Tuesday, November 30, 2010


I came to snickerdoodles late in life.  I used to always go for the flashier cookies and tended toward anything chocolate.  One day it came to me that I had never tried them, so I set out to find a recipe.  Strangely, most of the recipes I came across used shortening in them.  Shortening does not come to my house.  I decided to modify a few recipes and came up with this one.  They're all butter, sugar and white flour, but man are they good.


1 cup butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 3/4 cup flour
1 t baking soda
2 t cream of tartar
1 t salt
1 t vanilla
2 T sugar
2 t cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375 and grease cookie sheets

Cream together the butter and sugar.  Add eggs and vanilla.  Stir together the flour, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt and mix until just combined.

Mix remaining sugar and cinnamon in small bowl.  Form dough into small balls and roll in cinnamon sugar.  Bake for 8-10 minutes or until lightly brown at the edges.

This recipe is being added to the Christmas Cookie Recipe Swap at Farmer's Daughter.  Check out all the yummy recipes added.   It is also being added to the Retro Housewife Goes Green:  Green Holiday Blog Carnival. 

Monday, November 29, 2010

Harvest Monday Nov 29, 2010

It's really cold outside!  My garden has a heavy layer of frost on it, but I still have a harvest for the week.  Last Tuesday I decided to harvest the rest of the broccoli.  I'm leaving the stalks in the ground just so I have something to look at, but they're done for the year. 

We've done lots of eating from our garden this week though.  The canned tomatoes and sauces have made an appearance in many dishes.  Potatoes and carrots have also been big this week.  I made my Vegetable Beef Soup this week so all of the above was used, along with some frozen green beans from the garden. 

The remainder of the garden will stay in.  There is still some cabbage, although the heads never got very big.  The carrots are gorgeous and will be pulled whenever I can get them out.  The beets didn't get very big and will also be harvested when the ground thaws a bit. 

Head on over to Daphne's Dandelions to see what everyone is harvesting this week.  It's amazing to see what people are getting in this cold weather.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Winterizing the chickens and lessons learned

We've had a warmer than normal fall so far.  Last year the girls were wintered up in the first week of November.  This year, we've had some cold nights, but nothing too bad.  The biggest issue is always the water.  I've been able to bang the waterer on the ground to break up the ice.  This morning was different though.  It was 21 degrees when I woke up and their water was a giant block of ice.  It was time to get them winterized. 

We learned a lot last year.  There is a learning curve with everything and chickens are certainly no exception.  Last year we had them under J's deck.  There were a lot of problems with that though.  I had to shovel a huge path out to them, which then turned to slippery ice.  If there was an issue in their yard, we had to climb under the deck, which just wasnt' fun.  It also didn't give them too much light under there, in addition to limited protection from snow. 

We got smarter this year.  They're now between the house and shed on J's side of our duplex.  It's south facing, so more sun.  It's right off the walkway, so snow is easier to deal with.  We don't have to climb under the deck either.  In order to offer even more protection, we put plastic sheeting over their yard to minimize the snow and wet.  Last year I spent hours trying to get snow out of their yard so that they would go out to eat and drink.  (Their food is in the yard out of necessity.)  I was just a little obsessive about it, actually.  Ok, I was a lot obsessive about it.  J laughed at me a lot. 

They seem pretty happy about the set up.  What's even better, is that their food and shavings are kept in the shed.  Last year they were in my kitchen.  It was messy, a major pain and I ended up with a nasty pantry moth infestation brought in by the feed. 

I can't tell you how happy I am with this new set up.  Of course I drove J crazy getting it set up today.  He calls me his 'Wife without benefits', but is easily placated with peach butter.  Men are easy.  The girls seem happy, but they need to start laying better!  We're only getting 1 to 2 eggs a day.  I didn't get the lights going early enough and it's taking a while for them to get back into the groove.  There will definitely be more chickens next year. 

Saturday, November 27, 2010

What I'm reading

Since the kids have been in school, I've had lots of time to myself.  One of the things I'm doing is to catch up on my reading.  Currently, I'm enjoying The Resilient Gardener Food Production and Self-Reliance in Uncertain Times by Carol Deppe.

