Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Roasted Veggie Soup

Sometimes you try something and it flops. Sometimes you try something and it ROCKS! This was the case in my Roasted Vegetable Soup! One night for supper I made a LARGE pan of roasted vegetables to go with our chicken for supper. Everyone ate well, but there was a goodly amount of leftovers! I got to thinking about the leftovers and didn't want to really serve them as-is again, so I thought about what I could do with the excess.
I decided to use them as well as the bones from my leftover chicken to make this delicious soup. 
Here's how I did it!
Also, there is not a lot of exacts in this... do it up your way!
Here we go...
I began walking around the kitchen grabbing any and all veggies that I thought would be tasty in this roasted veggie medley.

Daikon Radishes

You could add any of these, all of these or only one or two of these, more of one, less of another... whatever you like! The point is, fill your pan.

I cut them up into pieces, I plopped them into a 9x13 baker.
Drizzle them a little with olive oil (Maybe 4 Tbsp, give or take)
I sprinkled a couple of Tablespoons of 

A good sprinkling of salt and pepper.
Toss them in the oil and spices so they are all coated.
Cover the pan.
Put in oven and roast at 400* for about 30 minutes. 
Take out and stir
Put them back in for another 10 minutes or so.
You want them tender, but not mush.

As for my chicken. I left whatever wasn't eaten in the crockpot. I then filled the crock back up with water and put it on low to cook for a few hours. Probably around 4-5 hours.

I pulled off any stock and meat from the crockpot and added it a little at a time to my finished vegetable mixture. I added a stick of butter and using my stick blender, I pureed until smooth. Continue adding chicken broth until you get a slightly thick soup. Depending on the amount of veggies you have, you could use more or less broth. I ended up using all of what I had in my crockpot.
Again, do what suits you.
I even had enough room for about a cup of cream to finish it off.
Serve this soup very warm, but not hot. 
You don't want to curdle your cream.

We had heaping ladles-full with a large dollop of sour cream.
So, so, so, soooooo good and nourishing!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Spring is here, 2014

Spring is really showing up around here. With the change of the seasons, comes birth, growth, and a time to refresh some chores that are usually only done once or twice a year.  
My Nannie Red's irises are blooming along the side of the house. They are so beautiful and they are such a deep purple, truly reminding me of her... Purple was her favorite color.
The task of cleaning up the front flower beds is always a chore to be done when spring shows up. Pulling out stubborn weeds that actually made it through the weed barrier and laying down another layer of barrier and a thick layer of mulch. It looks so nice when it is finished! 
I don't know if it is the same where you are, but our closest Lowe's has mulch for $2 a bag. 

Next on tap will be cleaning out the deep litter in the chicken house. We let it build through the fall/winter as it creates a heat to help keep the house a bit warmer for the hens. Because we layer the shavings, the poo actually breaks down through the winter. Composting while in the coop.  That way when spring comes along with nice weather, we clean it out and it is ready for use! 

The garden clean-up is beginning (well, not today... it's raining). I have big plans about rearranging the garden beds. Putting down a MUCH stronger weed barrier under the beds and putting the beds closer together so they are more uniform. I also want to move things around a little so I also have a garden spot to plant directly in the ground this year. We will try to get as much done as we can, in hopes to get as much yield as we can from the garden. 

We are excited and hoping to add some new animals to the homestead in the coming weeks/months. I will let you know if it pans out. I'd hate to say they are coming and then it not happen... but it's something I'm hoping for!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Nannie Black's Banana Pudding

Growing up there were a few things that my Nannie Black (my Dad's mom) cooked that NO one could compete with. 
Her biscuits... I still can't make them as good as her... 
Egg Pie... my mouth waters thinking about it...
Banana Pudding... I have succeeded in that recipe though! Woot!
Most of the time when you go to church dinners, pot-lucks, or such, banana pudding makes an appearance! Although it is good, it is cold. 
Not the way my Nannie used to make it.
Not the way I make it today.
(Btw, you may be asking, Why in the world does she call her Nannie Black??? When I was a little girl, I was the only grandchild on both sides of the family. I called both of my grandmother's Nannie. To distinguish the two, I called one Nannie Red, because she had red hair, and my other Nannie Black, because she had black hair. True story.)

This is our way.

1 box of Nilla Wafers
1 box of shortbread cookies
1 bunch of bananas (about 4-5)

The pudding
4-5 egg yolks (I tend to use 5 mostly)
1.5 cup sugar
4 cups milk, cream or a mix of the two
2 tsp vanilla
dash of salt
1/4 cup arrowroot powder

Reserve egg whites to make meringue for top of pudding.
Once whites are stiff spread on top and broil til just browned.

