Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Cheeeeeeese!

Guess who got her hands on a gallon of local, organic whole milk from grass-fed cows at half price? This gal! Oh yeah. I've been watching that discount shelf in the refrigerated section of our whole foods grocery store for just that sort of treasure. Never mind that it was supposed to expire that same day. It was fiiiiine.

I didn't even have to think about what to do with it- ever since reading about making cheese in Mother Earth News Magazine, I have wanted to try my hand at it. I'm seriously one click away from buying my own stash of rennet. But this time around- my first time around- I kept it simple. Ricotta it was.

I used this blog how-to for a quick reference to make sure I had my temps and milk-to-vinegar ratios right. It was as easy to make as everyone has ever said it is, I'm happy to report. It was actually really fun, as nerdy as that may sound. I'm hooked.

I pressed a small cake of my ricotta into queso fresco, too, but it was so bland that I ended up crumbling it into olive oil and seasoning it with salt, garlic powder, and a pinch of oregano. Now that was amazing.

The rest of my ricotta will end up in pancakes, no question. Love.

Now, what to do with all that whey? Good thing the possibilities look almost endless!

Next stop: mozzarella!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Loosing the Chickies


I read somewhere while gearing up for peeps that the best way to get brooder- or bathtub-raised chicks to take to the hen house once they're big enough is to coop them up for a week, so to speak. Our chicks moved out of the tub and into the coop last weekend, and we completely confined them to the hen house for that first week.

Once Friday rolled around, it was obvious to me that they were quite comfy out there, and I felt confident that they could have access to their enclosed run without it causing problems.

Well, without causing problems for them. It caused a prob for the hub- we need a ramp now, dear.

Oh yeah. That.

Thankfully a ramp wasn't that big of a project, and with a little help the girls were officially free to come out of the coop late Friday afternoon. However, they didn't set one single chicken foot out of their house until Saturday morning, and only after a little wild rocket and some come hither coaxing from yours truly.

 

The leading contender for Rooster. It has definitely been a leader
and was the first one out of the hen house. 



I really hope this one is THE Rooster, and the only one.
Doesn't it look roosterly?


So far only eight out of twelve have ventured out at one time. There are still a few chickens in the flock (hahaha, ahem) that seem content to perch at the door and watch the others. I'm sure they'll come around, but I feel impatient because I want to see them all scratching around together, and I kinda feel sorry for the ones too scared to take the leap! Oh well. All things in good time.



I haven't been the only one excited about the peeps' new freedom. Our resident Chicken Friend has been hovering outside the coop, bringing the girls fresh sprouts, dandelion flowers, and the occasional unfortunate bug she feels safe nabbing and stuffing through the hardware cloth. 

I never thought anything could be as beautiful as finally realizing my dream of having this flock in this coop in this garden, but I was wrong. It's even more beautiful than I could have imagined to watch this wonder and love blossom in my Littles. 

So this weekend we loosed the chickies, and oh how we are loving that. 

All of us.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Right Now









Right now, I'm loving warm sunshine, greening everything, friendly sibling rivalry, sugar highs, peeps, Spring weather, felt, Littles with new butterfly nets, oh, and the formal stuff, too...


...hoping all had an Easter weekend filled with Spring and peace and sweets like these.

Happy Monday!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Weekending

I'm on the mend, y'all!

I got a shot (in the bum).

I got a Z-pack.

I got two kinds of nasal sprays.

Aren't you glad you know all that? I know. That's why you check in here in this space. To read about my ailments.

Seriously though, this allergy season isn't messing around... but like I's sayin', I'm on the mend, the kids are coming down from their sugar highs, there's a little rain falling, and Game of Thrones is on tonight.

Yeah, I'll be juuuuuuust fine.

Hoping (oh how I had to resist typing 'hopping') all had a great weekend!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Cookies for Breakfast

I have been struck with the same yuckies that took the kiddos down last week. I don't think I have it as bad as they did, but I've certainly been having slow mornings due to the restless nights that come from not being able to breathe out of your nose. It makes for quite a lack of creativity in the breakfast-making department.

