Sunday, November 25, 2012

Turkey Casserole

With only three of us here at home now there are a lot of leftovers from Thanksgiving.  That turkey has to be used up but if you don't get creative you can get real sick of it.  Today I just threw together a casserole. It was so good I wanted to post it so that I will have the recipe written down where I can find it again.

Turkey Casserole

Leftover turkey approx a cup and a half or however much you want
Half a 12 oz. bag of egg noodles, cooked and drained
2-8 oz bags shredded cheese (I had a Fiesta blend and an Italian blend which both had 4 different cheeses)
1 can cream of chicken
1 can cream of onion
1 can corn
Approx. 1/4 of an onion chopped
1 heaping spoonful of chopped garlic
3/4 of a soup can of milk
1 Tbsp. butter or margarine
Parsley, dried or chopped

Put turkey, soups, milk, corn in a large bowl and stir well. Put butter, onion and garlic in a small bowl and microwave about 1 1/2 minutes depending on your microwave. Add to bowl. Add the cooked egg noodles and stir. Add half of each package of cheese and a couple tablespoons of parsley. Stir well. Put in a 9 x 13 inch baking dish. Sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top and sprinkle with more parsley. Bake 20-30 minutes until bubbly.

Friday, November 23, 2012

A Dog House for Black Friday

Don't think I didn't get to go shopping today--because I did. But I don't get into the mad Black Friday mania every year. I'm not camping out a week ahead of time just to get a good deal. After all, Wal-mart made things so much easier for us by opening on Thanksgiving this year. Those people who felt the need to go crazy to get the deals went on Thanksgiving and those of us who (knew better) felt the need to stay home and have family time, went today and picked up a few good deals OR we shopped for good deals on Amazon. I got several myself. One of the good deals that I picked up at Wal-mart was a large flat dog bed. You see as it got colder and colder here and I realized how old Dukey now is and realized how inadequate that old rotting dog house had become. I had only broached the subject to Phil of picking up some wood for it yesterday. Finding the nice big dog bed just meant more reason to stop for that wood. I am not sure that this is what Phil wanted to do on his day off (he goes back to work tomorrow) but he understood the necessity for it as well. It didn't take him very long though we didn't have quite enough wood but Phil filled in with some of the pallet wood.
The first side.
Two sides. 
The back almost done.
We didn't know what we were going to do for the front because we were out of wood. Luckily Phil found a perfect piece. I had put it on Dukey's old dog house when the roof started to rot. 
Perfect. We set it on a pallet that had close slats.
He hardly let me get the bed in there before he was in it. I then added half that big gray fleece blanket that I had been saving to line the curtains with (this seemed like a better cause) and I put a piece of fleece of the door opening as well. 
He hasn't left his house, not one time today. He is one happy new homeowner. 

Seeds of the Month Club
This is a Club I just found today and wanted to pass on to others.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Slow, Lazy Sunday

Who would have thought that the "Christmas Village" post would have gotten more page views than the last pig butchering. No Scrooges here, apparently! I was actually rather pleased to find that out.
Anyway, I am not doing any more Christmas villages today. It is just another canning day but it has gone really well and I haven't rushed any and still got a good bit done.
I knew I was going to have to can carrots that I got on sale a couple of days ago but when I looked in the frig this morning I saw part of a chicken. It is a chicken Phil bought at the store on Friday night. It still had a whole breast on it. And I am out of stock. So the stock was started first. While it simmered I spent some time lazing and Phil made us breakfast. It simmered more while I went out and fed the animals. I finally got back to it about 10:30 a.m. Since carrots and stock both need to be pressure canned for 25 minutes. I then got the carrots cut up and heated up so that I would have a full canner-full. There was only room for 3 jars of carrots in with the stock so I had to do a second batch but there were only 4 more jars of carrots left. I did, however, have mushrooms. Mushrooms only have to be canned 30 minutes and I didn't figure the extra 5 minutes would hurt the carrots.
I have not canned mushrooms before but they are no harder than the carrots. I did find that they shrunk when heated up. Normally I measure out my canned goods by how many jars they will take but after the mushrooms were heated and shrunk, they did not fill the two jars I had. Luckily I hadn't used all the mushrooms and just cleaned and heated up some more to fill the jars.
I have two pint jars left (only because we emptied 4 yesterday) and my shelves are full and now some of the canned stuff is sitting in boxes on the floor. Don't even know where I will put these. I'll have to find another box, I guess.
Other than canning the chicks were evicted from the brooder in the spare room and moved out into the greenhouse. There were too many of them for the little brooder. They needed more space.
I also got into the pig pen and pulled out pallets, feed dishes etc. It still needs a lot of work done but doesn't look quite so "junky" now.
That is the day so far. I have 3 long days coming up at work before I get my 4 day weekend. I am definitely looking forward to Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Christmas Village 2012

