New Culinary Successes

This summer has brought a few new tricks to my culinary tool belt.

I thought I would share them with you in case you might benefit from them.

The first time I met my neighbor Jen she was cutting up watermelon. I was so intrigued by the technique that I immediately started doing it. She got the idea from Pinterest  so I’ll share the photos from that site.



We ate so much watermelon this year because of this way of cutting it up. It just makes it so easy to prepare and to eat.

I have had tomatoes coming out of my ears this summer. There are still red ones out there as well as green. Looking for different ways to preserve them I came across “tomato powder”. I really like it. You dry tomatoes and then grind them up in a blender or food processor.


It is very handy. You can add it to anything your little heart desires. Another nifty use is take two tablespoons mixed with two teaspoons of water and you have tomato paste. I don’t know about you but I have a lot of recipes that call for two tablespoons of tomato paste.

I have a cayenne pepper plant that is still going gang busters. I removed all the red peppers, cut them into about one centimeter pieces and then dried them. Once they were dried (actually it was a few days later because I kept forgetting about them…one of the few down sides to having a canning kitchen … the garage) I gave them a whirl in my trusty Vita Mix and now I have home made cayenne pepper.


Isn’t it purty?

Pickles. They were new to me last year and our whole family immediately demanded politely requested that I add them to the summer canning list.

This year we planted and grew our own pickling cucumbers. I’ll tell you, they were slow to start. A cucumber here. A cucumber there. Certainly not enough to make anywhere near a full canner load. Then my dear friend Kirsten introduced me to “Jan’s Damn Good Garlic Dills”. Not only are these pickles to die for but equally important they are refrigerator pickles that can be added to as long as you have the space in the jar. To make sure of that I used half gallon jars….six half gallon jars so far.


Another new favorite is that cucumber lemonade I’ve told you about. We LOVE it. I am however taking a short cut by using frozen lemonade concentrate instead of the lemon juice and simple syrup. Here is the original post (it is at the bottom of the post). Don’t be afraid to give it a try.

I can’t believe I haven’t told you guys about this one yet. A better, faster, easier way to process tomatoes. When you are going to use tomatoes to make tomato sauce or ketchup it takes a lot of work. The first part is easy. Just wash them, quarter them and heat them in a large pot. It is the next part that is tedious. Putting them through a food mill. It takes a long time and makes my shoulder tired. Since I have a Vita Mix blender I decided to try using it on a batch of ketchup. The Vita Mix will liquefy anything so I thought I would test it on tomato skin and seeds  (usually removed with a food mill). Hallelujah! It worked. Not only did it make a smooth puree but you get more volume because you are using the whole tomato! I ended up with 18 half pints. This is a definite trick for my canning that I will keep.

Next summer I will be more adventurous with my garden. This year, life on a farm was about as much adventure as I can handle.

Ta Ta for now.





Posted in Canning, Chores, Preserving, recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Animals, Shop, Garden and a Little Fun

I thought you might enjoy some pictures of the animals.

The chicks sure have grown a lot.

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The Barred Rock chickens are very sociable. Our chicken coop has a door that leads out to an enclosed pen. I think that the Ameraucana chicken’s head looks like an eagle. The Australorp are the all black ones. I like the shape of their bodies. They liked my ring and kept pecking at it.

Here are our geese.

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They had been getting out by squeezing through our fence by the orchard. They would end up at various neighbors houses as well as the orchard. They love the fallen apples. Michael and the boys fixed the fence so now they stick within our boundaries.

The goats have been inside more since the rain began. Nigerian Dwarf Goats originally came from the area near the equator. They like warm, dry climates. They don’t like rain. I am in complete agreement with them. I should have been born in an equatorial country that has siestas.

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Michael has done a lot to the inside of his shop.

Added shelves.


Added peg board for his tools.


He gave some space to the boys as well.


One of the biggest reason for a shop was to have more space to work on our vehicles. Here is my car getting some work done. Look at all that space around the car.


Our garden is starting to dwindle. We are still picking ripe tomatoes. With the rain we are finding a lot of split ones to give to the chickens. Amazingly, the zucchini is also still producing. Finally the winter squash plants are beginning to die back. Once it has died back completely we will harvest all of it.


Last but not least here is how my guys have fun when the chores are done.

Airsoft wars. They really get into their play time.

