Finding Joy.

“With every rising sun, we are given a choice. I choose Joy.”

Each morning I wake to my sweet baby crying from his crib.

I groggily stumble out of bed and wrap him in my arms, whispering softly “Good morning, son”.

He nurses and falls quickly back to sleep. I try to sleep a little longer too.


Soon after, before the sun greets us, my three year old walks quietly through the room.

Bleary eyed and sleepily she asks, “Is it morning time?”

I close my eyes and pause. This could be a moment that determines our day.

With a lovingly tone, I tell her, “Yes, baby girl. It is morning time”, and I pull her onto the bed for some early snuggles.


I will myself out of bed, baby in arms, and make my way through the dark house, to the kitchen for espresso.

Ayda trails close behind, asking for her morning glass of milk.

Joel is placed in his high chair, while I gather the tools necessary to make my morning latte, laced with honey from our backyard bees.

I sip the warm elixir. I savor the caffeine that begins my day.

I glance over toward my two youngest. Numbers four and five. The only children awake in the house.

Ayda, quietly enjoying her glass of fresh milk with honey.

Joel, watching us both. He is learning.

..and I think to myself, “These are the moments to cherish. The little moments of every day life”.

Finding Joy in rising before the sun.

Finding Joy in the needs of my sweet babies.

Finding Joy in that first cup of coffee.

Finding Joy in whatever stage you are in.

Finding Joy in the monotony of every day life.

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-April

Simple Pasta

As you know, I just finished canning my tomatoes for the season, and fresh pasta with my homemade pasta sauce has been on the table nearly every day, thanks to the persistent requests of my children.

As fate will have it, my pasta sauce that I love, oh so much, will soon be gone. Devoured by tiny humans. Their momma only getting what is leftover.

Oh well… I guess I can always process more tomatoes. The frost hasn’t hit yet!

So, to go along with my homemade sauce, I am sharing my fresh pasta recipe.


The ingredients are simple and items you already have in your pantry.

Ingredients:
1 cup Flour
1 tsp Salt
1 Egg
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Tbsp Water, only if pasta dough is too dry.

Note:
I always double this recipe to feed my four kiddos and I.

Directions:
1. Whisk Flour and Salt together in a large bowl.
2. Make a well within the flour.
3. Crack Egg into a bowl and give a slight stir to break up the yolk.
4. Pour the Egg into the well of the flour.

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5. Stirring slowly with a fork, start to bring in the edges of the flour
6. Mix well with the fork until dough begins to come together.
7. Turn dough out onto floured surface, and knead for 5-8 minutes, or until dough is smooth.
8. Let dough rest, covered with a tea towel, on the countertop for 10-15 minutes.

9. Prepare pasta water by bringing to a boil, and add plenty of sea salt.
10. Run through pasta machine, or roll out dough by hand, as thin as desired. I run mine through my pasta machine until the fifth notch.

11. Add fresh pasta to boiling water and cook for 3-5 minutes until done. Strain pasta water, and there you have it!

I have tried some different variations with my fresh pasta. Sometimes I’ll use infused olive oil. Other times, I add fresh herbs to my pasta dough. Rosemary and Basil are my favorite herbs to add.


Get creative with it!

-April

The Secrets to a Delicious Pasta Sauce

I just finished up canning all of my tomatoes for the season, and thought I would share my secrets, and a large batch canning recipe for a delicious, thick, packed with flavor spaghetti sauce.

I make this sauce (and double it) every year and the 16 quarts it produces never seems to last my family long enough. We begin to yearn for this sauce, and are so excited to have it again once the tomatoes begin to ripen on the vine.


Notes:
This recipe makes roughly 8 quarts.

A large counter top roaster oven is a great tool when processing large batches. I will give instructions for both the roaster (what I use) and a stock pot.

The secret to a thick sauce is to cook it down. A really long time. Another secret ingredient is a little sugar. You need a slightly sweet element to enhance the tomato flavor.

When you are ready to prepare your pasta meal, add two tablespoons of butter to the pan before pouring in the sauce. Dreamy!

A version of this recipe was given to me several years ago by a family friend. I have changed and adapted it to fit my needs.

