Getting Food Creative: Buying Locally Raised Pork

As the costs of healthy foods continues to go up many of us who are dedicated to healthy organic look to find more creative ways to feed ourselves. That is the subject of this post.

I have been a serious vegetarian in years past and I have many vegetarian as well as meat-eating friends as well. Many of my yoga friends are vegetarians due to ethical reasons. Some hunt deer for food, a process that provides their main source of protein. I always feel to each their own. No judging on my part.

Front of shop USE

Bob’s of South Haven, MI

My philosophy is that we all eat to live and most of us eat something that once lived in order to stay alive. This process for me is more about doing this in a safe, honest and ethical way than about anything else for me.

Eating safe meat is a huge issue today as the science is in and it has shown that factory farmed meat carries unhealthy chemicals, medicines and bacteria on top of the often deplorable way many of these animals are kept. This is where I draw the line as I cannot morally or financially support inhumanely raised animal practices.

Kim loading the truck

Loading the boxes of processed meat into the vehicle.

I made a huge decision this winter. In the future I will only buy organic humanely raised meat. I know that this means a 42 % increase in food costs but the recent changes in my health requires this. So this means I have to get more and more creative to buy the highest quality foods that I need.

In years past I dealt with the issue of increased grocery costs by eating less meat (keep my intake to about 3 oz. every third day) and making more soups, stews and stir fry’s to stretch a small piece of meat. Since I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s’ I have been buying small amounts of organic meat at the Health Food store but the $13.50 a lb. has made this more and more difficult. I considered raising my own animals but roadblocks are there including not having enough land to pasture them, suitable barns and corrals to keep them in. And to tell the truth I do not have the emotional distance necessary to raise and slaughter my own animals.

Meat apon use

Looking at the sales receipt as we pick up the meat.

I grow much of our own seasonal vegetables and raise chicken for our eggs. But I was having trouble dealing with the high costs of organic meat.

I finally found another more affordable way working with local farmers and growers who feed organic feed and believe in taking very good care of their stock without growth hormones and antibiotics. They do their best for a humane and ethical slaughter and safe meat processing too. It’s called farm-to-consumer…

Sign at window

Bobs Processing Inc., of South Haven, MI  a USDA approved meat processor.

I had been buying organic meat at the health food store and by the time the farmers raised the animal and made their profit, then the store marked it up to make their profit, I was paying $13.00 and $14.00 a lb. for this meat. Something had to change.

This winter I ordered and bought ¼ of a hog that was raised in the highest of standards. I know and trust the farmer who raised these hogs and believe this is the highest quality of meat possible. I ‘sold’ the other 3/4 of the hog to friends and neighbors to make this happen for us.

Girl and flhig paper

Check out time.

Our hog was raised by a neighbor, Anthony Winfrey of Forgotten Forty Farms and processed by Bobs Processing Inc., of South Haven, MI  a USDA approved meat processor.

This past weekend we cleaned out our chest freezer, thoroughly washed it out and made it ready for the organic raised pork that I picked up on Friday.

Buying directly from the farmer and making arrangement to have it processed cost me $685 a lb. total. Both parties made their profits and I now have a freezer of clean meat. Now that’s better.

Many of you who follow me, know how I feel about eating organic and whole nourishing food, so I am probably as they say ‘preaching to the choir’ but if you have been on the fence about spending for organic foods, this may interest you.

See more at: http://www.phoenixhelix.com/2015/05/30/sophies-story/#sthash.f60jKMHh.dpuf Eating organic is important for us all and especially for those of us who are fighting immune system diseases.

As you now I have Hashimoto’s Thyorditis. Hasimoto’s is an autoimmune disease that affects over 10 million people in the US alone. Damaging the thyroid gland, it creates symptoms so wide-ranging and confusing that it can be hard to diagnose. My Hasimotos’ is why I must eat organic.

Another podcast if great interest to the subject of eating organic is “Why Eat Organic” by André Leu: GFS Podcast 071, found on one of my all-time favorites podcasts, Gluten Free School (GFS)  by Jennifer Fugo. If you have been on the fence about the value of organic, your mind is about to be opened.

Gluten Free School is a dedicated teaching tools about being gluten-sensitive. This savvy woman gives us many empowering steps to get healthy. In fact, this is the number one spot for those living a gluten-free life who are seeking community, as well as simple & clear information about their condition, and looking for ways to become empowered and to finally feel better.

Based on her personal journey, Jennifer Fugo, founder of Gluten Free School, is more than just about chat about a diet… it’s a healing revolution!

