Sunday, September 14, 2014

Grandma Leffler's Molasses Cookies

Gramma Leffler - well, actually she was my great grandmother. I had the privilege of having her in my life until my senior year of high school. I just wish I had the opportunity of knowing her now - as an adult. Gma use to sweep the front porch when she came to our house to visit. I always thought that was the WEIRDEST thing. I mean, dirt does belong outside after all. But of course, now I sweep my outside porch/steps too. There are many days I smile as I find myself doing the things she use to do - that my younger self thought were crazy.

There are 2 recipes Gma was known for (at least within the family). One - her yeast rolls. Many in the family have tried and tried to get this right. To this day, 21 years after her death, no one has succeeded. Obviously, we are missing something from her recipe. The other recipe, her molasses cookies. Luckily, these are much easier to get right. I always think of Gma when making these, while wearing my apron and listening to music - they way Gma use to. Well, actually, she usually hummed and did everything by hand. I love my Kitchen Aid mixer, and am happy to use it whenever possible. Since my singing voice is nothing to write home about, I listen to the radio.  But the smells and the taste are right - which is all that matters.

Seriously, these are GOOD! They are always a hit at parties and other events. I can't seem to make them fast enough. If you have never had molasses cookies before, these are kind of like ginger snaps, but less on the ginger flavor and heavier on the molasses flavor. AND, these are soft. Which is by far my favorite way to have cookies.

In case you are wondering, I never make my healthier substitutions on this recipe. The changes in flours and fats would make substantial changes in flavor and texture. You would notice the difference. Now, you can try making the substitutions and you might like the results. But for us, we stick to the original, as it is tied so tightly to memories.

So, on to the recipe...

3/4 c shortening
1 c sugar
1 egg
1/4 c molasses
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger (ground)
1/2 tsp cloves (ground)
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 c flour (all purpose)

some extra sugar to roll the dough in.

Preheat oven to 350.
Line cookie sheet with parchment paper - because really, who wants to clean up that pan with cooked on grease?

I start at the top of the list and work my way down.
Cream shortening and sugar (usually for 1-2 minutes until the texture becomes light a fluffy).
Add egg and molasses until incorporated.
Add the next 5 ingredients and mix until incorporated.
Add in the flour one cup at a time.

I use a cookie scoop (that makes about 1"balls).
Scoop dough into 1" balls and roll into sugar. Place on cookie sheet. See - they are not perfect. It doesn't matter.

Cook for about 7-8 minutes. DO NOT over cook. The edges will only be SLIGHTLY golden. These are a bit over done. Still yummy, but the tops have a little too much brown in their golden. :)

Put on a rack to cool. Now - try hard not to eat them all. It might be a bit challenging.

Hope you enjoy these as much as we do.

Until next time...

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Hand Made Bathing Suit

Off the rack clothes fit most. HAH! As I learn more about alterations, I am learning to see how most people go around in clothes that just don't fit. A dart here or there, the right sleeve length, pant length, etc can make such a difference in how a garment fits and feels. I still have A LOT to learn, but that is part of the fun, right? RIGHT?

I am really supportive of others - it's not you, it's the clothes. Don't worry about making you fit the clothes, make the clothes fit you. Seriously. But I still struggle to apply that same thinking to myself. REALLY? Yes, really. I know, just shake your head at me and move on.

So, I'm thinking of making a bathing suit. Maybe if one fit better and actually flattered my body I might feel more comfortable. Also, I refuse to spend $100-$150 on a cute, modest suit that will never really fit quite right. So, I'm going to do a little fabric shopping and see if I can make one for under $30.

I have a few ideas pinned to my sewing pinterest board along with some tips - just in case anyone else wants to join me in my new quest.

I was thinking something like this...

Or this...

But, since I WILL NOT do a halter top I will do something a little different. Don't get me wrong, I love the look of halter tops - on other people. But they are not flattering for me, and they just HURT! 

So, do you have a favorite swim suit? Where do you like to shop for suits? Have you ever made, or thought of making, your own suit?

