Monday, November 30, 2015

Turkey soup - Wood Stove cooking


I love the turkey soup after the holiday. With the weather cold and rainy, what a perfect time to make soup.  In our house we like to use the wood stove as much as possible to cut down on the propane bill. Since the wood stove is heating the house it makes perfect sense to cook our meals right on top of the stove and make use of the generated heat.
Once familiar with how to regulate the heat, cooking on a wood stove is so easy and satisfying. 
Cooking on a wood stove is similar to cooking on an open fire while camping, but the heat is much more consistent and can be regulated easier.  For further instructions on cooking on a wood stove check a great source that I enjoy - look for  Issue #127 of 2011 Woodstove cooking by Cindi Meyers and Farm Folly
I allowed the turkey soup to cook all day while I cleaned house and completed my other chores. It works just as well as using a crock pot. Notice that the Dutch Oven I have in the pic is a footed oven. I use this over direct coals while camping or on the BBQ. For this recipe I like to use my flat bottom Dutch oven. The heat is direct and cooks better on a stove top.

Wood Stove cooking

Home made turkey soup on the wood stove

Turkey Soup on the Wood Stove.

Prep time:  30 min
Cook time 6-8 hours

I started with the bones from our families Thanksgiving turkey dinner. After carving the turkey, I like to split the back from the breast area and break into. I wrap the turkey and freeze for later use. I like to use the legs, wings, the neck skin and the breastbone area as well. The wings and legs give the soup a rich flavor. The back rib area has a lot of smaller bones to contend with, but normally has a lot of flavor from the remaining stuffing that is lodged between the ribs. 
** I used half the bones and used half as much water to fit in my Dutch Oven and to allow for a serving for two people with left-overs for another day. I kept the same portions of spices but reduced the amount of vegetables to serve two people.
The secret to a great soup is the stock.  A good stock depends on long slow cooking to extract every bit of flavor.  Use about two-thirds meat, one-third bone, and add vegetables and spices.
Ingredients for Broth
Bones from cooked 10- to 12-lb turkey

 3 quarts (12 cups) water

 1   teaspoon salt

 1/2 teaspoon pepper or about 6 pepper corns

 1/ 4 teaspoon dried sage leaves

 1 dried bay leaf 

1 sprig of Rosemary

  1  sprig  of  Thyme

  2-3 springs of parsley

  4-5 whole Allspice or whole Cloves

  1-2  cloves of garlic – crushed

  1  medium carrot

  ½ -1 onion quartered 

  1-2 medium stalks of celery chopped in half

 Soup Add Ins
1 cup chopped turkey meat
1 med sized carrot sliced and chopped
1/2 cup of frozen garden peas
1/2 cup of Basmati Rice Medley - Trader Joe's ( this is my favorite because it cooks up easy and is flavored with vegetable and is lightly spiced)

1 can of Cream of mushroom soup.
Start by
Crushung the garlic- Use the side of a large chef knife or you can use the flat side of a meat tenderizer to crush the garlic. By crushing the garlic, the garlic oils are able to escape and flavor the stock better than if left uncrushed.

 Fill your stainless steel or Dutch oven with about half the water.
Place the bones, vegetables and the herbs in the pot.  Add more
  water to cover and season with salt and pepper.

Place pot on the wood stove. The trick to cooking on a wood stove is to monitor the heat once in a while during the cooking. Just as you would watch your process in your on your kitchen stove.

Some wood stoves come with a temperature gauge. If not you can purchase one at a wood stove dealer. Ours is a disk that we can place on different parts of the stove top to measure the temperature. As you can see from the pic, our stove and temperature gauge has had a lot of use.
You want to put your pot at the hottest spot on the top of the stove and bring the stock to a boil, then move to a cooler spot on the back of your stove or cooler area on the stove or reduce the heat with less coals or wood. Let it simmer at low for at least 6-8 hours. Skim off any fat or foam from the stuffing and marrow now and then to help clarify the stock. You can adjust the temperature throughout the cooking time by adding more wood, or opening or closing the vents. You can also use a cooking trivet or a stove burner underneath the pot to help keep the pot contents from scorching.

