This site is about my life as a farmgirl, wife, mother and grandmother. We have a beautiful granddaughter and the cutest grandson. We own two farms in Craig County Virginia, leasing one and raising beef cattle on the other.
Our first major storm of the winter 2021-2022 and it’s over but for the nasty wind and the snow drifts. We ended up with about 7-8 inches but hard to tell because of the drifts.
This morning we are waiting on the wind to die a little before feeding the cattle because the snow would just drift over it before they could eat. They were fed heavy yesterday and their water comes from flowing mountain springs. We’re very thankful there are no calves to be born for at least another two months.
Each year our potatoes produce very well, and the cellar potato bin gets almost full. We eat them, share them with our kids and grandkids, and of course our friends. When we have an over-abundance, we sale them.
When spring rolls around and the leftovers are starting to sprout, we use about a bushel for seed and the rest are peeled and canned. You might ask “why can them?”. Well, if you ever been in a pinch for time, canned potatoes are quick and can be used in so many different ways.
The pint jars are diced and great for hash browns, potato soup, corn beef hash and sometimes I’ll do a quick fry in bacon bits as a side for bacon and eggs. The chunked quarts can be mashed, used in soups and stews, and just buttered potatoes. I also have a few quarts leftover that I sliced for scalloped potatoes, fried potatoes and bake them in the over with rosemary & pats of butter. There are millions of dishes that can be made quicker if they’re already peeled and pre-cooked!
When I can them, I add the potatoes to the jars with salt, 1/2 teaspoon for pints and 1 teaspoon for quarts. I then cover them with water to the neck of the jar, add the lids and rings, and I pressure cook them at 10 pounds of pressure for 35 minutes.
I’m all about saving time especially during the summer when we are outside working until dark or we collapse, whichever comes first!!!
One entire end of our garden is full of rhubarb that is harvested three or four times each year. Most people don’t like it because it so sour. I’ve learned a couple of tricks since we started raising it that makes it hard to turn down.
I use the leaves which are huge on the plant are cut off and reintroduced into the patch to keep the weeds down like a mulch. They are poisonous, the substances present in the plant leaves are oxalic acid and anthraquinone glycosides. The stalks and roots are not poisonous.
Now, how to cook them. Cut the stalks into one-inch cubes after you have thoroughly washed them. Put in a pan with just enough water to keep them from burning, very little water (1/4 inch, at most) and cook over medium heat and watch carefully. When fully cooked add about two cups of sugar and stir to dissolve. Now here’s the trick, add your favorite box of flavored gelatin and stir to incorporate. We love strawberry or raspberry but have used grape and blackberry as well. The gelatin thickens the rhubarb and adds a wonderful flavor. It’s wonderful addition to our morning breakfast, on hot biscuits like jelly, also unique in a rollup cake!
If friends and neighbors want some this spring let me know because we have a lot in the freezer. We didn’t share a lot because we were only allowing family on the farm due to Covid. If friends will contact me, I’ll cut it and leave in bags for drive up delivery at the end of the driveway!!! I’ll be posting when it’s available.
There’s a front rolling in here this morning around 10:00 or 11:00 so the cattle are being fed before the farmer is. He wanted to feed the cattle their hay and grain before it’s covered with rain and probably ice because it’s 32*.
While hubby is taking care of the stock I prepared breakfast.
My French toast recipe is six eggs, 1/2 cup of milk, 2 tablespoons of sugar, and 1 tablespoon of cinnamon, all beaten together until frothy. While I’m beating this up, I’m also melting a half stick of butter in my electric skillet. I dip slices of bread into the egg mixture and lay them out in the melted butter, growing each side. This makes a dozen slices of toast and when they’re done I fry the bacon in the same skillet. Everything is done and setting on the table when hubby walks in the house.
Normally we would use our own maple syrup but Mother Nature hasn’t been kind for two years, so we use Mrs. Butterworth’s until we can harvest our own. If all goes well we’ll be tapping trees and making syrup in the sugar house in late February or March.
At the end of the meal when I’m cleaning up the kitchen I also clean up those used egg shells. Once they’re washed out, I put them in a pan on my dryer to dry thoroughly. The next day I drop them in a clean bag, crush the shells into small pieces and store them until garden time. We drop the shells around our plants in the each row of the garden to get rid of any unwanted creatures eating the plants and to add calcium to the plants. Last spring our garden was “almost” bug free!!
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.
I just love my husband to death and he never fails to surprise me throughout the year with his hand-made gifts for me. We celebrated our 47th wedding anniversary on Monday the 4th (1972) and have done a lot of reminiscing this entire week. Forty-seven years is a long time but it just doesn’t seem like it’s been that long. This year he surprised me with a handmade piece of furniture for my kitchen.