However, in the afternoon I've usually gathered a little momentum, and yesterday I decided to take advantage of it and bake something. No more toast with peanut butter for us this morning! Today, I'm giving my kiddos cookies for breakfast!



Giant Breakfast Cookies
Makes about 12 huge cookies

1/2 cup raw pepitas (green pumpkin seeds)
1/4 cup raw cashews (wash 'em first)
1/4 cup ground flax meal

6 TBS softened butter*
2 large eggs
1/4 cup real maple syrup
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup quick-cooking oatmeal
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (optional but awesome)
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut (optional, but again awesome)
1/4 cup finely chopped dried fruit (optional)

Preheat oven to 350F. In a food processor or blender, blend pepitas and cashews into a coarse meal. In a large bowl or stand mixer, cream butter with brown sugar and add maple syrup and eggs. Add seed/nut meal to butter mixture along with flax meal, then add salt and vanilla. 

In a separate bowl, mix oatmeal, flour, baking soda and baking powder. Slowly add flour mixture to butter mixture, making sure your stand mixer is on a low speed, if using one (otherwise you'll have flour everywhere, ask me how I know...).

If dough is crumbly and needs a little help coming together, add up to 1/4 cup whole milk until slightly sticky dough forms.

Add chocolate chips, dried fruit, and/or coconut.

Scoop in 1/4 cup mounds (I use a 1/4 cup ice cream scoop) onto greased or parchment paper-covered cookie sheets, and press into a flat-ish disc shape. Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until browned around edges and no longer shiny in the middle.

Allow to cool some before removing from cookie sheets.



*Remember, if you're eating good, organic butter from pasture-raised cows, it is basically a health food! Don't be shy... but if you sub, don't sub with margarine or Crisco, use coconut oil instead!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A Walk Through the Garden, April 14th



My walk through the garden last night was a little less than a casual one. This ridiculous "spring" weather! The last time I checked on things, almost all the seedlings were still safely tucked under their warm soil blankets... and the days were getting up near 80 (and sometimes beyond). Now that there is something precious sprouting in almost every spot of open space, of course, we get a freeze warning.

They say we won't be out of the freeze until 10am, so I have yet to pull up the covers and see if my efforts were successful. I'm really the most concerned about my tomatoes. I hope the 2 layers of sheets I draped around their trellises did the trick. Some of them even had flowers. Ugh.

I can't help but hope that despite the inconvenience of this cold snap it might be indicative of a cooler, milder summer on the way (though I know there's just as much of a chance that the extremity of this spring might be telling us it's going to be a scorcher).

On the upside, didn't I have the best help? Sister stayed with me the entire time I was tucking things in, actually helping. She gathered rocks to keep the sheets down, she carried towels and pillowcases, she held clothes pins. What a trooper.

So now we wait... and hopefully have green and growing things left to see on our next walk through our garden!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Right Now

Right now, I'm loving a weekend that saw...









...a sneaky trip down to Mimmy and Pappy's house, a quick setup, and a surprise.
...happy kiddos, quality time with ones they love so well, and a few cold ones.
...a meal prep with my helpers, me watching them focus, focus, focus, because it's a special dinner.
...celebrating.


...the peeps' move from bathtub to hen house... finally!
...the reinstatement of a functioning guest bathroom, scrubbed from top to bottom and now chicken-free.
...the reigning in of the out-of-control garage (we might be able to park cars in there soon).


...the first radishes out of the garden- eaten standing in the garden.
...long naps by still-not-feeling-quite-100% coughing, sniffling kiddos.
...the first shorts of the season, the air conditioner on, and eventually a very wet and rainy afternoon.

Right now I'm anxiously watching out the windows for the first rays of light (or at least the glow of the morning sun, if the clouds are still present) so I can sneak out to the coop for a peek at the chickies. There was a cold front last night and we're kicking off the start to this week in the low 40s. Their heat lamp is on, but they've never been exposed to temps this low before, so I find myself feeling like a fretting mother hen (ha).

Our weekend was quiet and peaceful (if you ignore the part about the kids still not feeling all the way better), and we were able to get some things done and spend time together- in my book, the best way to do a weekend.

Hoping the same for all.

Happy Monday!