Monday, March 16, 2015

Spring is Approaching

We have Common Grackles and Red-winged Blackbirds pretending to be leaves on our trees.  The grass is starting to green, tulips and daffodils are sending leaf shoots through the ground, and the buds on the fruit trees are beginning to swell.  Today the temperature reached 85 degrees.  Tomorrow we'll be in the mid 50's for a high temp.

We worked outside most of the day today.  We cleaned up the asparagus bed.  We trimmed low-hanging tree limbs and cleaned up the mess.  We're still working on cleaning up the tree line north of our house.  Dylan has been cutting out the trash trees and brush.  We've been stacking and burning on the days the wind cooperates.  We've also been gathering up and hauling junk that has been left by other families over the years.  There is everything from machinery parts to rusted sheets of tin, to barbed wire and even discarded cans and bottles.  It's been quite a lengthy process, but we're gaining.  Our long-term goal is to be able to plant ground cover and flowers in part of the area and be able to actually mow between the trees rather than have it all grown up in weeds all summer.  We'll see.

I have continued with crocheting so I'll have items to sell at the winter market as well as the upcoming craft shows in the spring and fall.  Pictured below is a pieced baby quilt.  This was my first attempt at machine quilting.  I bought a "walking foot" for my sewing machine which I used to "stitch in the ditch" around the pieced squares.  This quilt sold last week at winter market.  The baby size quilt works well with the regular sewing machine quilting.  I'm not sure I'd have the courage to try a larger sized quilt.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Slow Cooker Turkey Breast

This is one of those recipes that is so easy.  According to my daughter, this may not qualify as "cooking" because it is too easy.  To accomplish this, you basically remove the skin from a turkey breast, add a bunch of seasoning and cook in a crock pot.  The turkey will be moist and delicious!

Slow Cooker Turkey Breast

1 bone-in turkey breast (6 - 7 pounds)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon pepper

Remove skin from turkey breast.  Brush turkey with olive oil.  Combine the remaining ingredients; rub over turkey.  Transfer to a 6 - quart slow cooker.  Cover and cook on low for 6 - 8 hours or until tender.  Serve hot, or refrigerate and slice for sandwiches.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Crocheting to Keep Warm

We've had a run of cold weather!  Single digit temperatures and wind.  Not nice!  Obviously projects I've chosen to work on while it's cold include yarn.  The Pony Express Farmers' Market in St. Joseph is set up inside East Hills Mall.  Since we don't have many food items to sell in the winter, I've been adding to the sales table with hats, scarves, dishcloths, aprons, etc.  Baby items also sell well, so I've been making baby afghans, hats and booties.

The pictured items here are crocheted with pink camo yarn.  I did not follow a pattern for the blanket.  I just made it using a double crochet stitch.  Then I crocheted around it with a single crochet stitch on the first round and a shell stitch on the second round.  The hat was made with a pattern off the internet.  The baby "boots" pattern can be found at  The pattern number is WR1759.  The crocheted flowers I just made up on my own - no pattern.

This is a grey and white classic ripple afghan made with Red Heart yarn called "with Love."  It's made with a size K crochet hook and a single crochet stitch.  The dimensions are 26" X 28" approximately.  That's a nice size for a baby blanket or cover for the baby car seat/carrier.  You can find free patterns for chevron or ripple afghans on the internet.  Then, just choose your own colors.  I made this one using 5 rows of each color, starting and ending with the grey.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Watching the Weather and Watching Baseball

I'm sure lots of people watch the weather forecasts, but farmers typically take it to a higher level.  We are so much at the mercy of the weather when planning our day-to-day activities, that we watch and listen to weather forecasts several times a day and often from more than one source.  We need to know when it's going to rain, when it's going to be windy, and when it's going to frost and/or freeze.

The corn and soybean harvesting is going full tilt around here now.  It's been a long harvest season because there have been numerous rain interruptions.  We have harvested all our vegetables now except for the lettuce and spinach which we grow in a raised bed.  We had a hard freeze this past week, so we put a tarp over the raised bed; the spinach and lettuce are still growing.  I got all the houseplants moved inside before the freeze.  I even dug and potted my lavender and rosemary plants and brought them inside.

