One Flourishing, Frugal and Fun Family!

One mother making ends meet and surviving today's recession by writing. One family learning to live off the land, cut back on expenses, and to live a simpler and a more self-sufficient lifestyle.

Adopted Motto

"Eat it up,
Wear it out,
Make it do,
Or go without."
~A Pioneer Sampler, by Barbara Greenwood~

Saturday, July 31, 2010

First Horse Riding Competition

My 16 year-old daughter came home with several ribbons from her very first horse riding competition.  The ribbon in the center is from winning Grand Champion in ground pole division!

Meet Tiger ~ The Ferocious Jungle Cat

Friday, July 30, 2010

Turnip Turkey Burgers ~ Another Way to Cook with Turnips

I experimented with turnips again.  The kids loved what I did and they could not taste a strong turnip taste.  I didn't have a recipe.  I took 3 lbs of quick sale ground turkey, lean, and mixed it with:
1/2-3/4 cup italian bread crumbs (I just had some that needed used up)  You could make your own.
1 egg, farm fresh
2 turnips, garden fresh, grated finely (peeled first of course)
1 med. or 2 small garden onions, chopped
1 garden fresh green pepper, chopped
1 tsp. or more of dried thyme and oregano from the herb garden
Salt and Pepper to taste

I cooked these in a cast iron skillet with olive oil for about 5 minutes on each side (made our burgers pretty good sized).  The kids topped them with garden fresh lettuce and homemade pickles.  I may try these again with a different version, maybe with garlic or a small handful of cheese.  Either way, we discovered a delicious way to use turnips in our meal. 
I'll never forget reading Little House books with my daughter.  It was those books that influenced us to eat turnips and keep them in our diet.  Now we grow them every year in the summer garden.  I will also be trying a pickled turnip/beet recipe. 

Kids Baking ~ Easy Tiramisu

My older two girls got fancy with a boxed angel food cake (a cake which we plan to make from scratch from now on).  Instead of adding shaved chocolate to the top, they just tossed on chocolate chips.

Writing Burnouts ~ Stuck in a Rut

I started writing for another Web site, called Bukisa.  I can't seem to get my writing mojo going on that site.  I've managed to squeeze out 8 articles since June 2010 and have made a a whopping $.07.   I also noticed that with my articles on Helium, that the rating score doesn't always mean a low earning article.  Many of my lower rated articles have earned more than higher rated articles. 

With so much physical work outside this summer, I've been too tired to concentrate on what I'm writing.  Mixing up my routine doesn't seem to help either.  I've tried writing before/after exercise, and before/after working in the garden, and way before the kids are out of bed.  I just need to find that avenue I need to get back to where I was before summer. 

Back to the Garden ~ Peppers Frozen for Winter

I spent a few hours cutting away the end rot on all of our squash, only to notice some type of white beetle crawling around on dead squash leaves (only on the crookneck squash).  I have yet to identify them.

It wasn't easy working in a stooped position, carrying a bag alongside me, to remove all the end/wet rot.  I had talked to my husband, who in turn talked to his co-workers, who gave us a few tips.  First, the bees will start to carry the fungus around, so it must be removed as soon as you see it.  Most of his co-workers have, or are experiencing this with their squash.  They also mentioned the calcium solution and to spray the leaves once a week.
 (Look in the center of the photo to see the fungus on a dead blossom)


I've heard 2:1 solution and I have read to mix it 1 cup with 9 cups of water.  I've also read you can make a solution with baking soda.  We are mixing our solution 1 cup milk to 9 cups water.  Despite all that work, I did manage to make 2 more quarts of refrigerator pickles and picked about 30 cayenne peppers, which were frozen for winter.

Now, if I could just learn to have ripe tomatoes and ripe green/poblano peppers, when I have cilantro in the herb garden.  It seems that once the tomatoes are ripe, my cilantro has already gone to seed.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Garden Woes ~ Wet or End Rot

Today's dinner plans had to change.  The collard greens are all bug eaten and the squash, most of it, has wet or end rot.  I will have to research on a way to treat the collards next year, so they are not bug eaten.  As for the squash, we are treating it with a milk/water solution, and will continue to do that once a week.  If it works well, I'll be sure to post an update. 

