Archives

A Special Dinner – Honey Baked Chicken

Everyone has a favorite dinner – one that they choose when it is a birthday or other special occasion. One of my favorite meals has always been chicken and dumplings….my mom could make the best dumplings. Light and fluffy – and when I would visit, she would inevitably make the special meal for me.

 

In our house, one of our favorites is a recipe of Honey Baked Chicken. Since the chicken bakes in a mixture of butter and honey along with some great spices and mustard, it is not a low-calorie meal. We simply choose to make it a few times a year – to celebrate a special day or get-together!

We start by peeling and slicing a few potatoes and placing them and four deboned, skinned chicken breasts into a baking pan.

 

Combine 1/4 cup of melted butter, 1/2 cup of honey, 1/8 cup of prepared mustard, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of curry powder.

 

Pour this mixture over the chicken and potatoes and bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes. Baste every 15 minutes or so which will keep the meat and potatoes tender and browned nicely.

Mmmmmm! Enjoy!

 

Advertisements

Save Money (and a Long Drive to Town!) with Homemade Cleaning Product

Where we live, it's a long trip to the grocery store – when we run out of something, it simply goes on a list. When the list is long enough or the need outweighs the waiting – you go buy the stuff on the “list”. So, partly because of this and partly because I am a do-it-yourself'er, I am always on the alert for simple ways to skip a few aisles at the grocery store. I had so many comments on the window washing solution in my last post, I thought I would share a few of the other cleaning products that I make and use. Be on the watch for future posts – there are a lot that I will post at a later date.

 

Ever used the product that you drop into your garbage disposal to clean it up and make it smell better? I have – it works great. One type makes this blue foam that swells up into the sink – when it disappears down the drain, your disposal is clean. But if you have a lemon, some white vinegar and an ice cube tray, you can make your own cleaner for mere pennies. Simply slice the lemon into small pieces (including the rind), and drop them into an ice cube tray. Fill with vinegar and freeze. When your disposal needs a cleaning, use a couple cubes with the water running.

 

Counter cleaner is another favorite. This homemade product smells great, costs very little and kills germs! We use one gallon of distilled water, 2 teaspoons of washing soda (this is not baking soda – look for washing soda!) 1 teaspoon liquid soap, and 1/4 teaspoon of essential oil. For years I have used a combination of tea tree oil, lavender oil, thyme oil and lemon oil. The antibacterial qualities of these essential oils will help keep your counters clean and germ free. You end up with a gallon of wonderful spray cleaner that will last a long time!

This laundry soap recipe has been shared by many – but just in case you missed it – this one works great! There are two ways to make the detergent – and I prefer the “dry” version because of the amount of storage space the “wet” version requires. Figured I didn't need to store “water”! I simply combine one and a half cups of washing soda with a half cup of borax. Then add one bar of either Fels Naptha soap (grated) or one bar of Ivory to the washing soda/borax mixture. Use 1 tablespoon for regular loads and 2 tablespoons for heavy loads. Note: I soak the majority of my grease-laden clothes for 8 hours or so and also add a couple of teaspoons of lemon or orange essential oils to help cut the grease. Depending on how fine you grate the soap, this extra soaking time also allows the soap to melt.

Besides saving you money at the grocery store, these products keep you away from harmful toxins that are in many household products. Consider this – essential oils are an economical way to disinfect, clean, and deodorize. Thyme oil kills strep and staff on surfaces, lavender and rosemary are antibacterial, anti-infectious and anti-viral. Lemon oil kills strep and staff in the air and is great for cutting grease. Use equal parts eucalyptus, tea tree and lavender oils for air fresheners. Simple products, natural products. Simple!

