Pauline’s Oriental Green Beans

Yesterday I roasted a chicken and was going to take it as part of my Barter Basket to my physical therapist appointment.  My appointment was cancelled so it became part of our dinner at home.  I had seen this recipe for Forbidden rice and veggie stir-fry on one of the blogs I like to follow and decided that I would make it, with a few changes, for a side dish.  I left out the tofu because I know my guys would not even consider eating that.  They are meat and tater men!  Also, I didn’t have any of the Forbidden rice so I  used brown rice instead.  I felt bad about making changes on a first run through it but I was using what I had.  The final addition to my meal was Pauline’s Oriental Green Beans.

Pauline was a lovely woman I met and became friends with when I live in Washington.  I met her and her husband Chuck at the church I attended.  She was one of those ladies you can’t help but love.  A second grade teacher, petite, quiet spoken, and so loving all the time with a smile that made you want to smile back at her.  She served this green bean dish at a dinner party she had for my ex and myself and our pastor and his family.    I loved it.  When I asked her for the recipe, she gave it to me along with the short story of how she had come to learn to make them.  In a nutshell…she had been taught by her blind Asian lady friend that she had met from church.  And now, she was telling me how to make them.

It is a simple dish with a real punch of flavor.  It also adds a nice bit of color to a plate.    You start out by using about 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil and 1/2 tablespoon toasted sesame oil.  Heat over med-high heat and throw in 4 or 5 cloves of garlic.  Cook the garlic until it is soft enough to smash into the oil.   Don’t worry if some of the garlic gets a little crispy…in my opinion those little crispy bits are delicious.

After the garlic is smashed up, throw in a pound of washed trimmed green beans and turn the heat down to medium.  Cook, stirring often, about 5-6 minutes.  Add 3 tablespoons reduced sodium soy-sauce and cook another 4-5 minutes with the lid on, stirring every minute or so.  When I have them available I will throw in a handful of slivered or sliced almonds.  I didn’t have them this time.

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I think it made for a pretty plate of food and everyone ate their fill.  The rice dish was quite yummy and I have lots of the peanut sauce left over so I need to figure out another use for it.  It was wonderful to make this and spend a few minutes remembering my dear friend.  She passed away in July of 2005 after a very short (only about a month) fight with pancreatic cancer.   I am grateful for the recipe…but more grateful for the memories of a fine woman who shared more than the recipe with me…she shared her heart and her love and most importantly, she shared her faith in God with me.  Thank you Pauline, for showing me God through your eyes.

Roasted chicken, Forbidden Rice Veggie Stir-fry and Pauline's Oriental Green Beans.

Roasted chicken, Forbidden Rice Veggie Stir-fry and Pauline’s Oriental Green Beans.

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Waste not, want not…using what I have!

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Last week I responded to a local ad regarding a bartering offer and I ended up being gifted some plant starts.  A very kind woman took me to her greenhouse and explained how some things in life had been challenging this spring and she wasn’t going to be able to market her plants.  The “need” in the barter request was being fulfilled by another resource.  She said to take any starts I thought I could use or would want since I had responded to the ad and been willing to do the barter.  There were hundreds of tomatoes and peppers of all kinds imaginable.  Various herbs.  It was a wonderful place for me to be…just standing there in that greenhouse with such beauty in the bounty of food all those plants represented.

I tried to be realistic.  I thought about what I could and would do with tomatoes and peppers.  Salsa, spaghetti sauce, canned tomatoes, dried peppers.   I ended up with about 15 tomato plants and the same amount in peppers.  I had 6 pony packs which had cilantro, parsley, fennel, basil, another parsley and another herb that I am unsure what it is.  I think there were 3 squash plants that when I saw them at first I thought they were geraniums.  Might still be geraniums.  These plants aren’t marked. The woman had left me alone and said to help myself.

Butterfly pepper

Butterfly on the pepper plant in the garden.

Because I lost last years garden bounty, I have been hesitant to plant all my seeds and starts in the ground.  I am a renter, and I am anticipating I will be leaving here at some, I just don’t know when.  I was offered a place to garden in one of the many growing areas on this property and I utilized that.  A couple of days ago I planted 6 tomatoes and 5 peppers and 3 pony packs of the parsley and cilantro and basil in the area I cleaned out to use .  I still had LOTS more to plant. I wanted to have a mobile garden.  One I could take with me if I were to move before harvest time.  I did have some black pots I have acquired as well as I intended to make planters with old pallets.  I have been collecting some pallets over the last few weeks.  Figuring out how to use them was the next line of thought.  That was my goal this afternoon.

