Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Scrumptious Sausage Skillet

Last night, I was standing in my kitchen wondering what the heck to cook for dinner. This happens a lot...

Everyone else was eating. Anthony pretty much begged me for fish sticks and french fries and I only eat that when desperate. The kitties were snarfing down their food (I can bearly stand to smell that stuff!). And that left me with a growling stomach. After unsuccessfully searching the pantry for something quick and easy, I shifted to investigating the fridge. I had not been smart enough to defrost something in the morning before work, which would have been entirely too easy. In my rummaging, I came up with a package of smoked sausage and a bunch of vegetables....and then I thought...why the heck not. So here's what I came up with:

Scrumptious Sausage Skillet

1-1 lb package of smoked turkey sausage
1 c onion (1/2 of a large onion)
2 c cubed new potatoes
1/2 c water
1/2 c matchstix carrots (can always use sliced or diced)
1/2 c chopped green pepper
2 c shredded cabbage
1 tsp Wostershire (sp?!) sauce
1 tbsp Cajun spice

Slice the turkey sausage and cook in a skillet until warm. Add potatoes, water, carrots, green pepper, and onion. Cook until potato is tender. Add cajun spice, wostershire sauce, and cabbage. Cook until cabbage is tender. Enjoy!

Best of all, it was a one pan meal. I had to put this away last night so that I didn't eat the entire thing in one sitting. Yum!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Baking Bread

I mentioned earlier that I have been learning how to make things.

The last few months, I have been learning to make yeast breads. I've known how to make quick breads most of my cooking lifetime. Banana, zucchini, etc. Quick, easy, and didn't require much besides measurement and plop in the loaf pan. After managing to score a breadmaker off of freecycle, I thought I'd start giving it a shot. The first couple were easy if not a little boring, since the machine did all the work.

Since I am never about making my life easy, I decided that I needed to learn to do all the hard work myself at least once.

This was the result:

A nice white french bread that was turned into toast for bruschetta and then later to be dipped in soups, etc. Even if it is a bit mis-shapen...

Then I thought it might be fun to play around with other types of so-called Artesian bread.
Here is the set up from the loaves I baked this weekend. I did cheat and let the breadmaker do the kneading and rising, but any good cookbook (my personal favorite is the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook) should have illustrations and rising instructions.

Here's what I gathered to start out.

Since I had Anthony helping me, we cheated and used the breadmaker to mix and rise the dough. However, had I not cheated. I would have gently heated all the wet ingredients to appx 100 degrees and then added it to all the dry ingredients and then gone to town.

Gratutious cute picture of the boy helping.

Starting the mixing process in the breadmaker

 If I wasn't assisted by the worlds most impatient helper, I would have mixed it myself, allowed it to rise lightly coated in olive oil in a bowl and covered with a cloth. Then, I would have turned it out, kneaded it for 8 minutes and pick up here....

Ball of dough

This is a braided loaf of honey wheat. I seperated it into 6 sections and rolled each section into a 15" "snake". Then, I braided them together, wetted my fingers and tucked the ends under.

I placed both loaves on a cookie sheet, covered them, and then let them rise in the warmish oven for another hour. I also placed a bowl of water in the bottom to keep things moist. 

I put cornmeal on the bottom to keep things from getting sticky.
That and I like the crunch.

 Hangin out in the oven. It's not on, just in case you were wondering.

After it had risen again, I tented foil over it to keep it from getting too dark, and tossed those bad boys in the oven for 25 minutes at 375 degrees.

The finished product! Pretty good looking this time. Tasted pretty good too! I love to spread a little apple butter or cream cheese on it and chow down.

I think for my next trick, I might even try sandwich bread!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Here We Go Again...

Just when I had given up. Just when I let it go. When I quit worrying about it and let God start, lo and behold.

The perfect house pops up on the market.

Well, not perfect. But no house truly is. Its in our price range. It's in good shape. It has close to 4 acres of land. Its on the corridor of a major highway, but not close to the highway. Its not the school district that I REALLY wanted, but its a good one.

And frankly, since I am basically after a mini-farm in my price range, I guess I'm going to have to settle for less than perfect.

