Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Taking Turkey Time to a whole new level.

If you know me you will know that I have a pretty addictive personality.  Or I like to consider myself passionate.  When I do something I do it full force.  Often becoming so focused I have tunnel vision.  In a conversation if you bring up one of my addictions you will quickly see my eyes light up and my mouth start running, spewing all the sheer excitement I have pent up.  The problem is not many people that I come in contact with have these same addicitons so it is not long before I see the glaze come over their eyes and I snap back into reality that, 'no Amy no one really wants to hear about your issues'.  Then my ingrained manners kick in and I say, "so what have you been up to?"

It is pretty much the social norm when a woman is addicted to shopping.  Going on the hunt for that perfect fitting pair of jeans for the right price is not unheard of but pretty common.  So if I simply state that my addiction is shopping it sounds much better but when I am completely honest and say I am addicted to shopping for rock bottom prices on produce, meat and groceries it makes me sound a bit coo coo.  Well what if I said I was addicted to buying turkeys?  What will that make me?  It is true.  I have bought not one, not two, not 3 but 4 turkeys and not one of them is being served on Thanksgiving.  We are traveling to visit family for Thanksgiving this year so I am not responsible for the bird for the first time in a long time.

Meijer is having this crazy deal on turkeys and if you are smart crazy like me you are able to get a 16 lb turkey for $3.  That is 18 cents a lb!!  This excites me way too much!  So I have purchased turkey after turkey which means then I have to do something with all these birds too, right!  A friend and I have dismantled 3 so far and have ground, boiled, canned and frozen many pounds of poultry the last few days.

Next week I will be doing 2 more birds.  Mostly grinding with some canning and freezing involved.  I do the same thing with produce in produce season, with gardening and the Amish produce auction.  Buying mass amounts of produce and canning and freezing.  It is my way of contributing to the family and I take it so seriously it is probably not healthy.  I was recently called lazy and unimaginative by someone who does not know me.  I would love for that person to come spend a day at my house and see if they change their mind.  Crazy, passionate, intense, reactive, opinionated with an addictive personality that I am.  Lazy?  HA

Have a very happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Jalapeno popper balls

Sorry it is a bit late but maybe you chopped some of those prolific peppers and froze them.  Here is something to do with them.  I typed this up a while ago.  Not sure why I never posted it.  I have been MIA for a while but I really hope to be better about keeping up.  I have some great posts in the works.  Making the time to get them on here is the bigger challenge.

Have jalapenos and don't know what to do with them?  I have made the traditional poppers in the past and we enjoy them but with the variablness from pepper to pepper alot of time the peppers are just too hot.  We like some heat but homegrown jalapenos can be over the top.  So I came up with this idea as a way to control the amount of heat.  We made a few to try it out and not only were they amazingly yummy but they were easier to make.  It is sometimes hard to get an even breading coating over the shiney side of the peppers and it was messy trying.  But with the balls they coated evenly and easily.

          12 ounces cream cheese, softened
          1 (8 ounce) package shredded Cheddar cheese
          1 tablespoon bacon bits
          12 ounces jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
          1 cup milk
          1 cup all-purpose flour
          1 cup dry bread crumbs
          2 quarts oil for frying

  1. Put the milk and flour into two separate small bowls. Dip the  balls first into the milk then into the flour, making sure they are well coated with each.
  2. Dip the balls in milk again and roll them through the breadcrumbs and repeat into the milk then breadcrumbs.
1. In a medium bowl, mix the cream cheese, Cheddar cheese and bacon bits and minced jalapeno. Form into 1 inch balls. 

2. Put the milk and flour into two separate small bowls. Dip the balls first into the milk then into the flour, making sure they are well coated with each.  

3.    Dip the balls in milk again and roll them through the breadcrumbs and repeat into the milk then breadcrumbs.

4. In a medium skillet, heat the oil to 365 degrees F ( 180 degrees C). Deep fry the coated jalapenos 2 to 3 minutes each, until golden brown. Remove and let drain on a paper towel.      

