Misty wet day on the farm

The view out the window was the same all day, and yet, it is never the same!

The view out the window was the same all day, and yet, it is never the same!

I am definately fighting a bug or something is going on. I have had a slight sore throat and some post nasal drip for the last couple days. I had shared about my low level of activity earlier in the week. IT still is low.  Maybe the weather has something to do with it.  Last night I feel asleep about 7:30pm. I am a night owl. I can’t remember the last time I was asleep at 7:30pm. I woke for an hour about 10pm, and then again about 2am and again about 7 in the morning. I did go downstairs and let the girls out of the coop, grabbed a couple logs to put on the fire and back to bed I went…until 11:30am! Even after all that rest, I still didn’t feel full of vim and vigor.

I pulled on some jeans and threw on a coat and clunked my way down the stairs. I knew I had to do my walk before I thought about it. I have committed to, at the very least, walking to the bridge daily. If I have energy to work in the gardens or around the property, then a walk is not necessary. But on the days I only feel I can do very limited activity, I will walk! Today was day 3 of “I MUST WALK”. I didn’t even bother to make snacks for the girls. I told myself I would do it later. I had a window of opportunity that I had to use while the rain was at a slight drizzle. I did not need to look for an excuse to not walk, I could find many. One foot in front of the other and down the drive I went, cup of coffee in hand!

The walk down the drive!  Still a few bits of snow, but mostly wet!  And slippery on this corner.

The walk down the drive! Still a few bits of snow, but mostly wet! And slippery on this corner.

I take in so much as I”m walking. I look up to the house to see if the cars are there and if the dogs are out. I notice that the ground is wet and the corner is very slippery. The girls are following me, but at a distance. The skies are very gray and there is a misty fog hanging across the hillsides. I scan the pasture, looking for Bruce and John. Then I look over to the neighbors and see that they are out with the horses, doing their chores I imagine.

Lots of gray skies and misty fog  hovering over the property.

Lots of gray skies and misty fog hovering over the property.

The creek is a bit rougher today than it was the other day when I was here. It is like a different place from the bright sunny day when I was here….only 2 days ago. The wisps of fog and the shadows of clouds in the stream change all the colors. It is back to winter grays and greens and browns and tans. I can find beauty here too. Things are growing. This is a time that things seem slower, but they are being rejuvenated for a spurt that will come soon! Spring is not that far away.

The creek is a life of itself, constantly changing with the weather and seasons.

The creek is a life of itself, constantly changing with the weather and seasons.

A little later in the afternoon I took the girls some treats of leftover fried egg, stale bread and some veggies from lunch. I had just scattered their treats out and they were on the move to get to them, when a hawk soared over us and up into the tree on the edge of the property. The really tall one in the picture. It was the girls scurries that made me take notice. I didn’t even know what was going on at first. They all just ducked and moved at the same time. As I looked towards the focus of Grandma’s attention…which was where that hawk was flying…that is when I knew what the hubbub was about.

The hawk soared over us and landed in the tall pine tree in the far background.

The hawk soared over us and landed in the tall pine tree in the far background.

 

They watched where the hawk went, some of them still scurrying, some of them just on guard, for a minute or so. Then, they slowly came back out and began their usual pecking order of who was going to get the tastiest tidbits. I watched them, and the tree where the hawk had flown too. When they were done with snacks I urged them closer to the coop and opened the door wide if they were to need to duck! THey had just shown me how aware they really are!

These girls MOVE IT when danger approaches.  Very aware girls!

These girls MOVE IT when danger approaches. Very aware girls!

I was searching for my deer repellent recipe today, which required me to read through a couple journals to find it (I posted it on my FB page). I usually have 2-3 notebooks I am writing things in over the course of a year. I came across an entry in one notebook from Jan. 13, 2012. It was a kick in the pants to get on to what I have been putting off for a long time.

I have been procrastinating something important for some of the most ridiculous reasons. I know they are ridiculous, and yet I have let them stop me over and over. So, in reading about where I was and what was happening a year ago, and seeing that it has not changed and that I must attend to it, that is where I will leave this for now. I am going to attend to a very important matter. I pray it is the next right thing and will somehow let me continue living my life as I am today, maybe even making it a little easier!

