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Chickens and Unschooling
Learning through living
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1st-Feb-2019 09:55 am - Friday.
Today is piano, flute, and violin. Sometimes C's lesson runs long, so this time H will drive herself there.

I also need to figure out what to feed H for dinner before she goes to work. I'm leaning towards burgers.
31st-Jan-2019 03:53 pm - Sick Kid.
Boy is sick. He missed gaming day, nerf, and two karates this week. Hopefully this clears out soon, so he can manage piano tomorrow and shooting sports on Sunday. Missing stuff is annoying.
28th-Jan-2019 09:03 pm - Dolma
Growing up I used to only like the insides of the cabbage rolls my Mother would make. I'd always give my Dad my cabbage. Now I love the cabbage and generally eat more of it than the rice and beef whenever I make Dolma. Funny how that works.

Here's a loose recipe for anyone who might be interested.

About 1/2 cup dried rice to 1lb ground beef. I add pepper, garlic salt, garlic powder, and onion powder (my grandmother used chopped onion) to the uncooked rice before thoroughly mixing it with the raw ground beef. Sometimes I add an egg.

To get the cabbage ready, cut out the thick bottom part and simmer, in a couple of inches of water, in a lidded pot. This is done to soften the leaves to make them able to wrap around the meat/rice. I keep the cabbage simmering as I pull out one leaf at a time. The leaves look brighter green when ready, but will fall apart if cooked too long.

I form elongated mounds with the raw meat/uncooked rice. Usually about twice as long as thick, but they vary in size so I can get them to fit nicely in each cabbage leaf. Place each mound into the center of a cabbage leaf, fold, fold, roll (kind of like a burrito with both ends folded in). Place in pot.

Loosly fill in the bottom of the pot making sure the cabbage rolls are not too tightly packed. Do a second layer if needed. I chop up the extra cabbage and layer it on top. Take the excess water from simmering the cabbage and pour it in. Add more water to just barely cover the rolls. Add garlic salt and pepper. Pour an 8 oz. tomato sauce on top.

All my seasonings are to taste, so I don't have exact measurements. When I make a larger batch (3lbs meat) I will add two cans of tomato sauce.

Lid pot, heat over medium heat until bubbling, then reduce heat and simmer. Cook for an hour or two. To check readiness, cut a dolma in half and see if the rice is cooked enough. The meat always cooks faster than the rice. I find the 85% lean ground beef is a good balance to achieve not too fatty and not too dry.
26th-Jan-2019 02:13 pm - 10 Year Challenge, Livejournal Style.
The 10 year challenge has been wandering around the internets lately. Besides touching on the paranoid in me that wonders what information miners will do with access to all those free face pictures, that kind of game doesn't work too well when ones profile pictures range from eggs to chickens to pony drawings.

Instead, through livejournal's prompting, I looked back at a couple of posts from 10 years ago. Since I didn't even remember that day without reading about it, I decided to post the links here if anyone is interested in a look back at when my girls were 6 and 8.

Gon Fishen
Fising Update
26th-Jan-2019 11:19 am - Thumb Cookies.
S signed up to bring food to the 4-H Community Club meeting today. Yesterday evening we were tired enough to get creative with our cookie making. I have an old recipe written down on a lunch bag taped to my fridge. I actually have three recipes on that paper bag, but the only one I use regularly is my Christmas cookie recipe. The bottom one is probably fancy, since it involves powdered sugar and an egg yolk, but it is too obscured to fully read.

Instead, S and I decided to find out what the middle set of ingredients would create. I'm pretty sure I wrote it down back when I regularly spoke with my sister on the phone. So it's easily over 15 years old.

1 1/2 cups salted butter
2 cups granulated sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp baking powder
5 cups flower
Bake at 400° 6-8 mins.

There was no other information.

I realize we could have played it safe by halving the recipe, but if we were wise enough to take that precaution, we probably wouldn't have been adventurous enough to try a random recipe in the first place.

I did mention how tired we were, right?