Finished product!  MMM...mmmm..mmmm

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

What is value?

Is value interpretive?  Is it cut and dry?  Black and white?  Or is it all perspective?  I am talking of all things within God's laws and values.  I am talking about good things.  Good things to do with your life, your time, your energy, your love.  Is there a good, better, best?  I think I find my value in some very different areas than most.  I think it is safe to say I have NEVER gone with the flow.  Or fit in any where or at any point in my life.  And I have devoloped into a woman that is very much that way.  I am not the 'typical' woman persay.  I don't love shopping or shoes or care to have a career or like to watch reality t.v.  Though I do enjoy a good mani, pedi session and getting dressed up and having a night out.  So I feel like there is some balance in my life.  But on the day to day I find value in saving money, feeding my family healthy, making as much from scratch as possible, staying at home and taking care of my children.  In my mind "a penny saved is a penny earned" and if I can save my family money that money is just as good as the money I could make out in the 'real' world.  But actually it is even better because I get to be here for my children, have a relationship with them, have time to spend with my children and husband, I know where my food is coming from, what goes into it and that it didn't come from the freezer section at the grocery store.

I grow my garden, have a milk goat and raise some turkeys for meat.  It isn't much though it is alot of work I know there are those that do more but they usually either have a husband that helps or older children that do.  So for one person I do as much as I feel like I can at this phase of my life without completely interrupting the balance.

But what happens when God unites you for all of your life with someone that just does not have that same value system, what ever that value system may be?  When the one person you love and live with does not support or even remotely find value in those same things.  When for them going and working a job is more valuable than any of those things.  That having a pay check and making the neccesary sacrifices that go along with that pay check is the only thing that will make them happy.  I feel I am confronted constantly with this problem.  I then feel I am confronted with a decision that needs to be made.  Do I do that which I value or that which the other person values?  Is there a happy medium?  Or is it just black and white?  These are questions of which I do not posses the answers.  These are questions that I don't know if there really is a 'right or wrong' answer.  If there was I would have made it.  On the outside looking in one might be able to come up with a reasonable solution but without all the ins and outs of the matters you probably cannot see the stalemate I feel I am in.

I had a person once tell me that  "I was just lucky to have found the perfect person and to have had a successful relationship".  This person has obviously never been in a relationship with one person for over a decade.  Or they in their ignorance would have surely learned by now that there is no such 'luck'.  There are no perfect people.  There is no one that is 'the one' that will forever into eternity make your life complete and utter bliss.  Those fairy tales are for the books.  The reality of it is that relationships are hard, they include, sacrifice, selflessness, forgiveness, mercy and even the depths of dispair at times.  They are not always beatiful and probably more ugly than most would like to admit.  BUT if you can do those things, not in perfection but even some of the time there are true moments of beauty that make their way to the surface.  And for those moments we continue on and try harder and do better and sacrifice and forgive and make those hard choices.  Because you know that you too will require those same things granted to you and when it is returned that is when the beauty truely shines.  And I guess that is my real answer.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Sorry birds. No Vaccancy!

Weeding the garden one evening this little guy gave me a scare.  He is such a cute bugger and he gave my husband and I good laugh. 

Just hanging out on his front porch on a nice evening.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Spring time in my back yard!

Spring time in my back yard means;

                                                            Farm fresh milk...mmm.

Oregano, chives, basil, lavender, dill, thyme, sage...

Tiny tomato plants

vining peas

tender lettuce


curious baby goats

                                                                       Ornery Mama goats

cuddly kitties

shedding winter coats

fluffy pony faces

sniffy little noses

tender little blue eyes.

Hungry chubby horeses

shaggy little ponies

irresistable little faces

pretty purple flowers

tire swings and the setting sun

pony rides

fun with friends

and meeting new furry friends

gorgeous days

life long memories

hide and seek in fields

and much much more....