 

Save Money (and a Long Drive to Town) With Home Made Cleaning Products

Where we live, it's a long trip to the grocery store – when we run out of something, it simply goes on a list. When the list is long enough or the need outweighs the waiting – you go buy the stuff on the “list”. So, partly because of this and partly because I am a do-it-yourself'er, I am always on the alert for simple ways to skip a few aisles at the grocery store. I had so many comments on the window washing solution in my last post, I thought I would share a few of the other cleaning products that I make and use. Be on the watch for future posts – there are a lot that I will post at a later date.

 

Ever used the product that you drop into your garbage disposal to clean it up and make it smell better? I have – it works great. One type makes this blue foam that swells up into the sink – when it disappears down the drain, your disposal is clean. But if you have a lemon, some white vinegar and an ice cube tray, you can make your own cleaner for mere pennies. Simply slice the lemon into small pieces (including the rind), and drop them into an ice cube tray. Fill with vinegar and freeze. When your disposal needs a cleaning, use a couple cubes with the water running.

 

Counter cleaner is another favorite. This homemade product smells great, costs very little and kills germs! We use one gallon of distilled water, 2 teaspoons of washing soda (this is not baking soda – look for washing soda!) 1 teaspoon liquid soap, and 1/4 teaspoon of essential oil. For years I have used a combination of tea tree oil, lavender oil, thyme oil and lemon oil. The antibacterial qualities of these essential oils will help keep your counters clean and germ free. You end up with a gallon of wonderful spray cleaner that will last a long time!

This laundry soap recipe has been shared by many – but just in case you missed it – this one works great! There are two ways to make the detergent – and I prefer the “dry” version because of the amount of storage space the “wet” version requires. Figured I didn't need to store “water”! I simply combine one and a half cups of washing soda with a half cup of borax. Then add one bar of either Fels Naptha soap (grated) or one bar of Ivory to the washing soda/borax mixture. Use 1 tablespoon for regular loads and 2 tablespoons for heavy loads. Note: I soak the majority of my grease-laden clothes for 8 hours or so and also add a couple of teaspoons of lemon or orange essential oils to help cut the grease. Depending on how fine you grate the soap, this extra soaking time also allows the soap to melt.

Besides saving you money at the grocery store, these products keep you away from harmful toxins that are in many household products. Consider this – essential oils are an economical way to disinfect, clean, and deodorize. Thyme oil kills strep and staff on surfaces, lavender and rosemary are anti-bacterial, anti-infectious and anti-viral. Lemon oil kills strep and staff in the air and is great for cutting grease. Use equal parts eucalyptus, tea tree and lavender oils for air fresheners. Simple products, natural products. Simple!

 

That Contraption is a Hay Sweep?

It was here when we bought the place, just like many other pieces of equipment. It is big….and it wasn't until this last week that I was told what it even was! But today, it paid it's rent out in the hay field !!

 

We were eating breakfast the other morning and Kevin had his attention in a local farming paper that is published weekly. He grabbed the IPad and started searching for something, then he said – “look at this!”

It was almost the same looking contraption that we have – and it was hooked to a skid steer and picking up hay bales. Looked like about twelve at a time. Kevin's eyes twinkled as I could see the wheels turning in his head! Now, he just needed to figure out how to mount our big contraption to the skid steer and maybe put it to work.

Away he went, and later in the day, I walked down to the shop to see what he had accomplished. He had not only been inventing a hay-bale picker-upper thingy, but he had a wheel off one rake, guides off the swather, and a belt to something laying on the cement. Four pieces of equipment backed up to the shop in a pie-shaped fashion so he could reach them all with the air hoses and power tools. He had so much going on that I wasn't sure how he even knew what he was doing – but anyone that knows him would agree that he had it all in order. It was time to cut hay and he was in high gear.

Well, I had brought us each an ice cold drink, so I proceeded to relax against the equipment and enjoy the end of a very productive day. Glancing around, I noticed that this big hay equipment had a faded name on it….Meyer Hay Sweep. It looked old, so I grabbed my iPhone and googled the name. Come to find out, a gentleman by the name of Alvin Meyer invented the sweep way back in 1956. And to think it had been in use for all these years!

