Saturday, November 26, 2011

Its Like Buttah!!


I'm looking in the refrigerator and see that I only have about 1/4 cup of butter left and I still need to make a pie crust AND have some for buttering rolls! We can't have Thanksgiving with no pie and we for sure can't have Thanksgiving with unbuttered rolls, even though they are the crappy, stupid Brown n Serve!

I know, I know....Brown n Serve! pfffft!

Robbie specifically asked for those. I said "Seriously? Cuz I could make some really good ones homemade, some really good yeast rolls."
Nope. Brown N Serve. Fine. At least it'll save me some time. Okay.

Jake specifically asked for "Thanksgiving mac & cheese" which in reality is my mother in law's recipe. This is the recipe: She whips open a box of Velveeta Shells and Cheese every Thanksgiving for the kids that may or may not want her store bought potatoes and dressing to go along with her opened cans of corn and green beans.
Again I said "Seriously? Cuz I could make some homemade that'll be really awesome."
Nope. Velveeta. Okay, at least it'll save me some more time.

And then, I'm back in the fridge wondering what to do about the butter situation. We live 20 minutes outside of town and I'm not about to stop cooking to make a trip in and I know that nobody else will either. Hmmmmm....I wonder if I can make that quarter cup be enough for both? All I need to do is divide it smartly. I was a science major in college. I should be able to figure this out. Also, just FYI, I was secretary of the math club in high school. That's not really pertinent to this story or anything else in life really. But, I just like to throw that out there every now and then, when the opportunity presents itself. Otherwise, being secretary of the math club has no real benefits.

But, back to the butter. I tried different divisions. Maybe if I cut it THIS way? Nope. How about THAT way? Nope. No matter what I do or how I divide it, I STILL only have 1/4 cup of butter and it STILL isn't enough. *sigh* Thanksgiving is ruined.........But, wait!!!!!

I've heard of people making their own butter. And they weren't even amish!

I was in an antique store last spring with a friend and saw these cute, little, wooden butter churns. I said "oooooh, I need to get one and try making butter!" My friend said "......yeah, OR you could just use your blender. Its way faster."

In light of my current butter crisis, I pulled out some cream. Coffee be damned, we're in crisis mode here! I poured it into a bowl and used my whisk attachment on my mixer. All I did was whisk up the cream * take a little taste...don't judge...I dare you NOT to taste some freshly whipped cream! You can't, can you?* until it turns really crumbly and yellow. Then, I whisked it a little more until it turned into a solid lump.

You have to pour out the buttermilk.

PSA -  Please don't throw it away. Pour it into a clean jar for use in a recipe. Its not as acidic as the buttermilk you get at the store, so don't use it in place of buttermilk. Use it in place of regular milk.

After you pour out the buttermilk, dunk your lump of butter into an ice cold water bath. Then, massage the butter to try and get out some more of the buttermilk. If you skip this step, your butter will be rancid in a couple of days.

The whole thing only took about ten minutes! It was a miracle I tell you. A Thanksgiving miracle. I turned cream into butter. Not quite as impressive as Jesus turning water into wine, but hey! I'll take it.

So, what happened next? Well. Then angels started singing, Robbie said "Are you almost done with that? I'm trying to hear the game." and I yelled "Yeeee-Haww! I just made my own butter!!!!" and he said "Were they out at the store??"

He just doesn't get me. But, he DOES love a good, buttery Brown n Serve roll.

Brown n Serve! pffffffftttt!

And THAT is the story of how I saved Thanksgiving!

I must say....I'm feeling very super-heroish. Go try it and we can be super heroes together.

This post is linked to Fight Back FridayFarmgirl FridayHomestead Revival's Barn Hop, and Monday Mania Although, they'll probably kick me out because my husband made me heat up those stupid rolls!!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Love Is In The Air

Listen to this while you read the rest of this post.

The sun is shining, the birds are singing, the bees are buzzing. There is love in the air. Its warm, springtime weather.......

Except its not.

Its overcast. The birds are all hunkered down (which reminds me, I need to put out birdseed later.), I haven't seen a bee in awhile, and Thanksgiving is later this week. BUT.......There is love in the air.

Just yesterday, this girl was just a baby.