A long over due update.  This is for you Esther :).  Spring time here is busy but this year I purposely made life a little less hectic.  It is just not the year for me to over do it.  Ha that was well done last year.  I didn't start any of my seeds and wimped out bought plants.  We have lettuce, spinach, onions and peas all growing great right now which were all started in the ground.  We have lettuce and spinach with almost every meal right now and it is yummy.  Herbs are coming in nicely and if you were close I would gladly give you starts of oregano and dill since they are very abundant.  Some tomatos are in the ground but I also need to get the rest of them, peppers, brussel sprouts and cucumbers in the ground.  Once again like last year we had a cold start to spring which turned into weeks and weeks of rain and more cold then as soon as the weather snapped it went from that to now we are hanging around high 80's 90's.  Not great planting weather unless you have nothing else to do but get up early and put in a garden, ha, if only my life was that simple.

We had some friends from college days come by the farm for a visit with their 3 adorable, sweet children.  We spent the day together chatting, going to the amish store, going on pony rides, chasing baby goats, cooking and eating.  It was such a blessing to have them.  Esther is such a sweet and transparent person that is just easy to get along with and I am so glad that after all these years we reconnected.

It has been a while since I last updated and not only have we had 4 baby goats since then but they are all sold and only one is still awaiting to be picked up by his new family.  Bubbles had quads this year!!  One was not alive when we found them that sunday morning before church.  She successfully raised all three that were left.  Now with only one still here I am getting milk agian!  I am getting about 1 quart when I milk once a day.  Early next week the last baby should be picked up and I will be getting 2 quarts a day, yumm.  That not only means plenty of the best milk you will ever taste but it also means CHEESE :).

I made the decision to not raise turkeys this year :(.  I know I will miss that delicious meat come fall and we will miss having them around the farm this year but I just needed to simplify things a bit for now.  I am going to be gone for about 3 weeks over the summer and it is alot to ask of someone to care for all the animals and then to add more on to that just seemed too much.  Even as I type I am still not 100% decided about this but as of right now we don't have any chickies.

Spring and summer are times that we really get to enjoy having horses.  We are not the type to have pasture pets or hay burners.  If we own them they will be put to work or good use.  Even if their jobs is just to give us pleasure or enjoyment they must do their job.  We ride them alot.  We went on a fabulous trail ride and if you want to see some videos from my new helmet camera from that ride just head over to my other blog and check them out.  It was great fun!  Though not without its scary moments but it was over all an amazing ride with my two older girls 6 and 8 and my Dad. 

I think that brings you pretty much up to date. Happy spring!!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

It's my blog I can cry if I want to!

My mind has been in deep thought lately and I am finding it hard to bring myself out of it.  There is one word that keeps coming to mind, content.  I am finding it nearly impossible to be content.  Not with money or things, those kind of things mean very little to me and would give it all away if it were for the good of my family and others.  I could live in a shoe box house and be fine.  It would take some adjusting but I would be fine.  I have been blessed and am happy with what I have.  I am happy with the husband God gave me, the children he blessed us with, the home we own and the life we live.  Those things are not or are ever in question.  I live a good life and enjoy it to the fullest.

The contentment that I struggle with comes from a very different place.  It involves where we have been placed and the people that are in our lives.  Not only the family(extented) that we were given but the friends that have been in our lives.  I probably spend too much time in my life wondering and contemplating the state of these relationships considering the other parties seem to care less.  See things don't matter to me but people that is a different matter.  I love people, I love to be with people I love to have people in our lives.  Now the people that matter most is my husband and children they are a constant and loving relationship that I value beyond measure.  I feel they are first and foremost in my heart, mind and life, so nothing or no relationship can put those relationships in jeopardy or it will quickly be dismissed.

