Saturday, September 17, 2011

When life gives you Potatoes

This year was a fine year for Potatoes at our lil Homestead. Thanks to our Kitty "Bluegrass" there was minimal damage from the moles (They prefer to sample each n every potato, taking only one bite.. just enough to ruin the potato for storage, but still edible in the next few days )

We ended up pulling about 120 lbs of potatoes this year.! which is great,,, as long as you have a place to store them ; root cellar, basement.. which we have neither of. In the years past I have stored them in my pantry, which usually works great, although I have never had this many, so they usually got eaten before they had the chance to go bad.

So what do you do, when life gives you 100+ pounds of potatoes?
Make PIEROGIES of course!! In addition to canning potatoes, and canning stew, it would not be a winter at the Cool residence if Pierogies were not on the meal plan atleast a couple of times a month....

Ive been asked this quite a bit. so to make it easy,, here is the official definition

Pierogi (Polish pronunciation: [pjɛˈrɔɡʲi]; also spelled perogi, Börek, pierogy, perogy, pierógi, pyrohy, or pyrogy) or Varenyky are boiled, baked or fried dumplings of unleavened dough traditionally stuffed with potato filling, sauerkraut, ground meat, cheese, or fruit. Of central and eastern European provenance, they are usually semicircular, but are rectangular or triangular in some cuisines.[1

I have only ever made mine with potato and cheese, but plan on making some saurkraut ones this yr. You can really add whatever you like.. Hubby likes me to add Jalapenos to the potato n cheese ones. Ive even thought about taking this dough recipe and filling these babies with apple pie filling.. fried up and served with ice cream, yummmmmmmmmmm..

Ok, on to the RECIPE.... I have used other recipies in the past, but this one ROCKED, the dough was very easy to work with. and the end result was fabulous.

Potato and Cheese Pierogie
4 Cups All Purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 Cup Plus 2 Tbsp cold water
3 Large Egg Yolks

Potato Filling
4 Medium potatoes peeled and cut into small chunks ( I would say more like 6)
2 Tbsp Butter, plus extra for frying
1 Small Onion
1/4-1/2 Grated Cheddar Cheese , or more, depending on what ya like

1. TO make the dough, combine the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl.
2. Make a well in the center and add the water and egg yolks. With a wooden spoon, stir constantly, until the dough holds together, adding a litte more water if necesary.
3. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead it for 2 minutes. Put the dough back in the bowl , cover it with plastic wrap and set aside
4. For the filling, boil the potatoes in a large saucepan of salted water for about 10 minutes or until the potatoes are soft
5. Drain the potatoes and mash them by hand
6. Meanwhile, melt 2 tbsps of butter in a small skillet. add the onion and saute for 5 minutes, stirring often.
7. add the Onion, cheese and salt to the potatoes and mash them in.
8. Break the dough into quarters. Roll one out thin on a lightly floured surface
9. Use a biscuit cutter or a water glass, cut the dough into 3-3.5" circles. roll out and cut the scraps, repeat until all dough is used.
10. Put a heaping teaspoon full of filling in the center of the circle.
11.. moisten the edge of the circle with a wet finger tip, then fold it in half and press the edges together firmly to seal

***IF YOU ARE FREEZING THE PIEROGIES FOR LATER USE, place them on a cookie sheet, place in freezer until frozen, remove, place in plastic freezer bag. remove air with straw( to prevent freezer burn) label, date and put in freezer. If you are ready to enjoy,, continue on to step 12 :)

12. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
13. Drop the Pierogies 8-10 at a time, into the boiling water, simmer until they rise to the surface, and continue to simmer for an additional 4 minutes. remove from water and set aside on papertowl or kitchen towel.
14. Melt a little butter( we use olive oil) in a large skillet ( we prefer cast iron;). using a slotted spoon place them in the skillet and fry lightly over medium high heat for several minutes.
15. Serve hot with melted butter, sour cream, or extra cheese, if you so desire! Comfort food at its finest.........

