Thursday, May 13, 2010

Yummy recipe

I enjoy cooking and, if I do say so myself, I am pretty good at it. One of my talents is making up new recipes on the spot with whatever I happen to have lying around. I recently made a dish that came out extra good so I thought I'd post it here in case anyone else would like to try. Since I just kind of threw it together, I don't have a lot of exact measurements so I can only say to add stuff to your goes!

1 pound of ground beef (I used local grass fed)

6 tablespoons of butter (this needs to be exact)

6 tablespoons of flour (this needs to be exact)

3 cups of milk (this needs to be exact)

1 bunch of asparagus

1 onion chopped

Extra virgin olive oil

Spices - I used pepper, basil and thyme

1 pound of pasta - I used whole grain wheat

Mixture of cheeses - I used American, provolone, raw milk Cheddar and raw milk farmhouse jack. Basically just what I had in my cheese drawer.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

Set a pan of salted water to boil.

In a frying pan, heat up a couple tablespoons of olive oil. Once it is hot, throw the onion in and saute until soft. Try not to let them get burned.

By now, water should be boiling, add pasta and cook according to package directions.

Once the onion is soft, take it out and put the ground beef in the pan. Brown that and then drain out any fat. Add the onion back in and the spices. Also add the asparagus. Lower the heat and cover so that everything simmers together.

In a sauce pan, melt the butter over low heat. Once the butter is melted add the flour and whisk together constantly. Do not let this mixture sit because it burns and clumps very fast. (This is called making a roux - it is the base for many sauces and gravies. My Dad taught me how to do this. The proportions that we have always used is two tablespoons of butter and two tablespoons of flour to one cup of liquid.) Once the butter and flour are well mixed, slowly add the milk, whisking the whole time. This mixture will eventually thicken up into a nice sauce. As long as you can keep whisking the whole time, you can go ahead and put the heat to medium so it doesn't take as long. While whisking, add in your cheese. I'd say I probably used around 2 - 2.5 cups of cheese but I'm not sure. I just tossed cheese in until I thought I had a nice mix of flavors and a good ratio of cheese to milk so that it would get thick and cheesy but not too thick. Once the cheese is melted and the sauce is thick and creamy - turn off the heat and remove the pan from the heat. Keep whisking just a bit longer to make sure no burning or clumping takes place.

In a 9 x 13 baking dish, mix all the stuff together. Pop it in the oven and let cook for around 15 minutes. The baking time is just to kind of let it all settle in together. I timed it by taking it out when my husband got home so you can experiment with different cooking times if you want. Maybe even add some kind of bread crumb topping? I was too lazy for that.

Anyway - that's it. I hope you like it! I'm sorry I don't have a was really pretty especially with the nice bright green pieces of asparagus...

On a related note....if you come across fiddlehead ferns at your local grocer - give them a try! They are quite tasty :) I sauteed them with mushrooms and leeks...yummy!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Countdown to Chickens!!!

The plan is to start keeping chickens here on our lovely little patch of land. It is the first step towards our attempt at homesteading. We are hoping to eventually move from laying chickens to meat chickens...having a very large and varied veggie garden...some berry bushes....keeping bees....any maybe a pig....and maybe a couple of mini-goats...and if we can buy the piece of land behind our house...a cow...and maybe a llama...and a pony for the kids...

But anyway - chickens first. And first before the first chickens...we need a coop! Some friends of mine did get the chicks first and then built a coop for when the chicks were ready to move in but, I gotta do the prep first - that's just me :)

I read the following book on chickens:

It was okay - had great pictures of the breeds but...on one page it said to wash the eggs. It basically intimated that eggs are laid in places surrounded by bacteria and that as the egg cools it sucks the bacteria into itself so the egg should be washed. But, I'd always thought that washing an egg was bad, by washing the protective coating that actually keeps bacteria out is removed. Which, oddly enough, the book points out later on. So, I am a bit unconfident of the book's contents. It also suggests using a lot of chemicals like flea powerders and virucides that I don't want anywhere near my chickens, children and eggs. And it was very restrictive on the types of scraps it recommended when I thought that chickens benefited from a very wide and varied scrap supplement to their daily diet. More research is clearly needed (I love research!)

I have two other chicken books on the way:

Hopefully the information in those books will be a bit more reliable...

***By the way, I do know most info is online but there is just something so nice about having it in book form...I am starting to collect homestead type books and am looking forward to having a lovely country crafty bookshelf with all my beautful agri-books :)***

But anyway, I digress...the first step is the chicken many styles to choose from! Right now, I like a coop that is up high with a small chicken run underneath and easy access to allow the chickens out to the yard. External nesting boxes easily accessed from the outside of the coop. And some type of very simple trap door or tray method of cleaning the bottom of the coop daily.

Another small bit of prep work we have to do is fence in the rest of the kids play area. It is all sand and I do not want the chickens wandering in there and pooping all over where the kids play. I know they'll poop on the lawn too but, that just seems different...

So, once that is all done - we get to pick and buy the chickens!!! I found one place that looked good on craig's list and the woman replied back right away but I have not heard back from her since when I asked a follow up question about visiting the farm...

Anyway, we are considering:

Orpingtons (hopefully black)
RI Reds

If you have an opinion or any other ideas - let me know! Another draw back of this book is that it actually inspired me to try to find a pure breed instead of a hybrid but, it doesn't tell me which of the breeds it lists are which. I think all of the above are hybrids...But, for now, we'll go with a hybrid since they lay more eggs and we eat a lot of eggs. If we have room for more chickens later, I'll try harder to find a pure breed.

