Thursday, January 29, 2015

A Very Sweet Saturday ( and Sunday)

Better late than never.... a look back at last weekend, took me a bit to get this post done.. ;)


Spent a wonderful  day with my little. The morning was occupied with baking homemade cinnamon rolls. The afternoon brought a hike to the creek behind our home., Exploring, Climbing and playing...
a sweet Saturday indeed..................
and( since last typing this post) another Hike On Sunday in our big back yard..

 Homemade Cinnamon Rolls
 2 Packages Active Dry yeast
 1 Tbsp Sugar
 1/2 cup Butter
 1 tbsp. salt
7 Cups Flour
1 cup warm water
1 cup scalded Milk
 1/2 cup sugar
 4 eggs well beaten

 Dissolve Yeast in water and 1 tbsp. of Sugar. Scald Milk and then Add 1/2 cup of sugar, salt an butter. Cool  to Lukewarm. Add 2 cups Flour and mix well. Then add the Yeas mixture and eggs, stir well. Add enough flour to knead and make a stiff dough ( I ended up adding about 8 cups, not 7 before it wasn't sticky, so just add flour slowly) Knead on floured surface until no longer sticky. Place in well greased bowl. turn to grease top, cover and let rise until double.

divide dough into 2 and roll out into oblong pieces ( like you would for a jelly roll),, brush with melted butter, and "sprinkle "( or pile on haha) brown sugar and cinnamon.. Roll up and cut into 1" slices. place on well greased cookie sheet and let rise until double.. Bake at 375 for about 20-25 minutes..
Drizzle with powered sugar frosting............
This recipe made 25 Rolls, which I thought was maybe too many.. I was wrong! Hubby and Norah gobbled them up!

The Cools

Friday, January 23, 2015

Pressure Canning On your Wood Cookstove

So Ive been Pressure canning ( and water bath canning) our garden harvest for near 7 years now, about the same amount of time I have been cooking and baking with our wood cookstove. So you think I would be totally comfortable Pressure canning on my wood cookstove, right?? wrong.

Any body who has or is learning about pressure canning knows that it can be extremely dangerous. I mean you are essentially building up steam in a large pot, letting little bits come out at a time.. to much pressure and *BOOM ( not sure that's the sound it what make, haha but you get my drift) you could have an exploding canner.

In the winter I do all of my baking ( its actually our only way to bake) and stove top cooking on the woodcookstove. But if I have something to pressure can I use my propane top stove.
Well awhile back our propane stove top ran out of propane and we just haven't gotten around to filling it back up. which why the hurry, we don't use it much anyway..
Until yesterday, when I realized I had boiled down some bones from a chicken and had stock to can.

I have often thought about what if.. what if something happened and their was a gas shortage? would I be able to preserve our  food without propane or gas?

That question was answered today and the answer is YES! Successful pressure canning session on the wood cookstove... and I am going to share with ya'll just how I did it

PLEASE NOTE: if you are not familiar with pressure canning or wood stove cooking, I suggest you try these things separately for awhile before attempting this. This IS or atleast CAN BE dangerous and you should have some experience under your belt first.....


so Basically, when you get your stove or if you already have one and know your stove, you know that there are Hot spots and cool spots on your stove top. Obviously the hot spot would be right above where the fire is blazing.
My stove has a fire box on one side and then an oven on the other,, anything I have ever needed to boil goes over the fire and then if I need it to simmer just slide it over as needed, the further you push it over/away from the fire the cooler it usually is.

If I am trying to bring something to a boil ( in this case the water in the canner) I usually open up the firebox door and take a quick look to see where the fire is biggest.. then move the canner accordingly, placing it directly over the first.

                canner before I added the weight, you can see its almost directly over the eye and firebox


So basically, I placed the water directly over the fire.. I had a good fire roaring ... one mistake I did make,, or one thing I could have done differently, was take the eye ( the metal circle you see on the stove top is removable so you can set your pot directly on the fire) off, my water probably would have boiled a lot faster.
I let the canner exhaust steam for 10 minutes
I then ( this is where it gets tricky) Placed the weight on the canner .( I have a weighted gauge canner)
Once the weight started rocking,, I moved it over about half way,between the firebox and the was still rocking pretty fast,,(you want a slow and steady rocking motion) so I moved it so I was about 3/4 of the way over ( near the oven)...

So here you see I have it about in the middle,, I ended up moving it over to the right about another 2 inches and that seemed to be the perfect spot for a gentle rocking motion.. if I felt it was slowing down , I would slowwwly move it back over an inch,, etc..

REMEMBER if the weight stops rocking,, that's ok, you just have to start you "time" over, but you DO NOT want it rocking like crazy,, that makes me nervous and should make you nervous too,,lol
once I had a steady rocking motion I only had to move the canner a couple times, and only like 2" to the left or 2" to the right depending....
I choked the fire off to keep a steady burn..

and that's it,, that's how I did it !
again, I am not sure this helps,, but for anyone that is familiar with cooking with wood, I can tell you  if you are confident in your woodstove cooking abilities this will be a BREEZE!

For those of you who haven't cooked on wood,, and want to can with it,, start with less explosive things like soups etc,, haha
LEARN your stove ( as they are all different) , then maybe pressure can on a regular stove for awhile
Then once you feel comfortable with both, maybe you are ready to give it a try!

Any questions?? you can ask them here and I will be glad to help!!


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Spring like Temps and injured Chicken

I couldn't think of a good title for this post,, haha.. Its been an eventful 5 days with lots going on... That time of year where we scramble to get ready for spring. Although its only January there is a lot to be done in preparation for Bee Season...
We have been building and painting nuc hives ,  a lot of these will most likely be mating nucs for our Queens.