If you want to know more about the how’s and why’s of eating gluten-free, check out Fugo’s podcasts at http://www.glutenfreeschool.com/listen/

For the podcast dedicated to the importance of eating organic go here: http://www.glutenfreeschool.com/2015/07/28/why-eating-organic-is-important/

Yes, it was a lot of work to find, sell and make the arrangements for this meat and yes the farm raised meat can be more expensive than meat in the grocery store but I believe it is worth it. I paid about $3.00 a lb. for the meat and with the processing it cameo out to about $5.00 a lb. Not cheap certainly, but not $13.00 a pound that I was paying in the health food store either.

The end result will be cleaner, healthier organic meat to help to me heal my leaky gut and shut down the inflammation of the Hashimotos’. When one is on a restricted diet like I am, meat is the number one component of the Auto Immune Protocol (AIP.)

Its time to celebrate because my freezer is now full and I know I am on my way to better health.

Small House homesteader, Donna

How to Heal a Sick Chicken in a Laundry Room Infirmary

After a week or more of sub-zero temperatures I noticed about three days ago that Crystal, one of our Rhode Island Red chickens was not acting like herself.

In kennel US

Crystal spent a few days in the chicken infirmary in our laundry room.

She held back from eating when her sisters were mowing down my special “High Test Cold Weather Feed” (recipe below) both morning and night. Then I noticed that she was wheezing and keeping herself separate from the others hanging our under the chicken coop and dosing off. I knew then we had a problem.

As the lowest chicken in the four chicken Rhodie flock, Crystal has always been a bit of a loner, happy to free range off on her own. She has never cared to be caught, held or physically put back into the run after a free range time. She was always the last girl in the coop at bedtime.  A most independent chicken!

Gene and I jumped into motion…Out came the dog kennel, the baby gate, the chicken waterer and jar lids as feeders. I also moved the humidifier from the kitchen counter to the laundry room to increase the humidity in her body. This healing technique actually reminds me of the way I use to treat my young son’s croup – healing foods, rest and high humidity.

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Boy would I like to crawl into that supersized nest box!

We have used the laundry room/mechanical room as an infirmary before and it works well because it is right off of our kitchen, is warm and I can keep close tabs on whoever is not feel well. We have water in the sink and the chicken food cupboard is there as well.

I filled the kennel with dry leaves while Gene brought Crystal inside. The first thing I did was look her over closely, feel her crop to make sure it was not hard, make sure she did not have any lice or mites on her and determine that this was indeed an upper repertory issue. Crystal was sneezing, couching, congested and shaking her head.

Otside of pen USE

After a couple of days of healing Crystal asked to come out of the dog kennel.

I gave her a bit of tincture of Echinacea by gently forcing her beak open and using an eye dropper I dropped a small dose of the tincture into her mouth. We then put her into the kennel and set up her food and water. I kept a close watch on her on and off most of the day. She was eating enormous amounts of food, water and pooping – all good signs. So I pretty much knew that means she was not getting enough food out in the coop as she was beginning to feel more and more ill.

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On the road to healing…”Hey whose out there?”

On day one I gave her three servings of high protein cat food shreds which she devoured. She normally does not get cat food but I needed to fill her up quickly with a high protein food and boost her immune system in order for her to heal.

She was sneezing quite frequently and shaking her head to try to clear things out. Her voice sounded very croupy and horse so an upper repertory issue was confirmed. I kept her full of food, water and on day two switched to Elderberry Elixir made by herbalist Lisa Rose, of Burdock and Rose Herbals that is filled with many good herbs and organic plants. I could see her beginning to get better a little bit each day and she began to make a few soft and happy chicken “talking” sounds.

IMG_3006

Curious Crystal loved walking around the laundry room, exploring.

In case you are not familiar with the healing properties of elderberry Lisa Rose writes this…

“Plant medicines like elderberry (Sambucus nigra) can help shorten the lifespan of a virus — If you know when and how to use them! If you listen to your body’s call, and try preparations of elderberry elixir within the first 48 hours of the start of a virus, medical research shows that symptoms that come from colds and flu can be lessened by as much as 4 days.

How does elderberry work?

Elderberry is not only filled with antioxidants and flavonoids useful for the body, but it stimulates the body’s inflammation response against the virus. By triggering the production of cytokines – the inflammatory and anti-inflammatory agents that regulate the body’s immune system – elderberry powers the immune system which then inhibits the virus’ ability to reproduce.

