December 22, 2010

Christmas Goodie Baking

I think I am finally done with any and all of the Christmas goodie baking I am going to do!  I have been baking for a week, and if what there is, isn't enough.....I'll just simply have to start earlier next year.  We send gift packages to family living in other states, so baking has to start in time to get them sent out in time for Christmas.  Plus....this year, I had a fun, FUN time with my daughter in law and grandson last Saturday, baking.  Their family moved down here earlier this year, and this is the first time ever we have been able to create such a memory at Christmas!  We baked all day, the children played, cut out cookies, played, frosted and decorated cookies, and made a huge, wonderful mess that I would clean up many times over in order to enjoy such a wonderful day.

Up to this evening the baking list includes, Amish Pumpkin Fudge (the best I've ever tasted), several different barks.....Pecan, Cherry Vanilla, Dark Chocolate Mint and I still may yet make a Butterscotch bark (thank you Pam for the wonderful recipes, they are delicious!), Lemon Poppy Seed bread, Chocolate covered Ritz filled with peanut butter, Pumpkin bread, Strawberry filled Thumbprint cookies, 7 Layer Bars, Christmas cut out sugar cookies, Chocolate covered pretzels....that's all I can remember....I wanted to also make Snowball cookies and Forgotten cookies, but I just don't know if I have any more baking in me!  If anyone is interested in my dear friend Pam's recipes.....go to her incredible My Favorite Recipes Blog where you will really enjoy her recipes, tips and overall down home goodness!

Tomorrow the real cooking begins with three family events to cook for.  Next week.........left overs!

How about you?  What have you made and/or still plan on baking?  Be sure and share links to your recipes please!

Sweetened Condensed Milk

Since I don't normally keep sweetened condensed milk in my pantry, the few small cans I bought for Christmas baking went too quickly.  Thankfully, I was able to find my grandmothers homemade recipe for it and wanted to share it with you in case you run out too soon while baking!

Sweetened Condensed Milk

1 cup dry nonfat milk

2/3 cup sugar

1/3 cup boiling water

3 Tablespoons butter

In blender, place dry ingredients first, then add butter and finally the boiling water.  Blend until smooth.  This will keep well in refrigerator for 5 days.

December 21, 2010

Encouraging 2011 Predictions

With all of the problems our world is facing, it can be unsettling to the mind.  Today I will share with you ten predictions that are true!

Top 10 Predictions for 2011 
       1. The Bible will still have all the answers.
       2. Prayer will still be the most powerful thing on Earth..
       3. The Holy Spirit will still move.
       4. God will still honor the praises of His people.
       5. There will still be God-anointed preaching.
       6. There will still be singing of praise to God.
       7. God will still pour out blessings upon His people.
       8. There will still be room at the Cross.
       9. Jesus will still love you.
     10. Jesus will still save the lost when they come to Him.   

          Isn't it great to remember who is really in control,
         and that; "the Word of the Lord endures forever."  
                                                ( 1 Peter 1:25 )

December 14, 2010

Raw Milk

Obtaining raw milk seems to be getting harder and harder.  I didn't even know it was possible here in Missouri unless you were friends with a dairyman or if you happened to stumble across some at a Farmer's Market before the government scared off all the farmers.  In Wisconsin, if you live outside of the city limits, you are more than likely going to have a neighbor that will provide you with plenty of raw milk.  Every time they milk, there is so much milk that they pour pails of it into tubs to feed their surplus of barn cats.  The farms I knew always had an average of 20 cats or so.  Needless to say, my hope of finding raw milk here in Missouri has all but been abandoned until today!  A friend of mine mentioned a website that has began a campaign for Real Milk.  There is an abundance of information on this site including the pros and cons of raw milk and you can look by state and city at your local farmers that offer raw milk.  Unless you've been under a rock, you

December 12, 2010

The Little Drummer Boy

Finally!  A true dusting of snow.  Don't ever say I'm not easily pleased!  The north winds blew in last night and gave us a small glimpse of what winter could be like.  Of course it isn't anything in comparison to the blizzard of 2010 that took place last night in Minnesota and Wisconsin.  My son reported being snowed in around 8 o'clock last evening and as I write, it is 2 degrees there now with a wind chill of minus 14 threatening to sink to a minus 20 or a minus 30 before the night is over.  After living up there for 9 years, I sure don't miss that wind.  I do miss the snows and that's why I can be pleased with the teeniest tiniest wisp of snow here.  Nothing like waking up to a crisp clean snow with the sharp red cardinals at the feeders. 

