November 29, 2009

Recipe of the week -- Chocolate Pecan Pie

This is a chocolate pecan pie, but normally we call it Turtle Pie because it reminds me so much of a turtle sundae when you add whipped cream on it. It's a Thanksgiving staple at our house. I have to make it every year. This year was no exception. I made it, but there wasn't a lot of people here to eat it so, more for me!!

This recipe originally came from a Taste of Home event I went to years ago. They demonstrated this on stage and I had to make it the second I got home. I've been hooked ever since.

Turtle Pie

3 eggs
1 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup pecan halves, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chunks
1 unbaked 9-inch pie shell

In a medium bowl, combine eggs, corn syrup, sugar, butter and vanilla with a whisk. Stir in pecans. Sprinkle chocolate chunks over the bottom of the pie shell. Pour pecan mixture over the chocolate chunks in the pie shell.

Bake at 350* for 50-55 minutes. Cool on wire rack for 2 hours; refrigerate until serving time.

If you need a recipe for the crust, I have one in the oatmeal pie recipe. Just search through the recipes. The chocolate chunks are made by Nestle and are different than chocolate chips. Chocolate chips will work, but not nearly as well.

We had this pie eaten in less than 24 hours. I think I'm going to have to bake another soon.

November 28, 2009

Fun Photo Editor

Okay, I love free. Free is a very good thing.

I found this site, FotoFlexer, one night while looking for a way to add some text to a photo. I didn't play with it much then, but today I decided to make a Christmas photo and just kept on playing. It's really easy to use. You upload a photo (or get one off many sites including Facebook), edit it and then save it back to your computer. Each photo took 5 minutes or less.

Here is a sample of what I did.

November 27, 2009

The Thanksgiving far

Our Thanksgiving weekend got off to an early start with a very interesting email Tuesday morning. Before I'd even woke up enough to get dressed, I received an email from the farm we bought our very first alpacas from. I had expressed interest in a female they had way back in the spring. We talked a little, but it never got to the buying stage. Well, in this email they offered her to us at a price that was easy to live with. Let's just say, I said yes before I even talked to Jim.

We went and picked her up Wednesday afternoon. She's a beautiful brown suri and her name is Wella (short for Welcome Home). I finally was able to get one pic of her this morning as the snow started clearing. She seems to have settled in fine and is making new friends with her pasture mates.

Thanksgiving day had me getting up earlier than I like to get the turkey in the oven. We got it stuffed and in by 8. Then it was off to do chores. While outside, my sister called to say they weren't going to make it. Both she and my niece were sick. It turned into a weird, quiet, unholiday-like day with only us and my parents. See, my other sister lives in Illinois and wasn't able to make it either. By the end of the day we did have some of our older kids pop in and out so it wasn't completely a wash. 7 kids out of 8 on one day is nearly a record. :o)

We went to bed early because poor Jim had to be at work by 5:30 to deal with the crazy crowds and me, well.....for the first time in 4 years I went out on Black Friday. All because of my niece. I went to one store for her present and then back home. It really wasn't that bad, but I avoided the entire mall, wal-mart, best buy area of town. Where I was going was the complete opposite of all that so it wasn't bad. I think there were about 15 people waiting in line at this store.

Now I'm home, baking bread, getting lunch around and really wishing I could take a nap. Maybe after lunch....

November 24, 2009

What are you thankful for?

What are you thankful for?

Today I am thankful for so many things, but mostly especially, my husband. He "gets" me even when I am slightly incoherent. My family is a close second. The kids bring me joy every day. I even have to laugh sometimes when they're naughty.

I am also thankful for:

The internet - it brings everyone close no matter how far away they are.
My ability to cook - I can eat what I want, when I want
My farm - can't live without those paca hugs
Ebay - why spend retail?
Friendships that don't come with a price-tag
We're all healthy
The fact that I can stay home everyday with my children
We're employed - always a plus
Our business is taking off - just got another order today :o)

And once family.

As we come to Thanksgiving, think about what you are thankful for.

