Saturday, March 21, 2009

Dare Devil

Grace has been learning how to ride a 4-wheeler. This is today's result.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

You meant it for evil BUT...

But Joseph said to them, "Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones." Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them. Genesis 50: 19-21

As I was reading this verse this morning, I was struck by Joseph's faith. In a time of uncertainty in our country, at least two things are certain:

1) God will work all things together for good for those that love Him and are called according to His purpose, and

2) God will be glorified!

How sweet is the peace that comes when our hope is in our risen Lord! He took care of our most desperate need, how will He not freely give us all things?

Praise God!! - we don't have to be concerned about uncertain times like the rest of the world for our hope is certain!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Tree and Shrub Order

Well, I finally ordered my trees and shrubs (since the deadline at the one place is the 13th). Here's what I ended up with:

1 - Blueberry, Lowbush and Sunshine Blue Blueberry (supposed to be an evergreen variety which I think will add character to the landscape ;)
2 - Reliance Seedless Grape
3 - August Red Raspberry (A rare ever-bearing variety) (There will be 10 of these.)
4 - Seascape Strawberry (Also and ever-bearing variety. This will produce this year...all 50 of them! :D)
5 - Asparagus - Purple Passion (supposed to be sweeter and less stringy than traditional asparagus)
6 - Allegheny Serviceberry (similar to blueberry and native to my area)
7 - Regent Serviceberry
8 - Siberian Peashrub (a nitrogen fixer that I'm testing ;)
9 - 2 Pawpaws
10 - Hazelnut, American
11 - Red Fortin Hazelnut
12 - Blue Bean Shrub (another interesting experiment ;)
13 - Cornelian Cherry Dogwood (has bright yellow flowers for 3 weeks in spring...flowering even before forsythia :D It also has edible fruit.

I'm praying that these things do well and that I'll be able to add more to them next year. We shall see. I still have to get some barrels so that I can collect rain water for these plants and put up a fence to keep the deer away. I also have to track down another load or two of manure. I'm going to try to talk to some folks and see what planting advice they have. The company will ship my stuff sometime between April 8-20 which is supposed to be the ideal planting time for my area. So I will be very busy when that delivery gets here. Thankfully, my husband said he would help...maybe he can take a personal day :P

Anyway, do you have any experience with any of these things? Are you planting any perennials this year?

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Sunday, March 8, 2009

About a boy and a fish...

We went down to the local sports shop yesterday. It's always nice to visit friends :D While we were there, the kids were fascinated by the fish tank full of minnows. After watching them for a bit, the owner's son came over to the tank and got one out for our four-year-old son to hold. My husband and I were up front talking to the owner when the owner's son came around the corner and said to my husband, "You're son is just like you." We said, "What do you mean?" and headed towards the fish tank. Apparently, our son very quickly dropped the fish that he was holding and stomped on was very flat and gooey with little splatters of yucky stuff...ewwwwwwwww.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Butter and Honey-Vanilla Whipped Cream


The easiest way that I make butter is with a stand mixer. Simply put the cream in the mixer and turn it on low. Gradually increase the speed just as high as you can go without splattering cream everywhere. Stay right there with the cream as it will begin to thicken and you will need to continue to increase the speed. Within five or ten minutes (depending on your mixer and the temperature of your cream), the cream will separate into a chunk and whey. You really want to pay attention because you'll want to turn the mixer down again so that the whey does not splatter all over the kitchen. The chunk is your butter. Put it in a bowl and clean the excess whey off by running the butter under cold water and pushing on it with a spoon. Do this until the run-off is clear. If you want your butter to keep longer, simply salt it and store it in the fridge or freezer.

The Long and Fun Way

1) Put the cream in a jar.
2) Allow it to come to room temperature (which makes the cream separate more quickly ;)
3) Shake the jar until the cream separates.

Depending on how fast/hard you are shaking the jar, you should have butter in 15-20 minutes. However, it might take longer if you're letting your kids shake ;)

Honey-Vanilla Whipped Cream (from Breadbeckers Recipe Collection)

To 1 cup of cream (can use fresh or whipping) drizzle 2 Tbs. mild honey (Tupelo or Clover) and a 1/2 tsp. vanilla while whipping.

Just like the butter, it does work if you want to whip it by hand, but it is much faster with a mixer. ;)

I recommend making this for use right away as it will begin to separate upon sitting.

Ricotta and Yogurt

Here are some of the things that I do when I have excess milk. (Ricotta and Crockpot Yogurt)

Zazi's Ricotta

1) Heat a gallon of milk to 180 at about medium high in a large pan. (Rinsing the inside bottom of the pan in cold water before starting will help keep the milk from sticking to the bottom ;) You don't want to heat on high because you don't want this to come to a boil and scorch the milk.

