Monday, August 27, 2012

Harvest Monday

I did actually harvest a few things this week. These are the beans that I blanched yesterday. More peppers. We have had so many peppers that I am having a hard time using them all up. There are a few of the last tomatoes as well.
I have a cucumber plant out there with blossoms all over it so am hoping for some fall cucumbers. The beans will produce for a while longer and the Swiss chard is coming along. They are in the bed with the large blueberries and luckily the caterpillar that ate all the leaves off the blueberries didn't care for the Swiss chard.  I have lots of basil and herbs that need harvesting, I just need three more of me so I can get everything done lately.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Pig Hocks Meal and Update

It is a lazy day here. Nothing interesting or exciting going on but I have gotten a few things done. I got down to the garden and pulled up the tomato plants. They weren't producing anymore anyway. I cleaned up their beds and picked some weeds. This is the first time EVER that I have pulled my tomatoes before they were all dried up and dead but realized this year there was no sense in leaving them now that they aren't producing. Not sure what will go in those beds. I will probably wait until the fall crops come out in the garden centers and then I will pick up some cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli. One of the beds I will save part of for garlic and I have lettuce and spinach mustard tendergreens that do well here to plant. I'll be working on getting some compost on them. I am amazed at what a small pile I have in the compost bin now considering how much I put in it last fall.
 I also got some beans picked, not a lot but enough for a meal, and blanched and froze them.

Yesterday at the store I got a good deal in the produce section on some marked down Brussels sprouts. We like Brussels sprouts but don't have them very often. I got most of them blanched and put in the freezer. I did save out a few for the pig hocks meal.

I also got more strawberries yesterday. I keep wondering if we will have any strawberry farmers next year since this year the prices on strawberries have been so low. I cleaned and cut out the tops and put most in a bag to freeze. I kept out a few and made strawberry yogurt pops with them. I also made yogurt banana butter pops from the banana butter we made last weekend but my sons future wife forgot to take with her.

Now for the pig hocks meal. I can't exactly say ham hocks because I never cured and smoked the hocks but today they went into the crock pot with a package of sliced mushrooms, half an onion, some salt and pepper, some potatoes and some of those Brussels sprouts. It smells pretty darn good but I was late getting it in so it may late before we get to eat any.

As for the animals, the mama duck just has one baby now, she managed to lose one and kill another. The ducklings I hatched are all growing like weeds but the black and yellow one seems to have some leg problems and now seldom gets up on his feet. I also have noticed that the yellow ducklings have some odd tufts on their heads and ears. I have never seen any ducklings with tufts on their ears. I am wondering if they will keep the tufts on the ears or lose them after their regular feathers come in. It would be cute if they kept them.
It is hard to see the little tufts on the sides of their heads in these pictures but they are there.

They have really been growing fast since I moved them out to this pen in the back shed. More room and being able to get away from the light helps a lot.
The two chicks that I saved from the bantams are both roosters. These bantams produce a lot of roosters. I really need to get rid of some of them but just haven't done it yet. The one chick left with the other bantam mama looks to be a girl though.
So far the only snakes we have had are the one Phil killed, it probably wasn't 3 ft long, and one other that the cats so kindly left for me in the yard. It was a garter snake and only about a foot long and they had already killed it. However, Hippo, Michelle's male cat has been bitten more than once this year-luckily by non-poisonous snakes, though he will swell all up when bitten. He may have been the leaver of the garter snake but I imagine it was the mama cat (she has kittens...somewhere).
So that is all the news from here. My lazy weekend is about over and I am missing it already. I likely won't get time to post until next Friday or next weekend. Entirely too busy at work now to play and with a new boss...well, you have to make a good impression, even if he keeps saying that he heard all good things about me before he even met me. He has raised our standards some and I am up to the challenge, I'm sure.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Spanish Style Beef and Rice Meal

Inspiration for tonight's dinner meal came from a cookbook that I found at the thrift store today called: All Time Family Favorites Casseroles and One-Dish Meals. This one was actually supposed to be baked but we don't really bake here in the summer if we can help it so I have put this together in the crock pot, of course, with a few changes.

