Photo: Great grandparents at their farm in Blandinsville, IL, with five of their six children .. my grandpa was yet a twinkle in grandma's eye. Stable boy and governess also pictured. Hodges farm, circa 1903-4

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Breakfast Sausage

Our annual piggy made it into our freezer yesterday.  This is the third year we've ordered from a small little family farm; and this is the first year they've raised their own pigs from ones born on their farm.  They are pastured, moved when the grass is low or starting to go bare, fed a supplement of thick rich cow's milk from same farm.

This year the butcher asked about sausage flavorings ... and I opted to just receive ground pork to be able to add my own spices.

Breakfast Sausage:

1-1/2 pounds of ground pork
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, or red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground powdered ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 teaspoons dried rubbed sage or other green herb you prefer
1 teaspoon dried chives
1 tablespoon dried onion flakes
1/2 teaspoon dried garlic powder

Mix well all spices into pork.  Shape into a log on a piece of wax paper.  Roll tightly.  Refrigerate at least an hour or overnight.

Remove wax paper and slice into 1/2 inch rounds, flatten a bit if necessary, and cook in a heated cast iron skillet over medium heat until browned on both sides and center is no longer pink .. about 5-7 minutes depending on thickness.  Strain and save the drippings to use in a savory dish.  Re-wrap any unused sausage and refrigerate;  use within a few days.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Windstorm 2015

A hole in our preparations .. and the remedy.

We just underwent and survived the Great Windstorm of 2015.  Losing power for 22 hours, many in our area are still without power after six days.  

We had water in our neighborhood storage tank and stores of gallon jugs in our home, heat from our wood stove, the use of our gas cook top stove, well insulated freezers.  Flashlights, batteries, oil lamps with fuel.  Canned goods and juice.

On our list of  'hole' fillers:  A large generator.  Our home is wired for a generator to supply power to kitchen lights, refrigerator, microwave, and family room lights.  I'd rather designate a generator to keep our freezers cold if need be.

The Mr. spent all of Friday cleaning up the yard from tree debris, pine needles.

Thank you to all of the linemen working long days trying to get everyone's electric power on once again.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Don't neglect annual

.... inspection of your wood stove or fireplace.

If you burn wood for heat, be sure to have your chimney or wood stove pipe thoroughly cleaned and inspected each year.

My father used to do this to his home .. I'll pay someone with expertise, agile limbs and a steady ladder to climb my steep pitched roof.  Our stove needed a few new fire bricks and a ceramic fiber blanket replaced.

Properly seasoned wood burns best.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure ~ Benjamin Franklin

Have you taken measures to prevent a chimney fire?

Friday, September 11, 2015

Tuning Up The Homestead

.... before winter.

We burn wood for heat but have a forced air furnace with duct vents in all the rooms.  Nobody ever mentioned not to shut off vents in unused rooms when we built our home nine years ago .. and now I've heard/read twice recently that this can damage the duct-work.  So, to be on the safe side ... we will have the heating/AC system inspected.

The driveway has been resealed as well as the exposed aggregate concrete patios and walkways.  All cracks have been filled to help prevent expansion from freezing temps and water seepage.

Windows were cleaned this summer (by DH ... that's another story), and all hardware & fittings will be adjusted (read REPLACED) on the double hung tilt windows to ensure a tight fit.

The freezers are filling with locally farmed meats.  Storage shelves are filling up for extra measure.

Anything that is loose or wonky will get tightened before the snow flies.

Our hope is to even get the exterior trim and front door painted before too long.  Hopefully our painter still has us on his schedule.

A home is a huge investment and letting it get run down can devalue it if repairs start piling up.

After our heat filled dry, drought-ish summer, I'm actually looking forward to cooler temps.

I'll leave you with this 'fun' to watch website .. not really having to do with winterizing, but it's a good resource if you like historical cooking techniques, food preparation, food preservation, etc.

                                        Jas Townsend & Son 

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Creating and Reliving Slow Food Memories

Have you ever dined on a meal prepared from an old family recipe? The connection to the past with the present is one that is almost 3-D. You have memories, tastes, and sights all blended together for a little trip down memory lane. Preserving our heritage through cooking is one way to allow the memories of loved ones remain close in our hearts and recall a special time when "Grandma Donna", or "Aunt Florence" were still alive. Today's youngsters often miss out on such a rich family heritage by our fast paced world. Take some time to recreate a special dish and share the experience and memories of ancestral family. Just imagine if our children's only memories of food are of a burger and fries from McDonald's eaten out of a bag in the backseat of a car? ... or a skillet dinner from the freezer?  Do you remember how much better farm fresh food tastes compared with grocery fare today? Homemade pickles were an everyday treat at Grandma's house ... some even made from watermelon rind! My dad is still the king of homemade ice cream. Grandma Donna's Jewish Apple Cake conjures up sights and scents from her tiny aqua blue kitchen. Aunt Lottie's fresh corn and roast beef dinner ... served at her farm in the grownup's dining room with a lace tablecloth ... yummy.

My Pop ~ he made this ice cream rig over 60 years ago!

Tonight's slow food: Four course supper starting with Herb 'soop' .. a late 1700's receipt (recipe), followed by ice cold green salad, baked citrusy/herb chicken, fresh corn on the cob. Dessert ~ Pumpkin bars topped with fresh whipped cream and a few berries. Music provided by: 200 Years of American Heritage in Song with the likes of 'Barbara Allen' .. 'Greensleeves' ... 'Green Grow the Lilacs' ... 'Billy Boy' ... I'm bound and determined that Hubby and Nathan connect food, music, history and manners. 

Do you purposely create slow food memories for your family?

