Beef Brisket

My husband told me that I needed to post more about our everyday life.  So today is just an ordinary Tuesday and I just put dinner in the oven. Tonight because I need to go to the grocery store, I am just using what I have on hand.  Tonight it is beef brisket.  Yes, I have beef brisket on hand.  We order 1/2 side of beef a year, every March. Ok stepping on my SOAP BOX: To make good meals, you need to start with good food. We grow our own or buy local as much as possible.  The beef that we buy, we know the name of the farm, we know the name of the farmer, the vet that takes care of the cows, the name of the cow, heck I know the name of the cow’s mother! I know where my beef comes from, that is so important.  It is really important to our family because there was this incident when stores where spraying their ground beef with red dye to make it look fresher, my husband is allergic to red dye.  I know 100% for a fact that there is no red dye in my beef!  Plus, I get a better price per pound than the store, plus, plus, I am helping small local farmers.  It is a win, win, win all around.This is the farm we choose to support, Family A’Fair Farm like them on Facebook to follow what they are up to.  OK stepping off soap box.

This time of year,  I always seem to have the higher end cuts left at the end of our “beef year”.  I think that I am going to use them for Birthdays or Anniversaries, but I never do.  So here it is the end of February and I am almost out of ground beef and chicken.  So we are having beef brisket on a Tuesday! Let’s get cooking.

If I was organized and planned my life out perfectly, I would have taken this brisket out of the freezer yesterday. I know I am committing culinary sin by not marinating my meat, but I function in the real world and I honestly am proud of myself for thinking about dinner before 4:30.  Also, like I said, I need to go shopping and we are at the end of a “storage” season.  I am out of my canned tomato sauce, I am out of chicken, out of ground beef, running low on onions, BBQ sauce, stock… the list just goes on.  I am so ready for spring and the food abundance that it brings.  Anyway, I threw together this brisket with what I had in the fridge, so pardon my unclear measurements.

My last minute marinade, is the last of the BBQ sauce that I have in the fridge, plus some water to make sure I cleaned out every drop of sauce.  1/2 a cut up onion, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar, 2 tbsp mustard, 2 tbsp soy sauce, 3 cloves of garlic (various sizes, about 1/2 tbsp garlic), 4 tbsp blush wine, plus some for myself, and yes it is after noon somewhere.  I also added cracked pepper and some paprika, I have no idea how much, just till it looked right.  I stirred all this together and poured it over my half frozen, un-marinated brisket in a 8×11 baking dish and covered with tin foil.


I threw the whole thing in the oven on 275.  The high temp today outside is suppose to be 10 degrees, so I was OK with running the stove for a couple of hours. If I did not want the stove on, I would have put this in the crock pot this morning.

I am going to serve this brisket with gluten free no yeast rolls that I making from scratch, hand cut french fries and whatever green vegetable I can find in the freezer. I think it will be green beans, again my stock is running low!

I tried to add a recipe card, but I am having software problems.  I will update final pictures of the meal and a recipe card later this evening.


Baby Bunnies

Today began like any other day, I made breakfast and got my husband ready to go to work.  It was cold this morning and lightly snowing.  I asked him to bring in a load of wood and to check on our expecting momma rabbit, Aurora.  He returned from the yard with 4 ice cold baby bunnies. In the past I would have just said that they were dead and put them in the trash.  However, since the last time we had cold babies,  I have been told over and over again a baby is not dead until it is warm and dead.  So I did what any normal person would have done and stuffed the bunnies in my bra until I could get the heating pad warmed up.


I folding the heating pad in half and put them inside like a taco.  I rubbed the outside of the heating pad trying to stimulate them. About 5 minutes passed and I noticed that one of the babies was starting to wiggle.  My heart skipped a beat.  I had no idea when these babies were born or how long they had been outside of the nesting box.  I never expected them to be alive!  It took about 20 minutes, but three out of the four babies came to after being rubbed and warmed up.

My husband brought a large tote with pine shavings, hay, the nesting box, food, water bowl and Aurora into the house.  We are getting a winter storm today and I wanted to be able to keep a close eye on these precious babies.  Aurora is one of my proven does.  She does great in the summer, she is the rabbit that lives in my garden.  She is slightly spoiled rotten, she lives in the two story hutch with a nesting area that does not require a nesting box.  During the summer, she never drags any babies out of the nesting area and she is a wonderful momma.  In the winter, we move her out of the garden and into the Bunny Barn.  She does not like this idea.  In the Bunny Barn she struggles with babies.  I think that the nesting boxes are just not the right size for these large breed rabbits.  She pulls fur and makes a great nest, but always ends up with babies outside the box. Last winter she did not have any successful winter litters.  We will keep her inside the house just long enough to make sure the babies are doing OK and then I will take her back outside, hopefully by then the storm will have passed.