Her name is Harley and she was sweet, cute, obnoxious, hyperactive, and beating up on this guy.

His name is Festus and he is literally hiding from her. He's a big lug. Not smart enough to realize he's not hidden in my lush, trumpet vine. Except its not. Don't judge my poor trumpet vine. We had a horrible drought this summer. In its defense though, this IS the lushest its been all summer.

Just yesterday, for real, I came home and saw a few strange dogs hanging around. I thought, 'hmmm...that's weird.' and Festus looked like we was guarding her. He was circling her with low growls coming from his throat, following her every movement. hmmmm....curious. Usually, he's good heartedly trying to get her off of him while she's pouncing on him.

Robbie was already home. When I walked in he said "I think somethings wrong with Harley. She looked funny." I immediately walked outside, worried,  to look at her and saw Festus licking her and rubbing his head on her like he was hugging her. Uh-Oh. She growled at him and he immediately backed up and sat down very attentively. Uh-Oh. That's different.

I walked back in and said "I think Festus is in love."

He doesn't leave her side. They are very cute little lovebirds.

(They've been swimming in our stock tank. They usually look much cleaner than this. Nah, not really. They are ALWAYS swimming in the tank.)
And I don't even KNOW who this little Casanova that just started hanging around is.

Since its not springtime and even though love is in the air, its cool out and a girls gotta feed the family! Its chilly outside and that made me think of chili.

Lucky for you, I'm posting it, cuz its gooooood!

You need:

1# of ground beef (grass fed of course)
1/2 chopped onion
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can beans (any beans will do. just pick your favorite)
1 container of V8 Bold and Spicy
2T buckwheat flour (you could use any flour or thickening agent or none. Its up to you)
1/2 C water

spices to taste:
chipotle chili powder
ground red pepper

In a semi large pot, brown ground beef (if you use grass fed, you won't have any grease to drain.) and saute the onion with it. Add everything else, except the flour and water, in the pot and let it simmer about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Mix the flour with the water to make a roux. Add into the pot. stir it in and simmer, stirring occasionally until its the thickness you want.

Eat it while its my dogs.

....Too far?

Yeah, I thought so.  Oh well, try the chili while I mourn the loss of my dog's innocence. It really is like having a teen aged daughter. Except its not. But, how would I know. I have boys. There's probably a girls mom somewhere right now blogging a picture of my son with a mustache calling him a casanova.....deep, huh?

This is linked to Sunday Night Soup Night, Barn Hop, and Monday Mania.  Check em out!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Homemade Yogurt

Bam!!! That JUST happened!!

Did you see the movie Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby? If you did then you know what I'm saying. If you didn't well, then never mind. Its not really relevant. A funny movie for sure, but not relevant to this particular post.
I do find myself thanking the baby Jesus a lot after seeing that movie. Again, sorry for the reference if you haven't seen it. So just go see it already. In fact....don't go see it. Its not at the movies anymore. Go rent it or better still, download it from Netflix and watch it right now. Then, come back and read this post about yogurt.

Okay. So you're back! Funny movie, huh?

I made my own yogurt!!!

It worked!!!

Okay, so here's how I did it so you can make your own yogurt too. I bought some raw milk from a local dairy. Let me send a shout out to ma homies at the Dry Valley Dairy in Forestburg, TX. Their milk is from Jersey cows so its full of grass fed, fatty goodness. And they're great people too. And the milk is only $4/gallon. Can you believe it?? There is another dairy in town too. They're closer to me and also great people but their cows are Holstein and not quite as fatty and its $6/gallon. Its called the Neu Dairy. I like me some fatty milk, yo.

 Sorry, Robbie and I have been watching Breaking Bad on Netflix and I find myself talking like a Madskills Drug Dealer. I can't help it. A drug dealer that likes raw dairy...without drugs in it...whatever.

Anyway, I also have some yogurt starter that I got from our local co-op. Its called Yogourmet. I also have a kefir starter. In each box there are 6 packets of probiotics ready to be made into yogurt. When I ordered it, I said "I want one of each yogurt and kefir starter" thinking I was going to get a box of each. But, no....I got a CASE of each!

