Saturday, January 26, 2013

A Winter Dusting...

We had just a bit of snow yesterday... enough to dust the farm.  The little ones were hoping for enough to play in... but there's still winter to be had.

At this point, Sadie had about enough of Mommy's photo shoot and was ready to go back inside. 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Homemade Whole Wheat Tortillas...

Sometimes the mother of invention is necessity... other times, you live in the country and it's out of sheer stubborn will to not run back into town.   Such was the story the other night when I decided to make Black Bean and Avocado Quesadillas (recipe below!) and discovered that I had no tortillas in the house.  This is not normal for us.  We usually have a package of whole wheat tortillas and flour tortillas in the fridge at all times.  Cheese quesadillas are on my littlest's list of staple foods.  But this particular night- I had none.   So I turned to Pinterest.   I found several tortilla recipes, and they all seemed simple enough- but we were really wanting whole wheat tortillas without it tasting like homemade cardboard.

We succeeded!!  The husband said that unlike store bought whole wheat tortillas these weren't brittle and falling apart and they were hearty enough to fill us up after just a couple quesadillas instead of making you feel hungry 10 minutes later!  I also seriously impressed the little ones by making my own tortillas... nevermind slightly impressing myself!

Here's what I did:

3 cups of whole wheat flour (you can also use whole wheat/whole grain white for a lighter texture)

1 tsp salt

1/2 cup vegetable oil

3/4 cup water (use more or less depending on the how dry/sticky the dough is)

Combine all ingredients until it forms a dough.  Knead the dough on a well floured surface until an elastic ball forms.   Pull 2 inch sections from dough and roll into a smaller ball with your hands, pat flat (at this point I used a rolling pin to get a more even flat circle-- then to get it even thinner and more tortilla like- I stretched the dough similarly to stretching pizza dough).  In a large frying pan, heat a small bit of butter or oil at medium heat on stove (butter yields a better flavor- but for a healthier option you could use olive oil or non-stick cooking spray).  Place tortilla in pan and let both sides slightly brown-- in other words-- when the dough starts looking all tortilla-y-- flip it!  Be careful as the second side browns quicker than the first!   Lay between a damp, but not wet, towel and it will keep the tortillas soft until you're ready to use them!

Then it came time to make dinner.  We are trying out "Meatless Mondays" around our house... but cheese quesadillas just didn't seem filling enough for the husband and I... so while the kids chowed down on their cheese quesadillas- so I ran to the pantry and this is what I came up with!

Black Bean and Avacado Quesadillas

1 can black beans (if you have all day to cook your own black beans- then by all means-- go for it!)

1/2 cup Greek Yogurt

1 package of Taco Seasoning (more or less to taste)

1 can of corn

1 avocado, diced

1 cup of shredded colby jack or mexican blend cheese (want it to be more cheesy?  Add a layer of this same cheese to the tortilla before spooning in black bean mixture)]

1 lime squeezed in (to taste) 

Drain and rinse black beans, drain corn, combine all ingredients and stir until thoroughly mixed.  
Lay tortilla in a well-oiled (or again buttered) pan (again best on medium heat).  Spoon in Black Bean mixture,  let the tortilla brown, fold tortilla over on itself and serve hot with your favorite salsa!  

Saturday, January 19, 2013

The value of a warm hearth...

This is our first year heating with wood.  Thanks to a gift of a wood burning stove from dear friends, our furnace is set at 60.  My sweet husband has been out chopping wood since the fall, scouring the farm for downed limbs, which thanks to the ice storm we had several years ago, are widely available.

I value the space around our hearth.  Not just value... I'm drawn there,  most mornings, you will find me in one of our rockers, sitting as close as I can to the stove.

We are learning how to evenly heat with the stove.  How to keep it stocked, how to best circulate the warm air, which woods are the best for which times of the day.  There's much to learn... and we are celebrating each moment.

