Friday, February 27, 2015

Farm Photo Friday (2-27-2015)

Welcome to Farm Photo Friday

What a week!
With temperatures in the negative teens, our OLD tractor would not start.
We depend on that tractor to help clear our 450 feet long driveway.

One morning, my oldest daughter and I worked on the driveway with the snow shovel, basically as a way to just know where the driveway was for Handy Hubby to get in and out for work.
Our hard work was covered two hours later with more snow!

Needless to say...we were home bound for a while.
School was canceled.
Appointments and plans had to be rescheduled.

We did a divide and conquer for the chores on those frigid days.
Barn animals - alpacas and cats.
Inside animals.
Shoveling snow.
Sweeping snow.

A picture is worth a thousand words...

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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Nostalgia Baking

Nostalgia:  a desire to return in thought to a former time.   
 A sentimental yearning for the happiness of a former place or time.

The other day I wanted to do some nostalgia baking.
I wanted to create something basic.
Using ingredients that I already had in the pantry.
Baking like our Grandmothers and Great Grandmothers (and many before them) did.

I also wanted to use some utensils that were nostalgic.

I purchased this sifter at a yard sale years ago.
I envision a homemaker sifting flour to make homemade breads and sweets for her family.
Can you see her wiping her hands on her handmade apron?
She smiles as she bakes, thankful for her pantry that is stocked with basic ingredients.
Ingredients that she can make delicious and satisfying meals for her family.

This measuring spoon is from a set that my girls gave me one year for a Mother's day gift.
It brings back memories of a visit to Amish Country.
We were at a little shop when I spotted these measuring spoons.
I admired them because they have little roosters on them - something I collect.
I love to use these...they are nostalgic to me.

The recipe I chose to make was something I call
Cinnamon Pantry Bars

2/3 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
2 egg yolks (save the whites, you will use them also)
4 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon

For the topping
2 egg whites
4 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Beat shortening and sugar until smooth.
Add egg yolks, milk, and vanilla.  Beat together.
Sift together the flour, salt and cinnamon.
Add the flour mixture to shortening/sugar mixture.  Beat well.
Spread batter into a buttered 9x13 baking dish.
Beat egg whites and brush on top of batter.
Mix sugar and cinnamon together.  Sprinkle on top of egg whites.
Bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees.
After cooling a bit, cut into squares.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

8 Tips For Keeping Your Chickens Safe From Predators and A GIVE AWAY!

Raccoons and Foxes and Hawks oh my!

No matter where you live, there are predators that are a danger to your flock of chickens.  Most people expect predators in rural settings, but they are also in urban and suburban settings.  Most are sneaky, lurking at different hours of the day or night, depending on the predator and where you live.

Check out my latest Community Chickens post 8 Tips For Keeping Your Chickens Safe From Predators.  At the end of the article, you can enter the GIVE AWAY - 2 Nite Guard solar lights and 1 roll of repellent tape!

Community Chickens is brought to us from their sister publications Mother Earth News and Grit magazines. The website is full of information regarding poultry, eggs, coops, DIY, recipes, and so much more. You can also sign up for their e-newsletter here.   

Monday, February 23, 2015

Vintage Clock For The Mantel

Handy Hubby has wanted an antique clock for our mantel for some time now.

We love to go antiquing.
We almost always see antique or vintage clocks but they are...
the wrong size
the wrong color
and almost always, the wrong price!
(Meaning, more than we could spend on a clock.)

On our Valentine's date of antiquing, we found this clock at an antique store that is only about 30 minutes from where we live.  Isn't it great when you find treasures close to home? ;-)

It has the curved shape that Hubby admires.
The size is perfect for our mantel.
It chimes once on the half hour, and it chimes once for every hour on the hour.
(Something we all are still getting used to.)

The name on the face of the clock says Linden.
We did a little research, but haven't found much.
If you know anything about this clock, we would greatly appreciate hearing about it.

The color is a dark tone, a nice compliment to the mirror hanging above the mantel.
And a nice contrast to the white pieces gave to me from my Mom.
Best of was priced right!

We have a new found treasure and proudly have it displayed on the mantel.
Welcome home clock!

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Friday, February 20, 2015

Farm Photo Friday (2- 20-2015)


Welcome to Farm Photo Friday

This is the first post in a new series that I am starting where I will be sharing weekly photos of our little farm.

A picture is worth a thousand words...

I hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Antiquing Date Scores a Great Find - A Gentelmen's Cabinet

I had the perfect Valentine's date.  I went antiquing with my husband!

Shane and I both love to go to antique stores and auctions.
Many times we are looking for something with a purpose and we enjoy the hunt.
I also enjoy the bargaining process.

We went shopping that day with the measurements wrote down that would fit the space we were shopping for.
Handy Hubby had his tape measure and we both had the vision in our heads.
We also had a price point that we would not go over.

We were searching for something to re-purpose into a coffee station.

This is what we got.  It was labeled a Gentlemen's Cabinet.

It is very well made, featuring solid wood with dove tail joints.
The top has a scalloped back board.
It has two small drawers located at the top.

A set of doors that open up to disclose three shelves that slide out.
Two more drawers on the bottom.

It has a dark stain and shows some wear and tear.
It definitely needs a good cleaning.
The hardware seems to be in good shape.

It only needs a bit of carpentry work so the doors will close properly.

The cabinet is actually 2 inches taller than we need for the space (because of a light switch).
Handy Hubby will cut off the wheels, making it the right height and making it more stable.

I will be cleaning it up, doing a light sanding and painting.
I'm super excited about the storage possibilities!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Our Farmhouse Sink and How I Clean It


I am smitten with our farmhouse sink!

It is one of those things that I knew I wanted when we built our house two years ago.

I swayed on other choices - cabinets, flooring, counter tops...

But the farmhouse sink...aahh, that was something I dreamed about!

Yes, I envisioned the farmhouse sink in my kitchen.

It is everything I imagined.

Deep, single basin.
It measures 27 x 15 1/2 x 9.
I can hide many dirty dishes in there if I need to ;-)

Crisp looking!
We went with dark cabinets.  I love all the character of the knicks and knots in the cabinets.
The granite has shades of neutral colors, mainly browns and creams.
The beautiful white farmhouse sink is a beautiful contrast to those tones.
Yet, it is striking when paired with white dishes in the plate rack and white heirlooms that I have displayed in the glass front cabinet. 

But, with all the beauty that the farmhouse sink possesses, you need to keep in mind that I love to cook.  This means that the farmhouse sink gets lots of use.

There are different ways to clean a porcelain sink, but one of my favorite ways is with good 'ole white vinegar and baking soda.

First, I give the inside of the sink (bottom and sides) a quick clean with a wet and soapy dish rag.

Then I pour some vinegar into the sink.  Sprinkle some baking soda.  It bubbles up.  I let this sit for a couple minutes.

I then use my dish brush to clean the sink, creating a paste as I go, adding more vinegar and/or baking soda as needed.  I finish by giving it a good rinse.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Chicken Florentine Pasta with Kale and Tomatoes

The weather has turned back to cold!  Grey clouds, brisk wind and cold.
No pretty snow.  No shining sun.

I am a firm believer that we should be thankful for every day and every season!
Every day holds something to be thankful for.
Today let's be thankful for comfort food.

When it is sooooo cold and dreary out, do you crave comfort food?  I do!
Something that will warm you clear through to your bones ;-)

Today I want to share a recipe that I make all year round.

It is mouth watering delicious in the summer with garden fresh kale, vine ripe tomatoes and fresh parsley!

Snap out of it!  It's not summer!
So let's make the most of this recipe and make it a comfort food for the winter.

Chicken Florentine Pasta (with kale and tomatoes)

I usually use boneless, skinless chicken breasts or tenders for this recipe because it makes dicing easy, but you can use your favorite chicken meat - dark or white.

I have also made this with spinach instead of kale.  Yummy also.

What you will need:
16 oz. box penne pasta
4 chicken breasts, diced into bite size pieces
salt, pepper, parsley
3 cups chicken broth 
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced in half
kale, removed from stem and ripped into small pieces
heavy cream 

Let's make it:
Cook the pasta in boiling, salted water until al dente (about 10 minutes).
Drain pasta.

Fry the diced chicken breasts in a mixture of olive oil and butter until lightly browned, 
seasoning with a mixture of salt, pepper and parsley.

Once the chicken is browned and the pasta is drained, add them with the chicken broth and 2 cloves of minced garlic in the large pot that you cooked the pasta in.

Add the tomatoes, kale and a splash of heavy cream.  Heat through.

It is a very pretty food to look at with the bright colors of red and green against the browned chicken and creamy colored pasta.

