Saturday, December 29, 2012

Feeling optimistic

Romaine lettuce mix from The Cook's Garden

Pink sparkly fingernails compliments of Mesha.

Garden window in the bathroom.

Now Grow.

Looking forward

Now that the holidays are over I can start seriously perusing the garden catalogs porn that seems to be arriving daily to our mailbox. 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Fresh livestock greens!

I found a local grocer that prefers to give its produce scraps to people with animals rather than throw them away.  I picked up a box this morning before work.  All the animals were thrilled to see something besides alfalfa - especially the ducks.  With the snow on the ground this is a veritable pot of gold for me - it is the end of the pay period and I need to wait another day to get a new bag of feed.  Although the hens love leftovers, like for us, fresh greens are better. 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas

The holidays around here are pretty mellow.  Christmas is traditionally Jammie Day at our home (the jammies opened on Christmas Eve)  After chores are done it is mostly sitting around reading and eating.

Reilly & I went out for our walk about 7am - no one was yet up.  We have a large park a couple blocks away with fresh snow covering the soccer fields.  I let him off leash in the morning quiet and he ran circles gleefully through the new powder every so often burying his nose and chuffing.

All the poultry (+the bunny) got spinach for a special breakfast with fresh water and grains.  And I got 3 (count them THREE) cups of coffee before the girls roused themselves out of bed to check out their stockings.

We did have a surprise though - outside our back door on the deck was a small pile of wrapped packages.  We have no idea who they were from - our gates were all locked and the names on each gift was typed.  And there was a single bare footprint on the steps to the backyard.

Dinner was simple.  Ham, scalloped potatoes and green beans with upside down peach cake for dessert.

It was really a lovely day.

Monday, December 24, 2012

New Morning Routine

It starts earlier.

I should have always been getting up around 5:30.  I have been meaning to, but it wasn't until the need to take a puppy out for a morning walk that I am actually doing it.  Reilly (Riley? we decided on a name but not a spelling yet) is 6 months old and need to go out IMMEDIATELY upon being let out of his crate in the morning.  So I bundle myself up (I do so hate being cold) and we walk before the sun is peaking over the edge of the horizon.

While the rest of the family sleeps.

While we are gone, though, the coffee pot is doing its job and we walk in to the house smelling of the dark roast Bob just sent us (Thanks Bob!)  I enjoy a cup before heading outside with a bucket of hot water for the livestock.  The poultry and the rabbit (much happier outside in his 2 story hutch than he was inside in the dog crate)  are enthusiastic about their newly thawed water this time of year.

On a side note:  I finally found a book that told me why the quail and ducks are not laying.  In no other book that I have read does it mention that these birds, like hens, need 14+ hours of light to produce eggs.  Since there is not power to the areas of the yard they live I will go without - and instead make a trade with our neighbor who also has ducks (and a light).  Hubby and I are not planning to keep the quail anyway.  We are down to 3 now, one male flew out yesterday while I was getting them fresh water.  The eggs are too small to more than a novelty and the meat - tho tasty, is a lot of work for a small amount.  I would rather have 2 more hens.  Or a dairy goat.

But back to my morning.  Reilly and I go back in the quiet house, and herein lies the reason I have wanted to get up and do the chores earlier.

A second cup of coffee in peace and quiet before the rest of the family gets up.


Sunday, December 23, 2012

Bob's Beans Coffee Milk Stout

Tastes good with both beef and cinnamon rolls.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Monday, December 10, 2012


Up until now I have avoided recipes showing up here.  There are many great sources for recipes on the web (America's Test Kitchen anyone?)  Any entry here would be redundant with all the good food blogs out there.

So last week I was feeling the need to bake, to fill the house with sweet warm smells.  I was planning on chocolate chip cookies but looking in the fridge I found cooked butternut squash and bourbon whipped cream leftover from Thanksgiving.

Our quick bread recipe started out as a typical banana bread recipe from a basic cookbook, but we have found it to be endlessly adaptable to whatever we have on hand.  I hope you find it as useful as we do.

Urban Chicks "Insert Flavor here" Bread

1 - 1 1/2 cups mashed banana/pumpkin/winter squash or applesauce or grated apple/zucchini/carrot - any canned fruit can also be used for part (pineapple, peaches, etc.)
1/2 cup melted butter (shortening/lard/margarine)
2 large eggs (3 small/1 jumbo & 1 med/2 duck eggs)
1/2 cup buttermilk (yogurt/sour cream thinned with milk/half&half/whipped cream or milk w/ tsp lemon/lime/orange juice
 1 - 1/2 cups sugar (white/brown/maple/combo - agave, honey or maple syrup can be used in part)
1 tsp vanilla (or whatever)
2 1/2 cups flour (again blend of choice, whole grain flours will need more liquid)
1 tsp soda
1 tsp salt

Mix melted butter vigorously with eggs and buttermilk.  Add to banana and mix well.  Add sugar and vanilla.  Add dry ingredients however you prefer.

Bake in greased pans.  1 loaf pan 350 for about 1 hour 15 minutes OR 18 regular sized muffins 350 for about 20 minutes.  I will prep the muffins and refrigerate them in the pan to bake in the morning on school mornings.  I always loved it when my Mom did that and my girls appreciate it also.

Some combos we really like
*grated zucchini, chopped candied ginger,  1/2 the sugar is honey, zest and juice of one orange (or lemon) mixed in with yogurt and sliced almonds
*winter squash, raisins, bourbon whipped cream mixed with sour cream and cinnamon
*grated zucchini, zest and juice of 2 oranges mixed with milk, fresh cranberries mixed with the sugar and finely chopped walnuts
*grated zucchini, carrots, & apple, crushed pineapple mixed with sour cream, chopped pecans, coconut & raisins 1/2 the sugar is brown