Monday, March 26, 2012

Homestead Blessings Recipe Review: Part 2

Have I said that this is one of my favorite cook books? It is! And it's not even because of how the recipes turn out. It's because everything is made from scratch. Do you know how hard it is to find a recipe book like that now a days? Every time I see a picture of food, with a recipe following it and think, "Ooh, that looks good" I'm only disappointed to read the recipe and find that it calls for something like 2 cans of cream of mushroom soup, or 1 package Crescent Rolls, or 1 box cake mix, or 1 box vanilla pudding mix, etc. The list could go on and on.
It makes me want to scream, "DOES NO ONE COOK FROM SCRATCH ANYMORE???" Food isn't about what's the fastest to prepare! It's about the ingredients that go into it. And since we're a no MSG, GMO, BHT, Red #40 (and all the other colors too) eating family that pretty much eliminates all pre-packaged foods (with the exception of some organic ones.)

Here's what we've tried recently from the cookbook:

Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookies: WOW. And WOW again. I don't think that my family will ever ask me to just make regular chocolate chip cookies again. They all LOVED this. I have to admit, it is pretty good and much easier to make since you just put all of the dough into 1 skillet! Certainly a time saver.
Georgia Peach Pie: I really liked this and have made it 3 times already in the past couple of weeks. After all, I did need to start using up all those quarts of canned peaches lining my shelves! It has a different look because of the use of eggs in it, but we all enjoyed it.
Best Pie Crust Ever: Another winner. I have used the recipe for pie crust from Nourishing Traditions for years but this one has it beat. It will be my go-to pie crust.
Jasmine's Miracle Mayonnaise: I have been making this for about 2-3 years (since watching The Art of Cooking video from the West Ladies where this recipe is included) but I wanted to share the review because it is the most wonderful mayo recipe I have ever used. It works every time and tastes great! As a note, I use sunflower oil instead of olive oil.
Easy Healthy Ranch Dressing: This recipe has the same explanation as the one above. Except the recipe on their video is just slightly different. Instead of using the sour cream, I make the mayo above and use it with the buttermilk. I also add herbs like parsley and basil. It is my go to ranch dressing recipe. YUM!
Old Fashioned Banana Pudding: Finally! A banana pudding recipe from scratch- totally! Except, I didn't make it that way. ;) I was in a time crunch on Thursday night to get to Bible Study and so instead of making the graham crackers to go with it, I used some of Back To Nature's Vanilla cookies instead. Everyone loved it and I'll surely make it again.
Scalloped Potatoes: This was another "time crunch" recipe so I left out the bacon. The potatoes were delicious even without and bacon would only have made them better. It was certainly less time consuming to leave the bacon out but if I had extra left over from a breakfast, I'd gladly add it in.

Graham Crackers: It would have been helpful if I had made these before the Banana Pudding. I made them the day after. My kids love graham crackers but I buy them sparingly because, 1. organic ones are super expensive and 2. they're made of wheat. We're not gluten free by any means, I just try for us to not be eating wheat constantly. And my kids would eat graham crackers constantly if allowed. The recipe didn't give any directions on how thick to roll them out so I guessed and rolled the dough about 1/4" thick. That was too thick. I'd say somewhere between paper thin and 1/4" is good. These were a little bland but were o.k. and would be perfect in the banana pudding as suggested.

I'll have a Recipe Review -Part 3 to share with you in a couple more weeks!

Friday, March 23, 2012

New Baby Chicks with Video!

Our second round of hatching eggs in an incubator came to an end last Saturday with the hatching of 7 new Buff Orpingtons! I caught quite a bit on our little handheld camera (sorry the picture quality isn't better.)

We started with 18 eggs of which some I knew weren't fertile. I just wasn't sure which ones they were. We have mostly Buff Orpington hens and a BO rooster. We also have 3 Barred Rock hens that our rooster refuses to mate with. He won't mate with any of the other hens either....unless they are a Buff Orpington. How in the world can a rooster be so picky?? Anyway, the Barred Rock eggs look JUST like the BO eggs so I knew that I would have some infertile eggs. I must have been bad at collecting because we started with 18 eggs and on day 7 I threw out 10 of them. I had candled all of them on day 4 and then again on day 7. The eggs that were clear got tossed and we ended up with 8 fertile, growing chicks!
7 of the 8 eggs hatched. Here are the girls and boys in their temporary brooder which is currently sitting in our bathroom.
I feather sexed them on day 2 and it looks as though we have 4 cockerels and 3 pullets. Once I get a handle on my chick situation, I should be able to move these babes out into the garage. I currently have 8 chicks out in the coop that are almost fully feathered, under a light and 10 chicks and 1 duckling in our garage under several lights.
It's chick-mania here!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Can I Call it Spring?

