Wednesday, July 30, 2014

RECIPE: Grilled Squash

Simple and quick side dish for grilled meats.


Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Sea Salt
Cracked Black Pepper
Dried Basil
Garlic Powder

Cut squash in half lengthwise. Brush the inside if each half with olive oil. Lightly sprinkle basil and garlic powder. Salt and pepper to taste. Grill for appx. 5-10 minutes,  til tender.

***Accompanying Grilled Potatoes Recipe HERE.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

HERBAL MEDICINE: Carrie's Cold & Flu Upper Respiratory Concoction

I swear by this "concoction" if used at the first sign of illness. The ingredients contain natural antibiotic, antiseptic, and decongestant  properties. 


1 c. Broth 
2 Cloves Fresh Garlic, whole (no substitutions)
1 Sprig Fresh Oregano (or 1/4 tsp dried)
1/8 tsp. Cayenne Powder

Pour boiling broth over other ingredients, cover and steep for about 10 minutes. Sip broth, be sure to EAT THE GARLIC cloves. Oregano leaves are edible as well.

RX: 3 times daily at the first onset of symptoms up to three days. See a doctor if illness persists more than three days or immediately in case of high grade fever.

*Any flavor broth can be used, homemade or with powdered. I prefer Knorr Tomato with Chicken.


GARLIC: Antibiotic, antiseptic (internal and external), antimicrobial, antioxidant. When garlic is chewed or crushed, the compound Alliin combines the enzyme Allinase, and a powerful antibiotic chemical Allicin is formed. Allicin boosts production of white blood cells, strengthening the immune system. Garlic is also kills the bacteria which causes stomach ulcers, treats intestinal worms, and can aid in healing mild skin infections when juice is applied topically.

OREGANO: Antiseptic (internal and external), antibacterial, fungicide, disinfectant, antioxidant. Oregano contains Carvacol and Thymol, which have antibacterial, antiseptic and fungicidal properties. It soothes sore throat, can aid in cough suppression, and when served in a steamy broth, can open sinus passages. Oregano contains a plethora of vital nutrients, too, such as Vitamins B3 and B6, Potassium, Zinc, Iron, and Protein!

CAYENNE: External and internal pain reliever, antibacterial, decongestant. Capsaicin in the active ingredient in Cayenne. When used to treat upper respiratory symptoms, it helps alleviate headache, open sinus passages, and soothes sore throat. Topical ointments made from Cayenne are used for natural treatment of joint and muscle pain, too. Cayenne can also prevent and heal ulcers by killing off the bacteria that causes them.

***All information is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions.***

Sunday, July 27, 2014

175th Lenawee Co. Fair

2014 marked the 175th Anniversary of the Lenawee County Fair! A local celebration of family, friends and farm, there's a little something for everyone!

Yesterday, we went to the Lenawee County Fair. This is the second year we've gone. It was overcast but fairly warm, especially in the barns! The Fair usually starts on a Monday and ends on Saturday each year near the end of July.

There is a little something for everyone. For example- a Midway with rides and games for the kids, live music at the Band Shell, tractor pulls, car shows, baked and home canned goods displays, arts and crafts displays, and our favorite - barnyard animals! 

4-H Club is responsible for a majority of the animals, crafts and goods for exhibit at the Fair. Anything from crafts, to wood working, to fine arts, to baking, to canning... These kids do a great job on their contest entries. Better than many adults can produce!

Speaking of the animals, the Fair is a great place to check out various breeds of farm animals you might consider for your homestead- horses, cows, pigs, sheep, goats, chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys, peafowl, rabbits and other small animals and birds. We were able to talk with some of the exhibitors and even got some advice about how to tell what sex our guineas are!

Each night there are different entertainment attractions at the Grand Stand like the Antique Tractor Show and the NTPA Tractor and Truck Pull, and different musical guests at the Band Shell. We did not attend any of the special events, but have heard great things about them.

If you have the opportunity to visit the Fair in 2015, it's well worth the small entrance fee of $3 for children under 9/$5 for teens and adults. All-You-Can-Ride Midway bracelets are $20 each.

There is more information available at the Official Lenawee County Fair Website

Friday, July 25, 2014

REVIEW: Presto 23 Quart Pressure Canner

A reliable and cost effective home pressure canner perfect for preserving your homegrown or locally purchased produce, including meats!

Click photo to view on

 I was recently speaking with a friend on mine about beginning canning and some of the equipment she may need. I mentioned purchasing a pressure canner if she desired doing anything outside pickling or fruits. Not everyone has several hundred dollars to go out and buy the top of the line home canner, nor the good luck to find one second hand at a garage sale, so I suggested the canner I use, the Presto 23 Quart Pressure Canner.