Elderberry is most commonly prepared as a syrup of the fresh or dry berries and it’s easy to make your own batch of Elderberry Elixir.” Thank you Lisa Rose for this great information!

Each night Crystal climbs up on her roost bar to go to bed for the night. Content to wait until morning when she jumped down and signaled me with little chirps and that she was ready for her breakfast.

On day three she made signs of wanting to get out of the kennel so I let her out for a half hour or so. She walked around, looking the room over and actually came out for a small cuddle letting me touch her which is quite unusual for her self-contained nature.

Today she got a real good shot of Elderberry Elixir, her sprouted mung beans and barley grass in addition to her chicken food and mealworms which she devoured.  This elderberry makes me a tiny bit sleepy so I was not surprised to find her laying down in the leaves and resting later on this morning. She rested for perhaps an hour and was then backup and scratching for more food in the bottom of her kennel.

I think this poor girl was very, very hungry by the amount of food she has put down in the last three days. I have given her as much to eat as she as she wanted because my goal is to give her protein to help her recover as quickly as possible.

Crystal has not been in the house since she was a tiny, day-old chick and she surprised me at how calm she was throughout. Maybe one more day in the house and then we will put her back out on the roost at night to lessen the possibilities of re-entry pecking from the flock. Good job Crystal!!

MY HOMEMADE WINTER HIGH TEST FEED:

For eight chickens I mix the dry portion of the feed into a quart Ball jar. If you have more chickens than I do you may wish to double this recipe and mix this in a bucket or bin.

THE DRY PORTION:

1/3 jar organic layers pellets

1/3 jar black oiled sunflowers seeds (BOSS)

¼ cup rolled oatmeal (or soaked meal worms)

½ to 3/4 cup of sprouted mung beans

THE OLIVE OIL WET INFUSION:

Fill another quart canning jar about ½ full of olive oil. (I buy organic olive oil from Sam’s Club.) This infusion steeps continuously inside the cupboard and is refilled as needed.

Add dried basil and oregano or basil, mint and sage

Add three cloves of fresh chopped garlic

I taught my chicks to eat fresh herbs as babies every day. As a result my chickens love their herbs so I add these liberally, fresh in season and dry in the wintertime. Add to taste,  probably ½ to ¾ cup of herbs to a small bucket of feed.

Each evening I mix up two jars, one for the morning feed and one for the evening feed. I pour just enough of the olive oil mixture to coat the dry materials. Stir. This sits over night to continues to soak into the dry ingredients.

My chickens get their coop lights turned on around 5 a.m. to 5:30 a.m. when our Lab Sassy has to go out to the bathroom. They then have from that early hour to daylight to eat their layers pellets and drink water. Around 8 a.m. we take out the “High Test Feed.” We then let them out of their two coops and into their covered runs, feed them, clean out the heated dog waterers and refill with fresh water and clean out the chicken coop for the day. Light go off after that so they have dark and quite for egg laying. At night the procedure is repeated.

Always an adventure when keeping chickens!

Small House Homesteader, Donna

 

Coconut Yogurt – Three Ingredients – Cook Free

Full view yogust on green plate

My finished yogurt.

Now that I am eating dairy-free due to my recently diagnosed Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, I’m experimenting this week with making various kinds of coconut non-dairy yogurt.

Yogurt in green bowl

A close up of my newly made non-dairy yogurt.

I began my first test by using a 13.5 oz. can of classic, unsweetened coconut milk. This is a USDA organic, certified Non-GMO and gluten-free type that is also certified as kosher.

Coconut milk on try useThis is my purchased can of coconut milk.

I used the Native Forest brand that I bought at my grocery store (or health food store.)  I was advised in my research to avoid the type with guar gum but for this experiment I used the brand that had the guar gum in it. The total ingredients included; organic coconut, purified water, organic guar gum.

Gelatin on green tray

I bought this gelatin from Amaxon.com

I followed the recipe below.

(Recipe by Renee at Raising Generation Nourished at http://www.raisinggenerationnourished.com/2015/02/coconutyogurt

NOTE: If you are like most Americans and have been on a low-fat diet for years and have never eaten coconut milk before, I suggest that you start slowly with small amounts to work your way up to larger amounts of full fat in your system. Some report nausea when going directly from a low-fat diet to a cup of full fat yogurt but this can be avoided by increasing the coconut milk slowly to adjust your system.

Probiotic synergy in my hand

As well as this probiotic power supplement.

