Monday, February 27, 2012

Balsamic Glazed Deer Steaks

Our freezer is full of white tail and axis deer meat thanks to my hunting husband.

As far as Sam is concerned the only good meal is fried meat, mashed potatoes and gravy.  I do love chicken fried backstrap but there has to be a little diversity in our meals.

So my mission is to find recipes that taste great, Sam will eat and are on the healthier side of life.

I have a bottle of sinfully delicious Terra Verde Balsamic vinegar that I got at the Fredericksburg Trade days. Texas Hill Country Olive Oil Co. in Dripping Springs makes this amazingness and I highly recommend it if you are a balsamic lover like I am!  This stuff is great straight out of the bottle or as a dipping sauce for some crusty bread.  

This recipe is very simple and I always have all of these ingredients on hand. 


1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 Tbs tomato paste
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Coarsely ground pepper & salt to taste
2 Tbs oil

2 Tbs butter
6 small deer steaks (backstrap or ham steaks are what I use)

1/4 cup red wine


In a bowl, combine the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, salt 
and pepper.

Preheat the cast iron skillet or pot on high with the oil and butter mix in the skillet.
Set the deer steaks in the skillet. Sear them over high heat, turning once, until browned, about 2 minutes per side. Brush with the glaze and put the skillet in a 400 degree oven.

Roast for about 20 minutes, brushing the steaks 2 more times with the glaze, until the meat is rare (125-130 degrees). Cover with foil and let rest on a warm plate for 10 minutes.

Place the skillet over medium-high heat and deglaze with the red wine. When the flames have passed, pour in the remaining balsamic glaze and reduce to a medium thick gravy consistency. YUM

We had mashed red potatoes ( butter and milk) and a perfect fresh salad, romaine, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, and carrots.  Of course the salad was for me, Sam being the meat and potatoes kind of guy tells me lettuce "hurts him".  Who knew such a delicate green leaf could hurt a grown man but apparently lettuce is deadly. Poor guy doesn't know what he is missing!  

So since I opened a bottle of wine we had a glass with dinner.

It was such a quick and easy meal!


Sunday, February 26, 2012

Goat's Milk Soap

In January I started following the blog, and I can't tell you how many cool ideas there are on this site.  One thing she makes a lot of are soaps, so since she made it sound so easy I decided to make my first batch of soap; it was castile (olive oil, coconut oil and Castor oil).  I have been using it to make everything like shampoo, body wash and even laundry detergent; its great stuff!

 My sweet mother's birthday was Tuesday and I wanted to make her something a little different than the usual perfume or red lobster gift certificate.  

Since my friend Katy has Nubian Milk Goats I decided I could make mom some goats milk soap.

I used the same great website, I got the castile recipe off of  They offer tons of information and recipes!

There are some funny conversations I have had with my mom about goat products.  Mom refuses to eat goat cheese. She says goat cheese tastes like a billy goat smells and that billy goat taste takes her back to her childhood of working and shearing too many sheep and goats.  However mom loves to eat cabrito! Dad and I participate in the 4th of July Top of the Rock Goat Cook-off every summer so we have our recipe and method down pat.

 Hopefully the soap doesn't smell like a billy goat so mom will actually use it. 

Most of these ingredients I found on clearance in Target or in the oil's section at HEB.

7.5 oz Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 oz Grapeseed Oil
10 oz Coconut Oil
7.5 oz Sweet Almond Oil
2 oz Avocado Oil
4 oz Household 100% Lye ( No lye no soap)
12 oz icy Goat's Milk

I used an old postal scale to weigh everything out.

Milk as we all know can curdle when it gets to hot and let me tell you the first round I just poured all the lye into the milk and I got a curdled orange disgusting mess! So after some Internet troubleshooting I found you have to add small amounts of lye at a time and allow to cool to 85 degrees between each interval.  When you add the lye the temperature will spike to around 106 degrees.  After my failed first attempt it took me about 15 minutes to get all the lye slowly incorporated into the milk.

I poured the milk into a glass measuring bowl and set it inside a stainless steel bowl.  Then I turned the cold water on to run into the stainless bowl.  Stirring the milk mixture constantly also helped cool the milk and kept it from curdling and turning that nasty yellow color.

All the pre-measured oils can be combined in a large pot over low heat. You want the oils to reach 110 degrees.

