Wednesday, May 29, 2013

How many posts....

...can I post in one day?

As many as I want!!! It's freaking 80 degrees outside, people, I am NOT going out there...

My girlfriend has a blog and it's so exciting to me!!! She has stayed away from facebook (which is my main source of communication in the last 4 years and we haven't seen each other much in those years, boo). She's a writer and I have ALWAYS loved her writing AND her stories because she has millions. Her kids? Literally the most psyco, yet adorable and sweet children you could ever meet. They have story after story of insane things that happen to them not to mention the countless ER visits to go with those stories. She's the sort of person that when she tells you a story you laugh your freaking butt off and tell her she MUST write it down. She finally has started and it makes me so happy! She even wrote a novel called, Mother Mona, about a woman who travels to remote Alaska to care for her daughter while she is pregnant and has a disease called Preeclampsia. I haven't read it. I'm not a big reader, but I really can't wait to read her book. And I really can't wait to buy a copy from Amazon and have her sign it for me.

writeupthere.com
She's a homeschooling mama. Business owner. Gardner. Chicken keeper. Writer. Orthodox Christian. Army wife (serious badass skills there). Alaskan. Killer cook. And she makes the meanest martinis around.


Silly Simple Chicken Noodle Soup

Wow, there are thousands of chicken noodle soup recipes out there...so if you stumbled across mine, be warned. I'm slightly crazy and my main reason for blogging about recipes is to keep track of what my family loves...and they loved this soup!!! Now I can refer back to the recipe next time. Yay!

This recipe can be used by canners and non-canners alike, however, if you are a canner like me, you will feel especially giddy about how easy it was to make, because: WE ROCK! A can of this and a can of that and poof! you have dinner. Thanks to your hours of previous labor in the kitchen you can whip up a batch of this soup when you are feeling yucky and your family will happily eat the whole pot.

Silly Simple Chicken Noodle Soup (this recipe was to feed 2 adults, 2 teens, 2 pre teens & 2 littles)

1 stick of butter
2 onions, chopped. (or use dehydrated)
4 stalks of celery, chopped. (or use dehydrated)
-melt butter in pan, cook onion and celery for 5 min-
2 quarts canned chicken stock
1 quart canned veggie stock
-add stock-
4 stalks of carrots, chopped. (or use a pint canned or dehydrated)
1 quart jar of stewing hen, remove bones and skin, put 1/2 of the gelatin in the soup. (Obviously you can use other forms of chicken meat, I canned mine with it's bone in, I can fit one scrawny stewing hen into one wide-mouth quart jar with her bones in. I'll guess it was about 2 cups of cooked meat.)
-add carrots and chicken-
1 T oregano
1 T basil
Salt and pepper (you have to taste this, some stocks/broth are already well salted, some are not)
-let the pot simmer 10-20 minutes, then turn up heat for the noodles-
2 cups noodles, I used the twirly colored kind, not sure of the name.
-cook 'till the noodles are just done (they'll keep cooking in the hot broth) turn off heat, serve to sick and/or hungry people-

I literally had to ration the kids to 2 bowls each, all 6 of them liked it. The only one who rejected my food was hubby, but he was very sick yesterday, he's trying to recover and wasn't hungry. Now to keep the hordes off the pot to be sure he has enough to eat later.

Home canned chicken stock (the one in the middle simmered overnight, thus the dark color and better flavor) and a stewing hen on the right.

Soup before the herbs and noodles.
Pretty, hearty, yummy.

Much adoo about poop. You heard me, poop.

Where shall I begin, really it wasn't all that wacky of a day on the wacky scale of things; but for nostalgia sake and for the fact that my memory sucks, here's a blog post on last Friday. I started it Friday and finished it today, it's been a busy week.

My daughter is almost 15 and today I got her a new kitty. I also brought home a new goat. It was sunny and a perfect; 70 degrees all day.

I was at my friend, Karlene's house, and she was showing me her pigs, chickens, turkey, geese, cow and of course, her goats. Her barnyard is looking so picturesque. She told me that her husband had bought her a new kitten for Mother's day (because that's what every mother-of-seven and a ginormous heard of goats wants for mother's day, donchyaknow?).

