Monday, November 28, 2011

Harvest Monday 11/22-11/28 2011

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Not much to write about from this week. We were very busy making Thanksgiving dinner and only really harvested herbs for the meal and eggs. We were trying to let the lettuces have a chance to grow a little and this week will be full of salads and greens. We had a wonderful Thanksgiving meal and I will be writing about it sometime this week. We hope you all enjoyed your holiday!

We are linking up with daphne's dandelions, so go check out other harvests from the past week! :)

Friday, November 25, 2011

Black friday deals! This one goes through monday!

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Sseko Designs just introduced the Pleated Clutch! They are beautifully handmade purses...I can't decide which one to get! On top of that they are offering 20% off all sandals and straps til Monday! Here is your chance to be apart of their growing story...wear it or carry it with you!

If you can't decide what to get the special gal in your life...get them a Sseko Designs gift certificate!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The perfect gift for any gal...

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Us gals love shoes and these ones are for a good cause. These sandals are comfy, cute and can be changed up for any occasion...plus they help women. Check out all the different strap colors they have! The Stocking Stuffer Package is $65 and it comes with the soles and 3 pairs of straps...plus exchanges are free! If you need something under $65 just shop Sseko Designs.

Check out some of my other posts about my favorite shoes ever...

Every sandal has story...

Just few awesome things about Sseko's

30 days 30 way Sseko Sandal Challenge

30 days 30 ways Sseko Sandal Challenge the Beginning, Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4, Week 5, Finished

As you can see, I'm a bit obsessed and once you read the story you will be too! Check out what is coming on Nov. 25th...vimeo!

PS: I feel the need to share that I am not sponsored or paid to talk about Sseko's. I just simply love them and am inspired by their story.

How to make refried beans: updated

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Refried Beans. A staple in our home and a personal favorite. We used to buy canned, thinking they were inexpensive. Then I started making them at home and the difference in overall price is astonishing, and worth the few minutes of work it takes to prepare them. The taste is amazing compared to store bought...they taste like something, not just paste.

The following is my recommendation for excellent refried beans.

Ingredients:
1 lb dried pink beans (any bean will work, if you use pintos expect the refried beans to look grey)
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 medium onion, finely diced
salt
1/2 cup bacon grease (you can also use lard, we just prefer the taste of bacon grease, so we save all our bacon grease. We also use it to make masa for tamales instead of lard)

Here is how to do it:

Cook the pinto beans in a crock pot until the are very tender. We soak ours overnight first, then rinse, drain and place in the crockpot with water. Reserve the cooking liquid in order to make adjustments to your final product.

In a large skillet, heat your bacon grease on medium heat until rendered and hot. Then add your finely diced onion and your finely chopped garlic.

This is important. Add the salt now. I usually use a couple of teaspoons at least. This helps to bring out the juices in the onion and garlic without browning them. Don't let them brown. When they are translucent and extremely aromatic, add the cooked pintos with a slotted spoon. Stir constantly.  Then add the reserved cooking liquid in order to bring it to a good consistency. You will know how much liquid to add after you start smashing them with a potato smasher.

Turn the heat down and continue to make adjustments. Smash as much or as little as you prefer. I like mine chunky. You also need to taste to see if the salt content is right on.

Bon Appetite!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Harvest Monday 11/15-11/21 2011

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Little green pumpkin
We did not harvest much this week. I finally pulled this pumpkin and we are hoping it will still ripen up in the window sill. We of course had more salads this week, a mix of chard, kale, red romaine and deertongue lettuce. I forgot to mention last week that we harvested some tomatoes...they will be the last of this year because we finally pulled down the last 20 tomato plants this week. Pretty amazing to still have tomatoes in Nov. Our girls are giving us 4 eggs a day almost every day and on Saturday, my favorite girl South layed two eggs in one day. We are really looking forward to this coming week...Thanksgivings on Thursday! We had family in town this past weekend and family coming on Wednesday. I love the holidays!

We are linking us with Daphne's dandelions for harvest Monday! Have a great holiday week(end)!

Our peas are starting to get flowers...maybe to late?

