Sunday, June 30, 2013

7-up biscuits

Yep, I've made them too. YUM!

There are a ton of recipes out there, all a little different. Of course, all have Bisquick. I had no Bisquick in the house. Bummer. So, to Google I went to find a way to make my own Bisquick from scratch. Yes, I wanted the biscuits that bad. Again, there are a million recipes out there, all a little different. So, I decided to just wing it and see what happened.

Homemade Bisquick:

I also added 2 TBSP sugar, as most of the other recipes used sugar. Although, not sure it matters. I will probably omit it the 'next' time I make this - assuming there is a next time. Yes, it's good, but it takes time. Just depends on how desperate I am.

I used my food processor to cut the shortening into the flour. You have to do this in stages, unless you have a massive sized machine. Then I just kind of mixed it all together.

4 cups Bisquick
1 cup 7-Up
1 cup light sour cream
1/4 cup butter

Preheat oven to 400 deg F. Put butter in a 9x13" pan. Put pan in oven to melt butter. Don't over cook this, burned butter is no good. :)

Mix everything else together. The dough will be wet. Put some flour on the counter. WARNING: the next part is messy. Grab about 1/4 to 1/3 cup of dough (I just guessed here). Roll dough in flour lightly and form it into a ball. Place in the pan. Repeat to make 12 biscuits.

Bake until golden brown approximately 10-15 minutes, depending on your oven.

And when they come out, you really should wait a FEW minutes so you don't burn your mouth. But, if you are anything like me, have a glass of water on hand and just bite and swig at the same time. Yeah, I am not very patient.

I will be working on a slightly healthier version - to see if I can keep the same great taste and texture but reduce the calories and fat while increasing the good stuff.

Until next time, increase your exercise to help counteract these little lovelies.


Monday, June 24, 2013

Plant Progress

It has been quite a unique experience living on a farm for the first time. We have lots of existing plants - many of which we don't really know what we have. There are always new surprises. I have greatly enjoyed taking this very unique opportunity to go out and take pictures every now and again as things change. So, tonight, you will get to see some of the plants currently growing.

We have also decided to plant a ton of pumpkins this year. My dear hubby and I have a crazy notion that maybe we want to run a pumpkin patch. Yeah - because we need more things to do. Halloween is one of our favorite holidays (even if it is not very big here in the south). We love the fall and just about everything surrounding that time of year. So, this year we are experimenting to see if we can grow pumpkins - kind of important if you want to run a pumpkin patch. ;)

Are you ready for some pictures??
Our blackberries are starting to ripen! I hope to pick my first bunch tomorrow morning. Hopefully the birds and coons don't get to them tonight.

Our chickens are growing nicely. I expect our first eggs to come in August/September. Luckily, they have lots of space to roam, so they are not eating much feed.

The pumpkins are in the ground! Most of them anyways. We are using drip irrigation and black plastic mulch. This is all new to us, so we have no idea if we will succeed or not. So far so good.

We decided to just plant 3 rows - there are about 10 watermelon plants in there too just for fun. If we are successful, we will hire out a tractor to deal with the rest of the garden space. Each row is about 175' long and 4' wide. I am guessing we have about 3-4 feet between rows for walking space. This is a lot of work! 

Look at these little lovelies. I don't know what they are, but I thought they were pretty.

This is a shot from the middle field overlooking the largest field we have. The trees basically mark the end of our property. That far field is about 6-7 acres. Wouldn't it be fun to have a corn maze out there??

We have some trumpet vine! I always love to see a little pop of orange in crazy places. 

That's all for tonight. Hope you enjoyed the tour. I will be posting plenty more pics as things around the farm continue to change.

'Till next time...

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Homemade Laundry Soap

I don't know about you, but man - my laundry mountain is getting crazy big by this point in the week. So, I thought this might be a good day to share with you my homemade laundry soap. Yeah, I am getting a little crazy with all this homemade stuff. I doubt it will last - or be consistent. Just something that is fun to do from time to time. If I can save money and have time to do it - of course I will.

There are tons of recipes out there, again I tweaked mine a bit - more with a method than ingredients.

