Friday, August 30, 2013

Pie in Jars

Grrr..... I had this post all written last night and I lost it. With the eyelids refusing to stay open I had to call it a night and so up and at them. My grand daughter is by my side learning to crochet while I type and with the clock ticking we only have a few minutes before we have to heat some frozen sourdough waffles to get her off to school. I'd rather she stayed here and schooled here but alas, I have to send her off. In case you didn't know I home-schooled our kids.
Our oldest went to public school for a few years but despite her high IQ, learning wasn't happening so I took over with her teacher's blessing. He was sending me home lists of what he would be teaching next and schooling her at night equated to her leaping through achievement levels. Not fair though to school day and night so we pulled her out. The next child took a few classes such as welding and AG in highschool but it wasn't unusual to get a call from her teacher asking me to please come to the school and help her comprehend some information. 
Yes, our children have some learning disabilities, not IQ disabilities, and homeschooling afforded the best atmosphere in which to accommodate them and allowed them to flourish and go on to college with coping mechanisms. One of their disabilities is auditory processing major time. Our son reads lips to help compensate for his, background noises keep us from hearing fully what is said.
This sweet grand daughter had my memory disability and has struggle a bit in school. I'm reading a book called The Mislabeled Child which is about learning disabilities and how often ADH is diagnosed when actually it is a learning disability not addressed. The book is complex, as complex as learning disabilities but well worth reading. 
I'm marking ME, ME, ME frequently throughout the book. Since homeschooling isn't an option for the grands, I'm studying how to help them. I can see several issues with each child and I want them to have the best advantage on learning possible. You know how I love to learn and I want them to too.
My, did I get off track. Anyway, what I meant to talk about was these jars which presently hold pumpkin pie in them. It is something I saw on the Internet, pie in canning jars. I thought they were perfect for lunchboxes and I have to fix plenty of those for my hubby. I can make up a batch of pudding, pies, cake, or some other dessert and bake it in these jars and voila, single servings. Just what I need to remind myself I can't have a large helping. And it will be so handy as they are ready to take and eat. They would be easy to throw in the freezer too so if I know I will have a extra busy week, I can make ahead and Kirk will have an enviable lunch to enviable. The glass means less use of plastic and reusable. A win, win situation. So earlier this summer when I found a bargain I picked up a 12 pack of these half pint, straight sided, wide mouth jars. 
What I learned with this batch is to skip the grahmn cracker crust bottom and just fill them up with pumpkin pie filling. I didn't measure, I just added some pumpkin I had frozen, sugar, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and goat milk to taste and poured er in.

   A no brainer just occurred to me this week. Why I haven't been doing it all along is beyond me but I have lots of milk containers at any given time in my refrigerator and what milk is from what day is always a bit of confusion especially since others sometimes move them around. I've used masking tape but that's not so handy and then this thought dawned on me. Why not use wet erase or dry erase markers? I love it!!!! Now I know exactly how old the milk is and I plan on using it on my sourdough jars, my buttermilk jars, etc. , anything in a glass container.

The other experiment was baking artisan bread in loaf pans instead of a dutch oven. The bread is more uniform, less holey, and yet the taste doesn't change. I love it!!! Three success stories in one week. Now that is awesome. Let your mind wonder off to the side. You might just discover a new way of doing something, something great.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Flowers For Lice

 Found this little bleep on the news. "Pyrethrum, the active ingredient in Rid and similar over-the-counter products (A-200 and Pronto, for example), comes from chrysanthemum flowers that harbor natural insecticides called pyrethrins. Pyrethrins attack the nervous systems of live lice, but don't always work because some lice have become resistant to the toxin."

Makes you think doesn't it? Okay, maybe it just makes me think,' Would chrysanthemum flowers in a home-made tincture or infusion work just as well as RID? I'm familiar with RID in an intimate way. Many of us are. So since once upon a time our kids got lice from the neighbor girl and spread it to dear ole mom and it fried my hair until new growth replaced the damaged old, I'm not fond of the stuff. But I haven't needed RID either since that one time so IF I grew chrysanthemum flowers and IF I needed something for lice would a tincture or infusion of them work? 

And IF chrysanthemum flowers worked would the old fashion marigolds too? You know the ones that smell awful. They are good bug repellent for a garden. Hmmmm..... food for thought. Not that my brain needed more. LOL It is a wonder I sleep so well at night. Probably shear exhaustion.

Lest you think that my only experience with lice is human invader then let me tell you that I have dealt with the kind on angora goats too. It is a bear to get rid of them with all the tons and tons of hair they have especially when you don't have dunking tanks to soak them down in. I'm just guessing that is how they are treated for I don't really know. My experience was years ago with two little girls named Anne and Mary. A few years of those girls and I have enough hair to spin and spin and spin since my over all spinning hours is limited each year.  And though I doused those girls several times after hand shearing them they never did get completely rid of the lice. Yet not once did I get lice. Not once did our pigs, sheep, or dairy goats get lice. One gal who raises angora goats told me they are species specific. That is not what the vet said but then who am I going to believe - a long time angora goat rancher or a vet? Besides, experience had taught me the same thing.

