Testing Gluten-Free Flours

I have been experimenting with various gluten-free flours this week to find something that works for us.

First I bought a Bob’s Red Mill all-purpose flour to use for biscuits. It could have been the recipes, or me, but they these turned out just so so.  They needed a lot of honey on them in order to get them down. Back to the drawing board on this one.

Then I bought Bob’s Red Mill Coconut flour and Bon’s Red Mill Almond Meal and made blueberry pancakes. Gene and I both liked these and I was rate them very tasty and will definitely make them again.

Coconut Flour pankckes in pan

The texture of these pancakes was finer than my favorite whole wheat pancakes that I used to make but not so much that I could not eat it. Gene and I both enjoyed the mild, slightly sweet coconut flavor of these blueberry coconut pancakes. I will make these again and again.

Coconut Flour Almond Meal Pancakes2

Makes about 16 small pancakes

Ingredients

  • ½ cup coconut flour
  • 1/3 cup almond meal
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 4 organic, pastured eggs
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil, melted
  • 1/3 cup milk (raw cow’s or coconut)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • a pinch of sea salt
  • 1-2 tablespoons organic, raw grass-fed butter + more for serving
  • pure maple syrup to drizzle (optional)

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients: the coconut flour, almond meal, baking powder, and salt.
  2. Slowly whisk in the wet ingredients: the eggs, coconut oil, milk, and vanilla. Mix until the batter is smooth. (If it feels a little dry, add more milk until it reaches the consistency you’re after).
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the butter and allow it to melt, then add scoops of batter (about a ¼ cup each) for silver dollar pancakes. Cook for about a minute on each side until golden brown. Slather with butter and drizzle maple syrup as desired.

More experiment to come!

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

A Sunday Morning Frost

Our tiny corner of SW Michigan began foggy and cool this morning with a pretty silvery-white coating of frost on all of the remaining plants. Now the day is brightening up and the sun is out and the sky is blue. It’s a beautiful early winter day on the homestead.Gen and sassy winter sky

Yesterday’s walk under a glorious SW Michigan winter sky!

Gene has gone outside to finish wrapping the netting around our first-year fruit trees to keep the deer and rabbits from nibbling on them when food becomes scarce. Although we have finished with our leaf pickup work this season, more leaves have blown back in from the surrounding woods. Gene will be using our faithful sucker/blower equipment to suck more leaves out of the pea gravel landscaped beds around our ranch-style home.

Gene wrapping wire USE

Netting is going up around our new fruit trees today to keep the critters out.

We are having a very mild winter thus far having had only one snowfall. This is fairly unusual for a Michigan winter but is giving us extra time to complete our outdoor chores, plant more spring bulbs and so on.

 

Todd Farm grat sky and road

Country roads take me home…

Yesterday’s weather was a stunner; beautiful, sunny and warm for just a 40 degree early winter day. I sat outside with my face to the sun with the chickens for almost two hours. The girls were happy to be out and about free ranging. They are giving me 7 eggs a day out of 8 chickens now. YEA!!

Rhodie in leaves nice light USE

Free ranging Elsa in our woodlot. Isn’t she a beauty!

Even Snowball, my Cochin-Bantam that I adopted as a chick and who came to me with a wry neck and serious nutritional deficiencies from eating nothing but cracked corn has just started laying again after her fall molt. She still turns around in circles during times of stress, but she is doing well in spite of that not so good start in life. She is a sweet, happy chickens that stands up to the bigger RIR every time they get in what she considers her territory. It’s kind of funny because the Rhodies are twice as big as Snowball and yet they just fade away. It’s like they are saying, “Oh it’s a gnat, move away.”

Snowball puzzled look

Snowball is a feisty little Cochin Bantam ball of energy.

I am moving in slow mode this week as I am battling another bacterial skin infection.This is running right behind a 5-week episode of bronchitis and 9 month of on-going plantar fasciitis pain. I am afraid that my body is just run down.

I am feeling frustrated too because I believe I am doing everything right;  I focus on eating whole organic foods and make almost all of our meals from scratch. I get plenty of sleep and rest, do my yoga stretches and practice good household and personal hygiene. With a mostly indoor dog living with us, we clean weekly and I vacuum nearly every day. While I would not try it, I have been told that you could almost eat off of the floors of my home.

In compst bin heads up best USE

The Rhodies like to free-range in the compost bin.

