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Friday, December 30, 2011

I love to bake in winter when I have time

In summer I don't have time to spend in the kitchen baking, kinda lucky to just get meals cooked. But in winter I do have more free time to bake goodies. So when I was in the summer kitchen other day making stock I got out my old country cooking magazines and was flippin thru them and found some recipes that I had made a long time ago. One was a recipe for an orange layer cake that was so dang good. So I thought I would share the recipe with you. This make 2 layers 9 inches and the filling is more than enough and the frosting recipe will leave you enough to taste test..........a lot..

Orange Layer Cake

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup softened butter
1 tablespoon grated orange rind
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
2 teas baking powder
1/4 teas baking soda
1/2 teas salt
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup orange juice
4 stiffly beaten egg whites

Prepare 2 - 9 inch cakes pans by buttering and lining with parchment paper and butter the paper and set aside.

Beat sugar, soft butter and orange rind till creamy. In separate bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Beat dry ingredients alternately with orange juice and water till smooth. In separate bowl whip egg whites stiff and gently fold into batter. Pour evenly into the prepared pans and bake in preheated 350 degree oven about 25 to 35 minutes till cake test done. Remove and cool on rack till completely cool

Orange Filling

In medium saucepan combine 1/2 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons cornstarch, 1 1/2 teaspoons grated orange rind, 1/2 teaspoons salt. Gradually blend in 3/4 cup orange juice and 1/4 cup water and 2 slightly beaten egg yolks. Cook over medium heat till simmering and thickened stirring constantly. Cool filling before filling the cake.

Orange Butter cream frosting

In mixer bowl cream 6 tablespoons soft butter, add 1 lb or 4 1/2 cups powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon grated orange peel and a dash of salt then add in 4 tablespoons orange juice. Beat well with mixer till smooth adding more orange juice till frosting is smooth and creamy.

Put one layer of cake on desired serving platter and put filling on top of this layer only. Put other layer on top of filling and then frost the cake. Slice and serve. This is a very pretty and refreshing cake. You would have to work really hard to mess this recipe up.

This is just about all I have done today. But dang it the cake was so good and worth it. Not much else happening on the homestead this week as we have rain again. So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Keeping me occupied

In winter when there is not much going on with gardens and such, I try to tie up loose ends and do little things that I really didn't have time for in the busy season. Like on Monday, I got some chicken wings out of the freezer that I had froze due to time constraint and made some good chicken stock to can. I got it strained and then canned it next morning. I had also cook down the bones and dark meat from our Christmas turkey to make some turkey stock. All total I ended up canning up 9 quarts and 1 pint of stock for later use. I do use a lot of stock in cooking. And it is healthy for you. I cooked the turkey and chicken for about 2 hours each with a lil added vinegar and the bones could be mashed up with fingers. The left over bones were frozen for Luna and the cats for later. The bones and fat are good for the animals in winter.
Tomorrow is my birthday and seems like a good day to drag out all my saved garden seeds to go thru and see if there is anything I need to order. A friend told me that Baker Creek has already sold out of lots of their popular seed varieties. I know I have plenty of all the basics that I NEED, its just the lil things that I WANT that they may be out of. But I need to check my stock first before any order is placed. I do really want to find some Jacobs cattle beans to raise. I have eaten those and they are with out a doubt the best flavored beans I have ever eaten. Very mild in flavor, creamy smooth, nice brown color when cooked. And easy to grow from what I have read. So they will be on my want list this year. Then I just need to look at the catalog to see what else is available that I haven't raised yet and try at least one new thing this coming summer.
Tomorrow when I go out to get the eggs from the chicken house I think I will just divide the eggs between the 2 lil hens that are determined to set and raise babies. I know the last thing I need in cold weather is lil baby chicks but dang they just so cute and cuddly. But if the hens hatch em the hens can raise em. I will let you know how this works out for me.
Not much else happening here, so till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Saturday, December 24, 2011

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas

Just thought I would post tonight just to wish everyone a Merry Christmas. Hope you holiday is filled with goodness and blessings. No big plans here for Christmas tho. Rodger and I went to the city today for a few things. He actually was looking for some parts for our ancient corn planter that we use behind the tractor to plant corn. No luck tho, they haven't made the model we have in over 20 years so now he has to probably have the part fabricated. Today is Rodgers birthday so we did go out to eat while we were out of town. He had his usual steak and I had shrimp. Had to pick up a few things from Lowe's and Walmart too. I was surprised there were not too many people out shopping today. And the ones that were, were for the most part polite much to my surprise. Anyway we got our few things we needed and came back toward home. We did stop by Rodgers sisters house to drop off the sweet potatoes for his parents. We have had them since October and his parents just never find time to stop by and pick them up.
We got home and I decided to let my hens out for a bit. I usually gather the eggs when I let the hens out. I found 2 hens sitting in the nest boxes. Both of them wanting to set. Oh my, not this time of year. Don't know what brought this on but I sure don't need lil babies freezing to death in cold weather. So I will just let them sit on egg gourds and hope that makes em happy till they give up.

