Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Our favorite soup

I had borscht growing up, but never cared for it. It was red with lots of veggies and no meat and I just didn't like it.

So when my next-door-neighbor (the super duper awesome Alaskan one) said she was making borscht I was surprised. She told me she found a great recipe and told me all that was in it. Ham hocks, bacon and meat, meat and more meat...oh and a few beets and some cabbage.

Ok, fine, I had to try it. She gave me the "recipe" if you can call it that. It's just like any soup, use what you have don't use what you don't have. Add the spices and you have a killer stew.

I made it for us and my sis and her hubby. And now I have strict instructions to call them over for supper if I make it, guess who's coming over for dinner tonight?

I'll give you the general recipe but adapt it as you need to. I'll put my notes at the bottom about what I did today.

~3-4 qt water
2lbs beef shanks or chunk beef or hamburger or leftover meat (this is what I save my leftovers for) browned (tonight it's ground venison, left over moose roast and left over moose steaks)
1 c ham or pork shoulder or bacon or sausage or ham hock or ham bone (tonight it's ham bone and ham)

2 bay leaves
8 pepper corn
4 sprigs parsley or a few TBS dried parsley
1 T salt
1/4 t pepper
1/4 c vinegar
6 oz can tomato paste
1/4 c fresh dill or some dry
1 c sour cream plus extra

carrots, I don't have any today so it'll do with out
onions or leeks, I never have leeks I'm using 3 onions tonight
beets ~2 lbs. I use fresh, frozen, canned or pickled beets, all of them work
cabbage, I usually put in a lot like a small head, it really shrinks down
new potatoes if you have them

I make this different most every time. My recipe is not clear. If I'm using bacon for flavor I cook that in the pan first, then remove to add last. If I'm using a ham hock or bone like today, I cooked up the hamburger and onions, added the bone, added extra water than normal (to cover the bone) and all the spices plus more I might save off some broth for the next batch. I have even made it pork free for our friends who don't eat pork. Still very good.

Simmer bone in the broth for a while if you have a bone, or just throw in your carrots, onions, meat, spices water, simmer for a while. When harder veggies are cooked add cabbage, beets, tomato paste, vinegar, dill and your cup of sour cream last.

Serve with extra sour cream and dill.

Your family will love you, extra and then beg you to make it time and time again. This is my favorite "harvest" food because it sucks up so much of the extra garden produce in the fall, I always want leftovers to freeze, but there has never been.

Country Jane, enjoying the kitchen on this rainy day

gather ingredients, make sure you have extra coffee, don't mind the coffee mate it's your imagination, I would never drink that crap

sink full of venison, cabbage, ham, leftovers and more leftovers thawing out

when this lard is gone I'd like to render my own, my friend is a huge lard fan and I really like it

venison burger from a friend and onions in the lard

ham bone with more water than the recipe calls for...going to have to triple the broth on this one
  -that's all the pics I have for now, bone is still simmering-

New addition to the family

My daughter turned 13 this year and she has been begging for years to get a puppy.

So I decided to get her a goat.

This spring has been rough with having two does in milk but not enough milk. When I bought them last June they were giving 2 gallons a day, but that's because I didn't bring any kids home to feed the milk to. We got all of it, and it was a lot to handle. But I miss the plethora. I want to make cheese again and even just yogurt.

I had originally chosen LaMancha for the breed of choice, but she didn't have any in milk and I didn't want to start with kids. I wanted to be forced into the hardest part of owning goats...to milk 2x per day.

We bought the Nubians because they were good quality pure breeds and I didn't want to start with mixed...and, well, that's what she had. I paid more than I'd expected to pay, but this breeder was highly recommended. She tested her herd clean every year, did all the shows, and knew a lot and she brings up quality goats from out of state.

Back to my story.

Daughter wants to breed dogs, so I figured we'd get a high quality LaMancha and she can breed that. I'm set up for goats and would like more milk next summer. LaManchas produce quantity for a long time. I'm so not up for puppies and more dogs. Not a dog fan...

daughter with her holy shirt

LaMancha's just aren't as cute as Nubians

But I'm sure she'll grow on me.
Country Jane, fan of goats

Monday, June 6, 2011

New name?

When buying goats I realized that we needed a "herd" name. Therefore our little "homestead" needed a name. I thought of one, but am still not used to it.

Today I finished the front part of the fence along the road on the first acre (we have a whopping two acres). This fence is going to get the better of me, and in some ways has already. I started with grandiose plans, but three years later I find myself stuck in the middle of an un-ending chore.

It's a long story and I don't think I'm up for telling it tonight, but if I call my farm "Crooked Fence Ranch" then it would look like my fence was supposed to be crooked.......right?

Country Jane, twisted er crooked

the next part to be re-done...they have been pulled and holes re-dug, now to get them in line and set...BLEK!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

The dirt jar

A few years ago my husband was in WA helping a friend in his garden. He found a little brown jar. He brought it home to me because he knows I'm crazy about old things especially jars and things that hold other things.