Saturday, November 19, 2011

I love my lil' South (a chicken)

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Just pulled South's (our chicken we never thought would make it when she was a chick) second egg of the day...I love her so much! Yes she can be a brat but I can't help but love her...I guess I really am a momma!
This is a pic of her nesting area...no one else is allowed. I am now starting to think that maybe she is in charge, head of the pecking order. As you can see it is under the nesting box. :)


My favorite, South. A pretty tight fit...but I guess that's the way she likes it.

Oh and here is the new style nesting box with West in it. All our girls, except South are laying in it now. As you can see it is an old tub with the front cut out.

We are planning a chicken share., you commit to 1-2 chickens and receive said amt of eggs each week. Let us know if you are interested and close to where we live? One chicken would be about 6 eggs a week

We can start girls in Feb, which means 6-7 months til eggs but we almost always have extra eggs from our current girls. The eggs are so much better...its amazing.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Latest update on keeping our girls

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So the doctor just got off the phone with the code enforcers office...

Someone (most likely the college students behind us) called saying we had a rooster! Once we explained that we have them as pets for our son and that they are all girls, who are laying eggs, she cancelled the case! We let her know that we would be happy for her to come out and check to make sure there is no rooster if for some reason someone else complains.

Sorry for the drama I caused...I was just so worried and simply could not wait til monday to start researching. I also wanted to be as prepared as possible in case we did have to fight!

Thank you for all your support and our family is thankful for this to be over!

Harvest Monday 11/8-11/14 2011

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lots of oregano, set out to dry

four eggs a day pretty much every day
We also had salad this week from the garden a few times, a mix of red romaine, deertongue lettuce, red kale, and claytonia. The swiss chard is coming back nicely since its weird unidentified disease. We also harvest herbs for all our dinners straight out of the garden every night. Our mache is finally almost big enough to harvest a bit, I cannot wait to have some of it. We have one pumpkin still on the vine and I am holding off as long as I can to harvest it.

I posted a few days ago about how we were told by the county we have 30 days to get rid of our girls. I have been on forums and talking with neighbors trying to find a way around it. This morning I make the call to the county to find out exactly what are options are. We have a back up plan for our girls but I want to fight as hard as we an to keep them here with us. We have a neighbor (she is awesome and gave us a half gallon of raw milk, making butter and cheese today)  around the corner who can keep them with her girls for awhile if we need her to but I hope we don't get to that point.

It is really frustrating because our landlord is happy with them, our neighbors are happy and they are a part of our family. We are not allowed any other animals as pets but were allowed to get chickens so to us they are a pet. It will be hard to explain to the little guy (2.5 years old) where his little girls are. If anyone has any advice, it will be much appreciated. click for the latest update on keeping our girls

We are linking up with daphnes dandelions for Harvest Monday. It is were people from all over the world share their harvest from the week.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Help us keep our girls...

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We just received a notice from the county (Butte county) informing us that we are in violation of county code for having chickens. Our neighbors are okay with them and so is our landlord. If we were in city limits we would be able to get a permit for them but since we are outside we thought we thought were in the clear. I guess we are considered residential, so we are not allowed to have poultry. We have 30 days to get rid of the girls.

Please if you have any helpful information or ideas on how to combat this, we would greatly appreciate your help. Comment on the post or email me at violastitchstudio@live.com.

Ugh...one more thing to deal with. What harm can backyard chickens really be!?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Mashed Parsnips and Potatoes Recipe

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Mashed potatoes, a year round blessing but an important part of any Thanksgiving meal. This year we have chosen to make an addition of parsnips to our potatoes for a number of reasons:

They are high in fiber, which helps lower cholesterol, they are also high in folic acid and potassium. Even better the light hint of apple shines through the potatoes making them a surprise for everyone.

Cook them separately. I like to boil the potatoes cut up in small pieces with the skin on.

The parsnips need to be peeled, cut into small pieces and STEAMED. Make sure they are tender enough to mash with the potatoes. Steaming them, instead of boiling, will help retain their medicinal qualities.

