Monday, January 25, 2021

Menu Plan Monday - January 25, 2021

 

Our warm winter is coming to an end and the cold has begun in earnest. I guess that we people in the northern part of the country should expect that, but of course it throws us into a tizzy when it happens. December and January is not normally nearly as warm as it has been (sometimes days with temperatures well above freezing) so I will be grateful for what I had.

On Friday, I went to the barn to feed my two ewes when I took a peek into my daughter's goat stall. Standing there was a tiny buckling, dried off but shivering. We left him with his mother until Saturday morning, but noticed then that he was very cold and could not nurse. After some research, we determined that he was hypothermic and simply could not latch on enough to nurse. At that point, we had to bring him in the house and get him warm really quick. We did give him supplements along with colostrum from the mother goat. Well, long story short - when this happens you just have to keep the baby inside in the warmth until the cold snap ends or he's big enough to withstand the temperatures. 

So...we are keeping this little guy in the house and bringing him outside every two to three hours (with a doggie jacket on) to nurse from his mother. Then, we take a screaming baby from his screaming mother and bring him back inside, where he basks in the warmth on the hearth rug in front of the wood burner. No kidding. Lots of fun. By the way, this is a nigerian dwarf goat and he's really tiny. Right now he's 5 lbs. and gaining weight slowly. Lots of energy and pretty spunky when he's not sleeping.


For this week's menu plan, I decided to do some warming soups. Thursday has become our left-over night, but often I find we don't have left-overs. We do have grown boys that eat a lot 😃. On those days, I just search through the freezer and pantry and try to come up with something easy. Sometimes it's a package of hot dogs (which I loathe but they can come in handy) or a can of whatever. I do prefer to have a plan, though. Here's mine:

Monday

Cheeseburger Soup

Tuesday

Vegetable (with cabbage) Soup

Parmesan Chicken Strips with Salads

Baked Potatoes

Wednesday

One Pot Ham and Veggie Pasta

Thursday

Left-overs and Whatever Else

Friday

Pizza

Saturday

Brats

Warm Potato Salad with Capers

Baked Beans

Sunday

On Your Own


Monday, January 18, 2021

Menu Plan Monday - January 18, 2021

 

Many years later, and I'm still getting most of my recipes from my collection of cookbooks - real ones that I can hold and sift through. I took most of my menu plan this week from the three books below: The Ohio State Grange Cook Book, Conservation Officers Cooking T.I.P.S., and my mother's handwritten Favorite Recipes. In March of this year, my mom will have been in Heaven for five years. I still miss her dearly and making some of these dishes gives me comfort. After the plan I will share a recipe from that little book.



Monday

Pineapple Glazed Pork Loin Chops
Cornbread
Mixed Veggies

Tuesday

Turkey and Gravy
Baked Potatoes
Stir Fried Zucchini Slices (from freezer)

Wednesday

Goulash
Creole Beans (recipe below)

Thursday

Left-Overs

Friday

Pizza

Saturday

Tacos
Chips & Salsa

Sunday

On Your Own

Creole Beans

2 1/2 cups of green beans
1 TBSP chopped onions
2 TBSP olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 cup chili sauce

Cook onions on medium low in oil until soft. Add beans and salt. Cook until heated through, stirring often. Then add chili sauce and heat well.

Monday, January 04, 2021

Menu Plan Monday - January 4, 2021

 


So, what to create for dinners (or as we Hoosiers always say, suppers) this first week in the year 2021. If I'm honest, I will admit that my heart isn't really in the menu plan this time, but that's the way it goes. When you are a planner and someone who likes to have everything structured, you continue to go ahead with the plans regardless of how you feel. Yesterday, I looked through my pantry and freezers before throwing together a plan. 

That's the best way to prepare a weekly menu, you know. The late planning is not ideal, but deciding what you want for meals by using ingredients that you already have on hand is. Being wise in all aspects of our lives is important and spending extra money at the grocery store to prepare whatever sounds good at the time is not the best thing. I want to save money, not spend it all needlessly.

Then, there's the whole thing about how I wanted a large garden and tons of canned (frozen and dried too) goods available in the winter. Now it's winter and I need to be using those foods to feed the family nourishing food. One vegetable that I grew a lot of this last summer is squash. I ran out of good storage places for squash, so I decided to put them under our bed. I read that this is a good idea. I'm happy to say it has been a fantastic place, as the squash are still in great shape and we have been enjoying them since harvest in September.

Happy New Year and may you be blessed in your own planning endeavors.


Monday

Chili 

Muffins

Tuesday

Chicken and Rice

Brussels Sprouts

Wednesday

Sausage Stuffed Squash

Baked Potatoes

Salads

Thursday

Enchiladas

Salads

Friday

Pizza & Pop

Saturday

BBQ Ribs

Potatoes

Peas

Sunday

On Your Own

Monday, December 28, 2020

Menu Plan Monday - December 28, 2020

 


Happy Menu Plan Monday - the last in 2020.