Ingredients:
30 pounds of Tomatoes
4 cups diced Onions (you can cook these down in a little olive oil, if you’d like, but that is optional)
¼ cup Garlic Juice (or more – to taste)
3 Bay Leaves
¾ cup Sugar
2 tsp pepper
¾ cup Olive Oil
¼ cup Oregano
2 tbsp Basil
8 Bouillon Cubes (I know, I know. I haven’t found a good replacement for this yet)
1 tbsp Salt

Directions:

  1. Prepare your tomatoes for roasting by coring them with a small paring knife and adding two small knife cuts (like a cross) along the blossom end of the tomato.
  2. Place on a baking sheet and roast for 20-30 minutes at 400 degrees.
  3. Remove the tomatoes from the oven and let cool until they are easy to handle, about 30-45 minutes depending on the toughness of your hands.
  4. Peel the tomatoes, one by one, and place the meat into your roaster oven or large stock pot.
    1. Save the tomato juice and water bath can for chilis and soups!
    2. Save the skins for the compost or chickens.
  5. Once all of the tomatoes are peeled, set your roaster to 200 degrees, or your stock pot to medium-high.
    1. If using a stock pot turn the temperature to a simmer after the tomatoes come to a boil. Cook down for roughly two hours.
    2. If using a roaster oven, simmer the tomatoes for 12 hours.
  6. After the total cooking time is up, process sauce in a blender or food processor, until it reaches your desired consistency (this is optional).
  7. Pour smooth sauce back into roaster oven or stock pot.
  8. Add all of your seasonings and spices.
  9. Simmer again for 2 more hours in a stock pot (12 more hours in a roaster oven), or until your preferred consistency.
  10. Pour finished sauce into hot sterile quart jars and water bath for 45 minutes.

This is a long process, but very hands off, and so worth it! The sauce will be thick and full of flavor.

You can use this recipe on a small scale. Just reduce the ingredients accordingly.

-April

Did you try my recipe? Let me know how it turned out in the comment section below, and share with your friends!

My Favorite Ways to Preserve Apples

“Autumn and Cinnamon go so perfectly together.”

It is late September, which means… Apple Season!

Every year I preserve a couple hundred pounds of apples. They also go into pies, crumbles, drinks, and little mouths.

You know it is apple season when a walk through the house turns up half eaten apple cores a toddler forgot about.

apples

There are several ways to preserve apples. I will share a few of my favorites with you.

1. Root Cellar

This is a great way to preserve your apples whole. If you have access to a cool dark place, like a cellar or basement, simply store your apples there. Apples store best in temperatures of 35-40 degrees. Periodically check them to insure the apples are not showing signs of rot, and that the temperature is neither too hot nor too cold.

2. Refrigeration

If you have an extra refrigerator with space, you can keep your apples there for a good amount of time. Just remember not to freeze them. If they freeze, you will have a dark brown pile of mush. Not very appealing.

Generally, when we run out of apples in the refrigerator, I just head down to the cellar to replenish them. This keeps it easily accessible for my kiddos when they need a snack.

3. Water Bath Canning

Other than storing the apples whole, this is my favorite way of preserving apples. I make applesauce, apple pie filling, lemon apple preserves, and apple core jelly, just to name a few. Recipes will be shared soon. Apples are high in acid and a great fruit to preserve by water bath canning.

Due to the constant simmering of applesauce, in the fall, my house has a lingering scent of spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.

Autumn and cinnamon go so perfectly together, and applesauce becomes a staple for all dinners.

apple jelly

4. Dehydrating

Dehydrating apples is another option when preserving. We have several dehydrators that we load with thinly sliced (a mandolin comes in handy here, but not necessary) unpeeled apples. Sprinkled with cinnamon, apple chips makes a tasty snack for on the go. Recipes will be shared soon.

dehydrating apples

dehydrator with apples

5. Apple Cider and Hard Cider

If you have an apple press, cider is a tasty way to preserve apples. A cider press grinds up wind fall apples and then presses the juice from the pulp. Left to ferment, cider becomes an alcoholic beverage known as hard cider.

What is the difference between apple cider and apple juice? Apple cider contains the pulp and sediment leftover from the apples, giving it a stronger apple taste, and still providing you with the health benefits of eating a fresh apple. Apple juice is ultra filtrated, containing no pulp.

You can store your cider in the refrigerator, or water bath can for longer storage.

I do not own a cider press, so I just use my juicer, pour into quart jars, and then water bath. I use the apple juice to marinate and cook pork, to make spiced cider, and for sweet sauces and cakes.