My first issue of contentment is with family.  These are the people in our lives that we have not choosen.  The ones that God gave us.  We live 3 1/2 hours from our nearest relative so involvement in our lives I guess you can say is limited.  If for no other reason simple distance is the cause.  But with the technology today involvement can take on many different forms.  It could be traveling to be phyiscally present or phone conversations to be involved in the happenings, or facebook to communicate or even skyping.  The options seem limitless on the ways one can be "present" in anothers life.  But it seems that those avenues are rarely utilized and for the most part the occassional monthly or every other month few minute phone call is the extent of involvement.  And with most family members not even that is the case.  The once or twice a year visit is all that exists in the relationship.  I can tell you from the family members perspective that is far away this can be tough to deal with.  You see your children growing up and grandparents seemingly content missing almost the entire process.  Aunts and Uncles that the children don't recognize for lack of involvement.  Cousins that just don't know each other.  In all of this I feel like the odd ball because it seems I am the only one who even gives a rats ass about the situation and lack of relationship.  So for the most part I keep quiet.  I have approached the subject on a few occassions but with little to no acknowledgement or change.  So I attempt to keep in touch but often find myself sucking back from the relationship with the mindset that "if they don't care, then why do I?".  I mean if you are the one always putting in the effort in, any relationship can be tiring and hurtful and I have found I could only sustain that type of relationship for a certain amount of time.  So if I were asked to define most of the relationships between my family and our other family members it would be, distant, uninvolved and hurtful.  Maybe the yearly Christmas letter is enough involvement for them?  It is like they want to veiw our lives from the outside but have no desire to be a part of it.  Then I find myself becoming defensive of our life and feel if you don't want to be involved then why should you get know what goes on in it?  I feel like they enjoy hearing and knowing of us like we are in a fish bowl.  People to be entertained by but not a part of.  This situation at times I have become accustumed too and just cope with it and at others it tears at my heart and I yearn for grandparents to really know my children and interact with them more than the occasional token visit.  For ones that though they may not be present on a daily basis but still find a way to show they care.  I wish that it couldn't be months that go by without as much as a phone call or card or anything.  That they actually had an ongoing relationship with their grandchildren.  Maybe I am asking for too much and I probably am I just have a hard time imagining someday not really knowing or even caring about my children and what goes on in thier lives.  The whole situation just breaks my heart.  I think it is made worse by the fact that I see how the same grandparents interact with other grandchildren.  Knowing that Grandma always makes cupcakes for one to take to her class on her birthday and that another is taking their grandchild to a museum because they just want to see their face as they see the dinasour exhibit.  Why cannot I not just be content without those things?  Why do I wish those same grandparents wanted to see my childrens faces as they light up with excitement or comfort them when they are sad?  Maybe they do care but it is hard to know someone cares when they really have very little to do with your life.  I need to learn to be content without those things and know that we will make it and our kids will be happy, healthy adults without those things/people but sometimes it is easier said than done to just let it go.

