Friday, October 31, 2008

The Death of the Fall Garden

It is a good thing we like lettuce because that is about all that remains of my fall garden. There are a few collard greens and green onions down there, but not much else. We made a chicken coop in the barn for our chickens which gave them access to the pastures and the rest of the farm. They loved being out of their poultry netting. It has been a great solution because they have been so happy that we have been getting a multitude of eggs. Then one day they discovered my fall garden. Never mind that the little ingrates had almost 17 acres to eat. No...they wanted my broccoli and cabbage leaves. Before we knew what happened, they ate every leaf off of my plants. I have also noticed that they have gotten into the collard greens. It is a good thing for their little feather behinds that they are producing eggs at a record number or I might just decide that we need several batches of Chicken and Dumplings!!!

grace and peace,

Thursday, October 30, 2008

A Quick Fall Decoration

I love to decorate for the seasons, but I don't like to spend extra money. I look around my house and see what I can bring in from another room to decorate. I grabbed my round tray that I always leave in my kitchen. I gathered a few candles from other rooms. I then went to my firebush shrubs and cut off the berries. (I think the berries are poison so I made sure to tell all of the kids not to mess with them). I laid the berries around the candles and I had a no expense pretty fall tray. I have kept these candles lit during the day when we are doing school. It makes the kitchen feel more inviting and I like the look of it. Plus it smells great.
grace and peace,

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Clearing of the Woods

Robert has continued clearing the woods. He is also a truck driver so he works on our woods when he has the extra time. He has worked about 20 hours in all and he has done an amazing amount of work. He is leaving every hard wood tree that he can. We drive to the back of the property often to see how much he has gotten cleared. It looks so different. I think I am going to be pleased with the outcome. Michael found a website that has pictures from satellites of the area. These pictures even show our fence line. He used the information and figured that we are using a total of 3 1/2 acres of our property. This is the l amount now that we are using for all of our animals. By having this work done on our woods, which by the way are in terrible shape from the pine beetles, we will be increasing our usable land by about 11 acres. Although having the work done is expensive, it is still MUCH cheaper than purchasing more land.

Here is a look at our soon to be pasture area. When Robert is finished, he will smooth the ground and make it ready for the next step. Michael will have to rent some equipment to properly sow the seed to make the pastures.

Here is one of the large burn piles that we will have to burn. Robert has already gotten a permit to start burning the piles. He wants to do this while he continues to clear the other trees. This way he will have his large machine back there to move the piles as needed. I didn't realize he would also take care of the burning part of it. I was happy to hear that news!
grace and peace,

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

These cinnamon rolls are a real treat. If you are really watching your weight, you might just want to skip this post all together!!!

I use the same recipe that I use to make my yeast rolls. It was posted yesterday. After the dough has risen the first time, instead of shaping it for rolls, I roll it out to make the cinnamon rolls.

I roll it thin...kind of like a thin crust pizza. Make sure you sprinkle flour on your board or counter top to make it easier to roll the dough.

Next, I use about a half a stick of soften butter. I spread that all over the dough. Then I sprinkle brown sugar, cinnamon and sugar, and pecans on the dough. (You could also sprinkle raisins or walnuts or dried fruit. My family doesn't like those things so I stick to the basics).Next start at the long end and roll it up jelly roll fashion.When you are finished rolling the dough, you will have a long snake of cinnamon roll goodness.I then take a serrated knife and cut each roll. Place them in a greased baking dish. I use my pampered chef stone pan for this, but I have also used regular round cake pans in the past.I put them as close together as I can in the pan so they will rise tall.Here they are after they have risen for about 30 minutes. They are now ready to bake.I bake them in a 375 degree oven for about 18 to 20 minutes. Check them after about 15 minutes to make sure they aren't getting too brown. After they have finished baking, I take them out to cool for a bit. While they are cooling, I make an icing for them. I take about a stick of soften butter, add some powder sugar, vanilla, and a tiny bit of milk to make it spreadable. I then spread it on the hot rolls. I serve these with lots of cold milk and hot coffee! If I were to ever open a Bed and Breakfast, these rolls would be at the top of my breakfast menu. Hope you enjoy!!!