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Autumn : A Time For Reflection

I awoke this morning to what seemed to be the first cool morning in close to 6 Months. 65 degrees , overcast, slight breeze, ABsolutely Beautiful... It was definetaly an Autumn Morning....
I yearn for this time of year, cool mornings, Fall foliage in the Mountains, starting up the first fire in the cookstove, but most of all,,, MOST OF ALL,, finally slowing down here at The Cool Homestead.
Its been an extremely hectic Spring and Summer.. we went from 6 hives to 25 Hives this yr, experienced quite a few swarms, pulled close to 300 lbs of honey, tended to close to 1200 sq ft of garden space, grew hundreds of veggies starts and herbs to sell,vended honey , veggies and plants at the farmers market once a week, canned my behind off ( over 200 jars and still canning, that goes on until about October ;), cleaning coops, butchering chickens, standard yardwork, hive inspections, building hives, splitting hives, chopping wood for winter( with a maul, no log splitter here), weeding,trying to manage my sewing business, ( or lack there of! ) all while husband was gone 50 hours a week at day job! and I had a 4 yr old In tow at all times here at home... you get the picture....hehehe
WHY? why? why?.. seems to be a question ( or a look) I get when people ask us what we do in our spare time... We dont go out to the movies, or out to eat, or out to the bar... We dont have lunch with friends much or go to the mall. We dont spend our entire summers at music festivals or bonfires, or have friends over every weekend...

SO what DO WE do for fun??? we Jump in the creek, run through the forest, turn up the music and have a beer while we extract and bottle honey, meet and talk to fabulous people at the farmers market, enjoy the solitude of the national forest,watch chicken TV,.(we do go see some live music and we do have your standard FUN too ;)
Living as secluded as we do( we live an hour from absolutely anything), and working as much as we do, is hard for some to understand... Its not a life for everyone , but it is the life of a Homesteader, and I feel a Intensly great sense of accomplishment,satisfaction and contenment looking back on 2011...

Autumn still has its work cut out for us.. chopping wood, planting fruit Trees, fall gardening... but things are slowing down...a time to **REFLECT, learn, grow and Plan for a Fantastic 2012 at Bee Kind Family Farm :)

The Cool Family

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Brought to you by The Letter "P"

ahhhhhhhhhh, summer time.. who doesnt love warm summer nights, being barefoot in the garden, bees buzzing, a dip in the creek,... So today, I bring you some of the loverly things, that summer homesteading activities bring, that start with the ****Letter P** and you can decide which one is your least favorite ;)
and a horrible case of
Lets just say canning, when its 100 degrees/85% humidity, with poison oak, is not OK.... but the peaches had NO sympathy as they sat bruised and getting softer by the minute, the peppers slowly losing their crisp, and the cucumbers stacking up in my fridge in ridiculous proportions, I had to woman up......

Ive spared you the picture of the poison oak, and will leave you with this pleasant photo:) ya cant have the sweet without the sour I suppose ;)

Friday, July 15, 2011

To market To market

woahh nelly, its been awhile since Ive posted a single word on here! I do greatly appreciate all of you following my poorly maintained blog! Summer is definetaly in full swing around here! Between the 24 Beehives, Gardens, canning and the Farmers Market its been crazy, in a really good way of course ;)
We have been picking and abundance of greenbeans, squash,, cucumbers, and tomatoes are really starting to ripen now! Plenty of produce for the market and enough for me fill the pantry with canned goods ...
If you are In the mountains of western NC, come see us at the Blowing Rock Farmers Market! We offer Raw Honey, fresh eggs, produce baskets(they make great gifts!) & an assortment of produce. Look for the * Bee Kind Family Farm* Booth! Ill try and post again soon!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Busy as a Bee *Honey Giveaway***

Last fall we made our annual trip to our favorite local PICK YOUR OWN Fruit farm:) Owned and Family run by A nicer older couple , HARD working farm type, who just love to chit chat your ear off if they get the chance.. Upon "check out" (with almost 4 bushels of fruit!) my husband who happened to notice a couple of old hives on the farm. of course this started a lengthy discussion on bees, beekeeping, fruit production, honey etc... as robb and the man talked i tried to keep norah from touching the fruit, throwing the fruit, running off into the hundreds of fruit treeS,,,etc,,,heheee.. I wasnt in on the discussion MUCH that day , but that man said something, so simple, yet so profound, i probably wont ever forget it..
" If we all worked half as hard as a honey bee does in its lifetime, what a better place this world would be"So how does that Liquid gold end up in jars and then onto your toast?
First, worker bees( the ladies heheee) fly out from the hive in search of nectar-rich flowers. Using its straw-like proboscis, a worker bees drinks the liquid nectar and stores it in a special stomach called the honey stomach. The bee continues to forage, visiting hundreds of flowers, until its honey stomach is full.