Bringing Aurora in the house was a shock to her so I helped her feed the babies the first time.  I am hoping that she will calm down and be able to feed them herself, but right now I know those babies are very hungry and can use some cuddle time with Mom.  I flipped Aurora on her back and she let the babies lay on her stomach and nurse.  It was very cute.   I am thankful for the three babies that we were able to save.  I think this litter will always have a special place in my heart.

Managing rabbits in the cold

Most of the United States is experiencing colder than normal temps.  For most people that just means dressing warmer and adding an extra blanket to the bed at night.  For farmers or homesteaders, it means getting creative to keep our animals comfortable.  I unfortunately live on a small plot of  land and I do not have a big barn to put everyone in.  My animals are outside in smaller houses and pens because that is all we have room for.

Bunny its cold outside!  We have a shed that we use for a Bunny Barn.  It is a small 12 x 12 shed that holds 8 rabbit cages.  In the past we have tried to heat the shed with an electric heater, but it cost a small fortune.  Over the summer we have spent some time and money insulating the shed.  My husband used rolls of insulation and linoleum, so the rabbits could not eat the fiberglass insulation.  We also moved the cages a little bit away from the wall to extra make sure that the insulation was not in the bunnies reach.  In the picture below you can see the back wall of the shed, just pretend it is nice and neat and there is not stuff piled on top of my food storage cabinet.


We also put ridged insulation on the door to try and keep in as much heat as possible.


Water is always the biggest challenge.  We remove all water bottles when the temperatures drop below freezing and put in water bowls. We have to transport our water from the house and we use empty milk jugs.  A great discovery we have this year is that if we place the gallons of water in the compost, they do not freeze.  I know there are some of you thinking this is just gross, don’t worry, the water stays clean and it allows us to give the rabbits non frozen water.  We are going to be building a larger scale compost water heater now that we know it works on a small scale.


Normally, all of our rabbits fit in the shed and we do not need to use outside hutches.  We had a great Fall, so we needed to use outside pens as grow out pens for some of our bunnies.  I put 7 young does in a large hutch and we also have a buck, that we just got back from another farm we sold him to.  The decided to get out of rabbits. He is from great breeding stock and we would like to add him back into our herd. He was kept outside at the other farm so we hoped this would not be a shock for him.  My other bucks are spoiled rotten and would be very upset outside.   I have added a lot more hay and straw to the outside hutches.  We give them areas where they can completely get out of the wind and did I mention we had A LOT more hay.  The rabbits move the hay around and make a very nice warm nest with it.  I also covered the hutches with large tarp dumpster bags.  This is to help keep any snow out of the hutch and to cut down on the wind.

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We go out 2 -3 times per day and change out the water.   They seem to be doing Ok.  They are eating well and enjoying the extra hay.

These are the things that we are doing to protect our buns from the cold.  What do you do?

An Eggstavagansa

We are having egg issues!  We currently own 17 laying hens.  Let me repeat that… we own 17 egg laying hens and yesterday when we collected eggs, there was 1.  How do 17 chickens who are only a year or two old only produce one egg? 

Our numbers normally drop in the winter, but they have never dropped this bad, over the last week we have collected just over two dozen eggs.  That is 24 eggs in a week.  We should be getting at least a dozen a day!  I am perplexed.  Normally, we sell at least 5 dozen eggs a week. That is really helpful in covering the cost of the addition chickens, that we raise specifically for egg sales. It would be really great to get egg production back.

During the winter chickens do not produce as many eggs because their bodies are using those calories to stay warm.  We have been increasing their feed and supplementing feed with extra compost and pumpkins that we have collected.  They are enjoying the extra treats but they are still not producing.  They are running low on crushed shells so I will get more of that today.  I also have been occasionally giving them sunflower seeds as scratch grains, I will increase that as well as add some cracked corn to their diet. 

We will be also adding lights to our chicken coop.  I will put a light in the night coop where they sleep and in the covered area where they can get out of the rain.  We have had some really rainy, over cast day and I am wondering if they are not getting the light that they need. 

I hate to force them to lay, I know that their bodies need a break, but this is a little extreme.  The decrease in egg production as been going on for about 2 1/2 months.  We have still been able to get at least 5 dozen to be able to sell.  This week I had to tell my last regular egg customer that I did not have any eggs for them.  I do not want to lose them, if they think that they are not going to be able to get eggs from me they will go somewhere else. 


