Monthly Archives: February 2013

Ricotta dumplings recipe

In preparation for our crazy season to begin, I’ve been making big batches of foods I can freeze. I found the base recipe for these online, and have tweaked it for us. These dumplings taste wonderful and are nice to have as an option for a quick meal. ๐Ÿ™‚

Fill a large stock pot half full of water & bring it to a boil.

While that is getting to temp, mix up the following:

1 pound ricotta cheese (or a mixture of ricotta & cottage cheese)

8 eggs

Then add & mix well:

6 cups of flour (726g) – I use King Arthur Unbleached Flour

3t sea salt

1t coarse black pepper

Place dough on a floured surface. Dough should be a little sticky. I usually divide my dough into 4 chunks or so. With my hands, I pat the dough to about 1/2″ thickness. (Make sure there’s enough flour under the dough so that when you cut your dumplings, they will be easy to pick up.) Cut dough into 1″ squares.

Water should be boiling by now. Drop dumplings in water and boil 4 minutes. Usually takes me about 4 batches to get all the dumplings cooked. Stir just to make sure there aren’t any stuck to the bottom of the pan. (Oh – and you may need to lower the heat on your burner. That should help prevent water from boiling over. Yeah, I always learn the hard way, lol!) Remove dumplings with a slotted spoon or hand-held strainer & place in a colander to drain. This way you can keep re-using the same pot of water to make all the dumplings. ๐Ÿ™‚

These are great plain or under a variety of sauces! ๐Ÿ™‚

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Whey soup recipe

I mentioned last year in my ricotta cheese post, that I’d post our recipe for “whey soup” sometime. Guess today’s the day! ๐Ÿ™‚

1 quart of homemade chicken or beef bone broth
1/4 cup of noodles of choice (optional)
3 t sea salt

[I’m adding these pics a day later than the original post was written. Michael just made a half recipe today, if you are noticing the smaller portion – fyi]

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Heat to simmer and until noodles are fully cooked. Add 1 cup of whey – but don’t boil.

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Since we normally use frozen whey “ice-cubes”, I turn my burner off, but keep my pan on the burner… Keep stirring until the whey has dissolved. (If necessary, heat it a bit until it’s to your desired eating temp.) That’s it! ๐Ÿ™‚

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This serves a generous 2 bowls of soup… Or 1 huge bowl for Michael, lol. He’d eat it everyday if we let him. I gotta ration some things around here or I’d never have time to leave my kitchen! ๐Ÿ™‚

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Such a great soup if you are feeling under-the-weather! A great immunity booster and wonderful healing food… ๐Ÿ™‚

Rags instead

Several years ago, we began the transition toward buying less of the “disposable” paper stuff. Needed to lower our expenses, so we could pay our bills + work on paying down our debt. At this same time, we cancelled our weekly trash pickup, too.

Everything we used to “throw away” was now separated into recycle, burn, or trash piles. When we first started, we’d have enough trash stuff for Mike to load up the truck and drive to the dump every 3 months. Then it was every 6 months. And now it is once a year! This was a huge blessing on two counts: 1) the price per truckload at the dump has risen EACH TIME, and 2) Mike DESPISES going to the dump, lol. Both of these were big motivators for us to remain diligent in reducing the “trash” pile. ๐Ÿ™‚

Decided to cut up our old t-shirts…the ones with stains & holes – and use them for the same thing we used to do with kleenex and paper-towels. (Yeah, this is the same girl who just did a post about admiring old hankies – but that was TO LOOK AT, not keep one in my pocket all day, lol…) I wasn’t real keen on the thought of old-fashioned handkerchiefs (AT FIRST). In fact, they kind of grossed me out a little. So, the idea was born about making single-use but re-usable rags. Fashioned one of our kitchen drawers to be a “rag drawer”, and filled it with squares of t-shirt pieces.

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Attached a basket to the wall in our basement stairwell where we throw our dirty rags and they get thrown in the wash with our other laundry.