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I hope you all had a great weekend.



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Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum

On Sunday we bought a family membership at the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum in McMinnville.


The site houses four buildings. Aviation, Space, IMAX theater and an indoor water park.

We went to the IMAX 3-D showing of D-Day: Normandy 1944. Excellent. Not only informative but very emotional. It looks like they show about five different movies a day. I want to see Jerusalem 3-D next time we go.

When you approach the aviation building there is this huge statue of Capt. Michael King Smith. He and his father were the visionaries of the museum. Here is a link about him.


The main attraction to the museum is the Spruce Goose.


I wasn’t able to get a picture of the whole plane. It is just too big. The plane was commissioned as a way to get troops and supplies across the Atlantic Ocean. The German submarines were blowing up so many Allied ships that the idea of a large cargo plane made sense. The idea was given to Howard Hughes but unfortunately the plane wasn’t finished until the war was over. You can read more here.

The museum has a lot of really neat planes. So much history is visible here. They have a replica of the Wright brothers plane.



As well as many others. Here are just a few pictures.

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We spent all of our time after the movie in the aviation building. With the membership we can take our time and really enjoy the exhibits.

They also have homeschooling classes once a month.

Oh, and then there is the room that has some scientific activities such as: trying to land an airplane on a carrier, “flying” a simulated hover craft, and many more things.

The WWII dog fight video game “Blazing Angels” was a big hit.



So, not only is it great to have such an educational and fun place to go, but we spent the entire afternoon there. We did a little bit of chores in the morning and then went and had fun together as a family. No wonder the end of harvest was celebrated every year.

Enjoy your week,


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It’s Apple Harvest Time

Woohoo? When you have sixteen apple trees you really do question whether it is a good thing.

The first thing I did was take one of each type of apple that we have and cut it up to sample.


We don’t know the name for each type of apple. I know that we have Granny Smith (3 trees), Red Delicious (3+ trees), Yellow Delicious (2 trees), Gravenstein (1 tree), Early Transparent (1 tree), and Johnathan (2 trees). Some trees didn’t produce any fruit this year. All of the trees need serious care. Pruning and pest control. It will take years to get this orchard producing at maximum capacity. Hmmm. Do I even want it to produce at maximum capacity? I’ll have to ponder that question in my free time. Oh yeah, I don’t really have free time!

Michael and the boys left for errands on Friday and I picked almost all of the apples. Some junky ones I gave to the geese. Some I couldn’t reach (and I had strict orders not to be climbing on ladders… tree I was able to climb without a ladder!). Here is what I was able to collect.


I actually forgot about the two trees in the front of our house so Joshua picked those and added a sixth basket to the haul.

What to do with so many apples? Personally, I’m not a fan of apple pie. Don’t get me wrong. If I have a sweet tooth and apple pie is the only sweet thing available I’ll eat it. But as the chief cook and food preserver for the family I’m not going to go to the effort of canning apple pie filling when I don’t like it. Let’s just call it the one and only perk of being chief cook and food preserver for the family.

My mind has been pondering what to do with all these apples long before I picked them. My dear, talented husband planned on building us an apple cider press. I, knowing how busy he is right now, called some rental companies and finally found Reid Rentals in Newberg. For $40/day we could be done with all the apples. We both agreed it was a reasonable price and so we rented it. Michael will make us a cider press this winter, when there is less stuff to do outside.

Here it is.


It has a motor for the chopper which kept the mess outside of my already dirty kitchen. You just turn it on and drop the whole apples in.


It has two of the containers so that once you get one full of chopped apples


you can slide it forward to under the pressing mechanism and still be chopping apples. It makes things go much faster.

You put the wooden lid on top of the chopped apples



and then twist until you can’t twist anymore,


and then you bring in the muscle.


The juice just drains out the end.


Here is about half way through the process.


Those are half gallon jars. We ended up with 7 gallons of cider. In about two hours.

I was not helping with the making of the cider. I had another test project that I was working on.


I picked the nicest Johnathan and Granny Smith apples and cut them up for apple crisp. Now that I LOVE. I could eat any fruit crisp EVERY day. The test project came into play in that I froze the apples. I have been told that you can freeze uncooked apple crisp and then bake it whenever the need arises (that would be every day in my book). I don’t have enough baking dishes that I can put an actual apple crisp in the freezer so I decided to just freeze bags of sliced apples. I ended up with three gallon size bags.