This post has nothing to do with self sufficiency. It is just about this years Christmas village.
When we put in the new entertainment center that had been given to us a few weeks ago (heaviest thing I have ever had to help bring up those steps!), the shelf over the t.v. was left empty specifically so the Christmas village could be put on it. It is not as big a space as I usually use for the Christmas village but maybe that made it better because I tend to try to put way too much stuff in the Christmas villages of past years. They are such a chore to put up but I love them. Anyway, here is this years Christmas village.
And in the dark:
And a some close ups:

Friday, November 16, 2012

Winter's Potted Plants

These are the potted plants that I am hoping to bring through the winter unscathed. I'll likely have to get a heater for the greenhouse, though I hate to because it uses so much electricity. However, these first few are the little tomato plants on the windowsill in the house. So far they seem to be doing quite well and aren't leggy at all.
That first pot was one that didn't get dropped by the cats so they are a little ahead of these other two that have had to be replanted.
This one only had one sprout.
Next are the hanging baskets and one pot on the porch. The lettuce finally did pop up in the middle hanging basket but any that came up in the other two baskets died right off. I think it was because we were still too hot then. This basket normally looks better than this but it rained yesterday so the leaves are all soggy today.
I replanted those other two hanging baskets with some small red onion seeds. It was mostly a fail as well.
But kale can grow anywhere apparently.
Out in the greenhouse the plants are doing fine. The coffee plants did actually put on a couple of leaves this year despite the cats getting in the greenhouse and knocking them over several times. I put them in the cups because they were tall and when I had read up on their cultivation it said that they have a tap root and need deep pots. Next year they will likely get replanted ...if they make it through the winter. 
This next picture is of a ginger plant. I bought the root from the store and planted it. It is doing just fine so far.
As you can see the lemons on the lemon tree are finally starting to change color. I can't wait to be able to pick one!
This little bonsai is also in the greenhouse. It was given to me last year by my old boss. It has done really well sitting on a table in the backyard this year but now that is it colder I have moved it into the greenhouse, just in case we get a frost.
Last I am going to show you the cats new play toy pansies. They have managed to rip one right out of that second pot.
I would not have thought the kittens would have been so fascinated with them.
These aren't quite all my potted plants. I do have some houseplants; pothos, philodendron, fittonia, aloe and a cactus. Except the pothos and the one cactus, which are in hanging basket, these get dropped by the kittens on a regular basis. I believe it was just a year or so ago when I finally had my house cat free. Now they seem to be my biggest plant predators.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Cabbage Noodle Soup

So here is another really simple recipe I am trying today that involves using up some home canned stuff.
I still had a few jars of cabbage on the shelf. We love cabbage but don't use it a lot. These jars had been there a year and needed to be used . I am, of course, partial to casseroles, stews and soups--anything that can be put in the crock pot since I work evenings and Phil likes to eat before 7:30 every night.
The other day I got some nice little smoked sausages marked down at the store. There were about 10 fat links in this package and sausage always goes good with cabbage so they went in the crock pot with 2 of the jars of canned cabbage (you could use fresh, of course) liquid and all. I had to add a few more jars of water Chicken stock would have been better but I am all out of chicken stock right now (3 fat meat chickens still out playing in the yard, sigh). I then added an onion, cut up, a sprinkling of caraway seed, a bit more of a sprinkling of mustard seeds, a tablespoon or so of salt, and some pepper.
Here is the picture before cooking as I won't have one for afterwards unless I think to take a picture of my bowl.
The cabbage was still nice and firm, by the way, and smells wonderful---if you like the smell of cabbage, which I do.
I'll leave this on low for the day because these new crock pots cook entirely too hot to put them on high. Later about 20 minutes before eating Michelle is going to add some egg noodles. Not too many, maybe a handful and that will be all it needs.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

So What Got Done?

