Sunday, January 30, 2011

Canning Ghee

Ghee sitting on the kitchen counter cooling. It will turn white completely white when I take it to the basement storage room.
After learning how wonderful ghee is, I had to look up to see if you could can it. Sure enough, ghee can be canned. With all I've learned lately, I now know ghee is going to become a basic part of my cooking. I've used extra virgin olive oil for years thinking I was doing a good thing since it was simply pressed and no chemicals used to extract the oil. What I didn't take the time to learn was the smoke point. OOOSP!! the experts recommend that you use extra virgin for salad dressings and light sauces -- not for deep fat frying or baking at temperatures 350 or greater. Well, dummy here was using it for everything despite its cost all while thinking I was saving our health. Not!! Not even those wonderful home-made buttermilk pancakes were as healthy as I thought since they were fried at 350F. So now I'm rethinking my oil use since I'm not willing to buy light olive oils even though their smoke point goes up to 468F and canola oil is highly processed too so its out though I had been using it in baked goods mainly because of the price of olive oil. The manufacturers just can't remove all the chemicals they use to extract the oil from the plants and I've wanted to find a way clear of using the canola oil and light olive oil and now I've a nutritious solution --ghee.

Ghee depending on the purity smoke point goes from 375 to 485F falling well within my cooking range. Besides it is one more thing I can do myself and not be depend on others to provide for me.

But, goat butter isn't available all of the year when you are producing your own. For two or three months goats are dry before kidding. Then after kidding, the young are bottle fed for two months, making it four or five months of no milk, -- no milk, no butter. That's a third of the year. My plan is to eventually get two goats going where the gap of when we are without milk is either zero or only one month. One month in which I've enough frozen milk, butter, and cream, in the freezer to tide us over. That would mean kidding early in the spring - April and then July in the summer.

We presently have one three year old doe freshening in April and two coming yearlings which will freshen for the first time in May. One of the yearlings I will sell not needing quite that much milk and by next year I hope to have the two remaining does on schedule.

Enough of my plans, what you are wanting is the directions to how to can your own ghee so you can include it in your own cooking goals of self-sufficiency.

I took most of the butter I'd frozen in the freezer and put it in my milk pot. The one I heat milk in prior to separating.

I melted it on about 3 on my electric stove, a higher temperature than the 1 I set the stove on with just one pound of butter. As it began to boil, I turned it down. Lots of foam will form on top as the butter separates into water, oil, and milk solids but don't worry just keep cooking away.
The foam calms down as the water boils off.When done, the milk solids are browned on the bottom leaving an oil that can be used by lactose intolerant people. In an emergency, this oil can be also used in a lamp for fuel - handy stuff. Now none of these instructions are anything new since I've already told you about making butter so refer back to that post for detailed instructions. You go on from here to straining the oil like before but you place it in sterilized jars. I used half pints to minimize the chance of moisture causing the ghee to go bad before the jar is all used up. With moisture in mind, I used a hair dryer turned on high blowing the air inside the jars to make sure they were completely dry since water invites bacterial growth.

Now canning ghee is nothing new to you who can a lot but where typical canning differs with ghee is that I boiled my lids but then dried them with clean paper towels and used the hair dryer once more make sure the moisture was evaporated off. After placing the lids on top of the jars, I put the jars in to a boiling water bath canner, allowing two inches of boiling water to cover the jars. I processed them for 10 minutes and voila, that was it. Easy peasy as Cindy says.
I should have plenty to get me by until I'm making butter again.
One of these days, I'm going to get a chart made to help with the uses for goat milk. You know, whole milk makes buttermilk, light cream - sour cream, heavy cream -butter, whole milk - cheese, but there's one you make with whey ( I've done it but I can't remember which type of milk product I use.) etc. etc.
Plus, the recipes for the ones I make often I need in a handy booklet so that I'm getting the full use of my milk because this brain just can't store all the information I need. The files just keep getting lost up there.
Another goal this year is to make cream cheese, something I just never got to this year. And I can't remember what I made ricotta cheese with, was it whole milk, no--- I think it was skimmed milk. See, I've just got to get better organized to better use my resources. Prices of food are going to climb and I know Kirk's income won't keep pace. It already isn't. That's where I've got to shrink our dependence on store products making us less vulnerable to the changes.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Brenda's Photo Challenge (Frozen)

Brenda's Photo Challenge has started up again. I love photography as you can probably tell so once more I've joined the challenge. This time the theme is Frozen. Some of these photos are from last year and some this winter. Enjoy!This Pronghorn fawn was in the back yard last year.Funny thing is, this year there aren't any Pronghorn antelope in town and last year there were scads. Five Mule Deer are munching on trees and bushes instead. Why the switch, I don't know but the vegetation is appreciating the fewer numbers.

