Thursday, February 7, 2013
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Happy Day :: Christy
Saturday, November 24, 2012
It’s never too late to make Pumpkin Pie! This is a super (easy) recipe that’s great to take to those holiday gatherings where finger foods will be in abundance. It’s pretty & REALLY yummy…
The first time I made this recipe it was for a gathering of ladies here at the house. I didn’t figure up the nutrition facts, just made it, served it, loved it. THEN, I typed in the recipe to write it in my food journal…holy moly! So, I skinnyfied it and found that I didn’t notice a difference between the original recipe and the skinny(er) version!
Skinny(er) Pumpkin Pie Sheet Cake
- 1 yellow cake mix
- 4 T (real) butter, melted
- ¼ c unsweetened applesauce
- 1 egg
- ¾ c sugar
- 1 t salt
- 2 t cinnamon
- 1 t ginger
- ½ t cloves
- 4 eggs
- 29 oz can pumpkin
- 12 oz evaporated milk
- Mix together crust ingredients until well combined. Spray a large jelly roll pan with cooking spray. Press crust into pan (I use Pampered Chef’s bar pan stone).
- In a small bowl, mix together sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. Set aside.
- Crack eggs into mixing bowl and whip on med-high using mixer for 1 minute or until frothy.
- Add sugar mixture and pumpkin to mixing bowl, and mix until combined. Then, add evaporated milk and mix until combined.
- Now, hear me when I say this…do NOT pour the filling into the crust yet (you would have a colossal mess in your oven and throw a few choice words my way!) Place the crust in the oven on the middle rack and pull out the rack just a bit so it’s stable but sticking out of the oven. CAREFULLY pour the filling over the crust. Your pan will be full….really full! Gently and slowly, push the rack back in the oven.
- Bake at 350 F for 1 hour or until knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. Allow to cool completely. Cover and store in fridge.
- To serve, I cut off the outside edges and slice the remaining “inside” pieces into 24 servings and plop a bit of whipped cream on top.
Nutrition Facts: (according to the recipe builder at www.myfitnesspal.com)
1 bar = 133 calories, 3g protein, 0g fiber, 169mg sodium, 5g fat, 21 carbs
I do not feel guilty eating this for dessert…Sara Lee’s Pumpkin Pie is 270 calories per slice. Word to the wise…slice these, put ONE on a plate and put the rest in the back of the fridge if you want to have some to take elsewhere. Do not eat the entire pan…it’s not a skinny(er) choice!
Happy Day :: Christy
Friday, November 9, 2012
…to prove to the opossum it could be done. *haaaa!* I heard this chicken joke from a 4th grader awhile back. And since this post to dedicated to “The Ladies” I thought it would only be fitting. Here’s a tour of Windy Ridge Farm’s chicken “operation”. (I say “operation” like we’ve got hundreds of chickens under control. Need I remind you, we have 7, SEVEN hens??)
Along the way, we’ve had as many as 12 chickens at one time. Long story short…we killed some roosters and put them in our freezer, gave away some hateful bantams, had 2 mysteriously die, and now we have 7 hens.
Count them…remember the missing lady.
We typically gather 4-5 eggs from the ladies each day. Sometimes 3, but usually 4. Now, do this math…Orpingtons are good layers, meaning they lay an egg once about every 26 hours. We have 7 hens…shouldn’t that mean we should gather 7 eggs a day (or thereabouts??) Apparently, we have some late bloomers, but since we rarely “catch” a hen in the act of laying, it impossible to tell which hens are the slackers…and even if we DID catch the hens laying, it’s impossible to tell them apart so we’re back to square one.
That being said, guess what I found this morning?
That feathery chicken bottom is a hen in the nesting box. She had BETTER be LAYING an egg and not sitting on one. Hens go “broody” most often in the spring, but can happen anytime of year. Broody means they lay an egg and decide to be all motherly and hatch the egg by keeping it warm and sitting on it. Our eggs can’t hatch though because we don’t have a rooster, which means, the eggs are just eggs, not potential fluffy chicks! Makes you feel better about eating them! We don’t want the ladies to go broody because that slows down (and sometimes) stops egg production. And we eat a LOT of eggs (and supply Mrs. Bee’s family with eggs & fresh bread in exchange for dropping off our trash at her trash can weekly!)