Later y'all!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Farm Growth

Our farm just always keeps us busy. We are in a bit of a 'lull' now - but really, that still means a lot of work!

The pumpkins are growing!!! We have lost several plants to viruses, but the molds and bugs have not really been a problem as of yet. Knock on wood!! It is really nerve wracking to watch everyday when we NEED these pumpkins to grow for the patch this fall. I don't know how full time farmers do this!!!

Fields early in the planting phase...

Growing bigger...

Getting flowers and some fruit set.

Flowers with bees.

Early stage fruit set.

And some miscellaneous bugs along the way.

We have been hand pollinating the plants as well as letting the bees do their thing. The plants that were seeded first mostly have fruits starting on them now. We really enjoy watching the progress along the way. If all goes well, we will have plenty of pumpkins for the patch this fall. We continue to work on the business side of things as well. We are now officially an LLC and have a farm number! We are working on all the signs needed on the farm too. Lots to do, lots to do! 

A few weeks ago we got a load of 9 yards of mulch! I am down to the last 1-2 wheel barrels. One of the projects I posted about a while ago was this area. It now has mulch. Next step will be to get some plants!

All of the existing beds also got a fresh layer of mulch and I made a new place under some trees that just can't be mowed. That will get some hostas - eventually. My lavender garden also got some much needed mulch. Slowly but surely things are looking nicer. 

The second batch of ducks are about 3 weeks old now and enjoy relaxing in the grass. 

Our first set of turklets just arrived this morning! They are MUCH louder than chicks and ducklings. 

We have blackberries galore. I have to pick every couple of days to keep up. Squash and cucumbers are also abundant. I have dried some oregano and some mint. I use the dried stuff while cooking and in my homemade soaps. 

And on Sundays we have been putting of a little road side stand. The kids help with this and I get a few hours to sit and crochet. 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

A little break(down)

Yeah, I am a bit busy. It seems I crave being super busy and having lots to do. Looking back, I have always been this way. Always on the go doing something. The 'something' always seems to change, but the underlining theme is the same I need to be doing SOMETHING pretty much all the time. Every now and I again, I too get overwhelmed. Yes, I do - you just don't see it. I keep that to myself. No, that's a lie. My family sees it. Sometimes too often.

I can't do it all. I have to repeat this to myself many times. At times, I want to do more while knowing I should do a lot less. But, things ebb and flow. There are times I don't touch my sewing machine for a week or two. Other times, I don't go out on the farm (sorry dear husband). I have actually only been baking once a week or less (maybe I will lose a little weight???). I get tired of doing the SAME things over and over again. I have to learn how to do new things. I may never do them again - or I could get hooked with a whole new hobby. I know, I don't need any more hobbies. But actually, I do. I NEED to keep learning. It's just the way I am wired. Please don't hate me or be jealous of me. It's just the way I am.

However, balance is a tricky thing. I don't always give enough of myself to my family. Somethings I give too much. I am constantly TRYING to be aware of all the things I am doing and how they all interact with each other so one does not completely dominate my world. But really, who am I kidding?! I ALWAYS forget something and drop the ball somehow. Luckily, no major negative consequences have occurred. My family still loves me, the school just knows I am not going to be on many field trips and we will always need lunch money reminders, my customers are patient with me as it takes WEEKS to get some of the sewing projects done, and my friends know I love them even if we don't get to spend much time together but if they need me, I will drop everything and be there.

Some days I suck more than others. Some days I am actually successful. But really, the days that I suck seem to be increasing in number. So, I have just kind of dropped most things these days and tried to scale back. Instead, I have been reading - smut books. Yup, plain old, garden variety, romance novels. I know - me??? YES ME! Nothing but fluff. No learning involved - well, maybe a little, but I won't go there.

So, please be patient with me as I am having a toddler tantrum.  'I don't want to do anything!!!' My house is a mess, our clothes are not clean, we have switched to eating off paper plates. I will get my energy and focus back at some point. Until then, you will find me laying in bed reading while my family does who knows what. Please ignore my clothes and my hair and just picture me as one those really put together mom's. I know you can use your imagination - I just hope you have a great imagination!