When the cider making was finished I began the process of canning it. I put some fresh in the refrigerator and canned the rest. Have you every heard the saying “A watched pot never boils”? Well, let me tell you. A not watched pot boils VERY QUICKLY! The instructions on canning the apple cider was to bring the cider up to 190 degrees and hold there for five minutes. Nope, never happened. I would check the temperature and think “Oh, it has a ways to go” and then go do something else (remember, my canning kitchen is in the garage) and I would come back and the thing is boiling away. And apparently on the temperature scale 190 degrees is just a quick jaunt to the next room away from 212 degrees.

So, if you want to know the taste difference between “properly canned” apple cider and fresh apple cider I’m afraid we won’t be able to tell you. I will, however, be able to tell you that the difference between fresh apple cider and boiled apple cider is minimal.

Enjoy your day,




Posted in Canning, Garden, Preserving | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Stuffed Peppers

My dear friend Kirsten gave us pepper plants when we moved to the farm. One of the plants is called Marconi Peppers.

Last week I decided to stuff them. I Googled and found a recipe on The Food Network that I made some changes to. Everyone loved them. So much so that I made a second batch a week later. Since they were so popular I decided to share my version of the recipe.

First you finely chop celery, onion and bell pepper.


Then you saute the mixture in oil until soft. Add to it some garlic and  Italian Sausage. Once that is cooked add a half of a brick of cream cheese. Stir until thoroughly mixed and take off of the heat. Add a few shakes of Tabasco Sauce.

Marconi Peppers are long , thin and mild in taste. I cut them in half and took out the seeds.


I enjoy these peppers so much that they are going on the plan for next year’s garden. Once they are prepped you just stuff them.


They bake in a 400 degree oven for 15 – 20 minutes. I made two trays to use up all of my peppers and to ensure that we will have leftovers for lunch. I am sure any pepper would work. Bell Peppers would be mild or you could go the route of spicy with an Anaheim or Poblano pepper.


Here is the recipe:

Stuffed Peppers

Makes : 8 thin peppers or 4 Bell Peppers


3 tablespoons cooking oil

1 cup chopped celery

1 bell pepper, chopped

1 onion, chopped

1.25 lbs Italian Sausage

3 garlic cloves, minced

4 ounces cream cheese

Tabasco to taste

Peppers, cut in half


Add oil to a fry pan over medium heat. Saute celery, bell pepper and onion until soft. Add the sausage and the garlic. Cook, breaking up, until done. Remove from heat and stir in the cream cheese. Once thoroughly incorporated add tabasco.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Stuff peppers with meat and cheese mixture. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until peppers have softened.

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do.


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Water Logging

One of the projects Michael wanted to get done this weekend was pulling old logs out of the creek. The water is really low and it seemed a good time to do it. We will leave some logs for the fish but it has too many in it and they must be pulled out.

Here is what this bend in the creek looks like prior to the water logging.


Michael had to cut some of the logs to make them more manageable.

He hooked up a chain to the log and used the tractor to pull it out.




There was one stubborn log. It was quite large. Michael had already cut a lot off but it was still very heavy. It is the one that shows a sawed off section in the front.


It was so heavy that it “broke” the tractor.


God is good. I prayed that Michael would be able to fix it and it wouldn’t cost us much money. Michael fixed it without having to buy anything.

So they were able to continue. Here is the pile of logs by the time they called this project “done for now”.


And here is that bend in the creek with some of the logs removed.


Water logging is done for today.

Posted in Boys, Chores | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

My Mornings

Well, it is no longer light at 5:00 am and it certainly isn’t as warm/dry. But other than that my mornings are just about the same. Seven.days.a.week.

I wake up somewhere between 5:00 and 5:30. After the usual shower and getting dressed I sit down in the “sun room” (can it really be called a sun room when it is still O’dark thirty?) and do my Bible study. If I am really on top of things I’ll get a head start on my Latin homework. It is really annoying but my boys can do it so much faster than I can so I try to get a head start so I’m not left in the dust.

Once the sun has risen enough to head to the barn without a flashlight I go outside. I am immediately greeted by Luke.

He whines and paws me for attention.