6. Raw Apple Cider Vinegar

With the leftover scraps from other apple projects, you can make raw apple cider vinegar. Simply, take your apple peels and cores, throw them in a jar with a sugar water mixture, cover with cheese cloth, and leave in your pantry to ferment into vinegar. Full recipe coming soon.

apple cider vinegar 2

If you do not have access to apple trees, research farms in your area. Often, farms with orchards invite people out for “you-pick-it” days. Remember to buy in bulk, if you can, to preserve and eat throughout the winter, spring, and summer. This is a great way to support your local farmers and to have the best tasting fruit available.

-April

Do you have another way to preserve apples? Share your favorites in the comment section below. I love learning new ways to preserve fruits and veggies!

10 Things You Can Do to Live More Sustainably (even in the city).

“Food security is not in the supermarket. It’s not in the government. It’s not at the emergency services division. True food security is the historical normalcy of packing it in during the abundant times, building that in-house larder, and resting easy knowing that our little ones are not dependent on next week’s farmers’ market or the electronic cashiers at the supermarket.” –Joel Salatin, Folks this Ain’t Normal.

Becoming more self-sufficient and sustainable is not a hard process. All you have to do is start.

Here is a short list outlining what you can do to live more sustainably, reduce your footprint on the earth, and become more self-sufficient.

1. Grow Your Own Food

Absolutely number 1, this statement speaks for itself. The average distance food travels is 1,500 miles. Think of the man power, the packaging, the fuel, the refrigeration cost, the chemical cost that is involved with shipping food around the world. We eat chemically laden tomatoes from Mexico, and then wonder why we don’t like tomatoes!


Purchase seeds from reputable companies such as Seed Savers Exchange or Baker Creek Heirlooms. Grow a kitchen garden. Plant pots on your balcony. Find a sunny window and grow tomatoes, herbs, and lettuces. Start small – or go all in. Not only will you be living more sustainably and self-sufficiently, but you will also find great pride in growing (and sharing) your own food.

 

2. Use Less Electricity

We live in a time in which everything runs on electricity. We mix our food with electricity. We dry our hair, our dishes, and our clothes with electricity. My husband and I have recently committed to lowering our electric bill as much as possible.

Although it is my dream to use solar energy, it just isn’t feasible for our plans of running a small business. So, to meet half way, we have decided to use as little electricity as possible. This means line drying our laundry. Air drying the dishes. Only using the washing machine, freezers, refrigerator, oven, and stove top (If you can find me an inexpensive wood fed stove/oven, I will be your best friend forever). Unplugging the internet and chargers, when not in use. Lamps in the evening.

Thankfully, the temperatures are dropping here in Kansas, so no need for AC. Heat your house with wood.

I love my industrial Kitchenaid stand mixer (thanks Craigslist), but I only use it for certain things like butter, frosting, and meringue. Everything else, I make by hand.

Electricity is something we take for granted, and there are so many ways to lessen our usage, if we do it intentionally.

3. Shop Local – Shop Small.

Stop supporting large corporations. Give your hard-earned dollars to mom and pop shops. Shop your local Farm and Art Markets. Stock up on essential goods for when these options are not available, like in the winter. Stay in touch with your local farmer and purchase from them directly. Shop garage sales and auctions. Buy used. Support your local small businesses.

BUT, only buy what you absolutely need. Live minimal!

4. Stay Home More Often.

I have said this before, and I find it to be so true when your desire is to be more sustainable. By spending more time at home, we gain many benefits. I wrote a post that expands on a few of these benefits – 5 Reasons You Should Spend More Time At Home. You will save gas, time, money, and energy that you can put toward your family, meals, and home.

5. Source Local Meats.

Do you have a local farmer? Befriend him/her. Know where your food comes from. Know how it was raised. Maybe even participate in the processing of your meat. Your farmer will be grateful for the help.

We hear “Farm Raised” “Free Range” “Organic” “Grain Fed” “Grass Fed”, but do we truly know what these mean? Do we truly know how that animal was raised?

Becoming friends with your local farmer, and then purchasing your meat from said farmer is a great way to live sustainably, and support a small business.

6. Eat at Home.

Now that you have a kitchen garden and local meat, use those foods to create delicious, healthy meals at home.