Until next time,
Crazy Mom

Friday, May 23, 2014

egg and noodle

Egg and Noodle - this has got to be one of our all time favorites. There are NO leftovers - ever. I know - it looks kind of gross and sounds extra gross. But really, everyone likes this dish. No kidding. I served it to a bunch of boys a while back and had their mom's asking for the recipe because the boys said it was SOOOO good.

My husband found this recipe several years ago, but I have no idea where. He made it for me during my first pregnancy. Something that didn't make me sick and I could stand the smell of it cooking! BIG win. This is a very simple recipe and you can add in lots of stuff to add flavors/veggies that work well with your family.

5 eggs
3/4c milk
spaghetti (cooked)
butter (for pan)
~1c mozzarella cheese
spaghetti sauce

Preheat oven to 350 F.
Cook the spaghetti according to directions on box, drain and set aside.
Using a cast iron skillet (or something that can go into the oven), melt ~2 tbsp butter in skillet.
In separate bowl, whip eggs and milk together.
Pour eggs into skillet. partially cook the eggs. Put noodles on top so they sink in a little to the uncooked eggs.
Sprinkle cheese on top.
Drizzle with ~1/4c spaghetti sauce.

Place skillet in oven. Bake for ~15 minutes, until eggs are cooked.

Family Rating: 5 out of 5

For Healthier makeover use these ingredients and follow same directions as above:
3 eggs, 2 egg whites
3/4 c skim milk
spaghetti (whole wheat or similar)
cooking spray
~1/2c mozzarella cheese
spaghetti sauce
onion, pepper, spinach (saute these in skillet and then mix in noodles)

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

farm update spring 2014

I have been a bit absent lately from the blog. Well, I've just been busy and have not taken the time to update the blog. So today, as it is rainy and a bit yucky outside, I thought I would spend a little time on an update for the farm.

We have been so busy this spring. We started by clearing a path in the woods for hay rides this fall with the pumpkin patch. 9 acres of solid woods. It only took 2 days to clear a path just wide enough for the truck and trailer.

We tried to keep all the big stuff and just clear underbrush. It worked fairly well. We still have TONS of cleanup. Especially since we also had a massive ice storm come through that took out some additional trees.

We have a few great spots for fairy houses. Because every farm needs a little whimsy.

We have also had an influx of baby birds. Egg laying chicks, meat chicks, and ducks! They are just so cute. 

The egg laying chickens that arrived on the farm in December are just now starting to lay eggs. Within the next month we should have LOTS of eggs to start selling. 

In the December batch, we were given 10 roosters. Yeah, that's just way too many roosters - they were all getting a bit too 'male'. It was time to deal with that problem. So, now we have 1 rooster strutting his stuff around the farm. 

We also bought a tractor! 1952 Ford 8N. I think it fits the farm perfectly. At some point we will restore the paint job, but that will wait until there is a bit more idle time on the farm. Spring is NOT that time. 

The garden space, almost 3/4 acre is close to being prepared for planting. Some of the plants have been started inside. Supplies are arriving every day for the garden. I am really looking forward to getting everything in the ground. 

We have been doing odd chores just trying to spruce things up and make areas more functional. We have done fence work and started to prepare a few areas for new planting beds. I have a small lavender patch started. I want to get a violet patch with hostas established. And a nice fall garden bed. In each I hope to have flowers planted that can be used for other purposes (crafts, food, etc). SOOOO much to plan. If you have ideas, please share. 

In between all the work, we have been trying to enjoy all the beauty around us. 
blue skies

pretty plants

fun with friends and our crazy dog

So see, we've been busy. But that is the way we like it. Hopefully most of my plant experiments will work and I can post about those later. 

Until next time...

Monday, February 3, 2014

Venison Wild Rice Soup

We are not hunters in general. This year my son decided he wanted to learn how to hunt. Luckily, we have a few good friends that are avid 'hunters'. He is learning many lessons about conservation and land management in the process. Well, he also got his first deer this fall. That means, we have a bit of venison to eat. I have never cooked with venison before, so this year will be a year of learning and experimenting in the kitchen.

