Friday, August 31, 2012

Week Ending...

This week has seen:
classes beginning
peppers cooking
quilt blocks coming together
teens eating
cheese pressing
 
I have been:
on my knees praying
in my kitchen stirring
at my table stitching
with my family living
 
With the week ending:
gardens we'll be weeding
goats we'll be hoof trimming
fences we'll be fixing
memories we will be making
 
See you next week, dear friends!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Spicy Chile Ketchup..Oh, Yes,.

   Yes, it has finally happened..the peppers invaded ketchup. It was inevitable, really; so many of them coming into the kitchen..so many recipes for them to slip into. Can I just say, I am so glad they invaded the ketchup, because it is awesome!

 Spicy Chile Ketchup

6 lbs tomatoes, halved
2 stalks celery, rough chopped
 1 large onion, rough chopped
4 chili peppers, stems removed
1 bell pepper, rough chopped
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cup cider vinegar
2 teaspoons dry mustard
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1 to 2 teaspoon salt

In stock pot, cook tomatoes until tender and skins are easily removed (around 15 minutes). At this point, either remove the skins by hand and crush the tomatoes or run them through a food mill. 
Add celery, onion, chilies, and pepper; simmer 1 hour.
Add sugar, vinegar, and spices; simmer an additional hour.
Remove from heat and run through mill or puree until smooth.
Pour into jars and process 15 minutes in water bath.
Makes 4 pints.

Notes:

**I used a crock pot for one batch. The veggies were cooked all at same time (3 hours) before spices were added and simmered until desired consistency. I let mine work 6 total hours.
**Dried peppers worked just as well as fresh (added as is, not re-hydrated first).
**We used extra peppers in a batch for added heat...wow, awesome. (above recipe is mild). 

How we eat it:

...however we eat ketchup!
dip it, baste with it (oh, yes)..a roast, on a burger
let me just say..we eat it!

   Who knew such an experiment would be so awesome?

All Through the Day ....

The wind blew in gusts stirring dust clouds across the pastures. Tropical storm Isaac had very little effect on our weather...but then again, it did knock the humidity down a bit. We are battling nasty sinus issues. Needless to say, tissue boxes are at every work station and healthy lunches are on the menu. Even the older teens carried salads and snacks with them today.
Lessons came and went; papers graded..corrections made. Farm boy and I are working the kinks out of the new school routine. Strange how it is to work at it..just us two..but we are adjusting.
These two crazy babies have decided that life is better with their head in the fence. We can no more than un-stick their little noggins than they push it right back through. I can sure pick them, can't I? Yet, their habit is not the worst. Two of our older goats discovered fence jumping..and the tasty grass growing in our neighbor's yard. Anyone else thinking barbeque?
Quilting and I are struggling to make peace. Stretching beyond my comfort zone is never pleasant and this quilt is taking me to the limit. I find short bouts at the machine throughout the day are better than long sessions in frustrated meticulousness. 
Oh, by the way..there is something tasty on the stove. Tune in tomorrow for this spicy recipe!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Heartbreaking....

   During a recent swim with my farm boy, a very public conversation crossed our path. A young girl, her boyfriend, and her younger girl friend were sitting near us chatting. It was their conversation that broke my heart.

younger friend: What is the best way to have sex and not get pregnant?
young girl: Well, you don't want to mess up your skin...
boyfriend: You don't want to get fat either. My sister started taking the pill and she got real fat.
younger friend: No way do I want my skin all nasty or to get all fat..way too many girls take that path., but condoms seem so gross.
boyfriend: That is not the way to go. Condoms take the fun out of it..it makes it so un-natural. Use the morning after pill.
young girl: I do that..but, you have to be careful because you are only allowed to get one every so many months..doctors keep track. So, you have your fun all you want in between..then when your time limit is up, just call a clinic and say you need one. They call it in and you're good for another several months.
boyfriend: That is the best. No nasty skin, no fat and no un-natural sex. You just have to keep track of how often you get it and who you have called. It's really easy.

