Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Chicks In The Dog House and Flowers in the Field

The Chickie Chicks are moving up in the world.  They have intermediate housing until their chicken coup is built.  Shortie is slightly perplexed.... because even though she didn't really like being in the dog house.... it was still her dog house.  Now who are these people in her dog house?
The dog house and dog pen make a wonderful intermediate chicken coupe and yard. Steve and Eddie put chicken wire up on the inside of the chain link to keep the little babies from getting through the holes.
The Chickie Chicks are growing quickly; I think they have doubled in size in less that 2 weeks.
We are really enjoying them.  I had forgotten how delightful chickens are.  I love to watch the personalities and chicken society at work.When they first got into the big dog cage, after a moment or two of hesitation, they jumped and ran around,  chested each other (chicken for : "high five"  and rooster for "Macho, Macho Man") and stretched out in the dirt.  They couldn't get enough of the dirt.  It is healthy for chickens to be able to dust themselves... and they were very much ready for their dirt bath.  I believe especially once they get their feathers, this is a delightful way to cool off.

They were not very eager to try out their new little coup, even with hay and food and a nice little log for a temporary perch... this was strange new territory, perhaps a trap... they were not going in there.  I had to force them to stay in for a moment or two, just so they could pause  to see that shelter, food and comfort was there for them.   They wouldn't have any of it.  Thankfully by nightfall they all went in; it was nice to see that their instinct was working.


The sunflowers are always delightful to see in the garden.
I like to plant some for beauty and attracting bees and so on.  I like to plant some for seeds... yet even if there were no practical purpose for them, I just like to see them every summer.
We planted our cover crop in the open beds on Saturday.  We started with Buckwheat, since should sprout within  a week 
and be full  grown by the end of fall. Once it is mature, we will till it into the ground  and then plant another cover crop of field peas and oats.
The ground where we planted all these new beds was so hard when we began; There was hardly any organic matter to comfort and nourish our lovely garden veggies, that we had to really give it a work over to even begin.  We added compost and rototilled, Luke has hooked up some nice drip systems, but it still needs work.  It used to be a horse pen, then an equipment yard, which really compacted it. I have learned that  cover crops are wonderful for the purpose of adding nutrients and loosening up the soil with their root systems, and then the add organic matter once they are lightly tilled in just before planting your next crop.  They also attract the good insects and organism such as lady bugs, and earthworms to your garden, and help keep the weeds at bay. Buckwheat adds phosphorous, legumes such as field peas, alfalfa and others are wonderful for pulling in nitrogen.  Oats are great for adding aeration with a wonderful root system that loosens the soil. Now that we have conquered some of the hardest work, we are enjoying seeing it  come slowly together.
We planted some Blackberries this year.  They are looking nice.

We have about ten berries on the bush.  Yippy Skippy.... okay, well can't exactly bake a pie from that, but its a start... perhaps next year.

We have seven grapevines... seven children, seven grapevines... I like it... its a good number.


Can you see my green bean tee pees?  I built them for our little grandsons who will soon come to visit. Once you construct the tee pees(bamboo poles tied together at the top), you plant green beans at the base of each pole.  The green bean vines are supposed to climb up the poles and fill out and you have a wonderful little tent made of green bean vines, with green beans hanging down to be eaten as you sit inside.
To me the idea of being a little boy, and being able to sit in a tee pee made out of green bean vines seems wonderful.  When I was little, I loved forts, and hideaways in the bushes.  I used to have a hammock strung between 2 trees in the back of the yard.   I liked to imagine that I lived with the "Swiss Family Robinson".  I would read my books there, it was wonderful...  thus the green bean teepees for my grandsons.  Unfortunately the grasshoppers came in during the drought and ate them 4 or 5 times over right down to the nubbins.... but green beans are evidently resilient.... (we should all be like that)

they are coming back.  I am not sure if they will be very tall by the time my grandsons all get here, but I am glad they are growing again.  Next year I will try again, with bigger  poles for bigger tee pees, because my grandsons will be bigger.  Perhaps I will have developed a grasshopper strategy by then... or perhaps we will not have as many grasshopper problems next year.