Grateful for the sale of 2 dozen eggs and a potential repeat customer; being able to take my walk; having someone bring me lunch from Uncle Buck’s; having homemade soup made by someone else for dinner; knowing God provides for all my needs and many of my wants. I love living life in the country!!!

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Let me introduce you to the Layers!

I was hit with the chicken bug last spring. It all started with a trip to the local feed store to do some shopping for landscape items. That is where I saw the baby chicks. Then I started noticing that many of my neighbors had a flock of chickens running around in their yard. The more I saw chickens the more I wanted them. I was Googling coops and combs and breeds and how to make them safe nearly every day. There was a loosely organized thought that I would be able to get some of my own chickens the spring of 2013.

Things changed in a hurry. I moved to my current abode the end of summer. It was not a planned move but it has worked out perfectly. There was an un-used coop right next to the barn where my apartment is. I had discussed the possibilities of having my own flock with my landlords before I even moved in. I had envisioned a pretty little coop that was all cutsy and decorated. Instead, I have an old animal shed that has been converted into a coop with a LOT of chicken wire. It is not pretty at all, and was dirty to boot! It took me a couple days of hauling all the old matter out and scrubbing and doing a few safety modifications to get it up to snuff. When it was all done and ready for some hens I was a proud gal!

The coop with the new wall I added.

The coop with the new wall I added.

I found an ad on Craigslist. A woman was going through a relationship break-up and was moving herself and her 6 kids to her parents. She had 13 hens that she adored and wanted them to go to a good home where they would have happy cage free days. We began sending messages back and forth. We talked on the phone. An agreement was made. I promised that I would never put these girls in a soup pot and that they would have a good and happy life on the farm until the day they died naturally.

I was so excited when I went to pick them up. I had two big cages. It was the middle of the day. These girls did not have a coop but were ground birds in a backyard. Although these girls had been handled all their lives and had their wings clipped they were hard to catch in the middle of the day! And of course, I had never caught chickens before. It was pretty funny. We somehow managed to get them all in the cages and I was giddy with excitement driving back to the farm.

So here is the lineup:

Grandma, a New Hampshire Red, is head of the flock.  She rules!

Grandma, a New Hampshire Red, is head of the flock. She rules!

This is Sweetie.  She is a Black Australorp.  She is named Sweetie for a reason.  Love this girl.

This is Sweetie. She is a Black Australorp. She is named Sweetie for a reason. Love this girl.

This is Tawnya and Beatrice, my Ameraucana's.  They give me pretty blue eggs, but not during the winter.  Very shy girls.

This is Tawnya and Beatrice, my Ameraucana’s. They give me pretty blue eggs, but not during the winter. Very shy girls.

Baby Blue has been so funny lately.  She is an Andalusian Blue and makes some of the most interesting noises.

Baby Blue has been so funny lately. She is an Andalusian Blue and makes some of the most interesting noises.

Goldie is another NH Red.  She is a good layer, and not shy at all!

Goldie is another NH Red. She is a good layer, and not shy at all!

Ziggy and Ruffles, my Barred Rocks. They are very docile and great layers!

Ziggy and Ruffles, my Barred Rocks. They are very docile and great layers!

Donna is looking at you.  She is a Polish hen.  Love her bouffant hairdo!

Donna is looking at you. She is a Polish hen. Love her bouffant hairdo!

Big Red, and Rhode Island Red, sitting in my flower pot.  She gives me an egg almost every day.  She also is one of the most aggresive of my girls.

Big Red, a Rhode Island Red, sitting in my flower pot. She gives me an egg almost every day. She also is one of the most aggresive of my girls.

Winnie is a Golden Laced Wyandotte.  She is very pretty and elegant and a sweet hen.

Winnie is a Golden Laced Wyandotte. She is very pretty and elegant and a sweet hen.

I'm not sure, but I think Honey is a Welsummer.  She was pretty beat up when she got here, but is very healthy and happy now.

I’m not sure, but I think Honey is a Welsummer. She was pretty beat up when she got here, but is very healthy and happy now.

Grace was another Ameraucana.  She became dinner for a hawk.  RIP Grace.

