Monday, November 29, 2010

MPM- The Thankful Edition

I didn't even do my menu planning till this morning. Talk about last minute! We're off to Eureka again today for Wyatt's follow up to his knee surgery. The surgery went well and I'm anxious to see what the doctor has to say today. Our visiting family left on Saturday, it was so nice to have them here for Thanksgiving.
At 6:29 this morning (which is the current time as I type,) I can already feel a negative attitude coming on. Lack of sleep last night, too much to do today=my bad attitude. I'm thankful that I can recognize it coming because it gives me the opportunity to do something about it; to change my heart.
So today, I am going to try and think on all the things I'm thankful for. If I made a list here of all of them it would take pages and pages and go on and on, so instead I'll just share a couple (in no particular order.)

Today I am thankful for my Lord. His graciousness and patience never cease to amaze me.

I am thankful for our pig barn which is finally complete. I am thankful that I can walk into the barn instead of the pen and that I'm now not having to hand feed pigs 2x/day!

I am thankful for my children, each one! What a honor it is to raise them. Someone at church asked me yesterday how many children I had (she's new to our church) and when I said 4, she exclaimed, "4?? WOW." That caught me off guard. I guess it just shows how everyone is different. My though is, "4?? that's not enough!" Children are a gift, not a burden.

I am thankful for our home. That may sound cheesy but having a warm, dry home is a luxury that many don't have. Although it may be small, it keeps us warm and close.

I am thankful for menu planning! It keeps me more organized and helps to make our day run smoother. So, without further ado, here's this weeks plan:

Soaked Oatmeal
Grilled cheese and tomato soup
Pork Chops, homemade applesauce, buttermilk biscuits, broccoli, kraut
Soaked Oatmeal
Brown Rice cakes with raw honey and peanut butter, banana slices
Hash, cornbread, green beans, kraut

Soaked Oatmeal
Chicken and brown rice soup
Whole Chicken, brown rice, broccoli, peasant bread, kraut

Soaked Oatmeal
Mini Pizzas, sliced apples
Chicken and dumpling soup

Soaked Oatmeal
Peanut butter and Jam sandwiches, yogurt, apple slices
Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, buttermilk biscuits, home canned corn, kraut

Soaked Oatmeal
Packed lunch with leftover sandwiches to eat on our Christmas tree cutting adventure!
Dinner out for my SIL's birthday

Eggs, Sausage, Toast
Sandwiches and apples for the drive home from church
Individual chicken pot pies, kraut

Have a fantastic week!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Raising and Butchering the Thanksgiving Turkey

This was our first year raising turkeys and let me tell you, it was an experience! I guess raising a new animal always is but I found with turkeys that there was a lot I didn't know. I was not aware of how much they ate. Granted, they can be 4x the size of a chicken but I guess when I purchased them as little baby chicks, that reality hadn't set in. These gals were hungry 24/7. Even watching them eat grass was amazing. I think if you had a small lawn then you could just own a turkey instead of a lawn mower. They work fast.One of our turkeys back in June.

We raised Bronze turkeys and they were about 1 month apart in age. Even though they were the same breed of turkey they both grew very differently and had very different personalities. Our larger turkey was much like a chicken while our smaller one was more like a overweight pig. She'd just lay around, eat and when she felt like it, she'd roam the grass. She also laid eggs for us while the larger one did not.
We raised them for about 7 months and butchered them yesterday. Before I go any further, let me warn the squeamish that there are some graphic turkey photos below. If you're a homesteader and butcher your own animals then it'll be nothing. If you don't even like to look at live animals and blood makes you faint then just go ahead and skip to another post. I've spared you the beheading shots!

The place where the magic happens. This is our friends home. He and his wife own the local feed store in town and are turkey butchering experts! They raise goats, sheep, pigs and have chickens, a horse and a huge green house. Normally, they raise turkeys as well but this year their turkey dinner became raccoon dinner.

The killing tree. Hanging the turkey up.

Time to take a dip in the 160 degree water (turkey has been beheaded already.) Gary had a nice large barrel that he had cut in half to use- certainly big enough for a turkey. Out of the pot and onto the table.