I see the new and popular boxed meal kits that are shipped to homes around the world. I think that has only one benefit: people are in their kitchens, preparing meals. But, how much did it take to ship those individual meal kits? What did it take to package and preserve them so they are shippable across the country? I am not going to say I know, because I don’t. I have never purchased one, and I don’t plan to.

If you want to live more sustainably, buy your staples in bulk from a coop like Azure Standard. Grow your own food, or purchase from local farmers, and then prepare your meals with locally grown food, at home.

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7. Say Goodbye to Wasteful Products.

Plastic bottles, styrofoam plates and cups, plastic utensils. These products are completely unnecessary and wasteful. The amount of energy that is wasted to create a product destined to sit in a landfill forever is ridiculous. Plastic does not decompose – ever. We need to use it intentionally and not off handedly.

Plastic is a great invention, and useful for so many things (like packaging our chicken and pork) but the key is to use it wisely and sparingly, and then recycle or re-use your waste.

8. Raise Your Own Food

Do you have a yard? Or maybe you even have acreage. Have you thought about raising your own meat?

Start with laying hens. You can raise a few laying hens or ducks in your backyard, and have full access to fresh laid eggs daily. Later on, as the hen ages, you will have a great source of meat for soups and stocks.

If you have the space, raise a pig for your family.

Buy a dairy cow so you can have access to fresh milk, cheeses, and butter. Or, if you live in town, raise dairy goats.

Growing your own meat at home is liberating.

9. Spend Less on Entertainment

How much money do you spend per month on entertainment? Eating out, movies, sporting events, activities, television. They all take such a large amount of our time and money.

One way to live sustainably is to use your time and your dollars wisely. Find happiness in spending time outdoors, rather than watching television, or driving back and forth to soccer practice and ballet.

Living sustainable is about simplifying. Reducing obligations to what truly matter in the long run. Sports are great. I played sports, and at times, I like for my children to play sports. They only become a problem when they start interfering with your goals at home, or cause stress and anxiety. Use your time intentionally.

10. Preserve What You Grow

Your garden produced exceptionally well this year. Now, it is time to preserve it. Stocking the larder was what people did before grocery stores. You never walked into a home that didn’t have food “put up” for winter.

Start with water bath canning your high acid foods, drying herbs and fruits. Then move on to pressure canning, and preserving meats by curing and smoking.

Store fruits and vegetables such as apples, potatoes, beets, radishes, carrots, and cabbage in a cool dark place to eat throughout the winter.

Ferment.

Braid garlic and onions.

Cure bacon, sopresseta salami, hams, and pancetta to hang in the larder.

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If you don’t have a garden, buy in bulk at Farmer’s Markets, and then preserve them at home. This is a great way to remove yourself from purchasing through large corporations, and to live sustainably.

We do not have to be dependent on giants like Wal-Mart, Cosco, Target, or Kroger. We can live self-sufficiently in small communities. It only takes a little effort, but is well worth it in the end.

We, as a people, need to get back to our roots. To raise and grow things with our hands. To dig in the soil. Bake our own bread. Stock our larders and pantries.

It is so necessary to live sustainably, and to preserve this beautiful home God has given us.

Did you enjoy this article? Know someone who would love it too? Share with your friends!

Questions? Simply ask in the comments below, or reach out to me on Social Media, through Facebook and Instagram.

In All Things, Pray.

-April

Wild + Free

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Wild + Free

Our children must run wild.
What harm does it do?
Rather than cooped up and tired,
with an iPod or two.

Our children must run free.
The wind in their hair,
saying good-bye to T.V.
Their minds are too bare.

Send them out.
Wherever you are.
The park, the fields,
or even the yard.

Spring and Summer,
Winter, Fall.
Let them play,
through it all.

Insects, squirrels,
blossoms, oh joy!
So much better
than a factory toy.

Our children.
Their imaginations are at stake.
Now, hurry.
Before it is too late.

-April

Best Biscuits Ever.

I know I know…. that title might be a little strong, but, in my opinion, these really truly are the best biscuits ever. Studded with cream cheese and butter. These tall flakey biscuits will turn you away from canned biscuits forever.

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Breakfast, Lunch, or Dinner. Heck, with a little local honey, I even eat these for dessert. They are that good.

The key to a light flaky biscuit, is to refrain from over mixing or rolling the dough. After the dough barely comes together, simply turn out on to a floured surface, and pat into shape with your fingers.

And yes, I am typing this with a fresh, warm, just out of the oven biscuit in hand. My love for them runs deep.

