Month: March 2007

Cloth Diapering (baby)

I used cloth diapers on my last baby (#3), and on baby #2 after she turned 1 year old. I wanted to use them with #1 at some point, but cost prohibitiveness kept me from being able to do that the way I wanted, I did have a few samples and liked them, but that wasn’t “from the beginning” and things just never took off — and so then baby #2 came and I wasn’t prepared and wanted to still do cloth, but $ being tight — a no go, until I got pregnant when she (#2) had just turned 1. So that was when we made it happen, started getting stuff for her, knowing it’d be there for baby #3 who’d not be far away, and got more stuff and I felt good about it, that another baby would profit from our diapering supply … another of ours, that is.

Thing is, baby #3 was out of diapers right when he turned 2 years. I didn’t get pregnant until 2 years after that, and lost thatร‚ย  baby at 9 weeks, and then that was 2 years ago as well, from now. Guess where all the diapering things have gone? Stuffed in the laundry room where things weren’t organized, cat’s peed on them or some of them, and then they got put in the garage to be “hopefully” sanitized and kept “just in case” but there they are in the corner and we can’t get to them now, planning a garage purge, but that’s hard work and only DH can do that.

In the days of cloth diapering in our home we had a not-so-good washer. It had a stop problem on the cotton setting, which was sort of a “wash a bit then auto soak forever” until you went down there and bumped the dial up a bit. That was good, in a way, but it was the beginning of nagging awfulness in that machine, the whole dial eventually went ballistic and you had to guess as to what setting you were using to wash everything. It changed constantly. Anyhow, it was a supersize GE washer we got at the end of 1996, and I wasn’t very fond of it, being just under 5’2″ I could barely get to the bottom of the washer to retrieve clothing in the first place. Sure it held a lot of clothing, but if you can’t get at it easily, what’s the point? Small or large loads were all the same for me basically, too deep for ease of retrieval.

We knew we wanted a different washer and just bided our time, not able to afford it most of the time, and then finally this past year a breaking point came. I was in early pregnancy, so it was Autumn, and I was sleeping on the couch in the basement, and woke up to find a flood in the hallway. The washing machine was messed up worse than ever, and we had a major middle of the night clean up on our hands and the smell haunts me in my mind still today. Ick.

We got an LG front loader and LOVE IT. I will love doing diapers in this machine.

But I have to get more, and there are other things too, things of baby gear type put into the garage to be stored, and got ruined by our country mice.

In some ways it’s like I gave everything away, but I didn’t, I did save things, but it’s the same in the end. We are starting over with baby stuff. I had strollers that I loved, and they are trashed. ๐Ÿ™

I do hope I can get what I want, the diaper stuff that is, but one thing I see online is that the one store I liked, weebees.com isn’t loading, and I don’t know if they exist anymore or not, there are references to them online though … so … otherwise, I know I like Mother-Ease diapers and covers, and I’ve gotten some things from Green Mountain Diapers, both of those sites still exist, at the least.

I’ll have to do more research now. I’m getting into it, just vaguely so far, and know that IF I ramp up in finding things, I’ll go nuts wanting to get them and set things up, and don’t know if that’s possible yet … oh well. I have until June some-thing to get enough for the first couple of months. I’m due about June 18th, and if things go like they did with #3 and I can do a homebirth, it could go longer, to the 29th or so, or even into the first week of July … but even so, I want to be ready in the diapering department well in advance for the majority of things, and only have to “get some bigger things” later on.

Also it’s notable that I won’t know how big the baby is until it’s born. My first baby was 9 lbs 1 oz.; my next was 8lbs. something-oz. (I can recall exactly the ounces); my last baby was 8lbs even. They’ve been smaller each time. None of them were “tiny” but the last one was the smallest at birth and stayed smaller on average compared to his older two siblings (who were never “small” for their age.)

Vanilla Ice Cream

I decided to make Ice Cream today — I’ve been thinking about it for awhile, days, that is.

This is what I made:

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Vanilla Ice Cream

3 Egg Yolks

1/2 Cup Maple Syrup

1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract

1 Tablespoon Arrowroot

3 Cups Heavy Cream, preferably raw, not ultrapasteurized

Beat egg yolks and blend in remaining ingredients. Pour into an ice cream maker and process according to instructions.