November 22, 2009

Recipe of the week -- Bean and Rice Enchiladas

Here is another recipe that I made up one day out of food boredom. I can't even remember the how or why, just that it was about 10 years ago and this recipe has become a family staple. It's not one of my cheaper meals so I don't make it nearly as often as the family would like, but it is yummy. It could also be made vegetarian really simply with the use of vegetarian refried beans.

Bean and Rice Enchiladas

1 box/pkg. (4.3 oz.) Mexican or Spanish style rice (think Rice-a-roni or something similar)
1 can (15 oz.) refried beans
1 pkg. (8 count) burrito size flour tortilla wraps
1 can (10 oz.) enchilada sauce (Old El paso is my fave) mild or hot, your choice
1 1/2 cup shredded cheddar or mexican blend cheese
Sour cream
shredded lettuce
black olives
green onions

Cook rice according to package directions. Cool slightly when finished. Pour a little of the enchilada sauce in a 9x13 baking dish. Not a lot, just enough to cover the bottom of the dish lightly.
Divide the rice and beans evenly on each tortilla shell (don't worry about being perfect. I normally have a little left over). Roll each tortilla up, making sure to tuck in sides. Place each in the baking dish. Pour remaining sauce over the top of the wraps. Sprinkle cheese on top.
Bake at 350* for about 20 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly.
Top each serving with lettuce, sour cream, olives or green onions.

I should really learn not to make these posts before lunch. I starving now!

November 21, 2009

It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood...

After a tough week, I decided we needed an alpaca pick-me-up. It was an unexpectedly gorgeous day so we headed out to the pastures. It was a little sad to be out there and see Titan's momma alone, but we had a lot of fun with the girls. We also learned that our newest addition, Misti (the white one), LOVES treats. She will do almost anything to get one, including stick her nose in your pocket. Unfortunately I couldn't get a good pic of that.

Here are some pictures I did manage to get.

November 18, 2009

Titan of Tomorrow

Okay, for all of you that have been asking and wondering what was going on here, here goes.

On Sunday our 6 month old cria Titan passed away. He was the first cria ever born here at Tomorrow Farm and was beloved by all who knew him.

His arrival is still a fun story that gets tossed around a lot, but for those that haven't heard it, let me share it with you.

We purchased his mom, Sally, back in January. She is the sweetest alpaca you will ever meet. She also was very patient with us. We would spend time everyday watching her baby move and feeling it kick. We didn't realize at the time that not every momma shows her pregnancy off so well. We were lucky.

Sally was due near the end of May. She had a history of going a little early so we kept a close eye on her. Well, on gloomy Saturday morning we went to check on her before leaving for the kids soccer game (11:30 am). She was happily munching on hay and showing no signs of impending birth (at least as far as I could tell being new at this and all). We left for the game and then came back about 2 1/2 hours later.

The driveway we park our cars in is on the opposite side of the house from the barn so we couldn't see the barn when we pulled in. We got our stuff and headed in the house. First order of business was the bathroom for me (I hate the porta-potties at the game). I had barely sat down when Lizzie starting screaming hysterically. I thought she was being attacked or something.

I pulled up my pants and ran for the kitchen. No blood anywhere, but off in the pasture we saw a wee little paca. Sally had apparently waited 'til we left to have her cria. I called my husband who was at work and took off for the barn. He was completely dry and happy to greet the world. We went through our new cria checklist and an hour later I was finally able to use the bathroom. :o)

Now Titan was always a quiet boy. I just assumed he took after his mom. He loved to eat and gained weight steadily so we had no worries. It seems though that his quiet nature was due to a weak, underdeveloped heart. He died quickly of a heart attack right in his favorite spot at the hay box.

I'm not sure who is having a tougher time with or the kids? For all of you with alpacas, give your crias an extra hug from us tonight.

Rest in peace Titan. We will always love you.

Sleep When the Wind Blows

This is great little article from the Preparedness Pantry. It always pays to be prepared. Especially us farmers.

