Homestead Winters

If you heed the advice in the adage, “you need to make hay while the sun shines”, you had better make sure that your tractor is up to the task during the wintertime.

The truth is, that unless you have a greenhouse or indoor garden, there isn’t a lot that you can do on the homestead in the winter other than to plan ahead for the next year and make sure that your equipment is running in tip-top shape.  Here is what we are planning for in these cold, dark days of winter. [Read more…]

Long weekend projects and garden shed plans

It’s the start of a long weekend here in Canada, and that means 2 things: visiting (eating) with family and getting yard projects crossed off the list. Yay!

Previous projects have included a fire pit, a chicken coop, compost bins, our raised beds and installing rain barrels. Removing a wind-fallen tree was not a planned project, but we got it crossed off the list nonetheless.

It seems like we’ve gotten all the easy tasks out of the way, and so the next ones are going to require a little more planning: a new back deck or a garden shed.  This weekend, we’re probably going to tackle the planning of the garden shed. [Read more…]

The Best Party Trick Ever: How to Make Thirty Minute Mozzarella

The following is a guest post from Andrew Wilder of Eating Rules. Welcome, Andrew!

A couple of years ago at a Fourth of July party, I pulled off one of my best party tricks ever.

Showing up with a gallon of milk in hand, I asked my friends if I could borrow their kitchen. Spying the other items in my bag — a bunch of fresh basil and cherry tomatoes — they knew I had something good in store. They eagerly let me take over.

Half an hour later, I emerged victorious from the kitchen with a platter of fresh caprese, made with still-warm mozzarella.

I’ve been using this “30-minute Mozzarella” recipe, from Ricki Carroll’s book, Home Cheese Making, for a few years now.  I’ll admit, it comes out slightly different each time (the type of milk, how quickly you heat it, and how much you stretch it will affect both the flavor and texture), but it’s always been a big hit. [Read more…]

A Simple Summer Appetizer (Recipe: Creamy Homemade Ricotta)

Yesterday’s post was epic and last week was busy with a daily canning post. Today, not surprisingly, I don’t have many words. We took time out this weekend to relax, and my Aunt Jenny’s lakeside home was the perfect place.

A terrific cook, my aunt nourished us with roast lamb and other delights; it was wonderful to be cooked for. In-between meals, I sought solace at the end of the dock to process the past month and ponder what lies ahead. Life continues to be unpredictable, wonderful, tragic and mysterious.

I brought a jar of homemade ricotta out to my aunt’s and served it up for breakfast, spooned into bowls and topped with roasted strawberries. I’ve been making ricotta, well, since I was about as high as a bar stool, when I would help my mother make cheese from our goat’s milk. There’s nothing like fresh ricotta.

As I made a batch on Friday, I wondered if I should give up blogging and start giving cooking classes instead (I’m not going to!), because nothing makes me happier than demonstrating to others how simple scratch cooking, such as ricotta, just is.

Perhaps you’ve only seen ricotta in a plastic tub at the supermarket and didn’t even know it could be easily reproduced at home. Well it can, and today, I’ll show you just how. [Read more…]

Frozen Treats: Fresh Strawberry Granita

Beat the heat with our week-long series on frozen treats! Written by Kristen of Dine and Dish.

I remember it like it was yesterday… my first taste of strawberry granita. The fresh strawberry flavor combined with the sweetness of the sugar had me hooked at first bite.

It was in a little township outside of Pittsburgh, PA, of all places. We were vacationing with my sister-in-law and the temperatures had shot up well past 100 degrees. We had reached the end of a fun-filled day when my sister-in-law introduced us to a little place called Rita’s Ice.

The lines were long but she assured us it was well worth the wait. I devoured a strawberry granita ice treat topped with vanilla custard. I loved it so much I went back the next day and the next and the next. When we returned home from our trip one of the first things I did was look to see if there was a Rita’s near us. Nothing. I was so disappointed…

Desperate for my new found favorite treat, I even went so far as to see what starting a Rita’s franchise in our town would entail. My husband talked me down and promised that it probably wasn’t necessary to go to those kind of measures. I guess he was right.

It never crossed my mind to try to re-create the strawberry granita we tasted at Rita’s in Pittsburgh – until now. Little did I know that such deliciousness could be made in my own kitchen with just a few simple ingredients and my freezer. I can have my strawberry granita in Kansas and I’m a happy girl!

[Read more…]