Makes 1 quart.

From Nourishing Traditions, page 550.

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I have a Cuisinart Ice Cream maker. I don’t make Ice Cream very often, but do so more in the Spring/Summer than any other time of the year. I haven’t had the devise that long though (a couple of years or so) and didn’t make ice cream before owning one (though I’ve long wanted to have that ability.)

I used raw cream, we get milk from a farm and I save some cream off of most gallons I open.

There is a lovely recipe for “Lemon Sherbet” on page 553 of NT, and I want to make that soon, but need to make some Piima Milk first, it calls for that … I haven’t had any Piima made up in a couple of years and have been thinking of getting some going lately, and so now that I was looking through the frozen dessert section of NT, I see I really have a need to get some going …!

I love lemon icy stuff.

We were at Epcot in Feb. and I wanted a Lemon Italian Ice all day, and DH finally went to get us all some after dark, and the guy said they only had Gelato left — and nothing lemon at all. ๐Ÿ™ So I’m still hungering for some frozen lemon goodness.

So my next task is to gather enough heavy cream to make some Piima Cream that will be the “starter” for other Piima things, it is so good, I really love the flavor it brings out in cream and milk, which I then use in different ways in the kitchen. I don’t get a lot of cream though, since I’m taking it off the top of the Jersey milk we get. It’s a matter of “cream” costs so much more than milk, but whole milk as a lot of cream in it, (speaking of raw dairy) and isn’t so very costly — FWIW.

New Meals inspired by Food TV (food)

I was watching Food TV yesterday, and Paula Dean’s show was on. It caught my undivided attention because she was using recipes for crockpots and slow cooking, particularly the first recipe, Creamy Macaroni and Cheese for the crockpot … which is something that she said they use in their restaurant (in Savannah, GA) a lot.

I immediately got up and started making it once she had put it together on the show. (I did go to the website and print out the recipe for my binder as well.)

It was an easy thing to make, but I made it more complicated due to “making most everything from scratch” being my main methodology in the kitchen.

The recipe called for a can of condensed Cheddar Cheese soup. I don’t use condensed soups most of the time …

So I put 1/2 cup of water in a sauce pan, and added couple Tablespoons of arrowroot powder, stirred it well, then added 2 cups of milk and stirred and heated until it started to thicken, then added shredded cheddar — in essence I “made a simple cheese soup” and in that was included some of the ingredients from the recipe.

The recipe is good, it has a couple of differences from mainstream recipes for such a dish: sour cream and eggs. It’s a true casserole, not just “mac and cheese” — and a good dish to serve with dinner. It’s really quick to put together, and just needs to be in the crockpot for 3 hours on “low” — yes you need to cook the pasta a bit before putting it into the sauce in the crockpot, but just “7 minutes”. I used Kamut pasta (elbow macaroni made by Eden Organics that I obtain at Whole Foods Market.)

On the same show Paula made “Swiss Steak” and it’s moreso a normal recipe I guess, but I’ve never made it that way. I used “cubed steaks” just one way generally — pound them flatter with flour, and brown in oil and butter on each side in a skillet (cast iron being best,) and then let all the meat cook a bit longer on a low heat. Before cooking them I often carmelize a very large sweet onion in the very skillet the meat will cook in, and then hold the onions in a dish, and when the meat it done put the meat on a platter with a foil tent covering it, put the onions back into the skillet, stir to loosen up and warm up, then put in a cup of sour cream with 1 tsp. of salt, stir to warm, not boil. That is a lovely carmelized onion beef sour cream sauce to use with the meal. On top of the meat, or dipping the meat, or mixed with rice, etc.

Paula used cubed steaks, seasoned them, put flour on them (but no pounding) and brown them in a cast iron dutch oven, then pulled them out, put in green bell pepper slices, onion slices, and garlic … canned tomatoes, and eventually put the steaks back in and added water and cooked on a low heat for a while.

I decided to do that, so I went to the website and printed the Swiss Steak recipe and put it in my binder, sent DH to the meat store to get some cubed steaks since we didn’t have any (but I meant to have some in the house the last time we got meat) and made that for dinner along with the mac and cheese.

