Garden Tips and Tricks! This one is such a great find!!!

  
Hats off to these people! 

I came across this YouTube video upon researching different weed control methods and the most effective and efficient ways to use them. 

When your a homesteader, you spend almost all day on your feet. Everyday tasks are rewarding yet sometimes overwhelming as there is just so much to do.

Everyone has a task or two that they just can’t stand doing. Maybe you hate washing the dishes. Maybe laundry isn’t your thing.

If you’re a fellow farmer or homesteader maybe you procrastinate when it comes to cleaning the coop.

For me… I can’t stand weeding the gardens.

I really can’t. I’d rather push mow all three acres 5 times over than weed the gardens.

I’ve tried so many different ways to keep the weeds out. Mulching. Mulching with straw. Buying different tools to take some of the strain off.

Whining like baby and just suffering through it….

Yep. That’s usually the method I go with.

So. I’ve decided to work smarter and not harder this year.

With the hens, the broilers, the pigs and the goats that will soon, all find their home here at the stead, I know that my time will be spread thin.

Luckily thanks to these wonderful people, I’ve found my solution!!  

Landscape fabric! At first glance this stuff seemed intimidating. Cutting holes to plant each seeding and figuring out proper irrigation seemed too daunting to deal with.

Their method takes this whole garden thing to the next level!

I can’t wait to test it out!

Watch their video here and get planning!!!  

    
  

Lemon Chicken Soup with Pearled Israeli Couscous 

  
This recipe is a must try!! It’s flavor is so bright and comforting, it just screams ‘spring is coming’! It really hit the spot on the homestead after a long day of hard work! 

It’s just about time to start the maple sugaring process! It’s below freezing at night and warm enough to open the windows during the day, which means the sap is running!!!  

 Before we can tap our gorgeous maples we must clean and sanitize all the buckets and spiles, lids and ladles. This can be time consuming but necessary before tapping any trees. 

I worked diligently to get this done. It’s so important to tap your trees at just the right time. Not too early as you run the risk of hurting your trees and not too late as you’ll miss out on that gorgeous light amber syrup you’ll get from properly timed sap. 

When I was all finished with this project, I couldn’t help but feel that spring is finally getting closer. I opened up more of my fist floor windows and got to cleaning. 

You know… That deep clean that leaves you feeling 10 lbs lighter after getting rid of winters dirt and dust.

A light and bright meal was just the thing we needed after that beautiful glimpse into a new season quietly knocking at our door. 

When I think of spring, I think of lemon. I just love the favor of lemon and the shinny punch it can add to a dish.

  
I often find its easiest to throw a chicken breast or two into the crock pot during the day. I let it cook on high for four hours with just a pinch of salt, pepper, paprika and seasoned salt.  

 
Add in 1/4 cup of water or chicken broth for added moisture and let it cook away.

When your ready to make this soup or any meal with chicken really, it’ll be there waiting, moist, perfectly cooked and ready to shred. 

Lemon Chicken Soup with Pearled Israeli Couscous|

30 minutes, serves 6-8

  • 2-3 c cooked and shredded chicken (slow cooked or rotisserie)
  • 1 box of pearled Israeli Couscous, cooked 
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 sweet onion, chopped
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 4 c chicken broth
  • 1/4 c parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tsbp chopped parsley

Cook the couscous per package instructions and set aside. 

Over medium high heat, sauté your onion in the olive oil for 3-4 minutes or until slightly translucent. Add in the garlic and lemon zest and whisk it around for another minute.

Next, add the chicken broth and give it a good stir.

Add your chicken and lemon juice to the pot.

Fluff up your couscous to prevent them from sticking to one another and then add it all in. 

Stir in your parmesan cheese, and give it a taste to see if you’d like any salt and pepper. 

Serve it with a garnish of parsley and maybe a bit more lemon.

If your anything like me, you’ll want another fresh squeeze! 

It’s so so good!!! 

    
 

Rich and Creamy Ham and Corn Chowder

 

threeacrehomestead

 
This chowder was the perfect fix this week! I’ve been fighting a nasty cold and of course when one person in the house is sick…everyone gets sick.

A warm, rich and comforting meal is exactly what we needed last night. 

Being that my girls stayed home from school, I had the whole day to tend to them, and scheme up some sort of warm reward for all of us sickies before heading to bed. 

