Monthly Archives: March 2010

Easter Wheat Grass Centerpiece

I made this easy Easter centerpiece with the kids last week and I just had to share.  I only spent about six dollars and the kids had a great time watering their grass and watching it grow.  You will want to get this project started by Wednesday if want your grass to be ready for Easter Sunday.

Supplies

Bucket, Basket, Pot, or other Container

Plastic Plant Tray

Potting Soil

Wheat Berries

Ribbon, Decorative Eggs, Fake Flowers, etc

Choose your container for the centerpiece and determine if you will need a plastic plant tray.  If you are using a basket you will definitely need one, but if your container is water tight you can place the soil directly into the container.  I picked up a tray that fit the top of my bucket and then placed an upside down bowl into the bucket to support the weight of the tray.  Don’t worry if your tray fits down lower in your container as the grass will grow quite tall.  Fill the tray with 1-2 inches of soil ( I just used dirt from my garden).

Cover the soil completely  with wheat berries ( I didn’t use enough for my first batch and had to add more) and water thoroughly.    I bought my wheat berries in the bulk foods section of the supermarket, but if your supermarket doesn’t have that option try the health food store or even the feed and seed.  Cover the wheat berries directly with plastic wrap and place in a warm location.  I put mine next to the turkey brooder and the heat lamp kept them warm.  Make sure your soil is moist every morning and add water if needed.

after only 48 hour they are starting to sprout

Once your grass has begun to grow you can remove the plastic wrap and place your wheat grass in a sunny window.  I let the kids water the grass with a spray bottle so they didn’t drown the grass.

Water regularly and remember that warm grass will grow faster.  Mine has grown so quickly that every morning I trim the grass with scissors and let the kids feed the clipping to the turkeys.

grass clippings

The turkeys love their grass clippings

Tie a big bow on your container and add any decorations that you like.  Place your beautiful centerpiece in the middle of the table and enjoy!

Cost:

Bucket (I already had) – free (If you don’t have a container on hand try the thrift store)

Plant tray – $1.20

Soil (dirt from my garden) – free

Wheat berries – about $.75 worth

Wired Ribbon (on sale) $1.80

Decorative Eggs (on sale) $2.50

Total – $6.25

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Filed under Holiday, Kids

Dreaming of Spring

We have had some beautiful weather this past week.  It is amazing how after a long, cold winter a couple of days in the mid fifties seem so warm.  This “warm” weather  has got me anxious to get out in the garden and plant something.  Unfortunately, in Southern Idaho our last frost date is May 16th.  Because of the late start I have tried starting seedlings inside in previous years, but I just don’t get enough sun in my house to produce healthy seedlings.  So this time of year I flip through seed catalogs, and dream of my glorious garden to come ( In my dreams it is always far more glorious than it turns out in reality).  Well, this year I was determined to get a jump on the growing season.  I talked my dad into starting some seedlings for me in his greenhouse.

Dad's greenhouse Hesperia, CA

For the past month or two, thanks to dad’s hard work, my little plants have been growing without me.  Happy little roma tomato seedlings, tomatillos, cucumbers, jalapenos, and a handful of other plants have been thriving in their perfectly climate controlled greenhouse  in sunny southern California.

My parents will be coming up to visit for Easter weekend and bringing my seedlings with them.  For any of you who can do some simple math you have already figured out that is still a full six weeks before the last frost date.  But I, of course, have a plan.  My husband and I have been taking advantage of this nice weather to get outside and build some raised garden beds.  The plan is to fashion some cold frames or mini hoop houses over the beds so that we can put the plants in next weekend.  I will then monitor my garden beds closely opening the cold frames during the day and closing them again in the evenings.  I may even put a heat lamp out there if we have a hard freeze.  If all goes well I will be enjoying fresh tomatoes, lettuce, and cucumbers six weeks before everyone else in my area.  If not, next year I will be bugging Dad to build me a greenhouse.

Healthy tomato plants

Cucumbers!

I can't wait for this beautiful rosemary bush to arrive!

As soon as we finish our garden beds I will post some pictures, and I will keep everyone updated on the success of our cold frames/hoop houses.  I am also hoping to have my dad write a post on greenhouse gardening and maybe share some info on mixing potting soils soon.  Thanks Dad!

So whether you are still dreaming of spring or you are nursing your own little seedlings – Happy Gardening!

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A Barnyard in My Kitchen?!

Three years ago, while I was pregnant with my son, my husband brought home our first turklings (as I referred to them).  I have since learned that baby turkeys are called poults, but to me they will always be the turklings.  He picked up these two day old poults at the local feed store, and we didn’t know the first thing about raising turkeys.  At the time I was working full time with a 45 minute+ commute, each way.  By the end of the day I was much to tired to concern myself with the birds.  My husband placed them in a dog crate with some sawdust, feed, and water.  He set the kennel next to the heater in the kitchen, and cleaned it out once a week.  When they started to stink he built a small pen in our horse shelter (we don’t actually have horses), and moved them outside.  He tried letting them out to free range on our pasture during the day and penning them back up at night, but that quickly became a bother so the birds came and went as they willed.  Looking back it is a miracle that any of them survived.  Actually, we lost one to a fox, we butchered two, and they last one after watching the demise of his comrades took off.

Since then we have learned a few things about raising turkeys.

