Monday, April 30, 2012

A Chicken Goes on Vacation

This week has been clean up week at Shalom Engedi Farm. We've cleaned and purged loads of stuff that was "kindly" left here for us by the previous owners. Yesterday afternoon we loaded up the van with our last load just as my brother and his wife came to visit for a few minutes. My daughter and my husband left for the dump about 20 minutes later and came back laughing! While they were pulling out a huge dresser- out popped a chicken who had stowed away while we were distracted by our company. 

The chicken seeing her chance for freedom flew out of the back door of the van and so began the merry chase. Everyone at the transfer station was gasping in laughter because no one had ever seen a chicken at the dump in the middle of the city before. With the help of many people my daughter finally caught her. They stuffed her into an empty garbage container for the trip home and so begun and ended our chicken's vacation. :lol:

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Food Storage: Whoops I made a cheese cake

In my recent food storage organization I came across a few cans of pineapple that were just past the "best before" date.  Not wanting it to go to waste I opened the cans and popped the contents - juice and all - into freezer bags to be used in our daily smoothies over the next week or two.

I wasn't paying close attention when I was opening up the cans and in the mix was a can of cherry pie filling.  It's not something we use very often because of the amount of sugar in it but before I knew it the can was open and I was staring at pie filling instead of pineapple.

Oh dear - what to do?  Make cheese cake of course!  I had some graham cracker crumbs and a few other ingredients and voila - problem solved!

Here's the recipe I revamped from one found on the allrecipes site: Oma's Cheese Cake

Anita's Whoops I Made A Cheese Cake.

Mix 2 cups of Graham cracker crumbs with 1/4 cup melted organic butter or coconut oil.
Press into a 12inch pie pan

In a food processor mix:
1 container of organic cottage cheese
1/2 cup organic milk or almond milk or other milk substitute
2 free range eggs
3 Tbsp. of organic whole wheat flour
1/4 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. lemon juice - fresh squeezed or bottled if that's what you have
1/3 cup agave syrup or honey

Pour the contents into the prepared pie shell.

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour - check after 45 minutes if your oven runs extra hot - the filling should be firm.

Allow to cool.  Pour the cherry pie filling over top.  Eat immediately or refrigerate until the next day when it will taste even better and the crust will be just-the-right-kind-of-deliciously-soggy.

I love the cheese part of this cheese cake so much next time I may make it without the pie filling and add fresh fruit instead. Whoops - that's how I made a Cherry Cheese Cake by mistake. 

Friday, April 27, 2012

Oh how I love Canning jars

I have a humongous collection of canning jars.  I'm not sure when it started but I have been collecting ever since.  NEVER-SAY-NO-TO-A-CANNING-JAR is my motto.  In my dreams I grow, produce and can enough food for all of us for a whole year - but that's just it- it's a dream at this point.  It doesn't stop me from trying though!  A friend of mine calls canning - embalming food.  That made me think for a moment or two and I suppose in some ways it's true but I decided there are certain foods I will continue to "embalm" because they don't taste very good raw - like dried beans for instance!  I am excited to try fermenting pickles when cucumber season rolls around again, trying a batch of kimchi and some more sauerkraut since fermenting is a completely different process and adds beneficial enzymes to our diet.

This week the weather wasn't so nice outside so I spent most of two days cleaning and organizing my food storage space.  I actually enjoy doing that.  As I cleaned and tidied I checked the cans for best-before dates and brought a few upstairs that we need to get to sooner than later.  I checked all my dried beans which I store in vacuum sealed canning jars for the bugs I told you about a few weeks ago - no more bugs thankfully!
Food Saver Jar attachment

coconut, lentils, yellow peas, black beans, green peas
I am still trying to figure out a system of what to do with the jars as we empty them.  My basement is old and a bit musty at times so cardboard boxes aren't the best solution for the long term. I have a few Styrofoam crates that once held grapes - those are a little easier to clean but I don't have nearly enough.  Any ideas?

