Sunday, February 28, 2016

Feeding the Poultry

Some folk often wonder what they can feed their poultry other than commercial stuff. I know first hand that over the colder months the cost of layer ration can go up considerably as the birds do not free range. This is a frustrating time of year, the poultry seem to eat their way through bags of feed whilst laying very few eggs.
It can help to add a few scraps into their diet. This gives them a bit of variety and can help cut cost slightly. I give my ducks, turkeys and chickens a few scraps each day. Usually plate scrapings, meat scraps we cannot eat (cut up with no bones in) tea dregs, and any other bits and bobs that may be past consumable for us. I find they will not eat citrus fruit or juice, chili, onion or garlic.
We also have Kefir grains that increase in size rapidly. When we have too many grains I give them to the poultry, they love it. It gives them a good dose of probiotics and it helps increase egg production. Make sure the food is small enough for them to eat easily, nobody want a choking chicken or a blocked crop.

Mini Meringues

I recently made a delicious French Lemon Tart. It used quite a few whole eggs but left me with two spare egg whites. Those lonely two little eggs whites did not go to waste. I made some mini meringues with them.

Tasty Little Treats

In a large mixing bowl whip the eggs whites up until slightly firmed, add one ounce of sugar for each egg white. Keep beating the egg whites until they reach the firm peak stage, when the bowl can be held over your head upside down without the meringue landed on you! Spoon dollops of the mix onto a baking tray lined with foil. Bake on 275 degrees until they are crisp, this can take a couple of hours and depends on the size of your meringues.

Serve as they are or with fresh fruit and cream

Friday, February 26, 2016

Sunshine Melt!

It is once again above the zero mark here, and once again the poultry are enjoying it very much. The ducks seemed to enjoy bathing in the muddy snow melt puddles that formed underneath where we park the car. Not sure what the turkey's made of it!

Snow free and muddy!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

When to let the Poultry out

Over the Winter time all of our poultry is tucked away in sheds, it is just to cold here in Manitoba to let them run loose. We learned that lesson the first year of keeping ducks. We let them decide when they came in and out and sadly it soon became apparent that they did not make good choices, we lost most of them to cold exposure that first year. We felt terrible.
It can be tricky to gauge when it is too cold to let poultry out. It depends on breed, hardiness, is it windy, is it too snowy. There is lots to think about. My turkeys will go out up to about minus 10 actual temperature, chickens the same, ducks, no way!
The decision on whether they come out or not is now ours, and many owners differ on when it is fine for them to wander outside. Today all my turkeys, chickens and ducks are out (although not my Muscovy Ducks, who hate the slightest cold) We had fresh snow last night, it is currently minus 4 with a windchill of minus 9.
If it is way too cold for you, it will likely be way to cold for them. If it is cold but you can stay out comfortably the chances are they could to. Use your common sense as they lack it. Remember that your bad judgement can sadly be fatal to our feathered friends.

Soup Sievings Savoury Rolls

Soup sievings, you may ask? Simple really, whenever I make soup that has been whizzed I most often than not sieve it to remove all the stringy pulpy bits. These certainly do not go to waste. With a tomato based soup I usually use these sievings up as the tomato base for a pizza. However, on this occasion I tried a new recipe.

I made a simple bread dough -

400 ml water
Pinch of salt
Pinch of sugar
1 tbsp of traditional yeast
Enough flour to make a soft dough (I used a mix of white and wholewheat flours)

Once the bread had risen for about an hour I rolled it out to a long rectangle. I then spread the soup sievings over the entire rolled out dough and sprinkled it with some grated cheese.

Ready to roll

Roll carefully and as tight as you can so you have a large sausage shape. Proceed to cut them in to sections about an inch or so thick. Place on a baking sheet and let rise for about half an hour.

Ready to bake

Bake on 350 degrees until risen and slightly browned. Savoury leftover soup sievings rolls!


Monday, February 22, 2016

The New Trio

The weather has been fine lately, still snowy but fine. I thought I would share a photo of my latest poultry trio. They are Golden Laced Wyandottes, and the hens are extremely friendly, the rooster however is slightly more reserved! I am sure he will become less evasive in time. A great dual purpose breed and rather nice to look at.

Looking over his girls!

Snow is yummy!

Friday, February 19, 2016

Empty the Freezer Soup!

