Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Welcome to the Homestead: Homemade Ricotta

I recently discovered how cost affective it was to make your own ricotta cheese rather than buy it! It was incredibly easy and you don't need anything special to make it, just basic ingredients!

What you need

1 Gallon of milk (NOT ultra pasteurized) I've found that Kirkland brand works well.
6 Tbs. Vinegar (or lemon juice but I have not tried lemon juice personally.)
1-2 tsp salt depending on taste.
Cheese cloth
Plain old colander
1 pan of Chocolate Peanut Butter bars (optional but highly recommended)

This can also be halved. I used half a gallon of milk and 3 Tbs. of vinegar the first time and it worked beautifully

How you do it

In a heavy bottomed pan pour in milk

Add salt

Turn to medium heat, if you have a thermometer plop it on in there now. You want it to reach about 180-185 degrees or right before boiling, a soft simmer.

While waiting eat a Chocolate Peanut Butter Bar, or two or three. Oh and stir occasionally so as not to scorch your milk.

In the mean time place cheese cloth, 4 layers thick, in colander. I forgot to take a picture but you get the idea.Once milk reaches desired temperature remove from heat and stir in vinegar.

Stir for a few minutes, you should see it curdling almost right away.

Scoop into cheese cloth lined colander with slotted spoon until all of curdles are in cloth. You can drain the water over after into another pan to use for boiling noodles.

Once all curds are in wrap up and hang. I hang mine from the faucet.

For more creamy ricotta only hang for a minute or for a firm crumbly ricotta for 5-10 minutes.

And there you have it, fresh, homemade, cheap, ricotta! You can refrigerate for up to 2 weeks or use right away. Recipe for the Manicotti that this beautiful batch went into coming soon!  Happy cheese making!
A tub with less than this amount in it cost around $2.70-$3.00. A gallon of milk cost $2.00 here. Cheese cloth is also quite cheap and vinegar super cheap. I love homemade ricotta!  To see what I did with this beautiful batch check here. Happy cheese making!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Recipalooza: Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars

If you are a peanut butter fan these are Fab-u-lous! And? Super easy and fun to make!

What you'll need

1 1/4 c. peanut butter
3/4 c. butter softened
3/4 c. brown sugar
3/4 c. white sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 c. oatmeal (quick or old fashioned)
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt
1 recipe of chocolate frosting

How you do it

Heat oven to 350 F.

In a large bowl cream one cup of peanut butter, butter, and both sugars, until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs. Add flour, soda, oats, vanilla, and salt. Mix well.

Spread dough into sprayed 9x13 pan.

Bake for about 15-18 minutes, until edges start to brown.

Remove from oven in a particularly cute way.

Plop dollops of the remaining 1/4 c. of peanut butter on top and return to oven for a few minutes to melt it down.

Remove from oven and spread evenly over bars. Let cool down for about 15 minutes before spreading chocolate frosting over top. Place in refrigerator for 1-2 hours to cool. Cut into bars. ENJOY!

Recipalooza: Easy No-Bake Chocolate Frosting

Super easy and super yummy! It really speaks for it's self.

What you'll need

1/4 c. butter, melted
1/3 c. cocoa powder
2-2 1/2 Tbs. milk
1/2 tsp. Vanilla
2-3 c. powdered sugar

How you do it

All you do is mix up the first 4 ingredients until well blended and then beat in powdered sugar 1 cup at a time to desired consistency. And Waah-Blam Chocolate frosting!

Even baby Ellie helped...

With the clean-up!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Becoming a Proverbs 31 Woman Challenge: Day 2

Day two of "Becoming a Proverbs 31 Woman" challenge is so very important. We live in a time when we are expected to fail in our marriage. Now is the time to lift our husbands up and bring them good to survive the hardship they face.

Day 2: Verse 12

She brings him good, not harm,
   all the days of her life.
Proverbs 31: 12

 If you did not start with day 1 of the challenge you may go back and read it now or turn to Proverbs 31 in your bible and read the first two verses of the Epilogue: The Wife Of Noble Character, starting in verse 10 of Proverbs 31. You will see that when it says "she brings him good and not harm" it is speaking of a wife and her husband.