Blessed are all who fear the Lord
who walk in His ways
You will eat the fruit of your labor,
blessing and prosperity will be yours.
Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house;
Your children will be like olive shoots around your table.
Thus is the man blessed who fears the Lord.
May the Lord bless you from Zion
all the days of your life;
may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem,
and may you live to see your children's children.
Psalm 128




Saturday, August 27, 2011

Zucchini, Strata


This makes a nice breakfast, brunch or dinner meal and makes one large casserole or two smaller ones.
I like to cut up left overs into squares, and send in lunches.


Zucchini Strata

Ingredients


olive oil
10 -12 slices bread, buttered and cubed (I sometimes substitute 2 sleeves of saltine crackers crushed)
1 large Zucchini shredded
8- 10 mushrooms sliced
1 large onion, chopped
4 cups white cheese (such as Provolone, Swiss, Monterey Jack, Mozzarella, Parmesan or Romano, or any combination of these.  Note:  If you use mostly mozzarella , it will have a more rubbery texture, but is milder in flavor, Swiss, and Monterey Jack are creamier, with a little stronger  flavor. Parmesan and Romano add a nice flavor that, I think, goes well with the Basil so I always add at least one of them, say about a 1/2 cup)
6-7 leaves fresh Basil, chopped
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup f lour
3 1/2 cups milk
14 eggs
salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste


Instructions
Drizzle bottom of 1 large lasagna baking pan with olive oil.  Layer in order: Bread, Zucchini, mushrooms, onions and basil leaves.  In a large mixing bowl,  Mix together  ricotta cheese and flour . Add eggs, whisking each well as you add .  Add milk.  Whisk vigorously (You can use a hand held blender... or put in the blender, which will mix everything thoroughly).  Pour mixture over pan.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and garlic powder.  Top with 4 cups of shredded cheese. Cover and let set several hours or overnight.  Bake at 350* for 50 to 60 minutes, or until golden brown and firm.

Enjoy

Friday, August 26, 2011

Chocolate Zucchini Cake


This is one of our favorite chocolate cake recipes.  I like to double  most of my recipes, and put one in the freezer. Then I have an extra for another occasion with hardly any extra effort.

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

Ingredients

2 cups sugar or sucanat
1 cup vegetable oil (I like to substitute coconut oil for oil whenever I can)
3 eggs
1 Tablespoon vanilla
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 1/2 cups flour whole wheat
1/2 cup cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
2 cups shredded zucchini

Instructions
Preheat oven to 375*. In a large bowl mix sugar, oil and eggs until well blended.  Add and mix vanilla and milk.  In a separate bowl, mix dry ingredients together, and then add them to wet ingredients.  Stir in shredded Zucchini, and mix until well blended.  Pour into a 15 X 10 inch  greased baking sheet or cake pan.  Bake 25 to 30 minutes.


Frosting
Ingredients
1/2 cup butter softened
1 pound or 4 cups powdered sugar (I use organic, unbleached)
1/3 cup cocoa
6 Tablespoons evaporated milk
1 Tablespoon vanilla

Mix and spread on warm cake.  This is like a sheet cake.  It is very moist, and is even better after it sits for a few hours.

Enjoy

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Zucchini, Potato Fritters


These are really yummy, and even if your kids are a little picky and don't care for zucchini, they will love these if they enjoy potatoes; It is very like potato pancake... but better I think... If they are picky eaters, my philosophy has become "what they don't know won't hurt them", and so I don't give them the list of ingredients... just dish it up with a smile (it works some of the time).

Ingredients
6 cups hashbrowns  (from the freezer section works fine.. or make your own by cooking potatoes whole and then grating them)
6 cups grated raw zucchini
1 cup finely chopped onion
3 - 4 cloves garlic crushed and minced
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cup flour (either whole wheat or white unbleached flour works well).
2 teaspoons dill weed or a handful of fresh chopped basil or both.

Directions

In a large bowl, toss together hash browns, zucchini, onions and garlic.  Add oil and stir until thoroughly mixed.  Add flour and fresh herbs and mix well using hands.