   Sadly, I know this young girl. My heart was so deeply broken by this conversation. Two older teens giving this advice to a younger youth. Where did they learn this? Would this break their parents' hearts?
   My teens and I have talked this situation over several times since that day; it was at their urging I share it with you. Do we really know what our children believe or understand about birth control or the morning after pill? Are they equipped to handle a conversation such as this? What would you or your teen say if a younger youth asked them this question?
   This is not to judge..not to belittle or demean..but to spark us to think...to discuss. Have that conversation .. open the door to discussion. It could have been one of my teens..it could have been one of yours.
  I commit this day to pray for our youth and the influences they face on a daily basis. Will you join me?   

Monday, August 27, 2012

Got Peppers?

   I do. The daily bucket loads are still coming in. Today the farm boy and I tried to make a dent in the pickings with a new pepper sauce. The original recipe was an Asian Chili Sauce often found in stir fries and spicy Asian dishes. Using the peppers we have on hand, we put a few variations together and tested the samples. Here is our base recipe version:


Simply Pepper Sauce

1 cup peppers, stems removed
(measure small peppers whole, or large peppers roughly chopped)
8 cloves garlic, peeled
1/3 cup white vinegar
3 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon salt
Place pepper and garlic in food processor and pulse till fine. Add vinegar, oil and salt; pulse until well combined. Makes 1 cup. Keeps in fridge up to three months or may be frozen.

   Notes:

..any pepper works: we tried cayenne and tabasco peppers for heat and a non-heat version with banana and bell peppers
...no onions: the onions added a watery issue that seamed down right unpleasant
...age it: the longer it sat the better it seemed to smell
...don't inhale: when you open the processor lean way back (and have a window open) it will take your breathe away

How to use it:

...stir fries, marinades/rubs, soups, roasts
..in salad dressing, with mayo on a sandwich
...in moderation- the hot version is HOT
..add it to that mild salsa to kick it up a notch
..in queso..oh yes! 

More kitchen madness tomorrow..we didn't make a very big dent in that pepper pile:/

 
 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Preserving the Harvest: Salsa 2 Ways

   As far back as I can remember Salsa and I have had a crazy 'love the heat' relationship. This wonderful passion is shared between me and the farm boy..the spicier the better. Recipes shared here are for mild salsa (if you want firehouse death heat salsa, my son can hook you up!). 
   Two recipes are shared because, well, I have always made salsa one particular way until recently when roasted tomatoes became a wild passion of mine. So, first recipe..our standard fave..second recipe..new love. Here we go...

Simply Salsa

10 cups chopped tomatoes
5 cups chopped green peppers
5 cups chopped onions
2 1/2 cup chopped hot peppers 
(such as jalapeno)
1 1/2 cup vinegar
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 teaspoons salt

In a large bowl, stir all together mixing very well. Ladle into pint jars (approximately 6) leaving 1/2 inch head space. Process in water bath. 15 minutes. Hint: a food processor is a wonderful friend:)

Simply Roasted Salsa

12 Roma-style tomatoes, halved
3 cloves garlic, peeled
2 large onions, quartered
5 hot peppers
olive oil
salt
1 lime

Spread tomatoes, garlic and peppers on a large baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and salt modestly. Roast at 425 degrees for 20 minutes.
Once cool enough to touch, peel skin off tomatoes before pulsing them in a food processor (with peppers, onion and garlic). Add juice and zest of one lime..stir well before ladling into pint jars (about 3). Process in water bath 15 minutes.

   Now, break out the tortillas and roasted meats..I feel a fiesta coming on!


Sunday

Romans 13

King James Version (KJV)
13 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.
Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.
For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:
For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.
Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.
For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing.
Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.
Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.
For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
10 Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
11 And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.
12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.
13 Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying.
14 But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.

Friday, August 24, 2012

We...

We spent the afternoon
in the garden pulling weeds...
Is it just me, or do weeds the size of a full grown adult seem to appear overnight? Any attempts to remove them can and will be a great feat of strength and determination.
in the barn wrangling 'kids'...
Quite mind boggling how one goat can continually get its head stuck in the fence in the exact same place three minutes after you unstick it. Only slightly more aggravating than the three who have managed to learn the fine art of fence jumping. Never a dull moment.

 in the kitchen making these..
Peanut butter cookies are an excellent reward for such ridiculous antics as we have faced today. Cup of coffee and your treat is complete (by the way, farm boy detests coffee..he prefers orange juice..can I get a 'yuck'?)
 Now..while the farm boy when out to run the mower over the strip of grass by the front door I stirred up some chocolate chip cookies...yes, the coveted family cookie recipe. 
He walks in and asks -are these the right cookies? 
Excuse me. 
You didn't mess with them did you? 
What are you taking about..
Did you make them the right way...with the real recipe? as he taps the recipe on the wall.
Yes, I made them by 'the recipe'.