I have been very fortunate to be the willing recipient of many cases of used canning jars - lots of them from my friend Downtown-Donna who seems to be a clearing house for older folks who are getting out of canning.   It took several hours to take my shelves apart and reorganize the empty jars while trying to come up with an estimated number of each kind.  I confused myself a lot.  I'm not sure I realised just how many different kinds there are...standard mouth quarts and large mouth quarts, about 5 or 6 kinds of pints (tall ones, short ones, standard and wide mouth as well), half-pints, square sided ones and several sizes that you can't safely can most foods in 1.5L and 1.9L (used for storage only) blue ones, yellow ones and green ones  - and how's that for switching between metric and imperial to confuse things even more. I think a trip to the Ball Jar Museum should be included in my next holiday!  If you're as crazy about jars as I am check out this web page:  Ball Jar Collection  My collection is teeny tiny in comparison - granted I actually use mine!

from Flickr- at the Ball Jar Museum
I have found that storing the jars up-side-down helps keep the nasties out of them. Some people mentioned they put the old lids and rings back on the jars to keep them clean but I end up confusing the new lids with the old that way. I decided to make a habit of throwing the lids out as soon as I am finished with them.  I keep the rings in a large cloth bag hanging on the basement door - that gives me one place to put them so I don't find them in every drawer in the kitchen and they can breath and air dry so they don't get rusty as quickly.

I have some of the beautiful glass topped jars with the zinc lids...which I wouldn't use for canning but I could use to store dried foods if I could find the rubber rings I need for them.  Although they were used for canning for many years it's impossible to tell if a good seal is made so I prefer the newer technology.  Without a sense of smell I need all the help I can get to make sure my food hasn't spoiled.

I also have a great supply of tall skinny pints that have the odd-sized lids that you can't get any more.  I have some creative ideas for summer projects with those - candle holder jars for the deck, growing herbs in jars in the kitchen window sill and painting jars different colours with glass paint are all added to my to-do list.  One thing I know - I CAN"T throw them out - that would go against my motto NEVER-SAY-NO-TO-A-CANNING-JAR!

Here's a great article on the history of Mason jars over the years and how some collectible ones could be worth $10000.00 - $15000.00 each!  

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Community and our new OLD table

In the years of WAITING-TO-MOVE I day-dreamed about what it would be like to live in a small community.  I grew up in a town that used to be small - when I was a child I knew almost everyone and certainly almost every adult knew that I was so-and-so's kid.  I remember walking into the post office and asking for the mail and getting Grandma and Grandpas while I was there - no questions ever asked.

Life just isn't like that any more - the simple friendships and slower pace of life seem to be long forgotten and perhaps more wonderful in my memories as I tend to remember the good things and forget the bad - or at least I was too young to know what was going on.

It takes a long time to "break into" a new community.  When I meet some new-to-me neighbours they inevitably ask where I live - my answer always used to be - in Bill & Barb's old house.  They would look at me quizzically so I would say - in Fred & Ruby's old farmhouse.  OH THERE!  Bill & Barb lived here for 23 years but I guess that wasn't long enough to make it theirs. 

One of the joys of moving to this community has been meeting "Down-town Donna" and her husband - they live where two roads cross so I teasing refer to her as Down-town Donna.  Donna is the niece of the original owners and is also the area historian. (and she taught my daughter and I to can all kinds of pickles last year)  We've spend many hours over tea talking about who-is-related-to-whom and what life was like back-in-the-day.  The other day she showed us some photos she's getting ready for a community project.  In one there was 14 feet of snow in front of our house.  She remembers being cautioned to not reach above their heads or they would touch the hydro wires.  The pictures showed every able-bodied man in the area digging out the road.  It was a near impossible job but they did it anyway. 

She also showed us a black and white photo of Aunt Ruby and a group of ladies standing by the back door of our home on a beautiful spring day... and there was a back porch right where I wanted to build one.

During our very first tea chat we got talking about my desire for a bigger table in the dining room.  They mentioned that they had an old wooden table out in the shed - it had been out there for about 20 years.  They had tried to give it to their daughters but no one in the family wanted it.  The table had  originally come from our farmhouse.  Would we like to have it back?  Sight unseen I said a very enthusiastic YES!

We dragged it out of the shed and put in in the van and I brought it home.  I loved the table just the way it was with it's worn look but it was far too small for our needs in the dining room so it went upstairs to be put to use as a card table for a year while I thought about what to do with it.  I had an idea but I needed to be sure!

This week I made up my mind.  The table was either going to languish mostly unused in the corner or it would have a glorious new purpose as a huge coffee table where we could all enjoy it.

I have my brave moments but big cutting power tools are a little outside my comfort zone - not that I let that stop me!  I set up the table saw and went to it.  I had to force myself not to think about it too much because I was cutting the legs off of a 100 year old antique table and it does go against my grain of restoring things.  When it was over and everything was reassembled we were all very pleased.  