Yes, there is also a golf ball is in the other nesting box. (There’s actually another golf ball under the
better NOT be broody hen too…) Chickens are dumb. They are also approval seekers too, apparently. They will lay where other chickens have laid their eggs and if you don’t want to leave one of their eggs in the nesting box…you can “fool them” with a golf ball, plastic easter egg, or other egg-shaped object. Our chicken hating neighbors unknowingly supplied these golf balls, compliments of our field being used as a driving range.
Here’s the hen house where the ladies sleep, eat, drink, and lay eggs. The nesting box is on the front under the window. Miss Bossy Britches is now tall enough to open it and gather the eggs herself…but she won’t because she’s a big chicken herself and is afraid there will be a chicken on an egg or something???
It’s a diamond in the rough right now. It was built over 2 days our of dire need because we had 8 not so baby chicks in our garage. There chicken fluff (and stink) was too much to bear for any longer AND they were getting ready crowded in the brooder (cage) we had them in. So thanks to my Dad for free plywood, Ms. Bee for free windows, left over building materials from our new house, and a $300 trip to Lowe’s, this is what was born. The picture in my mind is sooo much more beautiful. Once we have money and time to paint and add trim, the cuter factor will increase exponentially, but for now, it is what it is. We are the white trash neighbors with the ugly coop and make shift fence in the back yard. I’m so thankful for it (and for the Handsome Husband’s ability and vision to make it happen).
Here’s the inside…
We have a chicken waterer with chicken “nipples” in the white bucket on the right. We fill the 3 gallon bucket with fresh water about once a month (more often now that we chickens have been banished from free ranging in the back yard). The ladies’ food is hanging in the feeder with the red bottom. They eat about 50 lbs of chicken feed every month- 6 weeks which costs $15.00
The roost is the 3 tiered contraption on the left. They all pile on the top row and peer out the windows in the evening. It’s kind of creepy looking from the outside in. Chickens are extremely nosy and curious…
The ladies heard me in the hen house and had to sneak a peek. This is the “runway” from the coop to the chicken yard. Above their chicken sized door is the most magical thing the Handsome Husband has ever done (with the exception of asking me to marry him)…
All those wires, cords, and pluggy things are the magical contraption that keeps chicken farming a possibility for us. It’s the automatic chicken door! SOMEHOW, those timers, cords and wires make the electric car antenna thing (in the middle of the picture) pushes the door down when it’s evening and pulls the door open @ 8 in the morning. (This means yours truly doesn’t have to make a trip to the back forty to lock up the ladies at night or trudge out in the cold morning to let them out.) The ladies are pretty self-sufficient as long as we keep food & water in their house. The Handsome Husband does go out each evening and check on them, making sure they all made it in the house before the door closed and checking their food/water supply.
THIS is my kind of chicken keeping dear friends. Low maintenance, super yummy (and healthy), all natural eggs…
Happy Day :: Christy
Thursday, November 8, 2012
A few weekends ago, we spent all afternoon in our gardens. It’s that time of year…everything is DEAD (at least in OUR summertime garden!) Usually, by the time fall rolls around, I’m *beyond* ready to put the garden to bed for the winter!