Sleep When the Wind Blows

A farmer needed an extra hand to help on his farm. One young man came to interview for the job. "What are your qualifications?" the farmer asked. "I can sleep when the wind blows," the young man said. This simple reply confused the farmer, but he was desperate for help and the young man was hired.

The young man was a diligent worker through the harvest season, but the farmer still questioned his answer.

Autumn ended and the first cold storm of winter came late one night. The farmer panicked as the winds began to blow. Calling the young man for help, the farmer grabbed his coat and pulled heavy boots on his feet. He was disappointed to find the young man asleep in bed at a time like this. Grudgingly he ventured out alone planning to shuffle all of the animals in the barn and then fix that last hole in the roof. He mumbled about the young man sleeping and was sure all the farm equipment was left standing in the field, collecting rust from the snow.

However, when the farmer reached the barn all the animals were tucked safely inside. In fact, clean hay had already been set out for the new day. Not a single hole could be found in the roof, and the tractor was parked perfectly in the shed.

"Who could have done it?" the farmer wondered. And then, he realized what the young man's answer meant, "I can sleep when the wind blows."

Former Director of the National Hurricane Center, Max Hayfield, said: "Preparation through education is less costly than learning through tragedy."

November 14, 2009

Recipe of the week -- Tuna Burgers

Have you ever just stared at your food pantry wondering what to make for lunch and not have any luck coming up with an answer?

This recipe started out that way. I was trying to make lunch and it seemed that everything I thought of was missing something. The pantry was looking a little bare and I was getting desperate. One lone can of tuna kept staring at me and I remembered reading in one of my many cooking magazines about tuna burgers. I had no luck finding that recipe, but did come up with one of my own. It's a huge hit with the kids. In fact it is one of their absolute favorites now. Cheap too.

Tuna Burgers

1 can (6 oz.) tuna, drained
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
1/4 tsp. celery salt
1/3 cup mayo (or Miracle Whip)
2 tbls. dried onion
2 tbls. ketchup
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 egg

In a small bowl, mix all ingredients together until well blended. Set aside for 10 minutes (this allows the mixture to thicken slightly). Melt 2 tbls. butter in a large skillet. Shape tuna mixture into 4 patties and place in skillet. Cook patties for 4-5 minutes on each side or until browned.

Serve on hamburger buns with your favorite toppings. The normal around here is tarter sauce and cheese; sometimes lettuce and toasted buns too.

November 13, 2009

The Three Day Soap

Ever since I saw a bar of felted soap at an alpaca show, I wanted to make one. Well, life finally slowed down enough that I could give it a try.

It went something like this....

Day 1
Choose the fiber I am going to use for this project. I chose Max's because it is a beautiful brown. I thought it would go great with the oatmeal & almond soap I had. I found his bag of fiber and proceeded to clean it up. I picked through it and tossed the little tiny pieces and all the hay and grass I could find.
Next I washed it. Wow, was that dirty. I changed the water 4 times. Now to dry.

Day 2
Hmmm.....still very wet. I spread it out some more and turned it over hoping to speed the process. 6 hours later....still wet. Need to do something about this. Oh, genius idea. I put it back on my cute little skirting table hubby made for me and placed it over the heat register in the hallway. Worked great! After about 2 hours it was completely dry. It's late now though.

Day 3
Ah, carding time. Had to go to YouTube and watch the video I'd saved of someone showing how to use my hand carders. See, I bought them just after Christmas, but the best I'd done was get them out of the box. I still hadn't used them.
Lady on video was very helpful. After half an hour I had a nice amount of fiber ready to go for my soap project. Off to the kitchen!
This was the really fun part. I got to make a mess on purpose. :o) I followed the instructions I had and poof! felted soap bar. I'm so excited. It turned out cute. Now I have to just let it dry and then I can use it.
That's the ultimate test....will it hold up in the shower? I can't wait to find out.

November 11, 2009

Free Pizza! :o)

Free is always awesome, but this free deal came with some work required by the wee ones.