In a large frying pan, heat a few tablespoons natural shortening or oil; scrub surface with a spatula, once it is hot, to create a non-stick surface.  Once oil is hot, turn heat to low/medium.  Place a dollop of your mixture onto pan, one by one until pan is full.  Fry until brown, and then flip and brown the other side.  I don't like to fry it  too hot, because I want it to cook in the middle, and not just brown.... this accomplishes both.  Serve as a dinner side dish, or for breakfast with eggs.  Extra's can be frozen and re-warmed in oven.  Enjoy.



Tuesday, August 23, 2011

James and Giant Zucchini... or something like that.



When I looked at  my garden today, I was reminded of a book I had read as a little girl, and realized where its inspiration must have come from.  Well, the book was really called "James and the Giant Peach" but I think the author must have first been inspired by the Zucchini  that was about to take over his garden, and was filled with a marvelous and magical imaginative story... and then at the last changed the produce to a peach, because peaches are so much more appreciated by children.

So you work all summer through drought and grasshopper to get your garden to produce something... then at last you are beginning to see some fruit of your labor.... you have zucchini taking over the garden.  It happens every year... in fact I have posted about Zucchini abundance before.  But I love zucchini, it is a wonderful veggie, and it is always faithful to show up to your garden party even when everything else doesn't.  You could feed a third world country with zucchini don't you think?  Well, I think every year zucchini deserves a little post, so that those who are experiencing its abundance can find some ideas to use all that zucchini.  I am going to share some of my favorite zucchini recipes all week... I am hoping you ladies will link up your zucchini recipes with me and share... or at least come by and help your self to my garden surplus.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Skunked


"I don't know what all the uproar is about,  I was just trying to make friends with a  stranger...  who happened to look a little like me.....now no one will let me in the house, or pick me up or touch me.... and I heard them saying they were going to give me a bath in Vinegar... ewwww"  





As an up-date,  I have a new de-skunking formula that works far better than vinegar.  Click the link

Friday, August 19, 2011

Surprised by the Peepers

While I was in town the other day,  I got a call that Luke had a surprise for me when I got home.  My standard guess of "Puppy, Kitty, Horse," were all  met with "No, you will have to wait until you get home and let Luke show you".    Here was the surprise:




Luke brought home two precious little Chickie Chicks.  So the homestead is being resurrected.  Smile.  
We realized that we will need to build a new chicken coup.  If we are going to build a new chicken coup, it would be a lot of work for only two little chicks.  What to do...... I went to town and bought 12 more.  Problem solved.  In the mean time the chickies are cozy in Steve's shop housed in the old Ferret cage (yes, we used to have ferrets... fun pets.... another story for another time).  
I will up-date you as they grow, and as the chicken coup gets built

Monday, August 15, 2011

Raspberry Pretzel Dessert

Click to play this Smilebox recipe
Create your own recipe - Powered by Smilebox
Another recipe card design by Smilebox

I was searching the internet for some recipe card templates, and when I clicked one to check it out,
my Smilebox uploaded.   I have used Smilebox quite a few times for greeting cards, but evidently they have recipe cards and scrapbooking too.  Any how, it was too cute to pass up the fun.  So the recipe I was going to share with you  anyway, is now jazzed up for your entertainment. This probably isn't  a template I would use for the blog all the time, but it sure is a fun way to pass a recipe along to someone special via e-mail.   Hope you enjoy... you may want to try out smilebox yourself, its free.

