How granola found us goat milk!

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One day last week I received a “like” on my granola business’s Facebook page. As any curious person might, I checked how this new “like” might have found really granola. I quickly looked her up and found she has a Soap business of her own and makes goat milk soap. I had seen her nice soaps and so I “liked” her page. Then I got a Facebook message from her, and seems we know similar people and she, like I, enjoys bartering! As I have mentioned many times, dairy is the one thing we really don’t have, but until now I couldn’t seem to find anyone who could trade milk for something we had to offer. We agreed upon Friday, and I gathered jars for goat milk and granola to trade for both milk and soap.

Friday came and I wove my way down through the valley past a county park and lake, and then just a bit further and found their home. I was met in the driveway by a large dog who escorted my car down the driveway, and as I opened my door, wondering how the dog would respond, it came over to my door and sat down and looked at me. Yes, good dog. There is something about being greeted by an 80 lb dog and not knowing how it will feel about you being there, but clearly this boy was looking for pets and “atta boys”. I didn’t see anyone apart from my new friend till a little girl of about 6 came walking up the driveway toward me. I told her that I bet that I was looking for her Mama, and she smiled and with her hands in both pockets she tipped her head and said “follow me”. We got to the door and with one direction of her hand, the dog that outweighed her by 30 pounds took off directly, and around the corner to his dog entry at the back, and I was brought in to a kitchen with a hearth and fire roaring in it. Here I met my new friend and tasted goat milk like it was the first time. I am discounting the time I tried it when it tasted very “goaty”, and was told the reason I liked this was because it was so fresh! She heated water on her wood stove in the kitchen and made french press coffee and I added the goat milk which made it creamy and delicious. I was won over! I was sent off with 4 bars of beautiful soap, and two half gallons of goat milk – one fresh for drinking and one a few days old for making cheese, and I said goodbye to tiny home school girl who used words like, precarious, casually.

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The crackers turned out like biscuits, for some reason I haven’t been able to get them thin enough but the goat cheese mixed with tomato powder, basil and salt was wonderful!

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Although we do have frozen green beans, yellow beans, collards, kale, brussels sprouts, italian flat beans and broccoli in the freezer, I was craving fresh greens, and so are the chickens! I grew these sprouts for us and for them. Tonight we had a BLT spin off… No knead bread, our bacon, local radishes (huge) sliced, sprouts, mayo and well drained fresh salsa. We had a build up of eggs so I used last nights left over boiled potatoes and added hard boiled eggs, some dill relish and local onions to make potato salad, and served it with a cinnamon applesauce and local ginger brew. It was like a summer picnic!

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Here is a radish salad with spouts, after the picture I got the idea to sprinkle goat cheese over the top. Mmmmmm!

Coming up? Spring planning…..

Yep, hot buttered biscuit weather!

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It’s been super cold for a while. We are expecting some warm type temps, even mid 30s one day which sounds like a Spring-like treat for many. The focus is staying warm. Hubby is wonderful about keeping up the wood supply. He really spent so much time working on wood this summer after the tornado hit near his parents house about 40 minutes away. There were, I was told, up to maybe 100 trees down. Hubby hauled wood back here all summer and cut it up, BUT, all that wood was for next year not this year. It won’t be ready till then, so after spending all that time on wood we were sorely missing wood for this year! The good news, is that it accidentally put us one year ahead in our wood supply which is something he has always wanted! Now, though this meant that he had to go out to the woods and pull out a bunch of trees for this year. There are plenty of dead elms around here and they are so clean to carry into the house because all the bark is off of them already, and they burn very hot! This is especially helpful because we don’t do that thing we should do, and get up during the night and load more wood into the box, instead we wake up rather chilly here. We save so much on fuel by using a resource we have here. It is a lot of work for him, but he kind of enjoys it, just as the gardening and food preservation for the year are things I work hard at but also enjoy. Oddly though, there are times where it is the inverse and becomes indulgent to heat with wood, because on a super cold windy day, it isn’t bad having the house at 71, which we would never do with the furnace. Always, ups and downs to everything, right?

We do other things to combat the cold as well, like…

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eating hot biscuits and butter with…

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hot Vegetable Beef soup!!!!