Plucking feathers. It was actually very easy to remove the feathers once the bird had been dipped. Gavin and Gary did the big turkey and Wyatt and I did the smaller one.

Gavin doing the dirty up the smaller turkey.

Cleaning the gizzard to be fried in coconut oil and added into the stuffing.

One finished bird.

Our larger turkey ended up being fairly lean. She weighed 25lbs finished and had very little fat on her. Our smaller one had quite a bit of fat (remember I said she was like an overweight pig?) and weighed out at 17lbs.

Cost wise these turkeys were expensive. The chicks were about $8.50 each and then feeding them organic, soy free food for the last 7 months has been pricy as well. While they were free range and did get to eat grass and bugs and other squirmy things, they still ate a lot of purchased food. My guess is that each turkey ended up costing about $60 when all was said and done. Pricey? Yep. But in reality I'd much rather spend the time and the money and know what my food has been eating and the conditions it's been in rather than getting a free turkey from the store if I spend over X amount of dollars. There is something very satisfying about raising and eating your own meat.

Thanksgiving MPM

This is going to be one crazy week at the homestead. My folks are driving up today (as I type) and are staying for a week. Tomorrow is Wyatt's knee surgery. Thursday is Thanksgiving which equals, spending all day in the kitchen. (Wait, how is that different than most days?) Any other spare time this week will be spent working on the pig barn. We have "Swine Lake" in the pig pen right now and it's not pretty.

My menu plan is a little different this week. I can already tell that it's gonna be a doozy seeing as last night I forgot to soak our oatmeal. Looks like we're having eggs this morning......good thing we have over 3 dozen in our fridge!

Eggs and spouted toast
Tomato soup and grilled cheese
Whole Roasted Chicken, peasant bread, broccoli

Soaked Oatmeal
Brown rice cakes with peanut butter and raw honey, sliced bananas
Whatever my mom makes! (We'll be out of town for Wyatt's surgery)

Soaked Oatmeal
Chicken and brown rice soup
Lasagna, peasant bread, green salad with homemade dressing

Soaked Oatmeal
Mini Pizzas with sliced apples
Thanksgiving Dinner (with homestead organic, grass fed turkeys!)

Soaked oatmeal
Peanut butter and jam sandwiches, sliced apple, yogurt
Thanksgiving leftovers

Soaked Oatmeal
Tuna Sandwiches with apples
Chicken Pot Pies

Eggs, uncured bacon, buttermilk biscuits, gravy
Leftover sandwiches, yogurt
Venison Roast, baked potatoes, green salad with homemade dressing

Remember, if you ever have any questions about my meal plan or the food specifically, leave a comment and I'll be sure to respond.
May you have w onderful, blessed Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

weird sounds coming from the kitchen

While it's fermenting in a sealed jar, sauerkraut can make all kinds of noises. Just today while I was cleaning the kitchen I thought, "What in the world is that noise?" Then I remembered the kraut on the counter. Those high pitched sounds of the air escaping as it bubbles from between the little cracks of the lid- they may be strange but they are the sounds of cabbage being transformed into a food that it full of vitamin C and beneficial bacteria!

I realized too that I completely left sauerkraut off of my dinner plans on MPM! It's something we enjoy every night- how could I have forgotten? I shared my quick way of making kraut here if you're interested.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

turkey friend

Layton's got a buddy.
This banana is good.
Would you like to try some?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Soaked Oatmeal

