Monthly Archives: July 2011

Freezer Garlic Bread

Has anyone else noticed that if you make a whole loaf of garlic bread the whole thing gets eaten?  There’s really no reason for 2 adults (in our case) to eat a whole loaf of bread at one meal.  Plus, it gets expensive.  Since homemade bread became a staple around here we’ve started to make a few pieces of garlic bread at a time when we want it.  It is easy to do but you have to warm up another skillet, slice the bread, butter it, add seasoning, and keep it from burning.  Not exactly set it and forget it, and not what I want to be doing with a baby and everything else that needs my attention around here.  So… I’m making my bread now.  It’ll be there when we need it, and it’ll taste even better because I’ve taken the time to season it just the way we like.

Ingredients:

  • Bread – French is our favorite (TIP:  this is the perfect place to use bread off the discount rack in the bakery section.  I scored my loaf for $0.90!  Throw it in the freezer until you get time to do this and pull it out a few hours ahead to thaw.)
  • Butter – 1 stick per loaf
  • Salt – if using unsalted butter
  • Pepper
  • Garlic Powder
  • Italian Seasoning
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese
  • Mozzarella – or your shredded cheese of choice
  • Parsley

Slice loaf to your preferred thickness.  I prefer flat, whole pieces.  If you have a large family and want to make it stretch you can slice the loaf lengthwise first and then make your slices.  Cut butter in to a few pieces and warm until it can be whipped with a butter knife (25 seconds in my microwave – or set it out ahead of time on a hot day).  Add in the salt, pepper, garlic powder, and Italian seasoning.  I judge the amounts based on our taste preferences and knowing that we have really potent garlic powder.  If you aren’t sure just go on the light side – you can always sprinkle a bit more on later.  Add in Parmesan cheese and whip well with your knife.

Spread a generous (but not artery clogging!) layer of butter mixture on one side of each slice of bread.  Spoon the shredded mozzarella cheese on to each slice.  Sprinkle with parsley for extra color.  Pat shredded cheese down firmly so it sticks to the butter mixture.  Lay slices in a single layer on a cookie sheet and place in the freezer until they are hard to the touch (a few hours).  It won’t be the end of the world if you forget them for a day or two but try to get back to them the same day to avoid freezer burn.  Package in Ziplocs or your container of choice.  Bake from frozen until just browning at the edges.  I’ve baked them at anywhere from 350-400 F along with whatever else is in the oven for dinner – usually 10 minutes or so is perfect!

Apple Bran Muffin Recipe

These are delicious, and relatively good for you.  They even pass the husband test.  He’s been taking them for breakfast.

Muffin Ingredients:

  • 2 cups Raisin Bran (R) cereal (or generic)
  • 2 cups flour*
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 heaping Tbsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups applesauce (preferably unsweetened or lightly sweetened)
  • 1/3 cup oil (I prefer canola)
  • 1/3 cup milk

Topping Ingredients:

  • 1/4+ cup graham crackers crumbs
  • 1/4+ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • generous sprinkle nutmeg

Crush the cereal to break up the bran flakes a bit.  I did this in a bowl with the back of a large spoon.  To the cereal add the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  In a separate bowl combine the eggs, oil, milk, and applesauce.  Beat well with a fork.  Gradually add dry mixture and until well combined.  Pour in to greased muffin tins.  Combine all 4 topping ingredients.  Spoon over tops of muffins.

This recipe is equivalent to 2 dozen regular muffins but I prefer a larger muffin so I fill my tins more than the standard halfway full.  This time I used my extra large muffin tin and produced 5 huge muffins from this recipe.  Baking time is 20 minutes at 350 F for regular muffins – or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  My extra large muffins needed around 40 minutes for reference.

Enjoy!!  Sorry there is no picture – we ate them all up before I thought of that!!

*I used all purpose flour this time, you can use whole wheat but expect a little heavier texture.

This post is linked to Teach Me Tuesday at Growing Home.

Baking Day

This week I’m trying to get back in the swing of things around here.  In another words, the “babymoon” is over and the real world is calling.  Last week I was able to keep up with my cleaning rotation but didn’t attempt much more than that.  It is going to take some experimenting to find a routine that works for everything else now that I’m home full time.

