Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Amish Bran Muffins in July

July means swimming in the pond,
 which in turn, means the fence is bedecked continually with swim gear.
July also brings breakfast on the porch, usually with granola or muffins. 
 Our favorite muffin recipe comes from an Amish cookbook,
 but we have tweaked it just a tad, so I will share it here. 
 I hope you try them, they are really outstanding. 
 Don't let the title "BRAN MUFFIN" deceive you! 

 These moist, flavorful muffins make a huge amount of dough that can stay in the frig for weeks.
                  I love that aspect, since then it is sooo easy to make a quick breakfast in the morning.
I also favor this recipe because it is a large enough batch to make a dozen Texas size muffins
 and still have dough for another baking in a week.
If ya all don't have a Texas size muffin pan, you need to get one-- or two.
  It is that special touch that takes a muffin from "good" to spectacular
 Trust me.  Buy one.

I have to tell you a funny story about this particular batch of baking:

So there I was, (all good stories start that way) 
 scuttling around in the kitchen, 
thinking too many things at once while making the muffins,
 when I smelled something very, very odd. 
I  stood there for what seemed like a loooong time trying to figure out what that smell was!
Finally, my brain kicked in and I realized that I had preheated my gas oven 
with mint from the garden drying inside!
  Dear me!
  I then had well dried, nearly burnt, mint.
(chuckle, can't believe I am really sharing this.)
Then that song goes off in my head, you know..."The old gray mare........

Anyway, you see, my oven has a pilot light on all the time,
 so it is an ideal place to dry herbs or veggies overnight.  
This we do often in summer when produce is abundant.
We usually have a slip of paper reminding us that there is something in there, 
since it  has happened before. 
 I had not reminded myself of the mint with the usual paper,
So  that morning our kitchen smelled loudly of baked mint and fresh muffins.

Some people should not bake before 8 am or at least two cups of coffee!!

Back to the muffins in progress.....

Our secret ingredient is adding fresh picked huckleberries to the muffins.
  We have huckleberry bushes right here on our property, ( O glory!) but since most folks probably don't, 
I will say that raspberries or blueberries would also be great.
  However, even without the berries, these are still marvelous muffins.

 Now for that recipe:

5 cups flour
5 tsp baking soda
2 tsp salt
2 tsp allspice
15 oz. oat bran (about 2 cups)
3 cups sugar (I use less)
4 eggs
1 cup veg. or olive oil
1 quart buttermilk or regular milk plus 2 T. lemon juice
2 tsp vanilla

Mix well.  Use immediately or store in a sealed container for up to 6 weeks.
When ready to bake, without stirring, dip batter out to fill  a well greased muffin pan.
Then add a scattering of berries on top of each muffin- they will sink when baking.
Bake at 375, cook for 20 minutes or until the tops spring bake upon touching.

Here's to breakfast on the porch with birdsong serenading you, and yummy muffins with your coffee!
If you try the muffins, be sure to let me know!


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Around The Homestead: St. John's Wart

Thunder is rumbling across the mountains this afternoon, it has been a stifling hot day. 
 Thankfully,we only have a few of these 90-some degree days per year. 
 Earlier, as a scattered shower cooled things off a bit,
 I eagerly sought my way out of doors to pick the fully bloomed St. John's Wart. 
 It grows all over the place here.
 I had noted on my walk the other day that it was nearly ready to be gathered in and hung to dry.
This winter we will make tea of the blossoms, added to our mint and chocolate mint,
 making a Happy Winter Tea, as I call it. 
 St. John's Wart is known for aiding depression,
 (it is common to get a little low with our 5 months of winter here) 
and... well, 
I have always thought of mint as being a happy flavor and smell. 

 Other goodness growing on our homestead.....
 the goats, getting fat on rich grass, abundant brush, and prolific tree limbs.
  We stake them out in new locals each day, since we lack proper fencing for a pasture.

We have four raised beds in which are growing lots of squash, several tomatoes,
 carrots (just barely up) and potatoes. 
 I am so thankful that, so far, the deer have stayed away.
It is not much, but it is a start, I keep telling myself.

The strawberry patch is doing well for it's first year. 
The berries are sooo scrumptious!
Nothing tastes better than homegrown/ homemade food!