I went to the freezer and pulled out a smoked ham. 

When we first picked up our meat from the smoker late fall we were excited to cook up a big ham dinner. 

To our surprise, the ham seemed overly salty and while we were grateful for our home grown ham we were slightly disappointed with the over powering salty flavor. 
We only opted to smoke the bacon (which is AMAZING) and a few picnic hams.

After one disappointing attempt I decided to rinse and then boil the ham this time around.

Once the ham was fully cooked, I sliced it up, using half for this recipe and saving the other half for ham salad to keep for lunches throughout the week. 

This chowder can easily be done with a simple ham steak, cubed, as well. 

I was so pleasantly surprised how rinsing and boiling the smoked ham  took away the overpowering salty bite… Leaving our farm fresh, yard to table ham tasting succulent and perfect in this creamy corn chowder!

Rich and Creamy Ham and Corn Chowder|

40 minutes, serves 6

  • 2 c cooked ham, cubed
  • 1/4 lb bacon, or pork belly, diced
  • 1 sweet onion, diced
  • 2 c red potato, diced
  • 1 c carrots, chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic chopped
  • 1/2 all purpose flour
  • 3 c milk
  • 1 chicken bouillon cube 
  • 2 c water
  • 1 c grated cheddar cheese 
  • 1/4 c grated Parmesan 
  • 1 can of whole kernel corn, or two ear cooked with corn cut from the cob
  • A pinch of salt and white pepper

This chowder is the perfect prep ahead meal! It was so nice and sunny yesterday… The windows were open, it was a balmy 38 outside after all, and I figured… Crank up the woods stoves, open up the hatches and get those germs out!  

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Dice up all your potatoes, onions carrots and garlic. 

In a heavy ceramic dutch oven, or whatever soup pot you prefer, fry up your bacon or pork belly over medium high heat. 

Once all that glorius fat has been rendered, spoon the the bacon bits out and save for another time…

Add your onions and carrots to the bacon grease and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper. 

Once translucent, add in the garlic. Cook for another minute or two.

Next add the flour. Toss to coat and cook the raw flour, stirring constantly for 1 to 2 minutes. 

Next add the milk, water and bouillon cube. 

Add your ham and potatoes…bring the chowder to a simmering boil.

Add your cheeses and stir until melted. Add the corn, stir and then cover.

Simmer on low for 30 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.

Stir every so often to be sure nothing is sticking to the bottom of your pot. 

This is a startchy dish after all. 

After the potatoes are tender, the broth should be thick and creamy.

Serve it up and enjoy!!! This is a soul satisfying meal! 

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Pan Fried Bone in Pork Chops with Fire Roasted Corn and Green Chilies

 

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Holy pork chops! These are divine! 

This is one of the simplest meals to make too! Another one of my pantry staples because, aside from the chops themselves, all you need is flour, oil, a couple of seasonings, canned corn and canned green chilies. All of which I keep on hand at all times.

I love meals like this. The pork comes out crispy on the outside and dripping with juiciness on the inside! They are so tender and flavorful.

The corn and chilies give it an extra pop of color and flavor. You really can’t go wrong with this one. 

Best part, it’s done in 15 minutes or less!!!

Pan Fried Bone in Pork Chops with Fire Roasted Corn and Green Chilies|

15 minutes, serves 4

  • 4, farm fresh, bone in pork chops, about 2lbs
  • 1 c flour
  • 2 tbsp kosher salt, divided
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp seasoned salt
  • 1/2 c – 1 c canola oil 
  • 1 can of fire roasted corn, drained 
  • 1 4.5 oz can chopped green chilies 

Season both sides of your chops with a sprinkle of salt, pepper and 1/2 of your seasoned salt. 

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For all 4 chops, heat your canola oil over medium high heat in a large cast iron skillet (or whatever you have on hand, I prefer cast iron).

Next mix your flour with a tbsp of your salt, more black pepper and the remaining seasoned salt. 

Dredge both sides of the pork chops. 

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 Place the chops in the thin layer of hot oil and fry for 4 minutes per side. 

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Meanwhile in a separate pan heat your corn and chilies together until hot and bubbly.

Plate your pork chops and let rest for one minute so the juices start to redistribute throughout the meat. Top with your corn and chilies and dig in!!!  

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These chops are seriously finger lickin’ good! 

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Homestead Essentials 

 

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This is our barn. 

