Friday, November 27, 2015

Thanksgiving Gratitude

Like many families, each year as we sit around the Thanksgiving table enjoying an excessively large feast, we take turns stating what we have been most grateful for during the past year.  Most often our statements are about expressing gratitude for our family and our excellent health.  Although these are the most heartfelt, I sometime feel they are cliche when I state them.

However, this year was different.  We didn't have Thanksgiving at home.  Instead we accepted an invitation to join my former babysitting charge, ET's, family.  Although this young couple, Mr. & Mrs. D are younger than our eldest son, they have taken a sincere interest in our family.  I believe they genuinely respect and like us.  Mrs.D's parents and younger brother were also invited and they are as wonderful as their daughter and son-in-law.  Our family always has the most wonderful time visiting with these amazingly, fabulous people.

A few days before Thanksgiving, I received an e-mail from another young lady, Mrs.T, also young enough to be my daughter.  Her e-mail was one that touched my heart and brought me an abundance of blessing by her kind words of sincere respect for me.  I am honored that I have earned a place of trust in her life that allows her the comfort and confidence to seek advice from me. a cheerleader when she needs one, or even an occasional shoulder to cry on.

Finally only a few short days before that, I was visiting with my sister friend, Mrs.A, via telephone.  She was sharing about an adventure she recently had with a new friend and how much she likes this person and is enjoying the new friendship.  All this, of course, lead us to discuss our special relationship.  We started out as friends, then moved on to great friends, next came best friends which evolved into sister friends.  However, we have now discovered that our bond goes beyond sister friends.  We could only describe it as the type of bond that we would imagine identical twins having.  I am beyond blessed to have another person this side of heaven care for me they way Mrs.A does and I for her.  It is a blessing that Mrs.A and I have become so secure in our relationship with each other that we can now develop and have close friendships with others without any insecurities invading our sisterhood.

I am an odd and different sort of person.  Although I am friendly, polite and try to be helpful, my insecurities often keep me from making friends easily.  When we moved away from east Texas to this vast prairie and very different culture, I was't sure I'd have any friends here.  A part of me thought I may never see my friends face to face again, unless I made a trip down home, which is difficult, at best, when one lives on a fully functional homestead.  Needless to say, this Thanksgiving I am still excessively grateful for my family and abundant health.  But I am also very aware of the deep gratitude I have for the friendships God has placed in my life.  I sincerely pray all my friends, both old and new, know how very grateful I am to have them in my life.

Praying your Thanksgiving was as blessed and pleasant as ours.  Blessings to you and yours.

Friday, November 20, 2015

How To Freeze Eggs

In a recent post regarding our winter stores I mentioned would post about how I freeze our eggs in preparation for when the weather turns bitterly cold and our hens stop laying.

I prefer to use frozen eggs when baking, making puddings or custards, adding as a binder in meatballs or casseroles, etc.  Some folks will use them for scrambled eggs or omelets, however, I find the texture to be a little rubbery.  Please remember to allow about 30 minutes for your eggs to thaw at room temperature before using them in your cooking application.

Here's the process I use:

Step 1:  Lightly spray an ice cube tray with non-stick cooking spray

Step 2:  In a pour measure, whisk eggs until combined very well.

Step 3:  Pour eggs into ice cube tray and place in the freezer.

Step 4:  When the eggs are frozen, remove them from the ice cube tray and store them in a plastic zip bag.  Two frozen egg cubes are equal to one (1) whisked egg.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

A New Do

You know you are aging, and not gracefully, when strangers regularly mistake you for your 70 year old father's wife.  This began happening about six years ago.  So, despite years of objections from Mr.B, I recently chose to wash the gray out of my hair and get a new cut and style.  Mr.B has told me I look nice with my new "do".  Most of all, I no longer think I look old enough to be my father's wife.  From now on if anyone mistakes me for my dad's wife, I'll have to politely suggest they visit an optometrist.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Inventory - Winter Stores

Although our autumn has been warm and we haven't had any snow or ice as of yet, unlike last year when the first snow flurries arrived on Sept. 10th, we know it is coming.  (this photo was taken a couple years ago)  And that means it's the time of year when I must take inventory and make sure we are stocked up for a snow bound winter.

Our past 3 winters have been mild, meaning we haven't been snowed in for any length of time, but up here on Montana's rolling prairie one never knows what the winter weather will bring.  Four winters ago, our home was "snowed in" for nearly two months.  Therefore it is best to be prepared.  Besides, if we have another mild winter, being stocked up will save an exceptional amount of time and fuel by not having to drive 95 miles in snow and ice, round trip, to town for supplies.