This is a tasty and healthy recipe to feed your family, even if they may not usually want to eat their veggies.
My family doesn't LOVE kale like I do, but my girls and husband eat this combination and they LOVE it!  

My chickens love it when I make this also, because they get the kale stems to eat.
Sshhh...we won't tell them what the main ingredient is ;-)

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Flock Rotation

When we first embarked on our adventure of having a flock of chickens, we developed a plan.  Our primary goal for starting with chickens was the obvious reason:  fresh eggs!  Our plan to consistently have fresh eggs is flock rotation.  We figure every two years we will get baby chicks.  Once they start laying eggs, we will process the older ones.
Well, it has been two years and we will be getting baby chicks within the next few months!  Because this will be our first flock rotation, we have a lot to do to get ready.  Because our current ladies have always been together and we have not had any problems, we do not want to upset them or give them reason to become territorial.  For this reason, we will be constructing a smaller coop for the new chicks and a separate fenced in area to go with their new coop.
The work has started on the coop, but because we are DIYers, we work on it when we can.  Above is a sneak peak…it starts with a pallet.  It will be raised off the ground and have a slanted roof.  Mostly made out of re-purposed material, just like our first coop (see it here).  
But for now, we have other exciting things to do:  we get to decide what type of chickens we want.  Although our current coop could accommodate more chickens, we have decided that six works for us and our needs.  Our first flock was Golden Comets (with the accidental Buff Orpington).  They have been a wonderful addition to LL Farm, providing us with delicious eggs.  With the exception of winter months, they have been consistent in laying brown eggs, even during their molting.
For our new flock, we want to be a bit more adventurous.  Chickens that look different and produce different colored eggs.
To see what breeds we are thinking about (and how we are going to get them), please read the rest of this article here at Community Chickens, where I write about chickens.  You can also weigh in on your favorite breed!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Farm to Table - Individual Meatloaves

The farm to table (also known as farm to fork) movement is huge right now, educating people about the health and economic benefits of growing/raising more of your own food or buying from local farmers/farm markets.  This is something that has been instilled in me my entire life.

For generations, my family has raised meat, vegetables, and fruit for sustainability.  Looking back at my childhood, my Mom had a summer kitchen, out the back door of the farm house where we lived.  She worked, what must have seemed endlessly to her,  canning vegetables and fruits from our garden.  My Dad has always had some type of butchering set-up, and at times has smoked some of the meat.  He has processed beef, pork, deer, and chickens.  A lot of his equipment was handed down to him from his uncle. 

I did run away from this type of lifestyle for a while, but as my husband says "you can take the girl out of the country, but you can't take the country out of the girl".  I embrace this type of lifestyle now!  Having children is what ignited my fire.  And, surprisingly, my husband was not raised this way, but he dives right in, learning as we truck forward in this lifestyle.  It is a great adventure that we are on. 

Here at LL Farm, I love to create meals for my family and friends that incorporates things from our garden (fresh and canned).  I use the delicious eggs that our chickens lay for us.  Our beef comes from my brother's farm (it is a dream of ours to add a cow to our own little farm). I think it is important to teach my children, and educate others, where their food comes from.

As the snow fell and the wind blew, I wanted something warm and filling.  I had pulled ground beef out of the freezer to de-thaw, but did not know what I was going to make for supper with it yet.  After some pondering, I decided on individual meatloaves.  

This is a farm-to-fork recipe:

1 pound ground beef
(from a cow raised on my brother's farm, processed by my Dad, Handy Hubby, and my brother; wrapped and labeled by me)

2 eggs
(from our flock of chickens)

a palm full of frozen green peppers
(from our garden)  * Read how I freeze green peppers here *

1 pint of tomatoes
(that I canned from our garden)

1 onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 sleeve of saltine crackers 
(sometimes I use oats)

Combine all the ingredients together and season with salt and pepper.
Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. 

You can shape a loaf in a 9x13 baking dish or you can shape the mixture in a loaf pan.

I created individual meatloaves, by using this 'brownie pan' from Pampered Chef. 

In relation to this type of lifestyle, I have a couple friends that "get me" , while most people look at me like I am speaking a foreign language. 

Some say it's an old fashioned way of living.

Some say it is too much work and it's easier and more convenient to buy everything from the store.

Others don't want to touch an animal, yet alone it's meat.

Which side of the fence are you on?   
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