My sweet mother-in-law picked a large five gallon bucket of chokecherries. You might recall my mentioning it. Word of caution, don't store your berries in a large bucket. The ones on top will look wonderful but the weight will smoosh those below. I was quite concerned since I'd made a long, long trip to pick them up but after reading a bit more about fermenting berries to make vinegar and how you could used bruised fruit, I decided I was fine and I went ahead and juiced them. The juice is in the freezer as I don't want to start that project until after we go to Mayo's.  Which has put me in a complete panic. I've go to get things set up so family can take care of all the critters, yard, and such. I've got to get as many fall chores done as possible in case hubby has a surgery. I've got to get all these things done and our truck broke down. Kirk put one part in but that apparently isn't enough. So on his next days off he is doing more work. I pray it works as we NEED to get our hay hauled. I refuse to do it with our trailer so I leave it up to hubby and he won't hardly haul without me. Maybe next year we can swing purchasing a different trailer. One that will haul the tractor on it.

As if these pressures weren't enough, a friend who is working for a contractor climbed on our roof and looked the house over; and said that no, we did not get by the hail storm as well as we thought. The insurance guy shows up on Friday and we shall see how much we can get to fix all the damage. Then of course it is dealing with contractors and getting what work we can do ourselves. Insurance is great to have but there is that big deductible and increase in insurance costs. Grrrrr......
Meanwhile, I'm thinking Christmas. There will be a very long drive to Mayo's and back and 5 to 7 or more days there. Never one to waste too much time I'm putting together work bags. Things I can do for Christmas while we travel and I wait on Kirk at Mayo's. Money will be tight and home-made will be our salvation with the holidays and four birthdays right after.

I'm hunting for ideas. I'm thinking nighttime for the grandkids. I ran to the fabric store yesterday and bought a yard of three different colors while we were in town talking to our financial advisor. When you don't have much money you have to plan for retirement years and years and years ahead. I'm making fancy pillow cases. I have flannel I bought last year for pajama bottoms and never got them made so they are in the planning stage again this year.

I'm starting a hat for the one year old. Our oldest daughter is coming this weekend and she can explain the stitches. I so can't read a pattern worth a hoot. I'm going to learn though. I'm hoping to finish the two sock sets I started last winter too while I'm gone.

I finished a hat for my hubby a couple days ago. It was hard giving it up. I love that hat already and all I've done is put it on my head a few times as I was making it to measure length. It is so.... soft and comfortable. The white is hand spun silk. The blue is silk and Merino wool. The hat should be super warm with this combination. You know cowboys always wear silk scarves around their necks for warmth. I have a pair of silk longjohns for warmth too. I'm a bit nervous about winter as it looks like it could get cold. They have forecasted for 2 to 3 weeks early arrival. The hat's stitch is simple knit and sometimes that is so.... nice to do when you need a no brainer relaxing project. And needless to say I've really needed some relaxing projects.  Excuse the lack of photos. I promise they are coming but yesterday I had all the munchkins and today I'm trying to do double time with just one grandchild. I've mowed the lawn, cleaned the chicken coop, and now I've got to clean house so I can get some sewing and paperwork done. Plus crowd in their some errand running and cooking. So much to do so little time.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Laundry Soap

Something good to eat -- lotion, or what am I up to now? This whipped yummy looking good enough to eat but is actually soap. It reminds me of my home-made marshmallow creme. It's why I labeled the jar clearly just in case because I have lots and lots of things in canning jars some edible and some not. 

As I said earlier in a blog post that I was about out of  powdered laundry soap and I can't find the soap which is fragrance free etc. on the store shelves in a decent size and online it is too expensive in my budget to order so I decided to go back to home-made. Yes, when the kids were little I always used home-made soap. Just home-made hand soap grated and added to boiling water to form a jell that I scooped a bit of and put in my top loading washer. This is a bit different and I think better.

Back then I was known to use pig fat, beef fat, deer fat, sheep fat, but definitely not chicken fat to make into soap. What ever animal  happened to be butchered that fall and had hard, not the soft greasy type fat which is why you don't use chicken fat, available after we made hamburger I ground and froze to be render latter and make into soap. It's why one year we had deer/sheep/pig soap combination and it was lovely.   

Now I'm not a fancy soap maker. Just good ole get the body clean soap is all I've ever made and I have to confess that I've never even made goat milk soap. Can you imagine this woman not ever making goat milk soap? Yeah, I know but it was on my list this year of to do's and then Waltzing Matilda duped us and didn't produce the amount of spare fat we needed. Yes, the pig failed us so now I'm going to try and round up some fat from someone who is butchering this fall. If all else fails I may even resort to buying lard to make soap. I'm just leary of the chemicals that might be lurking inside of a commercial product. 

I have a friend close by who makes fancy soap with wine, and dyes, and fragrance and all that foo, foo stuff. It is beautiful and I'm in love with her sunflower and thistle soap molds. I'd guess some of it isn't all with cocunut oil and such so maybe she knows a good source for lard. Her soap is really pretty and smells good but I can't get over the image of the battle of the perfume bottles. Think about it. Your shampoo is perfumed and your creme rinse, and then your body soap, and then you put on smelly deordorant and lotion and yes a battle of the fragrances has begun before you are even dressed. Then you put on clothes that have been perfumed with laundry soap and you apply goopy jell and other hair products with perfume and then move add makeup which some more perfume I'm sure too. 

A well dolled up lady may of just put on eight or more different perfumes. You can't tell me that a battle isn't raging and that those hundreds and hundreds of chemicals aren't having a negative effect on the person. It is why I don't dye my hair and why I don't perm it because I can't help but think of how your head has thousands of pores and those chemicals are seeping into your brain. My brain struggles enough to work correctly.