This morning was our Christmas program at church and the choir really outdid themselves this year.  During the singing of The Little Drummer Boy, a group of young men came in with many different types of drums and gave quite a performance.  It was very moving.  It reminds me that even little ole' me has something to give, no matter how small and that I should do all I can to the glory of the Lord.  I'm not even a little drummer boy, but I rock the cradle of the future and believe me when I tell you that I do not take that responsibility lightly.  As a mother, a wife, a daughter, a cousin, a niece, a friend......I struggle daily to live, listen, teach, guide, speak, encourage and praise with love.  It is my calling, and as glorious as the drummer boys sounded this morning, they were giving all they could with what little they had, so with what little I have, I too want to sound glorious to the Lord in every word and deed to the family and friends and everyone else that God has brought into my life.

I pray that you will experience the blessing of God this Christmas season, enjoying family and friends as we celebrate the greatest gift of all, Jesus Christ.

December 05, 2010

Bread Making with Amish Friends

Recently my daughter and I were invited to an Amish friends home in order to get a copy of their wonderful bread recipe.  Boy were we in for a few lessons!  Nothing more humbling as an "Englischer" than to learn how to do things from someone who is completely self sufficient!  When I was asked what I cook with, I replied "an electric stove".  Response?  "Tsk tsk tsk".  :o) 

When we first arrived, we sat down while she wrote out the recipe. The plainness of the home was overwhelmingly peaceful and extremely clean with fresh white paint.  She asked me how I got my yeast, in packets or in a bag.  Since I usually get it in a jar and she had never seen

November 26, 2010

German Shepherds ... Our Faithful Companions

In order to share a little bit about our family to those of you that are getting to know us, we are a German Shepherd family.  If you have ever been brave enough to exit your vehicle in our driveway, you are one of the few!  If you haven't been to visit us yet, I feel that it is my responsibility to give you this information, lol.  If you call ahead, we will make sure you are free to get out of your vehicle.  Otherwise, they may keep you detained until we can rescue you.   

The female pictured here is the daughter of our treasured "Daddy" who sadly enough, passed away this year after many years of faithful companionship to our family.  Currently, we have five Shepherds.  Yes, five.  This is not a typo!  We began with one and that

November 16, 2010

Harvest Chicken Noodle Soup

This is one of my favorite recipes during this season and throughout winter.  It is a great way to use cold crop produce and fresh herbs for the garden or greenhouse.  Perfect for a cozy evening against the damp cold!   I am listing the conventional ingredients, but in the directions I will explain how I make it since I use what I have on hand and use as many fresh ingredients as possible.  I try to cook completely without preserved items from stores, keeping as true to the earth as possible and as close to the food as God created it.  In todays times, this isn’t always easy and I find it to be a constant learning process.

1 Tbsp Butter (use the real stuff, make your own or support your local dairy farmer)
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
4 (14.5 ounce) cans chicken broth
1 (14.5 ounce) can vegetable broth
1/2 pound chopped cooked chicken breast
1 1/2 cups egg noodles
1 cup sliced carrots
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot (my pot is a 6 quart pot) over medium heat, melt butter.  Cook onion and celery in butter until just tender, 5 minutes.

Pour in chicken and vegetable broths.  The best and cheapest broths to use are those that you save from cooking your own vegetables and chicken.  I always strain and freeze all left over liquid for soup making.  Thaw the broth and pour into pot until the pot is about 3/4 full.

Stir in chicken, noodles, carrots, basil, oregano, salt and pepper.  Since I do not own a noodle maker and my hands do not allow me to roll out my own noodles, I purchase freshly homemade noodles from my Amish neighbors.  You can use any noodles that you prefer.

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes before serving.

~ I will usually add more ingredients by doubling the vegetables, chicken and herbs to make a heartier soup.

November 06, 2010

Ozark Treasures

Recently, my husband and I were making plans about how to celebrate our anniversary when I ran across a blog post by another Ozark Homesteader about her latest visit to a very interesting place called the Ozark Folk Center.  We had decided that we wanted to take a wandering drive for photography purposes, but to also have a specific destination in mind, we just couldn't decide what that destination would be until I came across her post.  Even though my husband and I have lived in the Ozarks for a combined total of 55 years, neither one of us had ever heard of this place.  It's not that they are trying to keep it a secret, but like much hidden in these mountains, Branson tends to get most of the publicity and quite frankly, Branson has gotten a bit too big for it's britches if you ask us.  We prefer the smaller, hidden treasures the Ozarks has to offer, especially anywhere that has genuine, traditional Ozark folk culture including our rich mountain music heritage.

