A Tractor!

At long last we have a tractor!

DSCN3043DSCN3060DSCN3065Usually tractors in our price range don’t run and/or have multiple things wrong with them but this time we got lucky. A neighbor, who is also a mechanic, has been working on this tractor for some time and, while it is rusty, it runs like a top! Everything works i.e. the PTO, lift arms etc and it has a trailer and chains for the tires . All we need to do is to fix the headlights and get the right lift arms so we’ll have a bucket up front.

DSCN3058Struggling_along also got a great deal on a slightly used ATV.  The boys LOVE it.

DSCN3021Suddenly getting around the property doesn’t mean a long walk with the wheel barrow in the summer or the sled if it’s winter. We have a lot of plans that will now be possible (and a lot easier) with a little mechanical help. We’re all quite excited!

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In the Kitchen {Breakfast}

Breakfast has always been my most favorite meal of the day – both to eat and cook. None the less sometimes a little inspiration is needed and I’ve been finding The Art of Breakfast by Dana Moos full ideas and delicious recipes. I can only dream of having a full breakfast the inn she kept and served breakfast at.

DSCN3008Recently our mornings have been full of sweet crepes (with blueberry topping) and goats milk to cut the sweetness:

DSCN2883DSCN2889And various renditions of Sour Cream Coffee Cake. Dana’s recipe is for a large Bundt pan but we have been dividing it, based on the amount of ingredients I have on hand. First the boys and I tried a quarter batch filling it with a morning’s picking of blueberries (the ones that made it past our mouths and into the bucket). Everyone took turns adding the ingredients; then arguing over who got to lick clean the scraper.  It was a hot morning so we baked it in the toaster oven outside so it got a little over browned on top. Still delicious!

DSCN2859 We had another go this time making a half batch. Since I wanted to save some for our weekend camping trip I decided mini muffins would be the most likely to last.

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This time we used her pecan, cinnamon and sugar filling. My favorite! Everyone had a sample then I quickly packed the rest up for they disappeared.

DSCN3020One of these days I’ll be making a full batch (or two) I just love this coffee cake!

Also delicious from the Art of Breakfast is her recipe for Chilled Beets with Goat Cheese and Orange Vinaigrette. The goat cheese isn’t done yet but I’ve been enjoying the beets with the vinaigrette – which she also includes the recipe for – in the meantime.

Since my current favorite breakfast is Sour Cream Coffee Cake I’ll share the recipe with you. This is for a full batch.

Preheat oven 350F.

Combine 2 sticks of butter and 2 cups of sugar in a mixer, till creamy.

Add 1 cup of sour cream and 2 eggs. Mix till smooth.

Add in 1 Tlb vanilla extract, 2 cups flour,1/4 tsp salt, 1 tsp baking powder.

In a well-greased Bundt pan pour in half the batter.

Top batter with the following mixture: 1 Tlb melted butter,1 tsp cinnamon,3 Tlb dark brown sugar, 3 Tlb chopped pecans.

Pour the rest of the batter on top.

Bake 50- 60 minutes (until a toothpick comes out clean). Cool completely before removing from the pan. Muffins and partial batches takes less time. Regular sized muffins about 30-35 minutes.

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Chicken Kiev

DSCN9992As far as chicken dinners go chicken kiev is one of my family’s favorites. It looks fancy but it’s pretty easy to make. This recipe was passed down from my mother-in-law when struggling_along and I married 10 years ago. I still remember the first time I made chicken kiev. Having never made it before, I did not realize that the chicken was supposed to be wrapped around the filling. I had simply rolled them up, allowing all the butter and herbs to melt right out into the bottom of the pan! It was still edible but it’s even better if you succeed in keeping the butter and herbs sealed in the center of the chicken.

The Recipe

First prepare 6 boneless, skinless, spilt chicken breasts by flattening them so that they are even in thickness and a bit larger, which makes them easier to roll up.Then combine the herbs in a small dish:

1/4 tsp dried tarragon

2 Tlb  dried parsley

1/8 tsp pepper

1/2 tsp salt

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Then, using 1 Tlb butter for each piece of chicken, dip the butter into the herb mixture and coat well. Place the herbed butter in the middle of each piece of chicken.

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Roll the chicken up, around the butter, trying to tuck in the ends of the chicken. Secure with a tooth pick.

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Coat in a 1/3rd cup flour (or cornstarch if you want it gluten-free). Use the flour to help seal the ends of the chicken.

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Then dip the floured chicken into 1 egg beaten.