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My holiday gift books from MIL and FIL came! Amazing amounts of good reading here. Starting to think about things I never thought about before… like… “When I am retired I am going to read endlessly without feeling like a SHOULD be doing something else.” I am looking forward to this, but it has not escaped me at all, that I have used “when I am retired” in a sentence. Truly, hard to believe I am at an age where this is actually becoming a thought on my radar!

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While I read or watch tv at night Veggie Chips are a great snack. These are the real veggie chips!

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Tomorrow will be a baking day. I am trying to build up a larger supply in my “warehouse”. That is what the state calls it officially, but they are actually steel cabinets, so it is quite amusing to have the inspectors out to inspect my “Warehouse Under 50,000 square feet”! The surprise on their face is priceless. I baked up this batch last Sunday, and much of it went to my cafe and restaurant type customers. Not only that, I also sent an order of 2 oz. bags out to my Grandson on the West Coast. This entrepreneurial 10 year old, is going to sell it at the PTA Coffee Table at his school. He talked to his boss and it is a go, he is splitting his profits with the PTA. Nice! He’s a super cool kid and an awesome Grandson!

I am off to go check for eggs, I have been a bit slow to get out there with the cold, and there are sometimes frozen eggs, with large crackled off bits of shell. First I will spend 10 minutes putting on the right layers, I do not like being cold and so to combat it, I wear many more layers than most people. If I don’t, I do nothing but complain, I can be honest about this, which by the way does not make me a lot of fun to be around, right?  I’m totally reminded of how long it took to get our 4 year old and infant into snowsuits to go out on a quick errand, that’s about how long it takes me…

The deep freeze is here…

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Although we are not using the furnace the numbers still show, and this is the outdoor temperature today. We have hit the deep freeze. 111 schools closed for cold weather, and it is actually a beautiful sunny day! Imagine if it wasn’t! Wind chills at -35 to -40 and the whole Midwest is feeling it hard. I would have baked granola today, but tomorrow we will actually be 10 degrees above zero so I will wait for tomorrow to trek out. Hubby kindly checked and fed the chickens who amazingly are surviving. The coop is well insulated but it is so cold it seems crazy anything could live. The cattle? They just keep eating as though there is nothing particularly different about today than any other day.

We heat the house with wood, but lately I have been heating the kitchen with bubbling soup stocks. One was a beef stock from a sale on local beef soup bones. It turned out so rich and delicious. I can’t imagine how nice it will be when we have oodles of beef soup bones in the freezer from our cattle! Then there was a poultry broth from 2 chickens and 2 turkeys, it also was super rich and delicious. After the broth was made and strained I put it back on the stove with two thighs and two legs from our Christmas bird, with all the meat still on it.

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After simmering a long time I strained it again and sorted through the meat and put it all into the crockpot with 2 jars of my bbq sauce and a jar of my salsa. It was great pulled turkey, and I served it on New Year’s Day on homemade buns, a definite hit!

On New Year’s Eve we have our major EXCEPTION! We have always eaten Seafood on New Year’s Eve and so despite our commitment to eating locally we annually make this exception, along with coffee, sugar, rum, flour, dairy and a few other things that we do buy at the store. After our delicious meal I put every single mussel shell, shrimp shell and lobster shell into a pot and simmered it into a wonderful seafood broth. It made about 10 quarts of broth, and I made one container into a corn chowder right away.

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I served it with slowly cooked bacon that caramelized nicely and sprinkled it on top, and served it with some no knead bread and local butter. Our New Year’s splurge will last us all year!

Our wonderful neighbor shared a very large squash with us in October, I got around to roasting it the other day.

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It is a very tasty squash that I can not remember the name of, it made so much that we have eaten it twice and now I think I will put it in the food processor and curry it up into some squash curry soup for tonight.

The squashes reminded me that I still had one frozen package of pumpkin puree from the a year ago last Fall, and so I decided to make a little Pumpkin Butter. We had it this morning with eggs, bacon and toast. A very fine meal on this cold day.

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Why do I forget how easy fruit butters are and how tasty they are on toast…

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…and now we have a lot of toast! I sliced and froze these, so bread making does not have to occur so often. I love my new loaf pans I received for Christmas!!