If you haven't heard of it, Pizza Hut has a program called Book It! that gives students a free pizza certificate every month during the school year for reading books. What I didn't realize until this past summer was that it wasn't just for public schools. They also have a homeschool portion of the program. They mailed me everything I needed for the year. It was easy.

The hard part was getting the kids to understand that they don't automatically get free pizza, they have to earn it. Tough lesson, but worth it because finally they are enjoying reading. They aren't just reading for the pizza now. They are enjoying the books. Woohoo!! It's about time.

So today we went off to Pizza Hut with our first round of free pizzas. We took Grandma along with us because she enjoys Pizza Hut as much as we do.

When we arrived we found out the pizza certificates weren't limited to a free pizza. We could substitute the pizza buffet. Sweet!! This made the kids ecstatic. So we got our mix of pizzas, breadsticks, pasta, salad, and dessert pizza. Boy were we stuffed, but we had a great time. The kids also learned that sometimes things are definitely worth working for.

November 09, 2009

Good-bye and Hello

It's a bittersweet day at the farm when you sell an animal. You know you are in this business to eventually turn a profit, but it's still hard to sell a friend and watch them go. Yesterday our dear, sweet clown Marc left for his new home in Indiana with a really nice couple. He is going to be a companion to their herdsire. I hope he enjoys his new friendship and family.

Today though proved to be a really good day. The last of our girls finally came home. :o) We purchased Misti in August just after she had delivered her first cria. We choose to leave her at her farm so she could be bred, but I never imagined it would take this long to bring her home.

Well, she made it, along with her cute little man, Robin Hood. They are safe and sound and ready to pass the winter in our barn. Hopefully next spring she'll deliver me a beautiful little silver baby (she is bred to a silver grey). Keeping our fingers crossed!

In the meantime, I will just enjoy the fact that our entire herd is home. At least for today.To find out more about Misti, Robin Hood or any of our other alpacas...

November 08, 2009

Recipe of the week -- Oatmeal Pie

I love oatmeal. I love it a lot. I love it for breakfast. I love it in my baked goods. Now I can love it for dessert. Do I sound like a bad Dr. Seuss book?

I recently had an oatmeal pie at a church dinner. It was good (my mom made it so I have to say that ;), but it seemed to be missing something. Sorry Mom. I came home bound and determined to make one. I scoured the internet in search of recipes and finally settled on one I thought would do the trick. I couldn't leave it alone though. I did change it a smidge.

It reminds me a lot of a pecan pie without the nuts. So I guess if you're allergic to nuts and are craving a pecan pie this might help? Don't know.

Oatmeal Pie

2 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup light corn syrup
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup flaked sweetened coconut
3/4 cup quick cooking oats
1/4 cup butter, melted
A pinch salt
1 9-inch unbaked, single pie crust

Mix together the eggs, corn syrup, brown sugar, coconut, oats, butter and salt. Pour into the unbaked pie crust.
Bake at 325* for 45 minutes or until golden.

Now the crust is entirely up to you. You can make one from scratch or you can use a pie crust purchased at the store. Whatever you normally use. I make mine from scratch (hate me if you must). It's never picture perfect, but it tastes good and isn't that the most important part?

I use a basic pie crust recipe from the red Betty Crocker cookbook. Everyone has this cookbook, right? I'll share the recipe anyway, just in case.

Mix 1 cup flour and 1/2 tsp. salt in a medium bowl. Cut in 1/3 cup plus 1 tbls. shortening using pastry blender until particles are the size of small peas.

Sprinkle with cold water, 1 tbls. at a time, tossing with a fork until all flour is moistened and pastry almost leaves sides of bowl (2 to 3 tbls. total). Gather pastry into a ball. Shape into a flattened round on a lightly floured surface. Roll pastry using floured rolling pin into a circle 2 inches larger than upside down 9-inch pie plate.

Place crust in pie plate being careful not to stretch the crust. Fold under edges to fit pie plate. Flute or other decorative edge if desired.Very yummy. It's even better slightly warm. I put mine in the microwave for 12 seconds. Just enough to warm it but not make it screaming hot. Good with whipped cream, too.



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