Once the milk/lye solution has cooled it is time to add it to the oils.

If you don't have a stick blender you can use the traditional instructions on the millers web page.  Luckily we got one as a wedding gift and I use it for tons of stuff! The traditional method of stirring with a spoon takes 30 minutes or longer and the stick blender takes all the elbow grease out of the process only lasting about 3 to 10 minutes.

Once you have added the lye solution to the oils you need to blend for a minute to incorporate and get a smooth satin consistency.

At this stage I added a cup of rolled oats for fun.  The recipe called for pulverized but I figured my stick blender would do the work so I added whole rolled oats. I did a blend and stir routine for about two minutes.

Once the soap starts to "trace" (thicken up) you are ready to pour into molds.  These are the only real soap molds I have; I used two plastic organization trays lined with parchment paper for the rest of my batch.

This particular batch has to stay in the mold 24 hours and then it is ready to be cut.  Then the bars must rest for 1 month to "cure" properly. After 1 month the soap will harden.

As I have mentioned at the beginning of this post there are very thorough instructions on the miller website and I would encourage you to make a batch of soap from scratch.  It's a fun easy hobby that you can make with very easy to find ingredients!

Potato farmer/soap maker. I am really liking the ring of all these new hobbies!


Thursday, February 23, 2012

Refurbished Wine Rack

So someone here in paradise was done using this potentially really cool wine rack.  I mean it was dirty and falling apart but a little TLC can make anything shine like new!

It's amazing what a sanding, refastening and coat of paint can do!

 I love it and think it looks great and fits perfectly under our butcher block!

Yeah for junkyard treasures!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Succulent High

This beautiful weather here in paradise is going to spoil me! It's supposed to be in the 80's on Thursday!!  That really gets my gardening juices flowing! 

Anyway back to my succulent high. 

Love love love these little beauties!

This strawberry pot that I bought last spring at my favorite pottery house in that border town has yet to produce any strawberries.

However it has produced some of the coolest succulents that I have ever seen.  Last spring break my Aunt got me hooked on these cool little creatures! She had the cutest pot of succulents at her lake house that just screamed AMAZINGNESS to me.

So I drove to town to hunt down THE perfect succulent pot.  What could possibly be better than a pot that has eight little holes around the rim! I thought it would work perfectly for these little babies to poke their cuteness out of.


I went around the lake house yard and dug up little cactus and agave's and then pinched off little bits from my Aunts collection.  I filled every hole with some kind of green poky plant and until our first freeze they were the most thriving succulents you have ever seen.

Unfortunately I didn't bring them into the house the night of our first freeze here in paradise and they all died a cold, lonely, miserable death.  Well I shouldn't say all because the cactus and agave's survived.  So I lovingly transplanted them into a larger home so they can flourish this spring and summer.

This past Saturday in Home Depot I got sucked into the succulent section of the greenhouse.  I lost track of time, and Sam was done gardening with me at this point.  I was trying to choose which succulents of the hundreds I wanted for my strawberry pot.  After a good thirty minutes Sam called and said he was waiting on me in the pickup and I had better hurry up!

So these nine succulents, plus one more that is in the middle of another arrangement on our back porch, are my Home Depot purchases.

 Next winter I will be bringing these beauties into the house so they can live happily ever after!


Sunday, February 19, 2012

Potato tower

PINTEREST!! Its so addicting but full of so many great ideas!  Today was pretty enough to finally get outside and do some gardening!!

I saw this potato tower several weeks ago and thought that looks easy.  I've never grown potatoes, but with a few boards, screws and seed potatoes I'm officially a potato farmer.  

So the concept is very simple, place your potato eyes on the ground and cover. I used an alfalfa and dirt mix since the feed store has a bountiful scrap supply an easy wheel barrow tow from my house.  

Once the sprouts are a good twelve inches above the dirt/hay then add another layer and place the next boards up the all four sides.  While the vines continue growing up you keep adding soil/hay until the box is full and all sides are boarded in completely.  

So in approximately 60-75 days I will remove the bottom boards and see if there are any beauties ready for Sam and I to eat.  I will keep you posted! 

Yesterday Sam and I ventured to our favorite border town to get groceries and swing by Home Depot.  Thanks to our awesome friends that gave us wedding gift cards to Home Depot we were able to stock up on tons of vegetable seeds, 2 sacks of seed potatoes, 2 blueberry bushes, 1 blackberry bush, 4 two year old asparagus root sets, 2 strawberry root sets and several (10) succulents.  

