We are a christian homeschooling family of 4, living the farm life in north central Alabama. rWe are trying to live as simply and purposely as possible. Follow along as we pilgrim along this wonderful life!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

As Christians We Need More- Part 1

I got you didn't I?
Today, Brad did the preaching at church. He will be the FIRST one to tell you that he is not a preacher, but he sure does a good job,and I'm not just saying that because I love him and everything...... He really does. He's helping out while our church finds a full time preacher.

This was the title of the lesson.

  As Christians We Need More.

What do we need more of?
We need more commitment.
 Commitment to God, our families, to each other and to the Church.

This world does a good job of distracting us doesn't it? Satan would like nothing better than for us to stay un-focused and distracted, all the while pursuing worldly lusts. What does The Lord say about this?

Commitment to God~~

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these
 things shall be added to you.
Matt 6:33
Commitment to each other~~
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one
 another as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.
John 13: 34-35
Commitment to our families~~
But if anyone does not provide for his own,
and especially for those of his household,
 he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
1Timothy 5:8

Commitment to the Church~~

Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine.
 Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.
1Timothy 4:16
I do believe I'll be working on my commitment... then I may not have time to pursue all the things that can take me away from the things that matter most!

Chocolate Pie and Coconut Pie

Chocolate Pie
1 cup sugar
2 1/2 TBSP cocoa powder
3 TBSP cornstarch or arrowroot powder
pinch of salt
3 egg yolks
1 small can evaporated milk or 1 cup of whole milk
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 TBSP butter
I'm going to tell you a super easy way to make this pie. Don't worry about the evaporated milk. I usually just use 1 cup of whole milk in place of it and it works just fine. Whisk first 7 ingredients in a skillet over medium high heat. I usually whisk the entire time, because I want all the ingredients to be mixed well. You don't want clumps and lumps. You also want those eggs mixed super well~~ nothings worse than having "egg" in your pie! You want to bring it to a low boil and boil for about 1-2 minutes- whisking the entire time remember!  Remove from heat and add vanilla and butter. Whisk until incorporated. Pour immediately into pre-baked pie shell. Chill and serve.
For a coconut pie you do it the same way EXCEPT decrease sugar to 3/4 cup, omit cocoa and add 1/2 cup coconut to mixture. Do everything else the same. Toasted coconut sprinkled on top tastes great too. You can also skip the pie shell and pour into small cups for a "pudding" treat!
This recipe of chocolate and coconut pie originally came from Brad's grandmother, RV.

Apple Scrap Vinegar

We use a lot of vinegar. Or, I should say me..... I use a lot of it and I'm always looking for ways to save money. I love Braggs raw vinegar with the mother, but it's a little pricey, even through the food co-op. I also use store brand vinegar for cleaning and such~ the "non-important" things. I love using vinegar in the No-Poo method of shampooing which I've been doing for a while now. I have almost waist length hair, so it takes a lot!
After visiting my local apple orchard this fall, and buying a bushel for all kinds of good things (like fried apple pies!)-- I remembered something about using apple scraps to make vinegar. So, after a little research, I decided to dive into my own brewing.

Take your apple scraps and place them in a food-grade or large glass container about 3/4 full. (It doesn't matter what kind of apples you use. It can even be mixed.) I used a gallon glass container and several 1/2 gallon glass containers because I had a lot of scraps. I didn't have anything large enough to hold them all at the same time! Keep your glass pickle jars for uses such as these! I don't think it much matters about the shape and size, as long as it's safe to use. I try to always use glass for projects because they can be sterilized and they are not porous to hold in bad germs or bacteria.

Now for the sugar/water mixture. Use 1/4 cup regular sugar to 1 quart of purified or filtered water. You can use honey, but it may take a while longer to ferment into vinegar from what I've read. I used regular sugar and it seems to be doing fine. Dissolve the sugar in the water and pour over your apple scraps. Make up enough sugar water to cover your scraps and cover each jar with cheesecloth or a towel. Secure with rubber band. You don't want fruit flies or other flying creatures to ruin your product. I love to use old pillow cases for a covering over the jar and straining. They can be found cheap at thrift stores- much cheaper than cheesecloth- and they are much stronger and allow your projects to breathe. They can be cut up to the perfect size you need for any project.

Covered and fermenting!

This is how it looked after 2 weeks.

Over time, your scraps will start bubbling~~ fermentation!!!! Stir every day or even several times a day. You will need to do this because the scraps will float to the top and they need to be submerged. This keeps everything mixed up well and keeps mold from growing. If you ever see black mold growing, discard and start over! I didn't have that problem with mine. You need to keep your containers in a temp of about 70 degrees. It just doesn't need to get too hot because mold will start growing. If it's too cold, it just slows fermentation.

