Thursday, February 18, 2016

Dairy Fail...

I've had a dairy failure.  So sad.  Let's take a moment to mourn the loss of A WHOLE CUP OF HEAVY CREAM.  Such a sad day.
I tried to make sour cream.  The recipe that I found called for 1 cup heavy cream and 1/4 cup white vinegar.  Mix together, set out at room temperature for 24 hours, then refrigerate.

I pulled a cup of invaluable, luscious, creamy, precious, perfect cream from my milk stores, and did the deed.  I felt fairly positive about the process.

After 24 hours, I placed the jar in the fridge.  It never set up.  I assumed that it would be less firm than store bought, but I still was expecting a bit of a firmer texture.  It was basically just vinegary cream.  So...sad.....  

I added it to a couple baking recipes that called for sour cream, but overall it was very sad.  Just sad.

In case you missed it, I was sad to lose my cream!!!

Now, as I research my failure, I know what the problem was.  Not living at home with endless internet!  Well, sort of.  When I went to make the sour cream, I was in our temporary internet black hole, and only looked at one recipe.  And it was BAD!  Normally when I make something new, I will look at 3 to 5 recipes for the end product, and verify that the ingredients are similar - because you can't trust the internet!  In this case I went against my normal policy, and the cream paid for it in the long run.

As it turns out, the amount of vinegar should be substantially less.  Most recipes are as follows:
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup milk
3/4 tsp vinegar

I'll try again once I decide to sacrifice another cup of cream.  After my heart heals a little....  

Wednesday, February 17, 2016


I am really loving living in casserole land.  Okay, I'd rather be in my oven-handicapped land, but YUM! CASSEROLES!  We've run this through the dinner schedule a few times already, and love on it.

Scalloped Potatoes with Ham

5 large potatoes, peeled & sliced into 1/4 inch slices (I've used both russet and/or yukon gold)
1 small onion, sliced into rings 
1 large clove garlic, minced
1/2 lb cubed ham
3 tablespoons butter 
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour 
2 cups milk 
1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese 
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp sage
salt and pepper to taste 

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Butter a 1 quart casserole dish.
2) Saute onions and garlic in olive oil, set aside.
3) Place a layer of the potatoes into bottom of the prepared casserole dish. 
4) Alternate layers of onion mixture, ham, then potatoes.  Continue to layer until ingredients gone.
5) In a medium-size saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Mix in the flour and stir constantly with a whisk for one minute. Stir in milk. Cook until mixture has thickened. Stir in salt & pepper, thyme and sage.  Stir in cheese all at once, and continue stirring until melted, about 30 to 60 seconds. 
6) Pour cheese mix over the potatoes, and cover the dish with aluminum foil.
7) Bake ~60 minutes in the preheated oven.  Remove foil last 5 minutes of cooking.  

Saturday, February 13, 2016

What is going on???

I've been giving some thought to the overall goals of this blog.  Originally I thought it would be fairly instructional - on topics such as living off grid and homesteading.  I've recently realized that I barely have any idea what I'm doing!!!  Really, most of my blog posts have been more along the lines of what NOT to do rather than the proper way to do things!  And you know what?  That's okay!  One thing I'd decided that I really wanted to be above all else is authentic.  If I were to provide all kinds of instructional information to you, without feeling like I knew what I was doing, it'd all be a lie.  So really I feel that the blog is going in a more memoir-ish direction.  A learn from my mistakes direction. A learn as I go direction.  And if I really know how to do something, I'll show you how to do it.  And of course there will be food!  And hopefully farm animals!  And if there’s anything you want to hear about, let me know!  I just might go that way, too!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

My Awesome Adventure

While living away from home has been pretty sucky overall, there have been some wonderful benefits!  I've been lucky enough to meet more of Bickleton's great residents, I've had time to cook more, and I'VE MILKED A COW!!!

One of the local ranchers had a bum calf, and picked up a milk cow to help with the feeding.  Her name is Elsie.  She was pretty close to drying off when he got her, so in addition to having the calf on her, he is making sure she is milked out daily to make sure her production stays up.  Some how I was thrown/volunteered into learning how to milk!  And that is pretty awesome!

Bum Calf???  Who wouldn't love that face?

About 2/3rds of the people I know with cows are city folk turned farmers that are super sterile about milking and procedures.  Now the last third have taught me the other way - "Good Nuff" style!  These are old farmers or ranchers that have been milking this way since they were children and since their parents were children and since THEIR parents were children.  And it has always been good enough!  Just brush the mud of the teat and go.  (Okay, disclaimer.  When I have my own cow, I will probably handle things a bit differently.  But I am not one to look a gift cow in the mouth, or to poo-poo their good-nuff approach.  Just as I tend to shy away from most of the good-nuff canning methods, I will most likely make slightly different milking choices, somewhere between the current scientifically accepted norm and good-nuff.  End disclaimer)

My first <3

As for the actual milking, the first day was difficult - mostly the bending over portion!  You should have seen these old ranchers laugh at me when I stopped milking, stood up and unbuttoned my pants! A girl's got to do what a girl's got to do.  After milking my hands and arms didn't hurt too bad, it was my back that was killing me.  On the second day, I was pretty much on my own!!  Nothing like being thrown into the fire!  So far I've gotten to milk for 4 days.  I am noticing that the milking is inflaming my old back/shoulder/arm injury, but this is good to know.  Should probably go to the doctor about that soon, instead of just bucking up.

I'm busy!

I'm not sure how long I'll have a chance to keep milking her, but every minute counts!  This is the best experience ever.  It's like having livestock on a trial basis before you have to commit to it!  And I'll tell you what, I like it.  Livestock is always a huge commitment, and the larger the animal, the larger the commitment.  But once we have the infrastructure, I am sure that a little milk cow will be a great addition to the farm... click here for a couple extra thoughts!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Thursday, February 4, 2016

43 end in sight...

We have been "snowed out" for 43 days.  In truth, the snow isn't as bad as it was, but the roads are still bad enough that we can't take our trucks on the road to get the work done that we need to get done!

Woody took the quad up the other day...

It doesn't look too bad at first.

Then it gets a bit worse...

And a bit worse...

Oh, that looks really icky...

And then it just gets bad.

So... short story long, we are still not able to get our chores done so we can move back in.  But we can start on some of them!  Since he can get the quad in, he can do some of the lightweight chores done.  Once the truck can get up there, we can get some the heavy chores done, then we'll be able to go home!  Baby steps!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Cat on a bird!

Originally I was thinking this was a cat on a hot tin roof.  But it's about 30 degrees out, and technically the cat isn't even on the metal portion of the roof.  

But interestingly enough, this is the Bluebird Inn tavern (here in bustling downtown Bickleton).  So therefore, we have a cat on a bird!  (Kitty model = Skittles)