Within the honey stomach( bees have 2 stomachs), enzymes break down the complex sugars of the nectar into simpler sugars, which are less prone to crystallization. This process is called inversion.

the worker bee heads back to the hive and regurgitates the modified nectar for a hive(home) bee. The hive bee ingests it and further breaks down the sugars. It is then regurgitated into the honeycomb!!Now, the hive bees beat their wings furiously, fanning the nectar to evaporate its remaining water content. As the water evaporates, the sugars thicken into honey. Once the honey is finished, the hive bee caps the beeswax cell, sealing the honey into the honeycomb for later consumption.

Did you know a single worker bee produces only 1/12th of a teaspoon of honey in its lifetime!!!! Working cooperatively, thousands of worker bees can produce over 200 pounds of honey for the colony within a year.

SO next time indulge in some ( LOCAL, RAW, ORGANIC) Honey.. remember how hard they worked<3

NOW FOR THE GIVEAWAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
A Chance to win some YUMMY RAW HONEY From our farm;)
You May enter up to 5 times. In order to be eligible for the drawing The first entry is mandatory. You must COMMENT ON THIS POST:) For Additional Enteries you can
*"LIKE" the BEE KIND FAMILY FARM page on FB & be sure and comment to let me know you did this
* Post this giveaway on your FACEBOOK page and comment to let me know you did this
*FOLLOW my Blog and comment to let me know!
*Refer a friend to our BEE KIND FAMILY FARM page on FB

That is a total of 5 CHANCES TO WIN!!!!!

The Contest will End February 6th**************

Sunday, January 9, 2011

A winter *warm me up* kinda meal

A Fantastic winter warm you up and fill your belly. a great way to use your Butternut squash too .
if you are learning to self sustain, this is a perfect meal to add to you meal plan, most if not ALL ingredients should be readily available in your cupboard:) ( see previous post with meal plan and grocery list)

Rosemary Sage Bread
3 cups warm waster
1 Tbsp Yeast
1/2 tsp sugar
1 Tbsp yeast
6-8 C Flour
2 Tbsp dried rosemary
2 Tbsp Dried sage

Dissolve sugar in water, add yeast, let sit until foamy
add salt and 4 Cups flour, beat until smooth, add sage and rosemary
add additional flour until you have a stuff dough, throw onto floured surface and knead until smooth,
Grease bowl and let double in size(about one hour)
punch down, form into 2 football shaped loaves and place in greased bread pans, let rise and additional 40 minutes
scour with knife and mist Bake at 450 for 25-35 minutes

Butternut Squash Soup
2-3 lbs Butter nut Squash
2 Tbsp Butter
1 Medium Onion
2 Medium carrots
6 C chicken stock( alhtough if yo uwant a thicker soup i would say about 4-5 cups)
nutmeg, salt and pepper, curry powder(if desired)

Cut butternut squash in halves, place face down on a cookie sheet with water( add water to cookie sheet as needed) cook squash at about 350 for 20-25 minutes or until soft
In the meantime, dice carrots and onion, sautee in butter in pot, add the 4-6 cups chicken( or vegetable) stock, simmer 15 minutes,,
Remove carrots and onions from stock wtih slotted smooth and place in blender, scoop out butternut squash and place in blender, add about 1 cup chicken stock to blender also,, and blend,, return to pot and simmer for additional 20 minutes, serve hot, garnish with sourcream is desired.


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Ditch the Dryer

You dont need it folks.. i promise!!!
go to you local ___mart and pick yourself up a drying rack. you can use this indoors next to your cookstove or woodstove or under a heater vent if you dont have a clotheline. But if you have the space, build a clothesline, you will be happy you did.. there aint Nothing like bedding off the line:)
Despise cruncy towels? a little vinegar in place of fabric softner will do the trick!
do this for a month, and then check your electric bill ;)