Do you know how hard it is to dismantle old pallets?  They are put together to STAY put together. The have a bazillion nails in them.  Nails that aren’t easy to get out. I took apart 2 pallets a few weeks ago and realized I just don’t have the strength to do that kind of hard repetitive work.  So I had to figure out a way where I would just cut them without removing the nails.   After numerous searches on the web this is what I came up with.

I cut the pallet into three pieces.  I then cut to size and nailed into place some empty feed bags.  I have used these feed bags to add decor to the walls of my coop also!  The shorter ones are filled with organic potting soil and planted with the herbs.  As a “filler” in the taller one (to conserve on the cost of plant mix) I went and scooped up some of the old straw/shavings/chicken poop that was scattered after the last two cleanings of the coop.  The bottom layer is 9 months old and really breaking down well.  The top layer is still fairly dry and has been sitting for over 2 months.  I believe that anything sending roots down further than the 8 inches will find that the stuff underneath has broken down more and will allow for nice long root systems.  Another experiment for me to monitor.

I did the same trick on the big black pots I used.  I filled them about 1/2 full with the partially composted coop mix and then topped them off with the Organic Plant Mix.  I worked until I ran out of the 2 bags of soil I had and it was almost dark.  I think I planted about 14 pots.  Some of them have double duty with more than one plant in it.  It felt so good to accomplish this.  I have been very slow to get going with planting a garden of any type, and yet when God provided all that I needed to do so, I had to get out there and do my part!  I am grateful for this woman’s generosity.

IN the midst of doing this planting I realized I had not eaten anything except for the Latte I had treated myself to when I was running errands in town.  I had received a FREE coupon a week ago.  Free is always good, but that free drink wasn’t going to give me the energy I needed to get this job done.  I had no ideas of what sounded good.  I just needed food.

What I had that needed to be used

Peppers, onion, Portabella mushroom, mayonnaise, avocado, fresh tomato and potato, basil, Organic Seed Bread, Mozzarella cheese

I opened up my little fridge and started searching.  What you see in the picture is what I pulled out  that needed to be used so it wouldn’t go bad or to waste over the weekend.  There were 3 peppers and a little bit of red onion that was left over and then the Portobello mushroom that my friend had given me the other day.  Hmmm…a sandwich sounded good….what kind could I throw together with this stuff?  I continued to rummage and found the little bit of the homemade mayonnaise with avocado added I had made last week and it was still good, but wouldn’t be for much longer.   My boyfriend had said something about a Philly Beefsteak Sandwich earlier and those peppers and onions triggered the idea into action!  An epic Portabella Philly Sandwich was about to be born!  A sandwich of this magnitude needs to be served with some chips.  But I didn’t have chips.  Yet I had bought an organic russet just today on my trip to Cartwright Meats.  I had also bought 3 of their Bacon Wrapped sirloin with hopes of a BBQ over the weekend.  They are only $3.49 each every Friday!

The chips: Turn oven to 450 degrees.  I used my stoneware bake pan and heated it also during the preheat time.  The chips were made by slicing on a mandolin and soaking in rice vinegar and water brine for 20 minutes. I drained the water off using a salad spinner to get them really dry! This was some good exercise for arms!  Then I drizzled some EVOO on and made sure all the slices had some oil.  I sprinkled Mrs. Dash Fiesta Lime blend all over the chips.  I opened the oven and spread them out as single level as I could.  I cooked for 10 minutes and then turned them and cooked another 10 minutes.  This was the perfect amount of time to make the sandwich.

This is how the sandwich was made!!!

Slice 1/2 red pepper, 1/2 green pepper and 1/2 small red onion.  Saute in cast iron skillet on medium heat in 1 tbsp. EVOO until onions are carmelized.  Remove from heat (I used my 12 inch cast iron and only put 1/2 the pan over heat so I just pushed the pepper onion mix on the unheated side to keep warm).  There should be just a small glaze of the oil left seen in the pan..it’s barely there. Slice washed and stemmed mushroom and lay sliced into hot pan.  Put one slice of Organic Seed bread in the toaster.  Turn the mushroom after about 1 minute when it is just seared.  Spread lightly with homemade mayo.  Stir mushrooms with peppers to combine all in pan and add 3 sprigs of fresh basil and cook one more minute. Take off heat and squeeze half a lime over the entire pan of food. Scoop onto toasted bread.  Place 1 ounce sliced mozzarella cheese on top of grilled veggies and place under broiler until cheese is melted.  Add sliced tomatoes and a spread more of the mayonnaise. Top with avocado and a sprinkle of fresh ground pepper and sea salt.