How can you worry about eating organic food and not worry about the largest organ of your body, your skin. I find it confusing because on the rare occasion I walk into a health food store I look around at the people and they don't look healthy as a whole. They look as sickly as those wandering through Walmart. Their hair is dull and their skin thin, wrinkled, and lifeless. Makes me think that there is more to this health thing than what you can purchase. In fact I know it there is. People are always asking me what kind of beauty regiment I do to look so young. Well folks, here it is. Eat well by growing as much of it as you can yourself, cook instead of buy ready made, drink lots of water, work hard, and stay away from the chemicals.

Am I healthy? Some doctors say yes and some no but I will say I am healthier than I have been in twenty years and I'm becoming healthier each year that passes.

So once again I'm going to return to home-made soap. It is not only a less expensive choice but a healthier one I'm sure. My soap is not creamy white anymore as it is quite old since it has been some times since I've made any soap but it works the same. The recipe I found called for a Fels Naptha soap. I looked it up and it has coconut oil and even lye. It looks pretty natural but it does have a few chemicals and of course perfume. I substituted my home-made soap instead in the recipe.

The gal calls her soap Mom's Super Laundry Sauce and I'm pretty impressed. Of course mine is quite different than hers since I used my own soap. When do I ever follow a recipe precisely? Anyway, I simply grated my soap, the entire bar, and put it in 4 cups of boiling water that I'd heated in a saucepan on the stove. Stir occasionally. Meanwhile in a small bowl mixed 1 cup of 20 Mule Team Borax and 1 cup of Super Washing Soada by Arm and Hammer, (not baking soda).

When the soap is melted then remove from stove  and add the mixed borax and washing soda. Stir until you don't feel the granuals on the bottom of the pan. Then pour into three - quart jars. 
  Let sit for four hours. It will separate like this. The mixture will still be warm when you put it into your blender or turn the mixer on it. That causes the mixture to blend and form the whippped appearance. The instructions called for turning the jars upside down but I like them right side up just in case I had to scrap out the soap  a bit from the edges of the jar. Then presto soap. I've give you the shortened version as I've linked to the site where you can get the full instructions.

I can say that I took a old sweatshirt with huge oil stains on the front and scrubbed in some soap with a scrub brush. This was a sweatshirt that had been washed and dried several times before and the stains magically dissapeared. I was impressed. I now have a front load washer so I am putting my soap in on top of my clothes. The instructions say for a top load to put in when the water fills and then add the clothes but what is the difference of adding on top of the clothes like in a front load washer? Just wondering. They recommend just a tablespoon.
As for getting rid of ordors like the site said it was miraculous at. Well, I tested that too with a milk soaked rag that I had thoroughly rinsed out. It still smelled milky when washed. The perfume in their soap probably helps mask ordors and I have to admit I really tested that one hard. Next wash I'm going to add a bit more borax when I'm faced with a ordor issue and see what happens.

I'd highly recommend this recipe and here is the site to go to for more details. This is truly one area you can save money in.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Linear Appraisal and Sourdough

You would have thought with how busy I have been that I was canning up a storm but nope, no garden left after the hail. The squash is growing once more and blossoming but it hasn't a prayer before winter of producing. The corn has come up from the roots with side shoots but it will snow next month if my goats coming in heat so soon and growing heavy coats is any indication.

I wish I could say I let me garden sit after the extreme hail storm to see what it would do but the reality is I just haven't gotten around to cleaning it up. Yet in all things there is education. Such as what comes back after a devistating hail storm. Several weeks later and insurance adjusters are still climbing roof around town. Roofing signs can be seen in a large part of the yards.

And life goes on with few leaves to shield us from the blas of heat that all of a sudden is pelting us. It puts this woman in slow motion. I drank three-quarters of a gallon of water yesterday and I had leg cramps last night from dehydration. I hate heat or rather my Addision's disease hates heat and it is a huge irritation when I've so much to do. Wish our huge willow shaded the house but alas, most of the leaves are gone so our tiny air conditioner is doing its best but not quite good enough for this heat hating girl. Good thing I live in Wyoming where heat is a problem for only a short while.

Things haven't exactly gone smoothly though I have lots to tell, hence the lack of blogs. For instance yesterdays hick up when the truck with the trailer hooked on suddenly quit while I was driving around the pen to load goats. I had to borrow a pickup and trailer at the last minute to get the goats to linear appraisal, then worked until midnight because I was running really late all day and after other chores were done I stayed up late making a good lunch for hubby for today. 12:30 bedtime and back up at 5 is not a good sleeping schedule.

And I had things so efficiently scheduled this week. It was to be a real chunk out of my to do list. I was suppose to be taking seven wether goats to the sale barn today but alas, no pickup. We had scheduled to haul hay two days this week but no functioning pickup. I was going to pick up corn on the cob on one of the hay trips at a road side stand. We had tried the corn last week when we hauled a load of hay and thought I'd buy some to freeze but alas, no pickup. If I were looking for a rainbow I would have to say we at least have one load of hay hauled. Good thing since we will run out of last years hay tomorrow. I can live without a car but a pickup - no way. How ever do people do it? I almost cried yesterday. Not that quite a few other things didn't add to the truck problem that caused that and seriously, I rarely cry.