He wants to be petted in a bad way. It is as if he is saying “All night long I have been without petting. I need a bunch and I need it NOW.”


This takes a few minutes and in the mean time kitty sneaks into the house.


Once Luke allows me to divert my attention for a few seconds I get kitty outside and feed him.


Then I attempt to put on my boots. Luke of course does all he can to stop me because he still needs a lot more petting. He will get between me and my boots, knock my boots over, sit on my boots. As a last resort he will go over to the cat food and start to eat it. I tell him to stop at which point he runs back over to me wanting more petting. If he doesn’t get it he goes back to the cat food (all the while glancing back to see if I notice) and then I tell him to stop which he takes as an invitation to more petting.

Finally. I can head out to the barn. Mornings lately have been foggy and damp.


I don’t mind the fog. I think it looks pretty cool.


Now when the constant rain comes that will be a very different story.

My morning barn duties include opening up the barn doors so they get some fresh nice smelling air. I top off all the water buckets and hay feeders. I sweep off the poop that they leave on their benches. Twice a week both boys and girls get a little bit of grain with an herbal worm formula in it.

Aren’t they cute?



Then it is off to the chickens. I feed them a fermented chicken feed. Basically it is just chicken feed soaked in water. We call it “gruel”. It makes the feed more digestible and brings out a lot more of the vitamins and minerals. I do this because it is better for them. Then I open the door to their enclosed outside area. Put more dry feed in the water and clean up a bit.

All of this takes about a half hour. Since it isn’t light until almost 7:00 I usually have to rush back to the house to wake the boys up at 7:30.

By then the fog has lifted.


So, it isn’t as easy as life was in the city. And it is an every day thing, but the animals are so cute and so loving that it makes it enjoyable.

Just a little peak into life on our farm.

Enjoy the day,


Posted in Animals, Chores | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

New Happenings Over the Weekend

Hi there,

We had some fun stuff going on over the weekend.

We decided that the chicks were big enough to roam the coop. We put them in the wire enclosed outside portion of their chicken coop while Joshua and Nicholas spread the pine shavings on the floor inside the coop and set up the water and feeder.

They hang out pretty close to the wall of the coop when outside. Each day now they venture just a little bit farther away from the wall.


Here they are with all their new space. Now they can spread out a little.


This amount of space requires A LOT of shavings so we had to go to town and buy some more.

Joshua and I took Halle Berry and Brown Sugar for a pasture walk. We like them to eat the blackberry starts. They love to eat them and we don’t have blackberries growing everywhere so it is a win win.


Another reason we took them for a little walk was to give ourselves something to do while we waited. Waited for what you ask? For the BOYS to arrive.


Our dear friend Bryn is boarding her Nigerian bucks with us. She brought them down in the back of her truck and we unloaded them into their stall.


The boys stall is directly across from the girls stall. The girls were just looking at them. Halle with more of a “Great, boys.” While Brown Sugar showed much more curiosity.

Like the girls, they too have an outside area they can freely access during the day. It is much smaller than the outside area the girls have but boys need much less space.


Meet Surfer Joe


And this is Woody


Last, but not least is Calvin


They are quite different from our ladies. They are in rut now so they have a foul  unsavory interesting stench smell that lingers about them. It isn’t really that bad of a smell. And to a female goat it can be quite alluring. They also like to push each other around. They will rear up and head butt each other. It’s a dominance thing. Just between you and me…..they have a lot in common with pre-teen male behavior at times. Just saying.

They also will make funny faces.



Oh, and they will pee on their own face. Go ahead and thank me in the comments for not including a picture of that one.

We are thrilled to have them join our family. We will take great care of them Bryn.

Such a face.



Hugs from our family farm.


PS: I made more cucumber lemonade and this time I just used a can of frozen lemonade concentrate. Only added three cans of water. Awesome and even easier.

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Various Things

Well it is Friday and time to focus on chores. Over the past ten days or so I have snapped a few pictures of some things that have interested me. Here they are…

One day I went outside and happened to look down at our door mat that is just before you step up to the deck. Right in the middle of the mat was this teeny, tiny cute little baby mouse ( I avoided the thoughts of how close it was to getting into my house). I called Joshua and we got a picture of him/her.