Gene and I had planned to go out to dinner yesterday to celebrate our 19th anniversary but I just did not feel up to it. I could not see spending the money and then not enjoying the meal.

Gene Donna at Grill house 12113

Last years anniversary celebration dinner out.

I have also started over again with a new physician, a female DO this time ,in the hopes that THIS ONE might be a good fit for me. I need a physician that is more holistic than Western medicine, listens, believes me and understands that I do not want antibiotics every three months and is willing to work with me.

Road moslty right hand side

One of the beautiful back roads of Allegan County, MI.

My skin issue is a hereditary condition; many others in my family also have it. We get frequent boils and cysts and that turn into nasty, hot and painful infections. This week I was told to stop eating wheat, sugar and dairy so this has thrown me for a loop as I will not eat packaged, processed foods with chemicals in them or soy and substitute foods often have these ingredients in them.

I spent a large portion the day on-line researching yogurt, breads and so on that I will be able to eat. We live in a very rural area and do not have a lot of healthy food choices here so it takes planning ahead and a lot of kitchen time.

VERT road and trees

I find peace in the beauty of my rural home.

I am trying to focus on my many blessing today….not the negatives. I go back to see the doctor tomorrow and will stop at one of my favorite large health food stores on my way home.

Things I am grateful for this week:

  • I am grateful that this health food store is well stocked and available to me.
  • I am grateful I have a vehicle that will get me to this appointment and back.
  • I am grateful that I have the choice to start over with a new physician.
  • I am grateful to have insurance and Medicare that will help with these new bills.

Remembering today to find joy in the simple things of my home centered life.

Small House homesteader, Donna

The Real Value of a Home Cooked Thanksgiving Dinner

Last night as I was driving to physical therapy I saw a sign at the Big Boy restaurant in town, it read, “Turkey dinners On Thanksgiving Day, $8.99 per person.” I thought to myself in my 5 p.m. tired fog, I am doing this wrong. Taking my son and family to dinner would cost us about $36.00, plus drinks.

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A fun Thanksgiving game of dominoes with our grand daughter.

Today as I processed the idea overnight I began to realize that my special order organic 9lb. chicken at $4.00 a lb. that the chicken alone equals the monetary cost of the meal advertised on that restaurant sign. Add to that expense the cost of organic; potatoes, carrots, stuffing, Seven Superfoods Salad ingredients, corn bread, Jell-O w/ fruit (for my 6 yr. old granddaughter), two vegetables and dessert, cider, lemonade, cider and tea. And I quickly realized that for many cheap food is a real and deceptive lure.

Add to that my 2015 Thanksgiving Schedule:

Monday: Make the shopping list and grocery shop.

Tuesday: Make the Jell-O and Seven Superfoods salads and bake the pies.

Wednesday: Clean house, change tablecloth, makes the table arrangement and set the table.

Thursday: Get up early to cook the food and entertain the family.

And yet the flip side to this coin is the reality of what a home cooked meal prepared with love truly means. As life gets busier and busier, welcoming family and guests into the warmth and security of our homes for the day is becoming a lost art. But I feel it’s an art worth pursuing and keeping.

Because we use locally raised foods, we are not footing the bill for transporting ingredients across the country or around the globe. So it takes less fossil fuels (or energy) to cook a locally sourced meal at home. Studies show that it takes double the amount of energy to process, package and transport food than it does to grow it

Because we have control over what we are cooking and eating our meal will be more nutritious with less salt, additives and empty calories. Food we cook a home is just plain healthier and the cooking process itself empowers us to make heathier choices.

Cooking at home is also better for the environment as there is less food waste and fewer tossed out items like food wrappings and paper napkins and tinfoil cooking pans to enter the waste stream.

It’s a terrific way to teach introduce children to new dishes as well as about the taste, texture and pleasure of well-prepared food. This process turns the time spent together in the kitchen or dining room a family bonding experience.

The real truth is, the food I cook at home just tastes better. Once I began eating “real foods” I quickly recognized the difference between what I was now eating and the “dead food” taste of the foods in my past.

Their is also the pride I feel when I plan and cook a great meal at home and my family devours it. This is something I cannot put a price on. I know I am giving something of value to them and this is a way for me show my love for my son and granddaughter.