We have a couple of large chest freezers outside in the garage which is home to all our homegrown goodies. I bring in bags of veg, meat and fruit into the inside freezer for easy use rather than going outside every time I want a pan of peas for example. Every few weeks I empty the freezer and all its bags of not much that hide themselves away and make a soup. Soup variety varies with whatever I need to use up.

Colorful and Healthy

In this case it was tomatoes, zucchini, red cabbage, leftover carrot and potato water and some stale bread. Seasoned with salt and pepper, spiced with turmeric and cumin. 

Yum Yum

Once cooked the soup was whizzed, then passed through a sieve (sieved leftovers saved for casseroles or to put on a pizza base) The soup was served with baking powder biscuits.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Budget Shopping

Whether we are on a budget or not, most of us like to save money rather than spend it. My budget shudders when my husband has to do the small amount of shopping we need every now and again. The shopping cart or basket for some reason seems to attract things that are not on the list!
So, how do we stay in budget? One answer is don't let the husband do it!
Meal planning is a good start, this featured in a earlier blog, it really helps the purse strings. It is also crucial to write a proper list, go through the kitchen and write down exactly what is needed, nothing more and nothing less. This way you can ensure that you will not forget anything and that those cost adding not needed extra items will not find their way home with you. You will no doubt know your shopping place well, I can run in go exactly where I need to go, grab what I need and run out, paying first of course! You get what I mean.
New shopping venues are the bane of life when it comes to budget shopping, you will always spend to much time looking and then the trouble starts, you spend way to much money in these situations.
A list is essential, but just as important is too never go shopping before eating. This is one of the worst things you can do, hungry rumbling tummies rule the grocery shop.
So, grab you list, eat before you go and happy shopping.
Further tips on this subject to come in later blogs :)

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Scrumptious Chicken Soup

We recently had a lovely chicken curry, made by my husbands fair hands. The next day in a large pot went the carcass and scraps to boil in water for about 8 hours. All the meat was then taken off and chucked back in with a handful of potatoes, a bit of leftover porridge, an onion, a few cloves of garlic and some seasoning. This cooked for about half and hour before being whizzed to puree and served with little baking powder cheese breads.

So Simple

Chicken Soup good for the Soul!

Monday, February 15, 2016

Fresh Manitoba Air

Despite the amount of snow we still have on the ground that makes it looks very cold, it has been very mild the last couple of days, it is a nice treat once again for my birds to spread their wings and stretch their legs.

Sun on their backs

Friendly chap

Turkey hen

Snow tastes good

The chickens had to savor the sun in their enclosure as they don't get along too well with the turkeys. It is better when they can all graze in Summer!

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Recipe Amendment

In my recent blog 'Chocolate Oaty No Bake Bars' I somehow forgot to add one key ingredient, peanut butter or nut butter of choice! I have now added it :)

Chocolate Oaty No Cook Bars

These super simple treats are a huge winner in our house, they have gone before you know it! They are also super good for you which makes that essential second helping guilt free. Give these a whirl, you won't be disappointed!

3 1/2 cups of quick cook oats
2 tbsp chia seeds (optional)
4 tbsp of good quality cocoa powder
1/2 cup of honey
1/2 cup of coconut oil, extra virgin
1/2 cup of peanut butter or nut butter of choice
A handful of raisins

Melt the coconut oil, the honey and the cocoa powder together. Once melted mix into the oats, raisins and chia seeds. Get your hands in for a better mix!
Line a small square cake tin with foil and pack in the mix, it needs to go in the fridge to set before cutting into squares.
Now, this an optional addition, melt some 70% dark chocolate with some coconut oil and put it on top. Let it set in the fridge.

Oaty Chocolaty Goodness

Yum Yum, more please!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Throw Together Leftover Bake

Those who follow my blog on a regular basis will know that in my kitchen leftovers are often on the top of the menu. After a couple of days my fridge becomes home to a selection of leftovers from previous meals. This is where you can let your cooking imagination run loose. Curry it, stir fry it, eat them as they are, yes, the choice is great. I decided to make a tasty bake -

Leftover red cabbage
Leftover cheesy mashed potato
Leftover egg bake, chopped
Leftover lamb, chopped
Leftover sweetcorn
Leftover potato water with mash remnants in it so it was a thicker than water (the remnants are from the masher and spoon that I soak in the potato water so all the potato comes off, no waste!)