Portabella Philly Sandwich

Portabella Philly Sandwich

I hope you give this a try as a substitute for the traditional Philly Steak Sandwich.  The only thing I will change in my recipe for next time is to have a nice hoagie roll instead of the seed bread.  This has some juiciness to it and the bread didn’t hold up through the time it took me to take a few photos and eat it!  A hefty roll will be much better!  And it would make it portable!  Portable plants and portable Portabella Philly sandwich!

Restoring old cast iron…a messy job!!!

Crusty rusty gross looking skillets that have cooked with oven cleaner in a bag for over a week!

Crusty rusty gross looking skillets that have cooked with oven cleaner in a bag for over a week!

I have had a couple old cast iron skillets for a number of years.  I love them and use them often.  My little one is perfect for frying up a couple eggs.  The 9 inch pan has held the ingredients for a pineapple upside down cake many times through the years.   I recently came across a 12 inch pan and it was in really bad shape.  It was in an abandoned oven and had so much nasty stuff caked on there was no way it could be cleaned, or so I thought!

I have seen a couple threads on Facebook as well as pins on Pinterest on how to restore old cast iron.  I decided it was time to give it a try.  My pans could use some tidying up and the one I just got was in dire need of some help.

I knew I was going to have to use chemicals to do this job.  I simply do not have the physical strength to scrub at something like this repeatedly as I knew it would require.   I have tried the vinegar and soak method for oven racks with very poor success.  There was not going to be another way and I was resigned to it.  So I took the project outdoors and kept it quite contained.   I gathered my tools which were a big garbage bag, a pair of rubber gloves, and Easy Off Oven Cleaner.  I also made sure to have water nearby in case of contact with cleaner and I did it on a windless day!

I unfortunately didn’t think about pictures until after I had already sprayed the pans and let them sit.  The slimy mess in the bag is after they had sat for a week in the 80 degree sun, baking with the oven cleaner on them.   These first pictures are AFTER one attempt.  I had taken all the pans and placed them one at a time in the bag.  I would hold open the bag and use the plastic to turn the pan this way and that.  Then I put in the next pan and sprayed it.  I really soaked them with the oven cleaner.    I did this for all 3 skillets as well as a broiler pan I had found.   That broiler didn’t take the cleaner well.  I should have tested it on the bottom first!  Live and learn I always say.

I waited another 10 days and scrubbed all the goopy mess off again.  There was still some caked on nasty stuff on both the larger skillets.  So one more spray and another 10 days and today I gave them some attention again.  The 12 inch skillet is looking quite good.  All of the crusty mess is gone.  The small one has nothing left except a decent amount of rust.  The 9 inch pan still has some hard baked on mess so I will spray it one more time really soaking it and let it sit for 2 weeks.

I gave the pans a good soaking in a sink full of water with about 4 cups of vinegar in it.  The vinegar is supposed to help get rid of the rust.  I let them soak for about 90 minutes.  I took a steel wool pad to them and scrubbed some while rinsing them under running water.  I placed all the pans in the oven and turned it on to 250 degrees to let them dry and give them a slow heat.  After 5 minutes I took some paper towels and while using my lovely blue hot mitts I  rubbed Coconut oil all over each pan being liberal with the oil, but not having enough for it to pool anywhere.  I then placed both the skillets upside down in the oven and turned it on to 450.  WARNING!!!!  This causes smoke!!!  After about 20 minutes I had my fire alarm going off and had to open all the windows and I set the fan in front of the oven to blow the smoky air out the window!

I turned off the oven and again, using my mitts brought the pans out, wiped them thoroughly with paper towel which turned dark with the iron from the skillet.  I applied more of the oil and put them back into the oven while it was cooling.  I let them set there for over an hour.  I then wiped them again and made one more very thin application of oil and left them to sit in the oven upside down.