I told her how the week prior I'd given our kittens (Archer and Bumpkin, two that Karlene had given me) to my sister who discovered a large mouse infestation in her chicken house. She had already lost 4 kitties due to mean woodland creatures as she lives in the woods, but with the mice, finally agreed to try it again. It was good timing because the combination of our 4 cats were decimating our new bird population that had just moved in for the next few months to hatch out their babies. They were catching about 5 birds a day, and we had had it with their mad catching skilz. Besides, only our house cat, Oreo, was catching actual mice, she had to go far to find them too, we haven't had mice since we got her last year. Well after I gave those 2 cats to my sister, our other outdoor cat, Fred, decided to get lost, perhaps he was looking for his buddies or maybe a dog ate him, I really don't know, but we were sad he left, he was a sweetie. Then 2 days later Oreo disappeared, she was my son's cat, she was fixed, not very cuddly but a great mouser. That was pretty upsetting, but we have owned 7 cats in the past 18 months and now we have none...

our 3 barn kitties 2 weeks ago

Karlene, being the saint that she is, gladly gave me her long time barn kitty, Yoshi. She is snuggly and a moucer. What a sweetie.

One of the reasons I made the trek up to Karlene's was to get our new little goat, Belka (daughter of Elka) disbuded. Her horns had grown a lot in five weeks and I was behind the 8 ball getting her poor little head burned. Karlene is my goat mentor and she still does all sorts of uncomfortable goat farmer duties I haven't learned yet. She burned large circles around her horns while the goat screamed her little heart out. The smell is awful and there is a LOT of smoke, burning flesh and hair, that smell.

The other reason I was there was to take my friend, Amber's, buck that she was renting from Karlene back to Karlene. Karlene is an hour away. I was also taking our goat, Lady to get bred and in the meantime she would send me home with a goat in milk since hubby is annoyed at feeding animals that aren't producing. So, the new goat I brought home is, Elaine. A sweet Nubian who looks just like my other giant Nubian, Amelia but she's only a yearling first freshener and much smaller. We may end up buying her, not sure yet.

Typically when I load up goats to go to Karlene's I put down a tarp in the back of my trusty eight passenger 2003 Chevy Venture, roll up the edges a bit, and they may poo or pee one time each. Zero times, if I'm lucky and I have been lucky. Well on Friday I learned a lot more about bucks behavior. It's one thing to know about buck smell, but it's another thing to "know" about buck smell. You see, bucks pee on themselves to make them more handsome and attractive to female goats. Their wiener even has a little spinney end on it so that when they pee it is not straight down but in a whirl y-gig fashion. I am so thankful this buck's whirl y-gig was either broken off, or non-functional. They also pee a lot more around girl goats, the smell is attractive to them. And apparently poop much, much, much more than girls do. That stupid buck peed at least 8 times in that hour drive, and I mean PEED! A lot. He also pooped a lot. Probably another 8 times on that count too. So by the time we got to Karlene's the tarp was full of "mud". Nice huh? Unfortunately my doe was not impressed, there was no "van-a-rockin" from their hanky panky that day. Darn.

The other thing my daughter noticed before we left was that Belka had the runs. Meaning she wasn't feeling well. Karlene is basically my vet too so I knew taking her out there would get her help as well as a burned head. So off we went... I put a blanket on my daughter's lap, buckled in my 4-year-old and we were off! Already late as usual, I didn't really consider what we would use to clean up any gooey droppings from Belka. Huge oversight.

We got 45 minutes out, almost there. "Mama! Can you please pull over right now! She pooped in my hand!" Gross. I pulled over as soon as I could but not quite soon enough. She had to put Belka on the floor and she dribbled more poopy on my daughter's "Alaska Grown" hoodie. She asked her 4-year-old sister to unbuckle her (her hand was still full) and so the 4-year-old, who by that point had taken her mud boots off, stepped right into the dribble glob. When I told her to be careful because I could see she might step in it, she had already done so but quickly jumped back into her booster seat, well, yes, spreading it all over her seat. She promptly sat down (in it) and took her socks off, as if that would help at this point. After my older daughter jumped out of the car with the loose psyco baby goat, it was my job to catch then hold the goat from running wild while my daughter wiped poo from her hand on the alder filled tundra-ish ditch area. After she got a make-shift halter around her I was able to look for some baby wipes, because I never leave home without baby wipes...except on Friday. My youngest child is now 4 and apparently I have not made sure we have a good baby wipe stash in a while...not a good time to find this out. Paper towels? No. Napkins? I always have napkins! Oh, look, there's one. One napkin. A little chincy "they are trying to save money at that cheap drive through" sort of napkin. I wiped the poop off of my wedding ring and fingers; and that was all. I resigned myself to doing a load of laundry when we got home. I saw the buck peeing, saw that he wasn't stopping, contemplated letting him outside but thought better of it, told him to stop, he didn't, so I grabbed his face and looked him straight in the eyes and said, "Stop peeing!" and he stopped. Oh, right, and when I was looking for wipes on the driver side of the van and shut the door behind me, the awesome automatic door that sometimes acts like a jerk decided not to shut and to re-open. Lady decided to make her grand escape and jumped onto my oldest daughter's seat and jump out on the road side of the van. Yay! So the oldest threw the halter/leash at the 4-year-old and yelled, "hold her" as she ran off to catch Lady. But the 4-year-old didn't actually have a grip before it was let go of, so off went Belka. We caught her. I rushed around to shut the door before the buck decided to escape as well, I used my daughter's poopy socks to wipe off the "mud" that Lady had gotten all over my other daughter's seat now. We finally got all three goats back into the van, the hoodie now acting as the dribble catcher on the floor in front of my daughters and both girl's seats slightly marred with goat "mud". Time to GO!!! We got there as fast as possible and I pulled the full tarp out of the van to let it drip dry while I enjoyed my visit. I fetched all of the extra goat droppings that had escaped the tarp, there are always some of those. Fortunately I had a pair of work gloves in the van that I wore the rest of that day 'till I got to Taco Bell on our way home to order us some dinner.