The barn that houses so many of the essential tools we need to build our homestead and maintain what we’ve started.
Haste makes waste… This is one of the many lessons my grandfather has taught my husband and I. 

We find ourselves repeating this mantra often on the homestead. With so much to do day in and day out, it would seem easier to take a short cut every once and a while. 

You can’t rush things on a homestead. It’s important to do it right the first time so whatever project you may be working on is sure to last and last and in the end save you time. 

You can’t be hasty on the homestead. Things have a way of coming back to bite you when you rush.

There’s some beauty in that too…The time you take can not only teach you a lesson in patience but will teach you an appreciation for every mundane task you have as well.

For example… I can’t tell you how many times I would wake James up in the middle of the night saying “hunny I forgot to close the chicken coop!!!” 

 
I would rush rush rush to get all of my afternoon chores done so I could cook my family a meal and perhaps enjoy that rewarding glass of wine at the end of my day. 

James got sick of the haste and sick of getting out of bed at midnight to go close the dang coop. Trust me, don’t poke the bear is another manta in this house… He does whatever we need without hesitation but he does it, well…grumpily?

Is grumpily a word? My computer is not auto correcting me so I’m assuming it’s a suitable word here. And certainly is fitting for the bear protecting my hens at midnight. 

So when he finally had enough, he took his time and built this pulley system. 

 Brilliant! With just a few things we had around the stead, he made it so we can easily open and close the coop from inside our barn. 

No more going outdoors at midnight and the pulley is so easy it’s become a natural part of my evening routine. I rarely forget it now! 

There are so many wonderful, essential tools to have on your homestead. I’ve listed just a few of my favorites that have helped us out tremendously and has given us more time to conquer the next chore on the list!

1. The Kindling Cracker 

 This tool has been a life saver for me! 

Although we work to build a self sufficient lifestyle, James still travels quite a bit for his career away from the homestead, leaving me to do much of the farm work by myself. 

Funny enough, I actually bought this as one of his Christmas gifts this past year but it has served me most well because of the ease and safety it provides.

Chopping wood and kindling is not an easy task. We heat the majority of our house with 2 wood stoves. We actually have 4 fireplaces in this old house but I’m pretty sure it would be a full time job to run them all at once! 

The Kindling Cracker is so easy to use and takes the danger out of chopping wood. Check out a demonstration video here, just don’t mind the intense music in the background… Makes me giggle! 
 
2. The 5 Gallon Bucket 

 It may sound simple but having a good supply of 5 gallon buckets on the stead is absolutely essential!

I use them to bring extra water to the pigs and chickens. 

I plant herbs like mint, or other invasive plants, in the buckets to separate them from the rest of the garden.

They are helpful for storing different grains or shells the chickens will need for extra calcium. 

We use them during the slaughter process for any “extra parts” that will need to be taken away and disposed of. 

We use them to carry kindling to the indoor wood box.

They are perfect when the fruit trees are ready to harvest, and even great when collecting sap during maple sugaring season.

I could probably go on but you get the idea…These are a huge must have on any homestead.

3. Zip Ties 

 Anotjer simple yet essential tool.

We use these things more often than you can imagine… They are perfect for holding together a simple garden border to keep foragers away… 

 OR perfect for when a fence or protective netting may fall because of the weather or playful animals having a little too much fun.  

 They really are a smart thing to have on hand!
 
4. Good Boots 
 Proper foot wear may sound like a reach for this list but it is hands down one of my top essentials on any farm or homestead. 

We spend all day on our feet. Whether we are slopping pigs, weeding the garden or cleaning the coop- a bad shoe can ruin your day in an instant. Investing in good boots that will stand up to weather and wear is so important. 

   
5. Mason Jars 

 My ‘all things canning’ post will come at a later date but any homesteader should have a surplus of these jars on hand at all times!

I use them day in and day out. 

Aside from the typical canning process, we use them to store bacon grease, homemade vinegars, soaps, even refrigerator pickles and dilly beans.

They are so versatile and something I use almost everyday! Even all our drinking glasses are old Mason jars that I never bothered to buy new lids for! 

 Stock up! You won’t be sorry! 

 
6. Egg Cartons 

 This is pretty specific to those who raise chickens but I just can’t get enough. 

I never refuse old egg cartons from family and friends, and trust me… I end up using every last one!