The way my Nannie said to do it is to put ALL (except vanilla) pudding ingredients in a blender. Then blend til smooth and the blender is full. She did not give me any measurements at all.
This is the closest measurements I can account for, they are pretty exact and honestly, it is not going to make a huge difference if you use 4 eggs or 5. I like the pudding rich and creamy and we have a TON of eggs right now, so why not add 5!?!?!

Like I said, Nannie just put everything for the pudding in the blender, blended it and poured it into a pot to cook til thick. I don't. That is one step I do differently. For me, it was just another dish to clean... And I surely don't need any more of those. 
I just add everything to a pot and whisk the dickens out of it. I also keep stirring til I have a nice thick pudding. It will take a little bit and you don't want your mixture to stick, so hang with it.
 It's worth it, for realz.

Layer your wafers, cookies and bananas in a big bowl until everything is used. Once your pudding is ready pour over your cookie/banana mixture. 
If you like, top with meringue and brown.

This recipe makes my memories FLOOD back. It makes me think of dinners at Nannie and Popa's house. I guess with Easter coming, it really hits home. Both of my Nannie's have gone on to be with Jesus. It makes me miss my family and my grandparents and it makes me want to make memories with my family all-the-more...
I hope you enjoy it and it becomes a family favorite for you too! 

Friday, April 11, 2014

Homemade Achy Muscle Salve Recipe

At Christmastime, I made gift baskets for my family. I filled them with homemade salves, cough syrup, soap, chai tea, etc. One of the salves I included was an achy muscle salve. It works very nicely, and has a cooling effect afterwards. Again, I am blown away by what God has put in nature, if we just figure out how to use it! 
First thing you need to do is make some arnica oil. Arnica is a flower that is known as 'the healing herb'.  It is great for using on sore muscles, bruises, arthritic joints, sprains, etc.
So no wonder, it is the main ingredient in my salve! 
Take 1 cup of arnica flowers and place them in a mason jar. Take a good olive oil and cover the flowers and allow to steep for about 2 weeks or longer. 
Once your arnica oil is ready, strain the oil from your flowers and you are ready to make the salve!

1 cup arnica oil (see above for directions)
2 oz beeswax
10 drops of wintergreen essential oil
6 drops of cloves essential oil
5 drops of eucalyptus essential oil.

The process is the same as for my other salves and ointments. 
You melt the beeswax or other hard oils in a mason jar inside of a pot of water first. You need to get them to a liquid state, but don't boil. Again, you are working with herbs and natural oils, so these do not need to get TOO hot or you kill off some of the good.
Once the wax is melted, add your arnica oil.
Feel the mixture, if it is HOT, give it time to cool slightly. 
Only mix in your essential oils when the jar is comfortable to the touch. 
Add in your essential oils and stir well.
You may want to stir several times as the cooling process happens. You want to make sure everything stays incorporated throughout and no settling happens. 
This will harden into a firm salve, but will melt and absorb into the skin when applied. 

Happy Healing!


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Moma's Copycat Chinese Honey Chicken

My eldest asked me a couple of nights ago if I could replicate some chicken that ALL my children adore at a local Chinese restaurant. One that we seldom go to anymore because it is just too stinkin expensive now that my kids are being considered 'adults' when we go out to eat. 
I knew exactly which chicken she was talking about. I had the sauce in my mind... and I knew it was pan fried pieces so I went to work.

I had Cameo cut the chicken up into small chunks.
We then dredged the chunks first into arrowroot powder and then into egg.
Have a couple of inches of oil in a pan heating, you want this hot enough to fry. 
We like coconut oil.

We fried the pieces of coated chicken and then laid them in a baking dish.

Once you have all your pieces fried, btw... we used about 4-5 breasts cut up for my family of 6.

Grab a medium bowl and whisk up some sauce.
You will need:
3/4 cup honey
1/2 cup fermented soy sauce or regular soy sauce
1/2 cup tomato paste or ketchup if you are in a bind
1 T arrowroot
1/4 cup brown sugar or sucanat
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1 Tbsp of minced garlic or garlic powder
1 Tbsp sesame oil

Whisk this together and pour over your finished fried chicken bites.
Sprinkle with sesame seeds and bake for about 20-30 minutes. You may need to stir once while baking.
Your chicken is already done from the frying, this is just to coat and heat everything through.

Serve with fried rice or as a dear friend suggested, slivered cabbage! YUM!