 She brings him good and not harm ALL the days of her life. What an amazing accomplishment that is! Most of us can't say that we have never brought harm our husbands way, whether through becoming angry and saying  things that were hurtful or any other mistake that was not in the best interest of our beloveds.  How can we move forward from that and decide now that we will be that wife that brings good and not harm to our husbands all the days of our life?

When you wake up in the morning are you thinking of how you can make your husband have full confidence in you? How you can bring him good that day? I know that there are days when it may feel as though he doesn't deserve it or you may think "he doesn't do anything for me". But if we truly want to model ourselves as a Proverbs 31 women we must look at what it says. It does not say bring him good as he deserves it.

 Today my challenge for verse 12 is to transform your thinking, if it is not already there, to know that this is your role as a wife. There are no "buts" or "ifs", if we are to follow God's role for our lives we are to bring our husbands good and not harm all the days of our life.

Here are some practical ways that you can start to transform your thinking to focus on bringing your husband good because that is what God asks of you.  For 31 days let us try these and see how our husband can be blessed.

1. Each morning upon waking sit down with your morning cup of coffee or tea and write down 1 thing that you absolutely LOVE about your husband. At the end of the 31 days you will have a good list to refer to when you are upset with your husband.

2. When you see your husband in the morning what is the first thing you usually say to him? How about when you part ways for the day? Or when you come back together at the end of the day? If it does not fall in line with Proverbs 16:24  Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. Then my challenge to you is make sure that it does. Instead of "don't forget to" or "I need_____ before dinner tonight", make it, "Hi Honey, I hope you have a great day, I love you." Or "I just called to see how you are doing and say I love you."  Listen to that Proverb closely as it is very telling. If your marriage is already hurting remember that Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and HEALING TO THE BONES.

3. Pray for your husband at least once a day! This is the most important of these challenges! Our husbands face a world that tells them they will fail every day. If you do not pray for them to be the great spiritual leaders God wants them to be, who will? Our husbands need our prayer. We should be petitioning God every day with great passion to lift up our husbands to be men of God. Men of honor. Men of courage. Men of valor. Our husbands need this!

4. Be your husbands cheerleader. Speak encouraging words to your husband. Proverbs 12:25 says "An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up." If your marriage is hurting you need to remember that your husband will pick up on a condescending attitude while doing it. Think of encouraging words that you are saying with sincerity.  Encourage your husband to be the men God wants them to be, not the men you want them to be. This is also very important. Sometimes we let our own selfish desires cloud the way we encourage our husbands.

So there is the plan. For 31 days I challenge you to put these four items on your to do list. It is doable and our marriage can only be blessed from it.

I forgot to say on day 1's challenge that I am also memorizing each part of Proverbs 31's Epilogue: The Wife Of Noble Character. I have found , for me, that saying the verse over and over again while doing a task imprints it in my mind. I memorized verses 10-11 while mowing the lawn.  Join me in this part so as to always have these words of wisdom imprinted on our minds as wives and mothers. Since I did not add this on day one here is all three verses to memorize. I know you can do it!

A wife of noble character who can find?
   She is worth far more than rubies.
Her husband has full confidence in her
   and lacks nothing of value.
 She brings him good, not harm,
   all the days of her life. 
~Proverbs 31:10-12~

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Becoming a Proverbs 31 Woman Challenge: Day 1

I have been pondering much on what it means to be a "Proverbs 31 woman". The character qualities and actions that are necessary. It has been a weight on my mind that this is becoming a lost trait in wives and mothers. I know there are many wives and mothers out there that desire to be the women that is spoken of in these verses. I will be going through each verse of  Proverbs 31's "The Wife of Noble Character" and examining what each verse is telling us and how we can become that woman. I would like to challenge each of you  to do the challenge with me. 