Mint too, is ready to harvest for winter teas.
 That is on my "to do" list, still. 
 Usually a job for the younger children, but they are indoors (making huge sleeping bag forts)
 hiding from the heat today.
 Jim has taken over Anna's herb garden. 
 In it's third year, it is coming along quite well. 
 The garden contains mostly culinary and medicinal herbs,
 but Jim planted several hundred perennial seeds this year to add beauty and color.
So far, we have sage, mullen, horseradish, mint, chocolate mint, tarragon, lavender, and chives for our herbs. I would love to get some echinacia and fever few.
Perhaps next year.

The meadows are brimming with daisies, which makes me happy happy happy!
Don't you think daisies are a happy flower?
  I do like to keep fresh flowers on the book table,
 and I will beg, borrow, or, um, yes, steal (from a vacant homestead) if I must...
but this time I didn't, since they are abundantly everywhere.

And what does our family do here when it is 97 degrees out?
Why, legos while listening to the Man From Snowy River soundtrack,
 dress up, card games, playing with the new kittens,
 and reading, of course!

From our homestead in the woods to yours,

Blessings This Day!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Woodland Warfare

Joseph just turned 15.
 The time has flown since we brought him home from the hospital to join his older three siblings!  

Here he is now,
 a big, strapping manly fellow,
 a good friend, a leader, a hard worker,
 a delightful son.  

His greatest longing for his birthday 
was to invite 17 friends over to play woodland warfare with him.
(paintball, you know)

At the end of the day,
 despite his amiable nature,
 he had shot them all in the head--at least once. 

You may not find this quite as humerus if you are redneck deficient....for us, it was great fun!

Joseph filled his big brother's shoes nicely, 
leaving  some battle scarred, 
(which is quite a trophy to be proud of, by the way)

...and all in awe of his extra long barreled Tipman.   

Boys practicing to be heroes, competing to be the last man  standing....
....this is the good stuff for young  rednecks.... 
a day to be proud of, to tell stories of for years to come-
-the day he shot his cousin in the wrist and made him bleed...."ya, that was awesome!"

They all loved it, returning to the porch in between rounds with huge grins on their faces. 
 Gabe and I were bystanders on the porch listening to the battle sounds echoing form the woods.
  I can't believe I did not get a picture of Gabe in his camo, face paint, the works. 
 He was as excited as the rest of them, just waaaay  more cute!

As for Joe,
 he had so much fun shooting his friends that he is already making plans
 for the next time.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Benefits of Children Raising Livestock

Rose adores her goats.  

She now has four years of goat tending. 
Currently she owns three alpine/nubians and one lamoncha. 
This farmer-wanna-be takes complete care of  the goats.
When their pen needs fixin, she is responsible.  
She did bribe some local help, though.

Together they doubled the pen size, which will be nice for the winter. 
 In the meantime, they are staked out every day on free food consisting of grass, tree branches, 
brush and plenty of weeds, all in abundance here.

This hand feed orphan thinks she is a puppy, 
and follows Rose everywhere..including getting in to Rose's car whenever Rose does. 
 Although Rose is very fond of her baby, she still does not prefer goat kisses.

Pretty adorable, and milk and cheese to boot.

 I am a big fan of children raising livestock.
Growing up in a 4-H predominate culture myself, I see the value in caring for animals. 
 Children who are brought up with tending livestock have an early maturity in dependability, responsibility and spotting needs without someone having to tell them what to do.

Raising goats has been a very practical help to our family, 
and Rose benefits as well by the training in responsibility that animal husbandry requires.  
There is no, "I don't feel like doing my chores this morning" with dairy animals. 
 They MUST be milked rain, snow, sickness, or come what may. 
 Of course, there is also being responsible for something other than just yourself, 
there are costs and profits to be figured, 
and a huge learning curve on fodder, illnesses, breeding, culling, shelter, pasture, and on and on.

In my perfect world, 
parents would replace worthless video games  in their children's hands 
with a farm animal to care for.
Working with your hands and tending animals, 
this is rewarding work that satisfies the soul.
And that would be a lovely gift to give our children.

Monday, June 9, 2014

We Build A Rocket Stove

The last few weeks have been full of fun and blessings.
  Our married daughter, Anna, has been visiting us while her husband is gone on a trip, 
that has been delightful...well, for us that is...she still misses her husband terribly.