So, tonight I made venison wild rice soup. I think it turned out relatively good. My hubby liked it too. As for kid friendly, my middle child that is most adventurous of the 3 ate it well. My son ate just the meat - with the sauce wiped off. My youngest wouldn't touch any of it (yes, she is going to be hungry tonight). In general, my kids are rather picky, so you will have to judge kid friendliness of this recipe.

Family rating: 3.25 of 5

WARNING: you may want to half this recipe - we had a ton left over. I will be cutting it in half next go round. But, if you have a big crowd, go for it!

2 lbs venison stew meat
4 cups chicken (or beef) stock
4 cups water
1 package long grain wild rice
1 cup wild rice
3 TBSP onion flakes
2.5 cups dry milk
2 TBSP corn starch
3oz cream cheese
4 oz light sour cream
salt/pepper to taste (~1 tsp each)
garlic salt to taste (~2 tsp)

In the beginning...

I just threw everything (expect the last 4 ingredients) into a large pot, mix. Bring contents to a boil, reduce heat to a low simmer for 1-1.5 hours. You can add some more water or stock if you want to thin it some. Cook a little longer if you want it thicker. At the end, I put in the last 4 ingredients. The meat was wonderfully tender. I only cooked for about an hour. If I let it cook a bit longer, the wild rice would have curled nicely and had been more tender. You may need to adjust the liquid. Next time...

The end result...

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Parmesan Knots

This recipe is from the Frank family. If you are interested in a recipe that is not all sugar, you are in luck! These little babies are always requested by my husband. They really could be used any time of year - but for no specific reason, we only make them at Christmas time. Most of the Frank family wonders why, but no one ever breaks from tradition. Well, this year, I broke from tradition! I just made some this past weekend - and they were devoured.  

3 cans Pillsbury buttermilk biscuits
1 1/2 cups oil
1/2 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon oregano ( I sometimes use less if I'm using the powdered)
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon parsley flakes
Cut each biscuit into thirds.

Roll and stretch each piece into long round strip and tie into a knot.

Bake as package directs...until golden brown.  As soon as the knots are out of the oven put them into the oil mixture to soak up the flavors.

Drain then on a cookie cooling rack set on a paper bag lined jelly roll pan.

These can be made ahead and frozen.
To serve:  Warm in the microwave or they can be reheated in the oven at 350* for 10-15 minutes.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Winter Crochet Fun

I have been playing around with the crochet again. Here are a few projects I have done recently.

Owl hat.

I used basically this pattern.

Fox hat. 

Because my youngest LOVES 'What does a fox say' so, I made her this hat. However, my middle child has decided she likes it better than her owl hat, so they switched. I kind of made up my own pattern. I used this pattern as inspiration, but didn't like the way it was shaping up with this specific yarn (it is a cotton yarn, which I would not recommend for this project, it is too stretchy). I did a basic hat with ear flaps (much like the owl hat), but added a peak by doing a combination of half double, double, triple crochet and then reversed. There are lots of fox patterns available for free on Ravelry if you need more detailed directions.

Tunisian Crochet
And, then I decided it was time to do some more Tunisian crochet.

My little one chose this yarn (Cascade Pacific, Caribbean) from Twisted Knitter - our local yarn shop.  For this, I used the Tunisian knit stitch. I followed instructions from My Tunisian Crochet. This is a great blog that has great videos and tutorials. It is how I am learning. This was my first attempt with this specific stitch. I really like working in the round, but you need a double hook for that. When working in the round, I use both the outer and inner yarn strands (one for the lead, one for the chase). This cowl took less than one skein. If you want to make it a little bigger for an adult size, one skein will do it! I actually like the way it rolls - which is what tunisian crochet will do naturally. If you want to try this and don't like the roll, make sure to use a yarn that you can block later.

Have you been working on any projects lately? 

Later gator!