I'm heading back out to remove all the fungus/mold pieces in an attempt to save the garden. 

Now I know what the pioneers felt like when they lost a crop to nature.  I wonder what the calcium levels were in the ground back in the 1800's?  Did they have this problem?  Our soil today lacks many vital ingredients to a healthy garden.

Collard Greens, Swiss Chard and More Turnips

I really need to cook up our garden collard greens.  Our swiss chard is looking great too.  I'm going to search around the Internet and my cookbooks for more turnip recipes as well.  With 3 pounds of ground turkey thawing, I think a nice turkey burger to go along with all of this will make a nice meal.

Yesterday I made 3 quarts of refrigerator pickles and 1 1/4 quarts of homemade salsa.  The salsa was a hit.  I used a recipe from a library book I borrowed, and substituted ground coriander for fresh cilantro.  With extreme heat here this year, my cilantro went to seed early.  I also used a cayenne pepper from the garden instead of a hot chili pepper.  It was a huge hit and they want me to make more today.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Update on Stray Puppy aka "Molly"

It was a bittersweet day today, as we put "Molly" into my brother's truck.  She is now joining another family and has a playmate she gets along with.  She will be loved and nurtured and we were glad to be a part of it.  Now the kids think they are hot potatoes when it comes to "fostering" puppies.  If we do have the oppurtunity to foster any, I'm sure you'll read about it here.

68 Things You Can Make Yourself



Angel Food Cake, Citrus
Applebutter
Applesauce

Farm Foods and Fun

The Cherry Tomato Focaccia bread was very good.  I probably should have baked mine until it was it bit more golden brown, but the kids really liked it.  Only one of them picked the tomatoes out before trying it.  It was one more way to use my garden cherry tomatoes.  I'm sure I'll have more today.
 
A came across another farm food blog, Farmgirl Fare, and found lots of recipes for my garden tomatoes.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Friendship Braids

The girls are busy making friendship braids for another Young Cultivator certificate.  In fact, my 8 year-old was creative enough to measure around my wrist to make a miniature friendship braid to use to tie around the bottom of my hair when it's braided.  She used leftover scraps of yarn.  She was tickled to see me have it in my hair this morning.

Sunday Baking ~ Cherry Tomato Focaccia ~ Make Your Own Cream Cheese

While I wait for my dough to rise, I did a bit of reading.  I located a recipe to make my own cream cheese.  Since I have cheesecloth and dried herbs on hand, and even organic yogurt, it may be the next recipe to try.  It sure would eliminate any extra additives I'm putting in our bodies with store bought cream cheese.

I'm also trying a new recipe to use a pint of my cherry tomatoes, letting nothing from the garden go to waste.  I am baking Cherry Tomato Focaccia, which I located in the book, The Heirloom Tomato book, written by Amy Goldman.  I am using organic agave instead of sugar for the recipe.

The kids, and my husband, keep asking if I am making another Zucchini pie.  It must have left a good impression on them.  They have asked for another one since they tasted it last night.  Yea for allrecipes.com for their wonderful recipes.

Today is board game day, so Horse-opoly is on the table today. For those who were not interested in playing, they are reading books.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

What's cookin' from your garden?

The other day I decided to take whatever I had ready to been picked from the garden, and roasted them all with dried herbs from the herb garden.  I tossed in salt and lots of pepper and they were delicious.
That same night I had many roma tomatoes, so I decided to make the kids favorite dip for crackers.  I have not made this in 2 years, so it was time to have it again.  I took the photo before I topped it with shredded mozzarella cheese.  I believe I got the recipe from the wheat thin box.  This one is similar, only I use mozzarella cheese for ours:  Easy Layered Tomato Dip.


And today I have made a new recipe with zucchini.  Zucchini Pie with Crumb Topping.  Although my pie does not look anything like the one on the recipe photo, we will be digging into it for a family tasting.  I'll be back to give you an update.

Back with a rating for this pie!  It was was delicious! 