Succulents are my secret addiction, okay its not really a secret but I do love these little guys!  I think its better to have an addiction to plants than something bad for you right?! I will take lots of pictures of my little darlings this week so y'all can basque in my succulent high too! 


Monday, February 13, 2012

Sweet Potato Biscuits

Sunday "bread day" produced and unexpectedly delicious treat. 

So we received several wonderful cookbook as wedding gifts but one in particular "Gluten-Free on  a Shoestring" has been my favorite.  

In August I started God's Diet.  It is really more of a life style than a diet but it is basically all about natural foods that God put on earth. Not something we as Americans have created or processed so heavily that it loses all nutritional value. 

Meat, fruit, and vegetables are the key components.  Dairy products like cheeses, milk, and of course butter are all also legal foods to eat! Things like diet coke, cheetos, and chips ahoy are ILLEGAL.  If there is something in the ingredient listing that is too long to pronounce or too strange to eat then we shouldn't be consuming it.  

It takes a lot of discipline to follow this life style and I'm not going to lie I slip up and eat something not so great every now and then like during Christmas; who can pass up Aunt Laurels eclairs?! I can't!! 

Anyway all in all I try to stay as close as I can to God's diet.  

I have lost about 20 pounds since I started this.  It is amazing how fast the weight comes off just by changing your diet.  

Bread is one of my favorite things so it has been the hardest to modify.  I have vowed that I have to make it from scratch and that I will not buy a loaf from the grocery store.  

So this recipe I tried today was amazing!! These light and fluffy biscuits have ZERO wheat flour.  They are made from my all purpose gluten free flour mix.  

I have found several different recipes for an AP gluten free flour but this one today seemed to produce the most light and fluffy gluten free bread I have ever tasted.  

All Purpose Gluten Free Flour 

6 cups Brown Rice Flour finely ground
2 cups Arrowroot Starch
1 cup Garbanzo Bean flour

The sweet potato biscuits were very easy to bring together.

2 c AP gluten free flour
1 t xantham gum ( Found this at walmart and only .35 cents for 2 T)
1 T baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
2 T sugar ( I used 1 T stevia powder)
1 t salt
1 stick diced and chilled butter
3/4 cup pureed sweet potato
1/3 c sour cream ( I used yogurt)
1/4 c milk 

Combine dry ingredients in a bowl. Combine wet ingredients in separate bowl.  Add diced chilled butter to dry ingredients and cut in until butter is pea size.  I cheated and used my stand mixer.  Once butter is pea size then add wet ingredients and combine until dough is formed.  Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator or 15 minutes up to 24 hours.  Once chilled remove dough and roll out to 1 inch thick.  Then cut rounds and place on baking sheet cook at 450 degrees for 15 - 17 minutes until golden brown.  They will not spread so spacing can be about and inch apart. 

They were delicious! So good in fact they all got eaten before I could take a picture.  They are a beautiful color with flecks of orange from the sweet potato.  They are extremely light and fluffy and nothing like the usual dense gluten free breads I have made or even bought in the past. 

This was my first experiment with Xantham gum and it must be the trick to making light and fluffy gluten free breads.  


Thursday, February 9, 2012

Back to Normal

Well the little girl is back to normal. Gertie is home and full of more piss and vinegar than before.

You would never know two days ago she was on her death bed.

Dot on the other hand is not happy with this back to normal activity.  I think she thought Gertie went to a new home and she really liked ruling the roost again.

Sam said as soon as he pulled up Dot greeted him tail wagging and as soon as she saw Gertie she turned her head a walked away.  She has such a snobby little personality.

Hopefully someday Dot will accept Gertie and they can be playmates.


Tuesday, February 7, 2012


Meet our sweet little Jack Russell puppy Gertrude aka Gertie.

Just look at that sweet face you can't help but love this little butter ball.  She is a ring tailed tooter who will get your attention if you aren't giving her enough loving.

Today however was a whole different ballgame for little Gertie.

Our family spends spring break at Lake Amistad every year.  My relatives have an amazing lake house!! It is by far the best place to relax, I might be a little partial but it is definitely heaven on earth as far as I'm concerned.