Got to love hoar frost as it decorates everything with spikey jewels.
We had quite a bit of it this winter.One must not forget the bison that roam just north of town for they are another thing that makes our county unique. We have the most Pronghorn antelope of anywhere in the world and thousands of head of bison. Winter wouldn't be complete without home-made goat cream cherry ice cream yum!!!
Did you know that more ice cream is consumed in the winter months than in the summer?

Now head on out and visit Brenda's photo challenge to see what others put in their blogs under the frozen category.

This might be especially nice for those of you WAY down south who are sweating through the summer months. It just might cool you off.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Winter Canning

It's the perfect time of year to do some more canning. The weather is cold outside and the canner kicks off lots of heat warming the kitchen making it feel snug and comfortable. Not like in the summer when the sweat, oh excuse me, dew drops form on your forehead from the stifling kitchen making you feel miserable. Don't forget the smell. It permeates throughout the house adding to the inviting warmth an ambiance of homeyness.

Yes, canning in the winter is so... much more pleasant. But your probably wondering what I'm canning since the garden is a graveyard of once green lush vegetation.

Jam of course since we don't produce enough raspberries, ( a soil problem I'm going to work on big time this summer - I hope) and blackberries which we don't produce at all. I find them at a discount price frozen and let them sit in the freezer until the weather turns cold. Then of course I can milk because in a few days Chicory will be dry since she will freshen the beginning of April. That's the jars on the left. On the right is ghee. I know, I've yet to give you the instructions. I promise I will.

Of course beans. These are navy beans. Why would I can beans? They are cheaper to buy dried especially since I go to the beanery over the mountain where my mom lives and get them for a song. It's the place the farmers take their bean harvests and get beans for seed for the next year. They clean them and bag as many as I want of several kinds.

The other reason is the long list of ingredients in this can of kidney beans from the store.
Mine, just water and beans.

This year I canned 10 bean, navy bean, black beans, and kidney beans. I have pink and red beans but I won't get them done for other projects are knocking at my door or rather pounding loudly.

Why not can beans? It so simple. Bring to a boil the dried beans covered by a couple inches of water. Boil 30 minutes, stirring frequently. Pack hot beans into jars, leaving an inch headspace, (I suggest leaving more than that as I have a tendency to over fill my jars), and ladle hot cooking liquid or boiling water over the beans. Remove air bubbles, put on lids and caps, process at 10 pounds pressure in a pressure canner. I of course process at 12 pounds pressure because of our altitude. Process pints for 1 hour and 15 minutes and quarts for 1 hour and 30 minutes.

It heats up the kitchen nicely, avoids all the additives, and your not eating the can. Yes, the foods inside of a can eat away at the metal giving you more than you wanted or should be ingesting for your health. Acidic foods are especially bad about this. And as far as using lots of energy, well, get a better canner. Mine, once it gets up to pressure has to be turned way way down to barely on. It will maintain the temperature with very little electricity. My old one wouldn't.

Usually this time of year I'm also finishing off the squash and pumpkins, canning and freezing them but since I didn't get around to growing any ---- I still had quite a bit left over from last year so I'm still good and they will go in this year. If I had a cellar, oh how I'd love one, then I'd probably be doing sauerkraut and possibly beets or something. I don't really know since I've never had one.

Next, I'm going to start fruit leather. Using the older bottles of peaches. Sometimes that includes applesauce or pears but not this year. This winter delight gets eaten up in a hurry and our kids look forward to it every year. You can also use those older cans of pineapple etc. I'll talk about this more later.

So rev up your canner and get going. It's winter canning season and for those of you who like canned chili, can your own, your doing the beans anyway and don't stop there. You could do ham and beans too. I've done all kinds of things including soups. And who knows, this year might just be the year I finally make orange marmalade.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