Oooh, it was so good! I used Red Bell Peppers, don’t like green, and prefer the Red for their vitamin content anyhow. The Swiss Steak was a great hit for the whole family, but I most particularly loved it and said I’d make this at least twice a month, and maybe never make that other cubed steak dish I make again. (It’s good, but I’m really tired of it, KWIM?)

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Last week I saw another show, which gave me an idea to make my usual asian inspired dish, red peppers and onions and tamari sauce , etc. and usually has noodles in it, and beef …

This time I marinated chicken breasts in lime juice, tamari sauce, and toasted sesame oi, grilled those on the stove with my cast iron grill pan. Then I let them “rest”; and in my cast iron big skillet I put: Red Bell Pepper strips, green scallions, garlic finely diced, snow peas, water chesnuts, toasted sesame seeds, tamari sauce, toasted sesame oil, and fresh pineapple chunks. Stir fried them not adding it all at once, but in that basic order as needed time for each thing, then add left-over marinade, and at the end applied Arrowroot powder dissolved in water (3 tbsp. Arrowroot and enough water) to the stir fry, mixed it well, and cooked until thickened.

I served it like this: White basatmi rice with strips of chicken placed atop, and finished with a good amount of stir fry and sauce on each plate.

It was really good, and next time I’ll use MORE pineapple — it’s fresh pineapple that I cut myself, BTW.

The ‘new’ hens and egg news

We got the ‘new’ hens on Saturday, 3 seem to be a mix of Aracauna-ish and Rhode Island Red –though are supposedly all brown egg layers, and then we have 6 Rhode Island Reds. The man set aside 9 hens for us, not the 7 we had said, so we ended up with 2 more, DH took them anyway.

We have one pen thus far from that farm, and will hopefully get the other one today or tomorrow or the next day. The one we have doesn’t have a top and needs to be retrofitted for our usage — a door or two on the sides (or more), a laying box or two accessible from a door on the side or top, and a top that is secure but open-able. We have a temporary arrangement of metal roofing overlayed and a couple pieces of fencing as supports for that, and a piece of plywood on one end to fully fill out the space, since the pen is longer than the metal roofing. Like I said, that’s a temporary situation.

The new hennies are beat up looking, probably from the Roosters they used to live with on the farm. Thus far they are getting along with each other, and not pecking each other at all, as far as I know. We got 2 eggs from those hennies on Saturday, maybe 3, the third one being either late Saturday, or very early Sunday, and I think it was late Saturday. On Sunday we got 6 more eggs from them, as well as one of my other hens actually laid an egg! It was in the Black Australorp pen, and that surprised me, they didn’t look quite ready to lay (comb and wattles not waxy red, just getting redder lately but not “waxy and fully red” looking) but my two Wyandottes both “look more ready” with Trinity having a very waxy red comb and wattles and fully feathered and getting noisier, and Pointsettia having a waxy red comb and wattles and still not quite feathered out at the base of her back where her tail starts, and she’s not noisy. (A noisier hen is a sign of laying coming, during their laying season they will often get vocal every day a bit before laying, then quietly lay the egg, maybe announce it a bit loudly, then be quiet until the next egg laying session.)

I have to get some sort of laying box rigged up for them today, that I can access from the top of the pen. The pen is too high for me to get any eggs laid on the ground, seeing as there are no doors on the sides especially. DH has to get the eggs, I can’t do it alone at all, though he can, FWIW. Not good, since he’s not always here some days, for one to three days in a row.

I’ll see about a picture of the ‘new’ hens later –like I said about, they do look rather rough and ratty, and so aren’t pretty like my hens are when they aren’t molting. I don’t know how long it’ll take for them to feather out nicely, they are in a laying cycle and I don’t know how long they’ve been in this laying cycle. It’s a “just see what happens in the future” situation, which I am very accustomed to dealing with on many fronts. ๐Ÿ™‚

I will have “egg reports” available on special pages, as I used to have in 2005 (and this blog was non-active for 2006) –look on my sidebar for “month year” links currently starting with (03-07) March 2007. I’ll try to keep it “up to date” daily as much as possible.

Gaining hennies

Our hennies haven’t been laying since the end of November. I’m hoping they’ll start laying soon.

Recent picture of the Wyandottes. They are looking like they are ready to lay …

I have other news about eggs though.