Cheap, Nutritious, Frugal and Tasty

All I did was layer the cabbage, sweetcorn and lamb on the bottom of the dish, top with the egg bake and potato. I then poured the potato water over, topped it with some breadcrumbs, dots of butter and a bit of grated cheese. It was so delicious and fed our family of six well. The ingredients I used were what I had but any leftovers you have can be used to make this. Instead of potato water use a cheese sauce, change it up! I just had potato water handy. And, can you believe it but there was also leftovers from this leftover bake!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Our Chicken Crew!

Oh So Simple Lunch

We are having quite the cold snap at the moment, very cold, it is about minus 30 with the windchill as I type, brrr. Despite the frigid temperatures the sun has been shining and whilst I sat eating lunch recently my back was warmed by the sun's rays. The sun shining in as we ate a simple but satisfying lunch, what more could I ask for?


Homemade wholewheat bread, avocado, bean dip, beetroot and apple chutney, and a cracker with cheese topped with hot chili sauce. Most of which was homemade :)

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Bit of a Blizzard

We recently experienced the first blizzard of the season. We have been very lucky so far this Winter, in fact the snow storms, blizzards and huge snow dumps have neglected us. Yes yes I know tempt fate and all that but it has been a mild Winter. That can soon change in the blink of a eye here in central Manitoba.

A bit windy

Usually we can see far and wide from the bottom of the drive but on this day we could barely see past the road. The wind was powerful, the blowing snow intense and visibility non existent. The main highway was closed for 24 hours due to this all day blizzard. It shows that mother nature rules and that we are small fry in comparison.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Lucious Chocolatey Beetroot Brownies

There is nothing nicer than in the mid morning, mid afternoon or anytime of the day to sit back with a nice hot drink and savor a sweet tasty treat. That sweet tasty treat with no guilt! And packed with anti-oxidant rich beetroot. How could you go wrong?

Put these on your must make list!

Sticky and Moist

250g dark chocolate (70 % is best)
250g grated cooked beetroots
250g unsalted butter
125g of brown sugar
3 eggs
150g of wholewheat flour
1 tsp of baking powder

Firstly we use very little sugar in our baking, the amount of sugar in my recipe may not be to everyone's taste, add up to 200g of sugar if you think 125g is not enough. Don't forget though that the chocolate has sugar in it too.

Melt the butter, the sugar and chocolate together (I prefer to use a bowl over simmering water for this)  In a large mixing bowl mix the flour and baking powder together, add the beetroot and fold in the melted chocolate mixture and the eggs. Bake on 350 degrees until it is still a bit sticky in the middle. Leave to cool before slicing. Then get that kettle on and tuck in!

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Commenting Error!

Unfortunately I have noticed that a setting on my blog had stopped people commenting on any of my posts! I apologize for this and it has now been corrected. Please try again if you have already tried to leave a comment by clicking on the 'No Comments' section that appears below my blogs, and for those folks who have not yet commented, comment away :)

Around the World

Since writing my blog I have noticed that it is read from quite a few places and that is fantastic! I would like to say a big thank you to all my readers. Just out of interest I would love to know what places in the world my blog has reached. I am typing this blog in my front room looking out at a blizzard in Manitoba, Canada!
At the bottom of the blog you will see where you can comment, it would be awesome if you could take a few extra moments to type where in the world you are reading from :) Where has my blog reached?

Porky Patties

On a recent blog I featured a roast Berkshire shoulder of pork, which was absolutely divine. Like most folk the best pieces of that roast meat is taken for the first meal. This then leaves the not so best pieces which may for some seem troublesome. What can you do with it other than stare at it every so often, those poor leftover morsels sitting sorry in the fridge. After being neglected for a while those tasty treats will end up in the garbage and that is a disaster. Not in this house they won't! Any leftover meat can be rescued and turned into these fantastic patties!

Why waste?

Trim all the leftover meat of the bone and place in a food processor along with a good handful of oats, a good pinch of pepper and salt, a pinch of cumin and one egg. Whizz this all together until the meat is fine, you want a mix that will hold together. Once all of the ingredients are mixed well and there are no lumpy meat bits shape into flat patties. I made six. Fry on both sides until nicely browned and serve. They work well with some hot chili sauce but good old ketchup works great too. In a bun or out of a bun, these no waste patties are awesome.