We are stocked up with the following:


850 gal. propane (winter heat & cooking)
45 gal. gasoline (generator for power outages)
10 gal. diesel fuel
2 gal. lamp kerosene (for power outages)
4 cases bottled water (for power outages)
15 gal. bulk drinking water (for power outages)
150 gal. livestock water (for power outages)
8 ton hay (livestock)
2 ton oats (livestock)
100# rabbit alfalfa pellets
400# dry dog food
250# dry cat food
320# chicken feed


6 mo. laundry & cleaning products
18 rolls paper towels
36 rolls bath tissue
8 box facial tissue
6 pkg. feminine product
40 bars bath soap
7 lg. shampoo & conditioner
16 deodorant
16 toothpaste
6 rolls aluminum foil
3 rolls cling wrap
4 rolls waxed paper
4 rolls parchment paper
4 box gallon zip bags
6 box pint zip bags

35# dry milk
9 cans sweetened condensed milk (or I can make homemade )
100# granulated sugar
30# brown sugar
20# confectioner's sugar
185# flour
6# cornmeal
150# various types dried beans
55# pasta (or I can make homemade )
45# barley
45# lentils
70# white rice
10# brown rice
10# popcorn
12# oats
6# farina, aka cream of wheat
5# grits
50# salt
7# pepper
4# baking powder
4# baking soda
5# cornstarch
6 qt. honey
3/4 qt. sorghum
3 qt. corn syrup
20# various flavors baking chips
1 yr. supply of dried herbs & spices
2# dried mushrooms
6 oz. vanilla beans (I use whiskey or vodka to make my own vanilla)
1/2# sunflower seeds
3# unsweetened baking cocoa
5# shredded coconut
20 boxes jello
2 lg. coffee
1 chocolate milk mix
2 coffee creamer
12 lg. boxes tea bags
2 boxes Chex cereal
3 boxes life cereal
3 boxes Cheerios cereal
2 1/2 # yeast
96 oz. olive oil
64 oz. vegetable oil
2 lg. vegetable shortening
4# lard
2 cans non-stick cooking spray
7 gal. vinegar
2# chicken bullion
2# beef bullion
50# potatoes
25# onions

9 bottles wine
2 cases beer
1 1/2 fifth whiskey
1 fifth vodka
13 cans pork-n-beans
55 cans green chilies
20 pt. mixed vegetables
12 pt. green peas
41 pt. zucchini & tomatoes
16 qt. beets
7 pt. pickled beets
6 pt. artichoke hearts
5 pt. turnips
5 cans water chestnuts
1 can bamboo shoots
37 qt. carrots
50 qt. corn
95 qt. green beans
111 qt. tomatoes
47 pt. bread & butter pickles
6 qt dill pickles
5 pt. dill pickles
32 pt. apple sauce
36 pt. pear halves
6 qt. peaches
14 pt. peaches
10 pt. pumpkin
36 canned Mandarin oranges
4 pt. apricots
3 pt. pineapple
5 lg. bottled lemon juice
2 bottled lime juice
7 bottled fruit juice
41 cans tuna
11 cans shredded chicken
4 cans shredded ham
11 qt. chicken broth
13 pt. stew
74 pt. soups & chili
33 jams & jellies
3 can black olives
3 can French fried onions
12 pt. salsa
6 mayonnaise
3 mustard
4 half-pints homemade ketchup
5 half-pints homemade bar-b-que sauce
3 steak sauce
2 hot sauce
2 Worcestershire sauce
1 soy sauce
1 chili sauce
80 oz. canned garlic
2 lg. panko breading
2 jars maraschino cherries


28# butter
52 # cheese
12 frozen juice
3# raisins
4# pecan halves
3 1/3 # walnuts
3# almonds
1# pistachios
1/2 # macadamia nuts
1# peanuts
1# cranberries
6# strawberries
5# blackberries
20 pt. yellow squash
15 pt. zucchini
3 gal. green onion
30 qt. corn
40 ears corn
18# English peas
2# Brussels sprouts
10# hash browns (homemade)
37 qt. broccoli
5 qt. Swiss chard greens
10 qt. spinach
17# pork sausage
5# ground pork
6# salt pork
4# bacon ends
30# bacon
4 half hams
20# link sausage
4 pork roasts
46 pork chops
22 pork steaks
2 pkg. pepperoni
6 chickens
4 pheasant breasts
3 corned beefs
7 beef steaks
2 gal. calf fries
4 ling cod fillets
2# perch fillets
4# frozen shrimp
1# venison sausage
1# ground lamb
14# hot dogs
4# bologna luncheon meat
1# smoked turkey breast luncheon meat
5 eggs