Oh well life goes on, instead today I will make the trip past the sales barn in our car since I took hubby to work and on to my in laws as my sweet mother-in-law picked 21 pounds of berries for me and I'd be a heel not to go and pick them up despite the 4 1/2 hour drive. Then I will make the trip once more another time to the sales barn. I'm scrounging for something to make my vinegar from since the foot of hail stripped my trees of plums, apples, and vines of grapes. Those vinegar mothers I spent all that money on need used.  

That means I will be juicing chokecherries tomorrow and freezing the juice. Yesterday I made an appointment with Mayo's for the end of September where hopefully we will find answers for Kirk. Another push for me to get things done like hay hauling and getting rid of wether goats so our daughter, who will be taking over for us and trying to work full time, will be better set up to handle things. But  with no pickup I guess I will be sitting on the tractor this weekend in the early mornings instead, (Have I told you how much I love my tractor?) cleaning pens as there is ALWAYS lots of work to do. I will fix fence, repair sheds hammered by the hail, and generally get ready for winter the best I can without hauling wood or hay or goats. How ever does one live without a pickup?

Wheeeeeew, okay Holly get a hold of yourself before you cry again. Yes, I do talk to myself and yes, I am crazy. Anyone who is Autistic, has Addison's, and does all I do is crazy. But enough bellyaching, let me tell you a little of what I learned this week. I'm going in the wrong direction with my goats. Yes, I got a good butt whipping figuratively at linear appraisal. Definitely trashing one blood line I had been working on and heading in another direction. Sweet Betty did answer lots of my questions and I learned a huge amount. Every appraiser seems to focus on something new. Probably because the goats brought before her bring a new fault to light.
I learned that where the udder attaches at the escutcheon determines if you will have tight or saggy udder. Not just how high it is attached. My sweet Meagan who milks like a dream, fed two kids and still gave a half gallon a day of milk for us, is sagging lower and lower like an old woman and she's only two. Don't know if you can see real well from these older photos but from the vulva she angles slightly udder. You want the udder to attach a short distance from the vulva, have a round wide, arch and attach outside, not at an under cut. I thought I was a good judge of udders. I see I've only begun. I'd never experienced this problem to the level I am now so it never came up. Imagine something this busy brain is not thinking on, shocking I know. LOL
This is Meagan's daughter who does the same thing though she is one and still up tight. No not in personailty. We are talking udders here. The girls will milk like a house a fire but not win any beauty contests. They can hardly be called Wall Flowers either. Not that I don't think beauty is as beauty does since these girls have so many wonderful qualities but this is not something I can except in a production / show herd. Though our goats haven't been shown in years. Our grand daughter is thinking on it so I really must prepare in case. So off goes Mercedes who is a doll and excellent plus on the milking stand and will likely milk up a storm like her mom since she is following in her mother's footsteps BUT is on the wrong path from where I'm headed. Know of anyone needing a sweet, sweet goat that will produce lots and lots of milk?
To confuse me further Betty told me about how the fore udder and this attachment is also connected on top of the rump. That part confused me a bit and I'm trying to rethink it bit. Amazing how one part of the body a effects another. "The thigh bone is connected to the leg bone and the leg bone is connected to the ...." Sorry, I just had to burst into song there -- lack of sleep I'm sure. It's true we are all connected. Just ask my Adrenals and thyroid.
 Meagan will probably go next year but we need her milk right now and she produces lots and lots of cream so we shall see where she stands in another year. She might just be the family milker. 
 Daisy from my doe, Chicory that died of cancer in December and Mercedes scored the same this year.  But Mercedes will likely score a bit lower next year and Daisy a bit higher next year. That was what I learned the most was some fault traits just get worse and some probably won't change. Take for instance the angle of the hock. You want a sharper angle as a kid for the doe will become more posty legged with age. There was so... much information flying by my head yesterday I felt like my jaw was just hanging open and I had the deer in the headlights look. Producing quality goats requires a library of knowledge and though I've had dairy goats for 28 years, I'm a babe in the woods. 
It is so much easier to buy a good goat. You walk out and pick the ready to wear package. But creating one through a breeding program is HARD. My three goats I took last year scored so... much better but two were ones I'd bought. I needed to sell Touch the buck, and Chicory died so that dropped my scores by four points because of my ignorance. I headed in the wrong breeding direction with one of my lines and ended up with a udder I don't want. I need to back track. But the bright side is I'm not very far down the wrong road. Bummer though, it takes a whole year to produce new kids. Maybe it was a good thing that we had 8 bucks and only one doeling this year. There is another rainbow. 
The appraiser did fall in love with the doeling, Abagail. She said that she was one really pretty girl. She said Abagail just kept drawing her eye all morning long. Her mom didn't score as well as I'd like but her grandmother scored a 91 at 7 years old yesterday so we'll keep the two and see if we can't improve. My Daisy is also a keeper she said so I'll work on that line too. You want your herd pretty uniform in looks and those two does from different lines will do. One thing ever appraiser has said is to have your herd look very similar and then breed to improve one trait at a time while retaining what good traits you have. Not an easy thing especially since it is years in the making.
Lesson number two, sourdough is great in cornbread but the recipe I tried wasn't a winner. I'm going back to my beloved cornbread recipe and start playing with adding sourdough to it. Liked the crisp crust that a cast iron pan gave with a high temperature. Need to turn it down part way through though because it was hard to get middle done before the outside was too done.
Found this article and want to read it more carefully tonight. the effects of modern breads versus sourdough breads of the past. It is a real eye opener on how sourdough helps the digestion and stomach health. It alters breads for the better so jump on the bandwagon and join me on my sourdough quest to add it to many of our foods. Here is the website and a few lines from the article."Sourdough bread significantly lowered serum glucose and insulin responses. Sourdough bread as "the staff of life," for it enhances the entire immune system. " If Americans do not change their eating and drinking habits
within twenty years we will have nutritional obliteration.
Dr. James Beasley
Ford Foundation Project
 I'll try and get the soap recipe up tomorrow. Got to shower and go, chokecherries await. Plus I need to gather information to renew my drivers liscence. Wow, it is a whole lot more complicated than it use to be.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

