It was a lot of hard work, but well worth every minute, because even though I ached all over I felt a great sense of accomplishment. This weekend I am going to go buy some alfalfa and clover seed so that I can plant some deer forage for my tan visitors. I am hoping that every year I can add something new...you know...like fruit trees, pine trees, split rail fence, lilac bushes, berry bushes, grape vines, trumpet plants, and maybe even try my hand at a rose garden with a little bench in the middle.
As far as animals, maybe my miniature horse would like a buddy? And it would be nice to have chickens for eggs...I know that I've mentioned that I've gone pretty much totally organic over the last year and what better addition to all the other fresh things than fresh eggs?
I bought the Mother Earth News special edition magazine a couple of weeks ago about self-sustaining farms and they had a really good article on how to take an acre of ground and turn it into a self-sustaining farm. I have a little over three acres so I definitely should be able to do something similar. I can't wait until it's time to harvest my garden and can or freeze all the fresh food for winter. I already have a good start on the fruit harvest with 10 quart bags of red raspberries freshly frozen in the freezer. Tomorrow, I plan on going to my daughters and take a swipe at her wild raspberries to add to my collection. And as I drove home, I noticed that the wild elderberries are starting to come on so I will have to take a basket along in the car and load up on enough of them to make a batch of jelly to go along with the fresh bread I usually bake every weekend in the fall and winter. As soon as the orchard has some fresh peaches, I'm going to go get a bushel of them to make jam and freezer peaches for pies and cobblers this winter.
With the mention of cobbler and bread, I wanted to share my recipes for both with my readers:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Using a 9x11 rectangular baking dish, empty enough fresh fruit in the bottom to cover it well. For a thicker cobbler, just use a smaller dish!
In a separate bowl, mix 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar, 1 cup milk and 1 tablespoon baking powder together until blended. For a rich treat, I like to substitute 1/4 cup of the milk for 1/4 cup of Amaretto. Pour the mixture over the top of the fruit and bake until the top is golden brown.
This is the easiest bread that I have ever made but there are some tricks to baking bread that I didn't know until my best friend bought me a book on bread baking. (Truth is, he gets me these awesome cooking books and gadgets because I'm sure it's because he benefits too!) Trick #1-NEVER use the packages of yeast. I buy the jar of yeast now instead. Trick #2-NEVER mix in a plastic or metal bowl. I use a wooden spoon and a crockery bowl. Trick #3-ALWAYS put a cake pan of water in the bottom rack of your oven when baking to help keep the top moist enough for the bread to rise as it bakes.
Now...here's the ingredients:
3 cups of cold water in the crockery bowl-heat in the microwave or the oven until it's just lukewarm
Add 1 1/2 Tablespoons of yeast and 1 1/2 Tablespoons of Kosher salt
Allow both to dissolve by stirring with wooden spoon
Now, add 6 - 6 1/2 cups of flour and blend until it forms a nice, gooey ball.
Cover bowl with a clean damp cloth and put somewhere warm. Because my house is chilly in the winter time, I've found that putting the bowl in the laundry room on top of the dryer while I'm doing laundry works really well. Next winter I get to use the newest addition to my house...the rocket stove...which I'll tell you about another time.
Let the bread rise until it more than doubles.
Now, it's time to divide it up as this recipe makes two full sized loaves. I usually add a few extras...my favorite is to add about a half a handful of rosemary for some really nice flavor but I've also added sharp cheddar shreds and even walnuts or cranberries. Or you can just make it plain.
Put the dough into a well greased loaf pan (I prefer virgin olive oil) and then cover it again with a clean damp cloth and let it raise for about another 1-2 hours.
Now it's ready to bake! Bake at 350 degrees until it's golden brown on top and don't forget to put a pan of water on the bottom rack of your oven while the bread bakes.
I hope that you try and enjoy these recipes and I hope you all have a productive weekend!