Friday, April 29, 2011

Grandma's Popover Pancake

Image from Blame it on the Food. I ate mine and forgot to take a picture!

This little yummy is also known as an Oven Pancake, German Oven Pancake, Oven Puffed Pancake, Dutch Baby, etc. There are many correct versions of this breakfast wonder but here is my Grandma Kleinpeter's recipe. I make this often because it is so easy and I have fond memories of it growing up.

You will need a medium sized cast iron skillet (you could use another oven safe pan of the same size but I can't promise how it will turn out). Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and be sure to put your skillet in the oven as it is heating.

Ingredients (can you see why a homesteader would love this recipe):
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup milk
2 eggs (you can lightly beat before adding to other ingredient)

I often double the recipe. Don't over mix. Some lumps and bumps are OK. Remove your now hot skillet carefully from the oven. Place butter in skillet and melt until bubbly (the recipe calls for 1/3 cup but I NEVER use that much). Pour batter into skillet and return to oven for roughly 10-12 minutes or until puffy. If the magic worked the pancake will puff up like a parachute and the kids will love it! Don't be upset if it doesn't. This recipe will grow on you and you will add your own special way. No matter what it is amazing to eat.

Serve with fresh berries, syrup, powdered sugar, jelly, jam, lemon, whatever! Yummy...


Howdy farm friends. How many of you have all the ingredients you need for this recipe right on your homestead? I am jealous. Right now all I can claim are eggs. If you have a recipe you would like to share with us leave a comment below with the link and we will check it out! Thanks for visiting.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Getting Cultured

Blogger almost wouldn't let me post this... **gasp**!

Well I am pleased to announce I am getting "cultured". Yup. Right now in my little kitchen there are amazing things happening. Water and milk kefir grains are rehydrating and turning simple liquid into amazing probiotic goodness. The process started Tuesday afternoon and in a very short amount of time I will be enjoying the first glasses of health restoring wonder juice. Do I have enough information to share with you yet? Nope. Will I soon? Heck ya!

The cloudy stuff at the bottom is the kefir water grains.

I have to say I am in love with sites such as Cultures for Health and Nourished Kitchen. I am reading a page ever chance I get in Real Food by Nina Planck. I am experimenting in the kitchen more and more and setting little goals for myself day by day. Don't be confused. Jackie is a wonder in the kitchen and she has had an amazing head start. While I was stuck behind a desk working stressful jobs and tearing down my health, she was leaning to make wholesome food from scratch (a much better use of her time if you ask me). I am inspired by her food wisdom and drooling over kitchen utensils that I never thought would have a place in my home.

This year is a year of learning for me. Of finally being able to have the time and energy to do so many things I have dreamt of such as backing bread and cooking from scratch and canning. I promise to share with you my triumphs and mistakes. I want to be healthy, feel healthy, and promote a healthy life style to my family that grew up with out one. I can't wait for my husband to completely grasp that McDonald's isn't real food. We are getting there, neighbors. I promise. If you are looking to be inspired on your real food journey I recommend you read 10 Tips for Real Food Newbies. I was able to see how far I have come in making better food choices and at the same time see what new changes I can make.

Soon I will be a pro at this kefir stuff and moving on to other cultured foods. In the mean time, I will be enjoying kefir salad dressing, kefir cheese, kefir dips, kefir breakfast smooths, kefir lemonade...

Monday, April 25, 2011


A farm is not all work and no play.

We like baseball, football, trampoline and campfires of course.

But our favorite must be mud.

Anything mud.

Including getting stuck and unstuck from said mud.

I think these picture can tell a pretty good story on their own but I will say that he came over specifically to get the Jeep dirty. On the first trip out he came back disappointed because only one side was caked, so we went out again. I wore flip flops. Mental note: anytime you go "mudding" wear boots...

(The guy totally covered in mud is my little brother)

Yep, we are stuck.

Really stuck.

How the heck am I supposed to reach that?

I'm gonna need a change of clothes...
and a shower...
and I have to buy you a new shovel...

Water is deceiving. It can disguise any muddy depth.

Covered, covered from the waist down in sticky cold mud.

His poor interior!
I must admit that I laughed hysterically the entire time.
From stuck to unstuck.
Especially about the incident with the wheelbarrow..