We’ve been getting eggs from the meat store a few miles up the road, which carries mostly natural/organic meat varieties. The eggs were from a farm a bit north and west of there. That farm also has honey.

The other day my hubby came home from the meat store and told me that they said the farm was closing, so they’d not have any more eggs once the store’s current supply ran out. So he bought 5 doz. eggs.

We pass that farm when driving around sometimes, and I’ve wanted to go there, they are open to visitors, just drop in. We just haven’t ever done it, and so yesterday we were driving home and we passed the farm and I mentioned to my hubby about it, wondering what they’ll do with their hennies, and so he hit the brakes, turned around and pulled into their farm property.

Soon thereafter the man of the place came out and talked to my hubby (they’ve seen each other at the meat store before) and hubby motioned to me and the children to get out if we wanted to.

They were giving away their hens, and had at least 100 left. They’d already had someone take the green layers. ๐Ÿ™

They have left some auracana/mix sorts that lay brown eggs, Rhode Island Reds and Black Stars, both also lay brown eggs.

Hubby and I will get 7 hens, the first two varieties, maybe 3 and 4 of each respectively. We weren’t prepared to get them last night when we were there, and won’t be able to get back there until Saturday.

Walking back to the vehicle hubby asked the man about some pens and the man is giving them to us. Well that is great. We need stuff for the new ones and want to build on that stuff with our old ones, reducing what pens we have to nearly nil, getting everyone together as best as can.

Once we get the stuff I’ll see about posting pictures on this blog. We’ll get the pens retro-fitted to do what we want and then build something to go with them.

Before we left hubby asked for the man’s “card” and he had to go inside to get one and said he had something for me too. He came back with a big tray of eggs, and was giving them to me, ‘layed the day before,’ he said. 2 1/2 dozen more eggs. We’ll sure use them and the ones we bought the other day as well.

Well the story of the farm is that they have run it for 3 years, bought the land as an investment, hoping to make something ($) on it eventually. The area is growing, it’s very country right now, but about to explode, firstly with a new 4 lane road, which is major expansion, and other things being built around there. Don’t know if he was approached or if he looked for a deal, but he’s getting out, a commercial something bought him, at least doubled his investment. He’s liquidating most everything, and that’s what happened for us, gaining things of value for no $. Nice, but we’ll miss the fact that the area in question is developing. It’s a sad thing.

So we’ll have some “new” hens that are laying, hopefully, soon. I’m hoping that my current hennies will get down to business sooner. The farm has roosters, and the ladies there are used to having a rooster, plus more, taking care of things. Sans rooster here, but my ladies haven’t a clue about roosters. The “new” ones might spread some tales, and I hope they’ll all be OK without a rooster, won’t carry on about it, if you know what I mean. :rolleyes:

Happy First Day of Spring! (2007)

I posted more about it on my other blog.

Grinding Meat (food)

I made spaghetti for dinner last evening. I didn’t make fresh Kamut pasta, my preference –what I haven’t done much in the past, but am trying to get going regularly now, but I did use Spelt pasta, bought at Whole Foods, a VitaSpelt product (Purity). It’s a dry boxed pasta, Angel Hair being my favorite type to use.

I did make meatballs how I prefer though. Last time at Whole Foods we got a little over a pound of Bison cubes. So I had fresh Bison and ground that up and added my favorite things and rolled it up into small balls, and then put those meatballs into my large cast-iron skillet that was heated with (First Cold Pressed) Extra Virgin Olive Oil at least a quarter inch deep. I turned the meatballs frequently to brown them on all sides, then added more of the EVOO and freshly diced onions, then later freshly diced garlic. When all that was soft I added tomato products, I use canned tomatoes (Muir Glen) and also something from Bionature to make my sauce. Then basil, oregano, parsley –at this point all dried herbs. Near the end I add sea salt to taste, and sometimes some cheese, like last night I used some leftover Romano (I grate it myself, it’s a sheeps milk variety, super tasty!)

I made some rolls to go with a garlic/olive oil dip (which I also made.)