If you're anything like me, I think you will agree that 2020 has been less than desirable and an end to it sounds grand. While our calendar changes to another year, however, please keep in mind that God's perfect timing does not include parameters such as the Gregorian calendar. That's sort of for us because we have such finite minds ....

I have slipped on posting my menu plans and hope to rectify that by being more consistent. I have, however, been very good at planning and posting my menu on our refrigerator for the family to see - and stop asking what's for supper.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and best wishes to the new year ahead. I don't think that things are going to look any different than they do now and probably won't be any better, but that doesn't mean that we can't celebrate the freedoms that we do still have. And we can still feast with whatever we have available.

Monday

Pork Roast

Baked Potatoes

Green Beans

Homemade White Bread

Tuesday

Spaghetti

Broccoli

Garden Salads

Wednesday

Beef Stew (minus barley)

Thursday

Cheesy Chicken and Noodle Casserole

Peas

Friday - New Year's Day

Pizza & Pop

Saturday

Burgers and Brats (Hopefully grilled - depends on weather)

Potato Salad

Chips & Dip

Sunday 

On Your Own

Monday, November 23, 2020

Making the Home a Little Better - One Day at a Time

 


As most of you know, we live in northern Michigan on a small plot of land where the sun seldom shines - quite literally. Our house sits in a "valley" with a large hill covered in trees (the hill used to be part of the first ski club in the state) to the East and a tremendous amount of trees to the West. By the time the sun gets over the ski hill, the clock has turned to noon. My garden is on a small hill on the east side of the property and it gets as much sun as it can get anywhere close. The sunniest place is in our yard (facing south) and that is where I chose to put my greenhouse last spring. That turned out to be a good choice.

I have struggled over the years we have lived in the northern woodlands to make the most of what I have been given. I do not like snow and what do I get? An average of 136 inches a year, give or take. The cold season lingers and I swear that we only get winter and summer, with winter taking the larger portion of the year. I count myself fortunate in those years that summer lasts more than two months. 

This year I had the greenhouse and what a blessing that was! I was able to start plants in the house in April, then move them to the greenhouse early May. It was still cold outside (in the 50 degree Fahrenheit range) with snow still lingering over the garden bed. Take the gloom and doom of everyone shouting COVID, and it was not a very fun time.

But here is the blessing. I was laid off work since libraries were not considered to be "essential" in Michigan. I had time on my hands to do that which really matters to me. I was able to start numerous plants and work to keep them warm in the greenhouse with the occasional aid of an electric heater. I was able to place those young plants outside in the garden toward the end of May, when they should be planted.

I was able to bless others. I had so many tomato plants that grew suckers that I clipped them, placed them in water, and waited for sprouting to occur. And it did. I gave away close to twenty tomato plants that were all started from suckers. I was told later that those plants were strong, healthy, and provided their owners with a whole lot of beautiful tomatoes.

My husband and I raise wild species of waterfowl and pheasants on our farm. We also raise sheep and goats along with chickens. How blessed we were to be able to spend more time with those animals, creating better and healthier environments for them. My husband was able to raise quite a few baby ducks and pheasants, as well as some quail, that we took to swap meets around Michigan and Indiana. We did a fairly good business and hope for an even better next summer.

Mandarin Duck

So, how did we make our home a little better this year? I think that maybe the best thing we did was to work on our home business and the farm. I had such a huge success with the tomatoes in my new greenhouse that I canned a lot of them. We now have a good stock of salsa, tomatoes, and sauce on hand for the winter. I found lots of beans (black beans, navy beans, and pinto beans) at great prices at the bulk food store in Shipshewana, Indiana while on a trip to the swap meet with our birds. Guess what is canned and ready for meals this winter? You guessed it - beans! And not only that. I have canned salsa verde (tomatillo overload in the garden this year), many varieties of jam, vegetable broth, sauerkraut, sweet pickles and also dills, and even elderberry syrup (my dad's recipe). 

The freezer is full too. 

I had meant to do a lot of spring cleaning in the house, but that never happened. Now, my plan is to fall clean, which may turn into winter clean. I have already got a good start on the living room. 

I'm back to work and our library remains open. Nothing looks the same and sometimes I panic. I wonder why Jesus hasn't come back yet. The news never reports anything good anymore. 

One thing I can do is my job as a wife and a mother. I can do my job as a Christian, being sure that I am faithful to spread the Good News of Salvation. 

The Bible says that God does not operate on our time scale. He knows when the moment is right and that is when Jesus will come and take us home - in the twinkling of an eye. Until then, it is my job to make my home - my piece of the world - a little better, one day at a time. 

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Canning Alternatives for Frazzled Lid Hunter




There has been a shortage of canning lids for purchase this year. Have you noticed? If you didn't stock up earlier and you are an avid home canner, then you likely have done more than noticed the shortage.

First of all, there are reasons for the shortage. The shut-downs in production due to COVID-19 restrictions is the biggest reason. When you must close your factories, how do you produce the product?