We eat soaked oatmeal almost every morning for breakfast. It's fantastic! We change what we top it with and that keeps it interesting each morning.
Soaked oatmeal is super easy to make plus by soaking it, you are releasing the vitamins and minerals to be absorbed by your body rather than blocked!
Sally Fallon, the author of Nourishing Traditions, said in her book, "Phosphorus in the bran of whole grains is tied up in a substance called phytic acid. Phytic acid combines with iron, calcium, magnesium, copper and zinc in the intestinal tract, clocking their absorption. Whole grains also contain enzyme inhibitors that can interfere with digestion. Traditional societies usually soak or ferment their grains before eating them, processes that neutralize phytates and enzyme inhibitors and in effect, predigest grains so that all their nutrients are more available. Sprouting, overnight soaking, and old-fashioned sour leavening can accomplish this important predigestive process in our own kitchens. Many people who are allergic to grains will tolerate them well when they are prepared according to these procedures."
Soaking grains isn't difficult either. All you need is some water and a neutralizer. In the case of Soaked Oatmeal I use our well water and yogurt. The recipe below feeds both my husband and I, and all of our children each morning (a 13yr old, 3yr old, 2yr old and 1 yr old) If you have more or less people in your family then you can adjust the quantity as needed.
Soaked Oatmeal
2 c water
2 c organic oats
4 Tb whole milk yogurt
1 1/2c water (for cooking the next day)
The night before, place oats in a glass or ceramic bowl and pour in water and yogurt. Stir until well combined.
Grains should be soaked for at least 12 hours so I usually make mine up while I'm preparing dinner.
Cover your bowl with a cotton dishcloth and allow it to remain on your counter until the next morning.
When you're ready to cook it, place the oats into a saucepan with the 1 1/2c water and cook on medium heat until water is absorbed (about 8 minutes.) I stir mine often because otherwise it tends to stick to the bottom of the pan.
I then portion out our oatmeal into bowls, add organic butter, maple syrup and cinnamon. We then top it with what we have on hand. This morning it was canned peaches and sliced banana. Add some organic whole milk (raw preferably) and enjoy!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

I've been inspired. By a few different ladies. Menu planning.

I've actually been menu planning (half way) for over a year. I was planning our dinners but that was it. I've been encouraged though to plan all meals now. I'm not sure why I didn't do it before? Menu planning has always been helpful for me at dinner so why not at breakfast and lunch too? I was so organized in the afternoons preparing for dinner but at breakfast and lunch I was always scurrying around wondering, "What can I make? What do I have?"

Menu planning not only helps me to be more organized at home (which is something I can seriously lack once in a while) but it helps me grocery shop so that I'm making less trips to town. Less trips=saved money. Less time, less gas.

This sweet lady gave me the idea to plan my kids lunches. I have the week planned out and we eat the same thing every week. Easy for me, easy for the kids. She also inspired me with these.

Here's my meal plan for this week:

Soaked Oatmeal
Tomato soup and grilled cheese
Hash, buttermilk biscuits, home canned green beans, sauteed mushrooms

Soaked Oatmeal
Rice cakes with peanut butter and raw honey, sliced bananas
Chicken and Dumpling Soup

Soaked Oatmeal
Chicken and brown rice soup with carrots
Pork Chops, spinach raviolis, homemade applesauce

Soaked Oatmeal
Mini pizzas with homemade buns, sliced apples
Spaghetti, peasant bread, green salad

Soaked Oatmeal
Peanut butter and jam sandwiches, sliced apples, whole milk yogurt
BBQ chicken, baked potatoes, home canned corn

Soaked Oatmeal
Tuna sandwiches with apples
Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, canned corn, cornbread

Soaked Pancakes, uncured bacon, maple syrup
Meatloaf sandwiches
Venison roast with potatoes and carrots, peasant bread

As you can see, we eat a lot of oatmeal for breakfast. We like it and it's easy. I'm thankful that I don't have a picky family to feed. Over the next few months I'll try to get up as many recipes as I can so that you can link to them if you'd like to try them out. I always love trying someone's tried and true recipe. It rules out the question, "Will this even be good??!"

Monday, November 8, 2010

misbehavior brought out

All 3 little kids were sleeping at the same time this afternoon and I longed to sit down and read something, even if it were only for 15 minutes. So I went to the bookshelf and browsed. "Hm, no that one doesn't interest me right now." " Well, I could look at that one but maybe there's another one that would be better."
When thoughts like those run through my head, the indecisive thoughts, I then know that what I'm craving isn't going to be satisfied in one of those books (even though they are all very good books.) It's the word of God that I need. That is the only thing that will satisfy.
I normally don't pull out my copy of The Message. I usually open my NIV Bible. But today something led me to Eugene Peterson's version and I opened up to the book of James (that was due to a conversation that a friend and I had this afternoon.) Once I read the introduction I thought, "WOW! This needs to be shared!" So for today, I'm just sharing a small excerpt from the introduction to James that spoke volumes to me in the 15 seconds that it took for me to read it.
"When Christian believers gather in churches, everything that can go wrong sooner or later does. Outsiders, on observing this, conclude that there is nothing to the religion business except, perhaps, business- and dishonest business at that. Insiders see it differently. Just as a hospital collects the sick under one roof and labels them as such, the church collects sinners. Many of the people outside the hospital are every bit as sick as the ones inside, but their illnesses are either undiagnosed or disguised. It's similar with sinners outside the church.
So Christian churches are not, as a rule, model communities of good behavior. They are, rather, places where human misbehavior is brought out in the open, faced, and dealt with."