They sure look pretty now.  I can’t wait to make a BIG pineapple (or maybe another local fruit like blueberry) upside down cake really soon in that 12 inch pan.

This project cost less than $10.00.  I used 1 1/2 cans of Easy Off Oven Cleaner, 3 large plastic garbage bags, and 2 big hunks of steel wool.  My time was maybe 2 hours over the course of nearly a month.  Was it worth it?   Absolutely!  Griswold 12 inch skillets in good condition like this are selling for $175.00 to $450.00 on Ebay.   It really turned out to be a beauty.  It still has a little hue of rust coloring to it, but I think it’s as good as I am going to get it.  I can live with that.   Is it for sale?  NO WAY!  I have plans for this pan.

As a note:  This is the only harsh chemical I have used for cleaning since I have lived here.  I mostly use Shaklee’s Basic G and Basic H or the homemade vinegar cleaner I make with oranges.  If I could have figured out another way without the harsh chemical I would have.  If you know of a way that truly works without lots of muscle (scraping and using wire brushes and scraping) or without a lot of cost (sandblasting), please let me and all my readers know!  Thank you so much.

Capturing wild yeast and making sourdough bread!

This starter was created the beginning of the second week in May.

My list of new things to learn to do is always growing. When spring approached my research said it was a good time to capture some yeast and start my own science experiment on my counter. I read many different articles on how to make a good sourdough starter. The one I decided to follow was this one Sourdough Starter from Scratch: Collecting Wild Yeast.   My first capturing yeast was done in early April and it was growing well and I had been feeding it for a few weeks. I had put it in the refrigerator while I was gone from home traveling and when I tried to “fire it up” and reactivate it after a few days it developed some pinkish yuck so I threw it out. I started a new batch around May 10th and have kept it going on the counter ever since. I have tried four different Artisan sourdough bread recipes over the last few weeks and this weeks batch turned out the best in my humble opinion. My starter lives on the counter and I feed it daily with 1/3 cup of water and 1/2 cup WW flour. I toss 1/2 the starter about every 3 days. I feed it with AP flour the day before I intend to use it as that seems to create more yeast. The rest of the time the feeding is done with WW flour.

I have a little experience in bread baking over the years and anyone who knows how I am about recipes knows I have to go with my own flow and typically just use a recipe for some inspiration. That is what I did this time. I found yet another slightly different recipe and tweaked it to suit me using traditional American measurements since I have not acquired a scale yet. I found my inspiration with this recipe at Them Apples and I hope you take the time to check out this writer’s blog. He and I share a similar taste for foods! Lots of yummy stuff to be found and I love his layout!

I made my sponge using 1 heavy cup of my starter, 1 cup WW flour and 1 cup AP flour and 2 1/3 cups water. I mixed it with a fork and covered it with a cloth and it set on the counter from noon until 8pm. I wanted to have my bread ready to give a loaf to my physical therapist and my appointment was scheduled for noon the next day! I have learned over the last few weeks that baking good sourdough bread really is about taking your time and allowing the fermentation of the yeasts to develop. I love my set of Vintage Pyrex bowls and the large one was just perfect for this process!

While the sponge was doing it’s thing on the counter I tidied up my kitchen and prepared for an interview I was schedule to do at 2pm one of the reporters from the local newspaper. They are doing a full spread article on compulsive and problem gambling. I have been interviewed about problem gambling a few other times in the past.  I am happy to say this is the first interview I have had where I have significant recovery under my belt. The two other times for newspapers occurred when my life was in a shambles or I was literally sitting on my hands white knuckling it so I wouldn’t go place a bet. There was also a time I was interviewed for a TV newscast, and that occurred when I had been at a treatment facility and was at about day 45  and still trying to figure out how I was going to manage life once treatment was done. This time I am doing well today and it felt good to know that.  I am sure the article will focus more on the devastation that occurred during my 16 year battle rather than all that is good, and that is ok if the story helps educate the general public on the devastation that gambling can bring on a life. One other thing that is significantly different about this interview is that I chose not to remain anonymous. I am allowing the paper to use my name as well as my picture. Not because I am anyone special. Quite the opposite. I am just another person, who lives in the country and raises chickens and likes to cook and bake and has life challenges and loves people and is emotionally and mentally sound and happy with life. In a nutshell that is. I have nothing to hide anymore and it felt very liberating to say yes when asked if my name and photo could be used.