After a few days, take a taste test. Be brave! It's not quite vinegar, but it sure isn't sugar water anymore!

Straining the vinegar.
 I have read to leave your vinegar brewing for 2 days or for 4-6 months! This varies widely!!! I left mine 2 weeks. At that point, the bubbling slowed and it just looked like it was done. I strained them, rinsed my jars out well and filled them back up with my strained vinegar. A few days after straining, the mother appeared! I GREW A MOTHER!!! You can too!

The Mother..... gross isn't it?
What is a mother? It is an acidic strain of acetobactor bacteria that when combined with oxygen, (hence the reason your container needs to breathe) causes fermentation. It has a jelly like appearence and is quite gross looking.

I am at this point with my own vinegar making. Even though I strained my scraps, it is still fermenting. I will leave them covered with my pillow cases and rubber bands for several more weeks. Possibly months. I will taste every few days until it tastes like vinegar. Then I will bottle up and store.

Strained vinegar.

I do have to say that when you make vinegar, it can be quite odorous! At first maybe a family member may ask, "What is that funny smell?" You may want to tell the whole family your intentions so everyone is well prepared for the odor that will linger. After straining, I did notice the odor got better.

I encourage you to do your own research on this wonderful," I-can-make-this-at-home" product. It makes a great homeschool project too! Try using different fruit. Maybe throw in some cranberries. Maybe lemons?
Next time, I'm going to be a little adventurous!

Blessings to you,

Friday, November 23, 2012

Thanksgiving 2012


What a wonderful Thanksgiving Day it is! 70 degrees and sunny! Just beautiful!

I awoke this morning about 5am, decided to get up at 5:30 and start on the cooking. I am well pleased with how it turned out!

Big, fat 16 pound turkey! It's not organic like I wanted, but I guess it will be okay....:) It cooked up nicely in about 4 hours and 15 minutes.

The Turkey

Turkey dressing..... yum. This was probably the BEST I have made! I don't go by a recipe. I just taste as I go to get it tasting like I want. It did need more salt, but was very good.

Sweet Potato Casserole. I love sweet potatoes.... I wanted to just bake them, but my mom wouldn't hear of it. So, we did the usual. Boiled, smashed and mashed with butter and brown sugar. I did do the topping a little different this year. I added oatmeal like I do in the Apple Goody topping. It was tasty, not too sweet, and a little different. I needed a good topping, because we only had a few pecans to put on top!

Just look at those rolls.............homemade!!!!

Well, the green bean casserole won out this year! It's the usual one.... the one on the back of the French- fried -onion- thingys package. Brad loves it!!! I don't care for it, but I do love green beans.

Lets talk about dessert..... yum.......

Chocolate pie, coconut pie and pecan pie~ Let me count the ways I love you all!
The chocolate and coconut pie I make are Brad's grandmother RV's recipe. They are easy and delicious. I made the crust too and they turned out great ~ thanks to The West Ladies recipe! If you know who I'm talking about,  you know they have some great recipes. Downhome, southern cooking with a smile. I will definately be posting more of their recipes!
The rolls..... I am so thankful for rolls that rise on time and are light and fluffy and delicious and--- well, you get the point. I really enjoyed making rolls this morning! And to think I ran right fast over to the Dollar General last night to buy a package of rolls, because I was NOT going to make them from scratch... but I did :)....(they were out anyway!) and I'm so glad! I will absoluty be posting this recipe! BTW~~~ it is a West Ladies again...:)

Today we used glasses I've been collecting at the thrift stores. They are old and vintage. Love, love vintage things :) I remember growing up, my mamaw had some green ones. You may still have some around. They are nice and thick, so they last. I hope I can find more in different colors. We usually drink out of mason jars which I like~simply southern~ but I like the change! You can see them in the picture above.

It was nice having my mom here to help us cook and clean, and wash all those dishes we messed up!
Thanks MOM! My uncle Roddy got to come and enjoy Thanksgiving lunch with us too. I am so thankful for you two! I didn't get a single picture of me, Brad, Hailey or Brody!~ But, it's hard to get a picture of all of us together for some reason!

We are a very blessed family. We have plenty of food, a comfortable, warm house and each other!
I hope you had a wonderful, blessed Thanksgiving with your family this beautiful day.

Happy day to you!

Brads favorite! chocolate pie!


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Green Beans~

I need to tell you a secret about green beans.
They can be boring.