He was skeptical until they came out of the oven and were sampled.
Seal of approval...the chocolate on his lips.
That is what happens
when
we
....


Peanut butter cookie recipe can be found here.

Grandmuzzy's Toll House Cookies

cream together:
1 1/3 cup shortening
1 1/2 cup white sugar
1 1/2 cup brown sugar
stir in:
4 eggs
add:
3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
work in:
1 cup chocolate chips (we add way more!)
then:
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/4 cup flour

Drop by spoonfuls onto lightly greased baking sheet. Bake 10 minutes at 350 degrees.
They freeze well.

When I 'mess them up' I often am adding:
peanut butter
oatmeal
peanut butter chips
and, heaven forbid:
flax meal and wheat flour (in place of the white)
but only when I really feel like messing with them.
Despite the complaints..they all get eaten:)


Thursday, August 23, 2012

How the Garden Goes

   Peppers. Right now, the garden grows peppers..five gallon bucketfuls every two days. You may be asking who in their right mind grows that many peppers..I never said I was in my right mind..so, anyway. My evenings have been weeding and picking the peppers (and attempting to sneak a bagful into any and every passing vehicle). You've been warned!
   Herbs are still healthy and thriving. Many have flowered bringing beautiful butterflies and busy bees to our happy little garden. Odd little fact: our herb garden is our 'front yard'..when the herbs and roses are in full growth our house front looks overgrown and somewhat neglected. Occasionally visitors have commented on our un-kept home front. How funny is that?
   Tomatoes. Well, it's August..which means all out war with stink bugs, heat, water..like I said, it's August. Our Juliet cherry tomatoes and yellow pears are still producing, while the other plants may produce but rot before they ripen. We are cleaning the beds, pruning the plants, laying them down and mulching over them heavily. Some will die out..some will regrow. We'll see.
  The rest of the plants have been yanked up and feed to the herd..along with the mass of weeds..and grasshoppers..and rotten tomatoes..;/ Our efforts right now are soil amending a.k.a. spreading the poo (stalls and coops are being cleaned!). Leaves are being cast for mulch..deep and heavy to keep weeds from popping up.
   Our plan: corn, squash, beans in this weekend...if the rain permits..boy we need the rain!
   Right now, however, I am trying to find a home for the peppers. If I can any more of them my shelves are going to collapse!
   How is your garden going right now?



  

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

This Day

   Nite falls upon the little home stead as I make my way back up the gravel path. Heaviness in my heart brings a sigh; this day. This day has been filled with frustrations and aggravations; of clouds without rain. Do you know those days? Every project you encounter brings you to the end of your wits...people trod on your soul..loved ones break your heart.
   The start of a new school term is always a challenge..trying to make it all fit..trying to get it all in...trying to remember how we managed last year. Summer garden is dying down..pulling and pruning make for tasty goat snacks. Now the fall garden faces the challenge of growing. The latest sewing project has been stitched and ripped, re-cut and stitched again over the past three days..with no successful end as a migraine decided to drop by for a visit.
   In the midst of it all the sun still shined..nite still fell..God still listened to my pitiful groaning. This day...well, I'm glad it's over..and that tomorrow is a new opportunity.

  

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Finding Joy


 Little Jubilee...always a sweet goof that can bring a smile to your face...


 Benny, Benny, Benny....such a sweet little boy. Cute as a button.


Joon...such a sweet girl! A beauty, and sweet as sugar. Always looking for a snuggle.
 

Again, the little ham.
 

A beautiful butterfly... 
With wings she flies and spreads her joy..
 .Beauty and grace she brings to those in need.


A hibiscus...my favorite flower. Big, breezy, lovely and open. 

