Monday, July 30, 2012

Burgers and Fries - Homestead Style

A few days ago, my family butchered a steer. Summer isn't normally the time to do butchering but we were out of beef, so we (my parents, brothers, sisters, and their spouses) went ahead and did it.

We are rather new to beef butchering; this was only the fourth we have done. It took much longer to cut up the meat than we expected but it went well. The meat had been hanging for a week in the cooler. Maybe someday it will go as quickly and smoothly as hog butchering.

We saved the ground beef for the next day. It was nice to split up the project.

After grinding the meat twice...

most of the ground meat was bagged (this photo only shows a fraction)...

but some was made into burgers and vacuum packed.

That night, my brother and his wife invited us over to their house for a cook-out.

Fresh burgers with all the fixins - including vine ripened tomatoes - delicious!

Also that week my parents had dug their potatoes and got a terrific crop.

They cut up a bunch of potatoes...

and my brother made them into homemade fries.

Brown paper on the tables,

piles of greasy fries and burgers,

washed down with a homegrown watermelon and sweet tea -

a satisfying reward to an exhausting project!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Zucchini and Rice in a Pot

In the summer, my normally simple menus become even simpler. My favorite meals are those that can be cooked in one pot. This one passes the test of simplicity AND the children's taste buds. Plus another way to use all my zucchini!

Zucchini and Rice in a Pot

1 lb ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 cup chopped carrots
1/2 cup brown rice
1 cup water
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp pepper
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
4 cups chopped zucchini

In large pot, brown beef, onion, and pepper. Add carrots, rice, water, and seasonings. Simmer for 30 minutes. Add zucchini. Do not stir. Simmer for another 30 minutes. Serve with chopped tomatoes.

Add salsa for some spice.
Tomatoes can be added at the beginning and cooked all together.
If using white rice, cooking time can be decreased to about 30 minutes and zucchini added at the beginning of the cooking time.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Bleanies - Zucchini Potato Patties

My friend Karen shared this Polish recipe with me. The original recipe used only potatoes, but it is great way to use zucchini. My children actually ask for this recipe! Maybe it is the fun name!

Bleanies or Zucchini Potato Patties

1 1/2 cup shredded zucchini
1 1/2 cup peeled shredded potato
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup flour
1 tsp parsley
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
3 eggs, slightly beaten

Toss together zucchini, potato, onion, and flour. Stir in remaining ingredients. Heat small amount of oil in skillet. Drop  mixture into skillet to form patties. Fry both sides until golden.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Spaghetti Zucchini

With my zucchini plants producing hyperactively, I'm looking for ways to incorporate zucchini into our menus.  I could eat zucchini crust pizza several times a week but my children would complain. This recipe, shared by a friend, was a simple and yummy main dish. I like that the zucchini takes the place of the pasta.

Spaghetti Zucchini

4 cup shredded zucchini
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 green pepper, chopped
1 lb ground beef
1 cup spaghetti sauce
2 cup mozzarella cheese

Brown ground beef with onion and peppers. Mix everything but mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle mozzarella on top and bake at 350 for 50 minutes.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Corn Day

This week, most of my family got together to do corn.

A friend lent us their corn silker. The youngest children could push the corn into the silker. It saved an immense amount of time.

 To keep the heat out of the kitchen, we cooked the corn outdoors. The corn was placed in an old pillowcase...

  cooked in an iron kettle over a propane stove...

then cooled in a tub of water.

A big project is always more fun when it is shared.

Thursday, July 19, 2012


The delights of summer... 

 Zucchini going bonkers. I planted four plants expecting to lose some - but they are all growing like crazy. 

This is today's zucchini harvest. There will be more tomorrow. Anyone want zukes?

The storm yesterday brought little rain but lots of wind and blew down some of the corn. Do you think it will survive?

Sourdough pizza crust topped with zucchini, peppers, and our first tomato. Yum!

The chicks delight in an old broccoli plant. If only they liked to eat weeds, we could clean up our garden.

The children have been pretending to sail a boat. An upturned bench, stick, old shirt, and, of course, a map is all that is needed to sail the far seas in their imaginations.

The younger two had to join in by transforming the picnic table into their pleasure boat.

Good food, fun times - does it get any better than summer?

Monday, July 16, 2012

First Corn

The first corn picked from our garden.

Does summer get any better than this?

Friday, July 13, 2012

Freedom Ranger Chicks at Two Weeks

Our Freedom Ranger chicks from Freedom Ranger Hatchery are now two weeks old.

We have not lost any of them and they are all healthy and active.

In fact, they are so lively that it was hard to take their photo. They wouldn't stop for even a second.

I've been feeding them some old lettuce from the garden. The children say they act like it is candy. They come running as soon as we throw it in their pen.

The chicks tear off pieces and run into the corners to eat it.

In a few minutes, the lettuce is all consumed.

It has been nice having chicks in the summer. We have had hot weather and have only been turning on the heat lamp at night when it drops to 70 degrees. Now that they are starting to feather out, we have stopped using the light at night all together.