State Fair and Experiments

The grand daughters, my daughter, and I attended state fair Monday morning to specifically watch the rabbit show so the girls could get an idea of what it was like. My daughter is hoping they will want take their rabbits in 4-H next year. As sights and smells enveloped us, the memories flowed for my daughter and I. When the kids were in junior high and high school we spent a week each year walking those grounds until our feet hurt so bad we thought we'd never walk again. Invariably it was always the hottest week of the year.

There were funny memories of moments when we became just plain silly trying to de-stress after a long day of competitions. But I think it was the sense of great accomplishment after hours and hours of work when ribbons were bestowed reaffirming that the hard work was all worth it that kept us coming back. It was the friendships our children forged that remain today that kept us coming back. It was a sense of being apart of something big with roots that go way back in time that kept us coming back. For this reason our daughter was hoping her children would catch the fair bug and want to do it too.

With funds not flush it was a choice of a small family vacation or state fair and each year the our kids chose state fair with out hesitation.  So with lambs, goats, beef, and lots of other projects in tow, we hit the road south come mid August.  Our state fair is like most others I'd suppose where in 4-H and FFA you have to qualify to represent your county. Luckily we live in a small state and a kid without a lot of money can work very hard, very hard and compete with those more affluent. We couldn't go out and pick a lamb to buy, too expensive. Each of the kids had a ewe and what that ewe produced is what they had to work with and bring to fair. The lessons the kids learned from that experience of raising their own money can't buy.

 As for steers, we looked for a bargain. A calf that had good conformation but looked kind of rough because it had just been weaned for example was just our kind of deal. Many couldn't see what it could become.

And it must of been a pretty wonderful experience, county and state fair because our daughter is hoping her children will catch the fair bug and she can be a fair mom back in the saddle so to speak. Just like I loved fair and wanted my kids to do it also. 

We spent just a few hours there this time and then it was off to the next town to shop for school clothes. Ever shopped with four small children and two of them with ADHD? Even the clerks eyes were wide as they saw my daughter and I divide and conquer shopping lists; and fluidly switch back and forth which children were in our care. To say we needed our running shoes is putting it mildly. It was a marathon but we weren't about to put ourselves through it more than once so we pushed to the finish line.

Then grandma here foolishly thought that the kids would all take a nap on the long drive home leaving us with peace and quiet. Nope, in the middle of nowhere the four year old began crossing her legs and fussing about how badly she had to go. She was looking right at me because Grandma here is pretty good at the arm potty chair stance along side of the road move. We've used it many a time at the corrals. Accompanying her frantic calls to pull over was the one year old crying because she had yet to get a nap that day and she was done in. In general we were all feeling a bit cranky by the time town came into sight. But we had been to fair and the kids were outfitted for school so it had been a good day.
I promised to reveal the results of a number of experiments I did last week. Some were huge successes and one a failure. But I've not given up on that one since I think it was a matter of equipment failure. The soap which will have its own post was a HUGE success. The butter was the one with the equipment failure. I didn't have time to use the hand crank butter churn and so I used the blender. Though I left it on forever and then re-chilled the cream and tried once more, it never made butter. Then yesterday I was looking at the blender and discovered that one of the blades was bent. That could definitely be the problem. With all the commotion I just haven't had time to redo the experiment.

I want to add to culturing cream the freezing of it at this stage and then making butter at my convenience. It is hard in my life to set aside a large span of time to do one thing. If something can be broken up, it much more likely to get done. I want to freeze the cultured cream and see if delaying making butter makes a difference. I often freeze plain cream and make butter later, why not cultured?

I did make up a loose recipe for bread that has been a huge success. I wanted a cross between sourdough and artisan bread. You know the simple artisan bread that has been all over the Internet, magazines, books, and the news. It has a 1/4 teaspoon of yeast, flour, water, salt, and a small amount of sugar. Every sourdough bread concoction I'd previously made left the texture American.  But I wanted a more European artisan style so I crossed a artisan bread recipe but added sourdough. The texture was a cross between artisan and American. It didn't have the holes that artisan bread has but yet it was chewier, larger crumbed than American. I think it is the perfect sandwich bread as it folds without ripping and really holds together. It rather reminds me of store bought bread in texture but the flavor is definitely artisan.

I put in a cup of water and a cup of sourdough start along with 1 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 2 Tablespoons of sugar and 2 cups of flour. When this is mixed up I slowly added enough flour to create a ragged dough. A bit sticky still but holds form nicely. The first time I made the bread I let the dough sit all day and then kneaded it and put it in a bread pan to raise while I did livestock chores and supper. Then I cooked it in a 400F oven. Kirk was in love with this.