Might have to change my blog name if I get it. Jessamine Farm has a nice ring to it!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

In My Spare Time

Actually, that should read "What spare time?" Its not really spare time. Its made time. You make time for things you love and are interested in. Which as a busy geologist, parent, and person is REALLY important.

I've been spending my time making things. Aprons, make up bags, pear butter, bread, and sauerkraut.

Yes, I just said sauerkraut.

As a result of some good New Year's sales at the grocery store and a lack of planning between me and my parents, we wound up with approximately 10 lbs of cabbage between the two households. I like cabbage, but this is FAR more than anyone should have in their possession at any one time. So, when life hands you cabbages... make sauerkraut! (I kill me somedays!)

I used a recipe that I found on the Dave's Garden website. Its just cabbage...and pickling salt. Mother Nature does the rest.

The cast of characters (which does not include the peanut butter or the potporri!):

I used the mandoline to work my way through the worst of it and get it nice and evenly thin and then hand chopped the rest. Then I added 2 tbs of pickling salt for each pound of cabbage. This made it sweat out a brine.

Then I packed the cabbage into jars, made sure that the cabbage was submerged beneath the brine, leaving 1" of headspace, and closed the jars loosely.

These jars are now sitting in a nice cool area in the house while they ferment. It'll be about 3 weeks before I crack one open to sample.

I am looking forward to my homemade kraut!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Horsing Around

“There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man” Sir Winston Churchill

So if you had told me that 6 months ago that my family would be getting involved with horse riding and training, I would have told you that you were crazy. Now, I've been horse crazy since I was 6. You know how little girls are. My mom bought me a book about all different types of horses and I read it until it fell apart. Growing up, I took every chance I got to ride horses. I rode at the family ranch that I've mentioned here before, at friends' houses/ get the idea. I never did get a horse, but I sure as heck asked every Christmas.

It all started at Dewberry Farms. Anthony did not want to ride the pony ride at the farm, but as we were leaving, we asked if he could sit on the horse that one of the car cowboys was riding. The cowboy slid off and put Anthony in the saddle. You can tell from the expression on his face that he was hooked.

So we took him for lessons... Active 3 year old, channel his energy, why not?

Except that somewhere, I got caught up in it... 

And I started learning how to do the groundwork that I missed in just riding horses and never being taught how to care for them, how to tack up a horse, or get them ready for a ride. I don't think that I realized how much these animals were a part of who I was and how much pleasure I get in brushing, picking hooves, and riding.  

This whole horse thing has the entire family involved! Lessons, care, and rides. I don't think you could ask for a better family activity. Fresh country air, animals, and family time. Can't ask for anything better.

BTW: If you need/want a riding instructor in the Houston area, please email me or post in the comments below with contact information and I will be happy to give you the name of ours!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Back in the Saddle

It has been pointed out to me that I have been seriously slacking in the blogging arena. I swear, I had EVERY intention of getting on here and writing. Really, I did. Life has been frustrating over the last month or so and I have been pushing with every little bit that I have had to get it whipped back into shape. That, and right before Christmas, we had a glut of work come through. If I wasn't working, then I was sleeping.

But that insanity has settled down, life is back to what passes for normal, and I am back to blogging. It is the first thing that I should do, short of praying, when life goes sideways, and yet, it always seems to be the first thing that gets pushed to the wayside. But for the grace of God, go I...

Finding the right house and property has been challenging to say the least. I don't have a huge budget and am not willing to settle for anything but right...I'm very frustrating to my realtor in that respect! But I have faith that the perfect house will show up for me when the time is right. I'll be the first to admit that I don't do well when the answer to my prayers is "wait".Then again, my Creator knows that I am that way and perhaps he gives me ample opportunities to learn how to "wait". Someday, that lesson might even filter into my thick skull!

In the meantime, I am tinkering with the idea of getting the herbs going and a few plants that will move pretty well. I'm trying not to put down too many more roots. (Pun totally intended!) Suffice it to say that the spring garden is going to be pretty pathetic. Tomatoes, peppers, peas, squashes and lettuces are probably all that I am going to put in. All of those should pretty mobile if I should need to pick up and move during their growing season.

I have cabbages, broccoli, and carrots in the ground right now and I am pretty much waiting for them to finish filling out before harvest. I have been running out to the garden every night to keep an eye on their progress.

I am back in the saddle again. In more ways than one, but those are posts for another day!