Rose has been perfecting the art of home made goat cheese. We are getting so much milk from her two does, we have extra to make cheese once a week.  Next, a cheese press for harder cheeses.

With the amazing weather, we have been outdoors.
 We have been working in the garden, burning slash piles from the winter logging, fixing up the homestead, and just sitting on the summer porch enjoying each other.
We also went to the Air Show at Fairchild.  It was incredible!!

Here is one happy 10 year old in a Black Hawk:
"A BLACK HAWK, mom!!  I was sitting in the pilot seat of a BLACK HAWK!!!!" 

Today, Jim decided he wanted to make a mini Rocket Stove.
 It happened to be daddy's day off, so they went to work ravaging my pantry for the right sized cans,
and in about an hour,
they were finished and boiling water for tea on the newly built stove!
The instructions were found on Pinterest.
 Just one #10 can, and three 26 oz cans, and a wee bit of insulation,
a few snips here and there, and...tea.

Now to build a full scale Rocket Stove for inside the lodge!
Hmm, well , that is the stuff dreams are made of.


Monday, May 26, 2014

Our Sweet Grandbaby

Can words capture the heart of a mama when she holds her grandbaby for the first time?  

I think not. 

No, there are no words. 

 Tears of joy and happiness for our son and daughter, 
gratitude for a safe and healthy  home birth, 
but no words to convey the emotion that courses through a body holding the tiny sweet bundle, 
made from my flesh and blood, yet not mine...entirely. 
 Part of me, yet not implicitly.

Shiloh Anne
is the sweetest, most precious little one...and here she is, all 7lbs and 12 oz.

I am speechless...
But if a picture can communicate a thousand words....

...You'll know that it was love at  first sight.

With a heart full,

GRANDMA Julianne

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Vacation Memories at the Lake Cabin

We just spent an entire week at a remote lake cabin completely unplugged.  
Had it been in Idaho, I might have stayed there. 
 I can easily identify with the hermit lifestyle; 
quiet, peaceful, lots of time for pondering and planning (some of my favorite pastimes)
 and did I say quiet? 

We were so blessed with beautiful weather  the whole week.  
And, we thoroughly enjoyed it while we were gazing at the lake, 
either from the porch or from a boat. 

Here at home, a large storm is brewing, with one of the blackest clouds we have ever seen here 
heading right our way.  
The trees are swaying..it will hit here soon.  
Therefore, the children have come inside from their afternoon excursions
 and are gathered at the table to color and listen to an audio book...
..the perfect rainy afternoon activity.

With a pot of soup simmering on the stove for dinner,
 I thought I would quickly add our vacation pictures while my bread is rising, 
so here goes....

Lake life is easy to get attached to.  
Water is so relaxing-- be it the beach, the lake, or a river, even a pond.  
There is just something about water that speaks tranquility to me.

The lake was brimming with trout, so this became the main occupation for our week there, 
at least for the boys.
  Although Brian and I like to fish, we spent the majority of our time just staring at the water,
 or watching the children play and fish.

I did play in the dirt with the littles,
 making tiny homes for tiny wee folks whom we imagined would come and live there.
My, I haven't done that for ages.  It was great fun!!


 Ben loved watching the Eagles swoop and dive to catch fish, then fly up into the tall trees and roost.  
He never tired of it, although it happened all day- everyday.
One roosted right above me in the very tree I was leaning on. 
 We listened to their squirrel like chatter and tried to imitate them. 

We also heard a Barred owl right behind the cabin every evening, 
but never could spot it in the huge cedar trees, 
though we climbed over all sorts of dense underbrush and bracken looking.

Playing together and hanging out together all week  gave us old folks a nice relaxing get away. 
 The children had lots of fun, too, with all the new surroundings to investigate, 
new swings to play on, and the irresistible water.  
We had all the extravagances of  grid electricity:  like a dryer, a microwave, a toaster, 
and showers whenever we wanted,
 (you off grid people KNOW what I'm talking about!!) 
so we really felt quite spoiled and well rested.

Still, at the end of the week, everyone was excited to get home. 
 As we crossed the Idaho state line, there were loud
(and I mean LOUD!!)
cheers from all.

Vacation was wonderful-but,
There's just no pace like HOME.