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Archive for the ‘Arkansas’ Category

Since my long run on March 6, I’ve been recovering and trying to get caught up on life.  Unfortunately, I did have a Lyme relapse, but it was manageable–and a sign that it’s just not time to stop fighting.  I also, however, received a gift that has taken a bit of my time, another microscopic form of life that’s much nicer than Lyme spirochetes.  I got a preview of the gift, a.k.a. my new pets, a week before the race when this showed up in my office mailbox:

Sourdough Bread

Isn’t it gorgeous?  It’s a huge half-loaf of homemade sourdough bread.  You see, I had to attend a weekend conference back in February, but out of that loss of my weekend I got to talk with a colleague (a lot) on four long plane flights.  We discovered that his wife and I share a love of baking.  First came the bread.  Then not quite two weeks ago I got the holy grail:  her sourdough starter, now almost a quarter of a century old.  Sourdough starter saves you from buying little packages of yeast, some with chemicals added.  You can use it to make baked goods with all organic ingredients.  Sourdough starter really is magic.

My benefactor sent with the starter her own sourdough recipe.  It looked good (and I know it tasted good, because we’d gotten the first gift!) but used handmade proofing baskets and a 24-hour rising period.  The starter also (apparently) needed to be fed once a day.  Well, you know me.  I can’t stand to throw stuff out, so I determined to test refrigerating the starter to delay feeding (which definitely works) and reduce how much starter I had and to use the starter in other ways.  Since I got the starter, I’ve made several loaves of whole-grain bread, pancakes, and even pumpkin-chocolate chip muffins.  Yes, the recipes will all follow, and I promise to post them with alternatives for making them without sourdough starter.

The votes are in! Whole-wheat sourdough and whole-wheat bread are now posted here. Next up will be pumpkin-chocolate chip bread!

Do you bake with sourdough?  Did you create your own starter, or did you receive it as a gift?  How long have you kept a sourdough starter going?

Copyright 2011 Ozarkhomesteader.

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Regular readers may remember that I claimed at a December party that I was going to run the 10k (6.2 miles) at the Little Rock Marathon in March this year; then I discovered that there is no 10k.  My old, pre-Lyme disease self could have easily done the next race down, the 5 k, so instead I opted for the half marathon:  13.1 miles.  I am a woman who has fought Lyme for the better part of a decade.  I am most definitely middle-aged now, by any actuarial charts.  I am  on the chubby side, thanks to inactivity during my fight with Lyme.  I got a positive diagnosis for the infection when it was thoroughly embedded in my system from muscles to heart to brain six years ago, on March 4, 2005.  I started long-term high doses of antibiotics six years ago from today, on March 7, 2005.  I’m ready to say goodbye to Lyme.

Yesterday I completed the half marathon, running and walking, in a little over three hours.  I know I was close to the back of the pack, but my goal time was to finish in four hours, and I beat my anticipated time per mile by about 4 1/2 minutes and my total time by almost an hour.  Mr. Homesteader kindly walked to various points around the course to cheer me on.  I first realized I was doing better than my goal when I hit the 5-mile mark at 9:10.  I’d hoped to be there by 9:15 or 9:20.  I knew I was doing okay when I crossed the 10k mark.  I had planned on stopping running then but kept alternating running and walking.  When I hit the 8.5 mark where a friend was serving water, I was more than 20 minutes ahead, despite a bathroom stop with a long delay at a portapotty long about mile 7.  I really started to hurt as I got close to the governor’s mansion–my twisted ankle, my pinched nerves in my feet–so I pulled out my Ipod, up until then just used for my clock, and I inserted one earbud and listened to Harry Potter and his introduction to Quidditch.  That was enough to distract me, and within a mile I’d pulled the earbud back out and was enjoying the cheerers again.  Then we hit Chester Street.  There at Chester and 7th is Vino’s legendary pizza.  The aroma of pizza and faint scent of beer reached my nostrils.  I almost stopped.  I kept going, though, although by that point I was now down to running two minutes out of every ten.