Day 1: Verses 10-11

10 [b]A wife of noble character who can find?
   She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her
   and lacks nothing of value. ~ Proverbs 31: 10-11
What a statement!  What does it mean to have worth far more than rubies? What is God telling us here? If our worth is far above rubies and our husbands have full confidence in us what should that look like in our home?  In a day when many of us women have grown up having been told things such as "we can do/be anything we want", or "we deserve to be treated like a princess", or "you do whatever makes you happy", it is easy to forget God's Word and what He tells us...
  • "We deserve to be treated like a princess" -As sinners, we deserve nothing, all we have is by the grace of God and His tender mercies on us.
  • "We can do/be anything we want" -Our purpose is to grow to serve God and fulfill His plan for us.
  • "You do whatever makes you happy" - If we do everything that makes us "happy" we will end up engulfed in sin and selfish desires. Satan loves to tell us what will make us happy but it always ends in hurt and disappointment. 
Many women today feel as though they should be pampered and should not have to work in their home. When we grow up hearing the ways of the world and not the ways of God this is fully expected and takes a real conscious effort in order to take on the attitude of serving your family.  
So my challenge to you today is to find three ways to help your husband to "have full confidence in you" and make sure he lacks nothing of value.

My Three

  1. Get up each morning before my husband and make sure he has a good, full breakfast before he goes to work.
  2. Ask My husband if there is anything I can do for him at least once a day.
  3. Do a 15 minute tidy up each day before he comes home from work.
I would love if you would share with me what your three things will be. I would love to pray for you on this journey!  As we journey to serve the Lord and our families may we lift each other up and pray for each other.

The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down. ~Proverbs 14:1


Holding On For Dear Life

How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever?
         How long will You hide Your face from me?
  How long shall I take counsel in my soul,
         Having sorrow in my heart daily?
         How long will my enemy be exalted over me? —Psalm 13:1-2

The ups and downs of life; one of the many ill affects of sin. As someone who loves my life and adores my family I have intense guilt when life overwhelms me and I feel down for no real reason other than life is sometimes overwhelming.

Most of us have heard the numerous conversations and sermons about how the world has been desensitized to the pain and hurting all around us. Most of us have at least some affects of this in our lives. Surely not all things that break the heart of God break our heart. That being said, I find myself being one that is deeply affected by the hurting world around me. My heart is greatly troubled for the devastation in the south, I find myself in great distress when I see or hear of hurting children, and most of all I cry often for the ones I love that don't know the greatness of  our Living God.  All of these things add a great sense of guilt when the every day life that I have been so greatly blessed with brings me to tears and I feel like giving up.

Do not sorrow, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”
Nehemiah 8:10b

 I know I cannot be the only Mother who feels guilt when feeling down about every day life, which is why I wanted to share two verses that has given me much comfort... proverbs 16:9 and Psalm 32:8

In their hearts humans plan their course,
   but the LORD establishes their steps. Proverbs 16:9

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
   I will counsel you with my loving eye on you. Psalm 32:8

These verses are a great comfort, they tell us that God cares about each step we take. Even though we may have a life that is wonderful and we love it, it is okay to cry out to God and ask for strength when life overwhelms us.

Feeling overwhelmed today? Tired? Discouraged? Is it just "one of those days" for no particular reason? 

Hold on to these great words of comfort that our mighty God has given us and hold strong to Him!

The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. 
Psalm 18:2

Of David. The LORD is my light and my salvation--whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life--of whom shall I be afraid?
Psalm 27:1
Let Your unfailing love surround us, LORD for our hope is in You alone.
Psalm 33:22

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Welcome to the Homestead: Getting Started with Chicks

For they all made us afraid, saying, Their hands shall be weakened from the work, that it be not done. Now therefore, O God, strengthen my hands.
Nehemiah 6:9
   What a bountiful blessing the Lord has provided us with! We welcomed 10 new sweet babies into our family recently! As soon as they start laying we should be getting around 10 eggs per day for our family!  What a blessing!
 We ended up choosing two different breeds, both known for their good laying abilities. The first breed we choose was the Ameraucan. These sweet little birds are multi colored and lay blue, green, and white eggs! how fun is that! And the eggs are known to be a larger egg as well! The second breed we choose was the Rhode Island Red. These chicks are much more feisty but still very sweet.  I have been extremely happy with both breeds thus far but particularly like the Ameraucans for their sweet calm personalities. Both breeds we choose for their good laying ability and the fact that they are both considered a good combination breed. Meaning that when they are done laying in 3-4 years they are also meaty enough to be able to butcher and have a decent quantity of meat.

