Easy Peasy White Sandwich Bread

Ok.  I’ve been wrestling with a few different breads lately.  A few days ago, I was on a mission to make the perfect sandwich bread since we ran out of our store bought and I needed to make my husband’s lunch.  I’ve searched forever for something quick, easy, and virtually fail proof.  Here’s the final recipe with my own tweaks and version:

Place 2 C. VERY warm water in your mixing bowl

Add:  2/3 C. Sugar

Mix them together in the bowl and add:

2 Pkg. Dry Yeast.  (Doesn’t matter if it’s rapid rise or normal)

Stir the yeast in and let it sit for 15 minutes

In the meantime?  Place 3 C. flour and 1 tsp. salt into a bowl and whisk

Add this flour mixture to your yeast concoction after the 15 min mark.

Use your dough hook and turn it on low.

Slowly…add 3 Tbl. Oil and 3 C. flour

Mix this with the dough hook until it pulls off the sides and forms a bit.

Pull it out of the mixer and knead lightly for 20 seconds.  Place it back into your mixing bowl and let it sit covered w/a damp warm cloth for an hour or more.  (I like to dampen a kitchen hand towel and put it in the microwave for 1 minute, then I place it over the bowl)

Now, dough has risen.  Knock it down and take it out of the bowl onto a floured surface, almost in the form you pull it out of the bowl in.  Cut the dough mixture in 1/2 (This gets you two loaves)

Spray or grease your bread pans.  Knead each piece of dough and slightly roll it and tuck ends.  Place each piece into each bread pan.

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Re-heat your damp towel in the microwave another minute and cover both bread pans.  Let them sit another hour in the pans prior to baking.  (I always have my oven heated at this point so they have a little warmth while rising)

Put them in the oven at 350° for 30 minutes.  Pull them out and brush them with melted butter.  I use about 1-2 Tbl butter for this.  Let the loaves sit in their pans for 5 minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack.

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They are so beautiful!   The house smells awesome!  What’s better than fresh baked bread in your home?  NOTHING.  Once they have cooled, slice them into sandwich size slices.  This is the best part, you get to choose how thin or thick you want your bread.  My honey prefers his slightly thicker.

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That’s it!  SUPER easy and you’d be amazed at the flavor difference between store bought and homemade.  Try this and let me know how yours turns out!

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Cold Front Turkey Chili

We are expecting a cold front to come in by tomorrow morning, finally!  This season has been unusually warm for Fall and I am SO ready for the cold weather comfort foods!  Today, I decided to get ahead of the front and make a twist of a version to turkey chili, which includes butternut squash and black beans.  It is YUMMY!

I usually cook by getting all my ingredients together first.  One thing you may want to do is get all the spices whisked together ahead of time since the first part goes pretty quickly.

The photo below isn’t all the ingredients but, you get the picture! 

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Here’s how to make it for yourself:

2 T Olive Oil

1 Onion (diced)

8 cloves Garlic (chopped)

Put the oil in a stock pot or dutch oven and heat it up.  Add the onion and chopped garlic and cook for about 45 seconds-1 minute.  You don’t have to worry about the onion turning translucent, we are just pulling out the aromas.

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1 Tablespoon each of the following:  Chili Powder, Sugar, Cumin, Cinnamon

2 tsp. each of the following:  Red pepper flakes, ground coriander, basil

1 tsp. salt

Mix the spices together and add this to the onion/garlic mixture until incorporated.

Add:

1.25 pounds ground turkey and cook thoroughly.

Once the turkey is cooked, add 3 Tablespoons tomato sauce.

Now, it’s time to add this:

2 green bell peppers (chopped), 1 Can diced tomatoes (I used Rotel w/jalapenos because I like a kick), and 2 Cups chicken or turkey broth.

Let this simmer while covered for about 30 minutes.  In the meantime, rinse and drain 1 can of black beans and have 1 large butternut squash peeled, seeded, and chopped into pieces.

After 30 minutes, add your black beans and butternut squash.  Let this simmer again for another 30 minutes.  Guess what??  You just made a killer dinner!

Photo below is just after stirring in the beans and butternut squash.

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So?  It is that easy!   Since things have been a little nuts here lately, I wanted to get a head start on tomorrow’s dinner.  I’ll throw this in the fridge for the night and into a crockpot for a few hours before supper tomorrow night.  As for sides?  I love to make my jalapeno cornbread with any chili I make.  I top our turkey chili with shredded cheese and diced green onions.

I love that 90% of this meal came from our garden. We do have turkeys we are planning on sourcing later this year and then?  This entire meal will be home grown and we couldn’t be happier!  It’s awesome knowing where all our food comes from!

 

 

 

 

Napa “Wet” Coleslaw with a Kick!

