Meatloaf went to the library today

Alternate title: Holy cow-I looked like THAT today???

As farm girls and guys, I think we spend so much time working the land, caring for animals, providing healthful and delicious foods for our families and communities that it’s easy to let yourself begin to look like Meatloaf.  I swear, this was me at the library today:

My horrific photo cropping skills aside, I greatly admire and enjoy Meatloaf as an entertainer.  So sorry Mr. Loaf for intimating that you looked as bad as me.

My horrific photo cropping skills aside, I greatly admire and enjoy Meatloaf as an entertainer. So sorry Mr. Loaf for intimating that you looked as bad as me.

 

It’s so easy to let things slide in this kind of lifestyle.  First it’s the makeup, then it’s the haircuts, then it’s the color, etc etc.  Next thing you know, you are taking your Blueberry to the library wearing your husband’s lumberjack shirt with your hair looking like a rat’s nest and wearing a face that looks like an aging rocker.  Sigh.  It’s fair to say that I have yet to find the balance between “me” time and everyone else time.  Sheldon?  All he has to do is brush his teeth and he looks great.  Sigh again.   Any other homesteading wives and husbands do a good job balancing time for looking good with doing good work?

Sneaky foods: Cauliflower mac n cheese

We are pretty blessed by the fact that The Blueberry has a fairly diverse and at times, refined palate for a 4 year old.  She has tried and enjoyed every kind of fruit and vegetable that we have, every protein product under the sun, a variety of stinky and non-traditional dairy products as well as cultural specialties.  You know what she doesn’t like?  Pickles and mustard.  That’s about it.  However, that is not to say that she is a perfect eater.  Far from it.  There are days that I fear she would starve if cheese and peanut butter didn’t exist.  During those times, she typically eschews any kind of fruit or vegetable product instead driving us crazy by constantly requesting what she considers to be the four basic food groups: chocolate, candy, milk and butter.  Not exactly a balanced diet.

During those times, I am happy to be inspired by books like Deceptively Delicious and The Sneaky Chef whose sole mission seems to be to feed our children the way we want them to be fed without them knowing it.  Sounds like ridiculous parenting, no?  Well…no.  I mean-think about it.  Of course I want my child to prefer a carrot stick to a chic-0-stick but it isn’t always going to happen.  Despite the efforts I put into making a variety of healthful, veggie filled meals, there are going to be times where her stubborn nature rises and she says “Actually, momma.  I’m a dragon and I don’t eat vegetables anymore.”  (Sigh-quote from lunch yesterday.)  During those times instead of forcing her to come to a joy of veggies and fruit on her own, I’m going to give them to her while letting her feel that she has won the food battle.  Enter in sneaky mac n cheese.

This is a great recipe for days where you have too much going on and not enough time.  I’d love to give you a totally healthy scratch recipe for mac n cheese, but that ain’t happenin today.  Instead I give you Annie’s white cheddar mac:

picture courtesy of Annie's

picture courtesy of Annie’s

And God’s awesome creation.  That crown of cruciferousness.  That casanova of caulis.  That babe of brassica…Cauliflower.  Also known as “I’m not eating that crap” in my house.

pic courtesy of God.  Oh, and health.com

pic courtesy of God. Oh, and health.com

So anywhoo…cook your mac and cheese according to the box directions.  In the last 30ish seconds of cooking time, drop in a few pieces of frozen cauliflower.  It could also be fresh, but dang, that stuff is expensive in my part of the country and almost impossible to get organic, so we go with organic frozen.  While your mac is draining, take those now nuclear hot pieces of cauliflower (owwie, my hands) and drop them into a blender with 1-3 Tablespoons of milk and the cheese flavored packet.  Well, not the whole packet..you know, the contents….blend well.  Return the smoothish (as smooth as cauliflower can be) back to the pan to warm up.  Once warm, incorporate your mac and voila…healthier mac n cheese!

I typically sprinkle “shreddy/sprinkley” cheese on here to disguise the slightly lumpy texture, but The Blueberry eats it up like crazy.  And I’m crazy about the fact that despite her efforts to the contrary, I have just provided a more nutritionally sound meal with not a lot of extra time/effort.  If you get a chance, I’d love to hear what you are doing to sneak in some health for those “no way” days!  Happy cooking!