Friday, July 23, 2010

93°F in my house today ~ Upstairs is sweltering

I'm so glad that the stray puppy found us last Tuesday, before this extreme heat wave became worse.  She may have not made it if she had not found my daughter.  The doggie swimming pool, which is a simple small plastic portable pool, has been used hourly today.  I'm so glad we could offer the dogs a way to cool off.  After today's newspaper article that is on the front page, I have doubts that the humane society will take the pup (if we don't find the owner).  The article talked about all the animals they have taken in, had surgery on, and those that still need homes.  All we can do is hope.

I'm about to take the garden hose to the girls because they are getting ornery. The heat is making the bees go crazy too.  My 11 year-old daughter got stung by one just sitting still today.

The dogs aren't the only ones we worry about in this heat.  Thanks to the wonderful information from my farmgirl sisters, I have found out that our chickens can die from heat exhaustion.  We have a fan running in the barn and have even given them bowls of crushed ice.

The barn cats are cooling under shaded plants and won't come out until the rain cools the air.  

The garden has blessed us yet again, so many meals are planned when the temperature drops.  Including my mother's zucchini bread.  Yum!  I'm not turning on my oven until the rain arrives.  I am seriously considering the costs of a summer kitchen.  It would work perfect for us during hot summer days.

Ice cold sliced watermelon sounds pretty good for dinner right now.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Meet "Molly" ~ Stray Dog

Meet the newest addition to the homestead.  So far, we have not received any phone calls for this stray dog my daughter found.  We've checked bulletin boards and so far no one is claiming her.  The kids have already taught her to sit and shake, and are in the process of house breaking her.  Luckily we had a dog crate from when the other dogs were puppies.  She is just a cutie and the family is getting attached to her.  She jumped out of a creek when my oldest daughter was out for a run early yesterday morning.

The kids have given her a name because we can't just say "come dog" etc.  When my daughter found her she was starving and dehydrated.  She will lay down beside the water bowl, place her paws (one on each side) around the bowl, and rest her chin on the opposite rim of the bowl and covering it.  Almost acting afraid that we'd take the water away, making us wonder what had happened to her previously.

Now that she knows we won't take her water or food away, she is content.  She will even go inside the crate to take a nap during the day.  She's free to go where ever she wants and is never taken outside without a leash.  Luckily, we still had some out grown collars, so one went on her.  We went out and bought her puppy food and a few toys.

If no one calls, she may very well be the newest, and permanent, member of our homestead.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Cute picture from one of my kids

I laughed when I went to the computer and found that one of the younger girls left this for me.  She created it with paint features on the computer.  A treasure for sure!  Any Mom who writes will find this worth keeping.

Herb drying and mixing it up

With the help of a book I borrowed from a library, I located a recipe for a dry Italian mix.  I used dry herbs, as many as I could, from my herb garden to make it.  We then used it to flavor a cucumber spread to top slices of pumpernickel bread.  We toasted the bread, topped it with the herb flavored spread, and topped that with sliced cucumbers. 

There is no end to utilizing my herbs, eating healthy, and saving money.  I can't wait to mix up another dry herb mix.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Turnip and Beet Casserole ~ My own version

If you are a pioneer at heart, and have turnips growing in your garden this year, you'll like this recipe I created.  The only thing the kids complained about, was the appearance of it.  I think I may make this again, by boiling the beets and turnips separately, and then layer them, but that would mean mixing ingredients differently too.  Here is my delicious version of a Turnip and Beet Casserole.



TURNIP AND BEET CASSEROLE

4 med. turnips, peeled and diced
3 small or 2 medium beets, peeled and diced

Boil turnips and beets in a saucepan with just enough water to cover them.  Once it comes to a boil, cover and turn the temperature down to low heat until turnips and beets are tender/soft enough to mash.  Approximately 15-20 minutes.
Drain and mash them together.*
Mix in:
1 farm fresh egg, beaten
1/3 cup of white granulated sugar*
1/2 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. organic butter
 Transfer mixture to an 8-inch by 8-inch (2 qt.) glass baking dish, sprayed with non-stick organic olive oil spray.
Sprinkle dried Thyme and chopped Rosemary over the top.*
Bake casserole at 350°F for 20-25 minutes or until heated through.

Notes:
~It is just as delicious to hand mash the vegetables, leaving small bits in it.
~Sugar substitute can be used or amount can be lowered.
~Use home grown herbs, grown without chemicals.

