Friday, January 30

Quick and Easy Strawberry Cake

Strawberry Cake
An easy sheet cake or layer cake and ready in no time using a prepackaged cake mix and frozen strawberries. 
Or if you prefer something more natural, mix up a white cake batter and homemade frosting!

We pick our strawberries at a nearby farm every year around the first week of June to make our own natural Homemade Strawberry Jam.  And I always buy extra strawberries to chop and freeze to use with desserts, on ice cream and in salads.  There is nothing like the taste of a summer fresh strawberry!  Well June is quickly approaching so this year I decided to use up some of the strawberries from last year to make a Cake for my husband Bill’s birthday.

This cake is also perfect if you’re looking for a Valentine’s Day Dessert.  Or bookmark or Pin this recipe for summer and use fresh garden strawberries.  Great to serve at outdoor barbecues and summer dinner parties too!

If making cake batter from scratch using your favorite recipe, just decrease the liquid by a 1/3 to ½ cup and add 1 cup mashed strawberries with juice and the strawberry flavored gelatin.
If Jell-O brand gelatin is not for you, Better Bowls makes a natural brand of strawberry gelatin!

Wednesday, January 28

How I Got Started Breeding Rabbits

Rabbits:  The Beginning
By Guest Blogger Alexis Lynch:  An Introduction

Hello! I’m Elizabeth’s daughter and after many requests from my Mom, I agreed to do a little guest blogging.  
I will be blogging about Rabbits: raising, feeding, housing and breeding along with other rabbit concerns.    

As a child I had a pet rabbit. It’s been so many years ago that I no longer remember the exact day I got him but he was a grey short-haired Mini-Rex named Thunder.   He was an average example of his breed, only special because he was my very own and I loved him. He lived near our clubhouse in an outdoor hutch my mother built from salvaged lumber.  I have many happy memories of taking him out to our sunny grassy yard where we spent many hours playing together.  Time passed and as all living things do; sadly including pets, Thunder eventually died. I remember crying and running to tell my parents. I never had another pet rabbit after that; my experience with rabbits thereafter stemming from what I read from books or online, watching nature shows or rabbits I saw at county fairs.

Sunday, January 25

Perfect Sourdough Bread

Sourdough bread is great buttered, toasted, served with dinner or used for sandwiches. 
In my opinion bread making is an art. 
There is a special pleasure working with bread and just the aroma of baking bread throughout the house is well worth the effort.

I grew up eating my mother’s homemade bread.  We would beg and beg her to make it and it was always eaten hot from the oven covered with butter.  
My mother never looked at a recipe to make her bread, she just mixed it up and it was perfect. Every time. Sigh.

I can not just whip up a loaf of bread, I always have the recipe right next to me and I have been practicing for years.  In the pass, I’ve had as many bread failures as successes I think, but I kept at it. 

Using a sourdough starter is an ancient method to make leavened bread.

Friday, January 23

Easy Shelves You Can Build Yourself

Easy Shelf Design For Multiple Shelf Use

Recently I finished painting my newest pantry shelves. The shelves were a combination of new and used wood.
When we purchased our small farm the kitchen had a small 4’ by 4’ pantry closet, (with 6 inch wide shelves, ugh) and later I converted another closet for pantry space.  But last year we did a complete kitchen remodel, going down to bare studs so I had to build a new pantry.

You may have read in another blog post of mine that I am no expert.
I am a trial and error kind of person and self taught, right or wrong.  My father was a wonderful carpenter and builder of things so I like to think I got a little bit of that from him.
Maybe from following him around a lot when I was little.

I use a pretty basic shelf design which can change slightly depending on the character or purpose of the shelving.  Storage shelves are more rustic and not always “perfect”. 
Book shelves get a little added trim and detail work and are put together with a more attention to ascetics.

Thursday, January 15

Bean Soup

Canning Bean Soup

Our busiest canning "season" is during the summer and autumn months while we are harvesting our garden vegetables.
But during the winter months, we love lots of soups and stews.
Usually, when I cook, I try to make enough for two meals to save time later.  Half we eat now, and half gets frozen or canned for a convenient meal later.  For soup, I make a large stock pot full and have plenty left over to can.

Having jars of soup in the pantry, ready to just heat up is a huge time saver and works just wonderful for a cold winter day meal.  Just grab one or two jars from the shelf and heat.  Add a side salad or sandwich and you have an easy no fuss meal! And one without the added sodium, additives and preservatives found in commercially canned soups.

And the great part?  Beans are a low-cost meal packed with high nutritional valve!
Beans are an excellent source of cholesterol-lowering fiber and provide a virtually fat-free high-quality protein.  They're also a very good source of folate, manganese and vitamin B1 as well as the minerals phosphorus, copper, magnesium and iron.

Tuesday, January 13

Sourdough Bread Starter

Sourdough Starter

Let me start this post by saying I am no expert when it comes to bread making and I believe bread making is an art form. I have been practicing for years and kicked up the experimenting in the last few years.  
I have tried to get a sourdough starter going a few times with no luck.  But my son Daniel absolutely loves a good sourdough bread so I persevered. 

Making good loaves of bread is time consuming so it's not for everyone.  But the joy and feelings of accomplishment you get when the bread turns out perfect are well worth it. 
I have never actually met anyone who has been successful at getting a starter to ferment or live. 
There are plenty of websites with instructions, and even rants about how easy plain flour and water is to start,  but what good are they if they don't work for me or you? 

Well let's get started.  Here are a few tips on how I got my starter to work.
It needs restating and underscored that the better the ingredients the better the end product.  
Also, if quick and easy bread is what you are more interested in try my Easy Beer Bread recipe. 
Sourdough is time consuming.  It just is.

Sunday, January 4

Building A Patio

Building / Pouring a Concrete Patio
It’s about this time of the year, right after the holidays, that I start looking forward to spring.
The gardening and hatchery catalogs start arriving in the mail and I make a list of projects I hope to finish in the coming year.
On the list was building a patio. 
When we purchased our little farm 4 year ago, (which we named Lynch’s Mt. Horb Farm), flower beds, a veggie and herb garden and even a patio were all missing from the landscape.

At our previous homes I built our patios from old salvaged bricks.  But those were smaller in size than what I envisioned for our farm. And besides, I’m saving my newest collected stash of bricks to make a floor in the original chicken coop that I’m rebuilding and turning into a camping cabin.

Thursday, January 1

New Year Wishes and Resolutions

Happy New Year!
Here are a few quotes and sayings I like for the New Year.

Photo from Pinterest
HAVE  hope
TRY new things
BE active
SEE the good
SAY I love you more
CHALLENGE yourself
CHOOSE to be happy
EAT better
ENJOY today
FORGIVE more readily
READ more often
BECOME your best you

"The greatest need of this nation is strong, healthy, intact families. 
The greatest thing you can do as a mother is to strengthen your own family. 
Build your family life. 
Don't get involved in too many things outside your home. 
You will become flustered, frazzled, and the family will become fragmented. 
Instead, think of ideas to gather the family together. 
Think of things to do that will strengthen your family.  
Daily gather around your family meal table for your meals. 
As you strengthen and build up your family, also seek to 
encourage and bless other families around you. "