us a pretty good look at what we will be getting ourselves into. The amount a time that this will require will be enormous but, again, what is more important than taking care of my family the best way I can?

These are just my top 5 improvements I want to make over the next 12 months. They are the ones that will take the most amount of time and planning. However, I think the planning part is the fun part!

Stay tuned for my bread recipe tomorrow. It is by far the easiest, quickest yeast bread recipe I have ever made and it NEVER fails!!!!! My 12 year old daughter can make it almost by herself.