1 lb to a 1 1/2 lb beef strips
Peppers- I used one orange bell that I had and two Jimmy Nardello sweet green peppers
Approx. half an onion diced
1 clove of garlic, crushed and diced
1 tsp chili powder
1 cup instant rice
1 of the little cans of tomato sauce (sorry I don't have the weight, but not the regular can, the little one)
Approx 3/4 cup frozen peas
salt and pepper

Put everything except rice in the crock pot and cook for 4-5 hours. Approximately a half hour before you want to eat, add the rice. Cook until rice is done.
It was pretty good though I am not sure it was good enough to cook it again. The baked version would have likely been better. The book is good though and I hope to try out several more recipes. I need crock pot and easy recipes to do for supper now that our hours at work have changed back and I get off at 7:00 p.m. again.

In other news, the pig butchering was supposed to be tomorrow but none one could make it. We have rescheduled for next weekend and we will be doing the pig whether anyone comes or not. He HAS to be done! Right now feeding him is just wasting money.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Just a Little Note

I don't really have time for much of a post and not much is happening here anyway but here are a few things.
The "tomatoes on the porch" project is a fail, at least so far. While I did not have a single tomato hornworm on the tomatoes in the raised beds, they have had a field day with the two plants on the porch. I have taken 4 of them off of the plants just this week. This one is from today.
Here is what one of the plants looks like. The other one is a bit better.
On to the good news. Mama duck has hatched one little baby so far. I am so pleased that it is another yellow and black duckling.

I have closed her off in the pen by herself and the rest are in the yard for now. I am hoping she can hatch a few more.
In other news, my son and future daughter-in-law are coming this weekend for 4 days to visit from Ft. Campbell. This will probably be the last time I see him before he goes to Afghanistan.
Well, that's all the time I have. Will try to get on this weekend and post something but we may be a bit busy. My future daughter-in-law is wanting to learn to can :)

Sunday, August 12, 2012


We had to run to town this morning and pick up another hanging water dish for the pig. He likes to step in his food and water dishes and he is now so heavy that they break. This time I got one made with thicker plastic. We also had to pick Christian up a birthday present. He will be three years old this month.
When I got home I started my regular chores with the ducklings. It was pretty obvious that the little brooder just wasn't room enough for them any longer. They needed bigger quarters.
Out in the back shed beside the sink is a broken down pen. I set to work fixing it today. I used some previously used wire and an old cupboard door that once went on another pen.
Well, it looks better in real life. And the ducklings are loving it. I do get worried about the cats and snakes when I put chicks outside though. Their peeping attracts both. I have been out there several times checking on them.
Other than that, I haven't done much except bottled one of the gallons of cranberry wine. Yes,  I know it is way to early. I DON'T CARE! I don't have anything to drink and there were all these jugs of wine sitting on the dresser and I tasted one and it was good!
Need I say more?
Seriously, it probably isn't a really good wine and it needs to be sweetened some but it really doesn't seem too bad to me. Keep in mind that I wouldn't really know a "good" wine from a bad one anyway but I personally thought this one tasted alright.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Thrift Store Finds on a Rainy Saturday

It has rained (poured) off and on all day long which is pretty unusual for here. Considering how dry it is out west I guess I should appreciate it but even the ducks seem to now be kind of sick of it. I saw some earlier crouching under a bush.
Phil had to work today but Michelle and I waited for the first thunderstorm to pass and made our way out to go shopping. We stopped at the thrift store first (it poured the whole time we were there). I haven't been in a couple week and I only spent just over $19 but one thing was a video game that Michelle found so I only spent just a little over $15. Here is what I got.
This is the cutest little lamp and lights up a dark corner of the living room and really goes with the rest of it. It was just $4.49.
Here is a nice throw that I plan to put on one of the couches when it comes out of the wash-$3.99. A magazine on casseroles though I think I can pretty much make up any casserole I want to. You just never know when a $.25 magazine might give you an idea. The dog magazine I got because it said there were recipes for your dog which I took to mean treat recipes but the recipes all dealt with cooking vegetables for your dog (how Natural in a dogs diet are vegetables?). The jar is a half gallon Knox Mason jar. I have never even had a half gallon canning jar because they don't sell them here anymore, but I do remember my mother using them, so it was a steal at $ .99. The red thing is a Handy Corker for corking wine bottles. I couldn't even believe it when I saw it! I have it on my Amazon and eBay wish lists but hadn't gotten one yet. It was a dollar.
The last thing I got was a brand new king size fleece blanket-$3.99. I don't really need anymore blankets, I have a whole closet full but I got this because I was thinking about lining the curtains with it to keep in more heat this winter. We live in a double-wide with big drafty windows plus we have no central heat.It died years ago. We have no heat at all and have to use space heaters in the winter. I am sure lining the curtains with fleece would make a difference and we would still be able to pull them to see out or let light in. I am sure it would also help keep the cool air in during the summer as well.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Eggplant Salsa