What is needed:
2 bars FelsNaptha laundry soap
1 box washing baking soda
1 box borax
1/2 container scent crystals (optional)
1 container to hold finished soap (I have used my empty Tide box for most of the soap and the empty scent crystal container works well for what sits next to my machine.)
1 kitchen garbage bag - to mix everything

I have a family of 5 and average 7 loads of laundry a week. This recipe lasts us 4-5 months. 

What to do:
Cut the bars of soap into thirds.
  1. Microwave each piece separately on a piece of parchment or wax paper for about 45 seconds.  It will expand and form 'clouds'. Once it is done expanding, you can stop the microwave. NOTE: You may want to set your microwave for something like 2 minutes and just wait to see how long it takes to stop expanding. That will give you a better estimate of how long it will take with your microwave. 

(soap bits pre and post microwave) 
  1. Put each piece into a large mixing bowl to cool. Do this for all the bar soap. Let it all sit for about 30 minutes - or until it is COMPLETELY cooled. Seriously - wait.
  2. Mash the soap with your hands. It will turn into a powder.
  3. Add all ingredients to the trash bag and mix. I just tied it closed and moved the whole thing around for a few minutes.
  4. Pour into your storage container.

And that is it! You only need to use 1-2 TBSP per load - but I pretty much always use 2 TBSP. And yes, I use this in my HE front load washer. It does not sud, so it works great.

There are also recipes for liquid versions. I haven't tried those yet as I tend to like powder soaps better.


Monday, June 17, 2013

Semi-Healthy Banana Bread

I LOVE banana bread. Like most of my baked goods, I always strive to make them at least a little bit healthier than the original recipe. Every little bit helps. I have seen recipes that say you can use all whole wheat flour and it is yummy. Well, I disagree. The texture and flavor are all wrong - when what you are expecting is a fully loaded piece of banana bread.

I have a standard recipe I have used for years. It came from a school fundraiser recipe cook book (Brown School Sampler - 1995). The recipe I really like is called Grandmother's Banana Nut Bread. I have made several tweaks to increase the whole grains and of course have omitted the nuts as my kids don't like nuts in things. I have also played around with the fat content in this recipe. Since there is only 1/4 cup to begin with, I usually don't bother. You can substitute up to half of the fat with a non-fat yogurt and still have a decent texture.

So, when I have bananas that look like this:

I know it is time to make some bread!

1/4 c shortening (or 2 TBSP shortening plus 2 TBSP yogurt)
3/4 c sugar
1 egg
2.5 TBSP milk
1/2 TBSP cider vinegar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3 SMALL bananas
(a total of 2 cups 'flour' is needed. The exact combination is not as important as the ratio of white flour to everything else. I would not use any less than 3/4 c white all purpose flour. The rest just depends on what I have on hand.)
3/4 c all purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 c wheat germ
1/4 c quick oats
optional: you can add nuts, dried fruit, chocolate chips, etc

Preheat oven to 350 deg F.
Mix everything together. If you don't have a mixer, you can certainly mix everything by hand, but you will want to mash the bananas first.

Pour into a greased loaf pan. Bake for about 45 minutes or until toothpick test comes out clean. Sometimes I run into the problem of the top getting dark before the loaf is done. I check at the 30 minute mark and if it looks like it is getting dark, place foil loosely over the top of the bread. 

Hope you enjoy this as much as I do!

Until Later...

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Back Yard Wonders

Ok, so we live on a small farm with no real front yard or back yard distinctions. But I was out and about the other morning taking some photos of some of the lovely items I came across. We have really enjoyed watching the yard develop over the past few months. There are surprises every month. Things that have blossomed that we had no idea were there. Today, I am sharing lots of photos of some of the wonders we have experienced lately.

We have TONS of blackberries that are forming! Should be ready to pick in a few more weeks. Do you see the spider hiding?

I don't know what this is, but i like the texture.

There are 3 kinds of Lilies that have popped up that were a complete surprise! LOVE them.

The grapes have begun to form!

I love dew drops.

The last of the Honey Suckle. I was planning on picking a bunch and try to make some oil/scent. Yeah, that didn't happen. Most of it is gone now. :(

Bugs, Bugs, everywhere are bugs.

Do you see the bugs?

Hope everyone is enjoying the summer.

Until Later...