Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Family Christmas

Our family (except for two who couldn't make it) celebrated Christmas on the 23rd.  We had a great time visiting with kids and grandkids.

We enjoyed our usual Christmas meal of Swedish meatballs, mashed potatoes and gravy, lefse, fruit salad (my Gram's recipe), plus a few other things.  It was very good.

Our daughter brought me a bottle of my favorite wine, which she dressed up in holiday style.

Here it is undressed.

This is a nice white wine from Germany; my favorite.

And our daughter-in-law brought Mr. M's favorite dessert:  pecan pie.

I didn't get a picture of it before we started eating it.

After we opened gifts, the two youngest grands and I went to look at our pigs and also the neighbor's sheep.  These two always enjoy looking at the various animals we have around here.

Oh, and the Packers won that day also.  Go, Pack!

Except for missing the two who couldn't come, it was a wonderful day.

Christmas day itself was mostly a quiet one for Mr. M and me.

Hope you had a wonderful Christmas, too.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Winter Pictures

A couple of nights ago my sisters and I went to see the Christmas lights display in a park not too far from here.  This is the 25th year that the city has had this display, and every year they add to it.  We hadn't been to see it in a few years, so we were surprised at how many displays there were.

This is only a very small part of what is there.  There were a lot of cars driving through to look, so it was hard to stop and take pictures without holding up traffic.  And some of the pictures just didn't turn out the way we hoped.

It's a good thing we went when we did, because the next day there was a big storm and we got back the several inches of snow we lost over the previous few days.  My unofficial measurement shows we got at least 10-11 inches at our house.  Oh well, it is winter in the north after all

The birds were very busy at the feeders yesterday, which always happens just before and during snowstorms.

These birds were waiting for their turn at the feeders.

And so was this cardinal.  But he did finally manage to get a place there.

Today, the sky was clear and even though the temp was fairly low, it was a nice day because of the sunshine.  Mr. M got out and did some snowblowing this morning.  Here he's making a path out to the chicken coop.

And here a path to and around the woodpile.

Of course, this makes it much easier to move around outside.  He also made a path out through the front yard and down the slope to the road, so I can go out and get the mail without too much trouble.

Even though I am not a big fan of winter and cold and lots of snow, I do like a white Christmas.

Is it wintry where you are?

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Canning Venison

We spent the past couple of days doing some "winter" canning.  Mr. M got a nice deer right at the end of doe season, which is after the regular season.  When he cut it up, we got several steaks (tenderloin, sirloin, and round) which we put in the freezer, and the rest we cut into chunks to be canned. 

These canned chunks work very well for stew, soup, or hotdishes.  It makes supper very quick and easy to do when the meat is already cooked.

Since I already had all the canning equipment out, I decided to thaw some packages of chicken broth and beef broth that I had put in the freezer earlier in the fall when I didn't have the time (or inclination) to can it.

I haven't kept or canned chicken or beef broth before, but I was interested in having broths that have no other ingredients except the broth itself.  Once the canning is done, these jars of broth are just as convenient to use as what you'd buy from the store, and much healthier.

This post was also shared on "Wildcrafting Wednesday."


Sunday, December 16, 2012

What a Difference a Week Makes!

Last Sunday we got 10 inches of snow, our first snow of the season.  Since it's now December, I figured that this snow would be with us until some time in March (with a few to many more snowstorms on top of it).  Wrong!!  Yesterday, it rained off and on most of the day with temps hovering in the mid-30's. 

So the same view from last week's post now looks like this:

What started out as 10 inches has been reduced to about 2 inches.  Snow can be lovely, but when it lingers for 3 or 4 months or more, that's just too much.  So when we get a reduction in snow cover, that's all right with me.

A few months ago I saw something my niece had made for her mother (my sister).  I thought it was beautiful and told my sister to tell her daughter I would buy one from her if she would be willing to make another one.  She did, and here it is.

She lives on the west coast, and I believe she got the driftwood somewhere along the ocean.  She put the rocks in a tumbler to make them smooth.  Then she twisted wires together to make them into a tree shape and added the rocks.  I love it!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Winter Wonderland

It's a winter wonderland at Meadowcreek today.  We have about 8 inches of snow so far, and it hasn't stopped yet. We're supposed to get up to 10 inches according to the forecast.