When both are done and HOT, I mix them and smash them. The ratio is 1 medium parsnip to 1 large Russet potato. I slowly add a bit of heavy cream and lightly salted butter.

There is nothing better on this earth.

I do not like smooth potatoes, I like them smashed.  If you like then smooth then you will have to mill both the potatoes and parsnips with a rice miller and then follow your heart with the rest of the process.

If you have a favorite way to process your mashed potatoes...do it, just make the addition of parsnips as I have outlined and its all good!

I will post another article on phenomenal gravy to add to this.

Bon Appetit.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A preview for Thanksgiving

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After having gone through the process of dressing our Cornish Game Hens we decided to do a Pre-Thanksgiving run on our meal and this is an outline of what we did.

Stuffing a bird and cooking it is not only difficult but can be dangerous, so we decided to take a different approach for the meal we prepare for our actual Thanksgiving Day meal. Looking at the photo you see we stuffed then wrapped the buttered hen in bacon. I am going to outline a different way to do it. The following are the things we used to make our wonderful tester for the Holidays:

1 Cornish Hen cut in Half
Bacon rolled very thin inside a plastic bag to cover the hens completely
Chicken stock to help with the cooking and retention of moisture

For the filling, which we did separately, we used the following:

Fresh sweet corn cut off the cob uncooked
Finely diced yellow onions
Sliced carrots
Garlic
Paprika
Oregano
Plenty of sage (this makes a huge difference in the over all flavor profile of the dish) we used about 10 leaves

How did we do it?

Here we go...
We proceeded with preparation as follows:

Cut the hen in half lengthwise.
Bathe in butter.
Salt and pepper the hen.
Wrap in very thin bacon or, as I said, roll the bacon between plastic and carefully peel off and wrap the hen with it.

Cook the two halves in a nice dish, something you can present it with. I like to cook at a fairly high heat 375 degrees Fahrenheit for about 25 min. Internal temp 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Now the hens are done.

During the cooking process you have plenty of time to make your festive veggie salsa with the ingredients above. I like to saute the carrots first in a mixture of butter and high quality olive oil. Once they come close to tender, the rest goes in, save for the sage which will be the last to add. The mixture will then be hot enough to bring the oils in the sage out and really marry with the rest of the vegetables. The same goes for the oregano and the paprika.

Beets.  Beets.  Beets...

Boil them until tender. Peel and if small enough serve whole with just a taste of the stem still attached. It's very Haut Cuisine to leave these attached and they taste wonderful. I don't actually suggest spicing them. I like them plain, but olive oil of high quality in a small amount does wonders.

Salt potatoes are small red potatoes that are boiled in HEAVILY salted water. When they come out of the pot the skins are covered with crystallized salt. You should always serve these with HOT drawn butter.

Now you can assemble the dish by placing your hot veggie stuffing in the center of the plate, resting the bird on top of part of it and dressing the rest of the plate with the beets and potatoes with drawn butter over them.

The reality of raising your own fowl brings about taste and texture and portion sizing. We chose our smallest hen weighing in at 2lbs 3/8 oz. It fed my wife, my son and myself. We also made stock with the carcass. (I'll write about that and sauces later). Tender, Juicy, Delicious. Absolutely fabulous and better than any hen I have ever purchased. So there you go...it does pay off to do it yourself.

Bon Appetit!

If you have any questions about this recipe or amounts please feel free to comment or email us.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Harvest Monday 11/1-11/7 2011

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I did not take any harvest pictures this week...so here is a picture of one of the raised beds.
This raised bed has swiss chard, dragon carrots, red kale, spinach, parsnips, claytonia, mache, red romaine, beets, and deertongue lettuce. Along with a few random volunteers of garlic and onions.

We had salad all week from the garden, a mix of whatever was ready from the raised bed. Our first planting of root veggies never came up so our 2nd, 3rd, and 4th are a bit behind and will not be ready for awhile. Our swiss chard has something weird going on with it and I read through all our books to try and figure it out but I couldn't quite pinpoint it. So I just cut the bad away and I hope the new baby leaves will come back strong and provide for us soon.