I'm still laughing...

My view for the trip home.

Maybe now is a good time to tell you my brother is a neat freak. Not that he minded getting mud in places he would prefer mud not be in order to free his vehicle but the kind that is probably still cleaning and scrubbing the interior of his Jeep.

Ah... good times!

How was your weekend?

First Spring Forage

Yesterday this was the first course of supper, a salad of dandelion greens and kale, all found on a short walk in the backyard. In a matter of minutes and by sheer accident I found last years kale stalks with some baby growth on the edge of the garden. I was out of spinach but now inspired to put together a salad highlighting my foraged treasures. Sure it would be small, most of this spring's growth was crushed flat by heavy rain or trampled by happy kids, but it would be something. Free food to nourish my family.

Last May Healthy Treasures hosted an edible weeds lecture on this property to teach people that they only have to look in their natural surroundings for good food. Finding these few tasty weeds and greens reminded me of how much I remembered from my research and how I would like to work this year on keeping my knowledge with me. You have to use it or loose it.

Granted, I have a lot of property (which mostly translates to hours and hours of mowing) but I want to assure you that acres are not needed to start harvesting in your own backyards. Baby steps to wild foraging... let's start with dandelions. Most yards in North America do not appreciate these weeds. Dandelion greens are available in gourmet salads and specialty grocery stores and they are not cheap. It is hard to swallow that such a simple and sometimes despised plant found in front yards everywhere could ever be considered fancy. (I use the term "yard" and "lawn" loosely because not much of my lawn is grass but what most people would consider undesirables. Yet my weeds are edible and tasty and grass is not, so who cares?) I send the kids out to pick those sunny yellow flowers when they pop up in our lawn and we dip them in pancake batter and fry them. They are too sweet for my taste and the kids can only handle a few each but it is just the idea that I can take something that people consider a nusiance and make it edible that makes me smile.

The most popular of our foraging efforts was put into harvesting lamb's quarter. It is an easily identifiable weed that grew rampant in the garden for years and we pulled it like mad. At least until last summer when we discovered its second name: wild spinach. Suddenly the obnoxious overgrowth became a huge blessing when our true spinach crop failed. I'm noticing more and more now of all the things on this earth that grow without out help for our nourishment. We till, water and exert all amounts of energy to grow our own idea of food when these have been here all along.

(This blue house is in the process of making our foraging more formal with some new fruit and nut bearing shrubs and trees around the perimeter of the property. Is this cheating? We don't think so. Even though the word forage means to wander is search of provisions nothing states how far you have to wander from your back door, right? These new perennial plants will require little maintenance after the first couple years and we are looking forward to providing for our family in the future with our efforts now.)

Foraging is all just about being aware of our surroundings and using what we have access to. Being a forager is a lot like making something out of nothing. You can see the possibility in an unkept lawn or promise in an overgrown field. It is amazing really. There are bellies to fill and along a casual walk you can gather several key ingredients to compose or compliment a meal. You don't need the title of farmer just a few good books, a sense of adventure and a lazy afternoon.

At the end of the day being able to identify wild foods is just another accomplishment on the road to self sufficiency.


We joined up again with the amazing Barn Hop. If you are stopping over welcome and please leave us a comment if you see something you like. We would love to hear from you! Feel free to look around and stay awhile. Welcome again neighbor.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Brown Egg Fallacy

I don't know why we never tried dying our own brown eggs? Maybe we thought the colors wouldn't be as bright and warm as the white store bought ones.

We were wrong...

We had a lovely Easter celebrating our freedom in knowing Christ. How awesome! God's love is HUGE!

Jesus has RISEN

I pray your families are blessed as you celebrate Easter 2011.

The families of Two Blue Houses are celebrating our Risen Lord who defeated death!
Praise God. He has Risen. He has Risen Indeed!

"For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." ~ Romans 6:23

"See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland."  ~ 
Isaiah 43:19

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Green House Update

First piece of trim up. Before...



After... I LOVE IT>

Doesn't it look almost done and totally amazing.

Just some caulk, paint, and a few more trim pieces...

Gary pretending I help! This was all him I just requested...