Ingredients:
4 ounces cold Butter
4 ounces cold Cream Cheese
1 cup Whole Wheat Flour
2 cups AP Flour
1 Tbsp Sugar
1 Tbsp Baking Powder
¾ tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Salt
1 cup + 1 Tbsp Cold Buttermilk (homemade buttermilk)

This recipe yields 10-12 biscuits, but I always double it and store the leftover biscuits in the freezer for later.

Note: If you do not have whole wheat flour, just substitute with AP flour.

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 450°.
  2. Roughly dice Butter and Cream Cheese. Place in the freezer until needed.
  3. With a whisk or fork, stir together Flours, Sugar, Baking Powder, Baking Soda, and Salt.
  4. Add cold butter and cream cheese to the dry ingredients.
  5. With a pastry cutter, or two knives, cut butter and cream cheese into flour until pea sized. FullSizeRender
  6. Pour in buttermilk. IMG_6995
  7. Stir until the dough just comes together. Do not over mix.
  8. Turn dough out onto floured surface.
  9. Pat dough into a rectangle with fingers. The dough should measure about two inches tall.
  10. Using a biscuit cutter, cookie cutter, or knife – cut biscuits to desired shape.
  11. Place on baking sheet lined with a slipat or parchment paper. No need to grease the pan. IMG_7007
  12. Bake for 15 minutes or until biscuits are tall and golden brown.
  13. Enjoy as an egg sandwich, biscuits and gravy, or simply smothered in butter and honey. Yumm!

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Don’t have buttermilk? No need to fret! Just add a tablespoon of white vinegar to a cup of milk. Voíla, Buttermilk!

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Did you enjoy my recipe? Let me know in the comment section below, and share with your friends!

-April

5 Steps to Raising Meat Chickens

“But my favorite remained the basic roast chicken. What a deceptively simple dish. I had come to believe that one can judge the quality of a cook by his or her roast chicken. Above all, it should taste like chicken: it should be so good that even a perfectly simple, buttery roast should be a delight.” -Julia Child, My Life in France

When we first started our farm in 2012, we began with Chickens. Laying Hens, Buff Orpingtons to be exact. After deciding that we no longer wanted to participate in the mass production of chicken for meat, we dove in, head first, and started raising chickens ourselves.

Chickens are considered the “gateway animal” to farming and it is true. Easy to raise, feed, and shelter – anyone is capable of raising their own food.

Are you interested in raising your own meat? You can raise chickens nearly anywhere. Most cities allow a flock of laying hens or a few meat birds.

Here are five tips when purchasing your first meat chickens.

1. Shop. 

Find a reputable hatchery or small farm to purchase your chickens from. We always buy our meat chickens and laying hens from Murray McMurray Hatchery. We have had a good success rate, and have never had any chickens arrive hurt, sick, or dead. Another place we have purchased chickens is our local farm store. They have a “chick days” here once a year. The kiddos really enjoying gawking over the baby chicks, ducklings, and bunnies. Look on Craigslist or Facebook for nearby farms looking to thin their flock. This is the perfect way to find older chickens ready for butchering.

Baby Chicks

2. Choose your breed.

There are many different opinions regarding meat chicken breeds. I have never had any issue with Cornish Cross, but I know some farmers choose not to use them due to the possibility of massive weight gain. This can be controlled by giving the chickens plenty of opportunity to exercise, and by rationing their feed. Cornish Cross are not heritage, but are a hybrid breed. They are able to grow quickly and are ready to process within 8-10 weeks. We have also raised Freedom Rangers and Barred Rock, which are dual purpose. I always go back to the Cornish Cross. They are easy to maintain, economic, and efficient.

3. Feed.

We allow our meat chickens free access to grass and bugs, by placing them in a small portable chicken tractor, my husband made. This greatly enhances the quality of the meat and lowers our feed bill. We do supplement the chickens foraging with table scraps and a small amount of feed purchased from the local mill. This works great in the Spring, Summer, and early Autumn when the chickens have access to a lot of insects.

New Chicken Tractor

4. Shelter.

When purchasing chicks for the first time, a brooder is not necessary. We have been known to use a simple tote filled with wood shavings in the past. Now we use a wooden brooder for inside the house when we have new baby chicks. We keep them in the house for the first month of life to insure their safety. It is awful to walk out in the morning to the brooder, and see that some of chicks have died, when it could have been prevented. Now, we always keep new chicks inside, on our back porch, where we can watch over them. Once they are four weeks old, we move them outside to the chicken tractor. I then move the chicken tractor once a day, in the morning, to a fresh patch of grass and bugs. The tractor is light enough, I can pull it by hand.