You can begin by adding 1/4 teaspoon of coconut to your smoothie or hot cereal and work your way up from there. That is what I did.

Three ingredients laying down

INGREDIENTS:

  1. 1 1/2 cups full fat coconut milk
  2. ½ tsp. quality probiotic powder
  3. 1 tsp.grassfed gelatin (If you want your yogurt more “kefir” consistency (thinner) then you can use half the amount. You could also make the consistency thicker/pudding/custard like consistency with more gelatin. Do not use the cold soluble gelatin as it will not work for this project.

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Stir the probiotic power and gelatin into the coconut milk and put a lid on the container. (I used a wide mouth a quart mason jar as that is what I had on hand and clean. The original directions say to use a pint jar which fit this amount perfectly.
  2. Place the jar under the light in your oven (WITHOUT the stove light on) overnight or for 8-12 hours. You can taste for “tang” and if you want more you can leave it in the over for up to 24 hours under the light.
  3. Shake up the jar and place it in the fridge for 2 hours to finish culturing and thickening the yogurt.

This batch ended up being a thin type of yogurt a lot like kefir, but I liked how this tasted. I added a bit of sugar-free jelly to one of the batches for a sugar-free taste of sweetness but I also like it plain as well. This is so easy to make, I will definitely make this again.

Next I’ll be trying my hands at non-dairy DYI yogurt made using homemade coconut milk. Stay tuned!

Small House homesteader, Donna

New Year’s Day on the Homestead

We tend to favor low-key holiday celebrations these days. Our life is quiet, simple we are older and we are tired!

Sweet potatoe soup

A hearty sweet potato, sausage and kale soup to begin the new year.

This year we will enjoy the simple pleasure of walking Sassy, a bit of the NY day parade, watch a good DVD and a great healthy meal. We will likely talk to some of out-of-town relatives as well which is always a bright spot in our day.

I cooked one of my all-time favorite homemade soups this year; Sweet Potato, Sausage and Kale Soup that I adapted many years ago from This Organic Life written by Joan Gussow. This is a great book for any beginning gardener and is about Joan and her husband’s life as college professors and urban gardeners in upstate New York. This is my “go to” potluck soup that everyone raves over. This soup is so good it is almost sinful. I do recommend it!

I’m still trying to find away to make tasty gluten-free biscuits. Not there yet.

Bob's New flour

Biscuits before

Experimenting with gluten-free biscuits today.

Sweet Potato, Sausage and Kale Soup

(Adapted from This Organic Life: Confessions of a Suburban Homesteader, Joan Dye Gussow. This soup was originally a Portuguese tradition.

INGREDIENTS:

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 cups chopped onion (about 2 large)

1 teaspoon sea salt (I use just a small pinch)

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

½ teaspoon fennel seeds

¼ teaspoon ground ginger

1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

Rosemary to taste (try ½ to 1 Tablespoon to start)

1 pound sweet turkey Italian sausage (or whatever sausage you like)

8 cups coarsely chopped peeled sweet potato (about 2 1/4 pounds or 6 lg. potatoes)

2 cups of cabbage

5 cups water

4 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth

I also add 5 or 6 chicken bouillon cubes

1 (16-ounce) package prewashed torn kale

Parsley to taste (I used about two heaping tablespoons)

1 (16-ounce) can cannelloni beans or other white beans, rinsed and drained

1 (16 oz. canned tomato) or homegrown/frozen

(I also like to add chunks of cooked/boiled Butternut squash to my soup. (It’s filled with fiber and I love it in my soups.)

PREPERATION:

  1. Boil sweet potatoes and drain.
  2. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat.
  3. Add onion; sauté 10-15 minutes. Add 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, pepper, rosemary and garlic; sauté 1 minute. Remove casings from sausage; add sausage to pan. Cook 5 minutes or until sausage is lightly browned, stirring to crumble.
  4. Add sweet potatoes, 5 cups water, and broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 8 minutes. Gradually add kale; cook 10 minutes or until tender.
  5. Stir in remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and beans (squash and any other ingredients above)
  6. Transfer to a crock pot and finish cooking and blending all flavors

For our dessert I made my rice pudding. Now that I am on a restricted diet I was looking for a low sugar, gluten-free dessert option.