We now have a huge coffee table - big enough for the food platters when everyone comes home to visit and a reminder that life has been happening here at the farm for 150 years or more.  I wonder at the many meals taken around that table and the conversations that would have ranged from politics and farming to how cold the outhouse was in the winter.  I suspect it may have been a place were hurts were shared and grace was said over the meals.  It feels right to be part of our everyday lives.

Welcome home table!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Churning Butter with Lehman's Best

For years I have been oogling Dazey Butter churns in antique shops.  My love for old fashioned metal and glass kitchen implements nearly overcame my common sense on several occasions.  The older style butter churns have a wooden paddle and all I could think was: It will look great on the shelf but there is no way I would make butter in it because the paddle would never be clean enough for me!

Picture from

Enter Lehman's Best Butter Churn.  Brand new and modelled after the Dazey it has a metal paddle and a glass jar base so it will still look pretty on the shelf and it will be clean.

Lehman's Best Butter Churn

Before we continue we should have the "Is Butter Better?" discussion.   You can read the more technical reasons by clicking on the link but my simple answer is:  In our family we eat real food as often as possible albeit in limited quantities so we eat butter.  We also choose coconut oil and olive oil in some cases but margarine - regardless of the hype - is not on the grocery list.

Here's a sample of the article referenced above:

It's no longer a secret that the margarine Americans have been spreading on their toast, and the hydrogenated fats they eat in commercial baked goods like cookies and crackers, is the chief culprit in our current plague of cancer and heart disease.But mainline nutrition writers continue to denigrate butter--recommending new fangled tub spreads instead. These may not contain hydrogenated fats but they are composed of highly processed rancid vegetable oils, soy protein isolate and a host of additives. 

A glitzy cookbook called Butter Busters promotes butter buds, made from maltodextrin, a carbohydrate derived from corn, along with dozens of other highly processed so-called low-fat commercial products.

Who benefits from the propaganda blitz against butter? The list is a long one and includes orthodox medicine, hospitals, the drug companies and food processors. But the chief beneficiary is the large corporate farm and the cartels that buy their products--chiefly cotton, corn and soy--America's three main crops, which are usually grown as monocultures on large farms, requiring extensive use of artificial fertilizers and pesticides. All three--soy, cotton and corn--can be used to make both margarine and the new designer spreads. In order to make these products acceptable to the up-scale consumer, food processors and agribusiness see to it that they are promoted as health foods. We are fools to believe them. 

The rest of the article is worth reading as well.

For my first butter churning event I chose to use 3 cartons of 35% Organic Meadow Whipping Cream - not exactly a financially sound way of doing things since my butter cost about $3.00 more than the equivalent amount of organic butter in the store but I consider $3.00 a good investment in my education.  

Churning took a little longer than I expected so after about a half hour while watching a movie I enlisted my sons help for a bit.  

I knew we were done when the the butter separated from the butter milk.  It's hard to see in the picture so just churn till your arm nearly falls off and you should be done!

Then I poured off the butter milk - saving it - and added cold water to the churn. I could hardly turn it at this point because the butter was getting really stiff.  I poured off the water again and dumped the remaining butter into a large bowl. Now it looked like butter.  I continued to rinse the butter with cold water using a large wooden spoon to press the butter against the side of the bowl to squeeze out any remaining buttermilk.  If the buttermilk doesn't get rinsed out the butter will sour very quickly.  This is the point when you decide if you want salted or unsalted butter - I added about a 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt.

When it was done I had two mugs of buttermilk and two small mugs of butter.  We did taste testing immediately.  The buttermilk tasted like regular milk which surprised me because the buttermilk of my childhood was thick and NOT-MY-FAVORITE.

The butter tasted great - just like butter should - amazing isn't it.  I kept thinking about the many times I have had whipped cream on's kinda like eating pie with a 1/2 pound of butter on top - ha.   

Of course you could skip the fancy churn and just put the cream in a large glass jar with a tight fitting lid and shake it for 1/2 hour or do what the early cowboys did - put the jar in their saddle packs and by the end of a long day of riding the butter would be churned!...of course that would require buying a horse so maybe the butter churn was a cheap way to go after all!

So perhaps the real question is - Why bother making your own butter?  Besides the educational value of knowing that cream turns into butter and that organic grass-fed resulting butter is nutritionally superior to margarine (and even conventional butter) and besides that it was a fun experiment...

...It's one of the things I'll need to know how to do when we buy a cow or start milking the sheep - and DH I'm only half kidding.  I wonder if cows come in white with red spots?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

WATER: Prepping Steps in the Right Direction

I like the layered approach to prepping - some people call this the one-is-none/two-is-one/three-is-two principle.  If you've never heard the saying before it means that having a backup to the backup is a good way to go because sometimes your first and most obvious choice gets broken, doesn't work out, runs out of gas or you can't find it when you need it so it's on to Plan B or C.  It works for just about anything.