Because sometimes your neighbor gives you several eggplant that you are so thankful to get but have no idea what to do with..
Phil won't touch it because one year I grew eggplant and it did produce and I made eggplant fries which we dipped in spaghetti sauce and Phil ate an absolute ton of the stuff and could not figure out why he had "problems" the next must be the eggplant!
So whatever I made had to be something I could can and would last until I could eat it. I went searching for recipes and found eggplant salsa. Everybody loves salsa.
I, of course, changed the recipe to suit what I had on hand. This is a two day process.
On the first day I diced up the 5 eggplant (some were quite small) as you can see in the picture so if you have all large eggplant adjust accordingly.
I used two of those small bell peppers, and one large onion that I had, all diced. I put them in a bowl last night with a 1/4 cup of pickling salt and let them set in the refrigerator all night and most of the day until I got home from work.
I then rinsed them really well and put them in a good sized pot. I added:

1/2 tsp dry mustard
1 1/2 tsp. chopped garlic
1/2 tsp cumin
1 1/2 cups white vinegar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp. pepper
1-28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1-28 oz. can diced tomatoes
5 jalapeno peppers (I had 3 red ones and 2 green)

I brought the pot to a boil and then turned it down to simmer for 25 minutes. I then water bath canned it for 15 minutes. I got 6 pints exactly.

Hazelnut Creamer

I came on here to post this and then got all interested in everyone else's blogs and almost forgot. Anyway, hazelnut creamer is what I put in my coffee every day (unless I have honey). I love the stuff so I run out of it a lot. It was time to try making my own. The recipe I saw said one can of sweetened condensed milk, 1 cup of milk and hazelnuts. I didn't have sweetened condensed milk but I have evaporated milk and if you add a cup and a quarter of sugar to it, you have sweetened condensed milk (yes, that is a LOT of sugar). The recipe was a big vague. It said to take the hazelnuts (a half pound, I hate it when things are measured in pounds- so just used the as many as I felt like cracking) and put them in the milks and let it set for 6 hours. It did not say if the hazelnuts should be chopped so I didn't know but I chopped mine some. I also didn't have 6 hours to wait around. So I went on to the second step where you heat the milk and hazelnuts and keep it cooking for about a half hour without boiling it. It smells pretty good while you are cooking but not like hazelnuts.
So since it didn't get to soak for 6 hours, I though that since I didn't need it until morning that I would just cook it and let the hazelnuts sit in it until morning.
This morning came and I tried it in my coffee and while it tastes like a good creamer (how could it not with all that sugar in it?) it did not have any hazelnut flavor to it as far as I could tell. I will try it again tomorrow and see if it improves any. If not, I'll keep trying. I probably didn't have enough hazelnuts or it really does need to soak first and then get cooked. We'll see.

Monday, August 6, 2012

New Ducklings!

Here are the new ducklings finally. The last two had a hard time getting out of the shell. One of them was just plain too big and I don't know why the little black and yellow one had trouble.
The little black and yellow one has a small crest or sometimes called a "tuft" when they are that small. He is a mix of my cayuga hen and one of the pekins or the rouen drake. A couple of the yellow ones have brownish feathers when they are wet so probably from my chocolate colored hen. She is the one sitting on eggs in the duck house now.
Anyway there were only 5 duck eggs in the incubator so this was a pretty good hatch considering my incubator temperature fluctuated so much.
They are cute now but they will be stinky soon and I am already thinking about fixing up a pen for them outside.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