Grace was another Ameraucana. She became dinner for a hawk. RIP Grace.

That is all of them. I love these girls.  They are MY girls. They provide so much more than eggs.  They give me a purpose to get out of bed on days that it would be easier to stay in bed.  They give me lots of wonderful eggs.   They make me smile. The provide hours of entertainment when I choose to go outside and watch them. I have learned so much about chickens in the short time I have had them here with me. 

They are spoiled! They get treats and talked to and picked up and cuddled. They have their pictures taken often. Everyone who visits the farm comments on how pretty they are and how happy they truly seem.

Of all the things they do for me, one of the best is allowing me to be part of a very large collections of people…and that is “those crazy chicken people”! I am PROUD to be a crazy chicken lady! 🙂 And I am proud to be associated with all of you!

Thanks for letting me share my girls with you!

God slowed me down again today! A walk to the creek was my goal!

Frozen fog

Frozen fog

Only a few people in the world have seen me have a morning like I did today.  A morning where the simple act of sitting upright at the edge of the bed requires  so much effort and causes so much pain that it takes me a minute to realize I am in tears.  Today was one of those days where sitting at the edge of the bed, crying, and looking at the toilet that is 15 feet away and needing to get there NOW was cause for sobs.  It would be so easy to tell you all the things I couldn’t do today.  I could give you a list of things that I wished I could do, have plans to do, am interested in doing, and then tell you that I can’t do them because of this limiting pain.  Instead, I am going to share with you what I DID do!

I  made it to the bathroom.  I sat there thinking about what I absolutely HAD to do.  Now I know if I called M&E they would let the girls out for me.  In fact, that had happened just the other day because I hadn’t been able to make myself get down to the coop before they let their own girls out.   I am so grateful they watch out for me but I really want to do all I can to care for myself and my girls.  So I thought out every action I would need to do if I went down to let them out of the coop.  I thought about the steps, changing shoes, starting the hot water in the wash room, opening the door, looking for eggs, pouring water in their dishes  because everything is frozen again.  I also had to get at least 2 pieces of wood, which turned into a full armload because I  thought I might not get back down to get any more wood except for once when I lock the coop up at night.  I really didn’t know if I was going to be able to get out much at all when I let the girls out at around 8am.  This is all AFTER I dressed for weather.   Today, getting dressed was a big effort.

Winnie loves the sunshine

Winnie loves the sunshine

At noon, when I had to get up and put a log on the fire again, I knew I needed to move some!  So I made a decision to take the girls a hot treat, some apples for the pastured animals and a walk down to the creek!  If I got all the way down to the bridge and back, that was nearly 1/2 mile!  That was a huge undertaking, but I knew I could take my time and I had my phone to call for help if I needed it.

I added some water to the pork lentil soup I had made the other day and boiled some noodles in it.  This was to be the snack for the day.  I have not given the girls many noodles and was anxious to see how they liked them.  They liked them.  A LOT!  I wish I would have been able to get a video of Goldie sliding across the slimy mess in the pan.

She did it twice.

Yummy slippery noodles!

Yummy slippery noodles!

Finally it was time to head down the hill.  I was dressed, had made the treat, talked to the girls and now it was time to walk.  I wanted to get a little bit of the precious sunshine on my face.  I knew it would give me my needed Vit. D.  I also knew that making myself do this one thing would make me feel like I had accomplished something.  It would be veru easy to do nothing except stay in bed and feel horrible.

A walk along the creek

A walk along the creek

This was my first time walking all the way to the creek!  I drive past it all the time, but I had yet to walk to the bridges and take a closer inspection.  What a treat I was in store for!  There is an alternate bridge that has been used upon occasion for very large loads that is a few yards from the bridge we always use to get across the creek. I decided it was time to take a look at it.   It appears to be an old railroad bridge!  How delighted I was.  My grandfather was Chief Dispatcher for SP years ago!  I love anything railroad.  Why am I not surprised that it is here, in this wonderful place I was found to be!

The alternate bridge...looks like old RR bridge!

The alternate bridge…looks like old RR bridge!