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

homestead update + a recipe

Wow, it seems like forever since I've blogged. Oh wait, no, it doesn't just seem like it, it has been forever!
We have had quite a few things going on that have kept my fingers and my mind away from the computer world. Here's what's been happening:
1. Mason. That little baby is a peach. I am so in love with that little boy. He's had a couple ups and downs though lately. A couple weeks ago he burned his hand (pretty bad) and has been having to have it wrapped (and re-wrapped) twice a day. It is healing really well though and I'm hoping to have the wrap off by next week.
He has just started walking and is doing so well. He also is turning 1 this Friday, which is coincidentally my birthday as well! We won't mention my age though. And Wyatt just turned 13 a week or so ago.
2. The pigs are getting bigger, and bigger and bigger. No longer cute little piglets, they smell and I'm ready to butcher. Butchering them will have to wait until January though.
3. Speaking of butchering, the turkey's official D-day ("D" meaning death) is November 20th. Only 17 more days with those little ladies. Phew.
4. My dad had heart surgery last week and is now home and doing pretty well. The surgery went well but there are still a few things to be worked out in the next month or so.
5. We've had a bear coming around that has been creating quite a few problems for us and the neighbors. I guess this year is pretty bad with bears here. Overpopulation, not a good thing with bears.
6. All 3 of my little kids were sick with the flu in the last week. That wasn't pretty.
7. Gavin and I have been volunteering on Wed nights at church with "Kids JAM" and it's going well. Love to see the kids hearing about the Lord and having a great time too!
8. I'm still working on covering up most of the garden. The herbs stay where they are though and I got garlic in the ground about 2 weeks ago.
9. I've had a little extra time to read and have been reading this book by Debi Pearl. Wow, it's good and while I would say that I do most of the things in the book that Debi talks about, she really enlightened me in a few areas that I need to improve. Great read. I'd highly recommend it to all wives!
That's about it here. What have you been up to?
Since it is fall I wanted to share this recipe. I actually got the original recipe here and then had to modify it quite a bit for what I had on hand. The results? Pretty darn good if I do say so myself. Perfect for fall.

Pumpkin Cake Bars With Cinnamon Icing (my way)

For the Pumpkin Cake:
1 1/2 c pumpkin pie mix (that eliminates the honey and spices)
1 c peanut butter (because really, almond butter is WAY too expensive here)
2 eggs (from pastured hens!)
1 1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1 t vanilla extract

For the Cinnamon Icing:
1 box instant icing (as pictured below)
1 tsp cinnamon

Preheat your oven to 350F.
In a medium sized bowl, combine all the cake ingredients and mix thoroughly to combine. Pour into an 8×8 oven safe baking dish (I suspect you could squeeze 12 cupcakes out of this recipe if you use a muffin tin). Bake until completely cooked through, about 30 minutes.
I baked mine in a 8.5" pie plate and then made my frosting after the cake was baked. When cooled, I frosted it. Then we inhaled.

The only thing I would do next time is not put as much frosting on. It was too sweet for me. If you have a HUGE sweet tooth though like my hubby then it's, "just the right amount."
One of the greatest things about this recipe though is that it's grain free! Yep, you read that right- no flour! And if you follow the recipe for the icing that's in the original recipe then it can be milk free too (in case you have someone with that allergy.)

I'm going to try and quilt some more in the next few months and the next thing I'm planning on sharing here is how to bind a quilt (just for you Lisa!) Keeping my fingers crossed that I can get to that in the next few weeks.
Plus, I'm planning on a book giveaway later this month. Stay tuned!
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