Family Recipe

Recipe(Grandma Donna's) Jewish Apple Cake
Ingredients: 1/2 lb butter, 1/3 C sugar, 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, 3 C flour, 1 egg, 6 green apples, 1/4 up to 1/2 C sugar, lemon zest, 1/2 tsp. vanilla.

Directions: Cream butter, 1/3 C sugar and vanilla, add beaten egg and flour. Mix well and divide dough in half. Press half the dough in a greased 13x9 rectangular pan to form lining. Peel and slice apples. Sprinkle with cinnamon, additional sugar (up to 1/2), 1/2 tsp. vanilla and a little lemon zest. Spread the apple mixture into prepared pan. Press remaining dough on wax paper to form a 13x9 inch top. After placing on the top, bake in a preheated 300 degree F oven for about one hour.  Serve warm with a dollop of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
Serves 8-12

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Stepping into the Past

Genealogy has gotten me off the beaten path with blogging.  That has lead to more in depth research on ways our fore-bearers lived, ate, slept, drank, cooked, dressed, doctored themselves, and relied on each other instead of government overstep.

So, while I believe writing about thrifty living and gardening still fits into my new area of research, I hope to find other interesting topics of which to write.
Paternal great grandparents' home, children, domestic help, circa 1903
The above photo is of my great grandparents, taken at their farm prior to the birth of my grandfather ... before electricity had come to their area; prior to an automobile and any of our power hungry 'modern' appliances were invented   You will notice that grandma had the help of a stable boy and domestic servant; both listed in the 1900 Census as part of my grandparent's household.  One wonders if the advent of the modern age put many a person out on the streets, unemployed after being replaced by a machine?    This idea of humans being replaced by machines, and cheap labor has helped contribute to our generation's lack of skills, desire to work for daily bread, and reliance on poor quality everything!

Wednesday, April 01, 2015


Fertilizer .. from garden weeds.

Oh .. yes, this can be a smelly project .. so wait for a wind free day to apply to your garden once your tea has brewed ... but the results will amaze.

Homemade Composted 'Weed' Tea

The Thrifty Garden Home/Natural Fertilizer

Monday, March 30, 2015

Getting Back to the ....

Garden of Eden.

If you'd like to be more water wise with your garden, pour a cup of tea and watch this movie on managing your garden the way God intended.

Back to Eden

Day Three ~ The past several years we have added fine wood chips between the raised beds which have rotted down to a good rich mixture.  Today it was raked up and used as rich mulch on top of the beds.  Will try the methods used in this video to cut down on watering by 95%.

What's up in your garden?

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Garden Journey ~ Day Two

Another sunny spring-like day to work in the yard.

Perfect temp for yard work!

Remainder of winter mulch removed from raised beds.

In ground garden area raked.

Many wheel barrels later ..... 

Just a smidgen of green grass.

Fruit trees still dormant.

We usually have snow covered mountains until early May.

A little yard art in anticipation of summer!

Next up will be to amend soil and give it a light tilling.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

2015 Garden Journey ~ Day 1

Raspberry canes thinned, topped and tied.

Fenced off raised beds tidied.

Back patio pressure washed and furniture uncovered.

Burning raspberry canes & yard stubble.
Although not out of the woods for frost, we are having a mild winter with little snow so got a jump start on spring yard cleanup.  Is your garden/landscape awakening or going to bed?

Monday, March 09, 2015

A Full Life

"Just help me make it to my rocking chair" ~ the words I spoke to my husband over thirty-four years ago when we said "I do."  Walk with me in the valleys and on the mountain tops.  With God beside us, who could be against us? Well, we've been to Holland when we wanted to go to Italy, and that was OK ~ we still were blessed.  When one door closed .... three more opened.  And so it went for his career span, while I tended the home fires.

We were slaves for a period of time with a mortgage, two car payments, private school tuition, etc.  Those were the years hubby missed many family milestones.  My plate was full juggling four kids and one summer from hell.  

Fast forward to present ~ at the moment we are on the mountain top.  Now we may not stay up here, but having traveled through so many valleys the Lord has given us the strength to weather life's storms.  All I can say is:  It's been a good ride!  

Today we went RV shopping.  Not to buy one, but to just peek at them as we've never been 'RV people' .... being debt free, we plan on staying that way.  Yes, we could have purchased one, even without a loan ... but the thought of maintenance, winterizing, GAS prices, storage fees, insurance, etc., we walked out of the dealership thinking for the price of a not so fancy rig, we could go on two or three luxury vacations and have money left over.  The other drawback for us is traveling with Nathan!  He's portable, but not totally pot-able (100% night time toilet trained) due to colon surgeries.  That alone put a STOP to any thoughts of driving off into the sunset!  

Well, before we sit for any long spell in our rocking chairs, we've got a bit of life and living to do while we still have some get up and go.    

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

... You Know ....

... there comes a time when life relaxes a bit.  Not often, but once in a while.  Of late, all things on the home front seem to be in a rhythm.  The Mr. is set with his retirement routine (much to my delight), he helps out around the home taking care of some of my former duties.

Our garden is snow free.  We've been in the gulf stream generated by the pineapple express bringing much warmer temps than normal.  While I don't boast much about this deviation from our normal winter weather since much of the country is below and beyond freezing, it has been a nice break for our area.  This is the time of year I usually drag out my mini greenhouse and start planting garden seeds.

Nathan is doing so well on the GAPS diet .. having been on it for about three months now.  Moodiness 95% vanished as well as a host of inflammation problems with his skin.  He no longer craves carbs, shoulders have gotten more muscular and broad, less and less night time accidents, and NO MORE EXCESS OBNOXIOUS GAS!

God is good!