Then their is friendships or a connection with where we are and maybe the two things combined is what makes it all the more hard.  When we moved here over 6 years ago we didn't know a soul and it was tough.  We had no one.  We were in a new area with a toddler, a baby on the way, in new house and a new job. All hard things to deal with and adjust to and it was all at one time.  We struggled and went through some of the hardest time in our lives getting through it.  But really that was to be expected.  It is almost like we had a good excuse to why we were struggling.  But now 6 years later we have made "friends" we have attempted to get involved and connected to those people, groups and the area.  But is seems that almost everyone in our lives have come in and left.  We(my husband and I) can say we feel no more connected to where we are than we were 6 years ago.  Maybe we are not the only ones who struggle with this but it feels like we are.  It seems everyone has their family or life long friends that are in their lives and they know will always be there.  I have two people out of everyone in our lives that I know if I called them day or night they would be there to help in any way possible.  I am grateful for those two people and am glad they are a part of our lives but sometimes it hard to not feel guilt about always having to call on those two people.  That those two people are the only ones you can depend on.  To me it seems like a big burden to place on just two people.  But there have been many people that I thought would always be a part of our lives that have for some reason just "disappeared" from it.  I mean they are still there but not in our lives.  The kind of "friends" that you considered to be more like family.  That you invited to kids birthday parties and family gatherings.  Then you stop recieving invites to their birthday parties and gatherings and I soon get the hint that we will be taking on a new place in thier lives.  Maybe it was something I did or something about me that drives people away but I would think that if our realationship was important that I would at least be given chance to make things right.  But that was not the case and pretty much distance was put between us.  Not the physical distance that seems to be the challange with family because we live very close in proximity but emotional distance with little to no involvement.  I have way too many friendships that have happened this way and they can go back all the way to my best friend when I was 19 years old.  You know the kind of friend that you are inseperable.  Then one day you realize they are putting you at a distance.  I go to her to try to see if I had done something or if we could make things right and after the conversation you realize that anything I do will not change the fact that they just don't want you in thier life anymore.  Ouch it hurts and it took me years to get passed that relationship but I have seen it happen over and over again and I have to wonder if I am the common denominator in each relationship?  I don't know but I do know that I never stop caring and I would  be willing to fix the broken relationship but often are not given that chance and the relationship fades to the type that if you happen to bump into eachother at the grocery store you are kind and ask how the family is and then you part ways.  Sad.

Then on a little lighter side it feels like the area we live in is a black hole.  If you meet anyone when you first move here the conversation goes like this, "are you from here?", "no we just moved here".  The response is always the same, "WHY???".  Whether they are people who were born and raised here or are transplants themselves they all say the same thing.  Surely that is not a good sign.  Now I can see what they mean.  The area really has nothing to offer.  The landscape is terribly boring completely flat and all farm land.  The statistic are depressing with the highest droppout rate, teen pregnancy and divorce rates in the state.  The economy is just sad.  No jobs, poverty and poor school systems.  There is just not much to speak of at all.  And you are hard pressed to find an upside.  To make matters worse we moved here for my husbands job which since has changed and now he doesn't even work in the state.  His sales territory starts about 40 miles from here and goes about 150 miles out from there.  I find myself asking daily why we live here and I cannot come up with a good answer.  It is pretty much that picking up and moving doesn't seem easier of the two options with projects in the house needing finished and the housing market the way it is.  We would also need to move farther away from family but really I don't think that is going to make a difference considering how involved they are at this distance.  I mean could it really get worse??

I want to be content with those relationships or I want to be given the chance to make them right or maybe I just want someone else to care.  I don't know but I do know that I wish I had peace about all of it.  Sometimes I want to just start over.  Leave where we are and start again.  If only that was the easy way out!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Soaps and Bonbons.

I had my first two days working outside the home in almost 8 years this week.  This is a hard transition for me for my heart is at home.  Doing the work of the home.  Caring for my children, teaching them, gardening, cooking, cleaning, barn work, yard work and even the finances.  I made it my lifes work to keep my home running and hopefully running well.  Perfect?  No, but well.

Funny thing is it took me years to learn to love the job of staying at home.  If you pursue any job you recieve training.  I mean I got a job at a truck stop and they require me to take 10 different courses and not to mention the training I have to recieve on the floor to learn the ropes.  And this is for a job that is well, kind of the bottom of the barrel kinda job.  But staying at home is something you are thrown into and expected to float kinda thing.  It is a career that requires self motivation, organizational skills, management skills, self dicsipline, manual labor, relational skills, financial planning and budgeting.  It is a highly demanding and requires a great amount of abilty.
You get almost no recognition for the work you do.  And there is almost no immediate gratification and definitely no monetary compensation..  You have to juggle about 5 things at all times and with a smile as to not show those little impressionable people that are at your feet that mommy is sad, stressed, frustrated or angry.