Old bridge

Old bridge

The path to get to the bridge was equally enticing.  Mossy trees and rocky paths leading across the bridge and to…the outside world.  I won’t be going there today!

A path to the bridge to get across the creek

A path to the bridge to get across the creek

I was getting tired.  Time to turn around and head back up the hill.  I was moving slow.  I was looking at all the views and vistas and enjoying it all.  And then I saw the glimmer of shimmer on the fence.  Now how had I never noticed that before?   There it was kinda down at the bottom of the gate.  Not a place I would notice while in the truck.  But on foot, I saw it and had to inspect it further.  Yes..it is a perfect representation of this place I live with other people and animals and nature and the world. A sunshiney smile!

A sunshiny smile to the entrance to home!

A sunshiny smile to the entrance to home!

I had a couple apples in my pockets and started calling to Bruce the cow and John the sheep on my way up the hill.  Of course, as usual,  John came at a run!  Bruce held back for a moment, but then he got the idea and was on a run himself!  They both enjoyed their apples, as well as pats and scratches on the head.  I don’t know who enjoyed it more, them or me.

Come and get it!!!

Come and get it!!!

John gets here first!!!

John gets here first!!!

Bruce gets his too!!!

Bruce gets his too!!!

The sky was so blue I couldn’t help but look upwards.  There is that mistletoe.  I have thought about selling it the last two Christmas seasons.  I just don’t know exactly how to get it down.  There are no leaves for shade.  Instead there is an artistic pattern against the bright blue wintery sky!  Majestically the branches arch across the lane, adding depth to the shadows that are visible on the frozen ground.

Mistletoe

Mistletoe

Majestically arching oak branches across the lane.

Majestically arching oak branches across the lane.

I am enticed to keep walking.  I want to see the house gardens.  I had not been over there in a few weeks since I last gathered apples.  I need to get a feel for the various growing areas.  Again, I am pleased with the things I had not noticed before.  My walk was slow, and I was looking at the sky and the ground and the shadows and what was around me.  I was delighted by the yard art.  I also was happy to note the various places to sit and rest.  I was thinking towards summer, when I hope to be gardening, instead of just taking a walk.  There are places to rest.  I need that.

Ms. Ladybug loves butterflies!

Ms. Ladybug loves butterflies!

A place to rest when working the lower gardens.

A place to rest when working the lower gardens.

I love my hill.  I smile everytime I drive up here.  I look up and see the barn and know that it is home.  It is where I can take care of myself.  It is where I can find comfort on days like today where I am in so much pain that eating is something I must make myself do.   I am grateful for the preparations of meals on days I felt well enough to prepare foods.  I couldn’t do that today.  I had left some soup and a leftover half of an acorn squash on the woodstove to heat up while I was out giving the girls their treat.  The girls got a hot homemade healthy treat and I will too.  Neither one took much effort, which allowed me to put some energy into doing something that has been good for me phyically, emotionally and spiritually.

The barn up on the hill

The barn up on the hill

I brought up an armful of wood.  Then another.  I had checked once again for eggs, and was thrilled to find my 7th egg for the day in a nest.  It was too early to lock up the coop.  I was going to have to come back down.  It was time to rest.  I had done what I set out to do.  I got so much more than exercise, fresh air, sunshine.  I didn’t forget about my pain during my walk.  But I was able to find beauty, joy, peace, serenity and motivation in spite of it.   I feel so good about the one thing I did do today.  I did what I could do today within the limits of my ability.  A 1/2 mile walk that took me almost 2 hours.  I didn’t get a cardio workout, but I did get a heart workout!  I love where I live!

My fibromyalgia has not gone away.  In fact, it is quite evident.  Some days really are difficult, like today.  Yet, if I choose to focus, I can always find something to be grateful for and something that is beautiful.  If that is all I get for a day, it is more than many others.  My life has challenges, but it also has many blessings.  Count yours…you might be surprised to see how blessed you are too!

Until the next time!  Bye bye!

Until the next time! Bye bye!

Luscious Lemon Curd

A beautiful jar of yellow sunshine...Luscious Lemon Curd

A beautiful jar of yellow sunshine…Luscious Lemon Curd

Buttery luscious lemony goodness…and it has a name!!!  Have you ever heard of Lemon Curd?  Have you ever tasted Lemon Curd?  If you love a tangy lemony flavored pudding you will love Lemon Curd.