Then I hit the lipstick stop.  It’s famous as the only one on marathon courses.  I don’t wear lipstick in my day-to-day life, much less when I’m sweating.  I thought one of the volunteers there was going to block my way until I convinced her that I really did not want lipstick.  By then I knew I was within a quarter mile of the finish line.  And when a fellow runner/walker I’d had the opportunity to chat with on the course several times told me it would be easy to run the rest of the way in (thanks, Zora!), I did.  Only I really ran it, and she jogged, so she is not in this picture.  That’s me, in the black fleece.  I’m crossing the line.  I’m not really that wide; I had my gloves and headband stuffed in the pockets of my oversized pullover.

In retrospect, knowing what I know now about how close I was to breaking three hours, I wish I’d run just a little more and somehow avoided the potty stop.  Maybe next year?

Thanks to all of my readers who provided so much encouragement and who have patiently waited as I traded adding recipes here for miles to my shoes.  I should know soon if I’ve succeeded in really, finally beating Lyme.

P.S.  Mr. Homesteader took me to Vino’s after I’d showered and changed at the hotel.  Other runners were in there wearing their medals, all from the marathon relay.  I wish I’d worn my  half-marathon medal in!  They all looked a lot younger than me, and I was so happy to know I’d run (and walked) further.  🙂

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My “track”:

Look closely; it’s there!  Yes, I ran yesterday.  Actually, I ran until the snow got too deep and I had to walk.  I got in 30 laps, until I looked like the Abominable Snowman.

My running buddy:

In fact, she shows up from the neighbors’ house, runs circles around me, begs to be petted, and then races off to chase deer, cats, birds . . . and then she catches back up with me and does it all over again.

The creek in snow:

Cold frames seems a particularly appropriate name today:

I’m not sure there’s still something growing under all that snow!

Is it delivery?

No, of course it isn’t delivery.  We can’t get delivery here in normal weather, much less when there’s almost a foot of snow on the ground.  If you missed the recipe earlier, it’s here.

So, the NWS claims we got 9-12 inches of snow.  Our thermometer read 1 degree F above zero this morning.  How’s the weather in your neck of the woods?

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First, let me give big thanks to everyone who contributed memories and traditions to my 2010 hearth broom holiday giveaway entry.  I never expected to get such long, moving stories!  I order to select the winner, I printed off every contributor’s name, cut apart the names, folded them into identical pieces, and let Mr. Homesteader pull out a name from this vintage Santa mug.

Who is it?  Who is it?

Eleanor of Nourishing Words has won the hearth broom from the Ozark Folk Center. Eleanor, please email me at Ozarkhomesteader AT yahoo D O T com or, if you’d prefer, the email address that I use to log in to your wonderful blog.  Send me your address, and I can ship your broom on Wednesday.

As for giving away anything that can be associated with household cleaning, here’s my advice to fellow bloggers:  folks aren’t nearly as interested in brooms as cast iron Dutch ovens!   Many, many people read about the broom giveaway, but few entered.  Yes, I’m smiling, but it’s a sad smile.

Copyright 2010 Ozarkhomesteader.

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Whisk Broom

Today in the Ozarks the skies are dark, pouring an icy rain that makes me wish we had a fireplace.  If I had a fireplace, I’d have an even harder time carrying through with my holiday giveaway.  Earlier this fall, I wrote about my summer visit to the Ozark Folk Center, near my home in Arkansas.  I purchased two beautiful handmade brooms.  One is a standing broom for my own home.  The broom works so well and glides so easily that I genuinely do more of my share of sweeping than I did before I got this household treasure.  I also bought a gift for one of you, my dear readers, a whisk broom made in the same historic style as my standing broom.