 P.S Scroll down to the bottom of the page and pause my music playlist  to limit the clash of music.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Enjoying My Boys

Been having a lovely batch of boys through the house for the past several weeks.  As I mentioned before, Nathan and his film crew were here (by the way, the photo above is one of the photos taken on the scouting and filming trip;  you have to look closely at it.... it is my favorite...Steve and I just chuckle and chuckle when we look at it.  I am not going to tell you the story about it quite yet, : it is entitled "Photo Shoot Gone Wrong"  Its gotta make you laugh.)  Most of them stayed up at our little mobile home, we call it "The Cottage".  We had  worked to get everything in order for them before they got here.  Steve had to re-do almost all of the plumbing, which was a long and drawn out frustration, but needed to be done, and this gave incentive to put it into overdrive.  It was up and running by the time they got here.  We had a great time, and I had a feeling of the "old days" when all the other kids were home and all their friends were in and out of the house.  I loved having them around. Eddie thinks its the "cat's meow" when the big guys are all home... particularly with all their friends in tow, and all of them taking him target practicing and off on one of their exploratory trips, really makes life bearable for him.  He was in rare form. We all watched a movie together on Thursday night (a film makers assignment).  It was a movie about Ghengis Khan... so you can imagine there was a little blood.  Eddie informed me that it probably wasn't a movie I should watch.  I got a great chuckle out of that.

They all left last Friday morning, after which I drove up to Denver to pick up Russell at the airport.  We are now enjoying his company until Friday.  I am getting chubby again because of all the cooking Luke and I are doing.... I know, I know, self control etc., but I seem to love to eat when everyone is around.  We had a dog that was like that once.  Whenever you came into the room, he would lay down and eat.  He didn't really like to eat when no one was there with him.  We  had another dog that loved to eat whenever food was available at anytime... even in the form of peanuts wrapped in Christmas wrapping and placed under the tree.  She guarded those peanuts valiantly.  Now which dog I am I like?  I really was talking about the first dog... hate to think I am like the second dog, but I do understand her happy thoughts of food.  Okay, there I go.... great confessions on the internet.  Back to the boys.  One of these days, perhaps we will have a family reunion... with everyone here all at once. I love seeing them all together, but haven't been able to  since Elizabeth's wedding (how many years ago is that Elizabeth? I am already loosing track of the years).  The good news, in regards to a family reunion, is that my girls and families are preparing for a visit here in the near future... and Nathan and family may come back for some more film work in another month or so, and Olga is working on a visit as well... so we are having  a family reunion of sorts... one that lasts all summer and fall, .  I am loving that.  I have missed them all so much since they grew up.  


I have come to realize, when my children left home, I went  through quite a mourning.  I know this is a common occurrence it even has an official title: "Empty Nest Syndrome".  It may be more difficult when you have homeschooled them all their lives.  I say this about "when you homeschool", because they have always been with you.  For 20 and some years, you have done every last thing together... well almost. It is a part of all that you are.  It probably wouldn't have been so hard if they had all moved down the street or across town, but across the USA, is difficult.  Thank goodness for telephones, and internet.  People used to talk about "the empty nest", and I didn't really pay attention to it.  I didn't think twice about it... until my nest was empty.  I never knew how hard it would hit me.  But it did.  So we refilled the nest with one last batch. Of course I say this jokingly, for we had always had it in our hearts to adopt. It was not done on an impulse to fill a void, it was a calling that had been in us for years; but it just so happened that it came together after the first nest was empty, and that was kind of nice.   I am finally getting used to the idea of going on to the next phase of life, and am really excited to be the jet set "Grandparents" who travel all over to see their children and grandchildren at "will and whim".... its not all figured out in the budget yet, as to how to do it at "will and whim", but is certainly in the heart. 

Enjoy the pics of the boys... am hoping to add pics of the girls in the next month or two.


You can tell the difference between my pictures and the ones I got from Nathan... his are great quality, from good cameras that he and the guys took; mine are from my phone, and half of them are blurry... but at least I was able to take them and down load them.
Russell, Eddie and Luke... along with half of Toby Mack (I think Luke just got up off the floor... his hair is going every which direction... smile).

 I got these from Nathan, and they are some of his crew, at some of the various places they camped and worked.
Here's Nathan at the Great Sand Dunes.... Looks like the Sahara doesn't it?



That's Colorado for you... deserts and mountains all with in a short distance of each other.

