Monthly Archives: June 2010

Fried Eggs

Had a nice time outside tonight… fed the horses, weeded in the garden for awhile, went out and did chores.  I gathered the eggs and put them in the front pockets of my scrub top.  I was just finishing up and grabbed for the chain to close the gate.  Little did I realize that when I had unhooked the chain I carelessly let it flop over the electric fence wire…so when I grabbed it I got a big jolt.  The funny part was that one of the dogs, forever at my heels, was sniffing my leg and got the shock too.  So I yell and jump back and the dog yelps and runs off.

Can’t wait to tell Brian the fence sure does work good now!  We were having some trouble with it so I weed whacked all around it last week.  Too bad I didn’t touch the fence before the weeds were gone.  So what do you think, do those eggs in my pockets qualify as fried now!?  ;D

Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies

In my quest to become the perfect wife (*cough*) I have baked perfect loaves of bread, concocted fruit pies, and whipped real cream in to our favorite desserts.  I must admit, though, that the simple chocolate chip cookie has alluded me.  My cookies were always hard and crispy and, often, too thin.  They were hardly the savory, chewy pieces of heaven that they were supposed to be.  Until now…

Somewhere over the last few months I’ve mastering the art of baking these little guys.  I made a full batch tonight and they turned out great.  I follow a basic recipe from the back of my Spartan brand chips titled “Real Chocolate Chip Cookies”:

  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 12 oz. package semi-sweet chocolate chips

Perfect cookies start out with butter at the right temperature.  It really needs to sit out in a warm room beforehand.  Microwaving will leave you with some melted and some still cold.  Whipping up cold butter will not give you the right texture.

I mix the cookies in one bowl by first beating the sugar in to the butter.  Next, add in the vanilla and eggs.  I use my Kitchen Aid mixer on about 4th speed and let in go for a couple minutes so it is very fluffy despite the package’s warning against over beating.  Then I throw in the salt and baking soda – really toss it in there so it doesn’t all land in one spot.  Then it’s time to slow the mixer way down and add in the flour.  If you’re using a mixer that pouring shield is really handy.  Finally, pour in the chips and allow the mixer to distribute them on low or “Stir” speed.

I preheat my oven at 375 F per the recipe.  I grease my cookie sheets with butter regardless of whether they are nonstick or the recipe calls for an ungreased sheet.  I use a regular metal spoon and butter knife to deposit little scoops of dough onto the sheets, usually a dozen cookies per sheet.  I make my scoops about the size of a small walnut.  If you want all your cookies to be uniform in size you can use a tip I picked up from my Mom.  She uses the Pampered Chef scoops to measure out the dough.

The most important thing I have learned about baking cookies is do not overbake them.  It is OK if they are barely brown on top.  I look for a little browning around the bottom edges.  I usually do 10 minutes for the first batch and 8 minutes once the cookie sheet is already hot.  I take the cookies off the sheets immediately and place them on a cooling rack.  Then my next batch goes right on the sheets and back in the oven.  If you run out of room on your cooling rack and have to leave the last batch on the sheets be sure to pull them out of the oven early (about 6 minutes in for me) because they will keep cooking until the sheet cools.

Once the cookies are completely cool seal them in an airtight container with a piece of bread.  The bread will get hard and keep the cookies soft.  Serve with milk for dipping, of course! 🙂

I hope this will help if you’re struggling with your cookies like I did.  Is there something that challenged you in the kitchen?  Any advice for working around it?

One last tip, I almost forgot: if you’re out of brown sugar or avoid it you can substitute with white sugar and maple syrup.  In this recipe I used a total of 1 1/2 cups white sugar and 2-3 tablespoons of local maple syrup.  For us this is a completely local option when we use Pioneer sugar.  The cookies come out slightly lighter in color but are otherwise the same.

Room by Room Cleaning Schedule

This post is linked to Works for Me Wednesdays over at We Are That Family.

As a part of my cleaning routine I like to tackle two rooms each morning.  Doing two rooms each day six days a week means no room has to go for more than a few days without a thorough cleaning.  Here’s the rotation that works for our house:

  • Monday – Bedroom and Bathroom
  • Tuesday – Kitchen and Entryway
  • Wednesday – Living Room and Office
  • Thursday – Bedroom and Bathroom
  • Friday – Kitchen and Entryway
  • Saturday – Living Room and Office (or switch Office for Spare Bedroom)
  • Sunday – Day of rest!