grace and peace,

Monday, October 27, 2008

Homemade Yeast Rolls (Recipe)

1 cup warm water
1 egg
4 Tablespoons Sugar
1 teaspoon Salt
3 Tablespoons dried milk
1 1/2 teaspoons yeast
1/4 cup soften butter
3 1/4 cups Bread Flour

Mix all the ingredients except for the flour in a large mixing bowl. Add bread flour and knead until dough forms a ball. Let rise in greased bowl until double (about an hour). Roll out into rolls and place in greased baking pan. Let rise again for about 30 minutes. (Do not let the rolls rise above the lip of the baking pan. They will fall during baking). Bake rolls in a 375 degree oven for about 18 minutes. Brush butter on tops of rolls. Enjoy!

grace and peace,

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Homemade Yeast Rolls (Step by Step)

Yeast rolls are one of my family's favorite form of bread. While they are not near as healthy as the whole wheat bread I make, I still put them on our dinner table often. These rolls can change a ho-hum meal into a real treat. This post will deal strictly with the process of making yeast rolls. I will post the recipe in the next post.

First start by mixing the wet ingredients. I also add my sugar, yeast, and salt in my mixing bowl. Don't forget to watch the water temperature!
Next, add the Bread flour. I use store bought bread flour, and I always buy the unbleached bread flour.Next start the mixer. If you don't have a mixer, then you start the kneading process by hand. Once the dough has mixed long enough, it will leave the sides of the bowl and form a ball.
I then place my dough in my greased bowl to rise in a warm oven. I always turn the oven off before putting the dough inside, and if it is too hot I leave the door cracked open. I give myself about an hour to let my dough rise. However, I left them for almost 4 hours this morning because I made the dough and then went to church. The rolls turned out wonderful so it didn't hurt them to let them set longer.The tools of the roll business are a rolling pin, a biscuit cutter, and a well greased pan. I bake my rolls in the pampered chef stoneware. I don't think you can beat it. In the past, I have used regular round cake pans. Also you will need a little bit of flour so that the dough won't stick to the board or the rolling pin.The next step is to roll the dough out to the thickness you desire. I then place my rolls in the greased stoneware. I like my rolls to rise tall and I have found that if I place the rolls close together they rise taller rather than just spread out in the pan. I then set my rolls in the oven again to rise. This takes about 30 minutes.

Here are the rolls after they have risen. I bake them at 375 for about 17 to 19 minutes.
They look like this after I have spread butter on the tops. I wish I could share a roll with you so you would know how soft and flavorful these rolls truly are! The recipe will be coming in the next post!!!
grace and peace,

Sunday Scripture

"For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light." Ephesians 5:8

Friday, October 24, 2008

Where's The Grub??

Baby Calf is busy looking for feed... "Where's my Momma?", she wants to know.

Peter the Great is wondering where the corn is.

Black Cow is busy looking for the hay. "Where did that whole big bale that cost the owner's $50 go? It was just here yesterday!"

Lizzie whispers something to Isabell about hearing the sound of the tractor. comes the feed!

A welcomed sight for hungry farm animals!

grace and peace,


Thursday, October 23, 2008

Whole Wheat Bread

2 cups warm water
1/3 cup oil
1/2 cup honey (can use 1/4 cup if you want it less sweet)
3 1/2 teaspoons yeast
1 egg
6 cups freshly milled flour (may use whole wheat flour from grocery store)
2 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons gluten (optional)

Combine water, oil, honey, egg, yeast, salt. Stir well. Add 3 cups of flour and gluten. Mix thoroughly. Add remaining flour and knead until smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes by hand). May need to add another 1/2 cup of flour to get the right consistency. Place in greased bowl. Let rise until double. Shape into rolls or loaves. Place in 2 greased loaf pans and let rise again. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. Take out of pans and cool on wire rack. Brush top of bread with butter while still hot.