If you have laying hens, don’t be scared to ask people to save their empties for you! Just be a good homesteader and give them back a full one to say thank you! 

7. The Food Saver 

 I know this may be a more hefty investment, but it is well worth it! We were able to process a large amount of our own meat and vacuum seal veggies that aren’t always can worthy.

There’s nothing better than fresh summer veggies in the dead of winter!  

 
8. 10 Gallon Drums 

   Similar to the 5 gallon bucket- perfect for grain storage and collecting rain water!

Research getting food safe drums to be sure no harmful chemicals within the drums will get into your feed or water supply. 

9. Food Scale

 
Lastly, and certainly not least is our food scale. This is such an important tool when canning and packaging meat. Even if we aren’t selling our product, it helps us to ration and label all that we preserve. 

It’s much easier to reach into the freezer and quickly read a tag that says 1lb ground venison, or 3lb pork roast, rather than guess the weight and have a recipe that’s too heavy or rather lacking what we should have thawed. 

I would reccomend a food scale to every homesteader out there. It truly eliminates waste and makes for a cleaner and more accurate product. 

So that’s my list of essentials for now! 

Make some of these investments- they will save you time and money in the end….

Soft and Chewy CocoChip Cookies

  Sometimes on the homestead you run out of everyday snacks and treats. Our goal has become not running out to the market everytime we crave a sweet or savory store bought treat.
Instead we look in the pantry and make something up! Making do with what we have.

In most cases, this turns out to be way better than any kind of artificial indulgence. 

Today was no exception. I’ve been fighting an awful cold and the weather has been -15 with wind chills down to -34!

Needless to say, we’ve been staying in as much as possible. 

I’ve been baking breads and making daily trips to the freezer, eating up the pork and venison that we are so lucky to have on weeks like this.

Last night I realized we didn’t have many sweets in the house and so upon waking up this morning I went straight to the pantry. 

Among the usual suspects, I came across some leftover coconut flakes from the coconut shrimp I fried up last week. 

I added them to my typical chocolate chip cookie recipe and oh my goodness did they turn out well!!

The coconut gives the cookie an unexpected texture that’s reminiscent of the Samoa cookies we try and only by once a year. 

Give this recipe a try! They are soft, chewy and oh so delicious! 

Soft and Chewy CocoChip Cookies|

30 min, makes 2 dozen

  • 1 stick of butter, slightly melted
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 1/4 c brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 c all purpose flour
  • 1/2 c chocolate chips
  • 1/2 c sweetened coconut flakes

Pre heat your oven to 350

In a stand mixer, combine the butter and sugars until smooth and creamy.

Add the egg and vanilla and mix till combined. 

Next add the flour, baking soda and salt. 

Once the dough has come together, add in the chocolate chips and the coconut.

Very lightly spray two cookie sheets with non stick cooking spray. 

Evenly space your dough using tablespoons of cookie dough on the sheet pans. 

I do 3 rows of 4 on each pan.

Bake for 9-11 mins.

I like to take mine out at 9 minutes and get them on a cooling tray immediately. This is how they stay soft and chewy!

  
Once cooled, but not cold, place in an air tight container or on a plate and covered with plastic wrap while they’re still sightly warm. 

Enjoy with milk and try not to eat the entire plate! They are soooooo yummy! 

    
 

Easy and Delicious 5 Ingredient ‘No Knead’ Bread

  I’ve grown pretty acustom to making breads once or twice a week here at the homestead. 
Especially during the winter when the pigs are in the freezer and not in the pen waiting for old bananas and eggs. 

I truly believe in that old saying, waste not want not. 

Typically, I buy a big bunch of bananas on a Sunday expecting I’ll have a few brown ones by Wednesday. My daughters can be pretty picky over browning fruit. 

They’ve never complained about my banana bread though! My husband begs me each week to make it.

Making other breads like focaccia or potato bread is my favorite way to use up eggs or potatoes on the verge of eyes.

This recipe for No Knead Bread, only requires 5 simple ingredients and tastes like you just went to the bakery! 

Get into the habit of making this super simple bread each week. Your family will love you for it! 

No Knead Bread|

3 hours, yields 2 loaves

  • 2 c  hot water
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • .25 oz packet of fast rise yeast
  • 4 c all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp kosher salt

 Start with 2 cups of hot water…not boiling or simmering water, but hot water.

