According to the calendar Spring has sprung but what a cold one! I have found there is only one sure way to know what the weather is; look outside and read the thermometer! Once again it is being forecasted that we will have temps into the mid 40’s and even up to 50 by Monday. Let me just say I won’t hold my breath but low 40’s would be great; anything to allow the sap to flow. If it warms up too much and doesn’t freeze at night it won’t flow either so it is a wait and see situation. It is so good to have the sun though.
I thought I’d post this little treat. I found the recipe on Pinterest and have tried it twice now. The first time I made it, it was good. I decided to make them a little differently the second time. I added slivered almonds, dried cranberries and then put a little melted chocolate on top. This made them more tender, falling apart more easily and they were actually too rich for my liking. I know; how can chocolate be too rich. I have cut back on sweets to the point that I’m not big on even chocolate! For this I am really glad. I’ve never been one to eat a lot of chocolate or candy but I am a bread eater. That has been the hard one but I am resisting better than I ever thought I’d be able to. So for the treats, I would leave the almonds and cranberries out. They could be made like and Almond Joy bar and have a whole almond sitting on top, covering them with chocolate. I haven’t tried it but I’m sure they would be good. Here is the recipe.
Coconut Crack Bars
3 c shredded unsweetened coconut
1/2 c coconut oil melted
1/4 c Maple Syrup
Mix together well. Line an 8X8 inch square pan with parchment or waxed paper. Spread the mixture evenly in the pan, lightly pressing it. Refrigerate until firm, about 20-30 minutes. Cut and serve. How simple is that!
Coconut oil is so good for us. This is one way to have a little treat without having all the junk that often comes with something sweet. It’s also something kids can make and experiment with. Enjoy!
More another day,
I was awake before 5:30 this morning! I was in bed by 9:30 last night so I guess that’s eight hours of sleep and my body was saying it was enough. I don’t mind the quiet morning. If it were warm out, I’d be out in the front porch but it’s still only in the 20’s. It is supposed to warm up in to the 40’s though! I’m hoping the sap will run today. All this month, the forecasts for warmer temps have been wrong so as of yet we have not collected any sap:( I just hope we won’t have to redrill the holes. We shouldn’t have to but we’ve not had this happen before so I’m not sure. As I sit and write, I can hear the wind chimes lightly playing a tune. It is a nice tune but the tunes I have gotten excited about lately are those of the returning birds! I’m not sure if we are seeing effects of all the toxins in our world on wildlife or what but we have not had the bird population during the winter months like we normally have had in years past. There are several birds that typically are here all year round and this year it just seems like there has been very few. So as you can imagine, to hear the Mourning Dove, the Blue Jay, the Cardinal, a songbird and yes, even the Starlings, seems very nice and brings hope of warmer weather. There is something about listening to them sing that brings peace to the heart.
Yesterday was productive. I managed to bake bread from my new yeast start and it turned out really good. It inspires me to keep it going and cut back on what little bit of bread I have been buying. I just dont know if having it around will be too much temptation to resist.
I also managed to get dusting and vacuuming done since it has been so bad with remodeling the last bedroom upstairs. It has been a slow process but it should get painted sometime this week! It will not be finished but it will be progress. We will be building a bunkbed system in it that I’m sure will take a little figuring out. We will also want to do the floor before we are done. I am happy that we are seeing light at the end of the tunnel! It will be so nice to have the rooms completed for when the kids come to stay.
Better leave it there.
It has been months since last making my own bread. I have missed it but I just couldn’t do it all. That for me is the hard part. I want to do it all! I love to learn how to make things that keep me from having to pay for them in the stores. Most of the time, anything we can make at home is far healthier and much less expensive. The problem for me is that I haven’t found a way to keep up on making some things while still living in the day and age where we are supposed to be able to drop everything and go when life says, “go!” So, now I’m feeling like I might be able to get back into making my own bread again. I was given a book that changed my thinking about making breads. It is called The Art of Baking with Natural Yeast by Caleb Warnock. This book explains what yeast is which I thought I knew, but it also explains the benefits of making your own yeast and how much better it is for us. It is a book well worth reading if not owning. Last week I began starting a batch of yeast. Approximately one week later, I have a nice start of bubbly yeast and I hope that tomorrow I can get my bread started. It is similar to Sourdough starter but if fed often, it is not sour. The book explains how to make the starter, dry some for future use and how to make all kinds of breads from natural yeast. I had dried some starter a long time ago. I took about one tsp of the dried flakes of yeast and placed them in this crock with 1/4 c of warm water. I think they were old enough that they didn’t want to dissolve very well. I left them to set on the counter for a couple of days. I then added 1/4 c flour to the water and yeast flakes and stirred it till it was well moistened. I added equal parts water and flour for the next couple of days. I also sprinkled about 1/4 tsp Activated Yeast to it to feed it because I was not confident that my flakes were any good. Not sure it was necessary but I didn’t think it would hurt to help get it going. I also placed the starter next to some washed grapes. According to the book, grapes have natural yeast on them and can help with the growth of the yeast starter. Within a day or two the yeast was bubbly. I put it in the refrigerator to slow it down until I can use it. I will take it out and let it come to room temperature before making the dough. Hopefully I haven’t totally forgotten the nac of breadmaking! We shall see soon enough.
