With yet another weird spring we managed to collect about 80 gallons of sugar maple sap in 2021. It was cold and blustery but hubby tapped those trees anyway and cooked off the syrup on our propane turkey fryer in the garage. A small tank of gas boiled down about 10 gallon of sap in about 5-6 hours which gives us about a quart of maple syrup in each run. The syrup was cooked down in the garage, moved to my kitchen to strain three times and cook down to desired thickness. We thought it was probably the thickest we’ve ever made. Trying to farm and cook off syrup at the same time became a little harried at times and two pots became scorched near the end and had to be thrown out!! But in all it was a quick process and we processed 15 pints and half pints this year. The end product was worth it and those plates of French toast were delicious.
Eddie fileted them on Sunday morning and I like to soak them in ice water for at least 48 hours to get rid of the blood. They were all snow white this morning when I sliced them into good cubes and froze them.
Does anyone out there have a favorite recipe for fish that you would like to share with me? When I’m ready to cook them I take them out of the freezer and soak them several hours in salted water. Then I get my deep fryer heating and make a smooth batter of seasoned flour, paprika, eggs, milk and old bay seasoning. I dip the cubes in a separate bowl of seasoned flour, then into the batter and then into the fryer until they’re golden brown. It’s some really good eating!!!
There’s new recipes on my cooking page for you to try. Let me know what you think!
I’ve been cleaning out and reorganizing our three freezers. We have an over abundance of applesauce in pint containers even though we didn’t have many apples to harvest in 2019. We are getting low on apple butter so I remedied the situation! Two batches cleared out 20 pints of applesauce from the smallest freezer and now we have over 30 pints of applesauce in the cellar. I made these two batches with cinnamon and cloves. Good stuff!
I thawed the applesauce and filled the crockpot as full as I could get it. I added two cups of sugar and turned the crockpot to high and let it cook all day. Stirring the pot is essential because it will get thick on the bottom of the crock. I also kept the lid on the crockpot during the cooking. The applesauce will start turning brown about half way through the cooking. About one hour before you think it’s thick enough to suit you, remove the lid, stir thoroughly and drop your flavoring oils. I have a very small eyedropper I use that’s about two inches long and I filled it up with oil of cinnamon and about half full of the oil of cloves. Squeeze the dropper of the oil on the top of the applesauce and then stir throughly again and let cook at least one half hour longer without the lid on. Done! Pour it into the clean jars and seal while the applebutter is hot. The jars will seal from the boiling fruit!!
I’ve added several salad dishes to my blogs cooking page if you’re interested. They’re scattered throughout the page and hope you find something you might like. For me, cooking is literally food for the soul!! Check it out – https://countrygirllifeonthefarm.com/recipes-from-my-house-to-yours/
I’ve sadly neglected my blog the last few months but today I updated my Goodreads list and I added a new recipe to the cooking page. Take a look!!
Here are three of my favorite tips around the home:
If your brown sugar hardens up or get big hard lumps in it before you can use it up, stick a single slice of bread in the container and close it up. In 12 -24 hours your brown sugar will be fresh as if you just bought it.
I bake a lot of homemade cookies and at times I can’t put my hands on a truly airtight container to store them in so I treat those cookies just like my brown sugar. Stick a fresh slice of bread in the cookie tin on top of the cookies for a few hours and those cookies will be as fresh as they were when you first baked them.
Like I’ve said before I love to bake and one of my favorite baked goods is a lemon meringue pie. My oven is not exactly right and there are times that the outer edge of my pie crusts gets over done. To remedy this I keep a long piece of foil by my baking tins. I tear it off the roll about 30-36″ long, fold it in half until I have a long strip about 3 inches wide and I wrap it around the pie crust when the crust is golden so it won’t burn. Make sense?? The next time I make pies I’ll take a photo of the results. This strip of foil can be used over and over again.
More of my tips to come!
Saturday was a baking day. I made bread and a pound cake for friends that help us out all the time. So Sunday afternoon, I decided to make us one of our favorite pound cakes.
Five beautiful duck eggs and three cups of sugar later it went in the oven. It was a damp day and I knew I would have to watch carefully that it got done on the inside without getting too dry. Forty-five minutes later it was almost done so I set the timer for another five minutes. Thirty minutes later I didn’t hear the timer and was involved in something else and I ended up with this:
It doesn’t look that bad in this picture but it’s black down in the pan and so dry that I’m not sure the chickens will eat it. What am I thinking, those chickens will eat anything that doesn’t eat them first!!!
I guess that’s what I get for trying to do too many things at one time!!! I’ll start over today as soon as my butter is at room temperature.