More snow!

Blueberry and I went for a nature walk this morning. The land that adjoins our has this wooded patch that I am obsessed with. I’m convinced there is historical buried treasure in the woods so lovely, dark and deep….:)

Or at least a pretty picture.

Poop is worth it’s weight in gold?

Those of you who have had to rehab large tracts of land know what I’m talking about…turkey litter.  It’s the fertilizer of choice here for pasture land (did you know Missouri was the #2 producer of cattle in the nation?  Nope?  We didn’t either…) and it’s worth it’s weight in stinky gold.

Our poop is the shiz.comPic courtesy of ect coop

Our poop is the shiz.com
Pic courtesy of ect coop

We have asked every single human that we have come into contact with for connections.  I even stopped by the local Ag Extension today and asked if they had a hook up for litter and/or topsoil and oddly both of these ladies looked at me like I was on crack.  While we have found Missourians to be absolutely warm and lovely people, they don’t give up the good stuff to “ferners” (You know-people from Texas) quite so easily.  Finally someone shared the helpful nugget that it is actually more profitable for these poop producers (aka large poultry farms) to ship it up north than to sell it to their neighbors.  Huh.

So, to The Bing I go…I have discovered some local (local being companies within 200 miles) providers and intermediaries.  I’ve sent messages to several of them, all in Sheldon’s name (because that post on good old boy mysogeny is for another day) and now we just wait.  For poop.  That we have to pay for.  What a life.

Vous dorloter vos oeufs? Or Alternate title: Eggs should not be hockey pucks

For many years, I labored under the assumption that all cooked eggs were rubbery, gross and sometimes a little slimey. I think it was a good solid decade in which I did not order eggs in restaurants at all because of a few bad experiences (normally had at a Village Inn/Dennys-like place at 2:00 am to be fair.)

But then I started watching the geeky goodness of America’s Test Kitchen and realized that eggs don’t have to have the hockey puck mouth feel to be done!

Classic American and French cooking techniques can differ wildly.  Many French cookbooks and blogs will lead you down the path to coddled eggs but yet the methods seem to vary from cooking them over a double boiler to cooking in boiled water (seems like poaching to me) to cooking in an oven.  I personally am itching to try the recipe that I found on I am a food blog.  It’s a Thomas Keller recipe and we totally crush on him in this house.  Sometimes we just read this for fun y’all….

nom nom nom, oh and pic courtesy of B&N

nom nom nom, oh and pic courtesy of B&N

But enough fun stuff.  How do I cook my eggs?  Well, Sheldon prefers a high heat pan where he ultimately begins to brown the proteins.  By doing this, he often removes most of the moisture and produces firm but still very pleasing eggs.  Often these little beauties are cooked in bacon fat with mushrooms and onions, so it’s all good.

For me, I prefer a riff on the coddling method where I cook them low and slow in a fat pat of butter….oh yeah…and bacon:

Presentation is not my gift, but these tasted soooo good anyway!

Presentation is not my gift, but these tasted soooo good anyway!

It takes me longer to get there, but that end result is so pleasing to my picky palate.  I have also made breakfast pizza and found it to be an awesome use of eggs that doesn’t require quite so much fat to cook.

But…I’m curious on how you all prepare your eggs?  As our chicken population is currently on the upswing, I’m sure we’re going to have more eggs than we know what to do with!   If you get a chance, respond with your favorite egg recipe!

Blueberry farming, Kitty eating and family fun in between

We had a great weekend this weekend!  On Saturday, we got another farm dog this weekend to keep Kya company.  They are already getting along famously and Buddy is helping to teach Kya that he is boss.  Kya has a bit of a nipping problem and I’ve noticed that when she got me a few times, he came over and corrected her before I even had a chance.  Hallelujah!  He came from a very nice family that simply did not have enough room for him in their backyard.  He is smart and kind and we have high hopes for him, although he (insert huge sigh here) seems to have the cat affliction that so many others do despite being raised with a cat….“I just need one taste mom!”

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Despite his kitty addiction, the family that gave him up had a very nice young girl who was very sad to see him go and we promised that we would love him, so we shall.  We’re hoping to take both dogs to the obedience classes that start in a few weeks but we’ll have to see how that works out with Sheldon’s crazy work schedule.  Anyone else out there have successful techniques for teaching outside dogs “no kitties” when it comes to barn cats?

