Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Homemade Happiness

I have a few rare minutes of quiet since Riley and Jarret went to the feed store in search of chicken feed, Jack and Molly are sleeping, and Rose is at a friend's house, so I thought I would get at least one of the many blog posts that I've been mulling over down on "paper." Whenever my good friend Kim updates her adorable and creative blog (www.pairslices.blogspot.com) I am motivated to get to mine. I think I will have time to get at least one post up before I have to get to my noodle-making for dinner, which brings me to the theme of my post - homemade!

I have to admit that I am indulging in a bit of bragging here, but I have to say that I am quite proud of my efforts to stretch our grocery budget and keep our diet healthy and local by making as much food as I can from scratch. I have also been working on that Depression-era philosophy: "use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without," and learning how to turn leftovers into other scrumptious entrees and desserts, like veggie soups and bread puddings. Some of my latest endeavors include:

A weekly batch of homemade bread. I make two to four loaves at a time. It's easy and so yummy! I am wearing out my kitchen-aid mixer though and have had to go with kneading by hand, which is a great upper body workout!I found a recipe for making English muffins in a cookbook my sister-in-law, Kara, recommended to me : More-with-Less Cookbook. It's wonderful and very helpful for cooking on a dime. The muffins are so pricey in the store and we love them for breakfast. They were not hard at all. You make the dough and let it rise, roll it out and cut it with a glass or a biscuit cutter, and then let them rise again:
Then you cook them in a pan for 5 minutes or so on each side. I love my cast iron!

And here they are - don't let them cook too long! Oops! But it still tasted good.

They even look like muffins from the store on the inside, after being split with a fork. (Those are our farm-fresh eggs in the background.)

I've been making butter from the cream that rises to the top of the milk we get raw from a nearby farm. Put it in the blender for about 8 minutes:

Strain the buttermilk out and press the butter with a spatula while running it under cold water:

And then put it in a nice bowl. I would love to find an antique butter mold to use.

The More with Less cookbook has some great recipes for buttermilk pancakes and biscuits, so I feel I am truly using everything to the fullest. And the food tastes so yummy! My next projects will be to work yogurt into my weekly schedule. I already have made it from time to time, but I would like to stop buying it and just eat homemade stuff. And next month Rose and I are going to learn how to make cheese at our homeschool group Little House in the Big Woods book club.

While the Molly is busy helping me in the kitchen, Rose tends Jack or helps with other chores and Riley has been helping his dad with the wood splitter. Aren't they so cute together?

Well, the timer is going off and it's time to make noodles....For dessert tonight - bread pudding, homemade ice cream, and topped with homemade hot fudge sauce. Enjoy!


Natalie said...

Okay, I love this post. And, seriously, you have every right to indulge in a little bragging. It's your blog, right! And, you know what, not too many families in America think "outside of the box" and it's not as hard as everyone thinks (we've been brainwashed to think it's really hard, IMHO) and you are setting an example for friends, family and, especially, your children.

I love that we cook from scratch, use leftovers and so on (and you are probably further ahead than me on all this stuff). My girls will know what baking bread smells like. The smells of yeast and all kinds of homemade goodness will never be foreign to them. I'm proud of that and you should be too!

The bread here in Europe is wonderful and not very expensive. So, I buy it while I can! However, since we're moving this summer back to the States and healthy bread (w/o preservatives, HFCS, etc) is, in Vermont, over $4/loaf, I've been rediscovering my breadmaker (I'll post about it soon) and dough hook on my mixer. The other day, I made homemade wheat rolls that I let my breadmaker knead and rise once in. Then, Olivia and I punched down the dough, divided it and rolled them in rolls. She watched them rise and was so excited to eat them later.

I like to make bagels and English muffins on the wknds and freeze any leftovers. YUM. And, I agree that English muffins are cheaper to make and taste better. The only English muffins I can get here have HFCS in them and other "crap."

I've made yogurt using my oven at a low temperature (100 degrees) and letting it sit in there for a few hours. But, when we're back in the States, I'm splurging (either new at $30 or thrift shop) on a yogurt maker. I cook w/yogurt a lot and make the girls yogurt shakes all the time. So, I know I'll get good use out of it.

Happy cooking!!

Family American Style. said...

I have enjoyed reading your blog. There is something new on Wednesday. Its, “What would your children say?” Wednesday. I hope you can join the fun.