My daughter just celebrated her birthday and wanted homemade fried rice as part of her meal.  I had Bok Choy and Napa Cabbage.  I couldn’t remember which one to use for the rice dish but, I figured I would use the other for another recipe.  Turns out?  Bok Choy is great for fried rice.  Now, I needed to use this Napa Cabbage before it wilted.

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We grew a smaller garden this year since the weather wasn’t very friendly.  I had some red onion and jalapenos begging to be used.

Here’s what I did!  A kicked up version of coleslaw with a kick!  It’s pretty awesome, not going to lie here.  The recipe you ask?  Here it is:

1 head Napa Cabbage.  Sliced and chopped

1/4 C Red Onion

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2 Jalapenos – Sliced, seeded and diced

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3/4 C – 1 C mayo

4 T Apple Cider Vinegar

1/2 C sugar (I know, it’s a lot…but totally worth it)

1 T Black pepper

1 tsp Salt

** Here’s the deal for me when I make any kind of slaw.  I always start “wet”.  We typically use the leftovers for the next day and I’ve found if my slaw is not slightly on the wet side, it’s too dry next day.  Feel free to cut the mayo if you like.   I always prefer a wetter slaw vs dryer.

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That’s it!  Combine them all and whoa!  The flavor is quite different from your average BBQ coleslaw.  There’s a small amount of heat but the vinegar/sugar mix settle it down a bit.  The flavor is AMAZING!   Make this and comment with your review 🙂

Labor Day & More Bacon Seeds!

Well?  She did it!  Applesauce had a healthy litter of 10 pigs.  So far, it’s looking like 7 female and 3 male.  I’ll take those odds!  We spent so much time getting ready for this to happen.  We still had her three babies from March that we needed to separate, so time was super crucial here. Sorry for the cruddy photos, I had my cell phone and it was already pretty dark.

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Prior to getting her special birthing pen ready again, we had to move our big boy.  His name is Jimmy Dean and he’s actually growing tusks at this point!  Try to move a 500-600 pound boar who doesn’t feel like moving?  Yep, we almost lost a hand a few times.

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Needless to say, this is the daddy and we couldn’t be happier with the results.  He’s come a VERY long way in a short year with us.  The photo below is when he first came to our homestead.

Jimmy Dean meets his ladies

Now?  He passes the girls in height and weight!  Crazy pig.  Excuse the mud, this was minutes after his move to the woods.  I was pretty much over trying to direct boar movement at this point.  L O L

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We knew by Friday, she was getting close.  Her milk was starting to come in and by early Monday morning, she was grabbing hay as fast as we could give it to her to build her “nest”.   For those who follow us, last time you know she only had three young ones.  Oh, not today!  We are happy to report all 10 were born strong and ready to see the world!

 

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It’s amazing when something so genuine hits our homestead.  We have had so many struggles in the last month or two they are almost uncountable.  I will be posting a tribute to our Great Dane we lost the day after my birthday.  But, with death, comes life.  We needed these little breaths of fresh air (although, I don’t recommend inhaling near pig domains) 🙂  This post is short.  And I am super excited to have new life on our little homestead.  Just what the doctor ordered!

Bacon Seeds ♥

We set out on this new homestead adventure ALL-IN.  Our first procurement were chickens.  I suppose we decided this was too “easy” and we immediately moved onto pigs.  Yep.  You heard me, simple to something over 500 pounds.  We started with TWO.

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“Porkchop and Applesauce”

These sweet girls were about 2-3 months old when we brought them home.  Funny thing, we were still living in our HOA just outside the city on 2 acres.  It was about this time we decided our HOA was going to have a huge issue with our newly found “lifestyle”.  We put our home on the market and it literally sold for cash within 2 days!  Holy crap!  Where do we move?  What are we buying?  The race was on to find the perfect place where we could grow our newly started animal family and save the 1k yearly dues.  (It’s quite lovely to not pay HOA dues anymore and I would never buy property again where we are told how/what we can have or do)

We moved the girls into the backyard and quickly learned they are better tillers than you can purchase at the store.  Their entire yard was dug up within a matter of days. So?  We found our homestead, simply by our pig purchase.  We looked everywhere and finally found something we now call the MmmHomestead.  Our original plan was to source the girls for meat but hey, we are ambitious!  We decided to purchase a third (Did I mention we are crazy?) pig.  This lil’ fella we call “Jimmy Dean”.  He was about 12 weeks old in the photos below.

This guy has grown incredibly fast.  He’s already as large as the girls, even though they are over a year apart.  Well?  He definitely knew his job and went to it rather quickly.

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Jimmy Dean growing up!