Simply re-heat any leftovers for delicious flavor.  My husband told me I should not change a thing on this recipe, but if I do, I'll be sure to post the changes.

Girls Pampering Day and Herb Drying Day

I decided I better get some more herbs dried before the summer is over, so I cut oregano, marjoram, lemon verbena, sage, rosemary and some basil.  Once those are dried and stored, I'll cut some others.  And speaking of herbs, the girls have announced that they need my herbs to pamper themselves.

They looked over my bookshelves and found my book, 50 Ways to Pamper Yourself, by Stephanie Tourles.  I think I picked this book up for under $1.00 at a thrift store. They looked it over and found face mask recipes and other soaks that require herbs and even items from our garden such as zucchini. 

I'm glad they are finding things to do this summer.  Even if it means using my veggies and herbs for other purposes.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Baked Cucumbers ~ Concombres Au Beurre

I borrowed a copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking and

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Porch View


Just one view from sitting on the front porch. The gladiolas are blooming now.
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Growing a garden really does save you money on groceries ~ A $.99 meal for a family of 8

I've had so many people as me "does it really save you money?" when they ask about my gardens.  Or "is it really worth the trouble?  Actually, it is a lot of work.  Take yesterday's dinner for example.  I pulled potatoes and picked green beans for the cheapest dinner I have made so far.  I scrubbed and diced and cleaned and boiled them together.  This does take more time but they are fresh and healthy, and I didn't have to buy them in the store this summer at all.  I bought one package of turkey bacon (that I bought ahead of time and was in my freezer).  I paid $.99 for it.  At times I buy up on items such as these when they are 10 for $10.00 sales.  Anyway, I picked enough potatoes and green beans for a meal for 8.  After the potatoes and beans were done cooking, I drained and tossed in crumbled, cooked, bacon.  Gave it a toss and watched everyone devour it.  Yes, growing a garden, not only saves a lot of money, but is so much healthier if you don't use chemicals on your garden.   Growing a garden is tedious, but the rewards are well worth it!
I even used zucchini to make these delicious loaves of homemade bread!  The family devoured that too!  I used applesauce instead of oil.  The plan for us is to grow apple trees and make our own applesauce.  I also used whole wheat flour from a working flour mill (preservative free).  



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Monday, July 12, 2010

Monday ~ Fun day


The butterflies love our flowers.  And so do the bees.  I was able to get a photo of one of them.  Yesterday I saw one with blue and black on the backside of the wings, and when they were closed up, they outside (underside) of the wings were orange and black. 

I've already weeded the flower beds and have picked more cucumbers.  I read that if you pick them in the early morning hours, they have a better flavor.  After weeding, and while laundry is washing, I came inside and scrambled some farm fresh eggs with snipped chives.

Speaking of food, I made the most delicious yellow squash recipe I found on the Internet - Yellow Squash Patties.  The only thing I would change, is maybe use sharp cheddar cheese for more flavor, and maybe Parmesan cheese.  The kids loved them and hubby stole the leftovers and took them to work for his lunch.  I am sure I'll have more squash today.

We did top our patties with a thin layer of sour cream.  I used olive oil and I used cornmeal that we bought at a working flour mill (no preservatives).  I also have whole wheat flour from the mill too.  Very delicious. If you are looking for new recipes, and recipes that use a lot of yellow squash, this one is one to try.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Garden Bounty Blessings

This is a homemade Kohlrabi and Squash Frittata I made for brunch (my own recipe). I used everything from the garden and our farm fresh eggs.

I picked a bunch of green beans and made a homemade summer vegetable spaghetti sauce to pour over organic whole wheat noodles. The recipe is in the Cardiac Recovery Cookbook.  The recipe I linked it too is the exact same recipe I have, but on another Web site.


For a side, I pulled beets and roasted them with onions, olive oil, dried thyme and fresh sprigs of rosemary (from the herb garden of course). Sprinkled with sea salt.  YUM! I absolutely love these.
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When the kids are away, Mom gets to play...

Being home alone all day has been quite fun!  We live in the country and I actually got out my bike today.  I pumped up the tires and visited a town nearby to look over some garage sales.  I had nothing in mind but jars for canning.