So I put it in my bathroom still dirty but "rustic" with it's rusted lid and cute little self. I've let my bathroom be my "country" room as my dear husband can't handle the whole house being "country". He's a computer geek and would prefer that we have a Star Trek themed house...so we have to find a compromise.
Tonight I bought more country storage containers to put stuff in (see my weakness?) for my bathroom and I took the jar off the shelf to dust it off and I took the jar of M&Ms off so I could clean the shelf. And I thought "Duh, the cute jar can hold M&Ms!" So I tried for the first time taking the lid off and lots of dirt came out. I went to clean the jar but it had ewey gooey stuff inside, gross what was in here? While the jar was soaking I started scrubbing the rusted lid and some color and words appeared. Vaseline! What do you know. The jar belongs in the bathroom.
Newly cleaned jar.

New home of the potty reward M & Ms.
Country Jane, container collector

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

It's a hard knock life

Life changes so quickly from great to hard in such a short time, it amazes me every time. It's only when it's hard again that you kick yourself for not being thankful for the good.

Last Tuesday I was enjoying the sun, working hard outside getting things ready, fixing my fence, dinner in the oven. Life was good.

My life is good. Even after this weekend and all that's happened I know God loves me.

Friday my oldest was turning 13. My mother had taken her the day before so she could overnight, they baked her cake, decorated it and would bring it home. When I was talking to my mom at around 2pm about the days plans I began to bleed. This was not good, I'm pregnant. Very newly, but I have never bled during a pregnancy until now. My husband was home so he called the midwife and she said we don't know what's actually happening so to lay low. He "ordered" me to bed where I proceeded to cry mainly because I had too much to do to have this happen. I also cried because we have already told many people and I couldn't bear the thought to un-tell them. NOW I get why everyone who has miscarried waits to announce it. I cried and slept while the hubbub of the house went on outside my bedroom door. My sis and her family still came over for the bbqed shrimp dinner my husband was now hosting alone. He told my mom but nobody else, and she peeked in on me and gave me a hug.

After the company left we had the kids come to our room to open presents on my bed. We told our oldest that she'd be getting a new baby Lamancha kid (goat) since she has done so well milking this year. I've wanted a Lamancha anyway, they are great milkers and there are some available at my preferred breeders. The plan is to take her out and pick out the one she likes.

My mom called and said they would be coming out to the lake very close and staying at my uncle's vacation cabin and that they could take the kids. Wow. Awesome. My mom is pretty amazing sometimes. The got the 5 younger ones, the oldest wanted to stay home and play with her new Lego set (she asked for it, really). Also she likes alone time when she can get it...who doesn't?

When the kids left, it was hubby's turn to crumble. He very kindly asked me what I would like and I requested my favorite pizza, so he took oldest to town, they went on a little date and picked up the pizza. Thank God for good pizza in times of need.

Next day was decent. Gorgeous out. My dad brought out the new glass patio door that we had ordered and installed it that day since they were nearby. It is very nice. I told my sister what was going on and she came over and planted my garden in about 2 hours. It would have taken me much longer any day of the week. That girl is fast.

My mom said she'd keep the kids another night so we decided to head to the ER that evening to get an ultrasound and see what was going on.

On the way to the ER the van broke down. We thought it was the water pump, but found out yesterday it's the head gasket.

Our neighbor came out and picked us up and a tow truck brought the van back to our new mechanic's shop who just happens to live across the street. We went to the ER, the doctor said that because the bleeding is not heavy, there's no cramping and I'm not in pain he wasn't willing to call in the Ultrasound tech. He did his own checks and concluded that I was probably still pregnant, just bleeding.

We were chipper after the visit, nice people in good moods that night. We went to an old favorite restaurant in the neighboring town and ate breakfast at 2am. It was good.

At 8:30am my parents called. Our 5-yr-old had puked all night, 20 times to be exact. Can they bring her home? Yes please. Hubby went to church and I stayed home with puker. She puked about 10 more times during that day and was finally done. That was rough. She got a fever that night and was delirious on Monday but is much better today.

Monday was another beautiful day where I wasn't allowed to do much work. Brother-in-law came over to help with the fence, and hubby stepped up big time and did a few things that I'd been wanting him to do. He even planted my new raspberry plants. I had to tell him what to do. It was fun.

Tuesday we were more than ready to go in for the ultrasound at our normal tech's office. She couldn't tell. She didn't give us much hope, but she couldn't say for sure. Off to the midwife for the 2nd round of blood testing. The ER took the first test and the second test should show if my hormone levels are going up or down.

Wednesday. Midwife was at a birth all night on Tuesday and didn't have the proper paperwork to compare blood tests. But it appears my hormones are dropping.

The priest and his family that I talked about before is moving to Alaska. Alaska, I tell you, here to us. To take care of us. I'm glad, 'cause we need it.

Country Jane, loved

Eugène Carrière’s “The Sick Child” 1885