Friday, April 26, 2013

April Prairie Primer: "Farmer Boy"

 I think Farmer Boy just might be my Prairie Primer favorite simply because of all the wonderful foods we got to try this month. We had some great activities both times we met. The first meeting started out with the kids singing "Battle Hymn of the Republic" with the fiddle. I've always loved that Civil War song. We sang "Amazing Grace" during our second meeting of the month.
Hailey worked on her recitation of 1 Cor 13:1-8. She had it down by the second co-op meeting. Such a great verse to have hidden in your heart.

Josiah, doing the same. Oh wow, his shirt is tucked it! Maybe THAT is why I took this picture, LOL.

Each family did a great job on their presentations. Josiah did his on different types of woods and what each was used for. He explained the differences in hard woods and soft woods. It was very interesting. I gave him the reins on this one and let him do the whole thing by himself. He did a great job and has done his own presentations with minimal help from me since then.

We did a tongue/taste activity. Each child was blind-folded and guessed what they were tasting. The kids really enjoyed this.

As they day wore on, Josiah's hat kept changing. He looks like a 1960s cowboy in this photo. The kids were drawing different stages of the American Flag. I love how even the littlest ones are able to be involved.

Such a poser ;o)

Oh the joy of getting your hands into squishy doughnut dough!

I'm showing the kids how to twist the doughnuts. Making doughnuts in a hoop skirt is not for the faint of heart!

 These are so good! Click here for Almanzo's mother's doughnut recipe. We've been making them for breakfast every couple of weeks, only we use whole wheat pastry flour.

Aw the food! I think this was everybody's favorite Little House potluck yet. Christine is cutting the Rye 'n Injun Bread.

I thought this would be really weird, but after trying it, I can see why Fried Onions and Apples over Bacon was Almanzo's favorite dish.  None of the kids liked it, but the adults loved it.

 Clockwise: Fried Apples and Onions with Bacon, Doughnuts, Ham, Sausage Cakes with Gravy made from Drippin's, and Rye 'n Injun Bread. Are you hungry yet?
Two weeks later, we met again. This is the day Josiah decided NOT to tuck in his shirt, LOL. We had done some candle making as a family earlier in the year. Click here for that post. Again, I let him do the whole thing and I was surprised at how much he remembered. I was very proud of him and HAPPY to not have to do so much work in preparation for PP co-op day.

My friend, Christine, and her boys, talked about different types of wool and brought a beautifully handwoven  wool cloth for the kids to admire.

Hailey and Josiah rocked it on the scripture memorization this time. Going to have to work on not leaning on the podium while talking ;o)

I was in charge of homemade ice cream in a bag. This was really fun and not too hard. Each child was able to make their own small bag which we stored in the freezer to eat after lunch.

 I used masking tape to secure the ziplock bag so we didn't have any ice cream explosions. The brown batter you see is the for Buckwheat Pancakes. Not a favorite with the kids, but the adults liked them.
Each child got to decorate a pot and plant a pumpkin to try growing just like Almanzo.

 The key is to get as much air out of the bag as possible.
The kids worked on identifying the seeds to a plant in the picture. They really enjoyed guessing.

Josiah made everyone homemade eggnog. I confess we did not do it the way the cookbook said too. We cheated and used a blender with my sister's tried and true eggnog recipe. Click here for that. My sis's recipe is also low fat. Josiah HAD to use a dipper just like Almanzo.

Hungry children! As always, ladies first!

Another delicious meal. Clockwise: roast pork, eggnog, apple turnovers, bacon, buckwheat pancakes with maple syrup and succotash. I thought it was all wonderful. All these foods were in "Farmer Boy".  Oh and don't forget the ice cream (not pictured)!

AT the end, after eating our delicious homemade ice cream in a bag, Miss Cora gave the kids the answers to the seed activity. I was surprised at how well they did. 

Well, that is it for Farmer Boy. We are coming into the last leg of our journey as we begin The First Four Years, the last book in the Little House series. I'm beginning to feel nostalgic already and we aren't even done! Thanks for coming along on this journey with us.

God Bless,

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Whole Wheat Hardtack Recipe and Instructions

 We've been reading a lot about hardtack lately. The Little House series, Jane Flory's The Golden Venture (a story about the California Gold Rush), and the studies we've been doing on The Civil War piqued my son's interest. He just HAD to know how it tasted. One day I came into the kitchen and he had all the ingredients out, which isn't much, and I knew then I couldn't put him off a moment longer.

After making it, I can see why the word, "hard" is in hardtack, and I can see why this would have been a staple for any journey. This stuff makes matzah taste like heaven. It really isn't bad tasting, it's just really hard to eat. Josiah's teeth started hurting him, so I made him soak it in his soup. After 15 minutes, it still wasn't soft enough to eat! "Keep soaking, boy!"
In The Little House Cookbook, the recipe calls for white flour. We decided to experiment and do it with whole wheat bread flour instead and see if it would still stay together. Umm, that was NOT a problem ;o)

3 cups whole wheat flour
1 Tbl salt (we used Celtic sea salt)
1 cup water

1.) Preheat oven to 375 F. You can also cook this on a stove top or over a fire if you have a Dutch oven or cast iron griddle. The oven is definitely easier.