We had a beautiful drive through the mountains that were at their peak of fall color except this year's peak wasn't the finest I've ever seen here, but still, the views were beautiful.  We traveled through some great towns, one worth mentioning is Calico Rock.
This historic, quaint town sets right on the White River, in the heart of the most scenic locations with some of the best hunting, fishing and wildlife in the world.  There is no flashing lights, no stop lights,

October 24, 2010

Autumn Harvest in Amish Country

Nothing says Autumn more than an Amish wagon loaded down with the fall bounty of pumpkins, squash and gourds, a crisp wind and the crisp autumn leaves falling .  The harvest has been tremendous and the local Amish wagons are a testimony to that.  We are truly blessed to live in an area where we can learn so much from our wonderful neighbors.  They know the true meaning of heirloom seeds and how to grow just about anything.

October 19, 2010

Thanksgiving Turkey

If you happen to be in our neck of the woods, and stop by for a visit, this fella might be the first one to greet you!  Meet "Supper", our pet turkey, watchdog, king of the hill and comedian.  He is a Blue Slate Turkey and he is a lot of fun......usually.  Last year, when we got a few chickens, I never thought about ever obtaining an actual turkey. 

October 12, 2010

Autumn in the Ozark Mountains

Autumn in the Ozarks has begun.  This is a picture taking a turn out of our place.  Temperatures are reaching the high 70's and lower 80's during the day with a gentle breeze, strong enough to begin to blow the leaves around that have started to fall from the trees.  The nights are staying around the low 50's even though we had a real good threat of frost last week that didn't really amount to much.  
We are attempting to pick the last apples from the trees in whatever way we can reach them, which can be pretty creative at times and between trying to catch them and getting hit from them, we all get to laughing pretty good.  I don't know how many more apples I can stand to peel and I can't help but wonder if we won't be growing tired of apples by spring.  At this rate, I might still have apples by next year's harvest!  Probably not, but I really

October 07, 2010

Autumn Pumpkin Pie made with Heirloom Banana Squash

This year has been full of exciting discoveries in the garden and in the kitchen.  Has anyone ever heard of Heirloom Jumbo Pink Banana Squash?  I never had before this year and what a delightful find!  They are extremely easy to process for fresh use in any pumpkin recipe or to store in your freezer and the result is a much sweeter, smoother and lighter squash than pumpkin.  One squash goes a long way too.  This one I worked up today measured 24" long, I'm not sure how much it weighed but they can weigh from 10 to 40 pounds.

Simply begin by cutting the squash into lengths and then slice each of the lengths in half.

Scoop out the seeds and membranes.  In order to save the seeds to grow your own Jumbo Pink Banana Squash, wash the seeds with water in a strainer and spread out on a sheet of wax paper to dry.  Let the seeds dry in a cool, dry location for about a week before storing.

Place halves, cut side down, on foil lined baking sheet.  Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes or until you are able to easily pierce the outside with a fork.  Take them out of the oven and let them cool.  Thursdays are baking days for me, and to save some time, sometimes I'll bake these up the night before and after they cool, put them in the fridge until the next morning.  

After the squash has cooled, simply scoop the insides into the food processor and blend until creamy.  I blend three to four halves at a time.  At this point, you can either spoon the squash into freezer bags or use immediately in any recipe that calls for pumpkin or squash.  Today I spooned it into a big tupperware container, used 4 cups of it for pies and put the rest of it into the fridge.  I couldn't even tell I had used any from the container, that's how much of it one squash will make.  No more buying canned pumpkin at the store, using it, eating it and then hearing on the news that there has been a recall!  Here is the Pumpkin Pie recipe I use and let me tell you that it is scrumptious!  The secret is the maple syrup!

Pumpkin Pie made with Banana Squash

  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups of squash (or one 15 oz. can of pumpkin)
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt 
In a large bowl, combine all ingredients; beat until smooth and pour into the crust.

Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes.  Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for 45 - 50 minutes longer or until crust is golden brown and top of the pie is set.  Test for doneness by inserting a knife into the pie, if the knife comes out clean, it's done.  Cool on a wire rack for 1 hour.