The beginnings to something decadent!

The beginnings to something decadent!

I think I had seen a jar of it in my grandmother’s or someone’s kitchen along the way but I don’t recall ever having been served it.  When I saw the picture of this Tangerine Curd ( http://www.simplythesweetlife.com/2010/12/food-tangerine-curd-recipe.html) last year on Pinterest I thought it sounded pretty yummy.  I re-visited that picture this last week and decided to give curd making a try.  This is a good time of year to buy citrus and I wanted to do something a bit different.

I knew if I was going to do this I wanted to at least make a few jars.  There was my first issue.  I didn’t have any of the 1/2 pint jars but one.  Jars is something I am still collecting and will be for some time I’m sure.  Fortunately I have a close neighbor (thank goodness for M&E) that was hesitantly willing to do a trade.  Canners want their jars.  I traded her 2 of my pint jars for 3 or her 1/2 pint jars, and she gets one back filled with curd.  Sounds like a good trade to me!

I had done a little research on the origins of citrus based curds.  It seems that it is a British preserve or jam type spread.  Something to serve with bisquits or scones.  Or even slathered on a big thick slice of toasted sourdough bread!  Yummy…my tummy is excited for this lemon explosion of taste and color.  It is mentioned in cookbooks and writings from the mid 1800’s.  It has also been refered to as a cheese.  It really is hard to decide what to call it, because it has components of a pudding, a butter spread, a filling, or a jam type substance.

I read a number of different recipes and they all seemed to be describing the making  of a slow cook scratch pudding. So that is the way I decided I would put this concoction together.  Like a pudding…that I was going to can.  Yes, I intended to can a couple of the jars.

First, get your jars ready.  I had 4  1/2 pint jars, an old glass lidded 1/2 pint jar, and a regular pint jar.  I intended to can the conventional 1/2 pint jars, freeze the pint jar and will eat out of the other jar first.  This will allow me to see how the curd holds up with different preserving styles.   I sterilized the jars and had them kept hot in an oven.  I also had my rings and lids simmering on the stove.

To make the Curd you need:

6 lemons (Meyer’s are the best, but whatever is available will work if they are juicy)

6 eggs (I had a few of those around)

1 cup butter (I used regular sweet butter)

You also need:

A zester or small grater for the lemon rind.  A medium sized saucepan with water about 1″ deep  and a bowl (I read somewhere that metal is best)to sit inside the pot without touching the bottom.   Or…you can use a double boiler! Also collect a whisk, juicer, measuring cups, wooden spoons, a strainer or jelly bag or cheesecloth to strain the pulp and seeds out of the juice.

First I zested the lemons.  Zest doesn’t stay fresh and colorful very long so don’t do this step until you are ready to put this together from start to finish.  I got about 3 tablespoons of zest from my lemons.

Rolling the lemons gets more juice out!

Rolling the lemons gets more juice out!

I then rolled each lemon under the palm of my hand back and forth a few times to get the juices easy to express.  I cut the lemons in half and using my handy dandy hand juicer I squeezed and twisted and pressed and swirled those lemons extracting as much of the zingy juice as I could. As the reservoir filled I dumped the contents into my jelly bag that was sitting over a 2 cup measurer. The juice and rinds were set to the side.

Fresh zest and lemon juice being strained.

Fresh zest and lemon juice being strained.

I took the metal bowl and cracked 3 whole eggs into it.  I also seperated three eggs and poured the yolks into the bowl with the other eggs and set the whites aside for another use another time.  I whisked the eggs quite vigarously.  I then added the sugar and all the lemon juice (this was 1 1/3 cups for me).  I whisked it some more and then added the butter and zest.

My sugar was a little beat up.  I had hauled baking supplies with me on my travels the week before Christmas.  Evidently it got a little damp in the box in the back of the pickup.  Whoops!  I hope the chunks will cook out.  This is the last of a 10 lb. bag I bought in August!  Over 4 months for one bag, and that was with holiday cooking!  Not bad in my conversion to honey, maple syrup and other natural sweeteners.  But not today.  Today was the real deal day!

