Monday, March 28, 2011

Are we chicken?

photo from the guide to raising chickens

Photo Dude and I have been seriously talking about getting chickens this year with our tax return.  The date of the return is quickly approaching and I think we are getting cold feet.  We have never owned a pet together (well except a cat named Pig but that only lasted a few weeks).  The whole thing seems a little daunting.  What if it gets too cold here in Michigan?  What if they get sick?  Can we really afford a coop?  Do we need the one we saw for $1,500 or can we get a smaller one for less and still be okay?  We only want about six chickens max because there is nothing saying we can't own chickens but there isn't anything saying we can either.  Any tips/reassurances would be greatly appreciated! 

Friday, March 25, 2011

This is what Grandma's are for

 Over the winter my mom and step-dad came to stay with us over night.  We had a great time with them.  I got to make venison for dinner to treat them and my mother-in-laws delicious breakfast casserole for everyone the next morning.
   While they were with us my mom taught me how to knit and she also showed Miss M.  I love the photo of their hands together.  This is exactly what Grandma's are for.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Homemade Ravioli

     This is the view out my front door right now.  It started last night we woke up to school being canceled this morning.  There were a lot of things I had to do at school today.  But the kids are home in their jammies and that is pretty cool too.
      Last night I decided that we needed to make ravioli from scratch because we were using the last batch of Homemade Spaghetti Sauce and that needed something special.  I buy it frozen fairly regularly and thought 'how hard can it be?'  Famous last words right?  There are many things I wish that I had known before hand, like the fact that rolling out pasta dough by hand takes a much stronger person than I am.  I also wish that I had used my pasta maker before so that I at least knew what I was doing with it before the kids started saying 'but mom you said this wouldn't take long and we're HUNGRY!'.  Hungry kids is a good motivation to get something done though.  The ravioli were yummy but the dough was a little too thick.  I will be trying this again along with other kinds of noodles the kids want to get their hands on the pasta maker.
2 cups flour
2 large eggs, whole
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp. sea salt
3 tablespoons water
Combine all ingredients in a food processor and process for 30 seconds. Check consistency and add a small amount of flour is pasta is too wet, or a small amount of water if pasta is too dry. Process another 30 seconds to incorporate any additions.Turn dough out onto a silicone mat or work surface sprinkled lightly with flour and knead by hand for a minute or two, until smooth.
Place the dough under a bowl to rest for 20 minutes before rolling, or refrigerate, tightly wrapped in plastic and stored in a plastic bag if not using right away.
Use within a few hours for best results.
Roll pasta out using a roller machine, beginning with the widest setting. Fold dough over and roll through again, gradually decreasing the roller setting as the pasta becomes smoother; dust lightly with flour as needed, but not too much. It helps to brush off excess flour with a pastry brush.
When pasta is thin enough (about a 3 setting on most machines) it is ready for use in making ravioli.
Use the pasta sheets as soon as they are rolled; dry pasta sheets don't seal as well at the edges as fresh sheets, causing the ravioli to separate when cooking. If your pasta sheets have dried out, brush the edges with an egg wash or water (where the pasta is crimped together).
    recipe from

For the filling I used
1 C. of Ricotta cheese (I do wish I had taken the time to make my own)
1/4 C. Parmesan freshly grated
1/4 C. grated Mozzarella
1 egg
1 Tablespoon of Pesto (used homemade that had been frozen that is why the color is a little off.  It wasn't that color in real life just a little darker than fresh)
Just drop teaspoons of filling on to the sheets of pasta.  As you can see mine are not a beautiful shape or anything.  I ran water around the blobs and then put the other sheet on top and pressed around were the edges would be.  I used a pizza cutter to cut them all out.  This is all of the ones I got.  Certainly not pretty or even uniform looking.  I threw them into a pot of boiling water trying to make sure that they were with others the same size.  They floated to the top when they were cooked.  You can also see the difference in color of before and after.
So over all pretty easy although not as quick as I would have liked but I think that will come with practice.  Definitely yummy enough to make again.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Learning to Spin

     Yesterday was Photo Dude's birthday.  He gets the day off from work so we actually had a whole day to spend together just bumming around without the kids on a week day!  It was wonderful :)  Days like that are few and far between so we try to cherish the time we get when they do come along.  For his special birthday treat I made him cream puffs from scratch.  Oh dear they are soooo sinfully easy!  I found the recipe here at Tasty Kitchen.  At first I thought the puffs were too egg-y tasting but when I talked to my mom she just reminded me that I'm too used to the bland ones from the store.  These were very good and it only took one to get used to the fact they had flavor.
     But the name of this post is learning to spin isn't it?  Photo Dude and I are trying very hard to learn new things to make us more self sufficient (like many of you I'm sure).  I had told him of a drop spindle I had seen and thought he would be interested.  He spends a good portion of his work day twisting wires since he is an electrician.   We headed to Ewe to You yarn store in town to check it out.  We got a quick demonstration and Photo Dude decided that this is right up his alley.  He has a class scheduled for Friday night but you give a boy a new toy and he has to play.  We bought a $2 bunch of roving for him to destroy work with.   He found several YouTube videos to watch.  Ummmm I can't say that his first attempt was amazing but he got the general idea of it.  After the class Friday I think he will really get the ins and outs of how this works.  Now to convince him that we need Angora Rabbits for fiber!  That's going to be a little trickier.

 PS please ignore the mess, this is his desk area and unfortunately it gets neglected more times than not on cleaning day.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Bacon Pancakes

This is something that I tried at a restaurant years ago and loved.  Unfortunately that place burned down.  Here is my attempt at their recipe it is quite yummy.

Bacon Pancakes

2 C. Flour
2 Tbsp. Sugar
4 tsp. Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. Salt
2 Eggs
2 C. Milk (more for thinner pancakes)
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1 lb. Bacon cooked and crumbled
Mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Make a well in the center and mix your liquid ingredients.  Blend everything together.  Fold in the cooked bacon, add more milk if you like a thinner pancake.  Pour onto a hot griddle and cook.  Enjoy covered in real maple syrup!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The winter yuckies

We aren't quite over the winter illnesses here yet.  Jack has been sick a few times probably because it is his first year in all day school.  Molly hasn't been sick until this weekend.  She got that 24 hour stomach bug Saturday and it just knocked her out.  So a little chicken soup to help get her back on her feet is just the thing!  Make big ol' pot of this and freeze half for next time the yuckies strike your house and you don't feel up to cooking.

Feel Better Chicken Soup

Half a chicken (on the bones) cooked.  The bones are where all the good stuff is, cook it on the bones then pick it apart once it's cooked.
3 large carrots cut into chunks
3 stalks of celery cut into chunks also use the leafy tops that is going to add tons of flavor
1 small onion, cut finely (we don't like big chunks but if you do go for it)
1 C. corn
1/2 C. peas
handful of okra
1/2 a small can of diced tomatoes, drained
salt and pepper to taste
1/8-1/4 tsp chili paste, it adds a nice warmth to the soup without adding a lot of heat.  If you like the heat add more
2 TBSP. parsley, fresh if you have it
chicken broth

Place all your ingredients in a crock pot or large stock pot, cover with chicken broth or stock.  Let simmer for at least four hours to get the best flavor. 
The last thing to do it making noodles or rice to add to the bowls.  My mom never liked adding the noodles to the soup pot because she didn't like when they got mushy and the noodles don't always take to being reheated so we've always just don't our noodles on the side.

I hope that you enjoy this simple soup and it makes your sickies feel better.