Didn't take him but a few hours and a couple of modifications and our Bale Sweep was out in the field. It will pick up 12 bales of hay by simply tilting the forks down and sliding them on the rail. Kev made many, many trips with it – our first cutting of hay in that field was twice – almost three times – more than last year. He could keep the skid steer at full throttle and slide the bales into place.

The previous owners of our old homestead must have had a little smirk on their faces up in heaven….. as they watched their old bale sweep out in their fields. I can guarantee you, I don't think anyone in our neighborhood has one of these contraptions!

 

 

 

That Contraption is a Hay Sweep?

It was here when we bought the place, just like many other pieces of equipment. It is big….and it wasn't until this last week that I was told what it even was! But today, it paid it's rent out in the hay field !!

 

We were eating breakfast the other morning and Kevin had his attention in a local farming paper that is published weekly. He grabbed the IPad and started searching for something, then he said – “look at this!”

It was almost the same looking contraption that we have – and it was hooked to a skid steer and picking up hay bales. Looked like about twelve at a time. Kevin's eyes twinkled as I could see the wheels turning in his head! Now, he just needed to figure out how to mount our big contraption to the skid steer and maybe put it to work.

Away he went, and later in the day, I walked down to the shop to see what he had accomplished. He had not only been inventing a hay-bale picker-upper thingy, but he had a wheel off one rake, guides off the swather, and a belt to something laying on the cement. Four pieces of equipment backed up to the shop in a pie-shaped fashion so he could reach them all with the air hoses and power tools. He had so much going on that I wasn't sure how he even knew what he was doing – but anyone that knows him would agree that he had it all in order. It was time to cut hay and he was in high gear.

Well, I had brought us each an ice cold drink, so I proceeded to relax against the equipment and enjoy the end of a very productive day. Glancing around, I noticed that this big hay equipment had a faded name on it….Meyer Hay Sweep. It looked old, so I grabbed my iPhone and googled the name. Come to find out, a gentleman by the name of Alvin Meyer invented the sweep way back in 1956. And to think it had been in use for all these years!

Didn't take him but a few hours and a couple of modifications and our Bale Sweep was out in the field. It will pick up 12 bales of hay by simply tilting the forks down and sliding them on the rail. Kev made many, many trips with it – our first cutting of hay in that field was twice – almost three times – more than last year. He could keep the skid steer at full throttle and slide the bales into place.

The previous owners of our old homestead must have had a little smirk on their faces up in heaven….. as they watched their old bale sweep out in their fields. I can guarantee you, I don't think anyone in our neighborhood has one of these contraptions!

 

 

 

The Best Weeding Tools

There's surely no doubt that the market is flooded with weeding products. One trip down the aisle of any hardware store will score dozens of products to apply. Here at our house, we try to avoid the “quick fix” of the chemical and rather go by some simpler approaches.

 

Our farmstead came with lots of implements when we bought it. The smaller ones were hanging on this old shed – seriously, all these things were hanging here on the day we came here.

 

The building appeared to be a blacksmithing/tool shed, and evidently – it was easier to find “just the right part” from the walls than rummaging through a bunch of shelves. There was a forge and a can of coal, there were old leather belts fashioned into tool holders. Old sardine cans hung as trays. Traps, pitchforks, and sand points for a water well. More than not, I had no idea what a lot of the things were – but there are a few that have become my favorites in the garden!


This old hoe looks ancient and I don't know that you would readily find another like it. (Believe me, if you do see a hoe for sale like this – buy it!) It has a slightly angled blade at the bottom of it that you can slide under a weed and slice it right off! Normally in my garden, a whole slurry of baby weeds seem to pop up, all at once, a week or so after putting in the corn, for example . This hoe is fantastic for slicing the top off the invaders without having to work up the soil again and I am able to work a section of the garden plot quickly and efficiently. You can also turn it on end and open a new row to plant your seeds in. Because it is not the typical “V” shape, the trench doesn't get too deep for many of the smaller variety of seeds in your garden.

