Friday, February 26, 2010

Change of Plans

Remember the post a while back where I declared that, since this property was already producing apples, peaches, pears, plums, blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, grapes, hazelnuts, walnuts, pecans, and asparagus..I was only going to plant beans, tomatoes, corn, and sunflowers this year. Remember that? I didn't want to bite off more than we could chew this first year. Well, those plans didn't last long.

Right now we have planned to plant: beans, tomatoes, corn, sunflowers...AND potatoes, carrots, okra, onion, jalapeno pepper, pumpkin, watermelon and bell peppers. This summer when I don't have two functioning brain cells to rub together, feel free to say, "Woman, you knew better."

Oh, and we're getting chicks next week too.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Monkey Girl

Sam's new "thing" is looking up his favorite things on the computer. He'll do searches for Peep and the Big Wide World and Magic School Bus and Deal or No Deal and Dora the Explorer and Hi5 and...

Sarah enjoys watching Sam and this is the vantage point she's chosen for watching.

What do you want to bet that I have to talk her down out of a tree this summer?

Real Food SUCCESSES!!!

Yay! I have successes to report for a change.

Some of you may remember a previous post where my attempt to make cream cheese and whey from our raw milk was a complete failure. Well, I took the advice from one of the comments and pulled the failure back out of the fridge. I combined what should have been my whey and cream cheese into one jar again and let it sit for another day. Wow, what a difference a day made! Apparently I hadn't let the milk separate enough before processing it the first time. Of course, I started processing it this time before I realized...Hey, I ought to take a picture of this!! So, this picture was taken after I had already started pouring off the whey. However, I hope you can still see a big blob of white that has solidified in the center of the jar. That's the cream cheese. The yellowish liquid surrounding it is the whey.

When I first separated the cream cheese from the whey, I thought the whey had a very soured smell to it. However, I recently opened the container to use it for soaking oatmeal and noticed that the soured smell wasn't so bad. So, I don't know if I'm just getting used to it or if the smell becomes more tolerable over time. I am VERY pleased to report that oatmeal soaked using whey doesn't have a soured taste to it. I was pretty worried about that. I now have a new recipe for oats! Yay success!

Also...I recently made my own butter! I've been skimming the cream off the tops of our jars of milk. When I got enough to fill a pint mason jar I decided to process. I used the instructions from Mother Earth News.

It took me 20 minutes of vigorous shaking, but this was the end result. (The jar contains the buttermilk that I poured off the butter.)

You might be able to see the consistency of the butter better here.

My butter didn't have that pretty yellow color to it. Unless someone else has any ideas, I'm going to contribute that to it being winter and the cows not having access to much fresh green grass. Anyway, I'll take white butter as opposed to paying $9.25 per pound for pastured yellow butter.

So, things are improving. I have recipes printed out for soaked wheat bread and soaked muffins and soaked tortillas, so those are going to be the next experiments in the kitchen. It's a slow process, but we're getting there!

For more information on Real Food, please check out Real Food Wednesday at

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Bread Recipe for Marcee

Marcee has asked for my bread recipe, so here you go!

Janice's Favorite Bread Recipe (makes 2 loaves)

1. Mix the following ingredients well: (TIP: Measure oil first, then honey - the honey will slide right out of the cup. Also, liquid lecithin is extremely sticky. I avoid using a measuring spoon because it is difficult to clean afterwards. I found liquid lecithin for sale at our local health foods store.)

2 cups very warm water (around 110 degrees)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup raw honey
3 tsp. INSTANT yeast
1 Tbsp. liquid lecithin (don't have to be exact - pour an approximate drizzle)
3 cups flour (I use freshly milled hard white wheat)

I mix this together with a wooden spoon. When you have the correct amount of flour, the mixture will not be too'll look more like a stew.

2. At this point, let mixture sit for 20 minutes.

3. Add 1-1/2 tsp. salt and 2-1/2 cups more flour (again, hard white wheat). Using your wooden spoon, mix until it starts to clean the side of the bowl. Usually several good rotations with the spoon will accomplish this.

The dough will still be tacky/sticky, but should not be gooey. If it's too gooey, add a little flour, but not too much or the bread will be really dry. You want to add the flour now and be done with it, or the flour you add later will not have developed gluten because it won't have kneaded long enough.

4. Once you have enough flour (better too little than too much), knead on medium speed for about 8 minutes (I use speed 2 on my KitchenAid, with dough hook). Cover mixing bowl with a clean dish towel and let dough rise until doubled in bulk (about 1 hour).

5. Punch down dough. Using oiled hands on oiled counter, knead by hand a few times. This will take the "sticky" out of the dough. Divide dough into two parts and shape into loaves. Let rise in greased pans until double in bulk (about 1-1/2 hours in my home). Bake 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove from pans to cool on racks. Bread is done when an instant-read thermometer read 195-200 degrees. Enjoy!

After receiving our grain mill I went through A LOT of recipes before I found one that worked for us. Working with freshly ground wheat definitely entails a learning curve. I went through a lot of "hard as rocks" trials. This bread is soft and slices well for sandwiches or toasting.