The theory I’m testing this week is one general focus for each day.  Example:  Monday = Baking Day.  There are a lot of things I can make from scratch to save $$$.  Some I have been making regularly, others will be new for me.  I need to make bread on the weeks that we run out of the good stuff from our neighbor.  Muffins for breakfast, snacks for Brian’s lunch, rolls for dinner, granola bars to munch on while nursing – the list is endless.  I’d like to tackle any freezer cooking/big meal prep on Mondays too so the kitchen only looks like a war zone one time each week.

So, here’s what I made on this very first “Baking Day”:

  • No High Fructose Corn Syrup Granola Bars – double batch
  • Apple Bran Muffins – my own recipe, coming soon
  • Salvaged Hashbrowns – bagged up some that had been “flash freezing” for far too long
  • Freezer Garlic Bread – recipe coming soon (I promise – it’s already done in my drafts except for a picture!)

How was baking with a newborn in the house?  Not bad at all, I just had to be more flexible.  The oven had to be shut off in between the granola bars and the muffins instead of making them back to back.  The garlic bread had to sit on the counter for a few hours before I took the time to run it down to the freezer.  The two biggest snafus: I forgot to add the raisins to the granola bars, and I forgot to grease the waxed paper before pressing the bars on to it.  The latter turned out to be a BIG problem.  I don’t have an hour to peel sticky bits of paper off those bars even in my pre-baby life, nevermind now.  I’m currently experimenting by freezing them to see if that helps the paper come off more easily.  I’ll keep you posted on THAT mess.

The garlic bread was a nice success.  I feel good about that one.  Two loaves of french bread made up and frozen, plus enough for my lunch tomorrow and dinner tonight.  Oh yeah, about dinner.  This is the first week I’ve committed to  cooking meals again.  Dinner was ready on time.  Actually, it was ready 5 minutes early if you want to get technical.  I can definitely see the advantage to doing most of the meal prep in the morning and leaving very minimal to do at dinnertime.  Kent’s schedule is much more predictable in the morning and it is quieter around here.  Once afternoon comes people start getting out of work and we have more phone calls/visitors/etc.

So anyway, overall I’d call it a success.  The cleaning is done, the baking is done, dinner was yummy, the cat, the baby, and all four dogs are contentedly sleeping here near me.  What more could I ask for?  Hmm… ice cream please.  😉

This posted is linked to a Week Long Blog Hop at Homemaker by Choice.

Oh Yeah, We Had A Baby

Hehe, forgot to mention that here!  If you’re not on Facebook you may be out of the loop.

Introducing…

Kent Keith Becker

Born 7/7/11 @ 9:58AM

6# 3 oz. – 19 inches long

In answer to all the popular questions:

How was the labor?  Speedy, very intense, but the best I could have asked for really.  We left for the hospital at 6:30 AM still not convinced it was real labor, my water broke on the way there, and he was born at 10.

How do I feel?  Great!  I kept myself pretty quiet for the first couple weeks and just lately have started to venture down the stairs, lift laundry baskets, etc.  I was never very sore or anything like I expected.

How is the baby doing?  He’s wonderful.  We could not ask for a better baby.  We had one rough night and part of a bad day while we figured some things out and since then it has been pretty smooth sailing.

Is he sleeping through the night?  This one is sort of silly.  He’s a baby, he’s supposed to eat every few hours.  However, he has already established a routine and goes to bed between 11-12 each night and sleeps until 4:15-5:15 in the morning.  So yeah, he’s sleeping as much as we’d like and goes the longest stretch at night which is the most important part.  For me.  🙂

Now back to our regularly scheduled programming…

Lamb Doctorin’: Flystrike

Disclaimer:  This is not a pleasant condition to talk about.  I’m sharing it to A)help other shepherds who find themselves dealing with it for the first time and B)to remain transparent to our customers.  Things like this are a part of raising animals and it’s our job to educate ourselves on how to best care for the animals and avoid the problem in the future.

