Friday, January 25, 2013

Finally some pictures! YAY!

Some of these pictures are a little old, but I wanted to catch up a little.
Here is Miss Piggy while pregnant. You can see her belly sagging really low. The pigs are huge now!

Here is the zucchini bread I made with honey.
I only had some left in a bottle which ended up being 1/4 cup so then I had to use sugar for the rest. When using honey put 1/4 tsp baking powder into the mixture to lower the acidity from the honey, lower the temperature of the oven by 25 degrees and put the water in last to make sure the consistency of the whole mixture for the bread isn't too wet. Add as needed then.
Here is the recipe with sugar:
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup ground zucchini
2 eggs
1/3 cup water
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
Combine all dry ingredients (sugar, flour, soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg)
Add zucchini, vegetable oil, water, and eggs
mix until just combined.
grease 9x5 loaf pan
Bake at 350 degrees for 60 minutes.
Here is the recipe with honey:
1 cup honey
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup ground zucchini
2 eggs
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup water (only if needed....and only add as much as needed, do not add too much)
Mix all dry ingredients.
add honey, oil, eggs, zucchini
mix until just combined and see if its too dry or slightly dry add a little water.
grease 9x5 loaf pan
Pour in and bake at 325 degrees for 60 minutes.
My husband and I actually enjoyed the bread with the honey. It made it a little more moist and gave a nice little tang. The honey will add a slight flavor to it. I enjoyed it....but to each their own! :)
Sorry the kids ate so much by the time I got the picture taken...that's all that was left! Its a huge staple here. We eat it for snack all the time!

Here is our maple tree tap.
It is a small flexible pvc pipe.

Here we used a washed out 2 liter soda bottle to collect the sap. Try to keep a southern location on the tree for tapping. More sunlight gets there and helps the sap to move faster up the tree. We could do 3 taps on this tree, but this is our first time so we only did one till we start to get the hang and then we may add another, but do not over tap the tree. You will kill it. The sap is the trees food and the sap moves up the tree as the days get warmer to help the tree bloom.

Here is the final product. Another rock to squish the bottle into the tree a bit so it won't blow away or the barn cats or the dog won't knock it over. We also put tin foil around the top of the bottle to keep dirt, bark or the occasional bug out of the sap. Do not want to be eating bugs! LOL The end of January is normally the best time to tap the tree. We need below freezing nights and above freezing days to get a good amount of sap. Our temps of this week have been crazy cold. Like 0 degrees at night or 2 degrees and 19 during the day. So, that means no sap. :( Saturday and Sunday and all next week is supposed to be better....guess we will see! Excited! Cannot remember the last time I had pure maple syrup!

Here is the final product of the soap I made a month or 2 ago. This still needs to be diluted with 1/2 water. I was given 2 bottles of small bottles of laundry soap, so I have been using those and still have not gotten to this tub! I will get there and let you know how clean my clothes are!

Over the summer with our corn I made corn chowder. I got to use my immersion blender for the first time here. I love that blender. Surprisingly it was not a big hit with my kids. I did not keep the recipe, sorry. No point in making them eat it. They love corn straight on the can you argue with that?? LOL
Ok, well that's all the pictures I could find. Hopefully I will keep having this good luck and be able to post more as we continue on our adventure!
On another note, the husband and I are talking about getting more and more into what we can grow and we cannot grow coffee beans up here, so we are looking into tea. There is supposed to be a Chinese tea that can grow up here. We shall see if I can find one and if we like it! Then we can use honey and cream to sweeten it. Which is where we want to go!
Thanks for being patient with me as I fought to get a few pictures up!
The Smiths

Monday, January 21, 2013

Maple Syrup

I am getting really frustrated....tried 3 different times to get pictures on here. I am so not tech savvy! LOL

Well my husband and I have decided it is time to try to make our own maple syrup. We have plenty of trees to do it and Mr. Smith is out there installing the spout now. I will take pictures of the completed task! (If I can get them later on ERRRRRRrrr.)

We have also been really really trying to cook only with things we grow/raise/collect around here. There are not much foraging options right around here...but I am hoping to explore more when it gets warmer to see if we ca get lucky. This past week we have done just that. Deer pot roast, Chicken pot pie, Ham & Potato soup, Stuffed cabbage, homemade pizza pockets, hamburgers and french fries. They were all amazing, now as of right now not all of the ingredients were grown here....but they can be and we hope to explore more of this seasonal cook what we grow kind of lifestyle that we have been working towards. Well one more thing we are going to be trying is using less granulated sugar and using more natural ingredients that we can collect. Like the maple syrup and honey.

I am looking into getting into the local beekeepers association around here to see what it all involves and my main often I will get stung! LOL We will not be getting bees this year, but I am hoping for 2014! Baby steps!

Lastly we are hoping and praying we can build and successfully use a solar oven this summer. Our electric bill is overwhelming and we need to cut it back...we are still also looking into hand washing our clothes.

Well that is all for now. Going to see if Mr. Smith is successfully tapping our maple tree!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Something new

Sorry again for no pictures I will get some up very soon, promise!
Well I made homemade laundry soap for the first time last week and it was easier and so much cheaper then buying store bought soap. I actually got it from the Duggars. I bought a 5 gallon bucket from Home Depot and it filled the whole thing and is pretty thick. Its concentrated which is also nice. You are supposed to get 2 5 gallon buckets worth after diluting it. Which is good for us because we go through so much! Here is the recipe:
1 bar of soap
4 cups HOT tap water
1 cup washing soda
1/2 cup borax

1. Grate bar of soap and add to sauce pan with water. Stir continually over medium-low heat until soap dissolves and is fully melted.
2. Fill a 5 gallon bucket 1/2 full with HOT tap water. Add melted soap, washing soda and borax. Stir until dissolved. Fill bucket to top with more hot tap water. Stir, cover and let sit overnight to thicken.
3. Stir, fill a used, clean laundry soap container 1/2 full with soap concentrate and fill the rest of the way with water. Shake before each use, it will gel.

I have a small bit of store bought to get through yet before I use this, but if the Duggar family uses it for all their laundry and have no problems then I am sure we will be just fine as well. I will let you all know when I get to using it how the laundry turns out.

On another note we were talking about letting our chickens be true free range chickens. We haven't done it before because of our dog Diesel. Well one of the newer roosters we were going to be butchering next weekend got out and I just let him go to see what happens...he has a better chance of defending himself then a hen right now. Well that was about 4 days ago and today when I went to go feed the animals, there he was to greet me! He has been roosting in a shed by the chicken coop! Diesel was out with me when I was feeding and he wouldn't go anywhere near the rooster! Super excited! Planning on maybe letting another newer rooster out to just make sure before I let the hens out.

We also have a nice plan going for what we are doing for the season coming up. We are expanding again and it looks like it time to make a new shelter for the pigs. A wooden barn in not a good idea with 3 HUGE pigs.....they are destroying it and we are doing more maintenance work on it then we can keep up with some weeks. So, we are talking about building a concrete one for them.

Alright time to go, hope you all had a good New Year!
Happy 2013!
The Smiths.