It Worked

Well, the bread turned out yummy!!
And in the left hand corner of the photo, you can see the blackberry jam I made as part of my winter canning spree which I'll tell you about tomorrow.
I won't mislead you, the bread didn't turn out how I thought it would when I started out but none the less a success.
You see I had planned on putting more wheat flour in but I made the mistake of adding too much water in the beginning and something had to absorb all that moisture. It wasn't going to be wheat flour at that point since I couldn't disguise it well enough I figured to get it past the kids so white was used instead.
My first move in making this rather unique bread was to put a cup of home-made buttermilk, a cup of wheat flour, and a cup of left over squash from a meal a few days before, all approximate measurements of course, (What would be the fun of accuracy?) in to a container to sit overnight in the refrigerator. The theory was to allow the flavors to meld, much like I've learned that leaving my graham cracker dough in the refrigerator overnight gets rid of the strong wheaty taste.
Then the next morning I added two cups of warm water and a scant tablespoon of yeast to my kitchen aid mixture. When that had proofed, I put in the squash mixture, about a third of a cup of ghee, a cap of salt - probably a tablespoon, and about a fourth of a cup of sugar. My honey needs melted down or I'd of added that instead. I mixed the dough thoroughly and then started adding white flour, and more white flour, and more white flour. Then I let it raise and I added more white flour and let it raise again. The dough was still quite sticky but I didn't want to add more flour being afraid it would become dry when baked. So I just let the dough raise for a total of four times to develop the dough like in a no knead type. The last raise being inside a well floured white cotton flour sack dish cloth. Just as in my favorite European style no knead bread, the dough raised more rapidly with each rise as the yeast fed off the sugars in the flour in different locations.
Meanwhile, as the final rise was completing, I put my cast iron dutch oven in the oven at 400 F to get real hot (about 20 to 30 minutes). Then I dumped the raised dough shaking it lightly to spread it across the bottom more evenly. I kept the temperature on high for 20 minutes or so to get the maximum rise out of the bread. In bread pans I do this at 375F and then lower the temperature to 350F.
The squash and buttermilk added wonderful new flavors along with additional nutrition so don't be afraid to try your own experiment with leftovers and don't forget to let me in on your success.
Our youngest rather upset that Grandma didn't understand what she was saying.
And don't cry if it doesn't turn out just as you planned. Our oldest grand daughters first snowman. It was built last night.
You never know, your creation might not have the traditional look but be something quite unique and wonderful.
My other experiment incompaces buttermilk. I placed it in my yogurt maker to culture. Our house is just a bit too cold and the buttermilk doesn't want to make new buttermilk since the weather turned cold. This works wonderful and in far less time. The product is thicker also.

Fire up those creative juices, something wonderful might just happen.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Who Done It

Since the inside of the truck is full of groceries and the bed has livestock feed, I'll give you a light mystery to solve today. I've three cranky children and no one wants me to put my shopping items away let alone blog. It's going to be a rough few hours and they aren't the only ones pooped and cranky.
See this chandelier that hangs above our kitchen table?
Note this hardware missing from its bottom.

Now look at the distance between the table and the light fixture.

Who done it?This shunshine who was sick this day with a high fever?
This sweet little bug, who's two and in to everything but extremely short for her age.
Or the middle grand child?

Those of you who have been following this blog have a great advantage I admit having learned the personalities of these three for of the three it can only be the one that did it. Her personality is a give away. I'm still wondering why she did it and how she even knew it unscrewed. It's what made a trip to the next much larger town over such a tiring adventure. She's good, just extremely busy and wants to touch everything.

Have you got one of these extremely tactile children in your household? This grandchild's mom was the same way.

Making Ghee

So busy and so much to talk about that I've five posts I'm working on and I'm having trouble finding the time to write. It's one thing to do it, another to photograph and prepare the photographs for the blog, and yet another thing to write the posts. You see the kids are STILL sick but well enough to take to school. Noses running and a little cough make it so the kids are more active but still demanding and a bit grouchy. Lots of holding time still for the youngest and

This all while I'm full swing in to my winter canning season. What? canning in the winter. Yup, I have a winter canning season when I've emptied enough jars in the fall that I can begin canning once more but that's a story for another day.

Except, that I canned ghee also along with the usual things. Yes, you can can ghee, but first I'll have to tell you about how to make it. I've done it twice now. The first time was a small batch and the second a large one in order to can it and help clear space for the beef going insidethe freezer in part where I had frozen butter. Today, I'm using ghee in some bread while sneaking in some wheat flour, and squash in an unusual way. I'll tell you about that too. If it works out well it will be a long post and if not a bleep in another. All this is part of my eat healthier campaign that is to include the kids. That is where the difficult part comes in. I've got to sneak nutrition in since their use to store packaged items. I've been slowly working on them all fall and now it's time to step it up a big notch. Ghee is a part of that program since it is so assimilable for the body. Besides, it will save money on all the olive oil I use to buy since ghee will take some of its place in my cooking.

If your wondering what the picture is, of course it's ghee turns white, which is what it does when cool. This is my ghee in the refrigerator though the instructions say it will keep at room temperature for a month. I'm overly cautious since this is all new to me.

A drop of moisture can cause your ghee to go bad since it allows bacteria to enter so just in case in the refrigerator it's going. I just have a pint so it can keep company with the buttermilk, and the sour dough starter.

Now for those instructions you've been waiting for.

The first step to making ghee is to purchase some butter or in my case make butter from my dairy goats. They say a pound makes about a pint. I didn't measure so I don't know, sorry. Measuring is something that doesn't come natural to me.