The picture below is a great example -  from Farm Folly- Check out their
How to Cook on a Woodstove at   

Back to the Turkey Soup

After the soup has simmered for a good 6  hours or so and you have a good stock built up-

you want to remove the pot from the stove and place it on the counter on some heavy pot holders.  Remove all the ingredients and strain; place the bones in a separate bowl. Discard the vegetable and herbs unless you have another use for them, we save ours to give to our chickens and rabbits.

Let the stock broth and the bones cool. You can place them in the refrigerator to help cool faster. When carcass is cool enough to handle, pull off any meat and set side. Skim off any fat from the stock broth. 

Add stock back to pot; add meat from the bones and the remaining turkey set aside in the refrigerator.  Add the carrot, peas, rice and can of cream of chicken soup. Cook on a higher heat until rice is done. Serve with biscuits or corn bread.


Monday, November 2, 2015

Aprons A tradition in homemaking

Aprons -  Tradition that is still holding true

   I am excited to see that this tradition still holds true and that a new generation is now embracing the idea of aprons.   I want to share this from Blue Belle Farms Nouveau. Her aprons are wonderful. Such classic designs and color combinations. How wonderful it would be to slip one of these over your head and prepare that favorite dish of yours. It reminds me of a time not too long ago-

   The fall weather will soon turn to winter and the holidays will be upon us.  This is the time that I remember with the kitchens of my family filled with wonderful smells.  For my mom, it was the time to gather all the dried fruits and prepare her favorite fruitcake.  Mom’s has always been the best; moist, and full of fruits, and with a small taste of whisky that she would soak the cake in. My grandma loved baking her cookies and candies, they were always the hit with all us kids.  My one Aunt was busy “Putting Up” (canning) the summer crops this time of year, while my other two aunts were busy making their brown bread for the holidays or their favorite jello concoction; dazzling with fruits or vegetables, suspended in the glistening colored jello.

When the holidays came around, all the women would be in the kitchen working to prepare the holiday dinner. Each one of them would have an apron on so not to spoil their holiday outfit.  These aprons were more than just a cover to protect their clothing; it was a statement of style and function, each lady having several for each occasion and duty to perform.

I have my grandmother’s utility apron that looks more like a large child’s paint smock with large pockets in the front and full body coverage. It is stained with every imagined and tattered with holes. It was her canning and everyday cooking apron, but it is still very precious to me..  She had several others for different functions, like her gardening smock and sewing apron to name a few.  My mother had several everyday ones; I remember a pretty blue and white one with red trim, and of course she had her holiday dress-up aprons that didn’t serve any purpose in protecting the clothes, consisting only of a sheer chiffon crepe, decorated with ribbons, glitter, and that favorite holiday motif. It was for show only. She would tidy her hair and slip into this one right before serving the main course and presenting it in grand stature.

Aprons were such an American symbol of womanhood; it went along with the Apple Pie they baked while wearing them.  It represented the hard work they put into every meal and the chores they performed on a daily bases. I am proud to wear mine while working in the kitchen or in the yard. 

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Fall is Here

Fall is here on the hilltop. This is my favorite time of year. I love the warm days and cooler nights. Fall to me is a busy time of year.

In the early days of fall, the Valley is filled with busyness; the corn and alpha fields are being cut. Long rows of corn diminish  down to small squares and then empty fields of stubble. The alfalfa lies in nice neat rows drying out before being bundled with the sweet smell of the freshly cut stalks lingering in the morning air. Soon anticipation for the nut harvest begins. Ranchers checking for readiness and watching the forecast warding off any possible rain, waiting for that perfect day to knock the nuts. They work endlessly preparing the hullers, shakers and sweepers.

Produce trucks are seen carrying a variety of loads; first the summer tomatoes, melons, corn, then the nuts to the hullers; finally the winter squash and pumpkins are on board for their journey to the markets, while golden pears and red pomegranate so dangle in the trees like Christmas ornaments.

And so it goes all season long; long into the lingering warm days and into the cooler nights, by moon light they harvest.

Even too, the animals are busy... the squirrels gathering what was been left behind of the nuts in the valley orchards and the acorns in the foothills. The first Canadian geese fly over head, right above our house they pass every year. In the morning I can hear them honking as they go by, sometimes they fly so low I can hear their wings flutter in unison, as a well orchestrated drill team, moving smoothly together without missing a beat.