When so many things are doing wrong around you....when you can't help but want to cry at all the ugly life has thrown in your face... there must be a way to find joy.
I find joy in cuddling my baby goats.
I find joy in a phonecall to a loved one, hearing them say "It'll be alright."
I find joy in the flowers, God's beauty at hand.
I find joy in comforting things: squishy pillows, a cup of warm tea, a soft blanket.
It may not be much, but there's always something we can find joy in.
 I pray that today, as you go through the roller coaster 
of yea's and nay's, that you take the time
 to find some joy...and not be overcome by the
burden of sorrow.
Love,
 Simply Jenn

Monday, August 20, 2012

Educating....Making Study Sheets

note-booking study sheets
In the process of starting a new home school year with my teens we came across our study sheet notebooks. Realizing the value they had to each student who took the time and effort to put one together I felt led to re-post this:

   So many things to remember, so much to memorize. Having three children to home school there is a lot of material to cover in a day and even more to review. In an effort to equip my students with tools needed to keep key information at hand, we developed a study sheet plan.
   A study sheet is our simple way to keep important topical information readily available for review and reference. We did plenty of review as a group, but at the end of a lesson, in between lessons, or when waiting for assistance- they can pick up their study sheet for reference and review.
   Some subjects lend themselves to this naturally. Example, we start our day with mathematics..as each lesson is introduced we add the new formula or rule to our study sheet. Each subject has their own study sheet; often organized by topic...geometry formulas, division rules, etc. Grammar rules, parts of speech, writing guidelines all in place related to their subject.
   My children designed and created study sheets themselves to suit their own personalities. One is very creative and does hers in "colors" writing different categories in different color. Another used them to practice her typing and did them with graphic design. The youngest- wrote them out to aid his handwriting practice. Each stores their study sheets in their notebook, by subject, for easy access and neatness. As long as they fit the purpose without distracting- the outward appearance isn't the point, the content and usefulness is.
  To this day, my teens still create study sheets..although they have taken new forms to suit their needs. One combines her computer study course with other subjects by creating data bases that are "cue  cards" for study notes. Another uses index cards to create a flip style study system; these are stored in a binder sleeve.
   As my teens start venturing into the college arena, the study sheets of long ago have proven a good foundation for them. Seeing my youth grow and change them to fit their current needs has been a blessing and a gift.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Weekend Was...

Full of family and fun
Busy and fussy and fabulous
Inspiring, instigating and invigorating

It was a weekend of
gathering and gardening
goat herding and egg finding

Of
Him and me
Us and them
All ya'll and a few of you

The weekend
sadly
is over

Now, the week begins again.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Sunday...

Proverbs 8
King James Version (KJV)
Doth not wisdom cry? and understanding put forth her voice?
She standeth in the top of high places, by the way in the places of the paths.
She crieth at the gates, at the entry of the city, at the coming in at the doors.
Unto you, O men, I call; and my voice is to the sons of man.
O ye simple, understand wisdom: and, ye fools, be ye of an understanding heart.
Hear; for I will speak of excellent things; and the opening of my lips shall be right things.
For my mouth shall speak truth; and wickedness is an abomination to my lips.
All the words of my mouth are in righteousness; there is nothing froward or perverse in them.
They are all plain to him that understandeth, and right to them that find knowledge.
10 Receive my instruction, and not silver; and knowledge rather than choice gold.
11 For wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it.
12 I wisdom dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge of witty inventions.
13 The fear of the Lord is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate.
14 Counsel is mine, and sound wisdom: I am understanding; I have strength.
15 By me kings reign, and princes decree justice.
16 By me princes rule, and nobles, even all the judges of the earth.
17 I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me.
18 Riches and honour are with me; yea, durable riches and righteousness.
19 My fruit is better than gold, yea, than fine gold; and my revenue than choice silver.
20 I lead in the way of righteousness, in the midst of the paths of judgment:
21 That I may cause those that love me to inherit substance; and I will fill their treasures.
22 The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old.
23 I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was.
24 When there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water.
25 Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth:
26 While as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world.
27 When he prepared the heavens, I was there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth:
28 When he established the clouds above: when he strengthened the fountains of the deep:
29 When he gave to the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment: when he appointed the foundations of the earth:
30 Then I was by him, as one brought up with him: and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him;
31 Rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth; and my delights were with the sons of men.
32 Now therefore hearken unto me, O ye children: for blessed are they that keep my ways.
33 Hear instruction, and be wise, and refuse it not.
34 Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors.
35 For whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the Lord.
36 But he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate me love death.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Off the Frame and On the Way

   This pretty little Dresden quilt is off the frame and on the way to a new home. Hand quilted to accent the blue blades of the Dresden, cross hatching gives dimension and stability to the background.
   Today the pretty little quilt piece heads home..incomplete upon request; the quilt owner plans to make a beautiful pillow!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Crazy Calizone..Oh the Yum!

