Food, Recipes

Rustic Cornmeal Loaf Cake 

I’ve always claimed that I’m not much of a baker. I still stand by this statement, but I admit I’ve been doing far more baking since I moved into this little cabin. I’m not sure if it’s all the hard work that we’re putting into building a homestead or if it’s stress baking from coronavirus. Either way, y’all benefit with some delicious recipes!

I’ve been making variations of this cornmeal loaf for a few weeks now just to have as a snack for my hard-working farming man. The great thing about this loaf is I’ve tried it was several types of fruit, so far my favorite has been the combination of blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, and raspberries, but I’ve got the recipe shown below with rhubarb which makes for a unique and tart treat.

Rustic Cornmeal Loaf CakeIMG_4599

  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup milk (regular or non-dairy)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 cups of fruit
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. Grease pie pan (or baking pan) with butter
  3. Line fruit at the bottom of the baking dish
  4. In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and mix making sure to add fruit last after all other ingredients are mixed well
  5. Add to the baking dish
  6. Bake for one hour or until inserted knife comes out clean. Make sure to rotate halfway through.
  7. Remove, let cool… if you can, slice and enjoy!

 

 

DIY, Food, Homesteading

Coming Right Up: Sprouts

IMG_3236Before I moved out to the country, my ability to grow my own food was fairly limited. I had potted herbs galore, but past that, veggies weren’t really an option. One food I learned to grow at home was alfalfa sprouts. In fact, now that we’re starting our little farm, we have these on hand all the time!  It only takes a matter of days, it’s simple and incredibly delicious. All you need is a mason jar, sprout seeds, and a piece of cloth, fine mesh, or one of the fancy lids that I used. (I got my lid at Natural Gardener in Austin, TX).

A couple notes before getting started: I highly recommend you purchase USDA Certified Organic Seeds. A lot of seeds are treated with chemicals and you do not want to ingest them. Also, if you’re a sprout fanatic, maybe get two jars going and stagger them so you have fresh sprouts every couple of days.

IMG_3234Sprouting Sprouts

    1. Scoop 1-2 tablespoons of seeds into the jar
    2. Fill the jar with water until the seeds are suspended and covered an inch or two
    3. Let them soak 8-10 hours
    4. Drain/strain the water out of the jar
    5. Rinse the seeds and give them a swirl then drain again
    6. Leave the jar tilted upside down so that the water can drain out the jar (Leave a paper towel underneath or, what I do, is leave it on my dish mat to drain)
    7. Rinse and drain twice a day (AM and PM) for roughly 3 days or until sprouts are full-grown
    8. When the sprouts are ready, remove from container and rinse thoroughly to remove seed hulls
    9. Store in a closed container in the fridge for several days.

These are great in salads, sandwiches, and tacos! If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me. Let me know how it goes… or in this case, grows!

 

 

Canning, DIY, Recipes

Turn Up The Heat

IMG_4267My favorite jelly that my grandmother used to make was jalapeno jelly. She would dollop it on top of cream cheese and crackers. To this day, I remember it being her go-to appetizer for family gatherings and our little afternoon treat on hot summer days. I think it was then that my love of the sweet and spicy combo began. I thought I’d share with you the recipe that she used to use. Admittedly, I may have wanted to share it with you just so I could whip up some crackers with cream cheese. Either way, I hope you enjoy it!

Jalapeno Jelly

  • 2 green bell peppers
  • 14 jalapeno peppers
  • 1 1/2 cups of apple cider vinegar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 5 cups of sugar
  • 1 packet of liquid pectin
  • 3-4 jalapenos, seeded and minced
  1. Coarse chop bell peppers and 14 jalapenos in a blender, pulse smooth
  2. Pour in a saucepan with the vinegar and bring to a boil for 20 minutes
  3.  Remove from heat and strain through cheesecloth or fine sieve
  4. Return pepper juice back to the saucepan and combine with salt and sugar
  5. Bring mixture to a rolling boil and stir in pectin
  6. Then add minced jalapenos and ladle the mixture into jars.

 

 

Before & After, DIY, Homesteading, Updates

July Homestead Update

Can you believe we’re already through the first week of July?! With all the craziness in the world, it seems the days are flying by. To be honest, we are certainly keeping ourselves busy here at the Homestead. I wanted to give a quick update as many of you have expressed interest!

IMG_4208

Gardens

Our first bed is finally bearing fruit and veggies. We’ve enjoyed bell peppers, serranos, yellow tomatoes, and sweet potato greens. The rescue tomatoes we saved from Lowe’s are finally established and are now growing. We’ve built a third bed and have planted kale, cucumbers, acorn squash, radishes, and red onion. Our hanging garden is making huge progress, the sprouts are inching higher!