Yet it is thought of as lazy and ambitionless to take on the role of a stay at home wife/mother.  Thought that you must spend your hours at home watching soaps and eating bonbons.  Who eats bonbons anyways??  I will admit I spend time thoughout the day online and occasionally will turn on the t.v.  But I do not have the luxury of any other job where you can clock in and clock out.  My lunch break usually consists of grabbing a bite of food here and there while I am making lunch for ever-hungry kids.  There is no time clock or required break times.  You are on duty 7 days a week all day and on call even at night.

There is also no water cooler conversations and rarely interaction with other adults.  And sometimes the loneliness can still get overwhelming.  Though I have learned to cope with it better.  It is lonely, stressful and neverending work load that gets little to no respect or thanks.  But the most important job that exsists.  We are shaping the hearts and minds of the next generation.  One's who will be the next president, CEO's and fill all those "important" jobs that will need filling someday.

I wish that the mentality toward the stay at home parent will change and it will get the much deserved respect it deserves someday but there are advocates for every group or sect out there but the reason you see no advocates out there for this minority group is because we are too busy catching up on soaps and eating our bonbons!!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Boiling Mania

We had a free weekend and I would like to say we chose to boil but with approximately 80 gallons of sap we didn't really have a choice.  We need to get this stuff moving.  Living on a farm and not having an never ending bank account I think it is absolutely eccential.  I wanted to boil using wood this year to save money and for effiency.  It turned out that efficiency was the biggest challange.  We are extemely happy with our collection method.  It is efficient and reliable and best of all CHEAP!  For boiling I planned to use a woodburnng stove that just happened to be laying in our garage with no home.  So Saturday started out with two very large pots on top of the stove in the back yard.  After hours of working at a hot fire and still no hard boil frustrations started to set in.  We kept at it since we already had the fire going but it was very slow going.  By the end of the night we ended up with all of about 1 2/3 cups of syrup.

But sitting there watching the pot boil, literally, I had alot of time to think about how to correct this problem.  I planned up my scheme and got the husband to agree to give assistance the next day to make it happen.  This guy gives me the hardest time about some of these things that I do but he sure does work hard to make it all happen for me!  So today we had to wait until after church and lunch to get things going but the plan was to take off the top of the stove and get a more direct heat to the pots.  This is what our boiling system ended up looking like.

You can see how great of boil we got with this.  I am very pleased.

That is my seat in front of the stove.

I have one word, efficient!  And that is what we needed.  If I wasn't so exhausted my excitement about my ability to set it all up and make it work word come through my post but I am just getting through this post in a daze.  Between constant keeping up with the fire, wood splitting, animal chores, and family duties, and considering it is midnight and I still have a few gallons of sap boiling outside, I am spent!  At the end of two days we have a total of 6 cups of syrup.  Most of which were from today and we only got in a half day of boiling.  So things should move along better now with our "system".

And just for kicks here is this lovely guy I was telling you about.  I think he might  be going a bit

Monday, March 7, 2011

Sap update...and other various ramblings from the farm.

It has been 5 days and we have collected about 60 gallons of sap.  We have pulled out all the stops in containers to keep it all in but so far we have adequate storage.  Between rubermaid totes and all my canning pots we are in good shape.

I also hope to be able to give a photo update on things around the farm now that the ground is not covered in snow.  Though now the snow has turned to mud.  It just doesn't give that cute homesteading farm feeling but it is reality I guess.  I have a 1 year old Louise that is as cute and sweet as ever, a very pregnant Bubbles who is actually sweeter than normal (I think the pregnancy hormones are effecting her).  And some very fluffy horses to show you all.

Chick days are started at the local feed store and I was checking them out.   I am a little tempted to get some of those little fluff balls but this year have decided to hold off until a little later.  May possibly.  Last year I think I got them in March and they were ready so early and with the unpredictable weather we still get in april early may when it was time for them to head out doors it was still too cold.  Oh and we have the turkey tractor situation to figure out.  This is what I want.  Though I am not sure if it will be what I get.  I don't want to spend an arm and a leg but I also don't want to build something cheaply and have to rebuild every year or two.  But this thing would be fabulous.  As long as the weight was doable to be pulled by the 4-wheeler.

