Lesson Learned; Should Have Used the Cast Iron Pan

Hey Everyone!

Earlier this afternoon I had mixed up a batch of gluten free, dairy free chocolate chip cookies, beings that today’s high was 32 degrees cooler than yesterday’s high. I don’t handle anything above 70 very well, and 65 to 70 is perfect summer weather for me. Yes, I know I should live in SE Alaska, and I would if I had a job. So, today, I had the energy to bake.

Most of you probably wouldn’t know that I really don’t like beef. I don’t like the smell or the flavor of it. My brother on the other hand loves it. He bought a steak to cook for dinner.

Beings that I haven’t cooked more than a package or two of ground beef, in making meals for others, in over a decade I didn’t think to grab the cast iron skillet instead of the red copper skillet since he was going to sear it on high heat.

This is what happened to that poor skillet:

It didn’t look like that this morning.

We also had the smoke detector going off and me running around the house opening windows and turning on fans. Between the smell and the smoke it was nuts.

Baking the rest of my gluten free, dairy free cookies was also put on hold during this steak cooking, because his highness is always more important than whatever the lowly peasant (me) is doing.

My cookies turned out really good by the way.

In trying to get the house aired out, I have a pot of cinnamon water on a low heat on the stove. I am not a fan of chemical aerosol sprays or other chemical laden sprays to mask smells if I can help it (I am slowly getting away from Scentsy). I definitely prefer more natural methods. My mom was the one who taught me about the cinnamon water trick to help with smells, so I am giving it a try.

Even though I am not a huge fan of the smell of most meat while it is cooking, there are some that I do like to eat once it is cooked, like chicken and fish. I also enjoy venison on occasion. I have yet to try bear or moose, but if they were cooked in someone else’s kitchen or outside (on a camp stove), I would definitely be willing to try them.

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Homestead Dreams

Hey Everyone!

For the past several years, Homesteading has been something I have been interested in and something that I have been mulling over.

I grew up in the city, yet it has really never felt like home. As Portland has grown, and is bursting at its seams, the less I want to stick around. The hustle and bustle, the traffic, the lack of work for those not in IT, Engineering or health care, the hipsters as well as other things, makes someone like me disenchanted with being here.

I am someone who wants to work hard, and put in an honest days work. I also like seeing the fruits of my labor, figuratively and literally. I also like getting my hands dirty, and working on the land. I like a balance of indoors and outdoors, as well as living an active and more natural lifestyle.

All that said, beings I am used to things like running water and electricity I don’t want to live totally off grid, rather finding a balance in order to live a sustainable lifestyle. I am not adverse to having solar panels to help offset electricity costs, especially in the summer.

I am one of those people who doesn’t need a huge house, yet wants something bigger than I tiny home. Having a kitchen where I have the room to cook and bake full meals from scratch as well as can and preserve food in the summer, and have a decent sized pantry and a cold room in the basement. Yet, I also want plenty of room outside to be able to garden, have some chickens (and maybe have some other animals as well). If I were to have kids I would want to have enough room to also be able to send them outside to play in the decent weather.

This is kind of what I would like for a cold room:

If I am able to live this sort of life and live in the country, having a cold room would not only allow me to be able to store whatever I canned over the summer, but also be able to make city runs more effective by buying dry goods and canned goods in bulk and having someplace to store them.

Country Life is Calling to Me

Hey Everyone!

I hope you all had a good Easter, and Easter Weekend.

The past three weeks or so have been pretty busy for me, and have involved a lot of homemaking / crafting activities. Between the Ladies Retreat I went on, as well as having had family coming to town and then Easter, I have spent a lot of time either in the kitchen or not in the city (or both).

I know I wrote a bit about what I did for the ladies retreat and for when my family came to visit, so I don’t really need to touch on all that again, since I am pretty well caught up on that on the blog.

Easter Weekend… Friday included going grocery shopping for easter dinner and for food for during the week. We had gone to a few stores, including New Seasons which is more of the natural grocery store that carries a lot more of the natural choices, organic food, locally grown, raised and produced foods. That is where we got the Lamb Roast and the Salmon Fillet for Easter Dinner. The Lamb Roast was from a lamb that was raised here in the U.S. and the Salmon Fillet came from a wild caught Alaskan Coho Salmon, so both were delicious.

