My Little Helper

Miss Prissy hard at work

Miss Prissy hard at work

Do you remember Miss Prissy?

She was a rescue chick. I raised her in the house, fed her by hand and she is spoiled rotten. I tried to mix her in with my flock, but they are all much bigger than her. They beat her up. So she is the guardian of my garden. She has free range of the backyard and garden. She hangs out with the dog. She comes running to greet me whenever I go outside and she lays her egg in the aquaponics bed that is just outside my back door. That is very convenient for me. No egg hunts.

She polices the backyard. Though she does not eat my tougher summer plants;, she does eat the bugs that are on the plants. Scorpions are a favorite delicacy (good girl!). She gets kitchen scraps, egg shells, curdled milk, kefir, meal worms and whey. Though she does not get chicken food, this girl is not hurting. She laid through the summer and only missed one day the whole month of August.

When I work in the compost or pull weeds, she is right there with me. The other day I came upon a part of the compost that had a larger than normal amount of cicada grubs. Some of them are the size of a silver dollar.

Grubs for Miss Prissy

Grubs for Miss Prissy

I called her over to me and fed them to her one by one.

Nom nom!

Nom nom!

I know that I will have to protect my delicate spring seedlings and plants from her. Those feet of hers make her a miniature bulldozer!
We will work it out somehow. I will let you know how it goes.

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How to Bake that Frozen Unbaked Fruit Pie

My Salted Caramel Peach Pie

My Salted Caramel Peach Pie

Start in the morning preferable on a day that your family is gone to work and school. There is a reason for that. You will find out as you read.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Once the oven is hot- pull the pie out of the freezer, put it back in the pie pan and place on a foil line baking sheet. Cover the frozen pie with foil and place in the oven. Bake it for 15 minutes. Now turn the oven down to 375 degrees and bake an additional 15 minutes.

Take the foil off of the pie and bake for 45 minutes.

Take the pie from the oven and brush with an egg white wash then sprinkle sugar on it. Put it back in the oven and bake 15 minutes or until it looks done to you.

Here is the reason that you do this in the morning-on a day that everyone is gone. It is important to cool the pie completely. A warm pie will fall apart when still warm. The juices will spill out and collapse the pie.

I baked this pie on a Saturday morning while Steve was yardsaling. When he came home,  he hovered around that cooling pie all day. He said that he was just worried that it needed his watchful eye to keep it from falling off of the counter top. I knew that he was secretly hoping that I would give up and allow him to dig in. I felt cruel, so I let him go for it and it  did fall. Next time, I will make and cool the pie before he gets home, so that I can take a picture for you of a beautiful slice.

Steve knows that I like to experiment with my recipes. He said just now “this is the best peach pie that I have ever tasted! Stop experimenting, write it down and keep this recipe forever.” I think that he liked it.

Last year I played around with an apple pie recipe. When I got the filling just right I called it my “Salted Caramel Apple Pie Filling”

I used the same recipe for this peach pie, except I added 2 Tablespoons of tapioca to “tighten up” the filling. Peaches are much juicier than apples and need a little help.

Here is the recipe. I call it my “Salted Caramel Peach Pie Filling

Make enough pie dough for a double crusted 9 inch deep dish pie plate.

8 large peaches- preferably a cling free variety-this will make it easier to cut the peaches way from the pit.

1/2 cup brown sugar to 1/4 cup white sugar-this is the secret to making it so caramelly.

1/4 cup flour-this will help the juices to thicken and keep the pie crust from being too soggy.

2 Tblsp of tapioca (for the peach pie)

1 tsp of cinnamon

1/2 tsp of salt-this is a little more than usual-but trust me. Salted caramel needs salt.

Dunk the peaches in the boiling water long enough for the skins to loosen when pinched. Drain and rub the skins off. Slice.

Put all the other ingredients into a big bowl and stir in the peach slices until completely covered. That’s it. Now assemble your pie and bake it.

Do not forget to allow it to cool prior to eating it.

Green Thumb Thursday

 

 

 

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Oh My Peach Pie!

I usually buy a case of peaches every year from a lady that we all call “The Fruit Lady”. She brings in cases of fruit from farms in Utah. They are wonderful, but unfortunately not organic.

So, when a friend of mine who belongs to a co-op told me that she could get 20# of organic peaches for $22.00. Guess what I did?