Some say use salted and some say use unsalted. Then some go on to say that cultured butter is the only kind to use for it gives a much better flavor. I wouldn't know since I've never had cultured butter. Since everyone seems to have a different opinion, I say use what you've got and then go on to form your own opinion on the subject by experimenting. Let me know will you so I'll know too.
My ghee is from goat butter of course since I'm trying to learn to do as much as possible with goat milk. I had some already in the refrigerator so I plopped it in a heavy saucepan over low heat. Burning off moisture is part of the process so DON'T cover the pot. Besides all the noise this makes will have you in constant suspense if you can't watch the whole process.
As the moisture burns off the butter will foam up. It will begin to resemble the mud pots in Jelly Stone Park. Oh come on, haven't you heard of Yogie Bear? Well, he really was from just up north of us in Yellowstone Park where the world famous mud pots reside. When ever I do something like this I can't help but think of my old stomping grounds and though I've never met a bear as friendly as Yogie, I have often watched the heat build up from the volcano underneath the park watching Old Faithful blow high in to the air or stood on the walkways as the air bubbles rose to the surface of the mud pots. Listening as they make a light popping sound as the bubbles break the surface.

We taught the kids about this phenomenon before we took them to Yellowstone by heating applesauce on the stove. Back to making ghee. Watch for the following signs that your ghee is done. Remember, butter boils at a very low temperature so keep the stove turned WAY down.

  • Changes from a cloudy yellow to a clean golden yellow.

  • Develops a popcorn smell.

  • Stops foaming and makes crackling sounds. Reminds me of rendering fat for soap.

A thin light tan crust forms on the nearly motionless surface.

  • The milk solids at the bottom turn from white to brown. This can take 30 or 40 minutes or longer if you like me do a second batch and it is quite large.
  • Strain it through cheese cloth or I used my milk straining pads and my milk strainer.

If your ghee is this dark, you've cooked it too long. I told you I was a good teacher because I make so many mistakes I know what not to do. Don't fret though because this ghee is still good, just a little overly cooked.

Make sure the jar you put the ghee into is completely dry or the moisture inside will allow bacteria to enter. I used a hair dryer blowing the hot air inside the jar to make sure it was completely dry. When the ghee has cooled, store in a dry place away from direct sunlight. Be careful the spoon you use to dip into the ghee when scooping some out for use. It also must be completely dry.

You can also do this in the oven on 300F but I choice the stove top method.

Ghee has no dairy anymore since the milk solids were left in the bottom of the pan and screened out with the cheese cloth so lactose intolerant people can use this product. Also just as a note of interest, clarified butter has 20% milk remaining.

Now comes the incorporating of ghee into your diet. I've used it to fry in and this morning I added it into bread. Later, I'll tell you about my experience making pie crust with it and using it in biscuits. You can substitute ghee for part of you lard or shortening but since this is a blog where I not only tell you but show you, I'll have to do it first. So many things to try and so little free time.

Stay tuned, I have another page done for my gardening booklet, _since I haven't heard from anyone on how beneficial it is to them, I'm wondering if I should continue the series [speak up] or I'll just do it for myself. No hard feelings, I just want to share what's beneficial to you and not cause you to fall a sleep on the other stuff. I'm finding the information very useful to my gardening plans but I'm not you. Remember, your comments help direct my posts. I'll also let you know what besides ghee I've been canning this cold winter month with snow piling outside. Of course, I'll have to give you instructions on how to can ghee also. So hurry out and buy some butter or make some if your goats are still fresh. I'll understand if you can't make goat butter right now. Chicory is about dry so I will begin to freeze some milk this week for those long months while I await her freshening. Okay, it's only going to be a couple months but it seems long when your beloved milk isn't fresh.

I've also made more buttons and knitted a lovely ascot from wool and alpaca. I have a new great way to make buttermilk. How will I ever get all these posts done? Just keep reminding me of what you want to hear and I keep plugging along.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Bush Beans

I must admit I told a lie. I am not 3/4's done with the notes for the gardening organization. I got to looking at my material and found there was just too much that I wanted to include so I have bush beans done -maybe - that is unless I find more information I want to add. And I know I will for I will begin to save seed this year for the first time and begin to grow dry bean varieties.

But before I talk about that, take a gander at my chart for beans.

Then tell me if I missed anything.

Bush Beans 40-56 days maturity (except Royal Burgundy Purple - plant 2-3 weeks before last frost)

warm weather
not frost tolerant

Min. Soil Temp
Companion Plant
potatoes, carrots, cucumbers, cauliflower, cabbage, corn
NOT onions, garlic

Nutrient Needs PH acid < =7=> alkaline
Potassium, phosphorus light acid to neutral PH above 6.0
Contributes nitrogen to the soil.

Plant every two weeks until first of July and 1/2 pound seed per 100 feet. Plant in double rows - 1 foot apart - three feet between double rowws. Direct seed 1 - 8 weeks after frost. Make furrows about 1 inch deep. Thin plants to 2" -4" apart when they are 2" - 3" tall. Soak seeds in warm water for a few hours before planting speeds germination.