Saturday, I made a pot of Chili because it sounded good, and wanted something in addition to leftovers for during the week, for meals. That evening I also mixed up a double batch of rolls for Easter dinner, so they could rise in the fridge overnight.

Sunday Morning, I went to church with my mom for Easter Service, and then we came home and made Easter Dinner for the family, before going back to church for the Easter Concert at their church.

Today, I woke up, and remembered that I had stuff to get done, and yet didn’t want to go anywhere, so I pulled myself out of bed, and got ready to go. I had to run to the post office, and mail off some paper work for something I have going, before stopping at the nearest Black Rock coffee stand because I had a full punch card. I got an extra large soy hazelnut latte, because it’s Monday, and after having several busy weeks, I needed the caffeine, even though I gave up my coffee habit years ago. I am definitely wanting to be better about staying far away from coffee and energy drinks and sticking with one cup of black tea a day at most.

Being tired of being in the city, and already being in the car, I decided to go for a little drive. I headed east, and went out through Estacada, and then headed up into the foothills of the Cascades from there. Once I hit snow on the road, it was time to turn around since I only had my two wheel drive car, and no studs or chains (studded tire season here ended two days ago). It was definitely pretty though.

I love not being in the city, I would definitely love to live outside the city, somewhere like this. It’s far enough out that there is elbow room, and not a whole lot of traffic, but not so far out that one can’t come into the city and go to the more specialty stores, like New Seasons, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and Bob’s Red Mill, or go shopping depending on what you needed and if you couldn’t find it in the nearest small town. Where I went today was close enough to a small town that has a grocery store, schools, a couple banks a Gas station or two, and some of the essentials for your everyday needs, but is also close enough to the city (30 – 45 minutes) for the more specialty stuff that you would stock up on when you go to the city, but isn’t a regular occurrence.

Since I got home, I have been working on some laundry and just trying to decompress a little bit.

Ladies Retreat Homemaking

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I got home this afternoon from the Ladies Retreat I had gone on this weekend.

I was on duty yesterday morning, to help with breakfast. I was tasked with making something that was gluten free, dairy free, sugar free and soy free. To fit that need, I had made up an egg casserole with bacon, potatoes, tomatoes, spinach, onion and unsweetened original almond coconut milk. I had also mixed up a batch of Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Egg Free cranberry orange pecan muffins using the Bob’s Red Mill gluten free muffin mix to make.

Having food intolerances and sensitivities is hard enough as it is, and it is even harder when you go away and are staying at a different place.

I love being able to cook for myself and others, and be able to meet a need and stand in the gap. The kitchen is the one place I am comfortable being when something needs to be done and help is needed.

Many of us who had gone took turns helping prepare different meals throughout the weekend which was nice.

I had done some preparations beforehand, and before I left. I had picked up some of the vegetables that are a bit hardier as well as a few snacks and dry goods. I had also baked the muffins the morning I left. I had stopped at the grocery store in Tillamook to pick up the more perishable items that I didn’t want to leave sitting out for several hours between the time I left Portland and when I would be able to put them in the fridge at the house we were staying at.

Preparing For the Ladies Retreat

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So, I am going to be attending a ladies retreat this weekend, and I have been slowly preparing for it over the past couple of weeks.

last week I had picked up what I am going to be giving as gifts.

Today I ran errands to pick up the dry goods for what I will be using in part for meals for myself and the food intolerance friendly breakfast I am making for Saturday morning. I am also going to bake up a batch of gluten free vegan muffins Friday morning before I leave, to take with me.

While I did a test run of the gluten free and dairy free egg casserole I am planning on making, I also spent the time to do up the tea and sugar free sweetener bags I am giving as gifts.

I love doing all this crafty Homemaking stuff. I enjoy doing things for others and using all the creative ideas I get to bless others.

Beings that I have food intolerances myself, I can understand and relate to others who also have food intolerances. Being able to cook for myself and others who have food intolerances is a passion of mine, besides loving to cook in general.