So, if you want some, leave a comment with your email. I will email you to get your mailing address and send it to you for FREE!!! Then, you can make your own yogurt or kefir if you'd rather. I'll tell you that kefir making is much easier. I'll share later in another post.

Okay, so here's how it works. I took a quart of milk and heated it up to about 150 degrees F over a medium, low heat stirring occasionally. Then, I filled my sink about halfway with ice water and carefully lowered the pan into the sink to cool it off. Once it reaches about 78 degrees F, remove about 1 cup. Mix in the yogurt starter (you can also use yogurt you have on hand as a starter. I wouldn't use any yogurt thats full of sugar and junk. Kind of defeats the purpose I think.) Mix it in really well and add it back into the pot.
Then, pour your yogurt into clean jars.

This is the cool part. I got this idea from laurelofleaves. She's right. Its almost so easy its scary.
I filled up a hot water bottle, put it on the bottom of a regular, old Igloo cooler (any insulated cooler will do.) placed my yogurt on top of it. I wrapped a couple of big towels around them to keep them from tipping off  the water bottle. I placed an old pillow on top of them, tucked them all in, shut the cooler and went about the rest of my day. You can let it stay there as long as you want. I started mine at about noon yesterday and pulled it out this morning at about 8:00. I put two of them back in, because they seemed a little too liquidy.

I put this little jar of awesomeness in the fridge to stop the process. You have to do that. But, before I did, I took a teeny, tiny, little taste of it. Guess what it tastes like.

Go on, guess!

It tastes like YOGURT!!! Yay!!!

Go try it. Its fun!

This post is linked to Barn Hop and Monday Mania

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Granny P's Dumplings

In the south, dumplings are a staple in the winter diet. In addition to that, southern women take pride in their dumplings more than anything else. You can tell a southern woman that her children are unruly and she will "yank a knot in their butt". But, you tell her that her dumplings suck and well....I almost don't want to tell you its so scary. Beware...and..RUN!!!

My Granny P has 'em all beat. Hands down. They are the best. Her last name is Pitman. That's where the P comes from. I didn't know that all going up. In fact, I never even questioned it. Honestly, as a kid I thought her name was Granny Pee. Like she had bladder issues or something. She doesn't. Well...I don't know. She's no spring chicken, so she might. But, I do know that back then she didn't. My other Granny's name was Granny Grunt. I never questioned that either up until a few years ago. I mentioned something about my granny and Robbie said "which one?" and I said "Granny Grunt". He asked "Doesn't it bother her that ya'll call her that?" to which I replied all annoyed "Pffft! No. Why would it bother her??? That's her name." Then, I thought about it a minute and thought 'hmmmmm....I never thought about.....I wonder if it DOES bother her. We've been calling her that for 40 years and she's never said anything.' So I asked my mom. She giggled and said "It used to bother her but not anymore." to which I asked "Soooo...if it bothered her, why did we start calling her that?" and she said "Cuz your dad and I thought it was funny."

Well, okay then.

It reminds me of my first job out of high school. I worked at a daycare center with 3 and 4 year olds. We had a substitute come in and ask a little boy who lived with his dad and grandma about his family. She asked him his dad's name. He told her. She asked him his mom's name. He said "I don't have a mom. I have a Nana." She said "What's your Nana's name?" to which he replied "She doesn't have a name......that's why we call her Nana."

My friend Melanie has her grandkids call her Bubbles. How fun is that???

My mom's name is Betty Jo. She doesn't like to be called Betty so everyone calls her Jo or Jody. My brother and I have our kids call her Mammy Jo. We think its cute. In light of the Granny Grunt issue though maybe we should have had them call her Betty Poop!! Its called karma. Its a........well, you know. Oh well. She lucked out because we're such great kids.

Whether you have a Granny, a Nana, a Wicked Stepmother, or a Labrador Retriever.....You're gonna love this!

Granny P's Dumplings

(This makes a lot, so you need a big pot)

1 whole chicken

6C flour
2t baking powder
3T salt
1C butter
6 eggs
 up to 1C water

In a big pot, boil your chicken in water. When the chicken is cooked pull it out and let it cool. shred loosely the meat from the chicken, season with salt and pepper to be added back in later.