Secondly, now that production is back in place, it's difficult to stock up the stores that have back-ordered the lids. 

Thirdly, people are buying up stock as quick as they hit the shelves, seemingly creating more shortages.

The truth is, there is a shortage but not a shortage of canning lids available. Personally, I have noticed an uptick in the cost of the lids locally. Perhaps that isn't the case for you. Ball has them for sale on their website. If you buy in bulk, the price isn't too bad. I don't know how long you have to wait for delivery, though. The canning season is nearly over too.

There are ways to preserve the harvest without canning. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Good old freezing works well and I haven't noticed shortages in freezer bags. If you have a vacuum machine and bags, you will find that your food lasts longer in the deep freeze. I usually don't use too many freezer boxes because they take up more space, but I do use repurposed spaghetti sauce jars to store some things in the freezer (dehydrated herbs and veggies that might not have all of the moisture out of them - more on dehydration following). If you plan to use glass jars in the freezer, it's best to put them on door racks to avoid breakage. 
  • If you don't have freezer space, you can dehydrate vegetables and herbs easily. I have a Cabela's brand dehydrator that I use constantly during the summer and early fall. I dry herbs of all kinds as well as many fruits and veggies. Some of my faves are zucchini chips, cucumber chips, strawberry slices, apple slices (dip in lemon juice first to avoid browning), and cilantro. To  keep your food healthy and full of vitamins, try not to put the heat setting over 110 degrees F. If you don't have a dehydrator, you can always use your oven at the very lowest setting. Check on it often! Place your dehydrated foods in jars or plastic containers with lids. If moisture gets in, your food will begin to rehydrate and then mold, so be sure they are sealed well or placed in the freezer. The advantage of dehydrated foods is mostly that they use up far less storage space than other preserved items. 
  • Root cellars and cold storage works for root crops. I don't have a good place to store squash, potatoes, carrots, and other good candidates, so I use other methods of preserving them. 
  • One way that I like to preserve food, especially when I don't have a ton to put up, is by fermentation. Fermentation uses salt as a preservation tool, as well as the fermentation itself. In a nutshell, fermenting food means that you are allowing the natural enzymes to partially break down the food, making it more digestible. To learn more about fermenting, go to this post by Plantables.
I hope you will find ways to preserve your hard work without solely relying upon canning lids. I have been using all of the above methods (other than cold storage for root crops) and have been very pleased with the end results.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

My Thoughts in Troubled Times


I love living in the country where things seem to be a bit more peaceful than they are in the cities of this country. Out here, we can roam the grounds without worrying about wearing masks. It's not that COVID-19 can't someday reach us, but we can breathe. Albeit, that breathing may include smelling animals that city folks might find offensive.

Here in the country, we were quarantined like everyone else. In fact, we were quarantined a LOT, because we live in Michigan, the land of excessive rules and quarantines. Every single time another "extension" came down from the governor, it felt as if the sky were falling. People were losing hope, and that can never be a good thing.

You see, we need people.  In a place where it's okay to tell people that the powers-that-be are only doing this "for the health and well-being" of the masses, it's very hard to believe that a healthy person being forced to keep away from other people is for their own good. Especially when the health and well-being of people seems to include allowing abortions to continue all throughout the quarantine.

And that makes me sad and angry at the same time. 

Who was there to fight for the unborn? Who cared about their lives? And how can we believe lawmakers who say they care about human life while they continue to snuff out the lives of the most vulnerable?

We must continue to fight for those who cannot fight for themselves.

Today, fighting for rights is popular. People are fighting for equal rights and some are fighting for special rights above and beyond equal rights. Others are fighting to abolish anyone who doesn't look like them.

This, too, makes me angry and sad at the same time.

I want to say, "Shame on you" to those who have made me look at people a new way, bringing on fear rather than respect.

I have thought little about race in my lifetime because I don't believe that God made races. He made two people, Adam and Eve, from which all the rest of mankind came. What color were Adam and Eve? I don't care. All I ever believed was that God made us all brothers and sisters with varying skin colors. All of them are just gorgeous to Him who made us. When he looks at us, he doesn't see black, white, red, yellow, brown, whatever. He sees us as we are inside; He sees our spirits. 

So, when I hear that "_______ lives matter" (fill in the blank with whatever you wish), I still believe that all lives matter to God the Creator. He loves us enough to have sent His Son to die for ALL of mankind, not just one color or "race". The problem is, we don't get that forgiveness of sin and promise of eternal life unless we receive it as His good and perfect gift. We have to really want that gift and repent of the past.

A final thought on recent matters is my thoughts on the police. My son is a county deputy. This hits me deeply and causes me to lose sleep. We have close friends in police departments. We have family other than my son working for the police. NONE of them would hurt anyone if they could help it at all. They don't deserve the hatred.

A land without order is no land at all. Remember that when the chaos gets out of control. And also remember that you can always lift your eyes to heaven and repent of the past, gaining a future brighter than your wildest dreams.