Archive for DIY

Honey Cakes

There’s the cutest little book by Jane Yolen, one of my favourite authors, called Baby Bear’s Books and one of Little Mister’s favourite parts has to do with “dinners all ending with huge honey cakes.” When I was trying to decide what special treat to make for Imbolc, this line came flying into my mind. I scouted out a few recipes, but none of them looked to give the cakes that strong yet sweet honey taste I was thinking of. So, without further ado, I give you one of our original Raymond Homestead recipes.

HONEY CAKES
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup wheat flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup milk
2 large eggs
1/2 (4 tablespoons) stick of melted butter
1/2 cup honey

Mix all dry ingredients together. In a separate bowl, whisk together all the wet ingredient. (This may take some work, so stretch your arm muscles beforehand!) Combine both wet and dry ingredients until just moist. Bake in a lined or greased muffin tin at 350F for 20-25 minutes.

They were a huge hit! Sweet enough to not need frosting, but not too sweet to make it impossible to eat a second one. ;-)

Fire Cider

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Our homestead has been hit with the first major bug of the season. I’d love to blame this on Little Mister being in preschool, but who knows where it came from. Through the prompting of severe mucus and annoyance, I now have our first batch of Fire Cider steeping in the pantry. It’s only a small batch as it’s my own creation and I want to try a test batch before I go making a larger one.

Let me back up a second to answer the question “What is Fire Cider?” Fire Cider is the name for a tincture of sorts made with various peppers and herbs which have antibacterial, immune system boosting, and inflammation inhibiting properties covered with apple cider vinegar and then steeped for anywhere between 24 hours and ten days, depending on the individual recipe and required potency. Most recipes call for hot peppers (jalapeño and cayenne), horseradish, ginger root, garlic, and onion. The medicinal impact of Fire Cider depends mostly on what ingredients are used, but in general Fire Cider will help with throat and nasal congestion, coughs, and sore throat. The antibacterial properties of the ingredients also have the ability to shorten illnesses. To top it all off, Fire Cider can be used as a preventative as well.

The version that I made today includes:
– cayenne peppers
– jalapeño
– garlic
– dried ginger root
– cinnamon stick

 

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I’ll be honest, I never measure when I make tinctures and teas from scratch. It seems to inhibit me as I get so caught up on the numbers that I completely forget what I’m creating such a thing for. Intuition is my recipe card. Over these five ingredients I poured my apple cider vinegar. Later, when I strain the mixture, I will add a small bit of honey. Ideally I would love to use local honey, but I don’t currently have any on hand, so store brand will have to do.

The best thing about Fire Cider is that you can use it as often as you like. One to two spoonfuls at a time is as most as I would suggest to use. If it seems to strong to swallow on its own, you can mix Fire Cider in with your tea, a glass of water or juice, or some people will add it to their soup. You can also adjust the recipe to be more suited to a child’s palette as well.

Hard Boiled, Farm Fresh Eggs

  
“Don’t try hard boiling them.”

“You can’t hard boil fresh eggs.”

“Fresh eggs need to sit at least a month before you can hard boil them”

My son’s favorite type of egg is hard boiled. Egg salad sandwiches are a staple in this house. Not to mention hard boiled eggs make a great baby toy (with supervision, of course). 

I can’t help but chuckle when people tell me you can’t hard boil eggs. I’ve never had an issue with hard boiling eggs. That might be because I was taught by my mom, who was taught by her mom, who….well, you get the idea. The point is that I didn’t learn how to boil eggs from a cook book but from family teaching one generation after the next, meaning I was taught how to boil fresh eggs without realizing it, where as recipie books teach how to boil store bought eggs that are at least a month old. 

“Enough gabbing! How do you boil the damn eggs?”

1. This might seem a bit obvious, but make sure you look over and clean the eggs that you need to. Farm fresh eggs may have some chicken poop or shavings attached. It’s completely normal, but you don’t really want to be eating that. 

2. Line the bottom of whatever pan you’re using with eggs and then fill two inches above the eggs with cold water. The water level is important. You’ll be boiling your eggs for a while and don’t want to have your pot run dry. 

3. Turn the water to high and walk off, checking it ever my few minutes. Don’t sit there and wait for it. A watched pot never boils. ;-)

4. Once the water is at a rip-roarin’ boil, put the timer on for 20-30 minutes. Now WALK AWAY but stay in earshot of the timer. Yes, you keep the burner on high. Yes, I said 20-30 minutes. 

  

5. When the timer goes off, check them. How do you know if their done? You’ll have one or two eggs with cracked shells. That’s your signal. 

6. Drain the pot or move the eggs to another non-plastic container. The eggs are still super hot and have the potential to melt plastic. Fill the container with enough cold water to cover the eggs. 

7. Quick cool the eggs. This can be done multiple ways. You can keep draining and refreshing the container with cold water. I’ve had success putting the container in the freezer. Or, if it’s cold out – sub 40F – stick them, pot and all outside. I’ve also heard of old timers putting individual eggs in snowbanks. (I don’t recommend doing this with white eggs.)

  
To shell the eggs, I suggest using a spoon or other implement (I use my wedding ring) to tap around the shell until you find a spot where the shell easily cracks inward. That’s where an air pocket stationed itself while the eggs boiled. If you start shelling from this point, things go easier than if you randomly pick a spot. Another trick I’ve heard, but have never tried, is to add a teaspoon of baking soda to the water. 
Enjoy those eggs and let me know how things work out!

Parting chickens

One of the many things that about 99.99% of my generation has no idea how to do is joint chicken. Granted, we’re also the same generation that has no idea that you can actually grow your own food…in your own yard…in dirt. So I suppose it should be no surprise that we don’t know how to joint chicken. 

I took a stab at it today. I owe a wonderful first time experience to Gordon Ramsey’s YouTube how-to. While I had a hard time party gout the breasts, eventually giving up and just deboning the meat, I was planning on making nuggets anyway. Here’s hoping next time goes even smoother. 

Heater Fix

Little Miss is now three months old, nearing four months. She sleeps through the night and rarely wakes to eat. It’s time to get her into her own room.

In looking over the room she’ll be sharing with our old curmudgeon of a mini-rex, Hubster realized that the room was severely lacking in heater space, which isn’t too surprising, given how cold it always is in there. Since homesteading is all about doing what you can with what you have, and finances are imposing a strict boundary on what we can and can’t afford, we searched the homestead to see what would work.

In doing the math, which I’ll spare you as I could barenly follow Hubster’s explanation, it appeared that our bedroom had extra baseboard. Hubster quickly devised a plan to remove a chunk of the baseboard from our room and add it to that in Tracy’s soon to be room.

Everything is sealed with no leaks. Tomorrow, or sometime next week, starts the long process of moving furniture around. While I’ll miss being able to easily check on her every time I get up at night, I know that she’ll be just fine right next door to us…and I can still check on her.