Since we raise, grow and wild harvest a significant portion of our food, many food items will last us a year.  But for the things we don't produce ourselves, I must wait for good sale prices to stock my pantry, usually every 4-6 months.  With the holiday season upon on us the sale prices are great and I will finish stocking our pantry with an additional 1 case evaporated milk, 6# lard, 8# vegetable shortening, 4 lg. bottles cooking oil, 10# rolled oats, 15# farina, 10# cornmeal, 25# onions, 12# butter, 4 qt. black strap molasses, and 2 bottles lime juice.  I may also pick up a few more packages of turkey breast luncheon meat, since that's my favorite.  (Mr. B and the littles enjoy bologna, I prefer turkey breast and tuna.)  I plan to pick those items up this week and will gladly have no need to visit the grocer for many more months.

Since the 20 below zero, or more, temperature will cause our hens will stop laying for a couple months this winter, I've also started freezing eggs for baking and cooking.  I'll have to share that process in a later post.  This year's beets are still in the ground and they will most likely be preserved and stashed in the pantry later this week.  I currently estimate we'll add another 12 qt.canned beets and 12 pt. pickled beets.

Our meat freezer doesn't have the variety of meat it usually does because this year the littles 4-H buyers wanted the whole animal leaving us only one hog for the freezer.  We did not go fishing this summer so, not much fish.  As such, Farmer Boy must continue to hunt for pheasant and deer.  Pheasant season lasts until the 1st of the year, but deer season only has another 2 weeks.  Thus, he is currently focusing on deer hunting.  We will also add two of our young weathered goats to the freezers next week.

Are you stocked up for a snow bound winter or a natural disaster?

Friday, November 6, 2015

Frugal Feasting Friday: $1.04 Per Person

Great tasting, 5 easy steps, one dish, low fat, less than 30 minutes and only $1.04 per person.  That's a perfect combination for a Frugal Feasting Friday recipe.  And to make it even better, for those with gluten restrictions, it's gluten free!

Beef with Broccoli Stir Fry

Step 1

3 c. water
1 1/2 c. uncooked rice

Bring water to a boil.  Add rice, cover and simmer on low until rice has absorbed all water.
Meanwhile, continue with steps 2 - 5.

Step 2

2 Tbsp. cornstarch
2 Tbsp. water
1 tsp. minced garlic OR 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 lb. beef steak, cut into thin strips (this is a perfect recipe for less expensive cuts of beef)
salt & pepper to taste

Sprinkle steak strips with salt and pepper.  Mix cornstarch, water and garlic into a slurry, pour over steak strips and toss to coat.

Step 3

2 Tbsp. cooking oil

Heat oil n a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat.  When oil is screaming hot stir-fry beef until beef is no longer pink.  Remove from pan with a slotted spoon and tent with foil to keep warm.

Step 4

1 head broccoli, cut into florets and 1 in. pieces OR 1 lb. frozen broccoli, cut into 1 in. pieces.
1 onion, cut into 1 in. chunks

Stir-fry broccoli and onion in remaining oil for 4-5 minutes.  Return beef to pan.

Step 5

1/3 c. soy sauce
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. grated fresh ginger OR 1 tsp. ground dried ginger
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
1/2 c. water

Stir together soy sauce, brown sugar, ginger, red pepper flakes, cornstarch and water until mixed well.  Add to the vegetables and beef.  Cook and stir until sauce is thickened, about 2 minutes.  Serve over hot cooked rice.

Serves 6

Prep Tip:  To get the beef strips extra thin, use a sharp knife to cut the meat while it is slightly frozen.

Cost Breakdown:

Beef Steak:  $4.29 (inexpensive cut of beef purchased on sale)
Onion:  $0.00 from our garden
Broccoli:  $0.00 from our garden
Rice:  $1.19
Condiments/Seasonings:  $0.75

TOTAL = $6.23 OR $1.04 per person
(Store bought broccoli and onion increases the cost to only $7.95 OR $1.33 per person)