 The book takes a look at some of the history of growing foods along with the challenges that have been dealt with over time.  Deppe has Celiac disease which prevents her from eating wheat or anything that has gluten in it.  This has shaped how she gardens and cooks, as you might imagine.  Instead she focuses on 5 foods that are the basis for a healthy diet.  In this case potatoes, corn, beans, squash and eggs.  

She and another man garden together on leased land in the Pacific Northwest.  They grow almost all their food on this land and store it in their garage.  There are chapters on each of the foods that she grows, with great detail on what kinds of seeds she prefers and why.  Great detail is given on how they grow, problems that may arise and how to deal with those problems.  Storage and recipes are also given plenty of attention.  

I'm finding this to be one of those books that makes me want to add more beds to my garden.  As seed catalogs start to arrive, I'll be making lots of notes as to what new varieties would be fun to try.  Every family has different tastes, but focusing on the basics is wise for any of us that are wanting to grow a large amount of food for our families.  I love the idea of also growing many things that require almost no attention to store for the winter.  Getting out of the canning kitchen is a wonderful thing in my book.  

I'm always looking for more books to read and would love any suggestions you have.  So tell me, what books are you reading now?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to all my readers from the US.  We'll be enjoying our day with my family in Plymouth.  It's wonderful to know that the turkey came from a small farm in Duxbury and most of the veggies came from either my garden, or my mother's.  Of course there is nothing at all local about that delicious Chocolate Pecan Pie, but I wouldn't be without it anyway. 

Enjoy your day!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Makin Bacon

We got our pig back in September with the knowledge that I was going to make our own bacon.  This is all brand new to me, so I was a bit apprehensive about the whole thing.  It turned out to be so easy!

I started with a 7 pound belly that I cut into 3 hunks.  Then made a mixture of 1/3 c kosher salt 1/3 c light brown sugar and 1/3 c maple syrup.  This is based on the book Charcuterie by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn.  They use quite a bit of 'pink' salt which has nitrates.  I wanted to avoid those, so went with the above mixture.

This then got smeared all over the belly and placed in a 2 gallon zip top bag.  I placed it into  dish and put it into the fridge.  There it sat for 7 days, being turned daily, but otherwise ignored.

This morning I lit my new smoker for the first time and placed the bellies in.  I used hickory chips and think I'll use apple wood next time, but the smoke was quite nice.  The smoker never heated up as much as I wanted, so after about 1 1/2 hours, I pulled the bellies out and put them in a 200 degree oven for about 70 minutes until they got to 150 degrees.

They looked pretty good so I decided to try some, just to see how it turned out.

It was amazing!  This piece had virtually no fat, but had that classic bacon taste without any of the chemical taste to go with it.  This pig had a good life and I'm happy to make it all that it can be.

Lastly, I cut the slabs into halves and put them in freezer bags and stored away.  There is still another belly in the freezer for me to play with.  I think I'll try a slightly different brine and wood.  This is fun!  Next I want to try a ham as well.

Edited to add:  When I made this there was a note that I had made with the basic ingredients next to the instructions in the book.  I couldn't remember where I had seen them, but after searching blog posts discovered this post of the same name by Annette over at Sustainable Eats.  Apparently it stuck with me, but not enough to remember specifics.  Thanks Annette!

I'm also linking with Simple Lives Thursday.  Head on over and see the wonderful things people are up to.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Yummy breakfast.

The kids were home today for Veteran's day, so I made a quiche.  The recipe is called Refrigerator Pie from Alton Brown.  I love it because I can use any old thing I have laying around.

This one was made with bacon, onions and cheddar cheese.  The crust is homemade with whole wheat flour and half butter, half home rendered lard.  Yummy!

I am linking to Simple Lives Thursday.  Click on over and check out what everyone is up to.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

String the lights

Tis the season to light the chickens.  The girls have stopped moulting, so it's time for them to lay some eggs for us.  The lights have been on for a few days, but this is the first night that they've come out to enjoy their extra hours.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Harvest Monday Nov 8,2010

I can no longer say that carrots are impossible.