Getting Started

The first thing we did was work out a brooder for them. Or in other words a box of some sort that they will live in their first 4-5 weeks before going outside into their coop.  We used a wire cage but in the future I would use a clear rubber made box because they are constantly scratching at the pine chips and making a mess on my floor.  For ten chicks I would use a big old long Rubbermade tub so they have enough room to get around. I saw some great instructions for making a top here that is super easy.

Buy List

1. Rubbermade tub or cage.

3. Waterer. I bought the ones that screw onto a mason jar. I recommend two for easy switch out because you will be switching them once or twice a day. 

4. Chick feed. I bought medicated because I did not want to deal with disease first go around.

5. Chick grit. When your chicks are inside they will not be pecking for pebbles to help them digest their food so they need chick grit which is basically tiny pebbles. Just sprinkle some over their food like pepper or put a small dish into their brooder.

6. Electrolytes. Add a sprinkle or two into their water while they are still in their brooder. this came at the recommendation of the Farm and Feed store I go to.
7. Heat lamp and bulb. Start out with it about 12 inches above them and move it up each week a bit until you finally take it away by around 4 weeks or so. Follow their behavior as a guide. If they are all huddled under the light they are too cold. If they are at various  levels of activity around the brooder they are probably about right. If they are all as far away from the heat and panting like they are hot move it back a bit.

8. Pine chips. Don't use cedar as it is toxic to chicks. You can also use newspaper, hay, or any other material like that, but pine is super absorbent, smells good, and is cheap.

And that's about it. We put their waterer up on wood at head level for them so they don't poop in it and also they will scratch pine chips into it and it will soak their water out all into their bedding.  I tried Styrofoam at first but they pecked and ate that all to bits! We left the first day we got them without knowing this and came back to chicks with no water and wet bedding! Not good! We thought we were going to loose one of them for a while she was lethargic and kept to herself  but she came through great! Praise God!
Around two-three weeks your chicks will love you if you bring them treats! My children bring them rolly polly bugs from the yard and they go nuts! They LOVE these! We have given them apple and lettuce but the bugs are their favorite by far. They will fight over them and try to crawl up the children's arm looking for more. The children get a great big kick out of this fun!

Recipalooza: Breakfast Muffins

Lily made these breakfast muffins all by herself, start to finish! We all enjoy a sweet bread at breakfast time that is quick and easy around here, hope your family will too!

The Recipe

2 eggs
1/2 c. oil ( I have tried apple sauce as a substitute here and it is one recipe I did not like the results with the sub)
1 c. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 c. milk
3 c. flour
4 tsp. baking powder

I use Rumford for that little "Non GMO" label
Beat eggs in large bowl. Add milk and oil , stir well. Add dry ingredients stir only until blended. Spoon into paper lined muffin cups. Bake at 400 for about 20 mins. Remove from pan right away and let cool.


Blueberry muffins:
Gently fold in 3/4 c. canned, drained blueberries or two hand fulls fresh or frozen blueberries after you have mixed up batter. Bake as normal. You can also add slivered almonds... Yum!

Apple Cinnamon Muffins:
Grate up 1 apple
Tip: Quarter apples and peel skin out...
You will grate them down to the skin without grating skin.

Add apple and1/2 tsp. cinnamon to batter fold in gently. Put batter in pans ( Sometimes I use heavily greased bread pans for a breakfast bread). In a small bowl put in two hand fulls of brown sugar, a pinch more of cinnamon, and a hand full or two of slivered almonds. Mix up and sprinkle over batter. Bake as above.

Basically anything like fruit, nuts, chocolate, or whatever, you want to add to this is a good variation!!