   Finding time together with all the teens is quite a challenge; college and work schedules keep things in constant flow. Today offered us a rare treat..all hands were on deck..this called for a special dinner and calizones came to mind.

   Simply Calizones

1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 3/4 cup flour
2 cup wheat flour
1/2 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons yeast

seasoned tomato sauce
mozzarella cheese

*work the first seven ingredients into a smooth dough
*let rest while prepping the next step
*shred cheese or chop it into cubes
*stir in enough tomato sauce to make a moist mixture
*divide dough into fourths
*work each dough into a fairly thin, somewhat round shape
*place dough on a lightly greased baking sheet
*spread 1/4 of cheese mixture over half the dough
*fold and crimp the edges well
*using a sharp knife, cut one or two vent slashes
brush with olive oil adding additional seasonings if desired
**bake 425 degrees 15 minutes.
   Pared with a salad and lots of crazy teen conversation this meal will definitely grace our table again soon.


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Preserving the Harvest: Pepperoncini

   New to the garden this year..the pepperoncini; an Italian pepper with a mild and gentle flavor. Often pickled, they are served antipasto style on sandwiches and salads. They came to my garden by way of a victory garden seed set and have been amazingly prolific yielding gorgeous color and taste.

   Pickled Pepperoncini

for every 2 quarts pepperoncini peppers you will need:
2 cups vinegar
2 cups water
2 teaspoons salt
4 garlic cloves

**wash peppers; using a knife, pierce each one along it's side
 * in a saucepan, stir together water, vinegar and salt..bring to a gentle simmer
**place in quart jars adding 2 cloves of garlic to each jar
 * pour warmed pickling brine over the peppers
**be sure to remove all air bubbles before placing lids on jars
 * process in water bath canning fifteen minutes

Notes:
# garlic may be omitted
# other herbs may be added such as tarragon, rosemary or basil
# some recipes recommended peppercorns be added
# peppers may be left whole or sliced into rings
# half batch was tried..I let set on counter overnight before chilling the next day..haven't tried them yet, but they look yummy!
##these peppers also do well dehydrated

How do we eat them?
salads, sandwiches
added to soups/sautes
with eggs
chopped and mixed into fresh cheese for dipping/spreading
straight from the jar!

   Will we plant them again? Who's to say. I have really enjoyed their beauty and their bounty..so they are definitely on the list of possible returns!


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Happy Birthday SimplyChele!


LORDY LORDY CHELE’S 40!

Yep, on this day, 40 years ago, well you get the picture.
 Rest in peace, over the hill, and all that!
Oh yea, once upon a time, a long time ago, she looked like that.
She like to do “things you don’t know”, well, things you don’t know about her:

Yes, she was born on the Kansas prairie, in the middle of nowhere. 60 miles from the nearest city.

        Her heritage. Her Grandparents on one side were Scotch, the other German/Irish. Yeah, that Scotch/Irish part shows up. Don’t believe it? Stick around til after she reads this!

   Everyone knows If she is in the garden, and weeds and dirt are flying, best place to be is the far corner of the place.

   Everyone in her house knows how to make her coffee. It’s made before she gets up in the morning. It’s safer that way.

   Her first car was a VW bug. Guess who learned to work on one.

   She learned to garden early, as a toddler she would put seeds in the row and help pick. And the garden survived.

   If she is talking to her animals, don’t interrupt. If she wanted your opinion, she wouldn’t be talking to the animals. 

      She has gotten me good a on a few special occasions over the years. Payback time!

   She hates parties, especially for her. Well guess what, this weekend we will do it anyway!
   Yes girl, Saturday evening we will gather at Grandpa’s house, and it just wouldn’t do for the guest of dishonor not to show up!!