Thursday, November 29, 2012

Farmwife's Journal - November 29th

Now that the election is over, Mike is getting ready for his new position as commissioner.  He has been meeting with the heads of different departments to get to know them and what they do.  He is going to be a great commissioner! :)  We are looking forward to the swearing in ceremony, and the kids and me plan to attend as many of his meetings as we can.  I want my kids to learn the ins and outs of county government...for better or worse. :)
Last night Jonny helped me make some Gingerbread cookies.  These are my favorite Christmas cookies.  Tomorrow I am having a tea party for some friends, so I have been making treats the last few days.  The recipe is below. 
Gingerbread cookies
3 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 T. baking powder
2 tsp.  ground ginger
1 tsp.  ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. cloves

1/2 cup softened butter
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup maple syrup
Dried fruit for decorating.  We use raisins, cranberries, and apples.

Stir dry ingredients together.  Then mix the wet ingredient together and add to the dry. Mix well.  You can refrigerate the dough for an hour, or just start rolling it out, like I do. :)  Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.  So yummy!

Today's snack - raspberry, cinnamon, oat straw, and peppermint tea with undecorated Gingerbread cookies. :)

Enjoying our snack while reviewing states and capitals
Today I got my pumpkin butter canned while the kids were off at music lessons.  Below is the step by step process.  We enjoy pumpkin butter on our waffles, toast, and pumpkin or banana bread.

Here I am adding my chunks of cooked pumpkin to my blender.

20 cups of pureed pumpkin.  This was from two medium sized pumpkins.

To my 20 cups of pumpkin puree, I add 6 cups of sugar, 2 cups of apple cider, 4 tsp. of cinnamon, 2 tsp. cloves, 2 tsp. allspice, 2 tsp. nutmeg.  Then I mix it and heat it.

Once the pumpkin butter is good and hot, I start canning it.

Here I am adding my jars to my steam caner.

Process pint jars for 10 minutes.
 That's it!  It's really easy.  Canned pumpkin butter also makes a great Christmas gift. :)

This evening we played our first hockey game of the season on our pond.  Along with a couple friends, we enjoyed some good exercise and fresh, night air.  Family hockey is one of the things our family loves most about winter. :)

Monday, November 26, 2012

Farm Kitchen - November 26th

Last night, the last of the turkey was picked off the bones and the carcass was put back in the roaster for making soup stock. Along with the herbs, onions, and garlic that accompanied my Thanksgiving turkey, I added some turkey feet, celery, and a little apple cider vinegar. The vinegar helps draw the minerals out of the bones and the turkey feet are high in gelatin. The stock will cook on low, simmering until tomorrow morning - 36 hours total. Then I will strain it, fill old yogurt containers with the nutritious stock, and freeze it.

Since my kids can work on math with only a little assistance from me, I work along side them in the kitchen.  This is my time to get some food prep done; I have about one hour.  This morning I cleaned out some pumpkins and baked them.  Then I scrubbed some carrots that the boys dug from the garden a couple weeks ago. 

Getting pumpkins ready for baking.

Carrots and garden dirt. :)

Clean carrots :)
With a few other accomplishments (straining kefir & kitchen clean up) and some interruptions for math help, that's about all I got done in my hour.

After math and before language, the boys and I ran down the driveway and back to get my blood flowing and their energy out! :)  Emily snapped this photo without us knowing.

Later in the day, while I was making lunch, I grated the carrots along with some apples.  I ended up with a whole gallon bag of grated carrots. We will put them on our salads.

Grated carrots

Lunch - Mixed greens with grated carrots and grated apples, homemade French dressing, and homemade sourdough bread with our own crab apple jelly.

Around 4pm, I started dinner - turkey soup.  I was in and out of the kitchen while I sauteed garlic, onions, beans, carrots, peppers, and zucchini (all from my garden) in butter.
Garden vegetables cooking
Then I snuck some broth from my roaster (about 5 cups).  With the broth in my large soup pot, I added about 8 cups of water, three tablespoons of salt and about a pound of spaghetti noodles and put them on the stove on high.  Once the noodles were cooked, I added more water (about 8 cups), my vegetables, turkey (about 6 cups), and herbs (parsley, oregano, basil, sage).  This made a HUGE pot of soup! 
Turkey Noodle Soup
My wonderful husband came home with this for me today - a Poinsettia plant!