Work on the farm is never done and at times it is overwhelming and thoughts of an easier life take over.  But it is a good feeling using your hands to make, grow and raise all you and your family need.  Not that we are there yet but each year we get closer and closer.

Well oh my stars and garters!

Did I hear that correctly?  Are my ears playing tricks on me?  Did my husband just say, "I will plant the garden"?  Don't get me wrong my husband is a wonderful husband and father but in the years I have known him I have seen him spent a total of 5 minutes in the garden all added up and that is the trips he made over the edge to grab cherry tomatoes off the vine.  I have to give him the credit he deserves he is not the every day nitty gritty get involved with out door chores but he IS the nuts and bolts of this operation.  You can see him here  building a cold frame.  Not to mention the animal enclosures and garden boxes he has assembled.  He is muscule that picks up lumber and compost and other various items for all of it.  So it could not be done without him.  But he has never been a willing partner in the planning, planting, harvesting, weeding end of the garden.  Shhhhh I think I may be winning him over to this whole lifestyle ;).  So he offered to plant and no I would not expect him to go out and plant the whole thing by himself but it will be the extra push I needed to get motivated this year and to have a partner to share the load.  It also means that he finds value in all the work that I do.  So much so that he is willing to help me continue it on a year I am struggling to keep up.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Lazy woman's bread part 5: bagels.

This recipe is slightly different but the nice thing about making this recipe is that is is good for bagels but you can also use it for any of the other recipes I have posted so far.  So if you ask me, make these couple changes and use this as your stand by.

So for this everything is the same as to how you make the dough except a couple ingredients and amounts.  So you can look back here for the "how to" and use these amounts and ingredient changes.

Ingredients for dough

3 cups luke warm water
1 1/2 T granulated yeast (2 packets)
1 1/2 T kosher salt
1 1/2 T sugar
6 1/4 flour

Prepare dough as I showed you in the first post in this series.  After your dough is done and refridgerated this dough can be used for any of the previous breads along with bagels, soft prezels, bilays.

Depending on how "dense" you want your bagels  you can give them the 20 minute rise time or  form them then immediately boil them.

8 quarts boiling water
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda
I have halved all this before and it has turned out fine.

Poppy  or sesame seeds optional
extra flour for dusting towel
whole wheat flour for pizza peel (not 100% neccessary)

My first suggestion is to start your water boiling before starting to form your bagels.  That is usally the longest part of the process it waiting for the water to boil.  20 min before baking preheat oven to 450 degrees.  If you have a pizza peel you can put your stone in the oven before preheating.

Dust your dough with a little flour and pull off a piece of dough about 3 oz or the size of a small peach.  Form the same as all the other recipes.  Rolling your hands down and under to make the top to the "ball" smooth rotating as you go, blah blah, you know the drill.  Repeat and form the rest of your bagels.  Cover them loosely with plastic wrap or dont' and let rest for 20 minutes.  Honestly this isn't rocket science and there is nothing to be intimidated about. It is hard to mess up and even if it isn't salvagable it costs so little it is not like much is lost.   Go for it!

Here are my bagel balls!  How you like em?  I'd have to say though that these were a bit bigger than a small peach and they made, well, large bagels.

Once your water is boiling punch your thumb through the center of the ball and stretch the center of the bagel hole is about triple width of the bagel wall.

There are alot of different ways you can get the desired shape. You can do a little spin on the finger.

Or pull it apart and try to fit your head through it.

But the idea is to have fun in your kitchen act like a complete fool and get about this kind of result.

Drop the bagels into the boiling water one at a time making sure not to crowd them.  They need enough room to float.  Simmer for 2 minutes, flip and boil one more minute.