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Once we got into the new routine, it has been smooth sailing! ๐Ÿ™‚

My goodness, I know we’ve saved a TON of money by not buying kleenex – we used to go through a box a week, easy! And, the rags are soooo much softer than tissues. In fact, we often DO carry our rags in our pockets now – yeah, JUST LIKE HANDKERCHIEFS, lol! Hmmm, what a good idea… ๐Ÿ™‚

They are also great for kitchen clean-up. If there’s a spill or something I don’t want to use my crocheted dishcloth on, I just use a rag or two or three… If it’s something super yucky, I don’t feel guilty at all about throwing the rag in the burn pile, because I know we are blessed with an overabundance of future t-shirt rags – even plenty to share! ๐Ÿ™‚

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Do we still have rolls of paper towels? Yes, but that’s only because my dad bought us two packs of 15 rolls three years ago. According to my estimates, we use not quite 2 rolls A YEAR! His gift oughta last us another 8 years, minimum, lol. ๐Ÿ™‚

The dark-colored rags usually go next door to be used in our dairy. (Makes it easy to tell which rags go where once they’ve been washed. (Or is that more of my control freakishness shining through…?) When we have enough dirty rags for a load, we wash them with homemade lye soap. Works great! ๐Ÿ™‚

Our old, holey socks are also cut-up & have functions post foot-life. Top half works great for general cleaning & for a cotton ball substitute.

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Bottom half, which never lies flat, gets thrown in a shoebox for the 3 boys to use in the garage. These are “disposable” rags for stuff like wiping up oil, paint, or other outside messes. They end up in the burn pile. ๐Ÿ™‚

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This paperless oddity has led to some funny conversations when new friends visit with us. “Where’s your trash can?” is answered, “Um, what kind is it – burnable, recyclable, or trash?” And “Could I have a kleenex?” leads to strange-but-polite-looks as we explain our single use/re-usable rags… ๐Ÿ™‚

My 3 boys like to tease me about how much MORE money we could save by not buying toilet paper anymore, lol – but unless someone else takes over laundry duty, this lady’s gotta draw the line somewhere!! ๐Ÿ™‚

Hanky pincushions

Last year, I was gifted a box of my Grandma Cegelka’s hankies.ย  I don’t know if she used them all or not, but I do know she kept them in her “special” box, so that makes them special to me. ๐Ÿ™‚

She’s been gone several years now, but her memory lives on.ย  Sure wish I would have asked her more questions when I had the opportunity.

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I wanted to create some kind of keepsake gift with Grandma’s hankies.ย  For the hankies with simple edges, I found this idea online. Was a fun way to use up some old buttons I had laying around. ๐Ÿ™‚ ย ย  I welcome any other ideas to try, as well…especially some kind of Christmas ornament… ๐Ÿ™‚

Some of the other ones have crocheted edges, which are some of my favorites.ย  I also have some of her crocheted doilies and some linen doilies that she or someone in her family embroidered.ย  Funny, I would never really call myself a “girlie girl”, but there’s just something about these old treasures that speak beauty to me… Perhaps a future post of some of their pics will be forthcoming. ๐Ÿ™‚

Lord willing, someday I’d love to create window treatments and/or a quilt using some of my favorite hankies & doilies.ย ๐Ÿ™‚

One month until 2013 calves!

First due date of our dairy girls is March 23rd – one month from today! ๐Ÿ™‚

Name brainstorming has begun – thought I’d post our tentative list…

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Just a refresher on how we do names: Each mama is assigned a name category for her daughters. Then her daughter’s last name is her mama’s first name. Soooo, when I enter the animal (+ picture) as a contact in my phone, it is easy to see all the daughters of a particular cow, since they all have the same last name. Also makes it easier to remember who is a part of which family when the first names fit in a particular category. I (especially) need to have some kind of “system” to help my brain process a bunch of new additions in a quick span of time, lol! ๐Ÿ™‚

