Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Dump Day!!

So here in paradise the city dump is open on Tuesdays and let me tell ya people throw away the dangdest things.  Last week I found a beautiful old solid oak headboard, an old wooden wine rack and a really cool beat up coffee table.  These items are in the process of being turned into junkyard treasures. 

I have a slight obsession with old stuff.  Sam refers to it as hoarding. I assure him it is just my creative juices flowing.  Everything he wants to throw away I can envision something really cool being made out of it!

After several adventures with my parents Sam has realized I do not fall far from the tree. My dad really likes to be prepared on trips even if he has to pull a trailer or take two vehicles.  So from time to time when Sam and I are going some where he lovingly refers to me as Joe.  "Are you going to pack the kitchen sink Joe?"  I always laugh and say it's my genetics.   I know my father came by these genetics honestly. I am certain there has been a long line of Jones' that have really liked stuff. 

My dads parents Meme & Toppie had an antique store across the road from their house, The Wooden Windmill.  So I always loved going down to this old farm house/antique store and looking through rooms with boxes full of treasure.   This could possibly be where my infatuation for old stuff comes from.  I'm going to accredit it to my Meme.

So our home decor is pretty much made up of old doors, glass door knobs, old ceiling tins, re purposed furniture, and junkyard treasures.  Every piece of furniture has a story, it could be where I found it or what family member it came from.

Our kitchen table was my parents table when they got married 35 years ago.  Although it looks a lot different thanks to some talavera tiles, grout and epoxy I can definitely say it brings a lot of love into our first home.

My favorite treasure is an old butcher block I found in Sweetwater.   The amount of character it adds to our kitchen can't be purchased at Ikea.  It is Sam's coffee bar and it's perfect for that. We do use it as a butcher block when we have venison or pork to process.  Some casters did get welded to the legs so it is a little easier to move around. Every time we roll it into the middle of the kitchen I have to say a little prayer that it doesn't fall through our hardwood floors.  It is REALLY heavy.

So I'm off to the dump to see if there are any good finds for this week. 

Oh I almost forgot I got four eggs yesterday! I love my chickens!


Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sourdough Bread

It has been a beautiful day here in paradise.  The warm sun has been so nice!

It really makes my want to start planting veggies in the garden.  I did start some garlic and green onions in pots. I have them on the south side of the house so hopefully they will make it through the cool nights we have left before spring hits.

I decided last Sunday since Sunday's are cleaning/laundry day I was also going to make baking bread a part of the daily routine.  I figure it is a lot more fun than washing dirty clothes or scrubbing toilets.

For all of my childhood I have fond vivid memories of our Old Settlers Day Reunion in my home town.  Every year the most delicious chuck wagon meal would be prepared and enjoyed by everyone that came to town to celebrate Old Settlers.  If you have never gotten to experience chuck wagon food it should definitely be on your bucket list.

The two men that are the backbone of this celebration happen to be two of the greatest people I know. One being my grandfather Toppie and the other being Norm, Toppies best friend.  These two cowboys ( and when I say cowboy I'm not talking drug store, I mean the real deal!) decided they were getting older and wanted to still cowboy but decided the chuck wagon was where they needed to be.  So they went out and bought the necessities.  They had a fellow in town build them a chuck box which held pretty much everything but the kitchen sink. Then they rounded up some dutch ovens, coffee pots, tools etc.  Now these are not the dutch ovens you see Le Creuset selling these are large cast iron skillets with a lid that a fire can be built under and then coals placed on the lid to make it like an oven thus the name.

The dish that was always my favorite chuck wagon staple was sourdough biscuits.

If you have never had the chance to smell sour dough starter then you are missing the fondest childhood smell of mine. Every time I went to me grandparents house which was half a mile down the road from my house that intoxicating smell was the first thing to meet my nostrils.  Its sweet fermented yeasty smelling goodness brings a smile and a flood of memories every time I smell it.