Blessings to all, Pam

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Buzz of Summer


As I write this post, I am trying to think about what to say for myself over the last 3 almost 4 weeks since I have posted.  Where have I been?  What have I been doing?  Well.... it has been busy without a doubt, but it isn't like I can give you a nice mountainous list of my great accomplishments I just can't.  Let me try to make a quick post to recap what I've been up to..... its not coming quickly... it all runs together into a fast and furious blur.  A month has come and gone like the buzzing of a bee and where did it go I ask you?  We have been working in the garden (which hasn't been an easy or abundantly fruitful occupation in this drought.... we are finally getting a little rain, and the veggies have finally gotten a grip on themselves, ceased fainting, and are finally growing, blooming and fruiting... they have whispered and gasped to me that they do not like this heat at all even with abundant water Luke and I have been giving to them.  I have been strategizing what to do next year if this drought continues... perhaps we could build some sort of shade cover... I am still thinking it out.  We are planning a cover crop for this fall and winter on the new beds we put in this year. I ordered buckwheat, black-eyed peas and oats for the cover crops The soil is so hard and dead, that we have  been working on a plan to bring it to life.  We have roto-tilled compost into it that we bought by the dump truck load, and it is a nice start, but it will need to do more to make healthier beds.. cover crops are a good way to go to improve the ground.

Believe it or not we are actually talking about goats again.   We have some ground that has been taken over by a weed tree.    These stringy little trees suck up all the water, proliferate and do not think twice about sprouting back up quickly when they have been hacked down.  So we thought... "goats".  We are considering trying meat goats this time around.  I will let you know when/if we begin that project officially.

Our son Nathan and his film crew got here last week. Nathan is working on a movie.  He has had it in the works this last year (a little more than).  It is a survival movie that involves a plane wreck, a battle for life, and the battle and outcome of a soul.  But that is all I will say for now.  They are beginning their work up in the mountains close to here, and Lord willing, will come back next summer to finish the film.  I have had the privilege to cook for them.  They are a smaller crew than was first planned... the bigger crew  have been put off until  next summer now.  I cooked up a big barbecue brisket, potato casserole, strawberry pie, rolls,  big batch of fried chicken, chili, potato salad, and macaroni and cheese, and prepared hamburgers and hotdogs for them to cook.  They all get back from the mountains tomorrow night, and Luke will be making them pizza and spaghetti.  I will make them Mexican food for Thursday night.  It is nice to feed a hungry crew of young men.  They are always very appreciative, and I can do a lot of cooking on a little enthusiastic appreciation and enjoyment.

That seems to be my great claim to anything impressive this summer.  I liked what Anne of Eight Acres of Eden linked to a day or two ago.  It had to do with being "just a Mom".  It is written by a young girl who has the great aspirations of being a "Mom".  I love what she wrote, and it was a precious reminder that the calling of being a Mom is good enough.  The world pressures us to be more or other than that, but don't forget what a great calling it is.   We need not apologize for it.

There is a little pair of swallows that build their nest under the roof of our porch every summer; and every summer Steve tries to discourage them (because they always leave a mess) by removing their little mud nest each time they begin it... but they persevere and build it anyway quicker than he can take it down.  By the time they are done Steve admires their perseverance and leaves them to it... he even hammers up a little patio for them, so that they won't leave a mess on our coffee table beneath.  It is interesting to watch their perseverance.  They spend their entire summer building nest, laying and hatching eggs, and feeding babies.  It has a familiar ring to our lives doesn't it?   I thought of the scripture in Matthew 6: 25, where Jesus reminds us "Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store way in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not much more valuable than they?  Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?"  And I thought to myself those birds take care of their babies... that's all they seem to do... and our heavenly Father feeds them... of course he will do the same for us.  The World with all its pressures and fears is not our provider.  It is not our wisdom or who we should listen to, it is not  there for us when times are hard.  Our Heavenly Father placed within us our callings.  He promised to take care of us.  He is the Voice we listen to,  the Hope, the Provision, and the Wonderful Reward in our Lives.  Praise His Name.  Have a great week everyone.   I am hoping  to post something truly remarkable in the near future, but if I don't I will be praising the Lord for the buzz of Summer, the carrying on in life, the ordinary everyday things, and I hope you will be too.

Blessings, 
Pam