So far we have only spent an additional $20.00 dollars and a large majority of the trim is done. We found some pine to finish the trim at $2.00 a piece and will go back and buy those. Then we have to hang shelves, paint, and caulk. Hopefully we will be getting a load of free gravel. Who knows what this summer holds... could I possibly grow enough food to sell? Maybe.

The Chicks have Flown the Coop...

Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Food Friday: Roasted Broccoli

Best. Broccoli. Ever. Period.

There is something absolutely magical that happens when vegetables are roasted in the oven. Throw in a few extra things and this broccoli can satisfy and stand alone like no other. Don't have the exact ingredients in your pantry? No problem. It's a mix and match kind of recipe. Totally customizable. You like more garlic? Do it! Low sodium? Forget the salt and go easy on the cheese. You just can not go wrong but I highly recommend serving it up this way. It will be a truly unforgettable side dish.

Roasted Broccoli (with garlic lemon and Parmesan)

  • fresh broccoli (sometimes I throw some quartered carrots on too)
  • garlic
  • olive oil
  • Parmesan cheese
  • lemon (juice and zest)
  • salt and pepper

all of the ingredients are to taste


Preheat oven to 400* F. Cut broccoli into large stalks (make sure its as dry as possible or it won't end up super crisp). Spread it out on a baking sheet in a single layer. Sprinkle oil, chopped garlic and salt and pepper over broccoli and toss. Pop it in the oven for about 20 minutes or more, until the tops of the veggies start to turn dark and black, don't totally burn it though. While it is in the oven, grate lemon zest and Parmesan cheese. When the broccoli is done, pull it out of the oven and immediately toss with cheese and zest. Squeeze a bit of lemon juice on and serve while hot, but it is still delicious room temp, heck, even cold.

I'm going to be bringing this roasted broccoli perfection to our Easter supper. When most vegetable dishes at the holiday table are smothered in condensed soup or boiled to mush, this dish surprises even the non-veggie lovers. It is definitely another staple in my kitchen. I just cant wait to try it with my homegrown organic DeCisso Broccoli!

first planting

second planting

...and I just started my third round of broccoli this way I'll have plants maturing at different times and a constant harvest of dark green yummy broccoli! I think I know exactly how I'm going to prepare that first fresh bunch...

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Expectations: Planting Seeds

Who turns their living room into a green house?

Dirt covers my floors, couch, dining hutch, and end tables. Make shift seedling pots are over ever flat surface available. There are sour cream, yogurt, coffee cups, baby food containers, non-dairy coffee creamer jugs, peat pots, etc. anything I could get my hands on to grow a plant in. I debate adding more tables until we have a few warmer nights outside. Thirty and forty degree temps are not going to keep my seedlings flourishing. Expectations...

I worry about the seedlings often. Are they warm enough? Are they too leggy? Are they growing fast and large enough? Will they successfully supply my family with much needed fruit or will they only succeed in being leaves and stems? My expectations, hopes, dreams ride on these little seedling's backs. This is my chance to learn (more than I know), see what I can grow (on a large scale), and how being a stay at home mom I can still provide for my family. I don't have much room for error in this. Perhaps these seedlings will even open the door to additional income for my family in the future. Expectations...

The expectations are great. A pantry full of homegrown food. Even a simple shopping cart of groceries stresses my tiny budget. No extras. No pop, sweets, treats, extra baked goods, or much meat ever get bought at the grocery. It isn't like you need those items. Could we eat even cheaper? Yup. Sure we could if we ate the same boring meals day after day. I don't want to eat as poor as I am. White rice for dinner every night isn't on my menu. I want to eat variety. I want to eat quality, expensive, healthful food. Honestly, I want to eat like a king and queen and have excellent choices for my children. So you see, these seedlings are my pantry. My hopes for variety and savings in the next year. Expectations...

I tend them at least three times a day. I turn them. Water them with a spray bottle to ensure the germinating seeds don't get washed around. Watch to see if new plants have sprouted. Gently fertilize them once they have more than two leaves. Thin them. Transplant them. Expectations...

Try watering 240 seeds with a spray bottle. The muscles in your forearms get a nice little workout. There is of course more than just food growing. I have some perennial flowers, ornamental grasses, and annual flowers growing as well. Or hoping they grow. They tend to have longer germination periods so there is the promise of beautiful landscaping without actually knowing if a single plant will thrive and with out the huge expense of purchasing more mature plants. Expectations...