Late this afternoon, I shoveled a path out to the bird feeders and then went out to feed the chickens.  They stayed in the coop most of the day.  It's the first time they've seen snow.  They usually manage to get to the bird feeders and eat any sunflower seeds that fall on the ground, but they didn't venture over that way today. 

This is the first snow of the season, so people are re-learning how to drive in winter weather.  Just heard about a multi-car accident on the interstate about seven miles from here.  The temperature is just below freezing, so I imagine driving right now is rather dangerous.  I hope no one was hurt. 

With all this snow, I feel more motivated to get the Christmas tree set up and decorated.  Maybe I'll put on some Christmas music tomorrow and do just that.

Happy Winter!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Making Lefse

Since my ancestry is half Swedish and the other half mostly English with a bit of Norwegian, part of our holiday food traditions has always been lefse.  It is a must for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners.  I don't think my kids would let me get by without serving it.

Normally, I buy lefse, but if you've been reading this blog, you know that I took a lefse making class about a year ago, and then a few months ago at an auction got an awesome buy on a lefse griddle.

Right before Thanksgiving, our daughter helped me make some.  As it turns out, she's a natural; it took her no time at all to learn how to roll the dough out properly and also to cook it on the griddle. 

The day before we were going to make it, I boiled a few potatoes--we love Yukon Gold's, and grow mostly that kind, but Russets are best for lefse. 


Next, I put the boiled potatoes through the ricer, and then into the refrigerator overnight.

The next morning, we put the potatoes through the ricer one more time.

Then they get mixed with flour, butter, salt, and a bit of sugar and rolled into balls a little bigger than a golf ball.  These are put into the refrigerator and taken out one at a time to roll out.  They are much easier to work with when they're cold.  They must be rolled very thin, so thin that you can read the writing on the pastry cloth through them.  I rolled out the first couple and cooked them on the griddle--at between 400 and 500 degrees.  Then my daughter did a few on the griddle while I rolled.  Then she wanted to learn how to roll them, so she did that.  We got so busy making them that I didn't get a picture of rolling them out or cooking them.  Sorry about that.

This is what they look like when finished.

We ended up with 19 pieces.  After Thanksgiving, there were some left over, which I put in the freezer for Christmas dinner, but I'll have to make another batch so that we have enough.
Some people only put butter on them, some put butter and honey.  I tend to butter them, put on some turkey, stuffing, and cranberries, then roll them up and eat them that way.  The warm turkey and stuffing melt the butter, and they are sooo good.  It's really all up to the individual as to what they want to put on a piece of lefse.  Some people eat lefse year-round, but we have always just saved it as a special part of our holiday dinners.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


Just a couple of things to talk about today. 
First, the person who owns the buffalo brought over a trailer load of hay.

These are huge bales, and it was interesting to watch him unload them with his skid steer.

Times have changed, I guess.   When we had horses many years ago, the hay bales were those smaller rectangular ones, maybe only about 50 lb.--the kind that a person could easily lift.  Now that's impossible without some piece of equipment.  I know that many people still bale in the smaller rectangles, but it seems as though every year I see more and more of these big round bales.

One other thing happening is that the pigs have been moved.  The man who owns 4 of them took all of them back to his place.  He has a better setup for getting water to them than we do, now that the water in their troughs freezes every night and often doesn't thaw during the day.  Hauling water by buckets is no fun, although it may have been good for my arm muscles.  I'll be visiting them often to see how they're doing and maybe even to help with feeding, etc. 

I've spent most of the day inside, making a few loaves of multi-grain bread.  Since I quit buying bread from the grocery store in September, I've made various types including multi-grain, rye (sort of a Swedish limpa rye type), pumpernickel, and a couple loaves of white.  Mr. M prefers pumpernickel, and I like the Swedish rye, but the multi-grain is very good also.  I don't think I'll ever go back to store-bought bread--way too expensive and not nearly as good as homemade.

Monday, November 19, 2012


The pigs have been very busy the past couple of weeks.  They get started right away in the morning and usually stop to nap for awhile in the early afternoon.  Then they're back at it until dark.  Besides grass, weeds, and a few rocks, these are some of the treasures they've rooted up so far.