Last Friday morning around 9:00 we noticed some boys out on our property at the northern end near the forest. Michael (and the rest of us) watched them with binoculars and when he noticed them taking some garden tools we had in the area he quickly hopped onto the dirt bike and when and “had a stern talking to them”. Here he is doing that….


Another evening I walked outside and noticed how pretty the setting sunlight looked on the (nearly) Fall trees. Pretty isn’t it? God is so thoughtful to give us such beautiful colors during Fall….


Michael had a load of gravel delivered for the shop.

Remember the chicken that liked to play “King of the Hill”?


Well apparently geese do as well….


Again, I had not visited the garden in a number of days. When I went to pick things that were ready I ended up with about 15 large cucumbers. About two weeks prior I discovered a way to quickly use up cucumbers. It is called cucumber lemonade. Here is how I make it…

Slice up a cucumber or two                                  Then slice it into chuncks

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Put it in a blender or food processor                  and puree thoroughly

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Then strain it. The first handful of times I made it I just used a fine mesh sieve. This time I was doing 10 cucumbers so I used my jelly bag method. I ended up with 3.5 quarts of juice. It doesn’t take long to strain. Just don’t force it by pushing it through. You will end up with more pulp in your lemonade which isn’t a bad thing. It is just about your preference.

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I found a recipe on Allrecipes and adjusted it to suit us.

1 cup water

1 cup sugar

2 cups cucumber juice

1.5 cups lemon juice

water to taste

Mix your water and sugar on the stove over low heat until the sugar is dissolved. This will make a simple syrup. Let it cool.

Mix the cucumber juice and the lemon juice together and add cold water to taste. Stir in the simple syrup to taste.

My family really likes it and I like that I have found another way to use up my cucumbers.

Off to do chores. Enjoy the rest of your day.


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Roasting Tomatoes

Life is busy. Harvest. School. Chores. Appointments.

Do you remember this picture?


Well those ended up being two loads in the food dehydrator. I tried slicing them on the thick side by hand. Missed using my mandolin which makes things go lighting fast but we like the texture of the thicker slices.

In the midst of doing that I realized I have a garden as well as an orchard. I walked around the garden this afternoon and realized I had a bunch of plum tomatoes that need to be canned as well as some big slicer tomatoes. Well, I still had dinner to make and so the canning was not an option. I prayed and God reminded me of how easy it is to roast tomatoes.

First I line a baking sheet with foil and spray it with cooking spray. Then I dump sliced tomatoes and garlic on the pan and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

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I used a variety of fairly meaty tomatoes. I don’t know the names of any of these as they were given to us by our wonderful friend Bryn.

I roast them at 350 for about an hour. You really need to keep an eye on them as each tomato has a different water content and can cook faster or slower because of that.

I had five trays all together and thankfully since I have four ovens I was able to cook them all at the same time.

The smaller tomatoes cooked faster than I expected. I could have taken them out a little sooner.


These ones look better.


They will still be delicious. I like to put them in Ziploc freezer bags and then bring them out during the winter and make something wonderful and full of summer flavor. I have pureed them with cream and fresh Parmesan cheese for a wonderful pasta sauce. In the past I have roasted cherry tomatoes and those go nicely in a stew or taco soup.

The stress of this past week is taking its toll. I wish I was one of those moms who handled it better. But alas, I am not. I get grumpy. Focused on the tasks before me and forgetting the innocent bystanders (a.k.a: love ones). I am glad we are back to Bible Study Fellowship. The boys and I had our first night on Monday. It is good to be back in the Word.  I’m even happier that my eternity doesn’t depend on me behaving perfectly. I have a savior who did that for me and imparts that to me. We are studying the life of Moses this year. Yup, that means all of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. It will be wonderful to study this friend of God. There is a lot to be learned. We are all looking forward to it.

We started AWANA last Thursday and look forward to the boys memorizing God’s word and spending time with their friends. This will be Joshua’s last year and he is on track to get the Timothy Award for memorizing all of his verses each year for the past seven years. It is such a good program. Both boys have participated since they were three years old.  Those first three years they learn just a few words of important verses. Now they memorize multiple verses and whole psalms. When they are done they will have memorized hundreds of verses. It is one of those things that we know was a good decision.

I’m praying for my friends in the Estacada area and hoping this rain today will help the fire fighters get that forest fire under control.

Have a great day,



Posted in Chores, Preserving | Tagged , | 1 Comment