We "harvested" 6 cornish cross birds this week and all four of our laying girls are laying. We are getting about 2-4 eggs a day now, which is awesome! Please send me any fun egg recipes or let me know if you want eggs (if you are near me, of course)!

We also built a "hoop" house (blog post to come) for the raised bed pictured and the rest currently have tarps over them at night. So far I feel like the fall/winter garden is going pretty well, especially since this is our first try! I am really loving it a lot more than I thought I would...there is something about eating out of your own backyard. I never want to stop...it is so enjoyable.

We are linking up with daphnes dandelions for Harvest Monday!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Halloween style

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Super Grover and Daddy at Treat Street downtown

I want more candy (even if I don't really get what is going on right now).

The other option...I do love chickens!
We had fun this Halloween because the little guy was finally old enough to kind of understand what was going on. I made him a Super Grover costume as requested and my mom sent him a chicken suit. He loved the chicken suit so much that I figured that is what he would end up wearing but he decided to be Super Grover to my surprise! I was happy because it actually took quite a lot of work to create the helmet (which he wears as much as possible now).

We all went to Treat Street downtown (craziness) and got a little candy (we only did one block since he so little). After it got dark we also went to three of our neighbors houses...I threw together a gypsy costume and the doctor dressed as a fat chef. We had a lot of fun and I can't image how next year will be. I hope you all had a great Halloween. We are linking up with mama loves papa for Small Style!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

My style (has changed)...

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I am a lover of all fashion. To me it is art...crazy...different...beautiful...artistic expression. Before the little guy came into my life I dressed very differently. I had my own style...a bit of the latest trend and a bit of my own desire. I still keep my own style but have a hard time wanting to spend a lot of time (or money) putting together the perfect outfit knowing that most of the time the garden, the girls (chickens) and the grocery store are the only ones who will ever see it.

I still try to pull myself together and most days (at least when its not blazing hot) I add a little of my own style to my daily attire. I still keep up with all the latest fashion...I'm a bit addicted. I often find myself checking out glamour.com or Lulus.com late at night...just seeing what is new (especially the shoes).

There is something to it that some people do not understand. Yes it is just clothes but it is also someones soul...maybe that seems silly and I can understand why. Some how it still entices me...draws me in...

Most days I admit I wear mens undershirts (the tank top style) layered under other shirts with basic jeans and boots or flats. I love hats and scarves...during the fall/winter/spring I wear them as much as I can. Fall is my favorite season to get up and get dressed...sounds silly but I feel like I can layer it all on and have a style of my own again.

All I can say is I love all artistic expression...


I'm inspired by the 20's

along with 60's Mod a la Twiggy

I also love my jeffrey campbell's
...I almost never buy shoes anymore but when I do get to splurge, I go with a pair of Jeffery's. They fit and I can wear them for over 8 hours...standing. Is that not every woman's dream...fab shoes that you can wear without your feet hating you forever? PS: I have this same pair in off-white toe, charcoal (where the rusty brown is), Silver (where the gold is) and mustard (where the dark blackish grey is)...are you jealous?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Super Grover Costume Part 2: Finished

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The Cape!

As you can see I ran out of yarn, Gnar doesn't notice it. :)

All finished and just in time for Halloween.

The little guy was not at all interesting in wearing the helmet until I had the cape finished. I don't really know why but now he is wearing the helmet as much as possible. It is all done and I got it finished the day before Halloween...perfect timing. Now onto the next project...

Winners for our first giveaway!

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As promised the first winner with the almost (well pretty much) correct guess is...

Emily from greens and jeans!

We "sun" dried some cherry tomatoes and late at night I turned off the oven and just left them. The next day my hubby (the doctor) pre-heated the oven...a few minutes later...well we all know what happened. :)

We promised a second winner and random.org tells us its...

#3-they look like elderberries to me. I'm liking you on facebook and I'd like to come see your homestead sometime soon-Claire (by the way Claire...we would love for you to come and see our homestead too!)

We loved all the guesses...so much fun! Winners: please email me at violastitchstudio@live.com with your address! If the winners do not contact me within a week, I will choose a new winner. (I emailed you both) :)
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