DIY Gluten Free Dairy Free Pizza

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I had been wanting some gluten free and dairy free pizza for a few days now. I finally got around to making some today.

I had gone to Bob’s Red Mill and the grocery store to get what I needed to make my pizza and gluten free and dairy free Cherry Brownies.

I used the Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Pizza Crust for my pizza. I had sprinkled corn meal on the pan I was going to use to bake my pizza on, I then used olive oil instead of pizza sauce. I topped my pizza with Jimmy Dean Maple ground sausage that I got most of the way cooked before I drained it and put it in my pizza. I then also topped it with a red pepper I had diced up, as well as diced tomatoes, sliced olives and spinach, and then baked it. It turned out great for my first attempt at making my own gluten free and dairy free pizza.

I also had been kind of craving cherry brownies, so while I was out I had picked up a package of the Bob’s Red Mill gluten free brownie mix, as well as dairy free butter alternative (in the stick form), and maraschino cherries. I added some diced up cherries and some of the cherry juice to my brownie batter. It took forever (like an hour and a half) to actually get done….. but they taste good and that’s what matters.

While I was at Bob’s Red Mill, I had also picked up a shortbread pan, so if I want to make gluten free dairy free shortbread cookies, and I don’t want to take the time to make round cookies and use my Scottish Thistle cookie stamp, I can put the dough in the shortbread pan and bake it that way.

Today I was totally in a cooking, baking and errands kind of mood. It was a gorgeous day, more like early spring (like late March / Early April) than still the dead of winter that is typical for early February. It got up to 60 degrees (Fahrenheit) / 15 – 16 degrees (Celsius) today. The Daffodils are starting to come up and bloom.

Thanksgiving Dinner and Preparing for Christmas!

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Wednesday I had helped my mom start preparing for Thanksgiving Dinner. I had made the Pumpkin Pies and mixed up the rolls.

I had made myself a Gluten Free and Dairy Free Pumpkin Pie for thanksgiving, and made two regular pumpkin pies for the rest of the family.

This year we had kept Thanksgiving dinner simpler than we have in years past. Now that it is down to just my immediate family, as my grandparents and great – aunt who used to join us for holiday dinners have all passed away, it is a lot simpler.

After we had had dinner and before I had to take a nap before going to work Friday morning, I put up and decorated my little artificial Christmas Tree.

Over the past couple weeks I have been ordering Christmas gifts for those in my life, to make sure I get them in, in time for Christmas.

As I am getting older, what I want for Christmas, is less about just things, or getting the latest and greatest electronics. I have what I need and some of what I wanted in that department. I don’t need the latest and greatest. I have a smartphone, that is a bit older, but still works great and has everything I need. This past year, I have been learning how to be content with what I have.

This year for Christmas and my Birthday I know I am getting some practical things. Well practical to me things. They wouldn’t be practical for everyone.

That is how I am trying to live my life, is more practically, and be more frugal. That is part of the focus of this blog, is Homemaking made simpler. Those who know me, know I love history, especially the era of westward expansion / frontier life / pioneer life / Homesteading as well as the 1950’s. I also have been interested in learning about and diving into Women’s History. While these are two very different periods in history,

In the years since my food intolerances really began manifesting themselves, learning where my food comes from, and the concept of being self sufficient and eventually living on one income, has been something I have been researching. At least with where I am from, living the more traditional lifestyle where the husband works and the wife is a homemaker and raises the kids is all but a memory.

I have always preferred being able to go outside and work on the land, like having a garden, some fruit trees, and maybe some chickens, pigs and goats. I also enjoy cooking and baking, as well as knitting.

I am one of those who wants a home of my own, but I don’t want anything fancy. I want a home to keep, and hopefully one day raise kids in. I also have realized that I am more of a country girl than a city girl. I would also make memories than have a bunch of things that I don’t need and will not use often enough to justify buying them.

As I get have gotten older, having frivolous things is less and less appealing. Which is why when I am asked what I want for Christmas and my birthday (they are less than a week a part), it is getting harder.