We love Creasy Green which others may call Field Cress or Dryland Cress. We haven’t had any on this farm though we’ve tried several times. We’ve concluded that the ground is too rich and creasy greens like poor ground.
We have a market fairly close to home that brings in fresh produce weekly and we asked the owner of SuperValu on Rt. 460 if he could get some in and call us when they come in. He called on Sunday afternoon and we went to pick them up.
Monday and Tuesday afternoon I washed them, washed them a second time (sand seems to hold fast to them) and then blanched them in a very large pot.
I boiled it hard to blanch the greens and they cooked down to about a quarter of the bottom of the pot. No salt or seasoning because I wanted to freeze them in quart bags. I got six quarts out of the first cooking and four out of the second batch. We had a large bowl of them for dinner last night and they were so good.
We love them with pinto beans, fried potatoes, and cornbread!! Great meal!
When we moved from our small farm on Johns Creek to this farm on Meadow Creek I misplaced a few things and one was my Dad’s favorite fruitcake recipe. He loved fruitcake and I used to make him three every Christmas. It was a wonderful recipe which I have not been able to duplicate and it had one ingredient in it that most don’t have and that was molasses.
I was telling a very special friend of mine about it and she shared a piece of the fruit cake she made this past Christmas. I WAS IN HEAVEN! She gave me two pieces to bring home with me and the more I ate it the more I wanted my own. I think it’s better than the one I made all those years. She shared the recipe with me a few weeks ago and I’ve been collecting the ingredients ever since. Yesterday I whipped it up and it made five loaf pans and I was thrilled!! They may through the next six months!! Eddie is not crazy about fruit cake so I’ll have to eat them all by myself!!! Greedy, aren’t I!!
They are full of candied cherries, fruit, candied pineapple, orange marmalade, nuts and much more. The bites I have taken from the one that broke is heavenly! Merry Christmas to me!
. . .and some days you don’t. Yesterday was a bummer baking day!! I started with what I thought was my Mom’s Bread Pudding, NOT! The recipe will be deleted from the Recipe page. It didn’t seem right when I was putting it together but it’s been about three years since I last made it. I greased the casserole dish, followed the recipe, put it in the oven and in 25 minutes the kitchen was full of smoke. The pudding was raising but so was the butter in the dish that was running over along with some of the batter, what a mess!!!
While the bread pudding was baking I started my loaf bread which I make just about every week. Never fails!! NOT!!!! We think because we opened up windows in the kitchen and living room to let the smoke clear out must have killed the yeast. It never rose in the big bowl. I took it out of the bowl last night, made it into loaves thinking if I was real lucky it would raise during the night, NOT! I put it in the oven this morning to let it bake along with the morning breakfast biscuits and it never rose during the night or in the oven! 😦
So this morning I started over and got a beautiful bowl full of raised dough and now have four loaves of white bread raising beside the wood stove! While that was raising I made a beautiful pineapple-lemon pound cake and the house smells heavenly!!
My very special friend that lives on the Eastern Shore of Maryland is also my copy editor for the blog and she very graciously reminded me that I had not added my bread pudding recipe to my recipe page. How dare I!!! Well, its on there now and hope you all will try the recipe and let me know how you liked it.
Thank you Margaret!!
I’ve added new recipes to my cooking tab if you’re interested. Have a great night!!
I have two friends that asked for my bread pudding recipe a couple years ago and I’ve procrastinated long enough. The recipe is on my recipes page above! One of these ladies may come to visit on Friday and if so, I’ll have a new batch ready for her visit. Sorry no photos to share with it but it looks something like this when it comes out of the oven.
Imagine it with vanilla ice cream, whipped topping or even caramel sauce!! This is one of the easiest desserts in my kitchen!! My mom and both grandmothers made this when we were small and we thought it was the best and only dessert in the world. I love it for breakfast now with some warm milk poured over it.
I promised a pictorial today of the what kept me busy during our snow event yesterday and here it is.
The rest of the day was keeping the stove filled and the wood rack filled as well.
The snow event (notice I didn’t call it a storm) left us with one inch of snow and it got packed down during the night with sleet and rain making for a crusty top. The chickens wanted nothing to do with it so we left them in the coop and the ducks could have left their coop but decided to stick close to a spot with no snow in it! Recipes for the chicken salad, cake, bread, cobbler and pork loin marinade will be posted on my cooking page soon.