Last year my parents Jack Russell Cornbread had a bit of a dismal spring break. The landscape at the house is magnificent, there are several different varieties of citrus trees and tons of native and tropical vegetation.

We decided to spend one afternoon working out in the yard to clean up what the harsh freezing winter killed.  During the trimming and clearing process Cornbread found what he thought to be a fun pokey plant to play with however after ingesting some of this plants thorny little leaves he was not such the ball of energy.

The plant he ate was a Sago Palm, sold at every retail store that dabbles in landscaping.

Sago palms are full of toxic poison; mostly in the seed pods but every part of the plant carries the poison.  Poor little Cornbread was poisoned from eating the sago palm in the yard at the lake house.  Due to the severity of this toxic poison Cornbread had to spend several weeks in the animal hospital.  Luckily my dads brother and his wife are both veterinarians so they were able to save him.

So I should know better than to have a sego palm at my house!
Yesterday morning Gertie decided it would be a good idea to chew on the sego palm I have on our back porch.  At three this morning she woke us up dry heaving, whimpering and shivering.  I jumped up and knew something was wrong immediately.  The first thoughts to cross my mind were Parvo but then I remembered seeing the chewed up plant leaves on the back porch, the dreaded sego palm.  Not certain what we were dealing with Sam and I both looked up as much information as we could find on the internet.

If you have pets or small children get rid of your sago palm! After some internet/google research I found that the "toxins in the plant lead to severe liver failure with progressive weakness, jaundice, bruising and bleeding and other signs of liver failure that can lead to death." 

Gertie had no interest in eating or drinking so we knew we had to keep her hydrated.  Sam went to the grocery store and feed store for some pedialyte and syringes.  We fed her a raw egg and pedialyte through that syringe until she wouldn't take anymore.

At 8 I called my wonderful veterinarian uncle and he gave me some tips: inject 15 cc's of sterile fluids subcutaneous (under the skin) every three hours and 1/2 cc of penicillin daily.  This info is what I think saved Gertie's life.

At lunch Sam and I talked and decided after our vet attempts if we wanted her to live we had better get her to the vet.  Sam loaded up Gertie and headed for the vet a mere 100 miles away.  Remember we live in that remote piece of paradise in the middle of nowhere.

They rushed to get an IV going and took her temperature.  She was now in professional care so Sam headed back to paradise.

At 5 we got a call from the vet, Gertie has parvo not sego palm poisoning. She is going to stay in the compassionate care of the vet until she is better.  Lets hope for a fast recovery!

I know I don't have kids yet but I can definitely say going without sleep all day and being worried about out little puppy has got to be pretty close to having children.

So please say a little prayer for our precious Gertie!!


Sunday, February 5, 2012

Super Bowl

Well the Super Bowl was good but the food is always better! We had a great get together of friends young and old.

The schmorgasbord of food is always something to look forward to.  I am so full!

Pats deviled eggs are always delicious.  She uses a secret recipe relish that is to die for.  Maybe someday she will share the Sally dip recipe.  I am not going to hold my breath though :)

I made two dips.

The first was Texas Caviar.  It is basically pico de gallo with black eyed peas. I figure we can all use a little more luck in 2012 even though its already February 5th.

1 can  rinsed black eyed peas
4 seeded and chopped jalapenos
1 cup diced tomato
1 small diced onion
2 T chopped cilantro
3 T Italian Dressing or Balsamic Vinaigrette

The other dip I made was Spinach Artichoke.


1 box spinach drained
1 jar artichoke hearts
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 cup plain yogurt
3 T butter
1 chopped shallot

First sauté finely chopped shallot in butter once translucent add chopped artichoke and spinach and continue to sauté.  After everything is well buttered and starting to brown add yogurt and cheese stir until melted and bubbly.  At this point you can bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or I just keep my skillet on low heat and let simmer for 30 minutes.

I used a round loaf of fresh sourdough bread as my dip vessel and cut a hole in the middle and then cut the bread into chunks for dipping.

The guys made chicken wings in the barn that were the perfect half time snack.  All in all Super Bowl Sunday was a success. 

As for Saturday it was not quite as relaxing.  We woke up bright and early to work on the fence.  Sam and his handy assistant (me) got all nine H braces welded up and we even got three of the five runs of wire stretched.  There is finally light at the end of the fence tunnel. We started on this fence in June so maybe it will be finished by June 2012.  Its going to be so nice once its done.  

