Friday, September 17, 2010

Putting Up and Putting Out

Another busy week is flying by. I always forget that Friday means a lot to the rest of the universe. With J's weird work schedule and no other agenda besides homesteading, I lose track of the significance of days. Chickens don't care about weekends and no one told the woodpile what day of the week it was either.

You can tell autumn is here. The work is partly frantic (shut of outdoor water! Chop wood! Stack wood!), partly leisurely (poke around in the chicken coop. Till under the garden, take down portable greenhouse).
Between frantic and leisure, the coop was mucked and prepared for winter, lights were put on timers (to keep hens laying), water spigots winterized, wood chopped, wood stacked, more wood hauled in. Sticks and stumps from land clearing were collected, and with burn restrictions lifted, set on fire. In the evening, when the autumn sun and crisp air make work really feel like a chore, the burning berms make for a good bonfire with marshmallows roasting. Summer's busy pace gives way for the opportunity to sit on the porch with a cup of tea with my sweetheart and watch the kids play in what's left of the evening sun.

The chickens are finally putting out in decent numbers! We have been getting between 4 and 6 eggs a day, and plenty more hens are starting to look ready.
Um... They look "ready" when their combs are large and red and, *ahem*, when they start letting the roosters do what they do best.
And they do it best... In the time it took me to feed and water this morning (5 minutes, tops!) Ricky Bobby had mounted three hens, and was chasing after more.
Thank goodness I'm not a hen. That could wear a gal out!

Monday is going to be the official butchering day. We'll be putting up quite a few birds. In preparation for freezer space, I have been busy in the kitchen putting up jam. I had about 30 lbs of fruit in the freezer. That takes up quite a bit of space. I currently have 8 pints of "Handful Jam" (a handful of this and a handful of that), and 10 lbs of blackberries waiting for counter space and sugar for pie filling and jam.

Liz- if J will relinquish some of the moose, I'm gonna try that jerky! And we should be able to try the breakfast casserole this coming week, so I'll let you know!

The house is hot and steamy from canning all morning. The breeze outside and balmy and calling to me as the girls take an afternoon nap. Time for tea and knitting on the porch while the house cools down.

Handful Jam:
whatever fruit you have on hand!
Today's blend in the Moose Nugget house was:
8 lb strawberries
15 plums or pluots. I can't remember what I bought!
4 peaches
1 1/2 apples (for pectin!)
4 cups sugar? Maybe more?

Cook and cook and cook until it starts getting jam-ish. Can In the waterbath canner.
If you want smaller batches, I usually use half the amount of sugar to the amount of fruit I have on hand.
You can HALVE the recipe if you want. Or even quarter it.

Until Next Time,
Happy Moose Trails!

Monday, September 13, 2010

By Request

Good Morning from a warm and toasty Moose Nugget Household!
It was 34F this morning. J was kind enough to start a fire before heading out to cut firewood. Beans, Nugget, and I snuggled in the big bed, pulling the blankets up over our heads, and waited for the cabin to warm up.
Sweater Weather is my all-time favorite. The sun is lazy to rise, and this morning I had coffee brewed before the sun peeked above the treeline. I'm not much of a morning person, but Autumn makes it easier.
As the fire heats the log cabin, the scents of coffee, woodsmoke, and coffee cake (gluten free, of course!) mingle.
The roosters crow indignantly at the hens who dare eat breakfast without satisfying their breeding desires. This is the dance of the morning. The cackles of hens and cries of their jilted lovers mingle with the clatter of pots and pans, and little girls arguing over blocks or books or dollies.
I have a few moments yet to savor some sunrise and some espresso roast, then our day must begin in earnest. With the morning temps so close to freezing, the autumn chores can wait no longer.

JackDaddy- sounds like you left around the same time we did? (May 08)
I was originally there because of MAFB. My original reason to be there left. I finished up medic school and stayed a few more years. J was a govt civilian at Maxwell and Gunter. In addition to working with Haynes Ambulance for some time, I also worked as a medic on the base (Same company, but under contract). Knew lots of folks from the base because of it, and lots of lab owners too! :)

By Request: some recipes
Don't forget, you can sub milks and such with whatever your dietary restrictions are pretty easily! And send feedback! If I ever get past blogging and writing my crappy memoirs, maybe I'll write a cookbook. Or open a gluten free bed and breakfast. Or start marketing my recipes. Or just keep cooking yummy stuff for my kiddos...

*use a round cake pan or springform pan for best results. Um- square would probably be fine too?*
Prepare pan: spray with nonstick then dust with cornmeal

in large mixing bowl:
1/2 c quinoa flour
1/4 c sorghum flour
1/4 c corn starch
1/4 c tapioca flour
1/4 c arrowroot starch
1-2 Tbl Teff flour (adds texture and nutrition. Can do without if you don't have it)
1 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 ounce yeast (I think it worked out to 2 tsp if you dont have a scale?)
1 Tbl sugar

1 tsp olive oil
3/4 c WARM water (110F ish)

blend until moist, then beat with electric mixer on high for 2 minutes. Spoon into pan and spread dough to edges. Cover and rise 40 minutes or until doubled. Drizzle with olive oil and add any spices you like. (we do plain sea salt)
Preheat oven to 400F
Bake 20-25 minutes. Crust should be golden or beginning to brown and bread should be cooked through.
Has delicious chewy consistency that most glutenfree is missing. (Reminded me of domino's pizza crust, actually! Or bagels. Or a hundred other yummy delicious things we can't eat anymore! Crisp and chewy!)

And another recipe I tried yesterday. This was so good that even my pickier eater ate three servings of, and asked me to make again today.
You can use any kind of fruit you want- we used peaches and rhubarb. If you use a particularly wet fruit, adjust your liquids.
If you have leftovers, refrigerate and then reheat in the OVEN, or it will be soggy ickiness instead of yummy deliciousness!
Honestly, it reheats okay but next time I would probably half the recipe.

Fruity Coffee Cake:

3/4 c sorghum flour
1 c brown rice flour
1/8 c cornmeal (adds texture. Can skip if you wanted)
1/4 c tapioca flour
1c sugar (can use 3/4 if using sweeter fruit than I did!)
1Tbl baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp xanthan gum
1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla
1/2 c almond milk (can use subs!)
1/2 c oil
2 eggs
1-2 tsp seasonings (I used Ginger in this one. Cinnamon would have been good too!)

2 cups chopped fruit of choice

Preheat oven to 375F
Mix dry and wet ingrediets seperately, then combine, stirring until moistened and no lumps. Add fruit and stir to coat evenly. Spread into 9x13 pan (cooking spray helps!) and sprinkle with "fancy" sugar. (or regular sugar. Or make crumb topping if you can have butter. Or just bake the dang thing!)
Took about 30 minutes, I think? Top with be lightly golden and you should be able to have a toothpick come clean.

In the words of Beans, "I yike it! I even ate a peaches and it wasn't uh-skust-ing"
(NOT a fan of peaches, can you tell?)
she ate three adult sized pieces of it.
Beans mostly smeared it in her hair, along with some bacon grease for good measure. But she ate more than she put in her hair.
J declared it "awesome" and told me I should enter it into te Rhubarb Bake Off contest next year.
Must have been pretty good!


Off to start the farm chores and put a nice soup on to simmer. 'Tis the season for soup!

Until Next Time,
Happy Moose Trails!