Rice pudding

Gluten-Free Low Sugar Brown Rice Pudding (my adaptation)

  • 3/4 cup uncooked brown rice
  • I cook the brown rice ahead of time and then assemble. I cook my rice for about 30 minutes and then let it sit in the pan on the same burner another 15-20 while it continues to slowly cook until soft. Just watch that the water does not fully evaporate and the rice burns. Usually this is not a problem, but just be aware.
  • 2 cups milk, divided (I use 1 to 2 cups of organic Almond milk.)
  • 1/3 cup white sugar (I use brown sugar.) I can get by with less sugar because the Craisins are very sweet.
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (I leave out the salt)
  • This year I added 3/4 cup of fresh pomegranate seed
  • I egg beaten
  • 2/3 cup golden raisins (I use Craisins (dried cranberries) since my husband cannot eat raisins.)
  • 1 tablespoon butter (I generally don’t use butter but I bet it would taste wonderful!)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract When the dish is assembled, I shake on nutmeg on the top.
  • I add a small package of slivered almonds.
  1. I cook the brown rice up ahead of time.
  2. In a separate bowl assemble all the ingredients except the nutmeg. Mix well.
  3. Spoon into the bowl with lid I am cooking it in.
  4. Sprinkle on the nutmeg
  5. Cook at 325-350 for 20 minutes or until slightly browned and looks cooked around the sides
  6. Serve warm (or you can also eat it cooled.)
  7. Will keep for about 4-6 days.

You can make this simple dessert from start to finish in about 90 minutes.

Enjoy the fruits of your labor too and have an amazing new year!

Small House homesteader, Donna

Small House Christmas Dinner

Even though we have kept it pretty simple this year, the past week has been a whirlwind of Christmas activities. Our Christmas cards have been signed and sent, and this past Sunday we enjoyed our families Christmas dinner. We hosted this event in our home so much of my week was spent on planning, shopping, table setting and cooking for the big day. I like to cook as much ahead as I can and set the table the night before.

Gene cooked the chicken and I made the side dishes. I find that healthy home cooked food is one way I can show support to my son and make a small difference in his life. I also like to model healthy food for my grand daughter too.

Susans Fried chicken

I feel blessed to live in the land of abundance where we have the food easily available to create a special and tasty meal but I never forget to remember those who do not. While it has been challenging to switch over to gluten, dairy and sugar-free, I have not forgotten that I am indeed fortunate to have the ability to find and purchase the ingredients I now need. Having computer access to gluten-free recipes and a working stove, refrigerator, electricity and the ability to make these nutritious meals makes us very fortunate indeed.

Our Christmas Menu This Year Included;

  • Susan Lamberti’s Fried & Baked Chicken
  • Twice Baked Acorn Squash Quinoa & Kale with Pomegranate
  • Gluten-free Stuffing
  • Quinoa, Cranberry, Apple, Kale, Pumpkin Seed Pilaf
  • Grandma’s Orange and Cranberry Gelatin Salad
  • Tossed Lettuce Salad
  • Cider (hot or cold) and Water

The highlight of the meal was definitely the Susan Lamberti family chicken recipe we call, Mom’s Fried Chicken. Mom was Gene mother, Susan Lamberti who emigrated from Italy and was a true and traditional Italian cook.

Gene cooking chicken

She fed her family of six every day, making many traditional Italian recipes and cooked everything but the bread they ate from scratch and kept her family fed, full and satisfied. Gene’s childhood holiday meals always included a fully baked turkey with all the seasonal trimming as well as homemade lasagna using her handmade lasagna noodles. Gene says his mother was “a piece of work,” but I think she must have been a saint!

In an Italian family it’s all about family and the food!

Brenna with chair and highchair USE

I enjoyed this chicken for the first time in the fall of 20145 when we visited Gene’s brother and sister-in-law at their home in Upstate New York. Gene’s brother Pat saved this recipe from oblivion. This chicken is lightly breaded, lightly fried and then baked and is incredibly moist and delicious. We watched the making of this chicken then but needed a quick tutorial to answer a few questions so Gene called his brother for the recipe which I have included here.

Susan Lamberti’s Fried & Baked Chicken (Prep 60 minutes, cook time 60 minutes. Ready in 2 hours.)

INGREDIENTS:

Chicken pieces with skin removed

Salt & pepper to taste

Eggs

Flour

Italian bread crumbs

Olive oil

  1. Remove skin, cut up chicken and dry the pieces well
  2. Roll chicken pieces in the flour
  3. Roll chicken in the egg mixture
  4. Roll the chicken in the Italian bread crumbs
  5. Fry lightly in olive oil, turning often
  6. Drain chicken on paper towels to take out any excess oil
  7. Put the chicken back into the pan and add water, approx. ½ to ¾ cup of water depending on the amount of chicken pieces and the size of the pan. The water will soften the breading and allows you to make gravy in the pan.
  8. Remove chicken from flying pan and put into a baking dish
  9. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 60 minutes depending on the size of the chicken breasts.