As with the standing broom, every detail on this whisk or hearth broom is natural.  The broom measures a foot long and 8 inches wide at the base.  It retails for $25.  This broom also works as well as the standing broom, whether you decide to use it to sweep your hearth or whether it becomes your whisk broom to tidy up the end of a sweeping session.  Of course, it can also just be a decorative feature that might fit your country holiday or year-round decor, hanging next to your fireplace or in your kitchen.

If you are interested in winning this hearth broom, please post here with a special holiday memory or tradition, even if it’s just a sentence. It doesn’t have to be long or eloquent; just share a little.  If you’d like two entries, please post about this giveaway on your own blog or tweet it, and then indicate here in a separate comment that you’ve shared it.  Entries close Sunday, December 5, at noon Central Standard Time.  I’ll announce the winner, selected randomly, by Dec. 6 at noon, so that I can get your address and get your gift in the mail to you in time for holiday decorating.  Regardless of which winter holidays you celebrate, I wish you a happy, healthy season!

Legal stuff:  I am not a spammer and will keep your information private.  Readers from outside the US are welcome to post and enter, but you are responsible for any customs charges.

Entries are officially closed.  I’ll post the winner by noon on Monday.

Copyright 2010 Ozarkhomesteader.

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A few weeks ago I had a chance to meet part of my Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner.  I don’t want to offend the vegetarians, but this picture very well may include that bird.  I snapped a shot of these birds at Falling Sky Farm, now of Chime, Arkansas.  Mr. Homesteader was so impressed with the operations that for a week afterwards, no one could say chicken without him launching into an explanation of Falling Sky Farm’s operations and attributes.  The things that make Falling Sky Farm stand out include the freshness of the graze, the complete lack of odor, and the cleanliness.  Falling Sky Farm, naturally producing healthier food, stands in stark contrast to the factory farms that resulted in the recall of billions of eggs.

All of the animals at Falling Sky Farm graze on pasture.  What is most remarkable is that they get moved to fresh pasture either once or twice a day, depending on the animal.  Look at how rich this light grazing technique leaves the pasture, even after Arkansas’s extraordinarily hot summer and drought.

Frequent moving of the animals lets the manure composts easily on its own, in place, never leaving a strong smell like you find on factory farms.  The lack of concentrated manure also means that flies aren’t attracted in large numbers. With this system, animals never rest in their own waste, reducing disease.  Here you can see the chicken “tractors” in the distance and the rectangles indicating where they were in the past few days.

overlooking the chicken "tractors"

Pasture raising also eliminates bad bacteria from animals’ guts; the bacteria just don’t grow on pasture feed.  Finally, pasture raising increases the good Omega-3 fatty acids, helping you balance out the cholesterol that can come with eating animal products.  This hen promises she’ll produce better eggs!

Happy Laying Hen

As Congress debates a new food safety law, the Senate concluded that small farms with less than $500k in annual business that direct market within 275 miles of the farm should be exempt from tighter regulation unless they’re found guilty of distributing tainted food.  I think the amendment exempting small farms makes sense both for supporting local, diverse food sources and for saving tax payers’ money.  Well-run small farms are naturally healthier.

Have recent food recalls changed the food that you buy and how you shop and eat?

(edited Nov. 19, after the Senate included the exemption.)

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Every year now it seems that newspapers, food blogs, and radio shows debate the merits of turkey or sides as the highlight of Thanksgiving dinner.  Personally, I’m all about the dressing–cornbread stuffing baked in a separate pan for those of you who don’t have Southern roots.  I’ll never forget the year that my sister, accompanied by my mother, ended up in the emergency room the night before Thanksgiving.  The task of making the cornbread for the dressing fell to my father.  He made the mistake of picking a sweet cornbread recipe and using that cornbread for the dressing.  It’s the only year that I didn’t pig out on the dressing.  Needless to say, it was genuinely disgusting.  (Sorry, Dad!)  That dressing is part of family legend.  So is our regular recipe, anchoring us to our ancestors like Americans’ gastronomy nationwide reflect their origins.