The Presto 23 Quart Pressure Canner is made of polished aluminum, and includes 1 canning rack, a 76 page instruction manual/recipe guide, and can process either 24 half pints, 20 pints or 7 quarts per batch using Regular mouth jars or 16 half pints, 16 pints or 7 quarts using Widemouth jars. (In order to double stack half pints and pints, you will need to purchase a second canning rack).

The instruction manual is very detailed, with several diagrams and specific steps a beginner would find extremely informative and useful. There is a distinct emphasis on food safety, which anyone who will later eat your home canned food will appreciate! While it's always helpful to have a friend or family member instruct you the first time, someone new to canning shouldn't have any problems on their own after carefully reviewing the material.

There are many tasty recipes included in the back of the instruction manual. Not only basic canning recipes like dill pickles and canned peaches, or even a little more advanced meat canning, but one pot entree recipes like "Beef Stew" and "Chicken and Dumplings" as well. YES! You can quickly cook delicious meals in this canner, as it doubles as a pressure cooker, too! Last year we used the "Zesty Salsa" recipe contained in the recipes section. It was a huge hit with family at holiday parties and picnics!

We have had absolutely no problems with this canner. It has worked wonderfully every time. We use ours on a 5 burner propane fueled stove and have processed several batches in one day in the past with it. The seal has remained in great shape, as well as the pressure dial.

***While Presto does make a 16 Quart model, I highly recommend spending a little more for the 23 Quart model. It processes half the amount of half pints and pints as the 23 Quart per batch. Canning can be a fairly long process depending on what foods you're using. It is well worth the ability to double stack smaller jars, which are often used for jams, jellies, relishes and other common recipes.

Deenis: Jeckyll and Hyde!

As of July 13th, Houdini (AKA Deenis) has been with us a year. It was all fun and games til April when we got our ewe Baa...
"O poor Deenis (I mean Harry Jeckyll!), if ever I read Satan's signature upon a face,
it is on that of your new friend"~Robert Louis Stephenson, Jeckyll and Hyde

I've often spoken of how sweet and well behaved our Mr. Deenis is. Much like a clumsy, lovable dog, he often laid at our feet by the campfire, and happily stole cans of soda off the picnic table. That is until Baa came to live with us back in April.

Our once docile, affectionate to annoyance Boer/Pygmy wether quickly has become unpredictable. One minute he is happily attempting to eat anything other than what he's supposed to, next minute he's rearing back on his hind legs and attempting to charge! 

I can only assume the change in behavior is somehow directly related to Baa's arrival. She is very docile, and follows him around constantly. It's clear he has dominance over her. Perhaps now that he's got a lady under his control, he's gotten haughty? From the information I've been able to find, it seems this is a plausible theory. He directs his aggression towards myself and Brittney, but doesn't think to attempt such behaviors with Brian.

It's gotten to the point where I am uncomfortable dealing with him without others present and in possession of my trusty water pistol.Water pistol? YES. Goats hate water, like Superman to Kryptonite, he immediately ceases his attack and backs away. It probably has not helped that Brian wrestled with him playfully in the past... (Other net suggestions included tugging his ear sharply while shouting "NO!" and actually wrestling him to the ground! Somehow I don't think manhandling a 150+lb goat would work out well for me...)

So from everything I've read, as stubborn as goats are, at some point if I consistently hit him with the water pistol every time he exhibits aggressive behavior, he SHOULD get the hint. I hope that's true. We promised his former owners we wouldn't eat him nor would we sell him to someone else who would, but at the same time, we can't put ourselves or our other animals at risk of injury, either. Thankfully, he continues to treat the other barnyard residents gently thus far...

Thursday, July 24, 2014

How to Harvest Dill and Cilantro Seed

Dill and Cilantro are both annual herbs that are easy to grow, harvest, and can be used in a number of dishes. Dill is probably most known for pickling, Cilantro for salsas.

I made this video last year, before we had this blog. Since it's that time of the year, I thought I'd re-share.

One change I have made in harvesting is choosing to gently roll the dried heads between 2 sheets of paper to dislodge the seeds from the stems, rather than using the back-and-forth cups method for the seed I'm saving just for re-planting.

Monday, July 21, 2014

RECIPE: Carrie's Stinky Cauliflower

A spicy and tangy experimental conglomeration of several recipes inspired by Vlasic Hot Cauliflower and Giardiniera. My brother and I referred to these items as "Stinky Cauliflower" as kids!