 They don't seem to be able to stand the winters here, however, the oregano flourishes.  Our mint and spearmint plants should be fine and I left the thyme in the ground too.  We'll see.

Speaking of watching.  I've watched a lot of baseball in the last couple of months.  We watched the St. Louis Cardinals and the Kansas City Royals in the playoffs.  Then, of course we watched the Royals in the World Series.  Unfortunately, the Royals lost to the San Francisco Giants in the final game.  But, it was a good series to watch.

I have to crochet while I watch baseball, because it drives me crazy just to sit.  Also, crocheting is good therapy for dealing with the anxiety when the games are close.  So, pictured here is the afghan I made during the playoffs and the series.  It's made using 2 strands of yarn held together and a size N crochet hook.  The color of yarn I used is called "Medium Thyme."  The dimensions of the afghan are 45" X 60."  The pattern can be found at  The pattern number is LW2684.  It is called "Weekend Throw."

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Seasonal Things

Lots of fall things are going on around here.  Most of our focus now is harvesting the rest of the fall produce (winter squash, sweet potatoes, radishes, turnips, green beans, and lettuce.  Then, we're also getting ready for winter.  The farm equipment that we won't need again until spring is getting put away in the barn and the machine shed.  We've been planting iris and tulip bulbs so spring will be pretty.  I'm finally painting the outside trim around the windows of the house.  We had replacement windows installed last year and I was too busy in the spring to get to it.  This summer our Bradford pear tree (which provides shade for the kitchen window) was broken off in a wind storm.  We replaced it with a Sun Valley maple tree.
 House plants are getting my attention now too.  I've been moving them inside, a few at a time.  Some need re-potting and some need dividing.  Some even need to be "rebooted," so I'm saving starts and throwing out the original plant.
 We have outdoor cats which we feed so they'll stay around as "organic mouse traps."  They do an excellent job hunting and capturing mice.  I spied these babies out sunning themselves and their mom was not around, so they posed for me long enough to take their picture.  The calico even let me hold it.  So cute!  I'm easily distracted by kittens.  Now, it's back to working on houseplants.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Wealthy Apples Make Wonderful Applesauce

This is still a busy time of year for us.  We're trying to manage the fall vegetable production and sales while working to get outdoor fall jobs and garden clean-up done.  Also, I'm in the last rounds of food preservation before winter.  I think I'm through with tomatoes; I made my last 2 batches of salsa on Sunday.  Last week I finished cooking Wealthy apples, making applesauce and putting it in the freezer.  It is so tasty!  Very little sugar or sweetener is needed.

I was curious where Wealthy apples got their name, so, of course I looked it up in Wikipedia.  Peter Gideon moved his family to Minnesota in the early 1800's.  The only apples that grew there were crab apples.  He bought apple seeds from a grower in Maine and crossed them with his Siberian crab apples.  Around 1868, when he finally managed to get some trees to survive and produce apples, he named them "Wealthy" apples after his wife whose name was Wealthy (Hull) Gideon.  I would say this is a positive example of genetically modified food!

This first picture is the apples getting washed before I quarter and core them and put them in my big soup pot to cook.  I just add 1 cup of water to the pot to start the cooking; put a lid on and set the heat at medium. When they start to boil, turn the heat down and stir occasionally.
 After the apples are fully cooked and become "mushy", put them in a food mill to separate the peelings.
Add a little sugar or sweetener and cinnamon (if desired).  Put in containers, leaving plenty of headspace for expansion, label, and freeze.  
So, now that the Wealthy apples are finished, it's on to Jonathan apples.  This week I'm starting on apple butter.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

I Spent the Day Chopping!

That's right; chopping, not shopping!  I think I'm as tired as I would be if I'd been shopping all day, especially because I'm not a shopper.  I do have lots of salsa to show for my day of chopping.  And, that's great because all these wonderful tomatoes make salsa that is soooooo good!

I've used up about 35 pounds of tomatoes today, so that helps.  I haven't made any marinara sauce yet this season, so that's probably next on the list.  I have made tomato juice, but we can always use more of that this winter and I haven't chopped and frozen any tomatoes yet, so I'll have to remember to do that.  Frozen, chopped tomatoes are always a good addition to vegetable soup.