Kicking off July 4th Week on the Homestead

Today marks the beginning of our July 4th holiday weekend.

Some of our dear friends are in town from Chicago and Gene took their house guests fishing on a small inland lake near us. One guest is a 15-year-old grandson from the city and the other a man who emigrated from Cuba to New York three years ago. They are fishing for pan fish; bluegills, small mouth bass and the like. Gene is a catch and release kind of man due to his environmental belief’s that tells him to put them back in for another days fishing.

Gene is probably the only man in the state, beside an actual licensed fishing guide, that can outfit four men on a moment’s notice but he did.

Fishing Expedition 4 some

 The motley crew fishermen dressed.

I stayed home to finish todays chicken coop painting and then I started cooking our main meal for the day. My actual big project for the day is to finally do a deep clean on our three season porch. Because this room is unheated it acts like a magnet for cobwebs, buds and dirt, especially living off of a gravel road. Even the heavy-duty fabric chairs are thick with road dust so everything from the ceiling down to the floor gets a good solid vacuum. Even the vinyl vertical blinds have to be washed of dirt and mold spots. It’s been a cold and wet spring and summer thus far in SW Michigan so the mold has grown in this unheated room. Then later on this week Gene will wash the floor to ceiling windows.

Threesome fishermen

No fish….but muscles galore.

We have been working really hard for months to get our garden planted, our big yard in shape and house cleanup because July is the beginning of our guest arriving for the summer. A girlfriend will be coming out later on this weekend to pick herbs for drying and making tinctures. Our granddaughter arrives on Sunday for a few days stay. Another friend arrives from Oregon and I promised to help her pack up her home here and lift furniture and pack it in a U-Haul. Then the third week of this month our grown daughter from NC comes for an extended stay. So everything we have been trying to accomplish since the snow melted in March has been leading up to this month.

I also began to soak the beans for the big crock pot of “Blacksmith Baked Beans” I am taking to our family reunion on Sunday. I will cook them tomorrow; put the mixed into the crock pot to cook on low so that the molasses and BBQ sauces gets soaked clear through. Yum! I have included the recipe below.

Cast Iron pan with rice USE

The rice casserole with sweet potatoes in our cast iron dutch oven.

Today I am cooking the following for dinner;

  • Baking organic sweet potatoes
  • Baking my favorite baked brown and wild rice with kale casserole
  • Steamed green beans
  • And of course a big tossed salad using some of the early greens from the garden
  • BROWN RICE WITH KALE:
  • Compare equal portions of brown and white rice and you’ll find that brown rice has fewer calories and more nutrition. I use all organic ingredients.
  • Ingredients:
  • 4 tsp. extra virgin olive oil 2 medium onions, chopped fine
  • 1 cup cabbage, minced and saluted 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced 1½ cups long grain brown rice 1 cup low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth 2¼ cups water
  • 2 cups chopped kale or spinach
  • 1 green pepper (or pepper color of choice)
  • 1 cup cooked butternut squash or sweet potato
  • 1 cup (or 4 medium sized) sliced organic Bella mushrooms
  • Cooking Method:
  • 1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 375° F.
  • 2. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally until browned. Then add the minced garlic, chopped cabbage, green peppers and cook while stirring for about 30 seconds.
  • 3. Add the rice and cook stirring occasionally until the grains turn translucent around the edges.
  • 4. Add the broth and water and bring the mixture to a boil. Stir the rice so that it does not stick to the bottom of the pot. If you are using a 10-inch Dutch oven or smaller, cover the rice, place it in the oven, and cook until the rice is tender. This should take about 45 to 50 minutes. If you are using a larger pot, transfer the rice mixture to a suitable-size casserole and cover tightly before placing it in the oven. (Larger Dutch ovens will cook the rice too fast and create too many problems.)
  • I like to add my 4 mushrooms to the top of the casserole for looks.
  • 5. When the rice is fully cooked, remove it from the oven. Gently fluff the rice with a fork, and set it aside for about five minutes before serving
  • Casserole with top USE

The kale rice casserole in its baking dish on its way into the oven.

Blacksmith Baked Beans:

  • The original recipe called for any 5, 15 ½ oz. cans of beans, drained. I used 4 to 5 cups of these dry beans; pinto, navy, black beans and great northern beans; soaked, rinsed and cooked.
  • Put beans in a crock pot and mix in the following ingredients;
  • ¾ cup ketchup
  • ¼ cup molasses
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 TBS Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 TBS prepared mustard
  • 6 slices crumbled bacon (I use ¾ cup of soy bacon bits)
  • 1 large onion chopped and sautéed
  • 1 clove garlic minced (I use 3 TBS of crushed garlic from Sam’s’ Club)
  • ¾ cup KC’s BBQ sauce (my secret ingredient!) (Look for a sauce with catsup as the first ingredient not corn syrup- as that syrup is a bad, bad thing for your health.)
  • OPTIONAL:
  • 1 ½ lb. smoked kibassa or sausage
  • Mix up and cook until done. This recipe has a bit of zing to it due to the garlic and the BBQ sauce
  • Pan of sweet poatoes USE

Oven baked organic sweet potatoes…so simple, so delicious!

I hope you enjoy a great holiday weekend too!

Small house homesteader, and cook Donna

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