Because we will be using the whole chicken we have less waste. We will eat that chicken for our Thanksgiving dinner and then have leftovers to work with for the rest of the week. For us that means making a homemade chicken pot pie later on that same week, one of my husband’s all-time favorite meals

After that I will take the bones and skin and vegetable trimmings and boilthem into a rich chicken stock. This will be the perfect starting point for a pot of delicious homemade soup later on this winter.

Anything left over will end up in the compost bin and in a year or so it will be turned into wonderful soil and free fertilizer and the leftover bones and skin will be given to the chickens to peck over as a treat.

While we build the basics of a healthy from scratch meal we also build community and lifelong bonding with our loved ones. We make and keep traditions and create memories that are priceless.

The only real ingredients I need for my happy Thanksgiving are real food and my family. And I believe that cooking still matters.

Small House homesteader, Donna

Once a Mom Always a Mom!

I woke up early today at 5 a.m. My adult son Chris was coming for a short visit on his way back to the Chicago airport and I wanted to get breakfast started for him.

I started the turkey sausage simmering while I prepared the whole wheat pancake batter. While I know that many folks today are now eating gluten free, we made the decision to continue to eat wheat. We were trained by the CHIPS program (Coronary Heath Improvement Program out of Loma Linda Heath Center in Loma Linda, California). And until there becomes a specific reason for us to eliminate wheat from our diet, we will continue as I believe we need the fiber and the nutrition in our diet. I just make sure we are eating the highest quality wheat we can buy and that is the Bob’s Red Mill brand. This wheat is organic and certified GMO free.

pile-pancakes-5968816

After trying many pancake recipes over the years, I think these are the best whole wheat pancakes I have ever eaten. This recipe uses Apple Cider Vinegar (with the mother) and I believe that makes all the difference in the overall taste. I use almond milk because Gene is lactose intolerant. I think this recipe is simply delicious, hearty and healthy enough to stick to the ribs, one of our highest requirements for fuel for the day’s work.

Peppers use

Sweet bell peppers what a riot of color!

Our afternoon was spent bringing tender house plants into the house, chopping up and freezing a large bowl of colorful sweet peppers I purchased from our local farm market @3 for $1.00. In the winter months peppers here sell for $2.99  each for green and $3.99 for colored peppers. Every year I freeze many of them and by mid-winter I always run out. I love having them chopped and ready to grab from the freezer to add to soups, omelettes, casseroles and stews.

Soup in crocke pot close USE

I finished up the preparations for the potato and ham soup and popped that into the crock pot for our lunch. We ate the soup with my favorite herbal flatbread. This tasty flatbread recipe can be found here: https://smallhousebigskyhomestead.wordpress.com/2015/09/24/cooking-by-the…at-of-my-pants/

Soup flatbrad peaches wine glass

The hard floors got a good sweeping this morning as well.

This time I year I often work in the house in the cool of the morning and then work outside int e garden and the yard during the sunny and warmer part of the day.

Whole Wheat Pancakes (that actually taste good) Yield: Serves 2-3 Ingredients:

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tbsp. vinegar* (white wine or apple cider)
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp. melted butter
  • Butter for greasing the griddle
  • Directions:
  1. Combine the milk and vinegar and let the mixture curdle while you mix together the other ingredients.
  2. In a big bowl, whisk to combine the whole wheat flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In another bowl, whisk together the egg, melted butter, and the curdled milk, until it looks fairly homogenous and smooth. Whisk this wet mixture into the dry ingredients, and stir the two together until just barely mixed. You want any visible loose flour to be stirred in, but there should still be plenty of lumps. If you stir out the lumps, the pancakes will likely be tough.
  4. Preheat a nonstick griddle to 375 degrees F and grease the surface with butter. Add small scoops of pancake batter and use the cookie scooper to gently smooth the scoop into a flatter circle. Cook for a few minutes, until you start to see little bubbles forming on the surface. Flip the pancakes with a turner and cook for a few minutes on the other side, until you peek underneath and see that the bottom is golden brown. Serve with butter and real maple syrup. Enjoy!

Notes*You can substitute lemon juice for the vinegar, or you can sub buttermilk for the milk + vinegar if that’s what you have. Recipe adapted from Who Wants

Small House homesteader, Donna

What We Did on Father’s Day

The days are heating up here in SW Michigan. I get up early and take care of the chickens and usually begin my big outdoor project for the day while it is still fairly cool outside.