The second time the sourdough was a bit runnier and I needed more flour than the first time and the flour I used was spelt. I'm now out of all the spelt I ground. I let the dough raise all day and then around four I folded it a few times and let it rise once more. When risen, I divided it into large rolls to raise on parchment paper. When raised, I heated a pizza stone in the oven on 400 then placed the rolls on it. Wasn't as happy with how they turned out as the bottoms were a little crisp for me. Next time I'll just use a cookie sheet. They did make good sandwich rolls for the smoked turkey we'd smoked last winter and froze. I heated the turkey breast the day before in the crock pot on low.  It was a nice addition to the potato/ sausage soup I made last night.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Sourdough Waffles

I know, I know a great many posts lately have the title sourdough in them. I did warn you this spring that I was going to concentrate on a few subjects to better understand them and not be trying so many new things.

I did spy a recipe for laundry soap and I've decided to use up my old bars of hand soap in the creation. Yes, I will be tweaking the recipe a bit to conform to what I have but I always do.  

It was getting hard to buy plain old powdered laundry soap -unscented especially in a big box, of course on sale too. Now I can't find any at all. The Internet has it but by the time I pay shipping it is no longer a good deal. When this shortage occurred I'm not sure since I buy in bulk six or so boxes at a time and it is months before I need more. Why not buy liquid detergent? To me it doesn't make sense.

I did a blog a year or so ago on powdered versus liquid laundry soap price wise and in my research was surprised to find out that powdered is formulated for dirt and grime, liquid is not. And even if it wasn't cheaper I'd of bought it if it wasn't exorbitantly price. Dirt and grime is the stuff I seem to be made of. So since I'm not buying water with a little detergent thrown in that isn't formulated for dirt. Now what?

Home-made of course. Any more it seems like if you want it done right you have to do it yourself. I'm going to try fitting in home-made laundry detergent once more into my schedule. Yes, once more since I used home-made when our kids were little and I was doing a cazillion loads. I had a top load machine then though and put in the soap and let is swoosh around before adding the clothes. I have a front loading washing machine now. It isn't going to work the way I use to do my soap. Still, the original plan was to return this year to home-made as I was having a time finding my store bought soap in powdered and I just now have a greater push.

That was one of the reasons for buying Waltzing Matilda, the hog that was suppose to be a fat hog according to the breeder but never made it though she grew and grew. So no fat, no soap making. It was alright until now, I had enough store detergent in storage and postponed the adventure for another year. But now I'm nearly out and none in sight at the stores. The new recipe I spied on the Internet has me gun hoe to barrel ahead and make my old soap into laundry soap. Maybe I can find someone butchering a hog and they will have extra fat and I can make some more hand soap for storage. I asked the butcher and he saves all of the extra he gets to make wild game sausage in the fall.

Just like our food storage since the garden failed, I guess our soap storage is going to get used up also this year. By next summer Mother Hubbard here will have bare cupboards. It has me motivated more than ever to put extra away.

So keep in touch because I am starting a batch of cream culture tomorrow to make cultured butter (Hopefully it works out) And I plan on tackling laundry soap sometime this week too. I promise, not all my posts will be about sourdough.

 This recipe I found for sourdough waffles is awesome. First we tried it with white flour and loved it and then spelt. The recipe calls for half white and half wheat but we were only making a half recipe so the second batch was all spelt flour. After all it is just Kirk and I, and so we just counting on the sourdough, which is made from white flour, to be the white part. The grand kids are coming tomorrow night to sleep over so I plan on a nice big batch come Friday morning and get there opinion. I'll do the half spelt and half white for them. They don't get wheat at all except here.

And I've got to say that despite the large selection of wonderful waffle recipes that I have. This is the one I want to eat over and over again lately. The texture is a bit different. It is very light and slightly spongy. Not quite like an angel food cake but none the less a different texture than traditional recipes. We love it! And of course we had to throw in some nice plump blueberries each time too. But enough talk. You need a recipe so you too can begin enjoying sourdough waffles too.


1 cup  (4 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 cup (4 1/2 ounces) white whole wheat flour
2 Tablespoons ( 7/8 ounce) sugar
2 cups ( 16 ounces) buttermilk
1 cup (8 to 8 1/2 ounces sourdough starter

2 large eggs
1/4 cup ( 2 ounces) melted butter
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda

To Make The Sponge:
Mix together the flours and sugar in a medium sized bowl. Stir in the buttermilk. Add the starter and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let sit at room temperature overnight, or for whatever shorter time span is practical.

To Make The Batter:
Beat together the eggs, butter, salt, and baking soda until light. Blend this mixture into the sponge.

Spray your waffle iron with oil. Pour batter onto the iron and cook.

What I found out with these waffles is for us overnight was perfect.
Anything to help get the next morning off to an easier start. Also the waffles more challenging to get off the waffle iron  if they aren't done enough. That doesn't mean over done just to the color of the photo I showed. And I used oil instead of butter one time and they worked out the same so don't be afraid to do some substituting with this recipe.

 I'd like to tell you how stiff or liquid my sourdough start I begin with is but I don't measure when I feed.  I just adjust my recipes according to how the start is. I know there is a formula for feeding but really, I find feeding sourdough like feeding bum lambs. Each one is unique and there care also. When sourdough has sat and not been fed often it needs to have more liquid to help the natural yeasts multiply. Older and it bubbles over the top of the jar like a volcano so I make the solution stiffer. 

