Saturday, September 27, 2008

We've been busy this week. On Thursday, Dad had a pig roast for my extended family. Dad wanted to try out his huge smoker/cooker for a future pig roast, so he went to the amish and bought a small 75 lb piglet. Simba cut the pig into three tins and made three different sauces. I liked them all.
But Simba's baby, Abby, is still the main attraction. Abby had a steady audience all night. I enjoyed helping Uncle Norm in the kitchen. He did all the dish washing.
Ruthie and I came home early since she said she wasn't feeling well. When I saw this picture tonight, I realized she must have been miserable already. She had a fever (101.6) and said her chest hurt. Out came the nebulizer and steroids. We were up all night and finally fell into an exhausted sleep around 5:30 am. I was so sure that she'd end up in the hospital on Friday, but now she is on the mend. She still takes a nebulizer treatment every hour.

As we looked back over the week, we realized that Allen and Ruthie both felt miserable after stacking firewood. So we checked their allergy charts and sure enough, they are both very allergic to red oak. Allen recovered quickly, but Ruthie never recovers quickly. We won't forget that again!
This weekend we got lots of rain. We are now officially out of drought. Since we had just gotten a lot of roadwork done the day before the rains, we were anxious to see how the road held up. So we grabbed our cameras and hired Mike to be our chauffeur, and off we went.

This is going up hill #1.
And this is going up hill #2. Looks much better than yesterday. Today the workguys came back and laid pea gravel on top of the mud. That helped a lot.This area is usually pretty bad when it snows because the sun doesn't get through the trees long enough to melt the snow/ice. But it looks great today!
This past summer I drove down to my neighbor's home to give him something, and I saw his big, beautiful butterfly bush. I must have really raved about it because today I received a Butterfly Bush for my birthday!! Isn't it lovely? And it smells lilacs! Lizzie was determined to find one, and she said she had to look long and hard. She finally found it at Lowe's. Thank you, Lizzie!
Ruthie recovered enough to make me a marble birthday cake.
I thought she did really well making the icing.
And here's the finished cake. Yummy!
Of course, I always enjoy the homemade birthday cards. This is Lizzie's who did quilling.These are Ruthie's. She was too weak to write, so she dictated to Mike.
And this beauty is from Anna. I should've scanned it, but I'm not on speaking terms with my scanner right now.
Mike gave me two cards. One is for me to see, and this one is for show. On the inside Mike wrote, "This card is good for one Mexican dinner with Mariachi Band." What a guy! Our local mexican restaurant has a mariachi band from time to time, so it looks like we're going!

So we've been good busy and bad busy, but feeling blessed. Maggie and Allen are in Virginia with my Dad. Allen caught a flounder, so he's on top of the world. I sure miss them.

Enjoy your weekend. Many blessings ~ Kathie

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Today, Anna and I dropped Allen off for class, then headed out for some quick antiquing. We hoped to go to Pat's Corner Store, which is only a few miles from home, but they are only closed on Tuesdays. So we went instead to the Loveville Antique Collectible and Thrift Shop. While we enjoyed ourselves, there wasn't much to look at in the way of actual antiques.
Then we decided to head on down to Leonardtown to the Maryland Antiques Center. This is like an antiques mall with lots of different vendors. My purpose in going was to find a cast iron pan. (I already have one of these pans, but my recipe fills two pans, and it saves on electricity to cook two pans at once.) We only saw 4 cast iron items, but not my pan.
This was my favorite room with the yelloware bowls and kitchenware.
Anna enjoyed these three fat cat plates.

The Maryland Antiques Center has a tea room on the end of the building called The Tea Room. This is the place to take your daughters. Be sure to dress up in your Sunday best, including a fancy hat and gloves. I haven't visited this tea room in more than 10 years, so I can't tell you if it's expensive or not.
Afterwards, Anna and I headed next door to the Old Towne Crafters. Everything in this store is handmade. Pottery, knitting, quilting, woodcrafts, etc. I'll show you a few things we saw that we thought were cute or different.
This little girl's dress made with a hand towel is adorable! They come in several different colors and fabrics.
Know anyone who is building a deck? This would be a nice project to use up the scraps.How about this adorable baby's cake that is made with little boy towels, washcloths, bibs, pjs, toys, etc. What a unique gift idea!

Not a bad trip for an hour! The best part was when we picked up Allen and came home. A huge pot of chili was simmering on the stove, all ready to eat.

Mike, Allen, Lizzie and Ruthie went off to pick up the last of our free firewood. Maggie, Anna, Sarah and I are sitting here catching up on all the news of the day.