So, we ended up with a very generous amount of cookie dough with absolutely no direction as to the size or shape of the pre-cooked cookie we were supposed to end up with on the pan heading into the oven.

We decided to test with a small batch rolled into balls for our first pan. We cooked them seven minutes at 400°. They weren't cooked through, but the bottoms were pushing past golden brown, so we flipped them and cooked for 2 more minutes.

They were ok, but not quite good enough to want to make more in that exact way.

Instead, we lowered the temperature to 375°, raised the pan rack to third from the bottom, instead of second from the bottom*, and turned them into thumb cookies.

We used blackberry jam.

The conclusion was, this is now our thumb cookie recipe. Use all the ingredients as mentioned above, but cook at 375° for approximately 11 minutes or until the jam is burbling. Also, when pressing in your thumb to make the indent for the jam, only do four or five at a time, fill with jam, then repeat the process till finished. Otherwise the indents start to puff out and get smaller before you can get the jam in place.

*I thought it worth mentioning, this oven has 5 rack slots. If this were a 4 rack slot oven, then second from bottom would probably be the better setting. We're mostly aiming for the center height.
24th-Jan-2019 06:52 pm - C's Karate.
Tuesday was sparring.

Today is wrestling.
23rd-Jan-2019 11:53 am - Chicken Update.
Last weekend, M finished the enclosure for the chickens to protect them from the hawks. It's a twelve by twelve space, completely enclosed with wire, built off the side of the duck house. I've been alternating between calling it the exercise yard or Flop's* yard.

For the past little while the babies have been spending their days in the exercise yard and their nights inside our house. Yesterday, while outside, Lemon jumped onto the floor of the elevated chicken house. That is the first time any of the babies have treated the chicken house as anything other than an oversized shade, but as far as I know, none of the others imitated Lemon this time. I have told the kids if the babies start roosting on their own, then they are grown up enough to be outside only birds**.

Last night they were still only huddled on the ground after dark, so they got another night in, and H made sure to cuddle with her two once she got home from work.

This morning I realized I forgot to put on the roof pieces to their night enclosure. They are such weird, good little babies, none of them escaped. They were all content with their inside "nest".

*Flop being the name of our only remaining adult chicken.

**They are already old enough to be outside birds. They have their grownup feathers in, so they would be plenty warm at night. They are such good citizens, though, that we want to keep them close and cuddly for as long as possible.
Yesterday was going to be the one day this week that I would have time to spend at home catching up on things I didn't have time to do during our crazy first week of both girls in college classes.

This, however, has been the season of unexpected visits from old friends. My oldest friend from college (the same one who made it to our solstice BBQ with his family) had a plane flight cancelled due to snow, and was stuck on our end of the country for a day. It's always good to see this particular friend, especially since we have been known to go as long as five years between seeing each other. His visit did, however, eat up what would have otherwise been a productive day. (Plus, I am an introvert from an energy accumulation standpoint, so regardless of how much I enjoy having someone around, I am wiped out by the time it is over).

My original plan for Saturday was to drop S off at her class at 8:45am and then get stuff done. Or, at the very least, waste an inordinate amount of time recovering from the week.

S is only taking ceramics, but that entails getting in extra time at the studio, and until she has her license or we can coordinate her lab time with H's schedule, I gain extra chauffeur duties. S will get in driving practice for some of that, but it still constitutes a time sink for me.

So, in addition to the two extra times S ended up at the ceramics studio this past week, there were also the many runs to craft stores in the sometimes fruitless quest for supplies for both girls for their classes. On Friday alone, we went to Hobby Lobby, Michael's, Walmart, and the Dollar store.

We still need to check more places for the magical paper H needs before her next class, but that's Monday's problem.
19th-Jan-2019 11:41 am - S's thoughts on mornings.
Quote of the day made by my middle child when heading to the truck so she could drive us to her 9am ceramics class:

"Morning is cold."
17th-Jan-2019 06:04 pm - Longer Days.
It's almost the time of year when I'll be able to take some gorgeous sunset pictures right after dropping C off at karate.

Good thing, too; I need some new material for Instagram.
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