For more great whole wheat bread recipes contact the Bread Beckers at I purchased their bread book and I have really enjoyed it. This recipe is from their book, but I have adapted it make it my own.

grace and peace,

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Bread Baking Basics

I have had several people ask me lately about bread baking so I have decided to spend the next few posts sharing bread baking procedures, tips, and recipes. I want to break this down in several different posts for those of you who are new to bread baking. The great thing about baking bread is that once you know the process of making bread you have an entire new world opened up to you! Let's get started...

First of all, I love to make many different types of breads. My family loves whole wheat bread so I decided that I wanted to have the most nutrition available and I purchased a grain mill. In the picture above are wheat berries that I put in my grain mill to make my own whole wheat flour. This method retains the most nutrition in the flour. However, it is best to use the fresh ground flour within four hours for maximum nutrition. I use Prairie Gold Wheat berries. However I was almost out of those so I used my hard red wheat berries and a mixture of soft white wheat berries. This makes a nuttier tasting bread than just plain Prairie Gold. I also use honey to sweeten my whole wheat bread.

This is the grain mill that I chose to purchase. It has been a great kitchen addition for our family.

Once I grind the wheat berries, they come out looking like flour. I have to be honest. I don't like the smell of wheat berries being ground. It puts me in the mind of dog food so I add the wheat berries and go do something else so I don't have to smell it. It doesn't take long to grind so I am back in the kitchen in just a few short minutes.

The next thing is to follow the recipe. Usually in bread making this consists of measuring the wet ingredients and adding the yeast. Some recipes call for proofing the yeast. This step is included to make sure that your yeast is still fresh. The best thing you can remember about yeast is that it is a living thing. If it is too old, it won't rise well. I keep a small jar of yeast in my refrigerator and I keep the rest in my freezer. By keeping the yeast in the freezer, I know that it will last for a long time. The other thing you need to remember about working with yeast is that too hot of water will kill it, and too cold of water will not activate it. I never did have a thermometer to actually see what my water temperature was, but I learned a neat trick. I would run the water into a large measuring cup. I would stick my elbow in it. If it was hot enough to burn my elbow, I knew it was too hot for my yeast. I wanted it to be nice and warm, but not burning hot. I have baked enough bread that I no longer need to do this, but it was very helpful when I first got started.

I first learned how to make bread by kneading it with my hands. I love to knead bread, but my hands are full now with all the things that have to be accomplished each day. So I now turn to my kitchen aid mixer to knead my bread for me. It makes bread making so much easier and faster. I can teach a quick math lesson while my bread is being mixed. I would love to have one of those large mixers that can handle 6 to 8 loaves worth of dough at one time. However I use what I have and I find that the kitchen aide serves my purpose. This picture shows dough that still needs to have more flour added. The hardest thing about bread baking is to know when you have added enough flour. You don't want the dough to be too sticky, but at the same time you don't want to add too much flour either. Different types of dough also feel differently. For instance, my whole wheat dough is much softer and stickier than a white bread dough. My bread recipe calls for 5 cups of whole wheat flour, but I usually add closer to 6 and a half cups.

When the dough starts forming a nice ball in the mixer and pulls away from the sides of the bowl, it is close to being ready. You may still need to add a bit more flour, but it is getting close.

I then take my whole wheat bread dough and put it on my bread board. I sprinkle a bit more flour to keep it from sticking and I knead it just a few times to make it smooth. It will make a nice ball if there is enough flour. If it won't hold its shape, add a bit more flour and knead some more.

I then place my dough in a greased bowl to let it rise for the first time. I cover the bowl and sit it in a warm oven that is turned off. I usually let my oven preheat to about 190 and then turn it off. I don't want it too warm when I put my dough in, but I want enough warmth to make it rise easier. If I open my oven door and it feels hot, then I leave the door open just a bit to let it cool off. I don't want hot...I just want warm. Remember yeast is a living thing and it needs to be treated with care!

After my dough has sat in the oven for about an hour it rises to about double in size. It is ready to be punched down and shaped into loaves.