ChickensIMG_4298

Our five girls have been introduced to their lay boxes and we are hoping for farm fresh eggs next month! Earlier this week, we placed an order from a local hatchery for ten more baby chicks. We spent days researching and picked ten that are unique, beautiful, and will give us eggs just as diverse as their feathers. Stay tuned for cream-colored eggs, blue, green, and even red!

Aquaponics

Last week, we stumbled across a 250-gallon water tank which we will be setting up for an aquaponics system. We are looking forward to having fresh fish and healthy greens.

IMG_4300Worm Farm

One of the key ingredients to a functioning farm is healthy dirt. We’ve been trucking in dirt and compost to build our beds, but after a while it won’t be sustainable. Our compost bins are collecting kitchen scraps, chicken droppings, and mixed with worms, we’ll be making our own dirt in no time… ok, six months or so.

Thank you so much to everyone for your support and excitement during this process. All I can say right now in regards to all of this is, “Dreams really do come true.”

Canning, DIY, Recipes

Things Are Just Peachy

IMG_4183I hope that everyone had a happy and safe Fourth of July! Here at the homestead, we had a quiet and relaxing day. No farm work, picking out new chickens to add to our flock, feet up, delicious summer mocktails, and, ok, finally at 2 pm I had to do something and made some peach jam!

Texas peaches are here. They are big, juicy, and absolutely perfect. We snacked on them, grilled them (served with ice cream), and still had plenty to whip up some jam. We even fed a few to the chickens! I don’t share jam recipes as often as I should, but here is a great recipe for peach jam!

Peach Jam

  • 4 pounds of peaches, peeled, pitted, and chopped
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 1/4 cup of lemon juice
  1. Place chopped peaches into a pot and bring to a boil
  2. Use a potato masher periodicaly to mash peaches into smaller pieces
  3. Stir often so that the peaches do not burn on the bottom of the pot
  4. After 30 minutes or so add the sugar and lemon juice
  5. Return to a boil for about ten minutes or until the jam begins to gel
  6. Remove from heat and transfer the jam to jars

If you do not want to cook the jam for what seems like forever, you can add pectin to speed up the gel process. You can store this jam in the fridge in Tupperware, or use the traditional water bath canning method and store it in the cupboard up to a year. IMG_4261

 

Homesteading, Updates

June Update

Hello Everyone! 

I hope you are doing well during this time. I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything. The last I had written anything I had halted jam production and got some chickens. Since then, I’ve made some big changes, in a good way. Check out my little video for the update.

If you don’t feel like watching…

I’ve moved! My partner and I have moved into an adorable little cabin in the Texas Hill Country that sits on seven acres, has a fenced-in run for our girls, and a workshop. We’ve been insanely busy nesting and setting up shop. Since we’ve moved in, there has been chicken coop constructing, unpacking, bee and butterfly garden building, and vegetable garden planning. Did I mention there’s space for all our fruit trees and more? 

With all of the things going on, I’ve been trying to focus on all of the things I am grateful for and taking time to think about the direction I want made by laura lee to go towards. It is my hope that once our garden is up and running and producing enough food for us that I can begin making jams and pickles from food items solely from the Homestead. It will take time but very doable. 

I will be posting more regularly now that we are settled and have internet. I’m looking forward to sharing with you all things made by me, Laura Lee. I hope you are all doing well, safe, and healthy. Thank you for your continued support. 

       XOXO

    Laura Lee

Garden, Homesteading, Updates

Meet My Babies

I would like to take the time to formally introduce you to my new babies. My chicken babies, that is. Three weeks ago, ten little chicks from the New Braunfels Feed Supply Store made their way back to the homestead. The line of people at the store was out the front door at 7:30 AM. I guess Texans want the chicks!

The first thing everyone asks is, “Are they for eggs or eating?” These girls are for their eggs, just their eggs. In fact, we strategically picked the breeds for their laying ability.

  • Red Sex Links
  • Gold Sex Links
  • Buff Orpingtons
  • Black Sex Links
  • Polish Crested

Ok, the Polish Gal is more for show with her feather tufted cap, but the others are going to be good layers.

When we first brought the girls home, they were little balls of downy fluff. Three and a half weeks in, their feathers are pushing through, they are getting gangly and awkward, just like a teenager.  Their personalities are evolving and their curiosity is exciting. I’ve never raised chickens from just two days old and this is proving to be a learning experience. Forming a bond with them has been quite rewarding as well. While you may not think a little chicken can bond with a human, they certainly know who we are. Rosie always runs to my hand first and Vicky always to her daddy.