Anna has been fretting about singing by herself at voice lessons. I like her teacher's advice: God didn't give you your voice for you to enjoy, but rather as a gift to share with others. Amen! But it still isn't easy for Anna. Too much like her Mom.

Many blessings ~ Kathie

Friday, September 19, 2008

Using a Grain Mill

Recently I got a request to show my grain mill and how it works. Well, yesterday I was out of flour and cracked wheat, so I got out the camera and started taking pictures. Come along while I show Robin (in KY) how I make whole grain flour.
I buy my wheat from Frankferd Farms Foods in Pennsylvania. They deliver once a month down here in Maryland. Our family usually goes through two 50-lb bags a year. I buy the Prairie Gold White wheat berries because they have higher protein and less tannic acid (easier on the tummies). Wheat rarely goes on sale, so it usually costs almost $17 for 50 lbs.

My grain mill makes a little more than 3/4 cup of flour from every 1/2 cup of grain. So when you are baking, make sure you measure your flour...not your grain.

I also buy my other whole grains at FFF such as buckwheat groats, corn, oats, and long grain brown rice. Every once in a long while I will buy amaranth, quinoa, teff, semolina, spelt, triticale, millet and kamut. For some reason I rarely bake anymore with the different grains.
This is my Kitchen Aid grain mill that I bought in 1989 for $99. If you look hard enough, you can still buy it at that price on eBay or an online sale. I think this grain mill is the best there is. It doesn't make much noise, you can adjust the burrs while it's running, and the heat from the motor is separate from the mill, so there is no loss of nutrition. And the price is right!
I have two Kitchen Aid mixers. This one is 25 years old. I got it the first year of my marriage. It has been used much more than the average mixer. I prefer to use this mixer for my grain mill because I can grind a lot of grain before it overheats. I can mill 8 cups of grain before it even starts to get warm.

This poor mixer is also broken and only runs on the highest speed, so I use it solely for the mill.
I also have this large Kitchen Aid mixer, but I never use the grain mill with it. For some reason it works too hard to grind the grain, and overheats quickly. My hubby knows the "engineering" reason why that happens. If you want to know, I'll ask him when he comes home...just email me.
My hopper holds a little more than 2 cups of grain. I timed takes 4 minutes to grind that much.
Two things to remember. Use your mill only on the high setting. And make sure you lock your machine or it may wobble!
Turn it on and get ready to inhale the freshest wheat flour available!
I also make cracked wheat that I add to dinner rolls and bread. (Just soak 2/3 cups cracked wheat in 1 cup warm water for 10 minutes; drain and add to your bread dough.) Delicious!
I keep this jar of Cracked Wheat in my freezer. It usually lasts me for a month.
If you want to make some lighter cake flour, just sift the flour through a sieve. The heavy bran will stay in the sieve and the lighter flour will sift through. Put the bran in an air-tight container and store in the freezer for muffins later.

The grain mill is easy to operate. When my children were 2 and 3 years old, it was their chore to keep the wheat bucket filled with flour. I make enough flour to fill a 2-quart container that I keep stored in the refrigerator. Today I used my fresh flour to make sourdough scones. Mike gave me this scone pan this past weekend, so I was excited to use it. I was so glad that I had this tall trivet, because my pre-heated scone pan was burning hot when I went to fill it! (Sorry about my messy counter, but I wanted to put the scones in the pan so I could clean up while they were baking.)
As it was, the scones came out of the oven just as I finished cleaning and putting everything away. What an aroma! (Sorry, no picture of the finished scones.)

My first picture on this post shows the sourdough rolls I made using the Easy No Knead Sourdough Bread recipe (except I used whole wheat flour) that has taken the baking world by storm. The only thing I would change is to slash the rolls down the middle so the steam could escape in a more uniform way. But they sure got eaten quickly!

Have a restful weekend. Mike and Allen spent most of Friday cutting and splitting firewood, so today we will take it off the trailer and stack it. What a nice feeling to see the woodpile get taller.

Many blessings ~ Kathie

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Today was our day to help Grandaddy cook dinner for his church. We took this picture of Ruthie because she was singing while listening to her mp3 player (she's wearing earplugs). She was in her own little world.