 

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Applesauce falls in love

Well?  Applesauce fell in love.  Those two were inseparable, literally.  We kept Jimmy separated from the girls until we felt he was old enough/big enough to not get kicked out of the feed trough.  They integrated nicely and have lived as three for a good six months.  We’ve seen him “attempt” to be the man and mount the girls.  Applesauce seems to be most receptive.   Pork Chop, let’s just say if she doesn’t get with the program, she is going to have another destiny in the near future.  The one thing we have always said about the girls, was their disposition is so gentle and calm.  We wanted that with our breeder pigs.

Applesauce got pregnant!  3 months, 3 weeks and 3 days for pigs to give birth.  We had NO idea how pregnant she was, since we keep them all together.   Soon as we saw milk coming in and her teets dropping?  Time to build another fence and pig area.

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Getting ready for bacon seeds!

So here we are!  Two weeks prior to her giving birth, we made their new pen.  Now, if both sows ended up pregnant, we can separate each one and leave Jimmy Dean with his own bachelor pad.  The day my husband finally installed the new shelter and decided to close off the pen?  She gave birth in the middle of the night.

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Bacon seeds have germinated!

Here’s where things got interesting.  She had three “little” pigs.  Wait.  What?  We read sows should have anywhere from 12-30???  What’s going on?  Where are the others?  The last seed was born around 9AM.  We called our local vet.  After inducing her contractions and checking her, it was determined our beloved Jimmy Dean is still much smaller and probably couldn’t “hold on” long enough to produce an entire litter.  Not going to lie here, the idea of 20+ bacon seeds being added to the food bill wasn’t exactly exciting.  So realistically? I’m now thrilled to deal with these babies even three at a time.

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The REAL “Three little pigs”

Two males and a female.  Awesome.  Here in Texas this year, it’s been unusually cold for this time of year.  We added a heat lamp to the shelter and let mama bond.  Things are going splendid.  We now have a minimum of two pigs that will be sourced at the proper time.  I’m still debating on the female but truth be told?  We’ve offered her to our awesome neighbors.  (More on them later, but we couldn’t have picked more awesome folk to live close to for the rest of our lives)

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Wee wee wee…all the way home!

So for now?  We bid these bacon seeds hello and good health.  They will be spoiled to no end and live a happy, loving lifestyle until their time comes.  We always have to remind ourselves why we chose this new direction.  It’s so easy to get attached.  If I had to give advice a year after we chose to move our entire lives and get into the homestead life?  I would advise everyone to DO IT.  And do it NOW.  I love the fact we are taking care of our family and know where our meat comes from and what it was fed.   Here’s to the next year and starting our beef family.  ♥

Kidding!

Well?  We did it!  We had our first live births on our homestead!  Our sweet Boer/Kiko cross gave a beautiful performance and delivered twins!

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Mary “Mama”

The birth was “textbook”.  We were so nervous when we figured out labor had started.  Being new to this lifestyle, everything we’ve learned was through books or internet.  We had been reading on what to do “IF” happens…so we put together a kit for the “just in case” moments.  Our kit included:  Iodine, Colostrum, Powdered Goats Milk Supplement, a baby bulb (the kind you would use on infants to suck boogers out of their nose), clean towel, gloves, and antibiotics (in case we had to go in and get the kid).

Fortunately, we didn’t need any of it other than the clean towels.

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Daddy “Mojo” (Nigerian Dwarf)  Resting on our donkeys.

I noticed her rear end had a longer clear/thick mucus coming out of it and her breathing seemed to be almost like panting (except she wasn’t panting out of her mouth, just the belly seemed labored).  We set up our watch and kept a close eye on her all day.

Once the sun finally set, we lit a fire in the pit and sat out back.  I think we had resolved at this point that she was waiting and we were going to miss it.  Not the case!  We heard a loud bray and grabbed the flashlights.  It was time!

**LIVE BIRTH PHOTOS BELOW.  If you’re squeamish, don’t look!

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Twin #1

7:13 PM.  Twin #1 was on the way out by the time we reached the kidding pen.  I let myself into the pen and proceeded to sit next to mama and lay the towel down to help with the baby.  My goal wasn’t to clean it myself, just aid if necessary.  Once the kid was out, I ended up breaking the bag at the nose/mouth and wiped with the towel to clear all the mucus.  A couple swipes with my finger through his mouth and he started coughing while Mary (mama) started cleaning him up.

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Twin #1 !  It’s a boy!

Mary was instantly showing signs that she was going to be a great mother.  She was talking a bit and licking him all over.  (The licking helps stimulate the kid to cough and breathe)

My husband said at this point, “I don’t think she’s done!”  We could instantly see another bag coming.  It looked much like the first bag coming out and had no blood to it.  Yep!  Looked like we were having twins!

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Twin #2 being born!

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I was elated!  Both were born hooves/nose first with zero complications! Mary continued to lick #1 and finish birthing #2.

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#1 standing before his brother hit the ground!