This is just the beginning of our chicken story and I’m looking forward to sharing more of our journey as we learn, raise, and collect eggs from our girls.

DIY, Fermenting, Food, Recipes, Updates

Fermentation Friday

I think it’s been a whirlwind of a week, just the last few days even. As you may have read on my last blog post or the made by laura lee newsletter, I am suspending food production for the next few weeks.  For the time being, I will not be experimenting with fermented foods either.

It breaks my heart.  Really.  Why am I not experimenting as well as not selling?

I feel like holding off is the best-case scenario on selling jams, jellies, and sauerkrauts are the safest thing possible.  Despite being clean and sanitary beyond normal expectations, I’m a small business and I want to do what’s best for my customers, my own health, and the bigger picture. As far as playing with fermented foods, it’s too dang hard to get my hands on large amounts of produce to ferment.  The stores have been baren and farmers’ markets canceled.

So, let’s take a moment to celebrate all the beautiful and delicious veggies that I have been able to transform into probiotic filled food! Sauerkrauts, kimchis, and ginger, oh my! Below is the list with links you can revisit.  Thank you so much for your interest in this and I’m looking forward to when I can get back to it!  Until then… what should the next Friday blog be? I like this whole themed thing!

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact me.

DIY, Fermenting, Food, Recipes

Fermentation Friday

It’s my favorite day of the week, Fermentation Friday. Seriously, I can’t tell you how much I look forward to sharing the most recent fermented creation I’ve made. Seeing as I love kimchi, I decided to go with a green bean kimchi.  The recipe is based on Kirsten Shockey’s from her Fiery Ferments book.  I’ve altered it slightly, and think I will continue to do so as I tweak the recipe to my liking. Mainly, concentrating on making it spicier as this was particularly mild.

Green Bean Kimchi

  • 1 pound green beans, chopped into 1″ sections
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped into 1/4 inch pieces
  • 7 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 4 TBSP fresh ginger, minced
  • 2 TBSP fish sauce (or soy sauce for vegan/vegetarian)
  • 1 pound red jalapenos, coarsely chopped and deseeded
  • 1.5 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1/2 TBSP red chili flakes (optional)
  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine green beans, green onions, garlic, garlic, and salt
  2. Place jalapenos in a blender, blend until a puree or paste
  3. Add pepper mash to green bean mixture
  4. Add in fish sauce to the pepper green bean mixture and mix well
  5. Transfer all items to a quart-sized mason jar.  Pack contents down to be submerged in the brine
  6. Let sit in a cool, dark place for 10-14 days. Check daily to make sure there are no air bubbles and resubmerge green beans in the brine, as necessary.

Note: if you’re wary of anything spicy, do not fear.  The brilliant red is deceiving.  This is mild in flavor. In fact, it tastes like a sour pickle. 

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact me.

DIY, Fermenting, Food, Recipes

Fermentation Friday

Good morning, my apologies for posting a little later than normal, I’ve been pretty busy this morning trying to raise money for ATX Kids Club, a local nonprofit that promotes education through adventure-based learning. Today is the I Live Here I Give Here Amplify Austin Day, which is the largest day of giving here in Austin, TX.  If you’re feeling so inclined, by all means, feel free to donate here.  No amount is too small.

Now, let’s get down to fermented business…

The day has finally come and I am over the moon to share with you that my first batch of kimchi was a success! Not only a success but the best batch of fermented goodness I’ve made thus far.  In fact, I think I’ve eaten a third of it already, with a little help of course.  I will most definitely be making another batch of this soon in a matter of days.

Kimchi

  • 2 heads of Napa Cabbage, quartered and chopped in 2″ pieces
  • 2 bunches green onions/scallions, chopped into 1/2″ pieces
  • 1-2 daikon radish, shredded
  • 5 tablespoons ginger, minced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons of sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 6 tablespoons fish sauce (if vegan or vegetarian, just use water and replace with an extra tablespoon of sea salt)
  • 10 tablespoons Korean red pepper flakes (gochugaru)
  1. After chopping cabbage, mix with sea salt to let sweat while prepping all other ingredients.
  2. In a large bowl, then mix all other ingredients and transfer to fermentation crock.
  3. Press mixture down and place weights on top.
  4. Set in a cool, dark place for 1-5 days.  (I did the full 5 days)
  5. Make sure to check and turn the kimchi daily with clean hands or utensils.

Note: if you’re wary of anything spicy, do not fear.  The brilliant red is deceiving.  This is mild in flavor with no zing at all. 

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact me.