Red Bell Pepper

1 Jar Green Olives with Pimento, drained
6 Tbsp. Minced Onion
12 Cloves Garlic
6 Sprigs Oregano
6 Jalapeno Peppers, Sliced (OR 6 Tbsp. Crushed Red Pepper)
6 Bay Leaves
3 tsp. Black Peppercorn
6 Tbsp. Olive Oil

5 Cups Water
5 Cups White Vinegar
1/2 Cup Pickling Salt

Prepare 6 sterile quart jars with fresh sterile lids and rings.Chop/slice Veggies coarsely, set aside. Divide Seasonings equally among the 6 jars (1/6th jar olives, 1 Tbsp. onion, 2 cloves garlic, 1 sprig oregano, 1 jalapeno, 1 bay leaf, 1/2 tsp. peppercorn, 1 Tbsp. olive oil each). Pack Veggies into jars after seasonings, as equally as possible, leaving 1/2" head space.

Begin heating water to appx 140 degrees in your hot bath canner while combining Brine ingredients in a non-reactive pan. Bring Brine to a boil, then pour brine into jars leaving 1/2" head space. Place sterile lids and rings tightened to touch on jars and place them into hot canner using canning tongs. 

Place lid on hot bath canner and bring water to a rolling boil and place lid on canner (see directions to your individual model if using a pressure canner as a hot bath canner. Some parts may need to be removed first!). After the water begins to boil, set a timer for 10 minutes. Continue boiling vigorously.

After 10 minutes, carefully lift the canner lid away from you (to avoid steam burns) and let jars sit in hot canner for 5 minutes. Remove jars from canner with tongs and place jars on a towel where they will not be disturbed for roughly 24 hours. You should hear occasional "pings" as cooling jars seal.

Store for at least 2 weeks before serving. Will last about 1 year under desirable storage conditions. Makes appx. 6 quarts.

RECIPE: Dad's Dilly Beans

A favorite among Carrie's family,  these zesty beans make a delicious addition to a late summer's relish tray.
Dilly Beans- Made with Contender Bush and Yellow Wax.


Appx. 1/2 Bushel Stringless Beans (Contender Bush or Yellow Wax work nicely)
5 Cups Water
5 Cups White Vinegar
1/2 Cup Pickling Salt
12 Cloves Garlic, Whole
6 Heads Fresh Dill OR 6 tsp. Dill Weed
6 Cayenne Peppers, Whole OR 6 tsp. Crushed Red Pepper
3 tsp. Black Peppercorn

Prepare 6 sterile quart canning jars with rings and fresh lids. (Can be easily done in dishwasher). Into each jar place 2 cloves garlic, 1 head fresh dill, 1 cayenne pepper and 1/2 tsp. black peppercorn. Pack each jar to capacity with beans (it is easier if you use large mouth jars and lay the jars on their side as you pack them!). 

Begin heating water to appx 140 degrees in a hot bath canner. Water should be deep enough to cover jars by 1" (appx. 1/2 full if using a 23 quart pressure canner).

In a non-reactive pan, combine water, vinegar and salt. Bring brine to a boil. Pour boiling brine into each jar, leaving a 1/4" head space. Wipe jar rim and place fresh lid on jar. Screw on rings to touch (not too tightly!). Lower jars into hot canner using canning tongs (available anywhere canning goods are sold). Be sure jars are covered by about 1" of water. If not, add more water to canner and re-heat to boiling.

Place lid on canner  and heat to full rolling boil (see directions for your individual canner before placing the lid. Some will call for removing various parts from the lid for use as a hot bath canner). Once it begins to boil fully, set a timer for 10 minutes. Continue boiling vigorously. After 10 minutes, lift the lid carefully away from you (to avoid steam burns), and let the jars sit for appx. 5 minutes. Use canning tongs to remove jars from hot canner and place on a towel where they won't be disturbed for roughly 24 hours. You should hear "pinging" noises occasionally as the cooling jars seal.

Store at least 2 weeks before serving, preferably a month. Makes appx. 6 quarts.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

UPDATE: The Three Sisters

As I previously mentioned on our Facebook page,  this is our first year growing corn. We opted for the traditional Native American "Three Sisters" method. For a more detailed description and history, click here to visit Wikipedia.

For our "experiment", we planted:

*Peaches and Cream Hybrid Bi-Color Sweet Corn
* Self-Saved Greasy Pole Beans
*American Seed Dark Green Zucchini

We planted the corn in groups of 4 seeds in each mound roughly 18" apart in late May.Within about a week, little grass-like stalks popped up after a good, soaking rain. I wish I could find the original packaging for the brand-name, every last kernel we planted germinated! (We purchased the seed at Rural King.) 

After our corn stalks were about 5-6" tall, we then planted 3 beans and 3 zucchini around each group of 4 stalks, about 6" from the stalks in a circular pattern. (Although the traditional method calls for Yellow Crookneck Squash specifically, we opted for Zucchini, since we prefer it.). And then, we waited... Then waited some more...