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Coat in 1-2 cups of bread crumbs (use gluten-free bread to make gf crumbs).

DSCN9959Place in a buttered baking dish. I like to use a Pyrex dish.

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Bake at 425 for 5 minutes then turn the oven down to 400 and bake for 40 minutes or till done. Baste with any butter that does melt into the pan.

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DSCN9982Serve and enjoy! Serves 4-6. This chicken goes well with a lot of different sides. For this particular dinner I made roasted potatoes and peas but any veggies, mashed potatoes, rice pilaf or what have you works well.

DSCN9991Here’s the recipe again, in short form:

Chicken Kiev

6 pieces chicken breast

1/4 tsp tarragon

2 Tlb parsley                   -Mix these herbs together

1/8 tsp pepper

1/2 tsp salt

6 Tlb butter                   -Coat in above herb mixture

Roll up chicken around butter and secure with a toothpick. Dip chicken into (in order)

1/3 cup flour

1 egg beaten

1-2 cups bread crumbs

Place in a lightly buttered pan. bake at 425-5 minutes then at 400 – 40 minutes. Baste with any pan butter.

That’s it.

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Bees- Inspecting the hive

Every two weeks I check on my bees. My favorite part of a hive inspection is the smell of the smoker, a sweet smokey smell, reminding me of honeycomb and wood fire. Second to that is the walk to the hive through our hayfield. The variety of plants, insects and animals are endless. Third to that is finding the queen – a “find it” challenge not too unlike Where’s Waldo.

I took along my camera on the latest walk/hive inspection:

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Milkweed

And the purpose of this journey – the hive:

DSCN2458DSCN2451 DSCN2444You can see some of the larvae in this one (above). Especially in the upper left hand corner.

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DSCN2755 DSCN2754The Queen. Towards the top of the photo, look for the large body and short wings.

The hive is doing well. Inspections are starting to feel routine and a little bit like I know what I’m doing. A little bit.

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{KCCO} A Little Sewing

In moments here and there I’ve been able to squeeze a little sewing. It’s a little harder than fitting in time for knitting as I have to have the space and time open for prepping the fabric, cutting out the pattern, pinning and finally sewing- all without those helpful little hands- well, being not so helpful. But with a couple easy “2 hour” patterns I have managed two skirts and a new apron.

Taking pictures of one’s self isn’t too easy so here are only parts of the finished items. The first two are skirts using New Look pattern 6354. The first photo is E and the second F which is a tad fuller. I left off the decorative ribbons.

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This one is a See & Sew apron. Pattern B5125 option A. I really like this apron and the fabric. The trouble is I don’t want it getting stained and eventually all my aprons get stained. Ah well.

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This post is part of KCCO.

For the Love of Critters

What have we been up to? Well, if you’re one of the boys, it likely involves some sort of critter. Personally, I have never been a huge fan of snakes but it seems my boys are budding herpetologists. Thankfully the only snakes we’ve seen around here are garter snakes which are at least harmless and they do eat a lot garden pests, like snails, which we have in abundance. While we are a little break from officially homeschooling we have been been learning a lot about garter snakes- what they eat, how to distinguish a male from a female, that they give birth to live young (often a lot of live young), how long they get, and so on. We’ve even begun measuring the snakes the boys catch.So far the longest has been a 25 inch long female- we’re guessing she’s about 2 years old since she’s not quite as long has females can get when they reach full size at 3-4 years.

It’s quite wet around here, due to the almost daily rain and the slight downhill drainage of our hayfield/backyard, so we also have some frogs- which the boys are quite adept at catching- mostly peep frogs who serenade us to sleep, and this green frog fellow.

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A peep frog.

DSCN2647 DSCN2655Luckily snakes and frogs aren’t the only fascination. We’ve also been observing butterflies and moths. Quite fittingly we just observed 5 painted lady caterpillars transform into butterflies.

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A virginia ctenucha Ezra caught.

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A little friend joining us for some pineapple juice breakfast.

Of course, the kittens are still favorites.

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And there’s always fun riding our buck Manson.

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What will they find next?!

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Gone

The barn has been down for some time now; finally I present the finished results.

But first, here is the Parker Dexter barn before:

barn outside 2And after:

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DSCN2473DSCN2481DSCN2474Just a cement slab, the goat barn, and a huge burn pile (of unsalvageable material) is left.

DSCN2484Now the work of residing the house begins. Summer is always a busy time and we have a LOT of projects going on. This recent hiatus has been due to computer troubles, which are hopefully behind us, so farm/ family updates and new posts should be resuming as usual.

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