Cornish CrossAyda and Meat Chickens

5. When to Butcher.

Cornish Cross Chickens are ready for butcher after 8-10 weeks. They generally weight 5-7 pounds. The process for butchering chickens will have to be saved for another post, but for now we can think of a few ways to use your meat.

•Roasted Chicken: Easy and to the point. Stuff your chicken with two sliced lemons and cover the bird in a honey butter glaze.

•Soup: Place the Chicken in a large stock pot. Throw in your desired veggies and simmer away. When cooked all the way through, add homemade pasta, beans, dumplings, or wild rice for a hearty soup.

•Chicken Stock: Place what is left from a chicken dinner – feet, neck, and all – in a crock pot. Throw in some onions, garlic, celery, carrots, and spices. Slow cook for 24-48 hours. Strain into jars and process in a pressure canner, or freeze in ice cube trays.

Chicken Stock

•Chicken, cut up: Simply cut your chicken into breasts, thighs, drumsticks, and wings. Use as you wish.

Growing your own food for meat is well worth the work. There are few things more satisfying than seeing a freezer stocked with meat that you raised and processed yourself.

-April

Basic Homemade Crackers

We are headed into Autumn, which means one of many things: Soup Season. What goes best with soup? In my house, crackers.

A box of crackers from the store has too many ingredients to count. Some you can’t even pronounce. These crackers have only six ingredients. Six!

Better Crackers

Easy to make and irresistible. You will definitely be adding these to your made from scratch arsenal.

Crackers

Ingredients:
2 cups Whole Wheat Flour (or AP)
1 tsp fine Sea Salt
2 tsp Sugar
2 Tbsp cold Unsalted Butter
3/4 cup Milk

Directions:

  1. Mix flour, salt, and sugar together in a large bowl.
  2. With a pastry cutter (or two butter knives) cut cold butter into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  3. Make a well in the flour mixture and add cold milk.
  4. Mix with a fork, gathering flour from all sides.
  5. Turn out onto floured surface and knead for 2-3 minutes until your dough comes together.
  6. Let dough rest, covered, for 20 minutes.
  7. Roll out dough until paper thin. Or run through pasta machine until dough reaches 1/16 inch.
  8. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  9. Let dough rest for 10 minutes.
  10. Sprinkle dough with sea salt and gently press salt into dough with your fingers or a rolling pin.
  11. Using a pizza cutter, cut crackers into your desired shape.
  12. Move sliced crackers to baking sheet and prick all over with a fork. This prevents the crackers from rising or developing air bubbles.
  13. Bake for 20 minutes. Flip crackers over and bake for 5-10 minutes, or until desired crispness.
  14. Serve with your favorite soup or cheese.

Note: Store in an air-tight container for up to three days, but I promise you… they won’t last more than an hour.

-April

Did you try this recipe? I hope you enjoyed it. Let me know in the comment section below!

Homemade Butter – Two Ways

“I shouldn’t think even millionaires could eat anything nicer than new bread and real butter and honey for tea.” -Dodie Smith, I Capture the Castle

Butter has gained popularity, once again, as people understand the health benefits associated with whole foods and real fats. Butter, lard, tallow, coconut oil, avocado. All real food. All healthy fats. Rather than spending over seven dollars for a 1/2 pound of butter, that was shipped from who knows where, why not try making your own?

squeeze water

Raw milk is best, but optional. If you need help sourcing raw milk in your area, ask around. I am sure it is easier to find than you think!

Butter is one of the easiest fats to make. All you need is cream (preferably raw), a glass jar, food processor, or stand mixer.

In this recipe I will teach you how to make butter using a glass jar and stand mixer. Both easy and effective.

3 pints of cream yields roughly 2 1/2 cups of butter.