After the interview I hoped on my motorcycle and ran to town to check the mail for my guy while he is out of town and then back out to Applegate Valley Lavender Farm. I had promised my new friend Deborah Thompson, the proprietor, that I would help her do some preparing for the upcoming Oregon Lavender Festival. Check out her webpage and learn more about the Lavender Festival. Aside from enjoying this sweet ladies company, who wouldn’t want to hang out at a lavender farm and enjoy the scenery and the scents and the animals? I love it there. We played with her farm animal friends and pulled some weeds and ate some watermelon. It was a great couple of hours.

At 8pm I was back home and done with phone calls and little things that occupied my time for a while. It was time to make some dough! I dumped the bubbly mass of sponge into the bowl that goes with my standing mixer. I added 1 cup of WW flour, one cup of AP flour and 1/2 cup of oatmeal flour (that I grind myself with Organic Oats) and 1/2 cup of whole oats. I sprinkled in 1/2 tablespoon of sea salt and started up the mixer. Nice and slow at first. I didn’t want flour all over the place! It is a very wet batter as you can see from the photos. I added maybe another 1/4 cup of oatmeal flour after about 3 minutes because it was still sticking too much on the sides of the bowl. Once it all started to come together I amped up the mixer and let it fly for about 5 more minutes. I love my Kitchen Aid Mixer. It probably is the most used appliance I have ever owned. It is started to get a bit wobbly from so much use. When I use the dough hook to knead bread I have to hold the thing still because it bangs all over the place. I just use it as a resting place for the time it takes to knead it! After about 8-10 minutes with the mixer into an oiled bowl it goes!

Now to let it rise. I always pre-warm my oven to 350 degrees for just ONE minute and then turn it off and set my bowl inside with a tea towel or loose lid on it. I have a gas oven so it always stays a little warmer. It is a good thing I am a bit of a night owl because this dough still needs attention. As Rich at Them Apples states in his blog, this dough needs attention for about 4 hours or so. I would just stick my hands in the bowl and punch it down and turn it over and punch it down a few times each hour. At about 1:30 in the morning when I was just about ready for a good sleep I shaped the loaves into nice rounds and left them on a piece of parchment paper. I did the tea towel trick for holding their shape and it worked well. I covered them up and went to bed!

I awakened at 9 and padded out in my bare feet and turned the oven on to 450C degrees. I had a few things to do to put my “Barter Basket” so set to that while waiting for a good solid 30-45 minute pre-heat. I placed my rack in the middle of the oven and had a loaf pan full of water underneath that was heating with the oven. I also threw in some oiled new red potatoes to let them roast utilizing the pre-heat temps! I had my favorite Pampered Chef rectangular baking stone preheating in there too. For those who are curious my “Barter Basket” is a basket of home cooked and home canned food I put together each week for my physical therapist. She is treating me sans charge except for whatever I choose to bring as a barter gift. It is working out well for both of us. She and her betrothed are getting married in September and she has just asked me to provide some of the food for her dinner, which is a BBQ as well as highlight her bridal breakfast with some quiches and muffins and such! I have been so excited and honored about this. I have been enjoying cooking for most all of my adult life and to have someone ask me if I will cook for them for their most special occasion is just wonderful!

At 10 a.m.  I was ready to throw them in and have them bake. I had covered the bottoms of the loaves with a good layering of the oatmeal flour before letting them rise and so they moved about on the parchment paper I had set them on pretty well. I opened the oven and gently lifted each one with a nice long spatula and closed the door gently! Baked for 10 minutes at 450 and then turned the oven down to 200. The loaves were  just barely brown after 10 minutes. I checked on them after another 20 minutes and they didn’t sound quite hollow when tapped so I gave them an additional 5 minutes. On to the rack to cool while I got ready for my appointment with my PT.

My “Barter Basket” contained a jar of Marsala Chicken that I had cooked overnight in the crock pot, the roasted potatoes, a jar of canned peaches, a jar of Blackberry Plum jam, a plateful of Lemon Bars a loaf of this lovely Artisan Sourdough Oatmeal bread and a dozen of eggs from my Layers! My wild yeast starter is still growing on the counter and I believe I will make this same recipe again next week. I had a slice of this bread and it is very good, but I will add a little more salt next time. I think with the WW and Oat flours salt requirements increase! I hope you enjoy learning about Capturing Wild Yeast and making some good sourdough bread!

