Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Amish Bran Muffins in July

July means swimming in the pond,
 which in turn, means the fence is bedecked continually with swim gear.
July also brings breakfast on the porch, usually with granola or muffins. 
 Our favorite muffin recipe comes from an Amish cookbook,
 but we have tweaked it just a tad, so I will share it here. 
 I hope you try them, they are really outstanding. 
 Don't let the title "BRAN MUFFIN" deceive you! 

 These moist, flavorful muffins make a huge amount of dough that can stay in the frig for weeks.
                  I love that aspect, since then it is sooo easy to make a quick breakfast in the morning.
I also favor this recipe because it is a large enough batch to make a dozen Texas size muffins
 and still have dough for another baking in a week.
If ya all don't have a Texas size muffin pan, you need to get one-- or two.
  It is that special touch that takes a muffin from "good" to spectacular
 Trust me.  Buy one.

I have to tell you a funny story about this particular batch of baking:

So there I was, (all good stories start that way) 
 scuttling around in the kitchen, 
thinking too many things at once while making the muffins,
 when I smelled something very, very odd. 
I  stood there for what seemed like a loooong time trying to figure out what that smell was!
Finally, my brain kicked in and I realized that I had preheated my gas oven 
with mint from the garden drying inside!
  Dear me!
  I then had well dried, nearly burnt, mint.
(chuckle, can't believe I am really sharing this.)
Then that song goes off in my head, you know..."The old gray mare........

Anyway, you see, my oven has a pilot light on all the time,
 so it is an ideal place to dry herbs or veggies overnight.  
This we do often in summer when produce is abundant.
We usually have a slip of paper reminding us that there is something in there, 
since it  has happened before. 
 I had not reminded myself of the mint with the usual paper,
So  that morning our kitchen smelled loudly of baked mint and fresh muffins.

Some people should not bake before 8 am or at least two cups of coffee!!

Back to the muffins in progress.....

Our secret ingredient is adding fresh picked huckleberries to the muffins.
  We have huckleberry bushes right here on our property, ( O glory!) but since most folks probably don't, 
I will say that raspberries or blueberries would also be great.
  However, even without the berries, these are still marvelous muffins.

 Now for that recipe:

5 cups flour
5 tsp baking soda
2 tsp salt
2 tsp allspice
15 oz. oat bran (about 2 cups)
3 cups sugar (I use less)
4 eggs
1 cup veg. or olive oil
1 quart buttermilk or regular milk plus 2 T. lemon juice
2 tsp vanilla

Mix well.  Use immediately or store in a sealed container for up to 6 weeks.
When ready to bake, without stirring, dip batter out to fill  a well greased muffin pan.
Then add a scattering of berries on top of each muffin- they will sink when baking.
Bake at 375, cook for 20 minutes or until the tops spring bake upon touching.

Here's to breakfast on the porch with birdsong serenading you, and yummy muffins with your coffee!
If you try the muffins, be sure to let me know!


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Around The Homestead: St. John's Wart

Thunder is rumbling across the mountains this afternoon, it has been a stifling hot day. 
 Thankfully,we only have a few of these 90-some degree days per year. 
 Earlier, as a scattered shower cooled things off a bit,
 I eagerly sought my way out of doors to pick the fully bloomed St. John's Wart. 
 It grows all over the place here.
 I had noted on my walk the other day that it was nearly ready to be gathered in and hung to dry.
This winter we will make tea of the blossoms, added to our mint and chocolate mint,
 making a Happy Winter Tea, as I call it. 
 St. John's Wart is known for aiding depression,
 (it is common to get a little low with our 5 months of winter here) 
and... well, 
I have always thought of mint as being a happy flavor and smell. 

 Other goodness growing on our homestead.....
 the goats, getting fat on rich grass, abundant brush, and prolific tree limbs.
  We stake them out in new locals each day, since we lack proper fencing for a pasture.

We have four raised beds in which are growing lots of squash, several tomatoes,
 carrots (just barely up) and potatoes. 
 I am so thankful that, so far, the deer have stayed away.
It is not much, but it is a start, I keep telling myself.

The strawberry patch is doing well for it's first year. 
The berries are sooo scrumptious!
Nothing tastes better than homegrown/ homemade food!

Mint too, is ready to harvest for winter teas.
 That is on my "to do" list, still. 
 Usually a job for the younger children, but they are indoors (making huge sleeping bag forts)
 hiding from the heat today.
 Jim has taken over Anna's herb garden. 
 In it's third year, it is coming along quite well. 
 The garden contains mostly culinary and medicinal herbs,
 but Jim planted several hundred perennial seeds this year to add beauty and color.
So far, we have sage, mullen, horseradish, mint, chocolate mint, tarragon, lavender, and chives for our herbs. I would love to get some echinacia and fever few.
Perhaps next year.

The meadows are brimming with daisies, which makes me happy happy happy!
Don't you think daisies are a happy flower?
  I do like to keep fresh flowers on the book table,
 and I will beg, borrow, or, um, yes, steal (from a vacant homestead) if I must...
but this time I didn't, since they are abundantly everywhere.

And what does our family do here when it is 97 degrees out?
Why, legos while listening to the Man From Snowy River soundtrack,
 dress up, card games, playing with the new kittens,
 and reading, of course!

From our homestead in the woods to yours,

Blessings This Day!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Woodland Warfare

Joseph just turned 15.
 The time has flown since we brought him home from the hospital to join his older three siblings!  

Here he is now,
 a big, strapping manly fellow,
 a good friend, a leader, a hard worker,
 a delightful son.  

His greatest longing for his birthday 
was to invite 17 friends over to play woodland warfare with him.
(paintball, you know)

At the end of the day,
 despite his amiable nature,
 he had shot them all in the head--at least once. 

You may not find this quite as humerus if you are redneck deficient....for us, it was great fun!

Joseph filled his big brother's shoes nicely, 
leaving  some battle scarred, 
(which is quite a trophy to be proud of, by the way)

...and all in awe of his extra long barreled Tipman.   

Boys practicing to be heroes, competing to be the last man  standing....
....this is the good stuff for young  rednecks.... 
a day to be proud of, to tell stories of for years to come-
-the day he shot his cousin in the wrist and made him bleed...."ya, that was awesome!"

They all loved it, returning to the porch in between rounds with huge grins on their faces. 
 Gabe and I were bystanders on the porch listening to the battle sounds echoing form the woods.
  I can't believe I did not get a picture of Gabe in his camo, face paint, the works. 
 He was as excited as the rest of them, just waaaay  more cute!

As for Joe,
 he had so much fun shooting his friends that he is already making plans
 for the next time.

Living Counter Cultural: Femininity

Popular culture has a decidedly feminist bent.  Recent movies, tv shows and prominent women  are displaying heroins as   to...