Dust a towel with flour, sound weird?  It kinda is, just do it :)

 and place the them on the towel.

  At this point you can sprinkle them with seeds if you like or not if you don't have them. 

I got me a pizza peel!  Do you need one?  NO.  I have been doing this for over a year without one but it was a little indulgent on my part.  I wanted one!

 There they are ready to bake for 20 minutes.
Put the bagels in the preheated oven for 20 minutes or until brown.  You will love these!  They store great so you can make them for now or later or both!

For breakfast egg and sausage bagel!

Or with chicken salad for lunch!

Remember how I said these were big?  That is why you see them halved in these pics.  Unless you are a lumberjack half was plenty!

Or you can go simple with these yummy bagels and just a little cream cheese.  I dare yo to just eat one bite!  It ain't gonna happen!

Tree tapping day!

I wasn't sure if we were going to get to it this year because we have been extra busy.  But this winter has been mean, harsh and nasty BUT it has been a fantastic year for sap so the tapping weather stuck around long enough for me to get to it!  Last night was the night.  I was determined to do it this week because the entire week should be lovely for good sap flow. 

Last year we only tapped two trees to try it.  This year we decided to do all 6.  So after a quick trip to the Amish farm store around the corner to get taps and tubing we were set to tap.  We were trying to be resourceful and find the cheapest way to collect.  Last year we had a tubing system which worked well but was more costly than we would like.  Not that we consider this a money saving venture but we also don't want to spend a bunch of money on it.  This year we used a combination of milk jugs, tubing and rubermaid containers.  Pretty much what we had on hand other than the taps and a little tubing.  Bottom line is you don't need any fancy equimpent if you ever want to try it yourself.  If you have a milk jug, a little tubing and some twine you can pull this off.  It can be a fun learning experience!  Or you can read about me doing it and make me do all the work and you can follow along in the process.  Also taps are cheap I bought some online last year for $2.50 but this year I found them here locally for plastic one they were only $.52.

It was a fairly quick process except when my dear husband got a bit zealous and broke the bit off in the tree.  So a quick trip to Lowes and we finished just before dark with the first 4 trees at least since I needed some time to come up with a few more collection methods.

Here is the over zealous husband and our crazy little helpers!

Milk jug metal taps and tubing, method.

We came up with this last year.  It is a combination of tubes and connectors all going in to one 5 gallon bucket.  It works ok but the jugs are a bit better and less cost and less complicated.

These are the milk jugs and plastic taps.  The plastic taps are made to fit that blue tubing so it all fits great and easy to put together.

I got to last two today.  I invited a friend and her kids to come over and take part in it.  Here is me and my wild monkey "helpers".

Here is a closer look at the platic taps, tubing and milk jug assembly.

 This is the last tree.  Here we had some tubing and a rubermaid container so I drilled 3 holes in the top for the tubes and just connected it all.

If you look close you can see the sap line.  This was only 20 minutes after tapping.

This morning we woke up to some gallon jugs over flowing and others almost full!  For a total of 9 gallons in about 12 hours!  And that is only the four.  So we are adding two more to that today.  So after 7 days of collecting 20 gallons a day we should end up with 140 gallons!  That is fantastic except when it comes to the fact that we are not adequately prepared to store 140 gallons of liquid.  So we get to practice our resourcefulness again and come up with something.  The cool thing is sap to syrup is about 40-1 so 140/40 we are talking over 3 gallons of syrup!!!  That is awesome!  We shall see how the week goes and I will try to update you on collection numbers.

Lastly our resourcefulness will be tried again when it comes time to boil.  I have a feeling there will not be a whole lot of sleeping going on for a couple days.  But I am going to see if there is interest in a boiling party with some friends of ours and at least it would be fun times!

My hopes are to continue this series with the rest of the sugaring (that is what it is called by the "real" syrup people,though I don't know how much sense it makes) process along with some of the technicality of tree tapping.