So what on my to-do list actually got done? I woke up at 4:00 a.m. and went out in the living room. I turned on our new heater. This isn't exactly the wood stove of my dreams but we had to have a new heater anyway and decided it might as well be one that we liked so Phil and I got an early Christmas present for ourselves.
It is really quite nice in the dark (That is Stumpy in front of it and yes, that is his tongue sticking out, though that part of the picture wasn't planned).
I started on the pumpkins. I hoped to at least get the pie pumpkins done.
It takes a long time to cut up pumpkins and take all the seeds out to save them for roasting. I managed to cut myself only slightly twice until I was on the last pieces and the knife slipped and cut my thumb right at a vein so I had to stop a while and get that taken care of.
The four pie pumpkins barely fit in the pot.
While they were cooking I worked on roasting the seeds.
I washed them and then split them into two bowls. I always put garlic powder and salt on one but I usually like to try something new as well. I am not sure what I tried last time but this time I had an envelope of Hidden Valley Ranch so I tried that on one of the bowls before roasting. They turned out really good and tasty
and I liked them even better than the garlic powder ones.
So after the pumpkin was cooked it was mashed
 and put in jars and canned (I believe there is a post on canning pumpkin on here somewhere).
Eight pints was what I canned but there was quite a bit left so I decided to try that pumpkin soup. Mine turned out a bit thick but it was pretty good and Michelle and I each ate two bowls of it. I will put the rest away for lunches, I think.
Turns out the pumpkin was not the only thing that needed canning. Somehow during the two shopping trips I did this weekend (I did some on Friday and the rest Saturday), I ended up with 30 lbs of potatoes (they were on sale in several stores this week and somehow I had forgotten that I had already bought a bag...twice). I only did one canner full of-7 quarts and that only got rid of one bag but with it being colder in the house now, the rest will last until I can get to them next weekend.
The house got's a work in progress still. The garden got the leaves and pine needles cleaned out of the beds. I decided not to replant anything yet, I'll wait until more leaves are off the trees and I am sure that bed is getting better light.
I planted the pansies in the cement planters and the kittens have done everything in their power to kill them ever since then. It is like I planted a new toy just for them.
Phil has been busy too. Yesterday he put new locks on his toolbox to his truck because the others were broken and wouldn't lock any more. Then today he had to put new front brakes on my car and then vacuumed it out (apparently he thought my car was dirty). After that he raked some of the front yard while the cats tried to destroy his piles before he could get them picked up.
I am about to cook supper and then I'm just going to relax for a while. Anything that didn't get done will just have to wait time.

Friday, November 9, 2012

The To-Do List

There are a lot of things I would like to get done this weekend but there are only so many hours in the day.  A few things really must be done though:

-Shopping-I always have to go shopping and to the feed store on Saturday. Phil will be working again so I will be going by myself (the car is much, much smaller than the truck).

-The 3 gallons of pink lemonade wine must be racked into the jugs. Normally that would have happened last weekend but the wine did not get to fermenting last week. Either the yeast was not good or it was just too darn cold in the house. Either way I made a yeast starter (yeast, sugar, water, yeast nutrient), let it grow for a day then added a cup of wine and let it grow again, added more wine and since I could see it was doing well, after a few hours I added it to my bucket of pink lemonade. It has fermented nicely this week.

-The pumpkins have to be dealt with. Some of them have to be canned to make pumpkin pie or whatever with. I am looking up recipes though so I can try something besides pie and bread with it. Pumpkin soup will probably be nice.

-The pansies need to be planted. I bought some pansies to plant in the larger cement urns but they have lived in the greenhouse for the past week.

-The garden needs tending. Some of the seeds did not come up and need to be replanted. A deer nicely dug into the cauliflower bed and although it missed the plants (mostly), I need to clean it up some. There are also lots and lots of leaves in the beds that need to be cleaned out.

-I need to get to my friends house and drop her off more eggs (I have 7 dozen again) and also give her some of the pear relish. Going to my friends house takes time...we talk a LOT. I will try to get that done before work today.

-The house needs a good cleaning. The house is dirty and cluttered. I need to stop putting this one off.

And, of course, there is always in the back of my mind (where I tend to shove it) my knowing that those last three meat birds have to go. I have had them way too long (I have come to like them--or perhaps that is what I keep telling myself so I won't have to do the work of butchering them). There are also a lot of bantam roosters that need to go as well. Just yesterday I opened the nest to one of the hens and found 11 live chicks (and one dead). Luckily I already had the brooder going for 3 chicks that the two of the other bantam hens hatched. So they all went in together. (The last batch of quail, 8, are finishing off brooding in a cage in the greenhouse).
I'm sure there are a few more things that need doing but these are the ones that come to mind at the moment.  What do you need to get done this weekend?