We had a great family day on Sunday starting off our adventures at Promised Land Zoo  and ending it at Tractor Supply.  We’re kind of suckers for finding these “drive through zoos” wherever we live and we are very fortunate that Promised Land seems to do an excellent of caring for both the animals and of the souls of those who come to visit.  Plus, we have been there so many times since moving here that they offered us a break on an annual membership.  Love it!  They have one location in the middle of nowhere (Eagle Rock-shout out!) and a new location in Branson.  If you are planning a family visit to Silver Dollar City or the like this summer, I highly recommend checking them out!

At Tractor Supply, The Blueberry was excited to find so many garden implements her size.  We’re actually planning on her having her very own garden this year.  She’s going to be responsible for tilling, planting, watering, etc.  If I’m behing honest, I have to say that I expect it to look like a hot mess by the end of the summer, but I think involving our kids in growing their own food is a really important part of this journey to get back to nature.  She spent the entire ride to PL Zoo telling us what seeds she needs us to order:

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Plus, in the event that a carrot or strawberry actually makes it through her more than likely haphazard care, I can imagine that she will beam with pride!  She’s already been helping add more hay to the dogs’ training yard and the chicken coop:

yes, that really is a kid sized radio flyer wheelbarrow.  Thanks Tractor Supply!

yes, that really is a kid sized radio flyer wheelbarrow. Thanks Tractor Supply!

Well, it looks like another storm is moving in.  Fluffy Newspaper, our “head” barn cat is running back and forth in front of the kitchen window in between the garage and the barn like he’s on a mission.  I think this unsettled weather has the animals unsettled, so we better get to it.  Hope everyone has a great day.  Happy farming!

Check out some great new posts every Monday at the Homestead Barn Hop!  http://newlifeonahomestead.com

Check out some great new posts every Monday at the Homestead Barn Hop!
http://newlifeonahomestead.com

Cookie day and a lesson on captivity

We have a friend of Sheldon’s staying with us right now as his family makes the move from DFW to this part of the country.  He’s a very nice guy and we’re enjoying his company although The Blueberry is under the impression that we invited him here to be her exclusive entertainment provider.  How do I know?  Well, this was the convo in her bedroom the other night:

“Blueberry-it’s time to get ready for bed.”

“Where are the boys mama?  I want to go hang out with them.”

“Well, Daddy is outside putting up the animals for the night and Mr. C is downstairs.”

“What is Mr. C doing?”

“I don’t know-maybe talking to Mrs. C?  Why?”

“Because I want him up here.”

“Blueberry..he is our guest, not our captive.  We can’t make him do everything we want.  It’s not polite.”

“Captive?  What’s a captive?”

“Well, it’s someone who is held against his will and forced to do what the people holding him want him to do.”

“Mama…I think I’m a captive.”

So, begins day 3 of her captivity because of the ice storm.  It’s not terribly bad here but if I don’t have to take her out on the roads, I just figure why bother.  Sheldon went into work this morning and because we park our cars outside it took no joke-30 minutes of scraping to get all of the ice off his truck.  I think it was between 1-2 inches thick.  That is good times!

To pass the time, we have done some sledding down one of the hills (who needs snow when you have faster ice?!), we’ve played Kinect games and now we’re currently enjoying Mary Poppins…

WP_001884

Someone call Amnesty International…look at the deplorable conditions our captive is facing…

…but in a few minutes we are going to begin making reduced fat oatmeal raisin cookies.  These cookies are one of Sheldon’s very favorite and they always satisfy my need to bake when the weather gets cold like this:

1/4 cup butter, softened

1/4-1/2 cup applesauce (I give a broad range here because you just need to watch your mix.  Start with the smaller measurement and add more if you notice the mix is too dry)

3/4 cup brown sugar, packed

2 eggs

2 teaspoons cinnamon (we are cinnamon junkies in this house)

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 cups uncooked oats

1 1/2 cups AP flour

1 cup raisins

Parts that I have riffed on:

I’ve made these many times omitting the butter completely.  In that case, just increase your applesauce to one cup.  The cookies will have more of a cakelike texture but they are still awesome.