The technical term for flystrike is Myiasis.  It is a condition where fly larvae infest an animal and feed on their living or dead tissue.  Blowflies are the most common parasite involved.  Apparently, flystrike is a big problem in the sheep industry.  However, most of the information I found referred to Australia and New Zealand as being most affected.  It appears to be far less common in the Midwest where we are.

Insecticides are available that can be applied as part of a routine flock health program.  Such products may help prevent the occurrence of  flystrike in susceptible flocks.  Most of the products I found were pour-ons.  Many of them that claim to specifically treat and/or prevent flystrike don’t have suppliers here in the U.S., only overseas.  I did find Permectrin II available through Valley Vet Supply.  Clicking on the label information reveals a recommended dilution rate for management of blowflies.  However, if you’re dealing with enough flystrike to warrant using chemical preventatives it’s time to stop and talk to your vet anyway.  He or she probably has a product that they recommend or other suggestions for you to try first.

There is a ton of information out there on good management techniques that may prevent flystrike WITHOUT the use of harsh insecticides.  Google “preventing flystrike in sheep” if you’re interested.  Basically, a clean dry environment is far better than wet, swampy conditions.  Blowflies are attracted to the smell of footrot so avoiding that condition will help avoid secondary outbreaks of flystrike.  Likewise, flystrike tends to appear on animals who have a wound or have a lot of manure built up on their rear ends.  Tagging the animals (trimming the wool around the backside) can help prevent the buildup of manure and thus keep flystrike away.  Routine tail docking is performed for the same reason – one less place for manure to hang around and attract flies.

In our case, tail docking is what brought on the flystrike.  We had one ram lamb born a little later than the rest of the lambs.  We didn’t get his tail and testicles banded early on like we normally would.  Instead, we did it about 2 weeks ago.  This isn’t the best practice for a lot of reasons so we’ve kept a close eye on him.  He had been eating and acting normal with no signs of a problem, and actually continued to eat and act normal throughout this whole ordeal.  Early in the week we noticed clumps of wool starting to fall from his tail.  Since his tail was larger than normal (due to him being older) it made sense that it would necrose more slowly so we weren’t overly concerned.  By Tuesday morning the tail was held on only by a bit of tissue but he had some bald patches on his rump.  Tuesday evening the tail had fallen off.  Brian caught him up so we could investigate the wool loss on his rump.  What we found turned my stomach!  There were maggots around and in his rectum, in his tail stub, and crawling in the remaining wool on his rump.  At that time his testicles were still hanging on but a couple days later when they came off that area also became infested.

Here’s how we successfully eliminated the maggots and led the lamb to a full recovery:

  1. We physically removed all the maggots we could see.  Brian used water pressure from the hose to clear the area at least twice a day for several days in a row.  We originally tried gloves and picking/brushing them off but that was too time consuming and not nearly as efficient.
  2. Pluck or shave to wool from the affected area and out several inches from where you see the last maggots.  This ensures the maggots aren’t spreading in to new territory.
  3. Apply a wound salve and/or fly repellent ointment at least twice daily.  A thick layer over the entire area prevented the problem from recurring.  We used Tri-Care Wound Treatment initially to help with healing and then switched to Swat Clear when the skin looked better and our main concern was keeping the area free from flies.
  4. At one check there were no maggots on the skin or in the wool but there was an obvious tract of maggots squirming UNDER the skin.  Brian lanced the area with a knife, sprayed the maggots out, and applied the ointment.  There was only a thin layer of dry skin to cut through and it did not bleed or seem to cause the lamb any pain when Brian cut it open.  It only happened once near the end of treatment.

We continued to check the lamb twice a day until there was no signs of maggots or irritation for several days in a row.  He’s doing great now although he does look a little funny with a bare butt!

My original treatment plan included temperature checks and penicillin injections but our thermometer wouldn’t work that first night and after that it became apparent that the lamb didn’t need antibiotics to recover.  He never went off his feed and we never saw any pus or other signs of infection.  If we had gone with antibiotics he would have had to go through the lamb sale for sure instead of being available for direct marketing to our customers.  We could have also used insecticides to manage the flystrike but since we don’t routinely have this problem we don’t have those chemicals on hand and would prefer to keep it that way.