Our Busy Saturday

We had a nice day at home Saturday. Shawn's been working a lot, so just having him home all day was a nice change of pace. Sarah and I started the day by making cupcakes and bread. Grandma Colette had sent some nice Valentine cupcake papers, so Sarah was excited to use those.

While Drew was sleeping, Shawn decided to give me a break and take Sam for a walk around our property. They started off down by our pond.

See that patch of pines on the other side of the pond, behind Sam? That's where they went next. This picture shows our home and barn.

While in the patch of pines, they found the remains of a deer.

Then they made their way back to one of the springs on our property. We call this one the deep spring. You cannot see the bottom of it even though the water is crystal clear. The previous owners told us that there used to be a farmhouse built near the spring and the family used it to refrigerate items. They would tie ropes to bottles and lower them down into the spring to stay chilled.

The deep spring is the beginning of a small creek that runs through our property.

Sam found the remains of the turtle near the deep spring. He decided that he needed to take it back to the pond since that's where turtles are supposed to live. He carried that turtle, which he named Yertle, the rest of the hike.

Ok...graphic image alert!! As they were nearing the second spring they came across the remains of a turkey. Shawn said it looked to be freshly killed by something pretty impressive. He said the turkey looked like it had exploded. (I'm only posting this so that an upcoming event has more impact!)

Then they made their way to the second spring on the property. We call this one the mule pond. The previous owner said that when loggers used to come onto the property long ago, they would make a corral around this spring for the mules to drink from.

As Shawn was taking this next picture of Sam, they heard the throaty growl of some kind of cat not too far off. Sam immediately came running to Shawn demanding to be held. Any of you that know Sam will know that this is odd behavior for him. He is not a "hold me, carry me" kind of kid. Shawn said the cat sounded close and sounded mad. His best guess is that they interrupted the cat's final moments with the turkey and it was making its displeasure known. Anyhow, they left the woods quickly after that. Bobcat or mountain lion? What could do that kind of damage to a turkey?

They came back and we got to eat some yummy treats.

Guess what!?!


There were several times when I meant to go take this picture, then it would snow and cover up everything. There's hope! It's not going to be dreary and cold forever! I'm so anxious to see what is growing on our property. It should be a very exciting first year here.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

I Still Don't Like Liver

I am still attempting to find a way to fix liver that could be remotely deemed as edible. So far I've attempted frying it and smothering it with tomato sauce. That didn't go over well. Yesterday I tried fixing it using Sally Fallon's recipe in Nourishing Traditions. I only made enough for myself because I knew that any additional servings would be wasted by the other members of my family. Here's what I did:

Mid-morning I took the sliced liver (from some great grass-fed beef we bought) and placed it in a bowl with the juice from two lemons. I set it aside and let it soak for about 2-1/2 hours. Here's what it looked like after soaking.

Then I removed the liver slices from the bowl and patted them dry. I put some leftover freshly ground wheat flour, Celtic sea salt, and pepper in a pan and battered the slices of liver. Then I placed them in a skillet with some lard. They only cooked for a short period of time. It really didn't take very long because the slices were pretty thin.

While those were cooking, I put some olive oil and grassfed butter in another skillet and began heating. I thinly sliced an onion and added it to the pan. I sauteed this for about 10 minutes. I know Nourishing Traditions says to cook for about 30 minutes, but my onions were starting to look burned, so I took them out early.

Then I placed the liver on a plate and covered them with onions. It looked really tasty I thought. I love onions, so I was looking forward to this meal.

I couldn't eat it. I took a couple bites and then ended up eating chili with Shawn and the kids. There was a strong lemon juice taste and, of course, the liver taste and texture were still there. I've read that you sometimes have to try a food numerous times before you start to like it. I can attest that it takes more than two times to enjoy liver. Maybe the third time's the charm...

This post has been linked to Real Food Wednesday at

Saturday, February 6, 2010

My Advice To You

It's a whole lot of fun to sit down at the computer with your children while they ask you to find things for them online. They get a real kick out of looking at pictures of dogs, cats, horses, cows, pigs, sheep, etc...HOWEVER, if your children ask you to find "chicks" on the internet, take a moment to remember this post. You will see more than cute, fuzzy little baby birds when you look for chicks on the internet.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Blizzard Bloghop

I'm participating in the "Blizzard Bloghop" this weekend. This is a great way to meet fellow bloggers and introduce yourself to them. So, if you're interested in a one-stop-shop for a variety of blogs, then check out this blog for information on the Blizzard Bloghop!

Hi, I'm Janice. I am wife to Shawn and Momma to Sam, Sarah, and Andrew. Shawn and I have been married for 6-1/2 years. Sam is 4 years old, Sarah is 3, and Andrew is 14 months.

I only recently started this blog last fall. I created it to cover all dimensions of my life as a stay-at-home-mom. So far this blog has focused on:

Homesteading: At the time that I started this blog, we were shopping around for a homestead property. We've now been living on our dream property for about 7 weeks. We now live on 30 acres with an orchard, pond, two springs, garden, and barn/chicken coop.

Housekeeping: We try to live a simple lifestyle and part of that means that I make many of our family's cleaning products and personal care products. I share those non-food recipes that have worked well for me.

