Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Dehydrator Additions

We recently started sprouting our wheat.  Well, we were dehydrating our wheat in the oven, when finally we wised up a bit. 

We have had a dehydrator that we borrowed from my FIL awhile ago.  Chris researched and got some screen off the internet that is food grade and small enough that the wheat won't fall through.  He cut the screen to the size of our dehydrator trays.  Then we also purchased two more trays for the dehydrator.  Now, we can dry 50% more wheat at once in the dehydrator than we could in the oven (because of the two new trays).  We plan to get two more trays (at least) sometime in the future.

Also, my oven doesn't have to be on for 12 hours at a time dehydrating wheat.  Drying wheat in the oven is truly inconvenient if it happens to be during the day because I cannot use my oven all day long, or if I want to, I have to take four full trays of wheat out of it, bake what I need to, put them back in, and often end up staying up late or getting up in the middle of the night to take the wheat out of the oven and turn off the oven.  Or, just leave it on all night unnecessarily. 

Now that our dehydrator is taller, it doesn't fit in its original box.  This weekend, I made it a cute cover.  It's not completely done, as I would like to make it into a bag with handles and a top flap cover and maybe even a zipper (Chris thinks I'm crazy to do this all for a dehydrator) or at least a little velcro.  But, since we aren't done buying trays, and I don't know how many we will have at the end of this (you can use it with up to 12 trays!, and we only have six), for now it just has a cover that slips over the top while I'm not using it.  At least it's sparkle-ey and full of stars!  :-)

I was excited about this sewing project because it was round.  (The first round project I have attempted!)  I measured the circumference and the diameter separately, and didn't do the math to see if they were close to each other, so the top is a little off... but I didn't care enough to take the whole thing out and actually do all that math!  So it will just have to look a little funny on top.  :-)
See the funky fold in the top?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

My Princess :-)

Pippy-long stockings, anyone?
I have taken some cute pics of Ellie recently and thought you might enjoy them.  She's quite a ham...

Bow courtesy of Miss Joan from the nursery, Llama shirt from Uncle Dave, and purple tu-tu from Aunt Julie! 

Monday, March 5, 2012

Chicken-- what I do with it.

Last week sometime, I posted that I would write about what I do with a whole chicken when I buy a chicken. I will try to recap what I have done with the last few, so that you can maybe get some ideas. One thing I always do is make broth.  I have been making broth in my crock pot overnight with really great results.  I will go through that later too.

Chicken #1
Meal 1-- Roasted chicken, butternut squash, stuffing and gravy
Meal 2-- Salad with chicken, cous cous, hard boiled eggs and homemade Caesar dressing
Broth-- Three scant quarts canned

Chicken #2
Meal 1-- Roasted chicken, broccoli and french fries (potato wedges)
Meal 2-- Chicken tacos, rice pudding
Broth-- Four quarts canned

Chicken #3
Meal 1-- Chicken, quiona and chickpea pilaf
Meal 2-- Chicken and waffles, corn
Broth-- Four quarts canned

Chicken #4
Meal 1-- Chicken, mashed potatoes, cauliflower
Meal 2-- Chicken rice and corn soup
Broth-- Four quarts canned

Chicken #5
Meal 1-- Chicken, Carrots, asparagus, cranberry relish
Meal 2-- Beans and rice with chicken and spinach, green beans
Meal 3-- Chicken salad sandwiches, acorn squash
Broth-- Three or four quarts

So, I just went back through my food log calendar.  We have eaten six whole chickens this year so far (I only remember exactly what happened to five of them, so I didn't write down the sixth).

I would like to try and stretch more of my chickens to three meals and broth, but that requires me cooking the chicken and picking it and cooking something else that has chicken in it for dinner.  That is a lot of extra prep, that I have not had the time or energy to attempt recently.  I'm thinking we'll table that idea for the next five or six months at this point.  :-)

About my broth-- I have been using the crock pot to make my broth overnight, which is great, because I don't have to constantly check on it, and the stove doesn't have to be on, and I don't have to even be home if I don't want to be.  (Ask Chris about how I put on a pot of beans and took a nap and he came home to smoking beans on the stove because the water all cooked off.... oops.)

  1. First I pick all the meat off the bones and put it in a bag or something to make into another meal.  
  2. Then, I put the bones, a carrot or two, an onion (or half, if I'm feeling stingy), and a stalk of celery into the crock pot with about a tablespoon of salt.  I fill up the crockpot with water.  I add a tablespoon or two of apple cider vinegar to the water and leave it sit until I am ready to go to bed.  Adding the vinegar helps pull out the gelatin from the bones-- the part of broth that is really good for you.  I was skeptical of this step when I first started doing it recently (I read about it in Nourishing Traditions), but I kept doing it because the bones were actually kind of floppy when I fished them out the next day.  
  3. Turn the crock pot on low at bedtime.  
  4. In the morning, or whenever I get to it the next day, I strain it through a mesh strainer.  
  5. Can or freeze the broth.  I usually can mine in quart jars, which I try to do as soon as I can after straining it, so it doesn't get cold.  But, you can also freeze it.  In that case, you will want to let it cool before putting it in containers and putting it in the freezer. 
  6. Use broth to make delicious soups or when you are making rice for dinner. I have been using mine at lunch a lot to make quick soups that the kids really like.  Corn/peas/carrots/alphabet noodles is a favorite lunch time soup right now.  :-)
Well, I feel like this was a long and wordy post.  I hope you got something out of it, even if it was just a meal idea or a laugh at my stupidity with beans.  :-)

Happy cooking!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Birthday Cake

My little Ellie turned two.  She's such a sweetheart and such a blessing.  I just love her to pieces. :-) 

Being that she is the girliest girl I know, she is obsessed with ballerinas and princesses.  Now, mind you, we don't really have those things in our house.  We don't watch the Disney princess movies.  We don't have barbies, or any dolls other than her baby dolls.  We went to the nutcracker in December, and that's about all the exposure she's had to ballerinas.  Okay, Chris may have looked up videos of ballerinas on youtube with her at some point.  But, seriously.

Of course she wanted a ballerina cake for her birthday. 

I planned to make a whole step by step with pictures of making the cake, but the batteries died on the camera, and then I forgot about it, and then I took a quick picture of the finished cake with my phone to send to my mom, and THEN, Chris didn't even take one picture with the nice camera of the cake.  There IS some video. Alas, I am sorry for the quality of the picture, but here is Ellie's ballerina/princess cake.

She still talks about it-- how I threw the ballerina away when we finished eating the cake (it was one of those two dollar dolls, and I had to pull the legs and the bottom half of her torso off to fit her on the cake.  It's not like she could have played with it.)  And she still asks when we are going to have more cake.  "I want to have more ballerina cake SOON" she says. (Much in the same way she stalks me for kombucha... )

I used all butter butter cream, and it iced the cake really nicely, but then when I went to decorate it, the icing got hopelessly runny.  It doesn't have near the detail that I was planning, but I could only do so much with icing that was sagging off the cake!  Luckily, this picture is so terrible, you can hardly tell!  :-)  

Happy Birthday, Ellie!