Now I'm sure someone else can make a prettier pie than this one, my disposable pie pan wasn't big enough for this recipe as you can see, I filled it too full.  Just know that the recipe is more than plenty for a good deep pie.  Another nice touch to this pie, which I didn't do, is to add Maple Whipped Cream on top of it.

Maple Whipped Cream  (Very Good!)
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 Tablespoons confectioners sugar
1 Tablespoon maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Beat all ingredients until stiff peaks form.  Spoon onto pie and enjoy!

Everyone be sure and let me know how you like the recipe!!

October 05, 2010

Preserving the Apple Harvest

The good Lord has truly blessed us with an abundant apple harvest here in the Ozarks this year.  We have been picking apples for several weeks and there is still another few weeks of harvesting to go.

One of the best things I have been taught about preserving apples, is to simply cook them down and can them to keep for any other recipe I might use them for.  Instead of taking the time to make applesauce, apple butter, apple juice or apple cider when the apples are falling off the trees, I quickly can them up for whatever I choose to do with them after the snow flies.

These apples were not sprayed and aren't the prettiest looking apples I've seen.  In fact I sure wouldn't have paid money for them and

I questioned if it was even worth my time to work them up.  As you can see, they are covered in spots.  I was sure pleased to see the beautiful jars of golden apples when I was done with the first batch.  They were a sight to behold considering my doubts to begin with.  It made me think about what my life looked like before God began His process in me.  My life sure wasn't pretty, in fact it seemed to be one big black spot, but God cared enough to pick me up off the ground and work with me, processing me through sanctification into something that He can use for His glory.  I may not be as pretty yet, as the beautiful jar of golden apples, but I sure feel like it these days!  

I need to quickly add a thank you to my dear mother in law for giving me a wonderful ceramic knife for my latest birthday that came with a terrific peeler which will quickly whip around an apple creating one long peel.  Without it, I wouldn't be getting so many apples worked up as I have, however, as many apples as I've worked with this year, an actual apple peeler will be on my gift list for next year!

Preserving Apples 

Begin by filling a large bowl about half to two-thirds full of water and then mix in a few swigs (1/4 cup) of lemon juice.  This is what you will slice your apples into in order to keep them from turning brown while you work up enough apples to cook.

Then peel, core and slice the apples putting them right into your bowl of lemon water.  About this time, I load my jars into the dishwasher to sterilize.  If you hot water bath your jars, a good time to do that would be while the apples are cooking down.  I place the lids in a small saucepan of boiling water when the apples are almost ready, to sterilize them.

Slice enough apples to fill your biggest pot with.  Put the slices in the pot and then depending on the size of your pot, pour in one to two cups of water.  The water is simply to keep the apples on the bottom from burning before the apples release their own juices.  The pot I use is only a 20 quart pot, which I fill to the top and add 1 1/2 cups of water to it.  *Update Option:  Use apple juice in place of water*   Place the pot on medium low heat and allow to simmer until you are able to pierce the apples with a fork.  It doesn't take very long, maybe 15 to 20 minutes or less depending on the size and thickness of your pot.

When filling up the jars with the apple slices, I try to get as many slices into the jars with as little liquid as possible and then pour the liquid over the slices.  Leave 1/4" head space, wipe the tops of the jars clean and put on the lids.  Process according to your canner's instructions.

Happy canning!  Please let me know if you have any questions! 


October 03, 2010

Homesteading with Chickens

Getting chickens for the homestead last summer was one of the best choices we have ever made.  We began with five full grown chickens, which slowly became more than a dozen (and a guinea) because we had so much fun with them.  Yes, they are messy and can be extra work, but they are very enjoyable and worth their weight in gold.  We have struggled with sickness, cold temps and hawks and we cry when we lose one, however, the good really outweighs the bad.  To say the least, our first winter with chickens was a real learning experience.  When spring came, we felt more confident with what we were

September 25, 2010

Sweet Pepper Salsa

Anxious to pickle up the banana peppers, I began the process eagerly.  After an unwise choice of not wearing gloves when cutting up some hot peppers several years ago, I am very careful to slip them on even for jalapenos.  Did I consider wearing them for the banana peppers?  Yes I did, however, how hot can banana peppers be?  