Seed Saving

Self-pollination takes place before blossoms open. Suspect zinc deficiency if the seeds mature slowly or irregularly. A good healthy supply of zinc in the soil is needed for healthy seed formation. A high PH in the soil does not allow the intake of zinc. Leave the pods on the plant until they're dry and brown and plant is nearly leafless. Seeds usually mature six weeks or so afte the beans were tender and good to eat.

Crop Rotation

Carrots and beets (detrimental crops) > beans > squash >corn

Bush Bean Trial Varieties _____to be filled in

Looking at this I see saving seed will mean that I will be taking my chances since I looked up the average last frost day which is 6/2 and first of the fall being 9/3. That doesn't even give me a window of six weeks for the fresh beans to turn to dry beans. But the first frost is usually light and the beans only get slightly damaged. I will try row covers if there is a chance of a serious frost but I don't have many of those. A few bed sheets will have to do to.

So if June is warm, last year it was cold, then the end of July I might start getting beans which would mean I could get a picking or two before letting them produce beans. Then again, I'm thinking I should pick the beans on the plant that I don't like the shape of etc. and leave the nice ones for seed. Is that the way it's done? I've never really seen a detailed description, just choose the plants you want to save seed from. Those gardening experts have garden space - I don't. Plus, every expert I've read their work on has a growing season. Yes, zone 5 is a growing season when we are 3 to an iffy 4.

Over the mountain from us they get a week to two weeks longer season and that makes a big difference. They grow dried beans in that country commercially. Our area doesn't grow anything but a few oats and I mean a few and grass hay but not much of that.

That could be why most people who see our little garden area can't stop talking about how large it is. It really isn't. Just large for a solid clay soiled area. I've learned you skip the clay soil and grow on top of it. Not completely as that isn't feasible for a serious sized garden area but as much as my back will allow. That means I haul in and shovel lots of sawdust and manure, 20 foot after 20 foot trailer load on a regular basis.

The crop rotation section above still needs some work as I've never done much more rotation than not putting the same crop in the same spot each year. The part above about carrots and beets being detrimental crops means not much does well in the same soil after they've grown in it. The experts say that, not me. And companion planting I'm going to take seriously. I'll have to rely on the advice of others heavily in this area. According to them, beans don't seem to mind the ground carrots and beets grew in.

So if I seem to change my mind a little as I prepare for the coming season, it's because I'm talking out loud trying to figure things out. Join in anytime, it will help make me appear a little less crazy.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Goat Ghee

No, it is not a miss spelling. I know I can't spell but seriously it is suppose to be G- H- E- E. Not gee as in gee and haw when you are commanding an oxen team to turn. And I'm assuming someone with phonetics spelled it ghee, using the h to keep the e from telling the g to say J like it is in gee. Then again my assumptions are usually wrong so who knows why the spelling. I must have guessed the pronunciation correctly though because my doctor didn't laugh at me when I said ghee as in McGee and he would have.
Goat Butter

Some of you are wondering what the heck I'm talking about and what's a picture of goat butter doing in this post. Ghee starts with butter and of course since this is a home-made blog, it's goat butter. Ghee is not clarified butter as many of the articles on the Internet would lead you to think. Though it is made in the same way, except you go beyond clarified butter and remove the moisture and butter solids. Oil is what's left.

Why I made ghee in the first place would be akin to - because I could or the mountain was there so I climbed it. No, the brain was not thoroughly engaged in this project until after ghee was created. I'd like to think my instincts were telling me I should do it but that would be a lie. The truth is, I just wanted to try it because it was one more thing you can do with goat milk. Someday, I want to write a book on the many wonderful and simple things a milk goat owner can do with their goat milk.

Then when I looked at the directions to making ghee and saw it smells like buttered popcorn when your done. I had to make it. Have I told you of my addiction to popcorn? Well, if there was a P.A. A. (popcorn addiction association meeting) I'd have to be there 7 times a week in hopes of working on a cure. But then with my luck they'd serve caramel popcorn, chocolate covered popcorn, cinnamon popcorn, buttered popcorn ... at the meetings. LOL
Where I come from, all meetings have refreshments.She's now writing all over herself. So far not the furniture or walls. What has this to do with ghee. Absolutely nothing, but my daughter said text needs broken up with pictures and I have to save my ghee ones for the next segment on the subject.

It wasn't until I hit the Internet and went beyond how to make it, to health benefits and uses that I realized I'd discovered a gold mine.