Also, several things I read recommended removing the maggots in a way that they could be completely removed from the area and disposed of.  In our case this was not an ongoing problem and I didn’t feel that the other lambs were at much risk.  The maggots were washed down in to the deep straw pack in the lamb pen.  If we had other animals with bands still on their tails or open wounds it would have been a bigger concern and we probably would have moved the infected lamb to the cement aisle way and swept up the maggots after each check.

I’d love to hear about your flystrike experiences and what works for you!

Inventorying My Freezer

Stick with me – I know inventorying your freezer sounds like an OCD thing to do.  I’m not crazy!!  (Well, maybe a little, but not in regard to this!)  We have 4 freezers in our house and a small one in the top of the shop fridge.  If I can’t keep track of what’s in there I might as well forget we have all that food.  Nothing is worse than having an overflowing freezer and “nothing to eat”.  So anyway, here’s how I did it.

There are a lot of helpful articles and videos out there if you google “inventorying your freezer”.  There are also several printable templates available to make your job easier.  I wanted a template that allowed me to set my own categories and made it easy to add to the list as we put more food in the freezer.  My favorite pick was this template from organizedhome.com.  Look around, if you don’t find one you love than whip up something.  Heck, use a piece of notebook paper for all I care.  Just do it!

More specifically: here’s how to do it.  You’ll need someplace to sit all the food so you can empty the freezer out and start fresh.  I used a big cooler and some laundry baskets.  Get yourself a little dish of hot soapy water, a sponge, and hand towel.  Pull everything out, making a mental note of the different types of things you find.  You can try to pile things in general groups (steaks vs. burger) but don’t waste too much time here or some things will start thawing on you.  Once the freezer is empty use your sponge to wipe the inside.  Start at the top and work your way down.  Dry each section with the towel as you clean to avoid frost buildup.  It doesn’t have to be perfect but let’s try to get that freezer jam off the top shelf and the ring of meat juice off the bottom.  Yuck-o!

The contents of the upstairs freezer.

As soon as you’re done cleaning start getting the food back in where it’s cold.  Start with the meat – it should go at the bottom to avoid contaminating other food in the event of a power outage.  I put a lot of our meat in the door, too, but where it will only thaw on to other meats.  Separate different types of meat (chicken, beef, pork, fish, lamb) and then stack by cut (roasts, steaks, burger, etc.).  Once the meat is back in organize the rest of the food quickly but effectively.  I have fruits and veggies on one shelf, baked goods and potatoes on another, and yet another shelf of freezer meals and precooked meats.

Our downstairs freezer, all organized!

If you have a chest freezer without shelves invest in some plastic crates or at least sort things in to paper sacks or cardboard boxes.  Irregardless, once you have a general place for everything it’s time to do the actual inventory.  Jot down EVERYTHING in the freezer.  On that template I chose you write in each item and then put a slash through one box for each bag, loaf, whatever.  I kept it simple: there is no need to count every hamburger patty.

For example:

Hamburger Patties  [\]  [\]   [\]

I know that I package my hamburger patties in gallon Ziploc bags so when I see this on the list I’ll know there are 3 bags of patties in the freezer.  When I finish one bag I add another slash to make an X (like this:  [X]) and then there will be an X and two slashes so I’ll know we have 2 bags on hand.  Later, when I make more patties, I’ll add more slashes, and so on.  Easy peasy once you get the swing of things.

I went through this process with both my upright freezer in the basement and the side by side freezer in the kitchen.  Right now both inventory lists are stuck on the front of the upstairs freezer for ease of reference.  I’ve been doing this now for a few weeks and I think the list for the downstairs freezer should go on the front of that freezer instead.  As it is sometimes we forget to adjust the list when we take things from downstairs.

I took things one step further, too.  On the back of each list I drew a basic sketch of that freezer and jotted down what category is where.  That makes it even easier to find things.  One look at the sketch and we all know to look on the top shelf for broccoli and the third shelf for lemon chicken.

Like I said, we’ve been doing this system for a few weeks now and it actually works.  We’re still keeping it going.  The upstairs freezer has a sampling of what is downstairs and I can quickly look at the list to see what items need to be used up.  No more digging through or standing there staring while I ponder what to cook.  Works for me!! 🙂