I place my bread dough in greased bread pans and let rise in a warm oven again. I don't let my bread rise too much above the lip of the pan. If the bread rises too high, it will fall during baking. It takes about 30 minutes of sitting in the bread pans to achieve the right height. I then bake it according to the recipe and..

we have fresh bread to enjoy! Always take your hot bread out of the pan and let cool on a wire rack. If you let them cool in the bread pans, the bottom of the bread will get soggy. (Ask me how I know)!! I also take some butter and slather it on the tops of my bread while the bread is still hot.

If two or three loaves is too much bread for your family, then you can freeze it for later. I always try to keep fresh bread in my freezer so I can have a quick breakfast or dinner addition when needed. I will post individual recipes that my family loves over the next few days. By the way, if you want to make whole wheat bread and you don't have a grain mill you can still use whole wheat flour from the grocery store.

grace and peace,


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Beefy Chimichangas

1 pound ground chuck
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 can Refried Beans (16 0z)
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 cloves minced garlic
1/2 cup tomato sauce
10 to 12 large tortillas
Vegetable oil to fry
Cook ground beef in a large skillet until browned, stirring to crumble. Drain well. Stir in onion and next 5 ingredients. Spoon about 1/3 cup of mixture in tortilla. Fold each side up and then fold the ends up and secure with a tooth pick. (Don't forget to remove toothpicks before serving)! Repeat with remaining meat sauce and tortillas. Fry in deep hot oil one at a time until brown on each side. Watch them carefully they will burn quickly. Drain well on paper towels.
To serve: Either serve with salsa and cheddar cheese or sometimes I make a homemade sauce from 2 cans tomato sauce and my canned jalapenos. I pour the jalapeno juice in with the tomato sauce and add a lot of jalapenos too. I then heat it on the stove. This sauce is spicy and my younger children prefer plain salsa to top their chimichangas. I also serve sour creme on the side. (If you have left over chimichangas, do not fry them but freeze them instead. Thaw in refrigerator and then fry as directed. I do this a lot and they are great)!
grace and peace,

Monday, October 20, 2008

Wedding Dinner

The wedding was a success...well, I was told the actual ceremony was beautiful. I stayed back at the lodge to finish the dinner preparations. I was planning on attending the wedding, but the circuits kept tripping every time the ice maker came on. I was trying to cook, but the cookers were going off sporadically. Thank the Lord for an oven that still had electricity!!! I managed to get everything done in time, but I was starting to get a bit nervous until the electrical man came to my rescue! Here is a picture of the cake which I had NOTHING to do with except for eating!

Here is the picture of the tables set up at the lodge for the sit down dinner. The picture doesn't capture the beauty of it all.

This was a close up of one of the guest tables. The bride chose to decorate everything very simply which I think is beautiful.

This was the Bride and Groom table.

I had so much fun cooking for this wedding dinner. I had never done anything like it before in my life, but I really enjoyed it. My main advice for catering is keep the menu simple and don't buy new shoes the day of the event. My feet felt like they were going to fall off by the end of the clean up!!

grace and peace,


Saturday, October 18, 2008

A Beautiful East Tennessee Wedding

We have dear friends that have 8 children. I have always been close to the parents, but I am also close to the kids. This family includes us in extended family activities so we have been around the whole group quite a lot. The oldest daughter is getting married today. Sometime back in the summer she called me and asked me if I would cater her wedding. I agreed because I had already told her I would do ANYTHING that she needed. (Please keep in mind that the largest group I have ever cooked for was last week's football group. Football players are easy to please so that was pretty much a no brainer)!

We agreed on a simple dinner menu. We are preparing for 250 guests. While my family is off watching football this morning, I will be making salad. I spent ALL day yesterday purchasing the food. It went really well and I am excited about today. Our second son will be helping me. He is great in the kitchen and his back is much stronger to lug heavy items than mine! I will let y'all know how it goes. I am a bit nervous, but I keep telling myself that even if the meal is a flop she will still have had a wonderful wedding!!

grace and peace,