Apparently, the trick is to plant them in July and let them grow in the fall.  At least at my house.  I'm still in shock that these gorgeous carrots came from MY garden.  The really great thing, is that there are still lots more out there.  My new plan is to forgo the spring planting(well maybe a small one) and after I harvest the garlic, to plant a whole bed of these beautiful roots. 

These were planted by making seed tapes on toilet paper.  It took just a few minutes and then they were ready to go.  I'm thinking that I'll do the same thing with the beets when I harvest the onions.  We don't really eat beets in the summer anyway.  It's all about the rotation baby!

This post was part of Harvest Monday.  Head on over to Daphne's Dandelions and see what everyone is harvesting this week.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

All ready for Winter

It's getting to look more and more like winter around here.  The leaves are almost all off the trees (and on my garden!).  The weather is getting colder and they're starting to say things like 'mixed precipitation' on the news.  Today was the day to straighten out the shed and put everything away until Spring.  All the tools were cleaned and the shed was swept out.

In the process I managed to disturb a cozy little nest of mice.  They jumped out at me and scared the pants off of me.  Poor Morgan heard me screaming and went and hid.  Then she wouldn't go near the shed for a while.  It took a bit of explaining that it wasn't that I was afraid of the mice, just that they surprised me.  I must admit, I feel very bad for the mice.  They had a nice cozy nest for the winter and I destroyed it.  The poor things will probably die now.  Is it pathetic that I feel bad for the mice?

The shed is all nice and clean now.  It will be wonderful to have it ready to go in the Spring.

The garlic bed all planted and mulched.  I can now forget about it until next July.  What are you doing this weekend?

Thursday, November 4, 2010


I continued on my quest to be known as the weird neighbor this week.  At the top of the street is the bus stop.  The yard is a big corner lot and has been covered in the most gorgeous carpet of leaves for a few weeks.  I've been coveting those leaves.  I've spent actual time sitting and thinking about how to get them for myself.  It's a disease.

Then a miracle happened.  The landscapers mowed up those leaves and placed them in 35 large composting bags.  I made Hubby stop the car on Tuesday and ask if I could have them.  They of course looked at me like I was nuts.  Then he said he just needed the bags back.  Hubby and I made plans to get the leaves on Thursday.  Then yesterday another miracle!  The landscaper came down and said he needed the bags sooner than he thought.  So, he and his helper hauled them all down in his truck and helped me dump them on the garden!  All free!  All for me!  Yes, I realize I need help.  We even made plans to do the same thing next year.

While talking to him, I realized we really weren't all that different.  He was working hard to try to buy a place to do the same things.  He had rented a place that he thought he would be able to buy.  He had chickens, both hens and meat birds.  He wants a big garden as well.  I felt a kinship to this wonderful man.  It also turns out that he's a friend of the homeowner up the street.  I now have a leaf dealer!  He can feed the need for leaves!

I'm connecting with Simple lives Thursday blog hop.  Hop on over and check out how else people are living simply.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Harvest Monday Nov 1, 2010

Brrr!  It is certainly November here in New England.  It was 25 degrees when I woke up this morning.  The kids were bundled up in winter coats and the heat was turned on.  The living room was 58 degrees, so there was no messing around today.  As a result, I decided to harvest a few things that I was unsure of.  Tonight is supposed to be just as cold.

There was quite a bit of broccoli and a few beets that were big enough to harvest.  I left the broccoli in to see how well it does.  There are a few more heads started and some side shoots that may develop.  Since I've never had anything planted this late, I'm not sure how well they'll do.  The beets are not sizing up as well as I would like, so I thinned them and we'll see what happens.  I know both broccoli and beets are ok with some cold, but I'm not sure when they'll be destroyed.

The rest of the greens, cabbage and carrots are looking good, so they'll stay in the ground.  My Pac Choi has gotten far too big, so the chickens have been enjoying it instead.  The cabbage is still forming heads, I'm curious to see what will happen with them.  It would be great if the cabbage, beets and carrots would continue to size up, the light is getting scarce though.

This post is part of Daphne's Dandelions, head on over and see what everyone is harvesting this week.