As I’ve moved around the country, I’ve discovered that asking the simple question “Dressing or stuffing?” can place a person’s ancestors faster than any other question.  If you want to get more specific within the South, you have to ask more detailed questions about the recipe.  For example, the Georgia dressing recipe that I grew up with included the traditional cornbread as well as a sage stuffing mix, celery, onions, broth, and eggs.  The result was a mixture as solid as canned cranberry jelly.  We could cut it into neat slices.  (I use an all-scratch method now that stays fluffier, and I like it much better, but don’t tell Mom.)    Mr. Homesteader grew up in south Arkansas, and his dressing recipe included chopped boiled eggs.  Those chopped boiled eggs seem pretty consistent across the flatlands of the state and can mark a delta Arkansan faster than any accent.  Newer recipes that are tasty include squash dressing.

I confess to an endless fascination with dressing and stuffing recipes.  I’ve always wanted to compile a catalog of regional variations.  Will you help me to start that catalog?  You can build the recipe catalog one of two ways.  For both cases, you’ll need to answer the following questions.  You can answer directly on the blog, but if you prefer not to tie your ancestry to your regular name here, you can send answers to my email (Ozarkhomesteader AT yahoo DOT com), and I’ll remove names before I post them under anonymous listings.  (And, yes, I’ll preserve your privacy and not share your information with anyone else.)  You may also email photographs in jpg format to that address, and I’ll upload them with this post.  Folks from outside the US are welcome to join in too!

1.  What’s the recipe?  This can be a precise recipe or a vague one, but it needs to include the key components (like boiled eggs, chiles, giblets, fruit, nuts).

2.  What consistency does the product have?  Can you slice it?  Do you spoon it?  Is it fluffy?  Can you see discrete pieces of bread?

3.  What do you call it?

4.  What place do you call home, as in where you learned the recipe?

5.  What is your primary regional and/or state influence in cooking?  For most people, we’re talking about where your mother and grandmother(s) originated.

6.  Do you have any relatives who aren’t from that region?  If so, from where are they?

7.  How long have you used this recipe?

I hope you like mapping food history as much as I do!  Join the fun, and spread the word so that we can get a good sample here.  Remember to include your food origins location!

Update, November 23, 2011:  Please continue to submit your recipes and memories of dressing and stuffing at your house for Thanksgiving.  We’ve still got lots of the country to cover!

Copyright 2010 Ozarkhomesteader.

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There is no question that fall has come.  Actually, we had our first frost about two weeks ahead of schedule, at the beginning of October.  

I am extremely resistant to yielding to winter in the garden.  In case you hadn’t noticed, we’re still picking summer crops.  I used an old king-sized mattress cover for moving to protect my teepee, this year laden with trombetta squash and armenian cucumbers.  We picked several pounds after the first frost.

Sadly, a wind storm last week ripped off the plastic and collapsed the teepee.  I haven’t given up on everything else, though.  Last weekend was the real test, when temperatures plunged into the lower twenties.  Everything that stayed covered survived.  Tomorrow night, we’re expecting more freezing temperatures, but I’ve tucked in the garden and hope that it stays that way.  If so, we’ll keep harvesting for a few more weeks.

How do you let go of your garden as winter comes?  Do you have a ritual of putting the garden in hibernation?  Are you like me, trying to get that last tomato to ripen?

Copyright 2010 Ozarkhomesteader.

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Lately I’ve been disappointed with my broomstick.  It just doesn’t glide like it used to, and I’m not even tempted to pick it up, much less accelerate it.  Therefore, when I had a chance to visit a superior broom maker at the Ozark Folk Center near Mountain View, Arkansas, this summer, I leapt at the chance.

Our day at the Ozark Folk Center began with a master carver who conjures the tiniest sculpture portraits you’ve ever seen, on toothpicks!

At the Ozark Folk Center you’ll find a chandler who makes wonderful beeswax candles, perfect for setting a magical mood without contaminating the atmosphere with petroleum products.