So, that's it for now....I'm so excited to get our chickens that I just had to post about it. I'll keep updating as things happen.


The other day we went for a walk with friends to a really pretty spot. Locals refer to it as the Daffodil Fields but the proper name is Parsons Reserve. Every spring, hundreds of daffodils bloom creating a blanket of yellow flowers. Unfortunately, the blooms had already faded by the time we got there. We did get to see some pretty little wild flowers though which always bring back such nice memories for me of walks in the woods behind my house when I was younger.

Here is a link to the reserve's website in case anyone wants to plan a visit next year.

This is what it looked like by the time we got there:

Parking is across the street and there is a small playground, outhouse and river.

While we were at the playground there was a momma goose, daddy goose and baby geese - so cute!

On a related note, a robin has built a nest on the covered portion of our deck. I sure hope the robins don't mind all our comings and goings so they can keep the eggs warm! I got a picture of the eggs and hope to get a pic of the chicks after they hatch.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Earth Friendly Baby!

I'm very excited to be going back to cloth diapering. I always felt guilty about using disposables but my cloth diapers were just NOT working out. They smelled awfully funky which I thought was due to our poor water. Some friends today told me though that the brand I had was notorious for stink issues. So, I bit the bullet and bought nice new easy to use pre-folds. I can't wait for them to come in! I got some really cute covers too. One has a cow pattern on it that I am very excited to use :). There is also a wool cover coming to that I will use at night.

Hopefully I will post some pics when I get the new stuff. For now, here's one of Anika in one of the few non-stinky brand diapers and cover that I had...

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


Today I went outside with Sam and Anika and moved a shrub from one spot to another. Sam sure was cranky! Was not happy with anything we were doing even though he ordinarily loves gardening. Being the cracker jack mom I am, I realized he was tired. Off to the swing we went to swing to sleep. He knew he was tired and asked for the "squeaky" swing since that is actually the one he can fall asleep in. The other one he would fall off of. Anyway, I popped him on and started swinging him. Took a while for me to find a good spot to stand as Anika was in the carrier on my back and I wanted her out of the sun but I needed to be able to push the swing. Finally, I find a good spot and get settled.

After a few minutes, I notice that Anika is quite still. I pull out my cell phone and use the black screen as a mirror to check on her. She's fast asleep. One down, one to go.

I started to notice Sam's head getting just a little bit floppy. A quick peak under his hat revealed those big brown eyes still open but very sleepy. A few minutes later, he is out....

As the swing starts to slowly cease its movement now that I no longer have to push, I notice the other sounds in my yard. The most noticeable sounds are all the birds. I love to hear them sing! I have a feeding station set up with a few feeders and they seem to like it.

As I stood there with my sleeping children, listening to the birds, I realized how thankful I was to be there, in that moment. I am so thankful to live in a place where the loudest sound is birds! I am so thankful that I am in tune enough with my children to know when and how to get them sleeping when needed. I am so thankful that my commute to work simply involves carrying a sleeping child to his bed and then moving to the kitchen island to stand while Anika continues to nap.

Life has been very hectic lately and I always feel very far behind in all that I need to do. It is days like today that help me to realize that I am actually doing quite a bit raising my kids to love nature and to hopefully set an example to become good parents themselves. So, most of all, I am thankful when I realize that I can give myself a break and a pat on the back!


I live in RI, I would like to get some chickens. I want to be able to search for chickens online. I do NOT necessarily want RI Red chickens. Can you see the difficulty here????

That's it for today.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Hospital Stay

Before I write this, I just need to put a note here to my Mom...***in case you have stumbbled across this blog someday... I am exploring my feelings on your recent hospital stay hope that is okay....***

My Mom took a bad fall over the weekend and is now in the hospital. Two broken shoulders one of which required surgery. It's scary to see an older parent in the hospital. I guess I worry that the first occurance will be followed by more until "the end." I'm not sure why I have this fear. It seems like a slippery slope kind of thing like, if a person can avoid going to the hospital that first time, they won't ever get sick or hurt other times...I know that doesn't make much sense, it's hard to explain what I am thinking. The hospital just makes someone look so much frailer than they are in real life. It is scary. And sometimes, even when the person has gone home, they for some reason seem older and frailer than before. It makes it seem like death could be closer than before. I can say though that these were mostly fears I had before going to see my Mom the first time. After I actually saw her, she seemed like herself...groggy and in pain but not frail and sickly. I was very relieved. Hopefully there will be no more visits.

And now a bit of a rant...

Why do many members of the hospital staff speak to the patients like they are children??? I don't know why they do it and it is so irritating! Like, nails on the chalk board irritating - makes me want to scream! I know they are trying to be nice and it is tough for them that no one knows what the heck they are talking about since we haven't all been to medical / nursing school so they are probably trying to "dumb it down" but all the "honey" and "sweetey" and sickening sweet voice just doesn't seem necessary. But, I do have to admit, I haven't heard any of the actual patients complain so maybe it works. One doctor was being so ANNOYING at least from my point of view...using all those terms of endearment and saying words in Spanish like she thought my Mom couldn't understand even though she knew my Mom is actually a medical interpreter so actually has a very good understanding of the words in Spanish and English. I figured my Mom was going to get really irritated but then she told me how nice the doctor was...and my Mom has no patience for people who annoy her. So, maybe it is just me that doesn't like the way the staff talks...

Oh well...time to get ready to go visit...should be interesting bringing to small children with me...hope it goes okay...