Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Garden Surprise

It has been a bit warmer this week so I ventured out into the yard. I went over to my old raised beds to see if any of the herbs had survived the winter. I only saw the rosemary bush. I did get a big surprise when I looked where the lettuce had been.

I found this ~

A beautiful head of burgundy lettuce. I was also happy to find several smaller plants. I am guessing this is from last year's lettuce that bolted and went to seed before it made heads. I was just complaining about having to buy sub-par lettuce so this was a wonderful blessing. It will make a wonderful salad or two this week.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Last summer my husband and I got chickens. Who knew we would end up liking them so much? It is not just because we get wonderful fresh egg. The chickens have turned into true pets. I admit that they are a bit spoiled. They love vegetable scraps from the kitchen, the ends of homemade bread, and recently green clover that I find in the yard. Let me introduce you to our pets.

You might remember that had already taken in two homeless white cochin chickens. We named them Fred and Daphne.

First are the White Crested Black Polish. I fell in love with this breed after seeing them on an Easter episode of The Martha Stewart Show. When my husband was choosing, I begged for these to be mine.

Next are the Buff Polish, his choice. While mine will let you pet them, his will let you pick them up and hold them. The one that is just visible at the bottom of the photo always runs to the door and will walk right out if we are not careful. Fortunately she is easy to catch if she does get out.

Next are the Mille Fleur. They are the smallest of our chickens are full grown. Their coloring is beautiful. I took this picture from further away. The reason is below.

This is Butch. He is very protective of his hens. He will puff his feathers out and attack. When I need to change the water or fill the feeder, I toss cracked corn in the opposite direction to distract him. He is quite the bully.

Finally are the white leghorns. They lay extra large eggs and are still a bit shy. We got them only a few months ago. They are getting more tame but at least have calmed down. Fortunately Foghorn, the rooster, is not mean. If he were like Butch, I would be in big trouble.

Here is just a sample of the fresh eggs our backyard chickens provide us. The eggs are delicious with dark yellow yolks.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

Happy Valentine's Day! Nothing special planned at my house this year. Last week I did not have a set menu plan since our schedules were a bit off from normal. I am not sure this week will be much better, but I am making a plan.

Breakfasts here revolve around eggs as I have an abundance in the fridge.


Sausage, tomatoes & rice; biscuits
Brunswick Stew
Cheeseburgers & fries
Deer roast with potatoes, carrots, & onions; biscuits
Black bean enchiladas - I'll be trying out my new tortilla press
Baked fish, wild rice, and a yet undecided vegetable
Waffles and beef bacon

Nothing too exciting this week although we are trying some new things. I want to see if the beef bacon is a better tasting option than turkey bacon. I have not had pork bacon in forever. I am looking forward to trying out the tortilla press. The wild rice is a new recipe that is made in the crockpot.

I am also trying out a few new baking recipes. First is freezer biscuits. I am also making cranberry, raisin, cherry bread. I need to make more crescent rolls for a church dinner. I also have to decide what else to take to this church dinner. I know deviled eggs are on the menu since I have seven dozen eggs in the refrigerator.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Make Your Own Foaming Hand Soap

I was tempted last week by a Groupon sale which would have gotten me seven bottles of foaming hand soap for $16. Initially it seemed like a good deal. Then my frugal side tapped me on the shoulder and reminded me I had an empty foaming hand soap bottle and liquid soap. I quickly dismissed purchasing the deal and set about making my own foaming hand soap.

You will need an empty foaming hand soap bottle. I added in about a tablespoon of liquid soap. Next I filled the bottle with hot tap water leaving an inch or so of space. I gently shook the bottle and gave it a couple of pumps. Voila, I was rewarded with foaming hand soap. The bottle of soap was free thanks to a coupon and sale. I cannot begin to guess how many dozens of bottles of foaming soap I can make from this one bottle of liquid. A minute or so of "work" saved me $16.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Homemade Yogurt

Yogurt was once one of my favorite snacks. In recent years I did not enjoy it as much. I decided to try homemade yogurt. The first time I did the crockpot method with less than stellar results (a runny, watery mess). A few weeks ago I was introduced to The Frugal Girl. While plundering about on her blog, I came across her method for homemade yogurt. About a week ago I decided to try again using this method consisting of heating the milk, mixing in the yogurt starter, putting it in a cooler for three hours, and then leaving in the refrigerator overnight.

Wow! The method worked perfectly. My homemade yogurt firmed up nicely as shown in the picture below. Even with the jar turned on its side, the yogurt stays in place. When spooned out, it is creamy and thick. Not only is the consistency wonderful, the flavor is delicious. It is not as tangy as store bought yogurt which suits my taste buds. I made vanilla yogurt by adding in some of my vanilla sugar and homemade vanilla extract.

I started off making half a batch using a half gallon of milk which made four pints. This week I will be making a second batch using a gallon of milk. This has spoiled me from ever buying yogurt again. Since I can use my yogurt as starter for the next batch, my only cost will be a gallon of milk bought on sale for $2.50. That will produce four quarts of yogurt. What a bargain!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Rhonda's Grandpa's Bread

I have been searching for a good homemade sandwich bread. The ones I had tried in the past were not soft or had a pack-y texture. When I saw a bread recipe posted on if you do stuff, stuff gets done, I had to try it.

I was not disappointed. The baked bread from soft. I was also pleased that the frozen, thawed bread was just as soft. That is important since it is hard for our household of two to eat two loaves a bread before they get stale. I did use my Kitchen Aid mixer which made quick work of incorporating the ingredients.

This recipe definitely goes into my cookbook as a keeper. I have been enjoying it toasted with Nutella as part of my breakfast. Yum! I made it with some wheat flour but will try all white next. My dear husband says that wheat bread and peanut butter and jelly do not go together. As simple as it is to make, I can easily make a recipe of each.