Every year, we plant lots of green beans! They are usually one of the first things to produce in the garden, since most only take about 45 days from planting. From that point, you will have to pick every few days just to keep up with them. Since Alabama has a long growing season, we could plant them 2-3 times, but I usually only plant once.

They are juicy, fresh and *green*, after a long bleak winter. After a few times of cooking them up in the big pot with a little butter, this can get  b.o.r.i.n.g.

What's a hungry family to do?

Well, after not~ so~ much ~thinking on my part, I decided to add garlic. Lovely, stinky garlic!
We love, love, love garlic.

If your green beans are fresh, just cook them till tender like usual with a little salt. Don't forget the salt! Fresh veggies are like potatoes. You have to add salt to the cooking step, not after, because they will indeed stay boring, no matter what you do to it and you will never get them to taste salty enough. Drain off all the water, add a big dallop of butter and a few cloves of garlic minced up a little. Cook until it's all heated up again and serve.

That's it!

Another variation of this is cooking those beans the good old-fashioned southern way. Cook those beans all day on low heat until they loose all form and look like a mass of limp noodles. They will look very sad indeed. Go ahead and add a big chunk of some kind of pork to it too. (Smoked hog jowl is the usual here in the south or bacon grease.)  They will be very dark green and you will have cooked most of the nutrients out of them, but they are good! Drain and add garlic and butter. A true southern feast!

I can my green beans every year besides eating them fresh and you can do the same thing with them. Green beans are easy-peasy and they don't have to be boring! But......

what about green bean casserole you say? That is not boring.

I am not anti-casseroles. My family ~loves~ casseroles!-- They beg for green bean casserole. You know, the one with the condensed soup and the fake, french-fried onion thingys on top. The one that graces the Thanksgiving meal table every year.
Well, it does have green beans in it, which are great for you, but that other stuff......... I can just do without. I haven't a clue how to make it more "healthly" and it taste like......
So, with Thanksgiving next week, we'll see what wins out. The garlic or the casserole. I guess I could be sweet and let them have the casserole.
Just once a year won't hurt them will it?


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Mistletoe Bough and a new friend

Last night, Brad and I got to stay in a Bed and Breakfast for the very first time. It was beautiful! And very romantic..... Old and full of history unspoken. (if only walls could talk!) We stayed in The Master Suite which was where all the babies of the original owners was born. Quite neat! It was "the blue room" and was very much peaceful.

The Master Suite

The Master Suite

I just can't say enough great things about it! It was built by a banker in 1895. The family eventually lost the house and I suppose it sat empty a long time with no one to love it. It was set to be demolished, but someone didn't let that happen. It was seen and finally taken care of. This huge, wonderful piece of history didn't crumble after all and was taken over by lovely JoAnn, who now owns Mistletoe Bough with her husband, and runs it. Let me tell you~that is a BIG job because this home is HUGE.
Mistletoe Bough
If you are ever close to Alexander City, Alabama, you will definately need to rest your weary head here at Mistletoe Bough Bed and Breakfast.
upstairs hallway to bedrooms
The next best thing about a Bed and Breakfast is, you quessed it.....
We had diced fresh fruit, banana-walnut pancakes and sausage. Yummy! It was most delish!
I am a very blessed woman. Not only did I get to spend the night in a most romantic home, I met a new friend! *A kindred spirit of sorts!*  JoAnn, the owner, has a niece visting from California and we met and quess what? She loves chickens, natural things, cooking and I could go on and on....
She has a blog too :)
I am looking forward to corresponding with her, reading her blog and just chatting. Her name is Linda and when I figure out how to do it, I will post her blog link. From what I hear, she has a tiny little kitchen! :)
 Yes, I'm still learning!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Getting started and Introduction of sorts

Hello all! Starting a blog is hard! (just a little, but I'm not crying yet). I'm not a tech genius or anything, but getting this going has been a learning experience for me! :)
I have been asking myself, "why do I want to blog?" For once, there is an easy answer! I would like to connect with different people who share my interests, love for God, children, homemaking, homesteading, homeschooling and all things wonderful!
I am a homemaker.
 It is a most delightful calling!
 I am one of The Kings Daughters and HE chose little~o~me to be to be the mother of two G.R.E.A.T. kids and wife to a most handsome, hardworking, Godly man. They are the reason I do the things I do. They are important to me and God is at the very tip- top of my most special people..... He is The Most Wonderful of all and one special day, I will see Him face to face and hopefully hear,
"Well done, my good and faithful servant."

I am very much looking forward to sharing with all of you.