In a large bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, and salt. Cut in the butter until it looks like pea sized grains in the flour. Make a well in the center. Add eggs and about 1/3c of the water. Use a fork to beat the eggs and water pulling in the flour mixture from the sides. Continue mixing and adding more water as needed. If it gets too wet, sprinkle in a little more flour. Once its in a ball, knead the dough until its easy to work by hand, just a few minutes. You don't want it too sticky or too dry. Its very forgiving though. You can add more water or flour as needed to make it "kneadable".  Pinch off  marble sized pieces, roll it longways, so its about the size of your finger. Then flatten them out, lay them out until they're all done. Its a little time consuming but worth it. Have the kids help. They love it.

Bring your chicken broth to a boil. Drop in dumplings without overcrowding the pot. They need room to "roll". Stir, cover, lower the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes.

My favorite part is they are not creamy. They are very brothy and delicious. My family's favorite.

Thanks Granny P!!! :)

Tell me what you call your grandma and your favorite thing she makes.

This is linked to Sunday Night Soup Night

Saturday, November 12, 2011

New Danger In Fried Foods

Check out the label on this Happy Meal box.

Its crazy!!! Its like the label on cigarettes. I once saw a comedian talk about the cigarette industry being cocky. They can put a label on their product telling you its gonna kill you and you shouldn't buy their product but they know people will buy them anyway. He said it much funnier. You had to be there.

That's what I thought of when I saw this Happy Meal picture. People will still feed this to their children.

I'm not a fan of McDonald's foods by any means but I say Kudos to them for putting that on the label. They didn't have to. As they've stated, the FDA doesn't tell us that there's anything wrong with fried foods other than saturated fat causing cholesterol.

*as an aside, it occurs to me that maybe the FDA is really trying to slowly kill us off with food....hmmmmm....makes ya think.*

I was reading another article somewhere about this very issue...fried foods, not the FDA conspiracy that I don't have time to prove. In the article, it stated that a by product of turning foods, mostly starchy foods, into a  golden brown is acrylamide, a chemical thats been shown to cause cancer. I know....that really sucks. I just wrote an article a few weeks ago about which oils are safe to cook with and then I wrote about some super delicious homemade eggrolls. Now, I can't eat them anymore. They were really good too!!! I even bought some duck fat (very expensive by the way and not nearly as tasty as bacon grease!)

So now we need to be careful eating any starchy foods that have been either fried or baked to a golden brown color. Yes, even baked!! Baked and boiled potatoes are still healthy to eat, but not fried. No baked breads either. This is all pretty new information, I think. So it takes me a minute to wrap my head around it. I'm sure more research is on the way and I'll be looking it into further.

Just know that its out there

Lurking behind your mama's fried potatoes and dinner rolls (And biscuits!!!! Crap, I forgot about biscuits...Dangit!)

Offering up a worse punishment than having to graduate up into your fat pants!

Beware. Seriously. Be aware.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Luxury Soaps

Is there anything more luxurious than hand made soaps, mildly scented, softly lathered and creamy?

Fur undies, maybe but I don't know where to get those and even if I could, I wouldn't wear fur down there........It would make my butt look big.

I buy Caldrea hand soap and lotion from a little shop here in Gainesville called Bella Matiz. Check out their facebook page here Bella Matiz.

They come in wonderful scents like Sea Salt Neroli, Lavender Pine, Basil Blue Sage, and more. All of their products are earth friendly and biodegradable, as well as being scented with essential oils. They even have products for laundry, kitchen counters, dishes, and babies. The scent I currently have in my kitchen at work is Sandalwood Riceflower. My favorite one, they don't make anymore, is Green Tea Patchouli.

The prompt for this post happened when I went to the kitchen to wash my hands and make myself and my darling husband a RVL shake for breakfast. I love the warm water really steamy as I'm a summer girl and its frigidly cold here in north Texas. I think its probably gonna snow, maybe get icy, maybe a blizzard. Its 60 degrees out..... brrrrrrrr.....Okay, maybe its just the shake. Nevertheless, I really do enjoy the really warm water. Its not so friendly on the hands though. They need a little lotion. Okay, a lot of lotion. My husband likes it when I rub his back because it rubs and scratches at the same time..I wan't trying to be scratchy...