Thank you my love for all your ingenuity, patience and time in building me such a fine piece of furniture for our home. I will use with love and thoughts of you forever!!
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.
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???
Really??? Two days into the year and my one and only resolution is down the drain! Why? I can’t blog if the internet connection is non-existent. I kept going to my computer yesterday to post a note but my computer kept saying “no internet connection”. Oh well, today is another day and I’ll remedy the situation with two posts and hope you can stand two in one day! 🙂
I had a note from a cousin New Year’s Day wanting my Crockpot Apple Butter recipe and I sent it to her. I’ll share it with you as well and if you have any questions just comment at the bottom of the post. I’ve wanted for the last several years to make a copper kettle full of apple butter but we’ve not had enough apples to fill the kettle. I have had enough apples of different varieties to freeze lots of applesauce which we love but it’s been building up. Our smallest freezer is half-full of containers of applesauce and I thought maybe if I use up about half of it Mother Nature may give us a good crop of apples in the coming fall.
I store/freeze the applesauce in the large 48 oz. margarine containers or Cool Whip containers. They’re sturdy and very stackable in a chest freezer. After I cook up the apples, I always add sugar to the pot and stir well to make sure the sugar dissolves before I freeze it. When we need apples on the table (just about every day), all I have to do is thaw it.
Now for the recipe:
I have two six quart crockpots with two settings of low and high. One has a lid that can be vented and the other has securing handles but the lid had a pencil size hole in the top of the lid for venting. I fill the crockpot almost to the top of the pot with applesauce (fresh or frozen) and turn the heat setting to high and cover with the lid NOT vented. I want it to get hot and can tell when it’s hot enough because it will have little bubbles forming around the edge of the pot or may even bubble up.
A very important note to making apple butter in a copper kettle or a crockpot, you MUST stir it. In a copper kettle it has to be stirred constantly but in a crockpot you only have to stir at least every thirty minutes. Why? In the copper kettle over an open fire it will burn unless stirred constantly. Not so in a crockpot but it will get thick on top and form almost a crust of very thick sauce and you will have to stir harder and longer to get it to smooth out and incorporate into the rest of the sauce.
Once your applesauce has heated up to the point of bubbles add THREE cups of sugar and stir well. This is why you don’t fill it all the way to the top, you have to make room for the extra sugar. When you first add this the sauce will thin some. Remember, stir well every thirty minutes or so. DO Not put the lid on tight this time. The vapor of the water in the apples needs to get out and this helps the applesauce thicken. Also be careful of bubbling sauce popping out on your skin. Each time that you stir you will notice the sauce turning colors as you stir. Try to pull the bottom sauce to the top. I found out a couple years ago the blending and stirring is easier if you have a good whisk to work it.
At this point, continue to leave the lid cracked, stir every thirty minutes, and continue this step until the sauce gets thickened to your taste. I don’t like it real thick, it spreads better on buttered biscuits and toast if it’s a little thinner. Last step, this is where you flavor the sauce and it becomes applebutter.
This is the step that can make or ruin your apple butter. Some people only like cinnamon, we like cinnamon and cloves. My recipe is 4-6 drops of cinnamon and 3-5 drops of cloves. Be very careful when you add this to your batch and taste test after one or two drops of cinnamon. Once you have flavored with the cinnamon, then do the same process with the cloves. You can add more drops of each depending on your taste but taking baby steps in flavoring will make the process worthwhile. After you have the flavoring in cook the applebutter about 20-30 minutes longer stirring more frequently. You will notice the applebutter will be darker.
During the last minutes of processing, prepare your jars. I use regular mouth pint, half-pint and jelly jars for canning. The half-pints and jelly jars make great gifts but the gifter may come calling for more because it’s sooooooo good! I pour the hot applebutter into the jars, put on the lids really tight and set aside with a heavy towel over the top to retain the heat until the jars seal. You’re done!! Easy and so good!!
We’ve cleaned out the garden and everything has been stored, frozen or canned. Hubby did till up a few spots and planted some turnips as a winter crop. He loves them boiled and with almost every meal. I like them raw!!
We harvested several small pumpkins and four large ones. The small will adorn the entrance to our house and the large ones I canned.
I washed them good on the outside, split them in half, scooped out the pulp and seed and then sliced them to make peeling easier.
I diced them up in 1-2 inch pieces and put them in an old canner. I put one quart of water over them to cook on the stove on medium low heat.
They need to cook slowly to keep from sticking/scorching. I don’t add any seasoning until they’re to be used for pies, cookies, or pumpkin bread.
Once they’re tender enough to stick with a fork, I drain off the water and run the pumpkin through my sieve. It’s very important to get as much water out of the pumpkin as possible before mashing. I usually let the pumpkin set in the sieve for about 15-20 minutes so the water on the pieces will drip out. Dump this water out before pressing.
