Tuesday, December 28, 2010

New Year Approaching!

Well, as the New Year makes it's approach, my thoughts turn to what I accomplished this past year and what I hope to accomplish in the New Year. I had so many changes in the past year! I moved---twice! Lost my job and am now mama/farmer to goats chickens and teen-agers.
I don't have any regrets over the past year. I view every experience as a chance to learn something new.

Now, going into the New Year, I have a few hopes. I hesitate to call them *resolutions* as I find that doing that seems to doom all my good resolves to failure!
What I HOPE to accomplish in 2011:
1) Get in better shape physically. This is vague enough that I don't feel I have to name specifics; such as "Lose 45 pounds by April" or other such nonsense.
2) Work harder on my food storage.
3) Have a decent garden.
4) Get all goats producing milk and on a schedule I can deal with. (Milkers out there know what I am talking about!)
5) Find at least 2 sources of income to help with household expenses and savings.

That's about it! Not a long list, but there's a lot of work to be done there!
So...what are your hopes for the New Year?

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Back from Christmas Holiday!

I took a bit of a holiday from blogging as I just needed to focus on the *home front* here.
The days leading up to Yule were a bit frenzied here---as they usually are---and I barely had time to get all the things done that needed doing, so my blog fell by the wayside!

We baked cookies. LOTS of cookies. I am officially "cookied out"!

And, although I used fabric and reusable bags and such to wrap presents, others did not, so we did end up with a big bag of wrapping paper trash....sigh.

Christmas dinner was a HUGE amount of work....and s-o-o-o-o-o-o worth it!
We had ham and duck.
Let me pause to wax rhapsodic about duck......
Duck is the ambrosia of poultry. A food for the gods that we mere mortals can also enjoy.
Crisp succulent duck skin should be a food group all by itself.
I roasted two ducks. One was devoured within the first 20 minutes of dinner.
Preparing duck is easy.
Rinse the bird, including the interior. Sprinkle a little salt inside it. Cut up an apple into slices and stuff in the interior and add a sprig of rosemary. Rub butter on the exterior of the duck. Pop it in an oven at 325 and roast 1/2 hour for each pound.
Take out of oven and let rest 10 minutes before you carve.
Serve and devour.
I wrapped one picked clean carcass up in foil and tucked it in the freezer so that in a couple weeks I can make a lovely duck soup.
The other duck will be eaten today.
I saved the large amount of duck fat that cooked out during roasting the birds. I strained it well and it is now in the refrigerator.
Duck fat is fabulous for cooking and even for preserving.
Duck comfit anyone?
I simmered the gizzards and necks to make a broth and used that broth in my gravy and stuffing.
Best. Stuffing. Ever.
I made two kinds of stuffing (as I usually do). One was cornbread stuffing with apples and walnuts. The other was regular stuffing with sausage.
One of the most popular items I put on the table was also one of the simpliest.
I made a dip out of cream cheese and crushed pineapple and had sliced pears to dip in it.
Basically, half a package of cream cheese plus about 1/4 cup crushed pineapple mixed together real well.
It is also good on crackers and such.
Everyone waddled away from the table quite happy.

The best present I received was Boy and Girl2 cleaned my kitchen for me while I napped yesterday evening. My kitchen is absolutely SPOTLESS this morning! A more thoughtful gift than that I can't think of!

We have a bit of goats milk on the table now. Gabrielle had a little buck, now named Geordi, and though she has had kids before, she had never been milked before!
The first milking was quite the experience...for me and the goat!
She is getting more comfortable with milking, as am I. I give her a bit of sweet feed to encourage things along and make milking a more enjoyable time for her. I also put little Geordi where Mama can see him, so she doesn't get panic striken and think she has lost her baby.
Gabrielle is a very protective and attentive goat mama. Geordi is everything a baby goat should be. Cute, fuzzy, playful and a delight to watch as he scampers about.
Because he is a buck, we have only two choices.
Either we sell him when he is weaned....or we have him as dinner, perhaps for Easter.
Now, Girl 1 and Girl 2 and Boy are all highly distraught at the thought of us serving Geordi up as a main dish.
They think the fella and I are heartless and cruel for even considering doing that to cute little Geordi.
They have not yet gotten used to the reality of farm life.
We shall see what happens...maybe we will sell Geordi....maybe not!

Hope all of you had a great holiday...now it is back to the grind! (Not that I actually got a day off! Still had to feed the critters and milk the mama goat!)

Thursday, December 16, 2010


If you have a facebook account, please vote for my I-Pad case design!
Vote HERE .

Garden Catalog Alert!