Be back soon
When we first bought our place, we managed to obtain a few chickens and a four month old foal. Within a few months we got an older horse that the girls could ride while we waited for the young one to grow and be trained. At some point, not long after that, we got goats hoping they would eat the weeds in the pasture so the grasses could grow and the horses would be happy! This would all be topped off with the great benefit of having our own fresh milk! These were expensive goats given to us by a friend who bought them from one of the worlds top breeders at that time. (Seriously! We wouldn’t have had them otherwise). While enjoying our little farm, my mother gave us this framed picture which was very fitting. The caption underneath is the scripture verse from Prov. 27:27. “You will have plenty of goats’ milk to feed you and your family and to nourish your servant girls.” After trying for a long time to get all of us to enjoy the milk, we determined that we were not goat milk lovers. Over time, the goats were passed along, the girls grew and even the horses were sold. Somewhere in the interim, hubby decided to get bees and we began the challenge of keeping bees alive. Beekeeping is a fascinating hobby and if all goes well, the harvesting of honey is amazing and very tasty. Somewhere in time, this lady (me), began to dream of having a little Miniature Jersey, giving a perfect amount of milk, looking so cute with those big brown eyes and being a small, less expensive animal to feed. Well, we have not gotten a Miniature Jersey yet but the milk is more than fabulous. I tell all this because of the picture. At the time we were given the picture, I didn’t know all that we would experience but the verse has been very fitting for us. We may not have goats anymore but we have land flowing with milk and honey; more than enough to provide for about ten households! I still hope to have a Miniature Jersey sometime but for now our small standard Jersey queen is fine and serves us well. It is interesting to me; daughter number two, who is due to have a baby next early fall, has always been the most sensitive one when it comes to tasting things. When everyone else thinks something smells or tastes fine, she is the one who can give anything a final test. She has the sensory system of a bloodhound! She has been one of the last ones to even come on board with drinking fresh milk because she is so sensitive. Since being pregnant however and dealing with serious morning sickness, she now can’t hardly open a jug of store bought milk without getting sick to her stomach, literally! The smell of it sets her off but yet she has no problem with the fresh milk. The best part is, the fresh raw milk is so much healthier for her and the new baby. The nutrition is so much better and she is not putting all the chemicals, hormones, antibiotics and other toxins in her system. Even if she can’t keep solids down she will at least be getting quite adequate nutrition with this “real” food source. I am so thankful for this resource in our diets.
So, that is a little history lesson from Four Sisters Farm.
Nothing like starting a new post, when you already feel like it’s been too long, getting interrupted and having to put it down then not picking it up again until the next day and realizing that I forgot to hit the save button!! So here goes for the second time.
About a month ago, I posted about my attempt to make homemade raw apple cider vinegar. I chopped apples, cores, peels and all, enough to fill a 1/2 gallon jar at least half way. There’s no rush when doing this because having them turn a little brown is absolutely fine. Infact, using bruised apples or apples getting soft is great. Then I filled the jar with water to what I call the shoulder, where the jar starts to curve in. I placed a paper coffee filter over the jar and secured it with a rubber band. I placed it in a dark cupboard and opened it up daily to push the apple pulp down into the water. As time went on the apple pieces became more mushy and were harder to press into the water so I put a straw into the jar. My thought was, it might help to get a little air into the jar. Why I thought this, I’m not sure but it didn’t seem to hurt anything. As time went on, I could smell the beginning of Vinegar! In the picture you can see the vinegar being strained through cheesecloth and the Litmus papers to test the vinegar. I had purchased the Litmus papers on line. They are cheap and fun to use. It reminded me of when we would use them in science class as kids. Anyway, from what I gather, the vinegar is registering at a 5% to 6% acidity. As most of the jar seemed to be filled with a bunch of mush, I didn’t think I would get much finished product but I was able to get 1 quart of vinegar from it after letting it drain. I’m impressed!! I got more than I had expected. My vinegar looks too light in color so I first thought that something must not be right but after thinking about it, I realized that companies making vinegar are not going to buy fresh apples to make something that has to ferment. They would be buying the damaged apples that you and I would not buy in the stores. I used soft apples that were beginning to wrinkle but they weren’t too bruised. Now I know what I can make from the apples that we get every year from a tree in our yard. They are not good apples for eating or storing but I bet they will be just fine for making vinegar. Since they are a fairly soft apple, they bruise easily. I would assume this is why vinegar you buy in the store is more brown. I will keep you posted on the performance of the vinegar. If it is good, it will save many dollars as I had to pay nearly $9 per gallon for raw organic Apple Cider Vinegar in the store. I love things that are so simple to make and save so much money. One of the gallon jugs I bought had the “mother” or “scoby” growing in the bottom so I’m thinking I will add part of it to my bottle and see if it produces a little more acidity.