For example: Water.  We all expect that clean and purified water will just pour out of every tap whenever we want it. Most of the time this is true however one camping trip showed me that depending completely on someone else wasn't very wise.  About ten years ago we were camping in a provincial park on a busy Thanksgiving weekend and woke up Monday morning to no water.  This wasn't a simple problem that would soon be fixed - there was absolutely NO water because the beautiful weekend had brought scores of visitors to the park and basically they had run the water reservoir dry.  It wasn't coming back on.  No tea.  No shower.  No way to wash your hands. Not a nice wakeup call.  Anita-The-Calm turned into Anita-the-NOT-VERY-HAPPY-CAMPER!  Of course in hindsight the solution was obvious - fill up the large camping containers as soon as they were empty, have a water filter in the camping equipment and have bottled water on hand.  You can bet THAT situation never happened with the same results again!   Did you notice that was THREE ways to deal with the problem? 

I also remember when we first were married and living in a town-house.  We were informed that because the neighbour needed to do some plumbing the water would be turned off the next morning.  I didn't believe them!  Why wouldn't they have installed individual shut-offs?  I was sure they were mistaken.   I WAS the one mistaken!  Half way through my shower the next morning they shut off the water and being young and foolish I hadn't filled any containers either. 

The other NO-WATER story I've shared in an earlier post.  You can find it here:  Power Outage. The power went out for 2 days soon after we moved to the farm and we found out the hard way that with no electricity we also had no well pump or sump pump which meant too much water in the wrong place - namely my basement floor - and none coming out of the tap!

These are just a few examples from my own life - can you think of any in yours?

My shelf in the basement doesn't have quite as many bottles on it as on the rack in this picture but you can bet we are stocked up on large jugs.

We also have a collection of old juice and water bottles that we refill with tap water.  Those bottles are mostly used for flushing the toilet which of course ALSO doesn't work without water.

The water gets rotated out regularly to water plants or poured through our Berkey filter and used as drinking water.  We use our Berkey daily because we get our water from a well.  It doesn't require electricity and the ceramic filters are washable and do not need replacing for a very long time.  We love our Berkey - it takes all the stress out of wondering if last nights big rain storm overwhelmed the well and contaminated the water with the run-off . has this to say about their water purification system.

Berkey water filters provide the ultimate in water bourne contamination removal. Berkey is used worldwide and sets the international standard for water filters used in clean or hostile filtration environments. Able to utilize almost any outside natural source and transform it to the best tasting, purest drinking water possible, using a natural method without the use of chemicals or complicated processes.
The Berkey water filter system is so powerful it is Classified as a purifier, this classification shows that Berkey far exceeds the abilities of the standard water filter. The portable Berkey can be used to filter non-potable or unhealthy water in situations where electricity and pressure are not available. For normal everyday water filtering applications from your faucet or for challenging filtration environments like wells, rivers and lakes, Berkey is the most flexible and adaptable filtering system available. Berkey water costs just 1.7 cents per gallon to produce, the cleanable replacement cartridge provides an economical, reliable and powerful long term solution to poor water quality issues that cannot be equaled. Our most popular model, the Big Berkey has a long standing reputation for quality and service, this reputation is the reason we are trusted around the world by numerous international relief organizations to provide clean emergency drinking water to workers and citizens during times of crisis or natural disaster.

That's already three ways we deal with water on a daily basis and in an emergency at our home.  We could also use the Berkey with water from a rain barrel or the cistern but it would be a really good idea to pre-filter the water to remove debris by at least using some coffee filters.  Some people go as far as building elaborate sand filters which are pretty cool and would make a great home schooling project.  Here's a YouTube video that gives a simple explanation and you can find many more with a Google search.

If you are in a desperate situation boiling the water will kill micro-organisms - to be on the safe side allow the water to boil rapidly for 1 minute - but it won't do anything about chemical residue so be careful where you find your water.  Since I am not a scientist nor  a mathematician I will bow to someone with more mathematical skills than I when it comes to purifying water with bleach and other chemicals.

Other sources of water in a home are the hot water tank and even the toilet tank - if we're drinking water out of the toilet tank we have big problems indeed!

If ONE-IS-NONE what's your two and three?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Who's that knocking at the door?