The first thing I found out was that ghee is a common oil used in Indian cooking and I'm not referring to the Sioux Indians just north of us or the Shoshone and Arapaho Indians west of us. Remember, I'm in Wyoming. You know the least populated state. The one in the boondocks where the Indians are still on the war path. Okay, maybe they aren't but I've have been questioned when visiting other states by their residents and foreigners. I'll admit, I would spin a outlandish tale of the things we had to do to stay safe when a marauding ban left one of the reservation but then when I'd scared them silly, I had to tell them the truth. No, the Indians are not on the warpath YET. LOL

What the articles were referring to was Indians from India. That food I've never tasted since Wyoming as far as I know does not have an Indian restaurant. No, here we serve Rocky Mountain Oysters and say Cowboy Up a great deal. Don't tell me you don't know what Rocky Mountain Oysters are? Well, look it up. I know you have the Internet. I'm not going to tell you or I might loose my G rating even though this is an agricultural based blog.

I had not heard of ghee but I have heard of clarified butter. Anyone that watches cooking shows has come acrossed it. My favorite past-time in motels since we don't have cable or satellite television. Clarified butter has a much higher smoke point than butter, making it popular with chefs. As you know after the smoke point is reached the oil becomes a carcinogen. Ghee has a higher smoke point than clarified butter.
  • Butter 350F

  • Clarified Butter 400F

  • Ghee 485 F
The process of creating goat ghee started with goat cream. Oh, you can use cow butter if you want but what would the point of that be when I have dairy goats?

Yes, they are still eating Christmas candy canes. Sugar does wild things to these children so I dole it out with care.

When you are doing ghee from scratch and I mean completely from scratch, it lends you to wonder if the result is worth the work. I mean, I had to milk the goat - do the dishes, separate the milk to get cream - do the dishes, chill the cream and make butter - do the dishes, melt the cream and make ghee - do the dishes. Doing it once wasn't a big deal but whether or not to continue sent me off to the Internet once more.

  • What I found on the Internet was that there are unsaturated fats and saturated fats.

  • The saturated fats can further be divided in to long- chain and short-chain fatty acids.

  • Long chain fatty acids [animal fats] can not be completely metabolised by the body leading to cancer and blood clots.

  • Short-chain fatty acids are assimilated and metabolised so that they release energy. Ghee is a short-chain fatty acid and its rate of absorption is 96 percent, the highest of all oils and fats.

  • Unsaturated fats are further broke down into two kinds: monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. Monounsaturated fats, such as olive oil, are healthy. Polyunsaturated fats are not healthy. The latter becomes oxidized and creates free radicals, which damage the cells of the body.

Ghee is a short-chain saturated fat, (check the points above) and further more mostly a monounsaturated fat - 27 percent with 4 to 5 percent polyunsaturated fat.

Ghee is one of the good guys. This does not mean you can eat all you want. As with all good things, a little is good but a lot isn't.

When I saw some reports saying ghee causes heart problems, I questioned my naturopath on the subject. I'm always leery at who is paying for these studies and how conclusive are they? Naturopaths like ghee very much. it has Vitamin E and lots of other nutrients and beats is far less processed than canola oil and the like. When I said I was making my own from goat butter, not cow. That got an even greater hoorah! Goat's milk is alkaline, not acidic like cows and the digestibility is greater than cow's milk.

But wait!!! I haven't told you how to make ghee yet. Too bad. You'll have to wait. My daughter has told me not to make my post too long and this one already is, so stay tuned.

Oh, and by the way. I lied. The crop notes aren't 3/4 done. I found a whole lot more I wanted to add. The bean page is done though. So next I'll share that bit of information and the I'll tell you how to make Ghee. Oh did I say you can do pie crusts with it too and it doesn't splatter when you cook with it or that it ..... The ghee posts might just take a while to complete. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Hula Hoop In The Garden

I've decided I need a hula hoop. Not for my waist, though it could sure use it, but for the garden. And who knows maybe I'll use for my was the rest of the year. Confused. Well, I was going through my seed catalogues and my pile of seeds deciding what I needed to order. Lots more than I thought looking at the seeds I'm low in and the years the seeds were harvested. And that list doesn't include the few new varieties I'm going to try either.

But before I even got out my seed box, I looked on the Internet to find ways to better organize my seeds. Well, that was a bomb since unless you buy just little packets- I don't, then a file organizer or much of anything else better than a box just doesn't exist.

So I moved on to thinking about how to better time my plant starts and plantings. The year before last, I found I started my pumpkins and squash way too early giving me these huge plants that got frost bit. And I made such a muddle of things I never did decide if a head start really helps? More confusing because I put seeds along next to the plants. This year I'm really going to try to mark things so I know if the effort pays off. Maybe you already know. If you do please enlighten me. I do know I had the hugest pumpkins that year. I'm leaning toward yes for pumpkins but maybe not so big a deal for buttercup squash which doesn't have to get so large.
Partial seed order

The tomatoes I've started at times too early too. Okay, every year too early. That being I've only been doing this a few years now under the grow lights. And I forgot to tell you what happened to my tomatoes this last fall. Oh I brought in a few Glacier and Siberia tomatoes from the garden that had lots of little new tomatoes on them. Remember we were eating tomatoes the beginning of July from them. Well, the little beggers were soon covered in aphids. Not an aphid to be seen in the garden but bring the things in and they hatched like crazy. Next time I'm going to shake all the garden dirt from the roots and replant them in store soil. We'll see what happens. I read too nitrogen rich a soil encourages them. Wish I knew. Oh how I hate that idea of using store soil but I've research in vain for a solid reason why my soil is great outdoors but changes indoors. Now the herbs I brought in are fine even though they were next to the tomatoes. That gives me an idea to plant tomatoes with herbs in the same pot.