Since we have been talking about chickens and eggs so much around here the last couple of weeks, we have been trying to figure out what the plan is for our flock in the New Year.   We know that over the course of the year we will be raising 48 chickens for meat.  We are going to do it in two batches, the first in yearly March and the second in July.  We have learned in the past that is not a good idea to raise chickens near hunting season, there is no one to help process them.  We are also going to be at least adding an addition 6 to our flock.  I would love to get 2 dozen eggs a day.  That would cover what I want to sell as well as I want to make our own mayo from now on. 

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and I wish you and your family a Happy New Year.

Sunday Success

I am very happy to announce that I have finally tattooed a rabbit. If you have been following my blog you will see that I have really struggled with tattoos.  I mean that it has become something that has haunted me.  I sell rabbits never knowing if the tattoo was actually going to work.  I am very grateful that everyone I have sold to has been very understanding of my deficiencies.  I have purchased multiple tattooing tools, still no luck.  Finally, I changed ink and eureka I have a tattoo.  I purchased Speed Ball India Ink Super Black from amazon.  Another rabbit breeder suggested it to me.  I am so thankful that it worked.  I know it seems like a simple task but is was really frustrating.

Now that we successfully tattooed this little buck we were able to separate him from his Momma and sisters.  We have several rabbits that are for sale and whenever I worry about running out of cages, buyers show up, so I am patiently waiting for that to happen again.

Today is the shortest day of the year, winter solstice, time to plant garlic.  I keep garlic cloves in my refrigerator, I know that they will last in the pantry as well, but in the refrigerator they last for a year or more.  These are cloves are from 2013 so I am really hoping they grow well, they had started to sprout in the frig.  I planted them in a deep bed of straw and rabbit manure.  I hope this will give them the protection they need from the hard freezes but still allow them to grow large bulbs.  wpid-img_20141221_154243.jpg

We are continuing to work like elves on our homemade Christmas gifts.  Our family is really simplifying our Christmas traditions and the one thing that we all agreed on, is that we do not need as many gifts.  My kids are truly amazing, but that is a book for a different day.  Anyway, we decided to have two gifts, one store bought and one homemade.  All of the gifts I am giving this year are sewn.  Below there are pictures of one of the puppets I am making for my son and the felt pretend pie I made for my daughter.  I hope they enjoy them.  I am unable to post what I am making for my husband because he occasionally reads my blog and I do not want to give it away.


On a sad note we lost another chicken to a hawk. We are hoping that early in Spring when the ground thaws we will build a new chicken yard.  We need one that has wire on the top, we found bird netting is horrible to work with.  We would like to have a chicken yard and rabbit grow out pen together.  I have heard that the rabbits and the chickens enjoy each others company.  When the rabbits where in with the chickens in the past we did have larger litters, we will have to see if there is truly any connection between the two.

On a happy note, we are looking for some land to rent so that next year we can not only grow more of our food, but also food for our friends that really would like more of our veggies.  A couple of CSA families is my dream for the future.  I would like to eventually have a larger property and support my love of farming with a handful of CSA subscriptions.

That is all for now.    Merry Christmas to you all from Our Family to Yours.

Lyme Disease

I know that this is not homesteading or home making related but it is something that is effecting my family greatly right now and I wanted to share it with you.  I am still struggling with my Lyme Disease.  Earlier in November the same bulls eye rash that I had on my leg a year and a half ago came back.  It was in almost the same spot and it looked just like it did before.  I am lucky enough to have a Lyme Disease Specialist and he started me on another round of antibiotics.  Today I took my last pill and to be completely honest with you I do not feel any better.  I wrote a journal of the last couple of weeks and I wanted to share it with you, just in case one of you is struggling with Lyme Disease and needed to know you were not alone.
Lyme Disease Journal
11/14/14 Friday
This is my second full day on the antibiotics.  The last two nights I have slept at least 8 hours and I wake up still wanting to sleep some more.  I have even wanted to take a nap in the afternoon.  On Wednesday I fell asleep on the couch at 730.   My body is obviously fighting something.  The other major thing that I have noticed is my hands feel stiff and weak.  I am not able to open lids, write for a long time or type.  I have also been dropping things when I am doing dishes or folding laundry.  My legs are also stiff and weaker and I notice it when I am walking up the stairs.  My headaches are mild, but present.  I am able to function and have been drinking close to a gallon of water.  I have not been taking any Tylenol.  The mark on my leg is still there, but not as bright. I have tried to take pictures but it is not bright enough to show up with my phone camera.  I can still see the halo and the skin is wrinkled or scar like in that area. 
The rash is completely gone.  Now my symptoms are starting to get much much worse.  Typing is painful.   My hands and joints hurt.  I have weakness all over and it is even hard for me to write.  It even hurts for someone to touch me.  The kids want to sit on my lap and it is just too painful.  I had a low grade fever last night of 99.9.  The medication has taken away my appetite and I really only eat when I have to take the medication.  My stomach does not feel that great, almost like a sea sickness.  Today I am going to take some Tylenol to try and help the pain, especially in my hands. 