Today was a cooking day and I made two cocoanut creme pies and a 14 inch pizza for dinner. The pies were made this morning and I just had a slice and have to watch myself or I’ll eat the WHOLE thing!! I love cocoanut everything!!! To make the pies I had to ready-made pie crusts in the fridge, used a Rawleigh pie filling and some eggs and milk. I love these pie fillings because the filling turns out so thick and creamy and the only place I’ve been able to find them is at The Cheese Store. These are country type stores usually run by Amish or Mennonite families and when I go to their stores I am in heaven but spend so much more money than I planned. The pie fillings will make nine 9″ pies and use two eggs and a three cups of milk for each pie. I also bought some meringue powder there and it makes beautiful tall meringues!
For dinner I made a basic pizza using the pizza crust mix that I bought at the same store, one bag will make two crusts and all you add is water. I made my crust, covered it with my homemade pizza sauce which I’m almost out of, and then used what I had in the fridge for toppings. That consisted of thinly sliced onions, green pepper, pepperoni, smoked sausage, and mozzarella cheese. It was divine, even if I did make it myself.
Yesterday I tried a new experiment with my Air Fryer and a small bear roast. First, I always boil my roast for about thirty minutes in plain water to roll out any excess fat on the roast. The fat is what can ruin a bear roast!! I drained the roast with was only about one pound, rubbed it with two new seasonings that I found at The Cheese Store, and placed it in the Air Fryer following the instructions for a large beef steak but cut the time in half. It was to die for!!! Not kidding!!! When I took it out I sliced the roast into quarter inch slices that will fit perfectly on a biscuit and we had it for lunch yesterday and then for dinner I poured a brown gravy over it and served with mashed potatoes, green beans and macaroni salad! Did I say I’m trying to lose weight???
I am so blessed to have the husband that I’m wed to for 45, almost 46 years! He is always so attentive to my wants and needs even when it’s a pain in the derriere for him!!! He puts up with my love of animals and the work it takes to care for them. He puts up with my hunting needs, not paying attention to him when I’m reading or sewing and so many other things. He tries to see to my wishes for handmade, primitive decor. This is the reason for this post!! He claims to not be a carpenter but wait until you see what he has made for my country kitchen for my birthday and Christmas (both in December).
I have a passion for country decor and primitive country!! After he had the kitchen painted for me this summer I got a “wild hair” and decided to get rid of all of my plastic containers I use for food staple storage. I HATE plastic!!! I changed everything over to old blue 1/2 gallon mason jars with zinc lids. THEN I asked for a special place to put them. Here’s what I got:
THEN, he made me a small cabinet to go beside my stove for storing cookie sheets, loaf pans, and the pans I use on a daily basis. It also is made from chestnut lumber from the farm.
The last two years we’ve had an abundance of cabbage which I have canned and frozen. We shared with our daughters and other family and some of our neighbors. I was starting to run short on sauerkraut so I contacted my neighbor, Linda Smith, about the moon signs to work the cabbage and we got to it.
We brought in four large heads (very large) and Eddie started cutting thin strips from the washed and drained heads. First he quarters the heads and then uses one of our LEM butcher knives to slice off thin strips into a large pan. I mention LEM knives because we think they’re awesome (http://www.lemproducts.com/category ) because they keep a sharp edge longer than most we have and they have all sizes you could possibly need.
Next we bring out my big crock and mallet that Eddie made for me years ago.
As you mash the cabbage, liquid will start oozing out of the cabbage and this will make the brine needed to sour the cabbage. You WILL NOT add any water to this mixture, only cabbage and table salt. You MUST salt each layer as you go through the process.
My first peek at the concoction is about 5-7 days from the covering. We check to make sure it’s bubbling/fermenting and we do our first taste test. The cabbage will taste slightly salty and may be just a bit tart. If we get that taste we know everything is good but if we don’t we may be in trouble! We check again in two days, sour is good, smelly is bad!!!! If it’s bad, we throw it out to the chickens. If it’s sour, we’re whistling Dixie!! Don’t be surprised if you get a little darkened leaves on top or even a brown bubbling “stuff”, it’s part of the fermentation. We let it ferment, checking daily now and when it get’s to the sour point of making your face crinkle you’re ready to stop the process and pack it in jars. I used to use quart jars but the last three years we’ve used pints. Finish it off by packing the kraut in the jars, cleans off the tops of the jars, put on new lids and rings and pressure can the jars for 15 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure, remove from the canner and wait for the jars to seal. Man, I can taste that kraut & smoked sausage, pinto beans, fried potatoes and cornbread now!!!
Do you like the convenience of a dish towel hanging close by in the kitchen? For years I’ve made my own hanging towels and they’re quick and easy and only take half a towel.