Not much else happening here, so till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Thursday, December 22, 2011

I like mastering new methods

I guess you could say I am a self taught cook of sorts. The things I learned to cook from scratch I learned after I left home and was married. I did watch my mom from a distance when she cooked but she always shuttled me out of the kitchen when I was young. So as far as cooking with her and actually cooking at home I did not. But anyway, in the kitchen, I think even the best of methods can be improved upon. One is cheese cake. I have made cheese cake in the past and I know it is basically a custard that is baked. And if you bake a custard it must be at low temps. To keep this temp in control it is easiest to do it in a water bath. So the method to my cheese cake making now includes setting the pan in another pan that contains water about half way up the sides of the pan in which the cake actually resides. So I will share with you the recipe that I use and if ya follow the method I guarantee a great creamy smooth perfect cheesecake.

First I pan prep. I do use a spring form pan. Butter the bottom of the pan and cut a piece of parchment paper to fit in the bottom and butter it as well. Now cut strips of parchment to cover the sides of the pan and butter those as well. If using a spring form pan, set pan on a large piece of aluminum foil and bring it up the sides of the pan to prevent water from the bath from soaking into the crust. Set aside while you make the crust.


33 graham crackers crushed and left chunky
1 stick of butter melted
1 tablespoon sugar

Mix crushed graham crackers, butter and sugar till mixed well and press this into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and lower oven temp to 250 degrees.

20 ounces cream cheese softened
    1 ¼ cups sour cream
    1 cup sugar
    1 tablespoon vanilla extract
    2 eggs
    3 yolks
    1/3 cup heavy cream

In large bowl beat sour cream for 10 seconds, add in cream cheese and sugar and beat smooth. Mix together eggs , yolks and heavy cream and vanilla. Add about half of this mixture to cheese mixture and beat well, stop and scrape bowl. Continue beating and add remainder of egg mixture. Beat till very smooth and creamy. Pour into pan over crust. Set prepared pan inside a pan that is a lil larger and add hot water to come half way up the side of the cake pan. Put in the 250 degree oven for 1 hour. After it bakes for 1 hour, turn off oven and let cake sit in oven for another whole hour. At this point it should be set but a lil soft. Remove from oven and refrigerate for at least 6 hours. After it has cooled for 6 hours you can run a sharp knife around the sides and remove them. The cake should be firm enough to turn upside down on a plate and remove the bottom of the pan and parchment. Then cake can be turned right side up and it is ready to serve.
Cheese cake does not come out well if you use low fat ingredients as the fats are what give it the great smooth consistency. I think what makes this work so well is you are cooking the custard like filling in a water bath to prevent drying and cracking the top of the cake.

Well if ya haven't figured it out yet we are not having a traditional holiday of any kind at our house. But I will fix a nice meal this weekend that we can eat on all weekend and cheesecake will be our dessert. That is unless Rodger eats all the dang thing in 2 evenings. I still might make myself a Rum cake tomorrow. Just because I like those and I only make them once a year. Not much planned for us so we get to spend the holiday at home just chilling out and relaxing.
To each and everyone of you I wish a very Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and have a blessed holiday how ever you choose to celebrate the season. Just remember the reason for the season.