 

I found this next gem at an auction last week. So much of my gardening is in a raised bed where soil compaction is at a minimum. By designing your raised beds to be narrow enough to reach 1/2 way across them, you will never find yourself standing inside the bed reaching for that carrot! Soil prep is a snap with this hoe!

 

So before you reach for a bottle of weed killer, take a look around for some simple tools that will protect our environment, your health, and your children's health. Not only are the best weeding tools in your hands, they are your hands!

 

No Matter How Small Your Growing Space – You Can Still Grow Potatoes

Everywhere you look these days, people are looking for an opportunity to grow their own vegetables. In Minnesota, as a child, my Mom and Dad had a big veggie garden – and about 50% of the space held potatoes. It was always a big day when we dug up the potatoes in the fall – lots of digging, lots of work.

Today, even if you have a small yard or even an apartment patio, you can grow potatoes. This isn't an extremely new idea, but so, so many people do not know about it that I thought I would share it.

Begin with a bag of potato sets. You can purchase them online, at your local hardware or big box store, or you can use the small potatoes that you have saved from your garden last year. I hesitate to tell you to use the potatoes that you have in your pantry for eating because they are usually sprayed with some sort of a sprout “inhibitor” – so you may not get them to grow.

When you purchase your sets, they look just like small little potatoes – and that is exactly what they are…but you need to do a couple of things to them before you plant them.

1. Look at each of the little spuds. You will see “eyes” – or small sprouts that look like they could grow. Your potato will have numerous eyes – locate all of them. Once you have figured out where they all are, cut the potato in pieces making sure that each section of potato has an eye. You may have big pieces along side small pieces – it doesn't matter. If there is an eye in the piece, you have the possibility that it will grow.

2. Lay the sections on newspaper and allow them to dry for 2-4 days before planting. This is very important as the potato pieces need for harden and form a bit of a “skin” on the cut sides.

Next, check your soil temperature – we all get excited in the springtime to “get those crops in the ground” – but this is a very important step that should not be missed. Your potato sets need a 50 degree soil temperature at 8:00 am (with the temperature taken at 4″ deep) to germinate….meaning – if it is too cold, those little eyes are just going to sit there and rot!

Here is where the small growing space comes into play…..we live on a farm and have numerous old water troughs that have gotten a hole in them for one reason or another. But, if you have a small back yard or apartment building (and no old water troughs!) – then get yourself a large trash container. Drill some drainage holes in the trash can on both the bottom and on the sides towards the lower end. The reason for the side holes is that if you get a really huge rain, like I did once, the bottom holes clogged with debris and the potatoes were swimming in their container. I have put a few “safety” side holes in the cans ever since!

Put about 10-12″ of dirt in the bottom of container, and plant your potato sets 12″ apart 4-6″ deep.

Sit back and wait for the sets to send up a shoot.

Here's the fun part! As a child, I always remember my Dad “hilling” the potatoes. I never could figure out why??? The potato plant comes out of the ground and we hurry to cover it up? Hmmmm! It wasn't until years later that I came upon this diagram:

 

As you can see, the potato that you have planted is at the bottom of the picture. It sends up a shoot and all the new potatoes grow above the planted potato set! To shield the growing tubers from sunlight (which turns them green and makes them mildly poisonous), the soil is hilled around the base of the plant. (A thank you and credit to my Colorado State University Extension for this diagram).

We have found that if you mulch your potato plants with straw (instead of hilling them with dirt), you will find it easy to harvest your potatoes in the fall. Simply scoop the straw away and your harvest is right there in front of you. If you grow your potatoes in a trash can, you can simply turn the can on it's side to get at your bounty! Plan on about 125 days after germination before you will be able to enjoy the fruits of your labor!