Grandma’s Orange and Cranberry Gelatin Salad (Prep 20 minutes. Ready in 8 hours)

INGREDIENTS:

1 (oz.) package raspberry flavored Jell-O mix

2 cups boiling water

1 (16 oz.) can whole berry cranberry sauce

1 (8 oz.) can crushed pineapple, un-drained

1 cup chopped celery

1 cup pecans

1 teaspoon orange zest

TOPPING:

1, 4 oz. package cream cheese softened (I used non-dairy)

½ cup whipped topping (I used non-dairy)

DIRECTIONS:

1) Place the gelatin in a bowl and pour in the boiling water, and stir until the gelatin dissolves. Mix in the cranberry sauce, pineapple, celery, pecans, and orange zest until evenly blended. Pour the gelatin mixture into a mold or serving dish.

2) Chill gelatin in the refrigerator overnight or up to 8 hours.

3) To make the topping beat the cream cheese with half of the whip topping. Fold in the remaining whipped topping until well blended. Unmold the gelatin and spread with the topping mixture.

Twice Baked Acorn Squash Quinoa & Kale with Pomegranate: (Prep 15 minutes, initial cook 40 minutes-Mix together and bake another 20 minutes)

INGREDIENTS:

2 acorn squash

Quinoa, red or white

Kale, torn into pieces (amount is as much as you like) I use one whole large bunch for three squashes.)

Garlic, fresh or power (I used a large spoon full of prepared ground garlic)

1 teaspoon cumin

½ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon allspice

½ cup pecans

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Cut acorn squash in half. Scoop out the seeds and coat the inner yellow portion with butter, coconut oil or olive oil. Place in the oven, right side up, and bake at 400 degrees for 30-45 minutes or until the inner portion is soft. For a more seasoned bowl, dust the squash with garlic powder, cinnamon and allspice. When the squash is done, peel out the inner portion and leave enough squash remaining in the bowl to maintain its structure.
  2. Sauté’ the shredded squash, quinoa, kale, spices and /2 teaspoon garlic powder (or 1 teaspoon fresh minced garlic.) and butter in a pan just enough to melt the butter and wilt the kale.
  3. Transfer the mixture into the squash bowls and bake in the oven for 15-30 minutes. Add the pecans and the pomegranates to the top.
  4. Sprinkle with pumpkin seeds (toasted or not) Serve warm or at room temperature.

Cool slightly and can be made a day ahead.

Holiday Dinner 2015

Enjoy your holidays all!

Small House homesteader, Donna

Just a Few Holiday Decorations This Year

We are keeping Christmas very simple this year…

Most years I go into the forest and harvest holly berry branches, red osier Dogwood and Juniper greens. I like to use natural materials in my décor. Some years I have gone way out on my holiday decorations, both inside and out and have enjoyed the creative nature of designing the displays. But this year my energy was just too low I found it hard to get inspired, so I gave myself permission to take it easy this year.

VERT tree close up

TinyTannenbaum! The rosemary trees in a vintage crock in my dining room.

Oh, Christmas tree – holiday symbol made popular in 16th-century Germany.  These sweet little trees don’t have to be decorated just display them in unique containers for their sweet holiday charm to shine.

We put the white twinkly light on the outside of the house and two strands of colored lights inside; one on the fireplace and one on the antique china cabinet. We hung three socks on the fireplace added some natural rose hips we gathered from the Todd Farm, a few candles and called it a day.

Rosemary tree and dresser

My hand-painted dresser acts as a server when we have company.

Yesterday at Sewall’s Health Food Store I saw this cute Christmas tree shaped rosemary herb and I splurged. I found an old crock warmed it up and put it on our dining room server. It added a bit more festivity to the inside of our home.

VERT medum view of Rsemary tree

A touch of natural materials makes me happy.

We won’t be doing any major holiday entertaining this year, just my son and granddaughter for a holiday meal near Christmas.

In the spirit of the holidays, let’s revisit a few vignettes from previous years here.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I was inspired to decorate the playhouse two years ago.

House front SNOWY w Thanksgiving text and leaf jpeg

Natures holiday gift, a Christmas eve snowfall!

2013 Xmas Card before text

A collage of the winter wonderland we often have here on the homestead.

Happy holidays all!

Small House homesteader, Donna