2) Stir in 1/4 c. apple cider vinegar. You will begin to see the milk separate into curds (ricotta) and whey.

3) Use a slotted spoon to scoop the curds out into a strainer lined with cheesecloth or a thin hand-towel. This strainer should be sitting in a bowl so that the whey has some contained place to go ;)

4) Let the whey drain from the curds that you've scooped out. I do this by bringing the corners of my towel together, tying them with a rubber band, putting the rubber band around one of the kitchen cabinet handles, and letting it hang for ten minutes or so. There are a lot of ways to do it though; you'll have to find out what works best for you. (Some would gather the ends of the cloth together and tie securely with twine. Then, tie the bag to the handle of a large spoon and lay the spoon across the top oven rack with a bowl underneath. I just didn't want to leave my oven door open with four kids running around the house :P

As I understand it, this is not actually true ricotta as ricotta means "recooked". You can find "real" ricotta instructions with pictureshere.

For a wealth of information on various unique homemade things (including root beer, other cheeses, etc.), visit this page.

This professor also has a number of other cheese making instructions (complete with pictures).

I prefer this crockpot method for yogurt making.

Happy Cooking!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Computer Issues?

Ever have computer issues? My husband has recently set up a blog with a couple of his friends that deals with specifically with computer technology. They're still working on getting it up and going, but I think you'll find today's article helpful and informative. It deals with malware and since one in four computers gets infected with malware, I'd say it's worth a read.

Eventually, these guys hope to set up a forum for questions and whatnot, but if you have any thoughts, you might consider sending them an e-mail to let them know what you would find helpful.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Beware of Freebies

My friend has a blog with a couple other bloggers. On this blog, they routinely have a freebie roundup in which they list various free samples and the like. Unfortunately for my husband, I am a sucker for freebies (hence, my inbox is now swamped with spam ;) It seems a small price to pay for a mailbox full of goodies...most of the time.

You see, today, my husband called me to say, "Honey, do we REALLY need absorbent underwear? Why!?! Did you know that the kids are off of school today?" (Me-Uh, yes. Why do I need to know that.) "Because! They're all walking down the street as I'm carrying this huge pink and purple package that has absorbent underwear written all over it." (Me--ha ha, really! That is soooo funny! Well, you never know when you're going to need was free!)

So next time you order freebies...make sure you warn your husband...especially if he is prone to walk through a small town where everyone knows you...with the mail. Or you could just savor the free embarrassment and pray he isn't the vindictive type :D

(I love you, handsome!!!! I am sooooo soooooo sorry--rofl ;)

Here's the picture of the absorbent underwear package. It was a Pampers UnderJams sample-lol.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Gardening Journal

I answered another bloggers questions today and realized that my response was long enough to be a blog here is some of it...

I've only been gardening for a couple of years now, but here is what I am up to:

Question 1 - What are you doing right now to get ready for
the growing season?

Currently, I am putting clear greenhouse plastic over the part of the garden that I intend to plant in the spring so that I can begin to defrost the ground. Later, I will use this plastic to cover plants that I put in early. I got this idea from The Encyclopedia of Country Living by Carla Emery. She recommends starting the spring seedlings indoors Mar 1 and putting them out (in your defrosted bed) April 1, with the intent of covering them, of course. I'm starting some of the cold weather crops (like broccoli) indoors while seeding lettuce, spinach, garlic chives, and onions outdoors in a cold frame. You can see Carla's Early Spring Garden Plan here. As for the things I'm seeding in the cold frame, I am following the recommendations in our local extension office's annual Garden Calendar. For folks in my area, the extension agent recommends adjusting the dates on the calendar by a week or two for our part of the state (later rather than earlier ;). You may consider contacting your local extension office to find out if they put out a calendar for your area ;)

I'm also getting and installing solar electric around our garden area so that the deer will not destroy everything. I'll put peanut butter on the fence so that they will all come and have a taste, experience the shock, and stay away from the garden. I want to get the fence up now so that they do not get into the habit of coming to the garden. It is very hard to discourage deer when they know how good the stuff inside is.

I'm also getting ready to order perennials (just a tree, some berry shrubs, and some strawberries...probably). Fedco will ship them at the appropriate time for my growing season, but the order deadline is Mar. 14.

These are all new things that I am doing this year, but I am taking the advice of seasoned gardeners.

What are you doing in your garden right now?

Happy Gardening!