So, I went in there to get some lotion and I came back to the front and he said "Man, I HATE the smell of that soap!!" I said "Its my hand lotion." He said "I HATE the smell of that hand lotion. Can't you find some that's more neutral smelling with no scent or some that smells like chicken wings?"

Since I love Caldrea, I'm going to write them a letter and tell them they need to institute of line of Man friendly scents like chicken wings or dog's breath or fish bait or man toots. I know the last one seems like I went a little too far. But, I know men...and I don't think I went too far at all. I think I probably didn't go quite as far as I could have.

Here's one of the products from the new line:

Okay, maybe that was a little too far.

But, I don't think so. I probably could have gone much further....but, since I'm lady, I won't.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Mocha Frappuccino

Who doesn't love THIS?

Well, I can tell you how to make THAT only a whole lot healthier with THIS.

This is so amazingly simple I'm almost embarassed to tell you how to do it.....ALMOST.

Seriously, I see so many people running to Starbuck's to get their coffee fix and I just think NOOOO! WHY?? Well. I KNOW why. A friend of mine works there and the poor girl who is a tiny, little, waif of sweetness gets berated by angry coffee drinkers ALL THE TIME! I'm amazed. Apparently people get cranky before they've had coffee. I think she should keep a spray bottle of water (or hydrochloric kidding...or am I?) to spray those angry fools in the face when their manners are bad. Don't say anything, just smile sweetly and spray every time they say something rude. Then only respond verbally when they behave themselves. I think it could work. I would do it. In fact, I want to go get a job at Starbuck's right now so I can try it out and see if it works. Purely as a scientific endeavor of course.

All that being said, I love the ambience of Starbuck's too. I love the music, the lighting, the lure of the fresh pastries, and the smell. OH! The Smell!! Is there anything more heavenly smelling than freshly brewed coffee? I think not. Well, okay, freshly bathed babies smell pretty darn good too. Its a draw.

What I don't like about Starbuck's is the coffee. Sorry, but true. It tastes burnt to me. I like their Mocha Frappuccinos though. They are super delicious but  loaded with all kinds of sugars and calories. Very occassionally, I would go in and buy one, but only if I skipped dinner or lunch or a weeks worth of meals to account for all the calories. Who am I kidding. I can't skip a meal. Now, this song comes to mind:

I can't help it. Sorry.

Lets pretend that didn't just happen.

Because what I REALLY got up to tell you this morning is how you can make the lovely mocha frappuccino at home and its really very healthy. I've seen lots of recipes on the net for diy concoctions and they are less expensive for sure. But, they are loaded with sugar as well. In fact, really its just espresso, sugar, milk, and whipped cream. That makes my tummy hurt just telling you about it.

My way is actually a meal replacement. It tastes good, you can give it to your kids, minus the coffee of course. Or...with the coffee...your call......but I don't think....its a good idea.....But, hey! I don't judge.

So, here's what you do:
In a blender, mix 8 oz water, 5 ice cubes, 1 packet Monavie RVL, 1 packet Stevia, and 1 packet of Starbuck's Via. Blend it all up until its frothy and creamy. I kid you not, it's delicious. Plus, it only has 190 Calories with the anti-oxidant equivalent of 10 servings of fruits and vegetables. You can't get that at Starbuck's or even your own diy version with milk and sugar.
And because its loaded with nutrients you really can give it to your kids! Especially if they are like my kid and are picky eaters that think vegetables are in the same food group as rat poison.

If you want to try some, leave a comment with a way to contact you and I'll send you a packet of RVL for free. It also comes in vanilla. The vanilla mixed with a little PB2 powdered peanut butter is absolutely to die for. It tastes like a pb milkshake and still full of nutrients without a lot of added calories. In your comment let me know if you want to try Chocolate Berry or Vanilla.

If you want to learn more about RVL and the ingredients go to this website If you want to order some, go to my website on the right hand side.

Have your Mocha Frappuccino, be a little healthier, and don't listen to the Chipmunk's. They're Chipmunks for Pete's sake! What do they know about beauty trends? They don't even wear pants!!!