And the buttermilk I used in the recipe of course was cultured from good ole goat's milk courtesy of our Meagan and Mercedes, our lovely does. I know this adds a richness that store bought can't compete with but do your best with what you've got.

Two of our children want a sourdough start for part of their Christmas present and a recipe book of all the wonderful recipes I've discovered. Yes, home-made makes a very nice gift indeed and what I need to do for Christmas has been nawing at the back of my mind.

Keep in mind that sourdough breaks down the phytic acid in wheat and releases the nutrients for your body to absorb. It is also anti-cancer so go ahead give whole wheat sourdough waffles a try. Or try using spelt instead. It just happened to be what I had ground up.

Monday, August 5, 2013

70 MPH Winds + 3 Inches Of Rain + 1 Foot Of Hail ='s What?

Photo courtesy of The News Record
 Snowballs? Hardly, it's August. No... this is a picture of what joined us on Thursday night after a stressful day at the doctors. Just before dark the skies darkened and turned ugly.
The clouds opened and rain pelted down followed by hail and more rain creating a white out in comparison to a bad winter blizzard. Some say thirty minutes and others forty-five was the length of this outburst, I don't know but I do know that much disaster was left in its wake.
Hail washed by the torrential rains and dammed up. This photo is courtesy of a friend who lives just on the other side of the hill from us.
It is the natural consequence of 3 inches of rain, 1 foot of hail, with 70 mile an hour winds in such a short period of time.


The hail raped the trees. This is one of our plum trees that was once full of leaves and  plums, but now stripped nearly bare. The bark looks like it was in a free for all bar room brawl. There goes my vinegar making supplies. One of the things I was going to make with the plums, apples, and grapes that now do not exist. Okay, they do but they are all unripened fruit on the ground so battered and bruised that nothing but the mulch pile will do. This is the first year we were going to get plums too. Last year there was few fruit and the wind took them. The year before the aphids got the plum trees so the blow was extra potent.

The torrential rain created a run off equal to a small creek running through the yard. It's what they call a flash flood.You can see the path through the fallen leaves. I'm concerned. What will happen to the trees? What will loosing so.... many leaves and the loss of photosynthesis do to the heart of the trees? In the winter no big deal because the sap is sucked back inside and a natural antifreeze is pushed out leaving the trees dormant for a period of time. But August with no time to recover before winter? 
Yes, winter is around the corner. I'm thinking it will be early this year. I noticed that a few antelope bucks were mixing in with does way earlier than usual. I've noticed spiders coming into the house a month earlier than they should be. I've noticed that the goat's coats are growing very rapidly during the usually hottest month of the year. Meagan, our two year old dairy goat came into esterus the end of July. The earliest we've ever had is October. Things are indeed strange and I'm wary.
A year when The Bread Basket area of California is in a drought with few crops and the midwest flooded frequently and here I sit with a garden gone.  Grass that was in bad need of a trim in the corners of the garden that once were well over a foot tall was reduced to 2 inches. The prairie doesn't look any better. The antelope that once grazed outside of town are eating what few leaves are left on the bushes in residence's yards. They haven't figured out that just a few miles out of town all is well and the grass though not lush, does exist.
Today I will check to see if there are a few potatoes lurking beneath the soil, the only thing I will get besides the one cucumber and a few tomatoes in a salad. If there is one thing I've learned raising a garden for 34 years of marriage is plan for years just like this. Years when your peach, pear, and fruit guy calls from Colorado to say that their blossoms all froze and there won't be anything come fall. A year like this when hail wipes out your garden or grasshoppers come in and eat everything to a stubble.
It's why you maintain two years or more of bottled or frozen beans, beets, corn etc. because there will be that one year where the harvest is minimal or non-existent. I'm so... glad we have another year of produce on our shelves. We will probably run out of this or that but I'll just choose to see it as a blessing to empty our jars and start anew.
I'm not worried about things because there is after all the grocery store and Bountiful Baskets to fill in. But I can't help but think. How would we fair if they weren't there as our back up? The day is coming, scriptures tell us and many economists too. It will be good food for thought as my jars empty and I count my blessings. I will plan more carefully as lessons unfold this year and it will enable us to prepare more fully for that day. 
Besides I can't get mad. The Lord did tell me that a garden wasn't a big priority for us this year. He's never said that before but after I ordered lots of seeds I had the impression not to put in anything more than the plants I started and the potatoes and such we had ordered. I thought it was just that we needed to put our efforts into working on the house. I had no idea this storm would desend. If I've learned anything in my life it is this. It is not mine to ask why but simply to obey.  I may not always understand the reasonings but the Lord is never wrong. Don't get the wrong impression. I'm not always obedient. I'm rather stubborn that way but I'm learning day by day.
As for the house, we got by fairly well. We lost all the screens to holes and rips but no broken glass. The brand new front screen door looks like a baseball pro through golf balls at it repeatedly but the vehicles were safe. Our roof ridge line needs repaired but we've been having trouble with it since it was put in a few years back and a new way of doing it was needed anyway. I've a little more mud to mop up from the basement floor where some water came in the window wells but not bad.  Many had their basements flooded, sections of roofs gone, windows broken, siding that looks like an oozy let loose on it, and vehicles dented and vehicle window completely spider webbed.
Yes indeed we were blessed. And when Kirk and I were knee deep in hail filled water, rain pouring down, my legs shaking uncontrollably while we scooped bucket after bucket of water out of window wells, we were not struck by lightening that flashed all around us. We were not hit by lightening while we pushed aside hail that kept damming up the water that flowed into the yard and around the house. The cause of the water coming in the window wells. We were not struck while the lightening flashed down and hit the neighbors clothes line melting the wire and leaning the posts drunkenly. The Lord is indeed merciful. 
Though in one week our son was diagnosed with Tuleremia, my husband after seeing two specialists and undergoing hours of testing was told they had " looked at all the horses and now someone else needed to look at the zebras", and our home was mildly damaged - we are very blessed. The third doctor figured out what was wrong with our son and he has medication, my husband's specialists having looked at all the normal diseases, some of them scary things like ALS and MS,  are contacting a number of specialist's specialists to see who will take Kirk's case and look for zebras or in other words, exotic diseases as a cause. And we can replace screens, buy another front door, and have the roof fixed. 
I can always see blessing though the storms rage and the closer I look the more I find.
It is why I love the saying, " Sometimes God calms the storm and sometimes He calms his child.” ― John H. Groberg.
 I'm tempted at times like this to be depressed, a natural out spring of diseases I'm challenged with and my Autism, but I keep reminding myself that to be depressed is to be without hope and ungrateful. How can I be unhappy when I count so many blessing? The greatest of which is a Heavenly Father who is always beside me. I just need to reach out my hand to clasp his. Together all things are possible.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Sourdough Rolls