To it, add 1 heaping tbsp of pure granulated sugar. Stir it a bit to dissolve. 

Next sprinkle a .25 oz packet of fast rise yeast over the water and sugar. 

 let it sit for 10-15 minutes until the yeast turns all foamy and magic like.

While your waiting, whisk together 4 cups of white, all purpose flour and 2 tsp’s of kosher salt. 

 Once the water and yeast looks foamy, pour it over the flour in a large bowl.  

 Mix it all together gently with a fork or a spoon till the dough has formed. This will only take a minute. 

 Cover the dough with a tea towel and set your timer for an hour and 30 minutes. Place the bowl in a warm place to rise. I put mine right next to the wood stove. 

Not too close! No accidents should occur during the making of this bread.

After an hour and a half the dough should have risen. 

 Punch it down once right in the center. 

 Then using a fork, scrape down the sides of the bowl folding the dough into the middle of itself.  

 Separate the the dough right down the middle and place into 2 well greased baking pans or loaf pans.  

  Cover them again with your tea towels and return them to that warm, happy place and let it rise again for 30 minutes.

Set your oven to 425.

After 30 minutes, place your loaf pans in the oven and bake for 15 minutes.

After 15 minutes reduce the oven temperature to 375 and bake for an additional 15 minutes.

When it’s all done…

I reccomend getting out the butter! 

   Slip the bread onto a cooling rack for 10 minutes or so and then, yay!!!! You just made two loaves of ridiculously good bread! 
    
 

Peanut Butter Lo Mein 

  This dish is so packed with yummy flavor! Oh my goodness! So good!

I find myself craving chinese food at least once or twice a month. Those salty, guilt filled cravings just happen. I rarely try and suppress them. I just go with it, indulge and exercise a bit harder the next day.

I do feel better however, when I’m able to recreate a common take out favorite here at home with vegetables I grew on the homestead and noodles made from scratch. This Peanut Butter Lo Mein is every bit as good (if not better) than the real deal. 

This lo mein is creamy, rich and packed with hearty vegetables. 

It has a salty punch to it which balances out the flavor of the peanutbutter perfectly.  

This dish is easy to make, although I admit, it does require a fair amount of ingredients. 

SO worth it, and in my opinion…why not build up your pantry? 

That’s one thing I truly believe in… A well st

Make this!  You’ll love it!
Start with fresh sweet onions, bell pepper, garlic, broccoli and parsley.  

 Saute them in 4 tbsp of butter with a tiny pinch of salt and pepper. The big salty flavor will come later on, from the soy sauce.  

 Be sure to start with the peppers and onions first, saute them for 3-4 minutes before adding the broccoli, garlic and half of the parsley.

Next add aji mirin, seasame oil, rice wine vinegar and soy sauce. Toss the vegetables to coat over medium heat. 

Next, add about 1/4 cup of creamy delicious peanutbutter. Stir it all together until the peanut butter is completely melted. 

Add a 1/4 cup of beef broth (chicken is fine too) and stir to combine. 

Add 1/2 lb of cooked spaghetti…I make fresh pasta… But boxed is great too! 

 Toss everything together and garnish with some more fresh parsley… 

     
This is fantastic served immediately, but holds up well in the crock pot too-on the warm setting. NOT LOW!

It’s a really great side dish to bring to a party or make an hour or two ahead of time at home, and focus on the next course.

Peanut Butter Lo Mein|

30 minutes, serves 6

  • 1/2 lb of fresh or dried spaghetti 
  • 2 bell peppers, sliced into strips
  • 1/2 a sweet onion, sliced into thin slices
  • 1 cup of chopped broccoli flowerets 
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 c parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 c peanut butter
  • 1/4 c soy sauce 
  • 1/4 c beef stock 
  • 1 tbsp aji mirin 
  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar 
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • A pinch of salt and pepper 

Saute the onions and peppers in the butter for 3-4 minutes. Add a pinch of salt and pepper.

Add the remaining broccoli, garlic and half of the chopped parsley. 

Cook for another 5 minutes. Add the soy sauce and oils. Stir to combine and saute for another 1-2 minutes. 

Add the beef stock and peanut butter. Stir until melted and incorporated with all of the vegetables and sauces. 

Toss your cooked pasta in with the vegetables and sauce.

Garnish with parsley, serve and enjoy!