I ended up spending about three hours total in my kitchen today, but I have dinner made for tomorrow night (soup) and for lunch the next day.  That's not all...with all that soup, I will have enough to freeze for at least two meals for the following week.  Also, my lettuce is washed and my carrots are grated.  Lunch will be easy to throw together this week.  I will add hard boiled eggs & grated cheese to my salad as the week goes on.  This will make for quick and easy lunches.  I will also have many quarts of broth in the freezer, ready for a quick pot of soup or an addition to my dog's breakfast. :) The pumpkin puree is in the refrigerator, ready to made into pumpkin butter. 

Well, I am tired.  :)  But it is a good tired.:)  I am going to go soak in a hot chamomile bath while I listen to my husband sing and my children play their instruments.  It's music night at the Housman's house. :)

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Liberation or Bondage?

Do you ever have the feeling that you need to cut some things out of your life because you are simply too busy?  I do.  During those times, I often think about the amount of time I spend in the kitchen and wonder if I should buy more packaged foods in order to gain myself a little more time in a day.  But each time I am tempted to make these changes, I am reminded of how healthy my family is and how little we spend on health care (time and money).  Although it's a lot of work, it is worth it because in the end, I wouldn't be gaining any time.  What is life if you don't have your health?  Miserable!  Who cares if you have lots of time if all you can do is lie around and be sick, or spend your days with aches and pains that consume your thoughts because you just can't get rid of them.

Unfortunately this is what has happened in most kitchens.  We have abandoned the work involved in making us healthy and subcontracted it out to others - grocery stores and restaurants.  And what's worse is that we have put our faith in these people to take good care of our bodies.  Deceiving ourselves into believing that they are taking the time that we are not, to prepare foods full of nutrition that will produce good health.  In order to be profitable, businesses have responded to consumer demand by producing foods that are cheaper and faster, but less nutritious.  Their main goal is not our health because we have not demanded that it be so! 

Sure, there are good-willed people out there who want to produce the best foods they can for you, but they cannot compete on price alone.  If we made different decisions tomorrow about our foods, the industry would change, but it doesn't look like that is happening any time soon. You must do as much as you can yourself, and then look for those who are concerned about the nutrition in food and buy what you must from them.  In other words, know your farmer.

Blanching and freezing garden produce

In our efforts to be liberated from our kitchens, we have created our current food system where cheap food is mass-produced and our health care costs are skyrocketing!  When the average family spends less than 10% of their income on food and much more on health care, are we really gaining anything?

In order to see some changes, we must get back to traditional foods and take the time to prepare them.  We must stop buying cheap foods and fast foods.  It is the only way to regain our health.  Sure science is making advances and doctors are learning new treatments, but the question is: "Why do we want to be dependant on them?"   Isn't being healthy a better option than learning how to treat diseases?

That said, I know that eating healthy is not the only factor in maintaining good health.  There are other factors that are at times beyond our control, but much of our health problems could be solved by eating well.

It's true that many of us need to cut some things out of our schedule because life is too busy at times, but we must cut things that will truly give us more time.  Turning off the TV and instead peeling, coring, and drying apples may actually be a good long term investment in our health.  Even turning our backs on the computer for a day while we make bread from scratch or cook a roaster full of squash and freeze it would be a wise investment.  We must make sure our actions are actually liberating us and not bringing us into more bondage.  Spend the time that is necessary in the kitchen for good health.  What you will gain will be priceless!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Thankgiving!

We wanted to wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving!  There is always so much to be thankful for!  God is good all the time! :) 

To our customers, may your turkey be the best one yet...especially those turkeys that will be eaten fresh! :)  Below is our brine recipe.  Our secret to a very tender and tasty turkey. :)

Turkey Brine
Put your turkey in a brine container (we use a cooler) and cover it with water.  For every gallon of water, add one cup of course salt or whatever salt you have on hand.  Then add one tablespoon of peppercorns and a handful of crushed sage leaves.  You can leave your turkey in the brine for 24- 36 hours.  I put mine outside to keep it cool.  Add ice if you need to.  That's it! :) 

Here is our turkey in the brine

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family! :)

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Farmwife's Journal - November 10th

We just finished butchering the first batch of turkeys.  Customers will come this afternoon to pick them up.  It is a balmy 48 degrees outside, and I cannot remember it ever being this warm for turkey butchering.  Working under the patio heater that Mike bought helps too. :)  One more butchering next Saturday and then we are all done with poultry for the season.  This we be the latest scheduled butchering that we have done.  We wanted to give the customers the option of keeping their turkey fresh for Thanksgiving.