Studio bed after repaired

The weeded and cleaned up pathway and garden bed at the art studio.

Today while it was not yet windy, we sprayed Neem Oil on some plants the bugs have been munching on and I continued weeding around the art studio pathway as I continue to replenish the pea gravel that seems to disappear going who know where!

Studio bed edge before

The weedy and overgrown studio pathway “before.”

I have been working on this walkway clean up project all this week and as the days heat up my work time gets shorter and shorter so it will take me many more days to complete this to my satisfaction.

Pea gravel has some definite benefits in the garden; it’s inexpensive, we can haul home a trailer load ourselves for under $20.00 and skip the $100.00 delivery fee. Rain perks easily through it but with a canopy of White Oak trees  here I am forever picking out acorns, twigs and leaves and pulling out weeds.

Yes, I know I could skip this chore, and many folks do, but eventually the pea gravel would be buried under organic materials and look pretty crummy in my opinion. So every spring I go through this process to keep the pathway and garden edge looking nice and tidy. Besides when else do I get to haul 5-gallon bucket of pea gavel? Lol!

Today I also cleaned up the laundry room where the RIR babies have been living and sleeping. They made the transition to the outdoor coop and run this week. It was fun to have them in the house but I am thankful too to now have them and their mess all out-of-doors. Out went the brooder box to be burned, and various feeders, waters and large jars of feed were cleaned and stored.  I vacuumed the floor, thoroughly washed off and sterilized the top of the washer and dryer where everything chicken has been stacked. I have now regained control of my laundry room again! Yahoo!

Today being Father’s Day means I am cooking a fancy dinner for Gene. He requested BBQ spare ribs, peas and dessert. I baked his lemon pound cake yesterday and that is in the fridge waiting to be assembled at the last-minute with strawberries to go on top.

Lemon pound cake in pan

The pound cake hot right out of the oven.

Strawberries on pound cake

The pound cake plated with strawberries on it. Delish.

This afternoon we will enjoy sitting on the porch sipping some iced tea, reading and bird-watching and hopefully taking calls from children wishing Gene happiness on his day!

Father’s Day is a celebration honoring fathers and celebrating fatherhood, paternal bonds, and the influence of fathers in society. Happy Father’s Day to all fathers out there!

Small House Homesteader Donna

Day in the Life of This Modern Homesteader

VERT swollowtail on chives USE

 This yellow swallowtail visited the chives in my garden today.

Most of the time Gene and I work on a project side by side to get the work done but today was a divide and conquer day.

Gene vacuuming houseUSE

Power ranger at work!

He took the shop vacuum and started vacuuming the outside of our limestone ranch-style house. This may sound extreme to some but between the massive amounts of oak flower dust and road dirt we have here, things get pretty dirty. I just like knowing that the house is thoroughly cleaned off once in the spring.

Close edge USE

Our front sidewalk after the weeds are pulled out.

Normally this does not get done until later on in the season but we decided to take advantage of the cooler weather and knock it off our list. (I’ve done this alone myself many a time in July with sweat pouring down my body. Not fun.

I started my day by putting a load of wash in the machine and putting the chicks out into the garden, feeding the big girls and then attacked the weeding in the pea gravel along our front ide walk getting ready for him to come along with the vacuum. I take photographs on and off throughout the day, everyday.

Clothes on the line

Air drying the sheets on the line.

Around 11 am. I went inside to start our big meal of the day; baked Alaskan salmon that we ate with left over wild rice casserole, maccaroni and cheese and various summer treats like cole slaw, potatoes salad etc. We like to eat our big meal at noon because most nights after a long physical day I am too tired to cook and often too tired to eat much more than a snack. All I can think about is my hot Epsom salt bath and crawling into bed to read a book.

Right after lunch I hit the garden and put in more vegetable seeds. This is a big chore that will take me several weeks to complete and I knock off a couple of hours at it everyday until the sun gets to hot to work there anymore. Along the way I swept the rugs and hung the clean clothes out on the line to dry.

Such is a day in the life of a modern homesteader!

Baked Alaskan Salmon with Peach/Mustard Glaze

I take a short drinking glass and mix up some honey mustard or Gray Poupon mustard. I add several spoons of peach jam and stir to mix.  Apply liberally to the top of salmon chunks and bake at 350 degree for 35 to 40 minutes.

Small House Big Sky Homesteader, Donna