We have several ducks at Shalom Engedi but this pair is probably the most entertaining.  They are best friends with Pom-Pom Head -mother of the new duckling and yes - this is the psycho Papa who killed most of his children.  

Most of the time the three of them hang out together but right now Pom-Pom Head is locked in her pen with her one-remaining-child for their protection - a few more days and they will be let out for short amounts of time each day until baby can handle a full day of running around.  The picture below was taken before the rampage. 

My daughter and I bought the three adult ducks from a small farm near Peterborough.  They were wanting to sell some of their Rouen Ducks (the dark colored ones) but we took one look at Pom-Pom Head and started laughing - she looked so funny with that big fluff ball on her head.  We were smitten so the kind farmer threw her in with the deal.  We found out later she was a Crested White Duck.

The female (above) and the male (below) have not yet hatched out any eggs of their own so we've locked them up together at night in a separate pen to see if we can get momma to start a nest. 

We've never actually picked up any of these ducks.  We can herd them where they need to go so it's never been necessary to catch one.  They are very skittish and waddle quacking away from you when ever you walk by - they do know who's in charge however and where to come if things aren't quite as they should be.

The other night when everyone else got locked up in their pens they decided to pull an all-nighter and were no where to be found at bedtime.  We locked up the barn and went inside hoping they would find a safe place for the night in one of the outbuildings.  About an hour later as it was getting REALLY dark and we heard:  Knock knock..knock knock knock.  What was that?  I headed for the back door and there they were sitting on the back windowsill tapping on the window with their beaks as if to say - Ah we changed our minds...can you put us to bed now?

They followed me to the barn quacking happily and went straight to their pen and before you wonder - YES they know exactly which pen is theirs so it's not hard to sort everyone out at night.  We just open the doors and in they go.

The Muscovy mommas are sitting on a huge nest of eggs right now and they should hatch any day.  There's nothing cuter than baby ducklings...except maybe a baby lamb!

We've had a hard time naming him but we finally decided on Aran Fredrick Bernard III - if they all get names that long we're going to run out but it seems appropriate since he's the very first lamb born on the farm.  Aran is Jewish and means Joyous, Fredrick is the name of the original farmer and Bernard because one of the kids in our youth group thought it would be funny to use my DH middle name.  That's a mouthful for such a little guy!

Anybody knocking on your door?

Monday, April 9, 2012

Starting seeds Indoors

One of my favourite things to do in the midst of cold-and-snowy-winter is to dream of spring and gardening and things blooming and coming back to life.  This year as I perused the seed catalogs and  dreamed of life-after-winter I wondered how I could WIN with starting my own seeds.  Last year was a horrible-dismal failure.  I threw everything out and bought my tomato and pepper plants, planted a few seeds and did better than I expected in the end.  THIS year I want to learn some more and do better yet.  So I set up my seed-growing operation on wire metal shelving and added shop lights with the proper light bulbs.  I saw these in the catalog - the prices were more than I could justify - but the idea was GREAT.

I didn't keep very good records of exactly how much it cost - probably somewhere quite north of the cost of the plants I bought last year.  I still have high hopes that I will save some money since some of the peppers are already sprouting but I am a realist so upwards and onwards - any progress is better than none!  I am grateful that most of my purchases are re-usable from year to year.

After last years disaster I read up on starting seeds and discovered that the MOST common problem was starting them too soon.  I can see it happening - we all just want to see something green in January... so I waited until April.  This year seems like a joke.  We've hardly had a "normal" winter this year -  I wore shorts in March in Ontario.  I did restrain myself however and ignored the beautiful weather that jump-started my desire to just start planting outside. Well - I did enjoy the weather - I just didn't plant anything.

My indoor light garden now holds organic yellow peppers, a miniature pepper, several kinds of organic tomatoes, peas, marigolds, petunias and several kinds of herbs.  Considering that I bought 11 tomato plants and 6 pepper plants last year I should be well supplied with 260 starts.  I have yet to figure out where I am going to put them IF they all come up and don't die in the mean time.

I really should be out in the garden getting it ready while it's still dry enough to work out there.  That was my other mistake last year.  I left it too late and when I finally HAD-TO-DO-SOMETHING because it was JUNE I got a neighbour to roto-till the garden for me.  After all the spring rain it was too wet and eventually it all turned into concrete because the roto-tiller took all the air pockets out of the dirt. 