Sunday, December 18, 2011

I love winter and lazy days

Ya know, I might just be able to get used to this cold weather after all. It is nice to have all the garden and farm chores done for the season. Nice to spend weekends just lounging around doing nothing.  The only animals left to care for are the dogs, cats and laying hens and their 1 rooster. In winter Luna is allowed to sleep on the porch if she chooses because she will not under any circumstances get into an enclosed dog house. Although she comes in wet and the front porch looks pretty bad when its wet out. But ya know, shes my dog and its my porch. And I am not one to try to impress anyone. Even the cats will come up from who knows where and sleep on a couple of the chairs on the porch. And yep thas OK too. After all they do keep the mice and lil critters at bay and they are fed here so I think they earn their keep. The chickens get to run out in the afternoons after it warms up outside and they make their share of messes in the yard. They always run up to the porch when I go outside expecting to get treats. Its OK if they make some messes, they provide us with lots of eggs so they too earn their keep. So this time of year with no worries of mowing the yard and keeping the yard tidy the critters get  free run. Now in spring it will be my turn to fill in holes they make and straighten up what damage if any they do in the yard.
I had raised lots of parsley in my herb bed this summer and dried a good bit and froze some. I thought the heavy frost we have had would have killed the last of it. But it is still green and pretty and still growing. I cut a bit bowl full today and brought it in, washed and chopped it up and froze it for garish and flavor in lots of things we cook. Jason had brought his truck around here today to have Rodger help him find the leak in his brakes and they worked on it for a few hours. In the end they finally had to take it to the garage where we get tires so they can put all new brake line on it. It was getting up toward afternoon so I decided to fix a late breakfast. We had homemade biscuits, homemade sausage, homemade deer ham, homegrown eggs and gravy for breakfast/lunch/supper. Rodger likes the deer ham. This is the first time we have made it. When they harvested deer I put the same salt/sugar cure on the deer hind quarters that I use on country pork hams. It really tastes a lot like pork country ham except it is leaner.
Our country hams and bacon are curing out nicely in the meat house. Maybe during the Christmas holiday while the guys are off work we can slice one of the sides of bacon. My favorite is the jowl bacon. It just has more flavor than side bacon. We really don't want to cut up to much of the cured meat right now. If ya cut into it ya have to freeze it and we don't have freezer room right now. We have half a beef that will be here in early February that will more than refill the freezers. I think I may end up canning a bit of the beef too. I know I will make so good rich nourishing stock with the beef bones. It will be nice knowing the meat is from an animal that has been well cared for and is healthy. The more I think about it, I think we eat pretty much organic here. All are veggies are home raised. We if ya exclude a few times they had to be sprayed to save the crop. Our chickens are all raised without steroids. Are hogs were raised without steroids and such. The hens get corn and forage for most of their food. The feed they do get has no antibiotics or steroids in it. Oh well, for us its just a way of life.
Not much else happening here, so till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Beautiful weather in mid December

Our weather today was more spring like than what we normally expect for the middle of December. Warm, sunny, really nice to be out. I went out to town today to the eye doc to order my contact lens. As it would be they did not have my prescription in stock for me to try so I go back next week to pick up a trial pair. Then I can order new ones. Maybe then I can see good. While I was out I went to check on mom at the nursing home. She ask me if I would go get her a pack of cookies to snack on so I did that. I actually got her a bunch of snacks and a new set of sheets for her bed and some other goodies. She actually liked them. I was surprised. She seems to be doing pretty good, a lil more pleasant these days than she normally is. She had fallen last week and got banged up a bit. I think they told her she had some stress fractures in her spine. Not sure if that was from the fall or osteoporosis.
I came home and went to check on the laying hens. I have one lil hen that will not lay in the nest box. She will hold it till I let them out in the evening and she makes a quick trip up the hill to the woods and a few minutes later announces she has laid an egg. She was standing at the door with her legs crossed nearly when I filled their feeders. But I didn't let them out so she has no choice but to use the next box. At least I hope!
Jason has been getting his gas heat hooked up the past few days. In the past the price of propane had prevented him from having a big tank set and filled. But we have a couple of the 100 lb cylinders so he is using them to run his heaters. Although the weather has not been too cold we think this will be a more economical way to heat.
Not much else happening on the farm. So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Friday, December 9, 2011