Here’s a pic of our last harvest as we ripped up the vines and made a new compost pile…
1 lone carrot (that somehow got overlooked by the chickens this summer…they ate all the green tops of the baby carrots so we only harvest 3 or 4 carrots big enough to eat)
3 green peppers & 1 reddish green pepper
1 butternut squash that was still dangling from the arbor trellis…the Handsome Husband somehow missed this one when he harvested the other 30
Handful of “baby tomatoes”
Lots of red & white potatoes (most were really small but totally free because they were left over potatoes that got too shrivelly to eat and my Papaw had given them to us from their harvest last year)
And here’s the main garden (featuring our dog, Pal) all “cleaned up”. It’s soooo pretty to look at right now. All neat & tidy with few weeds and no dead vines/plants. But man do I miss the food that weeds & vines bring…
In mid-September, I planted lettuce, cilantro & spinach in the herb garden closest to the house. The spinach (and some of the leaf lettuce) never came up, but the cilantro & butter head lettuce is grow, grow, growing…
from left to right
Chives, Butter head lettuce, lavender, cilantro (that self seeded from this summer’s planting)
left to right :: The edge of my oregano bowl to keep the “beast” contained so it doesn’t take over, new cilantro plants, a few sprigs of rosemary
Then, last weekend, I planted Round 2 of our winter crops. This is our first year planting winter crops. We’ve been buying a ton of spinach from Sam's Club lately and our use of garlic is quite ridiculous, so we’re attempting to cut our grocery costs by growing our own. I already had the spinach & lettuce seeds; the garlic bulbs & kale seed cost around $16.50. We spend over $10/week on lettuce, spinach & garlic, so (if our crops do well), our plan to lower grocery costs over the winter should be on target!!! *fingers crossed*
Kale (Ms. Bossy Britches loves to help in the garden. Her favorite job is writing “sticks” to help us know where we plant the tiny seeds.)
Anything you might be tempted to call spinach or kale in the above picture is a actually a blasted WEED! (Note the spinach & kale haven't come up yet, but the weeds have not only sprouted but are THRIVING!!) The garlic cloves are planted beneath the straw & chicken poo compost. We’ll also mulch some leaves on the garlic once we gather them from Ms. Bee’s house.
And some pictures of the ladies…I would tell you their names but we gave up naming them. All 7 chickens are Golden Buff Orpingtons. All 7 hens are orange (with no special markings really.) My girls, Little Miss Picklepants & Miss Bossy Britches, had superb names for them when they were little chicks, with the hopes that once their adult feathers came in, we’d be able to tell them apart…. soooo not the case. So, we just refer to them as “The Ladies”.
are were free range, cage free chickens. The ladies discovered our neighbor’s planter in the front of their house (read…they were scratching MULCH out of bounds) , so we’re having to keep them within their fence for now. Of course, “within their fence” is an area larger than most people’s back yard…so I don’t feel too sorry for them. Especially after we opened up the garden beds to the ladies so they can peck up bugs, worms (hopefully eat all the grubs!) and scratch in our compost, straw, and leaves.
This is a garden bed the ladies have worked their magic on…just last weekend there was a big pile of straw/chicken poo that I cleaned out of their coop in the middle of this garden bed. In most of the beds, you can barely see the straw at all. I think I may change their name from “the ladies” to “My little rototillers”.
Gardening definitely teaches faith, hope, and love. Faith that God will provide the right amount of sunshine, rain, and warmth. Hope that all your hard work prepping the garden beds, planting the seed will pay off in beautiful green sprouts poking up through the soil. And Love for the land, the creation, the sunshine, the rain, and the Creator who orchestrates the delicate balance of it all.
I’ll keep you updated about our winter garden progress and our (hopefully) decreasing grocery costs…
Happy Day :: Christy
Monday, October 15, 2012
We eat a lot of produce! What we don’t grow at Windy Ridge, we must buy, and while we’d LOVE to buy only organic produce, it’s just not feasible in our food budget right now. I’ve been making a weekly trip to Sams Club lately, and let me tell you, my shopping cart looks VERY different than the average Sams Club shopper! Most shoppers leave with boxes of prepared foods, bags of quick meals, lots of cleaning & paper products and snacks (TONS of snacks).
When I make it to the check out line, we have clam shells full of grapes, spinach, blueberries, pineapple; bags of onions, bananas, avocados, and boxes of apples, cheese, butter. “Real” food, most of which doesn’t even have an ingredient list because it IS an ingredient by itself. You’re always heard to wash your produce before eating it, and this is especially important now because of all the food recalls we’ve had lately.