The medication is really bothering my stomach.  I started eating two bowls of yogurt a day when I take my medication, as well as, taking an additional probiotic. This has really helped and I think I am going to continue to do this as long as I am on the medication.

Yesterday I baked pies all day for Thanksgiving,  I peeled, sliced, mixed and rolled out pies.  My hands are so sore!  I was able to take Tylenol to help me get through the day, but today was really bad.  The tylenol did not help at all.  I am very tired and have to sit down more than normal.  I am glad my family helped me cook some of the meal.
I crocheted my daughter slippers for her birthday.  My hands are so frustrating.  Crocheting hurts.  This project normally would have taken me a couple of hours took me 2 weeks.  I had to stop and start every couple of rows. 
My greatest challenge is still having no energy and my hands hurt.  Even typing has become something that is uncomfortable.  My right hand seems to be much worse than my left.  I wonder if that is because I use it so much more.  Secondly, I just have no motivation or energy.  I have to force my self to get up and get moving and I can fall asleep sitting at a table.  Today I took my last medication.  I was hoping that I would being feeling better, but honestly there are days it feels worse. 

Gluten free clover rolls

I have to write this down, because I have edited another recipe and if I don`t write it down I won`t remember and my family will get mad at me. Ok rolls are finished now I can tell you what I did!
Ok here is the back story.  I really enjoy watching Pioneer Woman on The Food Network.  Last week she made her version of these rolls.  I decided I was going to make those rolls for Thanksgiving Dinner.  Well her version calls for 9 cups of flour!  I only was feeding 5 people, so I thought 36 rolls was a little much.  I divided the recipe in 4ths.  When I followed her recipe divided in 4ths I ended up with very dense dough.  I knew that would not work for gluten free, so I made another batch and altered it to be a better gluten free dough.  A gluten free bread dough needs to be A LOT wetter than normal dough.  I increased the liquid and changed how everything was mixed together.  Here is what I did!

To start it off, here is the ingredient list:

1 1/2 cup of whole milk
1/2 cup oil
1/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp yeast
2 cups gluten free bread flour (I use the one from
1 tsp baking powder
1 scant tsp salt
1 scant tsp of baking soda
1/4 cup bread flour.
butter to generously coat the muffin pan.  Plus 2 tbls of melted butter to top the rolls before they bake and again when they come out of the oven. 

Take the milk, oil and sugar and warm on the stove top.  Do not boil!  Once it’s warm turn off the heat and let it cool till you can stick your finger in it.  I know that is not a technical way to tell temperature, but it’s how I cook.  While the liquids are cooling, mix all the dry ingredients together in a different bowl, except the last 1/4 cup of flour. 

Now that the liquid is warm, but not hot, pour the liquid into a dutch oven, or a container with a lid. I use the dutch oven because it keeps the dough warmer longer.  Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet.  It will be very sticky and wet!  This is a good thing.  Put the lid on it and leave it for an hour or so, you want it to double in size. 

While that is doubling, you can butter your muffin pan and get your 1/4 cup flour.  Ok I know that does not take an hour, drink a cup of coffee and check you email too!

Once your dough has doubled add the remaining 1/4 cup of flour.  Mix just until the flour in incorporated.  Do not over mix.  Wet your hands and form a small ball, about the size of a small bouncy ball.  Put three small balls in each muffin cup.  Now set aside and let rise for several hours.  I put mine on the top of the oven while my turkey cooked.  The rolls doubled in size.
Now that they are big and puffy, brush the rolls with melted butter and put in a 400 degree oven for 15-20 mins until they are golden brown.  I brush them with butter again when I remove them from the oven, melted butter has no calories!  Serve warm with more butter!  They are soft and wonderful.

I will edit the post and add pictures, but there was so much going on when I was cooking on Thanksgiving that I could not think about taking pictures.
Enjoy, let me know how it works for you.