Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Digging up the "Black Gold"

January 23, 2013

The past few days we have had some pretty sunny days, with temps in the 60's.  After the weeks of rain and cold temperatures, i could not help myself today................I brought out the shovel and wagon, and went digging for the "Black Gold".'s not the gold stuff the westerners got rich on, but it's the black material that makes my garden beds rich in organic matter.  It's the dark organic material buried under a layer of leaves in my compost pile. 

Composting doesn't have to be all fancy or complicated.  Most gardeners make compost by simply combining their kitchen waste, such as veggie scraps, coffee grounds, eggshells, and fruit scraps, along with leaves, and other garden waste.  Hmmmmmmm  I think i see something green growing in the pile......Looks like a few potatoes!!!!!!!  We also have access to manures, which contributes greatly and gets things heated up to start the decaying process.  I usually clean out the chicken tractor, and the horse stall and dump to one side of the compost pile.   I add scoops of the manure to the pile throughout the year, when I'm flipping the pile periodically.  No need to buy special activators or inoculants to get the process started, there are plenty of natural microbes in the waste to promote decomposition on it's own.

 I usually contribute to this pile all year, and in late winter or early spring i dig to the bottom layers to gather my "black gold". 

My chickens also help with this process, when i let them free range, they love getting into the compost pile, scratching and aerating the pile for me.  They also love the tasty veggie scraps they get to nibble on and help break those down.

So today i got started getting those beds enriched and ready for spring planting.  I ordered some heirloom seeds this week from Seed Savers, looking forward to giving them a try. 

Hope this encourages you to try your hand at composting.  It's not difficult, all you need to start  this project is a small spot in your backyard and start stockpiling scraps, and before you know it..............You will be digging your own "Black Gold"

Shared this with The Backyard Farming Connection

 awaiting spring.................................Sheryl

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Our new "CRACKER"

January 15, 2013

Do you buy lots of snack crackers to keep on hand for your family?  That was always one  item i would buy regularly. They would come in handy to fill the diaper bag for road trips, or tote bag for the park or other outing, and eventually to throw in my purse for my own snackage.... I confess i became obsessed with crackers. my kids are all grown and i still can't leave home without my crackers.
This year I'm attempting to buy less packaged foods with all it's preservatives and additives and replace it with something more wholesome.  During the holidays the girls and I were doing some baking and i pulled out my Wilton Cookie Pro Ultra II cookie press.
I was excited to find a cracker recipe in the booklet that came with the press.  So we gave it a try..........................
Cute lil Christmas tree crackers for grand baby.... and meme....(thats me!!)
So now I'm into another batch of crackers.......Thought i would share this easy recipe with those of you who are wanting to ditch those store bought crackers
Cheese Crackers
1lb sharp cheddar cheese or aged Swiss or any other non processed cheese, grated
1/2 cup butter softened
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
dash of pepper sauce (optional) or can use red pepper flakes,
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1tsp paprika
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  In a med bowl, cream the cheese, butter, worcestershire sauce and pepper until smooth.  In separate bowl, toss flour and seasonings with fork.  Gradually add to cheese mixture.  Mix until dough holds together and shape into small logs to fit into cookie press tube. Or you can form into one ball to roll out thin if you are cutting with knife, or other source.
If using a cookie press, press them out onto ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake 10-12 min or until lightly brown, watch closely, then burn fast. Makes about 4 dozen.
This is what the dough should look like, I did the mixing by hand it was easier to work it and knead it until it was smooth.
I used fresh parsley, garlic powder, Parmesan cheese and rosemary instead of the hot pepper in these.  They were fun to make and much better for you.  Give it a try and use your imagination, let me know how they turned out and what ingredients you tried, to give it your own twist.
In my opinion, some of the foods on the market are loaded with so many fillers, im striving to change a few items in my pantry for better choices of wholesome foods.  Less additives and preservatives is this family's choice.