Two weeks ago our new poults moved in to the kitchen.  This time we were prepared.  Our brooder is just two card board boxes taped together to make one box approximately 2’W x 4’L x 2’H, complete with a chicken wire lid and a small roost bar.  We use a heat lamp with a 250w bulb to maintain an even temperature.  New poults need a constant temperature of 95 degrees.  Before picking the poults up from the feed store we set everything up including  a feeder with medicated chick starter (I use medicated feed for the first two weeks before switching to non-medicated) and a waterer filled with lukewarm water.  During the first few days I monitor the poults closely to ensure that they were eating and drinking (they aren’t terribly bright and might need help finding their food and water at first).  Every morning my son gets up and says good morning to his turkeys before he has breakfast.  When we ask him if we are going to eat his turkeys he says “no, you no eat my turkeys”, so we will see about that.  Free range turkey tastes so much better than the birds you get at the supermarket that you will never go back.

Poults grow very quickly and can eat a surprising amount, so check their food and water frequently to make sure they don’t run out.  Yesterday my husband placed a block of wood under the waterer because they were kicking litter into their water. I will probably have him place a block under the feeder as well, but I will need to come up with a way to secure it to the block so the don’t knock it over(the weight of the water keeps the waterer from tipping as long as I keep it full). As they have grown I have gradually raised the heat lamp higher to wean them off of the heat.  This weekend I will switch to a 150w bulb and lower the lamp again.  If the poults are huddled together under the lamp they are too cold and the lamp needs to be lowered.  If they are scattered to the far corners of the brooder, raise the lamp.

We are now working on a turkey pen so that we can move the turkeys outside in two weeks.  We need to move the poults out of the kitchen so the chicks can move in (chicks and poults should not be brooded together).   At first we will probably place a heat lamp in their shelter at night to make sure they are warm enough.  As I once read a cold poult is a dead poult. Once their feathers are fully in and the nights are up above freezing they will be fine as long as they have shelter from rain and wind.   At around eight weeks of age we will start letting them out to free range.  During the summer we don’t feed our turkeys at all because they forage so efficiently.  We will continue to try to bring them in at night but often they insist on roosting on the fence posts and staying out all night.  They will reach about 25-35 lbs  before butchering and we have not had many problems with predators as they get bigger.  In the fall we will begin offering them feed in the pen again to bring them in.  I will be sure to update you as we go.

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Filed under Poultry

Soaked Whole Grain Spelt Bread

I love to bake, and fresh baked bread is my family’s favorite.  I use the dough cycle on my bread machine for most breads, then bake the loaves in the oven.  I usually bake bread twice a week and use a variety of different recipes.  Recently I have been reading about the benefits of soaking whole grains, but I have not been able to find a soaked grain recipe for my bread machine.

To read more about the benefits of soaked grains read the following article: 

http://www.passionatehomemaking.com/2008/04/whole-grains-grinding-soaking.html

Using a favorite spelt bread recipe and components of an excellent recipe from Passionate Homemaking, I developed my own soaked bread recipe for my bread machine.  I have a one pound bread machine, but this recipe could easily be doubled for a two pound machine.

Ingredients

¾ cup warm water

½ cup plain yogurt or cultured buttermilk

3 Tbls melted butter

2 cups whole grain spelt flour (whole wheat flour will work fine too!)

½ cup whole oats

2 Tbls flax seeds

2 Tbls water

½ tsp raw organic cane sugar

2 tsp yeast

1 tsp salt

2 Tbls vital gluten

pinch ginger

¼ cup sunflower seeds

¾ cup white bread flour

Directions

Add yogurt, water, butter, spelt flour, oats and flax seeds to pan of bread machine.  Turn the bread machine on (any cycle) let run 4-5 minutes or until mixture is fully incorporated.

Unplug bread machine and close lid.  Let sit 12 – 24 hours.  24 hours is ideal for soaking oats, but if you can’t wait that long do what you can.  Don’t forget to put a sticky note on your bread machine so you remember when to get started again.

In a small bowl mix water, sugar, and yeast, let sit 5 min.

Open lid of bread machine and start dough cycle.  Add yeast mixture, salt, vital gluten, ginger,sunflower seeds, and flour.  Let the machine run for about 10 minutes then check your dough (it should have formed a nice ball).

If your dough is still sticking to the side of the pan add more flour a little at a time until dough pulls away from the sides of the pan.  If your flour is not fully incorporated into the dough, give the dough a good stir with a spatula and start the cycle over from the beginning. Close lid and let dough cycle run (about 2 hours).

Remove bread pan from bread machine.  Heat oven to 170 degrees.  Place dough in a greased loaf pan and place in heated oven.

Turn of oven and set timer for 30 min.  When timer goes off turn the oven on to 350 degrees and bake for 30-45 min.  Remove from oven and turn out onto a rack to cool.  Let sit ten minutes before slicing.  Enjoy!

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Filed under Baking

Peanut Butter Playdough – My First Post!

My very first blog post! I am excited and a little nervous. Will anybody read my blog(other than my mom)? Do I even have time to keep up a blog? I hope to post at least three times a week, mostly recipes to start, but also some kid stuff and home and farm projects. I hope to see you again soon.

Edible Peanut Butter Play Dough

A wonderful librarian at my local library shared this great recipe with me.

Ingredients

1 3/4 cups all natural no sugar added peanut butter

2 cups powdered sugar

1 1/2 cups agave nectar (or honey)

2 cups dry milk powder

Directions

In large bowl, cream together peanut butter and powdered sugar, then beat in agave nectar.  Fold in milk powder by hand working the dough till it has a nice consistency, add more milk powder if needed. Divide into 10 equal portions and refrigerate or freeze until ready to use.


Let the kids snack on the play dough as they play.

My son loves this pink baking set!

Even the baby loves peanut butter playdough

*Note – Most babies should not have peanut butter(or honey) before one year of age.  My doctor approved peanut butter for my 10 month old, because she needs to put on some weight.  Please check with your doctor before giving peanut butter to your baby.

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Filed under Kids