I’ve also substituted 1 cup of dried cherries, dried cranberries, dried blueberries, etc for the raisins

I’ve successfully included chia and/or flax seeds without any complaints from The Blueberry…In fact, I think we’ll be adding 1/4 to 1/2 cup of flax seeds today.  Because I’m adding the flax seeds, I’ve decreased the oats by about 1/2 cup.   If you haven’t yet discovered either of these seeds, I STRONGLY recommend that you check them out.  The health benefits for these seeds are just phenomenal and they can be snuck into all kinds of baked goods.  The chia seeds have a bit of a slimey texture in some wet applications, so I probably wouldn’t add them to eggs, but hiding them in cookies, cakes and crackers-super genius!

Preheat your oven to 350.  Cream together butter and sugar until it looks fluffy.  Beat in eggs one at a time and then add vanilla-this becomes your wet mixture.

That's not dirt on my mixer, I forgot and added the cinnamon early while the mixer was on.  Not. Genius.

That’s not dirt on my mixer, I forgot and added the cinnamon early while the mixer was on. Not. Genius.

In a separate bowl, mix together your flour, salt, baking soda and cinnamon.  Then incorporate this into the wet mixture one cup at a time.  You don’t want to overmix it because flour will begin to form gluten which can make cookies a bit too tough.

Once your flour mixture is in, mix in your oats and dried fruit by hand until incorporated.  I then use the 2 spoon method to drop them on to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or silpat.

I like big cookies and I cannot lie..

I like big cookies and I cannot lie..

They don’t spread out, so pretty much how you plop them onto your sheet is how they come out.  Bake for 8-12 minutes depending on oven.  If you omit the butter, they won’t get terribly brown, so try a small first batch to see how long you really need to cook.  Let cool on a rack and then stuff them in your face.

nom nom nom nom

nom nom nom nom

According to Calorie Count, it’s about 41 calories per cookie with sugars and fats both under 9 grams respectively (fat under 2 grams)  Adding in the flax seeds adds some fat but it also adds a very nice amount of protein and fiber, so while it is not quite like eating a celery stick,  it’s still healthier than eating a full fat cookie.  At any rate, I can’t blog any more because I need both hands free to shove em in.  Happy baking!

Baby its cold outside

Not much to say but holy smokes I’m cold. We’ve had some snow but mostly freezing rain as you can see by the pic. I wish it was fluffy snow but alas, its just all frozen precip but all bipeds and quadrupeds both inside and out are happy and warm.

A Liebster Award? But, I don’t know 11 people!

You ever heard of this-the Liebster Award?  Well, I hadn’t heard of it until recently, but I’m so charmed by the fact that Eileen over at Simply Homesteading nominated me for this award.  Thanks girl!

While I was waiting by the door for my cash like prizes to arrive, I jumped on The Bing to read a little more about the Liebster Award.  Basically, liebster is a German word meaning darling or sweetheart…so one can easily extrapolate that this is a nice recognition to help give care and attention to fledgling bloggers.   Eileen blogs on it much more eloquently, but I’ll sum up instead: it’s the blogging world’s version of a chain letter, except it’s with the best of intentions.  So, without further ado, allow me to get on with this!

My 11 random facts:

1) I have to sleep in a neat bed.  I often make it again right before getting into it.

2) I have a class M drivers license.

3) I am OCD about my eye brows.  They. Must. Be. Neat. At. All. Times.

4) I loathe putting away laundry.  Like, I’d rather bathe a plague ridden leper with scabies (no offense if that is part of my readership) than put away laundry.

5) I adore The Blueberry, but sitting at her karate lessons (as I am right now) bores the ever living poop out of me.

6) I hate talking on the phone unless I’m being paid for it.  No, not like a 976 operator.  My day job involves consulting on the phone and via web.  I love doing that.  But sit on a phone saying nothing, I’d rather do number 4.

7) I have inadvertently taught my child the art of deal making because she tries to negotiate for everything.  Sheldon is afraid that she is going to grow up and be in sales.  I think worse things could happen.

8) When I was a little Shellie, I dreamed of being an Astronaut.

9) I cannot make an Apple Crumble to save my life, despite many many many efforts.

10) It’s been on my short list to go back to school and get my Masters for like 10 years.  Needless to say, it’s a long short list.

