Saturday, January 2, 2010

Happy New Year!

As you can see I have given my blog a face lift.
I felt it only fitting that the blog have a new look as we head into a new year.

I am really looking forward to the new year because Ev and I have many new things we hope to learn this year. Some together and others on our own.

Ev tried homemade mozzarella a few weeks back and I came over just in time to help knead the hot cheese curds.
After a lot of kneading, the cheese somewhat resembled mozzarella and although it was not as creamy as store bought, I liked the taste better. Jesse tried some after it had been in the fridge for a while and he didn't like the texture at all! He does however want to help out the next time we try.

The next project is to make a variety of sausages using the scraps from the deer left over after Butchering Day. Well in truth, Butchering Day was more like two and a half days. It takes a lot longer if your are teaching new butchers as you work!
We are left with about 45 pounds to which we will need to add another 30% pork fat.
Henry's dad has both a meat grinder as well as a smoker so we hope to give jerky a whirl as well.
Seed catalogues have arrived and I've been drooling, I mean, studying them intently trying to decide how I might squeeze in more strawberries as well as some asparagus. ( for those of you who don't know, after you have harvested the asparagus the plant puts out feathery thin 'branches' that grow up to five feet high!)

Then of course there are the hardy green grapes I've just discovered as well as two apple trees I would love to grow.( They are dwarfs so I'm sure there must be someway to cram them in too!)

More crocheting and knitting are on the list and I'm looking forward to learning how to double crochet, as right now I only know one stitch! (That's all you need to make a scarf though and I've just finished my third one.) While Ev and her family were visiting her parents over the holiday her mom taught her how to knit cables! I'm rather jealous as I'm still knitting and pearling!

Working with raw wool (fleece straight of the sheep) is another possibility this year.
My primary focus for this year however will be food.
I would like to learn how to feed our family with food that hasn't been processed within an inch of it's life or traveled around the world to get to my plate . (And don't get me started on packaging, pesticides and GMO'S!)

This will involve growing what I can at home (and maybe some of the sprawly stuff at J and R's cabin), buying at farmer's markets as well as straight from the farmers.

Last year we were able to buy grass fed beef and 80 pounds of potatoes this way. (The potatoes were only $10!)

I made bread yesterday using some of the wheat that R had ground from local wheat. Very nice although Henry found the finished loaf too fluffy, so I'll have to play around with that a bit.

I have to admit I'm nervous about cooking everything from scratch as it means learning how to cook in a whole new way.

Tam, do you think you could lend me Chef Gary every so often???
If any of you have good recipes that might work I'd sure appreciate it if you'd share!

I'll leave you with a few holiday memories. . .

Bus drivers get spoiled sometimes!

It's possible that I may have taken the 'how low can you go' thing with the thermostant a bit too far!

I'm afraid I've had to add word verification in the comment area for now as I'm getting a lot of spam comments all of a sudden. Hopefully I won't have to do this for too long. . .


Chandra said...

What fun seeing your kids decorate gingerbread houses! :o)

BTW, YouTube is the best place ever to learn how to knit and crochet. Vanessa (11) and I learned how to crochet completely off of YouTube alone, and we can do pretty much every crochet stich there is. I've crocheted a sweater (was supposed to be for myself, but instead it fit my 7 year old, LOL!!), while Vanessa has made a multitude of doll clothing, scarves, hats, you name it.

momofcrt said...

Blessed new year to you, Henry and the children.
Awesome pictures of the past month or so, still sad we didn't get to see everyone for your anniversary party/dinner thingy cuz of weather.

Anonymous said...

Ahhhh...I have been waiting patiently,without nagging, for a new blog, and it was worth the disapointment I felt every time(many many times) that I faithfully checked the blog, to no avail!I hope you achieve every goal you set for your self this year, my goal is to do more quilting and cross stitching, and try to lay off the cooking and baking as my diet suffers due to lack of self control...sigh, it's tough to see my self next to you two Barbie dolls, but I do console myself with the reality that I got the Vandermolen genetics, and we are a hearty bunch!
Did anyone know how much less expensive it is to buy quilt fabric in the states?!! Definately worth the drive!
love you Rose...Lisa

Tamara Jansen said...

Whew! You make me tired just thinking about all the good things you're gonna accomplish this year!

The motorhome has not yet been found :(

I'll see if I can get Gary to do some demonstration classes when you're down next time. Doesn't that sound FUN?! Anyone else want to join in? We could make it a cooking vacation for ladies!

momofcrt said...

aha Lisa, the Vandermolen genes....a curse and a blessing ;-)I know how exactly how you feel when I stand with my little sister.
Tamara, what fun that would be, a cooking retreat, cool.

Evelyn in Canada said...

I'd love a cooking retreat, but that's a bit far to go.

That's a great bunch of holiday pictures. You were really busy, but it all looks like fun. I'm glad that I could be a part of it!

Apple Jack Creek said...

Hello, I am a complete and total stranger ... found you from a link from Ev's blog, and I think Ev found me through the food bank, but I'm not quite sure!

We do a lot of the 'cook from scratch' thing at our house: we have an acreage and raise grass-fed lamb (yes, we sell it! :D), so we eat a fair bit of meat. You asked for easy 'from scratch' recipes, so here is my favourite standby meal. It is a great use of easily stored foods (potatoes, onions, and meat), and leftovers.

In a big frying pan, fry up diced potatoes with diced onions (those get started first, because they take the longest to cook). Chop up and add whatever veggies seem handy: some peppers, carrots, corn, mushrooms, celery, whatever is around and seems likely.

In a separate small frying pan, cook up and season your choice of meat: we usually use ground lamb, as that's what we have on hand, but a steak sliced and stir fried in some seasonings works too, or leftover roast beef heated in gravy ... basically, cook up some meat and add spices and seasonings that your family will like (taco spice on ground meat is a good choice, barbecue sauce on other kinds of meat works well too).

When the potatoes and onions are done, scoop out a cavity in the centre of the big frying pan and dump the meat and it's sauce in the hole. If you want to get fancy, sprinkle grated cheese over the whole thing and let it heat (or pop under the broiler if you used cast iron), then serve directly to the table in the big frying pan. It's sort of like the family sized version of a Denny's 'skillet meal'. Put out a big spoon and everyone gets to scoop it onto their plates.

My boys like it with ketchup, I just do salt and pepper. It is easy, fairly quick, and makes good use of whatever is on hand.

Happy cooking and gardening - I will definitely be looking here for local gardening info. :) I am coveting those hardy grapes too ... think we can make 'em grow here? :)

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