We are back to winter. So disappointing when the trees are all tapped, waiting for sunshine and temperatures that were predicted but instead we get hit with the opposite. It is below 30F and snowing. I guess that’s what Spring is; back and forth.
I shall continue to cozy up to winter projects.
More to come!
Memories can have great effects on our lives, both good and bad. March always makes me think back to some of my favorite memories of Spring. I mentioned the other day about the rushing brooks that were temporarily formed from the quick thawing snow and how much fun we had as kids seeing that. At the same grandparents’ home, March always brought in the birth of little lambs to the small flock that my Grandpa had. It was an exciting day in the Spring when the announcement came that the lambs were born and we could go see them. We were allowed to hold them and bottle feed them which is a big deal for little kids. As I look back, an immediate bond was formed with those little wooly bleating babies, at least on my part. I can even remember their smell and the feel of their curly wool. It always made Spring very special. When I think of our grandkids coming over and seeing the calves we’ve had or the little chicks, I am pleased to think they will most likely be able to have pleasant memories to reflect back on when they are older. We don’t have any Spring babies on Four Sisters Farm because we breed our cow to calve in August or September but it is still a good time.
As the yard is continuously exposed, the list of “things to do” starts to accumulate in my mind. I look forward to a warm day that I can enjoy picking up sticks and even raking. I doubt I’ll be out there in the next week or two but I do look forward to it. For now, I mentioned we have tapped the trees and we await the flow of sap. Oh how I hope it will be a good year. I will wash the sap barrel today and get it up on the back of the RTV. Once we have collected enough sap to start boiling we will set up the stove. Mmmm. Liquid gold I call it!
I would love to have a picture of my memories but I haven’t quite figured out how to accomplish that!
Have a sunny day.
I have found cheese making to be very fascinating. The thought of making it use to sound impossible; even scary. (Remember, I like things simple and uncomplicated). After reading several recipes and purchasing a couple of books about making cheese, I began to attempt it. Wow, the best is fresh cheese curds. It is hard to stay out of them. Yesterday, I had some milk I wanted to use up. Since I messed up the last time I made yogurt, leaving it in the crockpot on too high of a heat and accidentally making a soft cheese, I decided to experiment with this bit of milk and attempt to make cheese in the crockpot. What I ended up making was a soft cheese more like Ricotta. I am impressed. There are times when I don’t have enough milk to spare for doing a large batch of cheese so this is a perfect way to use milk in a smaller amount. I am looking forward to making lasagne with it. I simply heated a quart of milk to 90 degrees, added Mesophilic Culture and stirred it in, turned the pot off and let it sit for an hour wrapped in towels. I then added liquid Rennet and stirred it in, letting it rest for another hour. During the rest times, I wrap the pot to keep the temp at 90 as much as possible. After the hour or even longer, I cut the curd and turned the pot on warm. I’m not sure how much time went by after this, maybe a half hour or more. I gently stirred the curds. At this point I drained off most of the whey and added about 1 tsp or less of salt. I stirred it a few times as more whey came out. I simply went by texture and taste. Drained it a little more in a strainer and put it in the frig. As you can see in the picture it is even a little dryer like Ricotta. I have found that if cheese doesn’t turn out to be the texture I was hoping for, there’s usually a way to use it up. Texture doesn’t mean flavor. Experimenting helps me to understand cheesemaking a little more and keeps it interesting.
Jersey girl has stopped looking for the calf. It took her around 48 hours to settle into being without her. The nice part is getting more milk!
Thanks for the comments on the last couple of posts. It is always encouraging to hear from you!