11) I have a significant bug phobia.  Like screaming, yelling, run away run away phobia.  Yeah, I know I live in the country.  Life is full of little ironies like this.

Ok, now here are my answers to the questions given to me:

  • What color shirt are you wearing right now?  Black, but technically I was wearing purple when I first read this.  Did I get this one right?
  • What is your favorite day of the week and why?  Friday night because it’s family movie/mommy wine night!
  • If you could do without one piece of electrical equipment what would it be?  My smart phone.  I have been known to be standing out in a field looking something up…not easy to do with even a tablet.
  • What would your perfect yearly weather be?  Oh my-I love all seasons.  Fall and Winter are my favs.  We live in a moderate climate here in Missouri, so I’m good with all!
  • If you had unlimited acres, unlimited money, how many different kinds of animals would you have?  Hmm..I don’t have a good answer to this bc we have enough acreage to have what I would want.
  • How many photos of family do you have up in your house?  Uh, I don’t know…some?  More than 3, less than 20?
  • How many hours a day are you on the computer? Be honest!  Well, during my “work days”, it’s close to 8.  During “Mommy Fun Days” and weekends, it’s closer to an average of 1 or less.
  • If you had unlimited money what charity would you support?  Hmm..I struggle with this one too because I think people can always give to charity even if it’s just time, extra stuff or good press.  We typically support the churches that we like, a local homeless shelter by the name of Souls Harbor in Rogers, AR and various womens shelters and pet rescues.
  • How many hours of sleep do you get?  Ugh.  5-7 at best.
  • What one chore would you never do again if someone else were to do it exactly as you do?  Dishes.  Laundry.  Cleaning the litter boxes.
  • What is your favorite store to shop at?  What’s shopping?  Seriously-I do most shopping on line.  Does Amazon count as a store?

Ok, so if I have the drill right, from this point, I’m supposed to select 11 other bloggers (with less than 200 followers) who blog in the same type of areas as us to nominate for the Liebster Award thereby continuing to spread the love and traffic with other bloggers.  Alas, this is my challenge.  This blog is literally minutes old.  I think the ink is still drying on my domain agreement.  So, we’re still getting to know the other bloggers out there.  In addition, because our lives are dual (like so so many of you), I blog both about homesteading and work stuff.  As a result, I’m going to break with tradition a bit and just give you some other blogs that I think you should look at because I think these folks are awesome and they deserve the recognition.  She’s not on the list, but I like her blog, so check out Simply Homesteading too please!  And if these folks feel like it, here are my 11 questions that I would be curious about:

1) Are you a country or city homesteader?

2) Why do you do it-the homestead/farming/back to basics life?

3) If you could go back in time a year, what would you change?

4) If you could have any super power, what would it be?

5) Imagine it’s your last meal on earth…what would you have?

6) What do you wish someone else could teach you?

7) What do you take in your coffee?  Sugar?  Cream?  Baileys?  (Yes to all three for me in case you were wondering)

8) If you could visit any country, where would you go and why?

9) Last thing you learned that you were afraid to learn

10) Do you shout out the answers to Jeopardy questions like me?

11) What’s your secret vice?  I don’t mean vice vice people.  This is a nice girl blog.  I mean like cookies.  Sheesh.

Ok, that’s it!  Without further ado here is my list of people that I just think you should check out because their content and writing is worth it:

1) My Eclectic Life  Excellent blog on lots of topics.  Duh-the name?

2) Burleigh’s Waiting  This is the story of one of my new favorite families and their journey to adoption from outside the US.

3) The gorgeous food porn of my pal Lisa at What Lolita Eats

4) The work seriousness from a seriously awesome lady at Pamela K Henry & Associates because just like me, this blog isn’t only about homesteading.

5) The Dad point of view at Homestead Dad.

6) Simply because one of the first things I read on this blog was about her dog peeing on kale, I must also say The Yellow House.

7) Because she’s a Missouri girl too, check out Wolfwoods

And while I could pick some others, I am struggling with coming up with more blogs because as my title alludes, this blog is like 2 minutes old.  But check back later and I will be able to sing the praises of even more folks.  Ok, that’s it!  Don’t wait at the door for your prize money-it ain’t coming.  But do think about spreading the word on the blog-o-sphere and help other bloggers be found!