20 lbs of organic peaches

20 lbs of organic peaches

You are right! I begged, pleaded and promised my second born son in return for her to include me in that buy. Well, she did and did not want my second born son. It is a good thing, because I only have one son.

Now I have 20 lbs of peaches and only two people to eat them. I still have canned peaches from last year. So I did not want to do that again. Maybe next year.

I did what any good woman with some freezer space would do. I got out my peach pie recipe and made pies.

What does a freezer have to do with it?

First-I invited a girl friend over who had never made a homemade pie before and offered to teach her. I normally make my pie dough, but I did not want to overwhelm my friend. So we used the store bought stuff. I am not a pie snob, and the store bought stuff holds up well in the freezer. We put one layer of dough in the bottom, filled it with the filling and then put the top on. We made the slashes on the top crust, because you cannot do that to a frozen pie. Then we put it on a sheet pan and put it in the freezer to freeze over night.

The next morning I would normally take the frozen pie out of the pan and put it in a plastic bag. I would also mark the bag so that I do not end up baking a chicken pot pie instead. I hate it when that happens.

But we have plans for this pie.

My friend will come back tomorrow morning to learn how to bake a pie that is frozen solid.

Stay tuned for the next post. I will give you my peach pie filling recipe and teach you how I bake a double crusted fruit pie that is frozen solid.

Peach pie ready to go into the freezer

Peach pie ready to go into the freezer

Green Thumb Thursday

 

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I am a Farm Stalker

I'm watching you.

I’m watching you.

I know it sounds creepy. But let me explain.

Long ago (more than 10 years), in a house far far away (about 40 miles); I was in my backyard harvesting my own vegetables. A memory came to me. As a kid, we lived on 10 acres. We had chickens, rabbits, goats, pigs, horses, cows and other assorted critters. It was a lovely way for a family to live.

Once the memory faded back to the recesses of my mind, I thought that it would be nice to have some chickens, some rabbits and a couple of goats in my larger than normal backyard.

I did not have a computer or a cell phone. But I did have a newspaper and a telephone on the wall (that was back in the dinosaur days). So I found out about a rabbit show and decided to attend. My purpose was to network with people who were the best at raising what I wanted to raise.

At the show, I met several people who were eager to sell me some rabbits. But instead of bringing home bunnies. I brought home contact information. I called and made appointments to visit the “bunny barns”. I found that if a person did not have anything to hide, they were happy to have you visit their place.

I also found that people who raise rabbits, usually know people who have other animals. I am a networker at heart, so the networking and acquisition of quality stock began.

Soon, I had rabbits, chickens and goats in my backyard; all adding to the abundance of my life. I did not need anymore animals, and was wise enough to know when to say “when”, but I found that I loved networking with the type of people who keep them. I would bring them vegetables or offer to  help them with their chores, and they would share information with me or introduce me to their friends and so on. I still do that today. I never tire of learning something new about this lifestyle.

Over time, I found that I had something to offer them too. Most of the people that raised animals did not know how to grow vegetables in the desert. So I taught them what I knew. Once, my husband and I built a couple of garden beds for an elderly lady who had a lot of knowledge about dairy animals. She came from Wisconsin after all. But her attempts at gardening always seemed to fail. I spent many visits to her place; learning about diary and teaching her about gardening. She now calls herself a gardener. I think that it is lovely.

In the last 5 years, this backyard food production idea has really caught on. People are much more receptive to the idea. These days, I not only have vegetables to offer, but I have eggs, dairy and other products that can be safely raised in a backyard-the size of a normal residential lot. I have all the projects that this backyard can handle.

But I still stalk farms.

Green Thumb Thursday

 

 

 

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A Local Victory for Backyard Farmers

The taste of victory.

The taste of victory.

Most you know that I have a  friendship with Senator David Farnsworth. Though I do not consider myself political, I have heartily endorsed this man. My respect for him as a leader comes from the fact that not only is he what he says that he is, but he fought hard for the Home Grown Freedom Act. In the face of much opposition, he was brave enough to go up against the League of Towns and Cities, and the HOAs in Arizona for our group of less than 1,000 people, to fight for our right to raise food in our backyard.

This man came to my backyard to see what all I was able to accomplish cleanly and humanely in small area. He looked me in the eye and asked me to help him fight this fight. What I was impressed with most was his gentle, quiet resolve. His desire not to put his opponents down, but to lift them up. I found that he is a true ambassador and I decided to hitch my wagon to his.