I always wonder what the Taco Bell employees think when I go through their drive through with goats in my car. That's how we roll.

Yoshi, Elaine and Belka on the ride home.

Youngest was woken from her nap by kitty snuggles.




Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Top 10 Reasons I Love Alaska


Every time I travel outside (of Alaska). I come up with more and more things I like about it here and why I don't want to move. I suppose I should add the caveat that this does not include Anchorage. Around here it mostly called "Los Anchorage" or "Ancaragua". But there are plenty of good folks in the "big city" and most of them I would choose over folks in the lower 48 cities.

1. In Alaska it's always light and you can see where you are walking, either because of the snow in the winter or the light in the summer.
This picture was taken at around 11:45pm when hubby and son were putting the neighbors cow in.

2. In Alaska every trip to town gives you new scenery, the mountains, the change of season, the moose lurking by the road...and that's just a trip to the grocery store.
My view in the winter.
My view in the fall. Love them both.
3. In Alaska everything is not overcrowded. You have to be willing to put up with the winter to live here, therefore, there is lots of room to move around.

4. In Alaska we have the right to conceal carry with out a permit.
Yes, that's me with a .45 picking blueberries in bear country. (open carry)

5. In Alaska we have the best homeschooling rights in the country.

Homeschool project: sleep in the garage with the goat getting ready to kid.

6. In Alaska there is plentiful natural resources and wildlife: buried in the ground, in the oceans, rivers and on land. You just have to know how to find it and harvest it.

Playing or fishing or both.

7. In Alaska the children are tougher than most L48ers. Many have taken game and most have fished. And find a kid that doesn't own one or more of the following: ATV, pistol, rifle, bow and arrow, skiis or snowshoes.
Our daughter competing in the kids shotgun competition. She loves to shoot Ptarmigan and Grouse.

8. In Alaska the men are men. They are self assured and confident, those are attractive qualities in a man.
Manly men being manly, relaxing after a manly hardworking day.

9. In Alaska the women are manly but don't try to be men. They put on their make up and earrings for date night and they throw on their Carhartts and Xtra Tuffs for the hunting and fishing. Give her a chainsaw and watch her go, give her a rifle and let her kill.
Beautiful Alaskan women enjoying the fire after cooking the men a hearty supper. One of these woman is a fisherman by trade. She has also shot and hauled caribou through the tundra (family trip). The other was using the chainsaw to rid the tree from her driveway when she was 8 mo pregnant. And one Sunday morning, while in her church clothes, she killed a mama chicken who was eating her baby chick.


10. In Alaska life is not easy. You have to earn your keep, shape up or ship out, make it or break it, and all those other puns. It's a serious place for serious people that know how to work and play hard. My favorite part about Alaska is by far the people who proudly call this their home.


Theophany/Epiphany, blessing the Little Susitna River (January).

Wasilla version of a convertable.

Um, it's cold out there...

Neighbor.

Neighbor with his bad-ass truck moving my shed.

Homeschooled kid drove his snowmachine to science class one day in the middle of town.


Saturday, May 11, 2013

Master bedroom spring clean up

I'm a huge master bedroom offender. I make pile after pile in my bedroom until I can't stand it. Then I pile up more stuff until my husband goes on a bear hunt and I have to take care of it before he comes home.

I started out very slowly today around 3pm feeling very un-motivated, I watched the first episode of "Wartime Farm" (so good! I am in love with the whole Victorian Farm, Edwardian Farm, Tales from the Green Valley, if you haven't watched them, look them up on youtube, especially if you have any love for farming or history). I didn't get too much done that first 2 hours, mostly put away all my clothes that I have been piling.