That we ate anything out of the garden last year was a miracle.  I will probably need another one this year - but isn't that what it's all about?  Every spring as winter recedes while spring pushes it's way through until the day comes when you no longer fear that it's going to snow - that's a miracle.  That's REAL spring.   I'm still waiting for REAL spring while watching my seedlings sprout and counting the days till the last weekend of May when I can plant without fear of frost.

I have so many plans.  I want to try straw bale gardening in some places, I need to move the chicken coop litter to the garden, I want to build fences and trellis's for tomatoes, I need to build a structure for the raspberry bushes.  I want to plant more fruit trees and bushes. I want to make  rain barrel system out of an old barrel and attach some soaker hoses...and on and on it goes.  One day at a time and if I get half of it done this year maybe that will be enough.  

I know MOM - Rome wasn't built in a day!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Canning Spicy Beans

Are you putting your food storage and your skills to work?  Most people have dried beans stored because IT-WAS-ON-A-LIST and NEVER eat them.  here's what to do with those beans.

We love beans in our home but they are not exactly "fast food".  Canning solves that problem and makes a bean taco night or bean soup night easy-peasy and super fast.

I've had some kidney beans in storage for awhile and was in the mood to do some canning so I made Spicy Kidney Beans.  

This recipe works the same for almost all large dry beans - lentils need not apply as they will be really mushy if you soak them this long.   

First wash and sort your beans - pick out the broken ones and the random lima beans that get in there somehow.  Then cover them with water for 15-18 hours.  I rinse them several times and cover with fresh water whenever I walk back into the kitchen and think about it - three times is plenty but you don't HAVE to do it.  

The more soaking and rinsing the less gas-producing the finished product will be. There are recipes on the net that advocate the EASY way to can dried beans is by adding them dry to the canning jar and processing them so they cook in the jar - see sentence above about gas-production!  

One other reason that this EASY way wasn't such a grand idea became abundantly clear when I rinsed some dry white beans this week - I thought they were awfully dirty until I realised that those black specks were dead bugs - probably weevils that came in with the beans.  I'm glad they were stored in mason jars that were vacuumed-sealed with the lid attachment.  I should have frozen the beans for a week before I stored them.   Yuck - not the kind of extra protein I was hoping for!  I let those ones soak and fed a bunch to the chickens but they didn't seem too crazy about them either!

Back to the kidney beans - that DIDN'T have bugs - In a large stock pot cover the beans with fresh water and boil for 30 minutes. 

My faithful Presto 
A 7 quart kettle.

Into each washed clean quart jar add 1tsp. of pickling salt, 1 tsp. of dehydrated garlic chunks or fresh garlic, 1/4 tsp. of black pepper and 1/4 tsp. of chilli powder.  Add hot beans leaving 1 inch of head space.  Cover with boiling water - that's where the kettle comes in!  Cover with hot lids and rings and process in a PRESSURE CANNER for 90 minutes at 10lbs pressure (your pressure may vary if you live at a different altitude - so check first!)

After allowing your canner to de-pressurize remove jars and let cool for 12 hours or more without disturbing them.  I use a large cookie rack with a tea towel on top and put them out of the way on the counter.

We have hard water so adding a little vinegar to the canner will help to alleviate some of the hard water stains on the jars but sometimes they still come out looking cloudy.  After the 12 hours is up I spray the jars with a mixture of vinegar and water, remove the rings and wipe the jars to remove the stains and any bean-gunk.  

I store my jars without the rings and use a large Sharpie marker to write directly on the lids.  I don't re-use my lids for canning but they can be re-used for storing dry items.

Now you know what to do with all those beans.  The spices in this recipe can be adjusted to your taste and used in bean soup, bean tacos, bean salads or anywhere you need protein and a bit of kick.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Ist baby at Shalom Engedi Farm

It's been an exciting morning at Shalom Engedi Farm. 

I have been living in anxious excitement about the lambing process - anxious because I've never done this before and excitement because I've never done this before!  

I have read every article, every book and pumped every person I know for information about lambing.  I have stayed up at night worrying about every possible complication and what I would do if it happened.  I was excited but I admit to being more-than-a-little-anxious only to wake up this morning and find baby lamb number 1 already born and walking around and everything was pretty much over.

Having babies is so distracting - I have accomplished nothing else but oogling little lamby who still needs a real name...

We also had our first ducklings of the year hatch out last weekend.  Four sweet little fluff balls survived the hatching but tragedy struck when Papa Duck went on a rampage and killed three of them.  He has of course been relocated to another pen for the time being!  As someone said:  He must have gone Quackers.  He's gonna turn into Duck Stew if he does it again!

Back out to the barn to check on lamby and Momma.