Chunky Sugar.  The last of a bag I bought in August.

Chunky Sugar. The last of a bag I bought in August.

The water in the pan is on med-low and is barely at a simmer.  Just a few little bubbles causing the water to move slightly were visible.  I had placed a canning ring in the  bottom of the pan to keep the bowl from touching the bottom and for stability of the bowl. I put the bowl inside the pan and the process had begun.

Metal ring in bottom of pan.

Metal ring in bottom of pan.

This requires gentle stirring and NO RUSHING.  If you rush, you will have flecks of cooked egg in your curd.  A visual distraction to the beautiful smoothness I was working towards.  I used the whisk and just kept stirring in a figure 8 fashion, being sure to swirl up against the edges of the pan frequently.  If you hear the water bubbling…it is too hot.  You should not hear bubbles. If you do, turn the heat down and keep stirring.  You will see the lovely color and smooth richness before your eyes as it cooks into a molten pudding.  I cooked mine for about 10 minutes.  I used the metal spoon test.  I dropped some hot pudding onto the back of a metal spoon and it clung nicely to it, with no runniness and lumps.

A nice coating on the back of the metal spoon..it is done!

A nice coating on the back of the metal spoon..it is done!

I poured the curd into the prepared jars and placed the lids on them.  I put the 4 1/2 pint jars into the water canner.  They require a 20 minute processing time.

Canned lemon curd

Canned lemon curd

Now it was time for the taste test.  I made a piece of toast and slathered some of the sunshine yellowy goodness across it and had a bite.  Amazing.  A bright happy taste happening in my mouth.  Zingy but not too puckery. I see a cake in the future, with this as a filling.  But for now, I will just lick my lips after each bite of my elegant toast.

I need to find a few more jars.  I also have Tangelo’s and Grapefruit I wanted to try next!  I intend to just substitute the juice and zest from these other fruits and keep everything else in the recipe the same.

This recipe left me with lemon rinds, egg shells and egg whites that needed using.

All but 2 tbspns. of the lemon rinds were sliced and put in a crock and covered with vinegar.  They will become a lemon cleaner after sitting in the crock with a bag tied over the top for a few weeks.

The remaining lemon was chopped up very very fine and put in a small bowl with 1/4 cup of brown sugar and 2 tbspns of grapeseed oil.  I mixed all of this up and used it as an exfoliating scrub in my bath.  Made my skin feel so clean and smooth.

The egg shells will either be used in one of the chickens treats, or I may use them to start some of my herbs in.  The egg whites will be used in a chicken snack or in something I cook the next day or so.  Nothing got thrown away.  🙂

Off to finish up the Pork and Lentil soup that is in the crock pot.  Maybe that recipe will show up later.  Hope you all have a lovely day.

Comfort foods for Winter

Last week I had a craving for meatloaf that was unstoppable.  I knew what I wanted and how I wanted it to taste.  I wanted savory meatloaf with a creamy mushroom gravy.  I did my shopping on Wednesday on my way home.  There was stormy wintry weather brewing.  I could see it from the grocery store parking lot.

Gathering foodstuffs for a week at home

Gathering foodstuffs for a week at home

I bought all kinds of goodies to cook.  I had already been to the local meat market and bought fresh ground beef, Oregon grown chicken breasts, and a pork loin roast.  Then I went to the Farmer’s Market and loaded up on fresh produce (as much local and organic as I could) and my herbs and spices.  I bought some seeds for doing sprouts.  This will be a new endeavor for me.  I have to find something to grow them in first.  I am hungry for fresh, and also to see something growing!  I am thinking of growing them in the window sill behind the stove, where I look out to the greenhouse area.  Encouragement and motivation!  This was my last stop before home.  A bottle of wine and some dairy products and I would be on my way!

By the time I got home, unloaded all the groceries, started a fire in the woodstove, hauled numerous loads of wood up the stairs, put the groceries all away and finally felt warm, I was pooped.  No meatloaf tonight.  I pulled out some 4 Bean Burner Chili from the freezer and heated that up!  Perfect food for a cold wintry night.  When I went down to close up the coop, a mere hour after arriving home, there was 1/2″ of snow on the ground.  I was home for the next 6 days.  Cooking was going to be one of my areas of focus.  But not tonight.  I was heading for bed.