2.) Mix dry ingredients in bowl, then add water. Knead dough by hand. It should stick together and become a dough you can roll out, but should not be sticky. If you can't roll it out because it is too dry, add more water; if it is sticky, add more flour. 

 3.) Roll out the dry dough to 1/4 inch thickness. The instructions said 1/2 inch, but I really think that was too thick. You couldn't even break it, even if you banged it on something. Next time I will try 1/4 thickness.

 4.) Cut dough into 3 inch squares. Josiah got his ruler out and tried to make this really precise. Loved the impromptu math lesson here :o)
5.) Poke holes with a fork (or an eight penny nail) into the dough squares.
6.) Bake for 30 minutes or until crisp and lightly browned. We didn't get ours crisp enough the first time and had to put them back in the oven for a bit longer.

This was such a fun activity and very easy. I'm glad my son convinced me to try it! Josiah already has plans to make these for the next road trip or hunting/camping excursion. I guarantee I will be soaking mine in stew or soup for a long while before I attempt to eat any ;o) 

God Bless,

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Learning to Milk a Cow and Homemade Cough Drops

I've always wanted to do this! It is so much harder than it looks. It definitely takes some practice. This fit right into our study of milk cows for the Prairie Primer homeschool unit study we are doing. My friend, Jenny, knowing of my love for raw milk, invited the kids and I to milk her sweet Jersey cow. Afterwards we tried our hand at making homemade cough drops. We had a wonderful time!

Jenny showed us how she uses a little warm bleach water to wash the udder to make sure bacteria doesn't get into the milk.
Wiping down the udder.

Josiah gave it try. I think everyone should have to do this as least once in their lifetime, so they can appreciate where their milk comes from.

Josiah wanted some milk straight from the cow. So Jenny shot some into his mouth. We all got a chuckle out of that one.

Hailey's turn. Cutest milkmaid ever!

We took the milk into the house and strained it through a filter.

She uses several filters just to be sure. I feel very confident drinking her milk after seeing the care she takes to keep everything clean. 

I tried these raw cough drops made from raw honey, slippery elm and marshmallow root powder. They were super easy. But when I tested them out on Josiah later that week when he had a cough, They didn't seem to work. 

Jenny had a more complicated recipe involving a candy thermometer that was more like cough drops you get in the store only they were made with all natural ingredients and raw honey. These seemed to work better for Josiah and he thought they tasted good. 

Trying out new recipes like this is my idea of a fun time, especially if I can do it with a friend.

While Jenny and I were in the kitchen, my two redheads and her son went down to a small pond on their property to fish. I snapped this pic on their way back to the house. Love the shadows on the water from the trees behind them. The kids had such a great time!

Thanks again, Jenny, for such a wonderful day. We will never forget it! 

God Bless,

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Easter Pictures 2013

I hope you all had a wonderful Easter weekend. Ours was so much fun. We got to see many of our friends and family as we traveled back to our hometown. We were able to go to church as a family and then feast and play at the ranch afterwards. Lots of play time with cousins! 

I managed to get a few pics of the kids before church.

Hailey with her best bud and cousin, Lily. These girls have so much fun together despite the occasional fight ;o)

Hailey on the tire swing at the ranch.

The weather was perfect!

Easter prayer before the feast.

My sis and I had a birthday last week. So happy to get to see my womb buddy. We hadn't seen each other since Thanksgiving and were in need of  a "twin fix".

Egg hunt! I decided this would be the last year for Josiah to hunt eggs. He is way too competitive. From now on he'll be hiding them! 

My chocolate-smeared nephew, Elijah. What a cutie pie!

My oldest nephew, Josh, pushing Josiah on the tire swing. Josiah was in heaven!

Hailey found $5 from her Nana and Papa in an egg with her name on it. She was so excited!

Waiting for her turn on the tire swing.

Even I got a turn! It pays to have older nephews, LOL!

Love the joy in Hailey's face.

Can't believe how tall Josh is getting. His voice is changing, too. Oh, time goes so fast!

Unfortunately our perfect day ended a bit rough. My second oldest, nephew, Marcus, broke his leg while riding an ATV at the ranch. He had to have knee surgery last week to re-attach his ACL, but he is doing well and healing up nicely. 

The day after Easter brought more serious drama to our family. My 91 year old grandpa was hauling off brush using his workhorses when they spooked and the reins pulled out of his hand. He held on to the wagon seat for as long as he could (he was standing beside the wagon when the horses took off) and then dropped onto the curb. He smashed his face up really good and broke his neck and two places in his back, plus six broken ribs. The road rash was horrible and he had to have plastic surgery to repair the hole in his cheek. I will spare you the pictures. Through lots of prayer, he is up and walking around and determined to get better! We have so much to be thankful for. I appreciate everyone who has rallied around our family during this difficult time. 

We are still waiting for move orders from the military so we can put our house on the market again. I'm trying so hard to be patient. 

May God bless each of you as we move into spring and experience the beauty of new growth all over again.  



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