After slicing 3 quarts of them, my hands began to feel very warm.  I touched one of my fingers to my tongue (quick test to determine pepper heat, not exactly the smartest way)  and wow, I knew I was in trouble.  The rest of the evening was spent attempting to remove the heat from my fingertips and scolding myself for not using a little more

September 22, 2010

Championship Bareback Riding

Here in the Ozarks, as in the rest of the world, we treasure our horses and those who have created a unique bond with them that can be seen when they ride.  This video demonstrates that very thing and is also quite a tribute from this young lady to her father who had recently passed away.  This is for all of my horse loving friends, family and the girls in the local 4-H horse club, you know who you are!    Enjoy!

September 21, 2010

Secret Gift and the Coming of Autumn's Harvest

After a few weeks of wandering off to secretly work in the shop, my dear husband presented me with this today!  He is so clever and I am very pleased with it!  After weeks of getting back into the swing of homeschooling, and the weather not being able to decide if it's autumn or summer, my temperament has been showing wear.  This time of year seems to be the busiest with the blessing of a good harvest, there

September 15, 2010

Summer Squash Bug Trouble

Has everyone had as much trouble with these squash bugs as I have this year?  I have never, ever let a crop go because I couldn't keep up, but this year, I met my match with these two insects.  Last year I only mixed up three bottles of organic dish soap and water throughout the entire growing season.  This year, I was using almost two bottles a day!  Then the continuous heat of July came where the temperatures were over 100 degrees every day.  Now if anyone is familiar with southern Missouri, July also means extreme humidity.  This form of

September 09, 2010

Lost Duck

It has been a very interesting week.  Tuesday evening we discovered our female duck was missing.  See, I'm pretty partial to my ducks.  We have a mated Mallard pair that we got from the local farm store just before Easter.  They were the last two ducklings for sale, and as ducklings, you can't tell which is a boy and which is a girl.  We waited patiently for over 10 weeks to discover which they were.  Easter time was still pretty

September 05, 2010

Harvest Festival

Today was the first Harvest Festival of the season and what a beautiful day it was here in the Ozarks.  Blue sky, mild temperatures, a cool breeze every now and then, good southern bluegrass music and friendly faces, what more could one ask for today?  Nothing, that's what.  After a wonderful morning with a great lesson from Ephesians 4:31-32, we headed for the rolling hills of Wright County.  Great finds were to be

September 02, 2010

Baking Day

It is so nice to come to the end of a long day of baking, however, I tried several new recipes today and they are all scrumptious!  It's too bad that we were only able to taste the small crumbs that aren't going to the Amish auction tomorrow.  We tried a wonderful new recipe for Cinnamon Swirl Bread that was extremely easy.  Toss all the

August 29, 2010

Heirloom Tomatoes

Candy Stripe Heirloom Tomato

Since discovering heirloom vegetables, I have learned so much about obtaining, growing and saving these precious seeds.  One learns about the history of each heirloom and where they have come from, and that many of them have been passed down for centuries.  They have been handed down, through generations of farmers and gardeners, from one

August 25, 2010

Harvesting in the Ozarks

School has finally started, the winds have cooled and the baskets of produce are overflowing.  The past few weeks have been brutally HOT, which caused us to have to water early every morning.  We are ever so grateful for the cooler temps!  To give you an idea of where our garden began this spring, I must start with telling you how much work it takes

August 17, 2010

Getting Started in Homeschooling (free e-book) - Simply Charlotte Mason

Getting Started in Homeschooling (free e-book) - Simply Charlotte Mason

Here is something I found this morning that could be very helpful to all of those who have had it with the public school option. Homeschooling is more simple than you think it is and you are truly more capable than you believe you are. There are thousands of helpful things like this out there and here locally there is an informational meeting at the local library once a month for those thinking about homeschooling and wanting to learn more about it. We also have a wonderful Yahoo homeschool group that joins all of the hundreds of local homeschoolers, together. This generation is the generation of knowledge and information, do not limit your children, teach them yourself!

August 11, 2010

Canning Salsa

Determined to can some homemade salsa this year, I grew eight different kinds of peppers in our garden along with onions and 12 different kinds of tomatoes.  Finally the tomatoes, peppers and onions are ready.  After searching all last summer for my special salsa recipe I broke down and began to search the internet for a good one since time is a wasting with all this nice produce ready to go.  After digging

August 10, 2010

Another Hot August Day in the Ozarks

Today was too unbearable to go outside.  The temperature was up over 100 degrees and the humidity made it hard to breathe.  Even inside the house it was too warm for canning the beautiful tomatoes that wait on our counter.  Having picked a mess of gorgeous heirloom tomatoes, I had planned to pick enough peppers to


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