Monday, April 28, 2014

The Plan (Subject to Change)

Sometimes you need a plan.  As I look across our homestead at the grass starting to turn green and the bare garden, the intimidation is almost overwhelming.  So boy, do I need a plan.

In a nut shell, my plan for the summer looks something like this:

Create some "lasagna" garden beds.  (Check!  One giant one done and "cooking")

Resist the urge to buy more chickens!

Teach a toddler boundaries (yeah, I know).

Freeze strawberries so we can enjoy smoothies all winter.

Revive my own strawberry patches and apologize to them profusely for the neglect.

Plant an orchard. (No big deal, right?)

Pick raspberries.  Lots and lots of raspberries.

Preserve as many raspberries as I can without going positively insane.

Grow some tomatoes and pray over them every day that the blight misses them.

Can tomatoes until I can't see straight.

Can peaches.  At least 40 quarts.  Our family really likes peaches, ok?  Ok.

Oh yeah, and have a baby.

Never mind, it's more overwhelming when i see it written down.

Life is ever changing.  These are my goals.  Doesn't mean they're going to all happen.  But now there's a plan.  And now you know.  So when you ask me how my strawberries are doing please quickly change the subject when I turn red (like a strawberry, ha).  Or at least console me by telling me how difficult you have found them to be.

At any rate, be nice to me this summer.  There's a lot on my plate.  Some optional, some not.

I leave you with a clip of the Little Mechanic riding his balance bike.  I hate to brag, but this kid is awesome :D.

So how about you?  What do you have on your to do list this summer?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Dark and Delicious Chocolate Fudge Syrup


You're hooked now, aren't you?

I am a fan of chocolate, but let me be frank.

"Hi, Frank"

No, not that frank.  Let me be...honest.  Yes, let me be honest,  I am a chocolate snob.  Not even in a sense of the chocolate needing to be fair trade or organic. (Although, those are definitely bonuses).  I love me some good dark chocolate.  No, not a certain brand of "special" dark chocolate.  Ick.  I mean real dark chocolate.  Chocolate flavored wax is not acceptable. *cough*

I present to you my very favorite dark and delicious chocolate syrup.  It's the best.  Put it in a jar with some raw milk, give it a shake and you are good to go.  So, without further delay...

Our cast of characters will include:
1 1/2 cups Sucanat (I ran mine through a coffee grinder to make it powdery)
1 cup cocoa (If you don't like it too dark feel free to ease up on this)
1 cup water
a pinch of Real Salt
1-2 Tablespoons Butter (the higher quality, the better)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (mine was homemade.  I should probably teach you how to do that :) )

Sucanat is my sweetener of choice.  I'm sure you could substitute another sweetener with not much trouble.

First take your 1 1/2 cups Sucanat,

and your 1 cup of cocoa

Stir them together in a medium-large sauce pan.  Use a bigger one than you think you need.  You DO NOT want this stuff to boil over.  Add a pinch of salt.

Whisk in the water.

Do you like my purple whisk?  It's new :D

Bring to a boil over medium heat and then reduce to low.

Stir it often!  You will want to boil this around 12 minutes.  The less you boil it, the thinner the syrup.  The more you boil it, the thicker the syrup.  I love customizable recipes :D.

Turn off the heat and add a generous blob of butter. (That's 1-2 T for those of you who second guess your blobs.)

Watch the butter get all melty and sigh a little.

Next, stir in 2 teaspoons vanilla extract.

To finish it off, pour it in the cutest jar you can find.  This pint jar fit mine perfectly.

This would be fantastic over ice cream, in milk, or especially in my favorite iced coffee.

Let me know how your version of this recipes turns out!  

What is your favorite sweetener?

Monday, April 14, 2014

Magical Coldbrew

The weather seems to be finally changing around here.  There is a collective sigh of relief in our region as we watched our thermometers creep into the 70s this weekend.

Now, many people may be stocking up on ice cream or making popsicles with the warmer temperatures, but I have a different craving.  Coffee.  Yes, it's true, I'm not a cozy, baby-it's-cold-outside, need-a-pair-of-slippers, coffee drinker.  Don't get me wrong, I love a good, hot cup of coffee on a cold day.  However, my true devotion is for sweet, creamy, icy cold, black goodness.

It's important at this point that we discuss how there is a right way and a wrong way to make iced coffee.  The wrong way is to take some brewed coffee, let it cool, and then dump it over ice.  Don't do that. Please.

If the previously mentioned method is, in fact, how you make your iced coffee, fear not!  I have exactly what the doctor (or, ya know, crazy and slightly crunchy pregnant lady) ordered.

Let's start with my favorite kitchen tool.  A mason jar.  This one is a half gallon wide mouth.  I love jars.  No really, I LOVE jars.  You will probably come to find that out on your own pretty quickly.  But now there's no question.  So don't leave me comments asking if I love jars.  Or send me emails.  I'm bad with email anyway.  Just ask my husband.  Anyhoo...

Half gallon, wide mouth jar.  Got it?

Do you know how hard it is to photograph clear things?

Grab some coffee.  Grind it.  
It occurs to me that I should have snapped a picture of the coffee I used.  But I didn't.  Use your imagination.  On a side note, did you know that Sams Club carries fair trade coffee now?

For the half gallon jar I used around 1 1/2 - 1 3/4 cups ground coffee.

Mason jars have measurements on the side.  Handy, right?

At this point, I filled the jar half way up with water and shook it really well to saturate the coffee grounds.
It's going to look like mud at this point.  Sorry.

Go ahead and fill your jar up the rest of the way with water and shake it again.  Oh, and for goodness sake, put on the lid before you shake it.  Common sense, people, common sense.

Now put it beside all your other lovely jars with crazy concoctions and admire them for a minute.  Leave it for 24 hours.  It's ok, this will all be worth it tomorrow.

Give yourself a pat on the back for everything you got done this morning in your jammies.  And apparently without brushing your hair...
The lighting in my kitchen is horrible for photos.  Yeah, it's the lighting.

The next morning, strain your heavenly liquid into another jar using a colander and a coffee filter.  Don't forget to compost your used grounds!

Now comes the magical part.  Get yourself the highest quality cream you can find, some raw milk, a sweetener, and some ice.

I was going to tell you the quantities I used but I didn't measure wanted you to be creative. ;)
My favorite sweetener for cold things is pure maple syrup.  It will still dissolve even if it's not heated.

Also, this is what happens when it's a beautiful day and the chickens haven't had their coffee.  Do not leave the coffee unattended.

Do not give the chickens coffee.  They'll never be able to sleep.

Well, there you have it.  Now you know how to make a proper glass of cold brew coffee.  Ignorance is NOT bliss, people.  Educate yourself. :)

How do you take your coffee?  Cream, sugar, or straight up black?

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Youtube Education #1

You should probably watch this video...

Do you know how long your ancestors lived before the 1900s?