 

Cleaning the coop and Making Yogurt!!!

ON my motorcycle ride I pulled over and got this lovely shot of Mt. McLoughlin and the valley along Stagecoach Rd.  Such a pretty day.

ON my motorcycle ride I pulled over and got this lovely shot of Mt. McLoughlin and the valley along Stagecoach Rd. Such a pretty day.

Life has been good for me lately. I have been up and able to do some activities every day for a week! I enjoyed a wonderful motorcycle ride last Friday. Nearly 80 miles of beautiful countryside. Lots of blossoms and lovely aromas to enjoy. Spring has definitely SPRUNG!!!

My boyfriend got the “best boyfriend ever” award on saturday. He drove out here to the farm and mucked out 6+ months worth of eww and poo from the chicken coop!!! I don’t know about all of you, but my past has not included many men that would do “crappy” jobs like that for me. Not only did he haul all that out of there, but he did it with a smile and cracking jokes and being attentive to me all at the same time. I am impressed! When he got near to being done, he says “honey, I know I”m not going to get it as well as you would, so I’ll let you do your pretty stuff”. We’ve only been dating for 6 months and he’s already figured out that I am a bit OCD about cleaning. He also made and installed a poop board for me after asking me where and how I wanted it done. Sure am glad I met this guy!

I used the deep litter method with excellent results.  I had not cleaned it since I got the girls in October!

I used the deep litter method with excellent results. I had not cleaned it since I got the girls in October!

My Silver Laced Wyandottes are now 8 weeks old.  Still not sure if both are pullets.

My Silver Laced Wyandottes are now 8 weeks old. Still not sure if both are pullets.

So I got in there with the Basic H, my homemade orange/lemon vinager spray bottle and the hose! I scrubbed and hosed and scraped and scrubbed some more. When it was to my liking I sprayed the whole thing with the Vinegar mix and let it just set. Then, I wallpapered with feed bags. Just to cheer it up a bit! I am hoping to make some privacy curtains soon for the nesting boxes. A bale of straw and some pine shavings in the nests and the girls were happy to get back in there. The babies will be joining them in another week or so. They are 8 weeks old today!

This is Pumpkin and Peggy.  It is very obvious that Pumpkin is a roo!

This is Pumpkin and Peggy. It is very obvious that Pumpkin is a roo!

Sunday I slept in and missed church. It was ok, I just put on some praise and worship music and had my own church right here!!! I am so grateful for my salvation!!!! After I got ready I headed into town for my meeting. The afternoon was spent with my guy and his son doing some shooting up Spencer Creek. Sure is some pretty country up there.033

On Monday we took a road trip to Salem to do some business and I was able to see a friend there, then we stopped in Eugene and had dinner with my brother and his girlfriend on our way home. It was our first road trip together and we both enjoyed one another’s company!

Yesterday I spent some time hauling the last of the wood down from the splitter area and stacking it. I have 1/4 cord left to last. Hoping we have no large dips in temperature. I also started cleaning up a bit of debris that has collected around the barn. I am ready to start getting things looking nice for summer.

I made yogurt today. I had said I would post instructions for making yogurt. I have 2 pints “brewing” in the crock pot right now. Here is how I did it…it is so easy!!!

1. Sterilize jars in the dishwasher or oven. If in the dishwasher, I always run a second rinse when canning or needing sterile jars. In the oven, place the jars on a cookie sheet, not touching each other, in an oven that is preheated to 225 degrees. Leave them there for 10 full minutes. They can stay in longer, but need 10 minutes for certain.

Milk in the saucepan and heated to 110 degrees.

Milk in the saucepan and heated to 110 degrees.

2. Set up a crock pot with about 2 inches of water in the bottom and put it on low.

3. Pour your raw milk into a clean saucepan and heat on low until milk reaches 110 degrees. I sliced a vanilla bean down the center and scraped out the insides into my milk. When milk reaches 110 degrees stir in 1 Tblspn. *yogurt culture per cup of milk used. I use a whisk and try to get the lumps out by stirring well.

Sliced bean down the center and scraped out the insides to put in the milk.  Saved the pods for use later...maybe for cleaner.

Sliced bean down the center and scraped out the insides to put in the milk. Saved the pods for use later…maybe for cleaner.