Items Needed:
Cream (raw is best)
Glass Jar or Stand Mixer

Directions:

  1. Pour cream into bowl of stand mixer.pour cream
  2. Turn stand mixer on high, and leave on high until cream thickens to a whipped cream consistency.whipped cream
  3. Turn off stand mixer and scrape down sides of bowl.
  4. Cover mixer with a towel and turn mixer up to high. You must cover the mixer. If not, your kitchen will soon be covered in buttermilk.cover mixer
  5. Continue mixing cream until the butter fat begins to separate from the buttermilk. You will know when this happens by a splashing sound.
    butter fat
  6. Continue mixing on a lower speed until the butter fat clumps together and forms a ball.
  7. Strain buttermilk from the butter and reserve for biscuits, pancakes, or drinking.Strain
    buttermilk
  8. Run the butter under cold water, in a bowl, and knead gently with your hands until the water begins to run clear. This removes any excess buttermilk and allows your butter to keep longer. Washing the butter.jpeg
  9. Gently squeeze water from butter.squeeze water
  10. If desired, lightly massage sea salt into prepared butter. I salt my table butter to extend its freshness, but this is optional.
  11. This recipe makes roughly 2 cups. I store half in the refrigerator, or my butter crock, for immediate usage, and half in the freezer for later.

To make butter using simply a glass jar:

  1. Place cream in glass pint mason jar, filling only half way.
  2. Shake jar vigorously until butter fat separates from buttermilk.
  3. Strain butter fat from buttermilk – reserve buttermilk for later use.
  4. Knead and salt butter as directed above.

Homemade butter is so easy, and with a stand mixer, very hands off. You can make your butter while working in the house or homeschooling your kiddos. So simple, delicious, and much more sustainable than store bought. 

-April

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

The Kitchen is the heart of every home, it evokes memories of your family history.

As this blog evolves, it may become apparent that I have a slight sweet tooth. Give me all the carbs and sweet stuff. I just can’t resist.

Growing up, my grandma would make Chocolate Zucchini Bread for us grandkids when we went to her house. One with nuts – one without. It was always a family favorite. This recipe is credited to her with only a few changes.

My Chocolate Zucchini Bread satisfies the craving for a brownie or pound cake. Filled with Zucchini, you can use some of your garden or market produce in a delicious way!

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

This recipes takes roughly two hours from start to finish.

Love baking bread as much as I do? My Le Creuset loaf pans give the best rise.They are the perfect pan for quick breads and sandwich loaves. You can shop for yours here.

Ingredients:
1/2 cup melted Butter
1 3/4 cup Brown Sugar (or white)
2 cups Unbleached AP Flour
1/4 cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
2 1/4 tsp Baking Powder
1 1/2 tsp Kosher Salt
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
4 large Eggs, beaten
2 tsp pure Vanilla Extract
3 cups grated Zucchini
1 cup chopped Semisweet Chocolate
3/4 cup chopped Walnuts (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Butter and flour loaf pan.
  3. Grate entire Zucchini, with skin on, and set aside on a dry towel.
  4. In a large bowl, gently whisk together all dry ingredients: Sugar, Flour, Cocoa Powder, Baking Powder, Salt, Soda.
  5. In a separate bowl, mix butter, eggs, vanilla extract, zucchini.
  6. Add wet mixture to dry mixture, incorporating well, but be careful not to over mix.
  7. Slowly fold in chocolate and walnuts.
  8. Pour into loaf pan and bake 1 hour and 20 minutes, or when a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  9. Let the bread cool on a wire rack for at least 20-30 minutes before removing from pan. It is hard to wait that long, but an absolute must.
  10. Serve warm with butter for breakfast or dessert. Yum!

Did you enjoy this recipe? Have questions?

Simply ask in the comments below, or reach out to me on Social Media, through Facebook and Instagram.

-April

**This post may contain affiliate links. If you purchase through these links, I might earn a compensation from that company.**

2017-2018 School Picks

“A child should be brought up to have relations of force with earth and water, should run and ride, swim and skate, lift and carry; should know texture, and work in material; should know by name, and where and how they live at any rate, the things of the earth about him, its birds and beasts and creeping things, its herbs and trees. . .” -Charlotte Mason, Volume 3

As some of my readers may know, we are a homeschool family. Yearly, I will share our homeschool curriculum with the hope of assisting other homeschool parents in choosing curriculum that suits their family.

We are in our 5th year of homeschooling, which I certainly find hard to believe! I currently have three kiddos in school ages 9, 8, and 5. In the past, we have utilized My Father’s World, Bob Jones University, and Alpha Omega for various subjects. It can be difficult and overwhelming to choose a curriculum for your family. This year, we decided to take a different approach and dove wholeheartedly into the Charlotte Mason teaching style. Charlotte Mason was a British Educator in the 20th century. She believed that education was “an atmosphere, a discipline, and a life”.