One of the beautiful things about gifts of love is that their true value is hard to measure.  We have an amazing woodstove.  Seriously.  It rocks.   But the value of our woodstove doesn't lie in the tangible.   Everytime we look at it, we think of our sweet friends.  Friends who have traveled with us, celebrated with us, supported us and sustained us during our time in Chicago.   They were our family there.  They remain our family, even with the miles between us.  And without sounding cliche, in this gift, our hearth is warmed by more than just the embers within.   The value of friendship... simply consuming.

I also value hand knit woolens.  There are moments in the morning as we restock the fire after a long burning night, that the chill will cut your breath short.  60 degrees is colder than you think... and our furnace hums to keep us from dipping into the 50s.   I realized that knitting out of necessity makes your fingers fly just a bit faster.  I finished a pair of my now favorite socks in just a couple days because I now truly understand the need for warm toes... and not that my store bought socks don't keep my feet warm-- but there's something just right about handknit socks.  If you've worn them, then you know.

Our couch is covered in blankets, just waiting to be used. Quilts, fleece, afghans, and everyone has their favorite. My children, who most days would strip to their undies the moment we got home, have learned to value their jammies. They snuggle down in their beds each night and snuggle close to me each morning as they wake.

I value a hot cup of coffee more than before and more than that- I've discovered a few stolen moments with my husband as we pull the rockers up to the fire, mugs in hand and enjoy the silence of an early morning.

I have no way to repay our friends.  The gift they have given us is truly priceless.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Foreshadowing of Spring...

We were blessed with about 3 days in the middle of January that felt more like March.  We took full advantage of it!  There was wood to gather and chop, there was a chicken coop to clean... we started looking for more things to do just to enjoy the amazing weather.  60 degrees in January feels like cheating!

Kevin spent most of the evenings when he got home from work, out cleaning up one of our tree lines and cutting up down branches.  I will post more on this in the coming days, but we are absolutely LOVING our woodstove.  The opportunity to turn off our furnace (well, I say turn it off-- we lowered it to 60, I am not earthy enough to take coming downstairs to a house in the 50 degree range-- I know this revelation might take down some of my Pioneer Woman points, but so be it)

Knowing that the warmth wouldn't last for long- I wanted to spend some time really cleaning out and winterizing the chicken coop a bit more.  That meant cleaning out all the old hay, and let's get real here- a lot of poop-- and putting some fresh hay down for them.  We are actually not letting them out much anymore, at least until spring because we lost another hen to what we suppose is a hawk attack.  The predators are all getting a little desperate and this warm weather made everything go a little nutty.  We have 6 sweet girls left... and March is quickly approaching with chick days in tow and we will expand our brood yet again.

I felt like we chased the sun those days.   Like we were sneaking kisses from the sun.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Internet issues...

I apologize for the lengthy delay in posts... our internet has been down more than up for the past month or so.  And while our service provider has assured us that it's fixed... the blinky light on the modem suggests otherwise.  But we're up for now, so I'm going to try to schedule some of the posts I've been keeping offline while we've got connection!


Friday, January 4, 2013

New Year, New Hopes

There's something so lovely about a new year.  Fresh start, clean slate.  All things new.  A chance to renew our passions and refocus our hearts.  That is the mindset I have been in lately.  I've had one of those weeks in which the things around me seem to be singing in harmony.  Lessons I'm learning seem to find themselves at the pulpit Sunday morning, the sermon seems to be repeated on my favorite morning television show, the television show points me towards an author I just downloaded, who's words touch deep into the lessons I'm currently learning.  These are the moments I can't ignore.  And for me, they are all calling for renewal.

I'm a classically left-brained artistic soul.  But I do love me a good chance to be organized.  Kinda like a challenge.  So I've made myself and my homestead some goals for the new year.  I will add to and take away as we go... but it gives me hope.  I started by making myself a weekly sheet, daily sheets are good... but its sometimes hard for me to keep up with, and as a left-brained person, I need to see a bit more canvas than just one days worth.   I made it pretty, then put it into a frame and now I can use a dry-erase marker to keep myself accountable.

Then, I listed out a top ten of my goals for our homestead.  There's many, many more... but here's a look...

Some of them are personal to me, some are family oriented.  We are all excited about what this year holds. 

Blessings in this new year to you and yours, whatever journey you are on. 

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