Last week, Dad drove to North Carolina to pick up his new smoker/cooker. We used it to cook the meal tonight. Works like a charm! This is my brother, Simba, and my Uncle Norm. First they cooked lots of chicken, then they kept the chicken warm in the foil bins while they cooked hot dogs, hamburgers and 2 London Broils. The London Broils were only for experiment...but they ended up being my favorite. Everything was perfectly cooked!
The fruit was exceptional this week. So was the corn. This is the last time we will have fresh corn available. Autumn is here.
Anna always makes the 3 dozen deviled eggs.
Allen takes Tang Soo Do classes with a local master instructor here in Loveville. We are very pleased for him to have this opportunity. Tang Soo Do (pronounced tung sue doe) is perfect for Allen's personality and character. We are praying that he can use this as a ministry opportunity when he is older. When I worked at a summer camp, we had many karate-style evangelists come and demonstrate their abilities while sharing the gospel.

I enjoy taking Allen to these lessons twice a week. On the way, he always tells me how much he is looking forward to class. On the way home, he always thanks me profusely for allowing him to take the class. What a win-win!
Anyhow, I am showing you these pictures because Allen was chosen to wear this medal this week because of his enthusiasm. What a happy fellow he is! While we were taking a break from cooking with Grandad, Allen showed us his form (his routine). We are impressed!
Anna has been sooo busy in the sewing room. We hardly see her anymore! Anna got this idea from a friend at church. Sandy says this block is called Crazy Quilt, but I have spent more than an hour looking for this pattern. If you have seen this pattern, please let me know where to find it!
Somehow when Sandy explained to us how she made it, Anna understood and came home and made her own. I was impressed that the back looked as neat as the front! I asked Anna why she used black thread and she explained that she was just "messing around and experimenting" so she didn't want to take the time to change the thread. Now she wishes she had!
Last night (after working all day at church!) Anna came home and used that same pattern to make these nine blocks. Aren't they beautiful! Such a crazy idea...but it works!

Maggie and I woke up early and found deer in our field. Our amish friends told us they'd be by this week to get written permission to hunt on our property. It should be a good season for them.

Many blessings ~ Kathie

Bethany Beach was as wonderful as we remembered it. My hubby said that this was the best trip to Bethany that he's ever had. I must say, usually the town is deserted after Labor Day weekend, but that is no longer the case. Still enjoyable though.
How much fun was it? So much that I forgot to take any pictures until moments before we left. The weather was perfect. Saturday's temp was in the 90s. Perfect for the beach. This is a picture of our bedroom in the condo where we stayed. I enjoyed the quilts.
This is one of the girls' bedrooms. More quilts!
We barely did any cooking this weekend but I really enjoyed this kitchen.
We left Bethany Beach on Monday morning and drove to Denton to have lunch with a family that we met online through the Vision Forum Family Directory. What sweet fellowship we had. After lunch, the children walked down to the river. (Our friends have 10 children of whom 3 are still at home.)

Mike and I enjoyed talking to the Daddy. (Sorry, I don't post last names on my blog unless you are a public figure such as my pastor.) Mrs. R**** was on the west coast for a month to help her elderly mother. It never ceases to amaze us how quickly like-minded folks connect. We hope to have this family over to our home sometime in the near future.

What a blessing it is to know that there are other families who hold our same values. Such sweet fellowship! Thank you, dear family, for a memorable day.

Our family has met many families online that we later met in person. These have been some of our favorite memories!After we said goodbye to our new friends, we drove the remaining 2-1/2 hours home, getting here at 6 pm. We were surprised that there were few boats out on the bay for such nice weather. This picture was taken from the Bay Bridge over the Chesapeake Bay.

When we got home, we saw a huge pile of duck feathers, but were missing our two biggest ducks. Mike followed the trail of feathers into the woods and found the carcasses of our pets. What a shock! Poor Lizzie cried and cried. We can only assume that a fox is to blame. We have many foxes around here. Our biggest ducks liked to nap on the ground, but our two smaller ducks always nap on top of the kennel.

This morning we are recovering from vacation. Fortunately we don't have much laundry since I did that before we left Bethany. Just unpacking and getting back to schoolwork and music practice. Mike, Sarah and Maggie were gone early to get to homeschool co-op. Allen is making fruit smoothies. I just finished printing out all of today's school papers. Ducks are flying past my window. Vacation is fun, but so is home life. Thank you, Lord, for ordinary mornings such as these.

Many blessings ~ Kathie

PS ~ For you homeschoolers who enjoy free worksheets, here are two recommendations that we are using today.

My children enjoy the Read and Think worksheets from A Beka. So here are some wonderful stories with questions for Reading Comprehension.

This week I noticed a little note that one of my children had written in haste. She wrote "there" instead of "their." So I downloaded a little exercise so everyone could brush up on there, they're and their.