We are hoping to move them out to a moveable pen on pasture in a week or two.

Those of you who pasture meat chickens, at what age do you put your chicks outside?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Rhubarb Coffee Cake - or other Fruit

I loved reading through all your ideas for rhubarb! I'm printing off your recipes to add to my seasonal recipe binder.

One reader mentioned the Big Crumb Coffee Cake from Smitten Kitchen. I was actually planning to share the recipe with my adaptions.

Not that the original was not good. It was wonderful! But I'm always changing a recipe in some way. I wanted to make it larger; a 9x9 pan doesn't last long at my house. I hate messing with dividing eggs so I omitted the egg yoke. The huge amount of crumb topping tasted wonderful but I wanted to make it a bit healthier so I used the amount of crumbs for a small pan to cover a larger pan. We still think it tastes great!

Maybe next I'll try adapting some healthier sweetener alternatives and whole wheat flour!

Don't like rhubarb? Just substitute another fruit. If your fruit is sweet, cut back in the sugar in the filling. I made blueberry coffee cake with no added sugar in the filling.

Coffee Cake with Rhubarb (or other fruit)
(adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

For the rhubarb filling:
1 pound rhubarb, sliced into 1/2 inch pieces (or other fruit, about 4 cups)
1/2 cup sugar, omit if your fruit is sweet
4 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon ground ginger

For the crumbs:
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
1 3/4 cups flour 

For the cake:

12 tablespoons softened butter

1 cup sugar
1 cup sour cream (I used my homemade plain yogurt)
3 eggs
4 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cup flour 
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

For filling, toss fruit with sugar, cornstarch and ginger. Set aside.

To make crumbs, combine all ingredients. Set aside.

To prepare cake, cream together sugar and butter. Mix in eggs and sour cream. Add remaining ingredients and mix.

Spoon 3/4 of batter into greased 9x12 pan. Spoon fruit over batter. Dollop remaining batter over fruit. Sprinkle crumbs over the top. 

Bake at 325 for 45 minutes. Eat warm or cold. The leftovers are great for breakfast!


Monday, July 9, 2012

Question: Rhubarb Recipes

Last year I planted a rhubarb plant. It started as a just a little root. I am amazed at how large it is one year later.

Rhubarb is a large leafy green plant. It looks attractive enough that I think I could plant it in my flower bed, but my plant is beside my asparagus patch. 

Rhubarb could not be easier to grow. It is a perennial (which means it will come back year after year.) As far as I know, rhubarb has no pests. I guess the critters know that the leaves are poisonous.

The pink stems of the rhubarb are what you eat. Some people call it the pie plant. It is excellent in pies and cobblers. Rhubarb has a tart flavor that combines well with other fruits.

I've been picking a little rhubarb this year. We've enjoyed strawberry rhubarb pie and rhubarb coffee cake. I don't want to pick it too hard this year since it is a young plant, but I'd like to start collecting recipes for rhubarb.

Do you grow rhubarb? Do you have a favorite rhubarb recipe?

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Free Book- From Streetlights to Stars

Remember the book giveaway of the book From Streetlights to Stars?

From now until July 16, the Kindle version of the book is free on Amazon.

Yes, free.

Enjoy learning how God led one family from the city to a rural Mennonite community - without paying a cent.

Go here to find out more.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Making Lavender Infused Oil

My mom shared with me directions on how to make lavender infused oil. Since my lavender plant was blooming like crazy and the directions couldn't have been easier, I decided to try it.

I first filled a jar with lavender flowers. Then I poured olive oil over the flowers until they were covered. After tightly sealing the jar (I placed a piece of plastic wrap over the top then screwed on the lid) I placed the jar on a sunny windowsill.

I planned to leave the jar there for 2-6 days, shaking the jar every day, but to be honest, I completely forgot about the jar. A week and a half later, I poured the contents out of the jar into a sieve. Using a spoon, I squeezed as much oil out of the flowers as possible. 

If I wished, I could have put fresh lavender blooms into the oil and repeated the process to infuse more fragrance into the oil but this oil has a lot of fragrance already.

What do I plan to do with my lavender oil?

I'm eager to try using it as a massage oil. (Anniversary coming soon!) I'm also guessing it will work well in my homemade lotion.

Simple, green, frugal - my kind of project!

Note: This lavender infused oil is not to be confused with lavender essential oil which is made by a distilling process.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Stop and Pick a Flower

One of the joys of summer is the flowers.  If I only take the time to walk out with a pair of scissors, God's beautiful creation gives abundant bouquets.  The above arrangement includes blue larkspur, shasta daisies, coral bells, heleopsis, pink yarrow, and feverfew.

This bouquet includes monarda, Russian sage, mint, shasta daisies, oregano, and yarrow. 

All these flowers are easy to grow (they have to be to survive my neglect) and most are perennials and return  year after year with little care. 

What is your favorite cut flower?


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