I started My SEEDS!! It felt so good to get my hands in some "dirt" ( ok seed mix) and plant.  Ive started broccoli, Cauliflower, Cabbage, Bunching Onions, and Kale, including a gorgeous ruby red Kale ! Ill be starting My warm weather crops in another month or so.

Norah has been gardening too, in fact she used over half of my soil. Besides selling wild Onions, Hemlocks, grass and holly plants...............................................

she is also in the process of catching a rabbit so she can start a rabbit farm. In the meantime the only other "animals she has for sale are some ladybugs..hehe

the weather has been gorgeous the past 3 days ( in the 60's!) even the bees have been out to stretch their wings, use the bathroom ( which I have proof of all over my windshield, haha) and get a drink... all the hives look good from the outside and we hope to get in for a small inspection if we see some warmer days in the next couple weeks...

On a heavier Note :/ Our Polish Hen Liberace was recently scalped by our ****** rooster Elton..
Elton was ( and I say was because he no longer lives here) about 6 months old  and ready to get frisky with Liberace,, for about 2 days he would chase her around, when they would go in the coop there would be lots of "thump, bump" sounds on the roof. and we thought is was funny... the next morning ( after this thumping and bumping started happening) I went out to give Liberace and Elton some scraps.. Liberace did not exit the coop, and I instantly KNEW something was wrong.. I opened up the coop door and saw her huddled in the corner completely bloody and (what I didn't realize at the moment) scalped.. I frantically picked her up and brought her in the house, wrapped her in a a towel, and cried ( mostly because I felt bad,, thinking I could of prevented it had I not been busy giggling.. )

Its been 4 days not since this happened and I am happy to report she is doing well!! she is eating and drinking and lively. Her head is dealing with some infection that I hope nature takes care of on its own.. all in all it seems she will be ok. She is still in the house until she fully heals....
To then which she will have her very own chicken tractor until I get some polish hens to put with her. I will never put her with a rooster again, and am even unsure about putting her with larger breeds..

Lets just hope that fabulous head of hair of hers, grows back ;)

The Cool Family

Monday, December 29, 2014

Beekeeping Basics

I recently had the pleasure of blogging On Cold Creek Homesteads Page..

For anyone interested in the BEEginning Basics of Beekeeping this is a good place to start. A simple write up covering the basics On what it takes to get an apiary up and going!

The Cools

Tuesday, December 23, 2014


cold, rainy , grey..................... no sun on the solar panels for 3 days.**.Hibernating***

Sitting by the cookstove, labeling soap, Making homemade soup and bread, baking,baking,baking  and taking care of a sick little one...

feeling optimistic for the longer days ahead, sun on our backs,  hands in the dirt, and fewer sick days...........

The Cools

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Chicken Sausage Take two

So, last weekend the weather was warm enough to butcher our birds..... Being off The power grid we have very limited freezer space.. With a completely empty freezer to start with, I think we would be able to fit maybe 10 birds in there , which is close to what we butchered.. We decided to make more chicken sausage, A) because its delicious and a change from just regular ol chicken, and B) it takes up way less space....

This year is our second attempt and chicken sausage,, we made it about 3 yrs ago and I am not sure what we did wrong ( maybe we didn't add enough fat or the broth?) but it was dry.. edible, but dry....

Chicken Sausage TAKE TWO:

 So Chicken Sausage involves a little bit of work , but the end product is so worth it.
The General steps are : Debone the meat ( a bit tedious) , run through the meat grinder ( ours is hand crank so we have the little on help, and she loves it! ), add the seasonings and broth, grind again and use stuffer attachment to stuff during the second time grind.

I thought I would share the recipe for anyone interested.. I have to say its REALLY GOOD. This is a country sausage..


-  5lbs of chicken deboned ( about 2 birds) including all that fat ( this will make the sausage moist and not dry)
- 2 Tbsp Salt
-2 Tsp Pepper
- 2 Tsp Ground Sage
- 1 Tsp Ginger
- 1 Tsp Thyme
- 1 Cup cold Chicken Broth ( we added a pint both time we made this (2cups) and it turned out great..

Be sure to add all the fat and the broth, which is what gives it its moisture , since chicken does not have the fat content that pork does..

I give this recipe an A+ and the ingredients are pretty basic so most of them can be found in your kitchen cupboard.


Monday, December 8, 2014

December projects

Well winter is officially almost here.. Its been rather mild here in North west NC, and we have been able to get outside and work on all the things we cant get done in summer .
This Morning was a bit chilly, atleast do chilly to process our chickens. Robb defeathered one bird and quickly came in to warm his hands over the cookstove.. Cold and wet don't mix.. so we decided to wait until next Sunday to do the other nine.. But hey we have dinner for tonight ;)



Robb has been busy Building mating Nucs for the apiary
Mating nucs are tiny 2 frame hives, that we will Put newly reared Virgin Queens in.. The Queens will then mate, start laying eggs about 3 weeks later, and then we will move these frames into a full size hive.
Our plans are to really expand this year.. So he has plans on rearing a lot of queens, which means lots of mating nucs need built before spring!

Today ( instead of processing chickens) we started on Norahs Tree House! This is her Big present from us. We went and purchased some lumber yesterday to get started. She is over the moon about this, and I know she will get so many hours of play and imagination time ( and quiet time) here in her own little space..

I am starting on my HoneyBee Stepping stones for the Back gardens!! I can not wait to see what these look like throughout the pathway.. I am wondering if I should use pigment in some?? If so,, what colors/color combo do you think would look nice?
My plans are to get one or 2 done a week, So by spring I will have enough to place throughout the back garden.

Dreaming of spring here, but keeping busy .

What have you been up to??