Yesterday I recieved in the mail my brand new:
Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds Catalog for 2011
Oh dear lord, this is absolutely the most luscious, beautiful seed catalog EVER!
Order your own at www.rareseeds.com
 Yes, seed catalogs are going out and helping us gardening folk to dream about lush armfuls of vegetable bounty.
I plan my garden every year going through the catalogs I receive in December and January.
Baker Creek has become my *go to* seed catalog.
NO GMO seeds!

Seeds from around the world...some from plants that are, indeed, rare.
Heirloom seeds from the Amish and Mennonite farmers and from insular communities and old family farms in the South, in the Ozarks, etc.
Baker Seeds has also recently purchased a 200 year old seed company in the NorthEast US.
Comstock, Ferre & Company in Wethersfield, Conn.
You can order their seed catalog by writing them at:
Comstock, Ferre & Co., LLC
263 Main Street
Wethersfield, CT 06109
They will be keeping the old seed stocks going...no gmo's, no hybrids...just the heirloom seed that comes back true, year after year.A lot of the seed is specific to the New England-North East US region, so that's good news for any of you in that area!

I strongly encourage everyone to buy from Baker Seeds.
No, I don't work for the company or get a kick-back from them....
I support them because they are trying to sustain and maintain heirloom seeds and they are supporters of home gardeners, seed savers, organic agriculture and community based agriculture.
They are very definitely ANTI GMO and ANTI Monsanto.

So order your seed catalog and join me in dreaming of gardens not yet sprouted!
Plan your gardens and get a jump start on next season!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Boy, do I Need a Camera!

We have a new baby here!
A goat baby!
Our Mama goat, Gabrielle gave birth last Saturday around 5 p.m. to a bouncing baby buck (boy). He has been named Geordi.
He is ADORABLE! Curly black fur with splashes of white and a bit of brown. A very lovely kid.
Now, we do not need male goats. We have a breeding goat. S-o-o-o-o-o-o, I made the suggestion that we let him fatten up a bit and then perhaps have roast goat for Easter....
Boy, did that suggestion fall over like a lead balloon!
Darlin' Man has now suggested that Geordi be sold...he has a couple of people that are interested.
I'll just enjoy the little cuss while he is little.
Mama Gabrielle's milk supply is getting well established and she will be milked for the first time on Friday. This is her third baby, so she is tending to Geordi quite well.
However, she has never been milked before as the person we bought her from actually raised goats as a hobby...never butchered them, never milked them. Sells a few now and again, but that's about it.
I expect the first milking will NOT go well!
But I got some sweet feed and have been convincing Gabrielle that I am not the enemy by hand feeding her a little every day. She trots to the pen gate when I go outside now looking for her treat. She and the other does follow me around when ever I go outside. One of the little does, Champagne, has taken to tugging or nibbling on my shirt or skirt when she is looking for a treat.
We put collars on the goats...boy, what a rodeo that was!Patches got her color first, then Gabrielle. Champagne turned out to be totally against the idea of a collar.
No, no, no! She didn't want one!
Champagne, small as she is, knocked me down, butted me when I got back up and finally pulled out her *big guns*...little sucker gored me in the arm! Not badly...bruised me more than anything else, very little blood.
Milking these goats is going to be an adventure!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

What's in YOUR Stockings? And Childhood Indulgences.

When I was growing up, my Christmas stockings (as well as those of my sisters) contained basically the same thing every year. A set with a hairbrush, comb and nailbrush. A set of days of the week panties. Socks. A pair of gloves. A tangerine, some walnuts in the shell. Candy.

When my kids were growing up, I put about the same things in my kids stockings, although I usually added a small toy or stuffed animal.
This year I have to fill stockings for Boy, Girl, my fella and (SURPRISE!), the fella's oldest daughter and his mother (who will both be joining us for the holiday)

Boy and Girl will both get hairbrush sets.Socks.Warm gloves and a warm hat. Tangerines and nuts in the shell and candy.
Older Girl will get a travel hairbrush set. Socks, warm gloves and hat. Tangerines and nuts in the shell and candy.
Fella will get socks, some hygiene items, handkerchiefs, tangerines and nuts and candy.

Problematic is Fella's Mom.
What do I put in HER stocking? I have never met her. Never even talked to her. Have NO CLUE what she likes and dislikes. I asked my fella for suggestions and his (typical) male response?
"I dunno...'Mom' stuff, I guess"
(Massive eye roll.....)
I can toss in the traditional tangerine, nuts and candy---just "upscale" the candy a bit (small box of Godiva chocolates, perhaps?). I doubt she needs the hairbrush set. Maybe some Isotoner gloves? I'll have to give this some more thought, I guess.