4. Pour the warm milk into your jars that are fresh out of the oven and then lower them carefully into the water in the crock pot. My water was at 115 from being preheated on LOW. I turned it to the WARM setting and put the lid on. I will check it periodically and if the temperature is much below 90 I will turn the crock pot back up to LOW until it gets back up to 110 degrees. You don’t want it higher than that tho, and don’t let it drop much below 90. Ideally having it stay at 100 degrees for 6-24 hours is best. I will leave mine overnight as I did before. After it is “set” cover and place in the refrigerator to cool.

I saved this starter from my last batch.  The starter MUST have live cultures to be used.  I had originally used Nancy's plain yogurt, but this was from my last batch.  The whey is fine to use!

I saved this starter from my last batch. The starter MUST have live cultures to be used. I had originally used Nancy’s plain yogurt, but this was from my last batch. The whey is fine to use!

The jars filled with the mixture and placed in the crock pot and kept at 100 degrees for 6-24 hours or until set!  Then refridgerate.  Yum

The jars filled with the mixture and placed in the crock pot and kept at 100 degrees for 6-24 hours or until set! Then refridgerate. Yum

I added the vanilla bean because I like it. I did not add any sweetener of any kind because I prefer to drizzle a lil maple syrup over it if I decide that’s what I want, but if I decide to use it with baking I don’t want added sweetener. Use your own discretion. I really think this is a slick method! Easy peezy! I hope it works well for you.

This yogurt was so delicious!  I can't wait for my new batch to be done.

This yogurt was so delicious! I can’t wait for my new batch to be done.

Almost 7 weeks old! They have grown so much already.

I was ready for a day at home to just kinda putter around. I didn’t have a lot of energy and I haven’t had a day to just be at home and be quiet for at least a week, so I was ready.

My first attempt at yogurt making and it worked perfectly!

My first attempt at yogurt making and it worked perfectly!

I started my day late with some fresh yogurt! I was so pleased how it turned out. A very nice tangy flavor. I drizzled some of my Ginger Lemon Honey over it and added a generous scoop of home canned sugar-free peaches. What a treat! Smooth tangy creaminess with a light sweetness combined with the summery goodness of peaches. That was my appetizer. About 2 hours later I had potatoes O’Brien topped with a fried egg. And a fresh orange. I was now suitably fed for whatever I needed or wanted to do this afternoon.

My breakfast.  Homemade yogurt with home canned peaches and a drizzle of Ginger Lemon Honey!

My breakfast. Homemade yogurt with home canned peaches and a drizzle of Ginger Lemon Honey!

I started out whipping up a batch of homemade ice cream. I did a very basic recipe for uncooked ice cream with raw milk. I did the freezer method which is time-consuming (you must visit the freezer every 20-30 minutes to whip up the ice cream).

Winnie and Donna were chest to chest...and as fast as it happened it was over.

Winnie and Donna were chest to chest…and as fast as it happened it was over.

I then went out with the big girls for a bit.  I took them a snack of oats, molasses, egg, squash seeds and yogurt. Then I sat down and just watched and took a few photos. Blue was in a mood today for sure. She was up right next to me. Talking to me in her own little chirping voice.

I was sitting on the chaise lounge frame taking pics and here comes Blue up behind me, hops up and then sits right next to me.  She is like that sometimes...

I was sitting on the chaise lounge frame taking pics and here comes Blue up behind me, hops up and then sits right next to me. She is like that sometimes…

It had been awhile since I had the little girls out. More than a week. They are growing so fast I hardly recognize them. They are now averaging a pound of food per week. I haven’t weighed any of them, but they are definitely bulking up!Thelma

This dynamic duo has grown so much.  Both are Silver Laced Wyanodottes, but they sure are diffently marked!

This dynamic duo has grown so much. Both are Silver Laced Wyanodottes, but they sure are differently marked!

She is just the sweetest most docile thing

She is just the sweetest most docile thing

My Welsummer Princess!  So pretty.

My Welsummer Princess! So pretty.

She just looks regal to me.

She just looks regal to me.

The battery on the camara died before I could do personalized photos of the Speckled Sussex. I will get them next time. I hope you enjoy! I just love my life with chickens. LIfe on the farm is good.