It is March after all. We are so ready for spring to be here. How about you?
I think I am going to work on a spring banner for my blog. Because if it says "Spring!" then it should surely be here sooner!

We're riding bikes....

Waiting to till under the cover crop in the garden....

Watching plants and fruit trees bloom...

Planting new crops.... This is Timber's garden. It was part of her birthday present.

Baking chocolate cakes after Amanda shared this recipe..... Anne Bibby, are you reading this? Make this and you'll never give that Pillsbury box a second glance!

And raising baby chicks... This is another part of Timber's birthday present. Meet Daisy. She's a Golden Sex Link. And she's the only chicken we own with a name.
I'm going to go out now and soak up as much of the sun as I can because our 10 day forecast is showing nothing but rain starting tomorrow. Here's to spring coming in right after that!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

"Lessons From The Hen House" - A Review

This ebook review is so timely and appropriate with all we have going on in our own hen house lately!
When Carol Alexander asked me to review her new ebook, Lessons From The Hen House, I knew nothing about it. From the title I gathered that it was a book about lessons on what to do or not do with chickens. I was wrong. And, once I read the ebook I was so glad that I was wrong!

Carol has done a wonderful job putting together a homeschool book that uses your backyard flock to complete activities in math, art, science, language arts and literature.

After reading it, I feel that this book would be best geared towards children in say, 2nd-7th grades although there are things for your preschooler and highschooler to do as well! If you're looking for a fun little curriculum that can encompass all the children in your home, this is it!

My favorite thing about the ebook is simply that it takes real life and turns it into education. Which is what true education is about anyway! Instead of being stuck in a stuffy text book, you're using a wonderful homestead animal to learn some basic and creative subjects. Your children will enjoy learning when it's taught this way. They'll feel engaged instead of bored.

A little about the author: Homeschooling since 1993, Carol J. Alexander lives with her family in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. She and her husband have graduated three of their six children from homeschooling.
You can visit Carol's blog Everything Home With Carol and see other lessons that Carol has put together at her Lessons From the Homestead website.

Thank you Carol for asking me to review this ebook. I can't wait to use it here on our homestead with our chickens and children!

This post is linked to the Barn Hop.

Monday, March 5, 2012

What Is It With Baby Chicks?

Have I gone insane? Are all the hens of the world dying and if I don't replenish my hens now, I'll never get another chance??

If you asked my husband that last question his answer would probably be, "Well, my wife seems to think so."

Here's how it all went down.

I thought it may be fun **and educational** to hatch a few baby chicks with a kindly loaned incubator. We got 8 chicks out of the deal.

I also put in an order with Mt Healthy hatchery for 15 pullets and 1 cockerel. Technically only 9 of those chickens were mine, the other 7 were a friends.

But, some of those didn't make it on the long trip and died. I called the hatchery. They're replacing my 5 dead chicks and they are also sending me 10 cockerels, for free, + 1 extra hen, to keep those 5 chicks warm on the trip. (Those said cockerels will be future chicken stock.)

A week before those chicks were shipped, I started incubating our Buff Orpington eggs. 8 are fertile and I'm hoping that all of them will hatch on the 17th of this month.

This past Saturday we made the long journey to Grants Pass, hauling our hogs to the butcher. We made the mistake of stopping by the Grange Co-Op. Guess what deal they had going on? Buy one 40lb bag of Organic Chicken Feed- Get 3 chicks free. I thought.......

STOP. Did I just read that right? You're giving away free chicks along with the bags of chicken feed we already buy???!! Did the heavens just shine down a ray of sunshine directly on me? Will my husband allow me to buy 8 bags??? Sadly, no.

Are you still with me here? I know that I'm not even with me here. 2 people in the last 24 hours have asked me how many chickens we have and I just stand there with a puzzled look on my face. "Um, well, ya know, I'm not quite sure right now."