I have lots of them and change them about every other day depending on how much they’ve been soiled. Here’s how I make them:
Then I fold them in half and cut them in half. Then I turn down the cut edge about a 1/2 inch and using a large darning needle threaded with a matching yarn, I blanket stitch the fold down. The stitches are usually about 1/4 – 3/8 inch long, longer stitches will show more and not fill in the top of the towel quite enough.
Tie off the end of the towel with a couple whip stitches and knot. From here I make a single crochet using a Size F crochet hook in each blanket stitch across the towel. At this point you can use any crochet stitch you want throughout the towel until it’s about five to six inches wide. I mix the crochet stitches on some and single crochet throughout, just depends on my mood and how fast I want to make up the towels. At the end of each row, DO NOT chain and turn. This is how you will decreast the rows to go into a point. To decrease the row, pull the yarn through two or three stitches. My instructions aren’t great but if you crochet at all you will know how to do this. For more details just comment on this post. When I get towards the end with about 6-9 stitches on the row, I add that turning stitch until I have a tab look at the end. At the end of the last row you crochet make a chain of about 10-12 chain stitches and carry it back to the start of that row and pull through your first stitch several times to make it stay.
Fold that tab over and place your button in the middle of crochet work to meet the chain. Your done! Not sure I would make a very good crochet instructor unless it was a one on one session!!
I’ve added a few more goodies to my Recipe Page if anyone is interested. Hope you will enjoy them as much as we do! They include Pumpkin Pie Squares, Steamed Asparagus, Grilled Chicken Salad, and Pumpkin Cookies.
With some elbow grease, sandpaper and a wire brush it doesn’t take long to make it look like new. We rarely use the oven in the winter when we cook but we do use the top of the stove a lot and we use it for heat.
Late fall I do a thorough top cleaning of the stove to make it look nicer and I use this product for polishing both of our woodstoves. It doesn’t smell or put off any fumes when the stoves are first heated each fall/winter season.
There are pipes in the back of the stove that run through the wall to the bathroom and circulates the water through the hot water tank.
This tank also serves as our heat source for the bathroom in the winter. It’s nice and toasty when you get out of the shower.
Back to the stove! I don’t clean the oven as it’s just too far gone to do a good job and I don’t think I would ever bake in it. We do keep the heat box cleaned out good. Normally when I’m cleaning the stove hubby is cleaning the chimney before our fire season begins. VERY IMPORTANT to clean that chimney every year. We also clean it during the heating season because there’s nothing more frightening than a flue fire. The stove is now being used on a regular basis until summer 2016 arrives!
I love to cook and Cavatini is one of my favorite dishes to fix and I think it’s because with just two people to feed this dish will last at least three nights for dinner and all I have to do is change the salad and bread to make it look like something different each night. It’s a quick casserole that’s a toss up between pizza and spaghetti.
Normally this recipe consists of cooked rotini noodles, ground beef cooked with onions and green peppers, spices of your choice and spaghetti sauce. Then you cover that with pepperoni and top with mozzarella cheese.
The last time I baked it I added to the cooked ground beef a whole, sliced kielbasa, lots of onions and lots of green peppers. It was divine!!
This is such a quick and easy recipe and I’ll add it to my recipe page. Hope you enjoy! We serve it with a salad and garlic bread.
We have a pretty large pond in front of our house that is stocked with large mouth bass and bluegill fish. We both love to fish and don’t fish from the pond a lot because we’re trying to let the pond stock itself and get the fish to a good frying size.
We’re constantly fighting off predators of the fish such as fish hawks, cranes and something my husband calls a “shikepoke” (6-8 inch tall black bird with webbed feet and long beak). We also have to deal with huge mud turtles that come of the small stream that goes around the pond and down through the property. Turtles can eat up the fish pretty quick so we catch them and eat them. Small ones are caught and released in larger creeks around the county.
The meat is beautiful and really good. We’re told there are seven different types of meat in a turtle including chicken, beef, pork, fish, and I’m not sure what the other meats are but we like it all.
When I cook it I first soak it in salt water overnight and then pressure cook it for about 30 -45 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure. I then check to make sure it’s tender and if it is, I roll it in seasoned flour and fry it in butter. It tastes just like fried chicken.
I also freeze it and when I do I place about five or six pieces in a Ziploc freezer bag, fill bag half full of water, press out the excess air and freeze. I know it’ll keep at least 12 months frozen like this but we never have any last that long. We also put the same amount in our food saver bags and vacuum seal and it keeps well like this too.
We try to always process and can or freeze everything we kill EXCEPT for coons and possums!! NO THANK YOU!