Tag Archives: Cooking

Prepping For the Frost

Tonight will bring our area of the North East its first frost/freeze warning. Normally I don’t get too bent out of shape when it comes to these things. I might put blankets over some of the more delicate plants, and say a quick spell or two to the gnomes and such, but the map that was put up on the local weather channel shocked me.

When the map shows this much of an area lit up for frost and freeze warnings, it causes a person to sit up and take notice. Normally this comes after three or four small, patchy frosts. This is early. (While part of me hopes my hunches are true for an old fashioned new England winter, the lack of wood makes me hope that we still have a couple more months before it all comes in.)

Taking a word of advice from my intuition, and letting the wind wrap around my face so I could feel its bite, I decided to run amuck and collect all the produce left on the vines and still growing.

It’s a small harvest, to be sure. We didn’t have much luck with the produce this year, with the exception of the beans that we’ve been picking like mad and the cukes that have already come and gone. The lettuce is our second crop, so I guess I can’t complain too much on that spectrum. While it seems like a little, we’re thankful for every bit of it.

We will still be covering the tomato and pepper plants, along with the small bits of lettuce that I’m hoping will survive and have a little longer to grow. Part of me hopes that I pulled everything a bit prematurely and Mother Nature will prove my instincts wrong. The problem with that: I’ve been correct on our winters the past two years. Sometimes it stinks to be right.

Oh, and as you can see, that’s a desk temporarily in front of the cupboards. It was the computer/office desk and will be moved upstairs shortly to be a sewing/knitting machine desk. As a gift to ourselves, we welcomed in a new piece of furniture into the home that will hopefully entice us to be more business oriented when it comes to the homestead and will allow me to think/work more professionally on my thesis.

Homemade Ice Cream

In an attempt to try to eat more wholesome on the dessert side of things, we decided to try our hand at homemade ice cream a couple of months ago. (Normally we would have raw sugar in the house only, but with wanting to try this recipe and with canning season fast approaching, we purchased some white sugar.) The recipe itself was super easy:

4 cups milk
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 cups cream
1 package instant pudding (optional)

The consistency comes out similar to ice milk without the pudding and more like soft-serve with it. After making a patch each way, we decided we liked it better without the pudding, but that it would be a great thing to keep in mind as an easy way to flavor the ice cream.

Pigs-in-a-Blanket and General Goingons

Before I get around to doing a general update on what’s been happening around our little patch of land, I wanted to share the new family favorite when it comes to hot dogs. In lieu of trying to make our own buns or eating them with bread, which is sacrilegious in the way of hotdogs, if you ask me, we’ve come to making homemade pigs-in-a-blanket.

I can’t recall where or when I came across the recipe, but what we used for the blankets I titled “Super Quick Wheat Buns.”

  • 1 c. warm water
  • 3 tbs. warm water
  • 1/3 c. oil
  • 1/4 c. sugar or honey
  • 2 tbs. yeast
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 egg
  • 3 1/2 c. whole wheat flour

Begin by combining the water, yeast, oil, and sweetener, letting that rest for 15 minutes. After adding in the additional ingredients, roll out and cut into triangles. Wrap a triangle around each hotdog, using a little egg wash or water to help seal the dough down. Bake these off at 400F for 8 to 10 minutes on a greased cooking sheet. We’ve also made hamburger buns with this recipe as well. It’s very universal.

In other news, we’re almost there on the gardens. We’ve been slowly fencing them all in, recycling some old cribs and pallets for some of the fencing and using basic chicken wire in other areas. It’s a bit of a hodge-podge, but each garden will have it’s own style and look to it.  Our chickens like to follow me wherever I am, and unfortunately this also means into the gardens for weeding. Some plants have already been started, and others transplanted. Onions, chives, green peppers, carrots, and bush beans have all found their way into the soil. Here’s hoping that cucumbers, tomatoes, spinach, lettuce, pole beans, bush peas, pumpkins, and potatoes will be soon after.

There’s a lot to go, still, and we’re hoping to chip away at it this week and have everything done this weekend.  I’m hoping in the new future to get a chance to update the garden page and add some photos of our garden beds as well. Hopefully that will become more of a living record of how things progress through the season.

Joe has been doing a lot of work on the front and back stairs that we’re hoping to post pictures of eventually. The back stairs needed a lot of shoring up, especially since there were no braces underneath. The front stairs, while intact, we really wanted to add a larger top landing to for safety’s sake. We were able to recycle free pallets for the wood in both projects, and once their painted, they will both look great!

Speaking of painting, we’ve been spending the last four weekends working on patching up the paint on our house to appease the powers that be. Joe’s folks have been kind enough to help us out with that. It will be grand when everything’s done and over, though, as it’s really cutting into the time that we’ve been able to spend on the gardens and putting up next year’s wood supply. With the upcoming long weekend, we’re hoping to play catch-up.

“When baking, follow directions. When cooking, go by your own taste.” ~Laiko Bahrs

I’m actually excited that I didn’t get called in to sub today. While we desperately need the money right now, I had my pinto beans soaking last night and was looking forward to this morning and getting them going in the crockpot. This is my first time every making beans and I’m proud to say that I’m using my Grammy Vaughn’s recipe. Depending on how they come out, I may be willing to share.

The picture above is from this morning, thus you can see the onions in all their glory. I’m a little worried I might have added too much water, but that might fix itself if the beans soak up more. The only thing that I didn’t do is add salt pork. Call me a wimp, but now knowing the part of the animal it comes from, it might take me a while to get used to the idea of ever using salt pork again for anything! The plus side of not adding it, though, is that it means the meal is completely vegetarian friendly and will most likely be a lot easier for me to digest.

Hopefully I will remember to take a photo of the beans tonight when we have them for dinner. They will be hanging out in their pot for close to eleven hours before the boy gets home. It will be so tempting for lunch, but I’m going to make sure I don’t eat any until dinner. Well, excluding the occasional taste test for flavoring.

Another plus of this is that I had to buy mustard powder and picked up some Coleman‘s. We’re going to try mixing it up for mustard next time with have brauts or burgers and see how we like it. If it works out well, I might try my hand at growing a mustard plant this spring.