Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Monday, November 23, 2009

Chicken Integration Day

Well, the pullets started laying their eggs last week, so we figured it's time to put them in the main coop with the older chickens. We waited until they were all asleep last night, then slipped the two new ones into the coop. Unfortunately, they woke up this morning all aflutter and ready to fight. It's proving to be very stressful for me so far, since the older ones don't seem to want to let the pullets even stand up and walk around, let alone eat. I'm hoping that if I just give it a day or two, they'll get themselves back in line again and have everything worked out. In the meantime, I'm closely montoring them to make sure no one gets injured or starts to bleed. This adding new chickens to old thing is harder than I'd thought it would be. I sure hope I don't have to separate them again.

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Friday, November 13, 2009

What's What Around Here

I've got yogurt incubating in the dining room and dough for crackers rising in the kitchen. I'm feeling pretty good today, it's one of those everything is nice and going right kind of days.

Have I mentioned how much I love Wii Fit? We got the Wii Fit Plus when it came out last month, and I just love it! It makes exercising so much more fun and easier to accomplish than just the treadmill does. The perfect solution for keeping moving over the winter when the garden and yard work won't need doing. And today, I beat Ben's high score on the Advanced Step game! Woo-hoo!! Of course I do it like five times to his every one and still can't ever top his scores, and he'll just come home and set a new high score his first try. But for today I wear the crown and am the queen!

It's all about rhythm, you see. And Ben has a natural God-given musician's sort of rhythm. And I don't have any. Nope, no rhythm at all. I have to think through and use my eyes and spatial abilities in order to clap in time with anything.

My elderly neighbor is back home from the assisted living home where she needed to stay for a month or so, and is doing much better. I'm planning to go visit with her for a while after I finish this post. I'm not sure if that'll mean I don't actually get around to baking the crackers today or not, but the dough will keep in the fridge till tomorrow easily enough.

Tonight is pizza night! Let the angels sing! ;)

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Dear Mom,

Please don't be mad that I posted this picture. It's just too cute!
I realized that I'd never posted pics of the awesome t-shirts that Ma and Angie and I made for the Stitch n Pitch game in September. They say, "Knit One, Purl Two, Strike Three!" and have really cute little baseball badges with our initials and stuff.

That was a super fun night!!

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Ain't No Challah Back Girl

This is actually Thanksgiving prep, if you can believe I'm getting started this early! I told Ben I'd make stuffing this year, and the recipe from America's Test Kitchen that I want to use calls for a loaf of Challah bread. I figured I'd get a jump on things and make it up this week, cube it and put it in the freezer till Thanksgiving, which should help dry it out for making the stuffing.
I used the recipe for challah from Tammy's Recipes, which, as you can see, makes a massive amount of bread. I actually really enjoyed doing some bread by hand, since our every day eating bread is always made in the bread maker. My tendonitis didn't love it though, hence the bread maker for our every day bread.

Braiding the loaves was super fun as well. This dough is a real pleasure to work with, and was simple to stretch and braid.

The recipe makes two very large loaves of bread. It's a finely textured sort of bread with a yeasty slight sweet taste. Very good! Ben absolutely loved it, and is very glad that there was an extra loaf. I'm planning french toast for dinner with some of this, and the whole loaf is going to get cubed up and frozen this afternoon. The rest? I don't think it'll be a problem to find volunteers to eat it.

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Monday, November 09, 2009

Dehydrating Winter Squash and Pumpkins

This year, since I have no freezer space ever, I dehydrated our pie pumpkins and butternut squash puree. This makes storage a lot easier, since it can them be kept on a shelf. It's also better than canning, because squash and pumpkin can only be canned in chunks, since the puree is much too thick for safe canning.
As always, I started by halving the squashes, scooping out the seeds and strings, and placing them cut side down on a foil lined baking sheet. These roast at 350 for about an hour or so, until they're mushy when poked at... yes, that's a technical designation. :)

I scooped out all the soft roasted flesh and pureed it with the stick blender until nice and smooth. This could be done in a food processor or blender or even with a potato masher, of course.
I measured two cups of puree per tray and spread it evenly on parchment paper. I tried to keep a consistent thickness of about a 1/4 of an inch, so that it would dry evenly.
After dehydrating for about 10 hours, the puree was stiff and completely dry to the touch. It peeled off of the parchment paper very easily.

I tore the pumpkin "roll-up" into small pieces and was able to pack the two cups of puree into half-pint jars. To use this, I'll soak it in about 1 1/2 cups of warm water, until it's re-hydrated and stir it back into puree, and use it for any recipe calling for a can of pumpkin.

I thought maybe I should have added pumpkin pie spices to the puree before drying it, since that would have made the spices permeate the puree and blend together better, but this way it'll be able to be used for any pumpkin recipe, not just a pie. Maybe I'll try it that way next year too, and see which I like better.

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Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Beppy Appleseed

I still haven't finished those apples! Last week, I had a relapse of flu or whatever it was and lost my voice, so I commited myself to spending as much time sleeping as possible. And when I wasn't sleeping, I was aimlessly watching tv. Just one of those weeks, I guess. But it worked, and I'm feeling a lot better. And my voice was back by Friday.

We spent the weekend in Fort Wayne, visiting my oldest friend to whom I am not related, Julie, and her husband, Brian. We had an awesome time, and it was just absolutely wonderful to wake up on Saturday facing a day that did not contain a single chore. Not one little dish to wash, or any animal whatsoever needing me to feed or manage it, or even a single bite of food I was responsible for planning or preparing. I just need that sometimes, and it was great.

Back to reality yesterday though. I cleaned out and scrubbed down and aired out the chicken coop and the dog house the pullets have been living in. I think the pullets will be ready to join the flock in a week or two, which will be good, because then I won't have to keep taking care of two coops and all. Moving them all around lately has been a sloppy miserable job, since it's been raining for a month. I was thrilled to have some sunshine yesterday and today. Maybe it'll help control the mudslick situations in the yard.

We have mice moving into the attic and the ceiling something awful. Neither one of us want to use poison on them for a number of different reasons, so last night at Rural King, we picked up one of the repeller things that's supposed to emit a sound only the mice can hear and drive them away. I hope it works.

So, back to the apples. This morning I went through them all and sorted them, and only found a couple really soft ones that had to get thrown out, so they're keeping really well. Ben and I are planning to make another batch of juice this weekend, and use it to start a gallon of apple wine going. I also have about 10 or 15 pounds left for dehydrating as well. Any that are left after the apple juice, I'll use to make applesauce, as well as the leftover pulp, after draining the apple juice. And I think that will be the end of the apple madness!

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