Finally time to relax

I think I may have got caught up on my sleep and rested a bit. Pheww its been a long week tho. Our weather turned cold, well cooler, in the 40's during the day and 20's at night. I think my thermometer lies tho as it was saying 55 today. It was warm enough that I got some things done outside. I keep rain barrels set under the downspouts of the brooder house in summer to catch rain water for the chickens. I had 2 full barrels that I had to dip the water out of, drain and store. I had to use a small bucket because my elbow is still a good bit sore. but mission accomplished. Then I thought it might be a good time to clean up the summer kitchen and mop the floor out there. I cleaned the counters and stove real good and took up the rubber mats and mopped the floor. It does look and smell better in there. As you know I let the guys hang deer in there to cool during the season with the AC on. Well the last deer drained a bit and must have leaked thru the tarp they put on the floor. The blood and water had seeped under the rubber mats in there and left a rank odor. So when I took the mats up some of them were stuck to the floor and pulled up some of the paint off the concrete. But now its all clean and disinfected. It will stay that way till I come up with something else to can and make a mess.
This weekend I hope I can enlist Rodgers help with getting the freezers organized a lil better. I cant get to the chicken, it is under 2 frozen turkeys and 2 butt end hams and some various packs of pork. The deer meat is under more layers of packs of pork. And the big freezer is a whole different animal. By the way I did go in the cellar to have a look see at the jars of lard from the weekend. When we made the lard and it was strained but still very very hot we ladled it into clean but used half gallon pickle jars. Put the lids on and when the lard cooled the jars sealed up nicely. It will keep stored in this manner for more than a year or until I use it up.
Not much else happening here, so till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The souse is done and so am I

On Monday I scrubbed the hogs head parts that had been soaking in salt water over night and got those all cooked to make souse. I left them in the pressure canner to cool over night so I could pick out the bones and chop the meat up. So on Tuesday that is what I did. I got an early start and got all the meat off the bones and into a pan to wait for seasoning. The bones I put in zip top bags and into the freezer for Luna and Delilah as they need em. Once the bones are out of the meat and the meat chopped. Add back to the meat some of the stock for the pot till the mixture is the thickness of mashed potatoes. Stir well and put into a heavy bottom kettle to cook. I used my enameled cast iron dutch oven.

 I did mine in batches. Add salt, black pepper, and sage to taste. It should have a slight hint of garlic from garlic powder and a notable taste of sage. Stir the seasoning into the meat.

In this 2 gallon kettle half full of meat I added about 1 cup of fine ground plain cornmeal. Stir in and turn on the heat and stir often and let it bubble for about 20 minutes.

I pour the souse into cake pans once it has cooked to let it set. The meat will get firm and can be sliced. Today I went to the summer kitchen and cut the souse into small blocks and wrapped it in plastic wrap and into the freezer. Once it freezes I will vacuum seal it to make it last longer. The fat content being very high and a cooked food it will get rancid fairly quick.
So now if some gives you a fresh hogs head you will know what to do with it. Although this is not something that everyone will eat. It is sometimes called head cheese or scrapple and to us in appalachia it is souse.

We have had drizzle all day today and it has been cold. Was kinda nice to work in the summer kitchen and not need heat or AC. I let the hens out while I was outside but they didnt seem to care much for the cooler weather either. The young pullets are laying pretty good. I get 5 or 6 eggs per day. So I have lots of nice eggs for baking. So maybe tomorrow I can stay in and bake something good.
Till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A long weekend left me very tired

Gosh after all the hard work this past weekend butchering hogs. I had cut the hogs heads up to make souse and put them in a large container to soak in salt water overnight. I got up early cause I went to bed with the chickens last night and got the house cleaned up from the paddling in an out all weekend, laundry done and all. I headed to the summer kitchen to get the meat cooking to make the souse. I got the chunks of meat out of the salt water and washed it well and scrubbed it really good with a clean brush to get all the bone fragments off. Put all this in the pressure canner with about 4 quarts of water and set it to cook for about 3 hours. Got all the empty totes washed up and ready to store for winter. By then it was time to cook supper. After the fellers got home from work we ate supper and after I got all that mess cleaned up I went back outside to the summer kitchen and turned the pressure canner off so it could cool down over night. So tomorrow I get to stick my hands in the cooker and get out all the bones and chop all the meat up and finish the souse making. Souse is one of those  things you either love it or hate it. Well most of em here hate it, so guess what? More for me.  I do intend to make pickled pigs feet too as soon as I get done with the souse. And no one likes those either.
We are getting rain tonight and the temps are supposed to drop some and we are to get snow flurries tomorrow and later in the week. So I guess it is about time for me to hibernate. Or at least to take a break and try to get some rest. Yeah that sounds like a good plan. So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Sunday, December 4, 2011

The last butchering is done

As I posted a few days ago this weekend was the end of the hogs. We got them both butchered on Saturday. The hams, shoulders, and middlings were all trimmed and had the cure on them before days end. We actually worked them up individually not killing them both and then doing all the trim work. So by dark-thirty we had the lard cut, tenderloin sliced, ribs cut, sausage meat ready to grind then loaded up an came back here to the summer kitchen. That is where we ground the sausage and got it packaged for the freezer. After we got all the stuff put in the freezer that needed to be except grinding the sausage we did get a lil break and had time to eat a sammich. It was not a long break and then we got after the sausage. Jason, Josh, Daniel and I finally got in the house for the night around midnight. That was a long day and we were worn out.
Just a few shots of the butchering process so look away if you have a weak stomach.