Annie's Copywork

I discovered Ambleside Online through a book I was reading in the Spring of 2017. Intrigued, I decided to research AO and loved what I saw. Although I was apprehensive to begin a different curriculum, I was relieved to see it wasn’t too different from My Father’s World, which also implements Mason’s teaching style.

What I enjoy most about Ambleside Online is that it fosters a genuine love for reading and learning. My children have spectacular imaginations and a deep love for play, which I greatly attribute to their taste for real books. Another wonderful fact about AO – it is a Free resource!

Focused on living books rather than textbooks, AO curriculum teaches by covering the child in topics such as history, language, and science through classic literature. Hymn Study, Composer Study, and Artist Study are also included. Charlotte Mason encouraged that a majority of the child’s time be focused on outside play and nature, with intentional observation of creation.

Apple Blossom.jpeg

I hope to dig deeper into the Charlotte Mason learning style with future posts, but for now, I will simply list the children’s books.

The school year is broken up into 4 terms. Here is a list of subjects and books my children will study during Term 1 of this school year.

Kiddo Number 3
5 Years Old
Year 1

Bible:
– with siblings during Morning Time.

Phonics:
Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons 
– Horizons Phonics.

Copywork/Handwriting:
-Her Weekly Scripture from Awana.

History (Early History 55 BC to 1066 AD):
Trial and Triumph by Richard Hannula
An Island Story by H.E. Marshall
Fifty Famous Stories Retold by James Baldwin

American History Biography:
Benjamin Franklin by Ingri D’Aulaire

Geography:
Paddle to the Sea by Holling C. Holling

Music:
– Hymns and Folk Songs
-Piano lessons, weekly.
-Composer Study: Arcangelo Corelli and George Philipp Telleman

Art Study:
-Artist: Mary Cassatt

Natural Science/Nature Study:
Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Botsford Comstock

Math:
-Right Start Math

Poetry:
-A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson

Literature:
-The Aesop for Children by Milo Winter
-Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare by Edith Nesbit
-The Blue Fairy Book by Andrew Lang
-Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling
-Parables from Nature by Margaret Getty

Free Reads:
-The Boxcar Children
-A Lion to Guard Us
-Henry and Mudge
-A Toad for Tuesday
-Frog and Toad Series
-Little Bear

Kiddos Number 1 and 2
Ages 9 and 8
Year 4

Bible:
– Old Testament: Joshua and Judges
– New Testament: Mark

History (1640-1700s)(French and America Revolutions):
This Country of Ours by H.E. Marshall

History Tales:
Trial and Triumph by Richard Hannula
Poor Richard by James Daugherty

Geography:
Minn of Mississippi by Holling C. Holling
Material World: A Global Family Portrait by Peter Menzel
What the World Eats by Faith D’Aluisio and Peter Menzel
-Map Drills

Natural History/Science:
The Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Botsford Comstock
Madam How and Lady Why by Charles Kingsley
The Storybook of Science by Jean-Henri Fabre
Gregor Mendel: The Friar Who Grew Peas by Cheryl Bardoe and Jos. Smith
– Issac Newton: The Ocean Of Truth by Joyce McPherson

Math:
– Right Start Math

Foreign Language:
– Spanish (Rosetta Stone)
– Latin (Memoria Press)

Poetry:
– Alfred Lord Tennyson

Music:
– Hymn and Folk Songs
– Piano lessons, weekly
– Composer Study: Arcangelo Corelli and George Philipp Telleman

Art:
– Artist Study: Mary Cassatt

Literature:
– Plutarch’s Lives
– Shakespeare
The Age of Fable by Thomas Bulfinch
The Life and Adventures of Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defore

Handwriting:
– Copywork
– Dictation

Free Reads:
There is a long list of free reads to choose from, which is great for my kiddos because they love to read! Here is a short sample:
– Black Beauty
– Pollyanna
– The Chronicles of Narnia
– The Secret Garden
– The Railway Children
– Gone Away Lake
– Gentle Ben
– The Borrowers
– The Peterkin Papers

LHOP.JPG

We are about five weeks into the school year and are loving it thus far! Do you use AO or a similar curriculum? Have questions? Let me know in the comment section below!

-April

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