Sourdough Rolls
1 teaspoon dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water (110F.)
2 cups Sourdough Starter
2 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup vegetable oil,
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoon salt
31/2  cup - 4 cups all-purpose flour

I mixed the above in the general way of making bread but I used only 3 cups of flour, not 3 1/2 - 4 and had to add a little more liquid because it was too dry so I'd go easy on the flour. Our weather has been brutally dry so I'm sure that was a factor.

Keep in mind too stiff a dough and it doesn't raise very well and is dry. I ended up using another egg and a little flour to compensate for too much fluid. Making dough isn't an exact science. More a feel and a skill acquired.

 I mixed at first in the Kitchen Aid mixer and threw a towel over it letting it raise in the bowl. The recipe calls for 2 - 1 /2 hour time laps but I just watch the dough knowing the temperature of the room makes a large difference along with the stiffness of the dough. I prefer leaving the dough rather sticky at this stage. The bread dough clinging to the hook but still has a very moist look to it. This takes some time and I don't rush putting in all the flour at once but slowly allow the gluten to develop in the flour.  

When raised I turned on the mixer and then turned the bowl out onto a flour coated counter top for a bit of hand kneading. This is a good time to add more flour if needed. When the dough feels nice and smooth and elastic I pinched off pieces of dough and rolled into balls, placed them in a well greased large cast iron skillet to rise. Once again I threw the kitchen towel over the top. I just can't make myself use plastic wrap. It is so disposable and a nice white cotton towel is much for fitting.

The recipe says 1 to 1 1/2 hours later it will have risen but I just know it was after chores were done that I heated the oven to 375 F. and then placed in the rolls. They always call for brushing butter or egg whites on top and this recipe calls for butter but I never do. Sometimes afterwards if the tops seem a bit dry but this recipe needed neither this time.

Then when the tops just start to turn a light-light brown, I turn down the oven  to 350. This increased heat at the beginning causes the dough to raise extra high. Then turning it down insures the insides get done all the way through before turning the outsides to crisp. Don't crowd your rolls. Leave lots of room to raise or they turn out heavy.

This is a Cuisine magazine recipe and it gives a sourdough starter recipe using dry yeast. I've not liked those. They are bitter to my palette. My sourdough imparts of well over a hundred years of history and I love its mellow tones.

Warm from the oven Kirk and I took our first bite. I wasn't impressed. There was a distinct tangy sourdough flavor and a bit bland flavor. I wondered with the speed this dough came together if it might lack the developed character we've grown to love in doughs that sit and age.

Time means flavor. The texture of the rolls was wonderful though, light, airy. And we both looked at each other and talked of how much better the rolls might be in the morning when they had cooled and the flavors melded. Indeed they were better the next morning. A sweeter taste appeared. Kirk loved the tanginess, I preferred the sourdough baguettes we had left over from a few days before. They too need just a little tweaking for my taste. Nothing wrong with them but I miss the European texture I mentally associate with this type of bread. Ridiculous really since I've never had baguettes before making them myself. But don't burst my romantic bubble. I've got a fantasy going on here about this foreign to our household style of bread and I intend on fiddling until reality meets up with fantasy. 

Still on a sourdough roll, get the pun, I made two batches of sourdough waffles. One with white flour and one with spelt. Oh my, home-made buttermilk and either white flour or spelt are awesome in these waffles. They are so.... light and slightly spongy in texture and a wonderful flavor. I'm not done yet for I've still a stash of sourdough recipes to try. I'm really liking sourdough. I've an article that talks about a scientific study on sourdough since they have found anti-cancer properties in it. Go figure, and they think they are so smart today. I'm thinking our ancestors without all their sophistication are looking pretty smart to me. 

I'll be sharing this recipe with you also but for now I've got to shower and be off with Kirk to the neurosurgeon to see what he has to say about hubby and all those tests the neurologist ran on Tuesday. I know none of those were normal. Like I said life is wa...y to exciting.