Saturday was a nice day to butcher, not hot but not freezing cold either. This is the first hog after we got him cleaned. They were a lot bigger than I thought they would be. The crane on the work truck was sure handy this weekend. 

I got the camera as the guys get started gutting the animal. But sometimes only one person can work at a time.

Of course when we were cutting the hogs head up to make souse meat the fellers thought it was a good time to play. Kinda gory looking at best. Actually Daniel took some photos to send to his young daughter Gracie that would have loved to have been here to do this stuff her self.
This looks like one of the characters from the movie Ice Age. Some parts of the hog head don't get put in the souse.

Ah ain't Jeremiah cute with his lil hog hair mustache?   I think we were all tired enough to be silly.

We made lard today. I had my jars ready and after straining out the cracklings I had Jason just ladle the hot lard into clean half gallon jars and we put the lids on em. As they cool they will seal and this keeps the lard fresh for much longer.
All this activity took place at Jason's house and I could not resist giving his dog Dehlia the pigs tail when we got it cut off. She was in her pen and after we gave her the pig tail she started whining. And when Jason went to check on her she had the tail in her mouth. He opened her pen and let her out and she made a beeline to the woods to bury the pigs tail. She didn't have a good place inside her pen to bury her goodies so she was begging to get out. She is a sweet girl.
As of now the meat is all taken care of except the souse making process. That might take place tomorrow if I can move once I get out of bed. All this hard work has been really hard on my body. Maybe a good nights rest will help some. Not much else happening around here right now, so till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Friday, December 2, 2011

Not quite time for hibernation yet, not long tho

We are almost done with the fall butchering and chores here and not too long I can finally hibernate for winter. I guess thas the one reason I like winter time so much is that there is not a lot to things to be done out side and I can stay in and do things I really want to do. Not having to rush around doing the things that need to be done. But in the meantime, this weekend is hog butchering time for us. We have 2 to do this year. One for us and one for Josh and his family. We are trading one for half a beef that we just found out we cant get slaughtered till sometime in February. But thas OK, it will just give us time to use some of the other meat used out of the freezers. I spent most of today getting my tools in shape and ready for tomorrow. I got the knives sharpened, all my tubs and totes cleaned up and ready, the salt cure mix is mixed and ready. The jars are ready to put the lard in the following day. I got the wrapping paper, and zip top bags ready for the meat that will go in the freezers. Rodger got us a nice meat grinder so we don't have to use the hand crank one to do prolly 50 lb or more of sausage. All the herbs and seasoning is ready to season the sausage tomorrow. The batteries are charging for the reciprocating saw that we use to cut the hog up or at least cut thru the bones that need cut. It takes a good bit of time to work up the meat from a big hog. All the lean trimmings will get cut into sausage meat and then ground, the lard will need to be cut, pork chops, tenderloin all cut up, and ribs cut and packaged for the freezer. Then it will take most of Sunday to render the lard. Monday is the day I will take to make the souse meat or head cheese or scrapple, depending on where ya from. Love the stuff but I am the only one.
Well Mom was finally released from the hospital last night and she got to come back to the nursing home here in town. She is doing better but still quite sore. She was in pretty good spirits today when I went to see her tho, which was good for a change. She still has some congestion and pneumonia and still has to take antibiotics for several more days but that is improving as well. Thanks for all the concern and prayers.

I got the nicest surprise in the mail today.

This is a handy tote bag made from burlap and lined with cotton fabric. Hand made by a blogger friend in Georgia. Thanks so much G, I love it. It will hold all my odds and ends when I travel. And I will take it with me when I travel. lol Merry Christmas to you and your mom, thanks so much for the lovely bag and a big hug for ya both. God bless.

As I was outside the other day plundering around I noticed these strange looking things growing at the base of the bird feeder post. Yeah I know I will try to grow most anything but I DID NOT plant crabs in an attempt to grow crab meat. These things feel much like softened rubber and are hollow. Anybody know what they are?

Strange looking specimens to say the least and I have never seen anything like them. Gremlins, aliens maybe?  So far the frost has not killed em. Not many exciting things happening around here on the farm. So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.