In the past, I had just put my grapes or whatever in a strainer and let the cold water from the faucet rinse them off. UNTIL, I left the strainer in a bowl of clean water in the sink one day (while I finished making lunch) and came back to find yuck water in the bowl AFTER it sat there for about 5 minutes.
I kind freaked out a little because I was going to eat those grapes and feed them to Miss Bossy Britches and Little Miss Picklepants because I had just “washed” them. I remembered passing by a “Produce wash” in the produce section at Walmart several years ago (and had made unbelievable amounts of fun of people who had purchased such a product to “wash” their veggies….)
NOW, we intentionally get the “funk” off our non-organic fruits & vegetables with more than just rinsing them (and, yes, we still make lots of fun of people who buy the overpriced produce wash because you can make your own for pennies.)
a big bowl
2-3 drops dish soap (not the antibacterial kind)
Pour about 1 c white vinegar and 2-3 drops of dish soap in a big bowl. (If you don’t have a bowl large enough, just clean your kitchen sink really well and use it!) Stir it to mix in the soap. Then, place your fruit/veggies in the bowl and fill with cold water until produce is covered. Swish the produce around in the bowl with your fingers a few times. Let soak for 10-15 minutes.
Swish the produce around a few more times and then strain the yuck water off. Rinse the bowl and dump the produce back in and fill it up with water again and strain the water off again to rinse the vinegar/soap off the produce.
We do this for apples, grapes, cucumbers, pears, and any other fruit/vegetable especially when we don’t peel them first (and who, besides Little Miss Picklepants) peels their grapes?)
The diluted vinegar wash is said to remove 98% of bacteria.
So, on your next trip to Sams or the grocery store, pick up a gallon (or two) of white vinegar. Your body will thank you for not putting as much of those yucky chemicals & pesticides in it!
Happy Day :: Christy
P.S. You can also use vinegar for making products used for cleaning around your house such as this amazing floor cleaner.
Friday, October 12, 2012
Cold & Flu seasons are back. Boo!
Here at Windy Ridge, we do as much as we can to put only stuff God made in our bodies. That means, we grow veggies without chemicals, we raise animals without medicated food or antibiotics, and use plants to fight germs & viruses. We do, however, sneak in the occasional candy corn and Halloween candy.
A few years ago, when our girls were babies, there was a cough medicine scare and the drug companies pulled a lot of it from the shelves because of dosing issues. It wasn’t safe to give to children under 2. But, children under 2 got colds and had bad coughs so I did some research and took a class from a dear friend of mine at Stonewater Farm about herbal medicine.
For colds & coughs, we now make an Herbal Cough Syrup that’s made from all natural ingredients. The girls think it’s yummy and don’t mind when they need to take a dose of it!
1 T of each: marshmallow root, Echinacea purpurea, wild cherry bark, horehound, slippery elm bark, rosehips
2-4 sticks of cinnamon (or 2 T chipped cinnamon)
3 c distilled water
1-1/2 c local raw honey
You’ll also need a jar with a cork (or a loose fitting lid and a sauce pan with lid (the herbalists say NOT use copper or aluminum, but we use whatever pots we have).
You can get these herbs at Mountain Rose Herbs, a local natural foods store (like Earth Fare, Fresh Market, Natural Foods Store, Health Barn, etc.) or if you’re local to me, I can hook you up with the Herbal Cough syrup herb blend (just email me).
To Make Herbal Cough Syrup:
Part 1: Make a decoction (which is a tea that “cooks” and steeps for a longer time than the typical tea because it uses the thicker part of plants like bark, thick leaves, seeds, berries, roots, etc.)
Place the herbs in the saucepan and add cold water. Make sure the herbs are covered by the water so they don't burn. Bring to a boil, tightly covered, and then lower the heat and simmer (still covered) for 45 min to 1 hour or until the liquid has decreased by about 1/3.