This Weekends Wrap Up

So what did we do this weekend? I started early and cut up a pound of mushrooms that I got marked down and got them in the dehydrator. I also started two more quarts of yogurt. Phil and I had put up all the fence beams yesterday and today he worked on putting on all of the pallet slats. I feel so lucky that he didn't need my help with that because it is hot, humid and miserable outside and the mosquitoes are loving me when I am out there. I really can't get a good picture of it but it goes from the house up the hill and over to the greenhouse. He did not have quite enough slats and I have put some wire over the unfinished part with some pots against it so the ducks can still go out all day until he can get some more pallets.
The ducks are definitely loving their freedom though Romeo is not real impressed with the fact that he can't go over in the woods.
I spread another bag of grass seed just as a storm was coming over us and, of course, it spit drops at us and passed on.
I, then, went to my good friend's house down the road who has a tiny garden that produces more than mine does (though she does have full sun and a couple of boys to tend it). She sent me home with some goodies that I helped her pick!
Felt that I had to do something today with all those hot peppers even though it was after 4:00 p.m. because the next time I will have time to do something with them will be next weekend and I would rather have them fresh. I saved the jalapenos. I may make poppers with them.  I strung up some of the pretty red ones to dry and grind up to make red pepper with later. They are pretty hanging there by the garlic.
With most the rest of the green ones and a few red I made hot pepper relish. I haven't made it before but found out what my friend puts in hers and between her recommendations and the Internet I have some hot pepper relish.

 Here is the recipe:

Hot Pepper Relish

Approx. a quart of hot peppers
2 large onions
2 Tbsp. salt
2 cups sugar
2 cups white vinegar

Cut off the stems of the peppers (if you are like me and you're not going to wear gloves-and I'm not- don't touch the cut end of the pepper, don't touch the metal part of your knife, and for Heaven's sake don't touch your FACE, EVER, while cutting these!) and toss them in the food processor. I am sure you can chop them up by hand but even I will use my noisy food processor for these. Cut your two onions in pieces and put them in there as well. Sprinkle the salt on top. Turn it on and run it until everything is chopped up. Leave it sit for 2 hours. After the 2 hours is over, put the vinegar and sugar in a pan and turn on the heat, mix it until the sugar is dissolved. Add your pepper/onion mixture. Bring to a boil. Turn it down and simmer uncovered, stirring frequently, for approx. 45 minutes.  Place in your canning jars (I used half-pints) leaving approx. 1/4 inch head space. Adjust caps. Boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

For supper I had another package of mushrooms and cut up the pork tenderloin and just cooked them together. It looked and smelled so yummy while cooking that I took a picture. I had homemade macaroni and cheese with that and green peas.
The rest of the day was spent running to the incubator, running to the incubator, running to the incubator and I am still running- waiting for that last duckling to hatch. You'll all have to wait until tomorrow for a picture as I want them all in the brooder together.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

I Almost Reached for the Box

I said "almost"! We have a couple of boxed side dishes in the spare room and when I was trying to figure what to have for supper, I almost got one but it seemed a shame to put a boxed side dish with a nice piece of home raised chicken. Not to mention that there was that bowl of nice tomatoes and peppers on the counter. I put the tomatoes in boiling water to get the skins off, the cut them up. Added some home grown garlic, some onion, some home grown peppers, salt, pepper and I ran down to the garden and picked a little basil and a little fresh oregano.
Put on to simmer..
While I made some rice..
Must have been good because even Michelle ate it.
No box involved.

Here was the surprise Phil brought home today. He got all these 2x4's free from one of his bosses. I believe we will be finishing up that fence this weekend!

And Then There Are the Lazy Days

Now to give myself some credit (excuse) I have been fighting this sinus infection for 3 days at work and it has been keeping me awake at night....however, I did sleep fairly well last night. But today I just haven't found anything that I really wanted to do with this day off. I haven't been totally unproductive but most of my time has been spent here laying on the bed playing on the computer. I HAVE been learning. If you go to the facebook page you will see several links to future project that I want to do. I even started a twitter account so those of you who like twitter can follow there.
The animal have, of course, been fed and some got more hay and some of the female quail got moved into the breeder pen this time because I felt we needed more females in the pens.
The incubator has a duck egg pipped in it so I have run into the spare room 80 times to check on far nothing...ducks are SO slow to hatch.There are 5 duck eggs in there so I am hoping more will pip. If not one of the duck hens outside is sitting on a nest, maybe she will hatch some and I can slip the chick in her batch.
I did spread grass seed in the back yard since it has rained a little. I watered it in just in case.
I cleaned the brooder in preparation for the new duckling(s).
I have been down to the garden and picked a few (very few) beans and a couple of tomatoes. I have been harvesting peppers and tomatoes, I just have not joined in the Monday's Harvest because mine are always just peppers and tomatoes.
 There are more beans on the way, hopefully.
And this oregano definitely needs a trim....but not today.
I got a little industrious while I was taking pictures and picked another handful of hazelnuts that were about to drop.
I even came inside and made up a dessert for Phil tonight ...a really simple one.

 But most of the rest of the day will be spent like Romie...