Honestly, I know in my heart that if this garden isn't as spectacular as my expectations imply there is always next year, but I want so badly for this year's garden to be spectacular. I have waited for and imagined this garden for years. No master gardener grows their masterpiece garden in three year but... expectations...

People driving buy, walking by (we have a lot of foot traffic & street traffic), and stopping by must think we are crazy with my current living room green house. I can only imagine what they think is going on here. My one neighbor is thrilled though that I will be canning for the first time this year. He exclaimed that it is a "lost art". Maybe I am not crazy after all... expectations.

Grow little seedlings. Grow! What are your expectations for your yard/garden/living room this year?

P.S. I confess I am addicted to buying seed and I promise to stop now for the year. I walk past a seed rack and always find more veggies and flowers I could grow to make my yard lovely.


Farm Friend Friday Folks! Thanks to Verde Farms and Dandelion House for hosting...

Lots more fun stuff here...

Before it gets better, it has to get worse

This week I have been trying to tame the chaos that has become my house. Some people clean top to bottom, or left to right, my cleaning method is different and complicated. It goes against my better judgement and really seems counterproductive. I can't explain it but it works for me... In order for one room to get better, every other room has to get worse. For instance, if I were to tidy the living room, all the rooms that border it would be destroyed. See, I told you it was weird.

Most times the house appears to be immaculate but the closets and other personal spaces hide a holy mess. I can hold this facade up for a while, keeping up with the essentials, like dishes and laundry, but letting other things go. Recently I have been noticing annoying piles of papers accumulating on my desk, clutter camping out on my nightstand, the clean laundry remaining in baskets, and closets overflowing with, well, everything else. This week the curtain has fallen and the act is over. I could take it no more and no matter what I had to sacrifice, I knew it would be worth it.

Say hello to my desk, after. (I'll spare you all the before pics!) Take a look at the uncluttered workspace, there's not even dust yet. Pay stubs and paid bills are filed and pencils are sharpened. Even the cubbies have been sorted out. All those pretty books. It still feels good to look at it.

My nightstand, unspoiled. Books underneath have been switched out for new reading choices. Besides a small jar of hand salve and a yellow ceramic catch-all, every other unnecessary item is banished forever.

The playroom. Books restored to their shelves, organized by binding type and in height order. I'm not crazy or anything.

This is one of five kids beds. Sheets, comforters, pillows, puppy dogs, mattress covers all clean and fresh. Fall and winter wardrobe packed away and spring and summer clothing hung in its place. I even helped them each weed through their junk drawers.

Linen closet. Yes, I know that the shelves are plywood but it is the folded beach towels and extra blankets I want you to notice.

This particular closet made my list because previously it housed copious amounts of fabric and clothing I saved to repurpose so I organized the fabrics, too. Rolled and tied each of them. Now when I rifle through my stash all the pieces will stay nice and neat and I can always find what I am looking for.

And the biggest news, the most spectacular transformation, has to be my closet. I spent Friday evening organizing my closet (yeah, I'm lots of fun) but it was awful. The piles of clean clothes were up to my thigh. Stuff to donate and half finished projects covered the floor and dressers. Now, purses and belts are hung. Pants folded and neatly stacked. All my shirts are once again sorted by color and sleeve length. I think we have already established I'm a bit compulsive.

Something amazing happened when I was pulling all the junk out of my closet. I found this...

Not the shoes, but the floor! Yes, it was that bad.


Now that all of those things are done...

And all the floors are washed...

And all the surfaces dusted...

This is what had to be neglected...


Pushed aside... for all these other wonderful and necessary transformations...

The kitchen.

The dishes to be exact. Every. Single. Last. One. Notice the shelf on the wall which normally stores all my mixing bowls and measuring cups is completely bare. There are more items you can't see on the floor and even a sink full in my mudroom!

But like I said before, I still think it was worth it.


Between writing this post and publishing it (in complete humiliation), I have conquered 3 hours of dirty dishes. The kitchen counters and floor are now clear of pots and pans but I still have to tackle the ones in the mudroom sink. Plus catch up on laundry. Guess I know what my Thursday looks like?

How about yours?
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