With this rotation the main living areas are tidied for the weekend when we are most likely to get visitors.  My only downfall is that Wednesday is my early day at work and I never seem to build up the gusto after work to clean like I would in the morning.  This is bad because Wednesday is the day I tackle the kitchen which is by far the toughest to maintain.  It still works out pretty well though.

I love having a schedule like this.  It keeps me focused and helps me to avoid the feeling of running in many directions at once.  Plus, when I get my two rooms done I let myself relax – even if the rest of the house is looking beautiful.

Is there a certain rotation that you use it your house?

Notes on Strawberry Jam Day

Remember last year?  My Mom and sister and I teamed up to make our jam for the whole year.  This year I took the idea to our church instead.  Our church is always looking for new fellowship ideas and  I was hoping the event would draw people in.  The thought was that I would bring my berries and supply the sugar and know how to anyone who wanted to can some of their own.  Here are a few notes on how things went:

  • Attendance – myself and 4 others
  • Strawberries used – approximately 20# whole, uncleaned
  • Pints produced – 23
  • Time from start to finish – about 4 hours
  • The cleaning went very fast – maybe a half hour to an hour.  There was a bit of a downtime after that until we had several batches going back to back.  Next time it might be better to start a few batches right away before the cleaning is done.
  • You can never have enough tubs for everyone to put their scraps in.
  • On the stove we had a canner, and small saucepan with lids, and two pots of jam going at once.  We started with only one pot of jam so we had room to heat the pot of hot water for the jars.  Once it was hot enough with moved the pot of jars on to the floor.  It stayed plenty hot the whole time.
  • We used almost 10# of sugar.
  • Don’t forget the lemon juice!  I almost did.
  • This time I was the only one who brought berries to process.  If there were multiple people canning jam for themselves I think it would be handy to have each keep their jam on one bath towel and label that towel with a piece of masking tape and their name.  That way the jam could be left there to cool if needed without any confusion.
  • Next year I need to pick the date further ahead.  This time I didn’t pick until less than two weeks before which left very little time for advertising.
  • I paid $1.10/# and priced other places at $1.50/#.
  • We had a wonderful time!! I really enjoyed the fellowship and would like to get together like that more often.

If you’d like to plan something similar and have any questions I will try to help you if I can.  I think this is the type of thing that could really take off given today’s economic troubles and rising concerns over food safety and origin.

Funny

The dog beds are all in the laundry….

… so the dog is in the laundry too!  This is what I found when I woke up.

And this, from the other day… I was putting away laundry and the cat thought he would climb in the drawer, to help, I’m sure…

How have your pets been amusing you lately?

Update

Pretty generic title, I know.  Not feeling creative I guess! 🙂  Just figured I should post something until I get around to putting up something better.  Here’s a few of the latest:

  • Our Buckeye rooster died, and no we didn’t do it on purpose.  He lost his voice which was sadly quite amusing until it progressed to a respiratory problem that took him pretty fast.  Luckily, we had him separated with our 2 Buckeye hens and had been saving their eggs for a couple weeks.  The eggs started hatching yesterday.  So far we have 9 chicks with at least one more trying to hatch.  I did put a few Buff Chanteclers in there too but not that many.  Hopefully we’ll get at least one Buckeye Roo.  The one that passed was so mean to the hens that we were planning to butcher him anyway.  I’ve seen some really nice ones so hopefully that was a fluke.
  • Look for a garden update in one of my next posts.  On one hand I’m being a slacker because I still haven’t planted any corn, beans, or carrots.  If I don’t do it soon it will be too late for corn.  On the other hand I’m keeping up with what I do have pretty well.  I have two kinds of peas in and onions.  The potato buckets are flourishing.  I just counted the tomatoes again tonight and after losing a few of the smaller ones I still have 66 plants out there – all that I started myself.  That is exciting!!  What else… oh some herbs, raspberries, and rhubarb went in.  More about that later.
  • We’ve had graduation parties every weekend this month.  I’ve really loved getting to see my family so much and socializing.  I do hope things calm down for July though!
  • There are a lot of things going on at church that I’m a part of.  It is a little hectic now but I’m really enjoying myself.  I can definitely see the church becoming a bigger part of our lives, gradually.
  • I’ve been sleeping much, much better.  I’ve only had nightmares twice lately that I can remember.  I still take a book with me to bed but never take the computer in there.  I still feel really tired a lot of the time but I think that probably got something to do with not eating as healthy as I should.  Brian’s been farming so much that I haven’t done a menu plan lately and that means I eat stuff I shouldn’t. 😛

What have you been up to?