Soon the season will turn, and the low hum of the harvesters and hullers
will become quiet, the fields barren, and the trees dormant. All that will remain is the memory of the warm summer days and thankfulness of yet another year's harvest.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Day Dreaming

The fog this year has been so bad.  For days on end it seems it has been damp and drizzly. My mind wanders to bright days of sunshine and flowers.  I can’t seem to focus on my tasks that I am doing-

I envision myself sitting in my vegetable garden planting seeds and early starts, listening to the chirps of the sparrows and chickadees, watching as the newly wed couples house shop the many bird houses that I have in my yard. I see myself chuckle at their conversation between which houses seems best for their new family.  A papa chirps excitedly while showing with pride his great find to his new wife.  She enters the house and then a moment later peaks her head from the hole – a series of chirps escape her and their conversion becomes loud and complicated.  The mamma flies out and then soon he pops in while she sits atop of the roof of the chosen house. Soon he appears again from the hole and flies out with a few loud chirps. They both go flying off – obviously the house did not suit her fancy.  It doesn’t take long before another couple scope the house out and the whole dance of house hunting begins again.  Maybe this couple will find the house most appropriate.

As my hands work diligently on the coming season’s creations – I realize that I should be focusing my attention on my craft and be considering new ideas for my products; but here I still slide back into my spring yard thinking of the many pants and vegetables that I want to cultivate this year. Yes; I think, I will plant my old favorite heirlooms and add a few other new varieties this year.  I try to always plant something new and different that I haven’t tried before.  Last year it was a Red leaf Sorrel – I was so surprised that I really like the flavor added to my salads and to my sandwiches. They did quite well and have survived this mild winter.

Again my mind wanders, this time to what I can plant in my front yard below my large window – I haven’t had much luck there I remember – the soil is too sandy and drains to fast, plus it gets a lot of sun.  I will have to add some organic compost and some manure to help condition the soil. This I should do soon so that it has time to sit and develop.  Sun flowers would be nice- or maybe I can start with some early spring peas. Peas are always nice to add to an early garden. They provide nitrogen to the soil which summer plants need. That would be a good thing I think – I plan for the coming week to hit up my favorite nursery and purchase their great organic soil conditioner and pick up some starts.

Since I cannot find Muscat raisins in the store to make my favorite breads and cookies – I will look to see if they have grape starts. It may take two to three years to produce some fruit from them, but it will be well worth the wait. My husband wants to try a few new varieties of blue berries and we need more strawberry plants as well. Maybe some pansies and snap dragons to add color- Oh, I must check my seed drawer and see what seeds I have left from last year-

 My spirit becomes excited as I think of all the possibilities. Somehow the dreariness of the day seems to fade and I can only see sunshine and feel the warmth of the freshly turned soil beneath my bare feet.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Season's Cold, Old fashion remedy for the Common Cold with Natural Ingredients

How to help fight that Common Cold with a homemade mixture of natural ingredients.

With all the hustle and bustle of the holidays and shopping in crowded stores, it is almost inevitable that one will come down with a cold. This holiday season, my family had come down with the nasty bugs that have been going around. We normally get together for the holidays, but this holiday season we all have been sick at different times that we haven’t been able to get together as of yet.

I came down with a nasty head cold the week before Christmas. My head was all stuffed up and my throat raw.  I came home on the Friday before Christmas and made myself some tea. I like using licorice spice tea because licorice is a natural demulcent: soothing sore throats and can be used as an expectorant; according to University of Maryland Medical System.  Other good teas that I like to use are lemon and orange herbal teas. The lemon and orange peels add vitamin C to the teas.  I then added raw honey and cinnamon to help in the healing process.  Within three days of drinking 3-4 cups of tea with added cinnamon and raw honey; gargling with warm water, sea salt and one drop of tea tree oil; I had begun to lose the symptoms of the head cold. By the fourth day I was feeling 80 to 90% better. I also added a few bay leaves and a couple cinnamon sticks to my teapot on our wood stove. This allowed humidity into the air in the home with the benefit of aiding my nasal passages.  

I can say I will do this again at the first symptoms of a cold coming on. As I am not a doctor, I am not recommending that you should act on this if you have a cold. Everyone is different and can experience different results; but it is worth looking into the benefits of these natural ingredients. It is worth checking out how simple natural products can benefit your health. See below some of the links that I have discovered about the benefits of raw honey, cinnamon, and tea tree oil.