We had a meeting in my home of people who, like me are influential in their own realms. We then went out to network and bring others to new meetings.

We started the Backyard Farmers United Facebook page hoping to attract people from all over the country to follow our fight to get the Senate Bill 1151 passed in our legislature. This man won the day in the Senate, but  due to lobbyist whose backing came from the HOAs in our state, the bill was stopped in the house.

Senator Farnsworth has vowed to take us back to the legislature again this next year. But first he has to get re-elected. The primaries were held yesterday and his opponent was a young man being groomed and backed by some powerful people in our state. He also was receiving lots of money from lobbyists and big business. He had people working for his campaign, hanging his signs, making phone calls, and creating Facebook pages.  He was more moderate in the stands that he was taking and was even attracting liberals from his district.

Many of my friends were worried and said that how can their vote even count against all of this. The last count that I heard was that this opponent had over $130,000 in campaign donations. This is just a district seat. Why so much? Our friend Dave had around $30,000.

The concern is that if Dave lost, SB1151 would no longer have a champion.

I woke up and saw that Dave won the primary. I just got off of the phone congratulating him. He will be running for his seat in the upcoming election. I understand if you do not care to follow this train of thought. But my local readers are very interested in this. My wish to encourage all.

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Journey to the Farm

 

Sailing or Saleing?

Sailing or Sale ing?

Now that my little house is sold, and the money from the sale is safely in the bank…

We are searching far and wide for our little farm. We use the normal tools; the internet sites, and suggestions from friends. But so far, the perfect property has eluded us. Steve wants a beautifully updated home- single story and no pool. I am not as picky; but I do insist on irrigation.

Our new home is out there somewhere, just waiting for us. It will all happen.

In the mean time, we started looking at all the stuff that we will have to move or store when we go. We have a lot of stuff! When I met Steve, I had a 3 bedroom 2 bathroom house full of stuff. When my former spouse left-he took his pillow, his binoculars and his car. Oh yeah, on his way out he stopped at the bank and took all the money.

When Steve’s former wife left-she took her wardrobe, her jewelry, her cat and half the money.

So we each had a houseful of- you guessed it-stuff. His house was big enough to cram it all into. Over time, we have gotten rid of some of it, but this is a big house and so we became quite comfortable holding on to things that the kids don’t want and we don’t use. Sound familiar?

Now, with the thought of moving (Please God-let it be a smaller home!) we need to get rid of some of it.

Today was our first official “Journey to the Farm-Yard sale”!

Last night after dinner, we decided to go through the house and gather items (I bet you thought that I was going to say stuff), that we were now ready to part with. We carried it all out to the garage. We opened the garage door at 6:30 and sold most of it by 9:00.

We met a lot of nice people, I stopped one lady from stealing an arm load of purses. (She said that she did not realize that she had 4 purses on one arm and two on the other.) I gave my cards out to people who want to follow along with the blog and the Facebook page.

We loaded up what little was left and took it to Good Will and then we took a nap. One of my friends says that she would rather just take the donation credit and haul it all to Good Will. But we would miss all the fun if we did that.

I am going to dive in and find more stuff around here; to drag out there and do this a few more times before we move.

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A Quick Review of Duck Eggs

Duck and chicken egg

The egg to the bottom left is the chicken egg.

 

Last week I bought some pastured duck eggs at the Farmer’s Market.

That night, I made an omelet, a salad and some bread rolls for dinner. The omelet tasted no different than one made from my hen’s eggs.

A few days later, I made some scrambled eggs for breakfast. Again, no difference.

But yesterday I made myself some fried eggs. That is where I noticed the difference. The eggs tasted the same, but the texture of the white part was just a little tougher. It was not the melt in your mouth texture that I am used to. The flavor was the same, at least to me.

I have had people tell me that a duck egg is  1 1/2 times the size of a hen’s egg and that 2 duck eggs equals 3 hen’s eggs.  I measured the eggs in a measuring cup. What I found is that the duck egg is 1 1/3 the size of a hen’s egg. That means in my kitchen, 4 duck eggs equals 3 chicken eggs. Maybe my chicken eggs are a little bigger than conventionally raised chicken eggs.

I will tell you that the shell of a duck egg is very thick and much tougher to crack than a chicken egg. You can bet that I saved those shells to grind and feed back to my hens.

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