The meatballs were so good, I am sure as long as I can freshly grind my meats again, and hopefully have Bison usually, I’ll have no qualms at making meatballs for spaghetti again. Last nights were so much better than the ones I used to make, back in the day. Many reasons for that, no doubt, but I view the freshly ground meat as the biggest cause for betterment. I wish to grind any “ground meat” needs from now on. I’ve wanted to, and it’s just a matter of getting the right cuts of meat to allow me to do it this way. DH is the one who goes to the meat store nearby to get things, we get most of our meat there, some at Whole Foods, and he likes getting ground meat, seeing as it’s cheaper and something useable for quick meals.

I don’t like having it though, it’s a stop-age thing to me, in using ground meat effectively and happily. I make blah things with it since it’s a lump of cold stuff, often frozen by the time I use it (since ground meat needs to be used right away or frozen.) Cubes of meat can be frozen and easily partially defrosted in order to grind the meat. This sort of thing is so much easier for me and floods the creativeness in me with energy.

It takes time to grind meat, but not that much, but it’s not a negative thing, that “extra time it takes to grind” … it’s actually more than positive and absolutely fuel for the kitchen to become a lovely place to make something grand, different, better, nicer. To be happy making something creative.

Having a meat grinder is the best thing since sliced bread.

Another thing that is ‘the best thing since sliced bread’ is whole loaves of bread made at home, and sliced manually with my 9-inch Classic Wรƒล“STHOF bread knife. ๐Ÿ™‚

St. Patty eats (food)

Tomorrow is “St. Patty Day” …

I have Irish in my family tree (many, many years ago); and I had a beloved Aunt who was married to my blood-uncle — she was 100% Irish (as far as I know) but born (I think) in the USA, and raised in the USA.

I like having the American Tradition of “Corned Beef” for dinner on March 17th. I don’t do anything else for sure. Long ago I didn’t wear “green” on the “day” claiming I didn’t have to wear green clothing or accesories due to having “green eyes” –so “Don’t Pinch Me” was my motto — “I have Irish in me, and my eyes are green, don’t pinch me.”

So then, tomorrow I’ll put the natural ‘not-cured’ “corned beef” into the crock pot and decide what else to make with it. It was the only piece of corned beef left in the store the day we were there (Whole Foods) and it’s not as big as I would have liked it to be. (2.26 lbs. is too small for a family of 5, when you are talking good Corned Beef!) We’ll have to just be happy with less. FWIW

I haven’t made biscuits in a very long time (some years) and I’ve an appetite for some good ‘white spelt buttery buscuits’

I have two pie crusts in the refrigerator and want to come up with a dessert. I also have the stuff to make a cheese cake. I do have two cans of cherries that I bought when I was hungry for a cherry pie, but didn’t make one after all then. I really was looking for them weeks before and the store didn’t have but one can of what I wanted. It’s a cherry in cans that isn’t “sweetened” it’s just canned cherries. So I add what I want to make them good and wholesome. So I’m thinking a cherry pie, or I also have lemons and love “Lemon Meriange Pie” and haven’t made one in some years, maybe I’ll make one of those. Or a cheese cake. I love good old plain New York Cheese cake. Homemade of any of the above are great, way better than anything from a store. Amen.

Meatloaf (food)

I’m making a meatloaf for dinner, in the crock pot. I haven’t made many “meatloaf” dishes in the past few years, used to make them more in the past. I think I’ve done one in the crock pot before, but not more than that, usually prefering the oven … but today I am trying it in the crock pot again.

IF it turns out well, perhaps I’ll take a photo and post it.

Now then, I do like a good meatloaf, the way I like it. I like a simple “barbecue sauce” on top, made with ketchup, mustard, brown sugar and vinegar. Inside I use different herbs, fresh finely diced onion, and breadcrumbs (often fresh breadcrumbs), some ketchup, an egg, and whatever else I think of adding at the time.

Today I had 1 pound of natural ground chuck, and I had vacuum-sealed bison cubes in the freezer, so I defrosted the bison in the sink real fast, and put it through my Kitchen Aid Stand meat grinder attachment, then mixed the two meats together and added the rest of the stuff in. It’s bigger than a 2-lb meatloaf, and if it holds together well the leftovers will make nice sandwhiches, which reminds me, I need to get a loaf of bread going in the bread machine. ๐Ÿ™‚

Updated sites

I posted on my Hyperthinking Weblog today about Flickr Photo Page today with some pictures of the children from January, and photos of things in my backyard from today. Take a peek.

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