Today I put away:
10 sizes (multiples per size) of girl shoes, we tied them with ribbon and will sell them at the upcoming Country Fair.
2 of my suitcases from my trip in March.
Some of hubby's guns.
His gun cleaning kit.
Multiple laptop power cables.
Moved 3 old laptops.
A box full of sci-fi novels.
A king size quit for the Country Fair silent auction.
Church music and church books.
A tote full of camping gear.
I gave the girls 4 old bags or backpacks.
Multiple purses.
4 sewing/crocheting/cross stitch projects.
Giving away a pile of shirts I haven't worn in over a year and 3 old pairs of shoes.

My project overflowed into the hallway where I'm also trying to organize the bookshelf out there and started washing and putting away the winter gear. The project was fueled by my children's hunger for candy where they would do two "errands" then they could choose a candy they desired. I had lots of Easter candy.

I had my phone back (finally) and was able to take pictures, however I was only able to get a couple of the pictures on my computer that I wanted.


After 2 or 3 hours of working I thought to take a picture. 2 large piles are gone.

After 7 hours and not even putting fresh bedding on, I was finished.

My favorite view. I got this (new to me) milk glass light on Etsy when I was ordering lights for my girls.


Monday, May 6, 2013

Shriveled potatoes and really old eggs

Sounds appetizing right?

It's May and I still have 2 boxes of shriveled up potatoes that have started sprouting. They look unseemly, I hate to throw them out, but who wants to eat them that way? Well, I do, they are perfect for skin on-mashed potatoes.

Today hubby is making some pork ribs (using the 3, 2, 1 method) in the new smoker I encouraged him to purchase (more cooking for him means less cooking for me, and smoked meat? Yeah, baby.) Skin on potatoes sounded like a perfect fit.

I am so lazy when it comes to actually using potatoes. I don't like scrubbing them or peeling them. Fortunately, God gave me 6 healthy children, so they can do it, besides they eat them all, so I don't feel bad. Skin on are not my husband's favorite kind, so when they are fresher I concede and peel them, but the skin is where all the nutrients are in the potatoes, so I try to sneak in skin in recipes that call for taters. We have to fill our 8qt pot every time we make them, we still don't have leftovers.

Skin-on mashed potatoes

One pot full of potatoes
One stick Butter (or margarine or olive oil)
Salt & Pepper

Optional:
sour cream
cream cheese
dried minced onions
milk

Scrub the potatoes, fill up the pot as you go. Unload the potatoes and cut them up in to large pieces and take off any green that is on the potatoes (the green is from being exposed to light and makes them very bitter and I have heard that it is even poisonous, but that may be a wives tale). Also by May there seem to be more black spots inside the potatoes you need to cut out.

Put only about 4 inches of water in the bottom of your pot. My mother taught me to do it this way, you basically are steaming your potatoes instead of boiling them and leaching out the nutrients into the water.

Cook about 15 minutes, until they are fork tender.

Drain off most of the water, put in a stick of butter, cover the butter with potatoes and let the butter melt for 3 minutes or so. Add salt to taste (I added about 4tsp tonight), pepper (I added 1/2 tsp) and anything else you desire (I added a pint of sour cream tonight, they were really good.)

Mash, taste, adjust salt and pepper, serve hot.
OR
Put them in a 9x13 casserole and re-bake them for a potluck or for dinner the next day. When you re-bake them add more butter to the top and some paprika. Bake covered at 350 for 45 min, then uncovered for about 15 min. I do it this way when I'm going somewhere for Thanksgiving and I usually peel them for Thanksgiving and add the cream cheese and dried minced onions.

Here are my scrubbed, shriveled, soft potatoes being cut up for mashed potatoes.

Top are the potatoes cooking (lid on) and below are the eggs covered with water, lid off, watch them.


Ok, onto the month old "farm fresh" eggs, ha.

If you are Orthodox than you know why I have a plethora of eggs up to one month old. I have given some eggs away and sold some too, but I still have about 12 dozen eggs built up in my fridge. I haven't figured out how to tell my chickens that it's Lent, lay off for a bit... But as I HATE wasting food, it is my mission to find the best way to use month old eggs.

A cool way to tell if an egg is rotten or not is if it floats, if you have a floating egg throw it away. If it stands up on end, it's old, but not rotten. We eat those.

The best way to cook old eggs in my opinion is to make deviled eggs! You float them all in the water, hard boil them, make a bunch of hard boiled eggs, devil them and eat them at your potluck, then make more for snacks for your family. Most people say that the older the egg, the easier it is to peel. Mine should be quite easy to peel!!!