Monday, November 5, 2012

Cheese and Jalapeno Stuffed Chicken Breasts

I made these the other day from a recipe I found online and they were WONDERFUL! This recipe should do about 8 chicken breasts. I did so many because I wanted some extra to take for lunch.

Several chicken breasts
2 large jalapeno peppers, chopped
1 box cream cheese, softened slightly
approx. 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 cups panko bread crumbs
a little vegetable oil
2-3 eggs

Put oil in a frying pan and add bread crumbs. Cook the crumbs stirring often until they are golden brown. In a bowl mix the cream cheese, cheddar cheese and jalapenos. In another bowl put the eggs and beat with a fork.
Cut through the chicken breast until it is almost butterflied. Put some of the cheese-jalapeno mix inside. Close it again. Dip it in the egg and then the bread crumbs covering it complete. Put the breasts on a baking sheet that has a rack in it that has been sprayed with nonstick spray. Bake in the oven on 350 F. for one hour.

I tried to get a picture of what they looked like inside but the picture didn't come out well.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Canned Pears and Canned Pears Mulled in Red Wine

When searching for pear recipes this morning I went and checked out Mark's pickled pears which I definitely would have tried but did not have the white wine vinegar. It did, however, get me searching a bit more and I found a recipe for canned pears mulled in red wine. It was on this blog Creating Nirvana Today, a wonderful blog for canning and cooking, that I had never seen before.
I still have 4 1/2 bottles of the cherry pomegranate wine so decided to try it. I had a lot more pears than her recipe called for, however, so I had to triple the recipe and I changed a few things too to and my way of doing things, I guess.

2 cups sugar
6 cups red wine
3 cinnamon stick
whole cloves (I used about a tablespoon)

This is your syrup. Put it all in a pan and heat it to boiling then just let it simmer for 15 minutes or so.

Peel and core your pears and as you do it measure them out in your jars (I always do it this way, saves me from having any leftover, though you usually need a bit more than you measure out in the jars the first time because when you pack them you do a better job of it) then dump each jar full in a pan of water with some lemon juice in it (a tablespoon or so) to keep the color while you are peeling more. When you are done drain off the lemon water and rinse the pears a few times.

Pack pears into hot jars and spoon in the wine syrup over the top. Water bath can 20 minutes (pints).

They look lovely and the syrup smelled wonderful cooking as well. I made 6 pints.

The rest of the pears I just canned in a light syrup. Two cups sugar to 4 cups water. I added a couple of cinnamon sticks to this syrup as well. Same as above, just peel and core, put in the lemon water then into the jars and add your syrup on top but then water bath can for 25 minutes. This made 5 1/2 pints exactly.
That was all the pears but I think I made good use of them!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Pear Relish

So when I went to visit my neighbor last weekend she mentioned that another neighbor of ours (a friend of hers) had a pear tree in his front yard and it was a shame because the pears were just falling off the tree because no one wanted them. I mentioned that I wished I had them. I don't know that neighbor very well however and didn't feel like I could just go ask him if I could have his pears. But like usual out here the message got sent on and he picked all the pears from the tree and brought them to our mutual friends house for me to pick them up there. There were about 25 lbs of hard pears!
The one thing my friend mentioned to me that these hard pears were good for was making pear relish. Pear relish is quite popular here in the South but, since I am not from here, I had never seen it or tasted it. As usual, I looked it up online and found several recipes...all of them different,  so just kind of made up my own.
Hard pears off the tree in someone's yard do not look much like those nice ones you get in the stores. Here is one of my bags of pears (there were three of them and I still have two left).
But they are nice and white inside once peeled. They do have rather large cores though and some of these were quite small. I peeled and peeled, and my back hurt...a LOT, and still I peeled and cored until I felt I had enough. It was enough to almost fill my largest bowl. I washed them and then whirred them up in the food processor. Looks a lot like applesauce.
I then added these three lovely red Italian sweet onions. I chopped these up in the food processor as well.
I also chopped up a large green bell pepper, a large orange bell pepper, and two fat jalapeno peppers. Pretty!
To this I added 3/4 cup apple cider vinegar, 1 1/2 cups of sugar, 2 1/2 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. ground mustard,  and 1 1/2 tsp pickling spice. Let this simmer on low for about a half hour. Ladle into hot jars, adjust lids and water bath can 10 minutes.
I ended up with 7 pints. I will have to take some to my friend and the owner of the pear tree. There are still a lot of pears to deal with tomorrow plus I have several pumpkins that I bought that were marked down. Going to be busy again tomorrow.