Let's see....
8 chicks in brooder in garage (if my feather sexing was correct, 6 hens, 2 roosters)
4 chicks in brooder in 2nd bathroom
3 chicks in brooder at friends house (who I split the hatchery order with)
16 more chickens (including roosters) coming from hatchery this Friday. We'll see how many live.
8 eggs in incubator, due to hatch March 17th
1 duckling coming on Friday, as well, from feed store
9 hens outside
1 duck hen outside
1 rooster outside

See my dilemma? The next time someone asks me how many chickens we have I'm just going to say, "A lot."

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Homestead Blessings Recipe Reviews: Part 1

After I received my copy of "The Homestead Blessings Cookbook" in the mail, I went a little recipe making crazy. How could I not, everything looked so good! Did you see how many post-it notes I had marking recipes??
Instead of reviewing each recipe in a blog post- heaven knows that would take MONTHS of posting- I'm condensing it all to one post. For now that is.

Here's what we've made so far and here are our opinions:

Banana Cream Smoothie: Ooooh, this one is so good. It's like eating ice cream for breakfast! Everyone gave it two big thumbs up.

Better Than Carrot Cake Muffins: These just got a so-so rating. And I even made them with white flour! I don't know what it was, but they just weren't a huge hit.

Johnny Cakes: Except that Layton loved the name and thought they were "neat" to eat, we won't be making these again.

Celia's Country Cornbread: I used this for the Johnny Cakes and that may have been the reason we didn't love them. I already have a tried and true cornbread recipe that I've used for years so I'll be sticking with that one.

Simply Sweet Potatoes: I'd make them again. I used yams instead of sweet potatoes. My brother was here for dinner that night and he said, "Did you put pumpkin pie spice in this?" with a slight disgusted tone to his voice. I love yams though and I could eat them any way they are served.

Corn Dressing: This was yummy and easy! Everyone loved it and it's going in my personal recipe book!

Lee's Lemon Pie: This was a good pie. I wouldn't make it for a special occasion but once in a while in the winter I'd fix it up!

Mama's Busy Chocolate Cake: Another good recipe. I did add a thin layer of homemade frosting to this cake and afterwards thought that it would have been better without the frosting. The only thing is that this cake bakes up nicely in a 13x9 pan in about 45-50 minutes, not 30. If I had taken it out at 30, half the cake would have still been batter!

Hannah's No-Fry Doughnuts: When you don't fry doughnuts they come out tasting somewhere between a bagel and a sweet roll. This recipe makes TONS of doughnuts so you could easily cut it in half. I only have 1 baking sheet so I had a problem with all the dough rising again while I was waiting for the 1st batch to come out of the oven. I'll be honest.... I broke out the deep cast iron skillet, poured in sunflower oil and fried the rest of them. WOW. I will be making these doughnuts fried again. They were outstanding! Not so healthy, but really, really yummy.

Spiced Oatmeal Cake: Want a recipe for your kids to make? Here it is. If you do the first step (which has boiling water involved) the kiddos can have at the rest. I don't think you could mess this cake up. It's fun with all the different ingredients. This used quite a bit of spices. I don't think I've ever put 2 tsp. of cloves into anything! This is a wonderful cake if you're cutting out refined sugar, since it just uses honey. A little cream cheese frosting on top wouldn't hurt this cake but it is plenty good without it. Actually, if you leave off the frosting it could even be a breakfast cake.

Garlic Roasted Potatoes: I must have done something wrong with this recipe. Or the West Ladies idea of "4 large potatoes" is way different than mine. I used 4 BIG potatoes. I also overcooked them in the water. Even if they hadn't been overcooked, I would have probably used about 3 times the amount of the other ingredients to adequately cover the potatoes. But we used sour cream and that salvaged it. I think if I tweak this recipe (a lot) I could make it into what I had imagined it to be.

Still on my list to make are the Georgia Peach Pie, the Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookies, Buttermilk Pie, Scalloped Potatoes, Cornbread Dressing, Popcorn Crunch.......

If you don't already have this cookbook I'd recommend adding it to your wish list. It's worth it!
Well, back to the kitchen I go!
Related Posts with Thumbnails