Commissioner Mike
As many of you know, my husband is the new District 4 Meeker County Commissioner!  We are so excited!!  We want to thank all who helped with the campaign; we couldn't have done it with out you!  You prayed for us, encouraged us, put up signs, contributed financially, walked in parades, wrote letters to the editor, wore Mike's shirts around town, handed out literature, and helped with the election party...I hope I didn't forget anything.  We are so grateful for all your help!  Mike will officially start in January, and his term will last four years.  The kids and I have no doubt that he will do a fantastic job!  We need more men like him involved in politics!

Jonny putting up a sign

Door knocking, door knocking, and more door knocking. :)

Knockin' buddies

Door knocking with Mike was such a great experience for our kids. (Mike and Em here)

Mike knocked on approximately 1,450 doors!!

The kids loved door knocking with Mike.  He rarely went out alone.
Jonny is working on our display (letters to the editor) for the election party.
Election night party helper, my friend Lori.

Election night party helper, my friend Brenda
We were so thankful for the many letters to the editor that were written on Mike's behalf.  That was a huge blessing and encouragement to us.  One special letter, written by our daughter Emily, was very special!  When she announced one day that she was going to write a letter to the editor, we were surprised by her boldness but excited at such a great idea. :)  So she called the newspaper, got all the details, and submitted a letter.  Here it is:

Vote for My Dad!
As the daughter of a commissioner candidate, to all those considering voting for my dad, Mike Housman, I can tell you from first-hand experience:  he’s the real deal.
I’m 16 years old and have spent a lot of time with Dad, even more so this summer and fall as I (and the rest of the family) have been campaigning for and with him.  Walking in parades, knocking on doors, and attending various events together has been a great experience.  But the best part has been getting to spend a lot of time learning from, and just being with my best friend, my dad.
Dad’s three main campaign slogans: honesty, transparency, and common sense, aren’t just campaign slogans, or nice words that look great on a business card or brochure.  This is what my dad really believes.  These absolutely do describe his character and ideals.  And these ARE the principles he will use as your commissioner.  Anyone can say things.  It’s another thing to do them.  But my dad is a doer. 
My dad is an honest, godly, and upright man.  Dad never has different answers for different people.  Like I said before, he’s the real deal!  He is always honest and straightforward with everyone, as well as very transparent - another trait I admire in him.  And transparency is so key to Dad - this is something that will not change if he is elected as your District 4 Commissioner.  Always happy to answer questions, Dad wants to work on educating and involving the public, and having more transparency in board meetings.  He is accessible, ready and willing to help the people of Meeker County.  And last but not least, Dad possesses a whole lot of good ol’ common sense!  But, as someone once said, “Common sense  really isn’t all that common anymore.”  A “fresh perspective," bold leadership, and a good dose of common sense - this is the kind of leadership Dad will bring to the commissioner board.  While campaigning with Dad the last few months, I’ve had the opportunity to ask lots of questions and “talk politics” with him.  I have always admired how he takes a balanced approach, considering both sides of the issue, and yes, using common sense in his answers.  And he does all this in a way I can understand.  I am so blessed to have such a great Dad!
If you are looking for honesty, transparency, common sense, and strong leadership on the county board, vote for Mike Housman.   Dad is not your average “politician."  He’s doing this because it needs to get done, and I know he’s the one for the job!  Elect Mike Housman for District 4 Meeker County Commissioner!
Isn't that a great letter? :)
Other than a little distraction (with the election and all) we have been hunting all week.  So far we have not bagged any deer. :(  There are a couple new stands in the area where we are hunting, and the deer seem to be spooked.  But Emily is on stand as I type, and hopefully others of us will get out there later today.  Last year we shot three deer on the last day of season (which will be tomorrow), so maybe we will start a new can only hope! :)

Friday, November 2, 2012

Recent Photos

I just can't get enough of this guy! :)

The three munchkins still at home

Jonny showing off the new gun he bought.

Mike throwing clays for the boys.  (Yes, they are standing in a line eventhough it doesn't look like it.)

Me in twenty-five years.  (Wearing Grandma's glasses) :)

Mike in twenty-five years :)

Having tea with my girl while shopping for clothes on the internet. :)
Captain and Princess
Pretty Princess :)

The Mr. and Mrs.