Okay, I'm off the subject here but the point is I'm haphazardly doing things and my tomatoes are too big but my peppers which grow much slower are too small. I know, I know. If all else fails read the instructions right? Yeah, so with the New Year comes new resolutions. I need to be smarter about the way I do my gardening. I see we will be depending on it more fully in the future as prices are reported to continue climbing.

To fulfill this goal I studied the great little descriptions in the Irish Eyes catalogue for each individual type of seed, plus those start and plant times on the seed packages. I soon realized I couldn't check these each time I wanted to start or plant something or I'd waste a lot of time. The results would be like before where I end up just throwing things in pots or planting seeds in the garden when I'm doing the other plants or seeds that I really know something about. So hence, a chart is formulating that will be updated and tweaked each year. I HOPE!! That's the plan anyway. As much as I get buried down in paperwork and hate it, I can see it is the pavement to success.
During a cooler moment when she felt up to watching a movie on the computer.
I'll go in to this in more detail in the future as the chart takes a better form than hurried notes as I cuddle next to our oldest grandchild while her fever rages on. Yup, I just thought the other two would skip the dreaded flu since it was a week and a half ago since the little grand daughter was down with it. Got to just love those nights like last night where you get two hours sleep. NOT!!!

My chart notes are 3/4's complete so look for them in posts to come. Along with goals for my garden. I'm guessing I'll get to add a bit more as I cuddle with the little ones on the bed tonight as they watch something on the computer.

One plan I'll share with you. Thought I'd forgotten about the hula hoop didn't you? Well, besides planting carrot seeds with chicken wire putting one seed per hole, I'm thinking a child's hula hoop would work great for corn. I still want to try planting my corn in hills, circles or whatever you want to call them. A child's hula hoop is 28 inches --oh, that's probably around not across isn't it. Well then, an adult's hula hoop which is 40 inches would be great. I think. I'll just have to go and find one and measure. I need an approximate 2 foot diameter circle with four plants spaced eight inches apart around it. The corn planted in this manner will be Painted Mountain a new variety that "is bred to be the hardiest corn in the world" , says the catalogue and can be eaten fresh or dried. I'll have to time the planting where this variety blooms two weeks different than my sweet corn in order save seed from it. It is a colorful multi-colored corn that takes only 80 to 90 days to mature and can be planted before the last frost. Sounds like my kind of corn. We have cold springs and go from spring to summer in a hurry in this country.

In the middle of this circle will be Black Valentine bush bean which is another new variety I'm trying. It is reported to be a cross between a pole and a bush in the manner in which it grows, The extra nitrogen it pulls in will be used by the corn and around the bean I'll put in white clover seed to grow for an added boost of nitrogen too. In this manner I should not have to redress the corn with nutrients throughout the season. Talk about companion planting huh,. Yup, that's what I need with my limited garden space, more efficient use of my area.

Next, I just have to tell you about the Ghee I made from goat butter, my research, and my conversation with my doctor about it. When, only the good Lord knows as I deal with sick children. That's why the silence yesterday.

Friday, January 14, 2011

One Down ? UFO's To Go

Okay, project two is finished. Love the elk horn buttons, not so fond of the drop sleeve pattern on this heavy of a weighted yarn. Hm... won't do that again but since this sweater is destined to keep my hubby warm when he is hunting elk, it isn't out for public display anyway, except to you my friends. I'm just glad to finally be done. Oh yeah, yes, we found the missing button. Whoo hoo!, we didn't have to make another. Haven't had a chance to work on any more new buttons yet but I hope to have the opportunity this weekend. We'll see.
Meanwhile, Chicory's milk production went way up. What is wrong with that girl, she's suppose to be drying up? It was really cold and everything. That should have dropped her production but NO!, it went the opposite direction. Must be Pedro's fault (the beef). He was saying sweet nothing in her ear, I just know it. Oh well, I'm making hay while the sun shines so to speak and canning milk for the the two months when she's dry, frozen dough for cream biscuits too, along with freezing some Alfredo sauce. One thing is for sure, the more animals I have the more often a fool I'm made.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

1300 Pound Goat

Sh... don't tell him. He's decided he's a goat. It's either that or he likes their shed. But then why does he stay in the shed during the day but sleeps outside at night. I know this not because I've adventured out into the 30 below 0 F. windchill but because there is a bare spot in the snow just outside the shed, the size of a beef.