I have been catering to my childhood memories the past couple of days.
Tapioca pudding. I LOVE it! Haven't made it in ages, though. Picked up some tapioca the other day at the store and have made some every other day since.
I heartily recommend tapioca with raisins in it for breakfast. Also good with dried cranberries in it!
Mine was still warm when I dug into it. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.......
Sometimes it helps to cater to your "inner child"---especially during the holidays!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Christmas Wrap

I am making my Christmas present wrap again this year. I abhor paying for paper that is discarded after that one use!
This year I am using burlap....we have oodles of it that we got free and I am in the process of washing it to soften it up before using it.
Once it it is washed and dried, I will sew bags of various sizes to put gifts in.
I am using some acrylic craft paint and some stamps, so the burlap will have pretty designs, it won't be just plain, boring brown.
Out of my fabric stash, I will get calico ribbon to tie the bags. The bags can be used afterwards for many useful purposes.

I can't remember the last time I bought gift wrap!
I have loads of gift bags that I have saved from presents given to me. I use fabric, the comic section of the paper, plain white bauthers paper, brown paper grocery bags, etc.
Ribbons are twine, yarn, fabric...things I already have around the house.

If you use plain butchers paper, use craft paint to decorate. You can use stamps you already have or make stamps from potatoes! (Cut a potato in half, carve your design in the cut side) Let your little ones use their hands to *stamp* the paper with their wee hand prints. (Grandparents LOVE that gift wrap!)

If giving a gift to new parents for a baby, wrap the present in a receiving blanket and make a bow from pacifiers or baby hair accessories (for a girl).

They still sell flour is cloth sacks. Buy your flour that way and wash the sack when you use the flour up. Save those sacks for gift bags! Especially appropriate when you are giving kitchen items!

Recipients that sew or quilt always appreciate a gift wrapped in fabric!
If you are sending a gift to someone who is away from home for Christmas, consider wrapping their present in their hometown paper---not just the comic section! I once received  a gift from a friend wrapped in my hometown paper....I took great care in unwrapping my gift so I could read the paper---the wrapping was just as much of a gift as the contents!

Don't waste your hard earned on paper this year! The money you spend on paper and ribbon could be used to buy another gift or put a couple of extra items on your table! Look around your house and I am sure you will find some great stuff to wrap gifts in!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

My Zazzle Store

Shameless plug here!
I have a zazzle store....mainly tee shirts and stuff like that. I make a teeny bit of money in commissions...so if you are still looking for a present for a relative or a friend...or for yourself!....please check it out!
Here's one of the shirts:

Maybe a Christmas Ornament?

Perhaps a pair of high top sneakers?

I have a little bit of everything!
Go ahead and click on my link (over to the left...nudge, nudge, shove )
or just click here !

Christmas Preparation Commences! COOKIE RECIPES!!!

Christmas, Yule, Winter Solstice, Winter Holiday...whatever you wish to call it....it is right around the corner! (Sorry I missed the start of Hanukkah!)
Almost all cultures/societies/religions have some sort of celebration in the colder winter season. I think humans need a holiday/feast day/celebration at this point of the year.
It is cold and possibly snowy. Everyone is getting cranky and showing signs of cabin fever. Spring is s-o-o-o-o-o far away. We have to have something to look forward to!
It seems all the celebrations involve LIGHT....Pagans have the Yule log and burning torches, Jews light the Menorah, Christians celebrate the arrival of the "Light of the World" and light candles and/or decorate trees with lights, various Asian cultures light lanterns for their celebrations.
And all us humans FEAST!
There is a special satisfaction in creating a meal of stupendous proportions in the depths of winter. The heady  aromas of roast meat, the enticing scent of cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice, the sweet smell of cookies and homemade candy wafting through the house. The table groaning under the unaccustomed weight of so much food!
And the cookies...oh, yes, the cookies! I adore baking cookies almost as much as I like eating them!
This year I will have snickerdoodles, spritz, Scottish shortbread, sugar cookies, jam thumbprints, and several others. I will also bake gingerbread cookies.
I pack a lot of cookies into tins to give as gifts. Last year my Darlin' Man was in Iraq and I sent about 30 pounds of cookies to him, which he shared with other guys (and gals) in his unit.The snickerdoodles were the most sought after!