Boys are named a bit differently. In 2010 we started with using the “aviator’s alphabet”. (Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, etc.) Last year, we ended with Romeo, so this year we begin with “S”. Technically, our first bull then should be named Sierra. But since we have a personal (female) friend with that name, we are gonna go with Sahara instead. ๐Ÿ™‚

Of course, all of these brainstorms are “subject to change” once we meet the calf, but at least we have something to start with! ๐Ÿ™‚

Grandma’s special doorstop

I wasn’t a huge fan of cartoons when I was young, but the ones I did like were: The Littles, whenever I got a sneak peak inside Jerry’s mouse-hole on Tom & Jerry, & Smurfs – lol, yeah – I loved matchbox bathtubs, sardine-can beds, & mushroom umbrellas… ๐Ÿ™‚

This craft woke up that “inner child” in me… ๐Ÿ™‚

I felt like the old toy-fixer-upper-guy in Toy Story 2 who was brought in to make Woody look as good as new – minus the magnifying glass attached to my eye, lol! ๐Ÿ™‚

This project completely consumed me for a week – and led to a complete overhaul of my craft “stuff”. I needed to be able to SEE everything and have quick access while I was in “create mode”…

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Ended up with quite a few empty containers once I was done! If anybody wants ’em, let me know…

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While it did lead to better organization and being more efficient with the space I have, the “timing” of it contributed toward some of the chaotic-ness of our Christmas prep. Perhaps this year I’ll do this kind of stuff BEFORE December, lol?

Back to the doorstop. Originally, I wanted it to be a miniature garden for Mike’s mom because SHE IS gardens around here… But when I learned my 3 boys DID NOT enjoy “miniature creativity” like I did, that “garden idea” grew in me & it morphed into a wee bit more, lol…

In hindsight, I can see it is a completely non-practical gift. Certainly won’t hold up to little fingers or attention from pets… BUT GOSH WAS IT FUN! ๐Ÿ™‚

It’s jam-packed with hidden meanings, too. Things I still haven’t sat down with Grandma to tell her. I guess this post will be my record as I study the pics – and I pray I make the same time commitment to share it with her. ๐Ÿ™‚

So here goes – a description in words & pics:

Recycled bubble wrap helped level out my surface. Teach me to do Your will, for You are my God; may Your good Spirit lead me on LEVEL ground. (Psalms 143:10 NIV84)

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Brick “bonnet” was the same as our other denim covered doorstops – just a unique front piece…

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I added ruffle from some old curtains around the back/bottom of the bonnet because the added bubble wrap caused the bonnet to be too short…

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I knew I wanted the top layer(s) removable – so the 2 parts are attached with velcro pieces.

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Had fun shopping in the “dollhouse” section of a local craft store – the seed box, veggies/crate, garden tools, & flower pot were purchased. Then with matchsticks, pencils, rocks, moss, canning lids, & hot glue (and burnt finger tips from making the tool holder) the rest was formed…

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This other side was attached to a piece of cardboad wrapped in quilt scrap material from a friend. This is the sewing/food prep side – two other hobbies that are big parts of Grandma… Made another matchstick table with pencil legs to hold the miniature sewing machine we bought. The piece of material that is being “sewn” is a piece of scrap material that Grandma used when she made comforter covers for the boys many years ago. ๐Ÿ™‚

Bought the milk jugs/carrier, and couldn’t resist making one fallen over with milk (White-Out) spilling out. What kitchen doesn’t have an accident every now & then…?

Made the round table from a canning lid & small allen wrenches, covered with a piece of denim & an old doily as a tablecloth with strings woven through. I think my favorite part is the teeny tiny wedge added under a foot on the table to make it sturdy. Struck me as funny that this craft mimicked my “real-life”. No matter how hard I try, perfection is impossible! Always reminding myself of Paul’s words: But he said to me, โ€œMy grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.โ€ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9, 10 NIV84) Yes, even with wobbly miniature tables, I can practice being content with what I have, and rely on the Lord to inspire solutions or reveal an alternate route…so glad He incorporates our mistakes into His plan! ๐Ÿ™‚

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