I had a chance to get onion sets friday so I am looking forward to getting them planted this week.  I got one bunch of red, 1015, and videllia so hopefully in about 80 days yummy onions will be ready for harvest.  

Thanks to the dang ground hog shadow this cold spell and six more weeks of winter really has me singing the blues!  I am so ready for some sunshine.  


Thursday, February 2, 2012

Peach Tree Southwest Quiche

Due to the influx of eggs around our house I figured I had better start finding good egg dishes. 

If you haven't had the opportunity to visit Fredericksburg you are definitely missing out on some great culinary hot spots.  The Peach Tree Inn & Tea Room has some of the most decadent treats in Fredericksburg.  Several of these treats are Cynthia’s chicken salad, many various quiches and the richest most chocolaty delicious mud dauber cookies.  I encountered the Southwest quiche and mud dauber cookies this fall when my friend Georgia and I drove over for an afternoon of Flea Market scavenging. 

Quiche is not something that I have ever thought about much and I have definitely never craved but after visiting The Peach Tree I decided I was going to have to give this recipe a try. 

I borrowed The Peach Tree Tea Room Cookbook from my friend Bridget.  I had originally borrowed it for the delicious chicken salad recipe.  There is this amazingness called herbed mayonnaise that I could eat by the spoonful.

Anyway back to quiche. 

So this recipe is very simple and you should pretty much have everything on hand. 


1 1/2 cups unsifted unbleached flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons Crisco shortening
6 tablespoons chilled butter (not margarine)
5 tablespoons ice water

Mix flour and salt in bowl. Cut in shortening and butter with pastry blender until crumbly. Add ice water, a little at a time, mixing with fork until well blended. Place dough in plastic bag and gently press dough together into flat disk. Seal bag. Refrigerate dough 30 to 60 minutes. This allows the gluten to develop in dough.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

On floured board, carefully roll dough to fit quiche pan 10 inches across by 2 inches deep. Carefully lift into pan, trimming dough, and rolling edge under to form a rim. Flute edge.

Place a layer of foil over dough and fill to top with either pie weights or dry pinto beans. This prevents crust from puffing up and shrinking. Bake crust 15 minutes.

Remove beans and foil, prick crust bottom with fork several times, and bake 10 minutes more. Quiche crust is now ready for filling.

Since my mom makes the best pecan pie around I use her crust recipe.  It’s much easier than this above recipe.  She taught me years ago it's perfectly acceptable to let the pillsbury dough boy make your crust for you.  So I use the rolled up refrigerated section crust.

There are tons of different quiche recipes in this cookbook and you could combine or subtract anything you wanted. This Southwest version is delicious!!



1/2 cup purple onion sliced (I use red ?)
1/2 t garlic minced
1 T butter, margarine or cooking oil (Gotta love butter)
10 eggs
1 t salt
1 t white pepper (I think black is fine too)
1 t ground comino
1 t jalapenos (I love fresh but canned or pickled would work too)
2-2 1/2 cups Jack cheese, shredded
1 cup chicken, cooked & cubed (I use rotisserie or even canned)
1 cup green chilies, sliced in strips (I just use diced-canned I don’t think it matters)
1 cup corn (I love shoepeg corn and buy it in the freezer section)
1 basic pie crust partially baked


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Sauté onion and garlic in butter, margarine or cooking oil.
Beat eggs in blender with salt, white pepper, comino, garlic and jalapenos
Add milk to egg mixture.
In prepared crust, place half of cheese on bottom.  Layer with chicken, green chilies, corn, and sautéed onion mixture.  Sprinkle with remaining cheese.
Pour egg mixture over layered ingredients.
Bake for 1 hour and 45 minutes, or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.  Allow quiche to cool for 15 minutes for easier dicing.

This recipe makes 2 quiches for me. I guess my pie plates are a lot smaller than The Peach Tree's.  I always freeze one to have on hand for a quick anytime meal.  There is another recipe for a Mushroom Quiche that I love but unfortunately Sam hates mushrooms so I only make it when he is off gallivanting the country side AKA lamb buying. 
Well I'm all quiched out! Who is ready for the weekend? PICK ME PICK ME I can't wait to work in the yard and get the garden prepped.  Raised planter beds, dirt and THE FENCE are on the agenda.  THE FENCE is a saga all to itself!