Friday, February 5, 2016

The Best Roast Dinner!

Folk often ask me why we make the effort to be self - sufficient. The answer is quite easy really, because what we eat is the freshest and most nutritious chemical free naturally raised and grown food we could ever consume. We take pride in what we do, and we can sit down to a meal that was grown within a stones throw from our dinner table.

Beat that!

A beautiful roasted Berkshire shoulder, heritage sweetcorn, cabbage, turmeric potatoes and a good dose of gravy. The slightly spiced turmeric potatoes will feature on my self - sufficient Facebook page that can be found on my blog! Happy Cooking Folks!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Easy Peasy Mayo!

Sometimes we purchase certain products because it just seems easier, open the lid or open a packet and use. Sometimes the easier options just don't pack it, they are full of fake laboratory made ingredients, full of colors, fake flavors and far from nutritious. Take the humble mayonnaise for example, looks good and even tastes good, it is a dietary staple for many. Have you ever thought that making homemade mayonnaise is just as simple and much better for you? It can be.
Admittedly my first couple of attempts to make homemade mayo failed. I tried the blender method that all the chef's seemed to rave about, failure, then the bowl method, failure. Finally I realized that the problem was the size of the bowl, and ever since changing from a large mixing bowl to a smaller one I have not once had mayo go wrong. So, here it is -

2 of the freshest free range eggs you can find, must be room temperature
Oil, I use olive oil or avocado oil
Do not use extra virgin olive oil as it leaves the mayo with a strong taste
salt and pepper
Herbs (optional, dill or tarragon work well)
Squeeze of lemon juice

Tea towel steadies the bowl for beating

Separate the eggs and put the yolks in a small mixing bowl. The egg whites can be saved to make meringues which will feature in a later blog.
Add a squeeze of lemon juice to the egg yolks, about 1tsp. Once the mayonnaise is finished you can add a little more if you like.
Beat the egg yolks and lemon juice until creamy. The slowly start to add the oil, SLOWLY is very important until the mayonnaise is starting to thicken. If you add the oil to fast the mix will split. I add a small trickle, beat that in and then another trickle. Once the mayo has started to thicken you can add the oil at a faster rate.

Thickening up

The amount of oil will vary but for two egg yolks it will be around 3/4 cup to a full cup. Once the mayonnaise is done season with salt and pepper. Add herbs if you like.

Finished with dill

The mayonnaise will keep for a couple of days in the fridge.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Where do you start?

One of the most popular questions I get asked is how do you start being self sufficient? The answer really depends on how self - sufficient you want to be. Do you want to go the whole hog or just grow a few vegetable plants and keep a couple of chickens? Either way, the first thing on the list of what to do is plan. Planning is the best way and the only way to start. Without a plan of action, knowing what you want to grow, where you want to grow it, and how much you will need to meet your requirements will lead you down a harder path. If you are thinking large scale planning is a absolute must. A very close second to planning is researching. Everything to do with homesteading and self - sufficiency must be researched. There is little point in trying something out if it won't like your location. This goes for plant and animal. For example, a breed of sheep from Africa is not likely to do well in a cold zone! And neither will a tropical plant. This may sound like simple common sense but believe me that does not always come in to it.
I always say to start small and work your way up. If you over do it you will be totally overwhelmed, over encumbered and totally knackered. This does not make for a enjoyable process. Do not bite off more than you can chew, you will get there in the end.
Following these simple tips will help you achieve the lifestyle you want. Always remember slow and steady wins the race.

Monday, February 1, 2016

My Interview with Mix 96 Portage la Prairie

Jammy gems!

Sunday is our day for baking treats for the school days ahead. I am proud that our children not only take healthy homemade snacks to school but they also help to make them. Here are some lovely mini cakes we made for that special sweet lunch box treat!

6oz of organic wholewheat flour
4oz palm sugar or brown sugar
5oz butter
2 free range eggs
1 tsp of baking powder
A touch of milk if needed

Place a small amount of the cake batter in the bottom of the muffin cups, top that with a small spoon of jam (I used homemade Nanking Jelly.)

Half way there
On top of the jam or jelly add more cake batter.

Oven ready

Bake on 350 degrees until cooked, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Looking yummy!

Pictured with an oaty farmhouse loaf.