Out of the four pumpkins, I canned six pints and three quarts. I can’t wait to start baking with them. My pumpkin recipes will be added to my Recipes From My House To Yours page tomorrow.
I hope you can enjoy your garden harvest as much as we are. With Hurricane Matthew charging up the coast and a cold front moving in from the northwest I’ve used some of our harvest today to make a big pot of homemade soup!!! It’s suppertime!
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!
Friday night a week ago hubby accepted an invitation to go Striper Fishing with a friend of ours. They left around 8:00 p.m. and headed for the lake and caught these beauties before the rain storm ran them off the lake.
The biggest one weighed a little over ten pounds and the other two were just a little less. Vince caught two and Eddie caught one but Vince had been fishing for them all summer and had enough in his freezer to them for the winter.
The next day Eddie took them to his “professional” fileter and this is what we got.
The first night i took 1/2 a filet, cut in 3″ squares and soaked them in salt water for about 30 minutes. Then I poured a package of cornmeal muffin mix in a ziploc bag, poured about 1/4 cup of Old Bay seasoning in the muffin mix, sealed it and shook like crazy to mix it all really well. Then I melted a stick of butter in a skillet and melted it to sizzling but not burning. I poured the salted water off the filets and dropped each in the cornmeal mixture, zipped up the bag and shook to cover completed. I let it set just for a second then shook again and popped them in the sizzling butter. When golden brown on the bottom, I flipped the pieces and started sizzling again. I tuned them about three times and then took out and placed on a paper towel covered platter. I served this with baked beans, coleslaw and a baked potato. Best fish I’ve made in a long time. The next day hubby fixed the same meal but instead of skillet he used the new deep fryer I bought him for Father’s Day and it was absolutely DIVINE!!!
My big question–when you going striper fishing again?? 🙂
We froze the rest of the filets for future dinners and Heather got a few on Tuesday when she came to visit.
We had a slow start with our asparagus beds this year but now it’s coming in with leaps and bounds! I started a new bed last spring from seed and it’s starting to grow but will be at least two more years before we get any food from it. Most of our beds are wild and started by the birds. We’re sharing it with friends and family and eating it about every meal. I’m sure we’ll tire of it soon.
I don’t freeze or can asparagus because I’ve not found a way to preserve that it doesn’t come out spongy or slimy. Can’t stand that!! We just enjoy it as long as it produces and as long as we’re not tired of eating so much of it. I’m going to experiment with making an asparagus creamed soup and will let you know how that goes. That may be one way of preserving it for winter consumption.
I love to cook and have collected cookbooks from all over the place and from everyone. Finding the storage for all of them has become a challenge. Hubby made me an adorable recipe box from some barnwood and I’ve started taking my favorite recipes from all of my cookbooks and giving the books to my daughter, granddaughter and friends.
The recipes I have won’t even begin to fit in this little treasure so he made me this one.
I’ve only went through about half of my cookbooks and I’m only putting my favorite, tried and true recipes in this box. As you can tell from the following picture it’s going to be a work in progress for some time. The wooden box at the end of the books on this shelf are recipes that hubby’s aunt had. I have a couple cookbooks I won’t give away because they belonged to my Mom and I would love to have a cookbook that my grandmother’s used but I seriously think all of their recipes were in their head and hearts.
I also have a stack of written recipes I’ve collected over the years that have never been in a book. The more I think about this, I’m wondering if I shouldn’t write my own cookbook and maybe name it “Country Girl Cooks” or something simple like that!! That might be quite fun but very time-consuming. My recipe cards are all hand-written and in print not cursive writing.
I guess I could make enough room on top of the pie safe for another one. Hubby is getting really creative on the project ideas I come up with. My recipes come from friends, family, family cookbooks, old cookbooks and concoctions I come up with myself. I do love to cook!
Have you ever sat with someone and you laughed so hard your face hurt? Have you got a special person in your life besides the love of your life that you can talk to about ANYTHING? Have you got a special friend that can make you laugh, think, cry, and listen to for hours on end? I do!!
My best friend (besides hubby) came for a 10 day visit this month and we had an absolute ball!! We talked, laughed, shopped, crafted, cleaned, decorated, ate, drank, laughed, talked, and slept a little while she was with me. My husband took us to the West Virginia State Fair one evening. We shopped three or four days. We put almost 700 miles on my car. We caught up on old stuff and new stuff. We visited the mountain where her husband now resides. We sampled new wines and old. We went on treasure hunts. We baked! We sobbed when she left to go home and we’re making plans for our next visit together!! Margaret is my MVBF!!!
This is the blog for our little farm in Skagit county. Here we have Shetland sheep and Nigerian Dwarf goats. In addition we have donkeys, cattle, pigs, chickens, geese, and peafowl. The blog describes the weekly activities here.