The sourdough start Toppie used was from the Fortenberry's a local family in our county. They had kept this start alive from when their ancestors settled in Texas on wagons in the 1800s.  So this stuff was the real deal.  Toppie would roll out these light and fluffy biscuits and cut them with an old tin can, oil them and place them in the dutch oven.  The recipe he used was also from the Fortenberry family.

When I was in college I came home one weekend and decided I wanted to get some of this wonderful sourdough start.  So I  got the start and recipe and set out on a mission to make delicious sour dough breads.  

I remember when I moved to Sweetwater after finishing grad school in Lubbock how important my sourdough start was. I had to make sure it was buckled in the front seat safe and sound.

I had acquired some of my grandmothers green dansk pots and skillets. They were definitely vintage pieces and I wanted to display them so I used one of the pots that had a lid for my sourdough start.  Toppie kept his in a antique crock with a lid and I searched high and low at antique stores but could never find one just like his so I settled for the vintage green pot. It adds quite a pop of color on top of our refrigerator.

My start had gone for long periods of time without being used but when I open that lid it is always that sweet smelling aroma. Last summer when I moved to south Texas my dad and I decided it was time to make some biscuits.

My dad and I entered the Top of the Rock 4th Annual Goat cook-off here in paradise.  We had placed second the year before and won showmanship with Toppie's chuck box so we were on a mission to win best goat.  Since we had the chuck box again and all the dutch ovens we decided we needed to make biscuits.  They were a hit!  They were a perfect pouch for our delicious cabrito, we won!!

So since then I have made biscuits probably five times and decided after sharing my start at out local women's club that I should start making and selling loaves of bread.  I haven't sold a loaf yet but hopefully this summer I will be able to take some fresh sourdough loaves to the farmers market.

The sourdough recipe is very simple.

2 cups flour
3/4 T baking powder
1/4 t salt
1/4 t soda
3/4 cup sour dough
3/4 c buttermilk
1 T oil
1 T Karo

Mix well. When I make biscuits I do not roll out the dough the way my grandfather does, I do drop biscuits.  However when making loaves I do kneed for about 10 minutes.  Both ways you bake at 400 degrees. 18 min for the biscuits and depending on the size of loaf pan 30- 45 minutes.  This stuff is so delicious!! Here is the loaf I made today.

If you do not have a sourdough start there are tons of recipes online for making your own or if you can find someone that has one it is easy to take a small amount and turn it into your own pot of goodness.  You simply feed the start with equal parts of water, flour and sugar.

I hope you enjoyed your Sunday as much as I did!


Friday, January 27, 2012

18 fresh eggs!

Its a beautiful sight!!

I have finally filled my first 18 pack of fresh eggs. I of course had to eat the first 6 or so I gathered. I made  several delicious egg dishes. I will post recipes for the quiche that I love later!

My blue green eggs are from my pretty black iridescent ameraucana hen and my brown eggs are from my white mystery hen. She has a pom pom of feathers on top of her head. I will have to take pictures of all my beauties so maybe someone can help me identify the ones I don't know.

Thursday, January 26, 2012


Well we are 26 days in and there have already been so many wonderful things happening. 

I have started my tomato and pepper seeds in the house!! I cant wait until it is warm enough to get them in the ground. I have decided this year to do tomato's and peppers in raised beds instead of my garden plot.

I want to save my plot for green beans, squash, cucumbers, and okra. I am really excited about getting all these wonderful veggies started (from seed of course). 

I need to get onion sets pretty quick since they need to be in the ground starting in February. 

As of now my chickens are ruling the garden and the entire yard. I bought ten hens about three weeks ago and I LOVE THEM! They are so fun to watch, their noises and personalities are so funny.  I am getting around three eggs a day so hopefully the others will start laying soon! Once they are in full production I will be selling farm fresh free range eggs at our local wool house. 

This summer my plans are to try to supplement some income with my produce. I want to take fresh veggies and eggs to at least two farmers markets. So I have got to get started making these raised beds and get my soil ready for a productive spring, summer and fall!