Making a living vs. making a LIFE

It has been busy this week. I am trying to start a business. It began with an idea that I have been running around in my head for a few weeks. I haven’t made any actual transactions of business yet, but I have met a few farmers and had a few emails of interest. For now, I’ll take that as a sign to proceed. But today is Sunday and I am in town and not doing any work. I am having my day of social interaction and getting my spirit fed.

So grateful for the beauty I SEEK that God always provides!

So grateful for the beauty I SEEK that God always provides!

I had a few new things this week. I love having “new” experiences at this time in life. In fact, I was thinking about all the new things I have done in the last year. My 50th year of life has had me doing more new things than I have in years.

This week’s new things included:

1. Drinking raw milk from grass-fed cows. I don’t remember ever having milk that didn’t either come from the milkman (yes, when I was 5 I remember the nice man who brought milk in glass jars), or from the store. That in itself is a big deal for me. The fact that it didn’t irritate my gut, the way milk has for years, was nothing short of a miracle. I ended up drinking an entire 1/2 gallon of milk in 2 days. That’s a big deal for a gal who LOVES milk and hasn’t drank a glass in over a year because of lactose intolerance and IBS. I may have found a cure. I did use 1 pint of the milk to make some homemade yogurt. Another gallon is ordered for pickup.

I love this stuff!

I love this stuff!

2. Making homemade yogurt. It was pretty simple. I haven’t eaten any of it yet, but I made it with the raw milk, and am hoping it is as delicious as that fresh milk was. If it is good, I will definitely do a blog later with the instructions, because the way I did it was pretty slick…if I do say so myself.

3. Meeting with farmers. I went out and met with farmers. I asked them about their farms and their productions and their hopes for ongoing sustainable organic food. I heard about their hopes and their dreams, their challenges. I picked up little tidbits about their families. I asked them how I can promote their farm and the foods and goods they produce to families that want fresh healthy locally grown food. It was a great day. I only took a couple of pictures and this little sweetie holding one of her hens said what my day was about. Farms, food, friends, community!

This sweet cherub was helping her parents show off their free range chickens.  Adorable!

This sweet cherub was helping her parents show off their free range chickens. Adorable!

4. Fermenting vegetables. I have made sauerkraut with my dear friend up north a couple of times. He taught me how his grandfather taught him who had been taught by someone before that…if you get the picture. There was no recipe. It was a rhythm and a taste and a big mess!!! Making big batches of Kraut the old way is fun! I also made a batch of my own this last fall. It’s not hard. Did you know that lacto-fermented vegetables are so good for the gut. And I need good things for my gut. I had seen beautiful jars of “Garlic-pepper infused” vegetables at the local Grower’s Market. I decided to give it a try. I read a couple of articles, watched a couple of “how to” videos on U-tube. Then I started chopping and layering. I think they look lovely. I will let you know in a week or so how they turned out. I also did a crock full of slicked and diced cabbage with a little onion and garlic in it.

Pretty colors and good for the body!

Pretty colors and good for the body!

5. I also have been gluten/sugar-free all week long. Lots of juicing!!! And I made gluten/sugar free brownies for a treat!

A recipe I found by following one of the local CSA's blogs.  It hit the spot.

A recipe I found by following one of the local CSA’s blogs. It hit the spot.

6. Putting up a greenhouse – I already covered that, but it was a new thing.

So, those are new things I’ve tried just this week. Over the last year, new things I’ve done include; learning to ride a motorcycle and buying my own motorcycle; growing a garden for food; canning; re-purpose old furniture; raising chickens; raising baby chicks; farm life; countless new recipes and cooking creations; driving a BIG motorcycle (that wasn’t mine and I only did it once). These are just the things that come to mind right now. I love doing new things and trying new things and hope to learn until the day I no longer am here on earth.

Many of the new things I try are to make improvements with my health. I am always trying to heal my body. Some ways I do that are through food and nutrition. Some of the new things are to stretch my mind and find things to enjoy in life. I spent years and years working and just taking care of all the chores of life. Today, for my health, I know I need rest and relaxation. I must have creative outlets. Recreation is necessary for my mental health.

I am trying to find a way to be self-sufficient within the limitations my body currently puts on me. I am hopeful that I will continue to have more energy and more strength as I find new ways to eat and heal myself. I am seeking a life that is not just about working to make a living, but rather a work that is about making a wonderful LIFE!!! Time will tell how this all works out. For now, I will take it a day at a time, like I do all things.

At Wildlife Images.

At Wildlife Images.