This farm has been here for 150 years, so I'm sure there are a lot more pieces of metal laying beneath the surface.  The pigs root about a foot deep in some areas. 

Mr. M has been hunting the past two days; the gun deer season started on Saturday and goes through next Sunday.  He's seen several, but hasn't gotten one yet.  Our oldest son and our son-in-law both got their deer already.  So there will be meat in their freezers for the winter.  If Mr. M gets a deer, we'll cut the tenderloins and backstrap into smaller pieces and freeze them.  Most of the big pieces will be cut into chunks and pressure canned.  The really small pieces will become ring bologna. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

A Fun Quilting Weekend

My friend and I just got back yesterday from a 3 day quilting/knitting/rug hooking/any kind of craft you want to do retreat.  What great fun we had! This is our third year in a row at this particular retreat and we always have such a great time.  We were able to sit at the same table as two women whom we sat with last year, so it was nice to get to know them better.  We also saw many familiar faces from past years and met some new people as well.

This is a picture of the room early one morning before very many people got started.

Here are a couple of pictures of things I worked on.  These are small projects that are completed.

A table mat and small runner.

This is a padded pouch that I will use to store thread, pins, etc. when I go to retreats.

And then a couple of bigger projects that now need to be sandwiched, quilted, and bound.  The apples and leaves on the last one are appliqued on.

This tree also needs a border.


We are already looking forward to going again next year.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

My Menu System

Putting together menus has often been a challenge for me.  Over the years, I have tried different systems to make it easier.  The one I used for years, just writing down two weeks worth of menus in a 3-ring binder, worked okay.  However, it was not as "perfect" as what I was looking for; it seemed like meals were being repeated too often, and I really didn't enjoy cooking very much because of it. Then I came up with the system I've now been using for about 15 months. 

I generally shop for groceries twice a month, and with this method, it is so quick and easy to do menus for a couple of weeks at a time.

I use a recipe box that holds 4x6 tabbed cards and colored index cards.  There is a tabbed card for each month and also one for each of the days in a month.

The main dishes go on green, yellow, orange, blue, or pink cards depending on whether it's beef, chicken, pork, fish/seafood, or meatless.  Right now there are 88 main dish index cards, which means it could take close to three months before I have to repeat any of them.  However, it wouldn't be that long because some of the main dishes are specifically for a certain time of year, such as soups for the colder months.  Even so, I don't usually repeat a meal more often than every six to eight weeks.

On each of these cards, I have written down the ingredients needed and where to find the recipe if it's not in my regular recipe binder.  As I plan for the two weeks, I pick the first 14 cards in the main dish slot and put one behind each of the next 14 day-of-the-month cards.  As I do each one, I write down on my grocery list any of the ingredients that I don't have on hand.  I then take out the side dish cards (on purple) and add one or two of the cards to each of the 14 day slots, also writing on the grocery list any ingredients I don't have. 

In addition, there are card dividers for Breads, Appetizers, Desserts & Snacks, Beverages, and Holiday, and those get added as needed.

Putting together a menu and grocery list for two weeks generally takes about 10 minutes or so.

This method works beautifully for me.  I no longer get up in the morning and wonder what I'm going to fix for supper that night.  I simply pull out the cards behind the appropriate day, put that day-of-the-month card at the back, and take out anything from the freezer that needs to thaw for supper that day. When that meal is over, its cards go to the back of the main dish and side dish slots so that the same meal doesn't come up again too soon.  We have a simple breakfast and generally eat leftovers for lunch, so this system is only used for the evening meals, but it could be adapted to include all the meals of the day.

Surprisingly enough, I now enjoy cooking, much more than I did previously.

Linking up to Organize It! Link Party at


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Vegetable Soup

Today I made vegetable-beef soup for supper.  Nothing unusual about that, but the neat thing is that almost everything in the soup came from our garden or from Mr. M's hunt last year.

The jar of meat on the left is venison we canned last fall after hunting season.  The onion, potatoes, cabbage, carrots (frozen), and tomatoes (yellow, in jar at back) all came from our garden.  The celery was from a friend's garden.  The only things not grown by us are the spices and barley.
As so many of you know, it is such a nice feeling to sit down to eat a meal when you know that you've provided most or all of it yourselves.  And it's also wonderful knowing that no insecticides/herbicides were used to grow this food.  How exciting is that!