I woke up Thursday with another dratted headache and I was down all day.  I was supposed to be house cleaning at the main house, but I couldn’t even get out of bed for the pain in my head and neck and shoulder.  Dratted all!  I scrounged around and heated up a slice of Quiche Lorraine from the freezer.  No meat loaf again!  I want this food so badly, my mouth just literally drools as it imagines the satisfying goodness of the flavors imagined!  The snow flew off and on all day long.  I was only out long enough to provide warm water for the girls, collect their eggs, and lock them up at night.  Each trip down I hauled up a few pieces of firewood.  It is a constant effort to keep the house warm.

This was what I woke up to on Friday morning!  Beautiful

This was what I woke up to on Friday morning! Beautiful

Friday arrives, snow flying still.  It is so pretty out here.  I head to work…carefully picking my way across the frozen icy path to the main house.  I am greeted by the dogs, barking and charging out the door to greet me.  M&E are enjoying a late breakfast at the table as we all discuss the weather, keeping the fires going in the woodstoves, chickens, food…and my desire for meatloaf.  I am determined to have meatloaf for my dinner I tell them.  Savory meatloaf with mushroom gravy! Between lunch break, a break to feed the girls some oatmeal, and problems with the vacummn cleaner, it was 6:30 before I hopped a ride in the handy farm golf cart for a ride up the hill!  I was pooped!

I stoked the fire, poured a glass of wine and sat down for a minute.  The Christmas tree was still standing, fully decorated.  And I had a house full of food to cook.  And I NEEDED to have meatloaf.  I put on some tunes, turned on the Christmas tree lights, and set out to fulfill my taste buds dreams!  The chores would wait.  But I could wait no longer for the object of my desire.

The picture of the finished product does NOT do it justice.  But….the first bite!  EXACTLY what I had been dreaming of.  Now how often does that happen?  A dream come true?  Yes, for me, this combination and way of preparing meatloaf was the epitomy of what I had lusted after for days!

The object of my desires...Savory Meatloaf with Mushroom gravy

The object of my desires…Savory Meatloaf with Mushroom gravy

Here is the recipe as I recall it being put together.  I am calling it Savory Meatloaf with Mushrooom Gravy (Gluten Free)

Heat oven to 350 degrees

Meatloaf:

1 1/2 lbs lean ground beef

1/2 green pepper chopped

1/2 red pepper chopped

1 egg

1/4 c. ground tortilla chips

1/2 c. organic oatmeal

3/4 chopped crimini mushrooms

1 teas. worchestershire sauce

3 Tbspns cooked chopped bacon bits (something I keep on hand.Cook up 1 lb and chop, store in container in fridge for up to a month)

1 teas. sage

1 teas. rosemary

Mix all ingedients well in large bowl.  Set bowl in fridge until gravy is ready.

Gravy:

1 1/2 cups sliced crimini mushrooms

3 cloves garlic chopped

2 tbspns. organic unsalted butter

2 tbspns. oatmeal flour

1 teas. fresh rosemary chopped

1/2 teas. fresh ground pepper or to taste

2 cups beef broth

1/2 teas. worchestershire sauce

1/2 teas. kitchen Bouquet

1/4 c.  cream

Heat butter in cast iron skillet.  When just beginning to brown add mushrooms.  Cook while stirring about 4 minutes on medium, then add garlic and cook additional minute.  Add flour and rosemary and pepper.  Cook for 1-2 minutes until flour browns.  Put worchestershire sauce and ktichen Bouquet in broth.  Add broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring well to prevent lumps and scraping all the goodies off the bottonm of the pan.  Keep cooking until gravy begins to thicken, about 4 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in cream.

Pour 1/2 the gravy into the bottom of a 9×9 pan.  Form meatloaf on top of gravy.  Pour the rest of the gravy over the top!  Bake in preheated oven for about 75 minutes.  Check after 60 minutes.  I like mine done!  I drained all the fat off into a aluminum foil bowl after removing it from the oven.  The fat comes off but the yummy gravy tidbits stick!