Cooking: We are transitioning into a more nourishing, more traditional, whole foods diet. I share the food successes and failures that come about while making this transition.

In the future, I see more blog posts about our first experiences on this homestead...planting our first garden here, our first harvest from our orchard, Shawn hunting on our property, our first batch of chickens this spring. I'm sure there will be many learning experiences to come!

I also see more posts about food-related topics. I'd like to get into culturing dairy, sprouting beans, soaking grains, and fermenting vegetables at some point this year and blog about those experiences.

I think there will be more posts concerning homeschooling. Of course we've been teaching the children since they've been born, but we are about to begin formally homeschooling this next year.

So, basically, this blog is my attempt to help others learn from my mistakes in SAHMville. My hope is that maybe by reading my posts, someone else can save time by bypassing an idea that's been an obvious failure for me and move on to an idea that I've had great success with.

I hope you'll take some time to look around see the overwhelming, adventurous, absolutely wonderful life that is SAHMville!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Future of Homeschooling?

Ok, here's the promised post.

Yesterday Shawn had his class participate in a "What would you do?" discussion. It started off with this scenario:

The Smith family lives across the street from you. You notice that the Smith's children are often outside during times when most children are in school. One day you ask Mrs. Smith about this. She replies that they homeschool the children. You are aware that your state has strict homeschool regulations. When you mention this, Mrs. Smith tells you that they don't believe the government should be involved in their homeschooling so they don't comply with those regulations. Would you advise the appropriate authorities of this?

The vast majority of students started off by vehemently agreeing that authorities should be notified that the children are being homeschooled. However, as the students were giving their opinions, it became evident that they weren't bothered by the fact that Mrs. Smith wasn't complying with the state's regulations. The students were deeply troubled by the simple fact that the Smiths were homeschooling instead of putting their children into the school system.

They argued that parents aren't trained to teach their children the way they need to be taught. I'm sorry, if your public school education is so lousy that you are incapable of teaching a 2nd grader what they need to know, then that's just further evidence to me that homeschooling is necessary.

One student said that allowing children to be homeschooled is like allowing parents to molest their children. At this point, Shawn had to point blank ask him, "So are you comparing homeschooling to molesting your child?" The student responded that molesting a child is harmful just like homeschooling your child is harmful. Either way, both things need to be illegal for the protection of the child. (This is where I have trouble picking my jaw up off the floor.)

They argued that it was the government's JOB to teach our children. So Shawn asked, "Should parents be allowed to teach their children?" He worded it this way fully expecting some student to come back with..."Yeah, they should be able to teach them some things, but not everything, you know, like the harder stuff." However, Shawn never heard anything similar to that response. Instead, when he asked that question, he received an emphatic, "NO!" from the majority of the students.

Not only did these students support making homeschool illegal, they also supported removing the children from the parents' custody if the parents refused to quit homeschooling.

When I asked Shawn what percentage of students seemed to be opposed to homeschooling, he responded that easily 75% of the class was vehemently opposed. He had this same discussion with two classes and the response was similar in both.

I guess this distresses me so much because I never really encountered such HATRED towards homeschooling. I've witnessed disapproval and indifference, but never personally known of anyone that wanted to take my kids away from me because I choose to teach them. While I will admit that there are individuals that shouldn't homeschool, I don't think it's beneficial to remove homeschooling as an option for everyone.

These students are decision-making adults and this is what they believe. If these two classes are any indication of the general population's beliefs, then what does that mean for my children and our family? What does the future of homeschooling look like?

I have more thoughts on this topic, but I think I'll save those for a future post. I'm riled up enough as it is.

I'll Post Once I Pick My Jaw Up Off The Floor

I have a post planned about a discussion that Shawn had with his students yesterday. They got on the topic of homeschooling and his students had some very interesting things to say about it. I'll give you a sneak student compared homeschooling to molesting your child.

Anyhow, I want to type up this post when Shawn is home so I'm sure to get everything accurate. It's probably for the best since it'll also give me time to calm down a bit!

Monday, February 1, 2010

More Winter Storm Photos

When all was said and done we ended up with 7-1/2 inches of snow here. It was a beautiful, powdery snow with very little ice (at least until everything started melting and refreezing). We ended up enjoying the The Great Winter Storm of 2010.

The rest of these were actually taken on Saturday, January 30th, but the camera battery died and the date reset when I put new ones in. way to fix it after the fact though.

Sam trying to meet the man clearing off the road.

Snow was 7-1/2 inches deep and Sarah's boots were 8 inches tall. She almost had really cold feet.

Making Snow Cream

I know I'm a bit late getting this put up, but life got in the way, so you get to see a late version of "Snow Cream" that we made Saturday morning. We'd never made this before, but our friend Bill posted his recipe on Facebook and we had to try it out. His recipe went like this:

Mix one egg, a can of evaporated milk, 3/4 cup sugar, and a teaspoon of vanilla. Then add snow, gradually, until you get the desired consistency. We followed his recipe and ended up with a yummy treat! Here's the finished product:

Sam and Sarah were excited to get ice cream in the morning-time.

Yummy, yummy good! Thank you Mr. Bill!