Funny.  I didn’t realize they stood up so fast!  #1 was standing within 5-10 minutes of being born!  Another wave of relief flooded me.  Healthy!  That’s all we cared about.

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#2 just born

#2 is out!  This time, I was a little nervous.  He didn’t cough right away and we ended up having to work on his nose/mouth a little more.  We also had to hold him with his nose towards the ground to try and pat/gently shake the mucus out of his lungs.  It worked.  He took a little longer to stand than #1 but within 30 minutes?  He was standing up.

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Twin boys!  So happy!

By now, Mary was hard at work licking the boys and cleaning them up.  #1 was attempting to nurse which made Mary hesitate at first.  It only took a couple of tries til he was able to latch on with the assistance of us holding her back leg from kicking at him.  Once the latch was solid, I think nature took over and she relaxed.

We moved the boys into the pen where it would be warmer for the night.  Mary followed immediately and continued to let them nurse.  It took a little extra guidance to get #2 to find the teet but, when he did?  Success!

It wasn’t long (within an hour or so) that Mary expelled the afterbirth.  We were told to let her eat it if she wanted since it has plenty of nutrients/etc…and that’s just what she did.  This was her first pregnancy and I was so happy how well she took to new motherhood.

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Archer on the left (Cupid’s Occupation) and Eros on the right (Rome’s Cupid)

We decided to name them after something that related to Valentine’s Day since we were so close to the Holiday.  It will help remind us their age and date of birth.  (We do keep a record book of all our animals which includes their breed, date of birth, vaccinations, etc…)

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Archer, Eros and Mary ♥

The boys are now just under 48 hours old and going strong!  Can’t wait to see them really active and playing!

Fencing From Scratch ~ Do it Yourself!

This has probably been our largest and most rewarding project to date.  Getting our children involved from beginning to end made this a wonderful learning experience and brought us all a sense of accomplishment!

We decided it was time to fence about 10 acres of our property.  One of our goals is to always save money so we decided since we had pine trees that needed to be thinned anyways, we would start there and make our own posts for H-Frames.  (For those who don’t know, an “H” Frame helps strengthen the wire fencing and we placed our “H” Frames approximately 100 feet apart from each other) Now, we did get lucky here since two sides of the property already had fencing up.

Step One:  Find the trees you need to cut down and make sure you have a sharp chainsaw blade to do it!  We “fell” about 12 trees to get 36 posts @ 3 posts per tree.  It takes 3 to make one H-Frame.

Step Two:  De-bark the posts you’ve cut.  This process took most of the afternoon but, truly went pretty quickly since we had the tools to do it!  I believe they are called “draw knives or blades”.

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Debarking a tree is serious work!  I’m so thankful our children were able to do this!  They decided to have a contest on who could finish fastest.  As you can see below, the hubby was pretty exhausted!

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Step Three:  Lay out your new posts about 100 feet apart from each other.  No need to measure exactly yet, that comes when you’re ready to dig holes in the ground!

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Step Four:  Dig a hole.  We used a manual auger since our ground was pretty saturated from all the rains and a tractor would’ve been stuck.  In the photo below, you can see the pink tape used to measure when the hole is deep enough.  (We went 2 feet down)

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Step Five:  Use the largest post end and put it in the ground.  It takes one 50 pound bag of cement for each post in the ground.

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Step Six:  Measure each post at a width of 8 feet from the center.  Cut notches 55″ from the bottom up and mark your line for the first notch to cut out.  This will be the bottom cut.  Then, measure the log at each end and make another mark for the top.  Slide the post in the notches and use a VERY LONG nail to pound in each end.  We then took barb wire and wrapped it around each post cross-wise.  U-nails were used to hold the barb wire in place and yay!  You have an H-Frame!

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Step Seven:  Oh yay.  The T-posts need to be driven into the ground!  We placed our T-posts 8 feet apart.  We marked them with spray paint 2 feet up from the bottom so it was easier to tell when they were driven into the ground deep enough.

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Step Eight:  Now, we are ready to unroll our fencing and attach it!  Starting at the first H-Frame, use U-nails to do this part.  Then, unroll the fencing until you hit the next H-Frame.  I will be editing this to show what we used to unroll the fence easier and how we were able to stretch it very nicely!  It involved a come-along, ties and a homemade contraption on our side by side.  (Hubby can be quite the genius) 🙂

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Step Nine:  Add your gate!

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Step Ten:  We started out using aluminum fence ties which I actually thought were pretty easy to tie.  Once we ran out, we ended up purchasing T-Post clips made of steel.  Ehhh.  To me, they were harder to maneuver around the fencing but, I’m told they hold up longer than the aluminum ones.

I have to say, if my kids and I can do this?  Anyone can make it happen!  It is even more rewarding to look out at the fencing and know all that hard work is helping protect our animals!