I couldn’t wait for the roasted veggies I had prepared.  I had to have a bite of that meatloaf.  It smelled like I had dreamt it would.  It looked pretty close to what I had envisioned (I think I would do this in a loaf pan next time).  The taste test….PERFECT!!!  I had done it!  A meatloaf to write about!   A meatloaf to make again.  And again!

BTW…there are a couple packages of this in the freezer now, for days when I can’t cook and have a craving!!!  And this is definately a meatloaf that lovers will crave!

The freezer after a cooking weekend

The freezer after a cooking weekend

A couple packages of meatloaf for a day I have a craving!

A couple packages of meatloaf for a day I have a craving!

What’s New? The entire YEAR! 2013 is going to be FABULOUS!

Pain in the neckShortly after my last post, I developed a very persistant pain in my neck.  Now, 6 weeks later I am still suffering with it.  I have been in a neck brace for the last week and was on almost complete rest for the week also.  With the pain and discomfort, I did not get nearly all the things done during the holiday season as I had hoped.  But, I did enjoy plenty.

Thanksgiving weekend was my first time being here on the farm by myself.  M&E were gone for a few days and so I had the responsibilty of all the animals!  It was wonderful.

I started out on a road trip on Dec. 1st and didn’t return home until Dec. 9th.  It was really wonderful to visit with family and friends.  It was my grandson’s 3rd birthday and he is in love with trains and so we went on the Polar Express train ride out of Hood River, OR.  He LOVED it.  And so did I.  Both his parents went also and it was my gift to all of them!

My grandson is fascinated with trains.  Runs in the family.  I come from a long line of train folks.

My grandson is fascinated with trains. Runs in the family. I come from a long line of train folks.

When I got home I felt the rush to get some Christmas things going, but had to finish up a few projects first. Worked on some great chairs I have for my dining room.  They still aren’t done today tho.  This darned pinched nerve really kept my activities limited.  But at least I know what I want and have got them started.  They will get finished.

Still need to finish these, but like how they are coming along

Still need to finish these, but like how they are coming along

I did lose one of my hens while on my journey.  From what the UPS man told M&E, it was quite a site of nature when the hawk swooped out of the sky and hauled off Grace.  RIP Grace…you were a wonderful layer and gave me lots of joy!

RIP Grace

RIP Grace

Christmas was spent with a friend and it was quiet, and enjoyable.  We fixed a feast for two (with plenty of leftovers) of ham in my new dutch oven, green beans, Funeral Potatoes (this was Buck’s family recipe), sweet potatoes with tangerines and of course a Pumpkin Pie!  It was all very yummy.

New Year’s was celebrated quietly, as the pain in my neck had become out of control a few days before.  I had hoped to go out dancing, but instead listened to the goings on of a group of teenagers while resting at my friends house.  It was enjoyable.

I am looking forward to this year.  I want to learn more about building my flock of hens, and maybe do some breeding, which means I need a rooster too!!!!  I want to get bees.  I want to grow lots of fun yummy stuff in the garden.  I want to can and can a can in the summer.

I also want to keep working on healing old wounds.  Many were layed to rest this last year.  I have finally made peace with my mother, God rest her soul.  This was a long time in coming.  I hung a picture of her in my hallway.  First time in over 10 years I could bear to see her face on my walls.  There were many hurts to overcome, and with the help of God, it has been done. The layers of hurts and struggles from the past are slowly being lifted and cast aside.  The more I surrender to God’s will, the easier it is.  I’m just a slow learner is all.  At least I am learning tho.

I am still enjoying approximately 6 eggs a day from my 12 hens.  They are completely paying for themselves with what I sell.  I get all my eggs for free! The amount of joy and entertainment they provide is priceless!   That is the goal for my gardening also.  That I can sell some to pay for the expenses of what I raise for myself!  And that the entertainment and therapy I enjoy are priceless benefits.

The girls taking a stroll!

The girls taking a stroll!

I just need to get this neck/shoulder better.  Until then, I will cook and take picture of my girls and just do what I can each day as it presents itself.