Allow mixture to cool; then, strain through a fine mesh strainer (or line your pasta strainer with cheesecloth, a piece of an old sheet or a viva paper towel) into a glass bowl. Squeeze all the moisture you can from the herbs and put them in your compost bin (if you have one).
Part 2: Make a syrup by returning the decoction (liquid) back to saucepan on LOW heat and add honey until your syrup reaches its desired consistency. (I typically use 1 c raw local honey in 2 c of decoction liquid) *Keep in mind that the syrup will thicken a bit once it has cooled.*
Place cooled syrup in a glass bottle and seal with a cork stopper. *The cork stopper allows the mixture to "breathe". A syrup can ferment and will explode if sealed with a screw-cap unless you diligently open the container at LEAST once a week. PLEASE, please, please label the jar and include the date on which you made the syrup.
Store in the refrigerator. *We usually give the girls about 1 Tablespoon of the syrup as needed for coughing.
I made a batch of Herbal Cough Syrup on Monday afternoon and my youngest, Miss Picklepants, got up from her rest time and requested a bowl of applesauce (which is a random request from her.) She thought I was making applesauce on the stove. I thought she would be disappointed when she found out it was just cough syrup, but her response was, “Yay! I love that stuff.” So, not only will it work for the colds & coughs in your family, but it will make your house smell super yummy too!
Some of the herbs used in this syrup & their "healing properties":
marshmallow root - reduces inflammation in the mucous membranes, cough suppressant
slippery elm bark - soothes raw and inflamed throats & eases cough
wild cherry - beneficial to respiratory system & mucous membranes
Happy Day :: Christy
Wednesday, October 10, 2012
A few years ago, I purchased the Rubbermaid Reveal Mop from Sam's.
Mainly, I purchased it because I loved my Swiffer Wet Jet but DID NOT love the refill price! The cleaning solution + the Swiffer refills adds up quickly! The 2nd reason came much later when we started using organic/natural stuff to clean with. The Rubbermaid Reveal mop was a perfect fit because you can fill the cleaner reservoir with your choice of cleaner AND the mop cloth is washable and reusable. I purchased an extra mop cloth too so one can be in the laundry without leaving me mop-less.
My favorite natural floor cleaner is Lemon Vinegar. Now, before you zip over to Walmart searching for Lemon Vinegar…let me save you a trip! There is no cleaner available for purchase (that I know of) called Lemon Vinegar. You MAKE lemon vinegar yourself!
Vinegar is effective in killing most bacteria, mold, and germs because of it’s acidity. It works GREAT, is super cheap, AND is non toxic which is a win for the environment PLUS it’s safe to use around kids & pets.
It’s quite simple to make Lemon Vinegar:
1.) Buy lemons & white vinegar
2.) Make lemonade or squeeze the lemon juice from the lemons (you just need to peel/rind).
3.) Slice lemon peels into pieces (quartered or smaller) and place lemon peels in quart sized mason jar (go wide mouth if you can…it’s much easier to get them out.)
4.) Top off the jar with white vinegar, cover with lid, and put in a sunny place like your kitchen windowsill for about 2 weeks or until the lemon peels begin turning white-ish. (See, that’s how technical we are around here at Windy Ridge.)
5.) After peels are white-ish, the vinegar will resemble the color of strong lemonade (or…well, other things) and will smell lemony when opened. (The vinegar scent might still be apparent but it is DEFINITELY lessened.) Strain lemon peels from vinegar and pour vinegar into clearly labeled jar. (Toss the lemon peels in your compost pile if you have one.)
6.) Use as you would other floor cleaners (add a few additional drops of lemon essential oil for an added bonus of lemony fragrance, especially if you’re not excited about the smell of vinegar.) The vinegar smell will dissipate after mopping in about 10 minutes or so if you don’t use lemon essential oil.
Happy Day :: Christy
P.S. – Rubbermaid does not know me and didn’t ask me to review their product…although, I’d love to give an “official” review!… especially if it would help me figure out why mine keeps breaking!!!!!!!!!!!