Every now and then I find myself thinking things are more difficult than they really are or I make them more difficult then they need to be. I have made butter many times. I like to culture a quart of cream with about a 1/4 c of Cultured Buttermilk by letting it stand for 4-6 hours. This makes enough that I can stick part of it in the freezer. Normally, with a larger amount of cream I use my bread mixer with the padddle attachment. I used to use the food processor but had heard that this can break the molecules down small enough to pass through the lining of the gut. I don’t know if that is true but I have decided to use the paddles just in case. Yesterday, I had about 1 1/2 c of cream that I decided to use up. I cultured it with my buttermilk and then, being such a small batch I used my immersion blender on the low speed. It worked really well and in a short time I had a small ball of butter. I placed it in a bowl of water, pressed the butter in the water for a while and poured the water off. When pressing the butter produced little or no milky water I poured it off and then worked in about 1/2 tsp of salt. I then placed the butter in the butter bell. This is something I’ve seen at different times online and in resale stores. I’ve wondered whether or not they work well. The idea is that air doesn’t get to the butter, causing it to go rancid because there is water in the lower part of the container. We will find out how well it works in a few days. My desire is to use mostly all raw organic butter. I have read that this is one of the best changes we can make in our diets if we want to avoid toxins. Mmm, a piece of toast will taste even better, knowing I am eating healthy butter. I try to avoid bread because it is my downfall but at some point I will cave in to a slice just to enjoy the butter.
Hopefully soon, I will be posting that I have been successful to get back into the bread baking with Natural Yeast. This is not Sourdough yeast however is made in the same order. I was into a regular routine of making natural yeast bread but with the busy year we had starting last spring I couldn’t keep up. I’m missing it and hope to get back into it before long.
One last thing that I think you’ll find interesting. Yesterday, daughter #2 dropped a jug of laundry detergent and it splashed up into her face, hitting both eyes. It not only burned but caused her eyes to swell. The only thing suggested for treating this is to flush them with water. She did this but was still very uncomfortable. She got the idea to try something that ended up really working. She put breast milk in her eyes! Yes, breast milk! Breast milk is a natural treatment for Pink Eye. Its loaded with wonderful qualities and for this reason, it was soothing and took the discomfort away. I’m thinking that it must have worked something like sour cream does for taming down hot sauce when eating Mexican food, taking the burn away.
Well, life is never dull. I’ll be back!
What a beautiful day. The sun has been shining the whole day. It’s well above freezing so we are losing our snow quite steadily. It will be gone I would assume, by the middle of the week since it will be in the mid to upper 40s for a few days. I remember as a kid, we could hardly wait for these days of Spring. Across the dirt road from my Grandma’s house there was an area that was partially wooded an had somewhat of an incline to it. There were little knolls all over the area which in turn made small low lying areas about the size of a bath tub. During a fast Spring thaw, the water would run from the top of the property, down and over the knolls, into the low spots, winding through like a very fast moving brook. It was swift enough that if we weren’t careful when playing in it, we would get knocked off our feet our have our boots filled in no time. Those were the years when we had so much snow, the thaw would keep the water running for a few days. I remember the sound of the rushing water. I remember the dead grasses being combed by the water. I also remember playing cowgirl by the rushing water. I remember even my parents being fascinated with how much water bubbled over the knolls. It was the perfect scene for riding my imaginary horse. Nearly every Spring, I still wonder if the water is running at Grandma’s. I would go today and see it if I thought it were. Such fond memories I have of going to Grandma’s.
The calf is gone! It is a good day when the calf is sold and there’s no longer a need to share the milk with a calf. I am anxious to milk in the morning. That’s all for now.
I shall return.
How does Friday come so quickly? I guess it’s a sign of activity. Activity is a sign of life. I guess that means we are still kickin! It has been a good week. Monday our veterinarian came and dehorned the calf. I was thankful we were able to have him do it since he has recently moved and I wasn’t sure but what I would have to hunt around for someone else to do it. It probably would have cost quite a bit more. When hubby went to check on her before bed, she was still bleeding some so I sent him back out with Cayenne Pepper and he doused it that and the bleeding stopped. I was so thankful to have heard about Cayenne for that purpose. I guess years ago they would use flour or what ever they had on hand. Cayenne works great.
We continue to work on the spare bedroom. My job is to have my mind made up on decisions and keep the mess from tracking through the upstairs, down throughout the rest of the house as the guys have to go in and out to cut lumber and drywall. Yuck!
Wednesday six of my ladies came to stay with us for the night; our little Ella Roo, her Mommy and four sisters. We are really enjoying Ella’s little newborn size. She has graduated though, into 0-3 months size. Thursday was spent shopping and going to an Orthodontist appointment before the crew headed home. Today, it was my turn to run around town. I wanted to crash when I got home. Why is shopping so exhausting? Tomorrow the calf will be picked up. We will be happy campers since we will no longer have to separate them at night and we will get more milk since we won’t be sharing it any longer with the calf.
It will be good to clean my floors again so I can feel like peoples feet won’t get dirty if they walk on them. Hopefully the worst of the mess is over.
Time to snooze away.