Snickerdoodles (Please read ENTIRE recipe before starting!)
Makes three dozen 3 to 4-inch cookies. Your mileage will vary by the size scoop you use.
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
16 tablespoons (2 stick or 8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 3/4 cups sugar, plus more if needed
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon, plus more if needed
2 large eggs
Preheat the oven to 400°, with one rack in top third and one rack in bottom third of oven. Line baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper; set aside.
Sift together flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine butter and 1 1/2 cups sugar. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl. Add eggs, and beat to combine. Add dry ingredients, and beat to combine. At this point, I chilled the dough for an hour (or you can overnight) before scooping it, because I otherwise found it too difficult to scoop into balls.If you can't wait for it to chill, don't scoop, pinch off dough and roll into balls.
Once dough has chilled, in a small bowl, combine remaining 1/4 cup sugar and the ground cinnamon. Use a small ice-cream scoop to form balls of the dough, and roll in cinnamon sugar. Place about two inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Bake until the cookies are set in center and begin to crack (they will not brown much, if at all), about 10-12 minutes.. Transfer the sheets to a wire rack to cool about five minutes before transferring the cookies to the rack. In theory, they can be stored in an airtight container up to two weeks, but I say good luck with that! They are SO GOOD warm from the oven!!!
Now, if you don't have Cream of Tartar in your baking pantry, use TWO teaspoons of baking powder and proceed with recipe.If you don't have an ice cream scoop, pinch off chunks of dough and roll into balls about the size of a ping pong ball (about an inch in diameter or a little less), roll in cinnamon-sugar mixture and place balls on cooking sheet and squash down with the a drinking glass (that's what I normally do)
These cookies ship well, so if you are mailing them, pack them tightly in a tin, layering wax or parchment paper between each layer.
They are terrific with a mug of hot chocolate, cup of coffee or cup of hot tea or mulled cider. They also work well with a glass of cold milk...so it's the perfect cookie to leave out for Santa!

I know a lot of folks out there are dieting...but this is not a recipe for dieters! Never, EVER substitute margarine for butter---the results will NOT be "just as good"--it will screw up the baking, the flavor, the texture...margarine will just screw up cookies---period!

Jam Thumbprint Cookies


  • 2/3 cup butter softened slightly
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or almond extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 egg whites, lightly beaten
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
  • 1/3 cup strawberry preserves or apricot jam or orange marmalade or blackberry or raspberry seedless jam 
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease cookie sheets, or line with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg yolks, vanilla, and salt. Gradually mix in flour.
  3. Shape dough into 3/4 inch balls. Dip in lightly beaten egg whites, then roll in finely chopped walnuts. Place 1 inch apart on prepared cookie sheets. Press down center of each with thumb.Fill thumbprint with scant teaspoon of jam. You can wait until cookies are cool to fill thumbprint with jam, but I am always so busy, it is easier for me to fill before baking.I usually mix it up a bit so that there are a variety of jams--that one of someone doesn't like strawberry jam, they can nibble away on the ones filled with blackberry or apricot jam!
  4. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely. If you are shipping cookie, layer with wax or parchment paper, otherwise they will stick together. These will keep pretty well for about a week.

Christmas morning here will find my household opening gifts while having a traditional (for me) breakfast:
Big mugs of hot chocolate and Scottish Shortbread!
I luvs me some Scottish Shortbread!!!

Scottish Shortbread
This Martha Stewarts recipe, that I used last year...turned out REALLY good!

  • 1 1/3 cups (2 sticks plus 6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pans

  • 2/3 cup sugar

  • 3/4 teaspoon salt

  • 3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  • 3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

  • Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Butter a 9-by-13-by-1-inch baking pan, and line bottom with parchment paper. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add salt and vanilla, and beat to combine. Add flour, 1 cup at a time, beating on low speed until just combined.

  • Press dough into prepared pan, leveling and smoothing the top. Using a dough scraper or the back of a knife, cut dough lengthwise into nine strips, each slightly less than 1 inch wide. Cut the strips crosswise into thirty-six 3-inch bars. Using the tines of a fork or a wooden skewer, create a decorative pattern on the surface.

  • Bake shortbread until evenly pale golden, but not browned, 70 to 85 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack to cool. Invert pan, and remove parchment. Turn shortbread over, and carefully break, or cut with a serrated knife, into bars. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 month.

  • For a yummy variation, dip one end of each bar in dark chocolate!

    I might use this recipe this year and see how it goes...


    • 2 ½ cups flour
    • 1/3 cup sugar
    • 1 cup butter (2 sticks)
    • 1/4 cup powdered sugar (optional)


    1. Mix the flour and sugar in a large mixing bowl.
    2. Using a pastry cutter, cut in the butter until the crumbs are pea size and begin to stick together.
    3. Knead the dough with hands until smooth.
    4. Roll dough 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick, put on buttered parchment sheet on cookie sheet or directly on buttered cookie sheet. Cut before baking into bars, squares or wedges and prick dough at regular intervals with fork.
    5. Bake in a 325°F oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until the bottom starts to brown. Remove from oven and dust lightly with powdered sugar if desired.
    6. Cool on cookie sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack.

    The nice thing about Scottish Shortbread is that it tastes better after being stored for about a week or two, so it is PERFECT to make ahead or ship! Shortbread is, in fact, good after a month, if stored in an airtight container.

    Now, I am hungry, lol! And not a cookie in the house (yet!).
    Enjoy the season! Enjoy the baking!
    Enjoy the cookies!!!