This is linked to Monday Mania and Barn Hop. A couple of other healthy living blog carnivals. Go check em out!!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Creating Jobs

This is soo great! has partnered with Starbucks and Opportunity Finance Network to get the word out about Create Jobs for USA

Here's the deal. Everyone is worried about jobs and the economy. This organization is collecting and then donating money to help small businesses and entrepreneurs. I absolutely love this and will gladly donate to this very worthy cause.

As an entrepreneur and small business owner myself, I can totally relate.

About 8 years ago, my husband, Robbie, and I decided to start a swimming pool service business. Because he was working at an auto dealership selling cars and I was staying at home and home schooling our son, we decided I would get it started part time while he continued to sell cars. We literally started from nothing. We learned the legal issues necessary for our industry and since we were too late to be entered in the local phone book, we ran an ad in the paper. We then got set up with a distributor, bought about $300 in supplies and home office equipment, and became official business owners. We worked from home for about 5 years gradually growing our service business.

In addition to that, we found a network marketing business that we just loved, Monavie. We really weren't looking for a network marketing business at the time, but Robbie was having some serious health issues and this worked for us miraculously. We really only started that business to get our products free. We fell in love with the company and decided to work that business part time while we build our pool business and Robbie's car selling job.

Right around that time, the car business really started to tank. He worked for a GM dealer and we all know where that went. They kept re-structuring his pay plan so that every time he started to make some really good money, they would basically take it from him. We learned that some companies don't like to give too much money to their employees, even though he was working on straight commission. Every day he would tell me how much he hated his job.
Meanwhile, the pool business was growing and I began to notice that there are a lot of swimming pools in our area with homeowners taking care of them themselves. To buy supplies, they had to drive at least 30 miles in either direction to the nearest pool store. Every time he told me how he hated his job, I suggested he quit. He wasn't making any money anyway and working really long hours. He wouldn't quit. He was afraid. He was afraid that a pool store would cost too much money and couldn't support itself. I assured him that the store would make more money than the service business but his insecurity outweighed his desire for job freedom.

Every night he went to bed afraid. He told me through all 3 rounds "I think I'm gonna lose my job tomorrow." Then on the 4th round, he called me that morning and said "I just lost my job." While that scared me a little too, I said "THAT'S GREAT!!! We can open our store now. This is really the best thing that can happen to us." I didn't want him to know that I was a little scared too, but I knew in my heart that I was right.  He didn't really believe me but went along anyway.

*As an aside: Its my belief that in a marriage or partnership, only one person can freak out. The other person is responsible for being the calming influence. Every now and then, I have to remind my husband that its MY turn to freak out!! He's a good sport about it. :)*

That was 3 years ago and our business has continued to grow and expand. In fact, this winter we're going to be selling 2 lines of hot tubs. That's in addition to the fact that we've also just recently partnered with a local pool builder as well as selling above ground pools.

Every now and then, as he tallies up the total income for the day, he says "Man!!! Who knew it would could be this great?"  I slowly raise my hand. :)

I feel blessed that we decided to start the business before we needed to while we didn't really need the money. I also feel like God has been guiding our path each step of the way. I feel blessed for the Monavie business, because the extra income there has been HUGE as well as the health benefits we've received. I truly don't think we could have done this while Robbie was in such poor health. Because of all that, we were able to start our pool business without having to borrow money. In addition to all that, I haven't really noticed any drop in business due to the economy. However, we did open the store in a bad economy and it's never really come back yet. So, who knows how great it could be when the economy DOES turn around.

I'm listening to an audio book right now written by Donald Trump and Robert Kiyosaki entitled The Midas Touch: Why Some Entrepreneurs Get Rich - And Why Most Don't.   I recommend everyone considering business ownership read that book.
One of my favorite things in the book is when they talk about how too much education is actually detrimental to effective business ownership. Too much education leads to too much specialization. In business, one needs to know a little bit about every aspect of their business. So a person would be better off learning all they can about business, sales, marketing, technology, legal aspects specific to their industry, and accounting instead of focusing only on their talent or specialization.

My philosophy has been from the get-go, if you don't have a job...make one! Create Jobs For USA is helping people do just that. Go check it out and if you feel called, give em a donation. Its a heckuva lot better than waiting for the government to take care of us all!