Basic Deviled Eggs, for 24 eggs (48 deviled eggs)

Hard boil eggs (you can reference the internet for more details on hard boiling eggs, but this is what I do):
Cover eggs with 2 inches or so of water, heat them on medium heat, I leave mine uncovered at first and check on them every 5-10 minutes.
When the water just barely starts to bubble, turn off heat and put the lid on the pan, set the timer for 18 minutes.
The other day I put the lid on for 22 minutes and they were overdone. I don't mind for deviled eggs, I'd rather them be overdone than underdone and it's easy to under cook this many eggs when they have all come out of the cold refrigerator. The mass of cold versus the mass of hot water won't let them cook properly, that's why I have started heating them more slowly, it causes the eggs to heat up with the water.

Cool in cold water with ice, wait 'till manageable or completely cooled. Cut eggs in half, pop yolks into a bowl.

Ingredients:

1 cup mayonnaise
4 tsp white vinegar
4 tsp mustard
milk if needed
pepper to taste
paprika

Whip ingredients with a fork, add milk if it's too thick. Taste it! Add salt if you need more. There are also other fun ingredients you could toss in, but when you're making so many eggs and they are good this way I don't go for fancy.

I used a little milk the other day because it was too dry. Then, the next day when I made more, I didn't need any. I also used a quart bag, folded down edges, filled bag with filling, cut the tip off the corner, and squeezed in a heaping portion into each half.

Sprinkle with paprika to make them pretty.

Here are the ribs hubby made today. They. Were. So. Good. I'm not a rib fan, but I'm a fan of these.
By the way, if you want to know if you can give your dogs cooked pork bones, you can't. They are like cooked chicken bones, they will splinter and they can kill them. :(

Roasted Rooster

I have been updating a few past blog posts, correcting mistakes, making them less annoying, etc.

I updated this post about getting seven free chickens one day with my favorite go-to roasted chicken recipe. Roasted may be the wrong word since it's covered for so long and basically steamed, but we love it. Hope you enjoy.

Roasted Hen, Rooster, Chicken, Game Bird, or anything you want to roast.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Holy Saturday, Hot Cross Buns

We enjoyed Holy Saturday liturgy this morning. I love this liturgy, it's maybe my favorite of the year. The colors have been changed from purple to white, vestments all white, alter cloth all white, the censor with the bells is brought back, Christ is almost risen. Father throws bay leaves and rose petals instead of incense. It's beautiful. We typically have bread and fruit after liturgy with coffee and wine and a few guests. I make hot cross buns using the Artoklasia bread recipe that we use in the Latia services. It's a delicious, fasting, sweet bread and top it with frosting, can't be beat. Today we had over only clergy and their families, it was fun to hear the men banter and tease each other and compare war stories of bad services and embarrassing moments with the Bishop. The women bonded a little more and my kids had fun playing with the babies that were visiting.

Artoklosia or Hot Cross Buns
Recipe adapted from "A Lenten Cookbook" from St. Nectarios Press, WA 1982

2pkgs. Compressed or dry yeast
1/2 cup water
3/4 c sugar (or brown)
2 t salt

Dilute yeast in 1/2 cup water. Add sugar, salt and stir. After yeast proofs add:

1/4 c oil (olive, vegetable, etc)
1 1/2 c water

Then mix together:

3 c flour
1 tsp cinnamon or nutmeg or cardamom or some other spice combo

Add flour and the spice to the liquid. Stir until the batter is smooth. Add:

2 1/2 - 3 cups flour

Mix until the dough is soft but firm. You want a soft dough, don't add too much flour.

If making Artoklosia divide dough into 5 parts and shape into 5 round loaves. Place on a greased cookie sheet. Use scissors to cut crosses in the tops of each loaf.

Hot Cross Buns do the same thing but divide into about 24-32 individual rolls place on 2 greased cookie sheets. Use scissors to cut crosses in the top of each bun.

Rise until double.

Bake in 400 degree oven for 15 minutes for the large loaf and maybe 10 for the buns. Keep an eye on them, don't do like me and try baking them, then run back to church, then come home and find them overbaked. Not a great plan.

Remove from pans and cool on racks for 10 min. For the loaves brush tops with water mixed with honey or brown sugar. For the buns make some butter cream (or in my case almond milk/margarine) frosting glaze and glaze each bun with a cross. Be generous with your frosting, your guests won't mind. This recipe typically impresses most people (not when overbaked) and they go back for more. I have always used cinnamon, but this year our priest wife makes her Artolkasia with nutmeg and it's so yummy.

The 3 remaining buns from this morning. I used 1/2 wheat flour, but I would use less next time or more sugar or more frosting. They tasted too "healthy" to me.