So tell me, what's your vote:

1. He thinks he's a 1300 pound goat,


2. He likes the goat shed.?

Tinker Bell (winter 2010)
In actuality it doesn't matter since I can't keep him in his own pen if he wants to leave and I really can't complain because he has chosen the past few months to either go and visit Bess, my mare, or lately, the goats. It's a whole heap better than Tinker Bell here who would go and visit the neighbors, jumping into their pen with the heifers and colts. Now she was a handful in comparison to Pedro.
At least Pedro doesn't attempt to run circles around me brushing up against me as he whirls, causing me to dance in a circle to keep from getting bumped by 1300 pounds. It isn't a light tap even if no harm is intended. She did the same thing when she drank from a bottle, circling after just a few sips. Never could break her of it.
No, Pedro is calmer, gentler and is quite well liked by everyone including Chicory. Her small daughters on the other hand, consider him a scary BIG oaf and bawl their complaints at having to share THEIR shed with him.
But what can I do? A 1300 pound beef within a cow panel fence can go pretty where ever he pleases. I don't care if the fence is rated for cows. Use barbwire you say. Oh sure you've gone down the highway and have seen thousands of miles of barbwire fence keeping in herds of cattle. Don't be fooled, the fence is only a hopeful suggestion by the rancher. How do I know? My dad managed a ranch for years that had a thousand head of cattle and a thousand head of sheep. If one of those cows wanted to go somewhere, that fence wasn't going to stop her, it only cause a brief hesitation as she shoved it aside. Yearlings and bulls were the worst for destroying fence.
That's why when yesterday Pedro didn't want to come out of the goat pen, even for his favorite treat, and go to his own pen, I didn't push the issue. I knew he'd just jump back in, tearing up the fence worse than it already was.
Some of you are wondering what keeps a beef in then? A stout, thick pipe fence, or keeping the beef happy. The later is much cheaper.
And since my animals are happy, that's why on the rare occasion when they get out, I don't worry. They aren't going far. The know where the getting is good. I just open up the gate and in they come again.
My mare and the goats rarely ever leave but a beef that needs butchered, well, I don't know what it is but at that time they begin to tear up fence. Maybe it's the Lords way of making it easier on me to say bye, bye.
Till that day I'm trying to figure out how to keep Pedro in. He didn't mind all the snow that blew acrossed him. Bess on the other hand whinnied endlessly, hoping I'd bring her hay to her shed. No such luck as a thigh high drift was in the way. And the goats being the wimpiest of the bunch, just stood in their sheds and shiver on cue when they saw me. I'm sure it's was to invoke a sympathetic reaction. Their shed is insulated, with a rubber floor, and a sawdust layer to bed down in. Sure it is cold but not as cold as Bess's. They have it quite comfy in fact, unless we had a nice warm barn of course. So I'm not moved by the cries of how tough they've got it.

But it wasn't snow that caused all the misery this past week, but wind chill factors. And I was in my jeans and coat since two ton Tessy here out grew her warm Swiss army pants. I'm working on that problem. And I had to lift these rubber tubs, slamming them to the ground to break up the ice frozen solid inside. And if you would have driven by last week you may even have caught me jumping on top, like a mad women throwing a fit, with the tubs turned upside down, trying to get the ice to release from the bottom. As I lifted them, the shattered ice rained from the tubs sounding like thick broken glass tumbling out. My footsteps in the powdery snow squeaked like the tennis shoes on a polished wood gym floor.
In each pen a pile of ice sculptures sits to one side.
I've learned they are dangerous strewn about to slip on or trip over, for the livestock as well as myself.
Oh it helps a little to put the tubs on the south side of the sheds to absorb some of the suns warm rays but some days like last week, though we can see her, we can't feel her.

Hence, when you place these waterers in the pen, you put them on the south side of the sheds where the sun can get to them when she's a mind to send some warmth our way. The black color and rubber construction heats up and keeps the water from freezing as quickly as if it were in plastic or metal. On cold days, they stand up to the abuse needed to dislodge the ice.

Watering is the first chore of the day. I usually give a small treat near the watering pans to encourage the stock to come drink. Then I milk giving the animals time to drink before I hay them. Hay first and they will dig in to eat while the water freezes solid risking impaction of their bowels.

This drift in front of the chicken coop is getting old as I struggle through it with my arms full of hay or a bucket of feed and one of water for the chickens. At least now, the snow is getting packed down and I can walk without sinking up above my knees.

Me thinks I need to build a snowman or go sledding to remember the enjoyment that snow brings, instead of its trials for winter already seems long.