To my excitement, I found an antique 2 qt. jar with metal clasp for $4.00 (perfect for refrigerator pickles) and 2 limited edition peanut cans for $.25 each.  When I got home I made myself a new homemade pin cushion with one of them.


The breeze is blowing in through the windows wonderfully today, so I'm taking an iced tea and going to do some reading.  I'm on vacation today, so no more housework.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Refrigerator Pickles

Refrigerator Pickles

These pickles were crunchy and delicious!  This recipe is a keeper!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Watermelon from the Garden ~ What to do with cucumbers?

I counted about 5 baby sized watermelons in the garden this morning.  Yea!  I can't wait to make fun recipes with juicy watermelon this year.  I was searching around on the Internet and found the National Watermelon Promotion Board. Lots of recipe on there.

Yesterday, after I picked cucumbers, I started looking for different ways to cook them or healthy toppings.  I remembered, that on the movie "Julie & Julia" she made braised cucumbers.  So, I am on the search for many recipes, with the goal to not let anything go to waste in the garden. I have to say that movie really influenced me on trying new recipes.

I even sliced one cucumber up, cooled it in the fridge and used them to cool our eyes.  Temperatures were up to 94°F here and extremely humid.  We did end up eating those too - ha ha ha!  However, if you have never place cooled cucumbers on your eyes, you are really missing out on a at-home spa treatment.  It felt great!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

First Cucumbers of the Season ~ First time to make refrigerator pickles

Thanks to the organic gardening magazine my mother gave to us for our birthdays (hubby and I), I have know made my first refrigerator pickles.  The kids can't wait for 24 hours to pass to taste these.  They opted for slices instead of  spears.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Today's Garden Bounty


This does not even include the bunch swiss chard I will pull for a salmon dinner tonight. What a blessing this food is to our family.
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Kids Cooking Despite Extreme Temperatures

Despite temperatures over 90°F in our kitchen, and even higher outside, my kids are still experimenting with cooking.  My 13 year-old got out her old Kid Zone magazines and found a recipe to make (no longer in print).  These magazines contained a section for kids to learn about other countries.  The magazine she read again, contained Austria.  She made this delicious dessert recipe and boy was it good. 
Palatschinken - dessert of Austrians

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Lunch from the Garden



We pulled 2 medium Kohlrabi, 1 red onion, 1 green pepper and 1 yellow squash.  I made the Kohlrabi and Squash Empanada recipe you'll find in over in the "New Foods Tried" portion of my blog.  I changed the recipe up a bit to accommodate what was ripe in the garden today.  It was the first time for us to taste Kohlrabi and it was delicious.  We loved it and can't wait to make more recipes with it.  Everything but the garlic and ginger, in the recipe, came from our garden (and the pie crust of course).

Friday, July 2, 2010

How my daughter earned $579.00 for her 8th grade class trip

I have been encouraging my daughter to write a blog about how she earned money to pay for her 8th grade class trip.  She, and her sister, are against it.  However, with today's economy her journey may be interesting.  If she does start up a blog,  I'll post the link.  Here is what she has done so far.  We are a long way from reaching the amount needed.

$22.00 earned from selling homemade macrame jewelry at an event
$12.00 earned from the summer library program for reading books

Amount still needed:  $545.00

It's been a difficult journey.  We'll see what happens over the next month.

When kids get bored....


My 16 year old daughter made this delicious quesadilla by using up leftover "refried beans." The day before, I soaked and dried a bag of pinto beans, added onion and seasoning and mashed them. We make lots of recipes with these "refried beans."

She diced up green and red peppers and sauted them with onion in olive oil. Then added the leftover beans and placed them in between two whole wheat tortillas. After that was heated completely, she topped it with cheese slices (and these are not Kraft slices), sprinkled it with chili pepper and added a dallop of sour scream. Then she added snipped, home grown, green onion.

Man these were good! She needs to come up with a name for her new recipe. She's been having fun in the kitchen, especially when bordem strikes.

Of course, they don't tell me they are bored so often any more. If I hear them say it, they are immediately assigned a cleaning job - any job that needs done.
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