You’ll also find potters and weavers, complete with goats and sheep to help them weave.

The scents from the herb shop were enchanting.

Near the herb shop we found what we were seeking:  the broom maker. 

Everywhere we looked were brooms:  standard floor brooms, kids’ brooms, whisk brooms, and turkey wing brooms (do you see the red one hanging on the wall?).  All of the brooms are made of natural, sustainable materials.

Mr. Homesteader, despite knowing that he is the one most likely to pick up a broom around our house, asked if I could take a few for a test drive.

I only needed to try one.  I knew it was the right one.

It glided, it swept, it made me feel like flying.  I brought it home.

Check out the broom straw on this beauty.  I understand that the standard straw-colored broom straw is best, but the red broom straw adds such perfect color.

And I actually like to use it, so I do!

This broom also come with a remarkable 19-year warranty.  Why 19 years?  Because, as the broom maker told us, he has to retire some day.  That’s a phenomenal deal on a broom, making my new broom not just an effective and lovely choice but also a frugal one.

Oops–I just looked at the clock!  Time flies, and so must I!

Do you like my new broom?  I got the hearth (whisk broom) version for one of you!  I’ll be doing my second blog giveaway in late November or so, so be sure to check back then for your chance to enter.  The hearth broom will be ideal for holiday decorations or to keep your fireplace hearth nice and clean.  I planned this giveaway this summer, but now I have even more reason for doing it.  Wendy at A Wee Bit of Cooking just had a giveaway that my dear female cat, pictured above, helped me win.  See here for my silly cat’s antics that won me a new cookbook!

What’s your favorite household cleaning tool?

Copyright 2010 Ozarkhomesteader, including photographs.

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Last weekend I had the opportunity join in a friendly Dutch oven cook off for a state outdoor club.  I won the same competition last year, with roasted rosemary chicken (drummies, thighs, breast pieces) and vegetables.  When I say friendly competition, I mean friendly.  I even loaned a few competitors equipment that they needed.

Folks fired up coals.

Well, actually  it wasn’t so much “folks” as men, except a girlfriend who was assisting one competitor, plus me and lovely Jessica, shown hard at work here.  Somehow playing with fire does seem to be men’s game more than women’s, although I’ll never understand why.

Some folks had fancy fire pans.

Others, like Paul, didn’t even use charcoal.

I used this funky rectangular aluminum Dutch oven that belongs to my husband.

I should have paid more attention to presentation, like this competitor, TC, did.

My husband apparently garnished his green chili chicken enchiladas with my tomatoes.  The enchiladas look pretty plain here.

I made lasagna.

Everyone in the cooking area who tasted it proclaimed it the best, giving me hope for a win, although one friendly guy said a beef stew might be my strongest competition.

TC won in the breakfast category with this quiche.  I didn’t try it, since it had red meat.

These apple dumplings won in the dessert category.

Competition in entrees was strong this year, with no flubs and a lot of good food, as I understand it.  The judging was apparently very, very close, with only a few points dividing most of the competitors.  The entree winner was—–drumroll please!———Mr. Homesteader.  Ugh.  He’s kind of a sore winner, a bit obnoxious about it.  It’s okay; at least we’re keeping the title in the family!

I heard afterwards from two judges what kept me from winning:  garnish (ah, if only I’d clipped a few fresh sprigs of basil from the garden!) and the fact that, by the time they judged mine (which was after a dozen other entries), the lasagna was not piping hot.  Next year, I’ll serve straight out of the pan, like I did last year.  Anyway, you too can make whole-grain lasagna while you’re camping!  And, yes, that’s a little slice of flatbread with tomato, cheese, and fresh basil, also from a Dutch oven.

Have you ever competed in a cook-off of any kind?  What’s the dish of which you’ve been most proud, either in competition or at a potluck or big family gathering?

Copyright 2010 Ozarkhomesteader.  All rights reserved, including for photographs.

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