Two weeks had went by when we finally got a few days of steady rain and seedlings began to appear. We've had a fairly dry, cool summer thus far, so I figured that was part of the delay. But in the end, our self-saved beans, who have never given me a problem in the past, germinated at a less than 85% rate. Granted, we used some leftover 2012 stock, but it shouldn't have been an issue.

I made a very big mistake with the Dollar Tree American Seed packets. A less than 50% germination rate occurred for the zucchini. Of an entire packet of White Lisbon Bunching Onions I planted in my herb garden, not a single seed germinated! I wouldn't recommend them and won't purchase them again. I figured I'd give them a whirl. While you really can't beat $.25 per packet, you really do get what you pay for...

Anyhow, as you can see by the photo, the drier than usual conditions haven't been helpful. We don't have an irrigation system, nor a hose that can reach from the house to the garden, so it's been hoofing gallon jugs full of water from the end of the hose to the garden. Interestingly enough, however, the neighbor's field corn seems relatively unaffected and I really haven't seen their sprinklers operating at all.

Since we don't use any chemical pesticides, there have been a few insects (probably grasshoppers) feasting on the bean leaves a little here and there, but nothing of major concern. Since our garden was previously a horse pasture just 2 summers ago, we're still fighting a war against weeds. But, all in all, the plants that did germinate, while perhaps a bit stunted, are growing along steadily.

So far, other than the poor germination, we're pleased and plan to employ this method again next year, assuming the harvest will be average or better for the number of plants we do have. I'll keep everyone posted!

P.S. Be sure to keep your goat away from the corn, they find it delicious!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

RECIPE: Leftovers Stir-Fry

A quick, easy, flexible and inexpensive meal composed of leftovers and ingredients on hand. 

Just about any type of meat can be used along with frozen, canned, fresh, or dehydrated vegetables to create a delicious meal tailored to your family's personal tastes. Don't let those leftovers go to waste!


Recommended Meats (2 c. Cubed/Sliced. Choose 1, ground meats and fish not recommended):
Beef, Venison, Pork, Chicken, Turkey, Shrimp

Vegetable Suggestions (As many as you like, total 4 c. volume chopped. Fresh, frozen, canned or re-hydrated):
Bean Sprouts, Bamboo Shoots, Broccoli, Carrots, Celery, Corn, Mushrooms, Onion, Red Pepper, Water Chesnuts

1 tbsp. Olive Oil
1 pkg Gravy Mix, prepared or 1 can Gravy. (Brown for Beef and Venison, Chickien for others)
2 tbsp. Soy Sauce

Spices to Taste:
Garlic (fresh or powdered)
Ginger (fresh or powdered)
Parsley (fresh or powdered)
Salt and Pepper
Cayenne (optional)
Onion Powder (if not using fresh)


In a large frying pan or wok, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Place fresh vegetables in hot oil and stir-fry for about 2-3 minutes until slightly softened, but still al dente. At this time, add any canned, frozen or re-hydrated vegetables, along with 1 tbsp. of the soy and the spices. Continue stir-frying for an additional 1-2 minutes until frozen veggies are thawed. (If only using fresh, stir-fry veggies for 4-5 minutes total).

Add meat to pan  along with reserved soy sauce and prepared gravy. Stir frequently until heated through. Serve over white rice or Asian style noodles. Serves 4.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

MORE Eggs Coming Soon!

I got a "little" surprise in the corner of the barn this morning! A small brown "first egg" belonging to either Ginger or Chili, our Amber Link hens from the March 1 group!

Compared to a normal sized egg. 

Upon closer inspection this afternoon, we found 2 more smaller brown eggs in the barn nest (yes, some of them have found a corner they like to lay in...), suggesting that perhaps BOTH of them are now laying. We missed collection for a few days while we were out of town this weekend. We didn't expect them to start for another week or so!

Besides the discovery of the 3 small eggs, one of our Ameraucanas (Caramel) has been neglecting the coop at bedtime the past 2 nights. The first morning, she was already pecking around in the barnyard when I went to let everyone out. This morning, she was in the barn. I suspect she is sitting on a nest somewhere overnight, although we've been unable to locate it yet. 

A similar incident happened last summer when Athena (who we now call "Broody Hen" because she likes to sit in the coop on everyone else's eggs...) disappeared several nights in a row. Eventually we discovered a nest full of 19 eggs behind our large Hosta next to the back door. She had been hiding in plain sight!

Either way, by the end of this month, we should have an additional 3 doz. free-range eggs per week available for sale locally, some of which will be light blue (Ameraucana eggs)! If every hen lays every day, we're looking at a total of 105 eggs weekly! Contact us HERE if you're interested.

The soon to be laying ladies and Specker.

On a side note, we've been looking into the Michigan Cottage Foods Laws and picked up some paperwork from our local Farmer's Market regarding perhaps opening a stall next spring! Stay tuned!